Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/33

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Some Emotions and a Moral.

analysis—much less the writing on paper—than the sheen of the moon on the duck-pond. Meanwhile he walked on, gradually quickening his steps until he reached the winding lane he had already explored that morning. Then he slackened his pace, and with the not unpleasant consciousness that he was behaving more youngly than he had ever imagined possible in his youth, he smiled kindly at his own folly till he gained a green gate. Here he stopped short, for She was standing there, a vision of loveliness and white muslin—a fair enough sight to make any man's heart (provided that the cook and the counting-house had not reduced that organ to an inferior kind of liver), stand still. She did not seem surprised to see him, but with an indescribable movement of grace and confidence leant a little further over the gate, looked him straight in the eyes for a bewildering moment, and—looked away. The girl was, no doubt, as Provence had said in his letter, uncomfortably beautiful: attractive with a beauty which other women might or might not admire, but would at all events rather not see in a rival. There were faults in her face. The chin, in spite of its dimple, might have been rounder, her mouth with all its fresh redness was a little too wavering, her eyebrows were a shade too straight. She had wonderful hair, neither auburn, nor gold, nor brown, but a suggestion of all three; brown eyes, with the unclouded frankness of a shallow pond—putting aside the unpleasant reflection that a shallow pond may be deceptive; a skin of unusual fairness, and a poise of the head which was positively royal—royal in that sense which, in spite of human experience, human sentiment with that longing to idealize the