Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/338

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A Study in Temptations.


"Shall I ring for your maid ?" He was really alarmed—she had changed so much in the last ten minutes.

"Twenty maids could not help me! Warbeck—you have not meant—what you have been— saying? "Her voice was weak; she looked a very old and very feeble woman. And he loved her dearly. " Tell me—you did not—mean it," she repeated.

"I meant it," he said. "I must always mean it."

"But in the circumstances," she gasped, "this Dawes—he would absolve you from—your— promise."

"Dawes!" said Warbeck. "I do not make vows to Dawes—nor swear by Dawes. As I have said, you do not understand how extremely serious a vow of this kind is."

"You distincty said it had nothing to do with religion," she murmured. "How can it be serious when it has nothing to do with religion?" Her failing eyes were only weak in sight: they could still pierce like needles.

"I can respect religious scruples," she went on, "but I have no patience with any Daweses of Balliols! It is noble, it is saintly to kill your aged grandmother for a Dawes. You do not believe in a God, but you will ruin your family for a Dawes who lives at Shore- ditch ! I am tired of life ! " Once more she bowed her white head. " The country is going to the dogs — and Daweses ! "

"My dear grandmother, will you listen to reason?"

"Reason?" she groaned. "Every bone in my body fairly aches with reason. Ring for Coleman, that I may get to bed!"