Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/347

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A Study in Temptations.

toes pointed towards the carriage-drive, she was filled with an unreasonable, but very real alarm. She hurried into the studio by the same window that Sophia had left it some little time before, and her quick eyes went straight to the letter on the mantelpiece. She read the initials "T. W.," which were written on the envelope in an irresolute, childish hand.

A woman's instinct is rarely at fault; it is only when she attempts to argue with it that she blunders. Fortunately Eliza trusted her instinct at that particular moment. She knew that De Boys had left The Cloisters that morning and after a somewhat mysterious fashion. Had Sophia gone with him ? If she had, she would surely repent before she reached London. She had been unusually erratic lately, and Miss Bellarmine held her own private opinion with regard to Sophia's state of health. It was extremely interesting — no doubt, trying — but not dangerous; Lady Hyde-Bassett had the same private opinion; so, too, had all the women of the household — from the housekeeper to the scullery-maid. But these, not knowing of Miss Jenyns's marriage, could only hope that the Lord would forgive them if they were mistaken — a pious wish which they repeated many times a day, together with their possibly wrong surmise.

Eliza's fingers wandered to the envelope. What folly might it contain? what mischief might it cause, which neither repentance or explanation could unsay or undo? What right had Sophia — in no matter how interesting a condition — to play such dangerous pranks on a man like her husband? Did she deserve