Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/352

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336
A Study in Temptations.


" Ye — es. . . . I suppose Margaret looked as though he ought to have asked her to be Alcestis?"

But De Boys did not hear: he was wondering whether Jane and Sophia really could become great friends. Would Jane quite grasp the Before-the-Fall Ideal ? Would there be any difficulty in explaining———

"Of course," said Sophia, suddenly, "women must feel flattered when Wrath wants to paint them. To begin with, he is a very handsome man."

"Very handsome indeed!" sighed Mauden. He was thinking of Jane.

"He gives one such an idea of power," said Sophia ; " the moment you see him you feel ' Here is some one to trust.' "

"Jane is the sort of girl, you know," said De Boys, " that — that you meet once and never forget. It is not merely because she is beautiful. Her beauty — which is very great — is her least charm."

"Indeed! I can well believe it. It is only within the last two years that I have realized how very handsome Wrath is. Is it not absurd ? when I have been with him ever since I was born ! But if you — care — for people, and, of course, I — care for him "

"Naturally," said Mauden; "and it is very singular, but if you love people, you don't know what you love them for until you lose them. And then———"

"Don't say until you lose them," faltered Sophia, "that sounds so — awful!"

"It does, doesn't it?" said Mauden;" the sense of loss, of being, as it were, eternally separated, is very terrible. And death is not the only veil : sometimes our own folly . . . and when we have only our own