Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/360

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The Study in Temptations.

...Mauden is her own age, and amusing...It was a crime to marry her: she was a child. She knew nothing about love. She has no idea how much she is to me. I could not tell her, it would frighten her...the responsibility———"

"Ah!" said Lady Hyde-Bassett, "why did you not speak out and risk the frightening?"

"I was selfish," he went on, not hearing, "and thought only of my own happiness. And I persuaded her———Don't you understand how I must hate myself? Innocent! She is only too innocent. It is I who am guilty!"

"I wish," said Lady Hyde-Bassett—"I wish Eliza would make haste."

"She will not come back," said Wrath, "because she has found the room empty, and because she, too, thinks———"

Then he left her. And Margaret could only sit with her hands clasped, trying her best not to think. For thinking was not to be trusted at that moment. Faith—"the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"—was her only refuge. For there is no virtue so sublime that it cannot be used with advantage even in a comedy situation.

When the grocer stopped his horse at the main entrance to The Cloisters, Sophia got down, gave the man a tip, and lurked under a tree until he had driven out of sight. Then she went out into the road again, and walked to a certain side-door which was cut in the wall of the kitchen-garden, and which was rarely used except by the servants and the men