Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/389

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A Bundle of Life.


Lady Warcop was a woman of medium stature, elegant mould, and cautious smiles. Deep-set blue eyes and a very low brow, a nose inclined to the Roman, and a telling mouth; a smooth, rather pale complexion and innocent fair hair were the most remarkable points of a countenance which fascinated reason and looked reproach at distrust. At least seven years younger than Sir Sidney, and of singularly youthful appearance, she affected an artless manner and displayed now that childish merriment not seen in children, and now that rudeness which passes for sincerity and is usually found in the disingenuous. A being with many emotions but no heart, with ideas but no thoughts, there was so little, even in her folly, to excite interest, that, in calling her stupid, friends said their best and enemies their worst of her character. But the strong force in Lady Warcop was her sex: weak, untruthful, cowardly, and malicious, she was still no more than woman may be, and it was no slight virtue—though a negative one—to have kept this feminine quality, to have retained—after a life of sham passions and passionate shams—that indefinable Eve-like pathos which from the beginning conquered—and until the end will conquer—the rigour of strict criticism.

Mrs. Portcullis, on the other hand, was big-boned, loud-voiced, and mighty, and so aggressive in her merits that she would have been more acceptable and pleasant for one of Lady Warcop's cowering faults. Her high, white forehead and long chin gave her a