Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/398

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A Bundle of Life.

"Have you tried persuasion?"

"I have tried everything—coaxing, threatening, commanding, and exhorting; jokes, presents, theatres, and sermons; reading, singing, playing, and, so far as that goes, praying. No husband could do more to make his wife happy—unless, indeed, he blew his brains out!"

"I am afraid," said Waddilove, "you must make up your mind to endure these annoyances."

Sir Sidney sighed heavily and rose from his chair.

"Before I married her," he said, "she was as mild as an angel. She was a little contrary now and again, but one kind word, and she would do anything. Douglas Cockburn never understood that, and tried bullying. Now I see, however, that there were faults on both sides. Of course, I would not say as much to any one else. This is a judgment on me, Waddilove, and if I did not know it was a judgment I could not bear it another day. As it is, I will face it out to the bitter end. Good-bye."

He left the office with the uneasy idea that he had been talking too freely, and, as a consequence, he began to hate Waddilove as a prying, impertinent fellow—a fellow to be avoided. What right had he to ask so many questions? But it had been a relief to speak out: to utter his feelings; to rid himself even by a straw's weight of that load of sorrow, disappointment, dissatisfaction, and weariness, the bearing of which, after all, proved that his poor fragment of a soul had still its use in the scheme of salvation.