Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/417

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A Bundle of Life.

"How can you ask?" he said: "But believe me, dearest Lilian, our only duty is renunciation. I mean, we must forget our love, and if we can, each other. I have been waiting months to find words for all this: it seemed unutterable. Truth is difficult, and the less one speaks it the harder it grows. I have lied when I pretended to be happy. I find it easier after all to admit that I am in despair. Yet not despair—because I feel that honour is still dearer to me than your society. The thought is hackneyed, but so are the commandments. Some day you will meet some excellent, well-meaning man who will have a fortune worth offering you. Perhaps he will not be much to look at and he may not be polished in his manners. I daresay, too, that he will often say and do much which will jar on your refined taste. But polish is not everything!"

"I cannot live," cried Lady Mallinger, "in an unpolished atmosphere!"

"You see, my darling, we all have to endure disagreeable things in this life; money and love never seem to go together."

"We should have fifteen hundred a year," whimpered Lilian.

"What is that, my dear child?" said Saville.

"Two thousand is the lowest income I can conceive myself marrying on. As I have said, if I cared for you in the ordinary, vulgar way, I might risk everything and urge you to ruin my whole life—and perhaps your own as well. So, darling, is it fair to tempt me?"

"I do not want to tempt you," said Lady Mallinger. "I only want to talk sensibly. Please, please, dear