Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/418

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A Bundle of Life.

Saville, do not say that I am tempting you. I would not be so wicked, for I am sure you only want to do right, and men know much more about honour and incomes and things like that than women do!"

Sweet, submissive, believing, unassertive Lilian, of a type all but extinct! Where would he find such another? He rose from his seat in agitation, feeling, for the moment, that he might in an emergency show the splendid indiscretion of a hero. But the mood passed, and with it a great deal of Lady Mallinger's folly. Something else, indefinable, chilling, deadly, took its place in her soul. She, too, stood up, and in silence they surveyed a far-distant and sleeping cow.

"You see, Lilian," Saville stammered at last.

"I see it all clearly," she replied. " I only wonder why I did not see it before. It would be the greatest mistake in the world for us to marry!"

This remark cut him to the heart: he flushed, his whole aspect suffered.

"No woman," he said, "could say such a thing to a man she loved. You cannot care for me."

"I do indeed care for you, Saville," she said, "please believe me."

Rookes, happily, did not need much persuasion to convince him. "This world is a beastly place," he burst forth. "It has everything to make one happy except happiness. Look at us! We are young, we love each other, we have the same tastes, and we are in the same set. How we could enjoy life! But we cannot afford it."

"It is hard," said Lilian, "terribly hard. I daresay, though, that it is all for the best."