Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/441

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A Bundle of Life.

merry with other people's lives. No one knows what I have suffered. I have only found one thing which outweighs disappointment—bitterness—all—all that is harsh, heavy to bear, and terrible. That moment—that one moment when you trusted me. ...It was so unexpected. I had always liked you as a friend; but you seemed so far away, and I thought you could only have contempt for me and my vain, hopeless life. And the end of it all? Do you suppose I never think of that? Every night I say to myself, 'Another day has gone; another day of false hopes, false friends, false loves, false hates, false griefs!' Think of it! Not even a real grief: my life, myself, all — all a sham!"

"Help me to be as honest as you are," said Wiche: "is there no eternity before us? the longest past is but a second in comparison. See!" he said, kissing her, "we have forgotten it already!"

Men may still find oblivion in a kiss, but women of fashion are always—or nearly always—too self-conscious to forget the artificialities of life in the verities of passion.

"Forgotten already?" repeated Lady Mallinger, moving away from him, "I wish it were. Do not be angry with me, but I must be alone a little. There are so many things to think about—so many things. Give me half an hour."

"So much?" said her lover.

"Have we not eternity before us?" she replied.

Wiche laughed, kissed both her hands, and went out on to the Terrace: he found it almost as delightful to obey her whims as to worship her beauty. Only the strong-minded can know the extreme pleasure