Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/446

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A Bundle of Life.

passionless, faultless machine, but a Man.…Go! tell him all I have said, laugh at me, pity me, say 'Poor woman! That so plain and dull a creature should fall in love. How pathetic! how ridiculous!'"

Before Lilian could reply, Teresa rushed out of the room. Lady Mallinger rubbed her eyes: she, too, had once loved like this and she had been deceived. The mere remembrance of Saville drove all other thoughts from her mind: she forgot Wiche, she forgot Teresa, she forgot everything—the universe contained but two beings—herself and Rookes. Fate brought him to her at that critical moment.

"I have been for a stroll with Sir Ventry," he began awkwardly." I—I am wretched. Are you still angry?"

"I do not think we can have anything to say to each other, Saville," she said; " the last words were spoken this morning. I could wish they had been kinder: I should like to remember that we parted, at least as friends. We were so much to each other once—once we thought it could never come to this.…Please leave me."

"No, I have been longing for a chance to speak to you; now I have found it, you must listen. I will not attempt to defend myself—I——"

"You cannot: how could you? You might perhaps say that you became desperate about your debts, and so—in a sort of madness—thought to marry Felicia for her money. You might say—ah, a thousand things, but they could make no difference. It is too late to think of them."

"Too late?" said Rookes. "How can it be too late when you are there and I am here." He knelt