Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/450

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434
A Bundle of Life.
 

but then I have known him so long! But in love with him—never! We are the dearest friends possible, and quarrel incessantly—but that is all!"

"Are you sure?" said Wiche, "are you sure that is all?"

She made no answer, but, soothing her lace which fluttered a little in the breeze, hummed without knowing it,

"Virtue how frail it is!
Friendship how rare!
Love, how it sells poor bliss
For proud despair!"

"That," said Wiche, gravely, "is what Rookes was singing last evening."

"Pity me," she murmured.

"Why?"

"I adore him!"

While we exist we can never escape any stage of development; if our infancy be prematurely wise, our years of discretion will have an inappropriate childishness. Lilian was living life backwards, and her sudden moods of immaturity which may have accounted for Rookes's corresponding moods of fickleness, filled Wiche with dismay. Passion in these circumstances was impossible: affection became angelic, and sentiment lost all question of sex.

"I adore Saville," she repeated, and looked at Wiche with so beseeching an air, with such utter helplessness and irresponsibility that he wondered how he could ever have mistaken her for a woman. He still recognized her grace and beauty, but it roused in him the