Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/451

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A Bundle of Life.

same kind of emotion a man might feel on seeing the child of one he had loved deeply and who was dead. It was a sorrowful task to trace the resemblance: to note the likeness in line, and delicate tones and expression: to say to himself, "Lilian's mouth had that curve, her eyes were that colour, her throat was as white!"

"You must forget," he said, "you must forget—if you have not already forgotten—all that passed this afternoon. It was a great mistake."

It was a great mistake. Lady Mallinger brushed the echo of these words from her ear: she would not believe that they had ever been uttered. "This is what comes," she thought, "of telling a man the truth: he flies!"

"You may have made a mistake," she replied, "but I have said nothing to you which I could ever wish to unsay. Saville told me this morning that men may fall in love dozens of times, but that each experience is new. They can only love once one way. This is true of women also. And it all comes to this: love is precisely the same kind of emotion as religion. Oh, if we would only be as patient with human nature as God is! Some days we are more devout than others: the saint who appeals to you in one mood may repel you in another: this month we devote ourselves to Our Lady, and another to St. Paul; some people, too, mistake incense for dogma, and love of music for love of virtue. But the folly and sensuousness of creatures like myself cannot touch the great unalterable truths. I may never know them as they are, but they have been known. You will wonder what I am trying to tell you. It is hard to say: I