Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/452

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436
A Bundle of Life.
 

believe I mean that my adoration of Saville is not very serious!"

Wiche was a man who had learnt what he knew of human nature through self-discipline and not through self-abandon. Knowing therefore his own character and its possibilities so well, he was astonished to find that Lilian's was so like—subject, of course, to certain feminine modifications. He was acquainted with many men who could give an accurate appraisement of each and all their impulses, thoughts, and emotions, who were such skilled self-analysts that they never by any chance confounded their soul with their body, or their conscience with either. He had never met a woman, however, who possessed this power even in a slight and half-unconscious degree; he looked at Lilian and felt that while she hid cured him of his fit of love, she had never seemed so deeply interesting as a fellow-creature.

"My dear," he said, "you must surely see that we should be wretched if we married."

"Why?" said Lilian, "it would be such a comfort to me to have some one I could really trust and believe in; some one who would help me to be serious; to know one being at least who was not led away by all manner of idle fancies!"

The irony of the situation would have been ludicrous if it had not been so heart-breaking.

"Do not imagine that I am that one being," said Wiche, hastily. "God knows I am flimsy enough. And I am afraid it is always disastrous to pin one's faith to a mere mortal. Even the best of us are miserably imperfect as rocks of defence; you see we are flesh-and-blood, we are not granite."