Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/462

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A Bundle of Life.

cretions had something well- considered and reasonable. She lacked that inconsequence, that capriciousness, that delicious nonsense which most men and all strong natures find so alluring and adorable. To see her weeping, therefore, was to behold a new creature. Wiche was uncertain how to reply, when she herself, brushing the tears from her cheeks, asked him a question.

"Why?" she said, "why are you not going to marry Lady Mallinger?"

"I want to tell you about that," he said. "I am afraid there is not time to tell the whole story now. But Lady Mallinger discovered that she had made a mistake, she loved some one else, and I—I have been such a fool, Teresa, such a fool! I do not know whether I love you or not. I only know that I hate my life when you are not near me!" This truth, which had been sleeping so long, woke at the first whisper of its name: he realized how pitiably little would remain to him if Teresa were taken from his memory: it was her very oneness with his own mind which had made him overlook her: when he imagined that he was thinking of himself he was thinking of Teresa also.

"I only know," he said once more, "that I hate my life when you are not near me!"

She could have wished that he had expressed himself with less egoism; if he cared for her at all it was because she was necessary to his peace of soul: at least, so it sounded. But she was a woman who found her happiness in giving and loving: she made no demands; she looked neither for gratitude, nor homage, nor appreciation; she only asked the right