Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/49

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Some Emotions and a Moral.
33
 

passed last night," she said, when the Rector, and Sir James, and Lady Theodosia were fairly started on their campaign; "they have been silent for weeks."

"I thought that this part of the world was noted for its nightingales," said Provence, wondering if it was profane to admire a goddess's throat.

"I believe there is some such boast," she said; "but have you never noticed that places, like people, find their reputation—particularly if it is good—sufficiently useful without the fatigue of living up to it?" Provence did not see the highest type of feminine excellence in the Miltonian Eve, but he thought a woman should believe easily. In Cynthia's case he began to fear that this bewitching characteristic was entirely absent.

"I see you are a cynic," he said.

"Oh no," she said, quickly, "I haven't got a label. I'm afraid I'm too much guided by what somebody—I forget who—calls a 'feeling in the bones,' to make a pretence to the feeblest kind of philosophy." Then she sighed. "Don't you think," she said, with an expression of touching simplicity, "it would be much easier to be good if we left everything to our instincts? Reason—what learned people call reason—seems so much more artificial."

Provence felt an admiration for that feminine daring; which will rush in where a bishop might fear to tread, but his mental habits did not allow him to answer her in a hurry. He had his own ideas on the subject, no doubt, but would have required several sheets of foolscap on which to express them—inadequately and with the meaning between the lines.

"You are plunging into deep water," he said, "and