Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/76

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60
Some Emotions and a Moral.
 

burden of her future. She had proposed to manage him—it was far from her intention that he should ever dream of managing her. He recommended her, kindly, but with an air of authority, the authors he would like her to read—among others Thomas a Kempis; he gave her volumes of Scarlatti—old editions with a figured bass and not so much as a pedal mark; he borrowed her Rhapsodies Hongroises, and always forgot to return them: he told her that Nature was better than Botticelli (which, to be honest, she thought herself— but the Rectory culture did not allow her to say so); in fact, he showed that he did not consider her taste—on all points—as perfect as it might be. When the day arrived for his departure for town, she felt positively relieved. "He is charming, of course," she confided to Lady Theodosia, whom she had told of the engagement unknown to Provence, for, in spite of her determination to keep the matter secret, she had felt the need of a pair of ears for her bursts of dissatisfaction. She had Reached that ripeness of experience when silent suffering seems misdirected energy. "Yes, he is charming," she repeated, "only—I hardly know how to express it—when I have been with him a whole afternoon I feel as though I had been for a picnic with the Twelve Apostles and Peter left early! I always thought that Peter was the most interesting."

The parting was a very different matter to Provence. He kissed her once—he was always afraid of wearying her with his kisses—and fairly fled out of her presence, not daring to linger over his good-bye. It was one of his faults, no doubt, to take things too seriously. When he was quite out of sight and hearing, Cynthia