The Tales of John Oliver Hobbes/Some Emotions and a Moral/Part 1 Chapter 6

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Three months later, Cynthia returned to London from her honeymoon. Lady Theodosia thought that she looked handsomer than ever; as a work of art she seemed more finished. Parisian dressmakers are certainly clever; and what picture does not look better for a tasteful frame? Her expression, however, was scarcely contented.

"Are you disappointed in Edward?" Lady Theodosia ventured to say one day, when Cynthia seemed in a talking mood.

" How could I be disappointed in him?" said the bride; "is he a man who leads one to expect much?"

"Is he kind? " said Lady Theodosia.

Cynthia smiled. "He is manageable."

"Well," said her aunt, "that is something. I hope he is generous."

"There is Scotch blood in the family, you know," said Cynthia.

"Still, you don't regret the marriage? " said Lady Theodosia; "you don't think you could have done better? "

"I make it a rule never to regret anything," said Cynthia; "regret is a bore. I prefer to call my mistakes experience."

"I don't think you would have been happier with—a poor man," said her aunt, after a pause. "Perhaps not," said Cynthia. "I could never feel that love is sufficient. Some people regard love as a civilized instinct; others as a side-dish. With me it is a side-dish."

"Those who regard it as a side-dish are less likely to get into trouble," said Lady Theodosia.

" I don't know about that," said Cynthia, "because—I don't mind telling you now, since it is all over—I certainly was very much in love, in my way, with Godfrey Provence. Even at the last minute I would have broken off with Edward and married him, if he had seemed to care much about my letter, that time. I really wrote it in a temper—he might have read between the lines. It only proves how things work for the best. I know now that he didn't care for me in the least. I have not heard from him since—not a word, not a line."

"Perhaps he has been ill," suggested Lady Theodosia.

"III!" said Cynthia. "His novel was published yesterday. I read the announcement in The Times. That does not sound like illness. No, he subordinates everything to his writing. He liked me well enough till I seemed to interfere with that. If I had had red hair and a bad complexion, he would have hated the sight of me. But then," she went on, relapsing into her former voice of indifference, "what does it matter one way or the other ? Of course, I gave myself a great deal of unnecessary unhappiness at the time. I started on my wedding tour the most miserable woman in the world. I prayed that the boat might sink which took us to Calais. I should probably have died of fright if it had. I am merely telling you all this to prove to you how silly a girl can be if she attaches too much importance to sentiment. It is far easier to be Juliet than Cressida. You may depend that Cressida had a great deal of self-control."

"I think it is only fair to Godfrey Provence to say this — you are certainly difficult to understand. Men divide women into so many types, and when they see a woman they put her down as a representative of one of these. They like to think that if she is type a she will do this, if type b that, if type c the other, and so on. It is very absurd, of course, for no two women are the same any more than one wave is like another."

"If he had loved me he would have understood me," said Cynthia. "At any rate he would not have given me up so easily."

Lady Theodosia shook her head. "I don't pretend to explain either of you," she said. "You may know a tree by its fruit, but certainly not men and women by their actions."

"It has all ended now," said Cynthia, "and well enough for both of us. You can't say that of all endings."

"Well enough, yes—if it is the end. "At that moment they heard Edward's voice in the hall." I don't think that bonnet-strings suit every face," Lady Theodosia was saying as he came into the room.

"Still talking about dress?" he said. "I've got a bit of news for you which will keep you going very comfortably till dinner. Provence is married."

Neither of the women stirred ; nor did they look at each other. Cynthia, perhaps, smiled a little. Edward felt that his news had fallen flat.

"He's married his cousin," he went on, "a Miss Hemingway, daughter of that Lady Hemingway who goes in for bazaars. The girl is plain, and not much in her. These literary cusses have awfully queer tastes. They don't know what love is, poor devils!" "Who told you about it?" said Cynthia.

"I heard it at the club," said her husband, "from a fellow who knows the bride. They say, too, his book is going to make a hit."

"When was he married?" said Lady Theodosia.

"This morning," said Edward. "I suppose it will be in the papers tomorrow. I used to think he was sweet on Agatha, always hanging about the Rectory as he did last summer."

If a new light suddenly dawned upon him he was discreet enough not to reveal the fact, but with a benedictory smile, as became a husband and the head of the house, he went out.

Cynthia was the first to speak." I'm glad the Calais boat didn't sink," she said; "but even if it had, I can't help thinking that I should have had the best of it." Her lips curved and a dimple came into her cheek, but there was no smile in her eyes.

"I dare say this Miss Hemingway is very well suited to him," said Lady Theodosia.

"I know all about her," said Cynthia. "He once stopped at a country house with her. He told me she was a very good walker and ate an astonishingly large breakfast."

"I have certainly heard more impassioned descriptions," said Lady Theodosia.

"Nevertheless, he has married her," said Cynthia.

"Yes, he has married her," said Lady Theodosia, "and you have married Edward; but I don't think that proves anything."

"Perhaps not," said Cynthia; "a marriage rarely does prove anything. The third person who could explain is always silent." Then she said nothing for some minutes. When she spoke her face lit up with unfeigned gladness. "This Miss Hemingway has straw-coloured hair—and he detests blondes."

Then they both went to dress for dinner.

In reply to a letter from his friend the Hon. and Rev. Percival Heathcote, inquiring, among other things, about that eccentric man, Godfrey Provence, the great Dobbs wrote as follows: —

"I will not say definitely that I am disappointed in him. His book is extremely clever, and I have heard of people reading it twice. That sounds well, but of course it may not mean money. At present I should call it an artistic rather than a financial success. Still, one can only hope for the best. He takes the whole thing very queerly—says that the book may be very poor stuff, but it is at all events the best he can do. That seems to please him more than all the rest—to think it is his best. He is most extraordinary—pig-headed as a mule! (Rather mixed that.) And, Lord save us! why did he marry? Have you seen her? Talk about 'pious orgies!' She is plain, is timid, and adores: figurez-vous. My wife tells me she has already started a tea-gown. Provence seems rather embarrassed, and is, I should say, quietly happy—with reservations. What did he see in her? However, the soul's the stature of the man—not his wife. He may be a giant, in spite of her."

It was generally admitted in the Family—and perhaps outside it— that if any one wanted to discuss the Family, or hear news of the Family, or give advice to the Family, or make laws for the Family, it was all to be done at Mrs. Golightly's over the tea. And the Family—as the Golightlys understood the term —was a large, unlimited body, not subject to arbitrary laws and conditions: any one might belong to it, provided only that the any one was in some way or other, whether by accident or necessity or marriage or any other mysterious cause, on speaking terms with the immediate representatives or distant connexions of the Golightly stock.

On one particular afternoon, therefore—a warm, bright afternoon in May—a small party was assembled in Mrs. Golightly's drawing-room. The party consisted of that lady herself, her husband, her step-son, Lady Hemingway, and Mrs. Godfrey Provence.

"Fancy!" said Lady Hemingway, "Grace has been married three years to-day."
"And where is Godfrey?" said George Golightly. Grace started a sigh, but checked it and smiled instead. The smile was both touching and interesting: touching because forced, interesting because it implied an arrière pensée. At least this was George's