Mrs. Humphry Ward.

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him. Purple shadows bathed the fell beyond - and on its bosom the
rustic scene emerged - a winter idyl.

Fenwick sat down upon a rock, ransacked his pockets for sketch-book
and paints, and began to sketch. When he had made his 'note,' he sat
lost a while in the pleasure of his own growing skill and sharpening
perceptions, and dreaming of future 'subjects.' A series of
'Westmoreland months,' illustrating the seasons among the fells and
the life of the dalesmen, ran through his mind. Nature appeared to his
exultant sense as a vast treasure-house stored for him only - a mine
inexhaustible offered to his craftsman's hand. For him the sweeping
hues, the intricate broideries - green or russet, red or purple - of
this winter world! - for him the delicacy of the snow, the pale azure
of the sky, the cloud-shadows, the white becks, the winding river in
the valley floor, the purple crags, the lovely accents of light and
shade, the hints of composition that wooed his eager eye. Who was it
that said 'Composition is the art of preserving the accidental look'?
Clever fellow! - there was the right thing said, for once! And so he
slipped into a reverie, which was really one of those moments - plastic
and fruitful - by which the artist makes good his kinship with 'the
great of old,' his right to his own place in the unending chain.

Strange! - from that poverty of feeling in which he had considered
the Morrison tragedy - from his growing barrenness of heart towards
Phoebe - he had sprung at a bound into this ecstasy, this expansion of
the whole man. It brought with it a vivid memory of the pictures he
was engaged upon. By the time he turned homeward, and the light was
failing, he was counting the days till he could return to London - and
to work.

* * * * *

There was still, however, another week of his holiday to run. He wrote
to Mrs. Morrison a letter which cost him much pains, expressing a
sympathy that he really felt. He got on with his illustration work,
and extracted a further advance upon it. And the old cousin in Kendal
proved unexpectedly generous. She wrote him a long Scriptural letter,
rating him for disobedience to his father, and warning him against
debt; but she lent him twenty pounds, so that, for the present, Phoebe
could be left in comparative comfort, and he had something in his
pocket.

Yet with this easing of circumstance, the relation between husband and
wife did not improve. During this last week, indeed, Phoebe teased
him to make a sketch of himself to leave with her. He began it
unwillingly, then got interested, and finally made a vigorous sketch,
as ample as their largest looking-glass would allow, with which he was
extremely pleased. Phoebe delighted in it, hung it up proudly in the
parlour, and repaid him with smiles and kisses.

Yet the very next day, under the cloud of his impending departure, she
went about pale and woe-begone, on the verge of tears or temper. He
was provoked into various harsh speeches, and Phoebe felt that despair
which weak and loving women know, when parting is near, and they
foresee the hour beyond parting - when each unkind word and look, too
well remembered, will gnaw and creep about the heart.

But she could not restrain herself. Nervous tension, doubt of her
husband, and condemnation of herself drove her on. The very last night
there was a quarrel - about the child - whom Fenwick had punished for
some small offence. Phoebe hotly defended her - first with tears, then
with passion. For the first time these two people found themselves
looking into each other's eyes with rage, almost with hate. Then they
kissed and made up, terrified at the abyss which had yawned between
them; and when the moment came, Phoebe went through the parting
bravely.

But when Fenwick had gone, and the young wife sat alone beside the
cottage fire, the January darkness outside seemed to her the natural
symbol of her own bitter foreboding. Why had he left her? There was
no reason in it, as she had said. But there must be some reason behind
it. And slowly, in the firelight, she fell to brooding over the image
of that pale classical face, as she had seen it in the sketch-book.
John had talked quite frankly about Madame de Pastourelles - not like
a man beguiled; making no mystery of her at all, answering all
questions. But his restlessness to get back to London had been
extraordinary. Was it merely the restlessness of the artist?

This was Tuesday. To-morrow Madame de Pastourelles was to come to a
sitting. Phoebe sat picturing it; while the curtain of rain descended
once more upon the cottage, blotting out the pikes, and washing down
the sodden fields.




CHAPTER VI


'I must alter that fold over the arm,' murmured Fenwick, stepping
back, with a frown, and gazing hard at the picture on his easel - 'it's
too strong.'

Madame de Pastourelles gave a little shiver.

The big bare room, with its Northern aspect and its smouldering fire,
had been of a polar temperature this March afternoon. She had been
sitting for an hour and a half. Her hands and feet were frozen, and
the fur cloak which she wore over her white dress had to be thrown
back for the convenience of the painter, who was at work on the velvet
folds.

Meanwhile, on the further side of the room sat 'propriety' - also
shivering - an elderly governess of the Findon family, busily knitting.

'The dress is coming!' said Fenwick, after another minute or two.
'Yes, it's coming.'

And with a flushed face and dishevelled hair he stood back again,
staring first at his canvas and then at his sitter.

Madame de Pastourelles sat as still as she could, her thin, numbed
fingers lightly crossed on her lap. Her wonderful velvet dress, of
ivory-white, fell about her austerely in long folds, which, as they
bent or overlapped, made beautiful convolutions, firm yet subtle, on
the side turned towards the painter, and over her feet. The classical
head, with its small ear, the pale yet shining face, combined with
the dress to suggest a study in ivory, wrought to a great delicacy and
purity. Only the eyes, much darker than the hair, and the rich brown
of the sable cloak where it touched the white, gave accent and force
to the ethereal pallor, the supreme refinement, of the rest - face,
dress, hands. Nothing but civilisation in its most complex workings
could have produced such a type; that was what prevailed dimly in
Fenwick's mind as he wrestled with his picture. Sometimes his day's
work left him exultant, sometimes in a hell of despair.

'I went to see Mr. Welby's studio yesterday,' he said, hastily, after
another minute or two, seeing her droop with fatigue.

Her face changed and lit up.

'Well, what did you see?'

'The two Academy pictures - several portraits - and a lot of studies.'

'Isn't it fine - the "Polyxena"?'

Fenwick twisted his mouth in a trick he had.

'Yes,' he said, perfunctorily.

She coloured slightly, as though in antagonism.

'That means that you don't admire it at all?'

'Well, it doesn't say anything to me,' said Fenwick, after a pause.

'What do you dislike?'

'Why doesn't he paint flesh?' he said, abruptly - 'not coloured wax.'

'Of course there is a decorative convention in his painting' - her tone
was a little stiff - 'but so there is in all painting.'

Fenwick shrugged his shoulders.

'Go and look at Rubens - or Velasquez.'

[Illustration: _Eugénie_]

'Why not at Leonardo - and Raphael?'

'Because they are not _moderns_ - and we can't get back into their
skins. Rubens and Velasquez _are_ moderns,' he protested, stoutly.

'What is a "modern"?' she asked, laughing.

It was on the tip of his tongue to say, 'You are - and it is only
fashion - or something else - that makes you like this archaistic
stuff!' But he restrained himself, and they fell into a skirmish, in
which, as usual, he came off badly. As soon as he perceived it, he
became rather heated and noisy, trying to talk her down. Whereupon she
sprang up, came down from her pedestal to look at the picture, called
mademoiselle to see - praised - laughed - and all was calm again. Only
Fenwick was left once more reflecting that she was Welby's champion
through thick and thin. And this ruffled him.

'Did Mr. Welby study mostly in Italy?' he asked her presently, as he
fetched a hand-glass, in which to examine his morning's work.

'Mostly - but also in Vienna.'

And, to keep the ball rolling, she described a travel-year - apparently
before her marriage - which she, Lord Findon, a girl friend of hers,
and Welby had spent abroad together - mainly in Rome, Munich,
and Vienna - for the purpose, it seemed, of Welby's studies. The
experiences she described roused a kind of secret exasperation in
Fenwick. And what was really resentment against the meagreness of
his own lot showed itself, as usual, in jealousy. He said something
contemptuous of this foreign training for an artist - so much concerned
with galleries and Old Masters. Much better that he should use his
eyes upon his own country and its types; that had been enough for all
the best men.

Madame de Pastourelles politely disagreed with him; then, to change
the subject, she talked of some of the humours and incidents of
their stay in Vienna - the types of Viennese society - the Emperor, the
beautiful mad Empress, the Archdukes, the priests - and also of
some hurried visits to Hungarian country houses in winter, of the
cosmopolitan luxury and refinement to be found there, ringed by
forests and barbarism.

Fenwick listened greedily, and presently inquired whether Mr. Welby
had shared in all these amusements.

'Oh yes. He was generally the life and soul of them.'

'I suppose he made lots of friends - and got on with everybody?'

Madame de Pastourelles assented - cautiously.

'That's all a question of manners,' said Fenwick, with sudden
roughness.

She gave a vague 'Perhaps' - and he straightened himself aggressively.

'I don't think manners very important, do you?'

'Very!' She said it, with a gay firmness.

'Well, then, some of us will never get any,' his tone was surly - 'we
weren't taught young enough.'

'Our mothers teach us generally - all that's wanted!'

He shook his head.

'It's not as simple as that. Besides - one may lose one's mother.'

'Ah, yes!' she said, with quick feeling.

And presently a little tact, a few questions on her part had brought
out some of his own early history - his mother's death - his years of
struggle with his father. As he talked on - disjointedly - painting
hard all the time, she had a vision of the Kendal shop and its
customers - of the shrewd old father, moulded by the business, the
avarice, the religion of an English country town, with a Calvinist
contempt for art and artists - and trying vainly to coerce his sulky
and rebellious son.

'Has your father seen these pictures?' She pointed to the 'Genius
Loci' on its further easel - and to the portrait.

'My father! I haven't spoken to him or seen him for years.'

'Years!' She opened her eyes. 'Is it as bad as that?'

'Aye, that's North-Country. If you've once committed yourself, you
stick to it - like death.'

She declared that it might be North-Country, but was none the less
barbarous. However, of course it would all come right. All the
interesting tales of one's childhood began that way - with a cruel
father, and a rebellious son. But they came to magnificent ends,
notwithstanding - with sacks of gold and a princess. Diffident, yet
smiling, she drew conclusions. 'So, you see, you'll make money - you'll
be an R.A. - you'll _marry_ - and Mr. Fenwick will nurse the
grandchildren. I assure you - that's the fairy-tale way.'

Fenwick, who had flushed hotly, turned away and occupied himself in
replenishing his palette.

'Papa, of course, would say - Don't marry till you're a hundred and
two!' she resumed. 'But pray, don't listen to him.'

'I dare say he's right,' said Fenwick, returning to his easel, his
face bent over it.

'Not at all. People should have their youth together.'

'That's all very well. But many men don't know at twenty what they'll
want at thirty,' said Fenwick, painting fast.

Madame de Pastourelles laughed.

'The doctors say nowadays - it is papa's latest craze - that it doesn't
matter what you eat - or how little - if you only chew it properly. I
wonder if that applies to matrimony?'

'What's the chewing?'

'Manners,' she said, laughing - 'that you think so little of. Whether
the food's agreeable or not, manners help it down.'

'Manners! - between husband and wife?' he said, scornfully.

'But certainly!' She lifted her beautiful brows for emphasis. 'Show me
any persons, please, that want them more!'

'The people I've been living among,' said Fenwick, with sharp
persistence, 'haven't got time for fussing about manners - in the sense
you mean. Life's too hard.'

A flush of bright colour sprang into her face. But she held her
ground.

'What do you suppose I mean? I don't meant court trains and
courtesies - I really don't.'

Fenwick was silent a moment, and then said - aggressively - ' We can't
all of us have the same chances - as Mr. Welby, for instance.'

Madame de Pastourelles looked at him in astonishment. What an
extraordinary obsession! They seemed not to be able to escape from
Arthur Welby's name: yet it never cropped up without producing some
sign of irritation in this strange young man. Poor Arthur! - who had
always shown himself so ready to make friends, whenever the two
men met - as they often did - in the St. James's Square drawing-room.
Fenwick's antagonism, indeed, had been plain to her for some time.
It was natural, she supposed; he was clearly very sensitive on the
subject of his own humble origin and bringing-up; but she sighed that
a perverse youth should so mismanage his opportunities.

As to 'chances,' she declared rather tartly that they had nothing to
do with it. It was natural to Arthur Welby to make himself agreeable.

'Yes - like all other kinds of aristocrats,' said Fenwick, grimly.

Madame de Pastourelles frowned.

'Of all the words in the dictionary - that word is the most
detestable!' she declared. 'It ought to be banished. Well, thank
goodness, it _is_ generally banished.'

'That's only because we all like to hide our heads in the sand - you
who possess the privileges - and we who envy them!'

'I vow I don't possess any privileges at all,' she said, with
defiance.

'You say so, because you breathe them - live in them - like the
air - without knowing it,' said Fenwick, also trying to speak lightly.
Then he added, suddenly putting down his palette and brushes, while
his black eyes lightened - 'And so does Mr. Welby. You can see from
his pictures that he doesn't know anything about common, coarse
people - _real_ people - who make up the world. He paints wax, and calls
it life; and you - '

'Go on! - _please_ go on!'

'I shall only make a fool of myself,' he said, taking up his brushes
again.

'Not at all. And I praise humbug? - and call it manners?'

He paused, then blurted out - 'I wouldn't say anything rude to you for
the world!'

She smiled - a smile that turned all the delicate severity of her face
to sweetness. 'That's very nice of you. But if you knew Mr. Welby
better, you'd never want to say anything rude to _him_ either!'

Fenwick was silent. Madame de Pastourelles, feeling that for the
moment she also had come to the end of her tether, fell into a
reverie, from which she was presently roused by finding Fenwick
standing before her, palette in hand.

'I don't want you to think me an envious brute,' he said, stammering.
'Of course, I know the "Polyxena" is a fine thing - a very fine thing.'

She looked a little surprised - as though he offered her moods to which
she had no key. 'Shall I show you something I like much better?' she
said, with quick resource. And drawing towards her a small portfolio
she had brought with her, she took out a drawing and handed it to him.
'I am taking it to be framed. Isn't it beautiful?'

It was a drawing, in silver-point, of an orange-tree in mingled fruit
and bloom - an exquisite piece of work, of a Japanese truth, intricacy,
and perfection. Fenwick looked at it in silence. These silver-point
drawings of Welby's were already famous. In the preceding May there
had been an exhibition of them at an artistic club. At the top of
the drawing was an inscription in a minute handwriting - 'Sorrento:
Christmas Day,' with the monogram 'A.W.' and a date three years old.

As Madame de Pastourelles perceived that his eyes had caught the
inscription, she rather hastily withdrew the sketch and returned it to
the portfolio.

'I watched him draw it,' she explained - 'in a Sorrento garden. My
father and I were there for the winter. Mr. Welby was in a villa near
ours, and I used to watch him at work.'

It seemed to Fenwick that her tone had grown rather hurried and
reserved, as though she regretted the impulse which had made her show
him the drawing. He praised it as intelligently as he could; but his
mind was guessing all the time at the relation which lay behind the
drawing. According to Cuningham's information, it was now three years
since a separation had been arranged between Madame de Pastourelles
and her husband, Comte Albert de Pastourelles, owing to the Comte's
outrageous misconduct. Lord Findon had no doubt taken her abroad after
the catastrophe. And, besides her father, Welby had also been near,
apparently - watching over her?

He returned to his work upon the hands, silent, but full of
speculation. The evident bond between these two people had excited
his imagination and piqued his curiosity from the first moment of his
acquaintance with them. They were both of a rare and fine quality; and
the signs of an affection between them, equally rare and fine, had
not been lost on those subtler perceptions in Fenwick which belonged
perhaps to his heritage as an artist. If he gave the matter an
innocent interpretation, and did not merely say to himself, 'She has
lost a husband and found a lover,' it was because the woman herself
had awakened in him fresh sources of judgement. His thoughts simply
did not dare besmirch her.

* * * * *

The clock struck five; and thereupon a sound of voices on the stairs
outside.

'Papa!' said Madame de Pastourelles, jumping up - in very evident
relief - her teeth chattering.

The door opened and Lord Findon put in a reconnoitring head.

'May I - or we - come in?'

And behind him, on the landing, Fenwick with a start perceived the
smiling face of Arthur Welby.

'I've come to carry off my daughter,' said Findon, with a friendly nod
to the artist. 'But don't let us in if you don't want to.'

'Turn me out, please, at once, if I'm in the way,' said Welby. 'Lord
Findon made me come up.'

It was the first time that Welby had visited the Bernard Street
studio. Fenwick's conceit had sometimes resented the fact. Yet now
that Welby was there he was unwilling to show his work. He muttered
something about there being 'more to see in a day or two.'

'There's a great deal to see already,' said Lord Findon. 'But, of
course, do as you like. Eugénie, are you ready?'

'Please! - may I be exhibited?' said Madame de Pastourelles to Fenwick,
with a smiling appeal.

He gave way, dragged the easel into the best light, and fell back
while the two men examined the portrait.

'Stay where you are, Eugénie,' said Lord Findon, holding up his hand.
'Let Arthur see the pose.'

She sat down obediently. Fenwick heard an exclamation from Welby, and
a murmured remark to Lord Findon; then Welby turned to the painter,
his face aglow.

'I say, I do congratulate you! You _are_ making a success of it! The
whole scheme's delightful. You've got the head admirably.'

'I'm glad you like it,' said Fenwick, rather shortly, ready at once to
suspect a note of patronage in the other's effusion. Welby - a little
checked - returned to the picture, studying it closely, and making a
number of shrewd, or generous comments upon it, gradually quenched,
however, by Fenwick's touchy or ungracious silence. Of course the
picture was good. Fenwick wanted no one to tell him that.

Meanwhile, Lord Findon - though in Fenwick's studio he always behaved
himself with a certain jauntiness, as a man should who has discovered
a genius - was a little discontented.

'It's a fine thing, Eugénie,' he was saying to her, as he helped
her put on her furs, 'but I'm not altogether satisfied. It wants
animation. It's too - too - '

'Too sad?' she asked, quietly.

'Too grave, my dear - too grave. I want your smile.'

Madame de Pastourelles shook her head.

'What do you mean?' he asked.

'I can't go smiling to posterity!' she said; first gaily - then
suddenly her lip quivered.

'Eugénie, darling - for God's sake - '

'I'm all right,' she said, recovering herself instantly. 'Mr. Arthur,
are you coming?'

'One moment,' said Welby; then, turning to Fenwick as the others
approached them, he said, 'Might I make two small criticisms?'

'Of course.'

'The right hand seems to me too large - and the chin wants fining.
Look!' He took a little ivory paper-cutter from his pocket, and
pointed to the line of the chin, with a motion of the head towards
Madame de Pastourelles.

Fenwick looked - and said nothing.

'By George, I think he's right,' said Lord Findon, putting on
spectacles. 'That right hand's certainly too big.'

'In my opinion, it's not big enough,' said Fenwick, doggedly.

Welby withdrew instantly from the picture, and took up his hat. Lord
Findon looked at the artist - half angry, half amused. 'You don't buy
her gloves, sir - I do.'

Eugénie's eyes meanwhile had begun to sparkle, as she stood in her
sable cap and cloak, waiting for her companions. Fenwick approached
her.

'Will you sit to-morrow?'

'I think not - I have some engagements.'

'Next day?'

'I will let you know.'

Fenwick's colour rose.

'There is a good deal to do still - and I must work at my other
picture.'

'Yes, I know. I will write.'

And with a little dry nod of farewell she slipped her hand into her
father's arm and led him away. Welby also saluted pleasantly, and
followed the others.

* * * * *

Fenwick was left to pace his room in a tempest, denouncing himself as
a 'damned fool,' bent on destroying all his own chances in life. Why
was it that Welby's presence always had this effect upon him: - setting
him on edge, and making a bear of him? No! - it was not allowed to
be so handsome, so able, so ingratiating. Yet he knew very well
that Welby made no enemies, and that in his grudging jealousy of a
delightful artist he, Fenwick, stood alone.

He walked to the window. Yes, there they were, all three - Mademoiselle
Barras seemed to have gone her ways separately - just disappearing into
Russell Square. He saw that Welby had possessed himself of the
fair lady's portfolio, and was carrying her shawl. He watched their
intimate, laughing ways - how different from the stiffness she had
just shown _him_ - from the friendly, yet distant relations she always
maintained between herself and her painter! A fierce and irritable
ambition swept through him - rebellion against the hampering conditions
of birth and poverty, which he felt as so many chains upon body and
soul. Why was he born the son of a small country tradesman,
narrow, ignorant, and tyrannical? - harassed by penury, denied
opportunities - while a man like Welby found life from the beginning a
broad road, as it were, down a widening valley, to a land of abundance
and delight?

But the question led immediately to an answering outburst of vanity.
He paced up and down, turning from the injustice of the past to
challenge the future. A few more years, and the world would know where
to place _him_ - with regard to the men now in the running - men with
half his power - Welby and the like. A mad arrogance, a boundless
confidence in himself, flamed through all his veins. Let him paint,
paint, _paint_ - think of nothing, care for nothing but the maturing of
his gift!

How long he lost himself in this passion of egotism and defiance he
hardly knew. He was roused from it by the servant bringing a lamp; and
as she set it down, the light fell upon a memorandum scrawled on the
edge of a sketch which was lying on the table: 'Feb. 21 - 10 o'clock.'

His mood collapsed. He sat down by the dying fire, brooding and
miserable. How on earth was he going to get through the next few
weeks? Abominable! - thoughtlessly cruel! - that neither Lord Findon nor
Madame de Pastourelles should ever yet have spoken to him of money!
These months of work on the portrait - this constant assumption on the


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