The Tragic Muse


NICK DORMER had, for the hour, quite taken up his abode at his studio, where Biddy usually arrived after breakfast to give him news of the state of affairs in Calcutta Gardens and where many letters and telegrams were now addressed to him. Among such missives, on the morning of the Saturday on which Peter Sherringham had promised to dine at the other house, was a note from Miriam Rooth, informing Nick that if he should not telegraph to put her off she would turn up about half past eleven, probably with her mother, for just one more sitting. She added that it was a nervous day for her and that she could n’t keep still, so that it would really be very kind to let her come to him as a refuge. She wished to stay away from the theatre, where everything was now settled (or so much the worse for the others if it was n’t), till the evening, but if she were left to herself should be sure to go there. It would keep her quiet and soothe her to sit — he could keep her quiet (he was such a blessing that way !) at any time. Therefore she would give him two or three hours — or rather she would ask him for them — if he did n’t positively turn her from the door.

It had not been definite to Nick that he wanted another sitting at all for the slight work, as he held it to be, that Miriam had already helped him to achieve. He regarded this work essentially as a sketch; he had made what he could of it and would have been at a loss to see how he could make more. If it was not finished, it was because it was not finishable; at any rate he had said all he had to say in that particular phrase. Nick Dormer, as it happened, was not just now in the highest spirits ; his imagination had, within two or three days, become conscious of a check which he tried to explain by the idea of a natural reaction. Any important change, any new selection, in one’s life was exciting, and exaggerate that importance, and one’s own, as little as one would, there was an inevitable strong emotion in renouncing, in the face of considerable opposition, one sort of responsibility for another sort. That made life not perhaps necessarily joyous, but decidedly thrilling, for the hour; and it was all very well till the thrill abated. When this occurred, as it inevitably would, the romance and the poetry of the thing would be exchanged for the flatness and the prose. It was to these latter elements that Nick Dormer had waked up pretty wide on this particular morning; and the prospect was not appreciably more reassuring from the fact that he had warned himself of it in advance. He had known it would come, and here it was, and he would inevitably have plenty of leisure and opportunity to consider it. A reaction was a reaction, but it was not after all a catastrophe. A part of its privilege would be to make him ask himself if he had not committed a great mistake; that privilege would doubtless even remain within the limits of its nature in leading him to reply to this question in the affirmative. But he would live to withdraw that reply — this was the first thing to bear in mind.

He was occupied, even while he dressed, in the effort to get ahead, mentally, with some such retractation, when, by the first post, Miriam’s note arrived. At first it did little to help him in his effort, for it made him contrast her eagerness with his own want of alacrity, and ask himself what the deuce he should do with her. Ambition, with her, was always on the charge, and she was not a person to conceive that others might, in bad moments, listen for the trumpet in vain. It would never have occurred to her that, only the day before, he had spent a portion of the afternoon quite at the bottom of the hill. He had in fact turned into the National Gallery and had wandered about there for more than one hour, and it was just while he did so that the immitigable recoil had begun perversely to set in. And the perversity was all the greater from the circumstance that if the experience was depressing, it was not because he had been discouraged beyond measure by the sight of the grand things that had been done — things so much grander than any that would ever bear his signature. That variation he was duly acquainted with and should taste in abundance again. What had happened to him, as he passed on this occasion from Titian to Rubens and from Gainsborough to Rembrandt, was that he found himself calling the whole art literally into question. What was it, after all, at the best, and why had people given it so high a place ? Its weakness, its narrowness, appeared to him; he looked at several worldfamous performances with a lustreless eye, tacitly blaspheming. That is, he blasphemed if it were blasphemy to say to himself that, with all respect, they were a poor business, only well enough in their small way. The force that produced them was not one of the greatest forces in human affairs; their place was inferior and their connection with the life of man casual and slight. They represented so inadequately the idea, and it was the idea that won the race — that, in the long run, came in first. He had incontestably been in much closer relation to the idea a few months before than he was to-day: it made up a great deal for the bad side of politics that they were, after all, a clever system for applying and propagating the idea. The love of it had really been, at certain hours, at the bottom of his disposition to follow them up ; though this had not been what he used to talk of most with his political comrades or even with Julia. Certainly, political as Julia was, he had not conferred with her much about the idea. However, this might have been his own fault quite as much as hers, and she probably took such an enthusiasm for granted — she took such a tremendous lot of things for granted. On the other hand he had put this enthusiasm forward frequently in his many discussions with Gabriel Nash, with the effect, it is true, of making that worthy scoff transcendentally at what he was pleased to term his hypocrisy. Gabriel maintained precisely that there were more ideas, more of those that man lived by, in a single room of the National Gallery than in all the statutes of Parliament. Nick had replied to this, more than once, that the determination of what man did live by was required; to which Nash had retorted (and it was very rarely that he quoted Scripture) that it was at any rate not by bread and butter alone. The statutes of Parliament gave him bread and butter tout au plus.

Nick Dormer, at present, had no pretension of trying this question over again: he reminded himself that his ambiguity was subjective, as the philosophers said ; the result of a mood which in due course would be at the mercy of another mood. It made him curse, and cursing was dull, as an ultimate stage ; so he would throw out a platform beyond it. The time far beyond others to do one’s work was when it did n’t seem worth doing, for then one gave it a brilliant chance, that of resisting the stiffest test of all—the test of striking one as very bad. To do the most when there would be the least to be got by it was to be most in the true spirit of production. One thing, at any rate, was very certain, Nick reflected: nothing on earth would induce him to change back again ; not even if this twilight of the soul should last for the rest of his days. He hardened himself in his posture with a good conscience, which, had they had a glimpse of it, would, have made him still more diverting to those who already thought him so ; but now, by good fortune, Miriam suddenly put into form the little bridge that was wanted to carry him over to more elastic ground. If he had made Ills sketch it was a proof that he had done her, and that he had done her flashed upon him as a sign that she would be still more feasible. He found his platform, as I have called it, and for a moment, in his relief, he danced upon it. He sent out a telegram to Balaklava Place requesting his beautiful sitter by no manner of means to fail him. When his servant came back, it was to usher into the studio Peter Sherringham, whom the man had apparently found at the door.

The hour was so early for social intercourse that Nick immediately guessed his visitor had come on some rare errand : but this inference was instantly followed by the reflection that Peter might after all only wish to make up by present zeal for not having been near him before. He forgot that, as he had subsequently learned from Biddy, their foreign, or all but foreign, cousin had spent an hour in Rosedale Road, missing him there but pulling out Miriam’s portrait, the day of his own hurried visit to Beauclere. These young men were not on a ceremonious footing, and it was not in Nick’s nature to keep a record of civilities rendered or omitted ; nevertheless he had been vaguely conscious that during a stay in London, on Peter’s part, which apparently was stretching itself out, he and his kinsman had foregathered less than of yore. It was indeed an absorbing moment in the career of each, but at the same time that he recognized this truth Nick remembered that it was not impossible Peter might have taken upon himself to resent some supposititious failure of consideration for Julia; though this would have been stupid, and the newly appointed minister (to he had forgotten where) was not stupid. Nick held that as he had treated Julia with studious generosity she had nothing whatever to reproach him with; so her brother had therefore still less. It was at any rate none of her brother’s business. There were only two things that would have made Nick lukewarm about disposing in a few frank words of all this : one of them his general hatred of talking of his private affairs (a reluctance in which he and Peter were well matched) ; and the other a particular sentiment which would have involved more of a confession and which could not be otherwise described than as a perception that the most definite and even pleasant consequence of the collapse of his engagement was, as it happened, an extreme consciousness of freedom. Nick Dormer’s observation was of a different sort from his cousin’s; he noted much less the signs of the hour and kept altogether a looser register of life; nevertheless, just as one of our young men had during these days in London found the air peopled with personal influences, the concussion of human atoms, so the other, though only asking to live without too many questions and work without too many disasters, to be glad and sorry, in short, on easy terms, had become aware of a certain social tightness, of the fact that life is crowded and passion is restless, accident frequent and community inevitable. Everybody with whom one had relations had other relations too, and even optimism was a mixture and peace an embroilment. The only chance was to let everything be embroiled but one’s temper and everything spoiled but one’s work. It must be added that Nick sometimes took precautions against irritation which were in excess of the danger, as departing travelers, about to whiz through foreign countries, study phrasebooks for combinations of words they will never use. He was at home in the brightness of things — his longest excursions across the border were short. He had a dim sense that Peter considered that he made him uncomfortable, and might have come now to tell him so ; in which case he should be sorry for Peter in various ways. But as soon as his visitor began to speak Nick felt suspicion fade into old friendliness, and this in spite of the fact that Peter’s speech had a slightly exaggerated promptitude, like the promptitude of business, which might have denoted self-consciousness. To Nick it quickly appeared better to be glad than to be sorry: this simple argument was more than sufficient to make him glad Peter was there.

“ My dear Nick, it’s an unpardonable hour, is n’t it? I was n’t even sure you’d be up, and yet I had to risk it because my hours, verily, are numbered. I’m going away to-morrow,” Peter went on ; “ I’ve got a thousand things to do. I’ve had no talk with you this time such as we used to have of old (it’s disgusting, but it ’s your fault, you know), and as I’ve got to rush about all day I thought I ’d just catch you before any one else does.”

“ Some one has already caught me, but there ’s plenty of time,” Nick returned.

Peter stared a moment, as if he were going to ask a question : then he thought better of this and said, “ I see, I see; I ’m sorry to say I ’ve only a few minutes at best.”

“ Man of crushing responsibilities, you’ve come to humiliate me ! ” Nick exclaimed. “ I know all about it.”

“ It’s more than I do, then. That’s not what I ’ve come for, but I shall be delighted if I humiliate you a little by the way. I’ve two things in mind, and I ‘ll mention the most difficult first. I came here the other day — the day after my arrival in town.”

“ Ah, yes, so you did; it was very good of you,” Nick interrupted, as if he remembered. “ I ought to have returned your visit, or left a card, or written my name, or something, in Great Stanhope Street, ought n’t I ? You had n’t got this new thing then, or I would have done so.”

Peter eyed him a moment. “ I say, what’s the matter with you? Am I really unforgivable for having taken that liberty ? ”

“ What liberty ?” Nick looked now as if there were nothing whatever the matter with him, and indeed his visitor’s allusion was not clear to him. He was thinking only, for the instant, of Biddy, of whom and whose secret inclinations Grace had insisted on talking to him. They were none of his business, and if he would not for the world have let the girl herself suspect that he had violent lights on what was most screened and curtained in her, much less would he have made Peter a clumsy present of this knowledge. Grace had a queer theory that Peter treated Biddy badly — treated them all, somehow, badly; but Grace’s zeal (she had plenty of it, though she affected all sorts of fine indifference) almost always took the form of being wrong. Nick wanted to do only what Biddy would thank him for, and he knew very well what she wouldn’t. She wished him and Peter to be great friends, and the only obstacle to this was that Peter was too much of a diplomatist. Peter made him, for an instant, think of her and of the hour they had lately spent together in the studio in his absence — an hour of which Biddy had given him a history full of detail and of omissions; and this in turn brought Nick’s imagination back to his visitor’s own side of the matter. That complexity of things of which the sense had lately increased with him, and to which it was owing that any thread one might take hold of would probably lead one to something discomfortable, was illustrated by the fact that while poor Biddy was thinking of Peter it was ten to one that poor Peter was thinking of Miriam Rooth. All this danced before Nick’s intellectual vision for a space briefer than that of my too numerous words.

“ I pitched into your treasures — I rummaged among your canvases,” Peter said. “ Biddy had nothing whatever to do with it — she maintained an attitude of irreproachable reserve. It has been on my conscience all these days, and I ought to have done penance before. I have been putting it off partly because I am so ashamed of my indiscretion. Que voulez-vous, my dear Nick ? My provocation was great. I heard you had been painting Miss Rooth, so that I could n’t restrain my curiosity. I simply went into that corner and struck out there a trifle wildly, no doubt. I dragged the young lady to the light — your sister turned pale as she saw me. It was a good deal like breaking open one of your letters, was n’t it? However, I assure you it ’s all right, for I congratulate you both on your style and on your correspondent.”

“ You ’re as clever, as witty, as humorous, as ever, Peter,” Nick rejoined, going himself into the corner designated by his companion and laying his hands on the same canvas. “ Your curiosity is the highest possible tribute to my little attempt, and your sympathy sets me right with myself. There is she again,” Nick went on, thrusting the picture into an empty frame; “you shall see her whether you wish to or not.”

“Right with yourself ? You don’t mean to say you’ve been wrong ! ” Sherringham returned, standing opposite the portrait.

“ Oh, I don’t know ; I’ve been kicking up such a row ; anything is better than a row.”

“ She’s awfully good — she’s awfully true,” said Sherringham. “You ’ve done more to it, since the other day ; you’ve put in several things.”

“ Yes, but I’ve worked distractedly. I’ve not altogether conformed to the celebrated recommendation about being off with the old love.”

“ With the old love ? ” Sherringham repeated, looking hard at the picture.

“ Before you are on with the new.” Nick had no sooner uttered these words than he colored ; it occurred to him that Peter would probably think he was alluding to Julia. He therefore added quickly: “ It is n’t so easy to cease to represent an appreciative constituency. Really, most of my time for a fortnight has been given up to letter - writing. They’ve all been unexpectedly charming. I should have thought they would have loathed and despised me. But not a bit of it; they cling to me fondly —they struggle with me tenderly. I ’ve been down to talk with them about it, and we’ve passed the most sociable, delightful hours. I ’ve designated my successor ; I’ve felt a good deal like the Emperor Charles the Fifth when about to retire to the monastery of Yuste. The more I ‘ve seen of them, in this way, the more I ’ve liked them, and they declare it has been the same with themselves as regards me. We spend our time in assuring each other that we have n’t begun to know each other till now. In short, it’s all wonderfully jolly, but it is n’t business. C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre.”

“ They are not so charming as they might be if they don’t offer to keep you and let you paint.”

“ They do, almost; it ’s fantastic, ” said Nick. “ Remember they have n’t seen any of my painting yet.”

“ Well, I ’m sorry for you ; we live in too enlightened an age,” Peter declared. “ You can’t suffer for art. Your experience is interesting ; it seems to show that, at the tremendous pitch of civilization we’ve reached, you can’t suffer from anything but hunger.”

“ I shall doubtless do that in alumdance.”

“ Never, never, when you paint as well as this.”

“ Oh, come, you ‘re too good to be true,” Nick replied. “ But where did you learn that one’s stomach is full in proportion as one’s work is fine ? ”

Peter gave him no satisfaction on this curious point — he only continued to look at the picture ; after which, in a moment, he said, “ I ’ll give you your price for it on the spot.”

“ Dear boy, you ’re so magnanimous that you shall have it for nothing! ” Nick exclaimed, passing his arm into his companion’s.

Peter was silent at first. “ Why do you call me magnanimous ? ”

“ Oh, bless my soul, it’s hers — I forget ! ” laughed Nick, failing in his turn to answer the other’s inquiry. “ But you shall have another.”

“ Another ? Are you going to do another ? ”

“ This very morning. That is, I shall begin it. I ’ve heard from her ; she’s coming to sit — a short time hence.”

Peter turned away a little at this, releasing himself, and, as if the movement had been an effect of Nick’s words, looked at his watch earnestly, to dissipate that appearance. He fell back, to consider the picture from further off. “ The more you do her, the better ; she has all the qualities of a great model. From that point of view it ’s a pity she has another trade : she might make so good a thing of this one. But how shall you do her again?” Sherringham continued ingenuously.

“ Oh, I can scarcely say; we ’ll arrange something; we ’ll talk it over. It‘s extraordinary how well she enters into what one wants ; she knows more than one does one’s self. She is n’t the first comer. However, you know all about that, since you invented her, did n’t you ? That’s what she says ; she’s awfully sweet on you,” Nick pursued. “ What I ought to do is to try something as different as possible from that thing; not the sibyl, the muse, the tremendous creature, but the charming woman, the person one knows, in different gear, as she appears en ville, as she calls it. I ’ll do something really serious, and send it to you out there with my respects. It will remind you of home, and perhaps a little even of me. If she knows it’s for you she ’ll throw herself into it in the right spirit. Leave it to us, my dear fellow; we ’ll turn out something good.”

“ It’s delightful to hear you; but I shall send you a check, said Peter.

“I suppose it’s all right in your position, but you ‘re too proud,” his kinsman answered.

“ What do you mean by my position ? ”

“ Your exaltation, your high connection with the country, your treating with sovereign powers as the representative of a sovereign power. Is n’t that what they call ’em ? ”

Sherringham, who had turned again towards his companion, listened to this with his eyes fixed on Nick’s face, while at the same time he once more drew forth his watch. “ Brute! ” he exclaimed familiarly, at the same time dropping his eyes on the watch. “ At what time did you say yon expected your sitter ? ”

“ Oh, we’ve plenty of time ; don’t be afraid of letting me see you agitated by her presence.”

“Brute!” Sherringham again ejaculated.

This friendly personal note cleared the air, made the communication between the two men closer. " Stay with me and talk to me,” said Kick; “ I dare say it’s good for me. Heaven knows when I shall see you, so independently, again.”

“ Have you got something more to show me, then — some other work ?” Sherringham asked.

“ Must I bribe you by putting things in a row before you ? You know what I ’ve done ; by which I mean of course you know what I have n’t done. My work, as you are so good as to call it, has hitherto been horrible rot. I ’ve had no time, no opportunity, no continuity. I must go and sit down in a corner and learn my alphabet. That thing isn’t good; what I shall do for you won’t be good. Don’t protest, my dear fellow ; nothing will be fit to look at for a long time. And think of my ridiculous age. As the populace say (or don’t they say it ?) it ’s a rum go. It won’t be amusing.”

“ Oh, you ’re so clever you ‘ll get on fast,” Sherringham replied, trying to think how he could most directly disobey his companion’s injunction not to protest.

“ I mean it won’t be amusing for others,”said Nick, unperturbed by this violation. “ They want results, and small blame to them.”

“ Well, whatever you do, don’t talk like Mr. Gabriel Nash,” Peter went on. “ Sometimes I think you are just going to.”

Nick stared a moment. “ Why, he never would have said that. ‘ They want results, the damned fools ’ — that would have been more in his key.”

“It’s the difference of a nuance. And are you very happy ? ” Peter added, as Nick now obliged him by arranging half a dozen canvases so that he could look at them.

“Not so much so, doubtless, as the artistic life ought to make one ; because all one’s people are not so infatuated as one’s electors. But little by little I ’m learning the beauty of obstinacy.”

“ Your mother’s very bad; I lunched with her the day before yesterday.”

“ Yes, I know — I know.” said Nick hastily ; “ but it’s too late — it’s too late. I must just peg away here and not mind. I have after all a very great source of happiness.”

Sherringham hesitated. “ And that would be — ? ”

“ Oh, I mean knowing what I want to do ; that’s everything, you know.”

“ It’s an advantage, however, that you ‘ve only just come in for, is n’t it ? ”

“ Yes, but having waited only makes me prize it the more. I ’ve got it now ; and it makes up, for the present, for the absence of some other things.”

Again Sherringham was silent awhile. “ That sounds a little dull,”he remarked at last.

“ It depends upon what you compare it with. It ’s a hit livelier than the House of Commons.”

“ Oh, I never thought I should like that.”

There was another pause, during which Nick moved about the room, turning up old sketches to see if he had anything more to show his visitor, and Sherringliam continued to look at the unfinished and, in some cases, as it seemed to him, unpromising productions already submitted to his attention. They were much loss interesting than the portrait of Miriam Booth and, it would have appeared, much less significant of ability. For that particular effort Nick’s talent had taken an unprecedented spring. This was the reflection that Peter made, as he had made it, intensely, before; but the words he presently uttered had no visible connection with it. They only consisted of the abrupt inquiry, “ Have you heard anything from Julia ? ”

“ Not a syllable. Have you ? ”

“ Dear, no; she never writes to me.”

“ But won’t she on the occasion of your promotion ? ”

“ I dare say not,” said Peter: and this was the only reference to Mrs. Dallow that passed between her brother and her late intended. It left a slight agitation of the atmosphere, which Sherringham proceeded to allay by an allusion comparatively speaking more relevant. He expressed disappointment that Biddy should not have come in ; having had an idea that she was always in Rosedale Road of a morning. That was the other half of his present errand, — the wish to see her and give her a message for Rady Agnes, upon whom, at so early an hour, he had not presumed to intrude in Calcutta Gardens. Nick replied that Biddy did in point of fact almost always turn up, and for the most part early ; she came to wish him good-morning and start him for the day. She was a devoted Electra laying a cool, healing hand on a distracted Orestes. He reminded Peter, however, that he would have a chance of seeing her that evening, and of seeing Lady Agues; for was n’t he to do them the honor of dining in Calcutta Gardens ? Biddy, the day before, had arrived full of that news. Peter explained that this was exactly the sad subject of his actual démarche : the project of the dinner in Calcutta Gardens had, to his exceeding regret, fallen to pieces. The fact was (did n’t Nick know it ?) the night had been suddenly and perversely fixed for Miss Rooth’s première, and he was under a definite engagement with her not to stay away from it. To add to the bore of the thing, he was obliged to return to Paris the very next morning. He was really most sorry, for he had promised Lady Agnes: he did n’t understand then about Miriam’s affair, in regard to which he had given a previous pledge. He was more sorry than he could say, but he could never fail Miss Rooth : he had professed, from the first, an interest in her which he must live up to a little more. This was his last chance — he had n’t been near her at the trying time she first, produced herself. And the second night of the play would n’t do — it must be the first or nothing. Besides, he could n’t wait over till Monday.

While Peter enumerated these complications his companion was occupied in polishing with a cloth a palette that he had just been scraping. “ I see what you mean — I’m very sorry too,” said Nick. “ I ’m sorry you can’t give my mother this joy —I give her so little.”

“ My dear fellow, you might give her a little more. It’s rather too much to expect me to make up for your omissions ! ”

Nick looked at Peter with a moment’s fixedness while he rubbed his palette ; and for that moment he felt the temptation to reply, “ There ’s a way you could do that, to a considerable extent — I think you guess it! — which would n’t be intrinsically disagreeable.” But the impulse passed, without expressing itself in speech, and he simply answered, “You can make this all clear to Biddy when she comes, and she ’ll make it clear to my mother.”

“ Poor little Biddy ! ” Sherringham mentally exclaimed, thinking of the girl in the discharge of such a task; but what he articulated was that this was exactly why he had come to the studio. He had inflicted his company on Lady Agnes on Thursday, and had partaken of a meal with her, but he had not seen Biddy, though he had waited for her, hoping she would come in. Now he would wait for her again — she was worth it.

“ Patience, patience, you have always me,” said Nick ; to which he subjoined, " If it ’s a question of going to the play I scarcely see why you should n’t dine at my mother’s all the same. People go to the play after dinner.”

“ Yes, but it would n’t be fair, it would n’t be decent: it’s a case when I must be in my seat from the rise of the curtain. I should force your mother to dine an hour earlier than usual, and then, in return for this courtesy, go off to my entertainment at eight o’clock, leaving her and Grace and Biddy planted there. I wish I had proposed, in time, that they should go with me,” Peter continued, not very ingenuously.

“ You might do that still,” Nick suggested.

“ Oh, at this time of day it would be impossible to get a box.”

“ I ’ll speak to Miss Booth about it, if you like, when she comes,” smiled Nick.

“ No, it would n’t do,” said Peter, turning away and looking once more at his watch. He made tacitly the addition that, still less than asking Lady Agnes, for his convenience, to dine early, would this be decent, would it be fair. His taking Biddy the night he dined with her and with Miss Tressilian had been something very like a violation of those proprieties. He could n’t say this to Nick, who remarked in a moment that it was all right, for Peter’s action left him his freedom.

Your freedom ? ” Peter echoed interrogatively, turning round.

“ Why, you see now I can go to the theatre myself.”

“ Certainly ; I had n’t thought of that. You would have been going.”

“ I gave it up for the prospect of your company.”

“ Upon my word, you ‘re too good — I don’t deserve such sacrifices,” said Sherringham, who saw from Nick’s face that this was not a figure of speech but the absolute truth. “ Did n’t it, however, occur to you that, as it would turn out, I might — that I even naturally would — myself be going ? ” he added.

Nick broke into a laugh. “ It would have occurred to me if I understood a little better ” — And he paused, still laughing.

“ If you understood a little better what?” Peter demanded.

44 Your situation, simply.”

Peter looked at him a moment. “ Dine with me to-night, independently; we ’ll go to the theatre together, and then you ‘ll understand it.”

“ With pleasure, with pleasure : we ‘ll have a jolly evening,” said Nick.

“ Call it jolly if you like. When did you say she was coming ? ” Peter asked.

“ Biddy ? Oh, probably, as I tell you, at any moment.”

“ I mean Miss Rooth,” Peter replied.

“ Miss Rooth, if she’s punctual, will be here in about forty minutes.”

“ And will she be likely to find your sister ? ”

“ My dear fellow, that will depend on whether my sister remains to see her.”

“ Exactly ; but the point is whether you will allow her to remain, is n’t it ? ”

Nick looked slightly mystified. “ Why should n’t she do as she likes? ”

“ In that case she ‘ll probably go.”

“ Yes, unless she stays.”

44 Don’t let her,” Peter dropped; “ send her away.” And to explain this he added, " It does n’t seem exactly the right sort of thing, young girls meeting actresses.” His explanation, in turn, struck him as requiring another clause ; so he went on : “ At least it is n’t thought the right sort of thing abroad, and even in England my foreign ideas stick to me.”

Even with this amplification, however, his proposition evidently still appeared to his companion to have a flaw ; which, after he had considered it a moment, Nick exposed in the simple words — “ Why, you originally introduced them, in Paris—Biddy and Miss Rooth. Did n’t they meet at your rooms and fraternize, and was n’t that much more abroad than this ? ”

“ So they did, but she did n’t like it,” Peter answered, suspecting that, for a diplomatist, he looked foolish.

44 Miss Rooth did n’t like it ? ” Nick persisted.

“ That I confess I have forgotten. Besides, she was not an actress then. What I remember is that Biddy was n’t particularly pleased with her.”

“ Why, she thought her wonderful — praised her to the skies. I remember too.”

“ She did n’t like her as a woman ; she praised her as an actress.”

“ I thought you said she was n’t an actress then,” Nick rejoined.

Peter hesitated. “ Oh, Biddy thought so. She has seen her since, moreover. I took her the other night, and her curiosity is satisfied.”

“ It’s not of any consequence, and if there’s a reason for it I ‘ll bundle her off directly. But Miss Rooth seems such a nice, good woman.”

“ So she is, charming — charming,” said Peter, looking hard at Nick.

“ Here comes Biddy now,” this young man went on. “ I hear her at the door; you can warn her yourself.”

“ It is n’t a question of 4 warning ’ — that’s not in the least my idea. But I ’ll take Biddy away,” said Peter.

“ That will be still more energetic.”

“Oh, it’s simply selfish—I like her company.” Peter had turned, as if to go to the door to meet the girl ; but he quickly checked himself, lingering in the middle of the room ; and the next instant Biddy had come in. When she saw him there she also stopped.


“ Arrive, arrive, my child,” said Nick. 44 Peter’s weary of waiting for you.”

“ Ah, he’s come to say he won’t dine with us to-night! ” Biddy stood with her hand on the latch.

“ I leave town to-morrow ; I ’ve everything to do ; I ’m broken-hearted ; it ’s impossible,” Peter pleaded. “ Please make my peace with your mother ; I ’m ashamed of not having written to her last night.”

Biddy closed the door and came in, while her brother said to her, “ How in the world did you guess it ? ”

“ I saw it in the Morning Post,” Biddy answered, looking at Peter.

“ In the Morning Post ?” her cousin repeated.

“ I saw there is to be a first night at that theatre, the one you took us to. So I said, ‘ Oh, he ’ll go there.’ ”

“ Yes, I’ve got to do that too,” Peter admitted.

“ She’s going to sit to me again this morning, the wonderful actress of that theatre — she has made an appointment: so you see I ’m getting on,” Nick announced to Biddy.

“ Oh, I’m so glad — she’s so splendid ! ” The girl looked away from Peter now, but not, though it seemed to fill the place, at the triumphant portrait of Miriam Rooth.

“ I ’m delighted you’ve come in. I have waited for you,” Peter hastened to declare to Biddy, though he was conscious that this was, under the circumstances, meagre.

“ Are n’t you coming to see us again ? ”

“ I ’m in despair, but I shall really not have time. Therefore it’s charming not to have missed you here.”

“ I ’m very glad,” said Biddy. Then she added, “ And you ’re going to America — to stay a long time ?

“ Till I’m sent to some better place.”

“ And will that better place be as far away ? ”

“ Oh, Biddy, it would n’t be better then,” said Peter.

“ Do you mean they ‘ll give you something to do at home ? ”

“ Hardly that. But I ’ve got a tremendous lot to do at home to-day.” For the twentieth time Peter referred to his watch.

Biddy turned to her brother, who murmured to her, “ You might bid me good-morning.” She kissed him, and he asked what the news might be in Calcutta Gardens ; to which she replied —

“ The only news is, of course, that, poor dears! they are making great preparations for Peter. Mamma thinks you must have had such a nasty dinner the other day,” the girl continued, to the guest of that romantic occasion.

“ Faithless Peter! ” said Nick, beginning to whistle and to arrange a canvas in anticipation of Miriam’s arrival.

“ Dear Biddy, thank your stars you are not in my horrid profession,” protested the personage thus designated. “ One is bowled about like a cricket-ball, unable to answer for one’s freedom or one’s comfort from one moment to another.”

“ Oh, ours is the true profession — Biddy’s and mine,” Nick broke out, setting up his canvas : “ the career of liberty and peace, of charming long mornings, spent in a still north light, in the contemplation, and I may even say in the company, of the amiable and the beautiful.”

“ That certainly is the case when Biddy comes to see you,” Peter returned.

Biddy smiled at him. “ I come every day. Anch’ io son pittore ! I encourage Nick awfully.”

“ It’s a pity I’m not a martyr ; she would bravely perish with me,” Nick said.

“You are—you are a martyr — when people say such odious things!” the girl cried. “ They do say them. I’ve heard many more than I’ve repeated to you.”

“It’s you yourself, then, indignant and sympathetic, that are the martyr,” observed Peter, who wanted greatly to be kind to her.

“ Oh, I don’t care ! ” she answered, coloring in response to this ; and she continued, to Peter : “ Don’t you think one can do as much good by painting great works of art as by — as by what papa used to do ? Don’t you think art is necessary to the happiness, to the greatness, of a people ? Don’t you think it’s manly and honorable ? Do you think a passion for it is a thing to be ashamed of? Don’t you think the artist — the conscientious, the serious one — is as distinguished a member of society as any one else ? ”

Peter and Nick looked at each other and laughed, and Nick asked his visitor if she did n’t express it all in perfection. “ I delight, in general, in artists, but I delight still more in their defenders,” Peter jested, to Biddy.

“ Ah, don’t attack me, if you ’re wise,” Nick said.

“ One is tempted to, when it makes Biddy so fine.”

“ Well, that’s the way she encourages me ; it’s meat and drink to me,” Nick went on. “ At the same time I am bound to say there is a little whistling in the dark in it.”

“ In the dark ? ” his sister demanded.

“ The obscurity, my dear child, of your own aspirations, your mysterious ambitions and plastic visions. Are n’t there some heavyish shadows there ? ”

“ Why, I never cared for politics.”

“ No, but you cared for life, you cared for society, and you have chosen the path of solitude and concentration.”

“ You horrid boy ! ” said Biddy.

“ Give it up, that arduous steep — give it up and come out with me,” Peter interposed.

“ Come out with you ? ”

“ Let us walk a little, or even drive a little. Let us at any rate talk a little.”

“ I thought you had so much to do,” Biddy candidly objected.

“ So I have, but why should n’t you do a part of it with me ? Would there be any harm ? I ’m going to some tiresome shops — you ’ll cheer the prosaic hour.”

The girl hesitated ; then she turned to Nick. ” Would there be any harm ? ”

“ Oh, it’s none of his business ! ” Peter protested.

“ He had better take you home to your mother.”

“ I ’m going home — I sha’n’t stay here to-day,” said Biddy. Then, to Peter, “ I came in a hansom, but I shall walk back. Come that way with me.”

“ With singular pleasure. But I shall not be able to go in,” Sherringham added.

“ Oh, that’s no matter,” said Biddy. “ Good-by, Nick.”

“ You understand, then, that we dine together — at seven sharp. Would n’t a club be best ? ” Peter, before going, inquired of Nick. He suggested, further, which club it should be ; and his words led Biddy, who had directed her steps toward the door, to turn a moment, as if she were on the point of asking reproachfully whether it was for this Peter had given up Calcutta Gardens. But this impulse, if impulse it was, had no sequel except so far as it was a sequel that Peter spontaneously explained to her, after Nick had assented to his conditions, that her brother too had a desire to go to Miss Rooth’s first night and had already promised to accompany him.

“ Oh, that’s perfect; it will be so good for him — won’t it ? — if he’s going to paint her again,” Biddy responded.

“ I think there ’s nothing so good for him as that he happens to have such a sister as you,” Peter observed, as they went out. As he spoke he heard, outside, the sound of a carriage stopping ; and before Biddy, who was in front of him, opened the door of the house he had time to say to himself, “ What a bore — there ’s Miriam ! ” The opened door showed him that he was right—this young lady was in the act of alighting from the brougham provided by Basil Dashwood’s thrifty zeal. Her mother followed her, and both the new visitors exclaimed and rejoiced, in their demonstrative way, as their eyes fell upon their valued friend. The door had closed behind Peter, but he instantly and violently rang, so that they should be admitted with as little delay as possible, while he remained slightly disconcerted by the prompt occurrence of an encounter he had sought to avert. It ministered, moreover, a little to this particular sensation that Miriam appeared to have come somewhat before her time. The incident promised, however, to pass off in the happiest way. Before he knew it both the ladies had taken possession of Biddy, who looked at them with comparative coldness, tempered indeed by a faint glow of apprehension, and Miriam had broken out —

“ We know you, we know you ; we saw you in Paris, and you came to my theatre a short time ago with Mr. Sherringham.”

“ We know your mother, Lady Agnes Dormer. I hope her ladyship is very well,” said Mrs. Rooth, who had never struck Sherringham as a more objectionable old woman.

“ You offered to do a head of me, or something or other : did n’t you tell me you work in clay? I dare say you have forgotten all about it, but I should be delighted,” Miriam pursued, with the richest urbanity.

Peter was not concerned with her mother’s vulgarity, though he did n’t like Biddy to see even that; but he hoped his companion would take the overcharged benevolence of the young actress in the spirit in which, rather to his surprise, it evidently was offered.

“ I ’ve sat to your clever brother many times,” said Miriam ; " I’m going to sit again. I dare say you’ve seen what we ’ve done — he ’s too delightful. Si vous saviez comme cela me repose!” she added, turning for a moment to Sherringham. Then she continued, smiling, to Biddy : “ Only he ought n’t to have thrown up such prospects, you know. I have an idea I was n’t nice to you that day in Paris — I was nervous and scared and perverse. I remember perfectly ; I was odious. But I’m better now — you ’d see if you were to know me. I’m not a bad girl — really I ’m not. But you must have your own friends. Happy they — you look so charming! Immensely like Mr. Dormer, especially about the eyes; is n’t she, mamma ? ”

“ She comes of a beautiful Norman race — the finest, purest strain,” the old woman simpered. “ Mr. Dormer is sometimes so good as to come and see us — we are always at home on Sunday ; and if some day you were so venturesome as to come with him, you might perhaps find it pleasant, though very different, of course, from the circle in which you habitually move.”

Biddy murmured a vague recognition of these wonderful civilities, and Miriam commented, “ Different, yes ; but we ’re all right, you know. Do come,”she added. Then turning to Sherringham, “ Remember what I told you — I don’t expect you to-night.”

“ Oh, I understand ; I shall come,” Peter answered, growing red.

“ It will be idiotic. Keep him, keep him away — don’t let him,” Miriam went on, to Biddy ; with which, as Nick’s portals now were gaping, she drew her mother away.

Peter, at this, walked off briskly with Biddy, dropping, as he did so, “ She’s too fantastic ! ”

“ Yes, but so tremendously good-looking. I shall ask Nick to take me there,” the girl continued, after a moment.

“ Well, she ’ll do you no harm. It’s the world of art — you were standing up so for art, just now.”

“ Oh, I was n’t thinking so much of that kind,” said Biddy.

“ There’s only one kind — it’s all the same thing. If one sort is good, the other is.”

Biddy walked along a moment. “ Is she serious ? Is she conscientious? ”

“ Oh, she has the makings of a great artist,” said Peter.

“ I ’m glad to hear you think a woman can be one.”

“ In that line there has never been any doubt about it.”

“ And only in that line ? ”

“ I mean on the stage in general, dramatic or lyric. It’s as the actress that the woman achieves the most complete and satisfactory artistic results.”

“ And only as the actress ? ”

“ Yes, there’s another art in which she’s not bad.”

“ Which one do you mean ? ” asked Biddy.

“ That of being charming and good, and indispensable to man.”

“ Oh, that is n’t an art.”

“ Then you leave her only the stage. Take it, if you like, in the widest sense.”

Biddy appeared to reflect a moment, as if to see in what sense this might be. But she found none that was wide enough, for she cried the next minute, “ Do you mean to say there ’s nothing for a woman but to be an actress ? ”

“ Never in my life. I only say that that’s the best thing for a woman to be who finds herself irresistibly carried into the practice of the arts ; for there her capacity for them has most application and her incapacity for them least. But at the same time I strongly recommend her not to be an artist if she can possibly help it. It ’s a devil of a life.”

“ Oh, I know ; men want women not to be anything.”

“ It ’s a poor little refuge they try to take from the overwhelming consciousness that, you are, in fact, everything.”

“ Everything ? That’s the kind of thing you say to keep us quiet.”

“ Dear Biddy, you see how well we succeed! ” laughed Sherringham ; to which the girl responded by inquiring irrelevantly —

“ Why is it so necessary for you to go to the theatre to-night, if Miss Rooth does n’t want you to ? ”

“ My dear child, she does. But that has nothing to do with it.”

“ Why then did she say that she does n’t ? ”

“ Oh, because she meant just the contrary.”

“ Is she so false, then — is she so vulgar ? ”

“ She speaks a special language ; practically it is n’t false, because it renders her thought, and those who know her understand it.”

“ But she does n’t use it only to those who know her, since she asked me, who have so little the honor of her acquaintance, to keep you away to-night. How am I to know that she meant by that that I ’m to urge you on to go ? ”

Sherringham was on the point of replying, 44 Because you have my word for it; ” but he shrank, in fact, from giving his word — he had some fine scruples — and endeavored to get out of his embarrassment by a general tribute. 44 Dear Biddy, you ’re delightfully acute : you ‘re quite as clever as Miss Rooth.” He felt, however, that this was scarcely adequate, and he continued : " The truth is, its being important for me to go is a matter quite independent of that young lady’s wishing it or not wishing it. There happens to be a definite, intrinsic propriety in it which determines the matter, and which it would take long for me to explain.”

“ I see. But fancy your 4 explaining ’ to me : you make me feel so indiscreet ! ” the girl cried quickly — an exclamation which touched him because he was not aware that, quick as it had been, Biddy had still had time to be struck first (though she would n’t for the world have expressed it) with the oddity of such a duty at such a time. In fact, that oddity, during a silence of some minutes, came back to Peter himself : his profession had been incongruous ; it sounded almost ignobly frivolous, for a man on the eve of proceeding to a high diplomatic post. The effect of this, however, was not to make him break out with, “ Hang it, I will keep my engagement to your mother ! ” but to fill him with the wish that he could shorten his actual excursion by taking Biddy the rest of the way in a cab. He was uncomfortable, and there were hansoms about which he looked at wistfully. While he was so occupied his companion took up the talk by an abrupt interrogation.

44 Why did she say that Nick ought n’t to have resigned his seat ? ”

44 Oh, I don’t know ; it struck her so. It does n’t matter much.”

“If she’s an artist herself, why does n’t she like people to go in for art, especially when Nick has given his time to painting her so beautifully ? Why does she come there so often, if she disapproves of what he has done ? ”

“ Oh, Miriam’s disapproval — it does n’t count; it’s a manner of speaking.”

“ Of speaking untruths, do you mean ? Does she think just the reverse — is that the way she talks about everything?”

“ We always admire most what we can do least,” Peter replied ; “ and Miriam, of course, is n’t political. She ranks painters more or less with her own profession, about which, already, new as she is to it, she has no illusions. They are all artists ; it’s the same general sort of thing. She prefers men of the world — men of action.”

“ Is that the reason she likes you ? ” Biddy mocked.

“ Ah, she does n’t like me — could n’t you see it ? ”

Biddy said nothing for a moment; then she asked, 44 Is that why she lets you call her 4 Miriam ’ ?”

“ Oh, I don’t, to her face.”

“ Ah, only to mine ! ” laughed Biddy.

“ One says that as one says ‘ Rachel ’ of her great predecessor.”

“ Except that she is n’t so great, quite yet, is she ? ”

“ Certainly not; she ’s the freshest of novices — she has scarcely been four months on the stage. But she ’ll go very fast, and I dare say that before long she ’ll be magnificent.”

“ What a pity you ‘ll not see that! ” Biddy remarked, after a short interval.

“ Not see it ? ”

“ If you are thousands of miles away.”

“ It is a pity,” Peter said ; “ and since you mention it, I don’t mind frankly telling you — throwing myself on your mercy, as it were — that that’s why I make such a point of a rare occasion like to-night. I have a weakness for the drama that, as you perhaps know, I’ve never concealed, and this impression will probably have to last me, in some barren spot, for many, many years.”

“ I understand — I understand. I hope, therefore, it will be charming.” And Biddy walked faster.

“ Just as some other charming impressions will have to last.” Peter added, conscious of a certain effort that he was obliged to make to keep up with her. She seemed almost to be running away from him, a circumstance which led him to suggest, after they had proceeded a little further without more words, that if she were in a hurry they had perhaps better take a cab. Her face was strange and touching to him as she turned it to reply quickly —

“ Oh, I’m not in the least in a hurry, and I think, really, I had better walk.”

“ We ’ll walk, then, by all means ! ” Peter declared, with slightly exaggerated gayety; in pursuance of which they went on a hundred yards. Biddy kept the same pace; yet it was scarcely a surprise to Sherringham that she should suddenly stop, with the exclamation —

“ After all, though I “m not in a hurry, I’m tired! I had better have a cab ; please call that one,” she added, looking about her.

They were in a straight, blank, ugly street, where the small, cheap, grayfaced houses had no expression save that of a rueful, inconsolable consciousness of its want of identity. They would have constituted a “ terrace ” if they could, but they had given it up. Even a hansom which loitered across the end of the vista turned a skeptical back upon it, so that Sherringham had to lift his voice in a loud appeal. He stood with Biddy watching the cab approach them. “ This is one of the charming things you ’ll remember,” she said, turning her eyes to the general dreariness, from the particular figure of the vehicle, which was antiquated and clumsy. Before he could reply she had lightly stepped into the cab ; but as he answered. “ Most assuredly it is,”and prepared to follow her, she quickly closed the apron.

“ I must go alone; you’ve lots of things to do — it’s ah right; ” and, through the aperture in the roof, she gave the driver her address. She had spoken with decision, and Peter recognized that she wished to get away from him. Her eyes betrayed it, as well as her voice, in a look — not a hard one, however — which, as he stood there with his hand on the call, he had time to take from her. “ Good-by, Peter,” she smiled ; and as the cab began to rumble away he uttered the same tepid, ridiculous farewell.


When Miriam and her mother went into the studio Nick Dormer had stopped whistling, but he was still gay enough to receive them with every demonstration of sociability. He thought his studio a poor place, ungarnished, untapestried, a bare, almost grim workshop, with all its revelations and honors still to come. But both his visitors smiled upon it a good deal in the same way in which they had smiled on Bridget Dormer when they met her at the door: Mrs. Rooth because vague, prudent approbation was the habit of her foolish little face — it was ever the least danger; and Miriam because, apparently, she was genuinely glad to find herself within the walls which she spoke of now as her asylum. She broke out in this strain to her host almost as soon as she had crossed the threshold, commending his circumstances, his conditions of work, as infinitely happier than her own. He was quiet, independent, absolute, free to do what he liked as he liked it, shut up in his little temple with his altar and his divinity; not hustled about in a mob of people, having to posture and grin to pit and gallery, to square himself at every step with insufferable conventions and with the ignorance and vanity of others. He was blissfully alone.

“ Mercy, how you do abuse your fine profession ! I’m sure I never urged you to adopt it! ” Mrs. Rooth cried, in real bewilderment, to her daughter.

11 She was abusing mine still more, the other day,” joked Nick — “telling me I ought to be ashamed of it and of myself.”

“Oh, I never know from one moment to the other — I live with my heart in my mouth,” sighed the old woman.

“ Are n’t you quiet about the great thing — about my behavior?” Miriam smiled. “ My only extravagances are intellectual.”

“ I don’t know what you call your behavior.”

“You would very soon, if it were not what it is.”

“ And I don’t know what you call intellectual,” grumbled Mrs. Rooth.

“ Yes, but I don’t see very well how I could make you understand that. At any rate,” Miriam went on, looking at Nick, “ I retract what I said the other day about Mr. Dormer. I have no wish to quarrel with him about the way he has determined to dispose of his life, because, after all, it does suit me very well. It rests me, this little devoted corner ; oh, it rests me. It’s out of the tussle and the heat, it’s deliciously still, and they can’t get at me. Ah. when art’s like this, à la bonne heure ! ” And she looked round on such a presentment of “ art ” with a splendid air that made Nick burst out laughing at its contrast with the humble fact. Miriam smiled at him as if she liked to be the cause of his mirth, and went on appealing to him : “ You ’ll always let me come here for an hour, won’t you, to take breath — to let the whirlwind pass? You need n’t trouble yourself about me; I don’t mean to impose on you in the least the necessity of painting me, though if that’s a manner of helping you to get on you may be sure it will always be open to you. Do what you like with me in that respect; only let me sit here on a high stool, keeping well out of your way, and see what you happen to be doing. I ‘ll tell you my own adventures when you want to hear them.”

“ The fewer adventures you have to tell, the better, my dear,” said Mrs. Rooth ; “ and if Mr. Dormer keeps you quiet he will add ten years to my life.”

“This is an interesting comment on Mr. Dormer’s own quietus, on his independence and sweet solitude,” Nick observed. “ Miss Rooth has to work with others, which is, after all, only what Mr. Dormer has to do when he works with Miss Rooth. What do you make of the inevitable sitter ? ”

“ Oh,” answered Miriam, “ you can say to the sitter, ‘ Hold your tongue, you brute!' ”

“ Is n’t it a good deal in that manner that I’ve heard you address your comrades at the theatre?” asked Mrs. Rooth. “That ’s why my heart’s in my mouth.”

“ Yes, but they hit me back ; they reply to me — comme de raison — as I should never think of replying to Mr. Dormer. It’s a great advantage to him that when he’s peremptory with his model it only makes her better, adds to her expression of gloomy grandeur.”

“ We did the gloomy grandeur in the other picture ; suppose, therefore, we try something different in this,” suggested Nick.

“It is serious, it is grand,” murmured Mrs. Rooth, who had taken up a rapt attitude before the portrait of her daughter. “ It makes one wonder what she’s thinking of. Noble, commendable things — that’s what it seems to say.”

“ What can I be thinking of but the tremendous wisdom of my mother ? ” Miriam inquired. “ I brought her this morning to see that thing — she had only seen it in its earliest stage — and not to presume to advise you about anything else you may be so good as to embark on. She wanted, or she professed that she wanted, terribly to know what you had finally arrived at. She was too impatient to wait till you should send it home.”

“ Ah, send it home — send it home ; let us have it always with us ! ” Mrs. Rooth urged. “ It will hold us up ; it will keep us on the heights, near the stars — be always, for us, a symbol and a reminder ! ”

You see I was right,” Miriam went on ; “ for she appreciates thoroughly, in her own way, and understands. But if she worries or distracts you I ’ll send her directly home — I’ve kept the carriage there on purpose. I must add that I don’t feel quite safe to-day in letting her out of my sight. She is liable to make dashes at the theatre and play unconscionable tricks there. I shall never again accuse mamma of a want of interest in my profession. Her interest today exceeds even my own. She is all over the place, and she has ideas ; ah, but ideas! She is capable of turning up at the theatre at five o’clock this afternoon and demanding that the scenery of the third act be repainted. For myself, I’ve not a word more to say on the subject—I’ve accepted the situation. Everything is no doubt wrong; but nothing can possibly be right. Let us eat and drink, for to-night we die. If you like, mamma shall go and sit in the carriage, and as there is no means of fastening the doors (is there?) your servant shall keep guard over her.”

“Just as you are now — be so good as to remain so ; sitting just that way — leaning back, with a smile in your eyes and one hand on the sofa beside you, supporting you a little. I shall stick a flower into the other hand — let it lie in your lap, just as it is. Keep that thing on your head — it’s admirably uncovered : do you call the construction a bonnet ? — and let your head fall back a little. There it is — it’s found. This time I shall really do something, and it will be as different as you like from that crazy job. Pazienzu ! ” It was in these irrelevant but earnest words that Nick responded to his sitter’s uttered vagaries, of which her charming tone and countenance diminished the superficial acerbity. He held up his hands a moment, to fix her in her limits, and a few minutes afterwards had a happy sense of having begun to work.

“ The smile in her eyes — don’t forget the smile in her eyes ! ” Mrs. Rooth exclaimed softly, turning away and creeping about the room. “ That will make it so different from the other picture and show the two sides of her genius, with the wonderful range between them. It will be a magnificent pendant; and though I dare say I shall strike you as greedy, you must let me hope you will send it home too.”

Henry James.