Eye and Hand

THE plain little parlor, the small, plain house, the remote cheap neighborhood — all bore out Janet Carling’s theory and knowledge of her former instructor, that he was one who faced life unflinchingly, and expected others to do the same. That was why she had come to him, for it was what she must do if the truth were what she suspected. But, oh, the toppling ambition, the depth of the downfall, the unconscious grim irony and seeming waste of it all! And to this was added the sting of that inevitable mortification which follows hard upon the sense of miscalculated capacity, of overestimated powers. The very way her outspread designs lay upon the centre-table seemed to foreshadow the unpalatable truth. And she must know it, she must have her doubts resolved. She had tried, tried, tried — and had never once succeeded. And with life at its height for her, ambition at the flood, the family admiration, hope, belief, — all fixed upon her. The tears did not fall, but a scalding moisture filmed over her eyes, and she steadied her lips with a perceptible effort, as Emil Ruckert, special draughtsman, and also an instructor at the Institute, entered the room; and the homely odor of the good Sunday dinner which he brought with him, helped her trembling self-possession.

lie came forward pleasantly, with the cheerfulness that is a life-habit, and took warmly her extended hand. His full sonorous German voice, with its slight German accent, more than filled the room.

“ Well, young lady, you are brave, and I love courage in man and woman. I have gone over them all carefully, —they arc perfectly done, perfectly executed.”

He broke off, and sat down opposite her, then slowly adjusted his big round spectacles, and scrutinized her much as a physician might a patient, she thought, in a consulting-room. Her absolute health precluded the possibility of any such experience, but this was the way that it must feel and seem. With her sweeping feathers and winter furs she was so strikingly handsome, that Ruckert said suddenly, with childlike pleasure, “ It is always so good to see you.” The little rotund German-American was himself so “ mortal ugly,” as the Institute pupils were wont to say, that he made an admirable foil.

But Miss Carling’s forced smile was very shadowy, as she said, “ Yes, I know they are perfectly done; but — are they really worth while, is there really anything in them ? ”

The tone of suspense held both hope and fear. Ruckert, gazing at her steadily, turned his head from side to side, and brought his finger-tips together: he was evidently weighing his words.

“ Just the plain truth, please,” entreated Janet hastily, “ the plain truth.”

“ Even if it — it’s — a facer ? ” asked Ruckert kindly,

“ Even if it’s a landslide and buries me,” said Janet firmly, “ I must have it.”

Ruckert regarded her with a mental and spiritual comprehension and sympathy that, for the instant, revealed to Janet Carling the power of beauty that lies in expression. Then, in a softer voice, he reiterated, ” The drawings are perfectly done ” — emphasizing and prolonging the last word.

The ensuing silence was very telling.

“ Yes,” said Janet falteringly, “ my talent showed itself early, the family believed in me and gave me every advantage. They have made sacrifices for me. I’ve had all the preliminaries, all the necessary training, as you well know. Eye and hand, hand and eye, are in me cultivated to their utmost. But I shall never make a painter, — I know that now, — though I do very pretty work in water colors, and I can copy perfectly. There, I begin to suspect, lies the mischief, the first hint of what I’ve had thrust into and upon me for three long years. There seems a fatal lack somewhere; and if it is n’t in technical skill, then it must be in me, myself. Am I all facility and versatility, and nothing more ? I can do all the prettinesses; the frippery of ornamentation is at my fingers’ ends; and I make good money, and do help the family.” She evidently tried to speak lightly and to control her quivering voice. “ But there’s a desire in me, a hunger, that goes infinitely deeper. I think I would almost have given my soul to be able to paint a real portrait, — I don’t know why, just to express the something that’s in me.” She drew a sobbing breath. “ And failing that, then I bent all my energies to architecture, intending to make it my lifework, to open a regular office, and to pay back handsomely to the family what they’ve spent on me. For my mother has even dipped into her principal. But I can’t afford to make a serious mistake, or to prolong it; it might involve too much. I know that you yourself began with architecture; I know you know. Is it worth while for me to persist in it ? Or shall I fall back on the prettinesses, and help the family in that way ? I’m thirtythree, and I’ve worked hard.”

Ruckert looked at her with the deepest sympathy, for had he not himself drunk to the full of just this cup ?

“ I really need expert opinion, you see,” she said presently, “ and the part of a true friend will be to tell me the truth, no matter how unpleasant. You are good and kind, and you know : that’s why I’m here.”

Ruckert rubbed his hands softly together, and inhaled and exhaled long, labored breaths. Passionate lover of beauty as he was, for the first time in all her handsome, self-sufficient life, Janet Carling really appealed to him, really touched his imagination and heart. Very outwardly attractive, but no real charm, had always been his mental reservation; but now, barely able to restrain her tears, throwing herself upon his unquestioned practical and artistic knowledge, his long experience and wisdom, she was really more womanly, and therefore more truly engaging, than she had ever been before. For a man never separates a woman from her femininity, and what man would really care in a woman for utmost artistic capacity expressed without utmost artistic skill ?

“ Yes I know, I know,” said Ruckert gently; “ it is a not uncommon sorrow, and a not uncommon mistake. I made it myself. I began with tremendous ambitions, hopes, intentions. I was going to set the world afire; I was going to build such wonders as never man beheld. Well, it was n’t in me, that’s all. I had to face my limitations, and to work on from them. I’m a fine draughtsman, and an instructor at the Institute. I’ve made a decent living, have kept my old mother, now ninety, and a widowed sister, and have wound up and set going the nephews and the nieces. I’ve done what I could; you will have to do the same. I don’t say all, but most of us, have to compromise with life in some way. Our worth depends on the nature and degree of our compromise. Use yourself to the best of your ability. I need n’t tell you the truth, you know it; that’s much, perhaps everything.” She was so pale and rigid that he went on hastily, “ Nature would seem to be prodigal of attempts in all of us, yet niggardly of results. There are far more blossoms than fruit; there are myriads of talents for one genius, and thousands of artistics to one artist. You and I, dear, dear — Lamb,” — bringing out the droll little endearment with sweetest sympathy, — “ are just artistics; but we can do our work well, can put plenty of use into life, and get plenty of happiness out of life.”

Miss Carling could not speak, and Ruckert turned mercifully to the beautiful mechanical drawings.

“ Life is such a paradox,” continued the speculative German kindly, “ it would seem that Nature, to get any kind of work out of us, often leaves something inadequate, an aching desire unfulfilled, a fine hope thwarted. And if we are brave, we make the best of it, and turn our very limitations to account. I don’t know why it is, but you and I,” he went on delicately, “ have the creative impulse, but not the creative faculty. Give you an idea, a suggestion, and you can work it up to perfection; but your own mind does not generate ideas, does not offer to itself suggestions. That’s why I call us both artistics. You have all the requisite ability, but not the real inherent capacity.” He paused, and Janet crushed her hands together in silence and bit her lips. “ Yet sometimes Nature fits us into life, and into one another, in wonderful and undreamed-of ways,” he went on. “If you could find some one to be the necessary spark of genius to your skill, I should say, take a partner, open that office, live, and prosper. But where will you find such? ”

He looked at her questioningly, searchingly, as if half-expecting a certain reply; but her face was blank. If he had an ulterior meaning, she did not catch it.

“ I suppose you have been submitting these plans — ”

The disappointment in her eyes checked him, yet she forced herself to smile as she held out her hand for the plans that he was now neatly putting up.

“ Yes, I’ve submitted them, — always to get them back. But you have done me a real service, Mr. Ruckert, and I’m truly grateful. I can’t afford to lose time, or to waste effort.” Then, turning upon him almost passionately, she cried, “ Why, why, can’t we be artists? ”

He hesitated a moment, then said slowly, “ Because we cannot, by taking thought, add a cubit to our stature. Because the essential fire is given, —a rare gift, — not won, not learned, nor bought. But we can learn the worth of life, and make a place for ourselves by patience and humility.”

He rose as she did, and they stood looking at each other, that mutual experience bringing them very near together, He went to the door with her and opened it, and the crisp air and winter afternoon sunshine seemed to fill the common little street with a kind of untimely joy. They shook hands in silence on the doorsteps, Ruckert knowing that disappointment, like the Knight’s move at chess, admits of no interposition; and as he watched her tall fine figure pass swiftly out of sight, with its high head unconsciously drooped, and the impotent drawings crushed under one arm as if she were hiding a stab, he felt a return of his own old keen throb and pain, the sense of individual inadequacy in the face of overwhelming artistic desire. He went slowly back into the house, and felt in his pocket for his pipe.

They were but heavy and sombre thoughts that companioned Janet on her homeward way. She, the eldest of the family,— so bright, handsome, intelligent, and devoted a family, — she who had always expected a career, for whom a brilliant career had always been predicted; she the very spirit of initiation, who set the pace as it were, who was adviser in general and critic extraordinary, who, almost ever since her father’s death eighteen years ago, had successfully combined legislative, judicial, and executive functions, — the family pillar, boast, and idol, — she, Janet, was facing failure; not absolute failure, though she was scarce yet in a condition to recognize this, but certainly the failure of her own proudest, dearest, most confidently and openly expressed hopes.

It may be very human, the mortification that waits upon the discovery of individual limitation, but it is none the less poignant, and Janet fairly smarted at every pore. Should she tell the family that her architectural dreams were but dreams, and have a sharp pang over; or should she continue as she was now doing, go on with her various “ prettinesses,” and let the family discover the fact of her inadequacy for themselves ?

She did not really so much seek to spare her vanity, or personal feeling,—for Janet’s was too wholesome a nature for this, — but it was coming home to her now how masterful she had always been, so sure of herself, so sure of her judgments of and for others. In putting an end to the family expectations regarding herself, must she not greatly curtail her influence? When you have once flatly disappointed people, they are not apt to continue to believe in you, she thought bitterly, and the family pendulum of admiration and adulation was just as likely to swing to the opposite extreme. She thought of Ruckert’s patience and cheerfulness, of his sunny kindness and usefulness, of the fine self-abnegation of his daily life, — something of this began to dawn on her, — yet she shivered, for the wind that blew from the heights of discipline that he had attained seemed less stimulating than sinister and cold.

Though the way was long, in her present state of feeling she could not take the trolley : she must walk, if only to counteract these surging thoughts that lashed themselves from side to side, like caged creatures within the suffocating sense of immutable limitation. What she had been feeling and suspecting was now confirmed, was fairly riveted down. Creative heat and energy are from within, responsive to suggestion, correlated with it, but not it, and she simply had n’t this essential fire and force. In the shelter of her muff, the fingers clinched into the palms until even through the gloves she felt the cut of the nails upon her flesh. Oh, it was hard, hard, when she had so tried, so industriously and systematically tried. Conscience and mind fully acquitted her here; no, the lack was unmistakably and irretrievably in herself. And yet, in the midst of this sense of self-limitation, she became gradually aware that life itself was enlarging. She had always been fairly well able to criticise her own work; she now began to scrutinize that other work — Nature’s Janet Carling.

She had always been rather “ King of her Company,” — in itself a serious detriment, — had always been admired, deferred to, in many ways served. Her immediate family, relatives, and friends had formed an unconscious little claque, which stimulated ambition, but did not enhance mental and spiritual perception. She began to feel and see that, while the company of one’s peers may not tend to clarify vision, it certainly would not have prolonged the period of self-ignorance. She sighed deeply, and in connection with herself, mentally surveyed her brothers and sisters. There were six of them in all. Ada was married; and Ralph, the eldest son, the one next to her, hoped to be married in the spring, which would naturally remove his material help from the family sphere; and that left Clare and Laura, herself and — Lexy. Her thought paused upon Lexy, and she involuntarily and grimly smiled. He was hardly to be counted upon or reckoned with.

The youngest, full eleven years her junior, delicate in infancy and early childhood, barely out of babyhood when his father died, Lexy, while at first a great care to his mother and sisters, had always been overlooked. Small and morbidly shy, physically and mentally unlike all the others, — the family changeling, indeed, — it had been easy to overlook him. Plain among the handsome, inarticulate among the fluent, neutral among people of decided tastes and opinions, Lexy had always gone his own way unmolested. He disturbed no one; he was never late, never unaccounted for. Unconsciously the family had always said, “All of us — and Lexy.” In a family distinctly and distinctively abreast of the times, people who read the latest books, saw the newest pictures and plays, heard the latest operas, and could state clearly the freshest theories in politics, science, literature, and ethics, — among these wide-awake people, Lexy was completely submerged.

Though a great reader, he had barely scraped through school, lost among the ruck of pupils, and no one thought of his going to college. It had not seemed worth while. And at twentytwo he was the intendant of a multiroomed sky-scraper, where he sat in a tiny office, and rented offices and answered questions and adjusted difficulties and gave directions, and lived a life as little salient, seemingly, as an ant’s. His wage was fifty dollars a month, now, with prospects of an increase later on; thirtyfive of this he gave regularly to his mother, “ for the house,” he would briefly say, — and he did not, apparently, squander the remaining fifteen.

He was scrupulously neat, but rather careless in his dress; if taken unawares and flustered, he was apt to stutter. “ Society,” of the Afternoon-Tea order, and Bridge-playing sort, he quietly avoided; from girls he glided wistfully away; yet he was always pressed into service to escort home from the family social gatherings the middle-aged ladies and the plain young ones. For the handsome sisters, and Ralph — who was handsomest of all, bright, many-sided, and sympathetic (“sympathetic ” was one of the family shibboleths)—had hosts of friends and acquaintances; their Thursday Evenings in January were really delightful; good company, good talk, good music; and a tractable and obliging younger brother who, except when he went to the theatre, was almost invariably at home by half-past ten, was really invaluable.

Defects are almost as obvious as beauties. If the Carlings as a whole had a lack, it was repose, as conspicuously absent as the fine family nose was conspicuously present. Yet very few would feel this, perhaps; for is not repose with us a lost art, or a prehistoric requisite outlived, like the evolutionary tail ? But the quiet Lexy was reposeful enough; he could sit the whole evening in a lamplit corner, with a “kind-hearted, mellow, old play-book,” comfortably lost to the “ up-to-date ” world. No, Lexy was “good as gold,” a family comfort and convenience, but he did not count in this disintegration of Janet’s scheme of things; he was “just Lexy.”

She sighed deeply, and he dropped suddenly out of her thoughts as Ralph, with his contemplated marriage, took his place. Ralph counted upon her, Janet, to help doubly when his help should be withdrawn. They had both taken it for granted, and moreover, she had openly promised it to him and to herself. What now if she simply could not fulfill that promise ? She had encouraged his engagement, and the reasonably speedy marriage; she did not believe in long waitings, and there was Adeline’s side of the question to be considered. A man should not engage himself to a girl to love all his family, she had said gayly and kindly; for Janet, if masterful, was anything but selfish. She sighed still more deeply, since this failure might make a difference in Ralph’s and Adeline’s prospects; for while the “prettinesses” did very well in their way, she had all along regarded them as a mere by-product, and now they would have to be her main dependence.

Softly she opened the front door, intending to go directly to her room. The warm dusk of the hall, the delicate scent of house-plants, the sound of bright voices from the parlor, all jarred upon her strained senses, and she slipped quickly and quietly to the stairway. A figure, which had the effect of lingering half-way up the steps, became opaque in the twilight.

“ Is that you, Jan ? ” And she recognized Lexy’s rather low, soft voice. He came down to meet her.

“ Who are in the parlor ? ” she asked hurriedly.

“ Nobody in particular: Charlie Grant and two or three girls. Charlie will probably stay to tea; the others will go presently. Why don’t you come up to the Den, and rest awhile ? ”

He led the way to the end of the long upper passage where a living-room looked out to the west; and now the ineffable glow of sunset still shone above the housetops. He stirred the soft-coal fire till the flames darted and quivered up the chimney, but did not light the lamp. Janet dropped into a chair by the fire, and let the drawings slide from under her arm to the floor. Lexy silently picked them up, and laid them carefully on a near-by divan. He said nothing, but lingered, a gentle unobtrusive presence, and finally moved over to one of the windows, and stood looking out, with his back to his sister.

In the moment of defeat so-called, one often realizes more keenly and distinctly the customary life about one, as the blow or sting of failure quickens rather than dulls the sense. Presently Janet became aware that Lexy was lingering, and had made several little inarticulate sounds as if attempting speech. She roused from her self-absorption. Did Lexy divine that aught was amiss ? Was it possible that the boy had some boy’s notion of standing by her by way of comfort?

“ Lexy,” she said softly.

“ Yes ? ” The answer came tense and swift, but he drew no nearer.

“ I’ve been having the — the —conceit taken out of me —dreadful operation ! — I’m obliged to — to — forego my hopes.”

“ Janet ” — His voice held a note of entreaty, yet he got no further, for he began to stutter.

“ I shall never make an architect: I’m just femininely clever, clever, no more nor less. The root of the matter is n’t in me; and I’ve had to face the truth.”

“ But, Janet, you have such skill.” His voice had an odd strain and break in it that hers did not show.

“ That’s it; I’m all skill. Archimedes could have moved the world if he had had the fulcrum for his lever. I’ve no fulcrum, no substance. I’m a perfect piece of machinery, but with no grist to grind.”

There was a long silence. Janet shaded her eyes from the firelight, and leaned back in the chair.

“ I ’m sorrier — in one way — for the family’s sake than for my own. I — I — meant to do so much for you all — be a sort of son and daughter combined.

I was going to don a man’s armor and do a man’s work.”

She did not know that the pain in her voice was all the more audible because of the attempted lightness; but she heard Lexy catch his breath.

“ Did Ruckert tell you ? ” He spoke with unusual quickness and decision.

She sat up in sharp surprise. “ Ruckert! Do you know him ? ”

“ Oh, yes. I’ve gone to the nightclasses for four years. I graduated — with distinction — last June.”

She turned on him in amazement. “ Lexeter, and you never said a word! ”

He came forward shyly, and slipped down upon the divan beside the discarded drawings.

“ Well, you would all have laughed at, maybe scouted, the idea, and would have pitied my infatuation, or my — my — nerve. For my hand is still shaky, the after-effects of those childish illnesses still linger, and I shall probably never have perfect muscular control. But, Janet, I wanted to do it so, — it seemed part of my very life, — and it took nothing from any one, no one’s time or trouble.”

He sighed deeply.

“ Lexy, why did n’t you tell me ? ” This in a voice of wondering reproach.

“ I did want to, often; but as I had never been much of a book-learner,—too busy with books and bits of chalk for that, — I was afraid you and mother might object on the score of health, the taking of the evening for extra work when the day had been already fully occupied. And you have mother’s ear more than the rest of us, you know. But as soon as I got the Algonquin Building, it was all plain sailing.”

“ And your work, Lexy — where’s your work ? ”

She spoke kindly but somewhat mechanically, with no very deep interest. He stooped down and pulled out a shabby portfolio, a discarded one of her own, from under the divan. “ I put them here this afternoon on the chance of showing them to you when you came back.” He rose quickly and lighted the lamp. “ Ruckert told me to show them to you, when he mentioned your intention of consulting him.”

Her numbed spirit stirred a little, for she was artist enough, and generous enough, to feel at least anticipation in the presence of the same kind of work. Yet it was with a sigh that she wheeled determinedly round to the light as Lexy laid a large sheet on her lap. Her first glance was half-hearted and perfunctory, but she presently checked an exclamation, and held out a hand eagerly for more. Sheet after sheet he laid down—charcoal most of them, rough, but powerful and alive.

Janet held her breath as she fairly devoured them with her eyes. Here was what she would have liked to do, for while finished technical skill was doubtless lacking, there could be no question of their merit, — the root of the matter was too surely there.

“ Lexy, and you never even let us sympathize with you! ”

His small, vivid, hazel eyes, so different from the large gray-blue ones of the others, significantly fixed her.

Would you have sympathized ? ” he asked quietly. “ Would n’t you have thought rather that my nervous hand was deterrent enough, that it would be time wasted for me to take up drawing ? You are all so busy and active and eager and — clever; and feminine cleverness is apt to have so much edge,” added Lexy naïvely, with an unconscious sigh. “ I like to crawl into my inmost self, and think; I like to prowl about and to look at life in my own way. You are all so — together, so — gregarious; I did n’t seem just to — fit in.” He had spoken with little apologetic gasps and stutterings, while Janet earnestly regarded him as in a new and unfamiliar light. “ I’ve got no show about me, no effect,” he concluded with quaint candor. “ As you all say, I’m ‘ just Lexy.’ ”

Janet was silent. Decidedly life was enlarging, and kaleidoscopically changing; it showed the same colors, perhaps, but far different shapes.

“ This face with its traveling eyes — where did you get it ? ” asked Janet, laying a detaining hand upon a sheet that Lexy was about to remove.

“ Oh, a common sailor on the wharves, a rover, son of a Scotch father and a Portuguese mother, he told me; you catch the look of the eyes ? Does n’t it remind you of Marco Polo’s eyes, — that sidelong, far-off look into unreckoned space, the look of the born traveler and explorer ? The fellow sat to me for an hour, and I certainly fixed that look.”

Lexy spoke with enthusiasm. Janet earnestly regarded him, and it was a really beautiful face that she bent toward the young man from under the yellow lamplight, a face touching in its generous pride and fellow-artist satisfaction,

Lexy was absolutely undemonstrative, but he put out his hand and gently touched her sleeve. “Nice old Janet!” he said softly, with a long breath of happy relief and affection.

“ There’s something in the old fairy stories after all,” she said presently, — “ a truth with a difference. Is n’t it the youngest brother who so often does the deed, and carries off the prize? I’m proud of you, Lexy, and I suspect it was unconsciously our fault that you hid your light so long under a bushel. But the light is here; you are the real thing.” She spoke with decision. “ What a terrible pity that your hand is n’t surer.”

Lexy drew a deep breath, and clinched the fingers of that nervous right hand. “ It’s an awful disappointment, Janet, one that has fairly eaten into me; but it can’t be helped. I may possibly outgrow it; but as three times seven have passed over me, it’s hardly likely. Will you look at my architectural attempts?”

He spoke shyly and wistfully, as if still uncertain there of her entire sympathy; and then he laid another little heap of drawings on her lap. These were less striking, perhaps, than the charcoal heads and sketches, because of the more markedly imperfect workmanship; but the individual idea was always strong, nothing was meaningless, and there was a simplicity, directness, and beauty about his designs that made them memorable.

“ Lexy, beside these mine are a mere mess of prettiness,” she cried eagerly. “ Why, in the name of wonder, have n’t you said anything before ? ” Then, as the interview with Ruckert flashed significantly across her mind, — “ Lexy, why did n’t Ruckert ” — And then she stopped. Something in the pain yet triumph of the young man’s expression, its sweetness and patience and hope, came home to her. “ Lexeter, was it this that Ruckert meant when he said, ‘ If you could find some one to be the spark of genius to your skill ’ ? — Would you like me to work these over for you, Lexy, put them into shape so that you could submit them ? ”

The boy brought his hands together in ecstasy, and tears of joy shone in his eyes.

“ Janet, will you, would you be willing to play second fiddle ? ” There was a sob in his voice. “It ’ll be such a chance! ”

Large vistas of life opened before Janet as she looked at him, and as self dropped slowly out of sight. “ Did Ruckert mean, did he hope and think — ”

She broke off, but gazed questioningly into Lexy’s radiant face.

“ I don’t know,” said the boy quickly; “ all he said was, ‘ I want you to show your sister your work; show it to her Sunday afternoon when she comes back from me.’ ”

Janet’s face flushed, then paled, then grew firm again. “ Ah, he knew I would do you justice, even as he does! ”

Lexy seemed to expand in the warmth of her generous admiration and affection.

“ He is finer than I thought, than I knew,” she said musingly.

“ Oh,Ruckert,he’s great!” cried Lexy eagerly. Brother and sister looked deep into each other’s eyes. “ It was — beautiful — of him to let us find each other out for ourselves,” said Lexy shyly, after a long silence.

Janet looked at him remorsefully. “ Let me find you out, you mean; for you knew my skill.” She spoke tensely.

He laid his beautiful hand on her arm again. “ If you’ve found out my — talent, maybe, I’ve surely discovered yourself, Jan, your — magnanimity. That’s better still.”

There fell a yet longer silence in which neither could speak.

“ Then you’ll be eye and genius, and I’ll be hand and skill,” said Janet presently. She spoke determinedly, bravely concealing any last mortal pang the words may have cost her.

The youth regarded her earnestly. “ You are fine, too, Janet,” he said bluntly. Then, catching the quality of her resolute smile, he added wistfully, “You won’t mind — very much? ”

“ Well, possibly just at first I may. Personal ambition, mixed with some vanity, probably dies hard: all the anodyne of common sense does n’t quite deaden the pain. But, Lexy, it will be the real opportunity for both of us. It will take you out of the Algonquin, where you evidently don’t belong, and will put me in an office, where I evidently do, as your assistant. I’m beginning to see great things for you, Lexeter; you must n’t disappoint me.”

“ I won’t,” said Lexy quietly, gathering up the scattered designs. “ Do you really know Ruckert ? ” he asked suddenly; and for the first time Janet felt how perceptive his eyes were.

“ I begin to suspect there are many things I have n’t an inkling of.”

“ Oh, come, don’t go to the other extreme, and be too self-depreciative,” returned Lexy, stuttering.

“ I ‘m going to get ready for tea now.”

She rose as she spoke; Lexy held her, however, with his wistful eyes.

“ Be satisfied,” she said almost tenderly. “ This is really our mutual gain. And I’m quite sure I need the discipline. Eye and hand, eh, Lexy? ”

The boy turned his back, and the hands that were so carefully putting up her drawings with his own shook. She felt that he was touched to the quick, too grateful and happy for speech.

“ When we do put out our sign,” he contrived to murmur presently, “ it’ll be, ‘ Carling and Carling, Architects.’ ”

She laughed from the doorway. “ Immense; I see it already with my mind’s eye. But, meanwhile, come down to tea. Visions are unsubstantial.”

But the boy lingered. There was rapture in his soul, and he wanted space and silence and solitude in which to meet it. No one more than he who lacked it could appreciate his sister’s rare skill. God had lent him a hand. The limitation of each was more than made good in the fullness of the other. Lexy would always be more or less of a solitary, because the deep things of the spirit are incommunicable, and he was born to the deeps of Life; they went with his spark of genius, its joy and its pain. The thought flashed through his mind that there is just one process the Great and Only Artist lets man see and partly share, —the fashioning of a soul in the furnace of pain. He laid all the drawings carefully away, and, after a time, followed his sister.