Part 1 out of 6
MRS HUMPHRY WARD
MY DEAR SISTER
[Illustration: _Robin Ghyll Cottage_]
A PREFATORY WORD
The story told in the present book owes something to the past, in its
picturing of the present, as its predecessors have done; though in
much less degree. The artist, as I hold, may gather from any field,
so long as he sacredly respects what other artists have already made
their own by the transmuting processes of the mind. To draw on the
conceptions or the phrases that have once passed through the warm
minting of another's brain, is, for us moderns, at any rate, the
literary crime of crimes. But to the teller of stories, all that is
recorded of the real life of men, as well as all that his own eyes can
see, is offered for the enrichment of his tale. This is a clear and
simple principle; yet it has been often denied. To insist upon it is,
in my belief, to uphold the true flag of Imagination, and to defend
the wide borders of Romance.
In addition to this word of notice, which my readers will perhaps
accept from me once for all, this small preface must also contain
a word of thanks to my friend Mr. Sterner, whose beautiful art has
contributed to this story, as to several of its forerunners. I have
to thank him, indeed, not only as an artist, but as a critic. In the
interpreting of Fenwick, he has given me valuable aid; has corrected
mistakes, and illumined his own painter's craft for me, as none but
a painter can. But his poetic intelligence as an artist is what makes
him so rare a colleague. In the first lovely drawing of the husband
and wife sitting by the Westmoreland stream, Phoebe's face and look
will be felt, I think, by any sympathetic reader, as a light on the
course of the story; reappearing, now in storm, as in the picture of
her despair, before the portrait of her supposed rival; and now in
tremulous afterglow, as in the scene with which the drawings close. To
be so understood and so bodied forth is great good-fortune; and I beg
to be allowed this word of gratitude.
The lines quoted on page 166 are taken, as any lover of modern poetry
will recognise, from the 'Elegy on the Death of a Lady,' by Mr. Robert
Bridges, first printed in 1873.
MARY A. WARD.
PART I. WESTMORELAND
PART II. LONDON
PART III. AFTER TWELVE YEARS
NOTES ON THE ILLUSTRATIONS
This cottage, known as Robin Ghyll, is situated near the Langdale
Pikes in Westmoreland. It is owned by Miss Dorothy Ward, the author's
daughter. The older part of the building served as the model for
HUSBAND AND WIFE
From an original drawing by Albert Sterner.
From an original drawing by Albert Sterner.
From an original drawing by Albert Sterner.
'BE MY MESSENGER'
From an original drawing by Albert Sterner.
ROBIN GHYLL COTTAGE
A nearer view of Miss Ward's cottage. (See frontispiece.)
FENWICK STOOD LOOKING AT THE CANVAS
From an original drawing by Albert Sterner.
All of the illustrations in this volume are photogravures, and except
where otherwise stated, are from photographs taken especially for this
Fenwick's career was in the first instance suggested by some incidents
in the life of the painter George Romney. Romney, as is well known,
married a Kendal girl in his early youth, and left her behind him in
the North, while he went to seek training and fortune in London. There
he fell under other influences, and finally under the fascinations
of Lady Hamilton, and it was not till years later that he returned to
Westmoreland and his deserted wife to die.
The story attracted me because it was a Westmoreland story, and
implied, in part at least, that setting of fell and stream, wherein,
whether in the flesh or in the spirit, I am always a willing wanderer.
But in the end it really gave me nothing but a bare situation
into which I had breathed a wholly new meaning. For in Eugenie de
Pastourelles, who is Phoebe's unconscious rival, I tried to embody,
not the sensuous intoxicating power of an Emma Hamilton, but those
more exquisite and spiritual influences which many women have
exercised over some of the strongest and most virile of men. Fenwick
indeed possesses the painter's susceptibility to beauty. Beauty comes
to him and beguiles him, but it is a beauty akin to that of Michel
Angelo's 'Muse and dominant Lady, spirit-wed'--which yet, for all its
purity, is not, as Fenwick's case shows, without its tragic effects in
On looking through my notes, I find that this was not my first idea.
The distracting intervening woman was to have been of a commoner type,
intellectual indeed rather than sensuous, but yet of the predatory
type and class, which delights in the capture of man. When I began to
write the first scene in which Eugenie was to appear, she was still
nebulous and uncertain. Then she did appear--suddenly!--as though the
mists parted. It was not the woman I had been expecting and preparing
for. But I saw her quite distinctly; she imposed herself; and
thenceforward I had nothing to do but to draw her.
The drawing of Eugenie made perhaps my chief pleasure in the story,
combined with that of the two landscapes--the two sharply contrasted
landscapes--Westmoreland and Versailles, which form its main
background. I find in a note-book that it was begun 'early in May,
1905, at Robin Ghyll. Finished (at Stocks) on Tuesday night or rather
Wednesday morning, 1 A.M., Dec. 6, 1905. Deo Gratias!' And an earlier
note, written in Westmoreland itself, records some of the impressions
amid which the first chapters were written. I give it just as I find
'The exquisiteness of the spring. The strong-limbed sycamores with
their broad expanding leaves. The leaping streams, and the small
waterfalls, white and foaming--the cherry blossom, the white
farms, the dark yews which are the northern cypresses--and the tall
upstanding firs and hollies, vigorously black against the delicate
bareness of the fells, like some passionate self-assertive life....
'The "old" statesman B----. His talk of the gentle democratic poet
who used to live in the cottage before us. "He wad never taeak wi the
betther class o' foak--but he'd coom mony a time, an hae a crack wi my
missus an me."
'The swearing ploughman that I watched this morning--driving his
plough through old pastures and swearing at the horse--"Dang ye!
Darned old hoss! Pull up, will ye--_pull_ up, dang ye!"
'Elterwater, and the soft grouping of the hills. The blue lake, the
woods in tints of pale green and pinkish brown, nestling into the
fells, the copses white with wind flowers. Everywhere, softness and
austerity side by side--the "cheerful silence of the fells," the high
exhilarating air, dark tortured crags and ghylls--then a soft and
laughing scene, gentle woods, blue water, lovely outlines, and
'The exquisite _colour_ of Westmoreland in May! The red of the autumn
still on the hills,--while the bluebells are rushing over the copses.'
The little cottage of Robin Ghyll, where the first chapters were
written, stands, sheltered by its sycamore, high on the fell-side,
above the road that leads to the foot of the Langdale Pikes. But--in
the dream-days when the Fenwicks lived there!--it was the _old_
cottage, as it was up to ten or fifteen years ago;--a deep-walled,
low-ceiled labourer's cottage of the sixteenth century, and before any
of the refinements and extensions of to-day were added.
The book was continued at Stocks, during a quiet summer. Then with
late September came fatigue and discouragement. It was imperative to
find some stimulus, some complete change of scene both for the tale
and its writer. Was it much browsing in Saint-Simon that suggested
to me Versailles? I cannot remember. At any rate by the beginning of
October we were settled in an apartment on the edge of the park and a
stone's throw from the palace. Some weeks of quickened energy and more
rapid work followed--and the pleasures of that chill golden autumn are
reflected in the later chapters of the book. Each sunny day was
more magnificent than the last. Yet there was no warmth in the
magnificence. The wind was strangely bitter; it was winter before the
time. And the cold splendour of the weather heightened the spell of
the great, dead, regal place; so that the figures and pageants of a
vanished world seemed to be still latent in the sharp bright air--a
This brilliance of an incomparable _decor_ followed me back to
Hertfordshire, and remained with me through winter days. But when the
last pages came, in December, I turned back in spirit to the softer,
kinder beauty amid which the little story had taken its rise, and I
placed the sad second spring of the two marred lives under the dear
shelter of the fells.
MARY A. WARD.
'Who can contemplate Fame through clouds unfold
The star which rises o'er her steep, nor climb?'
Really, mother, I can't sit any more. I'm that stiff!--and as cold as
So said Miss Bella Morrison, as she rose from her seat with an
affected yawn and stretch. In speaking she looked at her mother, and
not at the painter to whom she had been sitting for nearly two hours.
The young man in question stood embarrassed and silent, his palette on
his thumb, brush and mahlstick suspended. His eyes were cast down: a
flush had risen in his cheek. Miss Bella's manner was not sweet; she
wished evidently to slight somebody, and the painter could not flatter
himself that the somebody was Mrs. Morrison, the only other person
in the room beside the artist and his subject. The mother looked up
slightly, and without pausing in her knitting--'It's no wonder you're
cold,' she said, sharply, 'when you wear such ridiculous dresses in
It was now the daughter's turn to flush; she coloured and pouted. The
artist, John Fenwick, returned discreetly to his canvas, and occupied
himself with a fold of drapery.
'I put it on, because I thought Mr. Fenwick wanted something pretty to
paint. And as he clearly don't see anything in _me_!'--she looked over
her shoulder at the picture, with a shrug of mock humility concealing
a very evident annoyance--'I thought anyway he might like my best
'I'm sorry you're not satisfied, Miss Morrison,' said the artist,
stepping back from his canvas and somewhat defiantly regarding the
picture upon it. Then he turned and looked at the girl--a coarsely
pretty young woman, very airily clothed in a white muslin dress, of
which the transparency displayed her neck and arms with a freedom
not at all in keeping with the nipping air of Westmoreland in
springtime--going up to his easel again after the look to put in
As to his expression of regret, Miss Morrison tossed her head.
'It doesn't matter to me!' she declared. 'It was father's fad, and
so I sat. He promised me, if I didn't like it, he'd put it in his
own den, where _my_ friends couldn't see it. So I really don't care a
'Bella! don't be rude!' said her mother, severely. She rose and came
to look at the picture.
Bella's colour took a still sharper accent; her chest rose and fell;
she fidgeted an angry foot.
'I told Mr. Fenwick hundreds of times,' she protested, 'that he was
making my upper lip miles too long--and that I _hadn't_ got a nasty
staring look like that--nor a mouth like that--nor--nor anything.
It's--it's too bad!'
The girl turned away, and Fenwick, glancing at her in dismay, saw that
she was on the point of indignant tears.
Mrs. Morrison put on her spectacles. She was a small, grey-haired
woman with a face, wrinkled and drawn, from which all smiles seemed
to have long departed. Even in repose, her expression suggested hidden
anxieties--fears grown habitual and watchful; and when she moved
or spoke, it was with a cold caution or distrust, as though in all
directions she was afraid of what she might touch, of possibilities
she might set loose.
She looked at the picture, and then at her daughter.
'It's not flattered,' she said, slowly. 'But I can't say it isn't
like you, Bella.'
'Oh, I knew _you'd_ say something like that, mother!' said the
daughter, scornfully. She stooped and threw a shawl round her
shoulders; gathered up some working materials and a book with which
she had been toying during the sitting; and then straightened herself
with an air at once tragic and absurd.
'Well, good-bye, Mr. Fenwick.' She turned to the painter. 'I'd rather
not sit again, please.'
'I shouldn't think of asking you, Miss Morrison,' murmured the young
man, moving aside to let her pass.
'Hullo, hullo! what's all this?' said a cheery voice at the door.
'Bella, where are you off to? Is the sitting done?'
'It's been going on two hours, papa, so I should think I'd had about
enough,' said Miss Bella, making for the door.
But her father caught her by the arm.
'I say, we _are_ smart!--aren't we, mamma? Well, now then--let me
have a look.'
And drawing the unwilling girl once more towards the painter, he
detained her while he scrutinised the picture.
'Do I squint, papa?' said Miss Morrison, with her head haughtily
'Wait a minute, my dear.'
'_Have_ I got the colour of a barmaid, and a waist like Fanny's?'
Fanny was the Morrison's housemaid, and was not slim.
'Be quiet, Bella; you disturb me.'
Bella's chin mounted still higher; her foot once more beat the ground
impatiently, while her father looked from the picture to her, and back
Then he released her with a laugh. 'You may run away, child, if you
want to. Upon my word, Fenwick, you're advancing! You are: no doubt
about that. Some of the execution there is astonishing. But all
the same I don't see you earning your bread-and-butter at
portrait-painting; and I guess you don't either.'
The speaker threw out a thin hand and patted Fenwick on the shoulder,
returning immediately to a close examination of the picture.
'I told you, sir, I should only paint portraits if I were compelled!'
said the young man, in a proud, muffled voice. He began to gather up
his things and clean his palette.
'But of course you'll be compelled--unless you wish to die "clemmed,"
as we say in Lancashire,' returned the other, briskly. 'What do _you_
He turned towards his wife, pushing up his spectacles to look at her.
He was a tall man, a little bent at the shoulders from long years of
desk-work; and those who saw him for the first time were apt to be
struck by a certain eager volatility of aspect--expressed by the
small head on its thin neck, by the wavering blue eyes, and smiling
mouth--not perhaps common in the chief cashiers of country banks.
As his wife met his appeal to her, the slight habitual furrow on her
own brow deepened. She saw that her husband held a newspaper crushed
in his right hand, and that his whole air was excited and restless. A
miserable, familiar pang passed through her. As the chief and
trusted official of an old-established bank in one of the smaller
cotton-towns, Mr. Morrison had a large command of money. His wife had
suspected him for years of using bank funds for the purposes of his
own speculations. She had never dared to say a word to him on the
subject, but she lived in terror--being a Calvinist by nature and
training--of ruin here, and Hell hereafter.
Of late, some instinct told her that he had been forcing the pace; and
as she turned to him, she felt certain that he had just received some
news which had given him great pleasure, and she felt certain also
that it was news of which he ought rather to have been ashamed.
She drew herself together in a dumb recoil. Her hands trembled as she
put down her knitting.
'I'd be sorry if a son of mine did nothing but paint portraits.'
John Fenwick looked up, startled.
'Why?' laughed her husband.
'Because it often seems to me,' she said, in a thin, measured
voice, 'that a Christian might find a better use for his time than
ministering to the vanity of silly girls, and wasting hours and hours
on making a likeness of this poor body, that's of no real matter to
'You'd make short work of art and artists, my dear!' said Morrison,
throwing up his hands. 'You forget, perhaps, that St. Luke was a
'And where do you get that from, Mr. Morrison, I'd like to ask?' said
his wife, slowly; 'it's not in the Bible--though I believe you think
it is. Well, good-night to you, Mr. Fenwick. I'm sorry you haven't
enjoyed yourself, and I'm not going to deny that Bella was very rude
and trying. Good-night.'
And with a frigid touch of the hand, Mrs. Morrison departed. She
looked again at her husband as she closed the door--a sombre,
Morrison avoided it. He was pacing up and down in high spirits. When
he and Fenwick were left alone, he went up to the painter and laid an
arm across his shoulders.
'Well!--how's the money holding out?'
'I've got scarcely any left,' said the painter, instinctively moving
away. It might have been seen that he felt himself dependent, and
hated to feel it.
'Any more commissions?'
'I've painted a child up in Grasmere, and a farmer's wife just
married. And Satterthwaite, the butcher, says he'll give me a
commission soon. And there's a clergyman, up Easedale way, wants me to
paint his son.'
'Well; and what do you get for these things?'
'Three pounds--sometimes five,' said the young man, reluctantly.
'A little more than a photograph.'
'Yes. They say if I won't be reasonable there's plenty as'll take
their pictures, and they can't throw away money.'
'H'm! Well, at this rate, Fenwick, you're not exactly galloping into a
fortune. And your father?'
Fenwick made a bitter gesture, as much as to say, 'What's the good of
'H'm!--Well, now, Fenwick, what are your plans? Can you live on what
'No,' said the other, abruptly. 'I'm getting into debt.'
'That's bad. But what's your own idea? You must have some notion of a
'If I could get to London,' said the other, in a low, dragging voice,
'I'd soon find a way out.'
'And what prevents you?'
'Well, it's simple enough. You don't really, sir, need to ask. I've no
money--and I've a wife and child.'
Fenwick's tone was marked by an evident ill-humour. He had thrown
back his handsome head, and his eyes sparkled. It was plain that Mr.
Morrison's catechising manner had jarred upon a pride that was all on
edge--wounded by poverty and ill-success.
'Yes--that was an imprudent match of yours, my young man!
Mr. Morrison walked up and down ruminating. His long, thin hands were
clasped before him. His head hung in meditation. And every now and
then he looked towards the newspaper he had thrown down. At last he
again approached the artist.
'Upon my word, Fenwick, I've a mind to do something for you--I have
indeed. I believe you'd justify it--I do! And I've always had a soft
heart for artists. You look at the things in this room'--he waved
his hand towards the walls, which were covered with water-colour
drawings--'I've known most of the men who painted them, and
I've assisted a very great many of them. Those pictures--most of
them--represent loans, sir!--loans at times of difficulty, which I
was _proud_ to make'--Mr. Morrison struck his hand on the table--'yes,
proud--because I believed in the genius of the men to whom I made
them. I said, "I'll take a picture"--and they had the money--and the
money saved their furniture--and their homes--and their wives and
children. Well, I'm glad and proud to have done it, Fenwick!--you mark
He paused, his eyes on the artist, his attitude grasping, as it were,
at the other's approval--hungry for it. Fenwick said nothing. He stood
in the shadow of a curtain, and the sarcasm his lip could not restrain
escaped the notice of his companion. 'And so, you see, I'm only
following out an old custom when I say, I believe in you, Fenwick!--I
believe in your abilities--I'm sorry for your necessities--and I'll
come to your assistance. Now, how much would take you to London and
keep you there for six months, till you've made a few friends and done
'A hundred pounds,' said the painter, breathing hard.
'A hundred pounds. And what about the wife?'
'Her father very likely would give her shelter, and the child. And of
course I should leave her provided.'
'Well, and what about my security? How, John, in plain words, do you
propose to repay me?'
Mr. Morrison spoke with extreme mildness. His blue eyes, whereof the
whites were visible all round the pupils, shone benevolently on the
artist--his mouth was all sensibility. Whereas, for a moment, there
had been something of the hawk in his attitude and expression, he
was now the dove--painfully obliged to pay a passing attention to
'You mentioned six guineas, I think, for this portrait?' He nodded
towards the canvas, on which he had been at work.
'I did. It is unfortunate, of course, that Bella dislikes it so. I
shan't be able to hang it. Never mind. A bargain's a bargain.'
The young man drew himself up proudly.
'It is so, Mr. Morrison. And you wished me to paint your portrait,
I think, and Mrs. Morrison's.' The elder man made a sign of assent.
'Well, I could run up to your place--to Bartonbury--and paint those in
the winter, when I come to see my wife. As to the rest--I'll repay you
within the year--unless--well, unless I go utterly to grief, which of
course I may.'
'Wait here a moment. I'll fetch you the money. Better not promise to
repay me in cash. It'll be a millstone round your neck. I'll take it
'Very well; then I'll either paint you an original finished
picture--historical or romantic subject--medium size, by the end of
the year, or make you copies--you said you wanted two or three--one
large or two small, from anything you like in the National Gallery.'
Morrison laughed good-temperedly. He touched a copy of _The Art
Journal_ lying on the table.
'There's an article here about that German painter--Lenbach--whom
they crack up so nowadays. When he was a young man, Baron Schack, it
appears, paid him one hundred pounds a year, _for all his time_, as
a copyist in Italy and Spain.' He spoke very delicately, mincing his
words a little.
Fenwick's colour rose suddenly. Morrison was not looking at him, or he
would have seen a pair of angry eyes.
'Prices have gone up,' said the painter, dryly. 'And I guess living
in London's dearer now than living in Italy was when Lenbach (which he
pronounced Lenback) was young!'
'Oh! so you know all about Lenbach?'
'You lent me the article. However'--Fenwick rose--'is that our
The note in the voice was trenchant, even aggressive. Nothing of the
suppliant, in tone or attitude. Morrison surveyed him, amused.
'If you like to call it so,' he said, lifting his delicate eyebrows a
moment. 'Well, I'll take the risk.'
He left the room. Fenwick thrust his hands into his pockets, with a
muttered exclamation, and walked to the window. He looked out upon a
Westmoreland valley in the first flush of spring; but he saw nothing.
His blood beat in heart and brain with a suffocating rapidity. So his
chance was come! What would Phoebe say?
As he stood by the large window, face and form in strong relief
against the crude green without, the energy of the May landscape was,
as it were, repeated and expressed in the man beholding it. He was
tall, a little round-shouldered, with a large, broad-browed head,
covered with brown, straggling hair; eyes, glancing and darkish, full
of force, of excitement even, curiously veiled, often, by suspicion;
nose, a little crooked owing to an injury at football; and mouth, not
coarse, but large and freely cut, and falling readily into lines of
The general look was one of great acuteness, rather antagonistic, as
a rule, than sympathetic; and the hands, which were large and yet
slender, were those of a craftsman finely endowed with all the
instincts of touch.
Suddenly the young man turned on his heel and looked at the
water-colours on the wall.
'The old hypocrite!' he thought; 'they're worth hundreds--and I'll be
bound he got them for nothing. He'll try to get mine for nothing; but
he'll find I'm his match!'
For among these pictures were a number of drawings by men long since
well known, and of steady repute among the dealers or in the auctions,
especially of Birmingham and the northern towns. Morrison had been for
years a bank-clerk in Birmingham before his appointment to the post
he now held. A group of Midland artists, whose work had become famous,
and costly in proportion, had evidently been his friends at one
time--or perhaps merely his debtors. They were at any rate well
represented on the wall of this small Westmoreland house in which he
spent his holidays.
Presently Mr. Morrison was heard returning. He placed an envelope in
Fenwick's hand, and then, pointing him to a chair at the table, he
dictated a form of IOU, specifying that the debt was to be returned
within a year, either in money or in the pictures agreed upon.
'Oh, no fine speeches, please, my boy--no fine speeches!' said
Morrison, as the artist rose, stammering out his thanks. 'That's been
my nature all my life, I tell you--to help the lame dogs--ask anybody
that knows me. That'll do; that'll do! Now then, what's going to be
your line of action?'
Fenwick turned on him a face that vainly endeavoured to hide the joy
of its owner.
'I shall look out, of course, first of all, for some bread-and-butter
work. I shall go to the editors of the illustrated papers and show
them some things. I shall attend some life-school in the evenings. And
the rest of the time I shall paint--paint like Old Harry!'
The words caused a momentary wrinkling of Mr. Morrison's brow.
'I should avoid those expressions, if I were you, Fenwick. But paint
what, my dear boy?--paint what?'
'Of course I have my ideas,' said Fenwick, staring at the floor.
'I think I have earned a right to hear them.'
'Certainly. I propose to combine the colour and romance of the
Pre-Raphaelites with the truth and drawing of the French school,' said
the young man, suddenly looking up.
Surprise betrayed his companion into a broad grin.
'Upon my word, Fenwick, you won't fail for lack of ambition!'
The young man reddened, then quietly nodded.
'No one gets on without ambition. My ideas have been pretty clear for
a long time. The English Romantic school have no more future, unless
they absorb French drawing and French technique. When they have done
that, they will do the finest work in the world.'
Morrison's astonishment increased. The decision and self-confidence
with which Fenwick spoke had never yet shown themselves so plainly in
the harassed and humbly born painter of Miss Bella's portrait.
'And you intend to do the finest work in the world?' said the patron,
in a voice of banter.
'I shall do good work,' he said, doggedly, after a pause. Then,
suddenly raising his head, he added, 'And if I weren't sure of it, I'd
never let you lend me money.'
'That's all right.--And now what will Mrs. Fenwick say to us?'
Fenwick turned away. He repossessed himself of the envelope, and
buttoned his coat over it, before he replied.
'I shall, of course, consult her immediately. What shall I do with
this picture?' He pointed to the portrait on the easel.
'Take it home with you, and see if you can't beautify it a little,'
said Morrison, in a tone of good-humour. 'You've got a lot of worldly
wisdom to learn yet, my dear Fenwick. The women _must_ be flattered.'
Fenwick repeated that he was sorry if Miss Bella was disappointed,
but the tone was no less perfunctory than before. After stooping and
looking sharply for a moment into the picture--which was a strong,
ugly thing, with some passages of remarkable technique--he put it
aside, saving that he would send for it in the evening. Then, having
packed up and shouldered the rest of his painter's gear, he stood
ready to depart.
'I'm awfully obliged to you!' he said, holding out his hand.
Morrison looked at the handsome young fellow, the vivacity of the
eyes, the slight agitation of the lip.
'Don't mention it,' he said, with redoubled urbanity. 'It's my
way--only my way! When'll you be off?'
'Probably next week. I'll come and say good-bye.'
'I _must_ have a year! But Phoebe will take it hard.' John Fenwick had
paused on his way home, and was leaning over a gate beside a stream,
now thinking anxiously of his domestic affairs, and now steeped in
waves of delight--vague, sensuous, thrilling--that flowed from the
colours and forms around him. He found himself in an intricate and
lovely valley, through which lay his path to Langdale. On either side
of the stream, wooded or craggy fells, gashed with stone-quarries,
accompanied the windings of the water, now leaving room for a scanty
field or two, and now hemming in the river with close-piled rock and
tree. Before him rose a white Westmoreland farm, with its gabled porch
and moss-grown roof, its traditional yews and sycamores; while to his
left, and above the farm, hung a mountain-face, dark with rock, and
purple under the evening shadows--a rich and noble shape, lost above
in dim heights of cloud, and, below, cleft to the heart by one
deep ghyll, whence the golden trees--in the glittering green of
May--descended single or in groups, from shelf to shelf, till their
separate brilliance was lost in the dense wood which girdled the white
The pleasure of which he was conscious in the purple of the mountain,
the colour of the trees, and all that magic of light and shade which
filled the valley--a pleasure involuntary, physical, automatic,
depending on certain delicacies of nerve and brain--rose and
persisted, while yet his mind was full of harassing and disagreeable
Well, Phoebe might take her choice!--for they had come to the parting
of the ways. Either a good painter, a man on the level of the
best, trained and equipped as they, or something altogether
different--foreman, a clerk, perhaps, in his uncle's upholstery
business at Darlington, a ticket-collector on the line--anything! He
could always earn his own living and Phoebe's. There was no fear of
that. But if he was finally to be an artist, he would be a first-rate
one. Let him only get more training; give him time and opportunity;
and he would be as good as any one.
Morrison, plainly, had thought him a conceited ass. Well, let him!
What chance had he ever had of proving what was in him? As he hung
over the gate smoking, he thought of his father and mother, and of his
childhood in the little Kendal shop--the bookseller's shop which had
been the source and means of his truest education.
Not that he had been a neglected child. Far from it. He remembered
his gentle mother, troubled by his incessant drawing, by his growing
determination to be an artist, by the constant effort as he grew to
boyhood to keep the peace between him and his irritable old father. He
remembered her death--and those pictorial effects in the white-sheeted
room--effects of light and shadow--of flowers--of the grey head
uplifted; he remembered also trying to realise them, stealthily, at
night, in his own room, with chalk and paper--and then his passion
with himself, and the torn drawing, and the tears, which, as it were,
another self saw and approved.
Then came school-days. His father had sent him to an old endowed
school at Penrith, that he might be away from home and under
discipline. There he had received a plain commercial education,
together with some Latin and Greek. His quick, restless mind had
soaked it all in; nothing had been a trouble to him; though, as he
well knew, he had done nothing supremely well. But Homer and Virgil
had been unlocked for him; and in the school library he found
Shakespeare and Chaucer, 'Morte d'Arthur' and 'Don Quixote,' fresh
and endless material for his drawing, which never stopped. Drawing
everywhere--on his books and slates, on doors and gate-posts, or on
the whitewashed wall of the old Tudor school-room, where a hunt, drawn
with a burned stick, and gloriously dominating the whole room, had
provoked the indulgence, even the praise, of the headmaster.
And the old drawing-master!--a German--half blind, though he would
never confess it--who dabbled in oil-painting, and let the boy watch
his methods. How he would twirl his dirty brush round and dab down a
lump of Prussian blue, imagining it to be sepia, hastily correcting
it a moment afterwards with a lump of lake, and then say chuckling
to himself: 'By Gode, dat is fine!--dat is very nearly a good purple.
Fenwick, my boy, mark me--you vill not find a good purple no-vere!
Some-vere--in de depths of Japanese art--dere is a good purple. Dat I
believe. But not in Europe. Ve Europeans are all tam fools. But I
vill not svear!--no!--you onderstand, Fenwick; you haf never heard me
svear?' And then a round oath, smothered in a hasty fit of coughing.
And once he had cut off part of the skirt of his Sunday coat, taking
it in his blindness for an old one, to clean his palette with; and it
was thought, by the boys, that it was the unseemly result of this rash
act, as disclosed at church the following Sunday morning, which had
led to the poor old man's dismissal.
But from him John had learnt a good deal about oil-painting--something
too of anatomy--though more of this last from that old book--Albinus,
was it?--that he had found in his father's stock. He could see himself
lying on the floor--poring over the old plates, morning, noon, and
night--then using a little lad, his father's apprentice, to examine
him in what he had learnt--the two going about arm-in-arm--Backhouse
asking the questions according to a paper drawn up by John--'How many
heads to the deltoid?'--and so on--over and over again--and with what
an eagerness, what an ardour!--till the brain was bursting and the
hand quivering with new knowledge--and the power to use it. Then
Leonardo's 'Art of Painting' and Reynolds's Discourses'--both
discovered in the shop, and studied incessantly, till the boy of
eighteen felt himself the peer of any Academician, and walked proudly
down the Kendal streets, thinking of the half-finished paintings in
his garret at home, and of the dreams, the conceptions, the ambitions
of which that garret had already been the scene.
After that--some evil days! Quarrels with his father, refusals to
be bound to the trade, to accept the shop as his whole future and
inheritance--painful scenes with the old man, and with the customers
who complained of the son's rudeness and inattention--attempts of
relations to mediate between the two, and all the time his own burning
belief in himself and passion to be free. And at last a time of
truce, of conditions made and accepted--the opening of the new Art
School--evenings of delightful study there--and, suddenly, out of the
mists, Phoebe's brown eyes, and Phoebe's soft encouragement!
Yes, it was Phoebe, Phoebe herself who had determined his career; let
her consider that, when he asked for sacrifices! But for the balm
she had poured upon his sore ambitions--but for those long walks and
talks, in which she had been to him first the mere recipient of his
dreams and egotisms, and then--since she had the loveliest eyes, and
a young wild charm--a creature to be hotly wooed and desired, he might
never have found courage enough to seize upon his fate.
For her sake indeed he had dared it all. She had consoled and inspired
him; but she had made the breach with his father final. When they met
she was only a struggling teacher in Miss Mason's school, the daughter
of a small farmer in the Vale of Keswick. Old Fenwick looked much
higher for his son. So there was renewed battle at home, till at last
a couple of portrait commissions from a big house near Kendal clinched
the matter. A hurried marriage had been followed by the usual parental
thunders. And now they had five years to look back upon, years of
love and struggle and discontent. By turning his hand to many things,
Fenwick had just managed to keep the wolf from the door. He had worked
hard, but without much success; and what had been an ordinary good
opinion of himself had stiffened into a bitter self-assertion. He knew
very well that he was regarded as a conceited, quarrelsome fellow, and
rather gloried in it. The world, he considered, had so far treated him
ill; he would at any rate keep his individuality.
Phoebe, too, once so sweet, so docile, so receptive, had begun to be
critical, to resist him now and then. He knew that in some ways he had
disappointed her; and there was gall in the thought. As to the London
plan, his word would no longer be enough. He would have to wrestle
with and overcome her.
London!--the word chimed him from the past--threw wide the future. He
moved on along the rough road, possessed by dreams. He had a vision of
his first large picture; himself rubbing in the figures, life-size, or
at work on the endless studies for every part--fellow-students coming
to look, Academicians, buyers; he heard himself haranguing, plunging
headlong into ideas and theories, holding his own with the best
of 'the London chaps.' Between whiles, of course, there would be
hack-work--illustration--portraits--anything to keep the pot boiling.
And always, at the end of this vista, there was success--success great
He was amused by his own self-confidence, and laughed as he walked.
But his mood never wavered.
He _had_ the power--the gift. Nobody ever doubted that who saw him
draw. And he had, besides, what so many men of his own class made
shipwreck for want of--he had _imagination_--enough to show him what
it is that makes the mere craftsman into the artist, enough to make
him hunger night and day for knowledge, travel, experience. Thanks to
his father's shop, he had read a great deal already; and with a little
money, how he would buy books, how he would read them!--
And at the thought, fresh images, now in rushing troops, and now in
solitary fantastic beauty, began to throng before the inward eye,
along the rich background of the valley; images from poetry and
legend, stored deep in a greedy fancy, a retentive mind. They came
from all sources--Greek, Arthurian, modern; Hephaestus, the lame god
and divine craftsman, receiving Thetis in his workshop of the skies,
the golden automata wrought by his own hands supporting him on either
side; the maidens of Achilles washing the dead and gory body of Hector
in the dark background of the hut, while in front swift-foot Achilles
holds old Priam in talk till the sad offices are over, and the father
may be permitted to behold his son; Arthur and Sir Bedivere beside
the lake; Crusaders riding to battle--the gleam of their harness--the
arched necks of their steeds--the glory of their banners--the shade
and sunlight of the deep vales through which they pass; the Lady of
Shalott as the curse conies upon her--Oenone--Brunhilda--Atalanta.
Swift along the May woods the figures fled, vision succeeding vision,
beauty treading on beauty. It became hallucination--a wildness--an
ecstasy. Fenwick stood still, gave himself up to the possession--let
it hold him--felt the strangeness and the peril of it--then, suddenly,
wrenched himself free.
Running down to the edge of the river, he began to pick up stones
and throw them violently into the stream. It was a remedy he had long
learnt to use. The physical action released the brain from the tyranny
of the forms which held it. Gradually they passed away. He began to
breathe more quietly, and, sitting down by the water, his head in his
hands, he gave himself up to a quieter pleasure in the nature round
him, and in the strength of his own faculty.
To something else also. For while he was sitting there, he found
himself _praying_ ardently for success--that he might do well in
London, might make a name for himself, and leave his mark on English
art. This was to him a very natural outlet of emotion; he was not sure
what he meant by it precisely; but it calmed him.
Meanwhile Phoebe Fenwick was watching for her husband.
She had come out upon the green strip of ground in front of Green
Nab Cottage, and was looking anxiously along the portion of high-road
which was visible from where she stood.
The small, whitewashed house--on this May day, more than a generation
ago--stood on a narrow shelf that juts out from the face of one of the
eastern fells, bounding the valley of Great Langdale.
When Phoebe, seeing no one on the road, turned to look how near the
sun might be to its setting, she saw it, as Wordsworth saw it of
old, dropping between the peaks of those 'twin brethren' which to the
northwest close in the green bareness of the vale. Between the two
pikes the blaze lingered, enthroned; the far winding of the valley,
hemmed in also by blue and craggy fells, was pierced by rays of
sunset; on the broad side of the pikes the stream of Dungeon Ghyll
shone full-fed and white; the sheep, with their new-born lambs beside
them, studded the green pastures of the valley; and sounds of water
came from the fell-sides. Everywhere lines of broad and flowing
harmony, moulded by some subtle union of rock and climate and
immemorial age into a mountain beauty which is the peculiar possession
of Westmoreland and Cumberland. Neither awful, nor yet trivial;
neither too soft for dignity, nor too rugged for delight.
The Westmoreland hills are the remains of an infinitely older
world--giants decayed, but of a great race and ancestry; they have
the finish, the delicate or noble loveliness--one might almost say the
_manner_--that comes of long and gentle companionship with those
chief forces that make for natural beauty, with air and water, with
temperate suns and too abundant rains. Beside them the Alps are
inhuman; the Apennines mere forest-grown heaps--mountains in the
making; while all that Scotland gains from the easy enveloping glory
of its heather, Westmoreland, which is almost heatherless, must owe
to an infinitude of fine strokes, tints, curves, and groupings, to
touches of magic and to lines of grace, yet never losing the wild
energy of precipice and rock that belongs of right to a mountain
To-day Langdale was in spring. The withered fern was still red on the
sides of the pikes; there was not a leaf on the oaks, still less on
the ashes; but the larches were green in various plantations, and the
sycamores were bursting. Half a mile eastward the woods were all in
soft bloom, carpeted with windflowers and bluebells. Here, but for the
larches, and the few sycamores and yews that guard each lonely farm,
all was naked fell and pasture. The harsh spring wind came rioting up
the valley, to fling itself on the broad sides of the pikes; the lambs
made a sad bleating; the water murmured in the ghyll beyond the house;
the very sunshine was clear and cold.
Calculations quick and anxious passed through the young wife's brain.
Debts here, and debts there; the scanty list of small commissions
ahead, which she knew by heart; the uncertainty of the year before
them; clothes urgently wanted for the child, for John, for herself.
She drew a long and harassed breath.
Phoebe Fenwick was a tall, slender creature, very young; with a little
golden head on a thin neck, features childishly cut, and eyes that
made the chief adornment of a simple face. The lines of the brow, the
lids and lashes, and the clear brown eye itself were indeed of a most
subtle and distinguished beauty; they accounted, perhaps, for the
attention with which most persons of taste and cultivation observed
Fenwick's wife. For the eyes seemed to promise a character, a career;
whereas the rest of the face was no more, perhaps, than a piece of
She wore a dress of dark-blue cotton, showing the spring of her
beautiful throat. The plain gown with its long folds, the uncovered
throat, and rich simplicity of her fair hair had often reminded
Fenwick and a few of his patrons of those Florentine photographs which
now, since the spread of the later Pre-Raphaelites and the opening of
the Grosvenor Gallery, were to be seen even in the shops of country
towns. There was a literary gentleman in Kendal who said that Mrs.
Fenwick was like one of Ghirlandajo's tall women in Santa Maria
Novella. Phoebe had sometimes listened uncomfortably to these
comparisons. She was a Cumberland girl, and had no wish at all to be
like people in Italy. It seemed somehow to cut her off from her own
'John is late!' said a voice beside her. An elderly woman had stepped
out of the cottage porch. Miss Anna Mason, the head-mistress of
an endowed girls school in Hawkshead, had come to spend a Saturday
afternoon with her old pupil, Phoebe Fenwick. A masterful-looking
woman--ample in figure, with a mouth of decision. She wore a grey
alpaca dress, adorned with a large tatted collar, made by herself, and
fastened by a brooch containing a true-lover's knot in brown hair.
'He'll have stayed on to finish,' said Phoebe, looking round. 'Where's
Miss Mason replied that the child wouldn't wait any longer for her
supper, and that Daisy, the little servant, was feeding her. Then,
slipping her arm inside Mrs. Fenwick's, Miss Mason looked at the
'It's a sweet little cottage,' she said, shading her eyes from the
fast-sinking orb, and then turning them on the tiny house--'but I dare
say you'll not be here long, Phoebe.'
Mrs. Fenwick started.
'John told Mr. Harrock he'd pay him rent for it till next Easter.'
Miss Mason laughed.
'Are you going to let John go wasting his time here till next Easter?'
The arm she held moved involuntarily.
'He has several commissions--people not far from here,' said Mrs.
Fenwick, hurriedly. 'And if the weather's too bad, we can always go to
rooms in Kendal or Ambleside.'
'Well, if that's what you're thinking of, my dear, you'd better make a
clerk of him at once and have done with it! He told me his uncle would
always find him work in the upholstery business.'
Phoebe's soft cheeks trembled a little.
'Some day we'll have saved some money,' she said, in a low voice--'and
then we'll go to London; and--and John will get on.'
'Yes--when you stop holding him back, Mrs. Phoebe Fenwick!'
'Oh! Miss Anna, I don't hold him back!' cried the wife, suddenly,
Miss Mason shook an incredulous head.
'I haven't heard a single word of his bettering himself--of his doing
anything but muddle on here--having a "crack" with this farmer and
that--and painting pictures he's a sight too good for, since I came
this morning; and we've talked for hours. No--I may as well have it
out--I'm a one for plain speaking; I'm a bit disappointed in you both.
As for you, Phoebe, you'll be precious sorry for it some day if you
don't drive him out of this.'
'Where should I drive him to?' cried Mrs. Fenwick, stifled. She had
broken a sycamore twig, and was stripping it violently of its buds.
Miss Anna looked at her unmoved. The grey-haired schoolmistress was
a woman of ideas and ambitions beyond her apparent scope in life.
She had read her Carlyle and Ruskin, and in her calling she was an
enthusiast. But, in the words of the Elizabethan poet, she was
perhaps 'unacquainted still with her own soul.' She imagined herself a
Radical; she was in truth a tyrant. She preached Ruskin and the
simple life; no worldling ever believed more fiercely in the gospel
of success. But, let it be said promptly, it was success for others,
rarely or never for herself; she despised the friend who could not
breast and conquer circumstance; as for her own case, there were
matters much more interesting to think of. But she was the gadfly, the
spur of all to whom she gave her affection. Phoebe, first her pupil,
then her under-mistress, and moulded still by the old habit of
subordination to her, both loved and dreaded her. It was said that she
had made the match between her _protegee_ and old Fenwick's rebellious
and gifted son. She had certainly encouraged it, and, whether from
conscience or invincible habit, she had meddled a good deal with it
In reply to Phoebe's question, Miss Anna merely inquired whether Mrs.
Fenwick supposed that George Romney--the Westmoreland artist--would
have had much chance with his art if he had stayed on in Westmoreland?
Why, the other day a picture by Romney had been sold for three
thousand pounds! And pray, would he ever have become a great painter
at all if he had stuck to Kendal or Dalton-in-Furness all his
life?--if he had never been brought in contact with the influences,
the money, and the sitters of London? Those were the questions that
Phoebe had to answer. 'Would the beautiful Lady This and Lady That
ever have come to Kendal to be painted?--would he ever have seen Lady
At this Mrs. Fenwick flushed hotly from brow to chin.
'I rather wonder at you, Miss Anna!' she said, breathing fast;
'you think it was all right he should desert his wife for thirty
years--so--so long as he painted pictures of that bad woman, Lady
Hamilton, for you to look at!'
Miss Anna looked curiously at her companion. The schoolmistress was
'Well!--you don't suppose that John's going to desert you for thirty
years!' said the other, with an impatient laugh. 'Don't be absurd,
Phoebe said nothing. She heard a cry from the baby Carrie, and she
hurried across the little garden to the house. At the same moment
there was a shout of greeting from below, and Fenwick came into sight
on the steep pitch of lane that led from the high-road to the cottage.
Miss Anna strolled down to meet him.
In the eyes of his old friend, John Fenwick made a very handsome
figure as he approached her, his painter's wallet slung over his
shoulder. That something remarkable had happened to him she divined at
once. In moments of excitement a certain foreign look--as some people
thought, a _gypsyish_ look--was apt to show itself. The roving eyes,
the wild manner, the dancing step betrayed the in most man--banishing
altogether the furtive or jealous reserve of the North-Countryman,
which were at other times equally to be noticed. Miss Anna had often
wondered how the same man could be so shy--and so vain!
However, though elation of some sort was uppermost, he was not at
first inclined to reveal himself. He told Miss Anna as they walked up
together that he had done with Miss Bella; that old Morrison praised
the portrait, and the girl hated it; that she was a vulgar, conceited
creature, and he was thankful to have finished.
'If I were to show it at Manchester next month, you'd see what the
papers would say. But I suppose Miss Bella would sooner die than let
her father send it. Silly goose! Powdering every time--and sucking
her lips to make them red--and twisting her neck about--ugh! I've no
patience with women like that! When I get on a bit, I'll paint nobody
I don't want to paint.'
'All right--but get on first,' said Miss Anna, patting him on the arm.
'What next, John--what next?'
He hesitated. His look grew for a moment veiled and furtive. 'Oh,
there's plenty to do,' he said, evasively.
They paused on the green ledges outside the cottage.
He nodded uncertainly.
'You'll not grow fat on Great Langdale,' said Miss Anna, waving an
ironical hand towards the green desolation of the valley.
He looked at her, walked up and down a moment, then said with an
outburst, though in a low tone, and with a look over his shoulder at
the open window of the cottage, 'Morrison's lent me a hundred pounds.
He advises me to go to London at once.'
Miss Anna raised her eyebrows. 'Oh--oh!' she said--'_that's_ news!
What do you mean by "at once"?--September?'
'Next week--I won't lose a day.'
Miss Anna pondered.
'Well, I dare say Phoebe can hurry up.'
'Oh! I can't take Phoebe,' he said, in a hasty, rather injured voice.
'Not take Phoebe!' cried the other under her breath, seeming to hear
around her the ghosts of words which had but just passed between her
and Phoebe--'and what on earth are you going to do with her?'
He led her away towards the edge of the little garden--arguing,
prophesying, laying down the law.
While he was thus engaged came Phoebe's silver voice from the parlour:
'Is that you, John? Supper's ready.'
He and Miss Anna turned.
'Hush, please!' said Fenwick to his companion, finger on lip; and they
'You'll have got the money from Mr. Morrison, John?' said Phoebe,
presently, when they were settled to their meal.
'Aye,' said Fenwick, 'that's all right. Phoebe, that's a real pretty
dress of yours.'
Soft colour rose in the wife's cheeks.
'I'm glad you like it,' said Phoebe, soberly. Then looking up--
'John--don't give Carrie that!--it'll make her sick.'
For Fenwick was stealthily feeding the baby beside him with morsels
from his own plate. The child's face--pink mouth and blue eyes, both
wide open--hung upon him in a fixed expectancy.
'She does like it so--the little greedy puss! It won't do her any
But the mother persisted. Then the child cried, and the father and
mother wrangled over it, till Fenwick caught up the babe by Phoebe's
peremptory directions and carried it away upstairs. At the door of
the little parlour, while Phoebe was at his shoulder, wiping away the
child's tears and cooing to it, Fenwick suddenly turned his head and
kissed his wife's cheek, or rather her pretty ear, which presented
itself. Miss Anna, still at table, laughed discreetly behind their
backs--the laugh of the sweet-natured old maid.
When the child was asleep upstairs, Phoebe and the little servant
cleared away while Fenwick and Miss Anna read the newspaper, and
talked on generalities. In this talk Phoebe had no share, and it might
have been noticed by one who knew them well, that in his conversation
with Miss Mason, Fenwick became another man. He used tones and phrases
that he either had never used, or used no longer, with Phoebe. He
showed himself, in fact, intellectually at ease, expansive, and, at
times, amazingly arrogant. For instance, in discussing a paragraph
about the Academy in the London letter of the _Westmoreland Gazette_,
he fired up and paced the room, haranguing his listener in a loud,
eager voice. Of course she knew--every one knew--that all the best
men and all the coming forces were now _outside the Academy_.
Millais, Leighton, Watts--spent talents, extinct volcanoes!--Tadema a
marvellous mechanic, without ideas!--the landscape men, chaotic,--no
standard anywhere, no style. On the other hand, Burne-Jones and the
Grosvenor Gallery group--ideas without drawing, without knowledge,
feet and hands absurd, muscles anyhow. While as for Whistler and
the Impressionists--a lot of maniacs, running a fad to death--but
No!--there was a new art coming!--the creation of men who had learnt
to draw, and could yet keep a hold on ideas--
'_Character_!--that's what we want!' He struck the table; and finally
with a leap he was at the goal which Miss Anna--sitting before
him, arms folded, her strong old face touched with satire--had long
foreseen. 'By George, _I'd_ show them!--if I only had the chance.'
He threw the pictures back into the cupboard.
'No doubt,' said Miss Anna, dryly. 'I think you _are_ a great man,
John, though you say it. But you've got to prove it.'
He laughed uncomfortably.
'I've written a good many of these things to the _Gazette_,' he said,
evading her direct attack. 'They'll put them in next week.'
'I wish you hadn't, John!' said Phoebe, anxiously. She was sitting
under the lamp with her needlework.
He turned upon her aggressively.
'And why, please?'
'Because the last article you wrote lost you a commission. Don't you
remember--that gentleman at Grasmere--what he said?'
She nodded her fair head gravely. It struck Miss Anna that she was
looking pale and depressed.
'Old fool!' said Fenwick. 'Yes, I remember. He wouldn't ask anybody
to paint his children who'd written such a violent article. As if I
wanted to paint his children! Besides, it was a mere excuse--to save
'I don't think so,' murmured Phoebe. 'And oh, I had counted on that
'What does five pounds matter, compared to speaking to one's mind?'
said Fenwick, roughly.
There was a silence. Fenwick, looking at the two women, felt them
unsympathetic, and abruptly changed the subject.
'I wish you'd give us some music, Phoebe.'
Phoebe rose obediently. He opened the little pianette for her, and lit
She played some Irish and Scotch airs, in poor settings, and with
much stumbling. After a little, Fenwick listened restlessly, his brow
frowning, his fingers drumming on the arm of his chair. They were all
glad when it was over.
Phoebe, hearing a whimper from the child, went upstairs. The two
others were soon in hushed but earnest conversation.
Miss Anna had gone to bed. Fenwick was sitting with a book before
him--lost in anxious and exciting calculations--when Phoebe entered
'Is that you?' he said, jumping up. 'That's all right. I wanted to
talk to you.'
'I thought you did,' she said, with a very quiet, drooping air; then
going to the window, which was open, she leaned out into the May
night. 'Where shall we go? It's warmer.'
'Let's go to the ghyll,' said Fenwick; 'I'll fetch you a shawl.'
For, as both remembered, Miss Anna was upstairs, and in that tiny
cottage all sounds were audible.
Fenwick wrapt a shawl round his companion, and they sallied forth.
The valley lay below them. A young moon was near its setting over the
farthest pike, and the fine lines of the mountain rose dimly clear,
from its base on the valley floor to the dark cliffs of Pavey Ark. Not
a light was visible anywhere. Their little cottage on its shelf, with
the rays of its small lamp shining through the window, seemed to
be the only spectator of the fells; it talked with them in a lonely
They passed through the fence of the small garden out on to the
fell-side. Dim forms of sheep rose in alarm as they came near, and
bleating lambs hurried beside them. Soft sounds of wind, rising and
falling along the mountain or stirring amid last year's bracken,
pursued them, till they reached the edge of the ghyll, and, descending
its side, found the water murmuring among the stones, the only audible
thing in a deep shade and silence.
They sat down by the stream, and Fenwick, taking up some pebbles,
began to drop them nervously into the water. Phoebe, beside him,
clasped her hands round her knees; in a full light it would have been
seen that the hands were trembling.
'Phoebe--old Morrison's offered to lend me some money.'
'I--I thought perhaps he had.'
'And he wants me to go to London at once.'
'You've _got_ the money?'
'In my pocket'--he laid his hand upon it. Then he laughed: 'He didn't
pay me for the portrait, though. That's like him. And of course I
couldn't ask for it.'
Fenwick turned round and took one of her hands.
'Well, little woman, what do you think? Are you going to let me go and
make my fortune?--our fortune?'
'As if I could stop you!' she said, hoarsely. 'It's what you've wanted
[Illustration: _Husband and Wife_]
'Well, and if I have, where's the harm? We can't go on living like
And he began to talk, with great rapidity, about the absurdity of
attempting to make a living as an artist out of Westmoreland--out of
any place, indeed, but London, the natural centre and clearing-house
'I could make a living out of teaching, I suppose, up here. I could
get--in time--a good many lessons going round to schools. But that
would be a dog's life. You wouldn't want to see me at that for ever,
would you, Phoebe? Or at painting portraits at five guineas apiece? I
could chuck it all, of course, and go in for business. But I can tell
you, England would lose something if I did.'
And, catching up another stone, he threw it into the beck with a
passion which made the clash of it, as it struck upon a rock, echo
through the ghyll. There was something magnificent in the gesture, and
a movement, half thrill, half shudder, ran through the wife's delicate
frame. She clasped her hands round his arm, and drew close to him.
'John!--are you going to leave baby and me behind?'
Her voice, as she pressed towards him, her face upraised to his, rose
from deep founts of feeling; but she kept the sob in it restrained.
Fenwick felt the warmth and softness of her young body; the fresh
face, the fragrant hair were close upon his lips. He threw both his
arms round her and folded her to him.
'Just for a little while,' he pleaded--'till I get my footing. One
year! For both our sakes--Phoebe!'
'I could live on such a little--we could get two rooms, which would be
cheaper for you than lodgings.'
'It isn't that!' he said, impatiently, but kissing her. 'It is that I
must be my own master--I must have nothing to think of but my art--I
must slave night and day--I must live with artists--I must get to
know all sorts of people who might help me on. If you and Carrie came
up--just at first--I couldn't do the best for myself--I couldn't, I
tell you. And of course I mean the best for _you_, in the long run.
If I go, I must succeed. And if I can give all my mind, I _shall_
succeed. Don't you think I shall?'
He drew away from her abruptly--holding her at arm's length,
scrutinising her face almost with hostility.
'Yes,' said Phoebe, slowly, 'Yes, of course you'll succeed--if you
don't quarrel with people.'
'Quarrel,' he repeated, angrily. 'You're always harping on
that--you're always so _afraid_ of people. It does a man no harm, I
tell you, to be a bit quick-tempered. I shan't be a fool.'
'No, but--I could warn you often. And then you know,' she said,
slowly, caressing his shoulder with her hand--'I could look after
money. You're dreadfully bad about money, John. Directly you've got
it, you spend it--and sometimes when you borrow you forget all about
paying it back.'
He was struck dumb for a moment with astonishment; feeling at the same
time the trembling of the form which his arm still encircled.
'Well, Phoebe,' he said, at last, 'you seem determined to say
disagreeable things to me to-night. I suppose I might remind you that
you're much younger than I; and that of course a man knows much more
about business than a young thing like you can. How, I should like
to know, could we have done any better than we have done, since we
married? As far as money goes, we've had a hell of a time, from first
'It would have been much worse,' said Phoebe, softly, 'if I hadn't
been there--you know it would. You know last year when we were in such
straits, and all our things were nearly sold up, you let me take over
things, and keep the money. And I went to see all the people we owed
money to--and--and it's pretty bad--but it isn't as bad as it was--'
She hid her face on her knees, choked by the sob she could no longer
'Well, of course it's better,' said Fenwick, ungraciously; 'I don't
say you haven't got a head, Phoebe--why, I know you have! You did
first-rate! But, after all, I had to earn the money.'
She looked up eagerly.
'That's what I say. You'd never be able to think about little
things--you'd have to be painting always--and going about--and--'
He bit his lip.
'Why, I could manage for myself--for a bit,' he said, with a laugh.
'I'm not such an idiot as all that. Old Morrison's lent me a hundred
He enjoyed her amazement.
'A hundred pounds!' she repeated, faintly. 'And however are we going
to repay all that?'
He drew her back to him triumphantly.
'Why, you silly child, I'm going to earn it, of course--and a deal
more. Don't you hinder me, Phoebe! and I shall be a rich man before
we can look round, and you'll be a lady--with a big house--and your
He kissed her vehemently, as though to coerce her into agreeing with
But she released herself.
'You and I'll _never_ be rich. We don't know how.'
'Speak for yourself, please.' He stretched out his right hand,
laughing. 'Look at that hand. If it gets a fair chance it's got money
in it--and fame--and happiness for us both! _Don't_ you believe in me,
Phoebe? Don't you believe I shall make a painter?'
He spoke with an imperious harshness, repeating his query. It was
evident, curiously evident, that he cared for her opinion.
'Of course I believe in you,' she said, her chest heaving.
Then, coming to him again, she flung her arms piteously round him.
'Oh, John, John--for a year past--and more--you've been sorry you
'What on earth's the matter with you?' he cried, half in wrath, half
astonished. 'What's come to you, Phoebe?'
'Oh! I know,' she said, withdrawing herself and speaking in a low
current of speech. 'You were very fond of me when we married--and--and
I dare say you're fond of me now--but it's different. You were a boy
then--and you thought you'd get drawing-lessons in Kendal, and perhaps
a place at a school--and you didn't seem to want anything more. And
now you're so ambitious--so ambitious, John--I'--she turned her head
away--'I sometimes feel when I'm with you--I can't breathe--it's just
burning you away--and me too. You've found out what you can do--and
people tell you you're so clever--and then you think you've thrown
yourself away--and that I'm a clog on you. John'--she approached him
suddenly, panting--'John, do you mean that baby and I are to stay all
the winter alone in that cottage?' She motioned towards it.
He protested that he had elaborately thought out all that she must do.
She must go to her father at Keswick for the summer and possibly for
the winter, till he had got a footing. He would come up to see her as
often as work and funds would permit. She must look after the child,
make a little money perhaps by her beautiful embroidery.
'I'll not go to my father,' she said, with energy.
'But why not?'
'You seem to forget that he married a second wife, John, last year.'
'I'm sure Mrs. Gibson was most friendly when we were there last month.
And we'd _pay_, of course--we'd pay.'
'I'm not going to plant myself and Carrie down on Mrs. Gibson for six
months and more, John, so don't ask me. No, we'll stay here--we'll
She began to pluck at the grass with her hand, staring before her at
the moonlit stream like one who sees visions of the future. The beauty
of her faintly visible head and neck suddenly worked on John Fenwick's
senses. He threw his arm round her.
'And I shall soon be back. You little silly, can't you understand that
I shall always be wanting you?'
'We'll stay here,' she repeated, slowly. 'And you'll be in London
making smart friends--and dining with rich folk--and having ladies to
sit to you--'
'Phoebe, you're not jealous of me?' he cried, with a great,
good-humoured laugh--'that would be the last straw.'
'Yes, I am jealous of you!' she said, with low-voiced passion; 'and
you know very well that I've had some cause to be.'
He was silent. Through both their minds there passed the memory of
some episodes in their married life--slight, but quite sufficient to
show that John Fenwick was a man of temperament inevitably attracted
He murmured that she had made mountains out of mole-hills. She merely
raised his hand and kissed it. 'The women make a fool of you, John,'
she said, 'and I ought to be there to protect you--for you do love me,
you know--you do!'
And then with tears she broke down and clung to him again, in a mood
that was partly the love of wife for husband and partly an exquisite
maternity--the same feeling she gave her child. He responded with
eagerness, feeling indeed that he had won his battle.
For she lay in his arms--weak--protesting no more. The note of
anguish, of deep, incalculable foreboding, which she had shown, passed
away from her manner and words; while on his side he began to draw
pictures of the future so full of exultation and of hope that
her youth presently could but listen and believe. The sickle moon
descended behind the pikes; only the stars glimmered on the great side
of the fell, on solitary yews black upon the night, on lines of wall,
on dim, mysterious paths, old as the hills themselves, on the softly
chiding water. The May night breathed upon them, calmed them, brought
out the better self of each. They returned to the cottage like
children, hand in hand, talking of a hundred practical details,
thankful that the jarring moment had passed away, each refraining from
any word that could wound the other. Nor was it till Fenwick was sound
asleep beside her that Phoebe, replunged in loneliness and dread, gave
herself in the dawn-silence to a passion of unconquerable tears.
'Was _that_ the landmark? What,--the foolish well Whose wave, low
down, I did not stoop to drink, But sat and flung the pebbles from
its brink In sport to send its imaged skies pell-mell, (And mine own
image, had I noted well!) Was that my point of turning? I had thought
The stations of my course should rise unsought, As altar-stone, or
'Why does that fellow upstairs always pass you as though he were in
a passion with somebody?' said Richard Watson, stepping back as he
spoke, palette on thumb, from the picture upon which he was engaged.
'He almost knocked me down this morning, and I am not conscious of
having done anything to offend his worship.'
His companion in the dingy Bloomsbury studio, where they were both at
work, also put down palette and brush, examining the canvas before him
with a keen, cheerful air.
'Perhaps he loathes mankind, as I did yesterday.'
'And to-day it's all right?'
'Well, come and look.'
Watson crossed over. He was a tall and splendid man, a 'black Celt'
from Merionethshire, with coal-black hair, and eyes deeply sunken and
lined, with fatigue or ill health. Beside him, his comrade, Philip
Cuningham, had the air of a shrewd clerk or man of business--with his
light alertness of frame, his reddish hair, and sharp, small features.
A pleasant, serviceable ability was stamped on Cuningham's whole
aspect; while Watson's large, lounging way, and dishevelled or
romantic good looks suggested yet another perennial type--the dreamer
entangled in the prose of life.
He looked at the picture which Cuningham turned towards him--his hands
thrust into the vast pockets of his holland coat. It was a piece of
charming _genre_--a crowded scene in Rotten Row, called 'Waiting for
the Queen,' painted with knowledge and grace; owing more to Wilkie
than to Frith, and something to influences more modern than either;
a picture belonging to a familiar English tradition, and worthily
'Yes--you've got it!' he said, at last, in a voice rather colourless
and forced. Then he made one or two technical comments, to which
the other listened with something that was partly indulgence, partly
deference; adding, finally, as he moved away, 'And it'll sell, of
course--like hot potatoes!'
'Well, I hope so,' said Philip, beginning to put away his brushes and
tubes with what seemed to be a characteristic orderliness--'or I shall
be in Queer Street. But I think Lord Findon wants it. I shouldn't
wonder if he turned up this afternoon!'
'Ah?' Watson raised his great shoulders with a gesture which might
have been sarcastic, but was perhaps more than anything else languid
and weary. He returned to his own picture, looking at it with a
'Nobody will ever want to buy that!' he said, quietly.
Cuningham stood beside him, embarrassed.
'It's full of fine things,' he said, after a moment. 'But--'
'You wish I wouldn't paint such damned depressing subjects?'
'I wish you'd sometimes condescend to think of the public, old
'That--_never_!' said the other, under his breath. 'Starve--and please
yourself! But I shan't starve--you forget that.'
'Worse luck!' laughed Cuningham. 'I believe Providence ordained the
British Philistine for our good--drat him! It does no one any harm to
have to hook the public. All the great men have done it. You're too
squeamish, Master Dick!'
Watson went on painting in silence, his lips working. Presently
Cuningham caught--half lost in the beard--'There's a public of to-day,
though--and a public of to-morrow!'
'Oh, all right,' said Philip. 'So long as you take a public of some
sort into consideration! I like your jester.'
He bent forward to look into the front line of the large composition
crowded with life-size figures on which Watson was engaged. It was an
illustration of some Chaucerian lines, describing the face of a man on
his way to execution, seen among a crowd:
'a pale face
Among a press ...'
so stricken that, amid all the thronging multitude, 'men might know
his face that was bestead' from all the rest.
The idea--of helpless pain, in the grip of cruel and triumphant
force--had been realised with a passionate wealth of detail,
comparable to some of the early work of Holman Hunt. The head of the
victim bound with blood-stained linen, a frightened girl hiding her
eyes, a mother weeping, a jester with the laugh withered on his lip by
this sudden vision of death and irremediable woe--and in the distance
a frail, fainting form, sweetheart or sister--each figure and group,
rendered often with very unequal technical merit, had yet in it
something harshly, intolerably true. The picture was too painful to be
borne; but it was neither common nor mean.
Cuningham turned away from it with a shudder.
'Some of it's magnificent, Dick--but I couldn't live with it if you
'Because you look at it wrongly,' said Watson, gruffly. 'You take it
as an anecdote. It isn't an anecdote--it's a symbol.'
'What?--The World?--and The Victim?--from all time?--and to all time?
Well, that makes it more gruesome than ever. Hullo, who's that? Come
The door opened. A young man, in some embarrassment, appeared on the
'I believe these letters are yours,' he said, offering a couple to
Cuningham. 'They brought them up to me by mistake.'
Philip Cuningham took them with thanks, then scanned the newcomer as
he was turning to depart.
'I think I saw you at Berners Street the other night?'
John Fenwick paused.
'Yes--' he said, awkwardly.
'Have you been attending all the summer?'
'Pretty well. There were about half a dozen fellows left in August. We
clubbed together to keep the model going.'
'I don't remember you in the Academy.'
'No. I come from the North. I've painted a lot already--I couldn't be
bothered with the Academy!'
Watson turned and looked at the figure in the doorway.
'Won't you come in and sit down?'
The young man hesitated. Then something in his look kindled as it fell
on Watson's superb head, with its strong, tossed locks of ebon-black
hair touched with grey, the penthouse brows, and the blue eyes beneath
with their tragic force of expression.
Fenwick came in and shut the door. Cuningham pushed him a chair, and
Watson offered him a cigarette, which he somewhat doubtfully accepted.
His two hosts--men of the educated middle-class--divined at once
that he was self-taught, and risen from the ranks. Both Cuningham and
Watson were shabbily dressed; but it was an artistic and metropolitan
shabbiness. Fenwick's country clothes were clumsy and unbecoming; and
his manner seemed to fit him as awkwardly as his coat. The sympathy of
both the older artists did but go out to him the more readily.
Cuningham continued the conversation, while Watson, still painting,
They discussed the _personnel_ of the life-school Fenwick was
attending, the opening of a new _atelier_ in North London by a
well-known Academician, the successes at the current 'Academy,' the
fame of certain leading artists. At least Cuningham talked; Fenwick's
contributions were mostly monosyllabic; he seemed to be feeling his
Suddenly, by a change of attitude on the painter's part, the picture
on which Dick Watson was engaged became visible to Fenwick. He walked
eagerly up to it.
'I say!'--his face flushed with admiration. 'That figure's wonderful.'
He pointed to the terror-stricken culprit. 'But that horse there--you
don't mind, do you?--that horse is wrong!'
'I know he is! I've worked at him till I'm sick. Can't work at him any
'It should be like this.'
He took out a sketch-book from his pocket, caught up a piece of
charcoal and rapidly sketched the horse in the attitude required. Then
he handed the book to Watson, who looked first at the sketch, and then
at some of the neighbouring pages, which were covered with studies of
horses observed mostly on the day of some trade-union procession, when
mounted police were keeping the road.
Watson was silent a moment, then, walking up to his picture, he took
his palette-knife and scraped out the whole passage. 'I see!' he said,
and, laying down the knife, he threw himself into a chair, flushed and
'Oh, you'll soon put it right!' said Fenwick, encouragingly.
Watson winced--then nodded.
'May I see that book?' He held out his hand, and Fenwick yielded it.
Watson and Cuningham turned it over together. The 'notes,' of which it
was full, showed great brilliancy and facility, an accurate eye, and a
very practised hand. They were the notes of a countryman artist
newly come to London. The sights, and tones, and distances of London
streets--the human beings, the vehicles, the horses--were all freshly
seen, as though under a glamour. Cuningham examined them with care.
'Is this the sort of thing you're going to do?' he said, looking
up, and involuntarily his eye glanced towards his own picture on the
'That's only for practice. I want to do big things--romantic
things--if I get the chance.'
'What a delightful subject!' said Cuningham, stooping suddenly over
Fenwick started, made a half-movement as though to reclaim his
property, and then withdrew his hand. Cuningham was looking at a
charcoal study of a cottage interior. The round table of rude black
oak was set for a meal, and a young woman was feeding a child in a
pinafore who sat in a high-chair. The sketch might have been a mere
piece of domestic prettiness; but the handling of it was so strong
and free that it became a significant, typical thing. It breathed
the North, a life rustic and withdrawn--the sweetness of home and
'Are you going to make a picture of that?' said Watson, putting on his
spectacles, and peering into it. 'You'd better.'
Fenwick replied that he might some day, but had too many things on
hand to think of it yet a while. Then with no explanation and a rather
hasty hand he turned the page. Cuningham looked at him curiously.
They were still busy with the sketch-book when a voice was heard on
the stairs outside.
'Lord Findon,' said Cunningham.
He coloured a little, ran to his picture, arranged it in the best
light, and removed a small fly which had stuck to one corner.
'Shall I go?' said Fenwick.
He too had been clearly fluttered by the name, which was that of one
of the best-known buyers of the day.
Watson in reply beckoned him on to the leads, upon which the Georgian
bow-window at the end of the room opened. They found themselves on
a railed terrace looking to right and left on a row of gardens, each
glorified by one of the plane-trees which even still make the charm of
Watson hung over the rail, smoking. He explained that Lord Findon had
come to see Cuningham's picture, which he had commissioned, but not
without leaving himself a loophole, in case he didn't like it.
'He will like it,' said Fenwick. 'It's just the kind of thing people
Watson said nothing, but smoked with energy. Fenwick went on talking,
letting it be clearly understood that he personally thought the
picture of no account, but that he knew very well that it was of a
kind to catch buyers. In a few minutes Watson resented his attitude
as offensive; he fell into a cold silence; Fenwick's half-concealed
contempt threw him fiercely on his friend's side.
'Well, I've done the trick!' said Cuningham, coming out jauntily, his
hands in his trousers pockets; then, with a jerk of the head towards
the studio, and a lowered voice, 'He's writing the cheque.'
'How much?' said Watson, without turning his head. Fenwick thought it
decent to walk away, but he could not prevent himself from listening.
It seemed to him that he heard the words 'Two hundred and fifty,' but
he could not be sure. What a price!--for such a thing. His own blood
ran warm and quick.
As he stood at the further end of the little terrace ruminating,
Cuningham touched him on the shoulder.
'I say, have you got anything to show upstairs?'
Fenwick turned to see in the sparkling eyes and confident bearing of
the Scotchman, success writ large, expressing itself in an impulse of
'Yes--I've got a picture nearly finished.'
'Come and be introduced to Findon. He's a crank--but a good sort--lots
of money--thinks he knows everything about art--they all do--give him
his head when he talks.'
Fenwick nodded, and followed Cuningham back to the studio, where Lord
Findon was now examining Watson's picture with no assistance whatever
from the artist, who seemed to have been struck with dumbness.
Fenwick was introduced to a remarkably tall and handsome man, with the
bearing of a sportsman or a soldier, who greeted him with a cordial
shake of the hand, and a look of scrutiny so human and kindly that the
very sharp curiosity which was in truth the foundation of it passed
without offence. Lord Findon was indeed curious about everything;
interested in everything; and a dabbler in most artistic pursuits.
He liked the society of artists; and he was accustomed to spend some
hundreds, or even thousands, a year out of his enormous income, in the
purchase of modern pictures. Possibly the sense of power over human
lives which these acquisitions gave him pleased him even more than the
He asked Fenwick a few easy questions, sitting rakishly on the edge of
a tilted chair, his hat slipping back on his handsome, grizzled head.
Where did he come from--with whom had he studied--what were his plans?
Had he ever been abroad? No. Strange! The artists nowadays neglected
travel. 'But you go! Beg your way, paint your way--but go! Go before
the wife and the babies come! Matrimony is the deuce. Don't you agree
with me, Philip?' He laid a familiar hand on the artist's arm.
'Take care!' said Cuningham, laughing. 'You don't know what I may have
been up to this summer.'
Findon shrugged his shoulders. 'I know a wise man when I see him. But
the fools there are about! Well, I take a strong line'--he waved his
hand, with a kind of laughing pomposity, rolling his words--'whenever
I see a young fellow marrying before he has got his training--before
he has seen a foreign gallery--before he can be sure of a year's
income ahead--above all, before he knows anything at all about
_women_, and the different ways in which they can play the devil with
you!--well, I give him up--I don't go to see his pictures--I don't
bother about him any more. The man's an ass--must be an ass!--let him
bray his bray! Why, you remember Perry?--Marindin?'
On which there followed a rattling catalogue of matrimonial failures
in the artist world, amusing enough--perhaps a little cruel. Cuningham
laughed. Watson, on whom Lord Findon's whole personality seemed to
have an effect more irritating than agreeable, fidgeted with his
brushes. He struck in presently with the dry remark that artists were
not the only persons who made imprudent marriages.
Lord Findon sprang up at once, and changed the subject. His youngest
son, the year before, had married the nurse who had pulled him through
typhoid--and was still in exile, and unforgiven.
Meanwhile no one had noticed John Fenwick. He stood behind the other
two while Lord Findon was talking--frowning sometimes and restless--a
movement now and then in lips and body, as though he were about to
speak--yet not speaking. It was one of those moments when a man feels
a band about his tongue, woven by shyness or false shame, or social
timidity. He knows that he ought to speak; but the moment passes and
he has not spoken. And between him and the word unsaid there rises on
the instant a tiny streamlet of division, which is to grow and broaden
with the nights and days, till it flows, a stream of fate, not to be
turned back or crossed; and all the familiar fields of life are ruined
and blotted out.
Finally, as the great patron was going, Cuningham whispered a word in
his ear. Lord Findon turned to Fenwick.
'You're in this house, too? Have you anything you'd let me see?'
Fenwick, flushed and stammering, begged him to walk upstairs.
Cuningham's puzzled impression was that he gave the invitation
reluctantly, but could not make up his mind not to give it.
They marched upstairs, Lord Findon and Cuningham behind.
'Does he ever sell?' said Lord Findon, in Cuningham's ear, nodding
towards the broad shoulders and black head of Watson just in front.
'Not often,' said Cuningham, after a pause.
'How, then, does he afford himself?' said the other, smiling.
'Oh! he has means--just enough to keep him from starving. He's a dear
old fellow! He has too many ideas for this wicked world.'
Cuningham spoke with a pleasant loyalty. Lord Findon shrugged his
'The ideas are too lugubrious! And this young fellow--this
Fenwick--where did you pick him up?'
'A character!--perhaps a genius?' said Findon. 'He has a clever,
quarrelsome eye. Unmarried? Good Lord, I hope so, after the way I've
been going on.'
Cuningham laughed. 'We've seen no sign of a wife. But I really know
nothing about him.'
They were entering the upper room, and at sight of the large picture
it contained, Lord Findon exclaimed:
'My goodness!--what an ambitious thing!'
The three men gathered in front of the picture. Fenwick lingered
nervously behind them.
'What do you call it?' said Lord Findon, putting up his glasses.
'The "Genius Loci,"' said Fenwick, fumbling a little with the words.
It represented a young woman seated on the edge of a Westmoreland
ghyll or ravine. Behind her the white water of the beck flowed steeply
down from shelf to shelf; beyond the beck rose far-receding walls of
mountain, purple on purple, blue on blue. Light, scantily nourished
trees, sycamore or mountain-ash, climbed the green sides of the ghyll,
and framed the woman's form. She sat on a stone, bending over a frail
new-born lamb upon her lap, whereof the mother lay beside her. Against
her knee leaned a fair-haired child. The pitiful concern in the
woman's lovely eyes was reflected in the soft wonder of the child's.
Both, it seemed, were of the people. The drawing was full of rustical
suggestion, touched here and there by a harsh realism that did but
heighten the general harmony. The woman's grave comeliness flowered
naturally, as it were, out of the scene. She was no model posing with
a Westmoreland stream for background. She seemed a part of the fells;
their silences, their breezes, their pure waters, had passed into her
But it was the execution of the picture which perhaps specially
arrested the attention of the men examining it.
'Eclectic stuff!' said Watson to himself, presently, as he turned