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be, if I'd spoiled her, she'd have turned out different. Well, lass, you've chosen for yourself: I wish you luck of your choice. If your husband's all you say, you can't make too much of him; maybe I'll see him one day." , "I'll bring him here some day." Patty's voice shook, though she tried hard to steady it "Don't come to Park Lane; it would make everything tiresome, and I'll see about what you said just now at once; I will indeed;—I mean about money. I must go now, or I shall miss my train."
She looked at herself in the little smeared mirror, and her father looked too; —he sneered; but there was sadness in his face. Patty's action had taken him back to Ashton, and his cottage, and his daily life ;—he had been happier in those old days.
"I saw Miss Nuna, a while ago," he said; "she didn't see me; she was too taken up with her husband, and he was looking into her face as if she'd been his sweetheart instead of his wife. That's a pleasant marriage, I warrant. Maybe you've happened to come across them, eh?"
"No, I haven't." Patty tossed her head and gathered up her skirts in sudden anger. "Well, good-by, father; I really must go now."
She was out of the room, in the road hurrying along to the station before she realized what she was doing.
The snort of an engine overhead, as she passed under the railway arch, steadied her wits.
"What a child I am!" she smiled with contempt at herself. "Doesn't a man often smile down into a woman's eyes without caring a bit about her? Most likely she's got a temper, and Paul's.smile would sweeten a vixen. Poor fellow! what a mistake he made."
Mrs. Downes held the creed that no person who could use his or her wits ever allowed anything to worry. There were two courses open—either dismiss the subjects altogether by the substitution of something pleasant and flattering, or else decide at once on some plan which converts worry itself into a means of gratification.
N«w Snns.—Vol. XIV., No. 4.
She only answered Miss Coppock's questions respecling her.father by "yes" and "no;" and by the time she reached Park Lane she had determined to try whether Paul still loved her, or if he really cared for his wife.
"There is no harm in it whatever: I could tell Maurice the whole story with the greatest ease if Paul were not an artist, and if it would not bring out things I don't want talked of. I do not mean to encourage Paul; I only mean to amuse myself, and to be satisfied father is mistaken. Maurice always says he dislikes prudery, and he thinks it ill-bred. Ot course I'm not going to flirt; that would not suit my position."
A slight triumphant smile curved her lovely lips; she was thinking how utterly needless it was for her to seek any man's admiration; she could never remember the time when she had not known she was beautiful.
'• Paul must look at me while he paints, and if he looks—well, I can't help his admiring me. I'm not going to fall in love with him, or any such nonsense ; I should be as silly as Patience if I thought of it." She glanced scornfully at M*iss Coppock.. "I shall let her be present at the next sitting; she'll see her folly then; and, besides, I think it is more what is done, and' it will shut her mouth."
Paul came next morning, and Mrs.. Downes carefully abstained from addressing her companion; Miss Coppock's. name was not spoken in his presence.
Paul Whitniore was amused at this freshi evidence of Patty's fine ladyism; but he never suspected the plain, gaunt woman,, who watched him so intently, to be an, ancient acquaintance of Patty's Ashton days; he looked on the companion as a. total stranger; and as Mrs. Downes was careful to avoid any mention of Nuna, there was no chance of a recurrence t«' old times.
The picture progressed marvellously this morning; yet Paul went home irritable, and disposed to find fault with himself and everyone else.
Patty was happy then, after all, with that dolt of a husband. She had actually smiled when she said Mr. Downes was satisfied with the picture.
"As if I care what he thinks or says! She must love him ; she's much too clever to value his opinion a straw—unless Love: 29
has made the fool of her that he makes of the most sensible women after marriage. I suppose it's all right; but a married woman in love with her husband is fifty times more foolish than when she's a girl. I've heard that married happiness is bad for the intellect." He went on presently—" I suppose that's why I'm such a consummate ass as to plague myself with all this trash. And yet 1 don't feel over happy just now, any way."
He was vexed with himself; and he hurried home, determined to be pleased with Nuna; but when he reached the studio, he gave a sigh of relief that she was not at home.
He remembered that she had settled to go out shopping with Mrs. Bright, and would not be back till tea-time.
"I shall stay in till she comes."
He took up a book lying on the table, but it was one he had had with him at Ash ton ; and by that strange power of localization which haunts inanimate objects, its very cover took him back to Carving's Wood Lane, and Patty—Patty, as he had seen her blushing under her sun-bonnet in the honey-suckle porch— Patty, as he had thought her, guileless and loving.
What a blissful dream that had been! Had he ever felt anything like its intensity, its intoxication of happiness?
By some process which he made no effort to check, thought took him through the months and weeks of his married life. Just now he had said, great happiness was fatal to intellectual power. Had he been so happy? was he always quite content, quite satisfied? He clasped his hands over his eyes, and then he got up and went to his easel, and began to scrape a half-finished study with a knife.
"If I'm not happy, I ought to be." He turned resolutely from the whisper which had made itself heard when he clasped his head so firmly just now. The whisper had said that intense happiness, even if it were not lasting, was preferable to a tranquil, contented state of life.
"And I thought this was flesh. I thought this was good flesh when I did it. By Jove, how those sittings have improved me!"
He pushed the offending canvas away, and stood thinking of Patty again.
"It's first-rate study to paint her," he said. But he felt more restless still. He
began to think that if he stayed till Nuna came in, he should be cross or sulky, and damp the enjoyment she would be full of.
"She will expect me to enter into all she has been doing with that old noodle, and 1 can't. I feel bored by anything relating to those Brights; and I know what I can be when I'm thoroughly savage. Nuna doesn't, and there's no need she ever should."
He sighed. Just then it seemed to him as if his wife knew very little indeed of his real self; but he checked the thought.
"I've got a headache, and I'm_ out of sorts: I'll go down to those two fellows again and see what they are at."
Nuna came home earlier than he had expected, and her heart sank when she found she had missed Paul; but she kept a smiling face before Mrs. Bright.
"Dear me! I am disappointed not to see your husband; but never mind, dear; we can have a longer chat. You won't forget my two messages to him, will you, Nuna dear, about getting rid of the smell of paint,—it is horrid, isn't it? I wonder you're not bilious,—and about coming to see us? I've set my heart upon it. You don't look at all as you ought. I'm sure it's the nasty paint; and, besides other things, there is such a thing as stiffneckedness, my dear. I don't mean rheumatic, you know"—for Nuna had begun to smile—"you're too young _ for that; 1 mean your father's wife. I don't defend him; don't think it, my love. Only suppose I'd gone and set up a stepfather over Will! There's one thing, Will would have held his own against any step father; but I wouldn't let this estrangement go on if I were you; and you'd shut Mrs. Beaufort's mouth, too, which would be best on all accounts."
Nuna grew crimson.
"I don't want to stop Mrs. Beaufort; she can't say anything against me."
"Ah! my dear; don't now! I am sorry I said a word; it's nothing against you, of course, only she sneers at artists, and speaks of you as 'poor Nuna,' and as if you had quite fallen in position; of course, dear—now don't excite yourself, there's a dear creature, don't;" and Mrs. Bright's plump hands stretched out towards the flushed face and frowning eyes. "We who know Mr. Whitmore don't pay any heed, of course, not likely, but it's just"
Nuna could hold herself in no longer; she got up with flashing eyes.
"And you expect me to make friends with a woman who speaks against Paul! I'm glad you have told me; if ever I do go to see you, it shall only be on the condition that Elizabeth never sets foot in your house while I am there. She is a wicked, false woman—I feel wicked when I think of her." The quick, impulsive anger was spent already; the tender heart suffered for the pain on Mrs. Bright" s face. "Don't let us quarrel about her, my dear, kind friend."
She kissed and hugged Mrs. Bright impetuously, and the talk ended; but still her visitor was not satisfied. She could no longer believe Mrs. Beaufort's insinuations as to Nuna's want of affection. She had never seen her so warmly demonstrative as she had proved during their visit to London; but there was something unheard of in a woman refusing to sanction her own father's marriage. But Mrs. Bright went back to Gray's Farm more anxious, in some ways, about Nuna's future than when she left it.
"1 hope Nuna won't come to harm." The good, plump, easy-natured woman sat thinking it all out when she got back to the quiet of her home; thought, she averred, being impossible in London: there was only time there to see, and to eat, drink, and sleep; and far too little for the last, which in Mrs. Bright's estimation was the chief necessary of life. "But anything unusual must be wrong; and it is such a pity to be unlike other people, especially in a woman; it's my belief women are always safest when they copy somebody else—Eve couldn't, of course; there was no pattern to follow, and I expect that's why she got into mischief."
Nuna had not borne with her old friend's silliness ; she had peremptorily stopped any farther outpouring on the hateful topic of Mrs. Beaufort: but silly words have often as much root in them as those which are wiser; they grow in memory as rank weeds grow on a dry, stony, roadside heap. They were to be despised so far as they touched herself. She cared little for society, and she had as much as she wanted ;—a few tried friends among her
husband's acquaintances would have been glad to see her more frequently; but she shrank from invitations.
"I don't get half as much as I want of Paul now," she thought; "and, if we go out often, we shall get farther and farther apart."
The Brights had departed a fortnight, and Nuna thought something in their visit must have vexed her husband, he had grown so very silent.
"Are you painting anything specially interesting now?" she said to Paul.
They were sitting at breakfast.
Paul flushed, frowned, and turned over his newspaper quickly, as if he were eager for the next column.
"Generally I know what you are doing," she said, "but you have not told me any thing these three weeks."
"That was all very well while it was new to you; but it would be nonsense to go on with it; what possible interest can you take in the mere painting of portraits?"
He spoke coldly; he did not even look at her, and tears were in Nuna's eyes in an instant.
"Oh, Paul! as if everything you do is not interesting to me. You are painting a portrait, then?"
She made her voice cheerful; she saw that at her first words he had plunged yet more deeply into his paper. Nuna would have liked at that moment to have made a bonfire of all the newspapers in London.
"Yes." Paul had not been reading; he had been thinking how he could best stop his wife's inquiries without giving her pain—he looked at her and smiled. "You are sure to hear about work that is interesting; but don't ask questions about portraits, there's a dear girl—they are distasteful enough to paint."
"Ah," said Nuna simply, "you poor darling, and you are sacrificed and have to paint them just because you married a wife who hadn't any money!"
She went round to her husband and kissed him, and, glad of the excuse for standing there with her arms round his neck, she bent down ovei his shoulder and looked at the paper.
"VVhat are you reading, darling? Why, here are nothing but ships for Melbourne and all sorts of far-off places !—why Paul!"
She looked laughingly in his face.
Paul was vexed: it came into his head that Nuna was watching him; and he felt that he had looked conscious when he said he disliked portrait painting.
"I shan't have time to read anything if you tease me," he said gravely; "you have not read your letter yet."
Nuna went away at once. She was trying not to be vexed by Paul's manner —a manner which, it seemed to her, grew more and more chill and indifferent.
"It's only from Mrs. Bright;" but she sat down and*read her letter.
"Oh, Paul ! "—her face was full of delight.
Paul had got interested at last in a corner of the paper which he was ashamed of looking at. He was in the midst of a description of a dinner and ball in Park Lane, given by "Mrs. Downes the night before. He read the list of distinguished names; among them were some artists of various kinds.
"She might have asked me." There was an angry glow in his eyes as he looked up at Nuna.
"Oh, I beg your pardon for interrupting you again, but here's an invitation for Gray's Farm, to go down on Saturday and stay as long as we can."
"Well, you had better go," said Paul; "it will do you gooct"
"But you'll go too, dearest?" She could not believe that Paul could wish her to go away and leave him alone.
"Me—fancy my leaving town just when I'm so busy! I don't know how to get daylight enough! besides I want to go away myself on Saturday."
"Then let me go with you instead," said Nuna beseechingly. "I would much rather go away alone with you, than be at Gray's Farm together even."
"Well, I can't exactly. Pritchard's coming back, I hear—you need not look miserable, Nuna—he's not coming to London, he's going to Scotland: and some of us have settled to go down and meet him at Harwick, and hear what he's been doing all this time."
"But don't artists' wives ever go about with their husbands?" Nuna felt very miserable spite of all her efforts.
'Sometimes, of course; but I don't fancy you would care to be the only woman of the party. If it were only Pritchard, it would be different; but there are some fellows going I should not like
you to know—you would not underssn! each other at all."
"Oh !" she wondered why Paul shodc care to associate with companions be couli not introduce to his wife—she only Smi "How long shall you be away?"
"A day or two; I shall be back long before you come home." Something it her face pricked his conscience. "1'esc glad you should have this change, rrr darling."
"Oh, Paul!"—she was thrown off he balance by his unusual tenderness; "jot don't suppose I'm going there withe*: you; what pleasure could I find mi from you?" ,
"You'd much better go," but he kissed her and told her she was a dear lick goose, and that when she got down lo Gray's Farm she would be as blithe as: bird.
And then he hurried off to Park Lane.
Patty sat to him every day now, and he had grown to feel a restless impatience till the time for the sitting came. Hebairii; knew why this was; he was not in love again with Mrs. Downes; he had never said a word to her which he would Bo; have said to any others of his sitters; be she had become to him like a story, ami each day he seemed to turn over some yet more interesting page.
"She is unhappy, 1 am sure of it," he said to himself, "and yet she never cot plains. I expect that fellow Downes is i fastidious, carping idiot; those snal minded men are always tyrants; she's too good for him by half."
Too good for him! At first, fresh froa a purer, more natural atmosphere, Pas Whitmore had gone away disgusted wii what seemed to him Patty's deceit id artificial character. He told himself au she had the power of being exactly thi which she thought most sure to please the human being she had resolved to faso ate; he acknowledged her power, but he shrank from it, and, as we know, he:: solved not to see her again.
People write and often realize in thes intercourse with other people, that scales fall from their eyes; that in an hour." may be in an instant, a sudden revelaK: will come by means of a word or look—• revelation which will dethrone an idol itdestroy implicit trust And this case "-• enacted inversely only by a different process: just as the enchantress bc*^ Thalaba, not by one firm chain but by a continuous, unnumbered succession of silken threads, so will persons, and things too, from which at the outset there has seen an instinctive shrinking, become ;ven attractive when keen perceptive jowers have become deadened by the "amiliarity of constant sight or use. In Paul VVhitmore's case this deadening had lot been left only to mere negative inliience; Patty had first studied him with ill her skill, sharpened by the keenness vith which jealousy aids a woman's insight, ind then she had thrown herself at once nto the character which, according to her :onception of it, must surely fascinate *aul. She was gentle, often silent, with . pensiveness bordering on melancholy; .rid then she would sparkle into one of hose glimpses of smiling sunshine which irought back to him a vision of the honeyuckle porch in the lane. And after the rst, Patty was not a conscious deceiver uring the long interviews between them. 'o her, acting was more natural than simlicity ; she was carried away by her part nd by the interest she found in it.
She did not often surprise admiration 1 those long, all embracing glances that eemed to come direct from the artist's oul; but when she did surprise it, was it ot something quite different to Maurice's icessant, complacent satisfaction?
"The very approval of a man like 'aul," she thought, "makes one prouder f oneself; what does one care for praise hen those who give it don't know the :al value of what they are admiring?"
And yet it is possible that if Mrs. •ownes had felt as sure of Paul Whitore's admiration as she did of her husmd's, their position in her eyes would tve been reversed.
Lately, the sittings had become less inresting to her than they were to the tist. She had been presented; she was ready talked about as beautiful; and she is impatient to see her picture framed, id to enjoy the homage paid to the loveless it represented. It had taught her
set a yet higher value on her beauty; st at present she was very much in love th herself.
With a strange inconsistency she reiced when the last sitting came. "How soon shall we have the picture ck framed, and ready to hang up?" she id eagerly.
Paul was looking at her while she spoke, and he became conscious of her supreme vanity. He felt wounded; and then he smiled at himself for being harsh.
"You are glad the whole business is over; I've no doubt it has been a great bore," he said. The smile was on his lips, but there was a wistful look in his eyes, and Patty answered—
"You like me to be glad, don't you, that you have made such a success? you like me, too, to glory in the appreciation others must give to your skill,"—here her eyes drooped ; "but you know that is all I rejoice in—no, not quite all." He looked up suddenly; there was the bright, artless glance that had so bewitched him long ago at Ashton ; her voice was so low that no syllable reached even the strained ears of Miss Coppock, as she sat pretending to read at the other end of the room.
"What else, then?" said Paul, forced out of all self-restraint.
"Must I tell? I thought without words you would have known what these hours have been to me,"—she sighed : "but then I forget that sympathy is not as unknown to you as it is to me."
Her blue eyes had tears in them, and she again looked up at Paul.
Miss Coppock could not hear, but she could see; and her eyes told her that Mrs. Downes had said something which confused and agitated Mr. Whitmore.
Patience put down her book, and came close up to the artist, as he stood beside the picture, silent, but with a flush which mounted to the forehead.
"Is it quite finished?" she said ; " dear me, how very nice it looks."
Patty never moved, but she could cheerfully have boxed Miss Coppock's ears.
Paul felt suddenly disappointed, as if a draught had been snatched from his lips —yet with a deep hidden away knowledge that the draught was unwholesome. He turned, so as to face Miss Coppock.
"It is not quite finished, but I shall not touch it again till I see it in the frame, and that will not be till Saturday. I am going away for a day or two ; I shall look at it with fresh eyes when I come back.
'* Miss Coppock, will you be good enough to ask Mr. Downes to come upstairs?"
Patty knew that her husband was out, but she was determined to know, before Paul left her, the impression he had of her.