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- A Word Only A Word, Volume 3. - 10/13 -
promenade, with the mantilla on her curls, a pomegranate blossom in her hair, and another on her bosom, came out of the Alcazar. Waving her fan, and tripping over the pavement like a wag-tail, she came directly towards the disputants.
Ulrich recognized her instantly; it was Carmen, the pretty embroiderer of the shell-grotto in the park, now the wife of the new porter, who had obtained his dead predecessor's office, as well as his daughter.
"Carmen!" exclaimed Ulrich, as soon as he saw the pretty little woman, then added confidently. "This young lady knows me."
"I?" asked the young wife, turning up her pretty little nose, and looking at the tall youth's shabby costume. "Who are you?"
"Master Moor's pupil, Ulrich Navarrete; don't you remember me?"
"I? You must be mistaken!"
With these words she shut her fan so abruptly, that it snapped loudly, and tripped on.
Ulrich shrugged his shoulders, then turned to the porter more courteously, and this time succeeded in his purpose; for the artist Coello's body-servant came out of the treasury, and willingly announced him to his master, who now, as court-artist, occupied Moor's quarters.
Ulrich followed the friendly Pablo into the palace, where every step he mounted reminded him of his old master and former days.
When he at last stood in the anteroom, and the odor of the fresh oil- colors, which were being ground in an adjoining room, reached his nostrils, he inhaled it no less eagerly than, an hour before, he had breathed the fresh air, of which he had been so long deprived.
What reception could he expect? The court-artist might easily shrink from coming in contact with the pupil of Moor, who had now lost the sovereign's favor. Coello was a very different man from the Master, a child of the moment, varying every day. Sometimes haughty and repellent, on other occasions a gay, merry companion, who had jested with his own children and Ulrich also, as if all were on the same footing. If today ....But Ulrich did not have much time for such reflections; a few minutes after Pablo left, the door was torn open, and the whole Coello family rushed joyously to meet him; Isabella first. Sanchez followed close behind her, then came the artist, next his stout, clumsy wife, whom Ulrich had rarely seen, because she usually spent the whole day lying on a couch with her lap-dog. Last of all appeared the duenna Catalina, a would-be sweet smile hovering around her lips.
The reception given him by the others was all the more joyous and cordial.
Isabella laid her hands on his arm, as if she wanted to feel that it was really he; and yet, when she looked at him more closely, she shook her head as if there was something strange in his appearance. Sanchez embraced him, whirling him round and round, Coello shook hands, murmuring many kind words, and the mother turned to the duenna, exclaiming:
"Holy Virgin! what has happened to the pretty boy? How famished he looks! Go to the kitchen instantly, Catalina, and tell Diego to bring him food--food and drink."
At last they all pulled and pushed him into the sitting-room, where the mother immediately threw herself on the couch again; then the others questioned him, making him tell them how he had fared, whence he came, and many other particulars.
He was no longer hungry, but Senora Petra insisted upon his seating himself near her couch and eating a capon, while he told his story.
Every face expressed sympathy, approval, pity, and at last Coello said:
"Remain here, Navarrete. The king longs for Moor, and you will be as safe with us, as if you were in Abraham's lap. We have plenty for you to do. You come to me as opportunely, as if you had dropped from the skies. I was just going to write to Venice for an assistant. Holy Jacob! You can't stay so, but thanks to the Madonna and Moor, you are not poor. We have ample means, my young sir. Donna Sophonisba gave me a hundred zechins for you; they are lying in yonder chest, and thank Heaven, haven't grown impatient by waiting. They are at your disposal. Your master, my master, the noble master of all portrait-painters, our beloved Moor arranged it. You won't go about the streets in this way any longer. Look, Isabella; this sleeve is hanging by two strings, and the elbow is peering out of the window. Such a dress is airy enough, certainly. Take him to the tailor's at once, Sanchez, Oliverio, or..... but no, no; we'll all stay together to-day. Herrera is coming from the Escurial. You will endure the dress for the sake of the wearer, won't you, ladies? Besides, who is to choose the velvet and cut for this young dandy? He always wore something unusual. I can still see the master's smile, provoked by some of the lad's new contrivances in puffs and slashes. It is pleasant to have you here, my boy! I ought to slay a calf, as the father did for the prodigal son; but we live in miniature. Instead of neat-cattle, only a capon!...."
"But you're not drinking, you're not drinking! Isabella, fill his glass. Look! only see these scars on his hands and neck. It will need a great deal of lace to conceal them. No, no, they are marks of honor, you must show them. Come here, I will kiss this great scar, on your neck, my brave, faithful fellow, and some day a fair one will follow my example. If Antonio were only here! There's a kiss for him, and another, there, there. Art bestows it, Art, for whom you have saved Moor!"
A master's kiss in the name of Art! It was sweeter than the beautiful Carmen's lips!
Coello was himself an artist, a great painter! Where could his peers be found--or those of Moor, and the architect Herrera, who entered soon after. Only those, who consecrated their lives to Art, the word of words, could be so noble, cheerful, kind.
How happy he was when he went to bed! how gratefully he told his beloved dead, in spirit, what had fallen to his lot, and how joyously he could pray!
The next morning he went with a full purse into the city, returning elegantly dressed, and with neatly-arranged locks. The peinador had given his budding moustache a bold twist upward.
He still looked thin and somewhat awkward, but the tall youth promised to become a stately man.
Towards noon Coello called Ulrich into Moor's former studio; the youth could not fail to observe its altered appearance.
Long cartoons, containing sketches of figures, large paintings, just commenced or half-finished, leaned against the easels; mannikins, movable wooden horse's heads, and plaster-models stood on the floor, the tables, and in the windows. Stuffs, garments, tapestries, weapons hung over the backs of the chairs, or lay on chests, tables and the stone-floor. Withered laurel-wreaths, tied with long ribbons, fluttered over the mantel-piece; one had fallen, dropped over the bald head of Julius Caesar, and rested on the breast.
The artist's six cats glided about among the easels, or stretched their limbs on costly velvet and Arabian carpets.
In one corner stood a small bed with silk curtains--the nursery of the master's pets. A magnificent white cat was suckling her kittens in it.
Two blue and yellow cockatoos and several parrots swung screaming in brass hoops before the open window, and Coello's coal-black negro crept about, cleaning the floor of the spacious apartment, though it was already noon. While engaged in this occupation, he constantly shook his woolly head, displaying his teeth, for his master was singing loudly at his work, and the gaily-clad African loved music.
What a transformation bad taken place in the Netherlander's quiet, orderly, scrupulously neat studio! But, even amid this confusion, admirable works were created; nay, the Spaniard possessed a much more vivid imagination, and painted pictures, containing a larger number of figures and far more spirited than Moor's, though they certainly were not pervaded by the depth and earnestness, the marvellous fidelity to nature, that characterized those of Ulrich's beloved master.
Coello called the youth to the easel, and pointing to the sketches in color, containing numerous figures, on which he was painting, said:
"Look here, my son. This is to be a battle of the Centaurs, these are Parthian horsemen;--Saint George and the Dragon, and the Crusaders are not yet finished. The king wants the Apocalyptic riders too. Deuce take it! But it must be done. I shall commence them to-morrow. They are intended for the walls and ceiling of the new winter riding-school. One person gets along slowly with all this stuff, and I--I.....The orders oppress me. If a man could only double, quadruple himself! Diana of Ephesus had many breasts, and Cerberus three heads, but only two hands have grown on my wrists. I need help, and you are just the person to give it. You have had nothing to do with horses yet, Isabella tells me; but you are half a Centaur yourself. Set to work on the steeds now, and when you have progressed far enough, you shall transfer these sketches to the ceiling and walls of the riding-school. I will help you perfect the thing, and give it the finishing touch."
This invitation aroused more perplexity than pleasure in Ulrich's mind, for it was not in accordance with Moor's opinions. Fear of his fellow- men no longer restrained him, so he frankly said that he would rather sketch industriously from nature, and perhaps would do well to seek Moor in Flanders. Besides, he was afraid that Coello greatly overrated his powers.
But the Spaniard eagerly cut him short:
"I have seen your portrait of Sophonisba. You are no longer a pupil, but a rising artist. Moor is a peerless portrait-painter, and you have profited greatly by his teaching. But Art has still higher aims. Every living thing belongs to her. The Venus, the horse....which of those two pictures won Apelles the greater fame? Not only copying, but creating original ideas, leads to the pinnacle of art. Moor praised your vivid imagination. We must use what we possess. Remember Buonarotti, Raphael! Their compositions and frescos, have raised their names above all others. Antonio has tormented you sufficiently with drawing lifeless things. When you transfer these sketches, many times enlarged, to a broad surface, you will learn more than in years of copying plaster-casts. A man must have talent, courage and industry; everything else comes of its own accord, and thank Heaven, you're a lucky fellow! Look at my horses-- they are not so bad, yet I never sketched a living one in my life till I
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