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- The Trespasser, Volume 1. - 13/13 -

something that should be seen beneath the flowing wigs of the Stuart period. He had long wanted to do a statue of the ill-fated Monmouth, and another greater than that. Here was the very man: with a proud, daring, homeless look, a splendid body, and a kind of cavalier conceit. It was significant of him, of his attitude towards himself where his work was concerned, that he suddenly turned and shut the door again, telling Falby, who appeared, to go to his room; and then said:

"You are my debtor, Cadet--I shall call you that: you shall have a chance of paying."


In a few concise words he explained, scanning the other's face eagerly.

Gaston showed nothing. He had passed the apogee of irritation.

"A model?" he questioned drily.

"Well, if you put it that way. 'Portrait' sounds better. It shall be Gaston Belward, gentleman; but we will call it in public, 'Monmouth the Trespasser.'"

Gaston did not wince. He had taken all the revenge he needed. The idea rather pleased him than other wise. He had instincts about art, and he liked pictures; statuary, poetry, romance; but he had no standards. He was keen also to see the life of the artist, to touch that aristocracy more distinguished by mind than manners.

"If that gives 'clearance,' yes. And your debt to me?"

"I owe you nothing. You find your own meaning in my words. I was railing, you were serious. Do not be serious. Assume it sometimes, if you will; be amusing mostly. So, you will let me paint you--on your own horse, eh?"

"That is asking much. Where?"

"Well, a sketch here this afternoon, while the thing is hot--if this damned headache stops! Then at my studio in London in the spring, or" --here he laughed--"in Paris. I am modest, you see."

"As you will."

Gaston had had a desire for Paris, and this seemed to give a cue for going. He had tested London nearly all round. He had yet to be presented at St. James's, and elected a member of the Trafalgar Club. Certainly he had not visited the Tower, Windsor Castle, and the Zoo; but that would only disqualify him in the eyes of a colonial.

His uncle's face flushed slightly. He had not expected such good fortune. He felt that he could do anything with this romantic figure. He would do two pictures: Monmouth, and an ancient subject--that legend of the ancient city of Ys, on the coast of Brittany. He had had it in his mind for years. He came back and sat down, keen, eager.

"I've a big subject brewing," he said; "better than the Monmouth, though it is good enough as I shall handle it. It shall be royal, melancholy, devilish: a splendid bastard with creation against him; the best, most fascinating subject in English history. The son dead on against the father--and the uncle!"

He ceased for a minute, fashioning the picture in his mind; his face pale, but alive with interest, which his enthusiasm made into dignity. Then he went on:

"But the other: when the king takes up the woman--his mistress--and rides into the sea with her on his horse, to save the town! By Heaven, with you to sit, it's my chance! You've got it all there in you--the immense manner. You, a nineteenth century gentleman, to do this game of Ridley Court, and paddle round the Row? Not you! You're clever, and you're crafty, and you've a way with you. But you'll come a cropper at this as sure as I shall paint two big pictures--if you'll stand to your word."

"We need not discuss my position here. I am in my proper place--in my father's home. But for the paintings and Paris, as you please."

"That is sensible--Paris is sensible; for you ought to see it right, and I'll show you what half the world never see, and wouldn't appreciate if they did. You've got that old, barbaric taste, romance, and you'll find your metier in Paris."

Gaston now knew the most interesting side of his uncle's character--which few people ever saw, and they mostly women who came to wish they had never felt the force of that occasional enthusiasm. He had been in the National Gallery several times, and over and over again he had visited the picture places in Bond Street as he passed; but he wanted to get behind art life, to dig out the heart of it.


He was strong enough to admit ignorance Not to show surprise at anything Truth waits long, but whips hard

The Trespasser, Volume 1. - 13/13

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