’Try again? Should think I did. When once a man ’as tasted of ’igh art, he can’t keep his blooming fingers out of it. It was impossible after the success of my bathers to go back to the bacon, so I thought I would circumvent the hauthorities. I goes to the National Gallery, makes a sketch, ‘ere it is,’ and after some fumbling in his breast pocket, he produced a greasy piece of paper, which he handed to Hubert. ’S’pose yer know the picture?’ Hubert admitted that he did not. ’Well, that is a drawing from Gainsborough’s celebrated picture of Medora a-washing of her feet.... But the perlice wouldn’t ’ave it any more than my original, ’e said it was worse than the bathers at Margaret, and when I told the hignorant brute wot it was, ’e said he wanted no hargument, that ’e wouldn’t ‘ave it.’
Hubert had noticed, during the latter part of the narrative, a look of dubious cunning twinkling in the pale eyes; but now this look died away, and the eyes resumed their habitual look of vague reverie.
’I’ve been ’ad up before the Beak: from him I expected more enlightenment, but he, too, said ’e wouldn’t ’ave it, and I got a month. But I’ll beat them yet, the public is on my side, and if it worn’t for them ’ere boys, I’d say that the public could be helevated. They calls me “the genius,” and they is right.’ Then something seemed to go out like a flame, the face grew dim, and changed expression. ’It is ‘ere all right,’ he said, no longer addressing Hubert, but speaking to himself, ’and since it is there, it must come out.’
Hubert at last found himself obliged to write to Ford for an advance of money. But Ford replied that he would advance money only on the delivery of the completed manuscript. And the whole of one night, in a room hardly eight feet long, sitting on his bed, he strove to complete the fourth and fifth acts. But under the pressure of such necessity ideas died within him. And all through the night, and even when the little window, curtained with a bit of muslin hardly bigger than a pocket-handkerchief, had grown white with dawn, he sat gazing at the sheet of paper, his brain on fire, unable to think. Laying his pen down in despair, he thought of the thousands who would come to his aid if they only knew—if they only knew! And soon after he heard life beginning again in the little brick street. He felt that his brain was giving way, that if he did not find change, whatever it was, he must surely run raving mad. He had had enough of England, and would leave it for America, Australia—anywhere. He wanted change. The present was unendurable. How would he get to America? Perhaps a clerkship on board one of the great steamships might be obtained.