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
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 anything.’
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 this weather.’
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 frock.’
‘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 another touch.