So that, quivering as she still was under the strain of her scene with Welby—so short, so veiled, and at bottom so tragic!—she showed herself glitteringly cheerful—almost gay—as she stood talking a few minutes with her father and Fenwick. The restless happiness in Fenwick’s face and movements gave his visitors indeed so much pleasure that they found it hard to go; several times they said good-bye, only to plunge again into the sketches and studies that lay littered about the room, to stand chatting before the new canvas, to laugh and gossip—till Lord Findon remembered that Eugenie did not yet know that he had offered Fenwick five hundred pounds for the two pictures instead of four hundred and fifty pounds; and that he might have the prompt satisfaction of telling her that he had bettered her instructions, he at last dragged her away. On this day of all days, did he wish to please her!—if it were only in trifles.
When Fenwick was alone, he walked to a chest of drawers in which he kept a disorderly multitude of possessions, and took out a mingled handful of letters, photographs, and sketches. Throwing them on a table, he looked for and found a photograph of Phoebe with Carrie on her knee, and a little sketch of Phoebe—one of the first ideas for the ‘Genius Loci.’ He propped them up against some books, and looked at them in a passion of triumph.
‘It’s all right, old woman—it’s all right!’ he murmured, smiling. Then he spread out Lord Findon’s cheque before the photograph, as though he offered it at Phoebe’s shrine.
Five hundred pounds! Well, it was only what his work was worth—what he had every right to expect. None the less, the actual possession of the money seemed to change his whole being. What would his old father say? He gave a laugh, half-scornful, half-good-humoured, as he admitted to himself that not even now—probably—would the old man relent.
And Phoebe!—he imagined the happy wonder in her eyes—the rolling away of all clouds between them. For six weeks now he had been a veritable brute about letters! First, the strain of his work (and the final wrestle with the ‘Genius Loci,’ including the misfortune of the paints, had really been a terrible affair!)—then—he confessed it—the intellectual excitement of the correspondence with Madame de Pastourelles: between these two obsessions, or emotions, poor Phoebe had fared ill.