“You are very good,” Elfrida returned hastily, seeing his real anxiety to be off. “Something locally descriptive. I’ve often thought the atelier would make a good subject.”
“Capital, capital! Only be very careful about personalities and so forth. Raffini hates giving offence. Good-bye! Here you, cocher! Boulevard Haussmann!”
John Kendal had only one theory that was not received with respect by the men at Lucien’s. They quoted it as often as other things he said, but always in a spirit of derision, while Kendal’s ideas as a rule got themselves discussed seriously, now and then furiously. This young man had been working in the atelier for three years with marked success almost from the beginning. The first things he did had a character and an importance that brought Lucien himself to admit a degree of soundness in the young fellow’s earlier training, which was equal to great praise. Since then he had found the line in the most interesting room in the Palais d’Industrie, the cours had twice medalled him, and Albert Wolff was beginning to talk about his coloration delicieuse. Also it was known that he had condescended for none of these things. His success in Paris added piquancy to his preposterous notion that an Englishman should go home and paint England and hang his work in the Academy, and made it even more unreasonable than if he had failed.
“For me,” remarked Andre Vambery, with a finely curled lip, “I never see an English landscape without thinking of what it would bring par hectare. It is trop arrangee, that country, all laid out in a pattern of hedges and clumps, for the pleasure of the milords. And every milord has the taste of every other milord. He will go home to perpetuate that!”
“Si, si! Mais c’est pour sa patrie.”
Nadie defended him. Women always did.
“Bah!” returned her lover. “Pour nous autres artists la France est la patrie, et la France seule! Every day he is in England he will lose—lose—lose. Enfin, he will paint the portraits of the wives and daughters of Sir Brown and Sir Smith, and he will do it as Sir Brown and Sir Smith advise. Avec son talent unique, distinctive! Oh, je suis a bout de patience!”
When Kendal’s opinion materialized and it became known that he meant to go back in February, and would send nothing to the Salon that year, the studio tore its hair and hugged its content. All but the master, who attempted to dissuade his pupil with literal tears, of which he did not seem in the least ashamed and which annoyed Kendal very much. In fact, it was a dramatic splash of Lucien’s which happened to fall upon his coat-sleeve that decided Kendal finally about the impossibility of living always in Paris. He could not take life seriously where the emotions lent themselves so easily. And Kendal thought