A Daughter of To-Day eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 316 pages of information about A Daughter of To-Day.

If John Kendal had been an on-looker at the little episode of Lady Halifax’s drawing-room in Paris six months earlier it would have filled him with the purest, amusement.  He would have added the circumstance to his conception of the type of young woman who enacted it, and turned away without stopping to consider whether it flattered her or not.  His comprehension of human nature was too catholic very readily to permit him impressions either of wonder or contempt—­it would have been a matter of registration and a smile.  Realizing this, Kendal was the more at a loss to explain to himself the feeling of irritation which the recollection of the scene persistently aroused in him, in spite of a pronounced disposition, of which he could not help being aware, not to register it but to ignore it.  His memory refused to be a party to his intention, and the tableau recurred to him with a persistence which he found distinctly disagreeable.  Upon every social occasion which brought young ladies of beauty and middle-aged gentlemen of impressive eminence into conversational contact he saw the thing in imagination done again.  In the end it suggested itself to him as paintable—­the astonished drawing-room, the graceful half-kneeling girl with the bent head, the other dismayed and uncomprehending figure yielding a doubtful hand, his discomfort indicated in the very lines of his waistcoat. “A Fin de Siecle Tribute,” Kendal named it.  He dismissed the idea as absurd, and then reconsidered it as a means of disposing of the incident finally.  He knew it could be very effectually put away in canvas.  He assured himself again that he could not entertain the idea of painting it seriously, and that this was because of the inevitable tendency which the subject would have toward caricature.  Kendal had an indignant contempt for such a tendency, and the liberty which men who used it took with their art.  He had never descended to the flouting of his own aims which it implied.  He threw himself into his pictures without reserve; it was the best of him that he painted, the strongest he could do, and all he could do; he was sincere enough to take it always seriously.  The possibility of caricature seemed to him to account admirably for his reluctance to paint “A Fin de Siecle Tribute,”—­it was a matter of conscience.  He found that the desire to paint it would not go, however; it took daily more complete possession of him, and fought his scruples with a strong hand.  It was a fortnight after, and he had not seen Elfrida in the meantime, when they were finally defeated by the argument that a sketch would show whether caricature were necessarily inherent or not.  He would make a sketch purely for his own satisfaction.  Under the circumstances Kendal realized perfectly that it could never be for exhibition, and indeed he felt a singular shrinking from the idea that any one should see it.  Finally, he gave a whole day to the thing, and made an admirable sketch.

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A Daughter of To-Day from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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