“Ducedly tame, I call it,” Bramshaw interposed before Lois had time to say a word. “I can’t for the life of me see what you find congenial in a land like this, Miss Westcote.”
“It all depends upon what you call tame, Mr. Bramshaw,” was the somewhat sarcastic reply. “If you spend your time thinking only about yourself it is no wonder you are bored. I haven’t heard of your doing anything worth while since you came to this city.”
“Come, come, Miss Westcote,” Bramshaw protested, as he stroked his silky moustache with the soft white fingers of his right hand. “Artists, you should realise, are generally misunderstood. You cannot judge us according to ordinary standards. We are often most intensely busy when we seem to be inactive. Our apparent idleness is the time when valuable impressions are being imbibed to be produced later in masterpieces for the benefit and admiration of the whole world. It is utterly impossible for ordinary minds to grasp this, but it is true, nevertheless.”
“I beg your pardon, Mr. Bramshaw,” and the girl made him a slight graceful bow, “I really forgot that you are an artist. Appearances are so deceptive, you know. I shall leave you now to carry on your imbibing process. Perhaps Miss Sinclair will come with me, so that you can have the imbibing time all to yourself. It would be a pity to spoil your great masterpiece.”
Lois was surprised at Miss Westcote’s sarcasm, and, she fully expected that Bramshaw would be angry. But he did not appear to mind in the least. On the contrary, he smiled all the time she was speaking, as if her words greatly amused him. Lois was glad of any excuse to leave this man whose very presence depressed her in a remarkable manner. When at last alone with Miss Westcote in an adjoining room, she sank into a comfortable chair in a cosy corner. Her face was unusually pale, and this her companion at once noted.
“You are tired,” she sympathetically remarked, taking a seat by her side. “You seem to be greatly upset.”
“It is that man,” Lois replied with considerable emphasis. “I never had any one to affect me as he does. I cannot understand it. I am not superstitious, and I have always prided myself upon my self-confidence, but I cannot account for the feeling that has come over me to-night.”
“Oh, that man would upset almost any one,” Miss Westcote replied. “I can not endure him.”
“You do not evidently mind speaking plainly to him,” Lois remarked.
“Certainly not. When I take a dislike to any person I generally say just what I think, especially to such a cad as that.”
“You know something about him, then?”
“All I want to. He has been trying to get my father to give him the position of looking after an old man up the river. Mr. Randall has been doing it, and Bramshaw wants to have him discharged so he can get the job. Just think of that.”