The death of Sarpedon, Patriarch of Hermaphroditopolis, at Naples, was a sudden and melancholy catastrophe, which people think affected Dr. Groschen more than the fire. Strangely enough, he had just been dining with the Doctor the evening before. They met at Naples purposely to bury the hatchet. Sometimes I ask myself if I did right in setting fire to the museum. You see, it was for the sake of others, not myself, and Monteagle was an old friend.
THE HOOTAWA VANDYCK.
‘My own experience,’ said an expert to a group of mostly middle-aged men, who spent their whole life in investigating spiritual phenomena, ’is a peculiar one.
’It was in the early autumn of 1900. I was at Rome, where I went to investigate the relative artistic affinity between Pietro Cavallini and Giotto (whose position, I think, will have to be adjusted). There were as yet only a few visitors at the Hotel Russie, chiefly maiden ladies and casual tourists, besides a certain Scotch family and myself. Colonel Brodie, formerly of the 69th Highlanders, was a retired officer of that rather peppery type which always seems to belong to the stage rather than real life, though you meet so many examples on the Continent. He possessed an extraordinary topographical knowledge of modern Rome, the tramway system, and the hours at which churches and galleries were open. He would waylay you in the entrance-hall and inquire severely if you had been to the Catacombs. In the case of an affirmative answer he would describe an unvisited tomb or ruin, far better worth seeing; in that of a negative, he would smile, tell you the shortest and cheapest route, and the amount which should be tendered to the Trappist Father. Later on in the evening, over coffee, if he was pleased with you, he would mention in a very impressive manner, “I am, as you probably know, Colonel Brodie, of Hootawa.” His wife, beside whom I sat at table d’hote, retained traces of former beauty. She was thin, and still tight-laced; was somewhat acid in manner; censorious concerning the other visitors; singularly devoted to her tedious husband, and fretfully attached to the beautiful daughter, for whose pleasure and education they were visiting Rome. I gathered that they were fairly well-to-do.
It was Mrs. Brodie who first broke the ice by asking if I was interested in pictures. Miss Brodie, who sat between her parents, turned very red, and said, “Oh, mamma, you are talking to one of the greatest experts in Europe!” I was surprised and somewhat gratified by her knowledge (indeed, it chilled me some days later when she confessed to having learnt the information only that day by overhearing an argument between myself and a friend at the Colonna Gallery on Stefano de Zevio, and the indebtedness of Northern Italian art to Teutonic influences).
Mrs. Brodie took the intelligence quite calmly, and merely inspected me through her lorgnettes as if I were an object in a museum.