“Till Wednesday, then, M. Joyeuse.”
“Till Wednesday, monsieur—”
“De Gery—Paul de Gery.”
And they separated, both delighted, fascinated, the one by the apparition of this unexpected saviour, the other by the adorable picture of which he had only a glimpse, all those young girls grouped round the table covered with books, exercise-books, and skeins of wool, with an air of purity, of industrious honesty. This was a new Paris for Paul de Gery, a courageous, home-like Paris, very different from that which he already knew, a Paris of which the writers of stories in the newspapers and the reporters never speak, and which recalled to him his own country home, with an additional charm, that charm which the struggle and tumult around lend to the tranquil, secured refuge.
“And your son, Jenkins. What are you doing with him? Why does one never see him now at your house? He seemed a nice fellow.”
As she spoke in that tone of disdainful bluntness which she almost always used when speaking to the Irishman, Felicia was at work on the bust of the Nabob which she had just commenced, posing her model, laying down and taking up the boasting-tool, quickly wiping her fingers with the little sponge, while the light and peace of a fine Sunday afternoon fell on the top-light of the studio. Felicia “received” every Sunday, if to receive were to leave her door open to allow people to come in, go out, sit down for a moment, without stirring from her work or even interrupting the course of a discussion to welcome the new arrivals. They were artists, with refined heads and luxuriant beards; here and there you might see among them white-haired friends of Ruys, her father; then there were society men, bankers, stock-brokers, and a few young men about town, come to see the handsome girl rather than her sculpture, in order to be able to say at the club in the evening, “I was at Felicia’s to-day.” Among them was Paul de Gery, silent, absorbed in an admiration which each day sunk into his heart a little more deeply, trying to understand the beautiful sphinx draped in purple cashmere and ecru lace, who worked away bravely amid her clay, a burnisher’s apron reaching nearly to her neck, allowing her small, proud head to emerge with those transparent tones, those gleams of veiled radiance of which the sense, the inspiration bring the blood to the cheek as they pass. Paul always remembered what had been said of her in his presence, endeavoured to form an opinion for himself, doubted, worried himself, and was charmed, vowing to himself each time that he would come no more and never missing a Sunday. A little woman with gray, powdered hair was always there in the same place, her pink face like a pastel somewhat worn by years, who, in the discrete light of a recess, smiled sweetly, with her hands lying idly on her knees, motionless as a fakir. Jenkins, amiable, with his open face,