She felt like choking with rage. “Oh! is it right,” she thought, “for parents to persist in keeping a young girl forever in her cradle, so to speak?”
A DANGEROUS MODEL
Time passed too quickly to please Jacqueline. Her portrait was finished at last, notwithstanding the willingness Marien had shown—or so it seemed to her—to retouch it unnecessarily that she might again and again come back to his atelier. But it was done at last. She glided into that dear atelier for the last time, her heart big with regret, with no hope that she would ever again put on the fairy robe which had, she thought, transfigured her till she was no longer little Jacqueline.
“I want you only for one moment, and I need only your face,” said Marien. “I want to change—a line—I hardly know what to call it, at the corner of your mouth. Your father is right; your mouth is too grave. Think of something amusing—of the Bal Blanc at Madame d’Etaples, or merely, if you like, of the satisfaction it will give you to be done with these everlasting sittings—to be no longer obliged to bear the burden of a secret, in short to get rid of your portrait-painter.”
She made him no answer, not daring to trust her voice.
“Come! now, on the contrary you are tightening your lips,” said Marien, continuing to play with her as a cat plays with a mouse—provided there ever was a cat who, while playing with its mouse, had no intention of crunching it. “You are not merry, you are sad. That is not at all becoming to you.”
“Why do you attribute to me your own thoughts? It is you who will be glad to get rid of all this trouble.”
Fraulein Schult, who, while patiently adding stitch after stitch to the long strip of her crochet-work, was often much amused by the dialogues between sitter and painter, pricked up her ears to hear what a Frenchman would say to what was evidently intended to provoke a compliment.
“On the contrary, I shall miss you very much,” said Marien, quite simply; “I have grown accustomed to see you here. You have become one of the familiar objects of my studio. Your absence will create a void.”
“About as much as if this or that were gone,” said Jacqueline, in a hurt tone, pointing first to a Japanese bronze and then to an Etruscan vase; “with only this difference, that you care least for the living object.”
“You are bitter, Mademoiselle.”
“Because you make me such provoking answers, Monsieur. My feeling is different,” she went on impetuously, “I could pass my whole life watching you paint.”
“You would get tired of it probably in the long run.”
“Never!” she cried, blushing a deep red.
“And you would have to put up with my pipe—that big pipe yonder—a horror.”
“I should like it,” she cried, with conviction.
“But you would not like my bad temper. If you knew how ill I can behave sometimes! I can scold, I can become unbearable, when this, for example,” here he pointed with his mahlstick to the Savonarola, “does not please me.”