“Well, what about it?”
“Only that—that Arie Tabor’s going.”
“Indeed!” Eugene paused on the stairs, which he had begun to ascend. “Very interesting.”
“I thought,” continued Joe, hopefully, straightening up to look at him, “that maybe you’d dance with her. I don’t believe many will ask her—I’m afraid they won’t—and if you would, even only once, it would kind of make up for”—he faltered —“for out there,” he finished, nodding his head in the direction of the gate.
If Eugene vouchsafed any reply, it was lost in a loud, shrill cry from above, as a small, intensely nervous-looking woman in blue silk ran half-way down the stairs to meet him and caught him tearfully in her arms.
“Dear old mater!” said Eugene.
Joe went out of the front-door quickly.
The door which Ariel had entered opened upon a narrow hall, and down this she ran to her own room, passing, with face averted, the entrance to the broad, low-ceilinged chamber that had served Roger Tabor as a studio for almost fifty years. He was sitting there now, in a hopeless and disconsolate attitude, with his back towards the double doors, which were open, and had been open since their hinges had begun to give way, when Ariel was a child. Hearing her step, he called her name, but did not turn; and, receiving no answer, sighed faintly as he heard her own door close upon her.
Then, as his eyes wandered about the many canvases which leaned against the dingy walls, he sighed again. Usually they showed their brown backs, but to-day he had turned them all to face outward. Twilight, sunset, moonlight (the Courthouse in moonlight), dawn, morning, noon (Main Street at noon), high summer, first spring, red autumn, midwinter, all were there—illimitably detailed, worked to a smoothness like a glaze, and all lovingly done with unthinkable labor.
And there were “Italian Flower-Sellers,” damsels with careful hair, two figures together, one blonde, the other as brunette as lampblack, the blonde—in pink satin and blue slippers—leaning against a pillar and smiling over the golden coins for which she had exchanged her posies; the brunette seated at her feet, weeping upon an unsold bouquet. There were red-sashed “Fisher Lads” wading with butterfly-nets on their shoulders; there was a “Tying the Ribbon on Pussy’s Neck”; there were portraits in oil and petrifactions in crayon, as hard and tight as the purses of those who had refused to accept them, leaving them upon their maker’s hands because the likeness had failed.