The business man and the painter.—Pictures and pot boilers.— Cimabue and giotto.—The salmon-colored omnibus.
The business men were half way to their business when the shadow of the sooty church still fell upon one or two of the congregation who dispersed more slowly; a few aged poor who lingered from infirmity as well as leisure; and a man neither very old nor very poor, whose strong limbs did not bear him away at a much quicker pace. His enjoyment of the peculiar pleasures of an early walk was deliberate as well as full, and bustle formed no necessary part of his trade. He was a painter.
The business gentleman hurrying out of the Boys’ Home stumbled against the painter, whom he knew, but whom just now he would not have been sorry to avoid. The very next salmon-colored omnibus that passed the end of the street would only just enable him to be punctual if he could catch it, and the painter, in his opinion, had “no sense of the value of time.” The painter, on the other hand, held as strong a conviction that his friend’s sense of the monetary value of time was so exaggerated as to hinder his sense of many higher things in this beautiful world. But they were fast friends nevertheless, and with equal charity pitied each other respectively for a slovenly and a slavish way of life.
“My dear friend!” cried the artist, seizing the other by the elbow, “you are just coming from where I was thinking of going.”
“By all means, my dear fellow,” said Jan’s friend, shaking hands to release his elbow, “the master will be delighted, and—my time is not my own, you know.”
“I know well,” said the artist, with a little humorous malice. “It belongs to others. That is your benevolence. So” —
“Come, come!” laughed the other. “I’m not a man of leisure like you. I must catch the next salmon-colored omnibus.”
“I’ll walk with you to it, and talk as we go. You can’t propose to run at your time of life, and with your position in the city! Now tell me, my good friend, the boys in your Home are the offscouring of the streets, aren’t they?”
“They are mostly destitute lads, but they have never been convicted of crime any more than yourself. It is the fundamental distinction between our Home and other industrial schools. Our effort is to save boys whom destitution has all but made criminal. It is not a reformatory.”
“I beg your pardon, I know. But I was speaking of their bodily condition only. I want a model, and should be glad to get it without the nuisance of sketching in the slums. Such a ragged, pinched, eager, and yet stupid child as might sit homeless between the black walls of Newgate and the churchyard of St. Sepulchre,—a waif of the richest and most benevolent society in Christendom, for whom the alternative of the churchyard would be the better.”