much as anybody else, and I suppose my money's as good as theirs. I don't see why I shouldn't get as much attention as anybody else."
She took up her charcoal again, but in a moment put it down with a groan.
"I can't do any more now. I'm so frightfully nervous."
She looked at Foinet, who was coming towards them with Mrs. Otter. Mrs. Otter, meek, mediocre, and self-satisfied, wore an air of importance. Foinet sat down at the easel of an untidy little Englishwoman called Ruth Chalice. She had the fine black eyes, languid but passionate, the thin face, ascetic but sensual, the skin like old ivory, which under the influence of Burne-Jones were cultivated at that time by young ladies in Chelsea. Foinet seemed in a pleasant mood; he did not say much to her, but with quick, determined strokes of her charcoal pointed out her errors. Miss Chalice beamed with pleasure when he rose. He came to Clutton, and by this time Philip was nervous too but Mrs. Otter had promised to make things easy for him. Foinet stood for a moment in front of Clutton's work, biting his thumb silently, then absent- mindedly spat out upon the canvas the little piece of skin which he had bitten off.
"That's a fine line," he said at last, indicating with his thumb what pleased him. "You're beginning to learn to draw."
Clutton did not answer, but looked at the master with his usual air of sardonic indifference to the world's opinion.
"I'm beginning to think you have at least a trace of talent."
Mrs. Otter, who did not like Clutton, pursed her lips. She did not see anything out of the way in his work. Foinet sat down and went into technical details. Mrs. Otter grew rather tired of standing. Clutton did not say anything, but nodded now and then, and Foinet felt with satisfaction that he grasped what he said and the reasons of it; most of them listened to him, but it was clear they never understood. Then Foinet got up and came to Philip.
"He only arrived two days ago," Mrs. Otter hurried to explain. "He's a beginner. He's never studied before."
"Ca se voit," the master said. "One sees that."
He passed on, and Mrs. Otter murmured to him:
"This is the young lady I told you about."
He looked at her as though she were some repulsive animal, and his voice grew more rasping.
"It appears that you do not think I pay enough attention to you. You have been complaining to the massiere. Well, show me this work to which you wish me to give attention."
Fanny Price coloured. The blood under her unhealthy skin seemed to be of a strange purple. Without answering she pointed to the drawing on which she had been at work since the beginning of the week. Foinet sat down.
"Well, what do you wish me to say to you? Do you wish me to tell you it is good? It isn't. Do you wish me to tell you it is well drawn? It isn't. Do you wish me to say it has merit? It hasn't. Do you wish me to show you what is wrong with it? It is all wrong. Do you wish me to tell you what to do with it? Tear it up. Are you satisfied now?"
Miss Price became very white. She was furious because he had said all this before Mrs. Otter. Though she had been in France so long and could understand French well enough, she could hardly speak two words.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|