Chapter 51TWO months passed.
It seemed to Philip, brooding over these matters, that in the true painters, writers, musicians, there was a power which drove them to such complete absorption in their work as to make it inevitable for them to subordinate life to art. Succumbing to an influence they never realised, they were merely dupes of the instinct that possessed them, and life slipped through their fingers unlived. But he had a feeling that life was to be lived rather than portrayed, and he wanted to search out the various experiences of it and wring from each moment all the emotion that it offered. He made up his mind at length to take a certain step and abide by the result, and, having made up his mind, he determined to take the step at once. Luckily enough the next morning was one of Foinet's days, and he resolved to ask him point- blank whether it was worth his while to go on with the study of art. He had never forgotten the master's brutal advice to Fanny Price. It had been sound. Philip could never get Fanny entirely out of his head. The studio seemed strange without her, and now and then the gesture of one of the women working there or the tone of a voice would give him a sudden start, reminding him of her: her presence was more noticuble now she was dead than it had ever been during her life; and he often dreamed of her at night, waking with a cry of terror. it was horrible to think of all the suffering she must have endured.
Philip knew that on the days Foinet came to the studio he lunched at a little restaurant in the Rue d'Odessa, and he hurried his own meal so that he could go and wait outside till the painter came out. Philip walked up and down the crowded street and at last saw Monsieur Foinet walking, with bent head, towards him; Philip was very nervous, but he forced himself to go up to him.
"Pardon, monsieur, I should like to speak to you for one moment."
Foinet gave him a rapid glance, recognised him, but did not smile a greeting.
"Speak," he said.
"I've been working here nearly two years now under you. I wanted to ask you to tell me frankly if you think it worth while for me to continue."
Philip's voice was trembling a little. Foinet walked on without looking up. Philip, watching his face, saw no trace of expression upon it.
"I don't understand."
"I'm very poor. If I have no talent I would sooner do something else."
"Don't you know if you have talent?"
"All my friends know they have talent, but I am aware some of them are mistaken."
Foinet's bitter mouth outlined the shadow of a smile, and he asked:
"Do you live near here?"
Philip told him where his studio was. Foinet turned round.
"Let us go there? You shall show me your work."
"Now?" cried Philip.
Philip had nothing to say. He walked silently by the master's side. He felt horribly sick. It had never struck him that Foinet would wish to see his things there and then; he meant, so that he might have
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