`A shilling an hour.'
`And how much do you get for your picture, Alan?'
`Oh, for this I get two thousand!'
`Guineas. Painters, poets, and physicians always get guineas.'
`Well, I think the model should have a percentage,' cried Hughie, laughing; `they work quite as hard as you do.'
`Nonsense, nonsense! Why, look at the trouble of laying on the paint alone, and standing all day long at one's easel! It's all very well, Hughie, for you to talk, but I assure you that there are moments when Art almost attains to the dignity of manual labour. But you mustn't chatter; I'm very busy. Smoke a cigarette, and keep quiet.'
After some time the servant came in, and told Trevor that the frame-maker wanted to speak to him.
`Don't run away, Hughie,' he said, as he went out, `I will be back in a moment.'
The old beggar-man took advantage of Trevor's absence to rest for a moment on a wooden bench that was behind him. He looked so forlorn and wretched that Hughie could not help pitying him, and felt in his pockets to see what money he had. All he could find was a sovereign and some coppers. `Poor old fellow,' he thought to himself, `he wants it more than I do, but it means no hansoms for a fortnight;' and he walked across the studio and slipped the sovereign into the beggar's hand.
The old man started, and a faint smile flitted across his withered lips. `Thank you, sir,' he said, `thank you.'
Then Trevor arrived, and Hughie took his leave, blushing a little at what he had done. He spent the day with Laura, got a charming scolding for his extravagance, and had to walk home.
That night he strolled into the Palette Club about eleven o'clock, and found Trevor sitting by himself in the smoking-room drinking hock and seltzer.
`Well, Alan, did you get the picture finished all right?' he said, as he lit his cigarette.
`Finished and framed, my boy!' answered Trevor; `and, by-the-bye, you have made a conquest. That old model you saw is quite devoted to you. I had to tell him all about you - who you are, where you live, what your income is, what prospects you have--'
`My dear Alan,' cried Hughie, `I shall probably find him waiting for me when I go home. But of course you are only joking. Poor old wretch! I wish I could do something for him. I think it is dreadful that any one should be so miserable. I have got heaps of old clothes at home - do you think he would care for any of them? Why, his rags were falling to bits.'
`But he looks splendid in them,' said Trevor. `I wouldn't paint him in a frock-coat for anything. What you call rags I call romance. What seems poverty to you is picturesqueness to me. However, I'll tell him of your offer.'
`Alan,' said Hughie seriously, `you painters are a heartless lot.'
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