Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/113

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action, too truly the English Effendi of the Eastern nations, ever to take art or indolence by choice; but there had come many times in his life when to paint the rare scenery, or the picturesque groupings around him, had been his only available pursuit; and he did this with singular dash and delicacy, vividness and truth. Erceldoune would never have been a creative artist; he had not the imaginative or poetic faculty which idealises, it was wholly alien to his nature and his habits; but what he saw he rendered with a force, a fidelity, and a brilliance of hue which painters by the score had envied him. He passed the dreary weeks now at Monastica painting what he had seen; and the picture grew into such life and loveliness that the nuns marvelled when they looked on it, as the Religieuses of Bruges marvelled when they saw the "Marriage of St. Katherine" left in legacy to them by the soldier-artist Hans Hemling, whose wounds they had dressed, and cried out that it should be the Virginal altar-piece in a world-famed cathedral. Yet the picture was but a woman's face—a face with thoughtful lustrous eyes, and hair with a golden reflex on it, and lips which wore a smile that had something more profound than sadness, and more imperial than tenderness; a face looking downward