Open main menu

Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/249

This page needs to be proofread.
238
THE ANCIENT GRUDGE

one to bother him; and he was free to go and come in the Halket house. But one morning when he was entering the door of the music-room he stopped short. Colonel Halket and a short thick-set man were walking down toward the farther end where his painting rested on its easel. Suddenly the stranger threw both hands up and out in a gesture of light disdain, towards the canvas, and twice he repeated this gesture, laughing merrily. With a question to Colonel Halket and another laugh, he went forward and deliberately turned the easel round until the picture faced the wall. Then he flung out both hands to Colonel Halket, chattering gayly as if he were rejoicing in his childish performance.

Stewart compressed his lips for an instant, and walked with great dignity down the long room. Colonel Halket, seeing him, looked for one moment confused; but he raised his hands and placed his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat, an attitude which at least gave him the appearance of his usual calm. He awaited Stewart thus with a swelling blandness.

"I am very glad you've come, Mr. Lee," he said. "It gives me an opportunity to present you to my friend, M. Sevier—Mr. Lee."

"I regret I had not heard M. Sevier was coming to-day," Stewart said, as he and the Frenchman shook hands. He addressed M. Sevier directly in French. He had had the reputation while abroad of being one of three Americans who spoke French like a Parisian. He pointed at his picture with a smile. "I should not have left my amateur work where it would offend M. Sevier."

"Ah, Mr. Lee," said the painter deprecatingly, "pardon an impertinence. But—artists are a jealous breed—is it not so, Mr. Lee?" He offered Stewart an appealing and apologetic smile.

"M. Sevier does me the honor to suggest that he is jealous. It is a compliment that I shall cherish. It is a thing to remember with affection,—that in jealousy