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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/250

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239
STEWART'S NEW INTERESTS

M, Sevier once turned the poor amateur's uncompleted picture toward the wall."

He spoke as sardonically as was compatible with the polite utterance of his faultless French. M. Sevier understood that his offense was unpardonable; he looked at Stewart piteously.

"Pardon," he said, and bowed.

"I don't get more than half of it," struck in Colonel Halket amiably, "but I gather that you two gentlemen are paying each other compliments. Maybe M. Sevier will be willing for you to come in and watch him paint, seeing you're so interested and have a talent for it, Mr. Lee."

The Frenchman sent a conciliatoiy glance to accompany this ill-timed suggestion, but Stewart was inexorable. "Thank you. Colonel Halket," he replied, and as he spoke he took down his canvas from the easel. "But I'm afraid I should n't have time; in fact I shall have to finish this picture of my own at home in odd moments. Good-by, Colonel Halket. Please tell Floyd I'll have it ready for him before long. Good-by, M. Sevier."

He bowed and walked out, carrying his picture. Nor did he have one qualm of compunction for the severity with which he had treated the unfortunate painter. A slight to his dignity, an affront to his importance he resented with a wholeheartedness that always drove him to excessive efforts for retaliation. Now, when he arrived at home with the picture, he sat down and worked until the failing afternoon light put a stop to his labors. "It's more nearly right now," he said to himself, as he washed his brushes. He was quite sure that he knew why Sevier had been so displeased with the picture; the colors needed toning down, a small fault. He did not feel disheartened by the criticism of an academic Frenchman, who, however well he painted in a conventional method, was obviously unable to recognize the superiority of a great natural gift over mere technique. Thus Stewart met scorn with scorn.

Floyd was sufficiently appreciative, and on being told