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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/302

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TWO AMATEURS

case I am afraid it will be damaging. If he approves,— especially in pictures of such subjects,—it will be the fashion to admire; and Stewart will have a career thrust upon him. Of course he and Lydia have enough to live on, so he can be a dilettante all his life if he wants to, and no great harm done—if he's only obscure enough. A person who dabbles in an art and stays thoroughly obscure is usually all right—unspoiled, sincere, humble-minded, and, if not more interesting than other people, at least likely to be more than usually interested in other people—which is always attractive. But a person who dabbles in an art and has a second-rate success—or a fourth or fifth-rate success, such as Stewart will be sure to have—did you ever know one who did n't become egotistical, puffed-up, self-centred and arrogant over his accomplishment,—in fact generally insufferable?"

"I have never known one at all," Floyd confessed.

"I've known at least half a dozen," Marion said. "And I'm convinced that if Stewart were put in the way of it, he would grow to be just like them—especially here where he'd be the only real live artist."

"I doubt," said Floyd, "if Stewart would give up his profession merely because people liked the pictures that he painted by way of recreation."

"He would fly off at a tangent," said Marion slowly, "at any moment and at anything that promised a temporary distinction."

"That's a pretty shrewd statement," Floyd admitted. "But I must say again that you're rather positive."

"It comes," said Marion, "from being so often right." And then she laughed in a way that redeemed the conceit of the remark. "It would have been so much more valuable if only you had said that," she added.

"If I could only say half the things that you do, my conversation would be very much more valuable," he replied.

She was pleased and said, "You're not like Stewart."