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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/308

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297
TWO AMATEURS

"Why it is n't worth being angry about," said Lydia. "And the last touch is rather funny."

Stewart expressed with sarcasm his inability to appreciate such humor. He wrote Colonel Halket a note that evening, setting a price on the pictures; the reviews in the three newspapers had made him reckless and ruthless, and he felt a vindictive pleasure in holding the manufacturer to account for his crass misunderstanding of an artist's purpose. The bill came to forty-five hundred dollars: fifteen hundred dollars for "The Forges of Tubal Cain" and a thousand dollars for each of the three others. Two days later he received a check for the amount together with a printed receipt to which he might affix his signature. The absence of any personal note or comment was perhaps significant.

Stewart, however, in cashing the check had somewhat the feeling of one who is compelled to sell out an investment at a loss. He had thrown all his energy and talent into the execution of a noble idea, which had been coldly received, and with no perception of its nobility. Defeated by such unexpected apathy and obtuseness, he could not pursue his great work to fulfillment; he was disappointed, but he could not afford to spend the best years of his life in the unselfish effort to convince a dull public; therefore he felt, as he cashed Colonel Halket's check, that he was closing out a generous, glowing impulse at something less than cost.

He sold no more pictures of Industrial Life; nor did he ever paint another.