Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/148

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132
The Sinner's Comedy.
 

attitude towards the world was one of indifference, it was only because she saved her earnestness for her work; she lived for it and, as it were, in it. To be in daily association with a woman so determined and so studious, who, though often mistaken in her opinions, had always the courage of them, gave him a wholesome reverence for those who labour to other ends than cakes and ale. She lived very frugally in two little rooms, and supported herself by illustrating: what time she could spare from that, she devoted to practice in oils. Her Masterpiece, as she called it, was only waiting to be painted: it was all in her mind's eye. The pleasures of her life, outside her work, were few and simple: they mostly consisted in going to the theatre, when she had orders, and exploring London. She and Richard would tramp for hours through squares and terraces, crescents, streets, and roads—S.E., S.W., and W., N., and N.W., and N.E.—they were never tired till they reached home, and then there would still be something to talk over, to laugh about and plan for the next day. When the change came in Richard's fortune her tastes remained the same, but, when they went to the theatre, they had a box and a chaperon. In Jasper Street, Bloomsbury, where nature was more in vogue than respectability, a chaperon was considered an unnecessary and tedious addition to the ordinary plagues of life, but Richard explained that Society which bought pictures was very different from Society which painted them: he pointed out, with all possible delicacy, that although she might not care for the whims of the polite world, he, from the habit of his early training, did and must.

"Do you think, then, you have been doing wrong