Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/185

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The Sinner's Comedy.

very handsomely to his brilliant talent and excessive modesty, "which alone kept him from that high place in the public regard," &c., &c., &c.

"I will take care of the children," said Anna.

"You?" said Sacheverell. She seemed so very young for the burden. But she smiled.

"I am getting on pretty well, you know," she said. "I am more fortunate in my publishers than my poor uncle. I—I draw a little."

Her white face—her slight form—it was all so childish and pathetic. "The artistic profession is the hardest in the world for a woman—in fact, any artistic profession is hard for anybody," he said. "Art means labour—hard, ceaseless, unsatisfying labour. Her service is work, and her reward—the strength for more work."

"I have drawn ever since I can remember," said Anna; "it came to me like speaking. When I was old enough I studied hard. I made up my mind that painting was to be my work in life. 'Tis no sin, you know, to follow one's vocation. They called me a fool, and they said I would starve. I did starve for a time. I could wish I had starved a little longer. But I married. I forgot my work." She coloured. "I soon remembered it again. I decided to study quietly by myself for a year or two — any number of years, for that matter—I did not care how many, so long as I could see hope at the end. I was working when—when I came to nurse my uncle. I think I must win—perhaps not yet, but some day. Every failure will only make me stronger when I succeed. I am so hard to discourage! Pain and despair and heartache—they cast you down for a while, but afterwards—they