Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/281

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A Study in Temptations.
265
 

said, catching her breath; "she was not a born pauper! Her father was not starved out of his wits, and her mother did not dance herself to death for a pound a week."

"Sophia!"

"Oh, I know you have always been very kind to me. I am not ungrateful."

"Do you talk of gratitude—to me?"

"I will talk of anything I like to anybody! ...Have you asked Margaret to sit for the Madonna?"

"I have asked her to give me a sitting or two—yes. But it is merely for the shape of her face: it would not be a portrait. Pray be careful how you refer to the matter, because I was studiously careful to explain that I could not paint the Madonna from any woman in the world. It merely struck me that Marg——that Lady Hyde-Bassett's face was peculiarly——"

"Fiddlesticks!"

"If you are going to be peevish, I think we had better not talk."

"You are very unkind to me. And I have a frightful headache: I can hardly see. I am sure this place is unhealthy. ...I was only thinking, why trouble Margaret to sit, if you are not going to make the picture like her? What would be her object in sitting?—she might as well be a lay-figure at once. I am afraid she will feel insulted."

"She seemed to perfectly realize what I meant, and was very amiable about it."

"Naturally! She could hardly let you see that she was annoyed—in her own house, and when you are a guest! ... Why can't I sit for you?"