Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/405

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A Bundle of Life.
389
 

Sir Ventry Coxe, had the so-called aristocratic air sometimes found in men of middle-class extraction, but unknown amongst the old nobility. Very young girls, sentimental women, and men of his own stamp, thought him extremely handsome: his features were bold and well-defined, his dark eyes could express any drawing-room emotion with really excellent effect; his thin, straight lips suggested his refined tastes to those who understand culture as leanness and vulgarity as curves.

"What do they think of Wiche in America?" continued the Baronet.

"They wonder that he does not marry" replied his companion; "there are so many pretty women in England."

Mr. Nicholas T. Van Huyster was a young man about eight-and-twenty, tall, slight, dark, and clean-shaven. His face was not at first sight sympathetic, but, on the other hand, he did not have the aggressive air of one who is conscious that he must be known to be appreciated.

"Wiche is not popular in society," said Sir Ventry.

"He has no presence, no manners, no small talk."

"No," answered the American, "he is not that modern of each May so beloved of dining London."

"His family is nothing," said Sir Ventry. "His mother was a person of no education, who lived with an art-critic called Wiche. By-the-by, can you imagine a more miserable occupation than this scribbling about art? What is Art? Madness in most cases, and mere frippery in others. And only one man here and there makes it pay. Look at Nature, I say, if you want beautiful pictures. But