Page:The Lesson of the Master, The Marriages, The Pupil, Brooksmith, The Solution, Sir Edmund Orme (New York & London, Macmillan & Co., 1892).djvu/59

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45
THE LESSON OF THE MASTER.

they agreed to confine their speculations was that of which the valid work of art is susceptible. Miss Fancourt's imagination, it appeared, had wandered far in that direction, and her visitor had the rare delight of feeling that their conversation was a full interchange. This episode will have lived for years in his memory and even in his wonder; it had the quality that fortune distils in a single drop at a time—the quality that lubricates ensuing weeks and months. He has still a vision of the room, whenever he likes—the bright, red, sociable, talkative room, with the curtains that, by a stroke of successful audacity, had the note of vivid blue. He remembers where certain things stood, the book that was open on the table and the particular odour of the flowers that were placed on the left, somewhere behind him. These facts were the fringe, as it were, of a particular consciousness which had its birth in those two hours and of which perhaps the most general description would be to mention that it led him to say over and over again to himself: "I had no idea there was any one like this—I had no idea there was any one like this!" Her freedom amazed him and charmed him—it seemed so to simplify the practical question . She was on the footing of an independent personage—a motherless girl who had passed out of her teens and had a position, responsibilities, and was not held down to the limitations of a little miss. She came and went without the clumsiness of a chaperon; she received people alone and, though she was totally without hardness, the question of protection or patronage had no relevancy in regard to her. She gave such an impression of purity combined with naturalness that, in spite of her eminently modern situation, she suggested no sort of sisterhood with the "fast" girl. Modern she was, indeed, and made Paul Overt, who loved old colour,