"I wish you had left me alone!" murmured the young man.
"I didn't know that that wasn't good enough for you," St. George continued.
"What a false position, what a condemnation of the artist, that he's a mere disfranchised monk and can produce his effect only by giving up personal happiness. What an arraignment of art!" Paul Overt pursued, with a trembling voice.
"Ah, you don't imagine, by chance, that I'm defending art? Arraignment, I should think so! Happy the societies in which it hasn't made its appearance; for from the moment it comes they have a consuming ache, they have an incurable corruption in their bosom. Assuredly, the artist is in a false position. But I thought we were taking him for granted. Pardon me," St. George continued; "Ginistrella made me!"
Paul Overt stood looking at the floor—one o'clock struck, in the stillness, from a neighbouring churchtower. "Do you think she would ever look at me?" he asked at last.
"Miss Fancourt—as a suitor? Why shouldn't I think it? That's why I've tried to favour you—I have had a little chance or two of bettering your opportunity."
"Excuse my asking you, but do you mean by keeping away yourself?" Paul said, blushing.
"I'm an old idiot—my place isn't there," St. George replied, gravely.
"I'm nothing, yet; I've no fortune; and there must be so many others."
"You're a gentleman and a man of genius. I think you might do something."
"But if I must give that up—the genius?"
"Lots of people, you know, think I've kept mine."