The McCook tribune. (McCook, Neb.) 1886-1936, March 23, 1894, EASTER LILIES, Image 9

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    Ail Easter Romance.
tLAUDK Remington sat
In his comfortable studio
and watched the sputter
ing embers in the open
fireplace. His giant fig
ure looked as if it had
been thrown into the lux
urious arm chair, so ut
terly regardless of grace
was his attitude. His chin rested
heavily on the closed knuckles of hia
left hand. His huge legs were crossed
in an unceremonious fashion. His
brow was clouded with heavy wrinkles
that bespoke thoughts of an unquiet
Claude was an artist, in fair, almost
affluent, circumstances. He may be
said to have been born with the pro
verbial silver spoon in his mouth, for
his parents were wealthy and he was
an only son, but, though the scion of
a rich family, the young man had an
inherent spirit of independence which
urged him, after leaving college, to
adopt some profession as a means of
earning iiis own living. His natural
talents leaned towards art, and after
taking some preliminary lessons in
drawing and painting, from a local
teacher, he betook himself abroad and
studied for several years in Paris, Vi
enna and Florence.
He was an apt scholar and soon
made a name for himself in European
art circles as an adept with the pen
cil and brush. Magazine publishers
sought his work eagerly, and his
paintings had a great demand and at
high prices. So when Claude returned
home to America in the summer of
’92 his fame had already preceded him,
and society in New York prepared to
lionize, in becoming style, the young
artist of whom the European critics
had spoken so highly.
Mr. Remington would have been a
very popular young man had he al
lowed himself to become so, but flat
tery and fawning were distasteful to
him, and when he found that the
fashionable sets in town were bent on
making a social lion of him, he imme
diately sought retirement, and could
rarely be induced to leave his own
sumptuous apartments up town. Even
the most influential members of soci
ety failed to draw him from his seclu
sion. Politely, but firmly, he declined
all invitations to dinners, receptions
and garden parties, until the higher
circles of society began to think them
selves snubbed and concluded that the
famous Mr. Remington must be some
thing of a crank.
mere were a cnosen iew oi nis inti
mate friends, however, who knew the
cause of Claude’s dislike for gaiety.
Rumors had been wafted over the At
lantic which brought a whisper of ro
mance in them—the romance of an
artist’s love for a beautiful American
girl whom he had met in one of his
Alpine tours. The story took a vague
shape, in fact several shapes: one had
it that Claude was already marrfed to
the fair unknown but for certain fam
ily reasons they would not live to
gether for a year or so. Another rea
son was that the girl’s parents were
opposed to her alliance with Claude,
but on what account was not stated.
One thing, however, seemed certain,
and that was the young artist was
deeply in love, and his romantic
disposition was such that he silently
fretted over the absence of the oh
ject of his affections.
■"I said Constance was In Nice. I was mis
taken, she is here!
He certainly did not look a very gay
young man as lie half sat, half lounged
there in the somber glow of the fire,
moodily gazing into the dull, fiery
glare of the coals as if he were study
ing some abstract problem in which
the fire grate was concerned.
Presently he arose and shook him
self like a huge retriever after a
plunge in the water. Ilis tall, mas
sively built figure was the very pic
ture of an athlete, and denoted great
Shysical strength, but a close study of
is face discovered almost a feminine
beauty in the sweet sadness of its ex
pression and contour. The eyes and
the lines of the mouth had a look of
fixed resignation to the inevitable.
It was with a deep drawn sigh that
ie took from the mantel a long Ger
man pipe—
his compan
ion in many
a sketching
ramble in
the so nth of
Europe. He
fi lied the
meer scham
bowl me
with some
choice Turkish
tobacco and
leisurely ap
plied a match
to the weed.
Almost with
affection he
handled that
pipe, and a
more satisfied
look crept into
his eyes as he
watched the
blue smoke
curl in circles
from the bowl
and ascend to
the ceiling like
the azure
clouds that
float over the
far awayMedi
For fully ten
minutes he t
smoked on in
silence, then
he laid aside
his pipe and
turned to his
easel, on which
rested the half
finished por
trait of a
young girl It
was the pic
ture of a maid
en of eighteen
or twenty,
dressed in
white and with
just a single
rosebud at her
throat. On her
head was a
simple straw
hat, and in her
uplifted right
hand a bunch
of wild grapes
which she had
evidently just
plucked from a
vine that
drooped above
her. Her dark
eyes sparkled
with fun and
her lips were
parted in a
merry smile
that seemed
contagious as
one looked up
on it. The
was unfinish'
as were a
some detail
the drape
but even
novice in
matters wouu.
have pro
nounced the
picture the
work of a mas
ter hand. .
While Claude /
toyed with his
brush, looking '
lovingly on the
canvas face
to which his
art was giving
life and reali
ty, there came
a gentle knock
at the studio
door, and in
response to the
word “come,”
a little colored
Doy-in-uvery" entered noiselessly,
and handed the artist a card. Mr.
Remington took the piece of paste
board quietly, glanced at the name
and said, “Show the gentleman in.”
As the boy left the room the artist
took a brown silk curtain from a side
shelf and carefully drew it over the
easel so as to effectually conceal the
portrait. There was a slight tremor
in his hand as he did so, and his face
seemed to have flushed considerably.
Ilis brows, too, were deeper wrinkled,
as if in anger.
One minute elapsed before the boy
returned, ushering in a gentleman of
middle age, whose dress and manner
showed at once the unmistakable ease
and grace of a traveled man of the
world. He walked directly up to
Claude and grasped his hand, though
it seemed as if the artist were far
from cordial in reciprocating the salu
tation. But the visitor did not notice,
or did not seem to notice, any lack of
hospitality on the part of the artist,
and immediately commenced the con
“Delighted to see you, my dear boy.
Just came direct from the Riviera
and have good news for you. ”
“Good news for me,” repeated
Claude in measured tones, “I wonder
what good news anyone can bring me
from the Riviera. Nevertheless, Col.
Bland, I am pleased to see one who
takes my thoughts hack to the days
when all news was good to me. 'When
were you in Mentone?”
“Not for months, but I was in Nice
just two weeks ago and saw somebody
there who begged me to see you with
out delay, so I flew to London as fast
as the express would carry me, caught
the Paris at Southampton and here I
Claude was evidently struggling
with a powerful emotion, striving to
conceal the effect of his visitor’s words.
One word of interrogation alone left
his lips.
“No, not Constance herself, but her
“Her mother! why she sent me
“Yes my boy, I know that, and I
believe she meant to keep you away.
She is a proud, haughty woman. All
the Foster-Parkers were, and she is no
exception. Everybody, even in the
Paris colony, which is certainly the
most exclusive set of Americans
abroad, considered you a perfect
match for Constance Blythe, but her
mother had set her heart on that
wealthy English baronet and so op
posed your suit strenuously. ”
“Well, why did she wish you to see
“I bear her personal assurance that
her opposition to your marriage with
Constance is withdrawn.”
The greatest transformation ever
seen in a human countenance was pos
sibly right there in that Fifth avenue
studio as the afternoon March sun
light streamed in upon those two fig
ures. Claude’s joy was inexpressible
in words, he merely wrung Colonel
Bland’s hand in silence.
“Constance has not been well, you
know,” continued the Colonel, in a
voice that tried to be cheery, but
seemed to lack the power. “To speak
plainly,the separation from you preyed
on her nervous system to such an ex
tent that her strength gave way. At
first Mrs. Blythe called it sentiment
alism and tried to wean Constance
from thoughts of her disappointment
by providing extra gaieties, recep
tions, concerts and so forth, but it
was to no purpose. At Christmas the
poor girl had to take to her bed. Doc
tors prescribed for her in vain, until
Sir William Jowitt, the fashionable
English physician, learned the true
particulars of her case, and frankly
told Mrs. Blythe that the only sure
way to save her daughter’s life was to
permit her to conduct her own matri
monial affairs. Constance is now at
the Etoyale,
and Is some
what better
because I
believe she
1 knows the
nature of
/J my mission
to New
Claude lis
tened with
rapt attention,
the working of
the muscles in
his face, and
Its constant
changing color
alone denoting
the conflicting
emotions strug
gling within
him. H o p e,
joy, sorrow,
fear, despair
came and went
in kaleidoscop
ic expression
on his f e a
tures. As the
Colonel fin
ished the artist
asked, hur
“When does
the quickest
steamer sail?”
“The ‘Paris, ’
on Saturday,
is the first fast
boat. Will you
go back with
me on that
“Yes, I will
go direct to
You say she is
in Nice?”
“They will
stay there all
summer, 1 be
lieve,” replied
the Colonel,
“but now that
you have de
cided about go
ing tell me
about yourself!
Rumor said
that when you
left our party
so abruptly in
Mentone, you
went to the
devil, that is,
to the gam
bling rooms of
Monaco, which
amounts to the
same thing.”
“Rumor was
truthful,” re
marked Claude
nodding his
“And it also
said that you
lost heavily,”
resumed Col.
Eland, fixing
his keen eyes
on the young
^ artist.
y “I lost all I
had,” replied
Claude, care
lessly. “I could
not lose any
more, except
by borrowing,
and I would
not do that for
gambling pur
poses. ”
“Still,” con
tinued the Col
onel, glancing
approvi ngly
around the pa
latial apart
ment, “you do
not appear to
De suirering
from extreme poverty.”
Claude laughed outright, for the
first time during the interview.
“No,” he said, in a voice full of con
fident satisfaction. “Fortunately my
profession enables me to live well and
also to keep a good account at my
■‘You take many private commis
sions, I suppose—you were always
clever at portraits,” said Colonel
Bland in an interested tonel
“Yes,” replied Claude, lightly. “I
have more requests for sittings than I
can well attend to and the offers
sometimes range as high as $3,000,
“Have you some work there—may I
see it?” interrupted the Colonel, indi
cating the covered easel by an inclina
tion of his head.
Claude arose from his chair and
walked over to the easel. Then he
paused and faced the Colonel with a
peculiar look in his face.
“This is not painted from life but
from memory, Colonel,” he said, sad
ly. “It is a picture which you and I
once saw together, two years ago next
Easter day.”
With a deft move of his hand Claude
Remington pulled aside the brown
silk curtain and Colonel Bland stood
spellbound before the portrait. The
artist watched him while his eyes
drank in every detail from the can
vas. No word was spoken save a
suppressed whisper of astonishment
from the Colonel. That whisper was
the name “Constance. ” Ilis look was
riveted upon the picture, and while he
gazed he felt himself transported from
the busy metropolis of the new world
to a small French village in the old.
Not simply his mind but his whole be
ing, his entire senses, seemed to be
taken back to that Easter morning
when, in the very shadow of the Pyr
enees, he and Claude had sauntered
out from the old farmhouse where
they boarded, for a stroll before break
fast. The Blythes and several other
New York families were staying at
the Chateau ltusse in the neighbor
hood, and in their morning walk the
two friends had encountered Con
stance in just such an attitude as the
artist had painted her. The Colonel
almost fancied that he could hear the
church bells of Ste Marie de la Croix
in the distance, and smell the per
fume of the wild flowers that grew in
the beautiful meadows of the Landes
Claude entered the room and almost rushed
to the bedside.
For fully five minutes he stood with
his eyes chained to the canvas, Claude
meanwhile watching him with the
keen delight of an artist who knows
that his work.has enraptured a critic.
Then the Colonel spoke deliberately.
“I said Constance was in Nice. I
was mistaken—she is here!” and he
pointed to the easel.
“Thank you, Colonel, for your grace
ful compliment,” replied Claude.
“The heart has a better memory
than the eye,” continued the visitor,
without noticing the artist’s remark,
“and for that reason I think that ne
one but yourself could possibly paint
that picture. There is not only con
summate art but every evidence of
heart in the work. Can you finish it in
time to take it with us?”
“I will try. I have only worked on
it occasionally, more for pastime than
for any other purpose, it is nearly
six months since 1 commenced it. You
see, Colonel, when I got that cutting
note of curt dismissal from JVIrs.
Blythe, shattering my hopes of ever
making Constance my wife, 1 felt, as
you said awhile ago,like going to the
devil. I plunged wildly Into dissipa
tion, just like the headstrong fool J
was, but a few months of that kind
of thing convinced me that if I wished
to save my health and reputation it
would be wiser for me to drive away
care and sorrow by hard work rather
than by indulgence in gambling and
other delusive excitements. So I
w7ent to London and started in
uuiug a mue worn ior me illus
trated papers. The few portraits I
painted there got me favorable notice,
in fast the press was too flattering al
together. I would have stayed in Lon
don but for the fact that Constance
was within two days’ reach and 1 could
not trust myself to obey Mrs. Blythe’s
injunction not to see her daughter
again. Sol came back home to lind
myself famous, and never was fame
more distasteful to a mortal. Clubs
and coteries wanted to dine and wine
me. The fashionable set sent special
invitations to receptions and dinners,
society leaders almost pleadingly re
quested my presence at some of their
functions. I tried it for a little while,
but the calls upon my time became so
persistent that 1 had to cut society
and, thank heaven! society has since
cut me and left me alone to myself.
To be perfectly candid with you, Col
onel, I was almost denying myself to
you, for I felt as if your conversation
would naturally lead back to a subject
which I had been striving to banish
from my mind.”
“That was why you had the picture
“Precisely. I was afraid the sight
of it might remind you of Constance
and make you speak'of her."
“Well, my dear Claude, you see I
came here with that view, picture or
no picture. I am stopping at the Savoy.
Will you come up to dinner this even
ing and let us have an old time chat?
We ought to have a deal of news to
exchange after twelve months.”
“I shall be pleased to join you, Col
onel. At what hour do you dine?”
asked Claude.
“Seven-thirty. Now I must hurry
down town to Wall street to transact
some business. Good day, Claude, I
shall expect you this evening.”