An Artist – Punch. March 14 1945

William Roberts, 1895-1980. Drawing. British Museum

WITH the heavy mashie-niblick I have rather a special technique. To begin with I wiggle a good deal to give my Eustachian tubes a chance of warming up to their vital task of establishing a true balance. Comparable to the run-up in the bomber world, my wiggling. Next I stand perfectly still except for my eyebrows, which. I slide up and down very slowly three times, like pistons, with terrifying concentration. This movement has often been criticized unfavourably by the crowd at Westward Ho and St. Andrews, but it puts at least three yards on such balls as I hit, and a lot of useful backwash as well.

This time there was no crowd to distract me, and vou would think a man’s head, nicely teed up on a stiff white collar, was an easier mark than a golf ball, but I found to my surprise that this was not so. My eyebrows were going under for the third time when a vision of fatherless children swept over me and I remembered that the chair-covers had only just come back from the cleaners. I flung the club away in disgust. The man, who was sitting with his back to me examining one of my Georgian tankards through a jeweller’s glass screwed into his right eye, sprang round.

“You did give me a fright ! ” he complained.

“I had every intention of laying you dead by the pin,” I said, going towards the telephone. “Put that can down and sit quiet. The last burglar who doubted my force of character is still on the danger-list.”

“You don’t look’ at all a violent man,” said the burglar, studying me with some surprise.

“The two years I spent with the cannibals when I was a lad were very formative,” I told him, as I spun the dial. “Once I’m roused there’s no holding me. I pull big men to pieces like flies.”

“I’ve been admiring your silver,” he said politely, pointing to the pile on the table.

“I hope you liked the whisky too ? “

“I must apologize for helping myself, but I got frozen fiddling with that patent catch on the window.”

“I’d have put a thermos out if I’d known you were coming. Blast this exchange!”

“These country ones are getting very uneven in their work. I sometimes think all one wants in the country is a commodity-phone, on which one could dial PUB for refresh­ment and TAX for a cab and, naturally, POL for the police.”

I suddenly felt very angry, not only with the exchange. It was four in the morning and I was in pyjamas.

“You miserable little son of a dustcart!” I cried. “If there’s one crime that sticks in my gullet it ‘s larceny. It’s so wretchedly inconsiderate!”

My burglar regarded me mildly. I forgot to say that he looked like a Cabinet Minister on the way to the funeral of an Under-Secretary, national mark, second grade.

“I hate it too,” he said, and sighed deeply.

“I suppose your heart is really in the missionary field ? “

“In art,” he said simply, and sighed again. I went on dialling, and the girl at the exchange went on sleeping.

“Do you mind if I look at your pictures while you ‘re getting through ? They may be the last I’ll see for some time.” He got up and turned slowly towards the mantel­piece. Then he whistled loudly.

“You know who that’s by? ” he asked, pointing to a small painting which hung above it. The apple of my eye. Imagine the Flying Scotsman piling up in a fish market that has joined forces with the House of Lords, a thriving marine store and an acre of artichokes, and as near as can be you have it.

“A man called Albert Skeffington,” I said.

” You know about him of course ? “

“I’ve never been able to find out anything. It was a wedding present.”

“Then you’re in luck. I shared a studio with Albert for five years. In Paris. It was the interregnum between the Absinthe and the Methylated Skeffington periods. What a painter!”

“This is extraordinarily interesting!” I said, stopping dialling.

“You ought to hang on to that. It’ll be worth twenty thousand one day. You know when he did it ? “


“The night Rosa left him. I found him hanging over the Pont Royal about to chuck himself in. I dragged him back to the studio and talked to him like an uncle. He grabbed his brushes about midnight and worked without stopping for forty-eight hours. That ought to be in the National Gallery!”

“I’ve always thought it terrific.”

“Terrific ? It’s a classic.”

“What sort of a man was he ? “

“Short. Red beard. Had been an engine-driver. Kept hares under his bed. What mastery of the primaries! And just look at the way he disciplines his verticals!”

He was prancing up and down in a great state of excite­ment. He was rather a dear little man. I caught it too.

“My wife will be tremendously pleased to hear all this. Where is he now ? “

“I wouldn’t like to say. Poor old Albert!”

“Not dead ? “

“Long time ago. Practically spontaneous combustion. Nothing else of his, I suppose ? “

” Why, yes. Give yourself another whisky and I’ll get it.”

“This is the most wonderful thing that’s happened to me for years,” he said, rubbing his hands. And I think he meant it, because when I got back, carrying the bedroom Skeffington of the snowplough reversing through the bishops in Brighton Aquarium, he was gone. And so was the silver. But the Skeffington over the mantelpiece was still there, all right.

An Artist. PUNCH or The London Charivari. March 14 1945. Anonymous – Author byline: Eric.

Image: William Roberts, 1895-1980. Drawing. British Museum.

A comic short story which presents the traditional role of the eccentric Bohemian artist in Paris. This perspective of the artist can be traced from Henri Murger, 1822-1861, Scènes de la vie de bohème, 1847–49; George du Maurier, 1834-1896, Trilby, 1894; W Somerset Maugham, 1874-1895, The Moon and Sixpence, 1919; to Tony Hancock, 1924-1968, and the film  The Rebel, 1961, published as Alan Holmes, The Rebel, 1961.

The artist, Albert Skeffington, is described as a manic genius, a consumer of Absinthe and Methylated spirits, whose once unconsidered paintings with scenes of “the Flying Scotsman piling up in a fish market that has joined forces with the House of Lords, a thriving marine store and an acre of artichokes” and a “snowplough reversing through the bishops in Brighton Aquarium” have acquired a high market value.

Arnold Bennett – The Death of Simon Fuge, 1907


The second thing that I saw in the Gazette (the first was of course the ‘Entremets’ column of wit, humour, and parody, very uneven in its excellence) was the death of Simon Fuge. There was nearly a column about it, signed with initials, and the subheading of the article ran, ‘Sudden death of a great painter’. That was characteristic of the Gazette. That Simon Fuge was indeed a great painter is now admitted by most dilettantes, though denied by a few. But to the great public he was not one of the few great names. To the great public he was just a medium name. Ten to one that in speaking of him to a plain person you would feel compelled to add: ‘The painter, you know,’ and the plain person would respond: ‘Oh yes,’ falsely pretending that he was perfectly familiar with the name. Simon Fuge had many friends on the press, and it was solely owing to the loyalty of these friends in the matter of obituary notices that the great public heard more of Simon Fuge in the week after his death than it had heard of him during the thirty-five years of his life. It may be asked: Why, if he had so many and such loyal friends on the press, these friends did not take measures to establish his reputation before he died? The answer is that editors will not allow journalists to praise a living artist much in excess of the esteem in which the public holds him; they are timid. But when a misunderstood artist is dead the editors will put no limit on laudation. I am not on the press, but it happens that I know the world. Of all the obituary notices of Simon Fuge, the Gazette’s was the first. Somehow the Gazette had obtained exclusive news of the little event, and some one high up on the Gazette’s staff had a very exalted notion indeed of Fuge, and must have known him personally. Fuge received his deserts as a painter in that column of print. He was compared to Sorolla y Bastida for vitality; the morbidezza of his flesh-tints was stated to be unrivalled even by –I forget the name, painting is not my speciality. The writer blandly inquired why examples of Fuge’s work were to be seen in the Luxembourg, at Vienna, at Florence, at Dresden; and not, for instance, at the Tate Gallery, or in the Chantrey collection. The writer also inquired, with equal blandness, why a painter who had been on the hanging committee of the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts at Paris should not have been found worthy to be even an A.R.A. in London. In brief, old England ‘caught it’, as occurred somewhere or other most nights in the columns of the Gazette. Fuge also received his deserts as a man. And the Gazette did not conceal that he had not been a man after the heart of the British public. He had been too romantically and intensely alive for that. The writer gave a little penportrait of him. It was very good, recalling his tricks of manner, his unforgettable eyes, and his amazing skill in talking about himself and really interesting everybody in himself. There was a special reference to one of Fuge’s most dramatic recitals–a narration of a night spent in a boat on Ham Lake with two beautiful girls, sisters, natives of the Five Towns, where Fuge was born. Said the obituarist: ‘Those two wonderful creatures who played so large a part in Simon Fuge’s life.’

This death was a shock to me. It took away my ennui for the rest of the journey. I too had known Simon Fuge. That is to say, I had met him once, at a soiree, and on that single occasion, as luck had it, he had favoured the company with the very narration to which the Gazette contributor referred. I remembered well the burning brilliance of his blue-black eyes, his touching assurance that all of us were necessarily interested in his adventures, and the extremely graphic and convincing way in which he reconstituted for us the nocturnal scene on Ham Lake–the two sisters, the boat, the rustle of trees, the lights on shore, and his own difficulty in managing the oars, one of which he lost for half-an-hour and found again. It was by such details as that about the oar that, with a tint of humour, he added realism to the romantic quality of his tales. He seemed to have no reticences concerning himself. Decidedly he allowed things to be understood…! Yes, his was a romantic figure, the figure of one to whom every day, and every hour of the day, was coloured by the violence of his passion for existence. His pictures had often an unearthly beauty, but for him they were nothing but faithful renderings of what he saw. My mind dwelt on those two beautiful sisters. Those two beautiful sisters appealed to me more than anything else in the Gazette’s obituary. Surely–Simon Fuge had obviously been a man whose emotional susceptibility and virile impulsiveness must have opened the door for him to multifarious amours–but surely he had not made himself indispensable to both sisters simultaneously. Surely even he had not so far forgotten that Ham Lake was in the middle of a country called England, and not the ornamental water in the Bois de Boulogne! And yet…. The delicious possibility of ineffable indiscretions on the part of Simon Fuge monopolized my mind till the train stopped at Knype, and I descended. Nevertheless, I think I am a serious and fairly insular Englishman. It is truly astonishing how a serious person can be obsessed by trifles that, to speak mildly, do not merit sustained attention.

I wondered where Ham Lake was. I knew merely that it lay somewhere in the environs of the Five Towns. What put fuel on the fire of my interest in the private affairs of the dead painter was the slightly curious coincidence that on the evening of the news of his death I should be travelling to the Five Towns–and for the first time in my life. Here I was at Knype, which, as I had gathered from Bradshaw, and from my acquaintance Brindley, was the traffic centre of the Five Towns.

Chapter V

‘Here we are!’ ejaculated Mr Brindley.
And he was out of the car almost before I had risen.
We strolled along a quiet street, and came to a large building with many large lighted windows, evidently some result of public effort.

‘What’s that place?’ I demanded.

‘That’s the Wedgwood Institution.’

‘Oh! So that’s the Wedgwood Institution, is it?’

‘Yes. Commonly called the Wedgwood. Museum, reading-room, public library–dirtiest books in the world, I mean physically–art school, science school. I’ve never explained to you why I’m chairman of the Management Committee, have I? Well, it’s because the Institution is meant to foster the arts, and I happen to know nothing about ’em. I needn’t tell you that architecture, literature, and music are not arts within the meaning of the act. Not much! Like to come in and see the museum for a minute? You’ll have to see it in your official capacity tomorrow.’

. . . . .

Who can tell what was passing in the breast of Mr Brindley? I could not. At least I could not tell with any precision. I could only gather, vaguely, that what he considered the wrong- headedness, the blindness, the lack of true perception, of his public was beginning to produce in his individuality a faint trace of permanent soreness. I regretted it. And I showed my sympathy with him by asking questions about the design and construction of the museum (a late addition to the Institution), of which I happened to know that he had been the architect.

He at once became interested and interesting. Although he perhaps insisted a little too much on the difficulties which occur when original talent encounters stupidity, he did, as he walked me up and down, contrive to convey to me a notion of the creative processes of the architect in a way that was in my experience entirely novel. He was impressing me anew, and I was wondering whether he was unique of his kind or whether there existed regiments of him in this strange parcel of England.

‘Now, you see this girder,’ he said, looking upwards.

That’s surely something of Fuge’s, isn’t it?’ I asked, indicating a small picture in a corner, after he had finished his explanation of the functions of the girder.

As on the walls of the staircase and corridors, so on the walls here, there were many paintings, drawings, and engravings. And of course the best were here in the museum. The least uninteresting items of the collection were, speaking generally, reproductions in monotint of celebrated works, and a few second–or third-rate loan pictures from South Kensington. Aside from such matters I had noticed nothing but the usual local trivialities, gifts from one citizen or another, travel-jottings of some art-master, careful daubs of art students without a sense of humour. The aspect of the place was exactly the customary aspect of the small provincial museum, as I have seen it in half-a-hundred towns that are not among ‘the great towns’. It had the terrible trite ‘museum’ aspect, the aspect that brings woe and desolation to the heart of the stoutest visitor, and which seems to form part of the purgatorio of Bank-holidays, wide mouths, and stiff clothes. The movement for opening museums on Sundays is the most natural movement that could be conceived. For if ever a resort was invented and fore-ordained to chime with the true spirit of the British sabbath, that resort is the average museum. I ought to know. I do know.

But there was the incomparable Wedgwood ware, and there was the little picture by Simon Fuge. I am not going to lose my sense of perspective concerning Simon Fuge. He was not the greatest painter that ever lived, or even of his time. He had, I am ready to believe, very grave limitations. But he was a painter by himself, as all fine painters are. He had his own vision. He was unique. He was exclusively preoccupied with the beauty and the romance of the authentic. The little picture showed all this. It was a painting, unfinished, of a girl standing at a door and evidently hesitating whether to open the door or not: a very young girl, very thin, with long legs in black stockings, and short, white, untidy frock; thin bare arms; the head thrown on one side, and the hands raised, and one foot raised, in a wonderful childish gesture–the gesture of an undecided fox-terrier. The face was an infant’s face, utterly innocent; and yet Simon Fuge had somehow caught in that face a glimpse of all the future of the woman that the girl was to be, he had displayed with exquisite insolence the essential naughtiness of his vision of things. The thing was not much more than a sketch; it was a happy accident, perhaps, in some day’s work of Simon Fuge’s. But it was genius. When once you had yielded to it, there was no other picture in the room. It killed everything else. But, wherever it had found itself, nothing could have killed IT. Its success was undeniable, indestructible. And it glowed sombrely there on the wall, a few splashes of colour on a morsel of canvas, and it was Simon Fuge’s unconscious, proud challenge to the Five Towns. It WAS Simon Fuge, at any rate all of Simon Fuge that was worth having, masterful, imperishable. And not merely was it his challenge, it was his scorn, his aristocratic disdain, his positive assurance that in the battle between them he had annihilated the Five Towns. It hung there in the very midst thereof, calmly and contemptuously waiting for the acknowledgement of his victory.

‘Which?’ said Mr Brindley.

That one.’

‘Yes, I fancy it is,’ he negligently agreed. ‘Yes, it is.’

‘It’s not signed,’ I remarked.

‘It ought to be,’ said Mr Brindley; then laughed, ‘Too late now!’

‘How did it get here?’

‘Don’t know. Oh! I think Mr Perkins won it in a raffle at a bazaar, and then hung it here. He did as he liked here, you know.’

I was just going to become vocal in its praise, when Mr Brindley said–

‘That thing under it is a photograph of a drinking-cup for which one of our pupils won a national scholarship last year!’

Mr Aked appeared in the distance.

‘I fancy the old boy wants to be off to bed,’ Mr Brindley whispered kindly.

So we left the Wedgwood Institution. I began to talk to Mr Brindley about music. The barbaric attitude of the Five Towns towards great music was the theme of some very lively animadversions on his part.

. . . . .

Chapter IX

He flew off to escape my thanks, and Mr Brindley and I went into the station. Owing to the celerity of the automobile we had half-an-hour to wait. We spent it chiefly at the bookstall. While we were there the extra-special edition of the STAFFORDSHIRE SIGNAL, affectionately termed ‘the local rag’ by its readers, arrived, and we watched a newsboy affix its poster to a board. The poster ran thus–




Now, close by this poster was the poster of the DAILY TELEGRAPH, and among the items offered by the DAILY TELEGRAPH was: ‘Death of Simon Fuge’. I could not forbear pointing out to Mr Brindley the difference between the two posters. A conversation ensued; and amid the rumbling of trains and the rough stir of the platform we got back again to Simon Fuge, and Mr Brindley’s tone gradually grew, if not acrid, a little impatient.

‘After all,’ he said, ‘rates are rates, especially in Hanbridge.

And let me tell you that last season Knype Football Club jolly nearly got thrown out of the First League. The constitution of the team for this next season–why, damn it, it’s a question of national importance! You don’t understand these things. If Knype Football Club was put into the League Second Division, ten thousand homes would go into mourning. Who the devil was Simon Fuge?’

They joke with such extraordinary seriousness in the Five Towns that one is somehow bound to pretend that they are not joking. So I replied–

‘He was a great artist. And this is his native district. Surely you ought to be proud of him!’

‘He may have been a great artist,’ said Mr Brindley, ‘or he may not. But for us he was simply a man who came of a family that had a bad reputation for talking too much and acting the goat!’

‘Well,’ I said, We shall see–in fifty years.’

‘That’s just what we shan’t,’ said he. ‘We shall be where Simon Fuge is–dead! However, perhaps we are proud of him. But you don’t expect us to show it, do you? That’s not our style.’

He performed the quasi-winking phenomenon with his eyes. It was his final exhibition of it to me.

‘A strange place!’ I reflected, as I ate my dinner in the dining- car, with the pressure of Mr Brindley’s steely clasp still affecting my right hand, and the rich, honest cordiality of his au revoir in my heart. ‘A place that is passing strange!’

And I thought further: He may have been a boaster, and a chatterer, and a man who suffered from cold feet at the wrong moments! And the Five Towns may have got the better of him, now. But that portrait of the little girl in the Wedgwood Institution is waiting there, right in the middle of the Five Towns. And one day the Five Towns will have to ‘give it best’. They can say what they like! … What eyes the fellow had, when he was in the right company!

Arnold Bennett, 1867-1931. The Death of Simon Fuge (Chapter 1), from – The Grim Smile of the Five Towns, 1907. (

Image: Garnet Wolseley, 1884 – 1967. Cottage Girl 

P G Wodehouse – The Man Upstairs, 1910

“It must be great to be able to do things—artistic things, I mean, like composing.”

“Well, you do, don’t you? You paint.”

The young man shook his head with a cheerful grin.

“I fancy,” he said, “I should make a pretty good housepainter. I want scope. Canvas seems to cramp me.”

It seemed to cause him no discomfort. He appeared rather amused than otherwise.

“Let me look.”

She crossed over to the easel.

“I shouldn’t,” he warned her. “You really want to? Is this not mere recklessness? Very well, then.”

To the eye of an experienced critic the picture would certainly have seemed crude. It was a study of a dark-eyed child holding a large black cat. Statisticians estimate that there is no moment during the day when one or more young artists somewhere on the face of the globe are not painting pictures of children holding cats.

“I call it ‘Child and Cat,’ ” said the young man. “Rather a neat title, don’t you think? Gives you the main idea of the thing right away. That,” he explained, pointing obligingly with the stem of his pipe, “is the cat.”

Annette belonged to that large section of the public which likes or dislikes a picture according to whether its subject happens to please or displease them. Probably there was not one of the million or so child- and-cat eyesores at present in existence which she would not have liked. Besides, he had been very nice about her music.

“I think it’s splendid,” she announced.

The young man’s face displayed almost more surprise than joy.

“Do you really?” he said. “Then I can die happy—that is, if you’ll let me come down and listen to those songs of yours first.”

“You would only knock on the floor,” objected Annette.

“I’ll never knock on another floor as long as I live,” said the ex-brute, reassuringly. “I hate knocking on floors. I don’t see what people want to knock on floors for, anyway.”

Friendships ripen quickly in Chelsea. Within the space of an hour and a quarter Annette had learned that the young man’s name was Alan Beverley (for which Family Heraldic affliction she pitied rather than despised him), that he did not depend entirely on his work for a living, having a little money of his own, and that he considered this a fortunate thing. From the very beginning of their talk he pleased her. She found him an absolutely new and original variety of the unsuccessful painter. Unlike Reginald Sellers, who had a studio in the same building, and sometimes dropped in to drink her coffee and pour out his troubles, he did not attribute his nonsuccess to any malice or stupidity on the part of the public. She was so used to hearing Sellers lash the Philistine and hold forth on unappreciated merit that she could hardly believe the miracle when, in answer to a sympathetic bromide on the popular lack of taste in Art, Beverley replied that, as far as he was concerned, the public showed strong good sense. If he had been striving with every nerve to win her esteem, he could not have done it more surely than with that one remark. Though she invariably listened with a sweet patience which encouraged them to continue long after the point at which she had begun in spirit to throw things at them, Annette had no sympathy with men who whined. She herself was a fighter. She hated as much as anyone the sickening blows which Fate hands out to the struggling and ambitious; but she never made them the basis of a monologue act. Often, after a dreary trip round the offices of the music-publishers, she would howl bitterly in secret, and even gnaw her pillow in the watches of the night; but in public her pride kept her unvaryingly bright and cheerful.

P G Wodehouse, 1881-1975

The Man Upstairs, 1910

A A Milne – The Painter, 1912

MR. PAUL SAMWAYS was in a mood of deep depression. The artistic temperament is peculiarly subject to these moods, but in Paul’s case there was reason why he should take a gloomy view of things. His masterpiece, “The Shot Tower from Battersea Bridge,” together with the companion picture, “Battersea Bridge from the Shot Tower,” had been purchased by a dealer for seventeen and sixpence. His sepia monochrome, “Night,” had brought him an I.O.U. for five shillings. These were his sole earnings for the last six weeks, and starvation stared him in the face.

“If only I had a little capital!” he cried aloud in despair. “Enough to support me until my Academy picture is finished.” His Academy picture was a masterly study entitled, “Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll,” and he had been compelled to stop half-way across the Channel through sheer lack of ultramarine.

The clock struck two, reminding him that he had not lunched. He rose wearily and went to the little cupboard which served as a larder. There was but little there to make a satisfying meal–half a loaf of bread, a corner of cheese, and a small tube of Chinese-white. Mechanically he set the things out….

He had finished, and was clearing away, when there came a knock at the door. His charwoman, whose duty it was to clean his brushes every week, came in with a card.

“A lady to see you, sir,” she said.

Paul read the card in astonishment.

“The Duchess of Winchester,” he exclaimed. “What on earth–Show her in, please.” Hastily picking up a brush and the first tube which came to hand, he placed himself in a dramatic position before his easel and set to work.

“How do you do, Mr Samways?” said the


“G–good-afternoon,” said Paul, embarrassed both by the presence of a duchess in his studio and by his sudden discovery that he was touching up a sunset with a tube of carbolic tooth-paste.

“Our mutual friend, Lord Ernest Topwood, recommended me to come to you.”

Paul, who had never met Lord Ernest, but had once seen his name in a ha’penny paper beneath a photograph of Mr Arnold Bennett, bowed silently.

“As you probably guess, I want you to paint my daughter’s portrait.”

Paul opened his mouth to say that he was only a landscape painter, and then closed it again. After all, it was hardly fair to bother her Grace with technicalities.

“I hope you can undertake this commission,” she said pleadingly.

“I shall be delighted,” said Paul. “I am rather busy just now, but I could begin at two o’clock on Monday.”

“Excellent,” said the Duchess. “Till Monday, then.” And Paul, still clutching the tooth-paste, conducted her to her carriage.

Punctually at 3.15 on Monday Lady Hermione appeared. Paul drew a deep breath of astonishment when he saw her, for she was lovely beyond compare. All his skill as a landscape painter would be needed if he were to do justice to her beauty. As quickly as possible he placed her in position and set to work.

“May I let my face go for a moment?” said Lady Hermione after three hours of it.

“Yes, let us stop,” said Paul. He had outlined her in charcoal and burnt cork, and it would be too dark to do any more that evening.

“Tell me where you first met Lord Ernest?” she asked as she came down to the fire.

“At the Savoy, in June,” said Paul boldly.

Lady Hermione laughed merrily. Paul, who had not regarded his last remark as one of his best things, looked at her in surprise.

“But your portrait of him was in the Academy in May!” she smiled.

Paul made up his mind quickly.

“Lady Hermione,” he said with gravity, “do not speak to me of Lord Ernest again. Nor,” he added hurriedly, “to Lord Ernest of me. When your picture is finished I will tell you why. Now it is time you went.” He woke the Duchess up, and made a few commonplace remarks about the weather. “Remember,” he whispered to Lady Hermione as he saw them to their car. She nodded and smiled.

The sittings went on daily. Sometimes Paul would paint rapidly with great sweeps of the brush; sometimes he would spend an hour trying to get on his palette the exact shade of green bice for the famous Winchester emeralds; sometimes in despair he would take a sponge and wipe the whole picture out, and then start madly again. And sometimes he would stop work altogether and tell Lady Hermione about his home-life in Worcestershire. But always, when he woke the Duchess up at the end of the sitting, he would say, “Remember!” and Lady Hermione would nod back at him.

It was a spring-like day in March when the picture was finished, and nothing remained to do but to paint in the signature.

“It is beautiful!” said Lady Hermione, with enthusiasm. “Beautiful! Is it at all like me?”

Paul looked from her to the picture, and back to her again.

“No,” he said, “not a bit. You know, I am really a landscape painter.”

“What do you mean?” she cried. “You are Peter Samways, A.R.A., the famous portrait painter!”

“No,” he said sadly. “That was my secret. I am Paul Samways. A member of the Amateur Rowing Association, it is true, but only an unknown landscape painter. Peter Samways lives in the next studio, and he is not even a relation.”

“Then you have deceived me! You have brought me here under false pretences!” She stamped her foot angrily. “My father will not buy that picture, and I forbid you to exhibit it as a portrait of myself.”

“My dear Lady Hermione,” said Paul, “you need not be alarmed. I propose to exhibit the picture as ‘When the Heart is Young.’ Nobody will recognize a likeness to you in it. And if the Duke does not buy it I have no doubt that some other purchaser will come along.”

Lady Hermione looked at him thoughtfully. “Why did you do it?” she asked gently.

“Because I fell in love with you.”

She dropped her eyes, and then raised them gaily to his. “Mother is still asleep,” she whispered.

“Hermione!” he cried, dropping his palette and putting his brush behind his ear.

She held out her arms to him.

. . . . . . .

As everybody remembers, “When the Heart is Young,” by Paul Samways, was the feature of the Exhibition. It was bought for 10,000 pounds by a retired bottle manufacturer, whom it reminded a little of his late mother. Paul woke to find himself famous. But the success which began for him from this day did not spoil his simple and generous nature. He never forgot his brother artists, whose feet were not yet on the top of the ladder. Indeed, one of his first acts after he was married was to give a commission to Peter Samways, A.R.A.–nothing less than the painting of his wife’s portrait. And Lady Hermione was delighted with the result.

AA Milne, 1882-1956

The Painter, (The Holiday Round), 1912

Image: Octave TassaertInterior of a Studio, 1845 © Louvre