The Greater Inclination
Part 4 out of 4
I shook my head.
She looked down on her clasped hands and up at the picture; not once at
"You--you're going to finish it?"
"Of course," I cried, throwing the revived purpose into my voice. By God,
I would finish it!
The merest tinge of relief stole over her face, faint as the first thin
chirp before daylight.
"Is it so very difficult?" she asked tentatively.
"Not insuperably, I hope."
She sat silent, her eyes on the picture. At length, with an effort, she
brought out: "Shall you want more sittings?"
For a second I blundered between two conflicting conjectures; then the
truth came to me with a leap, and I cried out, "No, no more sittings!"
She looked up at me then for the first time; looked too soon, poor child;
for in the spreading light of reassurance that made her eyes like a rainy
dawn, I saw, with terrible distinctness, the rout of her disbanded hopes.
I knew that she knew ...
I finished the picture and sent it home within a week. I tried to make it
--what you see.--Too late, you say? Yes--for her; but not for me or for
the public. If she could be made to feel, for a day longer, for an hour
even, that her miserable secret _was_ a secret--why, she'd made it seem
worth while to me to chuck my own ambitions for that ...
* * * * *
Lillo rose, and taking down the sketch stood looking at it in silence.
After a while I ventured, "And Miss Vard--?"
He opened the portfolio and put the sketch back, tying the strings with
deliberation. Then, turning to relight his cigar at the lamp, he said:
"She died last year, thank God."
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