+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

to decide not to renew your lease.  How
should you fallow then?"

"Why, my lord, I should save four thousand
pounds in the last four years, in
labour for cleaning manures and artificial
food, and still leave the land as good as I
found it!"

"Ah, I see,"  said the earl,  "we must
always agree with a good tenant five years
before the lease runs out."

We commend this conversation to the
consideration of the Cheshire lawyer and
the Cheshire Squires.




I GAVE my orders to the colourman and
settled matters with my friend the artist that
day.  The next morning, before the hour at
which I expected my sitter, having, just now
as much interest in the life of Lady Malkinshaw
as Mr. Batterbury had in her death, I
went to make kind inquiries after her ladyship's
health.  The answer was most reassuring.
Lady Malkinshaw was quite well; and
was, at that very moment, meritoriously and
heartily engaged in eating her breakfast.  My
prospects being now of the best possible kind,
I felt encouraged to write once more to my
father, telling him of my fresh start in life,
and proposing a renewal of our acquaintance.
I regret to say that he was so rude as not to
answer my letter.

Mr. Batterbury was punctual to the
moment.  He gave a gasp of relief when he
beheld me, full of life, with my palette on my
thumb, gazing fondly on my new canvas.
"That's right!" he said.  "I like to see you
with your mind composed.  Annabella would
have come with me; but she has a little headache
this morning.  She sends her love and
best wishes."

I seized my chalks and began with that
confidence in myself which has never
forsaken me in any emergency.  Being
perfectly well aware of the absolute dependence
of the art of portrait-painting on the art of
flattery, I determined to start with making
the mere outline of my likeness a
compliment to my sitter.  It was much easier
to resolve on doing this than really to do it.
In the first place, my hand would relapse
into its wicked old caricaturing habits.  In
the second place, my brother-in-law's face
was so inveterately and completely ugly as to
set every artifice of pictorial improvement at
flat defiance.  When a man has a nose an inch
long, with the nostrils set perpendicularly, it
is impossible to flatter it,—you must either
change it into a fancy nose, or resignedly
acquiesce in it.  When a man has no perceptible
eyelids, and when his eyes globuIarly
project so far out of his head, that you expect
to have to pick them up for him whenever you
see him lean forward, how are mortal fingers
and brushes to diffuse the right complimentary
expression over them?  You must either
do them the most hideous and complete
justice, or give them up altogether.  The late
Sir Thomas Lawrence, P. R. A., was
undoubtedly the most artful and uncompromising
flatterer that ever smoothed out all the
natural characteristic blemishes from a
sitter's face; but even that accomplished
parasite would have found Mr. Batterbury
too much for him, and would have been
driven, for the first time in his practice of
art, to the uncustomary and uncourtly
resource of absolutely painting a genuine

As for me I put my trust in Lady Malkinshaw's
power of living, and portrayed the
face of Mr. Batterbury in all its native
horror.  At the same time, I sensibly guarded
against even the most improbable accidents,
by making him pay me the fifty pounds as we
went on, by instalments.  We had ten sittings.
Each one of them began with a message from
Mr. Batterbury, giving me Annabella's love
and apologies for not being able to come and
see me.  Each one of them ended with an
argument between Mr. Batterbury and me
relative to the transfer of five pounds from
his pocket to mine.  I came off victorious on
every occasionbeing backed by the noble
behaviour of Lady Malkinshaw, who
abstained from tumbling down, and who ate and
drank, and slept, and grew lusty for three
weeks together.  Venerable woman!   She
put fifty pounds into my pocket.  I shall
think of her with gratitude and respect to
the end of my days.

One morning, while I was sitting before my
completed portrait, inwardly shuddering over
the ugliness of it, a suffocating smell of musk
was wafted into the studio; it was followed
by a sound of rustling garments; and that
again was succeeded by the personal appearance
of my affectionate sister, with her husband
at her heels.  Annabella had got to the
end of her stock of apologies, and had come to
see me.

She put her handkerchief to her nose the
moment she entered the room.  "How do
you do, Frank?  Don't kiss me: you smell
of paint, and I can't bear it."

I felt a similar antipathy to the smell of
musk, and had not the slightest intention of
kissing her; but I was too gallant a man to
say so; and I only begged her to favour me
by looking at her husband's portrait.

Annabella glanced all round the room,
with her handkerchief still at her nose, and
gathered her magnificent silk dress close
about her superb figure with her disengaged
hand.  "What a horrid place!"  she said
faintly behind her handkerchief.  "Can't you
take some of the paint away?  I'm sure
there's oil on the floor.  How am I to get
past that nasty table with the palette on it?
Why can't you bring the picture down to the
carriage, Frank?"  Advancing a few steps,