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Chapter 9

  • The summer passed, and with it the freshness and novelty of Paris, thoug_ugene never really wearied of it. The peculiarities of a different nationa_ife, the variations between this and his own country in national ideals, a_bviously much more complaisant and human attitude toward morals, a matter-of-
  • fact acceptance of the ills, weaknesses and class differences, to say nothin_f the general physical appearance, the dress, habitations and amusements o_he people, astonished as much as they entertained him. He was never weary o_tudying the differences between American and European architecture, notin_he pacific manner in which the Frenchman appeared to take life, listening t_ngela's unwearied comments on the cleanliness, economy, thoroughness wit_hich the French women kept house, rejoicing in the absence of the America_eaning to incessant activity. Angela was struck by the very moderate price_or laundry, the skill with which their concierge—who governed this quarte_nd who knew sufficient English to talk to her—did her marketing, cooking,
  • sewing and entertaining. The richness of supply and aimless waste of American_as alike unknown. Because she was naturally of a domestic turn Angela becam_ery intimate with Madame Bourgoche and learned of her a hundred and on_ittle tricks of domestic economy and arrangement.
  • "You're a peculiar girl, Angela," Eugene once said to her. "I believe yo_ould rather sit down stairs and talk to that French-woman than meet the mos_nteresting literary or artistic personage that ever was. What do you fin_hat's so interesting to talk about?"
  • "Oh, nothing much," replied Angela, who was not unconscious of the implie_int of her artistic deficiencies. "She's such a smart woman. She's s_ractical. She knows more in a minute about saving and buying and making _ittle go a long way than any American woman I ever saw. I'm not interested i_er any more than I am in anyone else. All the artistic people do, that I ca_ee, is to run around and pretend that they're a whole lot when they're not."
  • Eugene saw that he had made an irritating reference, not wholly intended i_he way it was being taken.
  • "I'm not saying she isn't able," he went on. "One talent is as good a_nother, I suppose. She certainly looks clever enough to me. Where is he_usband?"
  • "He was killed in the army," returned Angela dolefully.
  • "Well I suppose you'll learn enough from her to run a hotel when you get bac_o New York. You don't know enough about housekeeping now, do you?"
  • Eugene smiled with his implied compliment. He was anxious to get Angela's min_ff the art question. He hoped she would feel or see that he meant nothing,
  • but she was not so easily pacified.
  • "You don't think I'm so bad, Eugene, do you?" she asked after a moment. "Yo_on't think it makes so much difference whether I talk to Madame Bourgoche?
  • She isn't so dull. She's awfully smart. You just haven't talked to her. Sh_ays she can tell by looking at you that you're a great artist. You'r_ifferent. You remind her of a Mr. Degas that once lived here. Was he a grea_rtist?"
  • "Was he!" said Eugene. "Well I guess yes. Did he have this studio?"
  • "Oh, a long time ago—fifteen years ago."
  • Eugene smiled beatifically. This was a great compliment. He could not hel_iking Madame Bourgoche for it. She was bright, no doubt of that, or she woul_ot be able to make such a comparison. Angela drew from him, as before, tha_er domesticity and housekeeping skill was as important as anything else i_he world, and having done this was satisfied and cheerful once more. Eugen_hought how little art or conditions or climate or country altered th_undamental characteristics of human nature. Here he was in Paris,
  • comparatively well supplied with money, famous, or in process of becoming so,
  • and quarreling with Angela over little domestic idiosyncrasies, just as i_ashington Square.
  • By late September Eugene had most of his Paris sketches so well laid in tha_e could finish them anywhere. Some fifteen were as complete as they could b_ade. A number of others were nearly so. He decided that he had had _rofitable summer. He had worked hard and here was the work to show for it
  • —twenty-six canvases which were as good, in his judgment, as those he ha_ainted in New York. They had not taken so long, but he was surer o_imself—surer of his method. He parted reluctantly with all the lovely thing_e had seen, believing that this collection of Parisian views would be a_mpressive to Americans as had been his New York views. M. Arkquin for one,
  • and many others, including the friends of Deesa and Dula were delighted wit_hem. The former expressed the belief that some of them might be sold i_rance.
  • Eugene returned to America with Angela, and learning that he might stay in th_ld studio until December first, settled down to finish the work for hi_xhibition there.
  • The first suggestion that Eugene had that anything was wrong with him, asid_rom a growing apprehensiveness as to what the American people would think o_is French work, was in the fall, when he began to imagine—or perhaps it wa_eally true—that coffee did not agree with him. He had for several years no_een free of his old-time complaint,—stomach trouble; but gradually it wa_eginning to reappear and he began to complain to Angela that he was feelin_n irritation after his meals, that coffee came up in his throat. "I thin_'ll have to try tea or something else if this doesn't stop," he observed. Sh_uggested chocolate and he changed to that, but this merely resulted i_hifting the ill to another quarter. He now began to quarrel with his work—no_eing able to get a certain effect, and having sometimes altered and re-
  • altered and re-re-altered a canvas until it bore little resemblance to th_riginal arrangement, he would grow terribly discouraged; or believe that h_ad attained perfection at last, only to change his mind the followin_orning.
  • "Now," he would say, "I think I have that thing right at last, thank heaven!"
  • Angela would heave a sigh of relief, for she could feel instantly any distres_r inability that he felt, but her joy was of short duration. In a few hour_he would find him working at the same canvas changing something. He gre_hinner and paler at this time and his apprehensions as to his future rapidl_ecame morbid.
  • "By George! Angela," he said to her one day, "it would be a bad thing for m_f I were to become sick now. It's just the time that I don't want to. I wan_o finish this exhibition up right and then go to London. If I could do Londo_nd Chicago as I did New York I would be just about made, but if I'm going t_et sick—"
  • "Oh, you're not going to get sick, Eugene," replied Angela, "you just thin_ou are. You want to remember that you've worked very hard this summer. An_hink how hard you worked last winter! You need a good rest, that's what yo_eed. Why don't you stop after you get this exhibition ready and rest awhile?
  • You have enough to live on for a little bit. M. Charles will probably sell _ew more of those pictures, or some of those will sell and then you can wait.
  • Don't try to go to London in the spring. Go on a walking tour or go down Sout_r just rest awhile, anywhere,—that's what you need."
  • Eugene realized vaguely that it wasn't rest that he needed so much as peace o_ind. He was not tired. He was merely nervously excited and apprehensive. H_egan to sleep badly, to have terrifying dreams, to feel that his heart wa_ailing him. At two o'clock in the morning, the hour when for some reaso_uman vitality appears to undergo a peculiar disturbance, he would wake with _ense of sinking physically. His pulse would appear to be very low, and h_ould feel his wrists nervously. Not infrequently he would break out in a col_erspiration and would get up and walk about to restore himself. Angela woul_ise and walk with him. One day at his easel he was seized with a peculia_ervous disturbance—a sudden glittering light before his eyes, a rumbling i_is ears, and a sensation which was as if his body were being pricked with te_illion needles. It was as though his whole nervous system had given way a_very minute point and division. For the time being he was intensel_rightened, believing that he was going crazy, but he said nothing. It came t_im as a staggering truth that the trouble with him was over-indulgenc_hysically; that the remedy was abstinence, complete or at least partial; tha_e was probably so far weakened mentally and physically that it would be ver_ifficult for him to recover; that his ability to paint might be seriousl_ffected—his life blighted.
  • He stood before his canvas holding his brush, wondering. When the shock ha_ompletely gone he laid the brush down with a trembling hand. He walked to th_indow, wiped his cold, damp forehead with his hand and then turned to get hi_oat from the closet.
  • "Where are you going?" asked Angela.
  • "For a little walk. I'll be back soon. I don't feel just as fresh as I might."
  • She kissed him good-bye at the door and let him go, but her heart trouble_er.
  • "I'm afraid Eugene is going to get sick," she thought. "He ought to sto_ork."