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The Black Robe

The End Of The Honeymoon
ON the next morning, Winterfield arrived alone at Romayne's house.
Having been included, as a matter of course, in the invitation to see the
pictures, Father Benwell had made an excuse, and had asked leave to defer
the proposed visit. From his point of view, he had nothing further to gain by
being present at a second meeting between the two men--in the absence of
Stella. He had it on Romayne's own authority that she was in constant
attendance on her mother, and that her husband was alone. "Either Mrs.
Eyrecourt will get better, or she will die," Father Benwell reasoned. "I shall
make constant inquiries after her health, and, in either case, I shall know
when Mrs. Romayne returns to Ten Acres Lodge. After that domestic event,
the next time Mr. Winterfield visits Mr. Romayne, I shall go and see the
pictures."
It is one of the defects of a super-subtle intellect to trust too implicitly to
calculation, and to leave nothing to chance. Once or twice already Father
Benwell had been (in the popular phrase) a little too clever--and chance had
thrown him out. As events happened, chance was destined to throw him out
once more.
Of the most modest pretensions, in regard to numbers and size, the pictures
collected by the late Lady Berrick were masterly works of modern art. With
few exceptions, they had been produced by the matchless English landscape
painters of half a century since. There was no formal gallery here. The
pictures were so few that they could be hung in excellent lights in the
different living-rooms of the villa. Turner, Constable, Collins, Danby, Callcott,
Linnell--the master of Beaupark House passed from one to the other with the
enjoyment of a man who thoroughly appreciated the truest and finest
landscape art that the world has yet seen.
"You had better not have asked me here," he said to Romayne, in his quaintly
good-humored way. "I can't part with those pictures when I say good-by to-
day. You will find me calling here again and again, till you are perfectly sick of
me. Look at this sea piece. Who thinks of the brushes and palette of that
painter? There, truth to Nature and poetical feeling go hand in hand together.
It is absolutely lovely--I could kiss that picture."
They were in Romayne's study when this odd outburst of enthusiasm escaped
Winterfield. He happened to look toward the writing-table next. Some pages
of manuscript, blotted and interlined with corrections, at once attracted his
attention.
 
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