The Troll Garden and Selected Stories HTML version

The Marriage of Phaedra
The sequence of events was such that MacMaster did not make his pilgrimage to Hugh
Treffinger's studio until three years after that painter's death. MacMaster was himself a
painter, an American of the Gallicized type, who spent his winters in New York, his
summers in Paris, and no inconsiderable amount of time on the broad waters between. He
had often contemplated stopping in London on one of his return trips in the late autumn,
but he had always deferred leaving Paris until the prick of necessity drove him home by
the quickest and shortest route.
Treffinger was a comparatively young man at the time of his death, and there had seemed
no occasion for haste until haste was of no avail. Then, possibly, though there had been
some correspondence between them, MacMaster felt certain qualms about meeting in the
flesh a man who in the flesh was so diversely reported. His intercourse with Treffinger's
work had been so deep and satisfying, so apart from other appreciations, that he rather
dreaded a critical juncture of any sort. He had always felt himself singularly inept in
personal relations, and in this case he had avoided the issue until it was no longer to be
feared or hoped for. There still remained, however, Treffinger's great unfinished picture,
the Marriage of Phaedra, which had never left his studio, and of which MacMaster's
friends had now and again brought report that it was the painter's most characteristic
The young man arrived in London in the evening, and the next morning went out to
Kensington to find Treffinger's studio. It lay in one of the perplexing bystreets off
Holland Road, and the number he found on a door set in a high garden wall, the top of
which was covered with broken green glass and over which a budding lilac bush nodded.
Treffinger's plate was still there, and a card requesting visitors to ring for the attendant. In
response to MacMaster's ring, the door was opened by a cleanly built little man, clad in a
shooting jacket and trousers that had been made for an ampler figure. He had a fresh
complexion, eyes of that common uncertain shade of gray, and was closely shaven except
for the incipient muttonchops on his ruddy cheeks. He bore himself in a manner
strikingly capable, and there was a sort of trimness and alertness about him, despite the
too-generous shoulders of his coat. In one hand he held a bulldog pipe, and in the other a
copy of Sporting Life. While MacMaster was explaining the purpose of his call he
noticed that the man surveyed him critically, though not impertinently. He was admitted
into a little tank of a lodge made of whitewashed stone, the back door and windows
opening upon a garden. A visitor's book and a pile of catalogues lay on a deal table,
together with a bottle of ink and some rusty pens. The wall was ornamented with
photographs and colored prints of racing favorites.
"The studio is h'only open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays," explained the man--
he referred to himself as "Jymes"--"but of course we make exceptions in the case of
pynters. Lydy Elling Treffinger 'erself is on the Continent, but Sir 'Ugh's orders was that
pynters was to 'ave the run of the place." He selected a key from his pocket and threw