CHAPTER III. Rome
One warm, still day, late in the Roman autumn, our two young men were
sitting beneath one of the high-stemmed pines of the Villa Ludovisi.
They had been spending an hour in the mouldy little garden-house, where
the colossal mask of the famous Juno looks out with blank eyes from that
dusky corner which must seem to her the last possible stage of a lapse
from Olympus. Then they had wandered out into the gardens, and
were lounging away the morning under the spell of their magical
picturesqueness. Roderick declared that he would go nowhere else; that,
after the Juno, it was a profanation to look at anything but sky and
trees. There was a fresco of Guercino, to which Rowland, though he had
seen it on his former visit to Rome, went dutifully to pay his respects.
But Roderick, though he had never seen it, declared that it could n't
be worth a fig, and that he did n't care to look at ugly things. He
remained stretched on his overcoat, which he had spread on the grass,
while Rowland went off envying the intellectual comfort of genius, which
can arrive at serene conclusions without disagreeable processes. When
the latter came back, his friend was sitting with his elbows on his
knees and his head in his hands. Rowland, in the geniality of a mood
attuned to the mellow charm of a Roman villa, found a good word to say
for the Guercino; but he chiefly talked of the view from the little
belvedere on the roof of the casino, and how it looked like the prospect
from a castle turret in a fairy tale.
"Very likely," said Roderick, throwing himself back with a yawn. "But I
must let it pass. I have seen enough for the present; I have reached the
top of the hill. I have an indigestion of impressions; I must work them
off before I go in for any more. I don't want to look at any more of
other people's works, for a month--not even at Nature's own. I want to
look at Roderick Hudson's. The result of it all is that I 'm not afraid.
I can but try, as well as the rest of them! The fellow who did that
gazing goddess yonder only made an experiment. The other day, when I
was looking at Michael Angelo's Moses, I was seized with a kind
of defiance--a reaction against all this mere passive enjoyment of
grandeur. It was a rousing great success, certainly, that rose there
before me, but somehow it was not an inscrutable mystery, and it seemed
to me, not perhaps that I should some day do as well, but that at least
"As you say, you can but try," said Rowland. "Success is only passionate
"Well, the passion is blazing; we have been piling on fuel handsomely.
It came over me just now that it is exactly three months to a day since
I left Northampton. I can't believe it!"
"It certainly seems more."
"It seems like ten years. What an exquisite ass I was!"
"Do you feel so wise now?"
"Verily! Don't I look so? Surely I have n't the same face. Have n't I a
different eye, a different expression, a different voice?"
"I can hardly say, because I have seen the transition. But it 's very
likely. You are, in the literal sense of the word, more civilized. I
dare say," added Rowland, "that Miss Garland would think so."
"That 's not what she would call it; she would say I was corrupted."
Rowland asked few questions about Miss Garland, but he always listened
narrowly to his companion's voluntary observations.
"Are you very sure?" he replied.
"Why, she 's a stern moralist, and she would infer from my appearance
that I had become a cynical sybarite." Roderick had, in fact, a Venetian
watch-chain round his neck and a magnificent Roman intaglio on the third
finger of his left hand.
"Will you think I take a liberty," asked Rowland, "if I say you judge
"For heaven's sake," cried Roderick, laughing, "don't tell me she 's
not a moralist! It was for that I fell in love with her, and with rigid
virtue in her person."
"She is a moralist, but not, as you imply, a narrow one. That 's more
than a difference in degree; it 's a difference in kind. I don't know
whether I ever mentioned it, but I admire her extremely. There is
nothing narrow about her but her experience; everything else is large.
My impression of her is of a person of great capacity, as yet wholly
unmeasured and untested. Some day or other, I 'm sure, she will judge
fairly and wisely of everything."
"Stay a bit!" cried Roderick; "you 're a better Catholic than the Pope.
I shall be content if she judges fairly of me--of my merits, that is.
The rest she must not judge at all. She 's a grimly devoted little
creature; may she always remain so! Changed as I am, I adore her none
the less. What becomes of all our emotions, our impressions," he went
on, after a long pause, "all the material of thought that life pours
into us at such a rate during such a memorable three months as these?
There are twenty moments a week--a day, for that matter, some days--that
seem supreme, twenty impressions that seem ultimate, that appear to
form an intellectual era. But others come treading on their heels and
sweeping them along, and they all melt like water into water and settle
the question of precedence among themselves. The curious thing is that
the more the mind takes in, the more it has space for, and that all
one's ideas are like the Irish people at home who live in the different
corners of a room, and take boarders."
"I fancy it is our peculiar good luck that we don't see the limits of
our minds," said Rowland. "We are young, compared with what we may one
day be. That belongs to youth; it is perhaps the best part of it. They
say that old people do find themselves at last face to face with a solid
blank wall, and stand thumping against it in vain. It resounds, it seems
to have something beyond it, but it won't move! That 's only a reason
for living with open doors as long as we can!"
"Open doors?" murmured Roderick. "Yes, let us close no doors that open
upon Rome. For this, for the mind, is eternal summer! But though my
doors may stand open to-day," he presently added, "I shall see no
visitors. I want to pause and breathe; I want to dream of a statue.
I have been working hard for three months; I have earned a right to a
Rowland, on his side, was not without provision for reflection, and
they lingered on in broken, desultory talk. Rowland felt the need for
intellectual rest, for a truce to present care for churches, statues,
and pictures, on even better grounds than his companion, inasmuch as
he had really been living Roderick's intellectual life the past three
months, as well as his own. As he looked back on these full-flavored
weeks, he drew a long breath of satisfaction, almost of relief.
Roderick, thus far, had justified his confidence and flattered his
perspicacity; he was rapidly unfolding into an ideal brilliancy. He was
changed even more than he himself suspected; he had stepped, without
faltering, into his birthright, and was spending money, intellectually,
as lavishly as a young heir who has just won an obstructive lawsuit.
Roderick's glance and voice were the same, doubtless, as when they
enlivened the summer dusk on Cecilia's veranda, but in his person,
generally, there was an indefinable expression of experience rapidly
and easily assimilated. Rowland had been struck at the outset with the
instinctive quickness of his observation and his free appropriation of
whatever might serve his purpose. He had not been, for instance, half
an hour on English soil before he perceived that he was dressed like
a rustic, and he had immediately reformed his toilet with the most
unerring tact. His appetite for novelty was insatiable, and for
everything characteristically foreign, as it presented itself, he had an
extravagant greeting; but in half an hour the novelty had faded, he had
guessed the secret, he had plucked out the heart of the mystery and was
clamoring for a keener sensation. At the end of a month, he presented,
mentally, a puzzling spectacle to his companion. He had caught,
instinctively, the key-note of the old world. He observed and enjoyed,
he criticised and rhapsodized, but though all things interested him and
many delighted him, none surprised him; he had divined their logic
and measured their proportions, and referred them infallibly to their
categories. Witnessing the rate at which he did intellectual execution
on the general spectacle of European life, Rowland at moments felt
vaguely uneasy for the future; the boy was living too fast, he would
have said, and giving alarming pledges to ennui in his later years. But
we must live as our pulses are timed, and Roderick's struck the hour
very often. He was, by imagination, though he never became in manner, a
natural man of the world; he had intuitively, as an artist, what one may
call the historic consciousness. He had a relish for social subtleties
and mysteries, and, in perception, when occasion offered him an inch he
never failed to take an ell. A single glimpse of a social situation of
the elder type enabled him to construct the whole, with all its complex
chiaroscuro, and Rowland more than once assured him that he made him
believe in the metempsychosis, and that he must have lived in European
society, in the last century, as a gentleman in a cocked hat and
brocaded waistcoat. Hudson asked Rowland questions which poor Rowland
was quite unable to answer, and of which he was equally unable to
conceive where he had picked up the data. Roderick ended by answering
them himself, tolerably to his satisfaction, and in a short time he
had almost turned the tables and become in their walks and talks the
accredited source of information. Rowland told him that when he turned
sculptor a capital novelist was spoiled, and that to match his eye for
social detail one would have to go to Honore de Balzac. In all this
Rowland took a generous pleasure; he felt an especial kindness for his
comrade's radiant youthfulness of temperament. He was so much younger
than he himself had ever been! And surely youth and genius, hand in
hand, were the most beautiful sight in the world. Roderick added to this
the charm of his more immediately personal qualities. The vivacity of
his perceptions, the audacity of his imagination, the picturesqueness
of his phrase when he was pleased,--and even more when he was
displeased,--his abounding good-humor, his candor, his unclouded
frankness, his unfailing impulse to share every emotion and impression
with his friend; all this made comradeship a pure felicity, and
interfused with a deeper amenity their long evening talks at cafe doors
in Italian towns.
They had gone almost immediately to Paris, and had spent their days at
the Louvre and their evenings at the theatre. Roderick was divided in
mind as to whether Titian or Mademoiselle Delaporte was the greater
artist. They had come down through France to Genoa and Milan, had spent
a fortnight in Venice and another in Florence, and had now been a month
in Rome. Roderick had said that he meant to spend three months in simply
looking, absorbing, and reflecting, without putting pencil to paper. He
looked indefatigably, and certainly saw great things--things greater,
doubtless, at times, than the intentions of the artist. And yet he made
few false steps and wasted little time in theories of what he ought to
like and to dislike. He judged instinctively and passionately, but
never vulgarly. At Venice, for a couple of days, he had half a fit of
melancholy over the pretended discovery that he had missed his way, and
that the only proper vestment of plastic conceptions was the coloring
of Titian and Paul Veronese. Then one morning the two young men had
themselves rowed out to Torcello, and Roderick lay back for a couple
of hours watching a brown-breasted gondolier making superb muscular
movements, in high relief, against the sky of the Adriatic, and at the
end jerked himself up with a violence that nearly swamped the gondola,
and declared that the only thing worth living for was to make a colossal
bronze and set it aloft in the light of a public square. In Rome his
first care was for the Vatican; he went there again and again. But the
old imperial and papal city altogether delighted him; only there he
really found what he had been looking for from the first--the complete
antipodes of Northampton. And indeed Rome is the natural home of those
spirits with which we just now claimed fellowship for Roderick--the
spirits with a deep relish for the artificial element in life and
the infinite superpositions of history. It is the immemorial city of
convention. The stagnant Roman air is charged with convention; it colors
the yellow light and deepens the chilly shadows. And in that still
recent day the most impressive convention in all history was visible to
men's eyes, in the Roman streets, erect in a gilded coach drawn by four
black horses. Roderick's first fortnight was a high aesthetic revel.
He declared that Rome made him feel and understand more things than
he could express: he was sure that life must have there, for all one's
senses, an incomparable fineness; that more interesting things must
happen to one than anywhere else. And he gave Rowland to understand that
he meant to live freely and largely, and be as interested as occasion
demanded. Rowland saw no reason to regard this as a menace of
dissipation, because, in the first place, there was in all dissipation,
refine it as one might, a grossness which would disqualify it for
Roderick's favor, and because, in the second, the young sculptor was
a man to regard all things in the light of his art, to hand over his
passions to his genius to be dealt with, and to find that he could live
largely enough without exceeding the circle of wholesome curiosity.
Rowland took immense satisfaction in his companion's deep impatience to
make something of all his impressions. Some of these indeed found their
way into a channel which did not lead to statues, but it was none the
less a safe one. He wrote frequent long letters to Miss Garland; when
Rowland went with him to post them he thought wistfully of the
fortune of the great loosely-written missives, which cost Roderick
unconscionable sums in postage. He received punctual answers of a more
frugal form, written in a clear, minute hand, on paper vexatiously thin.
If Rowland was present when they came, he turned away and thought of
other things--or tried to. These were the only moments when his
sympathy halted, and they were brief. For the rest he let the days go by
unprotestingly, and enjoyed Roderick's serene efflorescence as he would
have done a beautiful summer sunrise. Rome, for the past month, had been
delicious. The annual descent of the Goths had not yet begun, and sunny
leisure seemed to brood over the city.
Roderick had taken out a note-book and was roughly sketching a memento
of the great Juno. Suddenly there was a noise on the gravel, and the
young men, looking up, saw three persons advancing. One was a woman
of middle age, with a rather grand air and a great many furbelows. She
looked very hard at our friends as she passed, and glanced back over her
shoulder, as if to hasten the step of a young girl who slowly followed
her. She had such an expansive majesty of mien that Rowland supposed she
must have some proprietary right in the villa and was not just then in
a hospitable mood. Beside her walked a little elderly man, tightly
buttoned in a shabby black coat, but with a flower in his lappet, and a
pair of soiled light gloves. He was a grotesque-looking personage,
and might have passed for a gentleman of the old school, reduced by
adversity to playing cicerone to foreigners of distinction. He had a
little black eye which glittered like a diamond and rolled about like a
ball of quicksilver, and a white moustache, cut short and stiff, like a
worn-out brush. He was smiling with extreme urbanity, and talking in a
low, mellifluous voice to the lady, who evidently was not listening
to him. At a considerable distance behind this couple strolled a young
girl, apparently of about twenty. She was tall and slender, and dressed
with extreme elegance; she led by a cord a large poodle of the most
fantastic aspect. He was combed and decked like a ram for sacrifice; his
trunk and haunches were of the most transparent pink, his fleecy head
and shoulders as white as jeweler's cotton, and his tail and ears
ornamented with long blue ribbons. He stepped along stiffly and solemnly
beside his mistress, with an air of conscious elegance. There was
something at first slightly ridiculous in the sight of a young lady
gravely appended to an animal of these incongruous attributes, and
Roderick, with his customary frankness, greeted the spectacle with a
confident smile. The young girl perceived it and turned her face full
upon him, with a gaze intended apparently to enforce greater deference.
It was not deference, however, her face provoked, but startled,
submissive admiration; Roderick's smile fell dead, and he sat eagerly
staring. A pair of extraordinary dark blue eyes, a mass of dusky hair
over a low forehead, a blooming oval of perfect purity, a flexible
lip, just touched with disdain, the step and carriage of a tired
princess--these were the general features of his vision. The young lady
was walking slowly and letting her long dress rustle over the gravel;
the young men had time to see her distinctly before she averted her
face and went her way. She left a vague, sweet perfume behind her as she
"Immortal powers!" cried Roderick, "what a vision! In the name of
transcendent perfection, who is she?" He sprang up and stood looking
after her until she rounded a turn in the avenue. "What a movement, what
a manner, what a poise of the head! I wonder if she would sit to me."
"You had better go and ask her," said Rowland, laughing. "She is
certainly most beautiful."
"Beautiful? She 's beauty itself--she 's a revelation. I don't believe
she is living--she 's a phantasm, a vapor, an illusion!"
"The poodle," said Rowland, "is certainly alive."
"Nay, he too may be a grotesque phantom, like the black dog in Faust."
"I hope at least that the young lady has nothing in common with
Mephistopheles. She looked dangerous."
"If beauty is immoral, as people think at Northampton," said Roderick,
"she is the incarnation of evil. The mamma and the queer old gentleman,
moreover, are a pledge of her reality. Who are they all?"
"The Prince and Princess Ludovisi and the principessina," suggested
"There are no such people," said Roderick. "Besides, the little old man
is not the papa." Rowland smiled, wondering how he had ascertained
these facts, and the young sculptor went on. "The old man is a Roman, a
hanger-on of the mamma, a useful personage who now and then gets asked
to dinner. The ladies are foreigners, from some Northern country; I
won't say which."
"Perhaps from the State of Maine," said Rowland.
"No, she 's not an American, I 'll lay a wager on that. She 's a
daughter of this elder world. We shall see her again, I pray my stars;
but if we don't, I shall have done something I never expected to--I
shall have had a glimpse of ideal beauty." He sat down again and went
on with his sketch of the Juno, scrawled away for ten minutes, and then
handed the result in silence to Rowland. Rowland uttered an exclamation
of surprise and applause. The drawing represented the Juno as to the
position of the head, the brow, and the broad fillet across the hair;
but the eyes, the mouth, the physiognomy were a vivid portrait of
the young girl with the poodle. "I have been wanting a subject," said
Roderick: "there 's one made to my hand! And now for work!"
They saw no more of the young girl, though Roderick looked hopefully,
for some days, into the carriages on the Pincian. She had evidently been
but passing through Rome; Naples or Florence now happily possessed her,
and she was guiding her fleecy companion through the Villa Reale or the
Boboli Gardens with the same superb defiance of irony. Roderick went to
work and spent a month shut up in his studio; he had an idea, and he was
not to rest till he had embodied it. He had established himself in
the basement of a huge, dusky, dilapidated old house, in that long,
tortuous, and preeminently Roman street which leads from the Corso to
the Bridge of St. Angelo. The black archway which admitted you might
have served as the portal of the Augean stables, but you emerged
presently upon a mouldy little court, of which the fourth side was
formed by a narrow terrace, overhanging the Tiber. Here, along the
parapet, were stationed half a dozen shapeless fragments of sculpture,
with a couple of meagre orange-trees in terra-cotta tubs, and an
oleander that never flowered. The unclean, historic river swept beneath;
behind were dusky, reeking walls, spotted here and there with hanging
rags and flower-pots in windows; opposite, at a distance, were the bare
brown banks of the stream, the huge rotunda of St. Angelo, tipped with
its seraphic statue, the dome of St. Peter's, and the broad-topped pines
of the Villa Doria. The place was crumbling and shabby and melancholy,
but the river was delightful, the rent was a trifle, and everything was
picturesque. Roderick was in the best humor with his quarters from the
first, and was certain that the working mood there would be intenser
in an hour than in twenty years of Northampton. His studio was a huge,
empty room with a vaulted ceiling, covered with vague, dark traces of an
old fresco, which Rowland, when he spent an hour with his friend, used
to stare at vainly for some surviving coherence of floating draperies
and clasping arms. Roderick had lodged himself economically in the same
quarter. He occupied a fifth floor on the Ripetta, but he was only at
home to sleep, for when he was not at work he was either lounging in
Rowland's more luxurious rooms or strolling through streets and churches
Rowland had found a convenient corner in a stately old palace not far
from the Fountain of Trevi, and made himself a home to which books and
pictures and prints and odds and ends of curious furniture gave an air
of leisurely permanence. He had the tastes of a collector; he spent half
his afternoons ransacking the dusty magazines of the curiosity-mongers,
and often made his way, in quest of a prize, into the heart of
impecunious Roman households, which had been prevailed upon to
listen--with closed doors and an impenetrably wary smile--to proposals
for an hereditary "antique." In the evening, often, under the lamp,
amid dropped curtains and the scattered gleam of firelight upon polished
carvings and mellow paintings, the two friends sat with their heads
together, criticising intaglios and etchings, water-color drawings and
illuminated missals. Roderick's quick appreciation of every form of
artistic beauty reminded his companion of the flexible temperament of
those Italian artists of the sixteenth century who were indifferently
painters and sculptors, sonneteers and engravers. At times when he saw
how the young sculptor's day passed in a single sustained pulsation,
while his own was broken into a dozen conscious devices for disposing of
the hours, and intermingled with sighs, half suppressed, some of them,
for conscience' sake, over what he failed of in action and missed in
possession--he felt a pang of something akin to envy. But Rowland had
two substantial aids for giving patience the air of contentment: he
was an inquisitive reader and a passionate rider. He plunged into bulky
German octavos on Italian history, and he spent long afternoons in
the saddle, ranging over the grassy desolation of the Campagna. As the
season went on and the social groups began to constitute themselves, he
found that he knew a great many people and that he had easy opportunity
for knowing others. He enjoyed a quiet corner of a drawing-room beside
an agreeable woman, and although the machinery of what calls itself
society seemed to him to have many superfluous wheels, he accepted
invitations and made visits punctiliously, from the conviction that
the only way not to be overcome by the ridiculous side of most of such
observances is to take them with exaggerated gravity. He introduced
Roderick right and left, and suffered him to make his way himself--an
enterprise for which Roderick very soon displayed an all-sufficient
capacity. Wherever he went he made, not exactly what is called a
favorable impression, but what, from a practical point of view, is
better--a puzzling one. He took to evening parties as a duck to water,
and before the winter was half over was the most freely and frequently
discussed young man in the heterogeneous foreign colony. Rowland's
theory of his own duty was to let him run his course and play his
cards, only holding himself ready to point out shoals and pitfalls,
and administer a friendly propulsion through tight places. Roderick's
manners on the precincts of the Pincian were quite the same as his
manners on Cecilia's veranda: that is, they were no manners at all. But
it remained as true as before that it would have been impossible, on the
whole, to violate ceremony with less of lasting offense. He interrupted,
he contradicted, he spoke to people he had never seen, and left his
social creditors without the smallest conversational interest on their
loans; he lounged and yawned, he talked loud when he should have
talked low, and low when he should have talked loud. Many people, in
consequence, thought him insufferably conceited, and declared that he
ought to wait till he had something to show for his powers, before he
assumed the airs of a spoiled celebrity. But to Rowland and to most
friendly observers this judgment was quite beside the mark, and the
young man's undiluted naturalness was its own justification. He
was impulsive, spontaneous, sincere; there were so many people at
dinner-tables and in studios who were not, that it seemed worth while
to allow this rare specimen all possible freedom of action. If Roderick
took the words out of your mouth when you were just prepared to deliver
them with the most effective accent, he did it with a perfect good
conscience and with no pretension of a better right to being heard, but
simply because he was full to overflowing of his own momentary thought
and it sprang from his lips without asking leave. There were persons who
waited on your periods much more deferentially, who were a hundred
times more capable than Roderick of a reflective impertinence. Roderick
received from various sources, chiefly feminine, enough finely-adjusted
advice to have established him in life as an embodiment of the
proprieties, and he received it, as he afterwards listened to criticisms
on his statues, with unfaltering candor and good-humor. Here and there,
doubtless, as he went, he took in a reef in his sail; but he was too
adventurous a spirit to be successfully tamed, and he remained at
most points the florid, rather strident young Virginian whose serene
inflexibility had been the despair of Mr. Striker. All this was what
friendly commentators (still chiefly feminine) alluded to when they
spoke of his delightful freshness, and critics of harsher sensibilities
(of the other sex) when they denounced his damned impertinence. His
appearance enforced these impressions--his handsome face, his radiant,
unaverted eyes, his childish, unmodulated voice. Afterwards, when those
who loved him were in tears, there was something in all this unspotted
comeliness that seemed to lend a mockery to the causes of their sorrow.
Certainly, among the young men of genius who, for so many ages, have
gone up to Rome to test their powers, none ever made a fairer beginning
than Roderick. He rode his two horses at once with extraordinary good
fortune; he established the happiest modus vivendi betwixt work and
play. He wrestled all day with a mountain of clay in his studio, and
chattered half the night away in Roman drawing-rooms. It all seemed part
of a kind of divine facility. He was passionately interested, he was
feeling his powers; now that they had thoroughly kindled in the glowing
aesthetic atmosphere of Rome, the ardent young fellow should be pardoned
for believing that he never was to see the end of them. He enjoyed
immeasurably, after the chronic obstruction of home, the downright
act of production. He kept models in his studio till they dropped with
fatigue; he drew, on other days, at the Capitol and the Vatican, till
his own head swam with his eagerness, and his limbs stiffened with the
cold. He had promptly set up a life-sized figure which he called
an "Adam," and was pushing it rapidly toward completion. There were
naturally a great many wiseheads who smiled at his precipitancy, and
cited him as one more example of Yankee crudity, a capital recruit to
the great army of those who wish to dance before they can walk. They
were right, but Roderick was right too, for the success of his statue
was not to have been foreseen; it partook, really, of the miraculous. He
never surpassed it afterwards, and a good judge here and there has been
known to pronounce it the finest piece of sculpture of our modern
era. To Rowland it seemed to justify superbly his highest hopes of his
friend, and he said to himself that if he had invested his happiness
in fostering a genius, he ought now to be in possession of a boundless
complacency. There was something especially confident and masterly in
the artist's negligence of all such small picturesque accessories
as might serve to label his figure to a vulgar apprehension. If it
represented the father of the human race and the primal embodiment of
human sensation, it did so in virtue of its look of balanced physical
perfection, and deeply, eagerly sentient vitality. Rowland, in fraternal
zeal, traveled up to Carrara and selected at the quarries the most
magnificent block of marble he could find, and when it came down to
Rome, the two young men had a "celebration." They drove out to Albano,
breakfasted boisterously (in their respective measure) at the inn, and
lounged away the day in the sun on the top of Monte Cavo. Roderick's
head was full of ideas for other works, which he described with infinite
spirit and eloquence, as vividly as if they were ranged on their
pedestals before him. He had an indefatigable fancy; things he saw in
the streets, in the country, things he heard and read, effects he saw
just missed or half-expressed in the works of others, acted upon his
mind as a kind of challenge, and he was terribly restless until, in some
form or other, he had taken up the glove and set his lance in rest.
The Adam was put into marble, and all the world came to see it. Of the
criticisms passed upon it this history undertakes to offer no record;
over many of them the two young men had a daily laugh for a month, and
certain of the formulas of the connoisseurs, restrictive or indulgent,
furnished Roderick with a permanent supply of humorous catch-words. But
people enough spoke flattering good-sense to make Roderick feel as if
he were already half famous. The statue passed formally into Rowland's
possession, and was paid for as if an illustrious name had been chiseled
on the pedestal. Poor Roderick owed every franc of the money. It was not
for this, however, but because he was so gloriously in the mood, that,
denying himself all breathing-time, on the same day he had given the
last touch to the Adam, he began to shape the rough contour of an Eve.
This went forward with equal rapidity and success. Roderick lost his
temper, time and again, with his models, who offered but a gross,
degenerate image of his splendid ideal; but his ideal, as he assured
Rowland, became gradually such a fixed, vivid presence, that he had only
to shut his eyes to behold a creature far more to his purpose than
the poor girl who stood posturing at forty sous an hour. The Eve was
finished in a month, and the feat was extraordinary, as well as the
statue, which represented an admirably beautiful woman. When the spring
began to muffle the rugged old city with its clambering festoons, it
seemed to him that he had done a handsome winter's work and had fairly
earned a holiday. He took a liberal one, and lounged away the lovely
Roman May, doing nothing. He looked very contented; with himself,
perhaps, at times, a trifle too obviously. But who could have said
without good reason? He was "flushed with triumph;" this classic
phrase portrayed him, to Rowland's sense. He would lose himself in long
reveries, and emerge from them with a quickened smile and a heightened
color. Rowland grudged him none of his smiles, and took an extreme
satisfaction in his two statues. He had the Adam and the Eve transported
to his own apartment, and one warm evening in May he gave a little
dinner in honor of the artist. It was small, but Rowland had meant it
should be very agreeably composed. He thought over his friends and chose
four. They were all persons with whom he lived in a certain intimacy.
One of them was an American sculptor of French extraction, or remotely,
perhaps, of Italian, for he rejoiced in the somewhat fervid name of
Gloriani. He was a man of forty, he had been living for years in Paris
and in Rome, and he now drove a very pretty trade in sculpture of the
ornamental and fantastic sort. In his youth he had had money; but he
had spent it recklessly, much of it scandalously, and at twenty-six
had found himself obliged to make capital of his talent. This was quite
inimitable, and fifteen years of indefatigable exercise had brought
it to perfection. Rowland admitted its power, though it gave him very
little pleasure; what he relished in the man was the extraordinary
vivacity and frankness, not to call it the impudence, of his ideas. He
had a definite, practical scheme of art, and he knew at least what he
meant. In this sense he was solid and complete. There were so many of
the aesthetic fraternity who were floundering in unknown seas, without
a notion of which way their noses were turned, that Gloriani, conscious
and compact, unlimitedly intelligent and consummately clever, dogmatic
only as to his own duties, and at once gracefully deferential and
profoundly indifferent to those of others, had for Rowland a certain
intellectual refreshment quite independent of the character of his
works. These were considered by most people to belong to a very corrupt,
and by many to a positively indecent school. Others thought them
tremendously knowing, and paid enormous prices for them; and indeed, to
be able to point to one of Gloriani's figures in a shady corner of your
library was tolerable proof that you were not a fool. Corrupt things
they certainly were; in the line of sculpture they were quite the latest
fruit of time. It was the artist's opinion that there is no essential
difference between beauty and ugliness; that they overlap and
intermingle in a quite inextricable manner; that there is no saying
where one begins and the other ends; that hideousness grimaces at you
suddenly from out of the very bosom of loveliness, and beauty blooms
before your eyes in the lap of vileness; that it is a waste of wit to
nurse metaphysical distinctions, and a sadly meagre entertainment to
caress imaginary lines; that the thing to aim at is the expressive, and
the way to reach it is by ingenuity; that for this purpose everything
may serve, and that a consummate work is a sort of hotch-potch of the
pure and the impure, the graceful and the grotesque. Its prime duty is
to amuse, to puzzle, to fascinate, to savor of a complex imagination.
Gloriani's statues were florid and meretricious; they looked like
magnified goldsmith's work. They were extremely elegant, but they had no
charm for Rowland. He never bought one, but Gloriani was such an
honest fellow, and withal was so deluged with orders, that this made
no difference in their friendship. The artist might have passed for a
Frenchman. He was a great talker, and a very picturesque one; he was
almost bald; he had a small, bright eye, a broken nose, and a moustache
with waxed ends. When sometimes he received you at his lodging, he
introduced you to a lady with a plain face whom he called Madame
Gloriani--which she was not.
Rowland's second guest was also an artist, but of a very different type.
His friends called him Sam Singleton; he was an American, and he had
been in Rome a couple of years. He painted small landscapes, chiefly in
water-colors: Rowland had seen one of them in a shop window, had liked
it extremely, and, ascertaining his address, had gone to see him and
found him established in a very humble studio near the Piazza Barberini,
where, apparently, fame and fortune had not yet found him out. Rowland
took a fancy to him and bought several of his pictures; Singleton made
few speeches, but was grateful. Rowland heard afterwards that when he
first came to Rome he painted worthless daubs and gave no promise
of talent. Improvement had come, however, hand in hand with patient
industry, and his talent, though of a slender and delicate order, was
now incontestable. It was as yet but scantily recognized, and he had
hard work to live. Rowland hung his little water-colors on the parlor
wall, and found that, as he lived with them, he grew very fond of
them. Singleton was a diminutive, dwarfish personage; he looked like
a precocious child. He had a high, protuberant forehead, a transparent
brown eye, a perpetual smile, an extraordinary expression of modesty and
patience. He listened much more willingly than he talked, with a little
fixed, grateful grin; he blushed when he spoke, and always offered his
ideas in a sidelong fashion, as if the presumption were against them.
His modesty set them off, and they were eminently to the point. He was
so perfect an example of the little noiseless, laborious artist whom
chance, in the person of a moneyed patron, has never taken by the hand,
that Rowland would have liked to befriend him by stealth. Singleton had
expressed a fervent admiration for Roderick's productions, but had
not yet met the young master. Roderick was lounging against the
chimney-piece when he came in, and Rowland presently introduced him. The
little water-colorist stood with folded hands, blushing, smiling, and
looking up at him as if Roderick were himself a statue on a pedestal.
Singleton began to murmur something about his pleasure, his admiration;
the desire to make his compliment smoothly gave him a kind of grotesque
formalism. Roderick looked down at him surprised, and suddenly burst
into a laugh. Singleton paused a moment and then, with an intenser
smile, went on: "Well, sir, your statues are beautiful, all the same!"
Rowland's two other guests were ladies, and one of them, Miss Blanchard,
belonged also to the artistic fraternity. She was an American, she
was young, she was pretty, and she had made her way to Rome alone and
unaided. She lived alone, or with no other duenna than a bushy-browed
old serving-woman, though indeed she had a friendly neighbor in the
person of a certain Madame Grandoni, who in various social emergencies
lent her a protecting wing, and had come with her to Rowland's dinner.
Miss Blanchard had a little money, but she was not above selling her
pictures. These represented generally a bunch of dew-sprinkled roses,
with the dew-drops very highly finished, or else a wayside shrine, and
a peasant woman, with her back turned, kneeling before it. She did backs
very well, but she was a little weak in faces. Flowers, however, were
her speciality, and though her touch was a little old-fashioned and
finical, she painted them with remarkable skill. Her pictures were
chiefly bought by the English. Rowland had made her acquaintance early
in the winter, and as she kept a saddle horse and rode a great deal,
he had asked permission to be her cavalier. In this way they had become
almost intimate. Miss Blanchard's name was Augusta; she was slender,
pale, and elegant looking; she had a very pretty head and brilliant
auburn hair, which she braided with classical simplicity. She talked in
a sweet, soft voice, used language at times a trifle superfine, and made
literary allusions. These had often a patriotic strain, and Rowland had
more than once been irritated by her quotations from Mrs. Sigourney in
the cork-woods of Monte Mario, and from Mr. Willis among the ruins of
Veii. Rowland was of a dozen different minds about her, and was half
surprised, at times, to find himself treating it as a matter of serious
moment whether he liked her or not. He admired her, and indeed there
was something admirable in her combination of beauty and talent, of
isolation and tranquil self-support. He used sometimes to go into the
little, high-niched, ordinary room which served her as a studio, and
find her working at a panel six inches square, at an open casement,
profiled against the deep blue Roman sky. She received him with a
meek-eyed dignity that made her seem like a painted saint on a church
window, receiving the daylight in all her being. The breath of reproach
passed her by with folded wings. And yet Rowland wondered why he did not
like her better. If he failed, the reason was not far to seek. There was
another woman whom he liked better, an image in his heart which refused
to yield precedence.
On that evening to which allusion has been made, when Rowland was left
alone between the starlight and the waves with the sudden knowledge
that Mary Garland was to become another man's wife, he had made, after a
while, the simple resolution to forget her. And every day since, like a
famous philosopher who wished to abbreviate his mourning for a faithful
servant, he had said to himself in substance--"Remember to forget Mary
Garland." Sometimes it seemed as if he were succeeding; then, suddenly,
when he was least expecting it, he would find her name, inaudibly, on
his lips, and seem to see her eyes meeting his eyes. All this made him
uncomfortable, and seemed to portend a possible discord. Discord was not
to his taste; he shrank from imperious passions, and the idea of finding
himself jealous of an unsuspecting friend was absolutely repulsive. More
than ever, then, the path of duty was to forget Mary Garland, and he
cultivated oblivion, as we may say, in the person of Miss Blanchard. Her
fine temper, he said to himself, was a trifle cold and conscious, her
purity prudish, perhaps, her culture pedantic. But since he was obliged
to give up hopes of Mary Garland, Providence owed him a compensation,
and he had fits of angry sadness in which it seemed to him that to
attest his right to sentimental satisfaction he would be capable of
falling in love with a woman he absolutely detested, if she were the
best that came in his way. And what was the use, after all, of bothering
about a possible which was only, perhaps, a dream? Even if Mary Garland
had been free, what right had he to assume that he would have pleased
her? The actual was good enough. Miss Blanchard had beautiful hair, and
if she was a trifle old-maidish, there is nothing like matrimony for
Madame Grandoni, who had formed with the companion of Rowland's rides
an alliance which might have been called defensive on the part of the
former and attractive on that of Miss Blanchard, was an excessively ugly
old lady, highly esteemed in Roman society for her homely benevolence
and her shrewd and humorous good sense. She had been the widow of a
German archaeologist, who had come to Rome in the early ages as an
attache of the Prussian legation on the Capitoline. Her good sense had
been wanting on but a single occasion, that of her second marriage. This
occasion was certainly a momentous one, but these, by common consent,
are not test cases. A couple of years after her first husband's death,
she had accepted the hand and the name of a Neapolitan music-master, ten
years younger than herself, and with no fortune but his fiddle-bow. The
marriage was most unhappy, and the Maestro Grandoni was suspected of
using the fiddle-bow as an instrument of conjugal correction. He had
finally run off with a prima donna assoluta, who, it was to be hoped,
had given him a taste of the quality implied in her title. He was
believed to be living still, but he had shrunk to a small black spot
in Madame Grandoni's life, and for ten years she had not mentioned
his name. She wore a light flaxen wig, which was never very artfully
adjusted, but this mattered little, as she made no secret of it. She
used to say, "I was not always so ugly as this; as a young girl I had
beautiful golden hair, very much the color of my wig." She had worn
from time immemorial an old blue satin dress, and a white crape shawl
embroidered in colors; her appearance was ridiculous, but she had an
interminable Teutonic pedigree, and her manners, in every presence, were
easy and jovial, as became a lady whose ancestor had been cup-bearer
to Frederick Barbarossa. Thirty years' observation of Roman society had
sharpened her wits and given her an inexhaustible store of anecdotes,
but she had beneath her crumpled bodice a deep-welling fund of Teutonic
sentiment, which she communicated only to the objects of her particular
favor. Rowland had a great regard for her, and she repaid it by wishing
him to get married. She never saw him without whispering to him that
Augusta Blanchard was just the girl.
It seemed to Rowland a sort of foreshadowing of matrimony to see Miss
Blanchard standing gracefully on his hearth-rug and blooming behind
the central bouquet at his circular dinner-table. The dinner was very
prosperous and Roderick amply filled his position as hero of the feast.
He had always an air of buoyant enjoyment in his work, but on this
occasion he manifested a good deal of harmless pleasure in his glory.
He drank freely and talked bravely; he leaned back in his chair with
his hands in his pockets, and flung open the gates of his eloquence.
Singleton sat gazing and listening open-mouthed, as if Apollo in person
were talking. Gloriani showed a twinkle in his eye and an evident
disposition to draw Roderick out. Rowland was rather regretful, for
he knew that theory was not his friend's strong point, and that it was
never fair to take his measure from his talk.
"As you have begun with Adam and Eve," said Gloriani, "I suppose you are
going straight through the Bible." He was one of the persons who thought
Roderick delightfully fresh.
"I may make a David," said Roderick, "but I shall not try any more of
the Old Testament people. I don't like the Jews; I don't like pendulous
noses. David, the boy David, is rather an exception; you can think of
him and treat him as a young Greek. Standing forth there on the plain
of battle between the contending armies, rushing forward to let fly his
stone, he looks like a beautiful runner at the Olympic games. After that
I shall skip to the New Testament. I mean to make a Christ."
"You 'll put nothing of the Olympic games into him, I hope," said
"Oh, I shall make him very different from the Christ of tradition;
more--more"--and Roderick paused a moment to think. This was the first
that Rowland had heard of his Christ.
"More rationalistic, I suppose," suggested Miss Blanchard.
"More idealistic!" cried Roderick. "The perfection of form, you know, to
symbolize the perfection of spirit."
"For a companion piece," said Miss Blanchard, "you ought to make a
"Never! I mean never to make anything ugly. The Greeks never made
anything ugly, and I 'm a Hellenist; I 'm not a Hebraist! I have been
thinking lately of making a Cain, but I should never dream of making
him ugly. He should be a very handsome fellow, and he should lift up the
murderous club with the beautiful movement of the fighters in the Greek
friezes who are chopping at their enemies."
"There 's no use trying to be a Greek," said Gloriani. "If Phidias were
to come back, he would recommend you to give it up. I am half Italian
and half French, and, as a whole, a Yankee. What sort of a Greek should
I make? I think the Judas is a capital idea for a statue. Much obliged
to you, madame, for the suggestion. What an insidious little scoundrel
one might make of him, sitting there nursing his money-bag and his
treachery! There can be a great deal of expression in a pendulous nose,
my dear sir, especially when it is cast in green bronze."
"Very likely," said Roderick. "But it is not the sort of expression I
care for. I care only for perfect beauty. There it is, if you want to
know it! That 's as good a profession of faith as another. In future, so
far as my things are not positively beautiful, you may set them down as
failures. For me, it 's either that or nothing. It 's against the taste
of the day, I know; we have really lost the faculty to understand beauty
in the large, ideal way. We stand like a race with shrunken muscles,
staring helplessly at the weights our forefathers easily lifted. But I
don't hesitate to proclaim it--I mean to lift them again! I mean to go
in for big things; that 's my notion of my art. I mean to do things
that will be simple and vast and infinite. You 'll see if they won't be
infinite! Excuse me if I brag a little; all those Italian fellows in the
Renaissance used to brag. There was a sensation once common, I am sure,
in the human breast--a kind of religious awe in the presence of a marble
image newly created and expressing the human type in superhuman purity.
When Phidias and Praxiteles had their statues of goddesses unveiled in
the temples of the AEgean, don't you suppose there was a passionate
beating of hearts, a thrill of mysterious terror? I mean to bring it
back; I mean to thrill the world again! I mean to produce a Juno that
will make you tremble, a Venus that will make you swoon!"
"So that when we come and see you," said Madame Grandoni, "we must be
sure and bring our smelling-bottles. And pray have a few soft sofas
"Phidias and Praxiteles," Miss Blanchard remarked, "had the advantage
of believing in their goddesses. I insist on believing, for myself, that
the pagan mythology is not a fiction, and that Venus and Juno and Apollo
and Mercury used to come down in a cloud into this very city of Rome
where we sit talking nineteenth century English."
"Nineteenth century nonsense, my dear!" cried Madame Grandoni. "Mr.
Hudson may be a new Phidias, but Venus and Juno--that 's you and
I--arrived to-day in a very dirty cab; and were cheated by the driver,
"But, my dear fellow," objected Gloriani, "you don't mean to say you
are going to make over in cold blood those poor old exploded Apollos and
"It won't matter what you call them," said Roderick. "They shall be
simply divine forms. They shall be Beauty; they shall be Wisdom; they
shall be Power; they shall be Genius; they shall be Daring. That 's all
the Greek divinities were."
"That 's rather abstract, you know," said Miss Blanchard.
"My dear fellow," cried Gloriani, "you 're delightfully young."
"I hope you 'll not grow any older," said Singleton, with a flush of
sympathy across his large white forehead. "You can do it if you try."
"Then there are all the Forces and Mysteries and Elements of Nature,"
Roderick went on. "I mean to do the Morning; I mean to do the Night! I
mean to do the Ocean and the Mountains; the Moon and the West Wind. I
mean to make a magnificent statue of America!"
"America--the Mountains--the Moon!" said Gloriani. "You 'll find it
rather hard, I 'm afraid, to compress such subjects into classic forms."
"Oh, there 's a way," cried Roderick, "and I shall think it out. My
figures shall make no contortions, but they shall mean a tremendous
"I 'm sure there are contortions enough in Michael Angelo," said Madame
Grandoni. "Perhaps you don't approve of him."
"Oh, Michael Angelo was not me!" said Roderick, with sublimity. There
was a great laugh; but after all, Roderick had done some fine things.
Rowland had bidden one of the servants bring him a small portfolio of
prints, and had taken out a photograph of Roderick's little statue of
the youth drinking. It pleased him to see his friend sitting there
in radiant ardor, defending idealism against so knowing an apostle of
corruption as Gloriani, and he wished to help the elder artist to be
confuted. He silently handed him the photograph.
"Bless me!" cried Gloriani, "did he do this?"
"Ages ago," said Roderick.
Gloriani looked at the photograph a long time, with evident admiration.
"It 's deucedly pretty," he said at last. "But, my dear young friend,
you can't keep this up."
"I shall do better," said Roderick.
"You will do worse! You will become weak. You will have to take to
violence, to contortions, to romanticism, in self-defense. This sort
of thing is like a man trying to lift himself up by the seat of his
trousers. He may stand on tiptoe, but he can't do more. Here you stand
on tiptoe, very gracefully, I admit; but you can't fly; there 's no use
"My 'America' shall answer you!" said Roderick, shaking toward him a
tall glass of champagne and drinking it down.
Singleton had taken the photograph and was poring over it with a little
murmur of delight.
"Was this done in America?" he asked.
"In a square white wooden house at Northampton, Massachusetts," Roderick
"Dear old white wooden houses!" said Miss Blanchard.
"If you could do as well as this there," said Singleton, blushing and
smiling, "one might say that really you had only to lose by coming to
"Mallet is to blame for that," said Roderick. "But I am willing to risk
The photograph had been passed to Madame Grandoni. "It reminds me," she
said, "of the things a young man used to do whom I knew years ago, when
I first came to Rome. He was a German, a pupil of Overbeck and a votary
of spiritual art. He used to wear a black velvet tunic and a very low
shirt collar; he had a neck like a sickly crane, and let his hair grow
down to his shoulders. His name was Herr Schafgans. He never painted
anything so profane as a man taking a drink, but his figures were all
of the simple and slender and angular pattern, and nothing if not
innocent--like this one of yours. He would not have agreed with Gloriani
any more than you. He used to come and see me very often, and in those
days I thought his tunic and his long neck infallible symptoms of
genius. His talk was all of gilded aureoles and beatific visions; he
lived on weak wine and biscuits, and wore a lock of Saint Somebody's
hair in a little bag round his neck. If he was not a Beato Angelico, it
was not his own fault. I hope with all my heart that Mr. Hudson will do
the fine things he talks about, but he must bear in mind the history of
dear Mr. Schafgans as a warning against high-flown pretensions. One fine
day this poor young man fell in love with a Roman model, though she
had never sat to him, I believe, for she was a buxom, bold-faced,
high-colored creature, and he painted none but pale, sickly women. He
offered to marry her, and she looked at him from head to foot, gave a
shrug, and consented. But he was ashamed to set up his menage in Rome.
They went to Naples, and there, a couple of years afterwards, I saw him.
The poor fellow was ruined. His wife used to beat him, and he had taken
to drinking. He wore a ragged black coat, and he had a blotchy, red
face. Madame had turned washerwoman and used to make him go and fetch
the dirty linen. His talent had gone heaven knows where! He was getting
his living by painting views of Vesuvius in eruption on the little boxes
they sell at Sorrento."
"Moral: don't fall in love with a buxom Roman model," said Roderick. "I
'm much obliged to you for your story, but I don't mean to fall in love
with any one."
Gloriani had possessed himself of the photograph again, and was looking
at it curiously. "It 's a happy bit of youth," he said. "But you can't
keep it up--you can't keep it up!"
The two sculptors pursued their discussion after dinner, in the
drawing-room. Rowland left them to have it out in a corner, where
Roderick's Eve stood over them in the shaded lamplight, in vague white
beauty, like the guardian angel of the young idealist. Singleton was
listening to Madame Grandoni, and Rowland took his place on the sofa,
near Miss Blanchard. They had a good deal of familiar, desultory talk.
Every now and then Madame Grandoni looked round at them. Miss Blanchard
at last asked Rowland certain questions about Roderick: who he was,
where he came from, whether it was true, as she had heard, that Rowland
had discovered him and brought him out at his own expense. Rowland
answered her questions; to the last he gave a vague affirmative.
Finally, after a pause, looking at him, "You 're very generous," Miss
Blanchard said. The declaration was made with a certain richness of
tone, but it brought to Rowland's sense neither delight nor confusion.
He had heard the words before; he suddenly remembered the grave
sincerity with which Miss Garland had uttered them as he strolled with
her in the woods the day of Roderick's picnic. They had pleased him
then; now he asked Miss Blanchard whether she would have some tea.
When the two ladies withdrew, he attended them to their carriage. Coming
back to the drawing-room, he paused outside the open door; he was
struck by the group formed by the three men. They were standing before
Roderick's statue of Eve, and the young sculptor had lifted up the lamp
and was showing different parts of it to his companions. He was talking
ardently, and the lamplight covered his head and face. Rowland stood
looking on, for the group struck him with its picturesque symbolism.
Roderick, bearing the lamp and glowing in its radiant circle, seemed
the beautiful image of a genius which combined sincerity with power.
Gloriani, with his head on one side, pulling his long moustache and
looking keenly from half-closed eyes at the lighted marble, represented
art with a worldly motive, skill unleavened by faith, the mere base
maximum of cleverness. Poor little Singleton, on the other side, with
his hands behind him, his head thrown back, and his eyes following
devoutly the course of Roderick's elucidation, might pass for an
embodiment of aspiring candor, with feeble wings to rise on. In all
this, Roderick's was certainly the beau role.
Gloriani turned to Rowland as he came up, and pointed back with his
thumb to the statue, with a smile half sardonic, half good-natured. "A
pretty thing--a devilish pretty thing," he said. "It 's as fresh as the
foam in the milk-pail. He can do it once, he can do it twice, he can do
it at a stretch half a dozen times. But--but--"
He was returning to his former refrain, but Rowland intercepted him.
"Oh, he will keep it up," he said, smiling, "I will answer for him."
Gloriani was not encouraging, but Roderick had listened smiling. He
was floating unperturbed on the tide of his deep self-confidence. Now,
suddenly, however, he turned with a flash of irritation in his eye, and
demanded in a ringing voice, "In a word, then, you prophesy that I am to
Gloriani answered imperturbably, patting him kindly on the shoulder. "My
dear fellow, passion burns out, inspiration runs to seed. Some fine day
every artist finds himself sitting face to face with his lump of clay,
with his empty canvas, with his sheet of blank paper, waiting in vain
for the revelation to be made, for the Muse to descend. He must learn
to do without the Muse! When the fickle jade forgets the way to your
studio, don't waste any time in tearing your hair and meditating on
suicide. Come round and see me, and I will show you how to console
"If I break down," said Roderick, passionately, "I shall stay down.
If the Muse deserts me, she shall at least have her infidelity on her
"You have no business," Rowland said to Gloriani, "to talk lightly of
the Muse in this company. Mr. Singleton, too, has received pledges from
her which place her constancy beyond suspicion." And he pointed out on
the wall, near by, two small landscapes by the modest water-colorist.
The sculptor examined them with deference, and Singleton himself began
to laugh nervously; he was trembling with hope that the great
Gloriani would be pleased. "Yes, these are fresh too," Gloriani said;
"extraordinarily fresh! How old are you?"
"Twenty-six, sir," said Singleton.
"For twenty-six they are famously fresh. They must have taken you a long
time; you work slowly."
"Yes, unfortunately, I work very slowly. One of them took me six weeks,
the other two months."
"Upon my word! The Muse pays you long visits." And Gloriani turned
and looked, from head to foot, at so unlikely an object of her favors.
Singleton smiled and began to wipe his forehead very hard. "Oh, you!"
said the sculptor; "you 'll keep it up!"
A week after his dinner-party, Rowland went into Roderick's studio and
found him sitting before an unfinished piece of work, with a hanging
head and a heavy eye. He could have fancied that the fatal hour foretold
by Gloriani had struck. Roderick rose with a sombre yawn and flung down
his tools. "It 's no use," he said, "I give it up!"
"What is it?"
"I have struck a shallow! I have been sailing bravely, but for the last
day or two my keel has been crunching the bottom."
"A difficult place?" Rowland asked, with a sympathetic inflection,
looking vaguely at the roughly modeled figure.
"Oh, it 's not the poor clay!" Roderick answered. "The difficult place
is here!" And he struck a blow on his heart. "I don't know what 's the
matter with me. Nothing comes; all of a sudden I hate things. My old
things look ugly; everything looks stupid."
Rowland was perplexed. He was in the situation of a man who has been
riding a blood horse at an even, elastic gallop, and of a sudden feels
him stumble and balk. As yet, he reflected, he had seen nothing but the
sunshine of genius; he had forgotten that it has its storms. Of course
it had! And he felt a flood of comradeship rise in his heart which would
float them both safely through the worst weather. "Why, you 're tired!"
he said. "Of course you 're tired. You have a right to be!"
"Do you think I have a right to be?" Roderick asked, looking at him.
"Unquestionably, after all you have done."
"Well, then, right or wrong, I am tired. I certainly have done a fair
winter's work. I want a change."
Rowland declared that it was certainly high time they should be leaving
Rome. They would go north and travel. They would go to Switzerland, to
Germany, to Holland, to England. Roderick assented, his eye brightened,
and Rowland talked of a dozen things they might do. Roderick walked up
and down; he seemed to have something to say which he hesitated to bring
out. He hesitated so rarely that Rowland wondered, and at last asked him
what was on his mind. Roderick stopped before him, frowning a little.
"I have such unbounded faith in your good-will," he said, "that I
believe nothing I can say would offend you."
"Try it," said Rowland.
"Well, then, I think my journey will do me more good if I take it alone.
I need n't say I prefer your society to that of any man living. For the
last six months it has been everything to me. But I have a perpetual
feeling that you are expecting something of me, that you are measuring
my doings by a terrifically high standard. You are watching me; I don't
want to be watched. I want to go my own way; to work when I choose and
to loaf when I choose. It is not that I don't know what I owe you; it
is not that we are not friends. It is simply that I want a taste of
absolutely unrestricted freedom. Therefore, I say, let us separate."
Rowland shook him by the hand. "Willingly. Do as you desire, I shall
miss you, and I venture to believe you 'll pass some lonely hours. But I
have only one request to make: that if you get into trouble of any kind
whatever, you will immediately let me know."
They began their journey, however, together, and crossed the Alps
side by side, muffled in one rug, on the top of the St. Gothard coach.
Rowland was going to England to pay some promised visits; his companion
had no plan save to ramble through Switzerland and Germany as fancy
guided him. He had money, now, that would outlast the summer; when
it was spent he would come back to Rome and make another statue. At
a little mountain village by the way, Roderick declared that he would
stop; he would scramble about a little in the high places and doze in
the shade of the pine forests. The coach was changing horses; the two
young men walked along the village street, picking their way between
dunghills, breathing the light, cool air, and listening to the plash of
the fountain and the tinkle of cattle-bells. The coach overtook them,
and then Rowland, as he prepared to mount, felt an almost overmastering
"Say the word," he exclaimed, "and I will stop too."
Roderick frowned. "Ah, you don't trust me; you don't think I 'm able
to take care of myself. That proves that I was right in feeling as if I
"Watched, my dear fellow!" said Rowland. "I hope you may never have
anything worse to complain of than being watched in the spirit in which
I watch you. But I will spare you even that. Good-by!" Standing in his
place, as the coach rolled away, he looked back at his friend lingering
by the roadside. A great snow-mountain, behind Roderick, was beginning
to turn pink in the sunset. The young man waved his hat, still looking
grave. Rowland settled himself in his place, reflecting after all that
this was a salubrious beginning of independence. He was among forests
and glaciers, leaning on the pure bosom of nature. And then--and
then--was it not in itself a guarantee against folly to be engaged to