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Miss Bretherton

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ACTHOBOF "ROBEET KLSMEEE." ' [ OOMTIKUED.] "Miss Brethvrton listened toand laughedat it all, flnding her way througb the crowd of unfamiliar ñames and allusions with a wman's cleveruess, looking adorable alt the time in a cloak of some brown velvet stuff, and a large bat also of brown velvet. She has a beautif ui hand, fine and delicate, not specially smal), but full of eharacter; it was pleasant to watch it playing with herorange, or smoothing back every now and then the rebellious locks which will stray, do what she will, beyónd the boundaries assigned to them. Presently W allace was ill advised enough to ask her which picturea she had liked the best at the Private View ; she replied by picking out a ball room scène at Fort h's and an unutterable mawkish thing of Halford's- a troubadour in a pink dressing gown, gracefully lntertwined witb violet scarfs, singing to a party of robust youug women in a 'light which never was on sea or land.' You could count all the figure inthefirst,' she said, 'it was so lifelike; real;' and then Halford was romantic, the picture was pretty , and sbe liked it. I looked at Forbes with sotne amusement; it was gratifying, remembering the rodomontade with which Wallace and I bad been crushed on the night of the 'White Lady' to see him wlnce under Miss Bretherton's liking of the worst art in Englandl Is the critical spirit worth aometbing, or is it traperfluooa in tbsatrteal matters and only indispensable lo mattere of painting I thlnk be caught the challenge in my ye, f or he eridently feit himself in so-ae little difflculty. " 'Oh, you couldn't,' he said, with a groan, yon couldn't like tht ball room- and that troubadour, heaven forgive usl Well, there must be something in it- there must be something tn it, if it really gives you pleasure - I dare say there is; we're so confoundedly upplsh in the way we look at things. If either of them had a partiële of drawing or a scrap Of taste, if both of them weren't as bare as a broomstick of the least vestige of gift, or any suspicion of knowledge, there might be a good deal to say for theml Only, my dear Miss Bretherton, you see it's really not a matter of opinión ; I assure you it isn't. I could prove to you as plain as two and two raake four, that Halford's figures don't join in the middle, and that Forth's men and women are as flat as my hand - there isn't a back among theml And then the taste, and the color, and the claptrap idiocy of the sentiment! No, I don't tbink I can stand it I amall forpeople getting enjoyment where they can,' with a deflant look at me, 'and snapping their lingera at the critics. But one must draw the line somewhere. There' some art that's out of oöurt from the beginning.' "I couldn't resist it. " 'Don't listen to him, Miss Bretherton,' I cried. 'If I were you I wouldn't let him spoil your pleasure. The groat t hing is to feel; defencl your feelin;; ogainst him! It's worth more than this criticisin.' "Forbes' eyes looked laughing daggers at me from under his shaggy white brows. Mrs. Stuart and Wallace kopt their countenances to perf ection ; but I had him, there's no j deaying it. " 'Oh, I know nothiug about it,' said Icabel Bretherton, divinely uneouscious of the little skirmiah going on around her. 'You must teach me, Mr. Forbes. 1 only know what touches me, what I like - that's all I know in any thing.' 'ït's all we any of us know,' said Wallace, airily. 'We begin with "I like" and ''I don't like," then we begin to be proud and make distinctions and flnd reasons; but the thing beats as, and we come back in the end to "I like" and "I don't like." ■ "The lunch over, we strolled out along the comraon, through heather which as yet was a mere brown expanso of flowerless undergrowth and copes which overhead were a oanopy of golden oak leaf and carpeted undernaath with primroses and the young npcurling bracken. Presently through a little wood we carne upon a pond lying wide and blue before us under the breezy May sky, its shoros fringed with scented fir wood and the whole air alive with birds. We sat down under a pile of logs fresh cut and f ragraut and talked away vigorously. It was a little diflicult of ten tokeep the conversation on Unes which did not exclude Miss Bretherton. Forbes, the Stuarts, Wallace and I aro accustomed to be togetber, and one never realizes wbat a Freemasonry the intercourse even of a capital is until one tries to introduce an outsider into it. We talked the theatre, of conree; the ways of different actors, the fortunes of managers. Isabel Bretherton naturally bas as yet seen very little; her comtnents were mainly personal and all of a friendly, entbusiastic kind, for the profession has been very cordial to her. A month or flve weeks more and her engagement at the Calliope will be over. There are other theatres open to her, of course, and all the managers are at her f eet; but she has set her heart upon going abroad for some time, and bas, I imagine, made so much money this season that the family cannot in deceney object to her haring her own way. 'I am wild to get to Italy ,' she said to me in her emphatic, impetuous way. 'Sir Walter Rutherford has talked to me so much about it tbat I am bezinning to dream of it. I long to bave done with London and be off I This English snn Beems to me so chilly,' and she drew her winter cloak about her with a little shiver, although the day was really an English summer day, and Mrs. Stuart was in cotton. 'I carne trom such warmth, and I loved it I have been making acquaintance with all sorts of horrors srnce I carne to London - face ache and rheumatism and colds - I scareely knew there were such things in tho world And I never knew what it was to be tired before. Sometimes I can hardly drag throngh my work. I bate it so; it makes me cross liko a naughty child!' " 'Do you know,' I said, flinging myself down beside her on the grass and looking np ït her, that it's altogetber wrong! Nature never meant you to feel tired; it's monitrous, it's against the natural order of íbingsl' ' -It's London,' she said with her little sigh and the drooping lid that is so prettily pathetic, 'I have the roar in my ears all day, and it seems to be humming through my ■leep at night. And then the crowd, and the hurry people are in, and the quickness and tharpness of thingsl But I have only a few weeks more,' shs added, brightening, 'and then by October I shall be more used to Europa- the climate and the lif e.' "I am much impressed, and so is Mrs. Stuart, by the struegle her nervous strength (i making against London. AU my nursIng of you, Marie, and of your mother ha taugbt me to notice these things In women, and I flnd myself taking often arery pbysical and medical view of Miss Bretherton. You see, it is a case of a northern temperament and constitution relaxed by tropial conditions, and then exposed once more in an eiceptiona! degree to the stram and (tressof northern lif e. I rage whon I thiak of ach a ploce of physical excellence marred anddimmedby ourhanh Englih {ruggle. And áll Tor wnac' Kor a comindnplace, tnake believe art, vulgarizing in the long run both to the artist and tae public! . There is a sensa of tragic want about it. Suppose London destroys her Uea tli - there are socie rigns of it - what a futile, ironical pathos there would be in it. I long to step in, to 'have at' somebody, to stop it. "A little incident later on threw a curious light upon her. We had moved on to the other sid of the pond and wero basking in the fir wood. The af ternoon sun was I ing through the branches on to the bosom of the pond; a spiend id Scotch flr just beside us tossêd out its red limbed branches over a great bed of green reeds, starred here and there with yellow irises. The woman from the keeper's cottage near had brought us out ■ome tea, and most of us had fallen into a Bybaritic f ram of mind in which talk seemed to be a burdeD on the silence and easeful peace of the scène. Suddenly Wallace and Forbes feil upon the questiou of Balzac, of whom Wallac has been making a study lately , and we. e soon landed in a discussion of Balzac's othod of character drawing. Are Eugene da Kastignae, Le Pere Goriot and oíd Graciet real beings or mere incarnations of qual '. ties, mathematical deductions from a given j. int? At last I was drawn in, and the StuarU. ; Stuart has trained his wife In Balzac, and she has a dry, original way oí judging a no. el, which ia stimulating and keeps the ball olling. It was the first time that the talk h d not centered in one way or another arou..d Miss Bretherton, who, of course, was first consideration throughout the da; in all our mind. We gre w vehement and f o. etful tiil at laat a little movement of hers Üverted the general current. She had taken off her nat and was leaning back against the oak under which sh nat, watching with parted lips and a gaze of th purest deligbt and wonder the movements of a nut hatcb overhead, a creaturo of the woodpecker kimi, with delicate purple gray plumage, who was tapping the branch abore her for insects with his large disproportionate bill, and then skimming along to a sand bank a little distance off, where he disappeared with his prey into his nest. " 'Hal' said Wallaco, who is a bird lover, 'a truco to Balzac, and let us watch those nut hatchesl Miss Bretherton's quite right to prefer them to French novéis.' " 'French novéis I' she said, withdrawing her eyes from the branch above her and frowning % little at Wallace as she spoke. 'Please dau't expect me to talk about them. I know nothing about them - I have never wished to.' "Her voice had a tone almost of hauteur in it. I have noticed it bef ore. It is the tone of the famous actxess acccustozned to believe In herself and her own opinión. I connected it, too, with all one hears of her determination to look upon herself aa cb&rged with a mission for the reform of stage moráis. French novéis end French ac'-esses! Apparently she regards them all as o uw: v unknown horrors standing in the way of the puriflcatioQ of dramatic art by a beautiful young person with a high Standard of duty. It is very oddl Evidently she is the Scotch Presbyterian's daughter still, for all her prof ession and her success and her easy way s with the Sabbathl Her remar k produced a good deal of unregenerate irritation in me. If she wero a flrst rate artist to begin with, I was inclined to reflect, this moral enthusiasm would touch and charm one a good deal more; as it is, considering her position, it is rather putting the cart before the horse. But, of course, one can understand that it is just these traits in her that help her to make the impression she does on bondon society and the orthodox publio in general. "Wallace and I went off after the nut hatches, enjoying a private laugh by the way over Mrs. Stuart's little look of amazement and discomfort as Miss Bretherton delivered herself. When we came back we f ound Forbes skehing her - she sitting rather flushed and silent under the tree, and he drawing away and working himself at every stroke into a greater and ereater enthusiasmAnd certainly she was as beautiful a a dream, sitting against that tree, with the brown heather about her and the young oak leaves over head. But I returned in an antagonistic frame of mind, a little out of patience with her and her beauty, and wondering why natura always blunders somewhere! "However, on the way home she had another and a pleasanter surprise for me. A carriage was wniting for us on the main road and we strolled towards it through the gorse and the trees and the rich level evening lights. 1 drop.ped behind for some primroses still lingering in bloom beside a little brook; she strayed, too, and we were together, out of ear shot of the rest. " 'Mr. Kendal,' she said, looking straight at me, as 1 handod the flowers to her, 'you may have misuuderstood something just now. I don't want to pretend to what I haven't KQt I don't know French, and X Táh't reacf French novéis if I winbwl to ever o much.' "What tTHü I tosayi She stood looking ai m seriously, n littlo proudly, haring ease I her conscience, as it seemed to me, at some cost to herself. I felt at flrst inclined to turn the thiug off with a jest, but suddenl v I thought to raydelf that I too could speak my tnind. " 'Wel],' I said, deliberately, walking on boside her, 'you lose a good deaL Theru are hoste of French novéis which I would rather not seo a woman touch with the tips of her fingere; but there are others which takeone into a bigger world than we English people, with our parochial ways of writlng and seeing, have any notion of. Oaorge Sand carries you full into the mid Ëuropean streani - you feel it flowing, you ar brought into contact with all the great ideas, all the big interests; she is an education in herself. And then Balzae! he has toch a range and breadth, ha teaches one so much of humau nature, and with such conscience, such forco of representa tionl It's the une with thelr novéis as with their thealre. Whatever other faults he may hare, a fint rate Frenehman of tbe artistic sort takes more pains over his work than anybody else in the world. They don't shirk, they throw their life blood into it, whether lt's acting, or painting, or writing. You've never seen Desforots, I think?- no, of oourse not, and you will be gone before sha comes agaiti. Whatapityl' "Miss Bretberton plcksd one of my primroses ruthlessly to piecea and flung it away from her witb one of her nervoos ge&tures. 'I am not orry,' she said. 'ííothing would have Induced me to go and we her.' " 'Indeedl' I said, waiting a little curiously for wuat she would say nezt. " 'It's not that I am jealous of her,1 she exdalmed, withaquick, proad look t me; 'not that I don't believe she's a graat actress; bnt I can't separate her acting from what she is herself. It is women lika that who bring discrodit on the whole prof ession - it is women like that who make people think that no good woman can be an actress. I resent it, and I mean to tako the other line. I want to prove, if I can, that a woman may ba an actress and still be a lady, still be treated just as yon treat the women you know and respect! I mean to prove that there need never be a word breathed against her, that she is anybody 's equal, and that her private life is her own and not the public's. It makes my blood boil to hear the way people- especially men- talk abont Mme. Desforets; there is not one of you who would let y our wTTd of yöür sister naae bands with her, and yet you rave about her; how you talk as if there were nothing in the world bat genius - and French genius!' "It struck me that I had got to something very much below the surf aco in Miss Bretherton. It was a curious outburst ; I remember how of ten her critici had compared her to Desforets, greatly to her disadvantage. Was Vl''i "nmpionship of virtue quite genuinoorwasn maiOly tl belt ineens of def ending berself against a rivai bj he help of British respectabllity! " 'Mme. Desíoreto,' I said, perhaps a lítMe dryly, 'is a riddle to her bast friendo, and probably to herself; ah does a thousand wild, imprndent, bad things if you will, bnt she is the greatest actress the modern world has seen, and that's something to have done for your generation. To have moved the feelings and widened the knowledge of thousands by such delicate, such marvelous, sueh conscientious work as hers - that is an achievement so great, so masterly that I for one will throw no stones at hert' "It seemed to me all through as though I werespeaking perversely; 1 could have argued on the other side as passionately as Isabel Bretherton herself, bat I was thinking of her dialogue with the Prince, of that feeble, hysterical death scène, and it irritated me that she, with her beauty, and with British Philistinism and British virtue to back her, should be trampling on Desforete ni genii Bot I u conscioos of my audacity. If a certam cambei of critics havo been pL&in spoken, Isabel Bretherton has none the leas been surrounded for months past with people wbo have impressed apon her that the modern theatre is a very [ TO BB COMTINUKD.


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