He carried himself like a cavalier, but the divine flame of artkindled in his eye. He had learned how to paint in Julien's studio,and that same school had taught him to despise convention. He lookedon nature as a series of exquisite pictures, and regarded men andwomen in the mass as creatures that occasionally fitted into thelandscape. He was heart whole and fancy free. At twenty-five he hadalready exhibited three times in the Salon, and was spoken of by thecritics as a painter of much promise, which is the critical method ofwaiting to see how the cat jumps when an artist of genius andoriginality arrests attention.
Trenholme, of course, was surprised, since he was paying the man arare compliment; he had expressed in the inn his full and free opinion[Pg 8]concerning all money grubbers, and the Fenley species thereof inparticular; whereupon the stout Eliza, who classed the Fenley familyas "rubbish," informed him that there was a right of way through thepark, and that from a certain point near a lake he could sketch thegrand old manor house to his heart's content, let the Fenleys andtheir keepers scowl as they chose.
"Mr. Fenley was shot dead on his own doorstep," continued Eliza. Shegave proper emphasis to the concluding words. That a man should bemurdered "on his own doorstep" was a feature of the crime thatenhanced the tragedy in the public mind. The shooting was bad enoughin itself, for rural England is happily free from such horrors; butswift and brutal death dealt out on one's own doorstep was a thing atonce monstrous and awe-compelling. [Pg 118]Eliza, perhaps, wondered why Mr.Trenholme flushed, but she fully understood the sudden blanching ofhis face at her tidings, for all Roxton was shaken to its foundationswhen the facts slowly percolated in that direction.
Eileen Garth was "tall and slim," "good-looking, but rather snappy."Well, twenty years ago, the description would have applied to thewoman he had just seen. Her voice, heard under admittedly adverseconditions, was correct in accent and fairly cultured. Before theworld had hardened it its tones might have been soft and dulcet. Butabove all, there was the presumable discovery that Eileen Garth was asdecidedly opposed as Robert Fenley to full and free discussion of thatmorning's crime.
"Don't hesitate if I bid you throw yourself down at full length," hesaid, unconsciously stroking Sylvia's hair with his free hand. "In aminute or two we'll make for the avenue. Meanwhile, let us listen. Ifany one is coming in this direction we ought to hear him, andforewarned is forearmed." 2b1af7f3a8