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 It was a gay scene over at the art school next morning. Even before the accustomed hour the big barnlike room, with a few prize pictures of former classes scattered1 about the walls, and with the old academy easels standing2 about like a caravan3 of patient camels ever loaded with new burdens but ever traveling the same ancient sands of art—even before nine o'clock the barnlike room presented a scene of eager healthy animal spirits. On the easel of every youthful worker, nearly finished, lay the portrait of the mother. In every case it had been differently done, inadequately4 done; but in all cases it had been done. Hardly could any observer have failed to recognize what was there depicted5. Beyond smearings and daubings of paint, as past the edges of concealing7 clouds, one caught glimpses of a serene8 and steadfast9 human radiance. There one beheld10 the familiar image of that orb11 which in dark and pathless hours has through all ages been the guardian12 light of the world—the mother.  
The best in them had gone into the painting of this portrait, and the consciousness of our best gives us the sense of our power, and the consciousness of our power yields us our enthusiasm; hence the exhilaration and energy of the studio scene.
The interest of the members of the class was not concerned solely13 with the portrait, however: a larger share went to the model herself. They had become strongly bound to her. All the more perhaps because she held them firmly to the understanding that her life touched theirs only at the point of the stranger in need of a small sum of money. Repulsed14 and baffled in their wish to know her better, they nevertheless became aware that she was undergoing a wonderful transformation15 on her own account. The change had begun after the ordeal16 of the first morning. When she returned for the second sitting, and then at later sittings, they had remarked this change, and had spoken of it to one another—that she was as a person into whose life some joyous18, unbelievable event has fallen, brightening the present and the future. Every day some old cloudy care seemed to loose itself from its lurking-place and drift away from her mind, leaving her face less obscured and thus the more beautifully revealed to them. Now, with the end of the sit tings not far off, what they looked forward to with most regret was the last sitting, when she, leaving her portrait in their hands, would herself vanish, taking with her both the mystery of her old sorrows and the mystery of this new happiness.
Promptly19 at nine o'clock the teacher of the class entered, greeted them, and glanced around for the model. Not seeing her, he looked at his watch, then without comment crossed to the easels, and studied again the progress made the previous day, correcting, approving, guiding, encouraging. His demeanor20 showed that he entered into the mounting enthusiasm of his class for this particular piece of work.
A few minutes were thus quickly consumed. Then, watch in hand once more, he spoke17 of the absence of the model:
"Something seems to detain the model this morning. But she has sent me no word and she will no doubt be here in a few minutes."
He went back to the other end of the studio and sat down, facing them with the impressiveness which belonged to him even without speech. They fixed21 their eyes on him with the usual expectancy22. Whenever as now an unforeseen delay occurred, he was always prompt to take advantage of the interval23 with a brief talk. To them there were never enough of these brief talks, which invariably drew human life into relationship to the art of portraiture24, and set the one reality over against the other reality—the turbulence25 of a human life and the still image of it on the canvas. They hoped he would thus talk to them now; in truth he had the air of casting about in his mind for a theme best suited to the moment.
That mother, now absent, when she had blindly found her way to him, asking to pose, had fallen into good hands. He was a great teacher and he was a remarkable26 man, remarkable even to look at. Massively built, with a big head of black hair, olive complexion27, and bluntly pointed28, black beard, and with a mold of countenance29 grave and strong, he looked like a great Rembrandt; like some splendid full-length portrait by Rembrandt painted as that master painted men in the prime of his power. With the Rembrandt shadows on him even in life. Even when the sun beat down upon him outdoors, even when you met him in the blaze of the city streets, he seemed not to have emerged from shadow, to bear on him self the traces of a human night, a living darkness. There was light within him but it did not irradiate him.
Once he had been a headlong art student himself, starting out to become a great painter, a great one. After years abroad under the foremost masters and other years of self-trial with every favorable circumstance his, nature had one day pointed her unswerved finger at his latest canvas as at the earlier ones and had judged him to the quick: you will never be a great painter. If you cannot be content to remain less, quit, stop!
Thus youth's choice and a man's half a lifetime of effort and ambition ended in abandonment of effort not because he was a failure but because the choice of a profession had been a blunder. A multitude of men topple into this chasm30 and crawl out nobody. Few of them at middle age in the darkness of that pit of failure can grope within themselves for some second candle and by it once more become illumined through and through. He found his second candle,—it should have been his first,—and he lighted it and it became the light of his later years; but it did not illumine him completely, it never dispelled31 the shadows of the flame that had burned out. What he did was this: having reached the end of his own career as a painter, he turned and made hi............
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