And it's the same with women and such. They come and they want a little johnry picture--"

"It's the accessories that make it a 'genre?'"

"Yes--cannon, or cat, or any little thing like that, that you heave into whoop up the effect. We could do a prodigious trade with the women if we could foreground the things they like, but they don't give a damn for artillery. Mine's the lack," continued the captain with a sigh, "Andy's end of the business is all right I tell you he's an artist from way back!"

"Yoost hear dot old man! He always talk 'poud me like dot," purred the pleased German.

"Look at his work yourself! Fourteen portraits in a row. And no two of them alike."

"Now that you speak of it, it is true; I hadn't noticed it before. It is very remarkable. Unique, I suppose."

"I should say so. That's the very thing about Andy--he discriminates. Discrimination's the thief of time--forty-ninth Psalm; but that ain't any matter, it's the honest thing, and it pays in the end."

"Yes, he certainly is great in that feature, one is obliged to admit it; but--now mind, I'm not really criticising--don't you think he is just a trifle overstrong in technique?"

The captain's face was knocked expressionless by this remark. It remained quite vacant while he muttered to himself--" Technique-- technique--polytechnique--pyro-technique; that's it, likely-fireworks too much color." Then he spoke up with serenity and confidence, and said:

"Well, yes, he does pile it on pretty loud; but they all like it, you know--fact is, it's the life of the business. Take that No. 9, there, Evans the butcher. He drops into the stoodio as sober-colored as anything you ever see: now look at him. You can't tell him from scarlet fever. Well, it pleases that butcher to death. I'm making a study of a sausage-wreath to hang on the cannon, and I don't really reckon I can do it right, but if I can, we can break the butcher."

"Unquestionably your confederate--I mean your--your fellow-craftsman-- is a great colorist--"

"Oh, danke schon!--"

--"in fact a quite extraordinary colorist; a colorist, I make bold to say, without imitator here or abroad--and with a most bold and effective touch, a touch like a battering ram; and a manner so peculiar and romantic, and extraneous, and ad libitum, and heart-searching, that-- that--he--he is an impressionist, I presume?"

"No," said the captain simply, "he is a Presbyterian."

"It accounts for it all--all--there's something divine about his art,-- soulful, unsatisfactory, yearning, dim hearkening on the void horizon, vague-murmuring to the spirit out of ultra-marine distances and far- sounding cataclysms of uncreated space--oh, if he--if, he--has he ever tried distemper?"

The captain answered up with energy:

"Not if he knows himself! But his dog has, and--"

"Oh, no, it vas not my dog."

"Why, you said it was your dog."

"Oh, no, gaptain, I--"

"It was a white dog, wasn't it, with his tail docked, and one ear gone, and--"

"Dot's him, dot's him!--der fery dog. Wy, py Chorge, dot dog he would eat baint yoost de same like--"

"Well, never mind that, now--'vast heaving--I never saw such a man. You start him on that dog and he'll dispute a year. Blamed if I haven't seen him keep it up a level two hours and a half."

"Why captain!" said Barrow. "I guess that must be hearsay."

"No, sir, no hearsay about it--he disputed with me.

"I don't see how you stood it."

"Oh, you've got to--if you run with Andy. But it's the only fault he's got."

"Ain't you afraid of acquiring it?"

"Oh, no," said the captain, tranquilly, "no danger of that, I reckon."

The artists presently took their leave. Then Barrow put his hands on Tracy's shoulders and said:

"Look me in the eye, my boy. Steady, steady. There--it's just as I thought--hoped, anyway; you're all right, thank goodness. Nothing the matter with your mind. But don't do that again--even for fun. It isn't wise. They wouldn't have believed you if you'd been an earl's son. Why, they couldn't--don't you know that? What ever possessed you to take such a freak? But never mind about that; let's not talk of it.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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