Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Art Of Terry Lute
by [?]

When the Stand By went down in a northeasterly gale off Dusty Reef of the False Frenchman, the last example of the art of Terry Lute of Out-of-the-Way Tickle perished with her. It was a great picture. This is an amazing thing to say. It doubtless challenges a superior incredulity. Yet the last example of the art of Terry Lute was a very great picture. Incredible? Not at all. It is merely astonishing. Other masters, and of all sorts, have emerged from obscure places. It is not the less likely that Terry Lute was a master because he originated at Out-of-the-Way Tickle of the Newfoundland north coast. Rather more so, perhaps. At any rate, Terry Lute was a master.

James Cobden saw the picture. He, too, was astounded. But–“It is the work of a master,” said he, instantly.

Of course the picture is gone; there is no other: Cobden’s word for its quality must be taken. But why not? Cobden’s judgments are not generally gainsaid; they prove themselves, and stand. And it is not anywhere contended that Cobden is given to the encouragement of anaemic aspiration. Cobden’s errors, if any, have been of severity. It is maintained by those who do not love him that he has laughed many a promising youngster into a sour obscurity. And this may be true. A niggard in respect to praise, a skeptic in respect to promise, he is well known. But what he has commended has never failed of a good measure of critical recognition in the end. And he has uncovered no mares’-nests.

All this, however,–the matter of Cobden’s authority,–is here a waste discussion. If Cobden’s judgments are in the main detestable, the tale has no point for folk of the taste to hold against them; if they are true and agreeable, it must then be believed upon his word that when the Stand By went down off Dusty Reef of the False Frenchman a great picture perished with her–a great picture done in crayon on manila paper in Tom Lute’s kitchen at Out-of-the-Way Tickle. Cobden is committed to this. And whether a masterpiece or not, and aside from the eminent critical opinion of it, the tale of Terry Lute’s last example will at least prove the once engaging quality of Terry Lute’s art.

* * * * *

Cobden first saw the picture in the cabin of the Stand By, being then bound from Twillingate Harbor to Out-of-the-Way, when in the exercise of an amiable hospitality Skipper Tom took him below to stow him away. Cobden had come sketching. He had gone north, having read some moving and tragical tale of those parts, to look upon a grim sea and a harsh coast. He had found both, and had been inspired to convey a consciousness of both to a gentler world, touched with his own philosophy, in Cobden’s way. But here already, gravely confronting him, was a masterpiece greater than he had visioned. It was framed broadly in raw pine, covered with window-glass, and nailed to the bulkhead; but it was nevertheless there, declaring its own dignity, a work of sure, clean genius.

Cobden started. He was astounded, fairly dazed, he puts it, by the display of crude power. He went close, stared into the appalling depths of wind, mist, and the sea, backed off, cocked his astonished head, ran a lean hand in bewilderment through his gray curls, and then flashed about on Skipper Tom.

“Who did that?” he demanded.

“That?” the skipper chuckled. “Oh,” he drawled, “jus’ my young feller.” He was apologetic; but he was yet, to be sure, cherishing a bashful pride.

“How young?” Cobden snapped.

“‘Long about fourteen when he done that.”