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The Marriage of Phaedra
by [?]

The sequence of events was such that MacMaster did not make his pilgrimage to Hugh Treffinger’s studio until three years after that painter’s death. MacMaster was himself a painter, an American of the Gallicized type, who spent his winters in New York, his summers in Paris, and no inconsiderable amount of time on the broad waters between. He had often contemplated stopping in London on one of his return trips in the late autumn, but he had always deferred leaving Paris until the prick of necessity drove him home by the quickest and shortest route.

Treffinger was a comparatively young man at the time of his death, and there had seemed no occasion for haste until haste was of no avail. Then, possibly, though there had been some correspondence between them, MacMaster felt certain qualms about meeting in the flesh a man who in the flesh was so diversely reported. His intercourse with Treffinger’s work had been so deep and satisfying, so apart from other appreciations, that he rather dreaded a critical juncture of any sort. He had always felt himself singularly inept in personal relations, and in this case he had avoided the issue until it was no longer to be feared or hoped for. There still remained, however, Treffinger’s great unfinished picture, the

Marriage of Phaedra

, which had never left his studio, and of which MacMaster’s friends had now and again brought report that it was the painter’s most characteristic production.

The young man arrived in London in the evening, and the next morning went out to Kensington to find Treffinger’s studio. It lay in one of the perplexing bystreets off Holland Road, and the number he found on a door set in a high garden wall, the top of which was covered with broken green glass and over which a budding lilac bush nodded. Treffinger’s plate was still there, and a card requesting visitors to ring for the attendant. In response to MacMaster’s ring, the door was opened by a cleanly built little man, clad in a shooting jacket and trousers that had been made for an ampler figure. He had a fresh complexion, eyes of that common uncertain shade of gray, and was closely shaven except for the incipient muttonchops on his ruddy cheeks. He bore himself in a manner strikingly capable, and there was a sort of trimness and alertness about him, despite the too-generous shoulders of his coat. In one hand he held a bulldog pipe, and in the other a copy of

Sporting Life

. While MacMaster was explaining the purpose of his call he noticed that the man surveyed him critically, though not impertinently. He was admitted into a little tank of a lodge made of whitewashed stone, the back door and windows opening upon a garden. A visitor’s book and a pile of catalogues lay on a deal table, together with a bottle of ink and some rusty pens. The wall was ornamented with photographs and colored prints of racing favorites.

“The studio is h’only open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays,” explained the man–he referred to himself as “Jymes”–“but of course we make exceptions in the case of pynters. Lydy Elling Treffinger ‘erself is on the Continent, but Sir ‘Ugh’s orders was that pynters was to ‘ave the run of the place.” He selected a key from his pocket and threw open the door into the studio which, like the lodge, was built against the wall of the garden.

MacMaster entered a long, narrow room, built of smoothed planks, painted a light green; cold and damp even on that fine May morning. The room was utterly bare of furniture–unless a stepladder, a model throne, and a rack laden with large leather portfolios could be accounted such–and was windowless, without other openings than the door and the skylight, under which hung the unfinished picture itself. MacMaster had never seen so many of Treffinger’s paintings together. He knew the painter had married a woman with money and had been able to keep such of his pictures as he wished. These, with all of


his replicas and studies, he had left as a sort of common legacy to the younger men of the school he had originated.