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!

Two Buckets In A Well
by [?]

“Five hundred dollars a year!” echoed Fanny Bellairs, as the first silver gray of the twilight spread over her picture.

“And my art,” modestly added the painter, prying into his bright copy of the lips pronouncing upon his destiny.

“And how much may that be, at the present rate of patronage–one picture a year, painted for love!”

“Fanny, how can you be so calculating!”

“By the bumps over my eyebrows, I suppose. Why, my dear coz, we have another state of existence to look forward to–old man-age and old woman-age! What am I to do with five hundred dollars a year, when my old frame wants gilding–(to use one of your own similes)–I sha’n’t always be pretty Fanny Bellairs!”

“But, good Heavens! we shall grow old together!” exclaimed the painter, sitting down at her feet, “and what will you care for other admiration, if your husband see you still beautiful, with the eyes of memory and habit.”

“Even if I were sure he would so look upon me,” answered Miss Bellairs, more seriously, “I cannot but dread an old age without great means of embellishment. Old people, except in poetry and in very primitive society, are dishonored by wants and cares. And, indeed, before we are old–when neither young nor old–we want horses and ottomans, kalydor and conservatories, books, pictures, and silk curtains–all quite out of the range of your little allowance, don’t you see!”

“You do not love me, Fanny!”

“I do–and will marry you, Philip–as I, long ago, with my whole heart, promised. But I wish to be happy with you–as happy, quite as happy, as is at all possible, with our best efforts, and coolest, discreetest management. I laugh the matter over sometimes, but I may tell you, since you are determined to be in earnest, that I have treated it, in my solitary thought, as the one important event of my life–(so indeed it is!)–and, as such, worthy of all forethought, patience, self-denial, and calculation. To inevitable ills I can make up my mind like other people. If your art were your only hope of subsistence–why–I don’t know–(should I look well as a page?)–I don’t know that I couldn’t run your errands and grind your paints in hose and doublet. But there is another door open for you–a counting-house door, to be sure–leading to opulence and all the appliances of dignity and happiness, and through this door, my dear Philip, the art you would live by comes to pay tribute and beg for patronage. Now, out of your hundred and twenty reasons, give me the two stoutest and best, why you should refuse your brother’s golden offer of partnership–my share, in your alternative of poverty, left for the moment out of the question.”

Rather overborne by the confident decision of his beautiful cousin, and having probably made up his mind that he must ultimately yield to her, Philip replied in a lower and more dejected tone:

“If you were not to be a sharer in my renown, should I be so fortunate as to acquire it, I should feel as if it were selfish to dwell so much on my passion for distinction, and my devotion to my pencil as a means of winning it. My heart is full of you–but it is full of ambition, too, paradox though it be. I cannot live ignoble. I should not have felt worthy to press my love upon you–worthy to possess you–except with the prospect of celebrity in my art. You make the world dark to me, Fanny! You close down the sky, when you shut out this hope! Yet it shall be so.”

Philip paused a moment, and the silence was uninterrupted.

“There was another feeling I had, upon which I have not insisted,” he continued. “By my brother’s project, I am to reside almost wholly abroad. Even the little stipend I have to offer you now is absorbed of course by the investment of my property in his trading capital, and marriage, till I have partly enriched myself, would be even more hopeless than at present. Say the interval were five years–and five years of separation!”