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PAGE 3

Anthony Van Dyck
by [?]

Were this sketch a catalog, a dozen notable instances could be given in which very young men have been struck hard by women old enough to have nursed them as babes.

Van Dyck loved Isabella Rubens ardently. He grew restless, feverish, lost appetite and sighed at her with lack-luster eye across the dinner-table. Rubens knew of it all, and smiled a grim, sickly smile.

“I, too, love every woman who sits to me for a portrait. He’ll get over it,” said the master. “It all began when I allowed him to paint her picture.”

Busy men of forty, with ambitions, are not troubled by Anthony Hope’s interrogation. They glibly answer, “No, no, love is not all–it’s only a small part of life–simply incidental!”

But Van Dyck continued to sigh, and all of his spare time was taken up in painting pictures of the matronly Isabella. He managed to work even in spite of loss of appetite; and sitters sometimes called at the studio and asked for “Master Van Dyck,” whereas before there was only one master in the whole domain.

Rubens grew aweary.

He was too generous to think of crushing Van Dyck, and too wise to attempt it. To cast him out and recognize him openly as a rival would be to acknowledge his power. A man with less sense would have kicked the lovesick swain into the street. Rubens was a true diplomat. He decided to get rid of Van Dyck and do it in a way that would cause no scandal, and at the same time be for the good of the young man.

He took Van Dyck into his private office and counseled with him calmly, explaining to him how hopeless must be his love for Isabella. He further succeeded in convincing the youth that a few years in Italy would add the capsheaf to his talent. Without Italy he could not hope to win all; with Italy all doors would open at his touch.

Then he led him to his stable and presented him with his best saddle-horse, and urged immediate departure for a wider field and pastures new.

A few days later the handsome Van Dyck–with a goodly purse of gold, passports complete, and saddlebags well filled with various letters of introduction to Rubens’ Italian friends–followed by a cart filled with his belongings, started gaily away, bound for the land where art had its birth.

“With Italy–with Italy I can win all!” he kept repeating to himself as he turned his horse’s head to the South.

* * * * *

The first day’s ride took the artistic traveler to the little village of Saventhem, five miles from Brussels. Here he turned aside long enough to say good-by to a fair young lady, Anna Van Ophem by name, whom he had met a few months before at Antwerp.

He rode across the broad pasture, entered the long lane lined with poplars, and followed on to the spacious old stone mansion in the grove of trees.

Anna herself saw him coming and came out to meet him. They had not been so very well acquainted, but the warmth of a greeting all depends upon where it takes place. It was lonely for the beautiful girl there in the country: she welcomed the handsome young painter-man as though he were a long-lost brother, and proudly introduced him to her parents.

Instead of a mere call he was urged to put up his horse and remain overnight; and a servant was sent out to find the man who drove the cart with the painter’s belongings, and make him comfortable.

The painter decided that he would remain overnight and make an early start on the morrow.

And it was so agreed.

There was music in the evening, and pleasant converse until a late hour, for the guest must sit up and see the moon rise across the meadow–it would make such a charming subject for a picture!