BOOK II. OLD AND YOUNG.
22. CHAPTER XXII.
"The sketch must be very grand, if it conveys so much," said Dorothea.
"I should need some explanation even of the meaning you give.
Do you intend Tamburlaine to represent earthquakes and volcanoes?"
"Oh yes," said Will, laughing, "and migrations of races and
clearings of forests--and America and the steam-engine. Everything
you can imagine!"
"What a difficult kind of shorthand!" said Dorothea, smiling towards
her husband. "It would require all your knowledge to be able
to read it."
Mr. Casaubon blinked furtively at Will. He had a suspicion that he
was being laughed at. But it was not possible to include Dorothea
in the suspicion.
They found Naumann painting industriously, but no model was present;
his pictures were advantageously arranged, and his own plain vivacious
person set off by a dove-colored blouse and a maroon velvet cap,
so that everything was as fortunate as if he had expected the
beautiful young English lady exactly at that time.
The painter in his confident English gave little dissertations on his
finished and unfinished subjects, seeming to observe Mr. Casaubon
as much as he did Dorothea. Will burst in here and there with ardent
words of praise, marking out particular merits in his friend's work;
and Dorothea felt that she was getting quite new notions as to
the significance of Madonnas seated under inexplicable canopied
thrones with the simple country as a background, and of saints
with architectural models in their hands, or knives accidentally
wedged in their skulls. Some things which had seemed monstrous
to her were gathering intelligibility and even a natural meaning:
but all this was apparently a branch of knowledge in which
Mr. Casaubon had not interested himself.
"I think I would rather feel that painting is beautiful than
have to read it as an enigma; but I should learn to understand
these pictures sooner than yours with the very wide meaning,"
said Dorothea, speaking to Will.
"Don't speak of my painting before Naumann," said Will. "He will
tell you, it is all pfuscherei, which is his most opprobrious word!"