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VI. The White Blot Henry van Dyke

Section I.

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"Your candour does you credit, Mr. Morgenstern," said I, "but you know me well enough to be sure that what you have said will hardly discourage me. For I have never been an admirer of 'cabinet finish' in works of art. Nor have I been in the habit of buying them, as a Circassian father trains his daughters, with an eye to the market. They come into my house for my own pleasure, and when the time arrives that I can see them no longer, it will not matter much to me what price they bring in the auction-room. This landscape pleases me so thoroughly that, if you will let us take it with us this evening, I will send you a check for the amount in the morning."

So we carried off the painting in a cab; and all the way home I was in the pleasant excitement of a man who is about to make an addition to his house; while Pierrepont was conscious of the glow of virtue which comes of having done a favour to a friend and justified your own critical judgment at one stroke.

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After dinner we hung the painting over the chimney-piece in the room called the study (because it was consecrated to idleness), and sat there far into the night, talking of the few times we had met Falconer at the club, and of his reticent manner, which was broken by curious flashes of impersonal confidence when he spoke not of himself but of his art. From this we drifted into memories of good comrades who had walked beside us but a few days in the path of life, and then disappeared, yet left us feeling as if we cared more for them than for the men whom we see every day; and of young geniuses who had never reached the goal; and of many other glimpses of "the light that failed," until the lamp was low and it was time to say good-night.

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The Ruling Passion
Henry van Dyke

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