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The Triumph of Jill   By:

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The Triumph of Jill By F.E. Mills Young Published by John Long, London. This edition dated 1903.

The Triumph of Jill, by F.E. Mills Young.

THE TRIUMPH OF JILL, BY F.E. MILLS YOUNG.

CHAPTER ONE.

"Art," said the man, regarding lingeringly a half finished canvas standing on an easel in the middle of the poorly furnished room, and then the very insignificant little girl beside him, who had posed for him ever since she had dispensed with long clothes, and subsequently taken to them, again, and had always proved an unsatisfactory model from an artistic point of view, "is the only thing really worth living for, and yet it's the most bally rotten thing to take up as a bread winning profession, you understand. When you've got the bread, and plenty of it, it's a very fine way of getting butter to it, and in exceptional cases preserves as well. I'm sorry," with a smothered sigh of regret, "that I didn't go in for something more satisfactory for your sake; I should have felt easier in my mind when it came to pegging out."

But the girl was enthusiastic upon the subject as well as himself.

"It was your life's work," she answered; "you could not have done otherwise."

"Perhaps you are right," he said, turning his head restlessly upon the cushion. "My life's work! And what a poor thing I have made of it. What a grind it has been, and what a failure."

"Don't, dear," she whispered, slipping her hand into his with a caressing, protecting gesture; "it hurts me to hear you. And after all there is nothing to regret. We have been very happy together, you and I; I wouldn't have had it different. If you had been more successful in a worldly sense we might not have been all in all to one another as we have been. We have always managed to get along."

"Yes," he answered with a touch of masculine arrogance, "it was all right so long as I was well, but I shall never finish that canvas, Jill, though I've forced myself to work to the last; but I'm pegging out fast now two legs in the grave," with a flash of humour and the old light of mirth in his eyes again, "though I'm hanging on to the upper ground with both hands like the tenacious beggar I always was; but the sods are giving way, and I shall suddenly drop out of sight one day, and then and then," the sad look coming back to his face, "you'll be left to fight the battle of life alone."

The girl's lip quivered, and she turned away her head to hide her emotion, fearful that any display of grief would hurt him, and sadden his last few hours on earth.

"I shall manage," she answered confidently, "I shall teach; you have often said I was quite competent of doing that, and occasionally I sell my own work, you know."

"Yes," he said, "you have my talent, and I have taught you all I could. But I wish that I had more to leave you; there will be so little after all the expenses are paid."

"There are the models my art school stocked," she replied with assumed cheerfulness. "I shall be only awaiting the pupils, and they will come after a while."

The speech was a brave one, but her heart sank nevertheless. She was fairly self reliant, but she had seen enough of the seamy side of life to realise how difficult it was, added to which she was devoted to her father, who was all she had in the world, and the knowledge that he was leaving her just when she seemed to need him most was very bitter. They had been comrades ever since she could remember, a bond that had made the roving, Bohemian life very pleasant, and the severing of which meant a loss that nothing could ever replace a void no one else could fill. And yet she continued cheerful and bright, even gay at times, though each day found him weaker, and her own heart heavier, and more hopeless. But she choked down the lump that was always rising in her throat, and maintained a smiling exterior, despite her grief, until there was no need to conceal her feelings any longer, and then sorrow had its way, and found vent in a wild burst of uncontrollable weeping, which after half an hour exhausted both itself and her, and ended in a kind of general collapse... Continue reading book >>




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