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CHAPTER XXI. COLIN SETTLES HIMSELF.
After breakfast next morning, Sam rose resolutely from the table, like a man who means business, and said to his brother in a tone of authority, 'Come along, Colin; I'm going to call on this Mr. Maragliano you were telling me about.'

'But, Sam,' Colin expostulated, 'he won't receive us. We haven't got any introduction or anything.'

'Not got any introduction? Yes, I guess we have, Colin. Just you bring along those drawings and designs you showed us last night, and you bet Mr. Maragliano won't want any other introduction, I promise you. In America, we'd rather see what a man can do, any day, than what all his friends put together can say to crack him up in a letter of recommendation.'

Colin ran upstairs trembling with excitement, and brought down the big portfolio—Minna's portfolio, made with cloth and cardboard by her own small fingers, and containing all his most precious sketches for statues or bas-reliefs. They turned out into the new Rome of the English quarter, and following the directions of the porter, they plunged at last into the narrow alleys down by the Tiber till they came to the entrance of a small and gloomy-looking street, the Via Colonna. It is the headquarters of the native Italian artists. Colin's heart beat fast when at length they stopped at a large house on the left-hand side and entered the studio of Nicola Maragliano.

The great sculptor was standing in the midst of a group of friends and admirers, his loose coat all covered with daubs of clay, and his shaggy hair standing like a mane around him, when Sam and Colin were ushered into his studio. Colin stood still for a moment, awestruck at the great man's leonine presence; for Maragliano was one of the very few geniuses whose outer shape corresponded in majesty to the soul within him.
 
But Sam, completely unabashed by the novelty of the situation, walked straight up to the famous artist, and said with a rapid jerk in his own natural, easy-going manner, 'Speak any English?'

'A leetle,' Maragliano answered, smiling at the brusqueness of the interrogation.

'Then what we want to know, sir, without wasting any time over it, is just this: Here's my brother. He wants to be made into a sculptor. Will you take him for a pupil, and if so, what'll your charge be? He's brought some of his drawings along, for you to look at them. Will you see them?'

Maragliano smiled again, this time showing all his white teeth, and looked with an air of much amusement at Colin. The poor fellow was blushing violently, and Maragliano saw that he was annoyed and hurt by Sam's brusqueness. So he took the portfolio with a friendly gesture (for he was a true gentleman), and proceeded to lay it down upon his little side-table. 'Let us see,' he said in Italian, 'what the young American has got to show me.'

'Not American,' Colin answered, in Italian too. 'I am English; but my brother has lived long in America, and has perhaps picked up American habits.'

Maragliano looked at him keenly again, nodded, and said nothing. Then he opened the portfolio and took out the first drawing. It was the design for the Cephalus and Aurora—the new and amended version. As the great sculptor's eye fell upon the group, he started and gave a little cry of suppressed astonishment. Then he looked once more at Colin, but said nothing. Colin trembled violently. Maragliano turned over the leaf, and came to the sketch for the bas-relief of the Boar of Calydon. Again he gave a little start, and murmured to himself, 'Corpo di Bacco!' but still said nothing to the tremulous aspirant. So he worked through the whole lot, examining each separate drawing carefully, and paying keener and keener attention to each as he recognised instinctively their profound merit. At last, he came to the group of Orestes and the Eumenides. It was Colin Churchill's finest drawing, and the marble group produced from it is even now one of the grandest works that ever came out of that marvellous studio. Maragliano gave a sharper and shorter little cry than ever.

'You made it?' he asked, turning to Colin.

Colin nodded in deep suspense, not unmixed with a certain glorious premonition of assured triumph.

Maragliano turned to the little group, that stood aloof around the clay of the Calabrian Peasant, and called out, 'Bazzoni!'

'Master!'

'See this design. It is the Englishman's. What think you of it?'

The scholar took it up and looked at it narrowly. 'Good;' he said shortly, in an Italian crescendo; 'excellent—admirable—surprising—extraordinary.'

Maragliano drew his finger over the curve of the Orestes' figure with a sort of free sweep, like a sculptor's fancy, and answered simply, turning to Colin, 'He says true. It is the touch of genius.'

As Maragliano said those words, Colin felt the universe reeling wildly around him, and clutched at Sam's arm for support from falling. Sam didn't understand the Italian, but he saw from Colin's face that the tremor was excess of joy, not shock of disappointment. 'Well,' he said inquiringly to Maragliano. 'You like his drawings? You'll take him for a pupil? You'll make a sculptor of him?'

'No,' Maragliano answered in English, holding up the Orestes admiringly before him; 'I cannot do zat. Ze great God has done so already.'

Sam smiled a smile of brotherly triumph. 'I thought so, Colin,' he said approvingly.

'I told him so last night, Mr. Maragliano. You see, I'm in the artistic business myself, though in another department—the advertising block trade—and I know artistic work when I look at it.'

Maragliano showed his white teeth once more, but didn't answer.

'And what'll your terms be for taking him?' Sam asked, in as business-like a fashion as if the famous sculptor had been a flourishing greengrocer, or a respectable purveyor of kippered herrings.

Maragliano glanced around him with a nervous glance. 'Zere are many people here,' he said, shrugging his shoulders. 'We cannot talk at leisure. Let us go into my private chamber.' And he led the way into a small parlour behind the studio.

Sam took a chair at once with republican promptitude, but Colin stood, his hands folded before him, still abashed by the great man's presence. Maragliano looked at him once more with his keenly interested look. 'That is well,' he said in Italian. 'Greatness always pays the highest homage to greatness. I know a true artist at sight by the way he first approaches me. Rich men condescend; pretenders fawn; ordinary men recognise no superiority save rank or money; but greatness shows its innate reverence at once, and thereby securely earns its own recognition. Be seated, I pray you. Your drawings are wonderful; but you have studied little. They are full of genuine native power, but they lack precise artistic teaching. Where have you taken your first lessons?'

'Nowhere,' Colin answered, his face glowing with pleasure at Maragliano's hearty encomium. 'I am almost entirely self-taught, and I have come to Rome to learn better.'

Maragliano listened intently. 'Wonderful!' he said; 'wonderful, truly! And yet, I could almost have guessed it. Your work is all vigour and nature—it is Greek, purely Greek—but there is not yet art in it. Tell me all about how you have learned what you know of sculpture.'

Thus invited, Cohn began, and confided to the great sculptor's sympathetic ear the whole story of his youth and boyhood. He began with the time when he moulded little clay images for Minna from the bank at Wootton Mandeville; and he went on with all the story of his acquaintance with Cicolari, down to his coming to Rome with Sir Henry Wilberforce. Maragliano nodded his interest from time to time, and when Colin had finished, he took his hand warmly in his, and cried in English, so that Sam too understood him: 'It is well. You shall be my pupil.'

'And your terms?' Sam asked with mercantile insistence. 'We're ready to agree to anything reasonable.'

'Are nossing,' Maragliano answered; 'nossing, nossing. I will teach you for ze love of art, as you will learn for it. No, no,' he went on, breaking into Italian again, as Colin tried to thank him or to expostulate with him. 'You needn't thank me. It is but the repayment of a debt. I owe it to your own Gibson, as Gibson owed it before to Canova. It is a tradition among us Roman sculptors; you will keep it up, and will repay it in due time hereafter to some future follower. Many years ago I came to Rome. I was an unknown lad from Genoa. I came as a model to Gibson's studio. I sat for an Antinous. Gibson saw me modelling little bits of clay for amusement in my off times, and said to me, “You would make a sculptor.” I laughed. He gave me a little clay, and saw what I could do; I modelled a head after his Venus. Then he took me on as his pupil; and now—I am Nicola Maragliano. I am glad to repay an Englishman the debt I owe to the illustrious Gibson. You must take my lessons, as I took his, in trust for art, and not talk between brother artists about such dirt as money.'

Colin seized his hand eagerly. 'Oh, sir,' he cried in English, 'you are too noble, too generous. I shall never be able sufficiently to thank you. If you will only condescend to give me instruction—to make me your pupil—to let me model in your studio, I shall be eternally grateful to you for such unexpected kindness.'

Maragliano wrung the young man's hand with a kindly fervour. 'That is more than enough already,' he answered. 'Those who love art are all of one family. When will you come to the studio? Let me see; you have not been long in Rome?'

'We've only just come here,' put in Sam, proud of having caught the meaning of the Italian.

'Ah, well; then you will want a little time, no doubt, to look about and see the sights of Rome. What do you say to Tuesday fortnight?'

'If it's equally convenient for you, signor,' Colin answered, all aglow, 'I shall be at the studio to-morrow morning.'

Maragliano patted him gently on the head as though he were a child. 'My friend,' he said, 'you speak courageously. That is the sentiment of all true artists. You are impatient to get to work; you will not need a long apprenticeship. Let it be so then. Tomorrow morning.'


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