Middleton’s Model by Anthony Hope
Middleton was doing
very well; everybody admitted
others enviously. And
yet Middleton aimed high. He
eschewed pot-boilers, and devoted
himself to important subject pictures,
often of an allegorical
description. Nevertheless, his
works sold, and that so well that
Middleton thought himself justified
in taking a wife. Here,
again, good fortune attended him.
Miss Angela Dove was fair to see,
possessed of a nice little income,
and, finally, a lady of taste, for
she accepted Middleton’s addresses.
Decidedly a lucky fellow
all round was Middleton. But,
in spite of all his luck, his face was
clouded with care as he sat in
his studio one summer evening.
Three months before he had been
the recipient of a most flattering
commission from that wealthy and
esteemed connoisseur the Earl of
Moneyton. The earl desired two
panels for his hall. “I want,” he
wrote, “two full-length female
figures—the one representing
Heavenly Love, the other Earthly
Love. Not a very new subject,
you will say; but I have a fancy
for it, and I can rely on your
talent to impart freshness even to
a well-worn theme.”
Of course there was no difficulty
about Heavenly Love. Angela
filled the bill (the expression was
Middleton’s own) to a nicety.
Her pretty golden hair, her sweet
smile, her candid blue eyes, were
exactly what was wanted. Middleton
clapped on a pair of wings,
and felt that he had done his duty.
But when he came to Earthly
Love the path was not so smooth.
The earl demanded the acme of
physical beauty, and that was
rather hard to find. Middleton
tried all the models in vain; he
frequented the theaters and music-halls
to no purpose; he tried to
combine all the beauties of his
acquaintance in one harmonious
whole, but they did not make
what tea-dealers call a “nice
blend.” Then he tried to evolve
Earthly Love out of his own consciousness,
but he could get
nothing there but Angela again;
and although he did violence to
his feelings by giving her black
hair and an evil cast in her eye,
he knew that, even thus transformed,
she would not satisfy the
earl. Middleton was in despair;
his reputation was at stake. The
thought of Angela could not console
“I’d give my soul for a model!”
cried he, flinging aside his pencil
At this moment he heard a
knock at the door. He existed
on the charwoman system, and
after six o’clock in the evening
had to open his own door. A
lady stood outside, and a neat
brougham was vanishing round
the corner. Even in the darkness
Middleton was struck by the
grace and dignity of his visitor’s
“Mr. Middleton’s, is it not?”
she asked, in a very sweet voice.
Middleton bowed. It was late
for a call, but if the lady ignored
that fact, he could not remind her
of it. Fortunately there was no
chance of Angela coming at such
an hour. He led the way to his
“May I ask,” he began, “to
what I am indebted for this
“I see you like coming to business
directly,” she answered, her
neatly gloved hands busy unpinning
her veil. She seemed to find
the task a little difficult.
“You see, it’s rather late,” said
“Not at all. I am only just
up. Well, then, to business. I
hear you want a model for an
“Exactly. May I ask if
“If I am a model? Oh, now
and then—not habitually.”
“You know my requirements
are somewhat hard to fulfill?”
“I can fulfill them,” and she
raised her veil. She certainly
could. She realized his wildest
dreams—the wildest dream of poets
and painters since the world began.
Middleton stood half-stupefied before
“Well, shall I do?” she asked,
turning her smile on him.
Middleton felt as if it were a
battery of guns, as he answered
that he would be the happiest
painter in the world if she would
“Head only, of course,” she
“Of course,” said he hastily;
“unless, that is, you will give me
hands and arms too.”
“I think not. My hands are
not so good.” And she glanced
at her kid gauntlets with a
“And—er—as to terms?” he
“Oh, the usual terms,” she
Middleton hinted at pre-payment.
“I’m not allowed to take that,”
she said. “Come, I will ask for
what I want when the time comes.
You won’t refuse me?”
“It’s a little vague,” he said,
with an uneasy laugh.
“Oh, I can go away.” And
she turned toward the door.
“Whatever you like,” he cried
“Ah, that’s better. I shall not
take anything of great value.”
She gave him her hand. He
ventured on a slight pressure.
The lady did not seem to notice
it, and her hand lay quite motionless
“To-morrow, then?” he said.
“Yes. I won’t trouble you to
call a cab. I shall walk.”
“Have you far to go?”
“Oh, some little way; but it’s
an easy road.”
“Can’t I escort you?”
“Not to-night. Some day, I
hope”—and she stepped into the
street and disappeared round the
Punctually the next day she reappeared.
Apart from her incomparable
beauty—and every time
she came, Middleton was more
convinced that it was incomparable—she
was a charming companion.
She was very well read,
and her knowledge of the world
“I wish it wasn’t rude to ask
your age!” he exclaimed one day.
“Ah, I am older than I look.
My work keeps me young.”
“Are you very busy, then?”
“I am always busy. But I
don’t grudge the time I give to
you. No, don’t thank me. I am
to be paid, you know.” And she
laughed merrily. If there were a
flaw in her, it was her laugh.
Middleton thought it rather a
“Do you know,” he resumed,
“you have never told me your
“I am here incognita.”
“You will tell me some day?”
“Yes, you shall know some
“Before we part forever?”
“Perhaps we shall not part—forever.”
Middleton said he hoped not;
but what would Angela say?
“My name is not so pretty a
one as your fiancée’s,” the lady
“How do you know I am engaged?”
“I always know that sort of
thing. It’s so useful. Angela
Dove, isn’t it?”
“Yes; I hope you like it?”
“To be candid, not very much.
It happens to have unpleasant
It was fortunate that Angela
was staying out of town. Middleton
felt that the two ladies would
not have got on well together;
and—— He checked himself
in shame; for his thought had
been that not even for Angela
could he send the stranger away.
Middleton struggled against the
treacherous passion that grew
upon him; but he struggled in
vain. He was guilty of postponing
the finishing of his panel as
long as he could. At last the lady
“I shall not come after to-day,”
she announced. “You can finish
“Oh, hardly!” he protested.
“I’ll stay late; but I can’t come
Middleton worked hard, and by
evening the panel was finished.
“A thousand thanks,” he said.
“And now you’ll have something
to eat, won’t you?”
She agreed, and they sat down
to a merry meal. The lady surpassed
herself in brilliancy, and
her mad gayety infected Middleton.
Forgetful of his honor and
allegiance, he leaned over to toast
his guest, with a passionate gaze in
his eyes. Insensibly the evening
sped away; suddenly the clock
“I am going now,” she said.
“Ah, you won’t leave me!”
“For the moment.”
“But when shall I see you
“As soon as you like, but not
later than you must.”
“You are charmingly mysterious.
Tell me where you are going?”
“To my home.”
“If you won’t come to me, I
shall come to you,” he insisted.
“Yes, you will come to me,”
she answered, smiling.
“And we shall be together?”
“As long as ever I like?”
“Impossible! Eternity would
not be too long.”
“Nous verrons,” said she, with
“At least you will write?
You’ll send me your picture?”
“I never write, and you have
“And another in my heart,” he
“I have tried to put it there.”
“But give me some token—anything—a
“Well, let it be a glove. As I
go I will give you a glove.”
She rose from her chair and
rested her right hand on the table.
“Till we meet again!” she said.
“I am yours for ever!” he cried,
seizing her hand.
“True! true!” she answered
triumphantly. “You are mine forever!”
and with a sudden movement
she drew her arm away from
him and left on the table—her
glove, was it, or her hand? It
seemed her very hand! and as
Middleton looked up he had a
vision of a blood-red claw shaken
in his face, and devilish laughter
rattled in his ears. The lady was
gone, and Middleton fell full
length on his studio floor.
Middleton is a very devoted
husband to Angela Dove. When
he is well and cheerful, he blames
himself for having made love to a
model, and laughs at himself for
having been fool enough to fancy—well,
all sorts of rubbish. But
when he is out of sorts he does not
like to be complimented on his
figure of Earthly Love, and he
gives a shudder if he happens to
come across an article which lies
hidden in his cupboard—a perfect
model of the human hand covered
with black kid; the model is hollow,
and there is a curious black
mark inside it.
And the earl? The earl was
delighted with the panel.
“Was she a professional
model?” he asked.
“She made it a matter of business
with me,” said Middleton uneasily.
It was one of his bad days.
“I must know that girl,” continued
the earl, with a cunning
look in his eye.
“I expect you will some day.”
“What’s her name?”
“I don’t know. She didn’t tell
“Didn’t she sign anything when
you paid her?”
“I haven’t paid her yet.”
“But you’re going to?”
“I—I suppose so,” answered
“Well, you’ll find out who she
is then. And, I say, Middleton,
just let me know.”
“I will if I can—unless you’ve
found it out before.”
The earl took up his hat with a
“A glorious creature!” he said.
“I hope I shall see her sometime.”
“I think it’s very likely, my
lord,” said Middleton.
“Have you any notion where
she comes from?”
Middleton compromised. He
said he understood that the lady
was from Monte Carlo.