THERE were flights and flights of wide, cold, dreary stone
stairs, and at the top of them three studios in a row.
Pinned on the door of the furthest one was a notice to the effect
that the owner had gone out to lunch and would not be back
until two, and it was this that caused the discontent on the face
of the girl who sat on the edge of the stairs, drumming her toes
impatiently on the step below.
” And I promised to be here at half-past one,” she grumbled,
shivering a little as she spoke ; and she got up and paced the
landing quickly, and stamped her feet to keep warm. A man
opened the door of the middle studio with a jerk, and looked out.
” Are you waiting for anybody ? Hadn’t you better go away
and come again presently ? Mr. Hallaford won’t be back for
another half-hour,” he said, in short rapid sentences. There was
a frown on his face, but whether it came from nervousness or
annoyance she could not tell. It was evident, though, that she
worried him by being there, for it was the second time he had
spoken to her ; and she gave her chin the slightest tilt into the air
as she answered him.
” Go away ? Down all those stairs ? I couldn’t really ! ” she
said with an irritating smile.
” Oh well,” began the man, frowning again, ” if you like
” I don’t like it a bit,” she assured him, earnestly. ” It is the
stupidest occupation imaginable. You should just try it and
see ! ”
But this he showed no anxiety to do, for the mere suggestion
precipitated him into his studio again, and she concluded that the
frown must have been nervousness after all. She returned to her
seat on the stairs, but had hardly settled herself in her corner when
the door opened behind her once more, and the owner of the
middle studio was again jerking out his abrupt remarks at her
” It’s no use staying out there in the cold,” he said, as though
she were somehow morally responsible for the inclemency of the
weather. ” There s a fire in here, and my model hasn’t come
back yet. You can come in and wait, if you like.”
” All right ; I don’t mind if I do,” she said carelessly, and
followed him in. Common gratitude or even civility, she felt,
would have been wasted on a man who threw his hospitality at her
head ; and it was only the unfriendliness of the stone stairs
outside, and perhaps her desire for adventure as well, that made
her accept his offer at all. But when he did not even trouble to
give her a chair, and resumed his occupation of stretching a paper
on a board without noticing her in the least, Anna began to feel
puzzled as well as slighted. He was certainly odd, and she always
liked odd people ; he might be nervous into the bargain, and
nervousness was a failing so far removed from her own personality
that she was always inclined to tolerate it in another ; but neither
nerves nor eccentricity could quite explain his want of manners,
and she had never had to endure discourtesy from a man before.
She prepared resentfully to assert herself, but before she had time
to choose her words a sudden suspicion darted into her mind.
This was a studio, and the owner of it was an artist, and he had
found her hanging about another man’s studio. How could he be
supposed to know that she was only having her portrait painted,
and was not a professional model at all ? The idea, when she
had once grasped it, amused her immensely ; and she resolved
impulsively to play the part he expected from her. The
adventure was promising well, she thought.
” What fun ! ” she said aloud, and her host glanced up at her
and frowned. Of course, she wanted him to frivol with her, and
he did not mean to be frivoled with. So he said nothing to
encourage her, and she sat down and scanned the room critically.
It was very bare, and rather dusty.
” I suppose it’s because you’re a man,” she observed, suddenly.
She was only finishing her thoughts out loud, but to him it
sounded like another attempt to draw him into conversation, and
he felt irritated by her persistence. He never wanted to talk
much at any time, and his attitude towards the confidences of his
models was one of absolute indifference. He did not care to
know why they had become models, nor how their people had lost
their money, nor what sort of homes they had ; they were there
to be drawn, that was all. But he realised vaguely that Anna
was there by his invitation, and he made an effort to be civil.
” It accounts for most of my actions, yes,” he said, and set
down the board and began filling his pipe.
” I mean,” she explained, ” that if you were a woman you
might make this place look awfully nice. You could have
flowers, for instance, and—— ”
“Oh yes,” he interrupted ; “and photographs, and muslin, and
” Well, you might, she said, calmly. ” But I shouldn’t.
Flowers would be enough for me, and perhaps a broom and a
duster. But then, I’m not a man.”
” No,” he said, just as calmly. ” If you were, you would know
that one does not take one’s suggestions about these things from a woman.”
Even in her assumed character she was not quite prepared for
the scant courtesy of his reply, and he inferred from her silence
that he had succeeded in quenching her at last. But when he
glanced at her over his shoulder, he was rather disconcerted at
finding her eyes fixed on his face with an astonished look in them.
He was always absent-minded, and when he was not at work he
was unobservant as well ; and he asked himself doubtfully whether
her cheeks had been quite so pink before he made his last remark.
Any other man would have noticed long ago that she had not the
manner or the air of the ordinary model ; but Askett did not
trouble to argue the point even for his own satisfaction. She
was a little more ladylike than most of them, perhaps, but she
resembled the rest of her class in wanting to chatter, and that in
itself justified his abruptness. So there was a pause that was a
little awkward, and then his model came in— an old man in a
slouched hat and a worn brown coat.
” What a musty old subject to choose ! ” she commented, and
got up instantly and walked away to the door.
” Wouldn’t you care to wait until Hallaford comes back ? ”
asked her host, a little less morosely. ” I can go on working all
the same, as long as you don’t talk.”
” I shouldn’t think of it,” she said, emphatically. ” I am quite
sure you wouldn’t be able to endure another suggestion from me,
and I really couldn’t promise not to make one.”
He could have sworn that her last words were accompanied by
a lightning glance round the room, but her expression, when she
turned at the door and looked at him, was almost vacant in its
innocence. He followed her hastily, and opened the door for
“You’d better wait,” he said, involuntarily. “You’ll catch
cold or something out there.”
She flashed a mocking look up in his face.
” Don’t you think,” she observed, demurely, ” that that is one
of the things about which one does not want suggestions from a
Ten minutes later, she was accepting a torrent of apologies
from Tom Hallaford with a queenly forgiveness that she knew
by experience to be the most effective weapon at her command.
“If you weren’t such an awful brick you’d never sit to me
again,” he avowed, humbly. “To drag you all this way, and
then——! Wasn’t it beastly cold too ? ”
” It was cold,” Anna admitted, gently. ” But I didn’t mind
And when he began afresh to abase himself, and made the
confusing statement that he ought to be shot and was hanged, she
felt he had suffered sufficiently, and she interrupted him by a true
account of how she had spent the last half-hour.
“Well, I’m bothered ! ” he said. “Of course, Askett thought
you were a model, a paid model, don’t you see ; and he thought
it was just cheek of you to say his studio was dirty and all that.
So it would have been rather, don’t you know, if you’d been an
ordinary model; they want jumping on sometimes. I say, Miss
Angell,” he added, chuckling, ” what larks if Askett comes in
when you’ve gone, and asks me for your address ! Ten to one
he does. What shall I say ? ”
” I don’t fancy,” said Anna, quietly, ” that he will want to
Nevertheless, as she was hurrying past the door of the middle
studio, two hours later, Askett came out hastily and called her
” Is all your time filled up for the present ? ” he asked, ” or
could you sit to me next week, in the afternoons ? ”
A gleam of mischief lurked in her eyes, but he was still un-
suspecting, and he mistook her hesitation for reflection.
“I could come next week,” she said. ” What time ? ”
” Two o clock on Monday. And you can give me your name
and address so that I shall know where to write to you. You’ll
very likely forget all about it.”
” Do you really think that’s possible ? ” smiled Anna. Askett
said nothing, but looked over her head at the wall as though she
were not there at all, and waited for her to reply. Anna was
racking her brains for a name that would be likely to belong to a
” Well ? ” he said, impatiently.
” Oh, you want my name ? ” said Anna, desperately. ” Well,
my address is care of Miss Anna Angell, 25 Beaconsfield Man-
sions, Belgravia. And my name is is Poppy—Poppy Wilson.
Oh dear ! that’s wrong—I mean—— ”
He was staring at her, for the first time, with something
approaching ordinary human interest.
” There seems to be a difficulty about the name,” he remarked.
He was not surprised at all ; she had probably quarrelled with her
family—models always had—and so was afraid to give her real
name. He put down her confusion to the fact that she had not
been sitting long, and was new at the deception. ” What’s the
matter with Wilson ? ” he asked, not unkindly. ” It’s a very nice
name, isn’t it ? ”
” Oh, Wilson’s all right,” she hastened to assure him. ” It’s
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. L
the Poppy that’s wrong ; I mean, it’s my pet name, don’t you see,
and it wouldn’t do.”
” No,” he said, dryly. ” Perhaps it wouldn’t.”
” My real name is Anna,” she continued, Anna Wilson.
You understand, don’t you ? ” Even for the sake of the disguise,
she could not endure that he should think of her as Poppy.
“Real name Anna, pet name Poppy, address care of Miss
Anna—hullo ? ” he stopped writing on his cuff and looked down
at her sternly. ” You seem to have the same name as the elderly
lady who looks after you. How’s this ? I don’t believe your
name is Anna at all.”
This was a little hard, as it was the only true statement she had
” My name is Anna,” she said, indignantly. ” And so is hers.
It’s only a coincidence that we both have the same name ; in fact,
it was because of that that we first made friends, years ago at
school. You see, we began by being at school together, and
we’ve been together ever since, more or less. And and when I
left home, she let me come and live in her flat, that’s all. It
doesn’t seem odd to me, but perhaps you don’t know much about
girls’ Christian names ? And she isn’t elderly at all ! She’s young,
and rather pretty, and——
” Oh, all right ; I don’t care what sh’ s like. Don’t forget
about Monday ; and look here, you can come in that hat ; it’s
rather nice. Good-bye.”
” I shall wear my very oldest hat and all the clothes that don’t
suit me,” she resolved, rebelliously, as she went downstairs.
She surprised her maid very much at dinner-time, that evening,
by laughing softly to herself at intervals ; and she might have
been discovered, more than once, with her elbows on the mantel
shelf, gazing at the reflection of herself in the mirror. But as the
evening wore on she became, first fretful, then sober, then deter
mined ; and she went to bed with a carefully composed letter in
her head, which was to be sent without fail on the following
morning. She came down to breakfast and wrote it ; kept it till
lunch-time, and stamped it ; re-read it at tea-time, and burnt it.
She was very cross all the evening, and decided that she was run
down, and wanted a change. The next morning she was con-
vinced she had influenza, and took a large dose of ammoniated
quinine, and sent a special messenger to her greatest friend. Her
greatest friend was out of town, which reminded her that she
wanted a change, and she telegraphed to Brighton for rooms.
The reply came that they would be vacant on Monday, and she
wired back that she did not want them at all. The next day was
Sunday and her At Home day ; and she came to the conclusion
that her circle of friends was a very dull one, and that no one who
was a bit nice ever called on her At Home day, and that the only
interesting people were the people who never called on one at all,
the people, in fact, whom one met in odd ways without any intro
duction ; and at this point of her reflections she laughed
unaccountably, and resolved to give up her At Home day. She
had made two engagements with two separate friends for Monday
afternoon ; but when it came, she threw them both over and started
for a walk across the park at half-past one. At a quarter to two
she hailed a hansom in the Bayswater road, and told the cabman
to drive quickly, and at his own not unreasonable request
supplied him further with an address in the West of London.
And at two precisely, she was toiling up the long flights of
stone stairs that led to Askett’s studio, wondering crossly what
had induced her to embark in such an absurd enterprise, and
still more what was making her persist in it now.
“It’s quite reasonable to undertake to do a mad thing one day,
but to go and da it the next is unpardonable,” she grumbled to
herself, as she knocked at the door of the middle studio. She
remembered with relief that Tom Hallaford had gone abroad for
a rew weeks, which considerably lessened the chances of detec-
tion ; and for the rest it was an adventure, and that was always
something. So it was her usual smiling, rather impudent face
that finally greeted Askett when he opened the door to her.
“So you didn’t forget, after all ? Made sure you would,” he
observed. ” People who forget their own names can forget any
“I didn’t forget my own name,” said Anna, truthfully, a
remark of which he naturally missed the point.
They did not talk at all for the first hour or so, and Anna
began to feel distinctly bored. Being a model was not half so
much fun as she had expected to find it, and it made her
extremely sleepy. She had hoped for a new sensation, and the
only one she felt was an overwhelming dulness. Nothing but
her sense of the ridiculous prevented her from throwing up the
whole game on the spot, but a single glance at his stern, uncom-
promising features kept her silent. “Just imagine how he would
sneer ! ” she thought ; and the mere idea made her toss her head
and laugh scornfully.
“Keep still, please,” he said, inexorably. “What’s the
joke ? ”
“That is precisely what I can’t tell you,” said Anna, laughing
again. ” If I did it wouldn t be a joke at all, you see.”
” I’m afraid I don’t, but that may be because I haven’t known
you long enough to have grasped your system of conversation.
It’s rather difficult to talk to a person who only tells you the ends
of her thoughts, as it were. If I were a conjurer, or a medium,
or somebody like that, it might be all right.”
” It isn’t half so difficult as talking to a person who doesn’t
talk at all,” retorted his model.
“Perhaps not,” said Askett, indifferently. “Will you kindly
lower your chin a little, it has a tendency to—thanks. You were
” I was saying that conversation with a person who is only
interested in your stupid chin isn’t any fun at all,” said Anna,
who was beginning to feel both tired and cross. Askett glanced
at her with a look of mild surprise.
” Then why be a model ? ” was all he said.
” That’s exactly what I want to know myself. I mean,” she
added, hastily, ” it isn’t my fault. I—I wouldn’t be a model if I
could help it, but I can’t.”
” Models never can help it,” said Askett, sceptically. ” Troubles
at home, I suppose ? Your friends don’t know you sit ? I
thought so. Never knew you’d have to come to this, and so on.
Of course, yes.”
” You’re very unfeeling,” remarked Anna, who had assented by
nods to the touching story of her life as related by Askett. ” You
should try being a model for an afternoon, and then you’d know.”
” My dear young lady, one occupation at a time is always
enough for a man,” said Askett, quietly. ” Probably that is why
I am interested merely in your features. Does the elderly lady,
I mean the other Anna, know that you are a model ? ”
“Yes, she does,” said Anna, fervently. “She doesn’t like my
doing it at all ; but how can I help it ? She thinks it is too hard
work, and I quite agree with her.”
” If you don’t mind,” said Askett, who had not been listening;
” I wish you would keep to subjects that don’t excite you quite so
much. Whenever you are being smart, or funny, or injured, you
poke your chin in the air ; and it’s disconcerting. Supposing you
were to think of some quiet elderly topic, such as cats, or politics,
or the lesser clergy ? ”
” Perhaps, if I were to think of nothing to say at all, you would
like it better,” cried Anna.
” Perhaps,” said Askett, with a stony indifference.
“I may as well tell you,” continued Anna, controlling her
indignation with difficulty, “that whenever I am silent I have a
most horrible expression.”
” Never mind about the expression,” said Askett. “That’s my
business, not yours. Sulk away as much as you please, as long as
it keeps you quiet.”
In spite of his want of interest in her and his utter lack of
observation, he was considerably astonished when she sprang
suddenly down from her platform, overturning the chair with a
clatter, and faced him angrily. It was unlike any previous experi-
ence he had had with models, and he began to realise that there was
something unusual about this one, though what it was he did not
precisely know, and that the moment had come for him to deal
with it. So he put down his charcoal, and pulled forward a chair
and a box ; led her gently to the chair and sat down on the box
himself, and felt for his tobacco-pouch.
” Now, look here,” he said, holding up his hand to stop her as
she began to speak ; ” I know all about it. So, if you don’t mind,
I think we’ll cut the first part. You’ve not been used to such
treatment, and you didn’t come here to be insulted. Very well ;
you didn’t. But you came here to be my model, and I naturally
expect you to behave like a model, and not like any other young
woman who wishes to make conversation. Surely, that’s reasonable,
isn’t it ? ”
“It might be if—it I liked being a model, perhaps. But I
don’t,” said Anna, rather lamely. She had found her new sensa-
tion, but it did not amuse her : she had never been lectured before,
and she was not sure whether she felt angry or merely puzzled.
Askett smiled slightly.
“That is hardly my fault,” he replied. ” I didn’t suggest your
vocation to you, did I ? ”
She was burning to tell him that he had, that he, and her
own freakishness, and Fate, were entirely responsible for her
vocation ; but again the dread of his ridicule kept her silent, and
she only baffled him once more by breaking into a peal of mirthful
” Oh, heavens ! ” he groaned. ” How is one to deal with a
thing like that ? What in the name of wonder is the joke now ?
“It—it’s the same joke as before,” gasped Anna. ” You really
don’t know what an awfully good joke it is.”
” You must forgive me if I don’t even want to find out,” said
Askett, shortly ; and he got up and went to the window and looked
out. The situation was not dignified, and he apostrophised the
whole race of models, and wondered why they could not see that
a chap wanted to work, instead of playing up to him with their
hopelessly feminine ways. And then he realised that this particular
one had stopped laughing, and was waiting for him to say some
“Well? “he said gruffly.
“I’m awfully sorry,” said Anna, who was secretly a little
ashamed of herself. The fact is, I’m rather a new hand at being
a model, and it still makes me feel drowsy, and if I hadn’t talked
nonsense just now I should have gone to sleep. It is’t so very
long since I had to earn my own living, and one doesn’t get used
to it all at once, don’t you know. Shall I go on sitting, now ? ”
He did not answer for a second or two. For the first time he
had noticed her way of speaking, and it struck him that perhaps
she was less of a fraud than most models who profess to have
come down in the world, and that her family might have been
decent people after all. He began to feel a little remorse for
having been hard on her.
“Look here,” he said, still gruffly. ” I’m not going to do any
more to-day. And I think you won’t quite do for what I wanted,
so you needn’t come back to-morrow. I’ll pay you all the same
till the end of the week, so you’ll be able to take a holiday with a
clear conscience. Perhaps, you won’t find it so tiring when
you’ve had a rest. And the next chap you sit for may not mind
She stood quite still while he went across the room to fetch her
cloak. Somehow, she was not so pleased at her unexpected
deliverance as she would have been ten minutes ago. She had an
uncomfortable sensation of having behaved like a child, and added
to this was a vague feeling of shame at allowing him to think she
was poor and friendless, and in need of his help. So she stepped
up to him and took the cloak out of his hand.
“I don’t want a holiday, thank you,” she said. ” You are a
brick, but I would sooner keep my part of the bargain if you’ll let
me. I wasn’t really tired, I was lazy.”
He shrugged his shoulders, and realised that his pity had been
“As you like,” he said, shortly, and Anna climbed up to her
It was indisputable that she was an irreproachable model for
the rest of the afternoon, that she abstained from all temptation to
elevate her chin, and met his few attempts at conversation with
subdued monosyllables ; but for all that, the wish to work had
completely deserted him, and he yawned at last and looked at his
watch, and said it was time for tea.
” You may talk now,” he said, as he put on the kettle.
“Thanks. But there isn’t anything to say,” said Anna.
” Does that make any difference ? ” he asked, with an un-
expected smile that propitiated her ; and she came down and
offered to cut the bread and butter. He shook his head, and
possessed himself of the loaf.
” Stay where you are, I’ll look after this. Women always
make it taste of the knife ! Hullo ! offended again ? I’m sorry,
but you know they do.”
“They don’t in—in the other Anna’s flat. But you’ve never
been there, of course ; and I suppose you’ll never go, will
you ? ”
“Depends on the other Anna, doesn’t it? Do you think
she’d have me ? ”
” I’m quite certain she would,” said his model, with such
assurance that a less absorbed person would have suspected some
thing of the truth. As it was, he only looked slightly amused
and asked for a reason.
” Oh, because Anna always likes odd people who don’t talk
much ; and she doesn’t think them musty or anything like that,
just because they’re not usual. She’d call you interesting, and
quarrel with every one who didn’t agree with her, and be fright
fully glad all the while because they didn’t.”
“Sugar ? ” asked Askett, who had again not been listening.
“Two lumps, please. So do you, don’t you? I knew you
would ! So does Anna. I think you’d like Anna too, rather.”
“Ah ! What makes you think that ? ”
” Well, you ve got some sense of humour, enough to know she
wasn’t really laughing at you. Most people are afraid of her, you
know ; and they think she doesn’t feel things because she laughs ;
and of course she does feel them all the same. She hates people
to be afraid of her ; but you are never afraid of any one, are you ?
And you’d understand why she laughs. Oh yes, you’d like
” You are a very devoted friend,” said Askett.
“I believe I do like her better than any one else I know,”
“Better than yourself? ”
“Much better,” she said, and began laughing again with no
” Oh dear,” said Askett, ” is it that joke again ? ”
But she was afraid of rousing his suspicions, and evaded his
question. She was very anxious, just then, that his suspicions
should not be roused.
When she left, he asked her again if she would not like to have
a holiday till the end of the week.
“Am I such a very bad model then ? ” she asked.
” You are the most irritating model I have ever endured, but
you can come back at two to-morrow,” was his reply.
Several times that evening, she took up her pen to write and tell
him that she would not come any more, and each time she laid it
down again, and jerked her small chin into the air, and vowed she
would go through with it.
“It is an adventure,” she said, “and it is too rare to be
” So for the sake of an adventure, she knocked once more at the
door of Askett’s studio. He opened it immediately, and held out
his hand in greeting ; but he was very businesslike in his
manner, and set to work directly she was ready.
” I shall try your profile to-day,” he said, screwing up his
” You’ll regret it,” observed Anna.
“Possibly. Kindly turn your head a little further away;
that’ll do. What’s wrong about your profile, please ? ”
“There’s nothing wrong about it,” she said, indignantly.
” But I always show people my full face if I can ; it’s got more
” Women are so commercial,” remarked Askett. ” They
make the most of every little advantage they think they
” I must say,” retorted Anna, ” that for one who professes so
much scorn for the whole sex, your perpetual desire to drag it
into the conversation is most surprising.”
” How is the other Anna ? ” asked Askett, rather suddenly.
” Oh, she’s all right. She isn’t so sure she would like you as I
expected her to be.”
” Indeed ? Can’t she contemplate my appalling silence with
out shuddering ? Or is it because my face hasn’t got any
character in it ? ”
” Oh, no, your face is all right. And she wouldn’t mind your
being silent in the least, because she does all the talking herself.
She’d only expect you to listen.”
” What a clatter there must be when you get together,”
” It generally has the effect ot silencing us both,” said Anna,
gravely. ” Am I sitting better to-day ? ”
” A little, yes. But I think I’ll try the full face again ;
perhaps, you won’t bob your head round quite so often if you are
obliged to look at me.”
” One would think I wanted to look at you,” pouted Anna.
” That is certainly what you have led me to believe,” said
Askett, looking for another sheet of paper. ” Now, don’t flare up
for nothing at all ; I didn’t mean to be rude, and I wasn’t rude ;
and if you persist in jumping whenever I say anything you don’t
like, I shall relapse into silence again.”
” And on the whole,” said Anna, thoughtfully, ” your remarks
are a little improvement on that deadly silence.”
” Now,” said Askett, pressing down the drawing pins ; ” tell
me some more about the other Anna. I like your expression
when you talk about the other Anna, it’s so appreciative. I
believe you are a solitary instance of a woman who can endure
the charms of another woman without feeling jealous.”
” Perhaps it is only the charms of the other Anna,” she said,
carelessly. ” What do you want to know about her ? ”
” Oh, anything, everything. What does she do, for instance ?
said Askett, vaguely. His temporary interest in a woman,
who was not there with the express purpose of distracting him,
was already vanishing as he began to grow interested in his
” Do ? Has she got to do anything ? You surely don’t sup-
pose she is a model, or anything like that, do you ? She’s much
too lazy to do things ; she just has a good time, that’s all. All
her people are away or dead or at war with her ; and she has
some money of her own, not nearly enough of course, but still
it’s something. And she dresses rather well, and has a charming
flat I don’t believe you are listening to a word I say, and it’s
too bad ! ”
” Indeed I am. It is my way of appearing interested. She
dresses rather well, and has a charming flat. What more,
please ? ”
” How much more do you want ? That’s enough for most
people. And why do you want to know all about Anna, when
you’ve never seen her ? ”
“Oh, surely, because you wanted something to talk about.
Besides, you said she would like me. Isn’t that enough reason
for a man ? Chin a little lower, please.”
” I said you would like her,” said Anna, slowly. ” Do you— do
you think you would ? ”
” What do you think ? ” he asked, smiling at her sudden
earnestness. She laughed.
“I think she would irritate you beyond measure ! And you
would hate her for being frivolous, and she would hate you for
” Decidedly, we had better not be introduced,” said Askett.
The next day, the door was ajar when she arrived, and she
pushed it open and walked in without knocking.
” Oh ! ” she exclaimed, and then paused and reddened with
* Hullo ! it’s you, is it?” said Askett, coming forward.
” What’s up now ? ”
” Flowers ! How beautiful ! Where did they come from ?
I thought you never had any. Oh, doesn’t it make the whole
place look different ? ”
” They’re all right, I suppose,” he replied, indifferently.
” Flowers always are. I’m glad you like them, they’ll help you
not to feel bored, perhaps. You curious child, to make all that
fuss over a lot of daffodils ! Does the other Anna like flowers as
much as you do ? ”
She turned away with a little movement of dissatisfaction. Of
course it was absurd, but for all that she found it impossible to
control her growing jealousy for the other Anna.
After that, there were always flowers when she came for a
sitting, and she came very often indeed. For Askett was at work
on the illustrations for an eighteenth-century novel, and she posed
several times for him as his heroine, a bewitching little figure in
a quaint old cloak and large be-feathered hat. They were very
good friends by the time the spring came, able to dispute without
misconception, and to remain silent without embarrassment ; and
Askett, to judge by results, had long ago managed to grasp the
system by which her conversation was made. The principal
theme of it was still the other Anna ; for, as the beginning of the
year grew older, the difficulty of telling him the truth became
increasingly greater. It would have meant, at least, some sort of
an explanation, and she could not endure explaining why she did
things ; indeed, she rarely knew why. Besides, it would have put
an end to the sittings, and the sittings amused her enormously,
and she always went on doing what amused her. So she
continued to impersonate the heroine of the eighteenth-century
novel, and her conversation was still about the other Anna.
One day he was more silent than usual. He tried her in
various positions and gave them all up in turn, made sketches on
odd bits of paper and flung them aside, and ended in throwing
down his pencil and saying he was no good.
” Have you got a headache ?” she asked him.
” Headache ? No, I’m all right,” he said, in the resentful
manner with which he repelled all her attempts to find out some
thing about him. ” Women always think you re ill if you feel a
bit off colour,” he added, as though to explain his abruptness.
“The other Anna,” she observed, “always has a headache
when she is off colour, as you call it. She had one this morning.”
“Ah,” said Askett, brightening a little, “tell me about the
other Anna. Why is she off colour to-day ? ”
” Because she is in love,” said Anna, lightly ; and she crossed
her feet and leaned back in her chair and looked at him.
” In love ? The other Anna in love ? Why, you told me
she had too much sense of humour ever to fall in love. Who’s
the chap ?” It was very ridiculous, but he could not help the
sudden pang of disappointment he felt on hearing that the other
Anna was in love. It disturbed his impression of her, and he
had not known until that moment how strong that impression had
” Oh, he doesn’t know she’s in love with him, and she
couldn’t possibly let him know, because he might have a sense of
humour too ; and then he d just scoff, and she’d want to kill
herself. It—it s a tragedy to fall in love if you ve got a sense of
humour, isn’t it ? Oh, of course you don’t know.” And she
began humming a tune.
” Why don’t I know ? Because I am never in love, or
because I have no sense of humour ? ”
” Oh, you ve got a sense of humour right enough,” she said,
and went on singing softly to herself. Askett put down his pipe
” What is the other Anna like when she is in love ? ” he asked,
and smiled at his wish to know.
” I only know she s very difficult to live with,” replied his
model, ruefully. ” She’s very happy or very sad all the time, and
she gets impatient with me, as though I could help it. So absurd,
isn’t it ? Poor Anna ! You see, she has never been in love
before, and she can’t make it out. I wish, I do wish she were
not in love now ; it spoils everything so.”
” It generally does,” said Askett ; and his eyes travelled slowly
from the pair of pointed shoes up the pink silk cloak to the large
black hat, and turned away swiftly when they rested on her face-
” Have you ever been in love ? ” he asked, suddenly.
” Yes,” she said, promptly, and fixed her eyes on him so
persistently that she brought his reluctant gaze back to her, and
then laughed softly in his race. ” Have you ? ” she asked.
He smiled indulgently, and returned to the other Anna.
” What a fool the fellow must be,” he said, jestingly, ” to give up
a woman like that when she’s good enough to fall in love with
” Oh, I don’t think so,” said Anna. ” He doesn’t know ; men
never do. And she can’t tell him ; women never can. It’s such
hard lines ; her life is being quite spoilt because she mustn’t say
anything. She wouldn’t mind so much if she were quite sure
the man didn’t like her ; she’d pull herself together again, and go
on. But how is she to find out ?”
” Why doesn’t she send you to ask him ? ” suggested Askett.
” Do you know,” she said with a queer little smile, ” you’ve
made that same old joke again ? ”
But he noticed that, this time, it did not move her to one or
her irresistible peals of laughter.
” After all,” she added, casually, ” I am not sure that it is a joke
Askett got up and went to look after the kettle ; tea would
make a diversion, he thought, and they seemed to be in need of a
diversion that afternoon. ” It strikes me,” he said, with his back
to her, ” that you let yourself worry too much about the love
affairs of the other Anna.”
“Perhaps I do,” replied Anna with the same enigmatical
smile. “But it’s chiefly your fault; you always want to hear
about her, and you never let me talk about anything else. It
isn’t very flattering to me, I must say ! ” She ended with a pout.
Askett stood up and smiled thoughtfully.
” How absurd ! ” he said with a half-laugh. ” Go and tell
your Anna that some-one is in love with her, because he has
heard that she is a woman with a sense of humour and a heart ;
and see if it doesn’t cure her depression ! ”
” I shouldn’t be surprised if it did,” replied Anna.
When she made ready to go, that day, he forgot to put on her
cloak for her, and stood irresolutely looking at her with the old
nervous frown come back to his face ; and she guessed instinc-
tively that there was something he had to say to her.
” What is it ? ” she said, involuntarily.
“It’s just this,” he said, speaking very quickly; “I don’t
think I shall want you any more after next week, and——
He stopped, although she had not said anything. She looked
steadily at the pink silk cloak that hung across the chair, at the jug
of wallflowers on the mantel-shelf, at the two empty cups on the
upturned wooden box ; and she drew in her lips with a sharp breath.
” Yes,” she said, and held out her hand. ” Good-bye.”
” And when may I come and meet the other Anna ? ” he
There was already a yard and a half of stone passage between
them ; and the space was widening every minute, as she backed
towards the staircase, and he into the middle studio.
” I am afraid she would have too much sense of humour to
receive you,” she said, and laughed mockingly, and went away
down the long flights of stone stairs.
” It’s all right,” said Askett, congratulating himself. ” She
doesn’t care. I might have known she wouldn’t. These models—
ah well ! ” He flung the pink silk cloak on the floor, and sat
down on the chair, and relighted his pipe. ” I believe, if she had
told me much more about the other girl, I might have fancied
myself in love with her. It would be a queer thing, after holding
off for all these years, to fall in love with a woman I have never
seen ! I wonder what it was that fetched me in that child’s
The Yellow Book Vol. XIII. M
descriptions of her ? Strange how fascinating a picture those
stray bits of information have made in my mind ! Probably, if I
were to meet her in the ordinary way, I shouldn’t discover any
charm in her at all ; women are so secretive. I begin to under
stand the reason for arranging marriages. All the same, I should
like to meet her.” His eye fell on the pink cloak, as it lay in an
effete and shapeless heap on the floor. ” There’s something very
expressive in a woman’s clothes, when you’ve known the woman,”
he observed, to change the current of his thoughts. But they
soon wheeled round again. “I wonder how the other Anna
would look in that thing ? It’s very odd to have kept my interest
in the same woman for six, seven, eight weeks, and a woman I
haven’t even seen. I suppose it’s true that all the constancy in a
man’s heart is for the women he has never seen, but still——
However, it’s a safe passion, and I won’t risk it by making her
acquaintance. No,” he added, moving his chair round so that he
could not see the pink silk cloak, ” I will not ask for an intro
duction to the other Anna.”
On his way home he ran against Tom Hallaford, and they
walked down Piccadilly together. Tom Hallaford was only just
back from Rome, and it was consequently some time before the
conversation became sufficiently local and personal to interest his
companion, who had not been to Rome at all. But Askett got
his chance after a while.
” Yes, I’ve been pretty busy,” he said, in reply to an inquiry
about his work. ” By the way, you remember that model or
yours I took pity on, one day in the winter, when you kept her
waiting ? Oh yes, you do ; pretty little girl rather, big hat,
name Wilson, lives with a Miss Angell. My dear fellow, one
would think you had never even heard her name ! Well, never
mind about the model ; I don’t want to talk about her. But I
do want to know something about the girl she lives with, the
other Anna, you know Miss Angell, in fact.”
” I suppose you know what you’re playing at,” said Tom,
good-naturedly ; ” but I’m bothered if I do. Miss Angell doesn’t
live with any one as far as I know. She never introduced me to
a model in her life ; in fact, I only know her very slightly. Some
aunt of hers commissioned me to paint her portrait ; that was how
she came to sit for me. Who is the model you were talking
about ? You must have got mixed somehow, old chap.”
“Mixed?” said Askett, mechanically, standing in a vague
manner on the edge of the kerbstone. “Mixed, yes, that’s it, of
course ; certainly mixed. I suppose—in fact, I believe—well, it’s
that joke, you know.” And to the mystification of his companion,
who stood staring after him, he beckoned with an exaggerated
composure to a hansom, gave the driver an address in Belgravia,
and drove away without a word of farewell.
The other Anna answered her own bell, that evening, because
her maid was out for a holiday. And she found Askett standing
on the door mat outside.
” Oh ! ” was all she could find to say, though it was extremely
expressive in the particular way she said it.
“It’s all right,” said Askett, in the most courteous and self-
possessed manner possible. ” I’ve only come to ask the other
Anna to marry me, instead of the chap who doesn’t know how to
appreciate her. Do you think she will ? ”
There was the dawn of a laugh in her eyes as she threw the
” I believe,” she replied, ” that she still has a lurking fondness
for the other chap. But if you’ll come in I’ll tell you that little
joke of mine, and then——
” No need,” observed Askett, ” I think I know it.”
Sharp, Evelyn. “The Other Anna.” The Yellow Book, vol. 13, April 1897, pp. 170-193. Yellow Book Digital Edition, edited by Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2010-2014. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2020. https://1890s.ca/YBV13_sharp_other/