With great precision, as if the matter in hand were the unveiling of a sacred relic, she untied the strings and opened the portfolio. Her eyes opened wide, and an "Oh!" of enthusiastic admiration escaped her lips. A wiser critic than the little girl of nine would scarcely have accorded the sketches so much approval. They were undoubtedly stiff and unfinished. Nevertheless, no genuine lover of art would have passed them by without notice, for they indicated a high degree of talent. The hand was unskilled, but the lad had eyes to see.
The little girl gazed in rapt admiration. After a while she looked gravely up at her new friend, her compassion converted into awe. "Now I know what you are,--an artist!"
"Do you think so?" the lad rejoined, flattered by the reverential tone in which the word was uttered: meanwhile, he had finished the pheasant, and was considerably less pale than before.
"Can you paint everything you see?" she asked, after a short pause.
"I cannot paint anything," he a