Everybody has heard of the famous painter Albrecht Durer, but every one is not aware that he possessed a ” better half” so Xantipical in temper as to be the torment not only of his own life, but of that of his pupils and domestics also. Some of the former were cunning enough to purchase peace for themselves by conciliating the common tyrant?but woe to those unwilling or unable to offer aught in propitiation. Even the wiser ones were spared only by having their offences visited upon a scape-goat. This unfortunate individual was Samuel Duhobret, a disciple whom Durer had admitted into his school out of charity. He was employed in painting sign and the coarse tapestry then used in Germany. He was about forty years of age, little, ugly, and humpbacked ; was the butt of every ill joke among his fellow-disciples, and was picked out as a special object of dislike by Madame Durer.Order now
Poor Samuel had not a spice of envy or malice in his heart. He would at any time have toiled half the night to assist or serve those who were wont, oftenest, to laugh at him, or abuse him loudest for his stupidity. True?he had not the qualities of social humour or wit ; but he was an example of indefati gable industry. He came to his studies every morning at daybreak ; and remained at work until sunset. Then he retired into his lonely chamber, and wrought for his own amusement. One morning Duhobret was missing at the scene of his daily labours. His absence created much remark, and many were the jokes passed upon the occasion. One surmised this, and another that, as the cause of the phenomenon ; and it was finally agreed that the poor fellow must have worked himself into an absolute skeleton, and taken his final stand in the glass frame of some apothecary ; or had been blown away by a puff of wind, while his door happened to stand open. No one thought of going to his lodgings to look after him.
Meanwhile the object of their mirth was tossing on a bed of sickness. Disease, which had been slowly sapping the foun dations of his strength, burned in every vein; poor Duhobret had his dreams, as all artists, rich or poor, will sometimes have. He had thought the fruit of many years’labour, dis posedpf to advantage, might procure him enough to live, in an economical way, for the rest of his life. Now, alas ! even that hope had deserted him. He believed himself dying, and thought it hard to die without one to look kindly upon him ; without the words of comfort that might soothe his passage to another world.:; He fancied his bed surrounded by devilish faces, grinning at his sufferings, and taunting him with his inability to summon a priest to exorcise them. At length the appari tions faded away, and the patient sank into an exhausted plumber. He awoke unrefreshed ; it was the fifth day he had lain there neglected. His mouth was parched ; he turned over, and feebly stretched out his hand towards the earthen pitcher, from which, since the first day of his illness, he had quenched his thirst.
Alas ! it was empty ! Samuel lay a few moments thinking what he should do. He knew he must die of want if he remained there alone ; but to whom could he apply for aid in procuring sustenance ? An idea seemed at last to strike him. He arose slowly, and with difficulty, from the 3 bed, went to the other side of the room, and took up the < picture he had painted last. He resolved to carry it to the shop of a salesman, and hoped to obtain for it sufficient to < furnish him with the necessaries of life for a week longer. On his way he passed a house about which there was a crowd. He drew nigh?asked what was going on ; and received for 1 an answer, that there was tcf*be a sale of many specimens of .art collected by an amateur in the course of thirty years. 1 Something whispered the weary Duhobret that here would t be the market for his picture. He worked his way through ] the crowd, and, after many inquiries, found the auctioneer. That personage was a bus)’, important, little man, with a ‘ handful of papers ; and he was inclined to notice somewhat roughly the interruption of the lean, sallow hunchback, im- i ploring as were his gestures and language. ” What do you call your picture ?” at length said he. ” It is a vieav of the Abbey of NeAvbourg?Avith its village? and the surrounding landscape,” replied the trembling artist The auctioneer again scanned it contemptuously, and asked what it Avas Avorth.
” Oh, that is what you please?Avhatever it will bring.” ” Hem ! it is too odd to please, I should think?I can pro mise you no more than three thalers.” Poor Samuel sighed deeply. He had spent on that piece the nights of many months. But he Avas starving now ; and the pitiful sum offered Avould give him bread for a feAv days. He nodded his head to the auctioneer, and, retiring, took his seat in a corner. The sale began. After some paintings and engravings had been disposed of, Samuel’s Avas exhibited. “Who bids at three thalers?. Who bids?” Avas the cry. Duhobret listened eagerly, but none answered. ” Will it find a purchaser r” said he, despondingly, to himself. Still there was a dead silence. He dared not look up, for it seemed to him that all the people Avere laughing at the folly of the artist Avho could be insane enough to offer so worthless a piece at a public sale. “What will become of me?” Avas his mental inquiry. ” That Avork is certainly my best ;” and he A-enturcd to steal another glance. ” Does it not seem that the wind actually stirs those boughs and moves those leaves? Hoav transparent is the water ! what life breathes in the animals that quench their thirst at that spring ! Hoav that steeple shines ! How beautiful are those clustering trees !” This Avas the last expiring throb of an artist’s vanity. The ominous silence continued, and Samuel, sick at heart, buried his face in his hands. ” Twenty-one thalers !” murmured a faint voice, just as the auctioneer Avas about to knock down the picture. The stupi fied painter gave a start of joy.
He raised his head and looked to see from Avhose lips those blessed words had come. It Avas the picture-dealer to Avhom he had first thought of applying. ” Fifty thalers,” cried a sonorous voice. This time a tal man in black was the speaker. There Avas a silence of hushed expectation. ” One hundred thalers,” cried the picture-dealer.
” Three hundred.”
” Five hundred.”
Another profound silence ;
And the croavd pressed around the tavo opponents, who stood opposite each other with eager md angry looks. – “Two thousand thalers!” cried the picture-dealer, and ?lanced around him triumphantly, when he saw his adversary hesitate. ” Ten thousand !” vociferated the tall man, his face crimson with rage, and his hands clenched convulsively. The dealer grew paler ; his frame shook with agitation tie made two or three efforts, and at last cried out?” Twenty thousand !” His tall opponent was not to be vanquished. He bid forty thousand. The dealer stopped ; the other laughed a Ioav augh of insolent triumph, and a murmur of admiration Avas leard in the crowd. It AA-as too much for the dealer ; he felt lis peace at stake. “Fifty thousand!” exclaimed he, in lesperation. It Avas the tall man’s turn to hesitate. Again the whole :rowd Avere breathless. At length, tossing his arms in defi mce, he shouted, ” One hundred thousand !” The crest-fallen picture-dealer AvithdreAV ; the tall man vic ariously bore away the prize. The possessor was proceeding homeward when a decrepit, ame, and humpbackeel invalid, tottering along by the aid of a itick, presented himself before him. He threw him a piece of noney, and AvaAred his hanel as dispensing with his thanks/ “May it please your honour,” said the supposed beggar, ‘ I am the painter of that picture !” anel he rubbed his eyes. The tall man Avas Count Dunkelsback, one of the riches ?oblemen in Germany. He stopped, took out his pocket look, tore out a leaf, and Avrote on it a few lines. “Take it, riend,” said he ; ” it is a check for your money. Adieu.”