The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 06

A babble of conversation arose as the tutor made his way round the room. Adam helped Constance finish her drawing, while Ben and Marcus, cousins, criticised each other’s work roundly and called in Mr Scoular to act as referee.“A tie,” he proclaimed. “Nothing to choose between these drawings. They’re both abysmal!”As usual, the pretty Clarissa had become petulant when criticised.“I always get the easel in the worst position,” she wailed, “and the sun was shining in my eyes!”Mr Scoular was unsympathetic.“If you used the same amount of energy on your work as you do on complaining, Clarissa, you would be world famous.”The final part of the class was the part Adam always looked forward to. Mr Scoular drew up an easel.“Gather round. Complete silence, please. Look, listen, and learn!”Explaining as he worked, Mr Scoular produced one of his expert life drawings as the class watched in rapt silence.“I shall expect vast improvement by the time I see you all again. And, be warned, I shall crack the whip!” He tried to sound severe as he dismissed them, but didn’t quite manage it.As they packed up and lingered, chatting in groups, the model slipped languidly from her plinth. Speaking to Constance, Josh broke off in mid-sentence and sidled towards his Aphrodite. Tall and stately, she towered over him. He spoke. She stared disbelievingly at him and then said something.Blushing furiously, Josh ricocheted back into his group of friends as she swept off.“How did you get on?” Constance asked.“I didn’t. I said, ‘Has anyone ever told you that you’re ravishingly beautiful?’” He sighed. “And she said yes, nearly everyone she’d ever met had told her that. Then she said, ‘Has anyone ever told you that you’re very short?’ That’s when I gave up. I’m quite deflated.”“Until the next time!” Adam laughed.“Never mind, Josh. You know what they say the course of true love never runs smooth!” Constance added.“Very true.”Adam’s steady gaze met hers as he spoke. She tried to look away, but failed, and the warmth of a blush rose in her cheeks . . .Adam sat in the empty art room for what seemed a long time, leaving the others to go on to the caf, as they did most days after classes. He recalled his tutor’s words and racked his brains, trying to think of a subject worthy of an entry for the Year Prize. Perhaps, if Mr Scoular thought his work good enough for the competition, he reflected, there just might be a chance of achieving at least a commendation. Then his thoughts turned to finding a suitable subject.“Old Ramage!” he said suddenly, his words loud in the silence of the room. “That’s it old Ramage.”In his mind’s eye, he could see his subject sitting outside the ramshackle stable crammed in behind tenements, his work of the day done, his horse leaning out of the half-door, head almost on his master’s shoulder. Perfect!“Old Ramage!” he shouted again.Peregrine Scoular put his head round the door and shot a curious glance at Adam.“Anything wrong, Adam?”“Not a thing, Mr Scoular, not a thing,” was the smiling reply.****Adam turned up the collar of his jacket and dug his hands into his pockets.Head bent against the chilly wind, he hurried through every shortcut he knew on his way to his parents’ house in the East End. He no longer thought of it as home. As the weeks had gone on without any sign of his father relenting, he’d reflected sadly that he no longer had a home.“This is yer home till things settle down,” Aunt Jenny had said comfortingly. But, as he made his way up the gloomy stair lit by one gas lamp, he knew that things wouldn’t change. Thomas Gray wasn’t a man for turning.Aunt Jenny had been worried when he’d said that he’d have to go and fetch his portfolio.“I left it behind the night of the big row,” he said. “And now I need it. It’s Faither’s institute night. He’ll be home late. I’ll stay a while with Mither.”He’d had it all planned, but as soon as he saw the door ajar and heard raised voices from inside, he knew that something was wrong.


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