For Lovers Only

An Impetuous Painter and A Discerning Critic

Gabriel Gale was energetically painting a new sign for the Rising Sun Inn when his attention was engaged by a new arrival, Diana Westermaine.

The lady was tall and dark, and Gale looked at her steadily and rather longer than is strictly polite--but painters are absent-minded.

When he left off looking at her, she began looking at him. She saw genuine artistry in his dazzling rendition of the rising sun, and she recognized a real thread of thought running through his rambling conversation.

Then he stood on his head for a moment and with a sort of cartwheel alighted on his feet. "It's a very good thing for a painter to see things upside down--as they really are. When angels hang head downwards, we know they come from above. It's only those that come from below that always have their noses in the air."

She laughed. But then a shadow came between them in the shape of the artist's friend, Hurrel. Diana explained to herself that she had no reason to be angry, but she was exceedingly angry. The increase of the group from two to three had the painful effect of an intrusion. But the two men were inseparable companions.

Months later, Gale was able to tell her of the rash vow that had bound him to Hurrel who, as it happened, was a hopeless madman.

"I was the only person who could handle him," Gale explained. "The poor fellow once did me a great service, and I could only repay it by looking after him."

"Your vow was certainly rash enough," she said. "It doesn't seem right to be tied to a lunatic by a few words."

"Don't say that!" he cried.

"Why not?" she asked.

"Because, I want you to make a rash vow. I want you to tie yourself to a lunatic with a few words."

There was a silence, at the end of which she smiled suddenly and put her hand on his arm.

"I don't think my vow will be so very rash--oh, for heavens sake!"

Gabriel Gale was standing on his head again.

From Chesterton's The Poet and the Lunatics

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Last modified: 12th March, 1999
Martin Ward, De Montfort University, Leicester.