Liz Carlyle - [Lorimer Family & Clan Cameron 02]

Liz Carlyle - [Lorimer Family & Clan Cameron 02] by My False Heart

Book: Liz Carlyle - [Lorimer Family & Clan Cameron 02] by My False Heart Read Free Book Online
Authors: My False Heart
towering crest of peacock feathers was splayed in a contrasting swath of color against his fallen banner. His right arm lay outstretched, a glinting sword still clutched in his hand.
    The piece was at once horrific, epic, and frighteningly beautiful.
    The rasp of door hinges pulled Elliot from the spell of the painting, and he stuck out his head to see Evangeline entering through the schoolroom door. The stout black dog trotted dutifully behind, his tiny claws clicking rhythmically upon the flagstone.
    “Good morning,” called Elliot, stepping carefully from behind the canvas.
    Her veiled gaze shifted toward him. Evangeline wore another dark blue dress over a muslin chemisette this morning, and in her hand she clutched a sheaf of papers. “Good morning,” she replied as she strode purposefully through the studio toward her desk.
    Elliot felt compelled to explain himself. “Good morning, Miss Stone. I hope you do not object? I saw this, and I wanted to examine it.”
    Evangeline put a few loose papers down on the desktop, then turned back to face him. “No, Mr. Roberts,” she answered, looking almost resigned. “I have no objection.”
    “Miss Stone, I must confess, I have never seen anything to rival this. It—it is your work, is it not? I mean, I can tell that it is . . . somehow.”
    “Yes. It is mine,” she answered, strolling slowly across the room to where he stood. “I do try to keep my commercial portraits separate from my other work, but as you can see, I do both.”
    “And under different names?”
    “Yes.”
    “Because you are a female?” he guessed.
    She threw him a quizzical smile. “I think it makes for better business,” she admitted.
    “What do you call this piece, Miss Stone?” he asked softly, gesturing toward the huge canvas behind him.
    “
The Fall of Leopold at Sempach
.”
    “A truly remarkable painting,” he murmured.
    “It is almost finished,” she answered noncommittally. “Soon it will be taken down to London, and Uncle Peter will put it on the market.”
    “Must you sell it?”
    “Yes, we need the income,” she admitted crisply. Then, apparently noting the surprised expression on his face, she added, “I prefer to keep our capital in the funds, and the estate income is needed to maintain our tenant farms.”
    Elliot nodded, sensing that she did not wish to belabor the subject. “It would appear that you have a remarkable range of style and technique,” he commented, returning his gaze to the landscapes mounted high on the north wall.
    “Those are my father’s,” she replied quietly. “They are not for sale.”
    Elliot looked at her uncertainly, then nodded. “Somehow, I did not think they had the look of your work, though they are very fine. Your father was exceedingly gifted, was he not?”
    “Oh, yes,” she answered, but the blue sheen in her eyes had suddenly dulled. “Very gifted.”
    “I can see that. His work is exquisite. But this! This is—not exquisite.” Elliot reached out to touch the battle scene lightly. “Indeed, Miss Stone, this work defies my descriptive powers.”
    “Thank you—I think,” she responded politely.
    In his absorption, Elliot missed the note of uncertainty in her tone. “What is this, exactly? I mean, what is it about?” he asked, his tone reverent. “I feel as if I am there.”
    “I visited that battlefield, or what remains, many years ago,” said Evangeline with a shrug. “The painting is a scene from Leopold’s march through Switzerland. It has been depicted on canvas often enough, and I expect this one shan’t be the last.”
    “What sort of march?”
    “To suppress the forest cantons’ rebellion against growing Habsburg rule. You see here the banner of Lucerne, yes?” Elliot nodded. “And to the far right lies the body of de Winkelried, a knight of the Unterwalden. Do you see here?” She pointed at a tortured figure. “Legend says that he impaled himself onto the Habsburg pikes to open a gap in the enemy

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