He jumped up, gathered together his coat, easel, paint box, the last empty canvas, and left the cottage.

Outside, he turned away from the sea toward the farmlands inland. He walked down the road resolutely, his scarf blowing, slowing a little. The field in front of him was covered with snow, as was the dark wood, rough-hewn fence. He set up his easel, fixing the canvas to it. A few lines in charcoal marked his boundaries. The snow was so many shades of white.

Now that he painted he could breathe a little. It didn’t matter that it was cold. Damn the cold.

The fence was so longer empty. A single black magpie huddled there, contemplating the fields. Claude painted swiftly. It might have taken a few minutes or more. The bird turned its head and stared dark-eyed, then leapt into the air; it took flight and was gone. Yet now as he finished, painting a bit more slowly, a calm seemed to return to him he had not felt in weeks. He had told the canvas what he could not tell her…

Claude & Camile, A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell


He jumped up, g…


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