In the national gallery
The old man who is sitting at the bench beside the narrator is probably very clever. He knows a lot about Stubbs, and generally a lot about art. We can see that by the way he’s telling his companion about this picture by Stubbs. He knows a lot of details, and extraordinary things and it’s exciting to listen to his knowledge that almost turns in to storytelling. Everybody stops for a moment to listen. When the man spots the girls he stares at one of them. The way he looks at the girl tells us that he loves girls, and how could he not? They are so attractive. He probably sees things in another way than other people. He knows that this girl is different than the rest of the French girl group. If we go toward the end, the girl and the man is standing by each other, watching the painting of Stubbs. We see that the old man somehow understands the girl even though they don’t say a word to each other. They don’t even look at each other. There is some kind of invisible conversation going on between them.
The old man’s passion for art was rejected by his follower who departed earlier, and the same is happening to the girl. Her interests for art were overlooked by her group. Their friends don’t understand their passions and interests for art. The old man and the girl have something in common they maybe want to share, but they can’t.
Let the gender of the narrator remain unknown, just for now. The narrator observes everything, the man, the girls, and the thoughts that are going on in their minds. In the conversation between the old man and the narrator we see that the old man is choosing his “opponent” before he’s willing to discuss anything “Now he looked properly at me, took me in, decided I was worthy to continue.” So the old man is not just sharing his knowledge to everybody.
The narrator sees the girl but not exactly the same way as the old man. The old man seems to be more attracted and drawn to her than the narrator. The narrator, on...