Part 8 out of 9
When the men had resumed their customary seats
and the room had once more settled to work--it had
only been a question of sex that had destroyed the
equilibrium, a question no longer of value now that
the fair intruder could really PAINT--Oliver bent
over her and said in his most gallant manner:
"If the Countess Kovalski will be gracious enough
to excuse Bianchi (he had never left her elbow) I
will try and make a burgomaster of him. Perhaps
you will help me tie this around his neck," and he held
out the white ruff. He had put on his coat despite
"What, dear Bianchi in a ruff! Oh! how perfectly
charming! That's really just what he looks like.
I've always told him that Rembrandt ought to have
seen him. Come, you sweet man, hold up your beautiful
As she spoke she caught the ruff from Oliver's
hand and stretched out her bare arms toward Blanch.
"No, I'm not going to pose now," protested the
Pole, pushing back her hands. "You can get me
any time. Take the Countess, Horn. She'd make
"Yes! Yes! Please do," she laughed, springing
from her seat and clapping her hands with all the
gayety and joyousness of a child over some expected
Oliver hesitated for an instant, as he looked down
into her eyes, wondering whether his brush could
do justice to their depth. Then he glanced at her
supple figure and white skin in contrast to the black
velvet, its edge softened by the fall of lace, the
dominant, insistent note of the red japonica in her blue-
black hair, the flesh tones brilliant under the gas-jets.
The color scheme was exactly what he had been looking
for all winter--black, white, and a touch of red.
"I have never been so honored, Madame. Nothing
could give me greater pleasure," he answered,
with a dry smile. "May I escort your ladyship to
the platform?" And he held out his hand and conducted
her to the stand facing the big easel.
Then there followed a scene such as many of the
Stone Mugs had not shared in since they left the
The Countess stood erect on the raised platform,
with head up and slightly turned, the full glare of
the gas-jets falling upon her neck and throat, made
all the more brilliant by reason of the dark green
walls of Fred's studio, which formed the background
behind her. One arm was partly raised, a lighted
cigarette between her fingers; the other was lost in
the folds of the velvet gown. She posed as naturally
and as easily as if she had done nothing else all her
life, and with a certain bravado and swing that
enchanted everybody in the room.
One talent demanded of the artist members of the
club when they sought admission, and insisted upon
by the Committee, was the ability, possessed in a
marked degree by Oliver, of making a rapid, telling
sketch from life, and at night. So expert had most
of the members become that many of their pictures
made under the gas-light were as correct in their
color-values as those done in the day-time. In this
Oliver was past-master. Most of his own work had
to be done under artificial light during the long
years of his struggle.
The men--they were again on their feet--crowded
closer, forming a circle about the easel. They saw
that the subject appealed to Oliver, and they knew
how much better he could paint when his heart was in
his work. His picture of Margaret Grant in the Tam-
o'-Shanter cap, the best portrait at the last exhibition,
had proved that.
Oliver saw the interest shown in his work and put
himself on his mettle. He felt that not only his own
reputation, but the honor of the Stone Mugs, was at
stake. He felt, too, a certain pride and confidence
in the sureness of his touch--a touch that the woman
he loved believed in--one she had really taught him
herself, He began by blocking in with a bit of charcoal
the salient points of the composition. Fred stood
on his left hand holding a cigar-box filled with tubes
of color, ready to unscrew their tops and pass them to
Oliver as he needed them.
As the dark background of greenish black, under
the vigorous strokes of his brush, began to relieve the
flesh tones, and the coloring of the lips and the
japonica in the hair took their places in the color-
scheme, a murmur of applause ran through the room.
No such piece of night-work had ever been painted
since the club had come together, and certainly not
"A Fortuny, by thunder!" burst out Waller. He
had been the first man to recognize Oliver's talent in
the old days and had always felt proud of his foresight.
For two hours Oliver stood before his canvas, the
Countess resting now and then, floating over to the
piano, as Simmons had done, running her fingers over
its keys, or breaking out into Polish, Hungarian, or
French songs at the pleasure of the room. During
these rests Oliver turned the picture to the wall. He
did not wish her to see it until it was finished. He
was trying some brush tricks that Madge loved, some
that she had learned in Couture's atelier, and whose
full effect could only be recognized in the finished
When the last touches of Oliver's brush had been
laid on the canvas, and the modest signature, O. H.,
as was the custom, had been affixed to its lower left-
hand corner, he made a low salaam to the model and
whirled the easel in front of her.
The cry of delight that escaped her lips was not
only an expression of her pleasure, but it convinced
every man in the club that the Countess's technical
knowledge of what constituted a work of art equalled
her many other accomplishments. She sat looking at
it with thoughtful, grave face, and her whole manner
changed. She was no longer the woman who had so
charmed the room. She was the connoisseur, the expert,
the jury of last resort. Oliver watched her with
absorbing interest as he sat wiping his forehead with
"Monsieur Horn," she said, slowly, as if weighing
each word, "if you come to my country they will
cover you all over with medals. I had no idea anyone
in this new land could paint as you do. You are
a master. Permit me, Monsieur, to make you my
obeisance--" and she dipped back on one foot and
swept the floor with her skirts.
Oliver laughed, returned the bow with a mock
flourish, and began rolling down his shirt-cuffs; a
thrill quivering through him--that thrill only felt by
a painter when he is conscious that some work of his
brush has reached the high-water mark of his abilities.
For only the artist in him had been at work.
What stirred him was not the personality of the
Countess--not her charm nor beauty but the harmony
of the colors playing about her figure: the
reflected lights in the blue-black of her hair; the
soft tones of the velvet lost in the shadows of
the floor, and melting into the walls behind her;
the high lights on the bare shoulder and arms divided
by the severe band of black; the subdued grays in
the fall of lace uniting the flesh tones and the bodice;
and, more than all, the ringing note of red sung by
the japonica tucked in her hair and which found its
only echo in the red of her lips--red as a slashed
pomegranate with the white seed-teeth showing
through. The other side of her beautiful self--the
side that lay hidden under her soft lashes and velvet
touch, the side that could blaze and scorch and burn
to cinders--that side Oliver had never once seen nor
This may have been because, while his fingers
worked on, his thoughts were somewhere else, and
that he saw another face as he mixed his colors, and
not that of the siren before him. Or it may have been
that, as he looked into the eyes of the Countess, he
saw too deeply into the whirlpool of passion and pain
which made up the undercurrent in this beautiful
woman's strange life.
Not so the others. Many of whom were the most
serious-minded of men where women were concerned.
Crug--who, to quote Waller, had drifted into a state
of mind bordering on lunacy--was so completely
taken off his feet that he again led her ladyship by
her finger-tips to the piano, and, with his hand on
his heart, and his eyes upraised, begged her to sing
for him some of the songs of her native land and in
the tongue of her own people; the Countess complying
so graciously and singing with such consummate
taste and skill, throwing her soul into every
line, that the men soon broke out in rounds of
applause, crowding about her with the eagerness of
bees around a hive--all except Waller and Oliver,
who sat apart, quietly watching her out of the corners
of their eyes.
The portrait was forgotten now; so were the
sketches and tiles, and the work of the evening. So
was everything else but the woman who dominated
the room. She kept her seat on the piano-stool, the
centre of the group, as a queen of the ballet sits on
a painted throne, flashing her eyes from one to the
other, wheeling about to dash off an air from some
unknown opera--unknown to those who listened--
laying her lighted cigarette on the music-rack as she
played, and whirling back again to tell some anecdote
of the composer who wrote it, or some incident connected
with its production in Vienna or Warsaw or
St. Petersburg--the club echoing her every whim.
It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that the staid
and sober-minded Stone Mugs, under these conditions,
completely lost their heads, and that when Oliver
picked up an empty beer-mug, the symbol of the
club used in all ceremonies, and began filling it with
the names of the members which he had written on
slips of paper, preparatory to the drawing of the lottery
for the picture which he had just finished--every
meeting-night a lottery was drawn, the lucky winner
possessing the picture of the evening--Crug and
Munson should have simultaneously sprung to their
feet, and, waving their hands over their heads, have
proposed, in one and the same breath, that "Our
distinguished visitor" should have the privilege of
adding her own name to those in Oliver's mug--the
picture to be her own individual property should her
patronymic be the first to be drawn from its open
Waller started to his feet to object, and the words
of protest were half out of his mouth when Oliver
stopped him. A woman was always a woman to Oliver,
no matter what her past or present station in life
might be. It was her sex that kept him loyal when
any discourtesy was involved.
"Keep still, old man," he whispered. "They've
gone crazy, but we can't help it. Get on your feet
When the sound of the "ayes" adopting Crug and
Munson's motion had died away, Oliver inscribed her
initials upon a small piece of paper, dropped it in the
mug, held it high above the lady's head, and asked
her to reach up her dainty fingers and pick out the
name of the lucky possessor of "The Woman in
Black," as the picture had now been christened. The
white arm went up, the jewelled fingers felt about
nervously among the little ballots, and then the
Countess held up a twisted bit of paper.
A burst of applause filled the room. The scrap of
paper bore the initials of the Countess! "The
Woman in Black" was her property.
But the most extraordinary part by far of the
evening's performance was still to come.
When the hour of midnight had arrived--the hour
of dispersal, a rule rarely broken--the Countess
called to Bianchi and directed him to go out into the
hall and bring in her long black stockings and stout
shoes, which she had taken off outside Fred's door,
and which she had left hanging on a nail.
I can see her now--for I, too, was leaning over the
same table, Oliver beside me, watching this most
extraordinary woman of another world, a woman who
had been the idol of almost every capital in Europe,
and whom I knew (although Oliver did not) had been
quietly conducted out of some of them between dark
and daylight--I can see her now, I say, sitting on the
piano-stool, facing the group, the long, black silk
stockings that Bianchi had brought her in her hands.
I remember just the way in which, after loosening her
dainty, red-heeled slippers, she swept aside her skirts,
unfastened her garters, and, with the same
unconsciousness and ease with which she would have slipped
a pair of rubbers over a pair of shoes, drew the
long black stockings over her flesh-colored ones,
refastening the garters again, talking all the time,
first to one and then the other; pausing only to
accentuate some sentence with a wave of her shoe or
stocking or cigarette, as the action suited the words.
That the group about her was composed solely of
men made not the slightest difference. She was only
trying to save those precious, flesh-colored silk
stockings that concealed her white skin from the slush
and snow of the streets. As to turning her back to
her hosts during this little change of toilet--that was
the last thing that entered her head. She would
as soon have stepped into a closet to put on her
And then again, why should she be ashamed of her
ankles and her well-turned instep and dainty toes, as
compact in their silk covering as peas in a pod! She
might have been, perhaps, in some one of the satin-
lined drawing-rooms around Madison Square or Irving
Place, but not here, breathing the blue smoke of
a dozen pipes and among her own kind--the kind she
had known and loved and charmed all her life.
After all it was but a question of economy. Broadway
was a slough of mud and slush, and neither she
nor Bianchi had the price of a carriage to spare.
Oliver watched her until the whole comedy was
complete; then, picking up his wet sketch and handing
it with the greatest care to Bianchi, who was to
conduct her ladyship to her lodgings, he placed the
long black cloak with the fur-trimming and watermelon-
colored silk lining about her beautiful, bare
shoulders, and, with the whole club following and
waving their hands good-night, our young gentleman
bowed her out and downstairs with all the deference
and respect he would have shown the highest lady in
"MARGARET GRANT--TOP FLOOR"
One spring morning, some time after the visit of
the Countess to the club and the painting of her portrait
by Oliver--the incident had become the talk of
the studios before the week was out--Oliver sat in
his own rooms on the top floor, drinking his coffee--
the coffee he had boiled himself. The janitor had
just slipped two letters through a slit in the door.
Both lay on the floor within reach of his hand. One
was from his mother, bearing the postmark of his
native city; the other was from a prominent picture-
dealer on Broadway, with a gallery and big window
looking out on the street.
Oliver broke the seal of his mother's letter, and
moved his chair so that the light from the overhead
skylight would fall on its pages.
It read as follows:
"My Darling Boy: Your father goes to you to-
morrow. Mr. Cobb was here last night with a letter
from some gentleman of means with whom he has
been corresponding. They want to see the motor, so
your father and Nathan leave on the early train.
"This man's continued kindness is a constant surprise
to me. I have always thought it was he who prevented
the mortgage from being foreclosed, but I
never knew until yesterday that he had written his
name under my own the second time the note was to
be renewed, and that he has kept it there ever since.
I cannot speak of this to him, nor must you, if you see
him, for poor old Mr. Steiger told me in confidence.
I am the more glad now that we have always paid
the interest on the note. The next payment, which
you have just sent me, due on the first of the month,
is now in my bureau-drawer ready for the bank, but
I will not have to use it now.
"Whether the mortgage can ever be paid off I do
not know, for the farm is ruined, I fear. Mr. Mowbray's
cousin, who drove over last week to see what
was left of the plantations in that section, writes me
that there is nothing remaining of your grandfather's
place but the bare ground and the house. All the
fences have been burned and many of the beautiful
trees cut down for firewood. The Government still
occupies the house and one of the outbuildings, although
most of the hospital stores have been moved
away. The last half-year's rent which was held back,
owing to some new ruling from Washington, came, I
am thankful to say, two days ago in a check from the
paymaster here, owing to Mr. Cobb's intercession.
He never loses an opportunity to praise you for what
you did for that poor young soldier, and Mr. Steiger
told me that when those in authority heard from Mr.
Cobb which Mrs. Horn it was, they ordered the rent
paid at once. He is always doing just such kindnesses
for us. But for this rental I don't know how we
would have been able to live and take care of those
dependent upon us. We little knew, my son, when
we both strove so hard to save the farm that it would
really be our only support. This rent, however, will
soon cease and I tremble for the future. I can only
pray my Heavenly Father that something will come
out of this visit to New York. it is our only hope
"Don't lose sight of your father for a moment,
my son. He is not well and gets easily fatigued,
and although he is greatly elated over his promised
success, as we all are--and he certainly deserves to
be--I think you will see a great change in him these
last few months. I would not have consented to his
going had not Nathan gone with him. Nathan insists
upon paying the expenses of the trip; he says it is only
fair that he should, as your father has given him an
interest in the motor. I earnestly hope for some results,
for I shall have no peace until the whole amount
of the mortgage is paid back to the bank and you and
Mr. Cobb are released from the burden, so heavy on
you, my boy.
"There is no other news to tell you. Sue Clayton
brought her boy in to-day. He is a sweet little fellow
and has Sue's eyes. She has named him John Clayton,
after her father. They have made another attempt
to find the Colonel's body on the battle-field,
but without success. I am afraid it will never be
"Lavinia sends her love. She has been much better
lately. Her army hospital work has weighed upon
her, I think. Three years was too long.
"I have the last newspaper notices of your academy
picture pinned on my cushion, and I show them
to everybody who comes in. They always delight
me. You have had a hard fight, my son, but you are
winning now. No one rejoices more than I do in
your success. As you said in your last letter, the
times have really changed. They certainly have for
me. Sorrow and suffering have made me see many
things in a different light these last few years.
"Malachi and Hannah are well, but the old man
seems quite feeble at times.
"Your loving mother,
"Sallie T. Horn."
Dear lady, with your soft white hair and deep
brown eyes that have so often looked into mine!
How dreary were those long days of hate and misery!
How wise and helpful you were to every living soul
who sought your aid, friend and foe alike. Your
great heart sheltered and comforted them all.
Oliver read the letter through and put his lips to
the signature. In all his life he had never failed to
kiss his mother's name at the bottom of her letters.
The only difference was that now he kissed them
with an added reverence. The fact of his having
proved himself right and her wrong in the choice of
his profession made loyalty with him the more tender.
"Dear, dear mother!" he said to himself. "You
have had so much trouble lately, and you have been
so plucky through it all." He stopped, looked dreamily
across the room, and added with a sigh: "But she
has not said one word about Madge; not one single
word. She doesn't answer that part of my letter;
she doesn't intend to."
Then he opened the other communication which
"Dear Mr. Horn: Please call here in the morning.
I have some good news for you.
Oliver turned the picture-dealer's letter over,
peered into the envelope as if he expected to find some
trace of the good news tucked away in its corners,
lifted the tray holding his frugal breakfast, and laid
it on the floor outside his door ready for the janitor's
morning round. Then, picking up his hat, he locked
his door, hung an "out card" on the knob, and,
strolling downstairs, stepped into the fresh morning
air. He knew the dealer well. He had placed two
of old Mr. Crocker's pictures with him--one of which
had been sold.
When he reached Snedecor's gallery he found the
big window surrounded with a crowd gazing intently
at an upright portrait in a glittering gold frame, to
which was affixed an imposing-looking name-plate
bearing the inscription:
"THE WOMAN IN BLACK,
BY OLIVER HORN"
So this was Snedecor's good news!
Oliver made his way through the crowd and into
the open door of the shop--the shop was, in front,
the gallery in the rear--and found the proprietor
leaning over a case filled with artists' supplies.
"Has she had it FRAMED, Snedecor?" asked Oliver,
with a light laugh.
"Not to any alarming extent! I made that frame
for Mr. Peter Fish. She sent it here for sale, and
Fish bought it. He's wild about it. Says it's the best
thing since Sully. He wants you to paint his daughter;
that's what I wanted to see you about. Great
card for you, Mr. Horn. I congratulate you!"
Oliver gave a low whistle. His own good fortune
was for the moment forgotten in his surprise at the
woman's audacity. Selling a sketch painted by one of
the club! one which had virtually been GIVEN to her.
"Poor Bianchi! He does pick up the queerest people.
I wonder if she was out of stockings," he said
"Oh, you needn't worry about the Madame; she
won't suffer for clothes as long as she's got that pair
of eyes in her head. You just ought to have seen
her handle old Fish. It was beautiful. But, see
here now, you don't want to make old Peter a present
of this portrait of his daughter. He's good for a
thousand, I tell you. She got a cracking price for
that one," and he pointed to the picture.
Again Oliver laughed.
"A cracking price? She must have needed the
money bad." The more he thought of it the funnier
Snedecor looked surprised. He was thinking of
Fish's order and the amount of his commission. Most
of Oliver's remarks were unintelligible to him--especially
his reference to the stockings.
"What shall I say to him?" Snedecor asked at last.
"Oh, nothing in particular. Just send him to my
studio. I'll be in all to-morrow morning."
"Well, but don't you think you'd better go and
see him yourself now? He's too big a bug to run
after people. That kind of thing don't come every
day, you know; you might lose it. Why, he lives
right near you in that swell house across the Square."
"Oh, I know him very well," said Oliver, nodding
his head. "No, let him come to-morrow to me; it
won't hurt him to walk up three flights of stairs. I'm
busy to-day. Now I think of it, there's one thing,
though, you CAN tell him, and please be particular
about it--there will be no advance over my regular
price. I don't care to compete with her ladyship."
Without waiting to hear the dealer's protest he
stepped outside the shop and joined the crowd about
the window, elbowing each other for a better view of
the portrait. No one recognized him. He was too
obscure for that. They might after this, he thought
with an exultant throb, and a flush of pride crossed
As he walked down Broadway a sense of the
humor of the whole situation came over him. Here
for years he had been working day and night; running
the gauntlet of successive juries and hanging
committees, with his best things rejected or skied
until his Tam-o'-Shanter girl made a hit; worrying,
hoping against hope, racking his brain as to how and
when and where he would find the path which would
lead him to commercial success--a difficult task for
one too proud to beg for favors and too independent
to seek another's aid--and here, out of the clear
sky, had come this audacious Bohemienne, the pet of
foyer and studio--a woman who presented the greatest
number of contrasts to the things he held most
dear in womankind--and with a single stroke had
cleared the way to success for him. And this, too, not
from any love of him, nor his work, nor his future,
but simply to settle a board-bill or pay for a bonnet.
Again Oliver laughed, this time so loudly that the
man in front turned and looked at him.
"A cracking price," he kept repeating to himself,
"a cracking price, eh? and out of old Peter Fish!
Went fishing for minnows and hooked a whale, and
another little fish for me! I wonder what she baited
her hook with. That woman's a genius."
Suddenly he caught sight of the sign of a Long
Island florist set up in an apothecary's window between
the big green and red glass globes that lined
Turning on his heel he entered the door.
"Pick me out a dozen red japonicas," he said to
the boy behind the counter.
Oliver waited until each short-stemmed blossom
was carefully selected, laid on its bed of raw cotton,
blanketed with the same covering, and packed in a
paper box. Then, taking a card from his pocket, he
wrote upon its back: "Most grateful thanks for my
share of the catch," slipped it into an envelope,
addressed it to "The fair Fisher, The Countess Kovalski,"
and, with a grim smile on his face, kept on down
Broadway toward the dingy hotel, the resort of all
the Southerners of the time, to arrange for rooms
for his father and Nathan Gill.
Having, with his card and his japonicas, dismissed
the Countess from his mind, and to a certain extent
his obligations, the full importance of this new order
of Peter Fish's began to take possession of him. The
color rose in his cheeks and an old-time spring and
lightness came into his steps. He knew that such a
commission, and from such a man, would at once gain
for him a recognition from art patrons and a standing
among the dealers. Lasting success was now assured
him in the line he had chosen for his life's work. It
only remained for him to do the best that was in him.
Better than all, it had come to him unasked and without
any compromising effort on his own part.
He knew the connoisseur's collection. It filled the
large gallery adjoining his extensive home on Washington
Square and was not only the best in the city,
containing as it did examples of Sir Thomas Lawrence,
Sir Joshua Reynolds, Chrome, Sully, and
many of the modern French school--among them
two fine Courbets and a Rousseau--but it had lately
been enriched by one or more important American
landscapes, notably Sanford Gifford's "Catskill
Gorge" and Church's "Tropics"--two canvases
which had attracted more than usual attention at
the Spring Exhibition of the Academy. An order,
therefore, for a family portrait from so distinguished
a patron not only gave weight and dignity to the work
of any painter he might select, but it would
unquestionably influence his many friends and
acquaintances to go and do likewise.
As Oliver, his eyes aglow, his whole heart filled
with joy, stepped quickly down the street the beauty
of the day made him throw back his shoulders
and drink in long deep breaths, as if he would fill his
very pores with its vitality. These early spring days
in New York--the most beautiful the world over;
not even in Italy can one find better skies--always
affected him in this way. There was a strength-giving
quality in the ozone, a brilliancy in the sunshine,
and a tempered coolness in the air to be found nowhere
else. There was, too, a certain picturesqueness
in the sky-line of the houses--a sky-line fringed with
jets of white steam from the escape-pipes of numerous
fires below, which appealed to his artistic sense.
These curling plumes that waved so triumphantly in
the sparkling morning light, or stirred by the wind,
flapped like milk-white signal flags, breaking at last
into tatters and shreds, blurring the edges of chimney
and cornice, were a constant source of delight to the
young painter. He would often stop to watch their
movements, and as often determine to paint them
at the first opportunity. They seemed to express to
him something of the happy freedom of one released
from pent-up toil; a freedom longed for in his own
heart, and which had rarely been his since those
blessed days under Moose Hillock, when he and Margaret
roamed the woods together.
Still a third cause of rejoicing--and this sent a
flutter around his heart--was the near prospect of
meeting his dear old father, whom he had not seen for
months; not since his last visit home, and whose long
years of struggle and waiting seemed now to be so
With these last joyous thoughts filling his mind, he
stepped quickly through the corridor of the hotel,
approached the desk, and had just given the names
of his father and Nathan to the clerk, when a man
behind the counter interrupted him with:
"Just arrived. Got in this morning. There they
are by the window."
Two quaint-looking old gentlemen were gazing out
upon the rush of Broadway--two old gentlemen
so unusual that even the habitues of the place, those
who sat tilted back all day chipping the arms of their
chairs with their pen-knives, or sipping countless
toddies and juleps, were still staring at them in
undisguised astonishment. One--it was Nathan--wore
a queer hat, bushy, white hair, and long, pen-wiper
cloak: it was the same cloak, or another just like it;
the same, no doubt; few new clothes had been bought
during the war. And the other--and this was his
own dear father--wore a buff waistcoat, high white
silk scarf, and brown frock coat, with velvet collar.
Neither of them were every-day sights around the
corridors of the New York Hotel: even among a
collection of human oddities representing every State
in the South.
"We thought it best to take the night train, my
son," said Richard, starting up at Oliver's caressing
touch--he had put both hands on his father's shoulders.
"You got your dear mother's letter of course.
Oh, I'm so glad to see you! Sit down here alongside
of us. How well you are looking, my son," and he
patted him lovingly on the arm. "What a whirl it all
is! Nathan and I have been here for hours; we arrived
at six o'clock. Did you ever see anything like
it? The people never seem to stop coming. Ah! this
is the place for you, my boy. Everything is so alive,
so full of purpose, so intense, so delightful and
inspiring to me. And such a change in the years since
I was here."
He had brought the motor with him. It lay at the
moment in a square box inside the office-railing. Not
the big one which he had just perfected--that one
was at home under the window in the old shop, in the
back yard in Kennedy Square--but a smaller working
model made of pine wood, with glass-tumblers
for jars and imitation magnets wrapped round with
thread instead of wire--the whole unintelligible to
the layman, but perfectly clear to the scientist. He
had with him, too, packed in a small carpet-bag, which
lay within reach of his hand, all the patents which had
been granted him as the work progressed--besides a
huge bundle of papers, such as legal documents, notices
from the scientific journals, and other data connected
with the great Horn Galvanic Motor, which
was soon to revolutionize the motive power of the
world. Tucked away in his inside pocket, ready for
instant use, was Amos Cobb's letter, introducing
"the distinguished inventor, Mr. Richard Horn, of
Kennedy Square," etc., etc., to the group of capitalists
who were impatiently waiting his arrival, and who
were to furnish the unlimited sums of money necessary
in its development--unlimited sums being ready
for any scheme, no matter how chimerical, in the
flush times through which the country was then
"I have succeeded at last, my boy, as I wrote you,"
continued Richard, with glowing eyes. "Even that
small motor at home--the one you know--that one
has a lifting power of a hundred pounds. All that is
necessary now is to increase the size of the batteries
and the final result is assured. Let me show you
this"--and, oblivious of the many eyes fastened on
him, he drew toward him the black carpet-bag and
took out a sheet of paper covered with red and blue
lines. "You see where the differences are. And you
see here"--and he pointed out the details with his
thin white finger--"what I have done since I explained
to you the new additions. This drawing,
when carried out, will result in a motor with a lifting
capacity of ten tons. Ah, Oliver, I cannot tell you
what a great relief has come to me now that I know
my life's work is crowned with success."
Nathan was quite as happy. Richard was his sun-
god. When the light of hope and success flashed in
the inventor's quiet, thoughtful face, Nathan basked
in its warmth and was radiant in its glow. He needed
all the warmth he could get, poor old man. The cold
chill of the days of fear and pain and sorrow had well-
nigh shrivelled him up; he showed it in every line
of his body. His shoulders were much more bent;
his timid, pipe-stem legs the more shaky; the furrows
about his face deeper; the thin nose more transparent.
All during the war he had literally lived in Richard.
The cry of the "extras" and the dull tramp of marching
troops, and the rumbling of cars laden with army
supplies had jarred on his sensitive ear as would
discordant notes in a quartette. Days at a time he
would hide himself away in Richard's workshop,
helping him with his bellows or glue-pot, or piling the
coals on the fire of his forge. The war, while it lasted,
paralyzed some men to inaction--Nathan was one of
"At last, Oliver, at last!" Nathan whispered to
Oliver when Richard's head was turned for a moment.
"Nothing now but plain sailing. Ah! it's a great day
for dear Richard! I couldn't sleep last night on the
train for thinking of him."
As Oliver looked down into Nathan's eyes, glistening
with hope and happiness, he wondered whether,
after all these long years of waiting, his father's
genius was really to be rewarded? Was it the same
old story of success--one so often ending in defeat
and gloom, he thought, or had the problem really been
solved? He knew that the machine had stood its
initial test and had developed a certain lifting power;
his father's word assured him of that; but would it
continue to develop in proportion to its size?
He turned again toward Richard. The dear face
was a-light with a new certainty; the eyes brilliant,
the smiles about the lips coming and going like summer
clouds across the sun. Such enthusiasm was not
to be resisted. A fresh hope rose in the son's heart.
Could this now almost assured success of his father's
help him with Madge? Would their long waiting
come any nearer to being ended? Would the sum of
money realized be large enough to pay off the dreaded
mortgage, and there still be enough for the dear home
and its inmates?
He knew how large this hoped-for sum must be,
and how closely his own and his mother's honor were
involved in its cancellation. Her letter had indeed
stated the facts--this motor was now their only hope
outside the work of his own brush.
Perhaps, after all, his lucky day had come. The
first gleam of light had been this order of Peter Fish's
to paint his daughter, and now here, sitting beside
him, was his father with a letter in his pocket addressed
to Amos Cobb from one of the richest men
in New York, who stood ready to pay a small fortune
for the motor. Then he thought of his mother.
What a delight it would be when she could be freed
from the millstone that had hung around her neck
He must go and tell Margaret and take his father
and Nathan with him. Yes, his lucky day HAD come.
Soon the two delighted and astonished old gentlemen,
under Oliver's guidance, were making their way
up Broadway ostensibly to see his picture at Snedecor's,
but really to call upon the distinguished painter,
Margaret Grant, whom everyone was talking about,
both in New York and in Kennedy Square, for one
of her pictures graced Miss Clendenning's boudoir at
that very moment. Our young Romeo had waited
too many months for someone from Kennedy Square
to see the woman he loved, and now that the arms of
his father and Nathan were linked in his own, and
their legs subject to his orders, he did not intend to
let many precious minutes pass before he rang Margaret's
When Snedecor's window was reached Richard
stopped short in amazement.
"Yours, Oliver! Marvellous! Marvellous!"
Richard exclaimed, when the three had wedged their
way into the crowd to see the better. "A fine strong
picture, and a most superb looking woman. Why, I
had no idea! Really! Really"--and his voice trembled.
He was deeply touched. The strength of the
coloring, the masterly drawing, the admiring crowd
about the window, greatly surprised him. While he
had been closeted with his invention, thinking only
of its success and bending every energy for its
completion, this boy of his had become a master.
"I didn't do my full duty to you, my son," he
said, with a tone of sadness in his voice, when they
had resumed their walk up Broadway. "You lost
much time in finding your life's work. I should
have insisted years ago that you follow the trend
of your genius. Your dear mother was not willing
and I let it go, but it was wrong. From something
she said to me the other night I feel sure she
sees her mistake now, but I never mention it to her,
and do you never let her know I told you. Yes! You
started too late in life, my boy."
"No, dear old daddy; I started just in the nick of
time and in the right way."
How could he have thought anything else on this
lovely spring morning, with the brightest of skies
overhead, his first important order within his grasp,
his dear old father and Nathan beside him, and the
loveliest girl in the world or on the planets beyond
waiting for him at the top of her studio stairs!
"It's most kind of you to say so," continued Richard,
dodging the people as he talked, "but couldn't
you have learned to work by following your own
"No dad. I was too confounded lazy and too fond
of fun. And then the dear mother wanted me to go
to work, and that was always enough for me."
"Oh, my son, it does me good to hear you say so"
--and a light shone on the old gentleman's face.
"Yes! you ALWAYS considered your mother. You
can't think how she has suffered during these terrible
years. But for the good offices of Mr. Cobb whose
kindness I shall never forget, I do not see how she
could have gone through them as she has. Isn't it
fine, my son, to think it is all over? She will never
have to worry again--never--never. The motor
will end all her troubles. She did not believe in it
once, but she does now.
They continued on up Broadway, Oliver in the
middle, Richard's arm in his; he hurrying them both
along; steering them across the streets; avoiding the
trucks and dragging them past the windows they
wanted to look into, with promises of plenty of time
for that to-morrow or next week. Only once did he
allow them to catch their breath, and that was when
they passed the big bronze statue overlooking Union
Square, and then only long enough for the two to
take in its outlines, and from its pedestal to fix their
eyes on the little windows of Miss Teetum's boarding-
house, where he' had spent so many happy and unhappy
Soon the two breathless old gentlemen and equally
breathless young guide--the first condition due to
the state of the two old gentlemen's lungs and the
second due entirely to the state of this particular
young gentleman's heart--stood in a doorway just
off Madison Square, before a small bell-pull bearing
above it a tiny sign reading: "Margaret Grant. Top
"Miss Grant has been at home only a few months,"
Oliver burst out as he rang the bell and climbed the
stairs. "Since her father's death she has been in
Paris with her mother, her cousin, Higbee Shaw the
sculptor, and her brother John. A shell injured the
drum of John's ear, and while she painted he was
under the care of a French specialist. He is still
there with his mother. If you think I can paint just
wait until you see Miss Grant's work. Think, dad!
she has taken two medals in Munich, and last year
had honorable mention at the Salon. You remember
her brother, of course, don't you, Uncle Nat, the
one Malachi hid over father's shop?"
Uncle Nat nodded his head as he toiled up the
steps. He remembered every hour of the hideous
nightmare. He had been the one other man besides
Richard and the Chief of Police to shake Oliver's
hand that fatal night when he was exiled from Kennedy
Mrs. Mulligan, in white apron, a French cap on
her head, and looking as fresh and clean as a trained
nurse, opened the door. Margaret had looked her
up the very day she landed, and had placed her in
charge of her apartment as cook, housekeeper, and
lady's maid, with full control of the front door and of
her studio. The old woman was not hard to trace; she
had followed the schools of the academy from their
old quarters to the new marble building on Twenty-
third Street, and was again posing for the draped-life
class and occasionally lending a hand to the new janitor.
Margaret's life abroad had taught her the
secret of living alone, a problem easily solved when
there are Mrs. Mulligans to be had for the asking.
"Yes, Mr. Oliver, she's insoide. Oh! it's fri'nds
ye hev wid ye!" and she started back.
"Only my father and Mr. Gill," and he brushed
past Mrs. Mulligan, parted the heavy portieres that
divided Madge's working studio from the narrow hall,
thrust in his head and called out, in his cheeriest
"Madge, who do you think is outside? Guess!
Father and Uncle Nat. Just arrived this morning."
Before Margaret could turn her head the two stood
before her: Richard with his hat in his hand, his
brown overcoat with the velvet collar over his arm--
he had slipped it off outside--and Nathan close behind,
still in the long, pen-wiper cloak.
"And is it really the distinguished young lady of
whom I have heard so much?" exclaimed Richard
with his most courtly bow, taking the girl's outstretched
hand in both of his. "I am so glad to see
you, my dear, both on your own account and on
account of your brother, whom we once sheltered.
And how is he now? and your dear mother?"
To all of which Margaret answered in low gentle
tones, her eyes never leaving Richard's, her hand still
fast in his; until he had turned to introduce Nathan
so that he might pay his respects.
Nathan, in his timid halting way, stepped from
behind Richard, and taking her welcoming hand,
told her how much he had wanted to know her,
since he had seen the picture she had painted, then
hanging in Miss Lavinia's home; both because it was
the work of a woman and because too--and he
looked straight into her eyes when he said it and
meant every word--she was the sister of the poor
fellow who had been so shamefully treated in his
own city. And Margaret, her voice breaking, answered
that, but for the aid of such kind friends as
himself and Oliver, John might never have come
back, adding, how grateful she and her whole family
had been for the kindness shown her brother.
While they were talking, Richard, with a slight
bow as if to ask her permission, began making the
tour of the room, his glasses held to his eyes, examining
each thing about him with the air of a connoisseur
suddenly ushered into a new collection of curios.
"Tell me who this sketch is by," he asked, stopping
before Margaret, and pointing to a small Lambinet,
glowing like an opal on the dull-green wall of
the studio. "I so seldom see good pictures that a gem
like this is a delight. By a Frenchman! Ah! Yes, I
see the subtlety of coloring. Marvellous people,
these Frenchmen. And this little jewel you have
here? This bit of mezzo in color. With this I am
more familiar, for we have a good many collections
of old prints at home. It is, I think--yes--I thought
I could not be mistaken--it is a Morland," and he
examined it closely, his nose almost touching the
The next instant he had crossed the room to the
window looking out over the city, the smoke and
steam of a thousand fires floating over its wide
"Come here, my son," he called to Oliver. "Look
over that stretch of energy and brains. Is it not
inspiring? And that band of silver, moving so quietly
and resistlessly out to sea. What a power for good it
all is, and what a story it will tell before the century
Margaret was by his side as he spoke. She had
hardly taken her eyes from him since he entered the
room--not even when she was listening to Nathan.
All her old-time, prejudices and preconceived estimates
of Richard were slipping away. Was this the
man whom she used to think of as a dreamer of
dreams, and a shiftless Southerner? This charming
old gentleman with the air of an aristocrat and the
keen discernment of an expert? She could hardly
believe her eyes.
As for Oliver, his very heart was bursting with
pride. It had all happened exactly as he had wanted
it--his father and Margaret had liked each other
from the very first moment. And then she had
been so beautiful, too, even in her long painting-
apron and her hair twisted up in a coil on her head.
And the little blush of surprise and sweetness which
had overspread her face when they entered, and
which his father must have seen, and the inimitable
grace with which she slipped from her high stool,
and with a half courtesy held out her hand to welcome
her visitors, and all with the savoir faire and
charm of a woman of the world! How it all went
straight to his heart.
If, however, he had ever thought her pretty in this
working-costume, he thought her all the more captivating
a few minutes later in the little French jacket
--all pockets and buttons--which she had put on as
soon as the greetings were over and the tour of the
room had been made in answer to Richard's delighted
But it was in serving the luncheon, which Mrs.
Mulligan had brought in, that his sweetheart was
most enchanting. Her full-rounded figure moved so
gracefully when she bent across to hand someone a
cup, and the pose of the head was so delicious, and it
was all so bewitching, and so precisely satisfied his
artistic sense. And he so loved to hear her talk
when she was the centre of a group like this, as much
really to see the movement of her lips and the light
in her eyes and the gracious way in which she moved
her head as to hear what she said.
He was indeed so overflowing with happiness over
it all, and she was so enchanting in his eyes as she
sat there dispensing the comforts of the silver tray,
that he must needs pop out of the room with some
impromptu excuse and disappear into the little den
which held her desk, that he might dash off a note
which he tucked under her writing-pad--one of their
hiding-places--and which bore the lines: "You were
never so much my queen as you are to-day, dearest,"
and which she found later and covered with kisses
before he was half way down the block on his way
back to the hotel with the two old gentlemen.
She was indeed beautiful. The brow was wider
and whiter, perhaps, than it had been in the old days
under the bark slant, and the look out of the eyes a
trifle softer, and with a certain tenderness in them--
not quite so defiant and fearless; but there had been
no other changes. Certainly none in the gold-brown
hair that Oliver so loved. That was still her glory,
and was still heaped up in magnificent masses, and
with the same look about it of being ready to burst
its bonds and flood everything with a river of gold.
"Lots of good news to-day, Madge," Oliver exclaimed,
after they had all taken their seats, his father
on Margaret's right, with Nathan next.
"Yes, and I have got lots of good news too; bushels
of it," laughed Margaret.
"You tell me first," cried Oliver bending toward
her, his face beaming; each day they exchanged the
minutest occurrences of their lives.
"No--Ollie--Let me hear yours. What's it
about? Mine's about a picture."
"So's mine," exclaimed Olive; his eyes brimming
with fun and the joy of the surprise he had in store
"But it's about one of your OWN pictures, Ollie."
"So's mine," he cried again, his voice rising in
"Oh, Ollie, tell me first," pleaded Margaret with a
tone in her voice of such coaxing sweetness that only
Richard's and Nathan's presence restrained him from
catching her up in his arms and kissing her then and
"No, not until you have told me yours," he
answered with mock firmness. "Mine came in a
"So did mine," cried Margaret clapping her hands.
"I don't believe yours is half as good as mine and
I'm not going to wait to hear it. Now listen--" and
she opened an envelope that lay on the table within
reach of her hand. "This is from my brother
John--" and she turned toward Richard and Nathan.
"He and Couture, in whose atelier I studied, are
great friends. Now please pay attention Mr. Autocrat--"
and she looked at Oliver over the edge of the
letter and began to read--
"Couture came in to-day on his way home and I showed
him the photograph Ollie sent me of his portrait of you--
his 'Tam-o'-Shanter Girl' he calls it. Couture was so
enthusiastic about it that he wants it sent to Paris at
once so that he can exhibit it in his own studio to some
of the painters there. Then he is going to send it to the
Salon. So you can tell that 'Johnnie Reb' to pass it along
to me by the first steamer; and you can tell him, too, that
his last letter is a month old, and I am getting hungry for
"There now! what do you think of that? Mr.
Oliver opened his eyes in astonishment.
"That's just like John, bless his heart!" he answered
slowly, as his glance sought the floor. This
last drop had filled his cup of happiness to the brim--
Some of it was glistening on his lashes.
"Now tell me your good news--" she continued,
her eyes still dancing. She had seen the look but
misunderstood the cause.
Oliver raised his eyes--
"Oh, it's not nearly as good as yours, Madge, in
one way and yet in another it's a heap better. What
do you think? Old Peter Fish wants me to paint his
Margaret laid her hand on his.
"Oh, Oliver! Not Peter Fish! That's the best
thing that has happened yet," and her face instantly
assumed a more serious expression. "I know the girl
--she will be an easy subject; she's exactly your
type. How do you know?"
"Just saw John Snedecor in answer to a letter he
wrote me. Fish has bought the 'Woman in Black.'
He's delighted with it."
"Why, I thought it belonged to the Countess."
"So it did. She sold it."
"Yes. Does it surprise you?"
"No; I can't say that it does. I am glad, though,
that it will stay in the country. It's by far the best
thing you or anybody else has done this season. I
was afraid she would take it back with her. Poor
woman! she has had a hard life, and it doesn't seem
to get any better, from what I hear."
"You know the original, then, my dear?" asked
Richard, holding out his second cup of tea for another
lump of sugar, which Margaret in her excitement
had forgotten. He and Nathan had listened
with the keenest interest to the reading of John
Grant's letter and to the discussion that had followed.
"I know OF her," answered Margaret as she
dropped it in; "and she knows me, but I've never met
her. She's a Pole, and something of a painter, too.
She studied in the same atelier where I was, but that
was before I went to Paris. Her husband became
mixed up in some political conspiracy and was sent
to Siberia, and she was put across the frontier that
same night. She is very popular in Paris; they all
like her, especially the painters. There is nothing
against her except her poverty." There could be nothing
against any woman in Margaret's eyes. "But
for her jewels she would have had as hard a time to
get on as the rest of us. Now and then she parts with
one of her pearls, and between times she teaches
music. You must see the picture Oliver painted of
her--it will delight you."
"Oh, but I have!" exclaimed Richard, laying
down his cup. "We looked at it as we came up. It
is really a great picture. He tells me it is the work
of two hours and under gas-light."
"No, not altogether, father. I had a few hours
on it the next day," interrupted Oliver.
"Strong, isn't it?" continued Margaret, without
noticing Oliver's explanation. "It is really better in
many ways than the girl in the Tam-o'-Shanter cap--
the one he painted of me. That had some of Lely's
qualities about it, especially in the flesh tones. He
always tells me the inspiration to paint it came from
an old picture belonging to his uncle. You know that
of course?" and she laid a thin sandwich on Nathan's
"You mean Tilghman's Lely--the one in his house
in Kennedy Square? Oh," said Richard, lifting his
fingers in appreciation, "I know every line of it. It
is one of the best Lely's I ever saw, and to me the gem
of Tilghman's collection."
"Yes; so Ollie tells me," continued Margaret.
"Now this picture of the Countess is to me very much
more in Velasquez's method than in Lely's. Broader
and stronger and with a surer touch. I have always
told Ollie he was right to give up landscapes. These
two pictures show it. There is really, Mr. Horn, no
one on this side of the water who is doing exactly
what Oliver is." She spoke as if she was discussing
Page, Huntington or Elliott or any other painter of
the day, not as if it was her lover. "Did you notice
how the lace was brushed in and all that work about
the throat--especially the shadow tones?"
She treated Richard precisely as if he was one of
the guild. His criticisms of her own work--for he
had insisted on seeing her latest picture and had even
been more enthusiastic over it than he had been over
Oliver's--and his instant appreciation of the Lambinet,
convinced her, even before he had finished the
tour of the room, that the quaint old gentleman was
as much at home in her atmosphere as he was in that
of his shop at home discussing scientific problems
with some savant.
"I did, my dear. It is quite as you say," answered
Richard, with great earnestness. "This 'Woman in
Black,' as he calls it, is painted not only with sureness
and with an intimate knowledge of the textures, but
it seems to me he has the faculty of expressing with
each stroke of his brush, as an engraver does with
his burin, the rounds and hollows of his surfaces.
And to think, too, my dear," he continued, "that
most of it was done at night. The color tones, you
know"--and his manner changed, and a more
thoughtful expression came into his face--the scientist
was speaking now--"are most difficult to manage
at night. The colors of the spectrum undergo some
very curious changes under artificial light, especially
from a gas consuming as much carbon as our common
carburetted hydrogen. The greens, owing to the
absorption of the yellow rays, become the brighter,
and the orange and red tones, from the same reason,
the more intense, while the paler violets and, in fact,
all the tertiaries, of a bluish cast lose--"
He stopped, as he caught a puzzled expression on
her face. "Oh, what a dreadful person I am," he
exclaimed, rising from his seat. "It is quite inexcusable
in me. Please forgive me, my dear--I was
really thinking aloud. Such ponderous learned
words should be kept out of this delightful abode of
the Muses, and then, I assure you, I really know so
little about it, and you know so much." And he
laughed softly, and made a little bow as a further
"No. I don't know one thing about it, nor does
any other painter I know," she laughed, blowing out
the alcohol lamp, "not quite in the same way. And
if I did I should want you to come every day and
bring Mr. Gill with you to tell me about it." Where-
upon Nathan, replying that nothing would give him
more pleasure (he had been silent most of the time--
somehow no one expected him to talk much when
Richard was present), struggled to his feet at an
almost imperceptible sign from the inventor, who
suddenly remembered that his capitalists were waiting
for him, pulled his old cloak about his shoulders
and, with Richard leading the way, they all four
moved out into the hall and stood in the open
When they reached the top stair outside the studio
dear Richard stopped, took both of Margaret's hands
in his, and said, in his kindest voice and in his gravest
and most thoughtful manner, as he looked down into
"My dear Miss Grant, may I tell you that I have
to-day found in you the realization of one of my day-
dreams? And will you forgive an old man when he
says how proud it makes him to know a woman who
is brave enough to live the life you do? You are the
forerunner of a great movement, my dear--the
mother of a new guild. It is a grand and noble thing
for a woman to sustain herself with work that she
loves"--and the dear old gentleman, lifting his hat
with the air of a courtier, betook himself down-stairs,
followed by Nathan, bowing as he went.
No wonder he rejoiced! Most of the dreams of his
younger days were coining true. And now this woman
--the beginning of a new era--the opening out
of a new civilization. And ahead of it a National
Art that the world would one day recognize!
He tried to express his delight to Oliver, and
turned to find him, but Oliver was not beside him
nor did he join his father for five minutes at least.
That young gentleman--just as Richard and Nathan
had reached the BOTTOM of the second flight of stairs--
had suddenly remembered something of the utmost
importance which he had left in the INNER room, and
which he could not possibly find until Madge, waiting
by the banister, had gone back to help him look for
it, and not then, until Mrs. Mulligan had left them
both and shut the kitchen-door behind her. Yes, it
was quite five minutes, or more, before Oliver clattered
down-stairs after his guests, stopping but once
to look up through the banisters into Margaret's
eyes--she was leaning over for the purpose--his open
hand held up toward her as a sign that it was always
at her command.
MR. MUNSON'S LOST FOIL
For a quiet, orderly, well behaved and most dignified
street, Tenth Street, at seven o'clock one April
night was disgracing itself in a way that must have
shocked its inhabitants. Cabs driving like mad were
rattling over the cobbles, making their way toward
the old Studio Building. Policemen were shouting
to the drivers to keep in line. Small boys were darting
in and out, peering into the cab windows and
calling out to their fellows: "Ki Jimmy! see de Ingin
wid de fedder-duster on his head"--or, "Look at
de pill in de yaller shirt! My eye, ain't he a honey-
At the entrance of the building, just inside the door
where the crowd was thickest, stood two men in armor
with visors down--stood so still, that the boys and
bystanders thought they had been borrowed from
some bric-a-brac shop until, in an unguarded moment,
one plumed knight rested his tired leg with a rattling
noise that sounded like a tin-peddler shifting his pack
or the adjustment of a length of stovepipe. Behind
the speechless sentinels, leading into the narrow corridor,
stretched a red carpet bordered by rows of
palms and evergreens and hung about with Chinese
At the end of this carpet opened a door that
looked into a banquet hall as rich in color and as
sumptuous in its interior fittings as an audience-
chamber of the Doges at a time when Venice ruled
the world. The walls were draped with Venetian silks
and Spanish velvets, against which were placed
Moorish plaques, Dutch brass sconces holding clusters
of candles, barbaric spears, bits of armor, pairs
of fencing foils, old cabinets, and low, luxurious divans.
Thrust up into the skylight, its gaff festooned
with trawl-nets, drooped a huge sloop's sail, its graceful
folds breaking the square lines of the ceiling; and
all about, suspended on long filigree chains, swung
old church-lamps of brass or silver, burning ruby
In the centre of this glow of color stood a round
table, its top covered with a white cloth, and laid with
covers for fifty guests. On this were placed, in orderly
confusion, great masses of flowers heard up
in rare porcelain vases; silver candelabra bearing
lighted candles; old Antwerp brass holding bon-bons
and sweets; Venetian flagons filled with rare wines;
Chinese and Japanese curios doing service as ash-
receivers and match-safes; Delft platters for choice
dishes; besides Flemish mugs, Bavarian glasses,
George III. silver, and the like.
At the head of this sumptuous board was placed a
chair of state, upholstered in red velvet, studded with
brass rosettes, the corners of its high back surmounted
by two upright gilt ornaments. This was
to hold the Master of the Feast, the presiding officer
who was to govern the merry spirits during the hours
of the revel. In front of this royal chair was a huge
stone mug crowned with laurel. This was guarded
by two ebony figures, armed with drawn scimitars,
which stood at each side of the throne-seat. From
these guards of honor radiated two half-circles of
lesser chairs, one for each guest--of all patterns and
periods: old Spanish altar-seats in velvet, Dutch
chairs in leather, Italian chairs in mother-of-pearl and
ivory--all armless and quite low, so low that the costumed
slaves, who were to wait on the royal assembly,
could serve the courses without having to reach over
the backs of the guests.
Moving about the room, rearranging the curios
on the cabinets, adding a bit of porcelain to the
collection on the table, shifting the lights for better
effect, lounging on the wide divans, or massed about
the doorway welcoming the new arrivals as they
entered, were Italian nobles of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, costumed with every detail correct,
even to the jewelled daggers that hung at their
sides, all genuine and of the period; cardinals in red
hats and wonderful church robes, the candle-grease
of the altar still clinging to their skirts; Spanish
grandees in velvet and brocade; Indian rajahs in baggy
silk trousers and embroidered waistcoats, with
Kohinoors flashing from their turbans--not genuine
this time but brilliant all the same; Shakespeares,
Dantes (one of each), besides courtiers, nobles, gallants,
and gentry of various climes and periods.
All this splendor of appointment, all these shaded
candles, hanging-lamps, Venetian glass, antique furniture,
rich costumes, Japanese curios, and assorted
bric-a-brac, were gathered together and arranged thus
sumptuously to add charm and lustre to a banquet
given by the Stone Mugs to those of their friends
most distinguished in their several professions of art,
literature, and music.
Indeed any banquet the Club gave was sure to be
as unique as it was artistic.
Sometimes it would be held in the hold of an abandoned
vessel left high and dry on a lonely beach,
which, under the deft touches of the artists of the
Club, would be transformed in a night to the cabin
of a buccaneer filled with the loot of a treasure ship.
Sometimes a canal boat, which the week before had
been loaded with lime or potatoes, would be scoured
out with a fire-hose, its deck roofed with awnings
and hung with lanterns, its hatches lined with palms,
and in the hold below a table spread of such surprising
beauty, and in an interior so gorgeous in its appointments
that each guest, as he descended the carpeted
staircase leading from the deck above to the
carpeted keelson below, would rub his eyes wondering
whether he had not been asleep, and had suddenly
awakened aboard Cleopatra's barge.
Again the club would hold a Roman feast in one
of Solari's upstairs rooms--the successor to Riley's
of the old days--each man speaking ancient Latin
with Tenth Street terminals, the servants dressed in
tunics and sandals, and the members in togas. Or
they would make a descent at midnight on Fulton
Market and have their tomcods scooped from the fish-
boxes alive and broiled to their liking while they
waited; or they would take possession of Brown's or
Farrish's for mugs of ale and English chops. But it
was always one so different from any other function
of its class that it formed the topic of the studios for
To-night it was the humor of the club to reproduce
as closely as possible, with the limited means at their
disposal--for none of the Stone Mugs were rolling
in wealth, nor did these functions require it--some
one of the great banquets of former times, not to be
historically or chronologically correct, but to express
the artistic atmosphere of such an occasion.
That there were certain unavoidable and easily
detected shams under all this glamour of color and
form did not lessen the charm of the present function.
Everybody, of course, knew before the evening was
over, or could have found out had he tried, that the
two knights in armor who guarded the side-walk entrance
to this royal chamber, and who had been the
target of the street-rats until they took their places
at the inside door, were respectively Mr. Patrick
McGinnis, who tended the furnace in the basement
of the Tenth Street Studio Building, stripped for the
occasion down to his red flannels, and Signore Luigi
Bennelli, his Italian assistant.
A closer inspection of the two ebony blackamoors,
with drawn scimitars, who guarded the royal chair
at the head of the table, would have revealed the fact
that they were not made of ebony at all, but of veritable
flesh and blood--the blackamoor on the right
being none other than Black Sam, the bootblack who
shined shoes on the corner of the avenue, and his
bloodthirsty pal on the left the kinky-haired porter
who served the grocer next door; the only "HONEST"
thing about either of them, to quote Waller, being
the artistic clothes that they stood in.
Further investigation would have shown that every
one of the wonderful things that made glad and glorious
the big square room on the ground floor of the
building, from the brass sconces on the walls to the
hanging church lamps, with everything that their
lights fell upon, had been gathered up that same
morning from the several homes and studios of the
members by old black Jerry, the official carman of
the Academy, and had been dumped in an indiscriminate
heap on the floor of the banquet hall, where
they had been disentangled and arranged by half a
dozen painters of the club; that the table and table
cloth had been borrowed from Solari's; that the very
rare and fragrant old Chianti, the club's private
stock, was from Solari's own cellars via Duncan's,
the grocer; and that the dinner itself was cooked and
served by that distinguished boniface himself, assisted
by half a dozen of his own waiters, each one wearing
an original Malay costume selected from Stedman's
collection and used by him in his great picture of the
Moreover there was not the slightest doubt that
the "Ingin," who was now bowing so gravely to the
master of ceremonies, was no other than the distinguished
Mr. Thomas Brandon Waller, himself;
"N.A., Knight of the Legion of Honor, Pupil of
Piloty, etc., etc.;" that the high-class mandarin in
the sacred yellow robe and peacock feather who accompanied
him, was Crug the 'cellist; that the bald-
headed gentleman with the pointed beard, who looked
the exact presentment of the divine William, was
Munson; and that the gay young gallant in the Spanish
costume was none other than our Oliver. The
other nobles, cavaliers, and hidalgos were the less
known members of the club, who, in their desire to
make the occasion a success, had fitted themselves to
their costumes instead of attempting to fit the costumes
to themselves, with the difference that each
man not only looked the character he assumed but assumed
the character he looked.
But no one, even the most knowing; no student
of costumes, no reader of faces, no discerner of character,
no acute observer of manners and times--in
glancing over the motley company would have
thought for one instant that, in all this atmosphere
of real unrealism, the two old gentlemen who had just
entered leaning on Oliver's arm--one in a brown coat
with high velvet collar and fluffy silk scarf, and the
other in a long pen-wiper cloak which, at the moment
was slipping from his shoulders--were genuine specimens
of the period of to-day without a touch of makeup
about them; that their old-time manners, even to
the quaint bows they both gave the master of ceremonies,
as they entered the royal chamber, were
their very own, part of their daily equipment, and
that nothing in the gorgeous banquet hall, from
the jewelled rapier belted to Oliver's side, and which
had once graced the collection of a prince, down to
the priceless bit of satsuma set out on the table and
now stuffed full of cigarettes (the bit could be traced
back to the Ming dynasty), were any more veritable
or genuine, or any more representative of the best
their periods afforded than these two quaint old gentlemen
from Kennedy Square.
Had there been any doubt in the minds of any
such wiseacre, either regarding their authenticity
or their quality, he had only to listen to Oliver's
presentation of his father and friend and to hear Richard
say, in his most courteous manner and in his most
"I have never been more honored, sir. It was
more than kind of you to wish me to come. My only
regret is that I am not your age, or I would certainly
have appeared in a costume more befitting the occasion.
I have never dreamed of so beautiful a place."
Or to see him lift his hand in astonishment as he
swept his eye over the room, his arm still resting on
the velvet sleeve of Oliver's doublet, and hear him
add, in a half whisper:
"Wonderful! Wonderful! Such harmony of color;
such an exquisite light. I am amazed at the splendor
of it all. What Aladdin among you, my son, held the
lamp that evoked all this beauty?"
Or still more convincing would it have been had
he watched him moving about the room, shaking
every man's hand in turn, Oliver mentioning their
real names and their several qualifications, and after
ward the characters they assumed, and Richard commenting
on each profession in a way quite his own.
"A musician, sir," he would have heard him exclaim
as he grasped Simmons's hand, over which hung
a fall of antique lace; "I have loved music all my
days. It is an additional bond between us, sir. And
the costume is quite in keeping with your art. How
delightful it would be, my dear sir, if we could discard
forever the sombre clothes of our day and go
back to the velvets and silks Of the past."
"Mr. Stedman, did you say, my son?" and he
turned to Oliver. "You have certainly mentioned
this gentleman's name to me before. If I do not mistake,
he is one of your very old friends. There is
no need of your telling me that you are Lorenzo. I
can quite understand now why Jessica lost her heart."
Or to see him turn to Jack Bedford with: "You
don't tell me so! Mr. John Bedford, did you say,
Oliver? Ah, but we should not be strangers, sir. If
I am right, you are a fellow-townsman of ours, and
have already distinguished yourself in your profession.
Your costume is especially becoming to you,
sir. What discernment you have shown. Permit me
to say, that with you the old adage must be reversed
--this time the man makes the clothes."
The same adage could really have been applied to
this old gentleman's own dress, had he but only
known it. He had not altered it in twenty years,
even after it had become a matter of comment among
his neighbors in Kennedy Square.
"I always associate one's clothes with one's manners,"
he would say, with a smile. "If they are good,
and suited to the occasion, best not change them."
Nathan was of the same mind. The wide hat, long,
evenly parted hair, and pen-wiper cloak could be
traced to these same old-fashioned ideas. These
idiosyncrasies excited no comment so far as Nathan
was concerned. He was always looked upon as belonging
to some antediluvian period, but with a progressive
man like Richard the case, his neighbors
thought, might have been different.
As Richard moved about the room, saluting each
one in turn, the men in and out of costume--the
guests were in evening dress--looked at each other
and smiled at the old gentleman's quaint ways, but
the old gentleman, with the same ease of manner and
speech, continued on quite around the table, followed
closely by Nathan, who limited his salutations to a
timid shake of the fingers and the leaving of some
word of praise or quaint greeting, which many of
them remember even to this day.
These introductions over--Oliver had arrived on
the minute--the ceremony of seating the guests was
at once begun. This ceremony was one of great dignity,
the two men-at-arms escorting the Master of the
Feast, the Most High Pan-Jam, Frederico Stono,
N.A., to his Royal Chair, guarded by the immovable
blackamoors, the members and guests standing until
His Royal Highness had taken his seat, and then
dropping into their own. When everyone was in his
place Richard found himself, to his delight, on the
right of Fred and next to Nathan and Oliver--an
honor accorded to him because of his age and relationship
to one of the most popular members of the
club, and not because of his genius and attainments
--these latter attributes being as yet unknown quantities
in that atmosphere. The two thus seated together
under the especial care of Oliver--a fact
which relieved the master of ceremonies of any further
anxiety on their account--were to a certain
extent left to themselves, the table being too large
for general conversation except with one's neighbors.
The seat in which he had been placed exactly suited
Richard's frame of mind. With an occasional word
to Fred, he sat quite still, talking now and then in low
tones to Nathan, his eyes taking in every detail of
the strange scene.
While Nathan saw only the color and beauty of it
all, Richard's keener mind was analyzing the causes
that had led up to such a gathering, and the skill and
taste with which the banquet had been carried out.
He felt assured that the men who could idle so luxuriously,
and whose technical knowledge had perfected
the artistic effects about him, could also work
at their several professions with equal results. He
was glad that Oliver had been found worthy enough
to be admitted to such a circle. He loved, too, to hear
his son's voice and watch the impression his words
made on the room. As the evening wore on, and he
listened to his banter, or caught the point of the
jests that Oliver parried and heard his merry laugh,
he would slip his hand under the table and pat his
boy's knee with loving taps of admiration, prouder of
him than ever. His own pleasures so absorbed him
that he continued to sit almost silent, except for a
word now and then to Nathan or a monosyllable to
The guests who were near enough to observe the
visitors closely soon began to look upon Richard and
Nathan as a couple of quaint, harmless, exceedingly
well-bred old gentlemen, rather provincial in appearance
and a little stilted in their manners, who, before
the evening was over, would, perhaps, become tired
of the gayety, ask to be excused, and betake themselves
to bed. All of which would be an eminently
proper proceeding in view of their extreme age and
general infirmities, old gentlemen of three score
years and over appearing more or less decrepit to
athletes of twenty and five.
Waller was the only man who really seemed to
take either of them seriously. After a critical examination
of Richard's head in clear relief under
the soft light of the candles, he leaned over to Stedman
and said, in a half whisper, nodding toward
"Stedman, old man, take that in for a minute.
Strong, isn't it? Wouldn't you like to paint him as
a blessed old Cardinal in a red gown? See how fine
the nose is, and the forehead. Best head I've seen
anywhere. Something in that old fellow."
The dinner went on. The Malays in scarlet and
yellow served the dishes and poured the wine with
noiseless regularity. The men at arms at each side
of the door rested their legs. The two blackamoors,
guarding the High Pan-Jam's chair, and who had
been promised double pay if they kept still during
the entire evening, had not so far winked an eyelid.
Now and then a burst of laughter would start from
one end of the table, leap from chair to chair, and
end in a deafening roar in which the whole room
joined. Each man was at his best. Fred, with entire
gravity, and with his sternest and most High
Pan-Jam expression, told, just after the fish was
served, a story of a negro cook at a camp so true to
life and in so perfect a dialect that the right-hand
blackamoor doubled himself up like a jack-knife,
much to the astonishment of those on the far side of
the big round table, who up to that moment had
firmly believed them to be studio properties with
ebony heads screwed on bodies of iron wire, the
whole stuffed with curled hair. Bianchi, Who had
come in late, clothed in a Burgomaster's costume
and the identical ruff that Oliver had expected to
paint him in the night when the Countess took his
place, was called to account for piecing out his dress
with a pair of breeches a century behind his coat
and hat, and had his voice drowned in a roar of protests
before he could explain.
Batterson, the big baritone of the club, Batterson
with the resonant voice, surpassed all his former
efforts by singing, when the cheese and salads were
served, a Bedouin love-song, with such power and
pathos and to the accompaniment of a native instrument
so skilfully handled that the room rose to
its feet, waving napkins, and the great Carvalho, the
famous tenor--a guest of Crug's, each member could
invite one guest--who was singing that week at the
Academy of Music, left his seat and, circling the
table, threw his arms about the singer in undisguised
When the cigars and liqueurs had been passed
around--these last were poured from bubble-blown
decanters and drunk from the little cups flecked with
gold that Munson had found in an old shop in Ravenna
--the chairs were wheeled about or pushed
back, and the members and guests rose from the table
and drifted to the divans lining the walls, or threw
themselves into the easy-chairs that were being
brought from the corners by the waiters. The
piano, with the assistance of the two now crest-
fallen and disappointed blackamoors, who, Eurydice
like, had listened and lost, was pushed from
its place against the wall; Crug's 'cello was stripped
of its green baize bag and Simmons's violin-case
opened and his Stradivarius placed beside it. The big
table, bearing the wreck of the feast, more captivating
even in its delightful disorder than it had been in
its orderly confusion, was then, with the combined
help of all the Malays, moved gently back against
the wall, so as to widen the space around the piano,
its debris left undisturbed by special orders from the
Royal Chair, the rattling of dishes while their fun
was in progress being one of the things which the
club would not tolerate.
While all this rearranging of the banquet-hall was
going on, Simmons was busying himself putting a
new bridge under the strings of his violin, tightening
its bow, and testing the condition of his instrument
by that see-saw, harum-scarum flourish so common
to all virtuosos;--no function of the club was
ever complete without music--the men meanwhile
settled themselves comfortably in their seats; some
occupying their old chairs, others taking possession
of the divans, the gay costumes of the members, and
the black coats and white shirt-fronts of the guests in
high relief against the wrecked dinner-table presenting
a picture as rich in color as it was strong in
What is so significant, by the way, or so picturesque,
as a dinner-table wrecked by good cheer and
hospitality? The stranded, crumpled napkins, the
bunching together of half and wholly emptied glasses,
each one marking a period of content--the low
candles, with half dried tears still streaming down
their cheeks (tears of laughter, of course); the charming
disorder of cups on plates and the piling up of
dishes one on the other--all such a protest against
the formality of the beginning! and all so suggestive
of the lavish kindness of the host. A wonderful
object-lesson is a wrecked dinner-table, if one cares
to study it.
Silence now fell upon the room, the slightest noise
when Simmons played being an unpardonable sin.
The waiters were ordered either to become part of
the wall decoration or to betake themselves to the
outside hall, or the infernal regions, a suggestion of
Waller's when one of them rattled some glasses he
was carrying on a tray.
Simmons tucked a handkerchief in the band of his
collar, balanced his bow for an instant, looked around
the room, and asked, in a modest, obliging way:
"What shall it be, fellows?"
"Better give us Bach. The aria on the G strings,"
"No, Chopin," cried Fred.
"No, you wooden-head, Bach's aria," whispered
Waller. "Don't you know that is the best thing he
"Bach it is then," answered Simmons, tucking his
instrument under his chin.
As the music filled the room, Richard settled himself
on one of the large divans between Nathan and
Oliver, his head lying back on the cushions, his eyes
half closed. If the table with its circle of thoughtful
and merry faces, had set his brain to work, the tones
of Simmons's violin had now stirred his very soul.
Music was the one thing in the world he could not
He had never heard the aria better played. He
had no idea that anyone since Ole Bull's time could
play it so well. Really, the surprises of this wonderful
city were becoming greater to him every hour.
Nathan, too, had caught the infection as he sat with
his body bent forward, his head on one side listening
When the last note of Simmons's violin had ceased
vibrating, Richard sprang to his feet with all the
buoyancy of a boy and grasped the musician by the
"My dear sir, you really astound me! Your tone
is most exquisite, and I must also thank you for the
rendering. It is one quite new to me. Ole Bull
played it, you remember--excuse me," and he picked
up Simmons's violin where he had laid it on the piano,
tucked it under his chin, and there vibrated through
the room, half a dozen quivering notes, so clear and
sweet that all eyes were instantly directed toward the
quaint old gentleman, who still stood with uplifted
bow, the violin in his hand.
"Where the devil did he learn to play like that?"
said one member to another. "Why I thought he
was an inventor."
"Keep your toes in your pumps, gentlemen," said
Waller under his breath to some men beside him, as
he sat hunched up in the depths of an old Spanish
armchair. He had not taken his eyes from Richard
while the music went on. "We're not half through
with this old fellow. One thing I've found out, any
how--that's where this beggar Horn got his voice."
Simmons was not so astounded; if he were he did
not show it. He had recognized the touch of a musician
in the very first note that came from the strings,
just as the painters of the club had recognized the
artist in the first line of the Countess's brush.
"Yes, you're right, Mr. Horn," said Simmons, as
Richard returned him the instrument. "Now I
come to think of it, I do remember having heard Ole
Bull phrase it in that way you have. Stop a moment;
take my violin again and play the air. There's another
instrument here which I can use. I brought it
for one of my orchestra, but he has not turned up
yet," and he opened a cabinet behind him and took
out a violin and bow.
Richard laughed as he again picked up Simmons's
instrument from the piano where he had laid it.
"What an. extraordinary place this is," he said as
he adjusted the maestro's violin to his chin. "It fills
me with wonder. Everything you want seems to be
within reach of your hand. You take a bare room
and transform it into a dream of beauty; you touch
a spring in a sixteenth century cabinet, and out comes
a violin. Marvellous! Marvellous!" and he sounded
the strings with his bow. "And a wonderful instrument
too," he continued, as he tightened one of its
strings, his acute ear having detected a slight inaccuracy
"I'm all ready, Mr. Simmons; now, if you please."
If the club and its guests had forgotten the old
gentleman an hour before, the old gentleman had now
quite forgotten them.
He played simply and easily, Simmons joining in,
picking out the accompaniment, entirely unaware