A NEW FRIEND
“Patty,” said her father, a week or two later, “Mr. Hepworth has invited us to a tea in his studio in New York tomorrow afternoon, and if you care to go, I’ll take you.”
“Yes, I’d love to go; I’ve always wanted to go to a studio tea. It’s very kind of Mr. Hepworth to ask us after the way he was treated here.”
Mr. Fairfield laughed, but Patty looked decidedly sober. She still felt very much crestfallen to think that the first guest her father brought home should be obliged to dine at the hotel, or at a neighbour’s. Aunt Alice had invited them to dinner on that memorable Sunday, and though she said she had expected to ask the Fairfields anyway, still Patty felt that, as a housekeeper, she had been weighed in the balances and found sadly wanting.
According to arrangement, she met her father in New York the day of the tea, and together they went to Mr. Hepworth’s studio.
It gave Patty a very grown-up feeling to find herself amongst such strange and unaccustomed surroundings.
The studio was a large room, on the top floor of a high building. It was finished in dark wood and decorated with many unframed pictures and dusty casts. Bits of drapery were flung here and there, quaint old-fashioned chairs and couches were all about, and at one side of the room was a raised platform. A group of ladies and gentlemen sat in one corner, another group surrounded a punch bowl, and many wise and learned-looking people were discussing the pictures and drawings.
Patty was enchanted. She had never been in a scene like this before, and the whole atmosphere appealed to her very strongly.
The guests, though kind and polite to her, treated her as a child, and Patty was glad of this, for she felt sure she never could talk or understand the artistic jargon in which they were conversing. But she enjoyed the pictures in her own way, and was standing in delighted admiration before a large marine, which was nothing but the varying blues of the sea and sky, when she heard a pleasant, frank young voice beside her say:
“You seem to like that picture.”
“Oh, I do!” she exclaimed, and turning, saw a pleasant-faced boy of about nineteen smiling at her.
“It is so real,” she said. “I never saw a realer scene, not even down at Sandy Hook; why, you can fairly feel the dampness from it.”
“Yes, I know just what you mean,” said the boy; “it’s a jolly picture, isn’t it? They say it’s one of Hepworth’s best.”
“I don’t know anything about pictures,” said Patty frankly, “and so I don’t like to express definite opinions.”
“It’s always wiser not to,” said the boy, still smiling.
“That’s true,” said Patty, “I only did express an opinion once this afternoon, and then that lady over there, in a greenish-blue gown, looked at me through her lorgnette and said: