“You didn’t mind my watching you, did you?” asked the old gentleman.
Carstairs said no, he did not mind. The other said that it must be rather cold drawing in such weather, and Carstairs said yes, it was; but that you couldn’t get winter and snow in June.
“Exactly,” said the driver; “you’ve got to take it as it comes. How are you going back?”
Carstairs said he would walk to One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Street and take the elevated.
“You’d better get in here,” said the older man. “Do you know anything about trotting?” Carstairs got in, and showed that he did know something about trotting by his comments on the mare in front of him. This seemed to please the old gentleman, and he beamed on Carstairs approvingly. He asked him a great many questions about his work, and told him that he owned several good pictures himself, but admitted that it was at his wife’s and daughter’s suggestion that he had purchased them. “They made me get ’em when we were in Paris,” he said, “and they cost a lot of money, and a heap more before I got ’em through the Custom-house.” He mentioned the names of the artists who had painted them, and asked Carstairs if he had ever heard of them, and Carstairs said yes, that he knew of them all, and had studied under some of them.
“They’re purty high up, I guess,” suggested the driver, tentatively.
“Oh, yes,” Carstairs answered, lending himself to the other’s point of view, “you needn’t be afraid of ever losing on your investment. Those pictures will be worth more every year.”
This seemed to strike the older man as a very sensible way to take his gallery, and he said, when they had reached the studio, that he would like to see more of Mr. Carstairs and to look at his pictures. His name, he said, was Cole. Carstairs smilingly asked him if he was any relation to the railroad king, of whom the papers spoke as King Cole, and was somewhat embarrassed when the old gentleman replied, gravely, that he was that King Cole himself. Carstairs had a humorous desire to imprison him in his studio and keep him for ransom. Some one held the horse, and the two men went up to the sixth floor and into Carstairs’s studio, where they discovered pretty Mrs. Carstairs in the act of sewing a new collar-band on one of her husband’s old shirts. She went on at this while the railroad king, who seemed a very simple, kindly old gentleman, wandered around the studio and turned over the pictures, but made no comment. It had been a very cold drive, and Carstairs felt chilled, so he took the hot water his wife had for her tea and some Scotch whiskey and a bit of lemon, and filled a glass with it for his guest and for himself. Mrs. Carstairs rose and put some sugar in King Cole’s glass and stirred it for him, and tasted it out of the spoon and coughed, which made the old gentleman laugh. Then he lighted a cigar, and sat back in a big arm-chair and asked many questions, until, before they knew it, the young people had told him a great deal about themselves—almost everything except that they were poor. He could never guess that, they thought, because the studio was so handsomely furnished and in such a proper neighborhood. It was late in the afternoon, and quite dark, when their guest departed, without having made any comment on the paintings he had seen, and certainly without expressing any desire to purchase one.