It seemed that, unlike other people, the Maddens did not have their parlor on the ground-floor, opening off the front hall. Theron stood in the complete darkness of this hall, till Celia had lit one of several candles which were in their hand-sticks on a sort of sideboard next the hat-rack. She beckoned him with a gesture of her head, and he followed her up a broad staircase, magnificent in its structural appointments of inlaid woods, and carpeted with what to his feet felt like down. The tiny light which his guide bore before her half revealed, as they passed in their ascent, tall lengths of tapestry, and the dull glint of armor and brazen discs in shadowed niches on the nearer wall. Over the stair-rail lay an open space of such stately dimensions, bounded by terminal lines of decoration so distant in the faint candle-flicker, that the young country minister could think of no word but “palatial” to fit it all.
At the head of the flight, Celia led the way along a wide corridor to where it ended. Here, stretched from side to side, and suspended from broad hoops of a copper-like metal, was a thick curtain, of a uniform color which Theron at first thought was green, and then decided must be blue. She pushed its heavy folds aside, and unlocked another door. He passed under the curtain behind her, and closed the door.
The room into which he had made his way was not at all after the fashion of any parlor he had ever seen. In the obscure light it was difficult to tell what it resembled. He made out what he took to be a painter’s easel, standing forth independently in the centre of things. There were rows of books on rude, low shelves. Against one of the two windows was a big, flat writing-table—or was it a drawing-table?—littered with papers. Under the other window was a carpenter’s bench, with a large mound of something at one end covered with a white cloth. On a table behind the easel rose a tall mechanical contrivance, the chief feature of which was a thick upright spiral screw. The floor was of bare wood stained brown. The walls of this queer room had photographs and pictures, taken apparently from illustrated papers, pinned up at random for their only ornament.
Celia had lighted three or four other candles on the mantel. She caught the dumfounded expression with which her guest was surveying his surroundings, and gave a merry little laugh.
“This is my workshop,” she explained. “I keep this for the things I do badly—things I fool with. If I want to paint, or model in clay, or bind books, or write, or draw, or turn on the lathe, or do some carpentering, here’s where I do it. All the things that make a mess which has to be cleaned up—they are kept out here—because this is as far as the servants are allowed to come.”
She unlocked still another door as she spoke—a door which was also concealed behind a curtain.
“Now,” she said, holding up the candle so that its reddish flare rounded with warmth the creamy fulness of her chin and throat, and glowed upon her hair in a flame of orange light—“now I will show you what is my very own.”