After a preliminary fortnight in a little hotel off Washington Square, which she had heard Jane Lake speak of once as a possible place for a respectable young woman of modest means to live in, she found an apartment in Thirteenth Street, not far west of Sixth Avenue. It was in a quiet block of old private residences. But this building was clean and new, with plenty of white tile and modern plumbing, and an elevator. Her apartment had two rooms in it, one of them really spacious to poor Rose after what she’d been taking for granted lately, besides a nice white bathroom and a kitchenette. She paid thirty-seven dollars a month for it, and five dollars a month for a share in a charwoman who came in every day and made her bed and washed up dishes.
The extensiveness of this domestic establishment frightened her a little at first. But she reassured herself with the reflection that under the rule Gertrude Morse had quoted to her, one week’s pay for one month’s rent, she still had a comfortable margin. She furnished it a bit at a time, with articles chosen in the order of their indispensability, and she went on, during the summer, to buy some things which were not indispensable at all. But not very many. Like most persons with a highly specialized creative talent for one form of beauty (in her case this was clothes) she was more or less indifferent about others. Witness how little interest she had taken in the labored beauties of Florence McCrea’s house, even in the unthinking days before she had begun worrying about the expense of that establishment. Her indifference had always made Portia boil. Also it may be noted, that Florence McCrea herself, always went about looking a perfect frump.
So that, by the time Rose’s apartment was furnished to the point of adequate comfort and decency, she took it for granted and stopped there. For her, the temptations of old brass, mezzo-tints, and Italian majolica—Fourth Avenue generally—simply did not exist.
She bought real china to eat her breakfasts out of, and the occasional suppers she had at home. She had had enough of thick cups and plates in the last six months to last her the rest of her life. And it is probable that she ate up, literally, the margin she had under Gertrude Morse’s rule, in somewhat better restaurants than she need have patronized.
She did save money though, and put it away in a safe bank. But she never saved quite so much as she was always meaning to, and she carried along, for months after she went to work for Galbraith, an almost guilty sense of luxury. In spite of the fact that she was working very hard and of the further fact that her hours of labor were largely coincident with the leisure hours of other people, she made a good many friends. The first of these was Gertrude Morse, and it was through her, directly or indirectly, that she acquired the others.