Dick! Richard! At last! How are you? You received my letter?
I am very well, uncle. Yes, I received your letter. It was forwarded from Florence.
Good! Sit down, Richard, sit down.
I did not receive it until a few days ago, in New York. I came on as soon as possible. But I had engagements—business engagements—that delayed me.
Business? I am very glad, Richard, that you have given up your art. Not that art isn’t entirely commendable, but in times like these, you know....
Don’t misunderstand me, uncle. My business was connected with art. I haven’t given up painting. I never shall.
In my letter—
Yes. Cousin Anne wrote me about Aunt Ethel’s death, but I did not realize how changed everything here was until I read that letter from you. And now (glancing about) it is even clearer. It must have been a bitter shock to you, Uncle Richard. You had both come to the point where you could have done so much with life. But you are quite well, Uncle Richard?
I am never unwell. I don’t believe in it. Yes, everything was ready here. In its larger issue, my life has not been unsuccessful.... But your business, Richard, it came out well, I hope?
Quite. You see after graduating I borrowed a certain sum to go abroad with a classmate. We had a plan for doing a book on modern Italy, he writing the text and I making illustrations. We had quite a new idea about it all. It was good fun besides. Well, the work has been placed, and now after repaying the loan I have enough to take a studio and begin painting in earnest.
I believe I have a copy of one of the sketches with me. (He tears a sheet from a note book and hands it to Uncle Richard.)
UNCLE RICHARD (looking at it wrong side up)
A sketch. I see. Of course it is unfinished?
Yes. But then, no painting should be what you call “finished.” A work of art can only be finished by the mental effort of appreciation on the part of the spectator. Photographs and chromos are finished—that’s why they are dead.