“When can I?”
Uncle William pondered. “You’re in a good deal of a hurry, ain’t you?”
“I want to tell her—”
“Yes, yes, I know. Well, ’bout to-morrow. How’d that do?”
“You could send her a note,” said the artist.
“I’m goin’ to see her,” said Uncle William. “She’ll be to home this evenin’, won’t she?”
“I’ll go see her.”
The artist looked doubtful.
“Can’t I got see her?” said Uncle William.
“I was wondering whether you could find the way.”
“H’m-m. Where’d you say it was?”
“Eighteenth Street, near Broadway.”
“Eighteenth? That’s somewheres between Seventeenth and Nineteenth, ain’t it?” said Uncle William, dryly.
“Yes.” The artist smiled faintly.
Uncle William nodded. “I thought so. And I don’t s’pose they’ve changed the lay of Broadway a gre’ deal?”
“Well, I reckon I can find it. I gen’ally do; and I can’t get far out o’ the way with this.” He touched the compass that hung from the fob of the great watch. “I’ve been putty much all over the world with that. I reckon it’ll p’int about the same in New York as it does in Arichat. Now, I’ve got your breakfast ’most ready, but I can’t seem to remember about your coffee.—You take sugar and milk in it, don’t you?”
“Yes.” The tone was almost sulky.
Uncle William looked at him shrewdly over his spectacles. “I don’t believe you feel well enough to see anybody for a good while, do you?”
The artist’s face changed subtly—like a child’s. It was almost cheerful.
Uncle William laughed out. “That’s better—a little mite better. I guess ’bout day after to-morrow you’ll do to see company.”
The young man stretched out a hand. “I must see her. I shall get up—”
“There, there. I wouldn’t try to get up if I was you,” said Uncle William, genially. “I’ve put away your clothes, different places. I don’t jest know where they be, myself. It’ll be quite a chore to get ’em all together. You jest lie still, and let me manage.”
The young man ate his breakfast with relish. A subtle resolve to get up and do things was in his eye.
Uncle William watched it, chuckling. “Sha’n’t be able to keep him there more’n a day longer,” he said. “Better feed him well whilst I can.” He prepared clam-broth and toast, and wondered about an omelet, rolling in and out of the room with comfortable gait.
The artist ate everything that was set before him, eagerly. The resolve in his eye yielded to appreciation. “You ought to have been a chef, Uncle William. I never tasted anything better than that.” He was eating a last bit of toast, searching with his fork for stray crumbs.
Uncle William nodded. “The’ ’s a good many things I’d o’t to ‘a’ been if I’d had time. That’s the trouble with livin’. You don’t hev time. You jest practise a day or two on suthin’—get kind o’ ust to it—and then you up and hev to do suthin’ else. I like cookin’ fust rate while I’m doin’ it. . . . I dunno as I should like it reg’lar, though. It’d be kind o’ fiddlin’ work, gettin’ up and makin’ omelets every mornin’.”