“You’re an artist,” said the young man.
“Mebbe. Don’t you think you’ve licked that plat about clean?” Uncle William looked at it approvingly. “It ain’t much work to wash dishes for you.”
At intervals during the day the artist demanded his clothes, each time a little more vigorously. Uncle William put him off. “I don’t see that picter of my house anywheres ’round,” he said when pressed too close.
“You sent it off?”
“Yes.” The young man was silent a minute. “Sergia took them—all of them—when I fell sick. They were not ready—not even framed. She was to send them to the committee. I have not heard.”
“I’ll go see ’em in the mornin’,” said Uncle William.
“I don’t know that you can—”
“Can’t anybody go in—if it’s an exhibit—by payin’ suthin’?”
“I mean, I don’t know that they’re hung.”
“Well, I wouldn’t bother about that. I’d like to see ’em jest as well if they ain’t hung. I’m putty tall, but I can scooch down as well as anybody. It’ll seem kind o’ good to see the ol’ place. I was thinkin’ this mornin’ I wish’t there was two-three rocks round somewheres. I guess that’s what picters are for. Some folks hev to live in New York—can’t get away. I sha’n’t mind if they ain’t hung up. I can see ‘em all right, scoochin’ a little.”
The young man smiled. “I don’t know that they’re accepted.”
“Why not—if she sent ’em?”
“Oh, she sent them all right. They may have been refused.”
“At an exhibit?”
“Well, up our way we don’t do like that. We take everything that comes in—pies and pickles and bedquilts and pumpkins and everything; putty triflin’ stuff, some of it, but they take it. This is different, I s’pose?”
“A little. Yes. They only take the best—or what they call the best.” The tone was bitter.
Uncle William looked at him mildly. “Then they took yourn—every one on ’em. They was as good picters as I ever see.”
The artist’s face lightened a little. “They were good.” His thought dwelt on them lovingly.
Uncle William slipped quietly away to his room. The artist heard him moving about, opening and shutting bureau drawers, humming gently and fussing and talking in broken bits. Time passed. It was growing dark in the room.
The artist turned a little impatiently. “Hallo there!”
Uncle William stuck out his head. “Want suthin’?”
“What are you doing?” said the artist. It was almost querulous.
Uncle William came out, smoothing his neckerchief. It was a new one, blue like the sky. “I was fixin’ up a little to go see her. Do I look to suit you?” He moved nearer in the dusk with a kind of high pride. The tufts of hair stood erect on his round head, the neckerchief had a breezy knot with fluttering ends, and the coat hung from his great shoulders like a sail afloat.