The artist looked him over admiringly. “You’re great!” he said. “How did you come to know enough not to change?”
“I’ve changed everything!” declared Uncle William. His air of pride drooped a little.
The artist laughed out. “I mean you kept your same kind of clothes. A good many people, when they come down here to New York, try to dress like other folks—get new things.”
Uncle William’s face cleared. He looked down his great bulk with a smile. “I like my own things,” he said. “I feel to home in ’em.”
Uncle William found the door of the studio, and bent to examine the card tacked on the panel. “Sergia Lvova, Teacher of Piano and Violin.”
He knocked gently.
“Come in.” The call came clear and straight.
Uncle William opened the door.
A girl sat at a table across the room, her eyes protected by a green shade from the lamp that burned near and threw its light on the page she was copying. She glanced up as the door opened and pushed up the green shade, looking out from under it inquiringly. She peered a moment and then sprang up, thrusting aside the shade with a quick turn. “I am so glad you’ve come.” She crossed the room, holding out her hands. There was something clear and fresh in the motion—like a free creature, out of doors.
Uncle William stood smiling at her. “How do you know it’s me?” he said.
The girl laughed quietly. “There couldn’t be two.” Her voice had a running, musical quality, with deep notes in it and a little accent that caught at the words, tripping them lightly. She had taken his hands with a swift movement and was holding them, looking at him earnestly. “You are just as he said,” she nodded.
Uncle William returned the look. The upturned face flushed a little, but it did not fall. He put out his hand and touched it. “Some like a flower,” he said, “as near as I can make out—in the dark.” He looked about the huge, bare room, with its single flame shining on the page.
She moved away and lighted a gas-jet on the wall, and then another. She faced about, smiling. “Will that do?”
Uncle William nodded. “I like a considabul light,” he said.
“Yes.” She drew forward a chair. “Sit down.”
She folded her hands lightly, still scanning him. Uncle William settled his frame in the big chair. His glance traveled about the room. The two gas-jets flared at dark corners. A piano emerged mistily. Music-racks sketched themselves on the blackness. The girl’s face was the only bit of color. It glowed like a red flower, out of the gloom. Uncle William’s glance came back to it. “I got your letter all right,” he said.
“I knew you would come.”
“Yes.” He was searching absently in his pocket. He drew out the bluish slip of paper with rough edge. He handed it to her gravely. “I couldn’t take that, my dear, you know.”