Sergia was smiling at him a little. “The ’Depths of the Ocean’—you liked that best, didn’t you?”
Uncle William looked guilty. “I knew you was goin’ to ask me about that one,” he said, “and I’d meant to listen hard—real hard—to it. I hain’t ever been quite so far down as that, but I thought mebbe I could gauge it. But you see,”—his tone grew confidential and a little apologetic,—“when they got that far along, I couldn’t really tell which was which. I wa’n’t plumb sure whether it was the eagle he was doin’ or the dep’hs, and it mixed me up some. I didn’t jest know whether to soar up aloft or dive considabul deep. It kep’ me kind o’ teeterin’ betwixt and between—” He looked at her appealingly, yet with a little twinkle somewhere below.
“I see.” Sergia’s face was dancing. “The names do help.”
“That’s it,” said Uncle William, gallantly. “If he’d ‘a’ read off the names, or stopped quite a spell between the pieces, I’d ‘a’ done fust-rate. He was playin’ ’em nice. I could see the folks liked ’em.” He smiled at her kindly.
Sergia smiled back. “Yes, they like MacDowell. They think they understand him—when they know which it is.” Her smile had grown frank, like a boy’s. “But which did you like best of all?”
“Of the hull thing?” he demanded. He looked down at the program. “They was all nice,” he said slowly—“real nice. I dunno when I’ve heard nicer singin’ ‘n playin’. But I reckon that one was about the nicest of the lot.” He laid his big thumb on a number.
Sergia and the old gentleman bent to look. It was the Beethoven sonata.
Sergia glanced at the old gentleman. He met the glance, smiling. “A tribute to our hostess,” he said.
“A tribute to Beethoven,” returned Sergia. Then, after a moment, she laughed softly. Sergia was not addicted to MacDowell.
Uncle William crept into the rooms like a thief, but the artist was sleeping soundly. He did not stir as the latch gave a little click in the lock. “That’s good,” said Uncle William. He had slipped off his shoes and was in his stocking feet. He stole over to the bed and stood looking down at the thin face. It was a little drawn, with hollow eyes. “He’ll perk considabul when he hears about them picters,” said Uncle William.
But in the morning when, after breakfast, Uncle William announced his great news, the artist ignored it. “Is she coming—Sergia?”
Uncle William scowled his forehead in recollection. “Now, I can’t seem to remember ’t she said so.”
“What did she say?” The tone was imperative.
“Well, she asked how you was gettin’ along. I told her that—as well as I could.”
“Didn’t you tell her I wanted to see her?”
“Yes, I told her that.” Uncle William’s voice was impartial.
“She didn’t seem to think much of it. I guess if I was you I’d hurry up and get well so ’s to go see her.”