"It undoubtedly is," agreed Harriet, with some reluctance. "She looks better there than in any other room in the house."
"Her lines," commented Jack, "are like those of the Hepplewhite furniture, slender and graceful, and the delicacy of her complexion is beautifully accentuated by the rose damask draperies and furniture coverings."
"It was Aunt Emeline who chose the Adam style for the drawing-room," explained Jack. "The decorator at first suggested Louis XVI, but Aunt Emeline wanted more of a Colonial look about it; so they compromised on Adam."
"Did Aunt Emeline know beforehand how the room was going to look?" asked Harriet, who with an air of disapproval was watching a lady on the other side of the hotel dining-room, who had ventured to light a cigarette and was puffing it with evident enjoyment.
"Exactly," answered Jack, who was particularly close to Aunt Emeline, and whose progress in business has been quickened by Uncle Henry under her influence. "The decorator submitted color sketches that told the whole story, and even had the portrait of Aunt Emeline suggested above the mantel."
"That's not Aunt Emeline's portrait hanging there now," remarked Mary, "although it is very beautiful."
"No," explained Jack, "it's a copy of the portrait of an eighteenth century court beauty, and beautifully framed and exquisitely hung with tasseled cord of rose silk."
"I think the walls of Uncle Henry's drawing-room are simply exquisite," said Mary. "The way they are divided into panels by moldings is charming, and when I look at the lovely festoons of roses and ribbons, it fairly takes my breath away, and makes me feel as if I were one of Marie Antoinette's ladies-in-waiting, masquerading in shepherdess costume at the Petit Trianon."
"How beautifully you pronounce French 1" commented Harriet.
"Only songs and phrases that I know," smiled Mary. "While I can follow a French conversation, I find it very difficult to take part in one. But I am determined to learn."
"But why Marie Antoinette in an Adam room?" asked Harriet. "I thought Marie Antoinette was the same as Louis XVI."
"It is," explained Tom, still fresh from his conversation with the decorator. "But so is Adam. At least Adam is the English counterpart of Louis XVI, and borrowed a great deal from the French style. The most characteristically Adam features of the room, the decorator told me, are the mirrors and console tables and commode, the draperies and the furniture coverings, and the Hepplewhite chairs. The chandelier is pure Louis XVI, but might easily have been used by Adam himself. Did you notice the four Wedgwood medallions that heighten the beauty of the exquisite bronze work?"
"Yes," replied Mary, "but I thought Wedgwood was an Englishman."
"He was," explained Tom, "but his cameos copied from and modeled in the style of the ancieni Roman ones, were quite as popular in France as in England. Indeed, I understand that it was in France that they conceived the idea of mounting them on drapery bands and valances."
Another View of Uncle Henry's Drawing Room.
"I don't approve of the combination," remarked Harriet. "I think if draperies are to be ornamented at all, it should be with embroidery or applique, not with pottery."
There was a silence of some moments. The waiter was clearing the table for cheese and coffee, but first he brought Mary, who was fond of ices of all kinds, a cafe parfait. "Isn't it beautiful?" asked Mary, smiling benignly. "You'd better change your mind and have some, Harriet."
"No, indeed," responded Harriet graciously, but in a tone that showed her to be as immutable on the subject as the laws of the Medes and Persians, "my dentist does not approve of ice-cream. He says it cracks the enamel."
"Goethe's mother wouldn't let him eat icecream, either," commented Mary, who had been taking an afternoon study course on the life and writings of the great German poet.
"No," added Jack, "she was sure it was dangerous to the health; because she hadn't eaten it as a child, she forbade it to her children."
"To return to the decoration of Uncle Henry's drawing-room," continued Harriet, at length, "I consider the mirrors the best things in it."
"Harriet," explained Tom, "is particularly fond of mirrors. Not that I blame her," he added, with a glance of admiration in her direction, for Harriet certainly is a beautiful woman, and while it taxes Tom's income to keep her clothed in the manner she insists on, the result is one that makes other men envious of Tom.
"The famous architect, Stanford White, was also very fond of mirrors," said Jack. "Mary and I went to the sale, and in every room of the house there were two or three mirrors, and in some five or six."
"His reasons," said Tom, "were purely decorative. He knew how to make a large room look small and a small room large, and to change the shape at will."
"He was a most remarkable man," assented Jack, "and had a decorative ability so developed by experience that it seemed almost intuitive. He would take a long, narrow, dark hall and transform it into the most cheerful of passageways."
"How?" asked Mary.
"Why, by finishing the walls in a light tone, with mirrors high up at each end, and electric bulbs enclosed in bags of crystal beads and placed low, to give artificial illumination. Then, of course, he made the walls seem lower by cutting them with horizontal lines, a picture molding at the bottom of the frieze, another at the top of the wainscoting, or where the wainscoting would be if there were one."
"I thought wainscoting was always of wood," said Harriet.
"It was originally," explained Tom. "The wain part of it means wagon, and the whole word once indicated a certain kind of oak good enough to be used for the cabinet work of a wagon. Then when they began to make the lower part of walls of it, the name went with the material. But nowadays a wainscoting may be of tiles or brick or plaster, or even paper."
"Some of the wainscotings of pressed paper, in imitation of paneled oak, are very effective for the price," remarked Jack, taking the cigar that Tom handed him.
"For the price, yes," responded Tom, "but only if you disregard the question of time. In the long run the wooden wainscoting and the real tiling are the best investments. They not only are real, they look real, and they improve with age instead of deteriorating."
"Some of the substitutes do, too," commented Jack.
"Naturally enough most of them don't," retorted Tom. "They are made as cheaply as possible to satisfy the demand of purchasers who don't know what they are buying."
"Which is the trouble with a great deal of the furniture made in this country," agreed Jack. "We bought three bureaus for the camp last year that are already falling to pieces. The drawer-pulls are gone, and we hadn't had them a month before the casters began to break off."
"If there is anything that annoys me," said Mary, "it is a bureau with three casters. I can stand one with two casters, or even with only one, but a three-castered bureau is my particular abomination."
"She's thinking of a particular bureau," explained Jack, "the one at the camp devoted to her use. She used to prop the lame leg with a small block of wood that was always getting out of place."
"None of the primitive life for me," remarked Tom. "I had enough of it when I was a boy."
"Well, there's nothing primitive about Uncle Henry's drawing-room," interrupted Mary, "and nothing cheap, either."
"No," said Tom, "but everything in it is good and made to last. That furniture will be worth more fifty years from now than it is to-day."
"Surely," asserted Mary, "and all the damask coverings will be frayed down to show the warp - or is it the weft I mean?" she hesitated, looking at Jack.
"Both, dear," responded Jack. "In a tapestry the warps are entirely covered by the wefts, but in a damask some of the surfaces are warp satin and some weft satin, at least they were in most of the old damasks, although many of them now have taffeta figures on a warp satin ground, so that the surface is always of warp threads and wearing down would end by exposing the wefts."
"That's too much for me," gasped Mary. "You'll have to illustrate with the actual fabrics. Perhaps at the Metropolitan Museum with the Hoentschel Collection."
"I seem to have heard of the Hoentschel Collection," remarked Harriet. "Is it statuary?"
"No," said Mary, "it's a marvelous collection of old French furniture, tapestries, and woodwork, the Gothic part of which is lent to the Museum by Mr. Morgan, the later part given. There you can see for yourself the difference between Louis XIV and XV and XVI, and know that you are not being led astray by some remote American imitation."
"Tom and I went to the Museum one Sunday last winter," said Harriet, "but all we saw were paintings."
"You forget the tapestries," murmured Tom.
"Oh, they don't interest me," said Harriet. "They're all out of drawing."
Tom looked disgusted. Harriet had a way of repeating the opinions of others as her own that exasperated him. She was bright enough, he thought, to see with her own eyes instead of through the eyes of others. He looked at Mary. "I wish you'd take Harriet some afternoon to visit the decorative arts wing of the Museum," he entreated.
"I will," Mary responded, "if you and Jack will join us there not later than four. Harriet will lunch with me downtown and then we'll take the Fifth Avenue stage to the Museum. Will you?" she added, turning to Harriet as they rose to leave the dining-room, the cigars and coffee having been finished, and the waiter tipped more than he deserved and less than he wanted.
"I shall be charmed," answered Harriet, "provided you will tell me how Aunt Emeline ever keeps that rug clean. It is just one solid color that must show the slightest bit of dust or dirt, and even the impression of the foot."
"I'll try," said Mary, after they were out in the lobby of the hotel, "when we meet next Tuesday at luncheon. Good night, Harriet; good night, Tom." And both couples were soon on their separate ways home.