THE hall in Jack's house, though small - only as long as the living-room is wide (17 feet), and only 5 feet wide outside of the stairway - is splendidly lighted from half-glass doors at each end and from the living-room that opens into it. The view from the living-room is beneath the almost flat arch that frames the wide doorway, and directly toward the enclosed stairway, which is entered from the right, while on the left is the door opening into the dining-room.
The day I visited the house, Mary had the hardness of the solid stairway wall broken by large leafy branches, yellowed and browned by autumn, that rose from a round umbrella-stand of clay with rough gray-green mat. Mary's feeling was right. The house needs Nature's adornments, and was evidently planned to need them, just as the surrounding hills need verdure and foliage and giants of the forest.
About Jack's house there is not the slightest suggestion of the city. There are no French boudoirs or stately parlors. There are none of the trifling pieces of novelty furniture that crowd the tiny rooms of many New York apartment buildings. Everything in Jack's house is solid and substantial, especially in the downstairs rooms. Instead of buying a great many pieces of cheap or moderate-priced furniture, he purchased or rather invested in furniture of such size and dignity and quality that it will never lose its usefulness or its charm.
"But I must economize on rugs," said Jack, who with Tom and Mary was visiting the ware-rooms of a dealer in Oriental rugs. "My architect told me to get a Gorevan in rich colors for the living-room and a Bokhara for the dining-room, but he said it was unnecessary to get them room-size or anything like it. In the living-room one large rug, with a small narrow one between the window seat and the couch, would be enough, he said; in the dining-room a small Belouche mat before the hall door, and a large rug under the table, large enough to carry the chairs on all sides."
"I'd rather economize on anything else than rugs," said Tom. "To me they furnish a house as nothing else does. With plenty of Oriental rugs on the floor, the house cannot look cold or bare."
"We know how you feel about them," said Mary, smiling. "They are your hobby, and I sometimes think you ride them into the ground, or rather into the floor. How many of them are you going to have in your house?"
"Well," responded Tom, "I have thirty so far, with one or two more to come. I've got four for the front hall."
"Four for the front hall!" exclaimed Mary. "Are you laying them on top of one another?"
"Oh, they're not large ones," smiled Tom. "There's one Serebend to go across the hall, and one to run beside the stairway, and a small door mat and a narrow strip for the corner of the hall."
"How much did they cost?" asked Jack.
"The one across the hall," answered Tom, "retails at about $80; the one beside the stairway at $120; the mat for $8; the strip for $40. And in the upper hall I have the most superb Fereghan runner 18 feet long, besides a small rug for the landing, and another small one at the end of the hall."
"How much did the runner cost?" asked Jack.
"Oh, about $200," responded Tom. "It's a particularly fine piece; and $40 for the other two."
"Why, that makes $490 just for the rugs in the halls," said Jack, who had his lead pencil out and was figuring on the back of an envelope. "I should think you would feel 'rug poor,' just as some people are described as 'land poor.'"
"I don't," responded Tom, "but Harriet does. I don't dare talk to her about Oriental rugs any more. If she had her way, I think they'd all be transformed into silk gowns and lace petticoats."
"We are concentrating our efforts on the living-room and the dining-room," interrupted Mary, for she was loyal to Harriet absent, though sometimes impatient with her present. "Upstairs nothing but rag carpets, and in small sizes at that, because three small ones go farther in covering the floor than one large one costing the same. The three rugs for our upper hall only cost $2.50 apiece."
"And the five for our guest-room only $7.50 altogether," added Jack. "Rag carpet rugs certainly are inexpensive."
"And they are so easy to take up for cleaning," said Mary, "while it takes two men to handle a large Oriental."
"I feel the way about rugs that you do about your dining-room furniture," said Tom, somewhat dubious as to the idea of friends of his wanting rag carpets, except in the servants' quarters. "You are locking up your money in your hobby and I in mine. It's all a question of taste. How was it the old Romans used to say it? De gustibus non est dis-putandum."
Mary regarded him admiringly. She had profound respect for any one who was well-equipped with languages, and whenever she overheard a conversation in French, could never help listening with a rapt expression on her face. In restaurants she always regarded the waiter who spoke French with special favor, and saw to it that he received an extra large tip.
Just at this moment the head salesman in the rug shop, who knew Tom of long acquaintance, having finished with other customers, came up and was presented to Jack and Mary. He welcomed them effusively.
"What a lot of rugs you have," said Mary, regarding the hills and mountains of them that crowded the huge showroom. "We want a Bokhara for our dining-room."
Hall of Tom's House.
"How large do you want it?" inquired the salesman.
"About 10 by 12," responded Jack.
"Come this way," and the salesman led them to a pile containing twenty or thirty rugs of the Bokhara type, ranging in size from 6x9 to 12 x 14.
He summoned the dusky Orientals, pointed to the pile, and snapped his fingers. With a deftness derived from years of rug handling, they lifted off the rug on the top of the pile and spread it out on the floor. Another snap of the fingers, as the salesman said: