"Such a magnificent moon," said Mary, looking out seaward, "and redder than I have ever seen it before. Your sunrises must be as thrilling as our sunsets over the Hudson."
Harriet laughed; so did Tom. "Harriet has never seen one," he remarked, "but she expects to next winter."
"In summer the sun rises too early," explained Harriet. "I always get my best sleep after it begins to get light."
"Why don't you sleep out of doors?" asked Mary. "Then you can see the sun rise without leaving your bed."
"I would," said Harriet, "if we had a sleeping porch on the second story. But I don't like being so near the ground at night."
"It seems quite the fashion nowadays," said Jack, "to build houses with one or more sleeping porches or half-open rooms. All this talk about tuberculosis has set people to thinking, and they are saying to themselves: 'If fresh air will cure tuberculosis, then it should prevent it, and it's a great deal better never to have had tuberculosis than to be cured of it'"
"No wonder farmers' wives and daughters so often have consumption," said Mary. "They shut themselves up in small, stuffy rooms, and never by any chance walk out in the open air. And they sleep without any ventilation at all."
"Or rather they used to," said Jack. "There has been a great change in the past few years. The farmers are not only getting automobiles now, but also steam heat and gas and sanitation."
"That's mostly out West, isn't it, Jack?" asked Tom.
"Not entirely," responded Jack. "My grandfather's old homestead, that is now occupied by an Italian who landed twenty years ago with less than a hundred dollars in his pocket, is lighted by electricity as well as heated by steam, and the trolley passes less than a quarter of a mile away. Formerly it was two miles to the nearest railway and------"
"That wonderful moon!" interrupted Mary. "His face isn't so red now. Do you remember how the moon used to look from the breakfast-room of Senator Parker's place in New Hampshire?"
"Also the sun," interpolated Tom. "The morning we left and had to get up to catch the train at half-past five, all the eastern sky was one magnificent conflagration. The clouds were alive with color. Until that morning I'd been content to sit with my back to the view, facing Harriet and Mary, and feasting my eyes on the most perfect breakfast-room in the country."
"It sounds funny to call it a room when two sides of it are open to the weather," commented Mary. "My idea of a room is something with a floor and a ceiling and four walls."
"In the strict sense of the word," said Tom, "you are probably right, and Senator Parker's breakfast-room should be called a breakfast porch or veranda or piazza, but personally I'd rather call it a sun-room, for that is what it really is."
"Oh, I don't object to it," said Mary. "In fact, I rather like it. It illustrates how strong the tendency is toward out-of-door living when any one should even think of al fresco breakfasting like the Italians and the ancient Romans."
"We have a great deal still to learn from the ancient Romans," commented Tom. "They lived out of doors much more than we do, and that not only in the warmer climate of Southern Italy and Sicily, but also in what are now Austria and Germany and France and England."
"I think Senator Parker's architect has learned his lesson pretty well," said Jack. "If that breakfast-room isn't a piece out of Pompeii or Herculaneum, I lose my guess."
"Yes," said Tom, "an architect who can create a room like that is a true master builder. He doesn't waste his time trying to be odd or different or freakish. He tears the heart out of the masters who built the noblest structures of past centures, and then creates perfect buildings for twentieth-century America."
"That's what I call real originality," said Jack. "The common every-day type of originality, as some one has put it, is the last refuge of the incompetent. Greatness and perfection are the qualities to strive for. Originality is the result of changed conditions and new materials rather than of changed human nature or insane genius."
Views of, and from, Senator Parker's Sun Room.
"I quite agree with you," said Tom. "Senator Parker's breakfast-room is not only the best I have ever seen, it is also the most original. The architect did not invent a new architectural language, but he did invent a new room."
"Bravo!" said Mary. "That is the first real talk you and Jack have had for a long time. I lost my heart to the small marble faun who stood joyously on his pedestal piping the pleasures of the wood and fields. And the man's head was so beautiful. If it came to life, I know I should forget Jack entirely."
"It is a remarkable head," said Jack with some feeling, "and I'm glad the original of it has been dead for at least 1800 years."
"The table I remember with especial pleasure," said Tom. "Much simpler than most Roman tables, and the mahogany top translated it from an antiquity into a piece of household furniture for actual use."
"It's not really an antiquity, is it?" asked Harriet. "I thought the ancient ones were made of marble or cement."
"So they were," said Tom. "I merely meant an antiquity in the sense of being based on an antique original."
"I think Senator Parker told me the chairs were based on a Colonial original," said Jack, "and Late Colonial at that."
"So they are," assented Tom. "But the reproductions are much better than the original. They are beautifully made, but not so terribly expensive. They cost $20 apiece. Of course the cost would have been considerably more if the cameo ornament on the back had been inlaid in the mahogany instead of painted on. But the chairs do suggest the ancient Roman chairs of bronze, and like them are crisp and clean cut."
"In short," said Jack, "just the kind of chair an ancient Roman chairmaker would have created under similar conditions."
"Exactly," responded Tom.
"I'd like cushions on the seats and hassocks on the floor," said Mary. "Those cold tiles are very beautiful to look at and walk on, but they are not comfortable for feet at rest."
"They have them now," said Tom, "and in consequence of the remarks you made on the subject last summer. I was there early in May, when it was bitterly cold. As I drove up to the house I saw the Senator with his secretary breakfasting on food that had left the kitchen hot, but was freezing as he ate. He had on a big fur-lined ulster and a fur hat, and a silk muffler around his neck. Cloth gloves protected his hands. But he was enjoying the scenery, and had his feet on a hassock."
"Poor Senator," said Mary, "he doesn't get much of Elizabeth's companionship up there."
"No," said Tom, "she doesn't care for the mountains. And then she doesn't like the neighbors. They aren't fashionable enough for her."
"I don't think Elizabeth approves of cement and tile walls and floors," said Mary. "Her idea of elegance is a French boudoir."
"A French boudoir is all right in its place," said Tom, "but for the country, if I could afford it, I'd have a huge living-room with rough tiles on the floor, and cement walls jeweled with exquisite old Persian and Moorish tiles, and hung with richly colored tapestries. Then I could bring the dogs in and let them lie around the fire as they did in the days of Queen Elizabeth."
"A man's idea rather than a woman's," said Harriet, "but it appeals to me. Only I'd like a special corner where the dogs would be taboo, and a fine rug under my feet."
"Senator Parker's health has improved greatly since he began living so much out of doors," remarked Tom. "Why, two years ago the doctor almost gave him up, and for months he was confined to a wheel chair. Now he tramps five miles over the mountains and comes back as fresh as his secretary."
"I don't think his secretary is very enthusiastic about walking," said Mary. "He is writing a play and spends every spare moment at it. He begrudges the Senator the time taken in walking with him. Good night, Harriet," said Mary, rising as their chauffeur drove up with the car. "Good night, Tom. I think your two sun-rooms are simply fine. Good-by." And in an hour she and her husband were back in the house that Jack built.