She had risen to her feet with the first question; and there she stood, with her pretty face bent floorward whilst I inquired, but always with her honest eyes looking me in the face when it came her turn to answer.

And this was her tale, and her plea-diffidently stated, but straight- forwardly; and bravely, and most winningly simply and earnestly: I put it in my own fashion, for I do not remember her words:

Mr. Karl Gerhardt, who works in Pratt & Whitney's machine shops, has made a statue in clay, and would I be so kind as to come and look at it, and tell him if there is any promise in it? He has none to go to, and he would be so glad.

"O, dear me," I said, "I don't know anything about art--there's nothing I could tell him."

But she went on, just as earnestly and as simply as before, with her plea--and so she did after repeated rebuffs; and dull as I am, even I began by and by to admire this brave and gentle persistence, and to perceive how her heart of hearts was in this thing, and how she couldn't give it up, but must carry her point. So at last I wavered, and promised in general terms that I would come down the first day that fell idle--and as I conducted her to the door, I tamed more and more, and said I would come during the very next week--"We shall be so glad--but--but, would you please come early in the week?--the statue is just finished and we are so anxious--and--and--we did hope you could come this week--and"--well, I came down another peg, and said I would come Monday, as sure as death; and before I got to the dining room remorse was doing its work and I was saying to myself, "Damnation, how can a man be such a hound? why didn't I go with her now?" Yes, and how mean I should have felt if I had known that out of her poverty she had hired a hack and brought it along to convey me. But luckily for what was left of my peace of mind, I didn't know that.

Well, it appears that from here she went to Charley Warner's. There was a better light, there, and the eloquence of her face had a better chance to do its office. Warner fought, as I had done; and he was in the midst of an article and very busy; but no matter, she won him completely. He laid aside his MS and said, "Come, let us go and see your father's statue. That is--is he your father?" "No, he is my husband." So this child was married, you see.

This was a Saturday. Next day Warner came to dinner and said "Go!--go tomorrow--don't fail." He was in love with the girl, and with her husband too, and said he believed there was merit in the statue. Pretty crude work, maybe, but merit in it.

Patrick and I hunted up the place, next day; the girl saw us driving up, and flew down the stairs and received me. Her quarters were the second story of a little wooden house--another family on the ground floor. The husband was at the machine shop, the wife kept no servant, she was there alone. She had a little parlor, with a chair or two and a sofa; and the artist-husband's hand was visible in a couple of plaster busts, one of the wife, and another of a neighbor's child; visible also in a couple of water colors of flowers and birds; an ambitious unfinished portrait of his wife in oils: some paint decorations on the pine mantel; and an excellent human ear, done in some plastic material at 16.

Then we went into the kitchen, and the girl flew around, with enthusiasm, and snatched rag after rag from a tall something in the corner, and presently there stood the clay statue, life size--a graceful girlish creature, nude to the waist, and holding up a single garment with one hand the expression attempted being a modified scare--she was interrupted when about to enter the bath.

Then this young wife posed herself alongside the image and so remained --a thing I didn't understand. But presently I did--then I said:

"O, it's you!"

"Yes," she said, "I was the model. He has no model but me. I have stood for this many and many an hour--and you can't think how it does tire one! But I don't mind it. He works all day at the shop; and then, nights and Sundays he works on his statue as long as I can keep up."

She got a big chisel, to use as a lever, and between us we managed to twist the pedestal round and round, so as to afford a view of the statue from all points.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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