THE LAY FIGURE AT HOME.
The Lay Figure was entertaining many
friends, who sat drinking tea and doing
their best to keep the conversation
solely to matters pictorial; for the laity believe an
artist is only interested in his particular " shop."
Others were taking stealthy glances at the serving
maids and wondering doubtless if they were potential
Trilbys. " Now tell me how am I to get my house
done up," said a woman in a hat whose vivid
colours made the whole room look shabby and the
pictures shadows of a shade. " I want it to be very
artistic and quite unlike anything ever done before.
You must be able to help me. Artists are always
so full of ideas."
" Perhaps they are," said the Lay Figure. " It
is odd to discover how many fashions start in
studios. I was astonished to read the other day
that Mr. Whistler once dotted Japanese fans over
his walls and ceilings."
" That was sweet of him," she replied; " and of
course it was all right to dot them about then—but
we know better now, don't we ? "
" —and Mr. Whistler," the Lay Figure went on,
" first painted his walls lemon yellow, and put his
butterfly on them."
"Yes ! " she broke in, impatiently, "but I want
something quite fresh, not like Whistler, or Morris,
or Tadema. It is so distinguished to express one's
own personality in one's surroundings."
" Do you not mean other people's personality ? "
said the Lay Figure, " if you employ their ideas."
" Don't be flippant," she broke in. " Of course
another person may suggest an idea."
" Which any one is certain to ruin in translating
it to shape," the Lay Figure added. "My dear
lady, anybody can have ideas; it is to carry them
through that reveals the artist."
" Still, you might suggest something novel for my
new drawing-room," she said.
"When I do not know its aspect, or its pro-
portions, what furniture you are prepared to discard,
or if you mean to keep the thousand and one
bits of bric-a-brac from your present one."
" Oh ! but every one is absolutely lovely," she
replied. " It is very rude of you to reflect upon my
taste. People always say it is my strongest point."
" Of course ! But if you express your own taste
in bric-a-brac, and another person's in decoration,
won't they clash " ? The Lay Figure paused.
"Really," she said, hastily, "if I am to choose
nothing myself, the room would be hideous. You
know novelists always say it is a woman who gives
the indefinable touch to any room."
" I suspect indefinable touches," said the Lay
Figure, calmly; " no touch ought to be applied to a
picture or a piano without definite meaning."
" Preposterous ! " said his companion ; " you are
more priggish than a university extensionist."
" Why buy so many cheap ornaments," it said.
" I do not know what you call cheap," she re-
plied. " I daresay some vases I have, just like
those, cost me a good deal more than you gave.
You artists always pick up things for nothing. I
gave is. nd. for my pair. Confess now that yours
cost half a-crown."
The Lay Figure shivered as it remembered going
without solid meals for a week to buy the little
pots she depreciated so readily. " You see," it
said, " I never believe in economy at any price."
"Nor in politeness either, it appears," she said ;
" but are you going to suggest something ? "
"Well," it replied, " why not go in for stencil-
ling your own pattern upon some simple fabric,
have quite plain walls, hang up a few good etchings
or Japanese colour prints in plain black frames;
pick out the best chairs and tables, and some rugs."
" Thank you so much," she broke in sarcastic-
ally ; " really it is most kind of you to quote the
furnishing handbooks of 1876, or centuries earlier.
I asked for some new ideas—anybody could have
rooms like you are suggesting."
" Then why don't they ? " said the Lay Figure,
with more vigour than courtesy, as he thought of
the charming home of a young and newly married
artist which had been in his mind as he spoke.
" Please don't let us discuss it further," she said,
quite icily. " I will write to one of the ladies'
papers; they are full of pretty notions for new effects,
but I thought you might give me some quite
' striking ideas.'"
" I don't think art is often striking," the Lay
Figure observed meditatively. " A room one lives
in ought not to thrust itself on you; one must dis-
cover its beauties by gradual intimacy-"
" And grow into nice, prim, middle-aged old
fogies before you need," she went on. " Really, you
are not up-to-date at all."
" Is art ever up-to-date ? " the Lay Figure asked.
" I fancied it was only fashion, or folly, that tried
to be. Surely a thing that is beautiful to-day will
be no less beautiful twenty years hence."
" Not unless it knows how to change its fashions
and keep modern," she said. " I don't wonder you
artists admire badly dressed women so often, nor
that you like dowdy rooms. The idea of anything
keeping its beauty for two years, much less
twenty !!! " and she laughed.
The Lay Figuke.