Wednesday, April 18, 2012

T. E, Story #55

I walked up the road toward the farmhouse with my painting kit and Lady Daisy Lee, came out on the porch to meet me.  She took my arm and we paraded into the house making a joke of the whole thing.  She took me into their parlor, a very beautiful old room with some very valuable furniture.  The room was in the shape of a hexagon, which was rather unusual, but which did provide a very nice view through three windows of their fields.  Lady Daisy asked," where is the best place to put the wall painting?"  

As I viewed the walls, they were painted in a light pinkish-tan color and the green and brown of the trees and grass would stand out well against that color of a background.  I told Lady Daisy, "I think that I would recommend one of the corners of the room to begin with."  

She looked at the six wall corners and selected the one which was an interior corner, one wall away from the door to the kitchen.  "Let's try this one," she said pointing to where she wanted the painting.

I got out my charcoal marker and began an outline of the drawing, two trees and a swath of long grass with a handful of varied colored blossoms.  I was painting with water colors since I wasn't sure how well oils would due on the plaster surface, and it was soon apparent that the colors were holding their brightness as the painting progressed.  It didn't take very long and the one wall painting was finished.  Lady Daisy was very excited abut the finished painting and called her husband in to view the artwork.  She explained to him what we had agreed on and then turned to me and asked, "Do you come by here very often?"

I smiled at her and replied," probably just as often as I manage to get any business ma'am."  

Lady Daisy turned to her husband and asked, "Can we have him back to do the other corners?  I think that would be very lovely, and no-one hereabouts has anything like this."

Mr. Barry took another pull on his pipe and asked, "How much would the additional five paintings cost?"

I thought about an answer for a moment, and then said, "Well sir, the price is not so much a factor as is when I will be back.  I have some commitments further South and I must attend to them before I can return.  Let us say that twenty dollars would do the trick and  if we could set up on your property as we are now for two days.  That would be a big help."

Mr. Barry took the pipe out of his mouth and extended his hand.  "That's a deal young man!  When do you think that you would be back this way again?"

"About three weeks, give or take a day or two unless I get hung up painting a barn or some such.  In a case like that I would send a rider to notify you," I explained

"That sounds good to me, Mr. Barry relied.  "Oh, by the way, the Mattingly's wanted you to write a letter for them to their boy.  He is presently in England serving as supercargo on a grain ship company that visits here to pick up cotton and wheat.  I said that I would pass that on to you."

"Thank you very much, "I said.  "They may be waiting for me in camp.  I will take my leave and see if I can locate them."

Lady Daisy said," We will have your meal out just as soon as the dumplings are done!" 

I thanked both of them and shook hands again and gathered up my equipment.  I left the house and walked back to the wagon.  Josh had a fire going and there was a coffee pot sitting by the side of the fire on a bed of ashes.  Mrs. Mattingly was sitting on a stool by the fire talking with Hezzie.  As I walked up Lady Mattingly asked after the painting.  I told her about what I had done and that we had been asked back to do some more painting in the parlor.  Lady Mattingly said that she would have to visit the Barry's tomorrow and see what the painting looked like.

I said, "I am sorry about the delay in writing your letter.  Mr. Barry just informed me about your request as I finished the painting job.  Can we sit down in the wagon and get started on that project?"

Lady Mattingly agreed, and I helped her into the wagon seat, and I found my sketchbook.  She gave me the address from a slip of paper that she took from her purse, and as I wrote she indicated what she wanted to say.  I was using Spencerian script and she commented on my handwriting.  "I learned it in school," I explained.   "I had a teacher that was good at it and my father hired him as a tutor to teach me the writing style.  My father wanted me to be a supercargo on a British ship, but I am afraid that I am a chronic seasick, and cannot go to sea."  I grinned ruefully and the lady put her hand on my arm saying how unfortunate that was.  In a few minutes  the letter was finished and it was folded into a cover sheet and sealed with wax and stamped with the lady's ring.  

Lady Mattingly asked after a price for the letter, and I said that since it was so late and she had to wait for me, the letter was free this time and she had my apologies for keeping her waiting..  She thanked me and said, "The next time you come by, I want you to stop in again, and write another letter."  She grinned widely and added,Maybe I will have you paint my parlor, if I like what you did for Mrs. Barry."  I replied that it would be my honor to stop and say hello.  

Hezzie helped the lady off the wagon and onto her horse, and as she rode away, one of the slave servants from the farmhouse brought a kettle of steaming chicken stew with dumplings down  the road for supper.

For a first day, the contacts that we made, I felt sure would be valuable in the future.

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