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 "Why, it's like a laundry," exclaimed Patricia in disappointment as she looked about her. The low-ceiled whitewashed apartment into which they had descended from the winding iron stair was sepulchrally bare and empty in the flicker of its noisy gas jets, the rusty gas stoves at its farther end emphasizing its general air of desolation.  
Elinor glanced beyond, through the low doorway to the next room.
"Suppose we do without hot things today?" she proposed. "The tables look pretty full in there. We mightn't get a place if we delay too long."
"Suits me to a gnat's heel," declared Patricia eagerly. "Food is a secondary article, anyway, when it comes to character study. I'm not so keen on cookery since I sighted this tasteful apartment."
She followed Elinor into the larger room where a feeble daylight, filtering in through heavily grated basement windows, struggled with the flaring gas jets, and the odor of cocoa and bread and butter mingled with sachet and the fumes of turpentine and paint.
Elinor made her way over the mottled stone floor with as easy a grace as though it were a flowery turf, but Patricia, not so well schooled in concealing her feelings, made a wry mouth.
"If this is where the celebrities eat, I don't wonder they're smudgy," she said in an undertone, as they seated themselves at the last vacant table and spread their purchases on its discolored surface. "This doesn't strike me as being very appetizing."
"It's clean, anyway, Miss Pat," said Elinor, whose practiced eyes had been busy. "It looks soiled because the table-tops are old marble and the floor is mottled cement, but it is really clean, though I can't honestly say it is attractive on first sight."
"One gets used to anything in time," said Patricia airily. "You remember how Sally Lukes missed the doing of those five weekly washes after Johnny got prosperous enough to keep her in comfort. I reckon we'll be just like that after a while—can't eat without smudges on the table and paint-splotches on the dining-room walls."
Her eyes strayed about, resting on one group after another till they lighted with sudden interest.
"There she is," she said ardently. "You can't deny, Elinor, that she's terribly good to look at. Why, the very way she manipulates that frilly napkin reconciles me to my food. I declare I'm twice as hungry as I was before."
The girl certainly did make a charming and refreshing picture in her pretty gown, and with a dainty lunch covering the objectionable table. Opposite to her sat the drab young woman, silently eating while she read hurriedly from a technical magazine. The contrast between the two was so great that it made Elinor wonder.
"She must be unselfish and agreeable," she said, forgetting her momentary prejudice, "particularly when the other doesn't seem to appreciate her society very highly. I fancy that one isn't very diverting. I wonder why they are such chums."
"Relatives, perhaps," hazarded Patricia, reveling in Elinor's conversion. "I hope we get to know her soon, don't you, Norn? She must be awfully popular. See how they all turn when she passes. I'm sorry she's going, though, for I could simply feast my eyes on her for hours."
Their new acquaintance of the corridor stopped at their table as she, too, made her way out.
"I am going into the portrait class when I go up," she said, her dark-fringed eyes smiling frankly down on Elinor. "They tell me you are going to take your first plunge this afternoon. I'll be glad to show you about if you need any chaperoning."
Elinor's eyes met hers gratefully. "I'll be so glad to have you tell me what I should do," she said with relief and instant friendliness in her soft voice. "I'm just a beginner, you know. I've never been in a class in my life and I'm rather scared about it."
The lips that Patricia had designated as "nice and crinkly" widened in a bright smile that held no hint of hauteur.
"I'll be about in the corridor when you come up," she promised. "You don't need to feel that way about it. It's the simplest thing in the world—after you once get settled. You're in great luck to get into life and head classes without ever having gone to school before. I fancy you are a very special brand of genius to have such privileges."
Elinor blushed and shook her head.
"I studied with Bruce Haydon last summer," she said. "He got me in here."
"O—oh," responded the girl, her face suddenly alight. "That is splendid. You know he's the most severe critic we have, but we all adore his work." Then she added as an afterthought: "He's tremendously popular with the men. He studied here, you know."
Patricia opened her eyes wide. "Why, Bruce is the most amiable sort," she protested. "He'll simply eat out of your hand up at home. I didn't know he ever criticized here," she ended, rather suspiciously.
Elinor's new friend smiled good-naturedly. "He only drops in once in a while," she said. "He was here pretty often last month, but he hadn't been here before that for nearly four years, they said. He's abroad now, isn't he?"
Elinor told her that Bruce was in Italy, getting his studies for the Français Society's panel of early Italian history.
"It must be jolly to know him out of the limelight," said the girl, seriously. "The girls were so crazy over him here that there wasn't a chance for a rational word with him, unless one were a man. He simply evaporated when he saw an apron."
Patricia laughed. "He's not so retiring in private," she declared, gayly. "He was one of our happy family for three months last summer and we never noticed any shyness; did we, Norn?"
Elinor reared her head with dignity. "He was very kind and friendly to us," she explained to their companion, "because he had been very much devoted to my aunt, who left us the house where we now live. He had no mother and Aunt Louise was very fond of him."
"Well, you're awfully in luck, however it is," replied the girl. "I'll see you in about fifteen minutes," and she nodded as she moved off, her dark hair gleaming in the mingled lights as she carried her small fine head proudly on her slender neck.
Patricia was about to make a comment when she suddenly turned and came back to them.
"I forgot to tell you my name," she said, holding out a strong, slender hand. "I am Margaret Howes, and I know you are Elinor Kendall, for I saw it on your locker. I don't know your sister's name—she is your sister, isn't she?"
Patricia was introduced, and Margaret Howes, with promises to meet them later, went off finally, and Patricia and Elinor set to work to dispose of their neglected lunch, enjoying their own comments on the assembled groups more than they did the cakes and fruit.
"Just look at that mournful creature." Patricia motioned with her eyebrows to the opposite side of the room, where a large, stout young woman in somber cloak and wide-plumed hat was eating her way through a chocolate éclair with just such an air of tragic and settled melancholy as one sometimes sees in a child whose grief is momentarily its most cherished possession.
"Isn't she the limit?" said Patricia in disdain. "She oughtn't to eat frivolous things like éclairs. I wonder at her lack of judgment."
"She isn't in mourning," said Elinor, making a discovery. "I wonder who she is. She's impressive enough to be the president of the board, and Bruce says that's the most important person in the place."
"She's rather too collap-y for my taste," volunteered Patricia, gathering up the remains of their repast. "I like the looks of lots of the others far better than hers. Let's ask Miss Margaret Howes about her. No doubt she can tell us what is her secret trouble."
They followed the general exodus upstairs, feeling more and more at home with every step.
"Isn't it funny how familiar that antique room looks?" said Patricia with enjoyment. "I feel quite like an old residenter already. By the time my clay comes I'll have the sensations of the oldest inhabitant."
Elinor was breathing fast as she swept the corridor with anxious glance.
"I hope Miss Howes doesn't forget," she said apprehensively. "I'd so much rather go into the class with her."
A girl sauntered past them as they loitered before their lockers.
"Looking for anyone?" she asked briskly, and hardly waiting for the answer, she raised her voice and called through the door of the next room:
"Hello, Howes! Here's someone looking for you!"
Patricia expected Margaret Howes as she emerged to show some surprise or annoyance at this summary mode of speech, but she was as serene and unconscious as ever.
"I'm busy, Griffin," she began, and then broke off as she saw the girls. "Oh, here you are," she said to Elinor. "I was looking for you in the modeling room."
The newcomer raised her pale eyebrows. "Absent-minded as ever, I see, Howes," she said with a whimsical sort of fondness in her peculiar voice. "Better run off to the head class before you forget where you're due."
She watched Margaret Howes and Elinor till they turned into the screened entrance to the portrait room; then she turned to Patricia with easy friendliness.
"You're fresh meat, aren't you?" she asked with a grin that widened her full mouth to a line. "When'd you come?"
Patricia gave her the brief outlines of her enrolment, and she nodded approvingly.
"Good stuff in the modeling room," she commented briskly. "But don't let old Bottle Green bulldoze you into thinking it's a deaf and dumb asylum or the vestibule to the morgue or any such sequestered spot. She's deadly dull, you know, and she almost faints if you whisper while the model is posing. She's monitor and I will say she enjoys the job."
"What does she do?" asked Patricia, delighted with the ease and candor of this speech. She felt sure this rickety, loose-jointed, pale-colored young woman was going to be worth while.
"As monitor, you mean?" responded the other, opening a locker near by and beginning to assemble her implements from a jumble of all sorts of odds and ends with which the locker was overflowing. "As merely monitor she sees that the models are posed, gets the numbers ready for us to draw when there is a new model, sees to it that we don't riot too loudly through the pose, takes any complaints we may have to make, to the powers above. But as guardian angel of the class, she soars far above our low conception of duty and propriety. Phew! Wait till you see her at it." Here her speech was lost while she delved head first into the welter.
Patricia occupied herself getting her tools from the convenient shelf on her own locker, hoping that the talk was not to end there.
Griffin emerged as suddenly as she had disappeared. "But it's the men that spoil her," she went on as though no interruption had occurred. "They're polite to her because she's so everlastingly gloomy. Same sort of politeness they'd show to a hearse, you know—respectful but not companionable."
Patricia gave an exclamation. "I believe I've seen her!" she cried. "She wears a long cloak and a hat with a big black plume, doesn't she? We noticed her at lunch and wondered what was the matter with her."
"Just a case of permanent glooms, if you ask me," replied Griffin airily. "She loves melancholy, though she is an awfully good sort, too. She gets on my nerves, though, she's so brittle."
Patricia puckered her brow inquiringly.
"Breaks a bone every time anyone looks hard at her," explained the other, shoving the protruding conglomeration of her locker inside and snapping the door quickly on it. "She's more bones than the average, and she breaks them regularly every time she learns the name of a new one. I think she oughtn't to be allowed in the dissecting room for any consideration. She's just out of splints now for a right arm fracture, and, believe me, she worked all the time with her left."
"How could she?" wondered Patricia, feeling awed by this devotion to art.
"She couldn't," grinned Griffin. "That's the point. She's so taken up with her pose as suffering martyr that she overlooks a trifle like good work. Heavens, there's the gong! I've kept you here gassing when I know you're crazy to get to work. Come along in, and I'll help you set up your stand before the model poses again."
Patricia followed her into the big, clay-soiled, dusty room, clutching her new smooth wooden tools with nervous fingers.
On the large revolving model stand in the center sat a dark, slender Russian-looking young man, indifferent to the group that with their tall-wheeled stands were circled about him. He sat with his narrow blue eyes sleepily fixed on the wall, regardless alike of the sturdy smocked men and slender boys in full blue-paint jackets, as of the equally silent and clayey girls and women that scrutinized him with earnestly squinting eyelids. The only creature in the room that seemed to evoke the slightest responsive flicker of intelligence was the black-robed, gray-aproned, redundant figure of the monitor.
Patricia's stand, with its heavy curved iron head-piece and some lengths of copper and lead wire, was waiting for her in the clay room, and together they wheeled it into the modeling room, where the gloomy Miss Green scanned them with kind but somber eyes, plainly regarding their entrance as an interruption.
"You've got to make butterflies of the wire-loops, you know, to hold the clay up, or it'll slump down off the iron headpiece soon as you get your head set up," explained her instructor in an agreeable tone. "It's easier to set up a head than a figure, I can tell you——"
"Miss Griffin!" came the dreary voice of the monitor, as with a fat and dimpled finger she pointed solemnly to the sign on the door, "No TALKING."
Griffin grinned amiably at the reproving finger. "Only the necessary instructions to a novice, Green dear," she protested smoothly. "I'm saving you the trouble of showing her how. You really ought to thank me instead of holding me up to scorn."
Miss Green, with a kindly glance at Patricia, puckered up her lips in the circle that only fat, soft-fleshed people can accomplish and laid the impartial finger on them as a sign that no more words were to be wasted, and the class, temporarily attentive to the newcomers, became absorbed again.
A heavy-shouldered dark man, whose workmanlike appearance was heightened by the torn and spotted linen apron he wore, came quietly over to Patricia, and, taking the wire from Miss Griffin's thin, nervous hands, silently and swiftly finished the work she had begun, while she, with a nod of acquiescence, went to her own stand and began to thump lumps of clay into shape about her own iron head-piece.
Patricia accepted the help as silently as it was offered, and when he brought her clay and, still mute, showed her how to block the rough clay into a semblance of a human head, she smiled at him with ready gratitude, not daring more for fear of the omnipotent Miss Green.
"How do you like it now?" asked Griffin, as the gong released them for the rest, and they slipped out in the corridor to look for Elinor.
"Perfectly fine and dandy!" cried Patricia, glowing. "My word, but that Miss Green is severe! I never heard such silence as in that room. Why, an ordinary schoolroom is a perfect Babel compared to it."
"You'll get used to old Bottle Green, all right," said Griffin reassuringly. "Her bark is a whole lot worse than her bite. She's a trump at heart, though she is awful fool on the outside."
Elinor was waiting for them, and Patricia could see that she was in a state of great agitation. She hurried to her, while her companion dropped behind to exchange notes with one of the men from the composition room.
"What is it, Norn? Didn't you get along all right?" she asked breathlessly.
Elinor dropped on a stool and raised her face to her sister, and Patricia was surprised to see that her eyes were shining with joy instead of tears.
"Oh, Miss Pat!" she cried in an ecstasy. "I've made good, and I can write to Bruce and tell him!"
"What, already?" exclaimed Patricia rapturously. "You duck! Tell me all about it instantly."
She swept Elinor off the stool, away from the crowded dressing room, and at last found a deserted corner behind a big cast.
"Now," she demanded, "tell me all about it, or I'll simply die of ingrowing curiosity."
Elinor rippled and dimpled in a surprisingly sparkling fashion as she recounted her experience in the portrait room, and Patricia, while she listened, marveled at the change in her placid sister.
"And so," concluded Elinor, "when I had just gotten ready to come out to see you, some more of them came over and looked at it. And one of them said, 'Dorset's right. It's a pace-maker all correct,' and then they brought some other men, and I left."
Patricia, greatly excited, patted her hard on the shoulder. "I told you you'd be a winner," she crowed. "I guess Bruce knew what he was talking about."
Elinor's face clouded. "But I have only started the outline," she confessed. "And I'm awfully weak on putting in the tones. I'm afraid I'll make a fizzle of it."
"See here," said Patricia, facing her severely. "I'm tired of your deceptive timidity. Just let someone else say you can't do it, and you'd feel mighty mad about it, but you're willing to scare me out of my feeble senses by croaking."
Elinor jumped up laughing, and hugged her. "I'll be as conceited as you like, if you'll stop scolding," she promised, gayly. "It doesn't look well to be too much under the thumb of a younger sister, even if she is a promising sculptor. By the way, how are you getting on? I hear that Miss Griffin is a wonderful worker. Did you see anything of her work?"
Patricia gave her a brief outline of the class and its chief characters, as far as she had observed, dwelling on Miss Green with great satisfaction.
"I know she's going to be a treat," she declared. "I hope she keeps whole for a while at least, until I get better acquainted."
"And do you know," she went on, "that the model is a Russian refugee, and he tried to kill himself because he was so homesick. He's just out of the hospital, and he has a great red scar across his breast. Isn't it exciting to be among such different sort of people? We've always been so sort of tabbified."
"We've had enough ups and downs, I am sure," said Elinor vaguely. It was evident that her mind was not on either their varied past nor even the fascinating present, but was busy with a future of progress and achievement.
"Wake up, old lady," cried Patricia. "There's the gong, and we must fly."
Patricia toiled all that afternoon with the ardor of ignorance and hope. The others looked at her with occasional interest, but otherwise paid little attention to her. In the rests she went out to visit Elinor, or Elinor came in to watch her progress. Her head fairly swam with the delightful novelty of this new and quick-flowing life. When the last gong rang she heard it with regret.
"It's better than I ever dreamed," she said to the amiable Griffin as she was showing her how to put the wet cloths about her work. "It's not half so hard as I thought it would be, either."
"Wait till Saturday, when old Jonesy lights on you," warned her new friend. "You won't find life so lightsome when his eagle eye discovers you."
"Pooh, I shan't mind how criss-cross he is," declared Patricia valiantly. "I'm only the rankest greenhorn, anyway. He can't expect me to be a Rodin."
She washed her tools in the grimy tanks of the clay room, more in love with it every minute, and when she joined Elinor at their lockers, she was fairly bursting with enthusiasm.
"It's simply heavenly, and I don't know how we got along without it!" she cried, rapturously. "It makes me wild to think of the months we've wasted this fall."
Elinor laughed her low ripple. "We didn't find Francis Edward David till the middle of December, and it's now the third week in January. I don't think we've let much grass grow under our feet."
"I wish this were the night for night life," said Patricia fervently. "I'd stay and watch you begin——"
"No, you wouldn't," said Elinor, promptly. "They don't allow other people in the life-class rooms. You'd have to go home and see that Judith was all right. We can't leave her too much to her own devices, even if she is the best little thing in the world."
"Bless her heart!" cried Patricia, with a laugh. "I'd clean forgot that I had any relatives in the world. It's a good thing I have you to keep me straight, Norn. Mercy, what a jam! I don't believe we'll ever get a place at the wash-stands."
The dressing room was crowded to its limit, paint brushes were being washed and stained hands scrubbed at the line of faucets that occupied two sides of the room; girls were hurrying into their street clothes, while others, coming in for the night life, were getting into aprons and paint dresses; some few who were staying for the night life were curled up on the wide couches, exchanging comments with their friends among the hurrying crowd while they refreshed themselves with crackers or cakes.
Patricia, with her cheeks glowing and twin lights dancing in her big eyes, loitered so over her dressing that they were among the last to leave.
"I hate to go, don't you?" she said, as they came out into the corridor, which was dimmer than ever in the sparsely lit twilight. "I love— Oh, how you made me jump!" she cried, starting back as a figure stepped from the alcove by the street entrance.
The girl, who was unknown to them both, addressed them impartially.
"The Committee on Initiation hereby notify you that your initiation will take place on Friday of this week, and you are instructed to produce the usual initiation fee, or answer to the committee for the failure."
Patricia gasped. "My word!" she cried. "They don't postpone things much around here, do they? What is the fee?"
"Three pounds of candy for the modeling and composition class, four for the head and illustration class, and five for the life," was the prompt response.
Patricia giggled. "You're in for it, Norn. You have to pony up for the head and the night life, too. I'm in luck to be in the mudpie department."
"What is the initiation itself?" asked Elinor, as the girl turned away.
"You'll find out when it happens," she replied, over her shoulder. "They never know themselves till the last moment. The day classes are tame—just a speech when you turn in your candy or some such mild diversion, but the night life is more sporting, and they may put you through a course of sprouts, but they're good-natured idiots on the whole. None of us are as outrageous as we seem."
Elinor looked after her thoughtfully.
"I hope they won't be too hard on me," she said slowly. "I'd be sorry to begin my term with anything that left the least bitter taste. Everything here is so free-spirited and high-minded that I want it to keep on being so for me always."
Patricia's eyes narrowed. "I believe I'll make my candy up in as attractive a way as I possibly can, and I'll spring it on them first thing, so they'll be in too good a humor to want to haze me very hard. Don't you think that might work for you, too?"
"Indeed I do," replied Elinor, heartily. "I'm getting an idea already, and if I can put it through, I don't believe the committee will have so much fun with me as they may think."

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