She asked him what he wanted to do, and Philip felt that he should not let her see how vague he was about the whole matter.
"Well, first I want to learn to draw," he said.
"I'm so glad to hear you say that. People always want to do things in such a hurry. I never touched oils till I'd been here for two years, and look at the result."
She gave a glance at the portrait of her mother, a sticky piece of painting that hung over the piano.
"And if I were you, I would be very careful about the people you get to know. I wouldn't mix myself up with any foreigners. I'm very careful myself."
Philip thanked her for the suggestion, but it seemed to him odd. He did not know that he particularly wanted to be careful.
"We live just as we would if we were in England," said Mrs. Otter's mother, who till then had spoken little. "When we came here we brought all our own furniture over."
Philip looked round the room. It was filled with a massive suite, and at the window were the same sort of white lace curtains which Aunt Louisa put up at the vicarage in summer. The piano was draped in Liberty silk and so was the chimney-piece. Mrs. Otter followed his wandering eye.
"In the evening when we close the shutters one might really feel one was in England."
"And we have our meals just as if we were at home," added her mother. "A meat breakfast in the morning and dinner in the middle of the day."
When he left Mrs. Otter Philip went to buy drawing materials; and next morning at the stroke of nine, trying to seem self-assured, he presented himself at the school. Mrs. Otter was already there, and she came forward with a friendly smile. He had been anxious about the reception he would have as a nouveau, for he had read a good deal of the rough joking to which a newcomer was exposed at some of the studios; but Mrs. Otter had reassured him.
"Oh, there's nothing like that here," she said. "You see, about half our students are ladies, and they set a tone to the place."
The studio was large and bare, with gray walls, on which were pinned the studies that had received prizes. A model was sitting in a chair with a loose wrap thrown over her, and about a dozen men and women were standing about, some talking and others still working on their sketch. It was the first rest of the model.
"You'd better not try anything too difficult at first," said Mrs. Otter. "Put your easel here. You'll find that's the easiest pose."
Philip placed an easel where she indicated, and Mrs. Otter introduced him to a young woman who sat next to him.
"Mr. Carey--Miss Price. Mr. Carey's never studied before, you won't mind helping him a little just at first will you?" Then she turned to the model. "La Pose"
The model threw aside the paper she had been reading, La Petite Republique, and sulkily, throwing off her gown, got on to the stand. She stood, squarely on both feet with her hands clasped behind her head.
"It's a stupid pose," said Miss Price. "I can't imagine why they chose it."
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