Esther HTML version
Punctually the next day at three o'clock, Esther Dudley appeared in her aunt's drawing-
room where she found half a dozen ladies chatting, or looking at Mr. Murray's pictures in
the front parlor. The lady of the house sat in an arm-chair before the fire in an inner
room, talking with two other ladies of the board, one of whom, with an aggressive and
superior manner, seemed finding fault with every thing except the Middle Ages and
"A tailor who builds a palace to live in," said she, "is a vulgar tailor, and an artist who
paints the tailor and his palace as though he were painting a doge of Venice, is a vulgar
"But, Mrs. Dyer," replied her hostess coldly, "I don't believe there was any real
difference between a doge of Venice and a doge of New York. They all made fortunes
more or less by cheating their neighbors, and when they were rich they wanted
portraits. Some one told them to send for Mr. Tizian or Mr. Wharton, and he made of
them all the gentlemen there ever were."
Mrs. Dyer frowned a protest against this heresy. "Tizian would have respected his art,"
said she; "these New York men are making money."
"For my part," said Mrs. Murray as gently as she could, "I am grateful to any one who
likes beautiful things and is willing to pay for them, and I hope the artists will make them
as beautiful as they can for the money. The number is small."
With this she rose, and moving to the table, called her meeting to order. The ladies
seated themselves in a business-like way round about, and listened with masculine
gravity to a long written report on the work done or needing to be done at the Children's
Hospital. Debate rose on the question of putting in a new kitchen range and renewing
the plumbing. Mrs. Dyer took the floor, or the table, very much to herself, dealing
severely with the treatment of the late kitchen range, and bringing numerous complaints
against the matron, the management and the hospital in general. There was an evident
look of weariness on the part of the board when she began, but not until after a two
hours' session did she show signs of exhaustion and allow a vote to be taken. The
necessary work was then rapidly done, and at last Mrs. Murray, referring in a business-
like way to her notes, remarked that she had nothing more to suggest except that Mr.
Hazard, the new clergyman at St. John's, should be elected as a member of their
"Do we want more figure-heads there?" asked Mrs. Dyer. "Every day and every hour of
Mr. Hazard's time ought to be devoted to his church. What we want is workers. We have
no one to look after the children's clothes and go down into the kitchen. All our visitors