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"The Treadmill"
by [?]

A half-humorous, half-pathetic epistle has been sent to me by a woman, who explains in it her particular perplexity. Such letters are the windfalls of our profession! For what is more attractive than to have a woman take you for her lay confessor, to whom she comes for advice in trouble? opening her innocent heart for your inspection!

My correspondent complains that her days are not sufficiently long, nor is her strength great enough, for the thousand and one duties and obligations imposed upon her. “If,” she says, “a woman has friends and a small place in the world–and who has not in these days?–she must golf or ‘bike’ or skate a bit, of a morning; then she is apt to lunch out, or have a friend or two in, to that meal. After luncheon there is sure to be a ‘class’ of some kind that she has foolishly joined, or a charity meeting, matinee, or reception; but above all, there are her ‘duty’ calls. She must be home at five to make tea, that she has promised her men friends, and they will not leave until it is time for her to dress for dinner, ‘out’ or at home, with often the opera, a supper, or a ball to follow. It is quite impossible,” she adds, “under these circumstances to apply one’s self to anything serious, to read a book or even open a periodical. The most one can accomplish is a glance at a paper.”

Indeed, it would require an exceptional constitution to carry out the above programme, not to mention the attention that a woman must (however reluctantly) give to her house and her family. Where are the quiet hours to be found for self-culture, the perusal of a favorite author, or, perhaps, a little timid “writing” on her own account? Nor does this treadmill round fill a few months only of her life. With slight variations of scene and costume, it continues through the year.

A painter, I know, was fortunate enough to receive, a year or two ago, the commission to paint a well-known beauty. He was delighted with the idea and convinced that he could make her portrait the best work of his life, one that would be the stepping-stone to fame and fortune. This was in the spring. He was naturally burning to begin at once, but found to his dismay that the lady was just about starting for Europe. So he waited, and at her suggestion installed himself a couple of months later at the seaside city where she had a cottage. No one could be more charming than she was, inviting him to dine and drive daily, but when he broached the subject of “sitting,” was “too busy just that day.” Later in the autumn she would be quite at his disposal. In the autumn, however, she was visiting, never ten days in the same place. Early winter found her “getting her house in order,” a mysterious rite apparently attended with vast worry and fatigue. With cooling enthusiasm, the painter called and coaxed and waited. November brought the opera and the full swing of a New York season. So far she has given him half a dozen sittings, squeezed in between a luncheon, which made her “unavoidably late,” for which she is charmingly “sorry,” and a reception that she was forced to attend, although “it breaks my heart to leave just as you are beginning to work so well, but I really must, or the tiresome old cat who is giving the tea will be saying all sorts of unpleasant things about me.” So she flits off, leaving the poor, disillusioned painter before his canvas, knowing now that his dream is over, that in a month or two his pretty sitter will be off again to New Orleans for the carnival, or abroad, and that his weary round of waiting will recommence. He will be fortunate if some day it does not float back to him, in the mysterious way disagreeable things do come to one, that she has been heard to say, “I fear dear Mr. Palette is not very clever, for I have been sitting to him for over a year, and he has really done nothing yet.”