Mary Watkins, a Vermonter who came to New York to study art although enamoured of opera, first came to know her favorite idol, Olive Fremstad, through a picture she drew of her. The first meeting at the Hotel Ansonia led to a longer summer trip and to seven years of acting as Mme. Fremstad's ""buffer"". In those years the eager, warmhearted, understanding girl learned to run a menage, to dress a Brunnehilde, to appreciate the magnificent artist and difficult person who was Olive Fremstad. Humor, drama, and touches of tragedy abound in the story of those years and what lay on either side of them for Madame. When ""little Miss Watkins"", or Tinku, arrived on the scone, Olive Fremstad was at the height of her career. The summer in Europe with its hard labor at Karlstein and handkissing in Vienna was play compared to the New York winter at the Met. The woman who held her roles above the limitations of the flesh, who once with Toscanini carried music beyond human endurance, who frightened Scotti, who played Carmen to a rejected lover with a luger pointed at her heart and who delighted in tramping past lampposts counting her breaths -- was a dynamic but dependent person who needed a home and stability. Tinka shared Madame's torments and trials through an unsuccessful second marriage and a finals release from the Met. Friendships with people like Willa Cather, who took Fremstad as her model for Song of the Lark, the quietude of the Maine retreat could not give rest to the great diva, the thirty hollow years after her retirement- fill in this portrait of a great interpretative artist -- shadow it with tenderness and realism, admiration and understanding. A supreme operative imperative.