The Rembrandt

“You’re so artistic,” my cousin Eleanor Copt began.

Of all Eleanor’s exordiums it is the one I most dread. When she tells me I’m so clever I know this is merely the preamble to inviting me to meet the last literary obscurity of the moment: trial to be evaded or endured, as circumstances dictate: whereas her calling me artistic fatally connotes the request to visit, in her company, some distressed gentlewoman whose future hangs on my valuation of her old Saxe or of her grandfather’s Marc Antonios. Time was when I attempted to resist these compulsions of Eleanor’s; but I soon learned that, short of actual flight, there was no refuge from her beneficent despotism.

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