A week later Gerston telephoned me and asked to come to him. He had something important to tell me. It turned out that Lautisse visited the exhibition and signed all the thirty sections of my fence. "Now," said Gerston, "you have really got something to sell." And indeed with Gerston's help, 29 of the 30 sections were sold within a month's time and the price was 10.000 each section. I didn't want to sell the 30th section and it's hanging now in our living-room.
A Good Start
Bill liked painting more than anything in life. He started painting when he was 15 and people said that as a painter he had quite a lot of talent and had mastered most of the technical requirements. At 22 he had his first one-man show when he was discovered by the critics and his pictures were all sold out, With the money he could afford to marry Leila, rent a studio and stop being a student. To complete his education he went to Italy but after 5 months all the money was spent and he had to return.
Bill never had another show like the first one, though he became a better painter. The critics did not think him modern enough and said he was too academic. From time to time he managed to sell some of his paintings but eventually things had got very tight and he was obliged to look for a job.
The day before he went for an interview with his uncle Bill was especially gloomy. In the morning he went up to one of his unfinished pictures in the studio but he felt he couldn't paint. He threw down his brush and a bright red spot appeared on the board already covered with black and yellow paint from his previous work. The board had been used to protect the floor and was at that moment a mixture of bright colours.
When Bill left, Leila got down to cleaning the studio. She took up the board and put it against the wall to clean the floor. At that moment Garrad, Bill's dealer, came in. Bill had asked him to come, look at his work and arrange a show but the dealer had for some time been uncertain on the matter. So he was looking around the studio, explaining how the gallery was booked up for a year and how he could not really promise Bill a show yet for two years or so.
Suddenly the board against the wall attracted his attention.
"Leila, my dear," he exclaimed. "I felt that there must be something like this. Tell me, why is he keeping it away from us?"
Leila was too shocked to answer. But Garrad went on: "I think it's wonderful. I never doubted Bill would catch up with the modern trends. Now Leila, are there more pictures for a full show? I must go now but I'll be ringing him up. I'm going to change the whole plan and show his new work in the autumn. Tell him not to waste time. As to this one if he wants to sell it, I'll buy it myself."
Leila stayed in the studio till Bill came back. She was too excited to tell him the story clearly and Bill could not understand anything at first. When he realised what had happened he shook with laughter. "You didn't explain the whole thing about the board to him, did you?" he managed to say at last.
"No, I didn't. I couldn't really, I believe I should have, but it would have made him look too silly. I just said I didn't think you'd sell it".
What was Bill to do?
Think of your own ending.
(What was Bill to do? What a thing, he thought, to find waiting for you on your return from taking a job at two pounds a week. He could paint more for an exhibition that very evening and show them to Garrad the next day. After all, why not use it as a start for a good painter's career?)
The Filipino and the Drunkard' W. Saroyan
This loud-mouthed guy in the brown coat was not really mean', he was drunk. He took a sudden dislike to the small well-dressed Filipino and began to order him around the waiting-room, telling him to get back, not to crowd among the white people. They were waiting to get on the boat and cross the bay to Oakland. He was making a commotion in the waiting-room, and while everyone seemed to be in sympathy with the Filipino, no one seemed to want to come to his rescue, and the poor boy became very frightened.
He stood among the people, and this drunkard kept pushing up against him and saying: "I told you to get back. Now get back. I fought twenty-four months inFrance. I'm a real American. I don't want you standing up here among white people."
The boy kept squeezing politely out of the drunkard's way, hurrying through the crowd, not saying anything and trying his best to be as decent as possible. But the drunkard didn't leave him alone. He didn't like the fact that the Filipino was wearing good clothes.
When the big door opened to let everybody to the boat, the young Filipino moved quickly among the people, running from the drunkard. He sat down in a corner, but soon got up and began to look for a more hidden place. At the other end of the boat was the drunkard. He could hear the man swearing. The boy looked for a place to hide, and rushed into the lavatory. He went into one of the open compartments and bolted the door. The drunkard entered the lavatory and began asking others in the room if they had seen the boy. Finally he found the compartment where the boy was standing, and he began swearing and demanding that the boy come out.
"Go away," the boy said.
The drunkard began pounding on the door. "You got to come out some time," he said. "I'll wait here till
MISSED – MISSED - MISSED
"Go away," said the boy. "I've done you nothing."
Behind the door the boy's bitterness grew to rage.
He began to tremble, not fearing the man but fearing the rage growing in himself. He brought the knife from his pocket.
"Go away," he said again. "I have a knif e. I don't want any trouble."
The drunkard said he was a real American, wounded twice. He wouldn't go away. He was afraid of no dirty little yellow-faced Filipino with a knife.
"I will kill you," said the boy. "I don't want any trouble. Go away. Please, don't make any trouble," he said earnestly.
He threw the door open and tried to rush beyond the man, the knife in his fist, but the drunkard caught him by the sleeve and drew him back. The sleeve of the boy's coat ripped, and the boy turned and thrust the knife into the side of the drunkard, feeling it scrape against the ribbone'. The drunkard shouted and screamed at once, then caught the boy by the throat, and the boy began to thrust the knife into the side of the man many times. When the drunkard could hold him no more and fell to the floor, the boy rushed from the room, the knife still in his hand.
Everyone knew what he had done, yet no one moved. The boy ran to the front of the boat, seeking some place to go, but there was no place to go, and before the officers of the boat arrived he stopped suddenly and began to shout at the people.
"I didn't want to hurt him, why didn't you stop him? Is it right to chase a man like a rat? You knew he was drunk. I didn't want to hurt him, but he wouldn't let me go. He tore my coat and tried to choke me. I told him I would kill him if he wouldn't go away. It is not my fault. I must go to Oakland to see my brother. He is sick. Do you thirik I'm looking for trouble when my brother is sick. Why didn't you stop him?"
The Dinner Party
There are still some rich people in the world. Many of them lead lives of particular pleasure. But rich people do have their problems. They are seldom problems of finance, since most rich people have enough sense to hire other people to take care of their worries. But there are other, more genuine problems. They are the problems of behaviour.
Let me tell you a story which happened to my uncle Octavian a full thirty years ago. At that time I myself was fifteen. My uncle Octavian was then a rich man. He was a charming and accomplished host whose villa was an accepted rendezvous of the great. He was a hospitable and most amiable man – until January 3, 1925.
There was nothing special about that day in the life of my uncle Octavian, except that it was his fifty-fifth birthday. As usual on such a day he was giving a party, a party for twelve people. All of them were old friends.
I, myself, aged fifteen, was deeply privileged. I was staying with my uncle at his exquisite villa, on holiday from school, and as a special concession on this happy day, I was allowed to come down to dinner. It was exciting for me to be admitted to such company, which included a newspaper proprietor of exceptional intelligence and his fabulous' American wife, a recent prime-minister of France and a distinguished German prince and princess.
At that age, you will guess, I was dazzled. Even today, 30 years later, one may fairly admit that the company was distinguished. But I should also stress that they were all old and intimate friends of my uncle Octavian.
Towards the end of a wonderful dinner, when dessert had been brought in and the servants had left, my uncle leant forward to admire a magnificent diamond ring on the princess's hand. She was a handsome woman. She turned her hand gracefully towards my uncle. Across the table, the newspaper proprietor leant across and said: "May I also have a look?" She smiled and nodded. Then she took off the ring and held it out to him. "It was my grandmother's – the old empress," she said. "I have not worn it for many years. It is said to have once belonged to Genghis Khan."
There were exclamations of delight and admiration. The ring was passed from hand to hand. For a moment it rested on my own palm, gleaming splendidly. Then I passed it on to my neighbour. As I turned away again, I saw her pass it on.
It was some 20 minutes later when the princess stood up and said: "Before we leave you, may I have my ring back?" ... There was a pause, while each of us looked expectantly at his neighbour. Then there was silence.
The princess was still smiling, though less easily. She was unused to asking for things twice. The silence continued, I still thought that it could only be a practical joke, and that one of us – probably the prince himself – would produce the ring with a laugh. But when nothing happened at all, I knew that the rest of the night would be dreadful.
I am sure that you can guess the sort of scene that followed. There was the embarrassment of the guests – all of them old and valued friends. There was a nervous search of the whole room. But it did not bring the princess's ring back again. It had vanished – an irreplaceable thing, worth possibly two hundred thousand pounds – in a roomful of twelve people, all known to each other.
No servants had entered the room. No one had left it for a moment. The thief (for now it could only be theft) was one of us, one of my uncle Octavian's cherished friends.
I remember it was the French cabinet minister who was most insistent on being searched, indeed, in his excitement he had already started to turn out his pockets, before my uncle held up his hand and stopped him. "There will be no search in my house," he commanded. "You are all my friends. The ring can only be lost. If it is not found" – he bowed towards the princess – "I will naturally make amends myself."
The ring was never found, it never appeared, either then or later.
To our family's surprise, uncle Octavian was a comparatively poor man, when he died (which happened, in fact, a few weeks ago). And I should say that he died with the special sadness of a hospitable host who never gave a single lunch or dinner party for the last thirty years of his life.
Fair of Face C. Hare
John Franklin, with whom I was at Oxford, invited me to stay with his people at Markhampton for the Markshire Hunt Ball'. He and his sister were arranging a small party for it, he said.
"I've never met your sister," I remarked. "What is she like?"
"She is a beauty," said John, seriously and simply.
I thought at the time that it was an odd, old-fashioned phrase, but it turned out to be strictly and literally true. Deborah Franklin was beautiful in the grand, classic manner. She didn't look in the least like a film star or a model. But looking at her you forgot everything. It was the sheer beauty of her face that took your breath away.
With looks like that, it would be asking too much to expect anything startling in the way of brains, and I found Deborah, a trifle dull. She was of course well aware of her extraordinary good looks, and was perfectly prepared to discuss them, just as a man seven feet high might talk about the advantages and inconveniences of being tall.
Most of our party were old friends of the Franklins, who took Deborah for granted as a local phenomenon, but among them was a newcomer – a young man with a beard named Aubrey Melcombe, who had latelytaken charge of the local museum. As soon as he set eyes on Deborah he said:
"We have never met before, but your face, of course, is perfectly familiar."
Deborah had evidently heard that one before.
"I never give sitting to photographers," she said, "but people will snap me in the street. It's such a nuisance."
"Photographs!" said Aubrey. "I mean your portrait – the one that was painted four hundred years ago. Has nobody ever told you that you are the living image of the Warbeck Titian?"
"I've never heard of the Warbeck Titian," said Deborah, "You shall judge for yourself," – said Aubrey. "I'll send you a ticket for the opening of the exhibition."
Then he went off to dance with Rosamund Clegg, his assistant at the museum, who was said to be his fiance'e.
I did not care much' for Aubrey, or for his young woman, but I had to admit that they knew, their job when I came to the opening of the exhibition a few months later. They had gathered in treasures of every sort from all over the county and arranged them admirably. The jewel of the show was, of course, the great Titian. It had a wall to itself at the end of the room and I was looking at it when Deborah came in.
The likeness was fantastic. Lord Warbeck had never had his paintings cleaned, so that Titian's flesh tints were golden and carmine, in vivid contrast to Deborah's pink and white. But the face behind the glass might have been hev mirror image. By a happy chance she had chosen to wear a very plain black dress, which matched up well to the portrait's dark clothes. She stood there still and silent, staring at her centuries-old likeness. I wondered what she felt.
A pressman's camera flashed and clicked. First one visitor and then another noticed the resemblance and presently the rest of the gallery was deserted. Everyone was crowding round the Titian to stare from the painted face to the real one and back again. The only clear space was round Deborah herself. People were moving to get a good view of her profile, without losing sight of the Titian, which fortunately was in profile also. It must have been horribly embarrassing for Deborah, but she never seemed to notice them. She went on peering into the picture, for a very long time. Then she turned round and walked quickly out of the building. As she passed me I saw that she was crying – a surprising display of emotion in one so calm.
About ten minutes later Aubrey discovered that a pair of Degas' statuettes was missing from a stand opposite the Titian. They were small objects and very valuable. The police were sent for and there was a considerable fuss, but nothing was found. I left as soon as I could and went to the Franklins. Deborah was in.
"Have you got the statuettes?" I asked.
She took them out of her handbag.
"How did you guess?"
"It seemed to me that your reception in front of the Titian was a performance," I explained. "It distracted attention from everything else in the room while the theft took place."
"Yes," said Deborah, "Aubrey arranged it very cleverly, didn't he? He thought of everything. He even helped me choose this dress to go with the one in the picture, you know."
"And the press photographer? Had he been laid on too?"
"Oh, yes. Aubrey arranged for someone to be there to photograph me. He thought it would help to collect a crowd."
Her coolness was astonishing. Even with the evidence of the statuettes in front of me I found it hard to believe that I was talking to a thief.
"It was a very clever scheme altogether," I said. "You and Aubrey must have put a lot of work into it. Ihad no idea that you were such friends."
There was a flush on her cheeks as she replied:
"Oh yes, I've been seeing a good deal of him lately.
Ever since the Hunt Ball, in fact."
After that there didn't seem to be much more to say.
"There's one thing I don't quite understand," I said finally. "People were surroundin'g you and staring at you up to the moment you left the gallery. How did Aubrey manage to pass the statuettes to you without anyone seeing?"
She rounded on me in a fury of surprise and indignation.
"Pass the statuettes to me?" she repeated. "Good God! Are you suggesting that I helped Aubrey to steal them?"
She looked like an angry goddess, and was about as charming.
"But – but – " I stammered. "But if you didn't who will?
"Rosamund, of course. Aubrey gave them to her while all was going on in front of the Titian. She simply put them in her bag and walked out. I'd only just gotthem back from her when you came in."
"Rosamund!" It was my turn to be surprised. "Then the whole thing was a put-up job between them?"
"Yes. They wanted to get married and hadn't any money, and she knew a dealer who would give a price for things like these with no questions asked and –and there you are."
"Then how did you come into it?" I asked.
"Aubrey said that if I posed in front of the Titian it would be wonderful publicity for the exhibition – and,of course, I fell for it." She laughed. "I've only just remembered. When Aubrey wanted to make fun of me he used to say I'd make a wonderful cover girl. That's just what I was – a cover girl for him and Rosamund."
She stood up and picked up the statuettes.
"These will have to go back to the gallery, I suppose," she said, "Can it be done without too much fuss? It's silly of me, I know, but I'd rather they didn't prosecute Aubrey."
I made sympathetic noises.
"It was Rosamund's idea in the first place," she went on. "I'm sure of that. Aubrey hasn't the wits to think of anything so clever."
"It was clever enough," I said. "But you saw through it at once. How was that?"
"I'm not clever," she said. "But that old dark picture with the glass on it made a perfect mirror. Aubrey told me to stand in front of it, so I did. But I'm not interested in art, you know. I was looking at myself.And of course I couldn't help seeing what was happening just behind me..."
Caged by L.E. Reeve
Purcell was a small, fussy' man; red cheeks and a tight melonlike stomach. Large glasses so magnified his eyes as to give him the appearance of a wise and kind owl.
He owned a pet shop. He sold cats and dogs and monkeys; he dealt in fish food and bird seed, prescribed remedies for ailing canaries, on his shelves there were long rows of cages. He considered himself something of a professional man.
There was a constant stir of life in his shop. The customers who came in said:
"Aren't they cute'! Look at that little monkey! They're sweet."
And Mr. Purcell himself would smile and rub his hands and nod his head.
Each morning, when the routine of opening his shop was completed, it was the proprietor's custom to perch on a high stool, behind the counter, unfold his morning paper, and digest the day's news.
It was a raw, wintry day. Wind gusted against the high, plateglass windows. Having completed his usual tasks, Mr. Purceil again mounted the high stool and unfolded his morning paper. He adjusted his glasses, aad glanced at the day's headlines.
There was a bell over the door that rang whenever a customer entered. This morning, however, for the first time Mr. Purcell could recall, it failed to ring. Simply he glanced up, and there was the stranger, standing just inside the door, as if he had materialized out of thin air.
The storekeeper slid off his stool. From the first instant he knew instinctively, that the man hated him; but out of habit he rubbed his hands, smiled and nodded.
"Good morning," he beamed. "What can I do for you?"
The man's shiny shoes squeaked forward. His suit was cheap, ill-fitting, but obviously new. Ignoring Purcell for the moment, he looked around the shadowy shop.
"A nasty morning," volunteered the shopkeeper. He clasped both hands across his melonlike stomach, and smiled importantly. Now what was it you wanted?"
The man stared closely at Purcell, as though just now aware of his presence. He said, "I want something in a cage."
"Something in a cage?" Mr. Purcell was a bit confused. "You mean – some sort of pet?"
"I mean what I said!" snapped' the man. "Something in a cage. Something alive that's in a cage."
"I see," hastened the storekeeper, not at all certain that he did. "Now let me think. A white rat, perhaps? I have some very nice white rats."
"No!" said the xnan. "Not rats. Something with wings. Something that flies."
"A bird!" exclaimed Mr. Purcell.
"A bird's all right." The customer pointed suddenly to a cage which contained two snowy birds. "Doves? How much for those?"
"Five-fifty," came the prompt answer. "And a very reasonable price. They are a fine pair."
"Five-fifty?" The man was obviously disappointed. He produced a five-dollar bill. "I'1 like to have those birds. But this is all I've got. Just five dollars."
Mentally, Mr. Purcell made a quick calculation, which told him that at a fifty cent reduction he could still reap a tidy profit. He smiled kindly "My dear man, if you want them that badly, you can certainly have them for five dollars."
"I'll take them." He laid his five dollars on the counter. Mr. Purcell unhooked the cage, and handed it to his customer. "That noise!" The man said suddenly. "Doesn't it get on your nerves?"
"Noise? What noise?" Mr. Purcell looked surprised. He could hear nothing unusual.
"Listen." The staring eyes came closer. "How long d'you think it took me to make that five dollars?"
The merchant wanted to order him out of the shop. But oddly enough, he couldn't. He heard himself asking, "Why – why, how long did it take you?"
The other laughed. "Ten years! At hard labour. Ten years to earn five dollars. Fifty cents a year."
It was best, Purcell decided, to humor him. "My, my! Ten years. That's certainly a long time. Now"
MISSED – MISSED - MISSED
"They give you five dollars," laughed the man, "and a cheap suit, and tell you not to get caught again."
The man swung around, and stalked abruptly from the store.
Purcell sighed with sudden relief. He walked to the window and stared out. Just outside, his peculiar customer had stopped. He was holding the cage shoulder-high, staring at his purchase. Then, opening the cage, he reached inside and drew out one of the doves.He tossed it into the air. He drew out the second and tossed it after the first. They rose like balls and were lost in the smoky gray of the wintry city. For an instant the liberator's silent gaze watched them. Then he dropped the cage and walked away.
The merchant was perplexed. So desperately had the man desired the doves that he had let him have them at a reduced price. And immediately he had turned them loose. "Now why," Mr. Purcell muttered, "did he do that?" He felt vaguely insulted.
The TV Blackout by Art Buchwald
A week ago Sunday New York city had a blackout and all nine television stations in the area went out for several hours. This created tremendous crises in families all over New York and proved that TV plays a much greater role in people's lives than anyone can imagine.
For example, when the TV went off in the Bufkins's house panic set in. First Bufkins thought it was his set in the living-room, so he rushed into his bedroom and turned on that set. Nothing. The phone rang, and Mrs. Bufkins heard her sister in Manhattan tell her that there was a blackout.
She hung up and said to her husband, "It isn't (wasn’t) your set. Something's (had) happened to the top of the Empire State Building."
Bufkins looked at her and said, "Who are you?"(she was)
"I'm your wife, Edith."
"Oh," Bufkins said. "Then I suppose (ed) those kids' in there are mine."
"That's right," Mrs. Bufkins said. "If you ever(had) got out of that armchair in front of the TV set you'd know(would had known) who we are."
"Oh! they've(had) really grown," Bufkins said(wondered), looking at his son and daughter. "How old are they now?(the children were?)"
"Thirteen and fourteen (were)," Mrs. Bufkins replied.
"Who's he (was that gentleman)?' Bufkins's son, Henry, asked (explained).
"It's your father," Mrs. Bufkins said.
"Iwwer'm pleased to meet you," Bufkins's daughter, Mary, said shyly.
There was silence all around.
"Look," said Bufkins finally. "I know I haven't been
a good father but now(than) that the TV's out I'd like(wonted to know) to know you(them) better."
"How?" asked Henry.
"Well, let's just talk," Bufkins said. "That's the best
way to get to know each other."
"What do you want to talk about (would they talk about)?" Mary asked (wondered).
"Well, to begin with, what school do you go to (What school they went)?"
"We go to High School," Henry said. (told)
"So you're both in high school!"(Summed up) There was a dead silence.
"What do you do?" Mary asked. (wondered)
'I’m an accountant, ' Bufkins said.
"I thought you were a car salesman," Mrs. Bufkins said in surprise.
"That was two years ago. Didn't I tell you I changed jobs?" Bufkins said.(had changed job 2 years before)
"No, you didn't. You haven't told me anything for two years."
"I'm doing quite well too," Bufkins said.
"Then why am I working in a department store?"
Mrs. Bufkins demanded.
"Oh, are you still working in a department store? If I had known that, I would have told you could quit last year. You should have mentioned it," Bufkins said.
There was more dead silence.
Finally Henry said, "Hey, you want to hear me play the guitar?"
"You know how to play the guitar? Say, didn't I have a daughter who played the guitar?"
"That was Susie," Mrs. Bufkins said.
"Where is she?"
"She got married a year ago, just about the time you were watching the World Series."
"You know," Bufkins said, very pleased. "I hope they don't fix the antenna for another couple hours. There's nothing better than a blackout for a man who really wants to know his family."
Then in Triumph F. L. Parke
There were cars in front of the house. Four of them. Clifford Oslow cut across the lawn and headed for the back steps. But not soon enough. The door of a big red car opened and a woman came rushing after him. She was a little person, smaller even than Clifford himself. But she was fast. She reached him just as he was getting through the hedge.
"You're Mr. Oslow, aren't you?" she said. She pulled out a little book and a pencil and held them under his nose. "I've been trying to get her autograph all week," she explained. "I want you to get it f or me. Just drop the book in a mail-box. It's stamped and the address is on it."
And then she was gone and Clifford was standing there holding the book and pencil in his hand.
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