Velma and I are in a most desperate disagreement over the painting at the end of the hallway. It depicts a long, tall fellow in a mask, hat and whites. Quite unsettling, I think – the kind of baroque monstrosity one would expect in a baronial pile, surmounted by stag horns, rather than a modern ship like this.
(Perhaps it would suit The House on the Borderland? Why, Mr. William Hope, do come home, all is forgiven! Northern Star must, of course, do everything I think, right now, right down to a monogrammed ‘L’ on the napkins, because my name is Lucinda, Franklin O’Sullivan, and I am Michelangelo’s very own artistic muse. Ha!).
Velma, on the other hand, says there is much to admire, and that she tires of all this limp-wristed, thin-lining, and delicate floral dabs, and all the ‘meh, meh, meh’ potpourri of all that despicable modernism. Of course she’s a dyed-in-the-wool activist, who would – should everyone become an activist – become a bank clerk, just to agitate the whole damn thing.
Anyway, I much prefer the painting with the dashing cavalryman on his white charger, or our lady of the ratty ermines; or if silver nitrate is your poison, then that photo of those gleeful fellows playing in their rat-a-tat band (above the carpeted stairs running down from the Mall). Though is the drumming fellow the self-same as our cavalryman? Brothers in arms at least?
So, with all this art on-board, why is it that I am drawn to, yet repulsed by that particular painting? It dwarfs me. It’s no great shakes with the brush – no sir. The fellow is surely mis-proportioned. I do not like his bearing. It seems cruel – disrespectful, somehow. Bacchanalian? Oh, I’m stumbling on the words.
I shall look again tomorrow, though I shall still not hand a golden laurel to the artist, I am sure. But a clench went through my stomach when I saw it, first – my own bow wave.
A fateful feeling?
Oh, Lucy. How silly.
Velma laughs at my quaint ways, but she’s jolly-well wrong about this painted fellow. There’s nothing good about him.