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A Rogue's Life

the last exquisite glazings of the immortal master's brush." The old gentleman
was quite satisfied with this reason for not cleaning the Burgomaster, and took
away his purchase in his own carriage on the spot.
For three weeks we heard nothing more of him. At the end of that time, a Hebrew
friend of Mr. Pickup, employed in a lawyer's office, terrified us all by the
information that a gentleman related to our venerable connoisseur had seen the
Rembrandt, had pronounced it to be an impudent counterfeit, and had engaged
on his own account to have the picture tested in a court of law, and to charge the
seller and maker thereof with conspiring to obtain money under false pretenses.
Mr. Pickup and I looked at each other with very blank faces on receiving this
agreeable piece of news. What was to be done? I recovered the full use of my
faculties first; and I was the man who solved that important and difficult question,
while the rest were still utterly bewildered by it. "Will you promise me five and
twenty pounds in the presence of these gentlemen if I get you out of this
scrape?" said I to my terrified employer. Ishmael Pickup wrung his dirty hands
and answered, "Yesh, my dear!"
Our informant in this awkward matter was employed at the office of the lawyers
who were to have the conducting of the case against us; and he was able to tell
me some of the things I most wanted to know in relation to the picture.
I found out from him that the Rembrandt was still in our customer's possession.
The old gentleman had consented to the question of its genuineness being tried,
but had far too high an idea of his own knowledge as a connoisseur to incline to
the opinion that he had been taken in. His suspicious relative was not staying in
the house, but was in the habit of visiting him, every day, in the forenoon. That
was as much as I wanted to know from others. The rest depended on myself, on
luck, time, human credulity, and a smattering of chemical knowledge which I had
acquired in the days of my medical studies. I left the conclave at the picture-
dealer's forthwith, and purchased at the nearest druggist's a bottle containing a
certain powerful liquid, which I decline to particularize on high moral grounds. I
labeled the bottle "The Amsterdam Cleansing Compound"; and I wrapped round
it the following note:
"Mr. Pickup's respectful compliments to Mr.--(let us say, Green). Is rejoiced to
state that he finds himself unexpectedly able to forward Mr. Green's views
relative to the cleaning of 'The Burgomaster's Breakfast.' The inclosed compound
has just reached him from Amsterdam. It is made from a recipe found among the
papers of Rembrandt himself--has been used with the most astonishing results
on the Master's pictures in every gallery of Holland, and is now being applied to
the surface of the largest Rembrandt in Mr. P.'s own collection. Directions for
use: Lay the picture flat, pour the whole contents of the bottle over it gently, so as
to flood the entire surface; leave the liquid on the surface for six hours, then wipe
it off briskly with a soft cloth of as large a size as can be conveniently used. The