From a Bench in Our Square
A Patroness Of Art
Peter (flourish-in-red) Quick (flourish-in-green) Banta (period-in-blue) is the style
whereby he is known to Our Square.
Summertimes he is a prop and ornament of Coney, that isle of the blest, whose sands he
models into gracious forms and noble sentiments, in anticipation of the casual dime or the
munificent quarter, wherewith, if you have low, Philistine tastes or a kind heart, you have
perhaps aforetime rewarded him. In the off-season the thwarted passion of color
possesses him; and upon the flagstones before Thornsen's Élite Restaurant, which
constitutes his canvas, he will limn you a full-rigged ship in two colors, a portrait of the
heavyweight champion in three, or, if financially encouraged, the Statue of Liberty in
four. These be, however, concessions to popular taste. His own predilection is for chaste
floral designs of a symbolic character borne out and expounded by appropriate legends.
Peter Quick Banta is a devotee of his art.
Giving full run to his loftier aspirations, he was engaged, one April day, upon a carefully
represented lilac with a butterfly about to light on it, when he became cognizant of a
ragged rogue of an urchin regarding him with a grin. Peter Quick Banta misinterpreted
this sign of interest.
"What d'ye think of that?" he said triumphantly, as he sketched in a set of side-whiskers
(presumably intended for antennae) upon the butterfly.
"Rotten," was the prompt response.
"What!" said the astounded artist, rising from his knees.
Peter Quick Banta applied the higher criticism to the urchin's nearest ear. It was now that
connoisseur's turn to be affronted. Picking himself out of the gutter, he placed his thumb
to his nose, and wiggled his finger in active and reprehensible symbolism, whilst
enlarging upon his original critique, in a series of shrill roars:
"Rotten! Punk! No good! Swash! Flubdub! Sacré tas de--de--piffle!" Already his
vocabulary was rich and plenteous, though, in those days, tainted by his French origin.
He then, I regret to say, spat upon the purple whiskers of the butterfly and took refuge in
flight. The long stride of Peter Quick Banta soon overtook him. Silently struggling he
was haled back to the profaned temple of Art.