A Rogue's Life HTML version
him, and would have been driven, for the first time in his practice of art, to the
uncustomary and uncourtly resource of absolutely painting a genuine likeness.
As for me, I put my trust in Lady Malkinshaw's power of living, and portrayed the
face of Mr. Batterbury in all its native horror. At the same time, I sensibly guarded
against even the most improbable accidents, by making him pay me the fifty
pounds as we went on, by installments. We had ten sittings. Each one of them
began with a message from Mr. Batterbury, giving me Annabella's love and
apologies for not being able to come and see me. Each one of them ended with
an argument between Mr. Batterbury and me relative to the transfer of five
pounds from his pocket to mine. I came off victorious on every occasion--being
backed by the noble behavior of Lady Malkinshaw, who abstained from tumb ling
down, and who ate and drank, and slept and grew lusty, for three weeks
together. Venerable woman! She put fifty pounds into my pocket. I shall think of
her with gratitude and respect to the end of my days.
One morning, while I was sitting before my completed portrait, inwardly
shuddering over the ugliness of it, a suffocating smell of musk was wafted into
the studio; it was followed by a sound of rustling garments; and that again was
succeeded by the personal appearance of my affectionate sister, with her
husband at her heels. Annabella had got to the end of her stock of apologies,
and had come to see me.
She put her handkerchief to her nose the moment she entered the room.
"How do you do, Frank? Don't kiss me: you smell of paint, and I can't bear it."
I felt a similar antipathy to the smell of musk, and had not the slightest intention
of kissing her; but I was too gallant a man to say so; and I only begged her to
favor me by looking at her husband's portrait.
Annabella glanced all round the room, with her handkerchief still at her nose, and
gathered her magnificent silk dress close about her superb figure with her
"What a horrid place!" she said faintly behind her handkerchief. "Can't you take
some of the paint away? I'm sure there's oil on the floor. How am I to get past
that nasty table with the palette on it? Why can't you bring the picture down to the
Advancing a few steps, and looking suspiciously about her while she spoke, her
eyes fell on the chimney-piece. An eau-de-Cologne bottle stood upon it, which
she took up immediately with a languishing sigh.
It contained turpentine for washing brushes in. Before I could warn her, she had
sprinkled herself absently with half the contents of the bottle. In spite of all the