An American Artist's Story

An American Artist's Story

An American Artist's Story

An American Artist's Story

Excerpt

Quant' è bella giovinezza
Che si fugge tuttavia!
Chi vuol esser lieto, sia:
Di doman non c'è certezza.
LORENZO DE' MEDICI

WHEN I was about four and a half years old and Francis three, we decided at the latter's instigation to kill the baby. A sequence of events led up to this resolution. Francis had stolen the baby's rubber doll. The doll was forcibly expropriated from Francis by Irish Mary and returned to the baby. Francis snatched the doll back and slugged the baby in the face with it. For this he was formally punished. We talked things over later and decided that the easiest way was to drop him out onto Spruce Street. We got the cradle as far as the third-floor window and were working on the latch when Irish Mary again intervened and we were spared a further humiliation.

From that day and for many years to come Francis and I grew up together. I was the more prudent, he the more lively of the two. I had greater scruples and he a swifter imagination. I think of myself as the balance wheel and of him as the accelerator of this two-cylindered combination. His ardor often led him into crooked paths and consequently he was spanked more often. Although I always followed, somewhat timidly perhaps, in his wake, I never seem to have been much punished. I was essentially . . .

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