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Full text of "Laughing Torso"

LAU GHING   TORSO

1903. I was given coloured pictures of Venice to
copy in water-colours; it bored me after a time and
so I used to wander about the Art School. I found
a passage, on the walls of which were nude studies
done by the students which fired me with enthu-
siasm. I found myself in the Antique Room with
white plaster casts of Venus, Hercules, and the
Dancing Faun. I had an irresistible desire to get a
hammer and chip off the plaster fig leaves that
seemed to me to be ugly and silly.
I met at this time a family who were very kind to
me. The sister had hair nearly down to the ground,
reddish gold and most beautiful. She had a wonder-
ful voice and used to act in amateur theatricals; she
was always getting engaged to naval officers but
none of them came up to her ideal. I believe she is
still a maiden. Her family would not allow her to
become a singer notwithstanding the fact that they
were almost penniless; because " Ladies did not go
on the stage." She would probably have become a
famous singer. I fell in love with her brother
Morris who was nineteen, six foot three, and a dream
of beauty. He was in the Rifle Brigade and looked
magnificent in his uniform. I stayed with them
sometimes when my family went to London, and as
his sister sat each evening with me when I was in
bed and talked about life he would rush into the
room and fire a revolver out of the window. This
seemed to me the height of daring and manliness-
One day he invited me to go for a drive in a horse
trap of the American pattern that one sees in old
cowboy films. It had big spidery wheels and held