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Full text of "Laughing Torso"

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I    BEGIN    TO    BE    AN    ARTIST
The students were mostly board-school children
whose talent for adding up and doing sums stag-
gered me. I gave one look of despair at the figures
and took to drawing on the blotting paper. At the
end of the term the Headmaster told my Father that
I was a hopeless case and quite incapable of getting
on in any walk of life. As I persisted in drawing, my
Grandmother decided to send me to an Art School.
About this time I was confirmed. I never knew
quite why or what it was all about, but I was sent
alone to a very sympathetic clergyman. We
prayed together and I had to write an essay on one's
Duty to one's Parents. This I did so well and filled
it with such noble and pious sentiments that he told
my Grandmother that I had something of a real
Saint in my disposition. It occurred to me that if
leg-pulling was as easy as all that the future might
not be so bad. I was dressed in white and taken to
a church at Chiswick where the Bishop of London
confirmed me.
Some friends of my Grandmother's knew A. B.
Cull, now a famous marine artist; he said that five
years' free education was to be had at the Royal
Academy Schools. He had just finished the course
there himself. The examination was difficult and
he said that once having passed the examination
one's artistic future was easy! I was sent to prepare
for this exam, at the Pelham School of Art in South
Kensington. The students were very refined and
snobbish, the girls were mostly of well-to-do families
who, I think, sent their daughters there to await the
happy moment when they would find husbands. I
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