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Full text of "Laughing Torso"


was deadly serious and determined to get on. The
old man who kept the school was a sweet old
Scotsman who painted curious pictures of High-
landers and romantic scenes at dawn. They did not
seem to me to mean very much. I drew from the
antique with energy. Mr. Cope, now Sir Arthur,
conducted the life class. He used to roar, " Line!
Line! " at the young ladies and they would burst
into tears.
I lived at the flat at Chiswick with my Grand-
mother. I wore a stiff linen collar and tie and cor-
sets with bones in them. A few years later I cast
them aside. My Grandmother and an elderly
cousin said that it was indecent and disgraceful and
women's backs were not strong enough to support
themselves; I am now forty-one and my backbone
has not yet crumpled up.
In the flat underneath lived a very charming
family. They knew H. M. Bateman, which thrilled
me, and I would go down in the evenings and hear
about the great man, of whom I am still a very great
admirer. One of the sons, Charlie, was a medical
student. I fell violently in love with him. I was
ugly and shy, and he used to take beautiful and
well-dressed girls to dances. This made me sad. I
was studying Anatomy at the time and going to
lectures at the Royal Academy. The grand passion
gave me such interest in Anatomy that I learnt and
knew by heart every muscle and its attachment. I
borrowed his bones, a skull, a backbone, and a
chain of vertebrae on a string which hung over the
end of my bed at night. I placed the skull affection-