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The Double
by [?]

In the evening I called upon Peter. My acquaintance of the afternoon had assumed too readily that I should allow myself to be on friendly terms with artists; but Peter’s wife illustrates books, and they both talk in a disparaging way of our greatest Academicians.

“Who,” I began at once, as I shook hands, “did I remind you of as I came in at the door?”

Peter was silent. Mrs. Peter, feeling that some answer was called for, said, “The cat.”

“No, no. Now I’ll come in again.” I went out and returned dramatically. “Now then, tell me frankly, doesn’t that remind you of A. E. Barrett entering his studio?”

“Who is A. E. Barrett?”

I was amazed at their ignorance.

“He’s the well-known artist. Surely you’ve heard of him?”

“I seem to know the name,” lied Peter. “What did he paint?”

“‘Sunrise on the Alps,’ ‘A Corner of the West,’ ‘The Long Day Wanes’–I don’t know. Something. The usual thing.”

“And are you supposed to be like him?”

“I am. Particularly when eating sandwiches.”

“Is it worth while getting you some, in order to observe the likeness?” asked Mrs. Peter.

“If you’ve never seen A. E. Barrett I fear you’d miss the likeness, even in the most favourable circumstances. Anyhow, you must have heard of him–dear old A. E.!”

They were utterly ignorant of him, so I sat down and told them what I knew; which, put shortly, was that he was a very remarkable-looking fellow.

. . . . .

I have not been to the sandwich-place since. Detesting the sandwiches as I do, I find A. E. Barrett a good excuse for keeping away. For, upon the day after that when he came into my life, I had a sudden cold fear that the thing was a plant. How, in what way, I cannot imagine. That I am to be sold a Guide to Cambridge at the next meeting; that an A. E. Barrett hair-restorer is about to be placed on the market; that an offer will be made to enlarge my photograph (or Barrett’s) free of charge if I buy the frame–no, I cannot think what it can be.

Yet, after all, why should it be a plant? We Barretts are not the sort of men to be mixed up with fraud. Impetuous the Barrett type may be, obstinate, jealous–so much you see in our features. But dishonest? Never!

Still, as I did honestly detest those last eight sandwiches, I shall stay away.