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“Melvin, you seem to be missing the point of the painting. It’s about the fleetingness of fortune.” Allyn commented as the three of them stood in front of the 14th century by Dosso Dossi.
“I just see it differently.” Melvin retorted not budging.
“You don’t think that the man in the painting is enjoying his life?” Allyn continues to challenge him.
“I don’t. Of course, I don’t. He looks miserable.” Bette cringes at her father’s outburst.
“Spiritually void. The only true abundance is harmony with God.” He says with finality.
“Ah, so faith assures prosperity, is that what you’re saying?” Allyn wants to make sure she hasn’t missed the point.
“Figuratively speaking, yes.” Melvin concedes.
“There it is. The dangling carrot of the Ashcrofts and the Bushies.” Allyn again goads him.
“I beg your pardon. I have nothing in common with the Ashcrofts or the Bushies.” Melvin is indignant at the mere suggestion of such a comparison.
Bette feels like she’s watching a tennis match as the two elders engage in their intellectual bantering.
“It’s mercenary Christianity keeping us mortals in thrall through a combination of fear and payola. Makes me want to go back into a cave and never come out again.” Allyn says exasperated with the stubborn old man.
“That would be your prerogative, Madame.” Melvin dismisses the artist and walks away. Once again all Bette can do is sigh at his rudeness. She smiles at Allyn apologetically and goes off to find her father.
She finds him wandering around aimlessly in the hallways of the CAC. “Daddy, where are you going?”
She catches up with him and takes his arm to guide him. “Here come on.” she says.
Bette can’t reconcile how just a few minutes before her father was putting up such a fierce fight with Allyn to make his point and now he appeared frail and disoriented. “Are you feeling OK Daddy?” She asked as she leads him into her office watching him carefully as he sits down.
“Actually, I liked the painting very much.” He says completely ignoring her question about his health.
“Oh, good I’m glad.” Bette answers sensing her father’s discomfort at appearing physically or mentally weak.