Poor Ioanide

excerpts IV In his office on the ground floor, Saferian, on a chair and surrounded by four men, all standing, was contemplating an oil portrait, set near them against the back of an ordinary straw chair. "It is an Ingres, most certainly," said one of the four, a man with trimmed red hair, a round face and nose, looking much like an accountant. The tobacco-like shade of his clothes, a distinguished gentleness of his look proved the falsehood of this assumption. He was an art critic and an unostentatious artist that would neglect his work, although it was more valuable then he himself would have imagined, and whom the friends called the Expert because of his knowledge of the history of arts. Saferian Manigomian asked for his opinion regularly. "And then," Demirgian said – a sort of general commissar of Saferian's, the youngest and the tallest of the four and with an extremely crooked nose, "we have the letter that proves it to be authentic." "We don't need the letter," the Expert went on, "the style is the most valuable proof. It is an authentic painting, you can feel the resolution of the touch, the rush to have done with the order." The Expert opened a large format volume on a shelf and looked through it in front of those present there, insisting on the portraits. It was a monograph on Ingres, with excellent coloured illustrations. Another man of the four, an old man, with an English trimmed moustache followed with much excitement the explanations of the critic, moving his glasses in turns over the monograph and over the painting on the chair. This was Nacu, the engineer, an art collector while his savings allowed it. The portrait wasn't, of course, a masterpiece, but it was still a remarkable piece from the maturity period. Its fault could rather be that of being an artistic doublet, painted on the rush with the change of the individual lines. It much resembled the portrait of Mrs. Gonse, from 1852, and was painted in 1853 in Paris, as the letter that accompanied the painting proved. A Romanian woman that lived in Paris that year ordered it and the painter, using the frame again (the hand set against the cheek, as at the daguerreotype, black hair parted in the middle, lace bonnet) introduced the face of an older woman, with an even more prominent Greek nose and with a general air of a matron, loaded with the dowry jewels. The model didn't have a spiritual expression, she was an example of oriental woman. Whence a certain ornamental impression. But, all in all, you could feel the master's touch. Both Saferian and Nacu seemed very satisfied, only the latter worried about the price. He couldn't offer big money. Saferian knew that, and as he had asked him to come it was because he had a plan. "Well," he asked The Expert with the eyes, "how much would you say?" The Expert said that the real value of the painting couldn't be set in Romania, but only with those who knew Ingres. Here, in the country, the price was doomed to be compared with the usual offers, that is, almost nothing. It was better that Nacu the engineer take it at a commercial price so that the piece wouldn't be lost. "Sixty thousand," Saferian decided timidly. The engineer made a gesture of satisfaction and immediately pulled out the banknotes from the wallet, handing them to Saferian, who threw them, careless, in an upper drawer of his desk. The painting was wrapped in a thin bag, the letter-put in a cloth envelope, and both objects-handed to the buyer, who, impatient, carried them to his two-seat automobile. The Expert left as well. On through the office, men started going, at Demirgian's orders, carrying durable sacks well sewed and sealed with lead. A smell of spices and coffee spread in the whole room. Only a man about his age remained near Saferian, a man shaved in the same way and swarthy and with an Arab profile, though with a more crooked nose, Armenian like, which was an improvement of Demirgian's nose. This was Doctor Rapig Sahazizian. He was sitting now on a pile of carpets turned face down, folded and put one over the other on the floor. It must be made clear that Saferian's "study" was just a big room looking like a warehouse. On a wall, large shelves like the ones in stores were stacked with packs of Turkish two-faced carpets, old Turkish shawls and other such things made out of textiles. In two old windows there could be seen packed crystal glasses, candlesticks, bibelots, a true antique collection, contrasting with Saferian's ordinary desk, made of polished fir tree wood. On it were lined up, paradoxically, cups full of medicine, black pepper, cinnamon, tea. A votive fire fastened on a wire tripod burned in front of an icon covered in silver and leaning against a big safe. As they remained alone, except for Demirgian, who was going to and fro out of the side rooms, accompanying the men with the sacks, Saferian and Rapig started speaking Armenian and they both looked very worried, the former even sad. Slowly they blended Romanian words into the Armenian sentences and in the end, having briefly examined the essential, the conversation continued in the Romanian language that doctor Rapig, raised in Romania, spoke fluently but with a very guttural accent. Saferian sighed deeply: "Ugh, ugh, hard times lie ahead of us, gone are the times of thirty years ago!" "Nothing must be kept still," doctor Rapig seemed to sum up the discussion in Armenian. "That's what I'll do." When Demirgian, finishing the surveillance of the transports, came with a note about the sacks stored, Saferian recommended: "Tell the stores to sell…" "Especially not to buy, to take on lease," doctor Rapig advised. "That's it!" Saferian approved. "Consult me only if it's something rare, artistic." "The man that you know, from the bank," Demirgian said after a short hesitation, "sought a Persian carpet yesterday, but he liked tremendously only the one in the hall." "The carpet from my home?" Saferian wondered gently. "But there are so many here and upstairs. Didn't you show them to him?" "He wants only that one." "But it is not for sale, didn't you tell him that?" Demirgian overlooked this argument and insisted: "He pays very well." And out of a professional discretion, even though only doctor Rapig, in front of whom Manigomian had no secrets, was there, Demirgian wrote a figure on paper in front of the employer. The latter stared at it thoughtfully, with no apparent signs of avarice, and with his fingers playing on the side of the desk and said as an excuse to doctor Rapig: "He's from the bank…" The latter nodded, approvingly. "Give it to him, Saferian sighed, what can we do, it's business, put this one over here instead (and he pointed to a folded carpet on the shelf). A candid spectator would have wondered what kind of trade Saferian did at the ground floor of an aristocratic building. The matter wasn't entirely simple, even though it had its stable aspects. Saferian Manigomian was, in the highest form of his profession, an art antiquary, doing business with works of fine arts, rare carpets, sometimes furniture. Saferian did this operation, to which, if he didn't bring knowledge he contributed an ancestral taste, being helped by The Expert's advice and the suggestions of the intellectual and artistic world, at home, unofficially, during the social calls. One couldn't estimate how much aesthetic pleasure and how much commercial interest there were in the Armenian's social life, what was certain was that they both existed, sometimes opposing one another.Saferian was passionate about the objects in his warehouse, appropriated them, rising them from the ground floor to the first floor, where he officially lived, he exhibited them and he received congratulations with the greatest delight. "Superb!" a well-known painter said stopping in front of a painting from Claude Lorrain school. "If I had two hundred thousand lei I would give them to you…" Manigomian rubbed his hands together with the most innocent moral pleasure, but remembered the price, listened to the guest's comments on the painting, then, if somebody insisted, painfully as it might have been, he gave it to them, replacing it with another. Saferian continuously embezzled works from his merchandise appropriating them only for the pleasure of contemplating them, and sold his most personal belongings because of his instinct of selling. XXII Near Saferian's sofa there were two piles of Persian carpets, turned face down and folded, chosen by him personally from his best pieces, taken, out of aesthetic emotion, out of the commercial circuit. A single object was given away, that is the pendulum. Saferian, affected by Pica's death, wanted to comfort Ioanide and sent it to his house. In the architect's small room, where it was placed, the pendulum took on large proportions and terrorised with its dimension and sound the iron bed. Still, Ioanide was all right, and the waves calmed him just as the sea wave calms you when it strikes your shoulders. The delivery of the object was made by Sultana herself, who also asked to see Mrs. Ioanide and introduced herself as Saferian Manigomian's daughter. In front of Ioanide who, naturally, came to the meeting as well, she showed a surprising tact. Ioanide appeared to her as more humane, superior to a commonplace candidate to love, and even the very fact of knowing him to be a womaniser, produced another impression upon her. Ioanide loved women in every way: paternally, marital and freely, he was a man devoted to femininity. Sultana's frenzy from the beginning suddenly became sentimentality, she wanted to replace Pica, if possible. She would visit Mrs. Ioanide and gave her all the possible attentions. Getting hold of one of Pica's pictures she ordered through The Expert a bust surprisingly well done, in which the artist, using simple means, evoked the characteristic movement of Pica's hair from one side to the other. A whole evening the Ioanides looked moved at the posthumous image. Lastly Sultana pushed her new hypostases to the end and asked Mrs. Ioanide and indirectly Ioanide himself for advice regarding her own life. While her love life metamorphosed like this, another psychological trait was appearing. As Saferian himself had noticed, Sultana had a calling to business. Soon she took in her hands the administration of her father's stores, led everything forward successfully. She was just as good at speculation with common materials as at the art trade. Where works of art and antiquities were concerned, Sultana was just as well versed. Speaking weekly with Demirigan, The Expert and Mrs. Valsamaky-Farfara, Sultana increased the number of antiquities, but she did something else as to selling. She amassed the objects into collections and printed catalogues or made complete interiors from antique pieces of furniture and sold them separately. Setting as theme some etchings by Aman, she gathered with Mrs. Farfara's help, a number of shabby but graceful pieces of furniture that The Expert with the aid of the upholsterer restored and created "a Romanian living-room from Th. Aman's age," that she sold at an impressive price. Adopting the system of restoring and completing with new pieces, Sultana started competing with the luxury furniture shops. In short, Sultana brilliantly continued Saferian's activity, perfecting it and maintaining that air of artistic snobbery, so favourable to the antiquity trade.Though Saferian, personally couldn't live without commerce, he wanted for Sultana a man outside the caste, an artist, a doctor, an officer. Every parent, no matter how brilliant in his profession, wants to spare his child the difficulties of his job and train him for something else. Hagienuş was delighted that his son, Petrişor, was an officer, Ioanide didn't regret the fact that Tudorel hadn't become an architect. Accordingly, Saferian had hoped that Sultana left the coffee aside and marry somebody who used to come to his parties. Such a cultured and smart girl!... Demirgian, what a good fellow, that goes without saying, but a well-versed coffee seller. By tomorrow he would have put on weight and would have taken on those indecent drives and that physical carelessness typical of those in his line of business. Saferian had known Demirgian's father: slender and muscular in his youth, swollen and hydropic when aged. As for the "gentleness" that Saferian required from the would-be wife of Demirgian, Sultana had none of this, this being just a hint to Sultana's latent character by analogy to her mother. The only hope was that Sultana resembled in intelligence to Manigomian's dead sister, her aunt. In these circumstances it was difficult to see who was at a disadvantage here, Sultana or Demirgian?After a rather long period of getting acquainted with each other at the swimming pool, at tennis and on the motorbike, Sultana asked one day to see Demirgian."Listen, Demirgian, don't you want to get married?""On the contrary," he answered looking at her suspiciously, as at the beginning of a difficult deal. "Have you found someone for me?""No, I would suggest marrying me.""I wouldn't think twice before it."Sultana noticed that Demirgian didn't know the name, the style and the value of the old pieces of furniture that the impoverished houses offered."Look what madam Valsamaky-Farfara sent us from a family," said Demirgian pointing to a piece. "Mat chairs. What shall we do with them?""This is fauteuil de paille Louis XV, in nut tree wood. Exquisite! We will get splendid furniture out of them with a Peking tapestry on them if we repair the wickerwork. What else has she got?""These twelve chairs and a desk, this one. A drawer is missing.""What if it's missing? We'll make a new one. It's rose wood, authentic furniture. We'll make a period furniture set and we'll sell it as a whole."Sultana ordered a fabric for old furniture in Milan, taffeta, Peking, satin, moiré, velour rayé, imitation of goffered Utrecht velvet and other materials, some of them very modern, but suitable to the previous centuries' furniture. On noticing that the buyers liked massive furniture, with intricate sculptures exhibited by some so-called luxury furniture shops, she hired for this a young artist who copied old furniture and supervised its manufacture in the workshop. Sultana bought stacks of walnut tree wood furniture, completely decayed, riddled. Pieces of their wood were introduced in the structure of the new ones, so that the store claimed to sell restored antiquities. "Look here, can't you see the woodworm holes? Authentic furniture. Nut tree wood is resistant. The pieces were completed according to their old lines. You have a massive set with modern tapestry, copied after the old and historical one." What Sultana was directly interested in was the advertisement for the merchandise, for she had started to go down to the selling business. When a client for an object particularly marked in Sultana's register turned up, Demirgian announced that he cannot decide on his own and called Sultana. Obviously, usually the buyers weren't important intellectuals, people without money, but wealthy middle-class people, crazy about strident luxury. Sultana had a completely disarming way of exclaiming and of praising. For instance, the client went for a walnut tree wood wardrobe, very high and with many carvings, which he liked because it was big and filled the space."I would buy this wardrobe, if you didn't sell it so expensively.""But it's an armoire normande, dear sir.""Sorry, that's what I meant, armoire.""Normande, sir!" Sultana said emphatically, as if the name "Norman" represented a trait of extraordinary in itself."How about this wardrobe?""You mean the Breton cupboard?"Upon announcing the price the client was disappointed. Sultana stimulated him:"Think about it, it is a Breton cupboard."A man with the sense of humour would have replied: "So what if it's a Breton cupboard?" But nobody retorted, because of the mysticism Sultana uttered the words with. The client having no idea about the arts didn't dare to show his ignorance. Anyway, if he tried to object, Sultana was prepared, for she had bought many works with drawings to show Demirgian."Sell these pieces of furniture more conveniently to me.""Impossible! It's the only authentic Chippendale furniture that you will find in Romania.""It's no big deal. Louis Quinze, Louis Seize, Empire, these are demanded by the buyers.""A piece of Chippendale without value? Alas, my dear lady! The shipment is too expensive, or I would send them immediately to England."Sultana pulled out quickly a volume with illustrations, Le meuble anglais, période de Chippendale and laid it in front of the eyes of the browbeaten client."Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton are famous furniture designers, if you don't mind!"The slightest pretext made Sultana raise the prices of her merchandise, and fearing she might be fooled, searching through the magazines, publishing editorials for the collectors, and consulting works of the specialists like Emile Molinier, Histoire générale des arts appliqués à l'industrie, she raised the price as soon as the prototype of the object was found mentioned somewhere. Any reply was in vain, Sultana would show the drawing and say:"See for yourself what piece you are dealing with! It's historical!"In the same way, if she found in foreign magazines in the column "auction sales" a beginning price or one obtained for an object, she immediately transformed it in lei and took it as reference point for an object from the same category. Sultana had introduced, in her own opinion, objective, scientific criteria. A strange thing is that, in spite of the dramatic rise in price of the objects, she closed better deals with fewer objects. Her reputation of selling at high prices satisfied the snobbery of her clients, and having objects from Manigomian now meant to be a well-to-do man. Even from the point of view of quality, in spite of the forged works, the bourgeois client had a greater profit, because Sultana didn't sell according to the rough estimation of the clients but according to an artistic criterion. You bought a copy with pieces of decayed walnut tree wood, but it was a copy after a certified prototype, stylish furniture."This Sultana," Demirgian mused, "is much more of a trader than a woman."That's why, whenever he faced some problems he made at least a phone call to his wife, asking for advice.For carpets, Sultana introduced the method of exhibitions with the publication of catalogues with initiations in the respective art and copies of the pieces. She had signalled a great number of porcelain pieces, pottery, cups that she wasn't hoping to sell. An inconvenient deposit remained from so many buys of global funds. For dishware, illustrated plates etc., Sultana found a system. She ordered cupboards for exhibited dishware and shelves, after a French model, and filled them with plates and cups, selling the whole lot. She transformed the more or less Chinese dishware in electrical lamps, with shades and exhibited them all, lighting them in the evening in the store. They were a huge success.This work influenced the appearance. Sultana started to put on weight, because she didn't have the time to control her figure. Sedentary life, as well as agitation, often have the same effect. The face, swelling a little and becoming greasy, was sliding down. The eyes grew bigger, being persistently black, but the nose became more crooked. Big strings of hair appeared from under the nose and chin, and there were signs of double chin. This metamorphosis wasn't sudden and, bodily speaking, Sultana was more or less the same as before, the fullness didn't alter her physical shape. Very soon she remained pregnant and got into the habit of swinging when she walked, and her legs became thicker, slightly starting to resemble Saferian's. From continually speaking to the clients Sultana acquired a strident voice, alternating with hoarseness. Her call seemed a command and Demirgian started and put the hand to his chest when he heard her. He had become unreasonably afraid, though Sultana was extremely obliging to him, fear notwithstanding. When Sultana shouted: "Demirgian, dinner's ready," Demirgian had a shock and he was looking for something to lean against. Sultana quit playing tennis, gave up motorcycle riding and, waiting for the happy event, she was knitting woolen clothes for the future baby, or she was reading French and English novels in the deck chair. She didn't confide in Demirgian on all the things. For instance she received from abroad a typewritten bulletin that she consulted on her own. Curious to know what Sultana was reading, Demirgian got hold of a such a bulletin that his wife had put in the box in the night table. Versed in commercial matters, Demirgian presently understood that Sultana was interested in the value of oil stocks in the East. Whose could they be? Saferian's, there is no doubt about it. The point was that Sultana interfered in such arid and delicate matters, keeping the secret as well. Sultana was concealing the fact that she had received the information about the dividends due to Saferian for being a part of the company that lit Baghdad, and from the Calcutta tramways. Although he was an Armenian, the matter appeared to Demirgian as one of crazy exoticism and he couldn't figure out how Saferian had come to hold such stocks. Sultana's connections with important people didn't alter the commercial attitude at all, Sultana being as stubborn as ever. One event describes it best. In one of the stores there hanged on the wall a vast oil painting, representing a landscape with a sea background, with an overall aspect of a tapestry. The painting was in the way, in Sultana's opinion; something warmer should be put there, a Turkish shawl, a Venetian mirror. The painting seemed an obsolete common banality, maybe a forgery, and Sultana called The Expert. This one took the painting down, carefully examined the back of the cloth, contemplated the landscape and didn't give any verdict on the spot. Then he came back with a Salvator Rosa monograph, compared the painting with the copies in the volume. Then he brought a photographer and at the magnesia light, took pictures a few of which he sent abroad, one to Lionello Venturi. The answers ascertained the fact that he was dealing with a Salvator Rosa. To explain its source, he made an investigation as to the painting's migration. It had been in the country, in all likelihood, since the period of 1840-1850, being brought from Vienna. Sultana listened the verdict very seriously, and after a long conference she fixed an uncommonly high price for such objects in her stores until then. Of course, she exhibited the painting with a piece of cardboard on which was written the name of the painter, with 1615-1673 added, but she put it inside on an easel and with a light bulb with a flat shade atop of it, to be seen from the door. Now Sultana, who hadn't given any importance to the painting before, went into ecstasies at it, in front of the others:"It's superb, a rare piece!"All the members of the group were brought in turns to view the discovery, and as usually, a common fact as this one spread in the circuit. Gaittany and Smărăndache were the honoured newsmongers."Fancy that, said Gaittany when it came about Sultana, she has a Salvator Rosa. It's authentic, Venturi wrote to her. She hit it big!" Inwardly, Gaittany didn't like the painting at all, he spoke like this only by influence. Smărăndache communicated the event to Miss Pomponescu, who wanting to appear interesting, jumped in the car and visited the store. Sultana wasn't in. But Demirgian repeated, professionally, according to his wife's instructions:"It's a rare thing, very beautiful."And saying this he switched the light on and off, aimlessly, trying to prove that at every reverberation nuance the painting revealed new miracles.Mrs. Pomponescu, a woman of a certain superficial sense of decoration, without artistic knowledge, was impressed by the tapestry effect that the painting produced in its new wide frame, made out of a wickerwork of stylised golden branches, that Sultana applied to it. She saw it in her living room, combined with the crystal lustre. So she came back one day when Sultana had been announced. Sitting each on an armchair en gondole from the warehouse of the furniture which was being sold, they started to bargain indirectly:"You are skilled, Mrs. Demirgian, you turned your shop into a real art exhibition. It is admirable! (Pointing with the stick:) What a beautiful carpet! The red, especially is exquisite.""Trade today has become a complex speciality. Especially in our field you have to have a little culture and intuition. I've started to be passionate about it!""I can see that. The landscape by Salvator Rosa would go very well on the living room wall, it's ornamental, you know, we have guests, I and the minister have a lot to deal with. I would take it but it's exorbitant, sell it cheaper.""But it's a Salvator Rosa, my lady, an authentic one.""This is no reason for selling it so expensive!""A Salvator Rosa?""Listen, I heard you are about to have a baby, it even shows, a little. You are so fortunate! Our purpose as women is to bring up children. To have someone to live for, to save money for. With your energy, with the style you have, you will raise it as if it were a doll. You'll keep it only on Persian carpets.""I've already saved some for him. I'm expecting him very excitedly, especially as I want him to be a boy.""Poor girls, when they're born they are received with scorn, parents only love boys.""A girl will do. Girls have a more dramatic life, that's all. They go through a terrible crisis, I've been there.""A girl resembling yourself, raised among art objects, has to be a success.""I hope so.""Well, what about the painting? Will you sell it cheaper?""Will I ever? A Salvator Rosa? Where else can you find such an opportunity?""What do you think about the weather? I suspect we'll have a long and superb autumn. I know you re well-versed in costumes, I saw you once in a splendid tobacco material. Not tobacco, more like the withered leaf, like the wilted maple tree leaf, that turns to red." "You know nuances!""I, a little, but you!… Here is a feast to the eye, the way you arranged the porcelain pieces, the Turkish carpets. They all lay in stacks before.""I like autumn too. That's why I love Bucharest. There is an exquisite weather around September-October, when the leaves fall. In the Orient, autumn has no personality.""By the way, I am crazy about chrysanthemums, we'll have an exhibition later this autumn. There are a few immense like flames.""As for flowers I like chrysanthemums, carnations and roses, irises a little and red lilies, which, unfortunately, don't last. You have to have many of them to cut daily. I hate the white lily, the cypress, everything that smells violently. They have something funeral about them.""You are right. Will you sell the painting cheaper?""I would gladly do so, my lady. But it's a Salvator Rosa."Sultana didn't give in at all, and Mrs. Pomponescu, being ambitious, had no other choice but to buy it. But when she came to pick it up, one Friday, Demirgian was flummoxed and said he was sorry but he couldn't deliver it that day. He showed a piece of cardboard on which was written "sold to Mrs. Minister Pomponescu," as a proof that there hadn't been a change of heart. It was something else. Sultana, superstitious, didn't close important deals on Friday, she was convinced that the money she got didn't bring her luck. The next day, early on Saturday morning, the painting was brought to Mrs. Pomponescu's house."I wouldn't have thought she was so superstitious, Mrs. Pomponescu said about Sultana. Such a young and modern woman!"Pomponescu didn't like old things hanging about the house, he wanted new furniture, used by him for the first time. The old mirror seemed filled with ghosts underneath, on the ancient sofas he saw only dead things.Demirgian, overwhelmed by Sultana's superiority, had completely lost his minimum personality such as there had been before, and as, previously, as an underling of Saferian, he alone had in fact the commercial initiative, now he was afraid of buying or selling an article: he thought that any glass can prove to have been the glass Napoleon drank from at Austerlitz and any icon the work of a master. He phoned Sultana over any trifle. Noticing how complex the knowledge of people is, he started to be ashamed of his ignorance in front of the others and he acquired a tic, that of approving any assertion, meaning: "That is known, it's common knowledge." This way he seemed to follow perfectly the others' ideas. For instance:"This resembles," said a history of art professor about an enamelled object that stood in front of him, "the Byzantine enamelled objects reproduced by Kondakof. As a copy, it's stylish!"Demirgian shook his head, as he was saying: "I know that, it's common knowledge!"Or a well known history professor came in, looking for prints, and seeing a watercolour representing Malamocco in the Venetian lagoon, held a small lesson:"And when you think that Malamocco, now a slum on the lagoon, was the capital of the Venetians under Theodat, the fourth doge, as the Latin chronicle of Dandolo says! Pepin came here with a fleet from Ravenna, conquering Chioggia and Pellestrina and entering in the Albiola island, separated from Malamocco by only a canal! Then Theodat ran to Rialto. But this Malamocco here is not the old one. That one fell into the sea. The small scale story of Atlantis!"Demirgian listened without visible uneasiness the professor's erudition and shook his head, meaning: "I know that, tell me about it!"Ioanide had noticed that tic following the marriage, and was very annoyed. In spite of being upset, as he was in mourning, he couldn't help it, as he entered the shop one time, to play a trick on the general commissar spouse of Sultana. Stopping in front of an oil scribbling representing an old man's head he exclaimed:"Where did you get this from? Extremely interesting! An old man's head in Renaissance style. Call The Expert, this piece has to be authentic. You could swear it is by Alfredo or Alfredo's pupils, the great Renaissance painter, contemporary to Leonardo da Vinci."Ioanide said these words so gloomily that Demirgian didn't get the malice and confirmed by shaking his head and verbally:"Alfredo, you say! That's a possibility. It seemed to me so.""What a moron!" Ioanide mumbled when he was back on the sidewalk.It was still Smărăndache who narrated the anecdote so there may be some embellishments. The main thing is that the news that Sultana discovered a "genuine Alfredo" spread instantly. The anecdote was told among laughter in Mrs. Pomponescu's salon, and she felt indirectly touched by the parody, since she had a "genuine Salvator Rosa" herself.Sultana was proven to be jealous as well; Demirgian, given the delicate condition of his wife, considered that he was permitted to seek extra-marital entertainment. One day Sultana saw him with a young lady, apparently a shop assistant in a shop on Calea Victoriei or a commercial clerk. Demirgian was sliding on the girl's hand a cheap oriental bracelet from those displayed in the window to attract clients for smaller objects. Sultana didn't say anything but after the young lady with the bracelet left she teased him:"You started gathering the girls from the street?""A client, what has it got to with it? Can't a girl buy herself a bracelet?""Don't put it on her wrist yourself. I didn't even see her paying for the object.""I have to be nice with the clientele. And then, what if it was something, I thought we agreed to be modern. I told you I had a girl.""I don't think it's that one! I allowed you not to let her go abruptly, to prepare her. Now it's all over, you are a father, you are going to have a baby, please be serious."Demirgian said nothing more and he paid the cost of the bracelet out of his own money.