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  Instance's of the Number 3 - Original Paiting
Original painting



It is said there were ancient schools of thought which held that the number 3 is unstable. If the reasons for this belief were ever known they are lost in time. A three-legged stool refutes the claim, as - less prosaically - we are told does the Christian trinity. Whatever the case, it is a fact that three is a protean number: under certain conditions it will tend to collapse into two - or expand into four ...

IAfter Peter Hansome died, people were surprised that his widow seemed to be spending so much time with his mistress. Bridget Hansome was not the kind of woman who could have failed to notice her husband's discreet, but regular, visits to the flat in Turnham Green where Frances Slater lived. And, indeed, anyone married to Peter Hansome would have needed to learn the art of turning a blind eye. Had the various friends and acquaintances of the Hansomes' been asked to bet on how the wife might deal with a mistress discovered in the aftermath of the husband's death (were it the thing to gamble on the likely effects on a widow of the discovery of a long-established infidelity), the odds would probably have been on Bridget allowing Frances to attend the funeral, but with an unspoken provision that no mention be made of the reason for her being there.

In the event the punters would have lost their bets for this is not what occurred...

Page 132-133

After that they had crossed the Seine to the Louvre, where she showed him the Leonardo of St Anne, the Virgin's mother, with her daughter in her lap and her young grandchild, on his mothers knee, playing - in a small patch of freedom - with a lamb.

St Anne's feet, with their long toes, were planted firmly on the pebbled ground, while the foot of her daughter was entwined with the lamb's hoof. But the boy's fat foot… Frances wanted to reach out and pinch it. 'Look at his grandmother's expression,' she said, repressing another thought. 'You wonder if she knows what is going to happen.'

On the days that Peter's mortal remains were shunted into a powerful modern incinerator to be reduced to a cupful of ashes, Frances retuned to the old gallery to find the painting of the holy family by the master of the enigmatic. St Anne, her hand on her left hip, the mysterious azure mountains behind her, gazed down as before as at her daughter. The lidded face, with the strange, calms smile in which compassion blends with anguish, had not altered, but its meaning for Frances had. Looking now, she could see that the virgins mother knows what her daughter cannot yet afford to know, as all her maternal being is directed at the small boy, who, pulling at the years of the struggling lamb, stares back at his mother in ordinary childish defiance. Yes, Leonardo's St Anne is aware of what her family is going to have to bear: that small, mean, brutal, tragedy, which was ordained to ensure a larger comic end - the ultimate salvation of the human race. She must have wondered, St Anne, Frances thought, passing quickly out of the room to avoid the diluting sight of other paintings, if it was worth it. How could you set the loss of your heart's dearest against any objective, however universal? It was too theoretical - a woman would have known that. Sensible Leonardo had insured that in this Trinity at least it was the women who counted.

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Salley Vickers