He did as Raphael had done — he changed his style, and painted, in the fashion of Albani, two goddesses rather than two queens. These illustrious ladies appeared so lovely on the sign, — they presented to the astonished eyes such an assemblage of lilies and roses, the enchanting result of the changes of style in Pittrino — they assumed the poses of sirens so Anacreontically — that the principal echevin, when admitted to view this capital piece in the salle of Cropole, at once declared that these ladies were too handsome, of too animated a beauty, to figure as a sign in the eyes of passers-by.
To Pittrino he added, “His royal highness, Monsieur, who often comes into our city, will not be much pleased to see his illustrious mother so slightly clothed, and he will send you to the oubliettes of the state; for, remember, the heart of that glorious prince is not always tender. You must efface either the two sirens or the legend, without which I forbid the exhibition of the sign. I say this for your sake, Master Cropole, as well for yours, Signor Pittrino.”
What answer could be made to this? It was necessary to thank the echevin for his kindness, which Cropole did. But Pittrino remained downcast and said he felt assured of what was about to happen.
The visitor was scarcely gone when Cropole, crossing his arms, said: “Well, master, what is to be done?”
“We must efface the legend,” said Pittrino, in a melancholy tone. “I have some excellent ivory-black; it will be done in a moment, and we will replace the Medici by the nymphs or the sirens, whichever you prefer.”
“No,” said Cropole, “the will of my father must be carried out. My father considered — "
“He considered the figures of the most importance,” said Pittrino.
“He thought most of the legend,” said Cropole.
“The proof of the importance in which he held the figures,” said Pittrino, “is that he desired they should be likenesses, and they are so.”
“Yes; but if they had not been so, who would have recognized them without the legend? At the present day even, when the memory of the Blaisois begins to be faint with regard to these two celebrated persons, who would recognize Catherine and Mary without the words ’To the Medici’?”
“But the figures?” said Pittrino, in despair; for he felt that young Cropole was right. “I should not like to lose the fruit of my labor.”
“And I should not wish you to be thrown into prison, and myself into the oubliettes.”
“Let us efface ’Medici’,” said Pittrino, supplicatingly.
“No,” replied Cropole, firmly. “I have got an idea, a sublime idea — your picture shall appear, and my legend likewise. Does not ‘Medici’ mean doctor, or physician, in Italian?”
“Yes, in the plural.”
“Well, then, you shall order another sign-frame of the smith; you shall paint six physicians, and write underneath ‘Aux Medici’ which makes a very pretty play upon words.”