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The story of John's Rembrandt painting

Some years ago, our community obtained a new minister. The congregation had been without a spiritual leader for some time, but a young man from the southern part of the country accepted the call.

Soon after he was installed, he decided to visit members, as well as some who no longer attended the church. Among these was a man named John.

John was well known in the region for telling stories that bordered on truth. He would change the entire contents is such a way that most of the listeners who heard it knew that it was purely fabrication on John’s part. John wanted to be heard and considered himself an important figure for the region. He could talk and keep his listeners in suspense until the very end.

John never cared for any of the ministers who had in the past served the religious flock. This time, however, John accepted the visit of the new leader of the congregation. When the minister arrived at John’s place, John did not need to search for any words and soon a spirited conversation was underway. When a break in their talk came about, the minister commented on a very nice picture on the wall in the room.

“Yes”, John answered, “I will never get rid of that one. It is a Rembrandt painting.”

The minister was surprised to see something that valuable in a place like this and wanted to know how John had obtained such a treasure. John was elated that the man of the cloth was interested in his story. John explained in great detail that he had earned it by assisting a woman with deliver her baby.

John had been near her home one day, and she had pounded on the window to get his attention. When John walked up to the house, she told him that she was alone and was about to give birth and asked John whether he could help. She was close to her time, and John knew there was no time to go for a doctor. He went inside and helped the woman birth her baby boy.

A few weeks later, John was near her place again, and he learned that she and the baby were doing fine. She said she was sorry for not showing her appreciation for his help with the delivery. She said she had very little money to offer him, but she did have a Rembrandt painting and she wanted him to have it. And that is how the picture had ended up on the wall at John’s home.

The minister walked up to the picture and noticed a tiny note in the right lower corner that said, “from the producers and distributors of ‘The Syndics’ cigars.”

The brand name of the cigars had been taken from a well-known painting by Rembrandt called “The Syndics,” and they used a copy of it in their advertisements. John was convinced that his picture was an authentic Rembrandt painting, and he had (probably) never noticed the small note. The minister did not want to disillusion John and kept still. It was a fine copy, and that is how close John came to owning a real Rembrandt.

Tony Antonides lives in Central Point.

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