A Hotel

I was walking without any particular aim down a city street when I happened to pass a hotel whose display windows gave directly and incongruously onto the street. They had no adornment whatsoever. Their only function was to make visible the lobby area. The hotel management had made no attempt to decorate the window or to do anything but show the interior for what it was. A narrow ledge ran across the bottom of the window on which was placed a small piece of neo-Parian ware, the bust of a woman as it turned out, but so small in proportion to the dimensions of the window that it seemed most likely to have been placed there, absent-mindedly as it were, by an employee who didn’t know what else to do with it. The bust was of a middle-aged woman, robust or rather bright and plump with a cheerful, self-confident air. Her hair and headdress were of Augustan simplicity, which, combined with the white plaster, gave the miniature piece its Parian quality. The bust was turned at a slight angle to the window so I saw the figure in a sort of three-quarter profile. I looked up and saw, seated in the lobby and surrounded  by luggage, a female traveler. I was surprised to note that this middle-aged woman closely resembled the bust in the window. She was dressed in modern clothing, of course, and had nothing on her head. But the plumpness was the same and the resemblance was accentuated by the fact that from my standpoint her face was pointing in exactly the same angle as the bust. The resemblance was not exact. Her features were sharper and her expression was rather neutral. It certainly didn’t exhibit the self-satisfied cheerfulness of the plaster cast. Could this woman be a descendant of the original model, if there was one, much abstracted by generations of copying? Or did my imagination project the first image I saw onto the living figure inside and so create a parentage where none existed before?