Once there was a Litry Guy who would don his Undertaker’s Regalia and the White Satin Puff Tie and go out of an Afternoon to read a Paper to the Wimmen.
At every Tea Battle and Cookie Carnival he was hailed as the Big Hero.
A good many pulsating Dulcineas who didn’t know what “Iconoclast” meant, regarded him as an awful Iconoclast.
And cynical? Mercy!
When he stood up in a Front Room and Unfolded his MS., and swallowed the Peppermint Wafer and began to Bleat, no one in the World of Letters was safe.
He would wallop Dickens and jounce Kipling and even take a side-swipe at Luella Prentiss Budd, who was the Poetess Laureate for the Ward in which he lived.
Ever since his Stuff had been shot back by a Boston Editor with a Complimentary Note, he had billed himself as an Author and had been pointed out as such at more than one Chautauqua.
Consequently his Views on Recent Fiction carried much weight with the Carries.
He loved to pile the Fagots around a Best Seller and burn it to a Cinder, while the Girls past 30 years of Age sat in front of him and Shuddered.
As for the Drama, he could spread a New York Success on the marble-top Table and dissect it until nothing was left but the Motif, and then he would heave that into the Waste Basket, thereby leaving the Stage in America flat on its back.
And if you mentioned Georgie Cohan to him, the Foam would begin to fleck his Lips and he would go plumb Locoed.
After he had been sitting on the Fence for many years, booing those who tried to saw Wood, his Satellites began coaxing him to write something that would show up Charley Klein and Gus Thomas and all the other Four-Flushers who were raking in Royalties under False Pretenses.
They knew he was a Genius, because nothing pleased him.
He decided to start with something easy and dash off an Operetta.
Having sat through some of the Current Offerings, he noted that the Dialogue was unrelated to Real Literature and the Verses lacked Metrical Symmetry.
It would be a Pipe for a sure-enough Bard to sit down on a Rainy Afternoon and grind out something that might serve as a Model for Harry B. Smith.
So he had a Vase of Fresh Flowers put on his Desk every Day, and he would sit there, waiting for the Muse to keep her Date.
At the end of a Month he had it all planned to lay the First Scene in front of a Palace with a Forest on the Back Drop so as to get a lot of Atmosphere.
There was to be a Princess in the Thing, and a Picture of the long-lost Mother in the Locket and other New Stuff.
He put in Hours and Hours hand-embroidering the Verses.
When he made “Society” rhyme with “Propriety,” he thought he was getting to be Gilbertian.
While these Lyrics were still quivering, he would take them out and read them to his wife and the Hired Girl and the man who attended to the Furnace, and get their Impartial Judgment.
They agreed that it was Hot Gravy and too good for the Stage.
Encouraged by these heart-felt Encomiums, he would hike back to the Study, shoot himself in the Arm with a hypothetical Needle, and once more begin picking Grapes in Arcady.
When People came up to the House, not knowing that he had been taken down with anything, he would own up that he was working on a Mere Trifle, and then, after being sufficiently urged, he would give a Reading.
These Readings could have been headed off only by an Order of Court or calling out the State Guard.
Inasmuch as the large-size Carnegie Medal for Heroism is waiting for the Caller who has the immortal Rind to tell a poetical Pest that his output is Punk, the Author found himself smeared with Compliments after each of these parlor Try-Outs.