One Day a pure white Soul that made Sonnets by hand was sitting in his Apartment embroidering a Canto. He had all the Curtains drawn and was sitting beside a Shaded Candle waiting for the Muse to keep her Appointment. He wore an Azure Dressing-Gown. Occasionally he wept, drying his Eyes on a Salmon Pink Handkerchief bordered with yellow Morning Glories. Any one could tell by looking at him that he was a delicate Organism and had been raised a Pet.
Presently he put his left Hand to his Brow and began to indite with a pearl-handled Pen on Red Paper. Then there was a Ring at the Bell.
“Oh, Fudge!” said the Author. “That distressing Sound! And just when I was beginning to generate Ethereal Vapor. Hereafter I shall order the vulgar Tradespeople to deliver all Marshmallows at the Servants’ Entrance.”
He began to write again, reviving himself at the end of each Word, by means of Smelling Salts. He did not see the Artist standing in the Doorway.
The Artist was a muscular Person with an Ashen Complexion and a Suit that was not large enough to show the entire Pattern. He carried a Bludgeon with a Horse’s Head on it. In order to attract the Attention of Mr. Swinburne, he whistled through his Teeth, whereupon the Author jumped over the Table and fell among the Rugs, faintly calling “Mother! Mother!”
“Cut it out!” exclaimed the Artist. “What’s matter? Huh?”
“Oh, how you startled me,” said the Author sitting up among the Rugs. “Just as you came in I was writing about the Fays and the Elfins. I was in the deep Greenwood, the velvet Sward kissing my wan Cheek and the Leaves whispering overhead.”
“I see,” said the Artist. “A Dark Change from an Interior to a Wood Set. That’s all right if you can do it quick. Who did you say you was doing it for–the Fays?”
“I mentioned the Fays and Elfins,” replied the Author.
“I’ve heard of the Fays,” said the Artist. “They’re out on the Orpheum Circuit now. But the Elfins–no. What kind of a Turn do they do?”
“Ah, the Elfins!” said the Author. “They dance in the Moonlight and skip from Tree to Tree.
“Acrobatic Stuff with Light Effects, eh? Well, you’re on a couple of Mackerels. I never see any Benders that could get away with a Talking Act. You want to give your Piece to somebody that can Boost you. You write a good gingery Skit for me and Miss Fromage and we’ll put your Name on a Three-Sheet in Letters big enough to scare a Horse.”
“I gather from the somewhat technical Character of your Conversation, my dear sir, that you are associated with the Drama,” said the Author.
“Is it a Kid?” asked the Artist. “Wuzn’t you ever in Front? Don’t you look at the Pictures in the Windows? I’m Rank, of Rank and Fromage. Miss Fromage is the other half this Season, and if you seen her a Block off you’d say, ‘Is it or ain’t it Lillian Russell?’ We’ve just closed with McGoohan’s Boisterous Burlesquers. We was so strong that we killed the rest of the Bill, so we got the Blue Envelope. Now they’re using all our Business, including the Gag about the Custard Pie.”
“To what am I indebted for the Honor of this Visit?” asked the Author.
“I heard that you was a Litry Mug and I’m around here to see you about a Sketch for me and Miss Fromage. The one I’ve got now is all right, but in it I’ve got to eat 8 hard-boiled Eggs, and with 4 shows a Day that’s askin’ too much of any Artist. This Sketch was wrote for us by the Man that handles the Transfer Baggage at Bucyrus. He fixed it up while we was waitin’ for a Train. I’ve been using it since 1882 and it goes just as strong as ever, but I like to get new Stuff once in a while. So I want you to fake up something that’ll kill ’em right in their Seats. Here’s the Scenario: My Wife’s a Society Girl and I’m supposed to be a Dead Swell that’s come to take her to a Masquerade. With that to work on, all you need to do is to fill in the Talk.”