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Title: Peeps at People - Being Certain Papers from the Writings of Anne Warrington Witherup
Author: Bangs, John Kendrick, 1862-1922
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Book Cover]



[Illustration: "COME RIGHT UP"--Page 47]



PEEPS AT
PEOPLE
_Being Certain Papers
from the Writings of_
ANNE WARRINGTON
WITHERUP. _Collected, by_
JOHN KENDRICK BANGS
_With Illustrations by_
EDWARD PENFIELD


[Illustration]


NEW YORK AND LONDON
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
1899



BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

       *       *       *       *       *

GHOSTS I HAVE MET, AND SOME OTHERS. With Illustrations by NEWELL, FROST,
and RICHARDS. 16mo, Cloth, Ornamental, $1.25.

PASTE JEWELS. Being Seven Tales of Domestic Woe. 16mo, Cloth,
Ornamental, $1.00.

THE PURSUIT OF THE HOUSE BOAT. Being Some Further Account of the Doings
of the Associated Shades, under the Leadership of Sherlock Holmes, Esq.
Illustrated by PETER NEWELL. 16mo, Cloth, Ornamental, $1.25.

A HOUSE-BOAT ON THE STYX. Being Some Account of the Divers Doings of the
Associated Shades. Illustrated by PETER NEWELL. 16mo, Cloth, Ornamental,
$1.25.

THE BICYCLERS, AND THREE OTHER FARCES. Illustrated. 16mo, Cloth,
Ornamental, $1.25.

A REBELLIOUS HEROINE. A Story. Illustrated by W. T. SMEDLEY. 16mo,
Cloth, Ornamental, Uncut Edges, $1.25.

MR. BONAPARTE OF CORSICA. Illustrated by H. W. MCVICKAR. 16mo, Cloth,
Ornamental, $1.25.

THE WATER GHOST, AND OTHERS. Illustrated. 16mo, Cloth, Ornamental,
$1.25.

THE IDIOT. Illustrated. 16mo, Cloth, Ornamental, $1.00.

THREE WEEKS IN POLITICS. Illustrated. 32mo, Cloth, Ornamental, 50 cents.

COFFEE AND REPARTEE. Illustrated. 32mo, Cloth, Ornamental, 50 cents.

       *       *       *       *       *

NEW YORK AND LONDON
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS.

       *       *       *       *       *

Copyright, 1898, by HARPER & BROTHERS.



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE
  NANSEN                                                               3
  MR. HALL CAINE                                                      17
  EMPEROR WILLIAM                                                     33
  MR. ALFRED AUSTIN                                                   45
  ANDREW LANG                                                         59
  ZOLA                                                                75
  SIR HENRY IRVING                                                    89
  IAN MACLAREN                                                       107
  RUDYARD KIPLING                                                    123
  THE DE RESZKES                                                     139
  HENRYK SIENKIEWICZ                                                 155
  GENERAL WEYLER                                                     171



ILLUSTRATIONS


  "COME RIGHT UP"                                         _Frontispiece_
  "I BOARDED A PJINE RJAFT"                                _Facing p._ 6
  "'MR. NANSEN?' SAID I"                                               8
  "DINED WITH THE CABINET"                                            12
  "'IS THIS GLOOMSTER ABBEY?' I ASKED"                                18
  HE APPEARED!                                                        20
  IN THE WORKSHOP                                                     22
  EXAMINING HIMSELF                                                   36
  THE IMPERIAL BAND                                                   40
  "'WE ARE HAVING OUR PORTRAITS PAINTED'"                             42
  "'A BEAUTIFUL WORKSHOP,' SAID I"                                    50
  CONSULTING HIS CHINOMETER                                           54
  TRADE-MARK. NONE GENUINE WITHOUT IT                                 60
  IN THE MEREDITH SHOP                                                66
  EDITING "HERRICK"                                                   68
  SEEKING ZOLA                                                        76
  CONSULTING "LA PATRIE"                                              78
  "'SAVE ME!' SHE CRIED"                                              80
  "I SAT QUIETLY IN THE BOX"                                          94
  "'SEND THE PROPERTY-MAN HERE!' HE CRIED"                            98
  "'IT WAS ALL ARRANGED BEFOREHAND, MISS'"                           102
  DRESSED FOR THE PART                                               110
  THE PURSUIT                                                        112
  AT HOME                                                            116
  INTERCEPTED THE STEAMER                                            124
  ON THE LANYARD DECK                                                126
  "HE WAS ERECTING A GRAND-STAND"                                    134
  IT WAS A SUPERB BUILDING                                           142
  READY FOR THE STORM                                                146
  MELBA, THE DAIRY-MAID                                              148
  ASKED A POLICEMAN                                                  160
  THE AUTHOR IN HIS STUDY                                            162
  "ONE MUST BE INTRODUCED"                                           166
  "A RATHER STUNNING BANDERILLO OPENED THE DOOR"                     172
  IN HIDING                                                          174
  "I AM TOO OLD A SPANIARD TO BE CAUGHT LIKE THAT"                   178



PEEPS AT PEOPLE



NANSEN


It was in the early part of February last that, acting under
instructions from headquarters, I set forth from my office in London
upon my pilgrimage to the shrines of the world's illustrious. Readers
everywhere are interested in the home life of men who have made
themselves factors in art, science, letters, and history, and to these
people I was commissioned to go. But one restriction was placed upon me
in the pursuit of the golden Notoriety, and that was that I should spare
no expense whatever to attain my ends. At first this was embarrassing.
Wealth suddenly acquired always is. But in time I overcame such
difficulties as beset me, and soon learned to spend thousands of
dollars with comparative ease.

And first of all I decided to visit Nansen. To see him at home, if by
any possibility Nansen could be at home anywhere, would enable me to
open my series interestingly. I remembered distinctly that upon his
return from the North Pole he had found my own people too cold for
comfort. I called to mind that, having travelled for months seeking the
Pole, he had accused my fellow-countrymen of coming to see him out of
"mere curiosity," and I recalled at the same time that with remarkable
originality he had declared that we heated our railway trains to an
extent which suggested his future rather than his past. Wherefore I
decided to visit Nansen to hear what else he might have to say, while
some of the incidents of his visit were fresh in our minds.

The next thing to discover, the decision having been reached, was as to
Nansen's whereabouts. Nobody in London seemed to know exactly where he
might be found. I asked the manager of the house in which I dwelt, and
he hadn't an idea--he never had, for that matter. Then I asked a
policeman, and he said he thought he was dancing at the Empire, but he
wasn't sure. Next I sought his publishers and asked for his banker's
address. The reply included every bank in London, with several trust
companies in France and Spain. To my regret, I learned that we Americans
hold none of his surplus.

"But where do you send his letters?" I demanded of his publisher, in
despair.

"Dr. Nansen has authorized us to destroy them unopened," was the reply.
"They contain nothing but requests for his autograph."

"But your letters to him containing his royalties--where do they go?" I
demanded.

"We address them to him in our own care," was the answer.

"And then?" I queried.

"According to his instructions, they are destroyed unopened," said the
publisher, twisting his thumbs meditatively.

It seemed hopeless.

Suddenly an idea flashed across my mind. I will go, I thought, to the
coldest railway station in London and ask for a ticket for Nansen. A man
so fastidious as he is in the matter of temperature, I reasoned, cannot
have left London at any one of their moderately warm stations. Where the
temperature is most frigid, there Nansen must have gone when leaving, he
is such a stickler for temperature. Wherefore I went to the Waterloo
Station--it is the coldest railway station I know--and I asked the agent
for a ticket for Nansen.

He seemed nonplussed for a moment, and, to cover his embarrassment,
asked:

"Second or third class?"

"First," said I, putting down a five-pound note.

"Certainly," said he, handing me a ticket to Southampton. "Do you
think you people in the States will really have war with Spain?"

I will not dilate upon this incident. Suffice it to say that the ticket
man sent me to Southampton, where, he said, I'd be most likely to find a
boat that would carry me to Nansen. And he was right. I reached
Sjwjcktcwjch within twenty-four hours, and holding, as I did, letters of
introduction from President McKinley and her Majesty Queen Victoria,
from Richard Croker and Major Pond, Mr. Nansen consented to receive me.

[Illustration: "I BOARDED A PJINE RJAFT"]

He lived in an Esquimau hut on an ice-floe which was passing the winter
in the far-famed Maelstrom. How I reached it Heaven only knows. I
frankly confess that I do not. I only know that under the guidance of
Svenskjold Bjonstjon I boarded a plain pjine rjaft, such as the
Norwegians use, and was pjaddjled out into the seething whirlpool, in
the midst of which was Nansen's more or less portable cottage.

When I recovered I found myself seated inside the cottage, which, like
everything else in the Maelstrom, was waltzing about as if at a military
ball or Westchester County dance.

"Well," said my host, looking at me coldly. "You are here. _Why_ are you
here?"

[Illustration: "'MR. NANSEN?' SAID I"]

"Mr. Nansen?" said I.

"The very same," said he, taking an icicle out of his vest pocket and
biting off the end of it.

"The Polar Explorer?" I added.

"There is but one Nansen," said he, brushing the rime from his eyebrows.
"Why ask foolish questions? If I am Nansen, then it goes without saying
that I am the Polar Explorer."

"Excuse me," I replied. "I merely wished to know." And then I took a
one-dollar bill from my purse. "Here, Mr. Nansen, is my dollar. That is,
I understand, the regular fee for seeing you. I should like now to
converse with you. What is your price per word?"

"Have you spoken to my agents?" he asked.

"No," said I.

"Then it will only cost you $160 a word. Had you arranged through them,
I should have had to charge you $200. You see," he added,
apologetically, "I have to pay them a commission of twenty per cent."

"I understand that," said I. "I have given public readings myself, and
after paying the agent's commission and travelling expenses I have
invariably been compelled to go back and live with my mother for six
months."

"Miss Witherup," said Nansen, rising, "you did not intend to do it, and
I therefore forgive you, but for the moment you have made me feel warmly
towards you. Please do not do it again. Frigidity is necessary to my
business. What can I do for you?"

"Talk to me," said I.

He immediately froze up again. "What about?" said he. "The Pole?"

"No," said I. "About America."

"I cannot!" he cried, despairingly. "I do not wish to dwell upon my
sufferings. If I told about my American experience, people would not
believe; they would rank me with Munchausen, my sufferings were so
intense. Let me tell of how I lived on Esquimau dog-chops and ice-cream
for nineteen weeks."

"Pardon me, Mr. Nansen," said I, "but I can't do that. We Americans know
all about the North Pole. Few of us, on the other hand, know anything
about America, and we wish to be enlightened. What did you think of
Chicago?"

"Chicago? H'm! Let me see," said Nansen, tapping his forehead gently
with an ice-pick. "Chicago! Oh yes, I remember; it was a charmingly cold
city, full of trolley-cars, and having a newly acquired subway and a
public library. I found it a beautiful city, madam, and the view from
the Bunker Hill Statue of Liberty was superb, looking down over
Blackwell's Island through the Golden Gate out into the vast, trackless
waste of Lake Superior. Yes, I thought well of it. If I remember
rightly, we took in $1869 at the door."

I was surprised at his command of details, and resolved further to test
his memory.

"And Philadelphia, Mr. Nansen?"

[Illustration: "DINED WITH THE CABINET"]

"A superb city, considering its recency, as you say in English. I met
many delightful people there. Senator Tom Reed received me at his palace
on Euclid Avenue, if I remember the street aright; the Mayor of the
city, Mr. McKinley, gave me a dinner, at which I sat down with Mr.
Cleveland and Mr. Van Wyck, and Mr. Bryan and Mr. Pulitzer, and other
members of his cabinet; and in my leisure hours I found the theatres of
Philadelphia most pleasing, with Mr. Jefferson singing his nigger songs,
Mr. Mansfield in his inimitable skirt-dancing, and, best of all, Mr.
Daly's Shakespearian revivals of 'Hamlet' and 'Othello,' with Miss Rehan
in the title-rôles. Oh yes, Miss Witherdown--"

"Witherup!" I snapped, coldly.

"Excuse me, Witherup," said the great explorer. "Oh yes, Miss Witherup,
I found America a most delightful country, especially your capital city
of Philadelphia."

"Herr Nansen," said I, "are you as accurate in your observations of the
North Pole as in your notes of the States, as expressed to me?"

"Neither more nor less so," said he, somewhat uneasily, I thought.

"But you have drawn a most delightful picture of the States," said I. "I
think all Americans will be pleased by your reference to the Bunker Hill
Monument at Chicago, and Mayor McKinley's cabinet at Philadelphia. On
the other hand, you spoke of intense suffering while with us."

"Yes," said he, "I did--because I suffered. Have you ever travelled in
your own country, madam?"

"I am an American," said I. "Therefore when I travel I travel abroad."

"Then you do not know of the privations of American travel," he cried.
"Consider me, Nansen, compelled, after the delightful discomfort of the
_Fram_, to have to endure the horrid excellence of your Pullman service.
Consider me, Nansen, after having subsisted on dogs and kerosene oil for
months, having to eat a breakfast costing a dollar at one of your
American hotels, consisting of porridge, broiled chicken, deviled
kidney, four kinds of potatoes, eggs in every style, real coffee, and
buckwheat cakes! Consider me--"

"Nansen?" I inquired.

"Yes, Nansen," said he. "Consider me, Nansen, used to the cold of the
Arctic regions, the Arctic perils, having to wake up every morning in an
American hotel or an American parlor-car, warm, without peril,
comfortable, _without anything whatsoever to growl about_."

"It must have been devilish," said I.

"It was," said he.

"Well, Mr. Nansen," I put in, rising, "you can stand it. You are cold
enough to stay in Hades for forty-seven years without losing your
outside garments. How much do I owe you?"

"Fifteen thousand dollars, please," said he.

I gave him the money and swam away.

"Good-bye," he cried, as I reached the outer edge of the Maelstrom. "I
hope, next time I go to America, that I shall meet you."

"Many thanks," said I. "When do you expect to come?"

"Never," he replied, "Deo volente!"

Charming chap, that Nansen. So warm, you know.



MR. HALL CAINE


I do not know why it should have happened so, but it did happen that
after my interview with Nansen I felt gloomy in my soul, and hence
naturally sought congenial company. My first inclination was to run down
to Greece and take luncheon with King George, but when I came to look
over my languages, the only bit of Greek I could speak fluently turned
out to be hoi polloi, and from private advices I gather that that is the
only bit of Greek that his honor the King has no use for. Therefore I
bought a ticket straight through to Gloomster Abbey, Isle of Man--the
residence of Hall Caine.

Appropriately enough, it was midnight when I arrived. It was a
moonlight night, but there were a dozen clouds on the horizon and
directly in the wake of the moon's rays, so that all was dark. From the
abbey itself no single ray of light gleamed, and all was still, save the
croaking of the tree-toads in the moat, and the crickets on the roof of
the parapet.

Any one else would have been chilled to the marrow; but I, having
visited Nansen, had to use a fan to overcome the extreme cordiality of
the scene. With the thermometer at 32° I nearly swooned with the heat.

[Illustration: "'IS THIS GLOOMSTER ABBEY?' I ASKED"]

"Is this Gloomster Abbey?" I asked of my hackman.

"Yes," said he; "and, for Humanity's sake, pay your fare and let me go.
I am the father of seven orphans, and the husband of their widowed
mother. If I stay here ten minutes I'll die, and my wife will marry
again, Heaven help her!"

I paid him £6 10_s_. 6_d_. and let him go. He was nothing to me, but his
family had my sympathy.

Then I knocked on the portcullis with all my might, and was gratified to
find that, like a well-regulated portcullis, it fell, and with a loud
noise withal.

An intense silence intervened, and then out of the blackness of the blue
above me there came a voice with a reddish tinge to it.

"Who's there?" said the voice. "If you are a burglar, come in and rob.
If you are a friend, wait a minute. If you are an interviewer from an
American Sunday newspaper, accept my apologies for keeping you waiting,
turn the knob, and walk in. I'll be down as soon as I can get there."

It was Hall Caine himself who spoke.

I turned the knob and walked in. All was still, dark, and cold, but I
did not mind, for it fitted into my mood exactly.

[Illustrated: HE APPEARED!]

In the darkness of the corridor within I barked what if I were a man I
should call my shins. As it happened, being a woman, I merely bruised my
ankles, when he appeared--Hall Caine himself. There was no gas-light,
no electric light. Nothing but the blackness of the night, and _He
Appeared_! I suppose it was all due to the fact that he is a brilliant
man, who would shine anywhere. However it may have been, I suddenly
became conscious of a being that walked towards me as plainly
discernible as an ocean steamship at sea at night, with every electric
light burning in the saloon, and the red and green lanterns on the
starboard and port sides of its bow.

"Mr. Caine?" said I, addressing his starboard side.

"That's I," said he, grammatically and with dignity. A man less great
would have said "That's me," which is why in the darkness I knew it was
Mr. Caine and not his hired man I was speaking to--or with, as your
style may require.

"Mr. Caine," said I, not without nervousness, "I have come--"

"So I perceive," said he; and then an inspiration came to me.

"--to lay my gloom at your feet," I said, with apparent meekness. "It
is all I have, but such as it is you are welcome to it. Some people
would have brought you rich gifts in gold and silver; some would have
come with compliments and requests for your autograph; I bring you only
a morbid heart bursting with gloom. Will you take it?"

"I appreciate the courtesy, madame," replied the great man, wiping a
tear from the end of his nose, which twinkled like a silver star in the
blackness of the corridor, "but I cannot accept your offering. I have
more gloom on hand than I know what to do with. I am, however, deeply
touched, and beg to offer you the hospitality of the moat, unless you
have further business with me at my regular rates."

A dreadful, blood-curdling wail, like that of a soul in torment,
interrupted my answer. It seemed to come from the very centre of the
earth directly beneath my feet. I was frozen with horror, and my host,
with a muttered imprecation, turned and ran off.

"I haven't time to see you now," he cried, as he disappeared down the
steps of a yawning hole at the far end of the corridor. "I can't afford
to miss the experiment for anything so small and cheap as a morbid heart
bursting with gloom."

I followed closely after, although he had not granted permission. I
didn't feel that I could afford to miss the experiment either, and ere
he had time to slam to the door of the dungeon which we ultimately
reached, I was inside his workshop.

If it was chill without, it was deadly within, save that the darkness
was not so intense, red lights burning dimly in each of the four corners
of the dungeon. The walls were covered with a green trickling ooze from
the moat, and under foot the ground was dank and almost mushy.

[Illustration: IN THE WORKSHOP]

In the very centre of the place was a huge rack, a relic of some by-gone
age of torture, and stretched at full length upon it was a man of, I
should say, about forty years of age. Two flunkies in livery--red plush
trousers and powdered wigs--now and then turned the screw, and with
each turn horrid shrieks would come from the victim, mingled with
alternate prayers and curses.

"What on earth is the meaning of this?" I cried, in horror.

"It means, madame," replied the famous author, calmly, "that I never
fake. All my situations, all my passages descriptive of human emotions
and sufferings, are drawn from life, and not from the imagination."

"You work from living models?" I gasped. "Why would not a lay figure do
as well for torture?"

"Because lay-figures do not shriek and pray and curse. I am surprised
that you should be so dull. James, turn the thumb-screw three times;
and, Grimmins, take your cricket-bat and give the patient a bastinado on
his right foot."

"It is a pitiless shame!" I cried.

"It is in the interest of art, madame," said the novelist, shrugging his
shoulders. "Just as our surgeons have to vivisect for the advancement
of science, so must I conduct experiments here in the interest of
letters. My new novel has a stirring episode in it based upon the
capture and torture of a newspaper correspondent in Thibet. I might, I
suppose, have imagined the whole thing, but this so far surpasses the
imagination that I am convinced it is the better way of getting my
color."

"There isn't any doubt about that," said I; "but consider this man here,
whose limbs you are stretching beyond all endurance--"

"He should regard it as a splendid sacrifice," vouchsafed the novelist,
lighting a cigarette and winking pleasantly at his victim.

"Is his a voluntary sacrifice?" I demanded.

"Rather good joke that, eh, Rogers?" laughed Mr. Caine, addressing the
sufferer. "This simple-minded little American girl asks if you are there
because you like it. Ha! ha! What a droll idea! Thinks you do this for
pleasure, Rogers. Has an idea you tied yourself on there and racked
yourself at first, so she has. Thinks you shriek so as to smother your
laughter, which would be very inappropriate to the occasion."

The sufferer groaned deeply, and the novelist, turning to me, observed:

"No, madame. My poor unhappy friend Rogers is here against his will, I
regret to say. It would be far pleasanter for me when I hear him
bastinadoed to know that he derived a certain amount of personal
satisfaction from it in spite of the pain, but it must be otherwise.
Furthermore, in the story the newspaper man who is tortured is not
supposed to like it, so that accuracy requires that I should have a man,
like Rogers, who dislikes it intensely."

"And do you mean to say, sir, that you deliberately went out into the
street and seized hold of this poor fellow, carried him in here, and
subjected him to all this? Why, it's a crime!"

"Not at all," replied Mr. Caine, nonchalantly. "I am no common
kidnapper. I do not belong to a literary press-gang. I have simply
exercised my rights as the owner of this castle. This man came here on
his own responsibility, just as you have come. I never asked him any
more than I asked you, and he has had to take the consequences, just as
you will have to abide by whatever may result from your temerity. Rogers
is a newspaper man, and he tried to get a free interview out of me by
deceit, knowing that I no longer do a gratis business. It so happened
that I was at that moment in need of just such a person for my
experiment. I gave him the interview, and now he is paying for it."

The novelist paused, and after eying me somewhat closely for a moment,
turned to his notes, lying on his desk alongside the rack, while a
tremor of fear passed over me.

"Curious coincidence," he remarked, looking up from an abstract of his
story. "In my very next chapter I take up the sufferings in captivity
of a young and beautiful American girl who is languishing and starving
in a loathsome cell, full of reptiles and poisonous beasts, like Gila
monsters and centipedes. She is to be just your height and coloring and
age."

I grew rigid with horror.

"You wouldn't--" I began.

"Oh yes, I would," replied the author, pleasantly. "Would you like to
see the cell?"

"I would like to see the outside of your castle!" I cried, turning to
the stairs.

The novelist laughed hollowly at the expression of hopelessness that
came over my face as I observed that a huge iron grating had slid down
from above and cut off my retreat.

"I am sorry, Miss Witherup, but I haven't got the outside of my castle
in here. If I had I'd show it to you at once," he said.

"I beg of you, sir," I cried, going down on my knees before him. "Do
let me go. I--"

"Don't be emotional, my dear," he replied, in a nice, fatherly way. "You
will have an alternative. When I have receipted this," he added, writing
out a bill and tossing it to me--"when I have receipted this, you can
go."

I glanced at the paper. It called for £1500 for an interview of an hour
and a half, at £1000 an hour.

"If you will give me your check for that amount, you may go. Otherwise I
am afraid I shall have to use you for a model."

"I have only £1200 in the bank," I replied, bursting into tears.

"It will suffice," said he. "Your terror will be worth £300 to me in a
short story I am writing for the Manx _Sunday Whirald_."

Whereupon I wrote him a check for £1200 and made my escape.

"I'll expose you to the world!" I roared back at him in my wrath as I
walked down the path to the road.

"Do," he cried. "I never object to a free advertisement. By-bye."

With that I left him, and hastened back to London to stop payment on
the check; but in some fashion he got the better of me, for it happened
to be on a bank holiday that I arrived, and ere I could give notice to
the cashier to refuse to honor my draft it had been cashed.



EMPEROR WILLIAM


After recovering from the attack of nervous prostration which was the
natural result of my short visit to Gloomster Abbey, acting on my
physician's advice I left England for a time. Finding myself, some weeks
later, in Berlin, I resolved to call upon his Imperial Highness William
the Second, better known as the Yellow Kid of Potsdam.

I experienced some difficulty at first in reaching the Emperor. Royalty
is so hedged about by etiquette that it seemed almost impossible that I
should get an audience with him at all. He was most charming about the
matter, but, as he said in his note to me, he could not forget the
difference in our respective stations in life. For an Emperor to
consent to receive a plain American newspaper woman was out of the
question. He could be interviewed _incog._, however, as Mr. William
Hohenzollern, if that would suit my wishes.

I replied instantly that it was not Mr. William Hohenzollern that I
wished to interview, but the German Emperor, and unless I could see him
as Emperor I did not wish to see him at all. I added that I might come
_incog._ myself if all that was necessary to make the whole thing
regular was that I should appear to be on a social level with him, and
instead of calling as Miss Witherup I could call as the Marchioness of
Spuyten Duyville, or, if he preferred, Princess of Haarlem Heights, to
both of which titles, I assured him, I had as valid a claim as any other
lady journalist in the world--in fact, more so, since they were both of
my own invention.

Whether it was the independence of my action or the novelty of the
situation that brought it about I do not know, but the return mail
brought a command from the Emperor to the Princess of Haarlem Heights to
attend a royal _fête_ given in her honor at the Potsdam Palace the next
morning at twenty minutes after eleven.

[Illustration: EXAMINING HIMSELF]

I was there on the stroke of the hour, and found his Imperial Highness
sitting on a small gilt throne surrounded by mirrors, having his tintype
taken. This is one of the Emperor's daily duties, and one which he has
never neglected from the day of his birth. He has a complete set of
these tintypes ranged about the walls of his private sanctum in the form
of a frieze, and he frequently spends hours at a time seated on a
step-ladder examining himself as he looked on certain days in the past.

He smiled affably as the Grand High Chamberlain announced "The Princess
of Haarlem Heights," and on my entrance threw me one of his imperial
gloves to shake.

"Hoch!" he cried as he did so.

"Ditto hic," I answered, with my most charming smile. "I hope I do not
disturb you, my dear Emperor?"

"Not in the least," he replied. "Nothing disturbs us. We are the very
centre of equanimity. We are a sort of human Gibraltar which nothing can
move. It is a nice day out," he added.

"Most charming," said I. "Indeed, a nicer day out than this no one could
wish for."

"We are glad you find it so, madame."

"Excuse me, sire," I said, firmly--"Princess."

"Indeed yes. We had forgotten," he replied, with a courteous wave of his
hand. "It could not be otherwise. We are glad, Princess, that you find
the day nice out. We ordered it so, and it is pleasant to feel that what
we do for the world is appreciated. We shall not ask you why you have
sought this interview," he continued. "We can quite understand, without
wasting our time on frivolous questions, why any one, even a beautiful
American like yourself, should wish to see us in person. Are you in
Berlin for long?"

"Only until next Thursday, sire," I replied.

"What a pity!" he commented, rising from the throne and stroking his
mustache before one of the mirrors. "What a tremendous pity! We should
have been pleased to have had you with us longer."

"Emperor," said I, "this is no time for vain compliments, however
pleasing to me they may be. Let us get down to business. Let us talk
about the great problems of the day."

"As you will, Princess," he replied. "To begin with, we were born--"

"Pardon me, sire," I interrupted. "But I know all about your history."

"They study us in your schools, do they? Ah, well, they do rightly,"
said the Emperor, with a wink of satisfaction at himself in the glass.
"They indeed do rightly to study us. When one considers what we are the
result of! Far back, Princess, in the days of Thor, the original plans
for William Second were made. This person, whom we have the
distinguished and sacred honor to be, was contemplated in the days when
chaos ruled. Gods have dreamed of him; goddesses have sighed for him;
epochs have shed bitter tears because he was not yet; and finally he is
here, in us--incarnate sublimity that we are!"

The Emperor thumped his chest proudly as he spoke, until the gold on his
uniform fairly rang.

"Are we--ah--are we appreciated in America?" he asked.

"To the full, Emperor--to the full!" I replied, instantly. "I do not
know any country on the face of this grand green earth where you are
quoted more often at your full value than with us."

"And--ah," he added, with a slight coyness of manner--"we
are--ah--supposed to be at what you Americans call par and a premium,
eh?"

"Emperor," said I, "you are known to us as yourself."

"Madame--or rather Princess," he cried, ecstatically, "you could not
have praised us more highly."

He touched an electric button as he spoke, and instantly a Buttons
appeared.

"The iron cross!" he cried.

"Not for me--oh, sire--not for me?" said I, almost swooning with joy.

"No, Princess, not for you," said the Emperor. "For ourself. We shall
give you one of the buttons off our imperial coat. It is our habit every
morning at this hour to decorate our imperial self, and we have rung for
the usual thing just as you Americans would ring for a Manhattan
cocktail."

"What!" I cried, wondering at the man's marvellous acquaintance with the
slightest details of American life. "You know the--Manhattan cocktail?"

"Princess," said the Emperor, proudly, "we know everything."

And this was the man they call Willie-boy in London!

"Emperor," said I, "about the partition of China?"

"Well," said he, "what of the partition of China?"

"Is it to be partitioned?"

The Emperor's eye twinkled.

"We have not yet read the morning papers, Princess," he said. "But we
judge, from what we saw in the society news of last night's _Fliegende
Choynal_, that there will be a military ball at Peking shortly, and that
the affair will end brilliantly with a--ah--a German."

"Good!" said I. "And you will really fight England?"

"Why not?" said he, with a smile at the looking-glass.

"Your grandmother?" I queried, with a slight shake of my head, in
deprecation of a family row.

"She calls us Billie!" he cried, passionately. "Grandmothers can do a
great many things, Princess, but no grandmother that Heaven ever sent
into this world shall call us Billie with impunity."

I was silent for a moment.

"Still, Emperor," I said, at last, "England has been very good to you.
She has furnished you with all the coal your ships needed to steam into
Chinese waters. Surely that was the act of a grandmother. You wouldn't
fight her after that?"

"We will, if she'll lend us ammunition for our guns," said the Emperor,
gloomily. "If she won't do that, then of course there will be no war.
But, Princess, let us talk of other things. Have you heard our latest
musical composition?"

[Illustration: THE IMPERIAL BAND]

I frankly confessed that I had not, and the imperial band was called up
and ordered to play the Emperor's new march. It was very moving and made
me somewhat homesick; for, after all, with all due respect to William's
originality, it was nothing more than a slightly Prussianized rendering
of "All Coons Look Alike to Me." However, I praised the work, and added
that I had heard nothing like it in Wagner, which seemed to please the
Emperor very much. I have since heard that as a composer he resents
Wagner, and attributes the success of the latter merely to that accident
of birth which brought the composer into the world a half-century before
William had his chance.

[Illustration: "'WE ARE HAVING OUR PORTRAITS PAINTED'"]

"And now, Princess," he observed, as the music ceased, "your audience is
over. We are to have our portrait painted at mid-day, and the hour has
come. Assure your people of our undying regard. You may kiss our little
finger."

"And will not your Majesty honor me with his autograph?" I asked,
holding out my book, after I had kissed his little finger.

"With pleasure," said he, taking the book and complying with my request
as follows:

      "Faithfully your War Lord and Master,

  "ME."

Wasn't it characteristic!



MR. ALFRED AUSTIN


It was on a beautiful March afternoon that I sought out the
Poet-Laureate of England in his official sanctum in London. A splendid
mantle of fog hung over the street, shutting out the otherwise all too
commercial aspect of that honored by-way. It was mid-day to the stroke
of the hour, and a soft mellow glare suffused the perspective in either
direction, proceeding from the gas-lamps upon the street corners, which,
like the fires of eternal youth, are kept constantly burning in the
capital city of the Guelphs.

I approached the lair of England's first poet with a beating heart, the
trip-hammer-like thudding of which against my ribs could be heard like
the pounding of the twin screws of an Atlantic liner far down beneath
the folds of my mackintosh. To stand in the presence of Tennyson's
successor was an ambition to wish to gratify, but it was awesome, and
not a little difficult for the nervous system. However, once committed
to the enterprise, I was not to be baffled, and with shaking knees and
tremulous hand I banged the brazen knocker against the door until the
hall within echoed and re-echoed with its clangor.

Immediately a window on the top story was opened, and the laureate
himself thrust his head out. I could dimly perceive the contour of his
noble forehead through the mist.

  "Who's there, who's there, I fain would know,
    Are you some dull and dunning dog?
  Are you a friend, or eke a foe?
    I cannot see you through the fog,"

said he.

"I am an American lady journalist," I cried up to him, making a
megaphone of my two hands so that he might not miss a word, "and I have
come to offer you seven dollars a word for a glimpse of you at home."

"How much is that in £ _s_. _d_.?" he asked, eagerly.

"One pound eight," said I.

"I'll be down," he replied, instantly, and drawing his noble brow in out
of the wet, he slammed the window to, and, if the squeaking sounds I
heard within meant anything, slid down the banisters in order not to
keep me waiting longer than was necessary. He opened the door, and in a
moment we stood face to face.

"Mr. Alfred Austin?" said I.

  "The same, O Lady Journalist,
  I'm glad to take you by the fist--
  Particularly since I've heard
  You offer one pun eight per word."

said he, cordially grasping me by the hand.

"Come right up and make yourself perfectly at home, and I'll give you
an imitation of my daily routine, and will answer whatever questions you
may see fit to ask. Of course you must be aware that I am averse to this
sort of thing generally. The true poet cannot permit the searchlight of
publicity to be turned upon his home without losing something of that
delicate--"

"Hold on, Mr. Austin," said I. "I don't wish to be rude, but I am not
authorized to pay you seven dollars apiece for such words as these you
are uttering. If you have any explanations to offer the public for
condescending to let me peep at you while at work, you must do it at
your own expense."

A shade of disappointment passed over his delicate features.

"There's a hundred guineas gone at a stroke," he muttered, and for an
instant I feared that I was to receive my congé. By a strong effort of
the will, however, the laureate pulled himself together.

  "If that's the case, O Yankee fair,
  Suppose we hasten up the stair,
  Where every day the Muses call,
  And waste no words here in the hall,"

said he. And then he added, courteously: "I am sorry the elevator isn't
running. It's one of these English elevators, you know."

"Indeed?" said I. "And what is the peculiarity of an English elevator?"

  "Like Britons 'neath the foeman's serried guns,
  The British elevator never runs,
  For like the brain of the Scottish Thane,
  The Thane, you know, of Cawdor,
  Our lifts are always out of order,"

he explained. "It's very annoying, too, particularly when you have to
carry poems up and down stairs."

"You should let your poems do their own walking, Mr. Austin," said I.

"I beg your pardon," said he. "But how can they?"

"Those I've seen have had feet enough for a centipede," said I, as
dryly as I could, considering that I was still dripping with fog.

The laureate scratched his head solemnly.

"Quite so," he said, at length. "But come, let us hasten."

We hastened upward, and five minutes later we were in the sanctum. It
was a charming room. A complete set of the British Poets stood ranged in
chronological sequence on the table. A copy of _Hood's Rhymster_, well
thumbed, lay open on the sofa, and a volume of popular quotations lay on
the floor beside the poet's easy-chair.

A full-length portrait of her Majesty the Queen, seven inches high and
sixteen wide, hung over the fireplace, and beneath it stood a charming
bust of the late Lord Tennyson with the face turned towards the wall.

[Illustration: "'A BEAUTIFUL WORKSHOP,' SAID I"]

"A beautiful workshop," said I. "Surely one sees now the sources of your
inspiration."

  "'Tis true my dear. 'Tis very, very true.
    Here in my sanctum, high above the pave, ma'am,
  I can't help doing all the things I do,
    Not e'en my great immortal soul to save, ma'am.
  You see, a man who daily has to write
    Of things of which Calliope doth side-talk,
  Must get above the earth and leave the wight
    Who dully plods along along the sidewalk,"

he answered. "That's why I live under the roof instead of hiring
chambers on the ground-floor. Up here I am not bothered by what in one
of my new poems I shall call 'Mundane Things.' Rather good expression
that, don't you think? The first draft reads:

  "'Mundane things, mundane things,
  Hansom cabs and finger rings,
  Drossy glitter and glittering dross,
  May I never come across
  Merely mundane, mundane things.'

"Rather clever, to be tossed off on a scratch pad while taking a
shower-bath, eh?"

"Yes," said I. "What suggested it?"

"The merest accident. I got some soap in my eye and was about to give
way to my temper, when I thought to myself that the true poet ought to
rise above petty annoyances of that nature--in other words, above
mundane things."

"Wonderfully interesting," I put in. "Was your appointment a surprise to
you, Mr. Austin?"

  "Surprise? Nay, nay, my lovely maid.
    Pray why should I surpriséd be?
  Despite that Fortune's but a fickle jade,
    I knew the thing must come to me,
  For in these days commercial, don't you see,
    From eyes like mine no thing can e'er be hid;
  And when they advertised for poetry,
    'Twas I put in the very lowest bid,"

he replied. "You see, as a newspaper man I knew what rates the other
poets were getting. There was Swinburne getting seven bob a line, and
Sir Edwin Arnold asking a guinea a yard, and old Kipling grinding it
out for one and six per quatrain, and Watson doing sonnets on the Yellow
North, and the Red, White, and Blue East, and the Pink Sow'west, at five
pounds a dozen. So when Salisbury rang me up on the 'phone and said I'd
better put in a bid for the verse contract, I knew just how to arrange
my rates to get the work."

"You had a great advantage over the others," said I.

"Which shows the value of a newspaper training. Newspaper men know
everything," he said. "I had but one fear, and that was your American
poets. They are hustlers, and I didn't know but that some enterprising
American like Russell Sage or Barnum & Bailey would form a syndicate and
corner America's poem-supply, and bowl my wickets from under me. Working
together, they could have done it, but they didn't know their power,
thank Heaven!--if I may borrow an Americanism."

"Well, Mr. Austin," said I, rising, "I am afraid I shall have to go. I
fear your words have already exceeded the appropriation. Ah--how much do
I owe you?"

The laureate took from beneath his chin a small golden object that
looked like a locket. Opening it, he scanned it closely for a moment.

[Illustration: CONSULTING HIS CHINOMETER]

"My chinometer says nine hundred and sixty-three words. Let us call it a
thousand--I don't care for trifles," said he.

"Very well," I replied. "That is $7000 I owe you."

"Yes," he said. "But of course I allow you the usual discount."

"For what?" said I.

"Cash," said he. "Poole does it on clothes, and I've adopted the system.
It pays in the end, for, as I say in my next ode to the Queen, to be
written on the occasion of her Ruby Jubilee, 'A sovereign in hand is
worth two heirs-presumptive in the bush.'"

"In other words, cash deferred maketh the heart sick."

"Precisely. I'll put that motto down in my note-book for future use."

"I thank you for the compliment," said I, as I paid him $5950.
"Good-bye, Mr. Austin."

"Good-bye, Miss Witherup," said he. "Any time when you find you have a
half hour and £1000 to spare come again.

  "Say au revoir, but not good-bye,
            For why?
  There is no cause to whisper vale,
            When we can parley
  Without a fear
  That words are cheap, my dear,"

said he, ushering me down-stairs and bowing me out into the fog, which
by this time had lightened so that I could see the end of my nose as I
walked along.



ANDREW LANG


Several days after the exhilarating interview with the Poet-Laureate of
England, I was honored by a dinner given to me by the Honorable Company
of Lady Copy-Mongers at their guildhall in Piccadilly Circus, S.W. It
was a delightful affair, and I met many ladies of prominence in literary
fields. Miss Braddon and John Oliver Hobbes were there, and one rather
stout old lady, of regal manner, who was introduced as Clara Guelph, but
whom I strongly suspected to be none other than the authoress of that
famous and justly popular work, _Leaves from My Diary in the Highlands,
or Sixty Years a Potentate_. She was very gracious to me, and promised
to send me an autograph copy of her publisher's circular.

Most interesting of all the persons encountered at the banquet, however,
was Miss Philippa Phipps-Phipps, forewoman of the Andrew Lang
Manuscript-Manufacturing Company, from whom I gained much startling
information which I am certain will interest the public.

In the course of our conversation I observed to Miss Phipps-Phipps, of
whom I had never heard before, that nothing in modern letters so amazed
me as the output of Andrew Lang, for both its quality and its quantity.
The lady flushed pleasurably, and said, modestly:

[Illustration: TRADE-MARK. NONE GENUINE WITHOUT IT]

"We try to keep up to the standard, Miss Witherup. As a worker in
literary fields, you perhaps realize how hard it is to do this, but of
one thing I assure you--we have never in the last ten years allowed a
bit of scamp work of any description to go out of our factory. Of course
we have grades of work, but the lower grades do not go out with the Lang
mark upon them."

I looked at Miss Phipps-Phipps in a puzzled way, for the full import of
her words did not dawn upon me instantly.

"I don't quite understand," said I. "We? Who are we?"

"The Lang Manuscript-Manufacturing Company," explained the young woman.
"You are aware, of course, that Andrew Lang is not an individual, but a
corporation?"

"I certainly never dreamed it," said I, with a half-smile.

"How could it be otherwise?" asked Miss Phipps-Phipps. "No human being
could alone turn out an average of 647,000,000 words a year, Miss
Witherup, not even if he could run two type-writers at once, and write
with his feet while dictating to a stenographer. It would be a physical
impossibility."

"Dear me!" I cried in amazement. "I know that there were thousands of
articles from Lang every year, but 647,000,000 words! Why, it is
incredible!"

"That is only the average, you know," said Miss Phipps-Phipps, proudly.
"In good years we have run as high as 716,000,346 words; and this year,
if all goes well and our operatives do not strike, we expect to turn out
over 800,000,000. We have signed contracts to deliver 111,383,000 words
in the month of June alone--mostly Christmas stuff, you know, to be
published next November. Last month we turned out 39,000 lines of poetry
a day for twenty-five working-days, and our essay-mill has been running
over-time for sixteen weeks."

"Well, I am surprised!" said I. "Yet, when I come to think of it, there
is no reason why I should be. This is an age of corporations."

"Precisely," said Miss Phipps-Phipps. "Furthermore, ours had a
philanthropic motive at the bottom of it all. Here was Mr. Lang simply
killing himself with work, and some 700 young men and women of an
aspiring turn of mind absolutely out of employment. The burdens of the
one, we believed, could be made to relieve the necessities of the
other, and we made the proposition to Mr. Lang to make himself over to
us, promising to fill his contracts and relieve him of the necessity of
doing any further literary work for the rest of his life. We
incorporated him on a basis of £2,000,000, giving him £1,000,000 in
shares. The rest was advertised as for sale, and was oversubscribed ten
to one. Workshops were built at Woking, and as a starter 600 operatives
were employed. Working night and day, at the end of the first year we
were just three months behind our orders. We immediately doubled our
force to 1200, and so it has gone until to-day, and the business is
constantly increasing. Our stock is at a premium of 117%, and we keep
3750 people, with a capacity of 10,000 words a day each, constantly
employed."

"I am astonished!" I cried. "The magnitude of the work is appalling. Are
your shops open to visitors?"

"Certainly. I shall be pleased if you will come out to Woking
to-morrow, and I will show you over the establishment," replied Miss
Phipps-Phipps, courteously. And then for the moment the conversation
stopped.

The next day I was at Woking, where Miss Phipps-Phipps met me at the
station. A ten-minutes' drive brought us to the factory, a detailed
description of which would be impossible in the limits at my disposal.
Suffice it to say that after an hour's walk through the various
departments I was still not half acquainted with the marvels of the
establishment. In the Essay and Letters to Dead Authors Department
sixty-eight girls were driving their pens at a rate that made my head
whirl. A whole floor was given over to the Fairy-Tale Department, and I
saw fairy-books of all the colors in the rainbow being turned out at a
rapid rate.

[Illustration: IN THE MEREDITH SHOP]

"Here," said the forelady, as we reached a large, capacious, and
well-lighted writing-room, "is our latest venture. There are 700
employees in here, and they work from 9 A.M. to 12, have a half hour
for luncheon, and resume. At five they go home. They have in hand the
Lang Meredith. We have purchased from Mr. Meredith all right and title
to his complete works, which we are having rewritten. These will appear
at the proper time as '_The Lucid Meredith_, by Andrew Lang.' The old
gentleman at the desk over there," she added, pointing to a keen-eyed,
sharp-visaged fellow, with a long nose and nervous manner, "is Mr.
Fergus Holmes, who began life as a detective, and became a critic. He is
here on a large salary, and has nothing to do but use his critical
insight and detective instinct to find the thought in some of Mr.
Meredith's most complicated periods. After all, Miss Witherup, our
operators are only human, and some of them cannot understand Meredith as
well as they might."

"I am glad to know," said I, with a laugh, "that you pay Mr. Fergus
Holmes a large salary. A man employed to detect the thought of some of
Mr. Meredith's paragraphs--"

"Oh, we understand all about that," Miss Phipps-Phipps smiled, in
return. "We know his value, which is very great in this particular
matter."

"And does he never fail?" I asked.

"I presume he does, but he never gives up. Once he asked to be allowed
to consult with Mr. Meredith before giving an opinion, and we consented.
He wrote to the author, and it turned out that Mr. Meredith had
forgotten the paragraph entirely, and couldn't tell himself what he
meant. But he was very nice about it. He gave us carte blanche to make
it mean anything that would fit into the rest of the story."

We passed on into another room.

[Illustration: "WRITING HERRICK"]

"This room," said Miss Phipps-Phipps, "is at present devoted to the
British poets. There have been a great many bad poets in Britain who
have become immortal, and we are trying to make them good. That young
man over there with red hair is rewriting Burns--the introduction we
are doing in our essay-room. The young lady in blue glasses is doing Gay
over again; and we have intrusted our Lang edition of Herrick to the
retired clergyman whom you see sitting on that settee by the window with
a slate on his lap. To show you how completely we do our work, let me
tell you that in this case of Herrick all his poems were first copied
off on slates by our ordinary copyists, so that the clergyman who is
doing them over again has only to wet his finger to rub out what might
strike some people as an immortal line."

"It's a splendid idea!" I cried. "But wouldn't a blackboard prove less
expensive?"

"We never consider expense," said Miss Phipps-Phipps. "We really do not
have to. You see, with a capacity of 800,000,000 words a year at the
rates for Lang, for which we pay at rates for the unknown, we are left
with a margin of profit which pleases our stockholders and does not
arouse the cupidity of other authors."

"What a wonderful system!" said I.

"We think it so," said Miss Phipps-Phipps, placidly.

"And do you never have any troubles?" I asked.

"Oh yes," replied my hostess. "Only last week the Grass of Parnassus and
Blue Ballade employees rose up and struck for sixpence more per
quatrain. We locked them out, and to-day have filled their places with
equally competent employees. You can always find plenty of unemployed
and unpublished poets ready to step in. Our prose hands do not give us
much trouble, and our revisers never say a word."

"Have you any novelties in hand?" I asked.

"Oh yes," said Miss Phipps-Phipps. "We are going to supersede Boswell
with _Lang's Johnson_. We are preparing a _Lang Shakespeare_; and when
the copyrights on Thackeray and Dickens have expired, we'll do them
all over again. Then we are experimenting in colors for a new
fairy-book; and our chromatic Bibles will be a great thing. We are also
contemplating an offer to the French Academy to permit all the works of
its members to be issued as ours. I really think that _Daudet_ by Andrew
Lang would pay. _Hugo_ by Lang might prove too much for the British
public, but we shall do it, because we have confidence in ourselves. We
shall issue the _Philosophy of Schopenhauer_ by Andrew Lang next week."

"How about our American authors?" I queried. "Are you going to rewrite
any of them?"

"Who are they?" asked Miss Phipps-Phipps, with an admirable expression
of ingenuousness.

"Well," said I, "myself, and--ah--Edgar Poe."

"Any poets?" said Miss Phipps-Phipps.

"Some," I answered. "Myself and--ah--Longfellow."

"I don't know," said Miss Phipps-Phipps, becoming somewhat reserved.
"Send me your manuscripts. I have heard of you, of course--but--ah--who
is Miss Longfellow?"

I contented myself with a reference to the scenery, and then I said:
"Miss Double Phipps, I wish you would conduct me into the presence of
Mr. Lang. I like him as a manly man, and I love him for the books he has
put forth, which not only show his manliness, but his appreciation of
everything in letters that is good."

"Well, really, Miss Witherup," said Miss Phipps-Phipps, "we don't know
where he is, but we think--it is not my thought, but that of the
corporation--we think you will find him playing golf at St. Andrews."

"Thank you," said I. "But, after all," I added, "it is not what the
corporation thinks so much as what you as an individual think. Where do
you believe I may find Mr. Lang?"

"Among the Immortals," was the answer, spoken with enthusiasm.

And believing that the lady was right, I ceased to look for Mr. Lang,
for in the presence of immortals I always feel myself to be foolish.

Nevertheless, I am very glad to have seen the Lang Company at Woking,
and I now understand many things that I never understood before.



ZOLA


To visit a series of foreign celebrities at home without including Émile
Zola in the list would be very like refusing to listen to the lines of
Hamlet in Bacon's immortal tragedy of that name. Furthermore, to call
upon the justly famous novelist presupposes a visit to Paris, which is a
delightful thing, even for a lady journalist. Hence it was that on
leaving Woking, after my charming little glimpse into the home life of
the Lang Manuscript-Manufacturing Company, I decided to take a run
across the Channel and look up the Frenchman of the hour. The diversion
had about it an air of adventure which made it pleasantly exciting. For
ten hours after my arrival at Paris I did not dare ask where the
novelist lived, for fear that I might be arrested and sent to Devil's
Island with Captain Dreyfus, or forced to languish for a year or two at
the Château d'If, near Marseilles, until the government could get a
chance formally to inquire why I wished to know the abiding-place of M.
Zola. There was added to this also some apprehension that even if I
escaped the gendarmes the people themselves might rise up and string me
to a lamp-post as a suitable answer to so treasonable a question.

[Illustration: SEEKING ZOLA]

To tell the truth, I did not go about my business with my usual nerve
and aplomb. Had I represented only myself, I should not have hesitated
to expose myself to any or to all danger. Intrusted as I was, however,
with a commission of great importance to those whom I serve at home, it
was my duty to proceed cautiously and save my life. I therefore went at
the matter diplomatically. For fifty centimes I induced a small
flower-girl, whom I encountered in front of the Café de la Paix, to
inquire of the head waiter of that establishment where M. Zola could be
met. The tragedy that ensued was terrible. What became of the child I do
not know, but when, three hours later, the troops cleared the square in
front of the café, the dead and wounded amounted to between two hundred
and fifty and three hundred, and the china, tables, and interior
decorations of the café were strewn down the Avenue de l'Opéra as far as
the Rue de l'Echelle, and along the boulevard to the Madeleine. The
opera-house itself was not appreciably damaged, although I am told that
pieces of steak and chops and canned pease have since been found
clinging to the third-story windows of its splendid façade.

[Illustration: CONSULTING "LA PATRIE"]

My next effort was even more cautious. I bought a plain sheet of
note-paper, and addressed it anonymously to the editor of _La Patrie_,
asking for the desired information. The next morning _La Patrie_
announced that if I would send my name and address to its office the
communication would be answered suitably. My caution was still great,
however, and the name and address I gave were those of a blanchisseuse
who ran a pretty little shop on Rue Rivoli. That night the poor woman
was exiled from France, and the block in which she transacted business
demolished by a mob of ten thousand.

I was about to give up, when chance favored me. The next evening, while
seated in my box at the opera, the door was suddenly opened, and a heavy
but rather handsome-eyed brunette of I should say fifty years of age
burst in upon me.

[Illustration: "'SAVE ME!' SHE CRIED"]

"Mon Dieu!" she cried, as I turned. "Save me! Tell them I am your
chaperon, your mother, your sister--anything--only save me! You will
never regret it."

She had hardly uttered these words when a sharp rap came upon the door.
"Entrez," I cried. "Que voulez-vous, messieurs?" I added, with some
asperity, as five hussars entered, their swords clanking ominously.

"Your name?" said one, who appeared to be their leader.

"Anne Warrington Witherup, if you refer to me," said I, drawing myself
up proudly. "If you refer to this lady," I added, "she is Mrs. Watkins
Wilbur Witherup, my--ah--my step-mother. We are Americans, and I am a
lady journalist."

Fortunately my remarks were made in French, and my French was of a kind
which was convincing proof that I came from Westchester County.

A great change came over the intruders.

"Pardon, mademoiselle," said the leader, with an apologetic bow to
myself. "We have made the grand _faux pas_. We have entered the wrong
box."

"And may I know the cause of your unwarranted intrusion," I demanded,
"without referring the question to the State Department at home?"

"We sought--we sought an enemy to France, mademoiselle," said they. "We
thought he entered here."

"I harbor only the friends of France," said I.

"Vive la Witherup!" cried the hussars, taking the observation as a
compliment, and then chucking me under the chin and again apologizing,
with a sweeping bow to my newly acquired step-mother, they withdrew.

"Well, mamma," said I, turning to the lady at my side, "perhaps you can
shed some light on this mystery. Who are you?"

"Softly, if you value your life," came the answer. "_Zola, c'est moi!_"

"Mon Doo!" said I. "Vous? Bien, bien, bien!"

"Speak in English," he whispered. "Then I can understand."

"Oh, I only said well, well, well," I explained. "And you have adopted
this disguise?"

"Because I have resolved to live long enough to get into the Academy,"
he explained. "I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your timely
aid. If they had caught me they would have thrown me down into the midst
of the claque."

"Come," said I, rising and taking him by the hand. "I have come to Paris
to see you at home. It was my only purpose. I will escort you thither."

"Non, non!" he cried. "Never again. I am much more at home here, my dear
lady, much more. Pray sit down. Why, when I left home by a subterranean
passage, perhaps you are not aware, over a thousand members of the
National Guard were singing the 'Marseillaise' on the front piazza.
Three thousand were dancing that shocking dance, the cancan, in my back
yard, and four regiments of volunteers were looking for something to eat
in the kitchen, assisted by one hundred and fifty pétroleuses to do
their cooking. All my bedroom furniture was thrown out of the
second-story windows, and the manuscripts of my new novel were being cut
up into souvenirs."

"Poor old mamma!" said I, taking him by the hand. "You can always find
comfort in the thought that you have done a noble action."

"It was a pretty good scheme," replied Zola. "A million pounds sterling
paid to your best advertising mediums couldn't have brought in a quarter
the same amount of fame or notoriety; and then, you see, it places me on
a par with Hugo, who was exiled. That's really what I wanted, Miss
Witherup. Hugo was a poseur, however, and if he hadn't had the kick to
be born before me--"

"Ah," said I, interrupting, for I have rather liked Hugo. "And where do
you wish to go?"

"To America," he replied, dramatically. "To America. It is the only
country in the world where realism is not artificial. You are a simple,
unaffected, outspoken people, who can hate without hating, can love
without marrying, can fight without fighting. I love you."

"Sir--or rather mamma!" said I, somewhat indignantly, for as a married
man Zola had no right to make a declaration like that, even if he is a
Frenchman.

"Not you as you," he hastened to say, "but you as an American I love.
Ah, who is your best publisher, Miss Witherup?"

I shall not tell you what I told Zola, but they may get his next book.

"M. Zola," said I, placing great emphasis on the M, "tell me, what
interested you in Dreyfus--humanity--or literature?"

"Both," he replied; "they are the same. Literature that is not humanity
is not literature. Humanity that does not provide literary people with
opportunity is not broad humanity, but special and selfish, and
therefore is not humanity at all."

"Did Dreyfus write to you?" I asked.

"No," said he. "Nor I to him. I have no time to write letters."

"Then how did it all come about?" I demanded.

"He was attracting too much attention!" cried the novelist,
passionately. "He was living tragedy while I was only writing it. People
said his story was greater than any I, Émile--"

"Witherup!" said I, anxiously, for it seemed to me that the people in
the next box were listening.

"Merci!" said he. "Yes, I, Mrs. Watkins Wilbur Witherup, of Westchester
City, U. S. A., was told that this man's story was greater and deeper in
its tragic significance than any I could conceive. Wherefore I wrote to
the War Department and accused it of concealing the truth from France in
the mere interests of policy, of diplomacy. _I_ made them tremble. _I_
made the army shiver. _I_ have struck a blow at the republic from which
it will not soon recover. And to-day Dreyfus pales beside the
significance of Zola. I believe in free institutions, but Heaven help a
free institution when it clashes with a paying corporation like
Émile--"

"Witherup! Do be cautious," I put in again. "Yet, sir," I added, "they
have quashed your sentence, and you need not go to jail."

"No," said he, gloomily. "I need not. Why? Because jail is safer than
home. That is why they did it. They dare not exile me. They hope by
quashing me to be rid of me. But they will see. I will force them to
imprison me yet."

"If you are so anxious to visit America, why don't you?" I suggested.
"There is no duty on the kind of thing we do not wish to manufacture
ourselves."

"Ah," said he; "if I was exiled, they would send me. If I go as a
private citizen, well, I pay my own way."

"Oh," said I. "I see."

And then, as the opera was over, we departed. Zola saw me to my
carriage, and just as I entered it he said: "Excuse me, Miss Witherup,
but what paper do you write for?"

I told him.

"It is a splendid journal!" he cried. "I take it every day, and
especially enjoy its Sunday edition. In fact, it is the only American
newspaper I read. Tell your editor this, and here is my photograph and
my autograph, and a page of my manuscript for reproduction."

He took all these things out of his basque as he spoke.

"I will send you to-morrow," he added, "an original sketch in black and
white of my house, with the receipt of my favorite dish, together with a
recommendation of a nerve tonic that I use. With this will go a complete
set of my works with a few press notices of the same, and the prices
they bring on all book-stands. Good-bye. God bless you!" he concluded,
huskily. "I shall miss my step-daughter as I would an only son. Adieu!"

We parted, and I returned, much affected, to my rooms, while he went
back, I presume, to his mob-ridden home.



SIR HENRY IRVING


The impression left upon my mind by my curious and intensely dramatic
encounter with Zola was of so theatric a nature that I resolved to get
back to conventional ground once more through the medium of the stage. I
was keyed up to a high pitch of nervous excitement by my unexpected
meeting with an unsuspected step-mother, and the easiest return to my
norm of equanimity, it seemed to me, lay through the doors of the
greenroom. Hence I sought out London's only actor, Sir Henry Irving.

I found him a most agreeable gentleman. He received me cordially on the
stage of his famous theatre. There was no setting of any kind. All
about us were the bare cold walls of the empty stage and it was
difficult to believe that this very same spot, the night before, had
been the scene of brilliant revels.

"How do you do, Miss Witherup?" said Sir Henry, as I arrived, advancing
with his peculiar stride, which reminds me of dear old Dobbin on my
father's farm. "It is a great pleasure to welcome to England so fair a
representative of so fine a press."

"I wished to see you, 'at home,' Sir Henry," I replied, not desiring to
let him see how completely his cordiality had won me, and so affecting a
coldness I was far from feeling.

"That is why I have you _here_, madam," he replied. "The stage is my
home. The boards for me; the flare of the lime-lights; the pit; the
sweet family circle; the auditorium in the dim distance; the
foot-lights--ah, these are the inspiring influences of _my_ life! The
old song 'Home Is Where the Heart Is' must, in my case, be revised to
favor the box-office, and instead of the 'Old Oaken Bucket,' the song I
sing is the song of the 'Old Trap Door.' Did you ever hear that
beautiful poem, 'The Song of the Old Trap Door'?"

"No, Sir Henry, I never did," said I. "I hope to, however."

"I will do it now for you," he said; and assisting me over the
foot-lights into a box, he took the centre of the stage, ordered the
calcium turned upon him, and began:

  "How dear to my heart are the scenes of my triumphs,
    In Hamlet, Othello, and Shylock as well!
  Completely confounding the critics who cry 'Humphs!'
    And casting o'er others a magical spell!
  How dear to my soul are the fond recollections
    Of thunderous clappings and stampings and roars
  As, bowing and scraping in many directions,
    I sink out of sight through the old trap doors!
  The old trap doors, the bold trap doors,
    That creaking and squeaking sink down thro' the floors!"

I could not restrain my enthusiasm when he had finished.

"Bravo!" I cried, clapping my hands together until my palms ached.
"More!"

"There is no more," said Sir Henry, with a gratified smile. "You see,
recited before ten or twenty thousand people with the same verve that I
put into 'Eugene Aram,' or 'Ten Little Nigger Boys,' so much enthusiasm
is aroused that I cannot go on. The applause never stops, so of course a
second verse would be a mere waste of material."

"Quite so," I observed. Then a thought came to me which I resolved to
turn to my profit. "Sir Henry," I said, "I'll bet a box of cigars
against a box for your performance to-night that I can guess who wrote
that poem for you in one guess."

"Done!" he replied, eagerly.

"Austin," said I.

"Make Miss Witherup out a ticket for Box A for the 'Merchant of Venice'
to-night," cried the famous actor to his secretary. "How the deuce did
you know?"

"Oh, that was easy," I replied, much gratified at having won my wager.
"I don't believe any one else could have thought of a rhyme to triumphs
like 'cry Humphs'!"

"You have wonderful insight," remarked Sir Henry. "But come, Miss
Witherup, I did not mean to receive you in a box, or on a bare stage.
What is your favorite style of interior decoration?"

His question puzzled me. I did not know but that possibly Sir Henry's
words were a delicate method of suggesting luncheon, and then it
occurred to me that this could not possibly be so at that hour, one
o'clock. Actors never eat at hours which seem regular to others. I
hazarded an answer, however, and all was made clear at once.

"I have a leaning towards the Empire style," said I.

Sir Henry turned immediately and roared upward into the drops: "Hi,
Billie, set the third act of 'Sans Gene,' and tell my valet to get out
my Bonapartes. The lady has a leaning towards the Empire. Excuse me for
one moment, Miss Witherup," he added, turning to me. "If you will remain
where you are until I have the room ready for you, I will join you there
in five minutes."

[Illustration: "I SAT QUIETLY IN THE BOX"]

The curtain was immediately lowered, and I sat quietly in the box, as
requested, wondering greatly what was going to happen. Five minutes
later the curtain rose again, and there, where all had been bare and
cheerless, I saw the brilliantly lit room wherein Bonaparte as Emperor
has his interview with his ex-laundress. It was cosey, comfortable, and
perfect in every detail, and while I was admiring, who should appear at
the rear entrance but Bonaparte himself--or, rather, Sir Henry made up
as Bonaparte.

"Dear me, Sir Henry!" I cried, delightedly. "You do me too much honor."

"That were impossible," he replied, gallantly. "Still, lest you be
embarrassed by such preparations to receive you, let me say that this is
my invariable custom, and when I know in advance of the tastes of my
callers, all is ready when they arrive. Unfortunately, I have had to
keep you waiting because I did not know your tastes."

"Do you mean to say that you adapt your scenery and personal make-up to
the likings of the individual who calls?" I cried, amazed.

"Always," said he. "It is easy, and I think courteous. For instance,
when the Archbishop of Canterbury calls upon me I have Canterbury
Cathedral set here, and wear vestments, and receive him in truly
ecclesiastical style. The organ is kept going, and lines of choir-boys,
suitably garbed, pass constantly in and out.

"When the King of Denmark called I had the throne-room scene of 'Hamlet'
set, and we talked, with his Majesty sitting on the throne, and myself,
clad as the melancholy Prince, reclining on a rug before him. He
expressed himself as being vastly entertained. It gave him pleasure, and
was no trouble to me beyond giving orders to the stage-manager. Then
when an old boyhood friend of mine who had gone wrong came to see me,
hearing that he was an inebriate, as well as a thief, I received him in
the character of Dubose, in the attic scene of the 'Lyons Mail.'"

"A very interesting plan," said I, "and one which I should think would
be much appreciated by all."

"True," replied Sir Henry. And then he laughed. "It never failed but
once," said he. "And then it wasn't my fault. Old Beerbohm Tree came to
visit me one morning, and I had the graveyard scene of 'Hamlet' set, and
myself appeared as the crushed tragedian. I thought Tree had some sense
of humor and could appreciate the joke, but I was mistaken. He got as
mad as a hatter, and started away in a rage. If he hadn't fallen into
the grave on the way out, I'd never have had a chance to explain that I
didn't mean anything by it."

By this time I had clambered back to the stage again, and was about to
sit down on one of the very handsome Empire sofas in the room, when Sir
Henry gave a leap of at least two feet in the air, and roared with rage.

[Illustration: "'SEND THE PROPERTY-MAN HERE!' HE CRIED"]

"Send the property-man here!" he cried, trembling all over and turning
white in the face. "Send him here; bring him in chains. If he's
up-stairs, throw him down; if he's down-stairs, put him in a catapult
and throw him up. It matters not how he comes, as long as he comes."

I shrank back in terror. The man's rage seemed almost ungovernable, and
I observed that he held a poker in his hand. Up and down the room he
strode, muttering imprecations upon the property-man, until I felt that
if I did not wish to see murder done I would better withdraw.

"Excuse me, Sir Henry," said I, rising, and speaking timidly, "I think
perhaps I'd better go."

"Sit down!" he retorted, imperiously, pointing at the sofa with the
poker. I sat down, and just then the property-man arrived.

"Want me, S'rennery?" he said.

Irving gazed at him, with a terrible frown wrinkling his forehead, for a
full minute, during which it seemed to me that the whole building
trembled, and I could almost hear the seats in the top gallery creak
with nervousness.

"Want you?" he retorted, witheringly. "Yes, I want you--as an usher,
perhaps; as a flunky to announce that a carriage waits; as a Roman
citizen to say Hi-hi! but as a property-man, never!"

There was another ominous pause, and I could see that the sarcasm of the
master sank deeply into the soul of the hireling.

"Wha--what 'ave I done, S'rennery?" asked the trembling property-man.

"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" roared Sir Henry. "Look upon that poker and see!"

The man looked, and sank sobbing to the floor.

"Heaven help me!" he moaned. "I have a sick grandfather, S'rennery," he
added. "I was up with him all night."

The great man immediately became all tenderness. Throwing the poker to
one side, he sprang to where his unfortunate property-man lay, and
raised him up.

"Why the devil didn't you say so?" he said, sympathetically. "I didn't
know it, Henderson, my dear old boy. Never mind the poker. Let it go. I
forgive you that. Here, take this £20 note, and don't come back until
your grandfather is well again."

It was a beautiful scene, and so pathetic that I almost wept. The
property-man rose to his feet, and putting the £20 note in his pocket,
walked dejectedly away.

Sir Henry turned to me, and said, his voice husky with emotion: "Pardon
me, Miss Witherup! I was provoked."

"It was a magnificent scene, Sir Henry," said I. "But what was the
matter with the poker? I thought it rather a good one."

"It is," said he, sitting down on a small chair and twiddling his
thumbs. "But, you see, this is an Empire scene, and that confounded
thing is a Marie Antoinette poker. Why, if that had happened at a
public performance, I should have been ruined."

"Might not Bonaparte have used a Marie Antoinette poker?" I asked, to
draw him out.

"Bonaparte, Miss Witherup," he answered, "might have done anything but
that. You see, by the time he became Emperor every bit of household
stuff in the palace had been stolen by the French mobs. Therefore it is
fair to assume that the palace was entirely refurnished when Bonaparte
came in, and as at that time there was no craze for Louis Quinze, or
Louis Seize, or Louis number this, that, and the other, it is not at all
probable that Napoleon would have taken the trouble to snoop around the
second-hand shops for a poker of that kind. Indeed, it is more than
probable that everything he had in the palace was absolutely new."

"What a wonderful mind you must have, Sir Henry, to think of these
things!" I said, enthusiastically.

"Miss Witherup," said the actor-knight, impressively, "this is an age
of wonderful minds, and there are so many of them that he who wishes to
rise above his fellows must be careful of every detail. Would I have
been a knight to-day had it not been for my care of details? Never. It
would have gone to Willie Edouin, or to my friend Tree, or to some other
actor of the same grade. My principle, Miss Witherup, is not original. I
look after the details, and the results take care of themselves. It is
the old proverb of the pennies and the pounds all over again."

"It is wisdom," I said, oracularly. "But it must be wearing."

"Oh no," said Sir Henry, with a gesture of self-deprecation. "There are
so many details that I have had to make up a staff of advisers. As a
matter of fact, I am not a man. I am a combination of men. In the
popular mind I embody the wisdom, the taste, the culture, the learning
of many. In fact, Miss Witherup, while I am not London, London finds
artistic expression in me."

"And you are coming to America again?" I asked, rising, for I felt I
ought to go, I was so awed by the humble confession of my host.

"Some day," said he. "When times are better."

"Why, Sir Henry," I cried, "you who have just given £20 to your
property-man can surely afford to cross--"

"I referred, madam," he interrupted, "to times in America, for I
contemplate charging $5 a stall when next I visit you. You see, my next
visit will be the first of a series of twenty farewell seasons which I
propose to make in the States, which I love dearly. Don't forget that,
please--_which I love dearly_. I want your people to know."

"I shall not, Sir Henry," said I, holding out my hand. "Good-bye."

"Say _au revoir_," he replied. "I shall surely see you at to-night's
performance."

And so we parted.

On the way down the Strand, back to my rooms, I met the property-man,
who was evidently waiting for me.

"Excuse me, miss," said he, "but you saw?"

"Saw what?" said I.

"How he called me down about the Marie Antoinette poker?" he replied,
nervously.

"Yes," said I, "I did."

[Illustration: "'IT WAS ALL ARRANGED BEFOREHAND, MISS'"]

"Well, it was all arranged beforehand, miss, so that you would be
impressed by his love for and careful attention to details. That's all,"
said he. "We other fellers at the Lyceum has some pride, miss, and we
wants you to understand that S'rennery isn't the only genius on the
programme, by good long odds. It's not knowin' that that made her
Majesty the Queen make her mistake."

"I didn't know, Mr. Henderson, that her Majesty had made a mistake,"
said I, coldly.

"Well, she did, miss. She knighted S'rennery as a individual, when she'd
ought to have knighted the whole bloomin' theaytre. There's others than
him as does it!" he observed, proudly. "King Somebody knighted a piece
of steak. Why couldn't the Queen knight the theaytre?"

Which struck me as an idea of some force, although I am a great admirer
of a man who, like Sir Henry, can dominate an institution of such
manifest excellence.



IAN MACLAREN


So pleased was I with my experience at the Lyceum Theatre that, fearing
to offset the effects upon my nerves of Sir Henry Irving's wonderful
cordiality, I made no more visits to the homes of celebrities for two
weeks, unless a short call on Li Hung-Chang can be considered such. Mr.
Chang was so dispirited over the loss of his yellow jacket and the
partition of the Chinese Empire that I could not get a word out of him
except that he was not feeling "welly well," and that is hardly
sufficient to base an interview on for a practically inexperienced lady
journalist like myself.

I therefore returned to English fields again for my next interview, and
having heard that the Rev. Ian Maclaren was engaged on a translation
into English of his Scottish stories, I took train to Liverpool, first
having wired the famous object of my visit of my intention. He replied
instantly by telegraph that he was too busy to receive me, but I started
along just the same. There is nothing in the world that so upsets me as
having one of my plans go awry, and I certainly do not intend to have my
equanimity disturbed for the insufficient reason that somebody else is
busy. So I wired back to Liverpool as follows:

      "Very sorry, but did not receive your telegram until too late to
      change my plans. My trunks were all packed and my Scotch lassie
      costume finished. Expect me on the eleven sixty-seven. Will not
      stay more than a week.

      "(Signed)

  "ANNE WARRINGTON WITHERUP."

Dr. Maclaren being a courteous man, and I being a lady, I felt confident
that this would fetch him; and it apparently did, for two hours later I
received this message:

      "_Witherup, London:_

      "Am not here. Have gone to Edinburgh. Do not know when I shall
      return.

      "(Signed)

  "MACLAREN."

To this I immediately replied:

      "_Maclaren, Liverpool:_

      "All right. Will meet you at Edinburgh, as requested.

      "(Signed)

  "WITHERUP."

[Illustration: DRESSED FOR THE PART]

The reader will observe that it takes a smart British author to escape
from an American lady journalist once she has set her heart on
interviewing him. But I did not go to Edinburgh. I am young, and have
not celebrated my thirtieth birthday more than five times, but I am not
a gudgeon; so I refused to be caught by the Edinburgh subterfuge, and
stuck to my original proposition of going to Liverpool on the eleven
sixty-seven; and, what is more, I wore my Highland costume, and all the
way down studied a Scotch glossary, until I knew the difference between
such words as dour and hoots as well as if I had been born and bred at
Loch Macglasgie.

[Illustration: THE PURSUIT]

As I had expected, Dr. Maclaren was there, anxiously awaiting
developments, and as I stepped out of my carriage he jumped from behind
a huge trunk by which he thought he was concealed, and fled through the
Northwestern Hotel out into the street, and thence off in the direction
of the Alexandra Docks. I followed in hot pursuit, and, by the aid of a
handy hansom, was not long in overtaking the unwilling author. It may be
said by some that I was rather too persistent, and, knowing that the
good Doctor did not wish to be interviewed, should have relinquished my
quest. It was just that quality in Dr. Maclaren's make-up that made me
persist. There are so few successful authors who may be said to possess
the virtue of modesty in the presence of an interviewer that I
determined to catch one who was indeed the only one of that rare class I
had ever met.

"Dr. Maclaren?" I cried, as I leaped out of the hansom, and landed,
fortunately, on my feet--a lady journalist is a good deal of a feline in
certain respects--directly in his path.

"The same," he replied, pantingly. "And you are Miss Witherup?"

"The very same," I retorted, coldly.

"I am perfectly delighted to see you," he said, removing his hat and
mopping his brow, which the unwonted exercise he was taking had caused
to drip profusely. "Perfectly charmed, Miss Witherup."

I eyed him narrowly. "One wouldn't have thought so," I said, with a
suspicious emphasis, "from the way you were running away from me."

"Running away, my dear Miss Witherup?" he gasped, with an admirable
affectation of innocence. "Why, not at all."

"Then why, Dr. Maclaren," I asked, "were you running towards the docks
within ten seconds of the arrival of my train?"

To the gentleman's credit be it said that he never hesitated for a
moment.

"Why?" he cried, in the manner of one cut to the heart by an unjust
suspicion. "Why? Because, madam, when you got out of that railway
carriage I did not see you, and fearing that I had mistaken your
message, and that instead of coming from London by rail you were coming
from America by steamer, I hastened off down towards the docks in the
hope of welcoming you to England, and helping you through the
custom-house. You wrong me, madam, by thinking otherwise."

The gentleman's tact was so overwhelmingly fine that I forgave him his
fiction, which was not quite convincing, and took him by the hand.

"And now," said I, "may I see you at home?"

A gloomy cloud settled over the Doctor's fine features.

"That is my embarrassment," he said, with a deep sigh. "I haven't any."

"What?" I cried.

"I have been evicted," he said, sadly.

"You? For non-payment of rent?" I asked, astonished.

"Not at all," said the Doctor, taking a five-pound note from his pocket
and throwing it into the street. "I have more money than I know what to
do with. For _heresy_. My house belongs to a man who does not like the
doctrines of my books, and he put us out last Monday. That is why--"

"I understand," I said, pressing his hand sympathetically. "I am so
sorry! But cheer up, Doctor," I added. "I have been sent here by an
American newspaper that never does anything by halves. I have been told
to interview you at _home_. It must be done. My paper spares no expense.
Therefore, when I find you without a home to be interviewed in, I am
authorized to provide you with one. Come, let us go and purchase a
furnished house somewhere."

He looked at me, astonished.

"Well," he gasped out at length, "I've seen something of American
enterprise, but this beats everything."

"I suppose we can get a furnished house for $10,000?" I said.

"You can rent all Liverpool for that," he said. "Suppose, instead of
going to that expense, we run over to the Golf Links? I'm very much at
home there, though I don't play much of a game."

"Its atmosphere is very Scottish," said I.

"It is indeed," he replied. "Indeed, it's too Scotch for me. I can hold
my own with the great bulk of Scotch dialect with ease, but when it
comes to golf terms I'm a duffer from Dumfries. There are words like
'foozle' and 'tee-off' and 'schlaff' and 'baffy-iron' and 'Glenlivet.'
I've had 'em explained to me many a time and oft, but they go out of one
ear just as fast as they go in at the other. That's one reason why I've
never written a golf story. The game ought to appeal strongly to me for
two reasons--the self-restraint it imposes upon one's vocabulary of
profane terms, and the large body of clerical persons who have found it
adapted to their requirements. But the idiom of it floors me; and after
several ineffectual efforts to master the mysteries of its glossary, I
gave it up. I can drive like a professional, and my putting is a dream,
but I can't converse intelligently about it, and as I have discovered
that half the pleasure of the game lies in talking of it afterwards, I
have given it up."

By this time we had reached the railway station again, and a great light
as of an inspiration lit up the Doctor's features.

"Splendid idea!" he cried. "Let us go into the waiting-room of the
station, Miss Witherup. You can interview me there. I have just
remembered that when I was lecturing in America the greater part of my
time was passed waiting in railway stations for trains that varied in
lateness between two and eight hours, and I got to feel quite at home
in them. I doubt not that in a few moments I shall feel at home in this
one--and then, you know, you need not bother about your train back to
London, for it leaves from this very spot in twenty minutes."

He looked at me anxiously, but he need not have. When I discovered that
he could not master the art of golfing sufficiently to be able to talk
about it at least, he suddenly lost all interest to me. I have known so
many persons who were actually only half baked who could talk
intelligently about golf, whether they played well or not--the tea-table
golfers, we call them at my home near Weehawken--that it seemed to be
nothing short of sheer imbecility for a person to confess to an absolute
inability to brag about "driving like a professional" and "putting like
a dream."

"Very well, Doctor," said I. "This will do me quite as well. I'm tired,
and willing to go back, anyhow. Don't bother to wait for my departure."

[Illustration: AT HOME]

"Oh, indeed!" he cried, his face suffusing with pleasure. "I shall be
delighted to stay. Nothing would so charm me as to see you safely off."

I suppose it was well meant, but I couldn't compliment him on his
"putting."

"Are you coming to America again?" I asked.

"I hope to some day," he replied. "But not to read or to lecture. I am
coming to see something of your country. I wish to write some
recollections of it, and just now my recollections are confused. I know
of course that New York City is the heart of the orange district of
Florida, and that Albany is the capital of Saratoga. I am aware that
Niagara Falls is at the junction of the Hudson and the Missouri, and
that the Great Lakes are in the Adirondacks, and are well stocked with
shad, trout, and terrapin, but of your people I know nothing, save that
they gather in large audiences and pay large sums for the pleasure of
seeing how an author endures reading his own stuff. I know that you all
dine publicly always, and that your men live at clubs while the ladies
are off bicycling and voting, but what becomes of the babies I don't
know, and I don't wish to be told. I leave them to the consideration of
my friend Caine. When I write my book, _Scooting through Schoharis; or,
Long Pulls on a Pullman_, I wish it to be the result of personal
observation and not of hearsay."

"A very good idea," said I. "And will this be published over your own
name?"

"No, madam," he replied. "That is where we British authors who write
about America make a mistake. We ruin ourselves if we tell the truth. My
book will ostensibly be the work of 'Sandy Scootmon.'"

"Good name," said I. "And a good rhyme as well."

"To what?" he asked.

"Hoot mon!" said I, with a certain dryness of manner.

Just then the train-bell rang, and the London Express was ready.

"Here, Doctor," said I, handing him the usual check as I rose to depart.
"Here is a draft on London for $5000. Our thanks to go with it for your
courtesy."

He looked annoyed.

"I told you I didn't wish any money," said he, with some asperity. "I
have more American fifty-cent dollars now than I can get rid of. They
annoy me."

And he tore the check up. We then parted, and the train drew out of the
station. Opposite me in the carriage was a young woman who I thought
might be interested in knowing with whom I had been talking.

"Do you know who that was?" I asked.

"Very well indeed," she replied.

"Ian Maclaren," I said.

"Not a bit of it," said she. "That's one of our head detectives. We
know him well in Liverpool. Dr. Maclaren employs him to stave off
American interviewers."

I stared at the woman, aghast.

"I don't believe it," I said. "If he'd been a detective, he wouldn't
have torn up my check."

"Quite so," retorted the young woman, and there the conversation
stopped.

I wonder if she was right? If I thought she was, I'd devote the rest of
my life to seeing Ian Maclaren at home; but I can't help feeling that
she was wrong. The man was so entirely courteous, after I finally
cornered him, that I don't see how it could have been any one else than
the one I sought; for, however much one may object to this popular
author's dialect, England has sent us nothing finer in the way of a
courteous gentleman than he.



RUDYARD KIPLING


An endeavor to find Rudyard Kipling at home is very much like trying to
discover the North Pole. Most people have an idea that there is a North
Pole somewhere, but up to the hour of going to press few have managed to
locate it definitely. The same is true of Mr. Kipling's home. He has
one, no doubt, somewhere, but exactly where that favored spot is, is as
yet undetermined. My first effort to find him was at his residence in
Vermont, but upon my arrival I learned that he had fled from the Green
Mountain State in order to escape from the autograph-hunters who were
continually lurking about his estate. Next I sought him at his lodgings
in London, but the fog was so thick that if so be he was within I could
not find him. Then taking a P. & O. steamer, I went out to Calcutta, and
thence to Simla. In neither place was he to be found, and I sailed to
Egypt, hired a camel, and upon this ship of the desert cruised down the
easterly coast of Africa to the Transvaal, where I was informed that,
while he had been there recently, Mr. Kipling had returned to London. I
immediately turned about, and upon my faithful and wobbly steed took a
short-cut catacornerwise across to Algiers, where I was fortunate enough
to intercept the steamer upon which the object of my quest was sailing
back to Britain.

[Illustration: INTERCEPTED THE STEAMER]

He was travelling _incog._ as Mr. Peters, but I recognized him in a
moment, not only by his vocabulary, but by his close resemblance to a
wood-cut I had once seen in the advertisement of a famous dermatologist,
which I had been told was a better portrait of Kipling than of Dr.
Skinberry himself, whose skill in making people look unlike themselves
was celebrated by the publication of the wood-cut in question.

He was leaning gracefully over the starboard galley as I walked up the
gang-plank. I did not speak to him, however, until after the vessel had
sailed. I am too old a hand at interviewing modest people to be
precipitate, and knew that if I began to talk to Mr. Kipling about my
mission before we started, he would in all probability sneak ashore and
wait over a steamer to escape me. Once started, he was doomed, unless he
should choose to jump overboard. So I waited, and finally, as Gibraltar
gradually sank below the horizon, I tackled him.

[Illustration: ON THE LANYARD DECK]

"Mr. Kipling?" said I, as we met on the lanyard deck.

"Peters," said he, nervously, lighting a jinrikisha.

"All the same," I retorted, taking out my note-book, "I've come to
interview you at home. Are you a good sailor?"

"I'm good at whatever I try," said he. "Therefore you can wager a
spring bonnet against a Kohat that I am a good sailor."

"Excuse me for asking," said I. "It was necessary to ascertain. My
instructions are to interview you at home. If you are a good sailor,
then you are at home on the sea, so we may begin. What work are you
engaged on now?"

"The hardest of my life," he replied. "I am now trying to avoid an
American lady journalist. I know you are an American by the Cuban flag
you are wearing in your button-hole. I know that you are a lady, because
you wear a bonnet, which a gentleman would not do if he could. And I
know you are a journalist, because you have confessed it. But for
goodness' sake, madam, address me as Peters, and I will talk on forever.
If it were known on this boat that I am Kipling, I should be compelled
to write autographs for the balance of the voyage, and I have come away
for a rest."

"Very well, Mr. Peters," said I. "I will respect your wishes. Why did
you go to South Africa?"

"After color. I am writing a new book, and I needed color. There are
more colored people in Africa than anywhere else. Wherefore--"

"I see," said I. "And did you get it?"

"Humph!" he sneered. "Did I get it? It is evident, madam, that you have
not closely studied the career of Rudyard--er--Peters. Did he ever fail
to get anything he wanted?"

"I don't know," I replied. "That's what I wanted to find out."

"Well, you may draw your own conclusions," he retorted, "when I speak
that beautiful and expressive American word 'Nit.'"

I put the word down for future use. It is always well for an American to
make use of her own language as far as is possible, and nowhere can one
gain a better idea of what is distinctively American than from a study
of English authors who use Americanisms with an apology--paid for, no
doubt, at space rates.

"Have you been at work on the ocean?" I inquired.

"No," said he. "Why should I work on the ocean? I can't improve the
ocean."

"Excuse me," said I. "I didn't know that you were a purist."

"I'm not," said he. "I'm a Peters."

There was a pause, and I began to suspect that beneath his suave
exterior Mr. Kipling concealed a certain capacity for being
disagreeable.

"I didn't know," I said, "but that you had spent some of your time
interviewing the boilers or the engines of the ship. A man who can make
a locomotive over into an attractive conversationalist ought to be able
to make a donkey-engine, for instance, on shipboard, seem less like a
noisy jackass than it is."

"Good!" he cried, his face lighting up. "There's an idea there. Gad!
I'll write a poem on the donkey-engine as a sort of companion to my
McAndrews Hymn, and, what is more, I will acknowledge my debt to you
for suggesting the idea."

"I'm much obliged, Mr.--er--Peters," said I, coldly, "but you needn't.
You are welcome to the idea, but I prefer to make my own name for
myself. If you put me in one of your books, I should become immortal;
and while I wish to become immortal, I prefer to do it without outside
assistance."

Peters, _né_ Kipling, immediately melted.

"If you were a man," said he, "I'd slap you on the back and call the
steward to ask you what you'd have."

"Thank you," said I. "Under the circumstances, I am glad I am not a man.
I do not wish to be slapped on the back, even by a British author. But
if you really wish to repay me for my suggestion, drop your unnatural
modesty and let me interview you frankly. Tell me what you think--if you
ever do think. You've been so meteoric that one naturally credits you
with more heart and spontaneity than thought and care."

"Very well," said he. "Let the cross-examination begin."

"Do you ride a bicycle?" I asked.

"Not at sea," he replied.

"What is your favorite wheel?" I asked.

"The last that is sent me by the maker," he answered.

"Do you use any tonic--hair, health, or otherwise--which you
particularly recommend to authors?" I asked.

"I must refuse to answer that question until I have received the usual
check," said Mr.--er--Peters.

"Do you still hold with the Spanish that Americans are pigs, and that
New York is a trough?" I asked.

"There are exceptions, and when I last saw New York I was not a
conscious witness of any particularly strong devotion to the pen," he
answered, uneasily and evasively.

"Do you like the American climate?" I asked.

"Is there such a thing?" he asked, in return. "If there is, I didn't
see it. You Americans are in the experimental stage of existence in
weather as in government. I don't think you have as yet settled upon any
settled climate. My experience has been that during any week in any
season of the year you have a different climate for each day. I can say
this, however, that your changes are such that the average is
uncomfortable. It is hot one day and cold the next; baking the third;
wintry the fourth; humid the fifth; dry the sixth; and on the seventh
you begin with sunshine before breakfast, follow it up with rain before
luncheon, and a sleigh ride after dinner."

It was evident that Mr.--er--Peters had not lost his powers of
observation.

"Why have you left Vermont, Mr. Kipling?" I asked.

"Peters!" he remonstrated, in a beseeching whisper.

"Excuse me, Mr. Peters," said I. "Why have you left Vermont, Mr.
Peters?"

"That is a delicate question, madam," he replied. "Are you not aware
that my house is still in the market?"

"I am instructed," said I, drawing out my check-book, "to get an answer
to any question I may choose to ask, at any cost. If you fear to reply
because it may prevent a sale of your house, I will buy the house at
your own price."

"Forty thousand dollars," said he. "It's worth twenty thousand, but in
the hurry of my departure I left fifty thousand dollars' worth of notes
stored away in the attic."

I drew and handed him the check.

"Now that your house is sold," said I, "_why_, Mr. Peters, did you leave
Vermont?"

"For several reasons," he replied, putting the check in his pocket, and
relighting his jinrikisha, which had gone out. "In the first place, it
was some distance from town. I thought, when I built the house, that I
could go to New York every morning and come back at night. My notion
was correct, but I discovered afterwards that while I could go to New
York by day and return by night, there was not more than five minutes
between the trains I had to take to do it. Then there was a certain
amount of human sympathy involved. The postman was fairly bent under the
weight of the letters I received asking for autographs. He came twice a
day, and each time the poor chap had to carry a ton of requests for
autographs."

"Still, you needn't have replied to them," I said.

"Oh, I never tried to," he said. "It was the postman who aroused my
sympathy."

"But you didn't give up trying to live in your own house that had cost
you $20,000 for that?" I said.

[Illustration: "HE WAS ERECTING A GRAND-STAND"]

"Well, no," he answered. "Frankly, I didn't. There were other drawbacks.
You Americans are too fond of collecting things. For instance, I went to
a reception one night in Boston, and I wore a new dress-suit, and, by
Jove! when I got home and took my coat off I found that the tails had
been cut off--I presume by souvenir-hunters! Every mail brought
countless requests for locks of my hair; and every week, when my laundry
came back, there were at least a dozen things of one kind or another
missing, which I afterwards learned had been stolen off the line by
collectors of literary relics. Then the kodak fiends, that continually
lurked about behind bushes and up in the trees and under the piazzas,
were a most infernal nuisance. I dare say there are 50,000 unauthorized
photographs of myself in existence to-day. Even these I might have
endured, not to mention visitors who daily came to my home to tell me
how much they had enjoyed my books. Ten or a dozen of these people are
gratifying, but when you come down to breakfast and find a line
stretching all the way from your front door to the railway station, and
excursion trains coming in loaded to the full with others every hour, it
ceases to be pleasant and interferes seriously with one's work.
However, I never murmured until one day I observed a gang of carpenters
at work on the other side of the street, putting up a curious-looking
structure which resembled nothing I had ever seen before. When I had
made inquiries I learned that an enterprising circus-manager had secured
a lease of the place for the summer, and was erecting a grand-stand for
people who came to catch a glimpse of me to sit on.

"It was then that the thread of my patience snapped. I don't mind
writing autographs for eight hours every day; I don't mind being kodaked
if it makes others happy; and if any Boston relic-hunter finds comfort
in possessing the tails of my dress-coat he is welcome to them; but I
can't go being turned into a side-show for the delectation of a
circus-loving people, so I got out."

I was silent. I knew precisely what he had suffered, and could not blame
him.

"I suppose," I said, sympathetically, "that this means that you will
never return."

"Oh no," said he. "I expect to go back some day, but not until public
interest in my personal appearance has died out. Some time somebody will
discover some new kind of a freak to interest you people, and when that
happens I will venture back for a day or two, but until then I think I
will stay over here, where an illustrious personage can have a fit in
the street, if he wants to, without attracting any notice whatsoever.
There are so many great people over here, like myself and Lord Salisbury
and Emperor William, that fame doesn't distinguish a man at all, and it
is possible to be happy though illustrious, and to enjoy a certain
degree of privacy."

Just then the English coast hove in sight, and Mr. Kipling went below to
pack up his mullagatawny, while I drew close to the rail and reflected
upon certain peculiarities of my own people.

They certainly do love a circus!



THE DE RESZKES


On my return to London I received a message from my principals at home
suggesting that, in view of the possibilities of opera next winter, an
interview with the famous brothers De Reszke would be interesting to the
readers of the United States. I immediately started for Warsaw, where, I
was given to understand, these wonderful operatic stars were spending
the summer on their justly famous stock-farm.

I arrived late at night, and put up comfortably at a small and
inexpensive inn on the outskirts of the city. Mine host was a jolly old
Polander, who, having emigrated to and then returned from America,
spoke English almost as well as a citizen of the United States. He was
very cordial, and assigned me the best room in his house without a
murmur or a tip. Anxious to learn how genius is respected in its own
country, I inquired of him if he knew where the De Reszkes lived, and
what kind of people they were.

"Oh, yais," he said, "I know dem De Reszkes ferry vell already. Dey haf
one big farm back on dher hills. I gets my butter undt eggs from dhose
De Reszkes."

"Indeed!" said I, somewhat amused. "They are fine fellows, both of
them."

"Yais," he said. "I like dem vell enough. Deir butter is goot, undt deir
eggs is goot, but deir milk is alvays skimmed. I do not understandt it
vy dey shouldt skim deir milk."

"I presume," said I, "that their voices are in good condition?"

"Vell," he replied, "I dondt know much apout deir foices. I dondt effer
speak to dem much. Ven I saw dem lost dey could make demselves heardt.
But, you know, dey dondt needt deir foices much already. Dey keep a man
to sell deir butter undt eggs."

"But of course you know that they are renowned for their vocal powers,"
I suggested.

"I dondt know much apout 'em," he said, simply. "Dey go avay for a year
or two every six months, undt dey come back mit plenty ohf money ohf one
kind undt anodder, but I subbosed dey made it all oudt ohf butter undt
eggs. Vot is dose focal bowers you iss dalking apout? Iss dot some new
kindt ohf chiggens?"

I gave the landlord up as a difficult case; but the next day, when I
called at the castle of the two famous singers, I perceived why it was
that in their own land they were known chiefly as farmers.

"The De Reszkes?" said I, as I entered their castle, some ten miles out
of Warsaw, and held out my hands for the brothers to clasp.

[Illustration: IT WAS A SUPERB BUILDING]

It was a superb building, with a façade of imposing quality, and not,
as I had supposed, built of painted canvas, but of granite. To be sure,
there were romantic little balconies distributed about it for Jean to
practise on, with here and there a dark, forbidding casement which
suggested the most base of Édouard's bass notes; but generally the
castle suggested anything but the flimsy structure of a grand-opera
scene.

Their reply was instant, and I shall never forget the magnificent
harmony of their tones as they sang in unison:

"Miss Witherup--Miss Wi-hith-hith-erup?" they inquired.

"The sa-ha-ha-hay-hame!" I sang, and I haven't a bad voice at all.

"We are glad," sang Jean, in tenor tones.

"We are glad," echoed Édouard, only in bass notes, and then they joined
together in, "We are glad, we are glad, to see-hee-hee-hee you."

I wish I could write music, so that I could convey the delightful
harmonies of the moment to the reader's ear, particularly the last
phrase. If a typographical subterfuge may be employed, it went like
this:

  "To see--
            hee--
                  hee--
                        hee
                              you!"

Start on C, and go a note lower on each line, and you will get some idea
of the exquisite musical phrasing of my greeting.

"Excuse me, Jean," said Édouard, "but we are forgetting ourselves. It is
only abroad that we are singers. Here we are farmers, and not even
yodellists."

"True," said Jean. "Miss Witherup, we must apologize. We recognized in
you a matinée girl from New York, and succumbed to the temptation to try
to impress you; but here we are not operatic people. We run a farm. Do
you come to interview us as singers or farmers?"

"I've come to interview you in any old way you please," said I. "I want
to see you at home."

"Well, here we are," said Édouard, with one of his most fascinating
smiles. "Look at us."

"Tell me," said I, "how did you know I was a matinée girl? You just said
you recognized me as one."

"Easy!" laughed Jean, with a wink at his brother. "By the size of your
hat."

"Ah, but you said from the United States," I urged. "How did you know
that? Don't English matinée girls wear large hats?"

"Yes," returned Édouard, with a courteous bow, "but yours is in
exquisite taste."

Just then the telephone-bell rang, and Jean ran to the receiver. Édouard
looked a trifle uneasy, and I kept silent.

"What is it, Jean?" Édouard asked in a moment.

"It's a message from the Countess Poniatowska. She says the milk this
morning was sour. Those cows must have been at the green apples again,"
replied the tenor, moodily.

"It's very annoying," put in Édouard, impatiently. "That stage-carpenter
we brought over from the Metropolitan isn't worth a cent. I told him to
build a coop large enough for those cows to run around in, and strong
enough to keep them from breaking out and eating the apples, and this is
the third time they've done this. I really think we ought to send him
back to New York. He'd make a good target for the gunners to shoot at
over at the Navy Yard."

"What are the prospects for grand opera next year, Mr. De Reszke?" I
asked, after a slight pause.

"Pretty good," replied Jean, absently. "Of course, if the milk was sour,
we'll have to send another can over to the Countess."

"I suppose so," said Édouard; "but the thing's got to stop. I don't mind
losing a little money on this farm at the outset, but when it costs us
$1500 a quart to raise milk, I don't much like having to provide
substitute quarts, when it sours, at sixteen cents a gallon, just
because a fool of a carpenter can't build a cow-coop strong enough to
keep the beasts away from green apples."

I had to laugh quietly; for, as the daughter of a farmer, I could see
that these spoiled children of fortune knew as much about farming as I
knew about building light-houses.

"Perhaps," I suggested, "it wasn't the green apples that soured the
milk. It may have been the thunder-storm last night that did it."

[Illustration: READY FOR THE STORM]

"That can't be," said Jean, positively. "We have provided against that.
All our cows have lightning-rods on them; we bought them from a
Connecticut man, who was in here the other day, for $500 apiece, so you
see no electrical disturbance could possibly affect them. It must have
been the apples."

"I suppose I had better tell Plançon to take the extra quart over
himself at once and explain to the Countess," said Édouard.

"Plançon here too?" I cried, in sheer delight.

"Yes; but it's a secret," said Jean. "The whole troupe is here. Plançon
has charge of the cows, but nobody knows it. I wouldn't send Plançon,"
he added, reverting to Édouard's suggestion. "He'll stay over there all
day singing duets with the ladies. Why not ask Scalchi to attend to it?
She's going to town after the turnip seed this morning, and she can stop
on her way."

"All right," said Édouard; "I imagine that will be better. Plançon's got
all he can do to get the hay in, anyhow."

Édouard looked at me and laughed.

"We are hard workers here, Miss Witherup," he cried. "And I can tell you
what it is, there is no business on earth so exacting and yet so
delightful as farming."

"And you are all in it together?" I said.

"Yes. You see, last time we were all in New York we were the most
harmonious opera troupe there ever was," Édouard explained, "and it was
such a novel situation that Jean and I invited them all here for the
farming season, and have put the various branches of the work into the
hands of our guests, we two retaining executive control."

"Delightful!" I cried.

[Illustration: MELBA, THE DAIRY MAID]

"Melba has charge of the dairy, and does a great deal of satisfactory
rehearsing while churning the butter. You should hear the Spinning Song
from 'Faust' as she does it to the accompaniment of a churn.
Magnificent!"

"And you ought to see little Russitano and Cremonini rounding up the
chickens every night, while Bauermeister collects the eggs," put in
Jean; "and Plançon milking the cows after Maurel has called them home;
and that huge old chap Tamagno pushing the lawn-mower up and down the
hay-fields through the summer sun--those are sights that even the gods
rarely witness."

"It must be a picture!" I ejaculated, with enthusiasm. "And Ancona? Is
he with you?"

"He is, and he's as useful a man as ever was," said Édouard. "He is our
head ploughboy. And Calvé's vegetable garden--well, Jean and I do not
wish to seem vain, Miss Witherup, but really if there is a vegetable
garden in the world that produces cabbages that are cabbages, and
artichokes that are artichokes, and Bermuda potatoes that are Bermuda
potatoes, it is Calvé's garden right here."

"And what becomes of all the product of your farm?" I asked.

"We sell it all," said Jean. "We supply the Czar of Russia with green
pease and radishes. The Emperor of Germany buys all his asparagus from
us; and we have secured the broiled-chicken contract for the Austrian
court for the next five years."

"And you don't feel, Mr. De Reszke," I asked, "that all this interferes
with your work?"

"It is my work," replied the great tenor.

"Then why," I queried, "do you not take it up exclusively? Singing in
grand opera must be very exhausting."

"It is," sighed Jean. "It is indeed. Siegfried is harder than haying,
and I would rather shear six hundred sheep than sing Tristan; but, alas,
Édouard and I cannot afford to give it up, for if we did, what would
become of our farm? The estimated expense of producing one can of pease
on this estate, Miss Witherup, is $300, but we have to let it go at 50
cents. Asparagus costs us $14.80 a spear. A lamb chop from the De Reszke
Lambery sells for 60 cents in a Paris restaurant, but it costs us $97 a
pound to raise them. So you see why it is that my brother and I still
appear periodically in public, and also why it is that our services are
very expensive. We didn't want to take the gross receipts of opera the
last time we were in New York, and when the company went to the wall
we'd have gladly compromised for 99 cents on the dollar, had we not at
that very time received our semi-annual statement from the agent of our
farm, showing an expenditure of $800,000, as against gross receipts of
$1650."

"Sixteen hundred and thirty dollars," said Édouard, correcting his
brother. "We had to deduct $20 from our bill against Queen Victoria for
those pheasants' eggs we sent to Windsor. Three crates of them turned
out to be Shanghai roosters."

"True," said Jean. "I had forgotten."

I rose, and after presenting the singers with the usual check and my
cordial thanks for their hospitality, prepared to take my leave.

"You must have a souvenir of your visit, Miss Witherup," said Jean.
"What shall it be--a radish or an Alderney cow? They both cost us about
the same."

"Thank you," I said. "I do not eat radishes, and I have no place to keep
a cow; but if you will sing the 'Lohengrin' farewell for me, it will
rest with me forever."

The brothers laughed.

"You ask too much!" they cried. "That would be like giving you $10,000."

"Oh, very well," said I. "I'll take the will for the deed."

"We'll send you our pictures autographed," said Édouard. "How will that
do?"

"I shall be delighted," I replied, as I bowed myself out.

"You can use 'em to illustrate the interview with," Jean called out
after me.

And so I left them. I hope their anxiety over their crops will not
damage their "focal bowers," as the landlord called them, for with their
voices gone I believe their farm would prove a good deal of a burden.



HENRYK SIENKIEWICZ


On my way back from the Polish home of the De Reszkes it occurred to me
that it would be worth while to stop over a day or so and interview Mr.
Sienkiewicz. There were a great many things I desired to ask that
gentleman, and he is so comparatively unknown a personality that I
thought a word or two with him would be interesting.

I had great difficulty in finding him, for the very simple reason that,
like most other people, I did not know how to ask for him. Ordinarily I
can go into a shop and ask where the person I wish to see may chance to
dwell. But when a man has a name like Sienkiewicz, the task is not an
easy one. When it is remembered that poets in various parts of the
United States have made the name rhyme to such words as sticks, fizz,
and even vichy, it will be seen that it requires an unusually bold
person to try to speak it in a country where words of that nature are
considered as easy to pronounce as Jones or Smith would be in my own
beloved land. However, I was not to be daunted, and set about my
self-appointed task without hesitation. My first effort was to seek
information from my friends the De Reszkes, and I telegraphed them:
"Where can I find Sienkiewicz? Please answer." With their usual courtesy
the brothers replied promptly: "We don't know what it is. If it is a
patent-medicine, apply at any apothecary shop; if it is a vegetable, we
do not raise it, but we have a fine line of parsley we can send you if
there is any immediate hurry."

I suppose I ought not to give the brothers away by printing their
message of reply, but it seems to me to be so interesting that I may
hope to be forgiven if I have erred.

I next turned to the book-shops, but even there I was puzzled. Most of
the booksellers spoke French; and while I am tolerably familiar with the
idiom of the boulevards, I do not speak it fluently, and was utterly at
a loss to know what _Quo Vadis_ might be in that language. So I asked
for a copy of _With Fire and Sword_.

"Avez-vous _Avec Feu et Sabre_?" I asked of the courteous salesman.

It may have been my accent, or it may have been his stupidity. In any
event, he did not seem to understand me, so I changed the book, and
asked for _The Children of the Soil_.

"N'importe," said I. "Avez-vous _Les Enfants de la Terre_?"

"Excuse me, madame," he replied, in English, "but what do you want,
anyhow?"

"I want to know where--er--where the author of _Quo Vadis_ lives."

"Oh!" said he. "I did not quite understand you. It is so long since I
was in Boston that my American French is a trifle weak. If you will take
the blue trolley-car that goes up Ujazdowska Avenue, and ask the
conductor to let you out at the junction of the Krakowskie Przedmiescie
and the Nowy Swiat, the gendarme on the corner will be able to direct
you thither."

"Great Heavens!" I cried. "Would you mind writing that down?"

He was a very agreeable young man, and consented. It is from his
memorandum that I have copied the names he spoke with such ease, and if
it so happens that I have got them wrong, it is his fault, and not mine.

"One more thing before I go," said I, folding up the memorandum and
shoving it into the palm of my hand through the opening in my glove.
"When I get to--er--the author of _Quo Vadis's_ house, whom shall I ask
for?"

I fear the young man thought I was mad. He eyed me suspiciously for a
moment.

"That all depends upon whom you wish to see," he said.

"I want to see--er--him," said I.

"Then ask for him," he replied. "It is always well, when calling, to ask
for the person one wishes to see. If you desired to call upon Mrs.
Brown-Jones, for instance, it would be futile to go to her house and ask
for Mrs. Pink-Smith, or Mrs. Greene-Robinson."

"I know that," said I. "But what's his name?"

The young man paled visibly. He now felt certain that I was an escaped
lunatic.

"I mean, how do you pronounce it?" I hastened to add.

"Oh!" he replied, with a laugh, and visibly relieved. "Oh, that! Why,
Sienkiewicz, of course! It is frequently troublesome to those who are
not familiar with the Polish language. It is pronounced Sienkiewicz.
S-i-e-n-k, Sienk, i-e, ie, w-i-c-z, wicz--Sienkiewicz."

And so I left him, no wiser than before. He did it so fluently and so
rapidly that I failed to catch the orthoepic curves involved in this
famous name.

[Illustration: ASKED A POLICEMAN]

Armed with the slip of paper he had so kindly handed me, I sought out
and found the trolley-car; conveyed by signs rather than by word of
mouth to the conductor where I wished to alight; discovered the
gendarme, who turned out to be a born policeman, and was therefore an
Irishman, who escorted me without more ado to the house in which dwelt
the man for whom I was seeking.

"Is--er--the head of the house in?" I asked of the maid who answered my
summons. I spoke in French, and this time met with no difficulty. The
maid had served in America, and understood me at once.

[Illustration: THE AUTHOR IN HIS STUDY]

"Yes, ma'm," she replied, and immediately ushered me into the author's
den, where I discovered the great man himself scolding his secretary.

"I cannot understand why you are so careless," he was saying as I
entered. "In spite of all my orders, repeatedly given, you will not dot
your jays or cross your ells. If you do not take greater care I shall
have to get some one else who will. Write this letter over again."

Then he looked up, and perceiving me, rose courteously, and, much to my
surprise, observed in charming English:

"Miss Witherup, I presume?"

"Yes," said I, grasping his proffered hand. "How did you know?"

"I was at the De Reszkes' when your telegram reached there yesterday,"
he explained. "We thought you would be amused by the answer we sent
you."

"Oh!" said I, seeing that I had been made the victim of a joke. "It
wasn't polite, was it?"

"Oh, I don't know," he replied. "It was inspired by our confidence in
your American alertness. We were sure you would be able to find me,
anyhow, and we thought we'd indulge in a little humor, that was all."

"Ah!" I said, smiling, to show my forgiveness. "Well, you were right;
and now that I have found you, tell me, do you write or dictate your
stories?"

"I dictate them," he said.

"Wonderful!" said I. "Can you really speak all those dreadful Polish
words? They are so long and so full of unexpected consonants in curious
juxtaposition that they suggest barb-wire rather than literature to the
average American mind."

I had a sort of sneaking idea that he would find in juxtaposition a word
to match any of his own, and I spoke it with some pride. He did not seem
to notice it, however, and calmly responded:

"One gets used to everything, Miss Witherup. I have known men who could
speak Russian so sweetly that you'd never notice how full of jays the
language is," said he. "And I have heard Englishmen say that after ten
years' residence in the United States they got rather to like the
dialect of you New-Yorkers, and in some cases to speak it with some
degree of fluency themselves."

"What is your favorite novel, Mr.--er--"

"Sienkiewicz," he said, smiling over my hesitation.

"Thanks," said I, gratefully. "But never mind that. I have a toothache,
anyhow, and if you don't mind I won't--"

"Don't mention it," he said.

"I won't," I answered. "What is your favorite novel?"

"_Quo Vadis_," he replied, promptly, and without any conceit whatever.
He was merely candid.

"I don't mean of your own. I mean of other people's," said I.

"Oh!" said he. "I didn't understand; still, my answer must be the same.
My favorite novel in Polish is, of course, my own; but of the novels
that others have published, I think _Quo Vadis_, by Jeremiah Curtin, is
my favorite. Of course it is only a translation, but it is good."

I did not intend to be baffled, however, so I persisted.

"Very well, Mr.--er--You," said I. "What is your favorite novel in
Chinese?"

"My favorite novel has not yet been translated into Chinese," he
replied, calmly, and I had to admit myself defeated.

"Do you like _Vanity Fair_?" I asked.

"I have never been there," said he, simply.

"What do you think of Pickwick?" I asked.

"That is a large question," he replied, with some uneasiness, I thought.
"But as far as my impressions go, I think he was guilty."

I passed the matter over.

"Are you familiar with American literature?" I asked.

"Somewhat," said he. "I have watched the popular books in your country,
and have read some of them."

"And what books are they?" I asked.

"Well, _Quo Vadis_ and _The Prisoner of Zenda_," he replied. "They are
both excellent."

"I suppose you never read Conan Doyle," I put in, with some sarcasm. A
man who is familiar with what is popular in American literature ought to
have read Conan Doyle.

"Yes," he replied, "I have read Conan Doyle. I've read it through three
times, but I think Dr. Holmes did better work than that. His _Autograph
on the Breakfast Table_ was a much better novel than Conan Doyle, and
his poem, 'The Charge of the Light Brigade,' is a thing to be
remembered. Still, I liked Conan Doyle," he added.

"Everybody does," I said.

"Naturally. It is a novel that suggests life, blood, insight, and all
that," said my host. "But of all the books you Americans have written
the best is Mr. Thackeray's estimate of your American boulevardier. It
was named, if I remember rightly, _Tommie Fadden_. I read that with
much interest, and I do not think that Mr. Thackeray ever did anything
better, although his story of _Jane Eyre_ was very good indeed. Fadden
was such a perfect representation of your successful American, and in
reading it one can picture to one's self all the peculiar qualities of
your best society. Really, I am grateful to Mr. Thackeray for his
_Tommie Fadden_, and when you return to New York I hope you will tell
him so, with my compliments."

I looked at my watch and observed that the hour was growing late.

"I am returning to Paris," said I, "so I have very little time left.
Still, I wish to ask you two questions. First, did you find it hard to
make a name for yourself?"

"Very," said he. "It has taken sixteen hours a day for twenty years."

"Then why didn't you choose an easier name, like Lang, or Johnson?" I
asked.

"What is your other question?" he said, in response. "When I make a
name, I make a name that will be remembered. Sienkiewicz will be
remembered, whether it can be pronounced without rehearsal or not. What
is your other question?"

"Are you going to read from your own works in America, or not? Dr.
Doyle, Dr. Watson, Anthony Hope, Matthew Arnold, and Richard Le
Gallienne have done it. How about yourself?" I said.

Mr. Sienkiewicz sighed.

"I wanted to, but I can't," said he. "Nobody will have me."

"Nonsense," said I. "Have you? They'll all have you."

[Illustration: "ONE MUST BE INTRODUCED"]

"But," he added, "how can I? One must be introduced, and how can
chairmen of the evening introduce me?"

"They have intelligence," said I. And some of them have, so I was quite
right.

"Yes, but they have no enunciation or memory," said he. "I can explain
forever the pronunciation of my name, but your American chairman can
never remember how it is pronounced. I shall _not_ go."

And so I departed from the house of Mr. Sienkiewicz.

I can't really see why, when he was making a name for himself, he did
not choose one that people outside of his own country could speak
occasionally without wrecking their vocal chords--one like Boggs, for
instance.



GENERAL WEYLER


Upon returning to my London lodgings I was greatly rejoiced to find
awaiting me there a cable message from the War Department at Washington,
saying that if I would visit General Weyler at Madrid, and secure from
him a really frank expression of his views concerning our Spanish
imbroglio, the President would be very glad to give me a commission as
First Assistant Vivandière to the army of the Philippines, with rank of
Captain. I saw at once that in endeavoring to secure an interview with
this particular celebrity I ran risks far greater than any I had yet
encountered--greater even than those involved in my visit to Mr. Caine
at his Manx home. It is my custom, however, to go wherever duty may
call, and inasmuch as my sex has, since the days of Joan of Arc, secured
military recognition nowhere except in the ranks of the Salvation Army,
I resolved to accept the commission, and notified the War Department
accordingly. Fortunately my style of beauty is of the Spanish type, and,
furthermore, when at boarding-school, many years ago, in Brooklyn, I had
studied the Spanish tongue, so that disguise was not difficult. I had
seen Carmencita dance at a private residence in New York, and had
therefore some slight knowledge of how a full-fledged señorita should
enter a room, so that, on the whole, I went to Madrid tolerably
confident that I could beard the great Spanish lion in his den, and
escape unscathed.

Purchasing a lace mantilla and a scarlet scarf about eight feet long, my
feet covered with red slippers, and a slight suggestion of yellow silk
hosiery peeping from beneath a satin skirt of the length prescribed by
the rainy-day club, and armed with a pack of cards and a pair of
castanets, I ventured forth upon my perilous mission. Nothing of moment
occurred on the journey. I did not don my Spanish dress until I had left
England behind--indeed, I had reached the Pyrenees before I arrayed
myself in my costume, although I was most anxious to do so. It was,
after all, so fetching.

Once in Spain I had no difficulty at all, and in fact made myself very
popular with the natives by telling most charming fortunes for them, and
dancing the armadillo and opadildock with a verve which pleased them and
surprised even myself. I have always known myself to be a resourceful
creature, but I had never dreamed that among my reserve accomplishments
the agility and grace of a premiere danseuse could be numbered.

[Illustration: "A RATHER STUNNING BANDERILLO OPENED THE DOOR"]

It was Friday evening when I reached Madrid, and Saturday morning,
bright and early, I called at General Weyler's house. A rather stunning
banderillo opened the front door and inquired my business.

"Tell General Weyler," said I, "that Señorita Gypsy del Castillanos de
Sierra de Santiago, of Newark, New Jersey, wishes to speak with him on
affairs of national importance."

[Illustration: IN HIDING]

I had resolved upon a bold stroke, and it worked to a charm. The
General, who is mortally afraid of assassins, had been listening from
his usual hiding-place behind the hat-rack. Pushing the hat-rack from
before him, he stepped out into the hall, and, standing between me and
the door, inquired threateningly if Newark, New Jersey, was not one of
the dependencies of the United States. I answered him in fluent Spanish
that it was, told him that I had lived there through no fault of my own
for three years, had had to fly before a mob because of my pro-Spanish
sympathies, and, travelling night and day, had come to lay before him a
complete sketch of the fortifications of Newark, together with the
ground-plan of Harlem, which, as I informed him, he would have to take
before he could possibly hope to place Washington in a state of siege. I
also gave him a chart showing by what waterways a Spanish fleet could
approach and reduce Niagara Falls to ashes--a blow which would strike
England and the United States with equal force, without necessarily
altering the _status quo ante_ with Great Britain.

The General, like the quick-witted soldier that he is, became interested
at once. The lowering aspect of his brow cleared like the summer clouds
before an August sun, and, with an urbanity which I had not expected,
invited me to step into his sanctum. I accepted with alacrity. I cannot
say that it was a pleasant room; it was in military disorder. Machetes
and murderous-looking pistols were everywhere, and the chair to which I
was assigned was a pleasant little relic of the Inquisition, and was so
arranged that had the General so wished, the arms holding hidden iron
spikes would fold about me at any moment and give me a hug I should not
forget in a hurry. Added to this was a series of Kodak pictures of all
the atrocities of which he was guilty while in Havana. These were framed
in one massive oaken frieze running from one end of the room to the
other, and labelled on a gilt tablet with black letters, "Snap Shots I
Have Snapped, or Pleasant Times in Cuba."

This demonstrates that Weyler is one of those rarely fortunate people
who take pleasure and pride in the profession they are called upon to
follow.

"General," said I, once we were seated, "did it ever occur to you that
if you were two feet shorter, and clean-shaven, with a different nose
and a smaller mouth, and a shorter chin and a bigger brow, and less
curve to your arms when you walk, you would resemble Napoleon
Bonaparte?"

The General was evidently pleased by my compliment.

"Do you think so?" said he, with a smile which absolutely froze my
soul.

"I do," I said, meekly, and then I began to weep. I was really unnerved,
and began to wish I had never accepted the commission. He was so
frightfully cold-blooded, and toyed with a stiletto of razor-like
sharpness so carelessly that I was truly terrified.

"Don't cry, Gypsy," he said. "War is a terrible thing, but we will beat
those Yankee pigs yet." This, of course, was before peace was declared.

The remark nerved me up again. He believed in me, and that was half the
battle.

"Oh, I hope so, General," I sobbed. "But how? Poor old Spain has nothing
to fight with."

"Spain has me, señorita!" he cried, passionately. "And I single-handed
will give them battle."

"But you do not know the country, General," said I. "Don't risk your
life, I beg of you--our only hope! I haven't a doubt that in a fight
with pigs you will win; but, General, the United States is so vast, so
complicated; it is full of pitfalls!"

I could see that I had him worked up.

[Illustration: "I AM TOO OLD A SPANIARD TO BE CAUGHT LIKE THAT"]

"Señorita," he cried, "fear not for Weyler. Think you that I do not know
America! Ha--ha! I know its every inch. And let me tell you this: it is
because I have devoted hour after hour, day after day, night after
night, to the study of the United States, and, best of all, they do not
suspect it over there. Why? Because of my strategy! When I wished to
learn where was situated the city of Ohio did I send to New York for a
map? Not I. I knew that if I bought a map in New York, the house of
which I bought it would advertise me as one of their patrons. I am too
old a Spaniard to be caught like that." Here his voice sank to a
whisper, and, leaning forward, he added, impressively: "I sent for a
railway time-table. Figures express to my mind what lines or maps could
not express to others. What did I learn from the New York Central
time-table, for instance? This: Ohio is twelve hours from New York.
Good, say you--but what does that mean? Travelling at the rate of four
miles an hour, Ohio is just forty-eight miles from New York city!
Forty-eight miles! Pah! By forced marches our troops could cover that in
ten days."

The General snapped his fingers.

"But why Ohio, General?" I asked.

"The most important city in the American Union," he replied. "Ohio
captured, we have the home of McKinley. Ohio captured, we have captured
eighty per cent. of the Yankees' public officials. Your Minister of
State comes from there; all the vocal powers of the Senate; all their
political resource. Ah!" he cried, ecstatically, rubbing his hands
together, "they little know me! Let them destroy our navy. Let them take
the Philippines. Let them blockade Cuba. Let them do what they please.
Spain will wait. Spain will wait a day, a week, a month, a year, a
decade, a century--but when least expected, a new fleet, built
secretly, a new army, recruiting now on the D. Q." (this is a
translation) "will dash into New York Harbor, up the Missouri River,
through the Raritan Canal, and Ohio will lie at our mercy."

"And then?" said I, overwhelmed.

"We'll hold Ohio until the pig gives back the Philippines and Cuba,"
said the General, suavely.

"Now, General," said I, pursing my lips, "your plan is a mighty good
one, and I hope you'll try to put it through. But let me tell you one
thing--your time-tables have misled you. In the first place, any part of
Ohio worth talking of is eighteen hours from New York by rail, not
twelve. New York Harbor is mined all the way from Fortress Monroe to the
Golden Gate; and you can't get to Ohio by a dash up the Missouri River
and the Raritan Canal, because those two waterways above Los Angeles are
not navigable. It is very evident that you, in studying a railroad map,
have forgotten that they are designed to advertise railroads, and have
no geographical significance whatsoever."

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"Perfectly," said I. "I have lived in the country, as I have told you,
for three years, and I know what I am talking about."

"Then what shall I do to attack Ohio?" he demanded.

"Well," said I, "the question is not easy to answer, but I think if you
would first capture Hoboken--"

"Yes," he said, making a note of my suggestion.

"And then take your transports, guarded by your fighting-ships, out as
far as Rahway--" I continued.

"I have it here," said he, putting it down.

"Land your troops there, and send 150,000 south to Bangor, and 100,000
north to Louisville, Kentucky, with a mere handful of sharp-shooters to
overawe the Seminoles at Seattle, and then let these troops close
in"--said I.

"I understand," said he, enthusiastically.

"If you will do that," I put in, "you'll come as near to capturing Ohio
as any man can come."

The General rose up and excitedly paced the floor.

"Señorita!" he said, at length, "you have done your country a service.
But for you my plans would all have fallen through, because based upon
the unreliable information put forth upon an ignorant people by corrupt
railway officials. I have studied with care every railway map issued in
the United States for ten years past. I had supposed that Ohio could be
reached by way of the Missouri and the Raritan. I had supposed that to
bring about the fall of Nebraska where their immortal General--for I
admit that those pigs have occasionally produced a man--O'Bryan lives,
it could be attacked by a land and sea force simultaneously, should the
land forces approach the city from the Chicago side, and the fleet pass
the forts at Galveston and sail up Chesapeake Bay without further
molestation. I see, from what you have told me, that these maps are
_falsus in uno_ anyhow. I am wondering now if they are not _falsus in
omnibus_."

"I shouldn't be surprised if they were even _falsus in trolleybus_," I
put in, with a feeble attempt at humor. "Certainly they have misled you,
General."

"But," he cried, angrily, "I am not to be thwarted. My ultimate idea
remains unchanged. On to Ohio is my watchword. When that falls, the rest
will be easy. Thanks to the information you have given, I now know how
it may be done, and I assure you, señorita, that you will not be
forgotten in the--ah--the--" here his sallow features grew animated, and
a flush of real pleasure crossed them as he finished--"in
the--ah--reorganization."

"There is to be a reorganization, then?" I asked.

"Yes," he answered. "That is certain, and, on the whole, it is good
that there is to be. People are always pleased with that which is novel,
and up to this time there have been no kings on the throne bearing the
name of Valeriano. _I_ think Valeriano the First will make a very pretty
autograph. Don't you?"

"Indeed I do!" I cried. "Write one for me, won't you?"

But the sagacious warrior merely winked his eye, and by a swish of his
machete courteously gave me to understand that the audience was over.

I immediately cabled to Washington the results of my interview, and, by
the time I got back to London, had the pleasure of reading in the
newspapers that the United States Senate had confirmed my appointment of
First Assistant Vivandière to the Department of Manila, with the rank of
captain, for services rendered, wherefore I have given up the pleasant
task of interviewing celebrities for the sterner duties of war.

I was glad also to learn that the Administration, acting upon my
advices, had taken steps to make Ohio impregnable by sea in any event.
The Gibraltar of American politics should not be allowed to fall into
the hands of a ruthless Castilian like Weyler, and, frankly, whatever
else our government will permit, I do not think it will ever do this,
and as long as we possess Ohio we need have no fear that we shall be
governed by foreign people.

THE END



By GEORGE DU MAURIER


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