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Buchen, Walther (ed.) / The Wisconsin magazine
Vol. VII, No. 7 (April 1910)

Corbett, Elizabeth F.
The woman answers,   pp. 9-12

Page 10

  "Go as far as you like," he said en-
couragingly. "If you empty my pockets
I'll ask them to charge it."
  "Of course !" she exclaimed. "I for-
got that I wasn't dealing with one of these
traditional live-in-a-garret, pay-for-your-
meals-if-you-can literary men. I forgot
that I was with David King Allen, to
tell the honest truth.  I don't doubt
your financial soundness, David, and even
if it weren't for that, there's always the
debt that the world owes to genius to fall
back upon. These people wouldn't let you
be taken off to jail for sponging a meal.
Sweetbreads with lobster sauce, please, as-
paragus, grape fruit salad. The waiter
reads your books when his day's work is
over, David; the proprietor's wife takes
three volumes of Allen to the country
with her in the summer. If those two fat
ladies at the table over there knew whom
I was sitting opposite, they think I was
the most enviable woman in America."
  "They might think you treated me
shamefully," he suggested.
   "I do," she replied. "And it's mere
professional jealousy. I have to cultivate
professional jealousy or no one would
know I had the artistic temperament, I
pay my bills so regularly. You're one of
the unquestioned successes of the day, and
I'm not successful at all, so I have to
say that you're bad art, in order to jus-
tify my own existence. Oh, by the way,
I1 haven't told you what happened to me
yesterday. Halliday Brothers rejected my
last novel."
   "Halliday   Brothers  rejected  your
 novel !" he exclaimed. "Why, how did
 that happen?"
   "They think they don't make enough
 money off my books," she said, dressing
 her salad. "Isn't it dreadful how art is
 getting commercialized ?"
   "You're going to offer it somewhere
 else?" he asked.
   "I most certainly am. The better part
 of a year's work, and all that perfectly
 good typewriting-"
   "I hate to see this happen to you,
 Clarissa," he said. "You'd be among the
 six best sellers if it wasn't for those ab-
 surd literary ideals of yours."
  "Ideals are absolutely necessary," she
retorted. "One has to have something to
fail to live up to. But if I were you,
  "If you were I ?" he echoed.
  "Why, on the menu right under where
it says Apollinaris, the Queen of Table
Waters, I'd run, 'Have you read "The
Open Question," David King Allen's lat-
est success?"'
  "Will you have anything to drink ?"
said Allen. "I notice that your selection
isn't actually from the menu."
  "Just Apollinaris. It's very good to
work on."
  "So I've found," he said dryly. "But
you're not going to work this afternoon.
I'm going to telephone for a spider, and
we're going to drive all the afternoon. I
want to get the clinkers out of my sys-
  "I wouldn't mind having them taken
out of my own," she said, with a wry
face. "Oh, the ideas of novelists on the
subject of humorous women!"
  "To be intensely original, do you think
that women as a class are humorous ?"
asked Allen.
  "Are women humorous? My dear Da-
vid, for a woman who thinks at all, there
are only two courses open, humor and
suicide-and suicide is such a messy busi-
   "I should think that lovely woman.
who knows how to make crying pretty and
mourning attractive, would have found
some way to get over that objection. But
I'm not afraid of your ever trying any
experiments, Clarissa. You always see the
funny side of things, don't you?"
   "I'm afraid I always do," said Clarissa
 slowly. "I laughed at my own father's
 funeral, I  remember.   Mother hadn't
 slept for nights, and the church was stuffy,
 and all of a sudden, in the midst of
 things, I looked at her, and there she was,
 bolt upright, and sound asleep. And I
 laughed. Why," she said with a smile,
 "even my own death will be rather a su-
 premely funny thing. It will be such a
 joke on me."
   "Will anything ever get through that
 shell of yours, Clarissa?" he asked.

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