Vain Fortune eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 171 pages of information about Vain Fortune.
For a few seconds he scanned the literary horizon of his mind.  ‘No, no!’ he said bitterly, ’this is the play I was born to write.  No other subject is possible; I can think of nothing else.  This is all I can feel or see.’  It was the second act that now defied his efforts.  It had once seemed clear and of exquisite proportions; now no second act seemed possible:  the subject did not seem to admit of a second act; and, clasping his forehead with his hands, he strove to think it out.

Any distraction from the haunting pain, now become chronic, is welcome, and he answers with a glad ‘Come in!’ the knock at the door.

‘I’m sorry,’ said Mrs. Bentley, ’for disturbing you, but I should like to know what fish you would like for your dinner—­soles, turbot, or whiting?  Immersed in literary problems as you are, I daresay these details are very prosaic; but I notice that later in the day——­’

Hubert laughed.  ’I find such details far more agreeable than literature.  I can do nothing with my play.’

‘Aren’t you getting on this morning?’

‘No, not very well.’

‘What do you think of turbot?’

‘I think turbot very nice.  Emily likes turbot.’

‘Very well, then.  I’ll order turbot.’

As Mrs. Bentley was about to withdraw, she said, ’I’m sorry you are not getting on.  What stops you now?  That second act?’

’Come, you are not very busy.  I’ll read you the act as it stands, and then tell you how I think it ought to be altered.  Nothing helps me so much as to talk it over; not only does it clear up my ideas, but it gives me desire to write.  My best work has always been done in that way.’

’I really don’t think I can stay.  If Emily heard that you had been reading your play to me——­’

’I’m tired of hearing of what Emily thinks.  I can put up with a good deal, and I know that it is my duty to show much forbearance; but there is a limit to all things!’ This was the first time Mrs. Bentley had seen him show either excitement or anger; she hardly knew him in this new aspect.  In a moment the blonde calm of the Saxon had dropped from him, and some Celtic emphasis appeared in his speech.  ‘This hysterical girl,’ he continued, ’is a sore burden.  Tears about this, and sighs about that; fainting fits because I happen to take a chair next to yours.  You may depend upon it our lives are already the constant gossip of the neighbourhood.’

’I know it is very annoying; and I, I assure you, receive my share.  Every look and word is misinterpreted.  I must not stay here.’

’You must not go!  I really want you.  I assure you that your opinion will be of value.’

’But think of Emily.  It will make her wretched if she hears of it.  You do not know how it affects her.  The slightest thing!  You hardly see anything; I see it all.’

’But there is no sense in it; it is pure madness.  I’m writing a play, trying to work out a most difficult problem, and am in want of an audience, and I ask you if you will be kind enough to let me read you the act, and you cannot listen to it because—­because—­yes, that’s just it—­because!’

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Vain Fortune from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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