“My dear young lady, so many people call, and leave so many poems, and each poem is so like the last, that really you must pardon me, but my head gets confused.”
“Taken with a kind of swimming, sir?” here burst in Poppy. “I suppose it is a sort of Sarah case over again.”
The editor stared rather fiercely at this unexpected interruption, deigned no reply whatever to Poppy, and continued his conversation with Jasmine.
“I am sorry that I have forgotten both you and your poem—it is, doubtless, docketed with others to be returned in due course—I am sorry, but of course I could not use it—did you expect me to? Why, the name alone—an ‘Ode to Adversity,’ was quite sufficient to make me decline it.”
“But, but,” said Jasmine, coloring crimson and very nearly crying, “I was told by a lady who reads your paper that the name was just what you like. She said that your paper was called by a melancholy name, and of course you wanted melancholy subjects.”
The editor smiled in a very bland, though disagreeable manner—“The Downfall,” he said; “we chose that title for political reasons.” Here he sounded a gong. “Jones,” as an attendant came in, “look in pigeon-hole D, and put into an envelope for this young lady some verses entitled an ‘Ode to Adversity.’ Sorry I can do nothing more for you this morning, Miss Mainwaring. Good morning—good morning.”
When the two girls got out on the landing Jasmine thrust her rejected poem into Poppy’s hand.
“Put it into your pocket, Poppy,” she said, “and don’t on any account let me see it—I must try to forget it, or my courage will go. Evidently, Poppy, names go by contraries. I wrote some dismal papers on purpose for The Downfall; I will now offer them to a magazine which has a cheerful title.”
“Look there, Miss Jasmine,” said Poppy, when they got into the street. “Right there, facing us at the other side, is what I call a pleasant magazine—it has lots of pictures, for see, it’s pressed up to the window wide open, and it’s called The Joy-bell—I’m a great deal more taken with that sound than with the sound of The Downfall.”
“So am I, too,” said Jasmine, the April cloud quickly leaving her expressive face—“I’m so glad I have you with me, dear Poppy; I was feeling so low just now that I should never have noticed the office of The Joy-bell—it has a very nice, high-class sound, and I should say was a more attractive magazine than even a shilling one. We’ll go there at once, Poppy, and be sure you support me, and say ‘Yes’ when I look at you; and if I happen to frown in your direction, you’ll know that I want you to help me not to accept too low a price. Now come, Poppy; I feel that destiny leads my steps to the office of The Joy-bell.”
The editor of The Joy-bell happened also to be disengaged, and after keeping the young aspirant for literary fame waiting for about a quarter of an hour, consented to see her and her companion.