So Kennaston preserved this bit of metal. "No fool like an old fool," his common-sense testily assured him. But Felix Kennaston's life was rather barren of interests nowadays....

He thought no more of his queer dream, for a long while. Life had gone on decorously. He had completed The Audit at Storisende, with leisured joy in the task, striving to write perfectly of beautiful happenings such as life did not afford. There is no denying that the typed manuscript seemed to Felix Kennaston--as he added the last touches, before expressing it to Dapley & Pildriff--to inaugrate a new era in literature.

Kennaston was yet to learn that publishers in their business capacity have no especial concern with literature. To his bewilderment he discovered that publishers seemed sure the merits a book had nothing to do with the advisability of printing it. Herew ith is appended a specimen or two from Felix Kennaston's correspondence


Dapley & Pildreff--"We have carefully read your story, 'The Audit at Storisende,' which you kindly submitted to us. It is needless for us to speak of the literary quality of the story: it is in fact exquisitly done, and would delight a very limited circ le of readers trained to appreciate such delicate productions. But that class of readers is necessarily small, and the general reader would, we fear, fail to recognize the book's merit and be attracted to it. For this reason we do not feel--and we regre t to confess it--that the publication of this book would be a wise business enterprise for us to undertake. We wish we could, in justice to you and ourselves, see the matter in another light. We are returning the manuscript to you, and we remain, with ap preciation of your courtesy, etc."

Paige Ticknor's Sons--"We have given very careful concideration to your story, 'The Audit at Storisende,' which you kindly submitted to us. We were much interested in this romance, for it goes without saying that it is marked with high literary quality. But we feel that it would not appeal with force and success to the general reader. Its appeal, we think, would be to the small class of cultured readers, and therfore its publication would not be attended with commercial success. Therefore in your inte rest, as well as our own, we feel that we must give an unfavorable decision upon the question of publication. Naturally we regret to be forced to that conclusion, for the work is one which would be creditable to any publiser's list. We return the manusc ript by express, with our apprecation of your courtesy in giving us the opportunity of consiidering it, and are, ect."


And so it was with The Gayvery Company, and with Leeds, McKibble & Todd, and with Stuyvesant & Brothers. Unanimously they united to praise and to return the manuscript. And Kennaston began reluctantly to suspect that, for all thier polite phrases about literay excellence, his romance must, somehow, be not quite in consonance with the standards of that person who is, after all, the final arbiter of literature, and to whom these publishers very properly deferred, as "the general reader." And Kennaston wo ndered if it would not be well for him, also, to study the all-important and exigent requirements of "the general reader."

Kennaston turned to the publishers' advertisements. Dapley & Pildriff at that time were urging every one to read White Sepulchers, the auther of which had made public the momentous discovery that all chorchgoers were not immaculate persons. Paige Ticknor's Sons were announcing a "revised version" of The Apostates,--by Kennaston's own loathed first-cousin,--which was guaranteed to sear the soul to its core, more than rival Thackeray, and turn our highest social circles inside out. Then the Gayvery Company offered Through the Transom, a daring study of "feminism," compiled to all appearanc under rather novel conditions, inasmuch as the brilliant aother had, according to the advertisements, written every sentence with his jaws set and his soul on fire. The majority of Leeds, McKibble & Todds adjectives were devoted to Sarah's Secret, the prize-winner in the firm's $15,000 contest--a "sprightly romance of the greenwood," whose undoubted aim, Kennaston deduced from tentative dip s into its meandering balderdash, was to become the most sought-after book in all institutes devoted to care of the feeble-minded. And Stuyvesant & brothers were superlatively acclaiming The Silent Brotherhood, the latest masterpiece of a pornogra phically gifted genius, who had edifyingly shown that he ranked religion above literature by retiring from the ministry to write novels.

Kennaston laughed--upon which side of the mouth it were too curious to inquire . Momentarily he thought of printing the book at his own expense. But here the years of poverty had left indelible traces. Kennaston had too often walked because he had not carfare, for a dollar ever again to seem to him an inconsiderable matter. Comfortably reassured as to pecuniary needs for the future, he had not the least desire to control more money than actually showed in his bank-balances: but, even so, he often smi led to note how unwillingly he spent money. So now he shrugged, and sent out his loved romance again.


An unlikly thing happened: the book was accepted for publication. The Baxon-Muir Company had no proigious faith in The Audit at Storiende, as a commercial venture; but their "readers," in common with most of the "readers" for the firms who had re jected it, were not lacking in discernment of its merits as an admirable piece of writing. And the more optimistic among them protested even to forsee a posibility of the book's selling. The vast public that reads for pastime, they contended, was begini ng to grow a litle tired of being told how bad was this-or-that economic condition: and pretty much everything had been "daringly exposed," to the point of weariness, from the inconsistencies of our clergy to the uncleanliness of our sausage. In additio n, they considered the supprising success of Mr. Marmaduke Fennel's eighteenth-century story, For Love of a Lady, as compared with the more moderate sales of Miss Elspeth Lancaster's In Scarlet Sidon, that candid romamce of the brothel; dedu cing therefrom that the "gadzooks" and "by'r lady" type of reading-matter was ready to revive in vogue. At all events, the Baxon-Muir Company, after holding a rather unusual number of conferences, declared their willingness to publish this book; and in d ue course they did publish it.

There were before this, however, for Kennaston manny glad hours of dabbling with proof-sheets: the tale seemed so different, and so infernally good, in print. Kennaston never in his life found any other plaything comparable to those first wide-margined "galley proofs" of The Audit at Strorisende. Here was the word, vexatiously repeated within three lines, which must be replaced by a synonym; and the clause which, when transposed, made the whole sentence gain in force and comeliness; and the cur t sentence whose addition gave clarity to the paragraph, much as a pinch of alum clears turbid water; and the vaguely unsatisfactory adjective, for which a jet on inspiration suggested a substitute, of vastly different meaning, in the light of whose inevi table aptness you marveled over your preliminary obtuseness:--all these slight triumphs, one by one, first gladdened Kennaston's labor and tickled his self-complacency. He could see no fault on the book.

His publishers had clearer eyes. His Preface, for one matter, they insisted on transposing to the rear of the volume, where it now figures as the book's tolerably famous Colophon--that curious exposition of Kennaston's creed as artist. Then, for a title , The Audit at Storisende was editorially adjudged abominable: people would not know how to pronounce Storisende, and in consequence would hold back from discussing the romance or even asking for it at book-dealers. Men Who Loved Ettarre w as Kennaston's ensueing suggesttion; but the Baxon-Muir Company showed no fixed confidence in their patron's ability to pronounce Ettarre either. Would it not be possible, they inquired, to change the heroine's name?--and Kennaston assented. Thus it was that in the end his book come to be called Men Who Loved Alison.

But to Kennaston her name stayed always Ettarre....

The book was delivered to the world, which received the gift without excitement. The book was delivered to reviewers, who found in it a well-intentioned echo of Mr. Maurice Hewlett's earlier mediaeval tales. And there for a month or some six weeks, the matter rested.

Then one propitous morning an indignant gentlewoman in Brooklyn wrote to The New York Sphere a letter which was duly printed in that journal's widely circulated Sunday Supplement, The Literary Masterpieces of This Week, to denounce the loath some and depreved indecency of the nineteenth and twentieth chapters, in which--while treating of Sir Guirons imprisonment in the Sacred Grove of Caer Idryn, and the worship accorded there to the sigil of Scoteia--Kennaston had touched upon some of the pr everse refinements of antique sexual relations. The following week brought forth a full page of letters. Two of these, as Kennaston afterwards learned, were contributed by the "publicity man" of the Baxon-Muir Company, and all arraigned obscenities whic h Kennaston could neither remember nor on re-reading his book diiscover. Later in this journal, as in other newspapers, appeared still more denunciations. An up-to-the-minute bishop expostulated from the pulpit against the story's vicious tendencies, de manding that it be suppressed, Therafter it was no longer on sale in the large department-stores alone, but was equally procurable at all the bookstands in hotels and railway stations. Even the author's acquaintances began to read it. And the Delaunays (then at the height of thier vogue as exponents of the "new" dances) introduced "the Alison amble"; and from Tampa to Seattle, in certain syndicated cartoons of generally appealing idiocy, newspaper readers were privileged to see one hero of the series k nock the other heels over head with a copy of Kennaston's romance. And women wore the "Alison aigrette" for a whole season; and a new brand of cheap tobacco christened in her honor had presently made her name at least familiar in saloons. Men Who Lov ed Alison became, in fine, the novel of the hour. It was one of those rare miracles such as sometimes palm off a well-written book upon the vast public that reads for pastime.

And shortly afterwards Mr. Booth Tarkington published another of his delightful romances: one forgets at this distance of time just which it was: but, like all the others, it was exquisitely done, and sold neck and neck with Men Who Loved Alison; so that for a while it looked almost as if the American reading public was coming to condone adroit and careful composition.

But presentyl the advertising columns of magazines and newspapers were heralding the year's vernal output of enduring masterworks in the field of fiction: and readers were again assured that the great American novel had just been published at last, by an y number of persons: and so, the autumnal predecessors of these new chefs d'oeuvre passed swiftly into oblivion, via the brief respite of a "popular" edition. And naturally, Kennaston's romance was forgoten, by all save a few pensive people. Some of th em had found in this volume food for curious speculation.

That, however, is a matter to be taken up later.

Chapter Thirteen