Chronicles of Clovis HTML version
Clovis sat in the hottest zone but two of a Turkish bath, alternately inert in statuesque
contemplation and rapidly manoeuvring a fountain-pen over the pages of a note-book.
"Don't interrupt me with your childish prattle," he observed to Bertie van Tahn, who had
slung himself languidly into a neighbouring chair and looked conversationally inclined;
"I'm writing deathless verse."
Bertie looked interested.
"I say, what a boon you would be to portrait painters if you really got to be notorious as a
poetry writer. If they couldn't get your likeness hung in the Academy as 'Clovis Sangrail,
Esq., at work on his latest poem,' they could slip you in as a Study of the Nude or
Orpheus descending into Jermyn Street. They always complain that modern dress
handicaps them, whereas a towel and a fountain-pen--"
"It was Mrs. Packletide's suggestion that I should write this thing," said Clovis, ignoring
the bypaths to fame that Bertie van Tahn was pointing out to him. "You see, Loona
Bimberton had a Coronation Ode accepted by the NEW INFANCY, a paper that has been
started with the idea of making the NEW AGE seem elderly and hidebound. 'So clever of
you, dear Loona,' the Packletide remarked when she had read it; 'of course, anyone could
write a Coronation Ode, but no one else would have thought of doing it.' Loona protested
that these things were extremely difficult to do, and gave us to understand that they were
more or less the province of a gifted few. Now the Packletide has been rather decent to
me in many ways, a sort of financial ambulance, you know, that carries you off the field
when you're hard hit, which is a frequent occurrence with me, and I've no use whatever
for Loona Bimberton, so I chipped in and said I could turn out that sort of stuff by the
square yard if I gave my mind to it. Loona said I couldn't, and we got bets on, and
between you and me I think the money's fairly safe. Of course, one of the conditions of
the wager is that the thing has to be published in something or other, local newspapers
barred; but Mrs. Packletide has endeared herself by many little acts of thoughtfulness to
the editor of the SMOKY CHIMNEY, so if I can hammer out anything at all approaching
the level of the usual Ode output we ought to be all right. So far I'm getting along so
comfortably that I begin to be afraid that I must he one of the gifted few."
"It's rather late in the day for a Coronation Ode, isn't it?" said Bertie.
"Of course," said Clovis; "this is going to be a Durbar Recessional, the sort of thing that
you can keep by you for all time if you want to."
"Now I understand your choice of a place to write it in," said Bertie van Tahn, with the
air of one who has suddenly unravelled a hitherto obscure problem; "you want to get the