Davis' Short Stories Vol. 1 HTML version
The Log Of The "Jolly Polly"
Temptation came to me when I was in the worst possible position to resist it.
It is a way temptation has. Whenever I swear off drinking invariably I am invited to an
ushers' dinner. Whenever I am rich, only the highbrow publications that pay the least,
want my work. But the moment I am poverty-stricken the MANICURE GIRL'S
MAGAZINE and the ROT AND SPOT WEEKLY spring at me with offers of a dollar a
word. Temptation always is on the job. When I am down and out temptation always is up
and at me.
When first the Farrells tempted me my vogue had departed. On my name and "past
performances" I could still dispose of what I wrote, but only to magazines that were just
starting. The others knew I no longer was a best-seller. All the real editors knew it. So did
the theatrical managers.
My books and plays had flourished in the dark age of the historical-romantic novel. My
heroes wore gauntlets and long swords. They fought for the Cardinal or the King, and
loved a high-born demoiselle who was a ward of the King or the Cardinal, and with
feminine perversity, always of whichever one her young man was fighting. With people
who had never read Guizot's "History of France," my books were popular, and for me
made a great deal of money. This was fortunate, for my parents had left me nothing save
expensive tastes. When the tastes became habits, the public left me. It turned to white-
slave and crook plays, and to novels true to life; so true to life that one felt the author
must at one time have been a masseur in a Turkish bath.
So, my heroines in black velvet, and my heroes with long swords were "scrapped." As
one book reviewer put it, "To expect the public of to-day to read the novels of Fletcher
Farrell is like asking people to give up the bunny hug and go back to the lancers."
And, to make it harder, I was only thirty years old.
It was at this depressing period in my career that I received a letter from Fairharbor,
Massachusetts, signed Fletcher Farrell. The letter was written on the business paper of the
Farrell Cotton Mills, and asked if I were related to the Farrells of Duncannon, of the
County Wexford, who emigrated to Massachusetts in 186o. The writer added that he had
a grandfather named Fletcher and suggested we might be related. From the handwriting
of Fletcher Farrell and from the way he ill-treated the King's English I did not feel the ties
of kinship calling me very loud. I replied briefly that my people originally came from
Youghal, in County Cork, that as early as 1730 they had settled in New York, and that all
my relations on the Farrell side either were still at Youghal, or dead. Mine was not an
encouraging letter; nor did I mean it to be; and I was greatly surprised two days later to
receive a telegram reading, "Something to your advantage to communicate; wife and self