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Harlequin and Columbine
written by "Tarkington, Booth, 1869-1946"
... rose, waving napkins and cheering, and there were cries of "Author! Author!" "Speech!" and "Cher maitre!" The recipient of these honours bore them with an uneasiness attributed to modesty, and making inadequate response, sat down to his soup with no importunate appetite. "Seriously, though," said a bearded man opposite, who always broke into everything with "seriously though," or else, "all joking aside," and had thereby gained a reputation for conservatism and soundness—"seriously, though, it must have been a great experience to take charge of the rehearsal of such a company as Talbot Potter's." "Tell us how it felt, Canby, old boy," said another. "How does it feel to sit up there like a king makin' everybody step around to suit you?" Other neighbors took it up. "Any pretty girls in the company, Can?" "How does it feel to be a great dramatist, old man?" "When you goin' to hire a valet-chauffeur?" "Better ask him when he's goin' to take us to rehearsal, to see him in his glory." "Gentlemen, gentlemen," said the hostess deprecatingly, "Miss Cornish is trying to speak to Mr. Canby." Miss Cornish, a middle-aged lady in black lace, sat at her right, at the head of the largest table, being the most paying of these paying guests, by which virtue she held also the ingleside premiership of the parlour overhead. She was reputed to walk much among gentles, and to have a high taste in letters and the drama; for she was chief of an essay club, had a hushing manner, and often quoted with precision from reviews, or from such publishers' advertisements as contained no slang; and she was a member of one of the leagues for patronizing the theatre in moderation. "Mr. Canby," said the hostess pleasantly, "Miss Cornish wishes to—" This obtained the attention of the assembly, while Canby, at the other end of the room, sat back in his chair with the unenthusiastic air of a man being served with p...

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