Page:Poet Lore, At the Chasm, volume 24, 1913.pdf/6

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290
AT THE CHASM

him, have you not? Go look at the posters or newspapers and see if my name appears under the title of this novelty.

Karel (still writing).—It is always a nom-de-plume, my dear. Our Bohdan took it into his head to be the Messiah of our drama and as you know ——

Bohdan.—Oh, do cease this meaningless tirade. As long as you are the theatrical critic of the press, you can rest assured that I will never trouble you with my première.

Cilka.—Still at the old feud, brother?

Karel (to Cilka).—Since the publication of his poetry. (To Bohdan with affected seriousness.) And you want to make us believe, old boy, that you took your manuscripts from the theatrical office; as if anyone could believe it—it happened, of course, but with a slight difference, they were returned to you, that's all. But you are a good and prudent chap and are not angry with us, are you? You know I like you for that.

Bohdan.—Why should I be? On the contrary, I am very grateful to the management.

Cilka.—And why?

Bohdan (with a shade of bitterness).—Because they saved me from a blunder.

Karel.—Now you assaulted the novel. How about your lyric, have you buried it?

Bohdan.—You mean that you buried it.

Karel (continuing).—For the drama you are too young, you admit that yourself and you have therefore adopted the sacred old prose. I'll warrant that you will become a good journalist one of these days (continuing slowly). Well, that is good for something anyway.

Bohdan.—Indeed it has an advantage.

Cilka.—Which?

Bohdan.—One can cheaply disgrace his acquaintances and that's good for many things nowadays.

Karel (goes over to Bohdan and lays his hands on his shoulder).—Enough of jesting, old fellow. Let us look at the whole thing with common sense. You published your poems at the time when I began to visit your house and pay court to Cilka. Be just and recognize the truth. For the education that your father gave you, you are still a wonder of a chap. He once saw in you a Byron, then again a Napoleon, while you, thank God, became the simple Bohdan Navratil, and so remained. At the time when I began to come to your house, Byron was just in the ascendant, as I would say 'all the rage' in your family. You then published that heart-breaking book.