Vaudeville is intrinsically episodic and discontinuous. Its audiences do not demand denouements. Sufficient unto each “turn” is the evil thereof. No one cares how many romances the singing comedienne may have had if she can capably sustain the limelight and a high note or two. The audiences reck not if the performing dogs get to the pound the moment they have jumped through their last hoop. They do not desire bulletins about the possible injuries received by the comic cyclist who retires head-first from the stage in a crash of (property) china-ware. Neither do they consider that their seat coupons entitle them to be instructed whether or no there is a sentiment between the lady solo banjoist and the Irish monologist.
Therefore let us have no lifting of the curtain upon a tableau of the united lovers, backgrounded by defeated villainy and derogated by the comic, osculating maid and butler, thrown in as a sop to the Cerberi of the fifty-cent seats.
But our program ends with a brief “turn” or two; and then to the exits. Whoever sits the show out may find, if he will, the slender thread that binds together, though ever so slightly, the story that, perhaps, only the Walrus will understand.
~Extracts from a letter from the first vice-president of the Republic Insurance Company, of New York City, to Frank Goodwin, of Coralio, Republic of Anchuria.~
~My Dear Mr. Goodwin:~–Your communication per Messrs. Howland and Fourchet, of New Orleans, has reached us. Also their draft on N.Y. for $100,000, the amount abstracted from the funds of this company by the late J. Churchill Wahrfield, its former president…. The officers and directors unite in requesting me to express to you their sincere esteem and thanks for your prompt and much appreciated return of the entire missing sum within two weeks from the time of its disappearance…. Can assure you that the matter will not be allowed to receive the least publicity…. Regret exceedingly the distressing death of Mr. Wahrfield by his own hand, but… Congratulations on your marriage to Miss Wahrfield… many charms, winning manners, noble and womanly nature and envied position in the best metropolitan society….
Lucius E. Applegate,~
FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT THE REPUBLIC INSURANCE COMPANY.
~The Last Sausage~
SCENE–An Artist’s Studio. The artist, a young man of prepossessing appearance, sits in a dejected attitude, amid a litter of sketches, with his head resting upon his hand. An oil stove stands on a pine box in the center of the studio. The artist rises, tightens his waist belt to another hole, and lights the stove. He goes to a tin bread box, half-hidden by a screen, takes out a solitary link of sausage, turns the box upside-down to show that there is no more, and chucks the sausage into a frying-pan, which he sets upon the stove. The flame of the stove goes out, showing that there is no more oil. The artist, in evident despair, seizes the sausage, in a sudden access of rage, and hurls it violently from him. At the same time a door opens, and a man who enters receives the sausage forcibly against his nose. He seems to cry out; and is observed to make a dance step or two, vigorously. The newcomer is a ruddy-faced, active, keen- looking man, apparently of Irish ancestry. Next he is observed to laugh immoderately; he kicks over the stove; he claps the artist (who is vainly striving to grasp his hand) vehemently upon the back. Then he goes through a pantomime which to the sufficiently intelligent spectator reveals that he has acquired large sums of money by trading pot-metal hatchets and razors to the Indians of the Cordillera Mountains for gold dust. He draws a roll of money as large as a small loaf of bread from his pocket, and waves it above his head, while at the same time he makes pantomime of drinking from a glass. The artist hurriedly secures his hat, and the two leave the studio together.
~The Writing on the Sands~
SCENE–The Beach at Nice. A woman, beautiful, still young, exquisitely clothed, complacent, poised, reclines near the water, idly scrawling letters in the sand with the staff of her silken parasol. The beauty of her face is audacious; her languid pose is one that you feel to be impermanent–you wait, expectant, for her to spring or glide or crawl, like a panther that has unaccountably become stock-still. She idly scrawls in the sand; and the word that she always writes is “Isabel.” A man sits a few yards away. You can see that they are companions, ever if no longer comrades. His face is dark and smooth, and almost inscrutable–but not quite. The two speak little together. The man also scratches on the sand with his cane. And the word that he writes is “Anchuria.” And then he looks out where the Mediterranean and the sky intermingle with death in his gaze.
~The Wilderness and Thou~
SCENE–~The Borders of a Gentleman’s Estate in a Tropical Land.~ An old Indian, with a mahogany-colored face, is trimming the grass on a grave by a mangrove swamp. Presently he rises to his feet and walks slowly toward a grove that is shaded by the gathering, brief twilight. In the edge of the grove stands a man who is stalwart, with a kind and courteous air, and a woman of a serene and clear-cut loveliness. When the old Indian comes up to them the man drops money in his hand. The grave-tender, with the stolid pride of his race, takes it as his due, and goes his way. The two in the edge of the grove turn back along the dim pathway, and walk close, close– for, after all, what is the world at its best but a little round field of the moving pictures with two walking together in it?