Fame and the Woman of Forty

THE Woman of Forty was sitting alone in her apartment when Fame came knocking at the door. His appearance was nothing to boast of, but she recognized him by his brazen trumpet.

“ Good-morning, ” he said. “I understand that you desire my acquaintance. I am a little late in returning your call, but I suppose you are still expecting me ? ”

“ To be frank with you, I was not,” said the Woman of Forty. “ You see, that was twenty years ago, and since then I have found other acquaintances who are much more cordial and congenial.”

“ That is just it,” said Fame. “ They recommended you so highly that I thought I would look you up.”

“ I fear I’m rather too old to care about you now,” said the Woman. “I have n’t thought of you for years. I have been too busy with other things.”

“Well, it is high time you were recognized,” said Fame ; “ so you may take all the old rejected manuscripts out of your trunk, — you know you ’ve kept them, — and find all the periodicals clamoring for them. You see, you are very much in the public eye since that eccentric individual left you his money.”

“ But I don’t wish to be famous,” said the Woman. “ I was cured of that folly years ago. I have lived my life for myself and my family, and I hate the idea of reporters and literary ragpickers prying into my private affairs.”

“ What do you suppose I care about that?” asked Fame. “ I can’t take the trouble to consult peoples’ preferences. You bespoke me in advance, you know, and you can’t in common decency send me away. Besides, the Public is at your door.”

“ I won’t admit it.”

“ I really don’t see how you can help yourself,” said Fame. “ When the first one gets his foot in the door, it will stay open, and you can never shut it again.”

“ I won’t be famous,” said the Woman. “ I won’t have people coming to rake up my past. My life is my own, and you have no right to it. Take my work, if you must, though there is too much of my heart in it, but leave my life alone.”

“Of course I shall take your work, and people will read your books and forget them ; but I shall also take your life, and the Public will gloat over it and remember it,” said Fame. “ So I ’ll trouble you for the details of that early love affair.”

“ No, no! Leave me as I am ! ” cried the Woman.

“ But you sent for me when you were twenty,” said Fame, “ and I have come to stay. I am going out for a few minutes now, but I shall be back shortly, and in the meantime I shall leave the door open.” And he went away blowing his trumpet.