A NOVELIST’S DAY.
Punch, May 30, 1906
[A writer in The Globe has recently pointed out that the man who curdles blood must first curdle his own. The life of any one who turns out three sensational novels a year must be a perfect misery to him. He can never feel safe.]
Monday.—A strenuous day. Finished Chapter Eleven of The Blood that Dripped on the Doormat. Rather big scene where hero is lured into cellar and bitten by trained gazeka (poisonous) belonging to villain. (Mem.: Is this too much like the cobra incident in Le Queux’s latest?) Writing this took it out of me very much. Went for stroll along the Strand. Sinister incident opposite Exeter Hall. Man (perfect stranger) endeavoured to thrust paper into my hand. I leaped back, and, dodging under wheels of motor-bus, escaped to other side of street, where I cocked my revolver and waited. Nothing further happened. My prompt action probably threw villains off scent. Escaped that danger, however, only to run into another. As I stood there, sinister foreigner accosted me. Dark man, probably Anarchist. Asked me to direct him to “Leicester Skvare.” Kept my head, fortunately. Pointed towards Charing Cross, and, while his attention was distracted, dashed across street again. (Mem.: New hat. How much?) Ghastly incident now took place. Scarcely had I arrived on opposite pavement when man again attempted to force paper on me. Took to my heels, dodging from right to left to avoid bullets. This must have baffled him, for I heard no shots. Small boy said, “Chase me!” and called me Bambaata. Almost certainly some Anarchist code. To throw gang off scent once more took cab. Drove to Essex Street by way of Sloane Square, Putney, and Mortlake. Gave man shilling. He said, “What the blank!” Recognised instantly that he was in the pay of these scoundrels, and sprang into four-wheeler. Told man to drive to Southampton Street viâ the “Angel” at Islington. Looked out of window. Sinister hansom close behind. Man with whiskers in it. (Mem.: Hon. Secretary of Anarchists?) Rapidly disguised myself with blue spectacles and a yellow toupee. Hansom drove past and disappeared. Clever, but a little obvious. Block in traffic opposite the Oval. Seized with sudden inspiration (Mem.: Genius?), opened door quietly. Was slipping out when cabman happened to look round. Unpleasantness. Gave him shilling. Man said, “What the blank!” Another of the gang! Was I never to shake off these blood-hounds? I asked myself what Smartleigh Trackenham (detective in The Gore that Distilled from the Crack in the China Vase) would have done. Took Tube. Lift-man sinister. Covered him with revolver from inside pocket. He must have noticed this, for he made no move. Got into train. Alone in carriage. On the alert for sudden attack from conductor (a sinister man). Emerged cautiously at Bank. Changed my disguise in secluded corner of subway. Took off spectacles and put on brown beard. Policeman at Mansion House crossing, I think, Anarchist, Hid behind pillar-box, and watched Anarchists, disguised as clerks, search for me. Man asked me time. Controlled my voice and told him. My disguise so perfect that he suspected nothing. At five o’clock changed my disguise again (false nose, coloured at end, and black moustache), and sprang on to bus. Reached home, five-thirty, worn out. Went to bed after searching room and locking door. Nightmares.
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From “Literary Notes” in the Weekly Logroller:—“An interesting departure from his wonted manner will be noted in Mr. William le Curdler’s forthcoming volume. Though from the pen of the author of The Black Cap, The Scream in the Lonely Wood, and numerous other sensational novels familiar to our readers, Little Willy’s Governess, which Messrs. Papp, Bottleby, and Bibbins promise for the early autumn, is a simple story of child-life, simply told. We have reason to believe that Mr. Le Curdler, who is at present undergoing a rest-cure in the Engadine, intends for the future to write nothing but this type of story.”
Unsigned narrative as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 130 of Punch.