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 I began to dream more than ever of establishing some such perfect atmosphere for myself somehow, somewhere—but never in St. Louis, of course. That was too common, too Western, too far removed from the real wonders of the world. Love and and travel and romance were the great things, but they were afar off, in New York. (It was around this time that I was establishing the atmosphere of a “studio” in Tenth street.) Nothing could be so wonderful as love in a , a palace in some oriental realm such as was indicated in the comic operas in which DeWolf Hopper, Thomas Q. Seabrooke, Francis Wilson, Eddie Foy and Frank Daniels were then appearing. How often, with McCord or Wood as companion, occasionally Hazard or a new friend introduced to me by Wood and known as Rodenberger, or Rody (a most amazing person, as I will later relate), I responded to these stage scenes! With one or other of these I visited as many theaters as I could, if for no more than an hour or an act at a time, and consumed with wonder and delight such scenes as most appealed to me: the denunciation scene, for instance, in The Middleman, or the third act of nearly any of Henry Arthur Jones’s plays. Also quite all of the light operas of Reginald de Koven and B. Smith, as well as those of nondescript color and melody, the extravaganzas The Crystal , Ali Baba, Sindbad the Sailor. Young actresses such as Della Fox, Mabel , Edna May, of a long line of comic opera soubrettes, who somehow reminded me of Alice, held me spellbound with delight and . Here at last was the kind of I was really , an actress of this , airy .  
I remember that one night, at the close of one of Mr. Willard’s performances at the Olympic—The Professor’s Love Story, in which he was appearing with a popular leading woman, a very beautiful one—I was asked by the manager to wait for a few moments after the performance so that he might introduce me. Why, I don’t know. It seemed that he was taking them to supper and thought they might like to meet one of the local dramatic critics or that I might like to accompany them; an honor which I declined, out of fright or bashfulness. When they finally appeared in the foyer of the theater, however, the young actress very stagy and soft and clinging and dressed most carefully after the manner of the stage, I was beside myself with envy and despair. For she appeared hanging most tenderly on her star’s arm (she was his mistress, I understood) and gazing soulfully about. Such beauty! Such grace! Such ! Could anything be so lovely? Think of having such a perfect creature love you, hang on your arm! And here was I, poor , a reporter, a nobody, upon whom such a splendid creature would not bend a second glance. Mr. Willard was full of the heavy of the actor, which made the scene all the more impressive to me. I think most of us like to be up-staged at one time or another by some one. I glanced at her bashfully sidewise, pretending to be but little interested, while I was really dying of envy. Finally, after a few words and a few sweety-sweet smiles cast in my direction, I was urged to come with them but instead hurried away, pleading necessity and cursing my stars and my fate. Think of being a mere reporter at twenty-five or thirty a week, while others, earning thousands, were thus in the sunshine of success and love! Ah, why might not I have been born rich or famous and so able to command so lovely a woman?
If I had been of an ordinary, sensible, everyday turn of mind, with a of that practical wisdom which puts moderate place and position first and sets great store by the saving of money, I might have succeeded fairly well here, much better than I did anywhere else for a long period after. Unquestionably Mr. McCullagh liked me; I think he may have been fond of me in some amused way, interested to keep such a bounding, high-flown dunce about the place. I might have held this place for a year or two and made it a stepping-stone to something better. But instead of rejoicing in the work and making it the end and aim of my daily , I looked upon it as a mere , something I had today but might not have tomorrow. And anyhow, there were better things than working day by day and living in a small room. Life ought certainly to bring me something better, something truly splendid—and soon. I deserved it—everything, a great home, fine clothes, pretty women, the respect and companionship of famous men. Indeed all my pain and was plainly caused by just such a lack or lacks as this. Had I these things all would be well; without them—well, I was very . I was ready to accept socialism if by that I could get what I wanted, while not ready to admit that all people were as deserving as I by any means. The sad state of the poor workingman was a constant thought with me, but nearly always I was the greatest and poorest and most deserving of all workingmen.
This view naturally tended to modify the of my work. Granting a modicum of imagination and force, still any youth limited as I was at that time has a long road to go. Even in that most imaginative of all professions, the literary, the possessor of such notions as I then held is certainly debarred from accomplishing anything important until he passes beyond them. Yet the particular thought or attitude I have described appears to in youth. Too often it is a condition of many minds of the better sort and is retained in its worst form until by rough experience it is knocked out of them or they are destroyed in the process. But it cannot be got over with quickly. Mine was a sad case. One of the things which this point of view did for me was to give my writing, at that time, a mushy and turn which would not go in any newspaper of today, I hope. It caused me to paint the ideal as not only probable but necessary before life would be what it should!—the progress , as you see. I could so twist and discolor the most commonplace scenes as to make one think that I was writing of paradise. Indeed I allowed my imagination to run away with me at times and only the good sense of the copy-reader or the of a practical-minded public saved the paper from appearing utterly ridiculous.
On one occasion, for instance, I went to report a play of quality that was running at the Olympic, and was so impressed with a love scene which was a part of it that I was entirely blinded to all the faults of construction which the remainder of the play showed, and wrote it up in the most glowing colors. And the copy-reader, Hartung, was too weary that night or too inattentive to capture it. The next day some of the other newspaper men in the office noticed it and commented on it to me or to Hartung, saying it was ridiculously high-flown and that the play itself was silly, which was true. But did that cure me? Not a bit. I was reduced for a day or two by it, but not for long. Seeing other plays of the same and with much sweet love mush in them, I as before.
A little later a negro singer, a young woman of considerable ability who was being starred as the Black Patti, was billed to appear in St. Louis. The manager of the bureau that was presenting her called my attention by letter to her “marvelous” ability, and by means of clippings and notices of her work published elsewhere had endeavored to impress me favorably. I read these notices, couched in the glowing phrases of the press-agent, and then went on this evening to cover this myself. To make it all the grander, I invited McCord and with him proceeded to the theater, where we were assigned a box.
As it turned out, or as I chanced to see or feel it, the young woman was a sweet and impressive singer, engaging and magnetic. McCord agreed with me that she could sing. We listened to the program of a dozen pieces, including such old favorites as Suwanee River and Comin’ Thro’ the Rye, and then I, being greatly moved, returned to the office and wrote an account that was fairly sizzling with the beauty w............
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