Fantastic Fables by Ambrose Bierce: The Poet and the Editor
The Poet and the Editor
"MY dear sir," said the editor to the man, who had called to see about his poem, "I regret to say that owing to an unfortunate altercation in this office the greater part of your manuscript is illegible; a bottle of ink was upset upon it, blotting out all but the first line - that is to say - "
"'The autumn leaves were falling, falling.'
"Unluckily, not having read the poem, I was unable to supply the incidents that followed; otherwise we could have given them in our own words. If the news is not stale, and has not already appeared in the other papers, perhaps you will kindly relate what occurred, while I make notes of it.
"'The autumn leaves were falling, falling,'
"What!" said the poet, "do you expect me to reproduce the entire poem from memory?"
"Only the substance of it - just the leading facts. We will add whatever is necessary in the way of amplification and embellishment. It will detain you but a moment.
"'The autumn leaves were falling, falling - '
There was a sound of a slow getting up and going away. The chronicler of passing events sat through it, motionless, with suspended pen; and when the movement was complete Poesy was represented in that place by nothing but a warm spot on the wooden chair.