Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/158

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Nature gave me a propensity to their way of life, she had not left me altogether destitute of qualifications for it; though I could not deny that my talent was less respectable, and might be less profitable, than the meanest of theirs. My design, in short, was to imitate the story-tellers of whom Oriental travellers have told us, and become an itinerant novelist, reciting my own extemporaneous fictions to such audiences as I could collect.

'Either this,' said I, 'is my vocation, or I have been born in vain.'

The fortune-teller, with a sly wink to the company, proposed to take me as an apprentice to one or other of his professions, either of which, undoubtedly, would have given full scope to whatever inventive talent I might possess. The bibliopolist spoke a few words in opposition to my plan, influenced partly, I suspect, by the jealousy of authorship, and partly by an apprehension that the vivâ voce practice would become general among novelists, to the infinite detriment of the book trade. Dreading a rejection, I solicited the interest of the merry damsel.

'Mirth,' cried I, most aptly appropriating the words of L'Allegro, 'to thee I sue! Mirth, admit me of thy crew!'

'Let us indulge the poor youth,' said Mirth, with a kindness which made me love her dearly, though I was no such coxcomb as to misinterpret her motives. 'I have espied much promise in him. True, a shadow sometimes flits across his brow, but the sunshine is sure to follow in a moment. He is never guilty of a sad thought, but a merry one is twin-born with it.