THE PEN AND INKSTAND
In the room of a poet, where his Inkstand stood upon the table, it was said, ' It is wonderful what can come out of an inkstand. What will the next thing be ? It is wonderful!'
1 Yes, certainly/ said the Inkstand. ' It's inconceivable -—that's what I always say,' he exclaimed to the Pen and to the other articles on the table that were near enough to hear. ' It is wonderful what a number of things can come out of me. It's quite incredible. And I really don't myself know what will be the next thing, when that man begins to dip into me. One drop out of me is enough for half a page of paper ; and what cannot be contained in half a page ? From me all the works of the poet go forth— all these living men, whom people can imagine they have met—all the deep feeling, the humour, the vivid pictures of nature. I myself don't understand how it is, for I am not acquainted with nature, but it certainly is in me. From me all these things have gone forth, and from me proceed the troops of charming maidens, and of brave knights on prancing steeds, and all the lame and the blind, and I don't know what more—I assure you I don't think of anything.'
' There you are right,' said the Pen ; ' you don't think at all, for if you did, you would comprehend that you only furnish the fluid. You give the fluid, that I may exhibit upon the paper what dwells in me, and what I would bring to the day. It is the pen that writes. No man doubts that; and, indeed, most people have about as much insight into poetry as an old inkstand.'
' You have but little experience,' replied the Inkstand. : You've hardly been in service a week, and are already half worn out. Do you fancy you are the poet ? You are only a servant; and before you came I knew many of your sort, some of the goose family, and others of English manufacture. I know the quill as well as the steel pen. Many have been in my service, and I shall have many more when he comes—the man who goes through the motions for me, and writes down what he derives from me. I should like to know what will be the next thing he'll take out of me.'
' Inkpot! ' exclaimed the Pen.