The LILAC FAIRY BOOK - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang and With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford (volume 12 of 12)
Published By Longmans, Green, And Co London, Circa 1910

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TWhat cases are you engaged in at present ? ' ' Are you stopping many teeth just now ? ' ' What people have you converted lately ?' Do ladies put these questions to the men—lawyers, dentists, clergymen, and so forth—who happen to sit next them at dinner parties ? I do not know whether ladies thus indicate their interest in the occupations of their casual neighbours at the hospitable board. But if they do not know me, or do not know me well, they generally ask ' Are you writing anything now ? ' (as if they should ask a painter ' Are you painting anything now ? ' or a lawyer ' Have you any cases at present ? '). Sometimes they are more definite and inquire ' What are you writing now ? ' as if I must be writing something—which, indeed, is the case, though I dislike being reminded of it. It is an awkward question, because the fair being does not care a bawbee what I am writing ; nor would she be much enlightened if I replied ' Madam, I am engaged on a treatise intended to prove that Normal is prior to Conceptional Totemism '—though that answer would be as true in fact as obscure in significance. The best plan seems to be to answer that I have entirely aban­doned mere literature, and am contemplating a book on ' The Causes of Early Blight in the Potato,' a melancholy circumstance which threatens to deprive us of our chief esculent root. The inquirer would never be undeceived. One nymph who, like the rest, could not keep off the horrid topic of my occupation, said ' You never write anything but fairy books, do you ?' A French gentleman, too, an educationist and expert in portraits of Queen Mary, once sent me a newspaper article in which he had written that I was exclusively devoted to the composition of fairy books, and nothing else. He then came to England, visited me, and found that I knew rather more about portraits of Queen Mary than he did. In truth I never did write any fairy books in my life, except ' Prince Prigio,' ' Prince Ricardo,' and ' Tales from a Fairy Court'—that of the aforesaid Prigio.