Miss Thalia, the Queen of Comedy, came to earth one day, after a long absence, to check up on things in her theatre, the Lyric-Comedy. She found the theatre cold and dingy, and outside saw posters announcing a play in verse about cocktails, which had closed. Impatient, she shook her head spotted with wine and ornamented with grapes and grape leaves. She banged on the stage floor with her thyrsis, making the silver and gold bells upon it to tinkle and chatter.
“Let my servants appear!” she cried. “Let the comedians enter! Let them come in dress of scarlet and saffron, violet, tender blue, in their old costumes appropriate to their characters; and let my poet himself come in his evening clothes, with his masterpiece. Oh, stage carpenters, destitute of sacred fire! Oh, union officials, with cabbages for heads! Oh, managers slower than turtles! Where are my zanies and my sweet fools?”
As she cried out, they began to appear, dragging themselves from the wings gloomily: there was Pierrot, grown fat; Harlequin reading a tome; Columbine (sniffling) in bouffante attire; the Fairy with her tinsel star; the Market Women carrying fish made of painted canvas; Blondina and the Talking Lion, silent; and lastly a rather disconsolate Dancing Dog.
“In the names of all the gods at once, what has happened to you?” cried Miss Thalia, when she recovered from her surprise. “You, Pierrot, what has changed you to this obscene Humpty-Dumpty? You who were white as snow, thin, and sad over your red rose: what means this girth, this ruddy face, this sprig of nightshade?”
But then she spied the studious Harlequin.
“And Harlequin—” she gasped, “you who once were subtle as a snake of Asia, you who pranked and glittered—where, sir, have you caught this sad air, and why do you walk with head bent, as if you were a Harlequin Prince of Denmark? Oh, and you, Miss Columbine, pray why do you cough and look like a prude?”