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This parody appeared in the San Francisco Call in 1903. As far as I am aware it has not been republished since then.


By Guisard

I MUST confess that it was with some trepidation I should have gone to meet William Gillette, who last Thursday afternoon should have accorded me the only interview ever granted by him to a representative of the press. It did not come off, but I pictured it something after this wise:

I had more than half a mind to cut and run when the trim maid that has taken "oid Jerry's" place at the Palace went to find out if the actor were visible. True, Gillette had honored me above all reporters - but why? With all the ponderous reportorial aristocrats of the London press vainly imploring an interview, why had I, even I, been chosen? My vanity refused to come to the rescue and imagination failed to suggest a plausible reason. Was Gillette possibly an emissary of some offended player - Elizabeth Kennedy, for the argument - with a modern edition of boiling oil prepared for my benefit? Or - But here the maid returned with word that Mr Gillette was willing to be seen, and with a do-or-die feeling Istepped into the elevator and made my way to his room, number 1003.

What I first saw was little calculated to reassure me. Though outside it was broad daylight, on entering the room in response to the actor's "Come in" one was plunged immediately into Cimmerian darkness. lighted only by the ominous gleam of an approaching cigar.

"You are Mr. Gillette?" I stammered to the cigar.

"I shall be when I find this - excuse me - confounded switch." said the level, cool voice that I remembered so well in the clipped, white-hot phrase of "Secret Service."

A moment more and the room was a flood of light, the fire blazing and Gillette's six feet one looking keenly and kindly - yes. kindly - down at me. He had his violin under one arm - a Stradivarius, he tells me - and the other was held out in greeting.

"You must pardon this odd reception," he said, seating me comfortably and himself sinking down. Turk-fashion, into a pile of Oriental cushions on the hearthrug. "I was just working out a little problem in international relations and quite forgot the darkness."

"You look as if you could see just as well in the dark," I said, looking at the long, keen eyes, carelessly regarding me. "I have no doubt that you have me pigeon-holed already from A to Z."

"Not quite," and Mr. Gillette smiled. "A few small things I have noted. You live in a flat - top flat, probably; you have had the grip lately; you don't use a typewriter, don't believe in Chinese labor, play the piano and are fond of the country. The stomach secretions probably show a deficiency of hydrochloric acid, and -"

"That's enough," I gasped. "But how - how -"

"Mere A B C, my friend; too simple to explain," laughed Gillette. "For example, only flat dwellers walk with the conscious lightness of your step, and your sensitiveness would hardly permit you to live in other than a top flat. That faint suggestion of eucalyptus gives the grip away; that spot of Ink on your second finger the fact that you use a pen. The slight thickening of the skin at the little finger nail, with the pliancy of your hand, shows the pianist; the color of your linen that you patronize white laundries. Then your affectionate glance at those daffodils suggests your love of the country; your slight sallowness some tendency to indigestion, very commonly with nervous and sedentary people taking the form of a deficiency in the hydrochloric acid secretions - the solvent of meat foods. Very
simple, you see."

"I see." I retorted.

"And now, what did you wish to know? But first will you join me?" and springing lightly from his cushions Sherlock Gillette charged a deadly little needle with cocaine and courteously passed It to me.

I declined, and with his slender artist fingers the famous actor-detective pierced his arm with another needle and sank down again contentedly into the cushions.

"I will tell you what I already know," I said, "and then perhaps you will kindly supply the blanks in my information. I know that you were born in 1857 in Hartford, Conn.; that you are the son of a United States Senator, and related to Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Then history has it that you began your theatrical career a la Wilhelm Meistrr with a toy theater; that you began playing at 18 in New Orleans, during a vacation from Yale, of which you are a graduate. It was at Mark Twain's recommendation that the Boston stock company at the Globe Theater took you on. and you astonished no one more than the humorist at your complete success.

'Secret Service.' possibly so far the great American play Is yours; also 'Held by
the Enemy'; and now 'Sherlock Holmes', that came to be written through the wildcat report of an imaginative journalist of the West, who said that Dr. Doyle had remarked that if ever 'Sherlock Holmes' was dramatized it would be by you.

Charles Frohman saw the paragraph and at your suggestion secured the title from Dr Doyle, so, 'Sherlock Holmes.' Then, when you are not acting you are yachting on your boat. 'Aunt Polly' - 250 horsepower and with a speed of ten knots. Or you are down in the mysterious bungalow, 'The Thousand Pines,' in the heart of the 'Great Smoky Range' of South Carolina."

"How much people can know and how little," mused Gillette, lighting a cigarette. "That is all true so far as it goes, but there is so much more. For example - this for your private ear alone - I am really Sherlock Holmes. Not only did Dr Doyle not invent me, but I invented Dr Doyle, and my stage life is all a useful veil for my detective operations."

"! ! ! ?"

"Yes, I am now here to prevent, if possible, serious International complications between Russia. England and America. Possibly you have observed that dangerous fellow. Mascagni? Did it ever occur to you that he was an emissary of the Czar, sent here to create American sympathy for Russia, to be used to the disadvantage of England in case of a war on the Indian frontler?

That, my friend, is the cold fact. They wouldn't have him in New York, scenting danger In his inflammatory music. But here, in this music-crazy town, he has already done incalculable harm. What did he first set the town on fire with? The Russian epic, the Tschaikowsky 'Pathetique," that would drag sympathy from a Folsom warden. What does he end his sensational career with? More 'Pathetique,' and the blaring exhibition of Russian power in the Tschaikawsky 1812 overture, with Its thunderous triumph over the French. It's as plain as the nose on your face, my friend.

I advised King Edward to send along his Coronation Choir, but where was it against that Italian tempest, Mascagni? Well may the Czar fear the strong bond of sympathy between America and the mother country, but with a few more Mascagnis one would hardly like to prophesy the result." Here the telephone rang.

"Here Is the King now," said Holmes - as I must now call him. "You will have to excuse me."

"But I wanted to hear you talk about your art, actors, methods and so on." I

"Very, very sorry, but I must be excused. Good-by. Yes, your Majesty. this is Holmes."

The San Francisco Call, 15 March, 1903

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