Elfinspell: Banging a Sensational Novelist, anonymous author from Humorous Hits and How to Hold an Audience, edited by Grenville Kleiser; parody of yellow journalism and dime novels of late 1800's American pulp fiction,19th century humor,


From Humorous Hits and How to Hold an Audience, edited by Grenville Kleiser; Funk & Wagnalls; New York and London, 1912; pp.83-84.




The other day a stout woman, armed with an umbrella, and leading a small urchin, called at the office of a New York boys’ story paper.

“Is this the place where they fight Indians?” she inquired of the young man in charge. “Is this the locality where the brave boy charges up the canyon and speeds a bullet to the heart of the dusky redskin?” and she jerked the urchin around by the ear and brought her umbrella down on the desk.

“We publish stories for boys, and-----”

“I want to know if these are the premises on which the daring lad springs upon his fiery mustang, and, darting through the circle of thunderstruck savages, cuts the captive’s cords and bears him away before the wondering Indians have recovered from their astonishment? That’s the information I’m after. I want to know if that sort of thing is perpetrated around here!” and she swung the umbrella around her head.

“I don’t remember the specific facts, but----”

“I want to know if this is the precinct where the adventurous boy jumps on the back of a buffalo and with unerring aim picks off one by one the bloodthirsty pursuers who bite the dust at every crack of the faithful rifle! I’m looking for the place where that sort of thing happens!” and this time she brought the unlucky man a tremendous whack across the back.

“I think----”

“I’m in search of the shop in which the boy road-agent holds the quivering stage-driver powerless with his glittering eye, while he robs the male passengers with an adroitness born of long and tried experience, and kisses the hands of the lady passengers with a gallantry of bearing that bespeaks noble birth and a chivalrous nature! I’m looking for the apartment in which that business is transacted!”

“Upon my word, madam, I----”

“I want to be introduced to the jars in which you keep the 84 boy scouts of the Sierra! Show me the bins full of the boy detectives of the prairie! Point out to me the barrels full of boy pirates of the Spanish main!” and with each demand she brought her umbrella down on the young man’s head until he jumped over the desk and sought safety in a neighbouring canyon.

“I’ll teach ‘em!” she panted, grasping the urchin by the ear and leading him off. “I’ll teach ‘em to make it good or dance. Want to go fight Indians any more (twisting the boy’s ear)? Want to stand proudly upon the pinnacle of the mountain and scatter the plain beneath with the bleeding bodies of uncounted slain? Propose to spring upon the taffrail and with a ringing word of command send a broadside into the richly-laden galley, and then mercifully spare the beautiful maiden in the cabin, that she may become your bride? Eh? Going to do it any more?”

The boy exprest his permanent abandonment of all the glories enumerated.

“Then come along,” said she, taking him by the collar. “Let me catch you around with any more ramrods and carving knives, and you’ll think the leaping, curling, resistless prairie fire has swept with a ferocious roar of triumph across the trembling plains and lodged under your jacket to stay!”