The one object of Field's


The one object of Field's ambition was to achieve the distinction of so
"fussing" Francis Wilson that he would be compelled to ring down the
curtain. He had tried every conceivable trick: had walked on the stage
in one of Wilson's scenes; had started a quarrel with an usher in the
audience--everything that ingenuity could conceive he had practised on
his friend. Bok had known this penchant of Field's, and when he insisted
on taking the bag of oranges into the theatre, Field's purpose was
evident!

One day Bok received a wire from Field: "City of New Orleans purposing
give me largest public reception on sixth ever given an author. Event of
unusual quality. Mayor and city officials peculiarly desirous of having
you introduce me to vast audience they propose to have. Hate to ask you
to travel so far, but would be great favor to me. Wire answer." Bok
wired back his willingness to travel to New Orleans and oblige his
friend. It occurred to Bok, however, to write to a friend in New Orleans
and ask the particulars. Of course, there was never any thought of Field
going to New Orleans or of any reception. Bok waited for further
advices, and a long letter followed from Field giving him a glowing
picture of the reception planned. Bok sent a message to his New Orleans
friend to be telegraphed from New Orleans on the sixth: "Find whole
thing to be a fake. Nice job to put over on me. Bok." Field was
overjoyed at the apparent success of his joke and gleefully told his
Chicago friends all about it--until he found out that the joke had been
on him. "Durned dirty, I call it," he wrote Bok.

It was a lively friendship that Eugene Field gave to Edward Bok, full of
anxieties and of continuous forebodings, but it was worth all that it
cost in mental perturbation. No rarer friend ever lived: in his serious
moments he gave one a quality of unforgetable friendship that remains a
precious memory. But his desire for practical jokes was uncontrollable:
it meant being constantly on one's guard, and even then the pranks could
not always be thwarted!



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