Maud Wasp And The Top Glintist

Waspish playwright Maud Wasp had a glint in her eye, so she made an appointment with a top glintist to have it analysed.

“Gaze at my panel and I’ll take a look at your glint,” said the glintist.

The panel was a rectangle of hardboard affixed to the wall with many many tacks. Upon it had been drawn, with a thick black marker pen, an abstruse pattern of dots and zigzags and sigils and letters from a possibly mystic alphabet. Maud Wasp gazed at it, as bidden.

As a playwright, she was alert to the sonic characteristics of the human voice, and she had noted that the glintist spoke in a croaking and guttural manner, scarcely louder than a whisper.

“Assuming I may speak while I gaze without interfering with your analysis, may I ask if there is something amiss with your windpipe?” she asked.

The glintist, who was peering at Maud Wasp’s right eye through his patent glintoscope, replied “You are not the first person to ask me that. I do indeed have an anomalous windpipe, with the result that my voice sounds as if it is issuing from long ago and far away.”

“Yes,” said Maud Wasp, “It is almost as if I am being addressed by some chthonic being from the primordial sludge.”

The glintist snapped his glintoscope shut and slid it back into its velveteen pochette, which in turn he popped into a pocket of his bomber jacket.

“I have examined the glint in your eye with sufficient rigour to write my report,” he said, “You may cease gazing at the panel.”

“That was quick,” said Maud Wasp, who had been expecting a lengthier procedure.

“One of the reasons I am a top glintist, Miss Wasp, is the startling rapidity with which I work,” he said. There was the merest hint, in his croaking, that he felt impugned, a hint picked up by the alert playwright.

“I did not mean to impugn you,” she said, “In fact I am delighted that I can avert my gaze so soon from that confounded panel of yours. The pattern was beginning to play havoc with my brainpans.”

“It is rather disturbing,” said the glintist, “I copied it from a plate in a book almost as ancient as my voice, a tome kept under lock and key in a forbidden library, reputed to be the work of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred.”

“I thought I had seen it somewhere before,” said Maud Wasp, “I consulted that very book when writing the fourth of my so-called ‘pond plays’. You may remember the deus ex machina at the end, where a milk of magnesia man is lowered onto the stage by a pulley.”

“I’m afraid I have never seen any of your plays,” said the glintist, “My work keeps me fantastically busy, and on the rare occasions I might be free to make a trip to the theatre, I often have to go to a kiosk on a seaside pier where a charlatan healer makes enigmatic passing movements of his hands over my anomalous windpipe.”

“Have to?” asked the playwright, somewhat waspishly.

“Indeed so,” said the glintist, and to Maud Wasp’s surprise she saw tears welling up in his eyes. “I cannot very well neglect to meet the demands of my sainted mother’s last will and testament.”

“What a foul legacy!” cried Maud Wasp, “I am not so sure your mother was a saint!”

“It is due to her I am a top glintist, Miss Wasp,” said the glintist, “If you only knew the sacrifices she made for me, scrubbing doorsteps and darning military flags and boiling soap and engaging in hand-to-hand combat with Communists and sewing buttons onto orphans’ cardigans…”

His croaking whisper trailed off as salt tears gushed and rolled down his cheeks.

“There, there,” said the playwright, “I did not mean to upset you. Though I cannot help but observe, if you continue to weep such copious tears, you could collect them in that dent in your floor to form a sort of indoor pond.”

“Why in the name of heaven would I wish to do that?” croaked the glintist.

“I am fond of ponds,” said Maud Wasp, “And many of my plays, more than you can imagine, are set in or next to ponds.” She grinned then, a weird and waspish grin which disconcerted the glintist. “I am so glad that I had the foresight to tuck into a pocket of my bomber jacket a handy pocket-sized tape recorder to preserve our conversation on magnetic tape. When I get home I shall transcribe it and use it as the climactic scene in the play I am currently writing.”

“Has our conversation been sufficiently dramatic?” asked the glintist.

“Trust me,” said Maud Wasp, “I have an innate sense of the kind of dialogue my audiences will lap up and gasp at.”

As she spoke, the glint in her eye glinted the more brilliantly.

“Now we know why you have a glint in your eye,” said the glintist, demonstrating the expertise that made him no mere glintist but a top glintist.

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