“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time,” said Blaise Pascal and looked proudly at the pile of paper covered with his neat writing. “Not a blot! That’s how great I am in writing,” he boasted and stroked the upper leaf with his hand. “This feather can’t be used anymore though,” he looked at the broken tip, sighed and threw it out in the open window. The feather did a slow farewell dance in the air and fell on the cobbled roadway.
“You know what they say,” Anton Chekhov pensively looked at the feather disappearing under the hoof of a dirty horse. “Brevity is the sister of talent,” Chekhov gave Pascal a wink, “which one you, obviously, don’t have.”
“What?” Pascal jumped up from his chair and clenched his fists. “What have you just said? Repeat it and I will punch this grin off your face right away!”
“Oh, come on, Blaise, calm down! Don’t take it so seriously,” William Shakespeare tapped Pascal’s shoulder.
“But Bill, don’t you see, he’s mocking me!”
“Tony made a joke, that’s all. He’s a satirist, that’s what they do.”
Pascal looked at Chekhov through his narrowed eyes and murmured several words in French, one of them being ‘merde’.
Chekhov took off his pince-nez and, while cleaning it with his handkerchief, looked with his near-sighted squint at the cloud that looked like a grand piano. “But tell us, Bill,” he said after a long pause. “You are agreed with me, aren’t you?”
“Well, you know what I wrote in my last work…”
“About the cuckoo prince? Yes, I remember. But tell him,” Chekhov pointed his pince-nez at Pascal. “He has no time to read, he spends it all on writing without blots.”
Shakespeare nodded and recited, “Therefore since brevity is the soul of wit, // And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, // I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.”
“I will be brief,” repeated Chekhov and giggled, “Pascal is tedious and should quit writing.”
“Damn you idiots!” Pascal jumped up from his chair again. “We are not friends anymore.” He pointed at the door. “Get out of my house!”
Shakespeare shrugged his shoulders and got up from the couch. “Ok, Tony, let’s go. It’s time to pay a visit to someone else.”
“To Charlie maybe?” Chekhov put the pince-nez back on his nose.
“Sure, why not?”
They came out to the street and stopped a cab. “Bring us to the Dickens’s house,” Shakespeare said.
“Yes, bring us to Dickens,” Chekhov grinned and rubbed his hands. “We have some brevity issues to discuss.”
“All right, sir,” the cabman said, and off they went to see the man working on Little Dorrit.