. . I have been away for a week at Hearst's ranch. He owns 440,000 acres, more than the whole of Long Island! We took Winks [his dog], who was a great hit.
The ranch is about half-way between Hollywood and San Francisco. It is on the top of a high hill, and just inside the entrance gates is a great pile of stones, which, if you ever put them together, would form an old abbey which Hearst bought in France and shipped over and didn't know what to do with so left lying by the wayside. The next thing you see, having driven past this, is a yak or a buffalo or something in the middle of the road. Hearst collects animals and has a zoo on the premises, and the ones considered reasonably harmless are allowed to roam at large. You're apt to meet a bear or two before you get to the house. The house is enormous, and there are always at least fifty guests staying there. All the furniture is period, and you probably sleep on a bed originally occupied by Napoleon or somebody. Ethel and I shared the Venetian suite with Sidney Blackmer, who had blown in from one of the studios.
The train that takes guests away leaves after midnight, and the one that brings new guests arrives early in the morning, so you have dinner with one lot of people and come down to breakfast next morning to find an entirely fresh crowd.
Meals are in an enormous room, and are served at a long table, with Hearst sitting in the middle on one side and Marion Davies in the middle on the other. The longer you are there, the further you get from the middle. I sat on Marion's right the first night, then found myself being edged further and further away till I got to the extreme end, when I thought it time to leave. Another day, and I should have been feeding on the floor.
P. G. Wodehouse, Performing Flea. A Self-Portrait in Letters, ed. W. Townend (Copyright 1953), pp. 56-57.
A nice old lady who sat next to Wodehouse at dinner one night .. . raved about his work. She said that her sons had great masses of his books piled on their tables, and never missed reading each new one as it came out. `And when I tell them', she concluded, `that I have actually been sitting at dinner with Edgar Wallace, I don't know what they will say.'
P. G. Wodehouse, Performing Flea. A Self-Portrait in Letters, ed. W. Townend (Copyright 1953), p. 163.
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