One-minute review. Helmstone has had a poem he had published destroyed by a critic. He storms into the street, about to dismember the critic, when he meets a friend and becomes caught up in the antics of a clown who fiddles. The clown charms whole audiences. Helmstone tries to understand what makes the clown so enjoyable that audiences are enraptured by him.
His friend eventually tells him the secret of the clown. He had once been a genius who gathered wealth and fame. He escaped both wealth and fame and his unhappiness by becoming the clown that he is today and enjoying life to the fullest. His friend refers to the poem and the critic. It isn’t having genius that causes trouble, but seeking fame because of genius. Forget the desire for fame and use your genius for its own sake.
75 Short Masterpieces: Stories from the World’s Literature. Ed. Roger B. Goodman.