Charles Dickens was there, to begin with.
"She will," said Sir Arthur. "But only at Christmas, mind you! Otherwise, you and your verbose style will have to go. Margaret has found it too evident that you were so often paid by the word."
"But she'll let you in for Christmas," said Daphne du Maurier, "and for first sentences!" (Daphne should know; it's how she got in.) " 'Marley was dead, to begin with.' Brilliant! That got 'A Christmas Carol' going so well."
Suddenly, four Middle Eastern-looking men in flowing robes walked in and gathered round the table.
"Whaur are these fellows from, Arthur?" said Robert Louis Stevenson from his perch on the edge of the couch.
"Louis, awa' wi' ye!" said Arthur to his fellow Scot. (I knew it was like saying, American-style, "Get out of here!" but meaning it only figuratively. I wasn't having Louis thrown out.)
"Gentlemen," said Arthur, "I welcome you to the Writers' Room. You've come the longest distance of any of us, but none of us needs worry a whit about time or distance any more. Would you introduce yourselves to my colleagues?"
They spoke one word each.
"Luke." (With the name, Arthur smiled at his fellow doctor.)
"It's nearly Christmas, Earth time," said Arthur, "so we want to welcome you to our table of writers and, as Margaret's time puts it, 'talk shop' about writing. You are the ones who participated in writing what's known as 'the greatest story ever.' "
"Really?" said Mark. "We told it, and told it, and told it --"
"We get the idea," said Agatha Christie from the far side of the table. "But what about the writing of it?"
"So long ago," said John.
"Yes," said Matthew, "but people remembered the stories for us like they'd happened just hours ago. We were collecting witnesses' stories, more what Margaret would call reporting -- not writing the way you folks do, inventing the stories."
"Inventing?!" cried Agatha. "Really!"
She rose from the table and fled.
"Agatha!" cried Arthur. "Whaur's she going, Louis?"
Stevenson shook his head.
"Dinna disappear on us, woman!" cried Arthur. "Ye've done that before!"
"Arthur," said Daphne, "that was long before Margaret was born. Let's talk to these gentlemen some more."
"What would you like to know?" said Mark.
"Well, it's been John I've been wanting to ask," said Louis. "How did you ever come up with 'In the beginning was the Word'?"
"Oh, Louis," said John. "Surely you know the feeling. It was a gift."
Louis, Daphne, Charles and Arthur all nodded. (So did I, because they'd let me listen.)
A happy Christmas to all of my readers. The "Last verses" series will resume shortly, when we've been singing a bit more of them.