To continue those services, Mrs. Frank Leslie, in February, 1885, made a dashing visit to New Orleans to inspect the Cotton Centennial Exposition and, incidentally, enjoy a carnival ball. With her friend Mrs. Pierce and her advertising manager, Herbert Bridgman, she attended the Exposition, where the paintings of the Marquis de Leuville and the periodicals of Mrs. Frank Leslie were both on display. At the St. Charles Hotel she ensconced herself near the piano in the grand parlor and received the city's potentates and reporters. She called on one of her contributors, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, whose first check had come from the Leslie Publishing House and had immediately opened a floodgate for her poems of passion. Ella was a bit disappointed in her first sight of Mrs. Leslie, finding that her pronounced Roman nose militated against her beauty, but she readily accepted her invitation to meet Joaquin Miller. The untamed Poet of the Sierras was occupying George Washington Cable's house in the garden district, and received his literary sisters with eclat and breakfast. While Ella watched in vain for evidences of consuming passion in Miller's attitude toward Mrs. Leslie, Miriam quietly expressed, in passing, a desire that the poet escort her to the carnival ball. Since she had no ticket, Miller regarded the suggestion as an impossibility, though he approached the mayor, the governor, and two United States senators. Nothing could be done. Queen Victoria herself could not enter without a ticket.
At her office she continued her role of indefatigable money-maker, bringing in an annual profit of $100,000 from articles on the Recamier coiffure, Alexander Pushkin, or the immigration question. To her subscribers she presented not only the latest effusions of Joaquin Miller and Ella Wheeler Wilcox, but free tickets to Coney Island.
Fortified with punch and whisky, they grouped themselves on the French brocade chairs; Mrs. Leslie's tiny Yorkshire terrier curled up in a corner; and she herself, with the "sang froid" of a grande dame, introduced the evening's entertainers. Though, from year to year, one friend after another was passing from the Leslie ranks--Joaquin Miller settling in California, Mrs. Pierce and An Stephens dying--others appeared to take their places in her dashing salon. Marshall P. Wilder, the diminutive American wit and drawing-room entertainer, was happy to play court jester at the Gerlach with his inimitable stories, his mimicry and elocution. And after the quips of this "joke personified," Mrs. Leslie triumphantly introduced Signor Giuseppe Del Puente, the baritone of the Italian opera, whose repertory included fifty-two operas and who was not averse to repeating his vibrant performance of the Toreador song in Carmen for Mrs. Leslie's select Thursday-nighters. Perhaps the most sensational attraction arranged by the hostess was a rendition of "The Birth of the Opal" by the celebrated poetess of passion, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who, arrayed in a white satin Empress Josephine dress and decked in a set of Mrs. Leslie's opals, recited her verses from a raised dias. Indeed, as constable of Mrs. Leslie's grand functions, Ella Wheeler Wilcox circulated often among the guests, a bit of chiffon fluttering from her hand, while young hopefuls looked up in awe at the poetess of passion and their hostess, the poetry of passion.