The Fifth String

by John Philip Sousa

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Chapter III

PERKINS called in the morning.

Perkins was happy—Perkins was positively joyous, and Perkins was self-satisfied. The violinist had made a great hit. But Perkins, confiding in the white-coated dispenser who concocted his matin Martini, very dry, an hour before, said he regarded the success due as much to the management as to the artist. And Perkins believed it. Perkins usually took all the credit for a success, and with charming consistency placed all responsibility for failure on the shoulders of the hapless artist.

When Perkins entered Diotti's room he found the violinist heavy-eyed and dejected. "My dear Signor," he began, showing a large envelope bulging with newspaper clippings, "I have brought the notices. They are quite the limit, I assure you. Nothing like them ever heard before—all tuned in the same key, as you musical fellows would say," and Perkins cocked his eye.

Perkins enjoyed a glorious reputation with himself for bright sayings, which he always accompanied with a cock of the eye. The musician not showing any visible appreciation of the manager's metaphor, Perkins immediately proceeded to uncock his eye.

"Passed the box-office coming up," continued this voluble enlightener; "nothing left but a few seats in the top gallery. We'll stand them on their heads to-morrow night—see if we don't." Then he handed the bursting envelope of notices to Diotti, who listlessly put them on the table at his side.

"Too tired to read, eh?" said Perkins, and then with the advance-agent instinct strong within him he selected a clipping, and touching the violinist on the shoulder: "Let me read this one to you. It is by Herr Totenkellar. He is a hard nut to crack, but he did himself proud this time. Great critic when he wants to be."

Perkins cleared his throat and began: "Diotti combines tremendous feeling with equally tremendous technique. The entire audience was under the witchery of his art." Diotti slowly negatived that statement with bowed head. "His tone is full, round and clear; his interpretation lends a story-telling charm to the music; for, while we drank deep at the fountain of exquisite melody, we saw sparkling within the waters the lights of Paradise. New York never has heard his equal. He stands alone, pre-eminent, an artistic giant."

"Now, that's what I call great," said the impresario, dramatically; "when you hit Totenkellar that way you are good for all kinds of money."

Perkins took his hat and cane and moved toward the door. The violinist arose and extended his hand wearily. "Good-day" came simultaneously; then "I'm off. We'll turn 'em away to-morrow; see if we don't!" Whereupon Perkins left Diotti alone in his misery.

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