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cated by large sliding doors, now, as it “I was just going to ask that very happened, wide open. Mrs. Onthank question myself,” said some one, in a was holding communion with a young loud, confident, cheerful voice, at our man, who sat at the table writing. rery elbow.
Willis looked rather apprehensively " What the !” exclaimed Willis, at this tableau, for he was terribly nerv- springing up in a monstrous rage, for ous about the old eagle in his dove's he made sure he had been overheard. nest; but, his mind being full of what It was the young man from the front he wanted to say, he began at once, parlor, whose approach we had entirely with the queerest possible expression on failed to observe, in our preoccupation. his face-a most unexpected, and, to As sure as I'm alive, it was a reportme, inexplicable mixture of something er! Willis saw it as quickiy as I did, funny with all his misery, as if a mar- and the horror and disgust and wrath tyr amid the flames should all at once that lightened across his visage were
something awful to see. But, with a “I've contrived something,” he said, severe effort, he restrained himself, “that I'm in hopes will do a little good, though he could not ask the young and I want to know how it strikes you. man to sit down. So they stood; but Onthank found it very difficult to bring their parts were oddly interchanged; her plans to a practical focus, and I for Willis began at once to ask quesfound that she and Susy were going to tious, his eyes flashing ominously get into an awful mess; so I just volun- trough the mask of civility which he teered to be their business man."
could scarcely keep on; while the eager I couldn't help a smile. He smiled reporter, note-book in one hand and too, rather grimly, however.
pencil in the other, looked ridiculous "Well, that's better than to have all enough in answering questions, his affasorts of swindles perpetrated on the ble smile and brazen professional unwomen, over and above the thing itself. scrupulousness being entirely out of the I'd stand and take checks at the door, game. if necessary. I should mount blue "A reporter, I see! From what paspectacles, however, and a blonde wig per, permit me to inquire ?" and beard."
“From the Daily Despot. -" He was quite right, too. But the led “I am Mr. Willis. Allow me to inhusband of an actress !
quire what procures me the honor of Willis saw what I was thinking, and this visit ?” continued, always with that same curi- The young man, evidently offended, ous, grim smile :
produced one of those cards which are “Now, Charley-really, I'm almost commonly carried as credentials by afraid to whisper even "_he did, in those of his profession, and handed it fact, drop bis voice very low—“I've to Willis. organized for to-morrow night just as “ That is the managing editor's sigmany machineries as I could possibly nature-Mr. Priam Scrawshaw. He imagine, to make a dead failure.” authorized me to prepare an article cal
“Hush! careful! Not a sound ! culated to interest the public in Mrs. he cried, softly, but with an indescrib- Willis herself, for to-morrow morning. able intensity, while the queer, mixed It is better, in such cases, for the friends expression deepened on his face; for I of parties to give correct information. had almost repeated his last words Won't you tell me aloud, in my startled state. We looked “But why will it not do to refuse inat each other, and laughed as well as formation ?” interrupted Willis. we could without making any noise, and, The reporter by this time quite brisby a mutual impulse, we shook hands. tled up at being fed out of his own
“But, for goodness' sake, what are dish in this way, and evidently felt cx. the items ?” I said, at last, very quietly. tremely abused.
a suffi- paper.
,” he said, in an impudent rent, deeply sympathizing with the sortone, "a telling statement must be had; rows of her sexand, if the details desired cannot be got “How much more is there of it ?” at from first hands, we must do the st interrupted Willis, in a constrained we can in the office; and sometimes we voice. are liable, of course, to mistakes."
“A good deal. That's not a quarter This last hint in a very significant of it." manner.
The reporter was, by this time, about “Well, but I suppose you have se- as enraged as Willis. cured most of what you want?”
“Won't you give me my book, if you “Oh, yes; but the public will natu- please ?” said he, very shortly. rally be interested in the husband of “Stop!” said Willis, and, quietly the débutante, and, now-a-days, we regu- taking it himself, he tore out the young larly interview the whole fam when gentleman's notes, and put them in his one member of it is concerned." pocket. Then, handing the book to its
“Won't you let me see what you owner, he said, still in a rather unnatuhave written, if you please ? ”
ral tone, and, as I could see well enough, The young fellow hesitated, and look though the reporter could not, in a ed quite furious. Willis added : dreadful white-heat of restrained anger,
“It's fair enough to let me see what “There, sir! Permit me to wish you you're going to say about my own good-day. When you want further inwife !”
formation about my family, won't you With a grin, the reporter handed call at my office in business hours, and over his note-book. It was Willis' turn obtain it of me?" to be enraged.
"I'll do just as I think best for the " Short-hand !” he said, in
If you know what's best. for ciently ugly tone.
yourself, you'll give me those notes, “Let me see it," I interrupted; for, quick." among the few matters that I had ever “Go out!” said Willis, so quietly studied with much attention, the beau- that the foolish reporter completely tiful art of phonographic reporting was misunderstood, and answered,
I had, in fact, been at one time a “Not until you give me my propersort of amateur reporter; and I found ty." no difficulty in reading out the notes. There is a legal phrase which means, They were, being interpreted, somewhat “He laid hands on him softly"-mollithus—the dexterous fellow having skil- ter manus imposuit—which pleasing defully shaped his matter so as to save scription includes whatever pounding any further trouble except simply or other violence is necessary for pertending" the notes :
suading the absence of any unauthor“Mrs. Susy Willis, the new aspirant ized personage. This soft laying on of to the honors of the tragédienne, who is hands was now performed with incredito appear to-night at the Thea- ble celerity and in entire silence by tre, in the role of Ophelia, is the be- Willis, who, without one single word, loved wife of Mr. Thomas Willis, one seized by the collar the representative of our first citizens. Née Onthank, she of that mighty engine, the Press, profirst won the heart of her lord amid the pelled him with swift and irresistible rustic solitudes of Herkimer county's force across the room and through the primeval wilds, and, it is whispered, hall, and then, opening the door, ejectunder singularly romantic circumstan- ed him down the steps, insomuch that ces, which we may relate at a future he crumpled up in a heap on the sideperiod. Endowed with a singularly walk. I had the presence of mind to lovely person, gifted with noble talents, bring his hat from the front parlor, and of spotless private character, and, like Willis set it out on the top step. Jumpher energetic and fearless maternal pa- ing up with alacrity, the unterrified re
porter recovered his head-gear, and, by and perhaps that will help. My whole the time I had reached the parlor-win- faith is that she will never try it a secdow, there he was, standing by the ond time. If she does, I must give it lamp-post, scribbling away in his note- up,
up, I suppose. Well, it's disagreeable book with the most vengeful speed, enough so far, and I suppose the worst doubtless reproducing his lost treasure is to come. "Thus bad begins, and with amplifications, and adding the worse remains behind,' as Hamlet will volunteer item.
morrow evening. Come, it's Mrs. Onthank had judiciously disap- dinner-time." peared as soon as the colloquy between He had been speaking with intense her son-in-law and the reporter began. feeling. He turned short about, howWillis, having closed the front door, ever, with his quotation, and at table marched into the parlor, looking some- he was the hospitable and genial gentlehow as if he wanted a good excuse to man that he always had been. I could spill the blood of half-a-dozen human not but wonder at the craft and dissimbeings.
ulation with which he was covering the “Well, you've done it now," I said. mine that he had laid to explode the " What a figure you'll cut in the Daily plans of his innocent little wife and her Despot to-morrow! I know that Scraw- unlovely old mother. Yet I thought, shaw. He's an ugly dog, and he'll try and still think, he was right. It takes to do you a mischief."
a real experience—and a very painful Willis was really too angry to speak. one may be necessary—to prevail against He made one or two turns through the a foolish, energetic old woman, or a misroom, his face white and his fists taken, conscientious young woman, and clenched.
still more against both together. “Well," he said, at last, “I've done it, as you say. It can't be helped now. Next morning, as may be imagined, I All we can do, is, to get through to looked into the Daily Despot with awful morrow as soon as possible. Fortunate- apprehensions. I looked at the usual ly, there's plenty to do.”
place in the fifth page. Finding noth“But you haven't told me about your ing there, I examined the dreary masses devices."
of “Nonpareil solid” which fill up “Why, I've corrupted the manager, the “ City Department.” “Scrawshaw who is interested in another lady be hasn't surely made so much of it as to sides, and don't want my wife to suc- put it on the editorial page ?” I said to ceed, and he's put wretched sticks for myself. Sure enough, he hadn't. Then the rest of the people. I've arranged I studied every one of the whole fortyto have the fires go wrong, and so the eight columns of the great daily, from house will be cold and smoky. There'll top to bottom. You could not have be a most untunable orchestra—for ascertained from the Daily Despot that they're to have a little fiddling before any body was going to make a first apand between and with the songs. The pearance at all, except by the usual adprompter is to be careless—though the vertisement. There was no article, no play is so old that that isn't of much paragraph, no line, no word. I was account. Possibly I can have the gas- perfectly puzzled. Very quickly, howlight fail at one or two of the strongest ever, I saw what it meant. The reportscenes ; but that is a little uncertain. er had told the story of his wrongs, and And there's been a great deal of incivil- the cool head of the managing editor ity exercised in refusing free tickets." had imagined the worst of newspaper
“Why, Willis, what a frightful, cold- revenges—a strangle. Mrs. Willis was blooded, brutal scheme !"
not to be mentioned in the Daily Des“Surgeon's kindness, my dear fellow pot. -a few sharp cuts, and it's over. She “ All right, my covey!” said I—slang don't know what stage-fright is, either, out of " Jack Sheppard " is good enough
for Scrawshaw. “That will suit Willis Every now and then some person or to a dot. Perhaps it could be made little party arose and departed. A lady surer yet by an agonized remonstrance.” who thus passed by me shivered, and
And, as I knew Scrawshaw enough said to her escort, to justify a call, I went, on my own re- “Ugh! it feels like a grave. Let's sponsibility, to see him. I explained go and see Pillicoddy." to him that this silence was unexpect- I remembered Mr. Greeley's descriped, and how discouraging, and even tion of what he considered a success for fatal, any coldness or unfriendliness on him in addressing an audience—“when the part of the Despot must be to the not more than half the people go out!" fair débutante. Scrawshaw heard me When it was time for the curtain to with a grin.
rise, it did not rise. The fiddlers, who “Sorry," he said, looking perfectly had fiddled once, fiddled again, the delighted—"very sorry! But this Mr. second violin elaborately dragging, Willis grossly insulted one of the gen- each time, about a quarter of a note tlemen employed by the paper. I de- behind the leader, so as to minister spise any thing abusive, of course. The wrath, and not pleasure, to the vexed high tone of our journal is well known, listener. Then, after a time, there arose and shall ever be maintained by me. among the audience, well-disposed and At the same time, self-respect requires patient though it was, a scattered stampthat he be taught a lesson. Mrs. Willis ing, which quickly gathered into a cannot be named, or alluded to, in this heavy, angry rhythmic tramp; and paper, except in the advertising col- above this, like bright bayonets above
The publisher controls those.” a line of battle, there leaped up a few I affected great misery, and inquired sharp cries : if an apology would do any good; but
hi!” Scrawshaw was as immovable as Rha
" Roll it up!" damanthus. So, on the whole, our in- Roll
rag ! terview was mutually satisfactory, and After some minutes of this disagreeI could only wish that there might be able uproar, the curtain did rise, and spite enough in the reporter, and esprit the performance began. It is not worth de corps enough in his brethren, to re- while to analyze it in detail. Suffice it duce the whole phalanx of them to an to say, that the little wooden men and equally obstinate silence next morning. women out of a toy Noah's Ark would
have appeared better than these fearful Well, the evening came, as all the actors, because they would have done evenings of this world will, if we can nothing, while the present players did only wait long enough. I remember whatever they ought not. They strutted very distinctly the half-light that filled and straddled, mouthed and mummed, the great auditorium; the uncomfort- talked to the audience instead of each able chilliness of the air-for it really other, made the most astounding new seemed as if the November of the whole readings—in all ways dilated and enorcity had gathered together and crowd- mified the intrinsic absurdities of acted ed into this one building, on purpose tragedy, until, to my poor mind at to discomfort this audience; the scat- least, there arose out of the fantastic tered besprinklement of the spectators, scene a comedy indescribably more fanthinly set here and there along the vast tastic, but ironic and melancholy rather concentric ranges of seats and boxes. than humorsome, so that I could not It was a dreary house enough. Willis, laugh, but was sorry to see them so of course, was not visible. Mrs. On- earnest and busy in making such frightthank, no doubt, was with her daugh- ful fools of themselves. I remember, ter, But I distinguished the broad for instance, that the Hamlet of this shoulders and solid head of Frow von tragic evening knocked the significance Rosefeld in one of the stage-boxes. out of one of his speeches before the ghost, by saying, " As for my soul, what scene, at the “ Exeunt, R.;" yet it was can it do to that ? ” pointing to the charity-not tribute. ghost at the word “that," and thus say- Ophelia enters, it will be rememing exactly the opposite of what the bered, for the second time, where the words were meant to mean. Perhaps Queen arranges with her the little exthe special gem of the performance— periment that is to show whether Hamlooked at, that is to say, as a most com- let is out of his wits for the love of the ical and sad tragedy-was in Act III., maiden; and this scene was like the Scene 1, where the Prince instructs the former, except that there was scarceplayer, and where every word and ges- ly “a hand.” Ophelia now Retires, ture of “the respected Hamlick " R. U. E."
The rest also “ Exeunt, R. 8. (Jeames Yellowplush's words belonged E. ;” and “ Enter HAMLET (L.),” abexactly to the personation of this even- sorbed in the misery and doubt of his ing) were the most thorough yet pains- sad circumstances, and now he recites taking and sincere violation of all the that famous “Soliloquy," so many hungood precepts that he was laying dreds of thousands of times repeated down.
by men, boys, fools, and actors, yet still Ophelia's first appearance, of course, fresh with the same dreary, unfathomwas in the dialogue with Laertes, at his able sadness and doubt and dread. departing for France, and the entry of I remember, when I was a boy at the fair débutante was greeted with the school, there used to prevail among us kindly conventional salvo of applause, a superstition that every third effort or which was redoubled when the fair face experiment was the decisive one. We blushed to be so greeted, and the grace- used to state this doctrine in the phrase, ful, delicate little figure bowed in em- 6 The third time always goes it." The barrassed acknowledgment. Her very present occasion was a case in point; first speech of four words told the whole for poor Ophelia did "go it" with a story :
vengeance, at this her third entrance. Opr. (R.) “Do you doubt that?"
It was purely an accident; it could not,
in the nature of the case, have been It told the story, because I could not arranged beforehand; and yet it had unhear it. She felt the "stage-fright," no questionably a more powerful influence doubt; but that was not the trouble.
upon the result of the whole evening's Her sweet, silvery voice was for a room, work than all Willis' secret basenesses, not for an auditorium. Though she successful as they were. Just as Hamhad screeched, she would not have let, with good emphasis and discretion, filled the air of that great theatre; she recited, would only have cut it. I had reckoned
“ Than fly to others that we know not of," on this, of course ; but I was surprised to see how nearly her words were un- and exactly where the stage-directors heard. The audience, thoroughly pa- assert that “ OPHELIA reënters at R. U. tient and kind, hushed itself to listen ; E.,” she did reënter, and in a manner the furthest of them gathered noiseless- that, in spite of my fright and astonly up towards the orchestra ; and so, ishment, I couldn't help remembering with great pains, she could be heard by might be taken as an absurd attempt to those who were present. But not half exemplify that line; for she certainly of a full house could have understood seemed to be flying to others that she a word she said. As the dialogue pro- knew not of. In stepping, perhaps a ceeded, I could see that some hint of little too hastily, upon the scene, her the difficulty was given to her-doubt foot caught in the edge of the carpet less by Laertes himself;
that was laid down as a proper furnishtibly struggled for greater volume of ing of the “hall in the palace.” She tone, and with some little benefit. The all but pitched headlong down upon applause was repeated at the end of the her nose; and, in the instinctive effort
for she percep