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قراءة كتاب Ahead of the Show; Or, The Adventures of Al Allston, Advance Agent

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‏اللغة: English
Ahead of the Show; Or, The Adventures of Al Allston, Advance Agent

Ahead of the Show; Or, The Adventures of Al Allston, Advance Agent

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 2

href="@public@vhost@g@gutenberg@html@files@39454@[email protected]#CHAPTER_XXIII" class="pginternal" tag="{}a">139

XXIV. A Clew. 145 XXV. On the Track. 151 XXVI. "Dr. Ferguson." 157 XXVII. An Unlucky Error. 163 XXVIII. An Exciting Interview. 169 XXIX. A Dangerous Job Ahead. 175 XXX. Hard Luck. 181 XXXI. A Woman's Vengeance. 187 XXXII. And Last. 193



"If I had that fellow here I'd make him wish he'd never heard the name of Augustus Wattles. And I'll do it some day, too."

The manager and proprietor of Wattles' New York Comedy Company was very, very "mad." His naturally florid face was redder than usual, and his fists were clinched in a manner that augured no good to the "fellow" referred to, had that individual chanced to appear upon the scene at this precise moment.

He stood at the door of the Boomville Opera House, in company with the local manager, Mr. Cyrus Perley, who seemed in some degree to share his discomfiture and anger.

A group of stragglers listened in silence to their conversation, gazing at them with that peculiar and unaccountable reverence that many people feel for members of the theatrical profession.

"It's pretty tough," said Mr. Perley, "but it isn't my fault."

"I know it isn't. Well, this is the last time that loafer will play that trick on me. He thinks that because I have been easy with him in the past there is no end to my patience. I'll show him that he is making the mistake of his life."

"Of course, you will discharge him?"

"You had better believe I will. A healthy sort of advance agent he is! Think of my bringing my company to a town of the importance of Boomville, to find that absolutely no advance work has been done, that my advance agent, to whom I pay a fancy salary, has not even showed his face in the town."

"I suppose he has succumbed to his old complaint?" said Mr. Perley.

"Of course; he is drunk beyond the shadow of a doubt, and may not show up again for a week. Well, when he does, he'll meet with a warm reception from me. We ought to have had an eight-hundred-dollar house to-night, and now we'll be lucky if we take in half that amount."

"I don't expect we'll do as well as that. It wouldn't have made so much difference under ordinary circumstances, but, as luck will have it, they've got the strongest attraction of the season at the other house—the 'Crack of Doom' Company. You know that's a big puller everywhere."

"Sure. They have a railway collision, a tank of real water, a buzz saw and two real lunatics in the insane asylum scene."

"Yes, and their advance man has worked the show up in great shape here. According to him, the leading lady lost nine thousand dollars' worth of diamonds on her way here, and the soubrette is going to marry Chauncey Depew. And they give souvenirs to-night in honor of the five hundredth performance of the piece."

"They've been giving that five hundredth performance in every town they've played in for the last month; and their souvenirs are not worth over fifty cents a gross."

"All very true, but the public will have 'em. I hoped your advance man would have some taking counter-attraction."

"So he did have, but—— Oh, well, it's no use talking about that. What's done can't be helped, but I won't be left in this way again. Where is the nearest telegraph office?"

"On the next block. What are you going to do?"

"Wire to New York for a new advance agent. I happen to know of an A1 man who is out of an engagement. There are two or three others after him, but I guess I can make it worth his while to go with me. I won't get left in this way again, you can bet your boots!"

"That's all right," growled Mr. Perley, "but it doesn't help out the present engagement any."

"No, but we are joint sufferers in that, and we may as well grin and bear it."

And the irate manager of the New York Comedy Company started for the telegraph office with fire in his eyes and a look of determination on his face.

Neither he nor Mr. Perley had observed the presence in the little group of listeners to their conversation of a rather good-looking, well-dressed boy of about eighteen.

This lad did not lose a word of the excited discussion, and, as the manager started to walk away, he muttered:

"This is the chance I have been looking for; I won't let the opportunity slip. It doesn't seem as if there would be much hope for me, but there's no harm in trying, anyhow."

He followed Mr. Wattles, and just before that gentleman reached the telegraph office he tapped him on the shoulder.

The manager turned quickly. When he saw the boy, he asked, impatiently:

"Well, what is it?"

"Can I speak with you a few minutes, sir?"

"Not now, not now."

Mr. Wattles was about to resume his walk, but the boy laid a detaining hand on his arm.

"I want to see you on business, sir."

"You have business with me?"

"Important business, sir."

"Well, well, I'll see you in a few minutes; I've got to send an important telegram now."

"But I want to see you before you send that telegram."

"Before I send the telegram? Why?"

"Because I think I can prove to you that it is not necessary to wire to New York at all."

"Eh? Why, how did you know that I was going to wire to New York?"

"I overheard what you said to Mr. Perley in front