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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: 5

"That is what I have thought for a long while, sir," replied the boy, as, copy in hand, he started for the office of the Herald.

Within a few hours everyone in Boomville knew that Mrs. Anderson, the mayor's wife, was to assume a rôle in the drama, "Loved and Lost," at the opera house that evening, and all the lady's friends, all her enemies and almost everybody else who ever attended theatrical performances at all had made up their minds to go and see her.

Besides, the offer of a plated spoon as a souvenir was almost irresistible; people who had more solid silver spoons than they had any use for fell over each other in their frantic haste to secure seats for the evening's performance and make sure of the coveted spoon.

"We haven't had an advance sale like this since the house was built," said the local manager to Mr. Wattles, a short time before the doors were opened. "Why, there isn't a seat left in the house except in the gallery, and they will be all filled as soon as the doors are thrown open. And I understand that there is no sale at all at the other house. I don't believe there'll be a baker's dozen there. It was a great idea of yours to get Mrs. Anderson to appear."

"I claim no credit for it at all," said Mr. Wattles. "It was all the work of that bright young fellow."

"Oh, by the way," interrupted Mr. Perley, taking an envelope from his pocket, "here is something that came for you a few minutes ago; I had nearly forgotten about it."

Mr. Wattles tore open the note and ran his eyes over its contents. As he did so the expression of his face underwent such a remarkable change that his companion said, uneasily:

"There's nothing the matter, is there?"

"I should say there was," was the reply. "We're in a nice fix. Mrs. Anderson won't play!"


"Mrs. Anderson won't play?" almost shrieked Mr. Perley.

"That's what I said—Mrs. Anderson won't play," replied the manager of the combination, with the calmness of despair. "Read this."

The note which he handed his companion read as follows:

"Mr. A. Wattles:

"Dear Sir: I deeply regret my inability to appear this evening as I promised. My husband objects so strongly that I have no alternative but to yield to his wishes. Trusting that this will cause you no inconvenience, I am,

"Faithfully yours,

"Blanche Anderson."

"'Trusting that it will cause us no inconvenience,'" groaned Mr. Perley. "Isn't that like a woman? Well, Wattles, we are in a nice little fix now. Of course, we shall have to give three-fourths of the audience their money back."

"Yes; but that isn't the worst of it. Think of the roasting the papers will give us!"

"Don't speak of it. And it's all your fault; you would be fool enough to listen to that kid."

"Don't say any more, Perley. I must have been out of my head."

"It isn't worth while to get excited, gentlemen," said a calm voice.

And looking in the direction from which it proceeded, the two men saw Al Allston standing in the doorway.

"You young rascal——" began Mr. Wattles, but Al silenced him by a gesture:

"There is no time to waste, gentlemen," he said. "I told you that Mrs. Anderson would appear to-night, and she will."

"Do you mean to say," cried Mr. Wattles, "that you can make her do this in defiance of her husband's will?"

"Her husband will agree after he has had a short talk with me," was the boy's reply. "Go right ahead with your preparations for the performance, gentlemen; Mrs. Anderson will be here as per agreement."

And, without waiting for a reply, Al left the room.

"Well," said Mr. Wattles, drawing a long breath, "I never saw the equal of that kid. Do you know, I think he will do what he has promised."

Mr. Perley shook his head.

"It's out of the question now," he said. "Mayor Anderson is one of the stubbornest men in the world; if he has said that his wife shall not appear, she will not. The boy was talking through his hat."

"Well," said the manager of the New York Comedy Company, "all we can do now is to trust to luck. Go ahead and let the people in, and we'll see whether this confounded stage-struck female turns up or not. Somehow, I believe the lad knew what he was talking about."

Meantime Al had reached the mayor's house, a pretentious mansion on the most fashionable thoroughfare in Boomville.

In response to the rather supercilious "What is it?" from the servant who opened the door, he presented his card and asked to see Mrs. Anderson.

"I don't think she'll see you," said the flunky, "but I'll give her your card if you wish."

"I do wish," said the boy. "Give her the card, and tell her that I wish to see her on very important business that will admit of no delay."

The man left with the card. In a few moments he returned, saying with a grin:

"She don't know you, and she won't see you."

And with an impudent leer, he extended the card to the boy.

Al took it and hurriedly wrote a few words on the back. Then he returned it to the servant, saying:

"Give it to Mrs. Anderson again; I think she will see me."

The man hesitated, then said:

"Well, I'll take it to her, but the chances are she'll give me orders to kick you out."

With this cheering assurance he again departed.

"I didn't like to do it," murmured Al, "but there was no help for it."

In a few moments the flunky returned, his manner completely changed.

"Please be kind enough to step into the drawing room, sir," he said, with the utmost politeness; "Mrs. Anderson will be down in one minute."

A few minutes after Al Allston had left the theater a showily dressed, red-faced man of about thirty sauntered into the manager's private office where Mr. Wattles was seated alone.

"So, Wattles, old man," he said, extending his hand, "we meet again."

The manager started to his feet.

"How dare you show your face here?" he cried, angrily.

"Eh! What's all this?" said the newcomer, in real or feigned surprise.

"I don't want to have anything more to do with you. A nice sort of advance agent you are, aren't you?"

"There's none better, so they say," replied the fellow, with a tipsy leer. "What are you on your ear about?"

"I have no time to bandy words with you. You are discharged."

"What's that—I discharged? What ails you, Wattles?"

"That's enough, Dick Farley. I told you after your last drunk that if the same thing occurred again I should have nothing more to do with you, and I meant it. Get out!"

"But, Wattles, I haven't been on a booze. I have been drugged and kidnaped. Listen and I'll tell you all about it; it's the queerest affair you ever heard of."

"I guess it is; I know your talent for inventing yarns. I don't want to hear this one."

"Do you mean to insult me?"

And Farley's face reddened.

"That would be impossible."

"It would, eh? See here, Gus Wattles, do you mean to say that you are going to throw me over and ruin my chances in the business?"

"It is your own fault. I want to have nothing more to do with you."

"Then I'm bounced?"

"That is it, exactly."

"Oh, it is? Well, I'll show you!"

And the drink-maddened ruffian suddenly drew a knife and, brandishing it above his