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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: 7


Al rose to go.

"You will not change your mind again, Mrs. Anderson?" he asked, a little apprehensively.

"No, no," laughed the lady. "I have never changed it at all. I shall be there."


Mr. Anderson accompanied Al to the door.

"I would have granted almost any other request you might have made with more willingness," he said. "I have a strongly rooted objection to my wife appearing on the stage."

"I am very sorry, sir," said Al. "But, perhaps, as Mrs. Anderson says, you will feel differently when you see her."

"I doubt it very much. Now, tell me, why did you insist upon this sacrifice on my part? What is it to you whether my wife appears or not?"

"I haven't time to tell you now, sir," the boy replied. "I must return to the theater at once."

"Can you call at my office, at the City Hall, to-morrow?"

"Yes, sir."

"Do so, then, at, say, ten in the morning. I should like to have a talk with you; I want to know more of you."

"I will be there, Mr. Anderson. Good-evening, sir."

"Good-evening, my lad."

As Al hurried along to take the good news to Mr. Wattles, he muttered:

"Well, I didn't think I had so much cheek. I wouldn't have insisted upon Mrs. Anderson's appearing if there had really been any harm in it, but I'm sure it can't damage her or her husband much. Besides, she gave her promise, and she ought to keep it."

As the boy hurried through the long corridor leading to the manager's office, his attention was attracted by the sound of loud and excited voices, and, listening, he heard a portion of the conversation taking place between Mr. Wattles and his ex-advance agent. As we have seen, he reached the office just in time to see Farley standing over the manager with uplifted knife, and to interfere.

The advance agent proved himself a coward, for the weapon dropped from his fingers, and, throwing up his hands, he cried:

"Don't shoot! Mercy, mercy!"

Mr. Wattles picked up the knife.

"Allston," he said, "go for a policeman."

As Al turned to leave the room, Farley cried, imploringly:

"Wait! Wattles, old man, I didn't know what I was doing. The fact is, I have been drinking pretty hard lately, but I shall be all right in a day or two."

"You don't expect to get back in my employ again, do you?" the manager asked, sternly.

"No, no, I don't. All I ask is that you will not utterly ruin all my chances for life by having me arrested. Things look bad enough for me without that."

"Very well, Farley, I'll let you off this time, but I warn you to keep out of my way in the future."

"If I keep straight and show you that I am at my best we may do business together again, eh, Wattles?"

"No, sir; I shall never have anything more to do with you."

"Perhaps you'll think better of that. You haven't had time to fill my place yet."

"I've got a better man for your place than you ever were," said the manager.

"Who is he?" demanded Farley.

"There he stands;" and Mr. Wattles pointed to Al.

"That kid?" gasped Farley.

"That young gentleman," said the manager, with theatrical impressiveness.

Farley stared at the boy a few moments without speaking; then, with a peculiar smile, he said:

"So you are an advance agent, are you, bub?"

"So it seems," replied Al, as coolly as he could.

"Well, you won't remain one long; I will see to that. Take my advice and quit the business before the temperature gets too high. See? Yes, I think you do. I don't propose——"

"Look here," interrupted Mr. Wattles, "I've had just about enough of this. Are you going to get out or are you not?"

Farley backed toward the door.

"I am," he said. "Ta, ta, Wattles! Ta, ta, my young friend! But we shall meet again, and don't you forget, either of you, to paste that fact in your hat."

And he swaggered out of the room.

"The impudent scoundrel!" exclaimed Mr. Wattles. "I let him off too easy. If I am not mistaken, we shall have more trouble with him."

"Never mind about him," interrupted Al. "Do you know that it is almost eight o'clock, Mr. Wattles?"

"Good gracious! So it is! And Mrs. Anderson——"

"It's all right."

"She will appear?"


The manager grasped his companion's hand.

"Allston," he said, "you are a wonder."

"That's just what you want for an advance agent, isn't it?" the boy asked, with a laugh.

"Yes. Did she come with you?"

"No, but she is probably here by this time."

"How did you do it?"

"I'll tell you some other time, sir."

"That's right; we have no time to waste in talk now. I'll go and see if she has arrived. I should be in a nice fix if she changed her mind again."

"She won't, Mr. Wattles."

Scarcely hearing the last words, the manager rushed from the room.

"Well," mused Al, "if Mr. Wattles is a man of his word I am his advance agent now. It will be my fault if I don't make the best of the opportunity. But it's dollars to doughnuts that I shall have trouble with that loafer, Farley. Well, I guess I can hold my own."

He was interrupted by the sudden entrance of Mr. Wattles.

"It's all right, my boy," laughed the manager.

"You haven't seen her yet?"

"No, but I've seen Perley, and he tells me she is here, and is dressing for the part. He thinks that she is going to make a big hit."

"Of course she will," laughed Al; "she is the leader of society here, and it would be treason not to like her."

The manager smiled.

"You know something of the world," he said.

"Not as much as I would like to. But, seriously, sir, Mrs. Anderson is not such a bad actress, and I shouldn't wonder if she did make a hit."

"She'll have to be a second Ristori, if she does in that part," grinned Mr. Wattles. "There's nothing to it; but, for all that, the woman who has been playing it is wild because I have taken it away from her for one night."

"Have you explained the circumstances to her?"

"Have I? I've talked myself nearly deaf in doing so, but it was of no use."

"She must be very thick-headed if she can't see how you are placed."

"My dear boy, a woman will never see anything she doesn't want to see. But never mind about all that. I don't care particularly whether the woman is suited or not; I can fill her place at a few hours' notice. And now I must go and see how things are going. I have a good stage manager, but I have to do a lot of the work myself, for all that. And I must acknowledge that I do feel a little nervous at letting an untrained amateur appear in the piece without a rehearsal. Come with me, and we'll see if everything is going smoothly."

Al followed the manager through the long passage way and out into a damp, dingy court, on the opposite side of which was a door bearing the inscription: "Stage Door. No Admittance."

Passing through the sacred portals, Mr. Wattles and Al stepped upon the stage.

Al had been "behind the scenes" before; the scene that met his eyes was not an entirely unfamiliar one, and he trod the boards with the nonchalant air of a veteran.

"Well, Sparkley, how does everything go?" asked the manager of an anxious-looking elderly man, whom the boy rightly guessed to be the stage manager.

"Badly enough," was the reply. "There's been a big row, and your society amateur refuses to appear."