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Beatrix Randolph

Beatrix Randolph image
Parent Issue
Day
4
Month
February
Year
1891
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Olie nioraing in the early autnmn a gentleman was performing his toilet in one of the handsomest bedehambers of a certain hotel near Union square in the city of New York. He was apparently about 50 years of age, of medium height, stout, with a broad, flat head, from the top of which the hair had disappeared, leaving a bushy ring round the sides and back. His face, which was ruddy and broad. with a large nose and a thick mouth, indicated coarse good nature and shrewdness, tempered by irritability. At the moment we come upon him he was standing in his shirt and trousera before the looking glass, endeavoring to adjust a scarf necktie of brilliant colora. Something seemed to be wrong with the fastenings, and after a few ineffectual ' struggles he wrathfully flnng this important article of a gentleman's attire on the floor, emphasizing the act with an audible expletive. He then walked to the mantelpiece and poured some of the contents of a decanter into a tumbler, gazed at the liquor for a moment, and tossed it down his throat. He turned to the table, upon which, among various other articles, was lying a foreign cablegram. He took this up and glanced over it glooinily, then tlirust his hands into his trousers pockets and strode heavily to the window, where he remained, niaking inarticulate grunts and mutterings, and occasionally puckering his tliick lips Júpiter? And here I am, a poor man today, id they rolling in riches! And haven't 1 .iust gone and built the fiaest opera house in the world for a million and a half of dollars out of iny own . pocket and" "Yes, for a poor and virtuous man you've done pretty well, general." put in o ociyn, removing his hat anci yawnmg. "But what's the matter? Has the chorus struck for higher wages? or won't the electric light work? or didn't that fellow at the chib pay you the five dollars you won of him? or haven't you had your cocktail this morning? or what?" With an air of terrible calmness Gen. Iñigo aróse, took the telegram from the table, and hamled it to his friend without a word. The latter received it indolently, discngaged from his fob pocket a pair of eyeglasses, placed thein across the handsome curve of his nose, and began to read the telegram with a sigh. Meanwhile the general, with a certain air of tragic satisfaction, repaired to the mantelpiece and repeated his late action with the decanter and tumbler. He then resumed his chair, still in silence. Jocelyn had by this time reread the telegram more than once, had said "Humphl" in several tones, and had ten his lip and pulled at his side whiskers reflectlvely. "Well," he observed at length, returning the paper to the other, "she has played it pretty low down on j'ou, Inigo, and no mistake! Any idea what's got into her?" The general lifted his shoulders and eyebrows and spread out his hands. He had temporarily become as voiceless as he was just now voluble. He was enjoying the dignity of unutterable wrongs. "Any row about ternas?" pursued Jocelyn. The impresario smiled scornfully, as one who could not deign to correct such an insinuation. "Must be something, yon know," said Jocelyn. "A woman doesn't throwaway twelve thousand dollars a week for nothing. Depend on it you've stepped on her toes somehow. 111 teil you what it may be - you haven"t put about any photographs of her. Of course! What are 3rou thinking of?" "Yes, you are one of those fellows that think they can fix everything in five minutes," growled the impresario, breaking silence at List. "Now just you look at this." He held up a broad, square topped forefinger. "That woman has never had a photograph, nor any Bort of picture, made of her in her life. She won"t allow it to be done. Thafs her fad, and, by Júpiter, it's pretty smart of her, when you come to think of it!" "Homely, is she? Has to depsnd on her voioe. I see." "You don't see an inch before yonr nose! She inay depend on her voice when she's nothing else to depend on. There'8 not inother voice liko it ever been heard iu America; but - homely! Well, I saw her last }rear in St. Petersburg, and if ever I set my eyes on a handsomer woman I'll take 'em out of my head and give 'em to her! No, sir! I'm a judge, it any man is, and I say that for face, figure and movement there ain't her equal on the stage today." "Then why the deuce" "Exactly. That's just it. 'Why the deuce?' is the whole thing in a nutshell. Everybody says it, and what's the restdt? Why, that everybody's ten times as hot to see her as i f they all had her picture tucked away in their breast pockets, or their watch cases, or on their mantelpieces, if they're bachelors. She makes on it every time. She knows that any woman can be made to look handsome in a photograph; but she's the only handsome woman before the public whose photo's never been seen. I teil you, sir, curiosity, if it's managed well, will make two dollars where beauty or anything else will make one. There's no advertisement ever came up to it! And to work up curiosity has been that woman's pet scheme from the start. There's more stories going about her, and scandal aud fewer facts than you can put your fingers on. Oh, she's smart!" "She's overdone it this time," Jocelyn remarked. " 'Unable to keep my contract' is what her telegram says; 'will pay forfeit.' How much is that, by the by?" "Bah! I would as lief take ten cents! Am 1 a man to cry about a little money? That ain't my trouble. But here I am, with my opera house built, and my posters out for three weeks back, nnd advertisements and paragraphs in every paper in the Union, and everybody on their bpam ends to get the first sight of the great Russian prima donna (though whether she's liussian, or Irish, or American, the devil only knows; it's just what she's a mind to cali it), and my great prima donna drops me a telegram that she ain't coming, by Júpiter! A nice figure she makes me cut, don't she? Here I am, with a public record of fifteen years, and never once disappointed an audience. or kept them waiting, or failed to give them their money's worth, and now, after all my labor and planning and contriving, this is the reward I get - to be made a fooi of! The jewel reputation, thafs what she's robbed me of! I'd sooner she'd done mo out of a million. But I'll be even with her, as suro as I'm Inigo, if I have to send her an ounce of dyimmite in a jewel case!" "She's never been heard in this country, bas sher" "No, nor in England either. I don't suppose there's another man besides me in New York today that has ever heard or seen her. She's kept herself on the continent and sung for royalty and kept i herself out of people's way, as if she werO royalty nerseir - thafiT been Iie-f game. And a flrst class game it is, too, when a woman can afford to play it, aa she can. She never hollers for herself; she Iets the others do it for her. And that's why the public will pay higher to listen to her- if they could only get her - than to any other woruan that sings; and I traveled 8,000 miles and spent close on to two million dollars just so they might have what they wanted, and this is how I get left!" "Can't y ou get any other" "Any other? Oh, yes; I daré say; of coursel I think i can see 'em when I propose it! Why, they've been that jealous of this new woman, as they cal! her, and of me building a theatre for her, and cracking her up to be the finest soprano and the grandest singer in the world, that when they hear she's sold me they'll be ready to split 'emselves for j iy; that's what they'll be! And if they :ould only get me to ask one of 'em to take her place, so as to give a chance to say, 'Don't yon wish you may get me? [ do believe they'd split outright and be ione with it!" "You're confoundedly vulgar this tnorning, Inigo," observed his friend tnusingly. "ïhey say success is more trying than adversity, but I think the reverse is true in ycnr case. Of courso I wasn't thinking of snbstituting Patti or Scalchi, orany of that caliber. They'd stand on their dignity, naturally; but, as your great Russian is entirely unknown here, except by reputation, I was thinking"- He paused. 'Out with it, man, if there's anything there!" exclaimed Gen. Inigo impatiently. "By George, I shouldn't wonder if it could be done!" muttered Jocelyn, half to himself. "Why not? There's necessity enough on both sides!" "What's that?" demanded the general. 'TU teil you what I want you to do, Inigo," said Jocelyn, throwing the butt of bis cigar into thefireplace, and resuming his hat. "I want you to finish putting on your clothes, and get yourself into a composed and respectable frame of mind, and then join me downstairs, and we'll go over to the club and have breakfast. I've had only a cup of coffee this tnorning thus f ar." "Have breakfast?" cried the general indignantly. "Is that all you have to propose?" "No; not by a good deal. Unless Tm very much mistaken I've got a scheme that'll set you on your legs again, upset all the rivals and make your great Russian strangle herself for rage. But I'm going to turn it over in my mind first, and then I'll let you into it in my own way. You came to the right quarter this time, ofd fellow. But it isn't every man in the world, let me remind you, that's got a Hamilton Jocelyn to advise him." "All I have to say," returned Inigo, as he took his place once more in front of the looking glass and selected another neck scarf from the drawer, "is that whoever does Moses Inigo a good turn never has any reason to regret it. That's all I have to say at present. We'll go into details when we've heard what the good turn loóles like." "You'll find me below in the reading room," t-aid Jocelyn turning, with his hand on the door. "You'd better make your arrangements so that we can leave town i f necessary and be a way all night. And, miud you, don't open your mouth to any human soul about what has happened. Every tliinr; depends on that." "I guess I know how to hold my tongue anyhow," exclaimed the impresario resentfully. But beforo he could say more the door had closed and ho was alone. In the course of ten minutes he finished his toilet and sallied forth, jingling his door key as he went. "If he pulls ms out of this scrape, by Júpiter, I'll make his fortune," he murmured to himself, aa he took the elevator to the office floor. When the two gentlemen were seated at their breakfast table, in a retired corner of the club dining room, and had swallowed their first cup of coffee, Jocelyn opened his mouth and spake as follows: "How old is your Rtissian phoenix?" "She looks twenty and maybe thirty," the general replied. ■'Whafs her style? Stout or thin, tall or short, dark or fair?" "That's about as she likes, I expect. She's what I cali a true child of nature - changes with the seasons," said the other with a wink. "One of those women with hazel eyes and oval facs, and hair all the way from straw color to black, that can niako 'emselves look like anything. She's about medium height. When we'd signed the contract at our last interview," hecontinued, putting on a diabolical leer of retrospective gallantry, "I pressed a chaste salute upon her brow, and didn't have_to stoop_for_it." . "Probably if was the recollection of that embrace that influenced her in throwing up her engagement," remarked Jocelyn dryly. "You're a dangerous fellow with women, Inigo, in some senses! Better make all your salutes parting ones - final partings. Well, to continue, does she speak English?" "Just as well as I do myself ," returned the general emphdtically. "Poor girl!" said Jocelyn as if to himself. "What are all these questions for, anyhow?" demanded Inigo, after a pause. "What sort of an actress is she?" went on Jocelyn, not noticing the interruption. "Realistic or conventional qrjwhat?!' "Independent, I should" cali her," said the other. "She doesn't seem to act much anyhow, if you know what 1 mean. Free - graceful - spontaneous!" he explained, waving his short arm about, with a forkful of mashed potato in his hand. "Worth your money to see her just walk about the stage," he added, engulfing the potato in his enormous ja_ws. "511511 do!" said Jocelyn, leaningback in his chair with the air of a man who has succeeded in an arduous and ingenious enterprise. "Your famons Russiar. diva, my dear Signor Impresario, lives not more than a hundred miles from where we are sitting; and if I know anything about human nature, and hers in particular, she will make her appearance as per advertisement, and sing hereolf and you up to your chins in bank notes, not to mentlon iny modest Iittle commission!" "Bahl What aüs him ïiow?" said the general, helping liiniself to another croquette, "Let me teil you a Iittle story," continued Jocelyn. "About i hundrod milis front New York city thcre lived, once npoa a time, a beautifoi and talented yonng lady, only daughter of a fathur who had brongbt her up in luxuiy, refinement and seclusion. ïhis young lady had as imazing genius for music, and a voice ko ravishing that the larks caine down from the clouds to listen to her, and the nightingales grew toarse with nnnvailing rivalry. The best instructor in the world was procufed to train her, and in the course of i few yeara he tumed her out fimshed n every respect. But, nnfortunately br mankind, her affluent circumstancea 'erbade her appearance on the pnblio itage. At this juncture, however, a irovidential change of circumstances allerad the entire complexion of her career. She had a brother, a wild and graceless ,-outh, who, finding his native place too larrow for the development of his enerves, went forth to investígate foreign lauda, with an unlimited letter of ;redit on the paternal exchequer. ïiow, this same letter of credit is ;he specious- specie, I wonld say - disjuise of the fairy who works the transïormation. The energetic youth makes ase of it to such good purpose that in :tss than a year from the time of his departure he haa not only exhausted the :amüy income, but has made desperate nroads into the capital, most of which iias to be sold and the remainder heavily aiortgaged- the old gentleman passing ill demands for the sake of whathe calis ihe honor of the family, though other eople might think it was in order to prove what an incorrigible idiot a man Df antiquated prejudices and aristocratie üneage can make of himself when he is ifforded the opportunity. The result, at iny rate, at the time of which we speak is that the old gentleman finds himself ;hoked with honor and destitute of cash; that he is on the point of being obliged to sell the ancestral mansión in order to satisfy the creditors, and that were the honor he has preserved at so high a price worth anything in the market he might, perhaps, be disposed to mortgage some af it in consideration of an assurance of bread and butter for the rest of his life." "I've heard of gifted amateurs before now," began Inigo, shaking his big head with a sigh; bnt Jocelyn interrupted him. "Wliat you've heard before is nothing to the purpose," said he. "This is precisely the case that contradicts all experience. Now, it so happened that a certain distinguished impresario had spent vast sums and made stnpendous preparations to introduce a f amona singer to the New York public. It so happenpd, too, that the diva in question, although so famous, was personally quite unknown in this conntry; and, as if for the special purpose of insuring the succeas of the grand enterprise that was preparing, she liad even taken a whim to allovv no portraits of herself to be exhibited. For some cause, at present unknown to this historian, the diva at the last moment backed out of her contract. The distinguished impresario, with disgrace and ruin staring him in the face, luckily bethought himself to consult the wisest man of his acquaintance, who, by virtue of his presence of mind and penetration, promptly saw the way out of the difficnlty. He took the impresario with him to the ancestral mansion aforesaid, where the young lady sang to them and was instantly made the recipiënt of the following offer by the impresario: That she was to assume and inviolably maintain the name and personality of the Russian diva; that under this name and character she was to come to New York, take up her abode at the most fashionable hotel and receive whatever company wül venture to form the acquaintance of a lady with a history so formidably and fascinatingly scandalous as hers. In consideration" "Hold on! hold on!" said Inigo, witha shake of his hand in the air, "I see what yon're driving at. I didn't take it in at .first that your amateur was to appear as the diva herself, as well as to be her substitute. It's a smart notion, but I expect it'll do better to talk about than to try. She'd slip up somehow. She might carry it out for a day or two, but when you come to two or three months, that's another story! It would take a better actress tlian I'vo ever come across to" "She won't have to act at all," Jocelyn interposed. "The public of course will have made up its mind bsforehand that she is the real original diva, and the more unsophisticated she appears the more convinced and charmed they'll be. They'll take her innocence to be the diva's consummate hypocrisy, man alive! and any unfamiliarity she may show on the stage to be the perfection of acting. But. for that matter, when once they've heard her sing they wouldn't exchange her for all the divas in Christendom!" "If she can sing - yes!" said the impresario rather skuptically. "Did you ever happen to hear of a gentleman by the name of Dorimar?" inquired Jocelyn, putting down his wristbands and folding his handsome hands on the edge of the table. "Old Dorimar? Rather! Best man in the profession. Dead now, poor old boy! Ah, if he'd only kept his voice" "Dorimar was the instructor I mentioned just now. He went up one day to hear her try her voice, and the consequence was he stayed three years to listen to it. He told me a month before he died that she was the íinest soprano, with the grandest method, he'd ever known." "The devil he did! Dorimar was no fooi, that's a fact." "I found her out before he did. If it hadn't been for me where would you be now, friend I.jses?" "That's all right; but I've got to hear her tirst." "That's why I told you to make your arrangements to be out of town to-night. We'll take the noon train up there. I've telegraphed 'em to expect me. We'll settle with her to-night, and be back in town to-morrow morning. Now, as to terms. You'll have to pay her what you'd promjsed the diva." 1Dh, I wíll, will I? I'llsee about that !" returned the impresario with a shrewd griinace. "No ueed of ine believing Bhe's the real diva as well as the audieiice!" "In that case we won't take the noon train," s:úl Jocelyn firmly. "Say, my boy, what's your game?" inquired the other after a pause, during which tlic men had looked intently at each other. "Do you want me to pay yon hor salarr, and you hand her over whatever doesn't stick to your fingers - is that it? He! he! he!" "You're a coarse minded idiot," said Jocelyn brusquely. "You attend toyour business and let me manage mine. I tnow what I want and how to get it. If she's not n I say she is, of courso the tiargain's oiï altogether. If she is, you'll lave to pay f or her - that's all. And if Cou don't Üke those terms you can get 5ut of your scrapo yourself - if yon can!" "You onght to be a rich man, my boy, jne of these fine days," remarked the impresario meditatively. "Well, if she somes up to your report I'll agree. But if she doesn't" "If she doesn't Til stand the railway fare there and back!" said Jocelyn, and vvith that they laughed and rose from the table. As they were passing out of the room a tall youngman, with a thick brown beard and severe blue eyes, met them in the doorway. He had a roll of paper in nis hand. "You're the man I'm looking for," he said to Inigo. "Halloo, Bellingham!" said Jocelyn. "How comes on the Temple of the Muses?" "All right," replied the gentleman so addressed, rather curtly, as nis manner was. He looked at Inigo and added, "There's a point about the construction of the stage entrance 1 must consult you on." "I'm in a devil of a hurry," objected the impresario relnctantly. "I want only ten minutes," Bellingham said. "You architects are worse than - oh, by the way, I can't decide about it till to-morrow anyhow," exclaimed the other, aa Bellingham began to unroll nis paper. He glanced at Jocelyn and went on, "Come to the office to-morrow afternoon and we'll fix it." "The workmen will have to wait," said Bellingham. "Everybody has to do that," returned the impresario sententiously, and with a nod he and Jocelyn went out.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Ann Arbor Courier