|Newspaper Title||Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)|
|Trove Title||Ada and her Cousin Charles, A Tale for Victorian Boys and Girls|
CHAPTER XL FAILUREu The queer little gentleman whose personal appearance I have just en deavoured to describe, and who thus, to the utter breaking down of Ada's hopes, had made his entrance in the little parlour at St. Kilda, was, as I have said before, Edith's uncle. As a musician, he was an intrepid player on the bass viol, a timorous one on the violencello. By this I do not mean to assert that he excelled on either instru ment, for as I have said in a previous chapter, he was deficient in time. I do not even wish it to be thought that he had attained to mediocrity in his manipulation of these very necessary adjuncts to an orchestra. I merely wish to remind the reader that he earned the greater portion of his livelihood by playing on one or other of these Titanesque fiddles at theatres or at concerts. He was a useful, because a reliable man, and was generally engaged by Lyster for the Opera. When not so employed, he oscillated between the other three theatres, according to or chestral exigencies.. At the time of which I am speaking, not so many years ago, having just finished an en gagenient at the Royal, subsequent to one at the Academy, he was in harness at the Princess's. Having spoken of him as a musician, I will now say a word of him as a man, as a member of society. In every particular in this connection he was an examplary fellow. Upright in all his dealings, and so far as he could afford to be it, without injury to others, generous in the extreme. He was universally ipeted and esteemed, as much by those with whom' he came in daily contact in his avocation, as by thbose ,with whom'he caie in contact casually. He never said an unkind word. of any 'one, and was always genialgood-tempered, and a keen ap preciator of bonajde talent and a good joke:-i. On this patticular evening, on which he had thus walked so unexpec tedly into the presence of our youthful tiio,'helhad returned from the Princess's a conple of hours earlier than usual.
The moment he came into the room, Mr. Pipkins, though rather"surpris?"? carefully placed the frilling or seallop ing, or whatever it was that Edith had given him to clip at (I really don't know the correct term to apply to the dreadful fallal she had put in his hands, and none of the girls sitting abiot me, to whom I have applied for informniton, will tell me becase, they ::say I am so "nasty"), on the table and acknow ledged his entrance by as graceful a bow as he could, on the emergency, contrive to make. Then with many stumbling, hesitating words of welcome, and with reddened face and general confusion of manner, he offered him his place by the fire. He was rather a cunning fellow this Mr. Pipkins, for he, immediately Mr. Grinnidge was seated, took a chair and moving to the table, resumed his place by the side of his torturer, Edith. " Well, this is a pleasure, uncle, dear," said Edith, "however did you manage to get home so early to us ? Why, its not yet ten o'clock, and the theatre rarely closes much before eleven !" Then thinking for an instant, she said "I hope you are not unwell ?" At this he laughed a hearty, reassuring laugh, and rising from his chair, gave her an affectionate kiss upon the fore head. Pushing .him playfully away and rushing to get his slippers and. dressing-gown, she exclaimed "Why, you dear old man, you shouldn't have been here for a couple of hours yet ! I'm really inquisitive to know what has broughtyon home so early. But, uncle, dear, I am so glad to see you. Your presence makes it seem so much more homelike. It is rarely you can spend an evening with us! Butyour coming home from Melbourne at this unusual hour does really astonish me. I know something out of the common has happened. Pray, tell us all about it. I fancy that Mr Pipkins is dying to hear what it is, and he has been so dull and unamusing to-night. He is the most uninteresting youth I have ever seen, and he doesn't improve a bit. I shall have to get some other super numerary to play the amiable to me and do all my little behests. " You may well be surprised. my dearest child," said Mr. Grinnidge in reply to her voluble questions and sly thrusts at Mr. Pipkins, " the fact is, it so happened that to-night we had to perform for the first time a new drama in three acts, and the audience were so dissatisfied with the first two that they became uproarious, hissed, stormed, pelted the actors, and such a tumult arose that we dropped the curtain, and closed the theatre without finishing the performance. It is the first time that such a thing has ever happened. But it is supposed that the author having enemies, his piece was thus maltreated of set purpose. I am sorry that his play was so summarily disapproved of, but I am glad that I am enabled, in consequence, to spend the remainder of the evening with you and Miss Ada, and my friend, Mr. Pipkins." The gentleman referred to was ready to jump out of his shoes with joy at hearing himself thus kindly spoken of as "friend" by Mr. Grinnidge; it augured well, he thought of the hopeful prospect of the close relationship in which he wished to stand with respect to that humble votary of Euterpe. Was the play then such an utter failure, uncle, dear ?" said Edith, forc ing him into his dressing gown, and hurrying him to his chair by the fire side, at the same time. " My dear, I am sorry to say it was,'" replied Mr. Grinnidge, his feet now comfortably encased in the slippers, of a gorgeous pattern and sparkling with brilliant beads which Edith, with her own fair hands had worked for him as a Christmas present. " It must then have been a bad one, worse than the play that Charles wrote. For a Melbourne audience is a patient, long-suffering one, and will stand almost anything a manager chooses to give it," mumbled Mr. Pipkins, looking at the scalloping he had put upon the table, as if he were about to resume the occupation he had laid aside, to welcome Mr. Grinnidge. "The play a bad one---well, no-it was not decidedly bad--yet it was far from good-I don't know, though-I am premature-It might have been very good indeed-you see they would not listen to the third act. This was how it was-some of the personages in it had words put into their months by the author, ofa political significance; these sentiments were adverse to the Ministry now in power. As you may suppose, nothing could be more objectionable to the occupants of the gallery and the pit, and as this is a free country, they were at perfect liberty to express their dissent by yells and boo-hoos and cat-calls, byhissingthe author, and by other discordant noises. Fearful that in the excitement of the hour the benches might be torn up, the property defaced, and that injury might ensue to life and limb, we called in the aid of the police, cleared the house, turned off the gas, and-well, that is all of it, and here I am. "I wish we could deal as summarily and as vigorously with the obnoxious Bough Slythe, as an audience can deal with an author. For a democratic country we, certainly, enjoy very little personal freedom, and none at all in the swamps and coal-mine ofice. We dare hardly call our souls our own. It is an imperium, and a very despotic one, in imperio. We may not resent the grossest insult, offered as by the chief on the pain of instant dismissal I should like to know,' thought Mr. Pipkins, 'ifevery Government office is managed with the same brutal ferocity as the one I am in. Strange things are whispered about concerning the goings on in the public correspondence de partment. Mr. Rounder is not spoken of as a very amiable man." The silence was presently broken by Mr. Grinnidge volunteering the remark that there were -some smart things in the play--many of them quite new that the orchestral accompaniments wete~eciai goodtha hehad, albove all, a splendid part for the violincello, for he had nothing else to do but to strike the tonic and the dominant al ternately in every other bar, through tl.e wLho~e of tiha overturn- t...at u had learned to do this with perfect pre cision, and that the leader of the band
.a :compl:mented! -him; on his' pro= ficiency.. -.Then he went,.ona t:5eay, "?it.doesn't .matter, much. ,?The ,play will be re-produced to-morrow. evmnigg, and then it will, be better received-by. the public The, author will. take care of that, s.itiwill not be removed-,..:. ' What lcfJom :the bills; an4dadver tisements ?".said Edithi.- . , : . - "No 1 jerked .out .Mr. G.Ginnidge, with mnore of anger in, his,tone of voice than his; jolly., good-tempered. face ad mitted that he really .felt.: He was a gentleman, though, who had his little idiosyncracies, and one of them was that he: could not bear, without some little manifestation of displeasure, any, inter-, ruption when he was half-speaking, half-Eoliloquising, as was his habit when mentally perturbed-a_ state of mind with him, as may. be supposed, of very infrequent occurrence. " I was going to say, if you had not interposed a question, that it will not be removed from the boards. I believe that to morrow evening it will be. greeted with as much applause as it was to-night with disapproval. • How so, uncle, is the public so fickle, so child-like, that it will approve to-morrow of what it has so roughly disapproved to-night ?" (To be continued.)