“Parsifal!” That sacred opera which has never been performed outside of this little hamlet. I was to see it at last!
I was prepared to be delighted with everything, and the childishness of the little maid who took charge of our hats before we went in to the opera charmed me. My hat was heavy and hot, and I particularly disliked it, owing to the weight of the seagull which composed one entire side of it, and always pulled it crooked on my head. The little maid took the hat in both her arms, laid her round red cheek against the soft feathers of the gull, kissed its glass bead eyes, and smilingly said in German:
“This is the finest hat that has been left in my charge to-day!”
Verily, the opera of “Parsifal” began auspiciously. Quite puffed up with vainglorious pride over the little maiden’s admiration of one of my modest possessions, while Bee’s and Mrs. Jimmie’s ravishing masterpieces had received not even a look, we met Jimmie bustling up with programmes and opera-glasses, and went toward the main entrance. We showed our tickets, and were sent to the side door. We went to the side door, and were sent to the back door. At the back door, to our indignation, we were sent up-stairs. In vain Jimmie expostulated, and said that these seats were well in the middle of the house on the ground floor. The doorkeepers were inexorable. On the second floor, they sent us to the third, and on the third they would have sent us to the roof if there had been any way of getting up there. As it was, they permitted us to stop at the top gallery, and, to our unmitigated horror, the usher said that our seats were there. Jimmie was furious, but I, not knowing how much he had paid for them, endeavoured to soothe him by pointing out that all true musicians sat in the gallery, because music rises and blends in the rising.
“We are sure to get the best effect up here, Jimmie, and those front rows, especially, if our seats happen to be in the middle, won’t be at all bad. Don’t let’s fuss any more about it, but come along like an angel.”
I will admit, however, that even my ardour was dampened when we discovered that our seats were absolutely in the back and top row, so that we leaned against the wall of the building, and were not even furnished with chairs, but sat on a hard bench without relief of any description.
And the price Jimmie hurled at us that he had paid for those tickets! I am ashamed to tell it.
Now Jimmie hates German opera in the most picturesque fashion. He hates in every form, colour, and key, and in all my life I was never so sorry for any one as I was for Jimmie that day at Bayreuth. The heat was stifling, his rage choked him and effectually prevented his going to sleep, as otherwise he might have done in peace and quiet. He sat there in such a steam and fury that it was truly pitiable. He went out once to get a breath of air, and they turned the lights out before he could get back, so that he stumbled over people, and one man kicked him. With that Jimmie stepped on the German’s other foot, and they swore at each other in two languages and got hissed by the people around them. When he finally got back to us, we found it expedient not to make any remarks at all, and I was glad it was too dark for him to see our faces.