“I know Carl Steinburg. As a matter of fact, I was thinking of writing to him about Spectatia.”
“You’re absolutely sure that is her name?” said Archie, his voice still tinged with incredulity. “Oh, well, I suppose she told you so herself, and no doubt she knows best. That will be topping. Rope in your pal and hold him down at the table till the finish. Lucille, the beautiful vision on the sky-line yonder, and I will be at another table entertaining Maxie Blumenthal”
“Who on earth is Maxie Blumenthal?” asked Lucille.
“One of my boyhood chums. A music-publisher. I’ll get him to come along, and then we’ll all be set. At the conclusion of the performance Miss—” Archie winced—“Miss Spectatia Huskisson will be signed up for a forty weeks’ tour, and jovial old Blumenthal will be making all arrangements for publishing the song. Two birds, as I indicated before, with one stone! How about it?”
“It’s a winner,” said Bill.
“Of course,” said Archie, “I’m not urging you. I merely make the suggestion. If you know a better ’ole go to it!”
“It’s terrific!” said Bill.
“It’s absurd!” said Lucille.
“My dear old partner of joys and sorrows,” said Archie, wounded, “we court criticism, but this is mere abuse. What seems to be the difficulty?”
“The leader of the orchestra would be afraid to do it.”
“Ten dollars—supplied by William here—push it over, Bill, old man—will remove his tremors.”
“And Father’s certain to find out.”
“Am I afraid of Father?” cried Archie, manfully. “Well, yes, I am!” he added, after a moment’s reflection. “But I don’t see how he can possibly get to know.”
“Of course he can’t,” said Bill, decidedly. “Fix it up as soon as you can, Archie. This is what the doctor ordered.”
THE MELTING OF MR. CONNOLLY
The main dining-room of the Hotel Cosmopolis is a decorous place. The lighting is artistically dim, and the genuine old tapestries on the walls seem, with their mediaeval calm, to discourage any essay in the riotous. Soft-footed waiters shimmer to and fro over thick, expensive carpets to the music of an orchestra which abstains wholly from the noisy modernity of jazz. To Archie, who during the past few days had been privileged to hear Miss Huskisson rehearsing, the place had a sort of brooding quiet, like the ocean just before the arrival of a cyclone. As Lucille had said, Miss Huskisson’s voice was loud. It was a powerful organ, and there was no doubt that it would take the cloistered stillness of the Cosmopolis dining-room and stand it on one ear. Almost unconsciously, Archie found himself bracing his muscles and holding his breath as he had done in France at the approach of the zero hour, when awaiting the first roar of a barrage. He listened mechanically to the conversation of Mr. Blumenthal.