The old man looked at her inquiringly. “They hain’t begun?”
She shook her head. “They’re tuning up.”
His face lifted a little. “I reckoned that couldn’t be the beginnin’. But ye can’t al’ays tell. They make queer noises sometimes.”
“Yes.—I must leave you now.” She had ushered him into a small hall. “I’m going to have you sit here, quite near the platform, where I can see you.” She looked at him a little anxiously. “You don’t need to stay if you don’t like it, you know.”
“Oh, I shall like it fust-rate,” he responded. “It looks like a real comf’tabul chair to set in.”
He seated himself in it and beamed upon the room. The place she had selected for him was near the platform and facing a little toward the audience. It had occurred to her, in a last moment of indecision, that Uncle William might enjoy the audience if the music proved too classic for him. She left him with a little murmur of apology.
A young girl in pink chiffon, with a bunch of huge pink roses, fluttered forward with a program.
Uncle William took it in pleased fingers. He searched for his spectacles and mounted them on his nose, staring at the printed lines. The audience had settled down to attention. Amused glances traveled toward the big figure absorbed in its program. Sergia had whispered a word here and there as she left the room. It made its way back through the crowd—“A friend of Mademoiselle Lvova’s—a sea-captain. She has brought him to hear the MacDowell pieces.” The audience smiled and relaxed. The music was beginning. Two young girls played a concerto from Rubenstein, with scared, flying fingers. They were relieved when it was done, and the audience clapped long and loud. Some one brought them bunches of flowers—twin lilies, tied exactly alike, with long white ribbons. Uncle William, his spectacles pushed up on the tufts of hair, watched with admiring glance as they escaped from the stage. He turned to his right-hand neighbor, an old gentleman with white hair and big, smooth, soft hands, who had watched the performance with gentle care.
“Putty girls,” said Uncle William, cordially.
The man looked at him, smiling. “One of them is my granddaughter, sir,” he responded affably.
She came from the door by the platform and sat down near her grandfather, the lilies and the long white ribbons trailing from nervous fingers. Uncle William leaned forward and smiled at her, nodding encouragement.
She replied with a quick, shy smile and fixed her eyes on the platform.
More pupils followed—young girls and old ones, and a youth with a violin that fluttered and wailed and grew harmonious at last as the youth forgot himself. Uncle William’s big, round face beamed upon him. Sergia, watching him from behind the scenes, could see that he regarded them all as nice children. He would have looked the same had they played on jews’-harps and tin horns. But he was enjoying it. She was glad of that.