“I tell you, he’s a regular genius!” one enthusiastic admirer said to his companion. “Paul Beck can’t hold a candle to him.”
“That’s so. He’s smart, and no mistake.”
Poor Mr. Beck! It was fortunate he was unable to hear these comparisons made. He could not brook a rival near the throne, and had gone home in low spirits, feeling that he could never again hold his head as high as he had done.
When the dancing was over, there was a brief conference of the committee of management, the subject of which was soon made known.
Andrew Blake approached Philip and said:
“Mr. Gray, some of us would like to hear you play something else, if you are not tired—not a dancing-tune.”
“I shall be very happy to comply with your request,” answered Philip.
He spoke sincerely, for he saw that all were pleased with him, and it is gratifying to be appreciated.
He paused a moment in thought, and then began to play the “Carnival of Venice,” with variations. It had been taught him by his father, and he had played it so often that his execution was all that could be desired. The variations were of a showy and popular character, and very well adapted to impress an audience like that to which he was playing.
“Beautiful! Beautiful!” exclaimed the young ladies, while their partners pronounced it “tip-top” and “first-rate,” by which they probably meant very much the same thing.
“Oh, Mr. Gray!” exclaimed Miss Snodgrass fervently. “You play like a seraphim!”
“Thank you!” said Philip, smiling. “I never heard a seraphim play on the violin, but I am sure your remark is very complimentary.”
“I wish you could play like that, Jedidiah,” said Maria.
“I’ll learn to play, if you want me to,” said Mr. Burbank.
“Thank you! You’re very obliging,” said Maria; “but I won’t trouble you. You haven’t got a genius for it, like Mr. Gray.”
The evening was over at length, and again Philip was made the happy recipient of three dollars. His first week had certainly been unexpectedly prosperous.
“This is better than staying in the Norton Poorhouse!” he said to himself.
Philip’s reputation as a musician was materially increased by his second night’s performance. To adopt a military term, he had crossed swords with the veteran fiddler, Paul Beck, and, in the opinion of all who heard both, had far surpassed him.
This was said openly to Philip by more than one; but he was modest, and had too much tact and good taste to openly agree with them. This modesty raised him higher in the opinion of his admirers.
He was invited by the Blakes to prolong his visit, but preferred to continue on his journey—though his plans were, necessarily, not clearly defined.