“Give me your hand!” exclaimed Riccabocca dramatically. “Mr. Gray, it is a perfect bonanza of an idea. I may tell you, in confidence, I was always a genius for ideas. Might I ask a favor of you?”
“Give me a touch of your quality. Let me hear you play.”
Philip drew his violin from its case and played for his new professional partner “The Carnival of Venice,” with variations—the same which had been received with so much favor the evening previous.
Professor Riccabocca listened attentively, and was evidently agreeably surprised. He was not a musician, but he saw that Philip was a much better player than he had anticipated, and this, of course, was likely to improve their chances of pecuniary success.
“You are a splendid performer,” he said enthusiastically. “You shall come out under my auspices and win fame. I predict for you a professional triumph.”
“Thank you,” said Philip, gratified by this tribute from a man of worldly experience. “I hope you will prove a true prophet.”
“And now, Mr. Gray, let us proceed on our way. We must get lodgings in Wilkesville, and make arrangements for our entertainment. I feel new courage, now that I have obtained so able a partner. Wilkesville little knows what is in store for her. We shall go, see, and conquer!”
An hour later Philip and his new partner entered Wilkesville.
A change of name.
Wilkesville was an inland city, of from fifteen to twenty thousand inhabitants.
As Philip and the professor passed along the principal street, they saw various stores of different kinds, with here and there a large, high, plain-looking structure, which they were told was used for the manufacture of shoes.
“Wilkesville will give us a large audience,” he said, in a tone of satisfaction.
“I hope so,” said our hero.
“Hope so? I know so!” said the professor confidently. “The town is full of young men, employed in shoe-making. They are fond of amusement, and they will gladly seize an opportunity of patronizing a first-class entertainment like ours.”
The professor’s reasoning seemed good, but logic sometimes fails, and Philip was not quite so sanguine. He said nothing, however, to dampen the ardor of his partner.
“Let me see,” said the professor, pausing, “yonder stands the Wilkesville Hotel. We had better put up there.”
It was a brick structure of considerable size, and seemed to have some pretensions to fashion.
“Do you know how much they charge?” asked Philip prudently.
“No; I neither know nor care,” answered Professor Riccabocca loftily.
“But,” said Philip, “I haven’t much money.”
“Nor I,” admitted Riccabocca. “But it is absolutely necessary for us to stop at a first-class place. We must not let the citizens suppose that we are tramps or vagabonds. They will judge us by our surroundings.”