“Will anyone be willing to pay fifty cents to hear us?” asked Philip.
“Fifty cents! It will be richly worth a dollar!” said the professor loftily.
“I suppose he knows best,” thought Philip. “I hope all will come out right. If it does we can try the combination in other places.”
The next morning at breakfast, Professor Riccabocca handed Philip a copy of the Wilkesville Daily Bulletin. Pointing to a paragraph on the editorial page, he said, in a tone of pride and satisfaction:
“Read that, Mr. de Gray.”
It ran thus:
“We congratulate the citizens of Wilkesville on the remarkable entertainment which they will have an opportunity of enjoying this evening at the Music Hall. Professor Lorenzo Riccabocca, whose fame as an elocutionist and dramatic reader has made his name a household word throughout Europe and America, will give some of his choice recitals and personations, assisted by Philip de Gray, the wonderful boy-musician, whose talent as a violin-player has been greeted with rapturous applause in all parts of the United States. It is universally acknowledged that no one of his age has ever equaled him. He, as well as Professor Riccabocca, will give but a limited series of entertainments in this country, having received flattering inducements to cross the Atlantic, and appear professionally in London, Paris, and the chief cities of the Continent. Fifty cents is the pitiful sum for which our citizens will have it put in their power to hear this wonderful combination of talent. This secures a reserved seat.”
Philip read this notice with increasing amazement.
“What do you think of that, Mr. de Gray?” asked the professor gleefully. “Won’t that make Wilkesville open its eyes, eh?”
“It has made me open my eyes, professor,” said Philip.
“Ha, ha!” said the professor, appearing amused.
“How soon are we to sail for Europe?” asked Philip, smiling.
“When Queen Victoria sends our passage-money,” answered Riccabocca, laughing.
“I see that your name is a household word in Europe. Were you ever there?”
“Then how can that be?”
“Mr. de Gray, your performances have been greeted with applause in all parts of the United States. How do you explain that?”
“I don’t pretend to explain it. I wasn’t aware that my name had ever been heard of a hundred miles from here.”
“It has not, but it will be. I have only been predicting a little. The paragraph isn’t true now, but it will be some time, if we live and prosper.”
“But I don’t like to be looked upon as a humbug, professor,” said Philip uneasily.
“You won’t be. You are really a fine player, or I wouldn’t consent to appear with you. The name of Riccabocca, Mr. de Gray, I may truthfully say, is well known. I have appeared in the leading cities of America. They were particularly enthusiastic in Chicago,” he added pensively. “I wish I could find a paragraph from one of their leading papers, comparing my rendering of the soliloquy in ‘Hamlet’ to Edwin Booth’s, rather to the disadvantage of that tragedian.”