Philip played with excellent effect, and his efforts were received with as much favor at Knoxville as at Wilkesville. He was twice encored, and at the end of each of his selections he was greeted with applause.
As for Professor Riccabocca, people hardly knew what to make of him. He was as eccentric and extravagant as ever, and his recitations were received with good-natured amusement. He didn’t lack for applause, however. There were some boys on the front seats who applauded him, just for the fun of it. Though the applause was ironical, the professor persuaded himself that it was genuine, and posed before the audience at each outburst, with his hand on his heart, and his head bent so far over that he seemed likely to lose his balance.
“We are making a grand success, Mr. Gray,” he said, during the interval of ten minutes already referred to. “Did you notice how they applauded me?”
“Yes,” answered Philip, with a smile.
“They evidently appreciate true genius. It reminds me of the ovation they gave me at Cincinnati last winter.”
“Does it?” asked Philip, still smiling.
“Yes. I was a great favorite in that intellectual city. By the way, I noticed that they seemed well pleased with your playing also.”
This he said carelessly, as if Philip’s applause was not to be compared to his.
“Yes, they treat me very kindly,” answered Philip.
“You are fortunate in having me to introduce you to the public,” said the professor emphatically. “The name of Riccabocca is so well known, that it is of great advantage to you.”
The professor deluded himself with the idea that he was a great elocutionist, and that the public rated him as highly as he did himself. When anything occurred that did not seem to favor this view, he closed his eyes to it, preferring to believe that he was a popular favorite.
“I hope I shall never be so deceived about myself,” thought Philip.
When the entertainment was over, Mr. Caswell, president of the club, came up to Philip and said cordially:
“Mr. Gray, we are very much indebted to you. Thanks to you, we are out of debt, and shall have a balance of from twelve to fifteen dollars in the treasury.”
“I am very glad of it,” said Philip.
“So am I,” said the professor, pushing forward, jealous lest Philip should get more than his share of credit.
“And we are indebted to you also, Professor Riccabocca,” said the president, taking the hint.
“You are entirely welcome, sir,” said Riccabocca loftily. “My help has often been asked in behalf of charitable organizations. I remember once, in Philadelphia, I alone raised five hundred dollars for a—a—I think it was a hospital.”
This was an invention, but Professor Riccabocca had no scruple in getting up little fictions which he thought likely to redound to his credit and increase his reputation.