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The Fifth String   By: (1854-1932)

Book cover

First Page:

THE FIFTH STRING

by

JOHN PHILIP SOUSA

The Illustrations by Howard Chandler Christy

Indianapolis The Bowen Merrill Company Publishers

Copyright 1902 The Bowen Merrill Company

Press of Braunworth & Co. Bookbinders and Printers Brooklyn, N. Y.

The Fifth String

I

The coming of Diotti to America had awakened more than usual interest in the man and his work. His marvelous success as violinist in the leading capitals of Europe, together with many brilliant contributions to the literature of his instrument, had long been favorably commented on by the critics of the old world. Many stories of his struggles and his triumphs had found their way across the ocean and had been read and re read with interest.

Therefore, when Mr. Henry Perkins, the well known impresario, announced with an air of conscious pride and pardonable enthusiasm that he had secured Diotti for a "limited" number of concerts, Perkins' friends assured that wide awake gentleman that his foresight amounted to positive genius, and they predicted an unparalleled success for his star. On account of his wonderful ability as player, Diotti was a favorite at half the courts of Europe, and the astute Perkins enlarged upon this fact without regard for the feelings of the courts or the violinist.

On the night preceding Diotti's début in New York, he was the center of attraction at a reception given by Mrs. Llewellyn, a social leader, and a devoted patron of the arts. The violinist made a deep impression on those fortunate enough to be near him during the evening. He won the respect of the men by his observations on matters of international interest, and the admiration of the gentler sex by his chivalric estimate of woman's influence in the world's progress, on which subject he talked with rarest good humor and delicately implied gallantry.

During one of those sudden and unexplainable lulls that always occur in general drawing room conversations, Diotti turned to Mrs. Llewellyn and whispered: "Who is the charming young woman just entering?"

"The beauty in white?"

"Yes, the beauty in white," softly echoing Mrs. Llewellyn's query. He leaned forward and with eager eyes gazed in admiration at the new comer. He seemed hypnotized by the vision, which moved slowly from between the blue tinted portières and stood for the instant, a perfect embodiment of radiant womanhood, silhouetted against the silken drapery.

"That is Miss Wallace, Miss Mildred Wallace, only child of one of New York's prominent bankers."

"She is beautiful a queen by divine right," cried he, and then with a mingling of impetuosity and importunity, entreated his hostess to present him.

And thus they met.

Mrs. Llewellyn's entertainments were celebrated, and justly so. At her receptions one always heard the best singers and players of the season, and Epicurus' soul could rest in peace, for her chef had an international reputation. Oh, remember, you music fed ascetic, many, aye, very many, regard the transition from Tschaikowsky to terrapin, from Beethoven to burgundy with hearts aflame with anticipatory joy and Mrs. Llewellyn's dining room was crowded.

Miss Wallace and Diotti had wandered into the conservatory.

"A desire for happiness is our common heritage," he was saying in his richly melodious voice.

"But to define what constitutes happiness is very difficult," she replied.

"Not necessarily," he went on; "if the motive is clearly within our grasp, the attainment is possible."

"For example?" she asked.

"The miser is happy when he hoards his gold; the philanthropist when he distributes his. The attainment is identical, but the motives are antipodal."

"Then one possessing sufficient motives could be happy without end?" she suggested doubtingly.

"That is my theory. The Niobe of old had happiness within her power."

"The gods thought not," said she; "in their very pity they changed her into stone, and with streaming eyes she ever tells the story of her sorrow."

"But are her children weeping?" he asked... Continue reading book >>




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