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Orpheus in Mayfair and Other Stories and Sketches   By: (1874-1945)

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ORPHEUS IN MAYFAIR AND OTHER STORIES AND SKETCHES

BY

MAURICE BARING

TO ETHEL SMYTH

NOTE

Most of the stories and sketches in this book have appeared in the Morning Post . One of them was published in the Westminster Gazette . I have to thank the editors and proprietors concerned for their kindness in allowing me to republish them.

CONTENTS

Orpheus in Mayfair The Cricket Match The Shadow of a Midnight Jean Francois The Flute of Chang Liang "What is Truth?" A Luncheon Party Fete Galante The Garland The Spider's Web Edward II. At Berkeley Castle The Island The Man Who Gave Good Advice Russalka The Old Woman Dr. Faust's Last Day The Flute Player's Story A Chinaman on Oxford Venus The Fire The Conqueror The Ikon The Thief The Star Chun Wa

ORPHEUS IN MAYFAIR

Heraclius Themistocles Margaritis was a professional musician. He was a singer and a composer of songs; he wrote poetry in Romaic, and composed tunes to suit rhymes. But it was not thus that he earned his daily bread, and he was poor, very poor. To earn his livelihood he gave lessons, music lessons during the day, and in the evening lessons in Greek, ancient and modern, to such people (and these were rare) who wished to learn these languages. He was a young man, only twenty four, and he had married, before he came of age, an Italian girl called Tina. They had come to England in order to make their fortune. They lived in apartments in the Hereford Road, Bayswater.

They had two children, a little girl and a little boy; they were very much in love with each other, as happy as birds, and as poor as church mice. For Heraclius Themistocles got but few pupils, and although he had sung in public at one or two concerts, and had not been received unfavourably, he failed to obtain engagements to sing in private houses, which was his ambition. He hoped by this means to become well known, and then to be able to give recitals of his own where he would reveal to the world those tunes in which he knew the spirit of Hellas breathed. The whole desire of his life was to bring back and to give to the world the forgotten but undying Song of Greece. In spite of this, the modest advertisement which was to be found at concert agencies announcing that Mr. Heraclius Themistocles Margaritis was willing to attend evening parties and to give an exhibition of Greek music, ancient and modern, had as yet met with no response. After he had been a year in England the only steps towards making a fortune were two public performances at charity matinees, one or two pupils in pianoforte playing, and an occasional but rare engagement for stray pupils at a school of modern languages.

It was in the middle of the second summer after his arrival that an incident occurred which proved to be the turning point of his career. A London hostess was giving a party in honour of a foreign Personage. It had been intimated that some kind of music would be expected. The hostess had neither the means nor the desire to secure for her entertainment stars of the first magnitude, but she gathered together some lesser lights a violinist, a pianist, and a singer of French drawing room melodies. On the morning of the day on which her concert was to be given, the hostess received a telegram from the singer of French drawing room melodies to say that she had got a bad cold, and could not possibly sing that night. The hostess was in despair, but a musical friend of hers came to the rescue, and promised to obtain for her an excellent substitute, a man who sang Greek songs.

When Margaritis received the telegram from Arkwright's Agency that he was to sing that night at A House, he was overjoyed, and could scarcely believe his eyes. He at once communicated the news to Tina, and they spent hours in discussing what songs he should sing, who the good fairy could have been who recommended him, and in building castles in the air with regard to the result of this engagement... Continue reading book >>




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