|Back||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11||Next|
Carter stared at her blankly and in some embarrassment.
"You see!" cried Dolly, "what you think when you're awake, you dream when you're asleep. And you had a run of luck that never happened before and could never happen again."
Carter received her explanation with reluctance. "I wonder," he said.
On arriving at the theatre they found their host had reserved a stage-box, and as there were but four in their party, and as, when they entered, the house lights were up, their arrival drew upon them the attention both of those in the audience and of those on the stage. The theatre was crowded to its capacity, and in every part were people who were habitual race-goers, as well as many racing men who had come to town for the Suburban. By these, as well as by many others who for three days had seen innumerable pictures of him, Carter was instantly recognized. To the audience and to the performers the man who always won was of far greater interest than what for the three-hundredth night was going forward on the stage. And when the leading woman, Blanche Winter, asked the comedian which he would rather be, "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo or the Man Who Can Not Lose?" she gained from the audience an easy laugh and from the chorus an excited giggle.
When, at the end of the act, Carter went into the lobby to smoke, he was so quickly surrounded that he sought refuge on Broadway. From there, the crowd still following him, he was driven back into his box. Meanwhile, the interest shown in him had not been lost upon the press agent of the theatre, and he at once telephoned to the newspaper offices that Plunger Carter, the book-maker breaker, was at that theatre, and if that the newspapers wanted a chance to interview him on the probable out-come of the classic handicap to be run on the morrow, he, the press agent, would unselfishly assist them. In answer to these hurry calls, reporters of the Ten o'Clock Club assembled in the foyer. How far what later followed was due to their presence and to the efforts of the press agent only that gentleman can tell. It was in the second act that Miss Blanche Winter sang her topical song. In it she advised the audience when anxious to settle any question of personal or national interest to "Put it up to the Man in the Moon.'" This night she introduced a verse in which she told of her desire to know which horse on the morrow would win the Suburban, and, in the chorus, expressed her determination to "Put it up to the Man in the Moon."
Instantly from the back of the house a voice called: "Why don't you put it up to the Man in the Box?" Miss Winter laughed-the audience laughed; all eyes were turned toward Carter. As though the idea pleased them, from different parts of the house people applauded heartily. In embarrassment, Carter shoved back his chair and pulled the curtain of the box between him and the audience. But he was not so easily to escape. Leaving the orchestra to continue unheeded with the prelude to the next verse, Miss Winter walked slowly and deliberately toward him, smiling mischievously. In burlesque entreaty, she held out her arms. She made a most appealing and charming picture, and of that fact she was well aware. In a voice loud enough to reach every part of the house, she addressed herself to Carter:
"Won't you tell ME?" she begged.
Carter, blushing unhappily, shrugged his shoulders in apology.
With a wave of her hand Miss Winter designated the audience. "Then," she coaxed, reproachfully, "won't you tell THEM?"
Again, instantly, with a promptness and unanimity that sounded suspiciously as though it came from ushers well rehearsed, several voice echoed her petition: "Give us all a chance!'' shouted one. "Don't keep the good things to yourself! " reproached another. " I want to get rich, TOO!" wailed a third. In his heart, Carter prayed they would choke. But the audience, so far from resenting the interruptions, encouraged them, and Carter's obvious discomfort added to its amusement. It proceeded to assail him with applause, with appeals, with commands to "speak up."
The hand-clapping became general-insistent. The audience would not be denied. Carter turned to Dolly. In the recesses of the box she was enjoying his predicament. His friends also were laughing at him. Indignant at their desertion, Carter grinned vindictively. "All right," he muttered over his shoulder. "Since you think it's funny, I'll show you !" He pulled his pencil from his watch-chain and, spreading his programme on the ledge of the box, began to write.
From the audience there rose a murmur of incredulity, of surprise, of excited interest. In the rear of the house the press agent, after one startled look, doubled up in an ecstasy of joy. "We've landed him !" he gasped. "We've landed him He's going to fall for it!"
Dolly frantically clasped her husband by the coat-tail.
"Champ!" she implored, "what are you doing?"
Quite calmly , quite confidently, Carter rose. Leaning forward with a nod and a smile, he presented the programme to the beautiful Miss Winter. That lady all but snatched at it. The spot-light was full in her eyes. Turning her back that she might the more easily read, she stood for a moment, her pretty figure trembling with eagerness, her pretty eyes bent upon the programme. The house had grown suddenly still, and with an excited gesture, the leader of the orchestra commanded the music to silence A man, bursting with impatience, broke the tense quiet. "Read it!" he shouted.
In a frightened voice that in the sudden hush held none of its usual confidence, Miss Winter read slowly: " The favorite cannot last the distance. Will lead for the mile and give way to Beldame. Proper takes the place. First Mason will show. Beldame will win by a length."
|Back||1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11||Next|
Davis' Short Stories Vol. 2 -by- Richard Harding Davis