The man nodded but had no word for reply.
It seemed to Mary Jennings as she entered the taxi-cab at the Springfield Union depot the following Sunday, that she had never been more calm. And she should have been excited! At her feet was a bag containing the handsomest dress she had ever owned. On the seat beside her was her violin, a valuable instrument, bought after years of saving and self-denial. With these as her allies she was going to face her first metropolitan audience.
The rehearsal that afternoon was of little importance. She talked with the orchestra leader and the pianist. Carlos Helm, darting here and there about the dim auditorium, had greeted her pleasantly and promptly ignored her after that. About five she returned to the hotel and lay down to rest. She would not be needed until nine.
The orchestra had concluded its first number and an ex-president of the United States was speaking when she came from her dressing room, violin in hand, to stand near the wings. It was almost time for her to play. Helm, seeing her standing there, came forward, smiling.
"Play like a million dollars tonight and that contract will be ready in the morning. And don't be afraid."
She nodded. She was not afraid. If anything, she was too unafraid!
She went slowly forward. There was a sprinkling of applause and she lifted her bow to play. She went through the four numbers, two programmed numbers and their encores, playing with all the skill that had made her a favorite in the rural districts that hailed her as a princess. The audience, used to greater violinists perhaps, but unable to resist the emotion in her music, gave her a more than hearty welcome and a most hearty recall.
To be continued...