Wallace usually arrived a half hour later, seldom earlier, which was so well understood by Sanders that he was greatly surprised when he walked into the president's office, the morning after that gentleman had attended Diotti's concert, to find the head of the firm already there and apparently waiting for him.
The old man puffed away in silence for a moment, then with logical directness continued: "Perhaps the string that's mute upon Diotti's violin is mute for some such reason." "Nonsense," said the girl, half impatiently. "The string is black and glossy as the tresses that fall in tangled skeins on the shoulders of the dreamy beauties of Tuscany.
For the first time in her life she was self-conscious: "I will wait for a more opportune time to tell him," she thought. In the scheme of Diotti's appearance in New York there were to be two more concerts. One was to be given that evening. Mildred coaxed her father to accompany her to hear the violinist. Mr.
Diotti laughed derisively, and Satan, showing just the slightest feeling at Diotti's behavior, said reprovingly: "If you will listen a moment, and not be so rude to an utter stranger, we may reach some conclusion to your benefit." "Get thee behind " "I know exactly what you were about to say. Have no fears on that score. I have no demands to make and no impossible compacts to insist upon."
Perkins jumped like one shot from a catapult, and rushing toward the silent figure in the doorway exclaimed: "Bless my soul, are you a ghost?" "A substantial one," said Diotti with a smile. "Are you really here?" continued the astonished impresario, using Diotti's arm as a pump handle and pinching him at the same time.
At six o'clock that evening a jury was impaneled, and two hours later its verdict was reported. On leaving the house of the dead man Diotti walked wearily to his hotel. In flaring type at every street corner he saw the announcement for Thursday evening, March thirty-first, of Angelo Diotti's last appearance: "To-night I play for the last time," he murmured in a voice filled with deepest regret.
"Uncle," interposed Mildred tactfully, "you must not be so persistent. Signor Diotti prizes his violin highly and will not allow any one to play upon it but himself," and the look of relief on Diotti's face amply repaid her. Mr. Wallace came in at that moment, and with perfunctory interest in his guest, invited him to examine the splendid collection of revolutionary relics in his study.
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 debut 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.
When Perkins entered Diotti's room he found the violinist heavy-eyed and dejected. "My dear Signor," he began, showing a large envelope bulging with newspaper clippings, "I have brought the notices. They are quite the limit, I assure you. Nothing like them ever heard before all tuned in the same key, as you musical fellows would say," and Perkins cocked his eye.
Sadly then he asked: "And if I do play upon it?" "I am yours forever yours through life through eternity," she cried passionately. The call-boy announced Diotti's turn; the violinist led Mildred to a seat at the entrance of the stage. His appearance was the signal for prolonged and enthusiastic greeting from the enormous audience present. He clearly was the idol of the metropolis.