**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Unprofitable Servant
by [?]

“Good stuff!” said Delano. “I got mine there. Junius T. Rollins, the booker for Kuhn & Dooley, jumped on the stage and engaged me after my dance. And the boards were an inch deep in nickels and dimes and quarters. There wasn’t but nine penny pieces found in the lot.”

“I ought to tell you,” said Mac, after two minutes of pensiveness, “that my cousin Cliff can beat me dancing. We’ve always been what you might call pals. If you’d take him up instead of me, now, it might be better. He’s invented a lot of steps that I can’t cut.”

“Forget it,” said Delano. “Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays of every week from now till amateur night, a month off, I’ll coach you. I’ll make you as good as I am; and nobody could do more for you. My act’s over every night at 10:15. Half an hour later I’ll take you up and drill you till twelve. I’ll put you at the top of the bunch, right where I am. You’ve got talent. Your style’s bum; but you’ve got the genius. You let me manage it. I’m from the West Side myself, and I’d rather see one of the same gang win out before I would an East-Sider, or any of the Flatbush or Hackensack Meadow kind of butt-iners. I’ll see that Junius Rollins is present on your Friday night; and if he don’t climb over the footlights and offer you fifty a week as a starter, I’ll let you draw it down from my own salary every Monday night. Now, am I talking on the level or am I not?”

Amateur night at Creary’s Eighth Avenue Theatre is cut by the same pattern as amateur nights elsewhere. After the regular performance the humblest talent may, by previous arrangement with the management, make its debut upon the public stage. Ambitious non-professionals, mostly self-instructed, display their skill and powers of entertainment along the broadest lines. They may sing, dance, mimic, juggle, contort, recite, or disport themselves along any of the ragged boundary lines of Art. From the ranks of these anxious tyros are chosen the professionals that adorn or otherwise make conspicuous the full-blown stage. Press-agents delight in recounting to open-mouthed and close-eared reporters stories of the humble beginnings of the brilliant stars whose orbits they control.

Such and such a prima donna (they will tell you) made her initial bow to the public while turning handsprings on an amateur night. One great matinee favorite made his debut on a generous Friday evening singing coon songs of his own composition. A tragedian famous on two continents and an island first attracted attention by an amateur impersonation of a newly landed Scandinavian peasant girl. One Broadway comedian that turns ’em away got a booking on a Friday night by reciting (seriously) the graveyard scene in “Hamlet.”

Thus they get their chance. Amateur night is a kindly boon. It is charity divested of almsgiving. It is a brotherly hand reached down by members of the best united band of coworkers in the world to raise up less fortunate ones without labelling them beggars. It gives you the chance, if you can grasp it, to step for a few minutes before some badly painted scenery and, during the playing by the orchestra of some ten or twelve bars of music, and while the soles of your shoes may be clearly holding to the uppers, to secure a salary equal to a Congressman’s or any orthodox minister’s. Could an ambitious student of literature or financial methods get a chance like that by spending twenty minutes in a Carnegie library? I do not not trow so.

But shall we look in at Creary’s? Let us say that the specific Friday night had arrived on which the fortunate Mac McGowan was to justify the flattering predictions of his distinguished patron and, incidentally, drop his silver talent into the slit of the slot-machine of fame and fortune that gives up reputation and dough. I offer, sure of your acquiescence, that we now forswear hypocritical philosophy and bigoted comment, permitting the story to finish itself in the dress of material allegations–a medium more worthy, when held to the line, than the most laborious creations of the word-milliners….