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by [?]

If you, the reader, are anything like me, the writer, it happens to you about every once in so long that some well-meaning but semi-witted friend rigs a dead-fall for you, and traps you and carries you off, a helpless captive, for an evening among the real music-lovers.

Catching you, so to speak, with your defense leveled and your breastworks unmanned, he speaks to you substantially as follows: “Old man, we’re going to have a few people up to the house tonight–just a little informal affair, you understand, with a song or two and some music–and the missus and I would appreciate it mightily if you’d put on your Young Prince Charmings and drop in on us along toward eight. How about it–can we count on you to be among those prominently present?”

Forewarned is forearmed, and you know all about this person already. You know him to be one of the elect in the most exclusive musical coterie of your fair city, wherever your fair city may be. You know him to be on terms of the utmost intimacy with the works of all the great composers. Bill Opus and Jeremiah Fugue have no secrets from him–none whatever–and in conversation he creates the impression that old Issy Sonata was his first cousin. He can tell you offhand which one of the Shuberts–Lee or Jake–wrote that Serenade. He speaks of Mozart and Beethoven in such a way a stranger would probably get the idea that Mote and Bate used to work for his folks. He can go to a musical show, and while the performance is going on he can tell everybody in his section just which composer each song number was stolen from, humming the original air aloud to show the points of resemblance. He can do this, I say, and, what is more, he does do it. At the table d’hote place, when the Neapolitan troubadours come out in their little green jackets and their wide red sashes he is right there at the middle table, poised and waiting; and when they put their heads together and lean in toward the center and sing their national air, Come Into the Garlic, Maud, it is he who beats time for them with his handy lead-pencil, only pausing occasionally to point out errors in technic and execution on the part of the performers. He is that kind of a pest, and you know it.

What you should do under these circumstances, after he has invited you to come up to his house, would be to look him straight in the eye and say to him: “Well, old chap, that’s awfully kind of you to include me in your little musical party, and just to show you how much I appreciate it and how I feel about it here’s something for you.” And then hit him right where his hair parts with a cut-glass paperweight or a bronze clock or a fire-ax or something, after which you should leap madly upon his prostrate form and dance on his cozy corner with both feet and cave in his inglenook for him. That is what you should do, but, being a vacillating person–I am still assuming, you see, that you are constituted as I am–you weakly surrender and accept the invitation and promise to be there promptly on time, and he goes away to snare more victims in order to have enough to make a mess.

And so it befalls at the appointed time that you deck your form in your after-six-P. M. clothes and go up. On the way you get full and fuller of dark forebodings at every step; and your worst expectations are realized as soon as you enter and are relieved of your hat by a colored person in white gloves, and behold spread before you a great horde of those ladies and gentlemen whose rapt expressions and general air of eager expectancy stamp them as true devotees of whatever is most classical in the realm of music. You realize that in such a company as this you are no better than a rank outsider, and that it behooves you to attract as little attention as possible. There is nobody else here who will be interested in discussing with you whether the Giants or the Cubs will finish first next season; nobody except you who cares a whoop how Indiana will go for president–in fact, most of them probably haven’t heard that Indiana was thinking of going. Their souls are soaring among the stars in a rarefied atmosphere of culture, and even if you could you wouldn’t dare venture up that far with yours, for fear of being seized by an uncontrollable impulse to leap off and end all, the same as some persons are affected when on the roof of a tall building. So you back into the nearest corner and try to look like a part of the furniture–and wait in dumb misery.