The next morning the _Granville Weekly Palladium_ appeared, containing
a flaming notice of the forthcoming entertainment, in which the merits
of the two performers were extolled in the highest terms. Dean opened
his eyes in amazement when he read the following tribute to himself:
At immense expenses the service of
the Champion Harmonica player of America have been secured. This young
performer, still only a boy in years, will spend the next season in
Europe, having been offered engagements in London, Paris and Vienna,
and he is now playing a farewell series of engagements in his native
land. Probably the citizens of Granville may never again have the
opportunity of hearing him.
“What do you say to that, Dean, my boy?” asked Montgomery, nudging him
in the side.
“It makes me feel foolish, Mr. Montgomery,” said Dean, blushing. “If it
should be read in Waterford the people would never get through laughing
“They won’t read it, my boy, unless it turns out true.”
“Turns out true?”
“Yes. I believe you can win popularity by your playing. We can tell
better this time to-morrow. If you do, how can we tell but the rest may
also come true?”
“If it were the violin or the banjo! But a little cheap harmonica!”
“Never mind what the instrument is if you know how to handle it. Now
let me tell you one thing that will encourage you: I think we are going
to have a big house.”
“What makes you think so?”
“There hasn’t been an entertainment in Granville for several weeks. The
people are hungry to be amused. They patronize performances like ours
much better in the West than at the East. There the people are more
humdrum and steady going. Here they are more excitable. Now I am going
to give you a hint. Take a walk out into the woods, or anywhere where
you will be alone, and practice popular songs. I want you to make a
sensation this evening.”
“It seems ridiculous, my playing for money!”
“How much money have you in your pocket?”
“Then it strikes me it would be more ridiculous _not_ playing for
money. Whatever talents we possess our Creator meant us to exercise for
our benefit and the pleasure of the community.”
“At any rate I’ll do my best.”
“Then you’ll do all I ask. By the way, I am going to have you take the
tickets this evening, up to the time of the performance. It will save
money, and draw public attention.”
“I can do that, at any rate.”
During the forenoon Dean went to a secluded place a mile from the
village, and began to practice on the harmonica. He had a quick ear,
and was really an excellent performer. He was unaware that he had an
audience till a boy attracted his attention peeping from behind a tree
at a little distance.
Dean nodded and smiled, and the boy was encouraged to come forward.
“Are you Dean Dunham, the boy that’s going to be at the concert?” asked
the young auditor, bashfully.
“How long have you played?”
“Four or five years.”
“How old are you?”
“What lots of money you must have made!”
Dean smiled. He thought it most prudent not to speak definitely on
this point. He was rather curious to know what the boy thought of his
“Can you play on the harmonica?” he asked.
“Only a little. Of course I can’t play like you.”
“Do you like my playing, then?”
“You play bully.”
Dean was gratified, not so much out of vanity, as because it encouraged
him to think that others also might regard his performance with favor.
“I am glad you like it,” he said. “Are you going to the entertainment
“I should like to,” said the boy, wistfully, “but I don’t have much
money to spend. I have to work for a living.”
“He little thinks that I am worse off than he,” thought Dean. “He has
a home, while I am over a thousand miles from mine, and with only five
cents in my pocket.”
“It won’t cost you anything to come in,” he said in a friendly manner.
“I shall be at the door, and I will let you in free.”
“Will you, really?” queried the boy, overjoyed.
“Certainly I will. I shall remember your face. If I don’t, just remind
me of my promise.”
As a matter of business, Dean’s offer of a free ticket proved a stroke
of policy. The boy spread among his comrades a highly colored report
of Dean’s wonderful performance on the harmonica, and the result was a
large attendance of young people in the evening.
When Dean took his place at the door he found himself the object of
many wondering and curious glances, and he was at first abashed;
but finally, reminding himself that he was among strangers who were
disposed to look upon him as a genius, he accommodated himself to the
position, and applied himself assiduously to his duties.
The hall in which the entertainment was to take place contained
about four hundred people. When eight o’clock struck it was packed,
many having come from neighboring towns. The price of admission was
thirty-five cents for adults, and twenty-five for children. It was
clear, therefore, that the receipts must be considerably over a hundred
dollars. The rent of the hall being but ten dollars, this allowed a
large margin for profit.
Punctually at eight o’clock the entertainment commenced with a brief
introductory speech from Mr. Montgomery.
“Gentlemen and ladies,” he said, “it has long been the desire of Mr.
Dunham and myself to appear in your beautiful village, and at length
our wishes are to be gratified. We shall do our utmost to please you,
and if we fail, think that it is our ability and not our will that is
lacking. I will commence with a humorous recitation, in the character
of an old darky.”
He disappeared behind the screen, and emerged in a very short time
disguised as a Southern negro.
This impersonation hit the popular taste. It was followed by a song,
and then Mr. Montgomery introduced Dean in a highly flattering manner.
Dean appeared with a flushed face, and a momentary feeling of
trepidation. Making a bow to the audience, he struck up the favorite
melody of the day. He really played very well, the excitement of
playing before an audience helping rather than interfering with
him, and his performance was greeted with hearty and long continued
applause. At Mr. Montgomery’s suggestion he gratified the audience with
an encore. Among those who applauded loudest was the boy to whom he had
given free admission.
“You have done yourself proud, Dean, my boy,” said Montgomery, when
Dean retired behind the screen. “Our entertainment is a success. Our
audience is good-natured.”
“I can’t help thinking how the folks at home would be surprised if they
knew I was performing in public,” said Dean, smiling.
“And making money out of it. That’s where the best part comes in.
Follow up your success, my boy. I shall go out twice and then call on
The next time Dean appeared with confidence, being satisfied that the
audience were friendly. His second appearance was equally satisfactory,
and he was compelled to blush when he overheard one school-girl on the
front row of benches whisper to another, “Isn’t he sweet?”
“It seems to me I am learning a good deal about myself,” thought Dean.
“I must take care not to get conceited.”
The dual entertainment lasted about an hour and a half, Mr. Montgomery
of course using up the lion’s share of the time. At last it concluded,
and Dean and his companion gathered up the money and went home. The
profits over and above expenses amounted to eighty dollars, of which
the editor, according to the agreement, received forty per cent, or
thirty-two dollars. The remainder, forty-eight dollars, was divided
equally between Dean and Mr. Montgomery. As the hotel charge was but
a dollar a day for each, they felt handsomely compensated for their
When the two partners returned to the hotel with the proceeds of the
entertainment in their pockets, they were in high spirits.
“I feel as rich as Vanderbilt,” said Montgomery in exultation.
“And I feel like an Astor or a Gould,” chimed in Dean. “Peter Kirby did
me a good turn when he discharged me.”
“Dean, you are star! I had no idea of your talent.”
“Don’t flatter me, Mr. Montgomery,” said Dean blushing. “You will make
me self-conceited. I was lucky in falling in with you.”
“Well said, my boy! I see you don’t grudge me my share of the credit.
We will keep on, will we not?”
“As long as there is any money in it.”
“Precisely. Your hand on that.”
In pursuance of this agreement, three evenings later they gave an
entertainment in the town of Cameron, twenty miles away. Circumstances
were not as favorable, but they divided twenty dollars net profits.
“We mustn’t complain of that, Dean,” said his companion. “It isn’t as
much, to be sure, as we made at Granville.”
“But it seems to me ridiculously large for the little I did, Mr.
“You are modest, Dean. That is not artistic. You must set a proper
value on your talent.”
“I think I do,” said Dean, smiling. “I feel very much like a humbug,
Mr. Montgomery. A young lady came up to me last evening and asked me if
I had played before any of the crowned heads of Europe, and if I were
personally acquainted with Queen Victoria.”
“I hope you told her you were.”
“No, Mr. Montgomery, I shouldn’t be willing to tell such a falsehood.”
“All business, my dear boy, all business! We must blow our own trumpets
if we want to be appreciated. By the way, what did you tell her?”
“That I had not yet played before the queen, but should I go to
England, and could arrange to do so, I would.”
“Very good! You kept up appearances. What did she say?”
“She asked me if I would get her Queen Victoria’s autograph, in that
case. She also asked me for my own. I promised her the queen’s if I
were able to obtain it.”
“Didn’t she ask for _my_ autograph?” asked Mr. Montgomery, with a
twinge of professional jealousy.
“She said she was going to ask you for it.”
“I shall be glad to gratify her,” said Montgomery, condescendingly. “I
am often asked for an autograph.”
“That was my first application,” said Dean smiling.
“You are not as old as I. Long before you are, your autograph will be
For three weeks the combination continued to give entertainments,
arranging from two to three a week. They did not again meet with the
success which had greeted them at Granville, but in almost every case
they made expenses, and a fair sum besides. At the end of this time,
each of the partners found himself possessed of about forty dollars.
At the close of a concert at a small town in Missouri, on returning to
the hotel, Mr. Montgomery chanced to take up a copy of the New York
_Herald_ in the office. He ran over the advertisements on the first
page, including the “Personals,” when all at once his color changed,
and he looked agitated.
“What’s the matter, Mr. Montgomery?” asked Dean.
“Bad news, my boy!” said the actor sadly. “Look at that!”
Dean read the following among the personals:
CECIL MONTGOMERY, JR. Come home at once! Your mother is very sick.
“My poor old mother!” said the actor feelingly. “She may be dead by
this time. Why couldn’t I have seen this notice before?”
“What is the date of the paper?” asked Dean.
“It is five days old.”
“I suppose you will go at once.”
“Yes, I must. I never would forgive myself if I did not hurry home on
the chance of seeing the dear old mother once more.”
“You are right, Mr. Montgomery. I would do the same if I were fortunate
enough to have a mother living.”
“Of course that ends our partnership for the present. Will you go home
with me, Dean?”
Dean shook his head.
“No, I have nothing to go home to. It would take all my money, and
there would be nothing for me to do in Waterford.”
“But you can’t give entertainments alone.”
“I can make my living somehow. I have forty dollars, and that would
last me some time even if I got nothing to do.”
When Dean bade his companion good-bye at the station the next morning,
and turned away, a forlorn feeling came over him, and he felt tempted
to take the next train East himself. But the thought of going back to
Waterford as poor as he started, and with no prospect of employment,
braced him up, and he resolved to push on westward and take his
chances. He returned to the hotel, and sat down to consider his plans.
There a pleasant surprise awaited him.
“There’s a gentleman to see you, Mr. Dunham,” said the clerk.
“Where is he?” asked Dean.
“He went out to make a call in the village but will be back in fifteen
minutes. This is his card.”
Dean took the card in his hand, and read the name
“Any acquaintance of yours?” asked the clerk.
“No; I never heard the name.”
“I think he wants you to play to-morrow evening. He lives in the next
“Mr. Montgomery has been called East. I am afraid this will stop our
“He did not ask for Mr. Montgomery, only for you.”
Mr. Gunnison soon came in. He was a slender, dark complexioned man,
with a pleasant face.
“I know you are Dean Dunham,” he said, extending his hand, “for I heard
you play last evening. Are you engaged for to-morrow?”
“Then I should like to engage your services. An entertainment is to be
given in our town hall for the benefit of our town library. For the
most part local talent is employed. We are to have a short play, and
a few songs. I, as manager, have thought it would help us if we could
advertise you in connection with the home attractions.”
“I shall be glad to make an engagement,” said Dean pleasantly.
“What would be your terms?” asked Mr. Gunnison a little anxiously.
“How much can you afford to pay me?” asked Dean.
“We would not think of offering a player of your reputation less than
ten dollars if it were not desirable to make expenses as small as
“Under the circumstances,” said Dean, interrupting him, “I will be
willing to come for five.”
“Thank you, Mr. Dunham. You are very kind,” said Mr. Gunnison, warmly,
grasping our hero by the hand. “I will try to make it up to you.
Instead of going to the hotel you shall be my guest, and your expenses
will be nothing. If you are ready I will take you over at once. I have
a buggy at the door.”
“Thank you, sir, I will accept your kind invitation.”
So Dean, feeling less lonesome than he did, secured his valise,
and taking a seat beside his new friend, rode in the direction of
Carterville. He was destined to meet an old acquaintance there.