+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

opened the purse, took from it a pinch of gold-dust,
weighed it, and then delivered the ticket.

The concert commenced, and in due time
the concert concludedcan it be doubted
with what success? It would require no end
of concentrated English " Boxing Nights " to
realise half the uproar of that eventful evening.
And if uproar, and confusion, and
disorderly and disgraceful behaviour, are not a
test of success, we may ask any London
manager what is? In the stage-boxes Henry
Herz recognised a lady whom he had known
as the keeper of a tobacco-shop in the Rue
Vivienne, and two French milliners, retired
from business. Here they were keeping it up
in immense state; and nobody would dream
that they were anything less than duchesses.

At the conclusion of the concert the
treasurer carried to M. Herz a large plate, filled
with yellow powder.

"What is this?" was the inquiry.

"These are the receipts of the evening;
there are more than ten thousand francs."

Henry Herz gave fourteen concerts in the
same mannerwith the same crowd, the same
success, the same profit. He began to be
reconciled to San Francisco.

One morning, while shaving, he was visited
by a gentleman, who was very polite, and
remarkable especially for the elegance of his
dress and demeanour.

"Monsieur," said the unknown, " I am
requested to ask you if you could find it
convenient to perform in a private house?"

"Why, I don't know——"

"You are only desired to play for half-an-hour
every evening, and you may command
your own terms. I am authorised, that is to
say, to go as far as five or six thousand
piastres a month."

"They are rich people, I suppose passionately
fond of music. But why do they not
come to my concerts?"

"The fact is, they don't care about going
out. They stay at home, and amuse
themselves with another species of play. But then,
you know, even cards and dice become at last
monotonous; and nothing is more agreeable
than to hear a pretty piece of music in the
intervals of the games."

"I understand you perfectly," said the
indignant musician; " you wish me to go and
play in a gambling-house, to amuse the
company. Be good enough to leave the room
instantly, if you do not wish to be shown out
with all the honour you deserve."

"You are very susceptible," murmured the
unknown, as he departed. " We have artists
in California of the highest reputation who
do not disdain to perform in the caf├ęs, in the
gambling-houseseverywhere, in fact, where
they are paid.

Not being willing to accommodate himself
in this and other respects to the manners
of San Francisco, Hemy Herz now betook
himself to the Sacramento. Here he met
with a magnificent reception, and was pressed
on all sides to give concerts. He asked, in
the first place, if they had a concert-room.
No: there was not one at present; but they
would build one in a week. The artist gave
his plans and directions, and went in the
meantime to see the placers. He provided
himself with the clothing and utensils necessary
to a gold hunter, and hired two horses
and a guide. He arrived at the mines dying
with hunger and fatigue; he paid an
immense sum for a piece of bad biscuit, and
a glass of abominable beer. He obtained
leave to dig; worked like a negro, and,
according to his agreement, gave the little
gold he found to the owner of the digging.
He returned to the Sacramento, with the
conviction that, for him, the true mines of
gold were in the keys of his piano. By this
time he found a very handsome concert-room
built for him, and there he gave a series of
concerts, very brilliant and very productive!

His stay in California was a long series of
triumphs. Before quitting, he wished to
make his adieux at San Francisco. It was
the night of the First of May. It was the
most beautiful weather imaginable. The
farewell concert of the artist had been
announced for the next day, and the most
perfect of his pianos had been carried to the
theatre. After having paid a visit to the
ferocious journalist, and paid for his last
advertisement, Henry Herz walked out with
his young friend with the fair hair.

All at once they heard horrible cries; the
tocsin sounded; columns of smoke arose from
several parts of the city. The fire made fearful
progress. The theatre was consumed in a
few minutes, and with the theatre the beautiful
piano of Henry Herz. While the flames
were devouring three quarters of the town,
the masons and architects, and men of business,
instead of attempting to stop the destruction,
entered into engagements to rebuild the city
signing, by the light of the flames, their
bonds upon stamped paper! Nothing could
exceed the coolness of the Americans at this
crisis: in many gambling houses, while the
first floor was being reduced to ashes, they
were trumping and turning up kings most
tranquilly on the third.

"It is a decree of fate," said Henry Herz;
"I can do nothing more here. The concert-room
is no more; my piano is burnt; it is
time to take my leave."

"Not at all," said the young German; " in
a few days we shall have a new city, more
spacious, more regular, more handsome, and
more solid, than the one we have lost."

But the disconsolate pianist could only be
persuaded to add au revoir to his adieu.

"You will not forget my house," said his
young friend, " when you return here."

"Never fear; but try and steady the left
wall in the meantime. Your house is not very

"True enough. But it is the only house that
the flames have respected. It is fire-proof."