The Student Vagabond
In a week's time the panoply and pagentry that is Boston society will be called out. The papers will run unpleasant half tones of men in tall, shining hats, and women with long, jade earrings. Neat, oblong programs will announce affluent, philanthropic patrons of the arts. New dresses will be bought and new coiffures will be arranged. There will be a gentle, dignified stir on Huntington Avenue. Pierce Arrows will roll up to the kerb and the street lights will fail on ermine and on velvet. The Opera a short week hence will be in town.
To the Vagabond there has always been something incongruous about a general who issues his military commands in a series of tripping cadenzas. There is something a trifle inconclusive about a woman of considerable girth shaking a tambourine heavenward and launching into a Spanish dance. But this is a question of taste and must not be considered fair criticism. But there is one aspect of the Opera that rankles deep in the heart of the Vagabond. It is this.
It has fallen to his lot to go upon occasion to such old favourites as Thais, Manon, or Le Jongleur of Notre Dame for he likes the gentle sadness of Massanet. But upon such occasions he has financed himself and stared down from the rafters at such a distance that personal criticism is rendered impossible. He had always wanted to see what happened down below there and at last after six years of waiting he was asked by friends to sit in a box.
It was a new and terrifying experience to be sure. He looked down upon the glories that only Tiffany, Macy's, or Pierre's can bestow on woman. The sparkling of the gems as they caught the light was like staring at some inverted heaven. Even as he looked the lights dimmed and the curtain went up on Lammermoor, the story of a Scottish clan unraveled in the best possible Italian. For fifteen minutes the Vagabond strove concientiously to construct the story. He tried to recall his Scott to know avail, he tried to resurrect his Italian--with dire complications. At last he gave up and the better to pass the time looked hastily about him. Heigho, here was something better than trying to follow the Opera--the whole audience to a man was asleep. That at least explained one thing, the gentle, persistent whizzing noise he had thought was a radiator in disrepair.
Suddenly there was a slight stir all over the theatre, a muffled murmur as of an army leaving its bivouac for a night attack. Then the music stopped, an eighty year old man kissed a 300 pound woman and the curtain came trailing down. Amid applause the lights shot up and with them the audience. They had girded themselves well for this moment. Quick the exits. And Boston whirled out into the track outside the circle of boxes. The lights showed bravely on the brilliant ladies and the handsome men. How much the Vagabond had missed up there on his perch in the rafters, how little he knew of those people who dwelt "down under." And most of all how little he knew of the Opera.