Ahead of the Show - Fred Thorpe - E-Book

Ahead of the Show E-Book

Fred Thorpe

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Want a peek behind the curtain of a traveling comedy troupe in the late 1800s? This show business mystery will thrill fans of golden era vaudeville and entertainment, while the puzzle at the center of the story will keep you guessing until the last page.
 

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AHEAD OF THE SHOW

BY

FRED THORPE

Copyright © 2018 by Fred Thorpe.

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

For information contact :

Sheba Blake Publishing

[email protected]

http://www.shebablake.com

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Book and Cover design by Sheba Blake Publishing

First Edition: May 2018

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER I.6

CHAPTER II.

CHAPTER III.

CHAPTER IV.

CHAPTER V.

CHAPTER VI.

CHAPTER VII.

CHAPTER VIII.

CHAPTER IX.

CHAPTER X.

CHAPTER XI.

CHAPTER XII.

CHAPTER XIII.

CHAPTER XIV.

CHAPTER XV.

CHAPTER XVI.

CHAPTER XVII.

CHAPTER XVIII.

CHAPTER XIX.

CHAPTER XX.

CHAPTER XXI.

CHAPTER XXII.

CHAPTER XXIII.

CHAPTER XXIV.

CHAPTER XXV.

CHAPTER XXVI.

CHAPTER XXVII.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

CHAPTER XXIX.

CHAPTER XXX.

CHAPTER XXXI.

CHAPTER XXXII.

CHAPTER I.

AL MAKES APPLICATION.

"If I had that fellow here I'd make him wish he'd never heard the name of Augustus Wattles. And I'll do it some day, too."

The manager and proprietor of Wattles' New York Comedy Company was very, very "mad." His naturally florid face was redder than usual, and his fists were clinched in a manner that augured no good to the "fellow" referred to, had that individual chanced to appear upon the scene at this precise moment.

He stood at the door of the Boomville Opera House, in company with the local manager, Mr. Cyrus Perley, who seemed in some degree to share his discomfiture and anger.

A group of stragglers listened in silence to their conversation, gazing at them with that peculiar and unaccountable reverence that many people feel for members of the theatrical profession.

"It's pretty tough," said Mr. Perley, "but it isn't my fault."

"I know it isn't. Well, this is the last time that loafer will play that trick on me. He thinks that because I have been easy with him in the past there is no end to my patience. I'll show him that he is making the mistake of his life."

"Of course, you will discharge him?"

"You had better believe I will. A healthy sort of advance agent he is! Think of my bringing my company to a town of the importance of Boomville, to find that absolutely no advance work has been done, that my advance agent, to whom I pay a fancy salary, has not even showed his face in the town."

"I suppose he has succumbed to his old complaint?" said Mr. Perley.

"Of course; he is drunk beyond the shadow of a doubt, and may not show up again for a week. Well, when he does, he'll meet with a warm reception from me. We ought to have had an eight-hundred-dollar house to-night, and now we'll be lucky if we take in half that amount."

"I don't expect we'll do as well as that. It wouldn't have made so much difference under ordinary circumstances, but, as luck will have it, they've got the strongest attraction of the season at the other house--the 'Crack of Doom' Company. You know that's a big puller everywhere."

"Sure. They have a railway collision, a tank of real water, a buzz saw and two real lunatics in the insane asylum scene."

"Yes, and their advance man has worked the show up in great shape here. According to him, the leading lady lost nine thousand dollars' worth of diamonds on her way here, and the soubrette is going to marry Chauncey Depew. And they give souvenirs to-night in honor of the five hundredth performance of the piece."

"They've been giving that five hundredth performance in every town they've played in for the last month; and their souvenirs are not worth over fifty cents a gross."

"All very true, but the public will have 'em. I hoped your advance man would have some taking counter-attraction."

"So he did have, but---- Oh, well, it's no use talking about that. What's done can't be helped, but I won't be left in this way again. Where is the nearest telegraph office?"

"On the next block. What are you going to do?"

"Wire to New York for a new advance agent. I happen to know of an A1 man who is out of an engagement. There are two or three others after him, but I guess I can make it worth his while to go with me. I won't get left in this way again, you can bet your boots!"

"That's all right," growled Mr. Perley, "but it doesn't help out the present engagement any."

"No, but we are joint sufferers in that, and we may as well grin and bear it."

And the irate manager of the New York Comedy Company started for the telegraph office with fire in his eyes and a look of determination on his face.

Neither he nor Mr. Perley had observed the presence in the little group of listeners to their conversation of a rather good-looking, well-dressed boy of about eighteen.

This lad did not lose a word of the excited discussion, and, as the manager started to walk away, he muttered:

"This is the chance I have been looking for; I won't let the opportunity slip. It doesn't seem as if there would be much hope for me, but there's no harm in trying, anyhow."

He followed Mr. Wattles, and just before that gentleman reached the telegraph office he tapped him on the shoulder.

The manager turned quickly. When he saw the boy, he asked, impatiently:

"Well, what is it?"

"Can I speak with you a few minutes, sir?"

"Not now, not now."

Mr. Wattles was about to resume his walk, but the boy laid a detaining hand on his arm.

"I want to see you on business, sir."

"You have business with me?"

"Important business, sir."

"Well, well, I'll see you in a few minutes; I've got to send an important telegram now."

"But I want to see you before you send that telegram."

"Before I send the telegram? Why?"

"Because I think I can prove to you that it is not necessary to wire to New York at all."

"Eh? Why, how did you know that I was going to wire to New York?"

"I overheard what you said to Mr. Perley in front of the opera house just now."

"Humph! I was excited, and spoke a little louder than I ought. Well, why do you think it will not be necessary for me to send the telegram?"

"Because I am sure you can find just the person you want right here in Boomville."

"An advance agent to be picked up offhand in this place? That would be too much luck. What is your man's name?"

"Allen Allston."

"I never heard of him. What company was he with last?"

"He has never been with any company, sir, but----"

Mr. Wattles surveyed the boy with a look of supreme disgust.

"Do you suppose for one moment," he interrupted, "that I am going to take an inexperienced jay from a town like this and send him ahead of an organization like Wattles' New York Comedy Company? Well, hardly. I've got to have an experienced man."

"And you're going to telegraph for one now, sir?"

"This minute."

"But suppose you can't get the man you want--will you talk with me then, sir?"

"Er--yes, in that case you might send your friend to see me, though it seems nonsense. But I shall get my man all right."

"I suppose you are going to request an immediate answer to your telegram, Mr. Wattles?"

"I am; I shall get it within an hour, in all probability."

"Where can I find you after you have received it?"

"At the hotel next door. You are a persistent young rascal; your friend has a good advocate in you."

The boy smiled.

"I am the best friend he has in the world," he said.

"Well, if you are you had better advise him to stick to farming, or whatever he is doing, and keep out of the theatrical business; we have too many farmers in it already."

"He wouldn't take the advice, sir."

Mr. Wattles laughed as he entered the telegraph office.

"If the boy's friend has got as much 'go' as he has," he muttered, "he might do something in the business."

In a few minutes the message had been sent. An hour and a half later a messenger entered the lobby of the hotel with a telegram.

"For me?" questioned the manager, who had been impatiently pacing the floor for the last twenty minutes.

"Yes, sir."

Mr. Wattles tore open the envelope.

A muttered exclamation escaped his lips as he hurriedly perused the message.

"Well, sir?" said a voice at his elbow.

Turning, he confronted the lad with whom he had had the brief interview which we have recorded.

"You here? Well, you do mean business."

"Is your offer accepted, sir?" the boy asked.

"Confound it, no! The man I wanted signed yesterday with another manager. Well, send your friend round and I'll talk with him."

"He is here, sir."

"Where?"

"I am Allen Allston."

CHAPTER II.

AL TALKS BUSINESS.

Mr. Wattles stared at the boy a moment in speechless surprise, then burst into a loud laugh.

"You don't mean to say," he almost gasped, "that you made that application for yourself?"

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!