Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/229

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111
THE READING-CLUB.

variety in my style of conversation to make myself agreeable to her. I have an original idea; and I advise all bashful men to take warning from my past experience, and profit by my future. I will borrow language in which to speak my passion. There's nothing very original in borrowing, financially speaking; but to borrow another man's ideas by which to make love, I call original. And, as luck would have it, I have an excellent opportunity to test my new idea. Lounging in the sanctum of my friend Quill, the editor of "The Postscript," a few days ago, he called my attention to an advertisement which had just been presented for insertion. It ran thus: "Wanted, a reader,—a gentleman who has studied poetic and dramatic compositions with a view to delivery, who has a good voice, and who would be willing to give one evening a week to the entertaining of an invalid. Address, with references, 'Stella,' Postscript Office." I recognized the handwriting as that of the lady to whom I had been paying attentions, the signature as the non de plume under which she had written several poetic contributions for the press; and I had no trouble in guessing the meaning of the advertisement, knowing she has an invalid uncle. "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." I felt that it was high tide with me, and boldly launched my canoe; answered the advertisement under the assumed name of "Festus," and waited for a reply. It came: "Stella is satisfied with the references of Festus. and will give him an opportunity to test his ability as a reader Tuesday evening next,"[1] etc. You will naturally conclude that my heart bounded with rapture on receiving this favorable answer. It did nothing of the sort: on the contrary, the rebound almost took away my breath. I began to shiver and shake, and felt inclined to retreat. But "love conquers all things." I determined to persevere; and here I am, by appointment, to test the practicability of my original idea. The lady is a fine reader. I am well acquainted with her favorite authors; and, if I can but interest her in this novel suit, may at least pass a pleasant evening if I am not unspeakably happy. I was told to wait for Stella. (Takes a book from table, and sits L. of table, with his back to R.) Shakspeare, ah! Let me draw a little courage from the perusal of this. (Enter Stella, r., in evening costume, with flowers in her hair.)

  1. Or the evening of the performance.