my long absence. As I approached, Porcharlester rose, say ing, “I’m going behind the stage if you don’t mind.”
“Boys will be boys," I said when he had gone. “But how are your musical studies progressing?”
“I’m full of Schubert now. Oh, Colonel Green, do you know Schubert’s serenade?”
“Oh, a lovely thing. It’s something like this, I think...” “Yes, it is little like that. Does Mr Porcharlester sing it?" I hated to hear her mention the name, so I said, "He tries to sing it.”
“But do you like it?” she asked.
“Hm, well the fact is...” I tried to avoid a straight answer. “Do you like it?”
“I love it. I dream of it. I’ve lived on it for the last three days,”
“1 hope to hear you sing it when the play’s over.”
"I sing it! Oh, I’d never dare. Ah, here is Mr Por charlester, I’ll make him promise to sing it to us.”
“Green,” said Porcharlester, “I don’t wish to bother you, but the man who is to play the horn hasn’t turned up.” "Dear me,” I said, “I ordered him at exactly half-past seven. If he fails to come in time, the play will be spoilt.” I excused myself to Linda, and hurried to the hall. The horn was there, on the table. But the man was nowhere to be seen.
At the moment I heard the signal for the horn. I waited for him, but he did not come. Had he mixed up the time? I hurried to the dining-room. There at the table he sat, fast asleep. Before him were five bottles, empty. Where he had got them from was beyond me. I shook him, but could not wake him up.
I ran back to the hall promising myself to have him shot for not obeying my orders. The signal came again. They were waiting. I saw but one way to save the play from failure.
I took up the instrument, put the smaller end into my mouth and blew. Not a sound came from the thing.
The signal was given a third time.
Then I took the horn again, put it to my lips and blew as hard as I could.
The result was terrible. My ears were deafened, the win dows shook, the hats of my visitors rained from their pegs, and as I pressed my hands to my head, the horn player came out, shaky on his feet, and looked at the guests, who began to appear on the stairs...