Orpheus in Mayfair and Other Short Stories HTML version

Orpheus In Mayfair
Heraclius Themistocles Margaritis was a professional musician. He was a singer
and a composer of songs; he wrote poetry in Romaic, and composed tunes to
suit rhymes. But it was not thus that he earned his daily bread, and he was poor,
very poor. To earn his livelihood he gave lessons, music lessons during the day,
and in the evening lessons in Greek, ancient and modern, to such people (and
these were rare) who wished to learn these languages. He was a young man,
only twenty-four, and he had married, before he came of age, an Italian girl called
Tina. They had come to England in order to make their fortune. They lived in
apartments in the Hereford Road, Bayswater.
They had two children, a little girl and a little boy; they were very much in love
with each other, as happy as birds, and as poor as church mice. For Heraclius
Themistocles got but few pupils, and although he had sung in public at one or
two concerts, and had not been received unfavourably, he failed to obtain
engagements to sing in private houses, which was his ambition. He hoped by this
means to become well known, and then to be able to give recitals of his own
where he would reveal to the world those tunes in which he knew the spirit of
Hellas breathed. The whole desire of his life was to bring back and to give to the
world the forgotten but undying Song of Greece. In spite of this, the modest
advertisement which was to be found at concert agencies announcing that Mr.
Heraclius Themistocles Margaritis was willing to attend evening parties and to
give an exhibition of Greek music, ancient and modern, had as yet met with no
response. After he had been a year in England the only steps towards making a
fortune were two public performances at charity matinees, one or two pupils in
pianoforte playing, and an occasional but rare engagement for stray pupils at a
school of modern languages.
It was in the middle of the second summer after his arrival that an incident
occurred which proved to be the turning point of his career. A London hostess
was giving a party in honour of a foreign Personage. It had been intimated that
some kind of music would be expected. The hostess had neither the means nor
the desire to secure for her entertainment stars of the first magnitude, but she
gathered together some lesser lights--a violinist, a pianist, and a singer of French
drawing-room melodies. On the morning of the day on which her concert was to
be given, the hostess received a telegram from the singer of French drawing-
room melodies to say that she had got a bad cold, and could not possibly sing
that night. The hostess was in despair, but a musical friend of hers came to the
rescue, and promised to obtain for her an excellent substitute, a man who sang
Greek songs.
* * * * *
When Margaritis received the telegram from Arkwright's Agency that he was to
sing that night at A---- House, he was overjoyed, and could scarcely believe his
eyes. He at once communicated the news to Tina, and they spent hours in
discussing what songs he should sing, who the good fairy could have been who
recommended him, and in building castles in the air with regard to the result of
this engagement. He would become famous; they would have enough money to