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Cymric Strain - Book 2

By Una Howell (USA - 1876-1949)

Chapter 16 - Music Critic

Copyright Scott Dunbar 2010


Chapter 16

Music Critic

Dell and her husband had moved again from our neighbourhood to a house nearer town, but on Sundays they continued to drop in for gossip as usual.

On one of those occasions, when she and I were alone, Dell said, “Une, how would you like to be a music critic?”

My natural reply would have been an aesthetic shudder at my own incompetence but Dell’s faith in me was paramount and I tried to live up to it. Since coming to Chicago, she had extended her writing of fashion notes and, in addition to her regular work on the trade journal, was contributing a column to the Saturday Evening Herald, a Chicago weekly devoted to music, art and drama.

According to Dell, the office of music critic carried no salary but it would give me entrée to recitals, the symphony and opera without charge. She also knew how thrilled I had been over hearing European artists. After Lilly’s death I had relinquished my organ position so now I had more time to devote to it.

Dell was not daunted by my reluctance to assume the post and a few nights later announced to me that I was practically in. The next day I was interviewed by the editor and received my pass.

I remember well the first assignment (self-imposed). It was an organ recital in Evanston and I was so scared that I hadn’t decided to risk it. At dinner Maynard had tried to persuade me to eat a Spanish onion but I was not to be coerced. When Brother enjoyed something, his salesmanship led him to adopt unusual tactics, but his “Just taste it. You have no idea how delicious it is” had completely missed fire this time.

“All right then,” he added. “I’ll tell you what I will do. If you will eat a whole onion, I’ll write your criticism for you,” and he proffered me the white tuber.

“It’s a go,” I agreed. The onion and I got together, I took some breath sweeteners, smartened my toilette and we were off.

The write-up, the points of which I dictated, pleased the editor and, from then on, things ran smoothly without Mayne’s offices. Smoothly, I should say, until a temptation not to be resisted tripped me and I fell. The occasion was a recital by the teacher whose sensuality had driven me from his school. He was a veritable show-off anyway and I warmed to my subject and had the best workout of the season. The family approved my review which was frank and less complimentary than usual, but I shall never forget how gently the editor showed me the error of my ways. I crept out of his office feeling as low as a snake’s “tummy”.

I wore the Herald badge for a year and loved the experience but a habit of going to bed late nights was too hard and I was obliged to reign. One of my prides to the day, however, is that so able a newspaper man and fine a gentleman as John M. Dandy offered to make an editor of me.


Cymric Strain - Book 2, by Una Howell (USA - 1876-1949) Current


Chapter 1 - Evanston

Chapter 2 - The Department of Music
Chapter 3 - Northwestern University

Chapter 4 - Beaued

Chapter 5 - Late for the 1am Train!

Chapter 6 - A Visit from Home

Chapter 7 - Bill Declares Himself

Chapter 8 - Engaged to be Married
Chapter 9 - A Grand Piano for Me?

Chapter 10 - Apartment Life in Evanston

Chapter 11 - On the Train with a Pass

Chapter 12 - Eric’s Decline

Chapter 13 - The Organist

Chapter 14 - Lilly Dies

Chapter 15 - An Unprincipled Woman

Chapter 16 - Music Critic

Chapter 17 - A Rich Young Man

Chapter 18 - Helping the World

Chapter 19 - On a Bicycle Built for Two

Chapter 20 - Mendelssohn Concerto in E Major

Chapter 21 - The Meister Way

Chapter 22 - An Admirer

Chapter 23 - Gentlemen Callers

Chapter 24 - The Scotchman

Chapter 25 - Checking on Maynard

Chapter 26 - Rich Young Man - Not so Much

Chapter 27 - A Kind of Ending

Chapter 28 - Plans for a New Marriage

Chapter 29 - The Marriage

Chapter 30 - Honeymoon

Chapter 31 - Leaving for Elgin

Chapter 32 - Getting to Know Elgin -1901

Chapter 33 - Our First Mobile (Auto)

Chapter 34 - Life in Elgin

Chapter 35 - Preparing for Birth

Chapter 36 - Stillborn!

Chapter 37 - Live Leeches to Treat an Ear Ache

Chapter 38 - Winfield Illinois Sanatorium

Chapter 39 - Saugatuck

Chapter 40 - Friends and Family

Chapter 41 - Meeting George's Mother

Chapter 42 - Father Cook and David




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