I had gone in deeply for composition and completed a suite of five piano pieces to be included on my spring program. While I was in the midst of it, an artist cousin who had an exhibit on at the Art Institute visited us and tried to badger me into sending a copy to Walter Damrosch, who was his friend. The suite was of mountain scenes and he was to make suitable illustrations and bind it in the Roycrofter style. He interpreted my reluctance as a lack of enterprise and the pictures were never made.
Now that the Rich Young Man was no longer available, it was necessary to find a new soloist for my recital and Mr. Hackett suggested a gifted young baritone who was a student of his. As a matter of fact, the boy had as a child collected cigar butts from gutters. He was known only as John when his talent was discovered but such shortcomings are quickly remedied. He sang gorgeously and, shortly after, our programme was sent to London where Mr. Georg Hanschel gave him a series of lessons on singing, gratis.
The first of July I fled the country and the Rich Young Man tried all his arts to storm the fortress. During the winter he had made a quick trip east on business but I had been too insulated to be in danger. Now he wanted to come back and see me and, secure in the peace of a quiet retreat, I wrote to tell him to stay where he was. Affairs were going well and I was satisfied. I had reckoned without my host. His answer was to take the train for Chicago. My cool retreat was suddenly shaken by a telegram that read: “Will you return to Chicago or shall I come to you?” It was nearly time for Jeannie and me to be traveling homeward but our hostess said, “Why not invite him here?”
“Why not?” I said.
It was warm August weather when he drove in to the cottage. The porch was filled with girls, all of them prickly with curiosity. Briefly he told me that he had sold his father’s acres, the beautiful rancho Ramona that he had loved, and that he was home to stay, whatever that may mean.
Our hostess saw a chance to keep us all busy and immediately invited all the cottagers for a musicale. We stripped the woods of ferns, and converted the place into a bower of greenery.
The guests arrived by lanterned boat and catamaran to the sounds of grinding locks, and we gave them lilt and rune by candlelight. The next day, by blazing sunlight, we boarded a train for Chicago. Once there the Rich Young Man began to make plans but there was little need to for his father’s business devoured him as swiftly as the whale swallowed Jonah.
Then ----------- a strange thing happened.
Just as I set out on my familiar, pedagogical, way, I suddenly tripped and fell on a fact. THE RICH YOUNG MAN WAS NOT RICH AT ALL. Not that it made any difference. HE WAS IN NEED. He had mentioned his want on many occasions but it had only now become convincing.
Early in fall the Dean had asked me what the Rich Young Man was doing around these parts. Now that I knew the answer I told him. What has to be, must be.