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The Cat And The Fiddle

By Owen Fox Jerome

It Takes a Cat, a Fiddle, and a Lovely Singer to Transform Gentle, Mild Mr. Remington, Violinist of the Romany Club, into a Smart Detective as Well as a Hero!

HAD anyone told Horace Remington that he was heroic he would likely have fainted dead away. Mr. Remington was slightly on the wrong side of forty, and he was fond of cats. Also, he played the violin. He had played fifth fiddle in Tachonovich's Symphony Orchestra for fifteen years. Now he was the sole violinist at the Romany Club, a night spot on East Fifty- Ninth Street.

Never a virtuoso, he was nevertheless a conscientious musician who knew his musical scores. He had the soul of an artist—if not the fire of genius—and he was a wow in his make-up as a death's head in full dress, when he played obbligato to Madam Oravey's Gipsy fortune-telling scene.

But it was cheap, spectacular, and secretly Horace Remington resented it. But he was too much of a gentleman to voice his objections. It was difficult enough to put his thoughts into words, anyway. He did much better at pouring out his heart through the strings of his beloved violin.

In appearance Mr. Remington was a dapper little man with graying hair. In cutaway coat, striped trousers and batwing collar, he was always impeccable, in the style of two decades ago. He lived alone in his two-room apartment over on Second Avenue, walked to his nightly work at the Romany Club, and went to the Metropolitan and Carnegie Hall in season on his days off. And on his radio he listened to Kay Kyser's "College of Musical Knowledge" and Hildegarde's "Beat the Band."

Not that he was in love with Hildegarde—a radio personality he had never seen. For there was Lola Martin. Lola was a dream. What if she was a fake redhead and every day of thirty. She was the singer at the Romany Club, and as unattainable to Mr. Remington as the stars. Moreover, she was the current favorite of Georgie Mayville. Still, that didn't keep Horace Remington from pouring out his love through his violin and worshiping from afar.

Why he continued to work at the Romany Club, Mr. Remington did not know—unless it was Lola and Grimalkins. Men such as Horace Remington easily got into a rut.

But it had gradually dawned on Remington that the Romany Club was not strictly on the up and up. Just what was wrong with the place he didn't know. He simply had the feeling that something was off-key, a feeling that was growing into a firm conviction.

For one thing he didn't like Harry Doxler, the club manager. Doxler was a fat, swarthy little man, with a waxed mustache, and sharp black eyes that were as cold as chilled jet. He was always genial, smiling—and oily. He laughed frequently, short little sounds that he sucked inward instead of exploding outward in a natural manner. It was more like the barking of a small dog.

MADAM Oravey, the fortune teller, would have been a hag had she not been so fat. Her nose was craggy and her bleached hair was highly incongruous. In walk, posture and manner, she was positively bovine. What thoughts lay behind her cowlike exterior Mr. Remington could not imagine. But she was not dumb. Mr. Remington fancied that she had once played the cheaper carnival circuits.


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