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Larry Karp


Chapter One


Manhattan, New York City

Monday, August 21, 1916



The short, dark-skinned man standing in front of the Strand Theatre Building shaded his eyes with a hand, and looked up past the marquee to the gold letters on the third-story windows.  WATERSON, BERLIN, AND SNYDER, MUSIC PUBLISHERS.  That wife of his, she wouldn't let him out of the apartment till she wrote out the address for him.  He told her he was almost ten years in New York now, he didn't need any numbers on a piece of paper to find his way to Broadway and Forty-seventh Street, but she wrote it down anyway, and pushed it into his pocket.  Women are like that.  If they don't have a real baby, they find a man to treat like one.


Heat rose from the pavement, made the building and the people look wavy.  Made everything look wavy.  Damn, he didn't like that.  He was nervous enough, just coming down here with his music, which of course he never would be doing if Martin hadn't convinced him he should.  Question was, could he really trust Martin?  Could he trust anyone anymore, after all he'd been lied to, ignored, pushed aside, even by people every bit as black as himself, those fancy Negroes with their three names.  Will Marion Cook.  J. Rosamund Johnson.  James Reese Europe.  None of them would give him the time of day any more.  Lester Walton once had been partial to him, wrote a bunch of nice words in the newspaper about his music, but not since Cook, Johnson and Europe got hold of Walton's ear.  Scott Joplin was low-class, him and his ragtime music.  Low-class and old hat.  An embarrassment to the race.


He pulled a well-used handkerchief from his pocket, mopped water from his forehead, glanced at the sheaf of papers in his left hand.  Was there anybody he could he trust?  Well, sure, his wife.  Lottie was always square at his side.  And Nell - of course.  Never mind her father, he could trust Nell with his life.  He sighed.  And yeah, he really did think Martin was okay.  Nice kid, wanted to play piano just like Scott Joplin, came up every week for his lesson.  He kept the books at Irving Berlin's, and he got himself some inside information.  Berlin was doing musical shows now, not just writing popular songs.  "Let him see your music," Martin had said. "What can you lose?  I'll go along with you, and I'll make good and goddamn sure he doesn't steal anything off you again." 


Joplin had his doubts, but decided to give it a try.  With no contacts of his own any more, little money, and less time, he really didn't have all that much to lose, did he?  But he was not about to take Martin along with him, no need to do that.  Scott Joplin was the King of Ragtime.  Go walking into Irving Berlin's office with a baby-sitter?  Uh-uh.


Besides, his head had felt pretty good earlier this morning.  It wasn't till he got outside and started off downtown that he commenced getting nervous and shaky in his mind.  All this heat and humidity, all that noise, gasoline motorcars with their backfires, all the people, pushing, yelling, waving their arms.  He tried to will calm, blew out a deep breath, then moved, a little unsteadily, toward the door. 


A white couple, old people, passed by; he heard the woman say, "Just look at that - drunk on the street, and in broad daylight."  Joplin tried not to react, but in his anger, he caught his foot on the step, stumbled, finally managed to hold his balance.  Damn!  Lottie had fixed him up right to go downtown, shaved him close, got him into his best dark suit and tie, but as far as that old woman was concerned, Scott Joplin was just another drunk nigger.  But what was he supposed to tell her?  No, he wasn't drunk, just that his brain didn't work right anymore because he once upon a time lay down in bed with the wrong woman?


He turned to go back home, but pulled himself up short.  No, that wouldn't serve.  He had to leave Lottie some money.  Had to.  And besides.  A man sees he's got no future, he wants to leave something of himself in the world, and what did Scott Joplin have to leave?  No children.  No paintings, no books, no buildings.  Nature had filled his head so full of music there never was a moment's time for anything else, his blessing, his curse.  If all his music disappeared along with him, better his mother would have gone to the old woman down the road and gotten something to put up inside her, so next day she'd have passed a mess of blood, and Scott Joplin never would've seen light of day.


He wheeled about, then walked carefully up the steps to the door, pulled it open and went inside, past the elevator, up the staircase.  The third floor hallway was stifling.  He felt dizzy, afraid he might pass out.  Guiding himself with his free hand against the wall, he made his way down the corridor and into the Waterson, Berlin, and Snyder Reception Room. 


Nobody there.  He looked right, left, right again.  A receptionist's desk sat between the take-off points of two hallways; two other passages ran back from the opposite wall.  Joplin felt like he was standing at the hub of a wagon wheel.  The wheel started to spin, sending the composer staggering toward one of the cheap wooden chairs against the wall opposite the receptionist's desk,  He dropped his manuscript to the floor, fell into the chair, lowered his head into his hands.


The wheel slowed, stopped.  Joplin raised his head by degrees.  Still no one in the room, nobody waiting to show a tune to a buyer, or hoping to bag a tune for a vaudeville act.  No receptionist at the desk.  The composer picked up his music, stepped cautiously across the room, peered down the corridor to the right of the desk.  No luck.  He walked a few steps past the desk to check the second corridor.  Again, no one in sight...but then he heard a loud, phlegmy cough.  He gripped his papers, started walking. 


The door to the fourth office on his left sat open.  Joplin saw a man sitting at a desk, his back to the door.  The composer paused.  This nervousness was going to be the death of him.  Even when he sat alone at his piano these days, trying to put a tune together, he felt ants crawling up his legs, butterflies sailing around inside his stomach.  "I'm Scott Joplin," he muttered.  "The King of Ragtime.  I don't need to give any apology - least of all not to him."  He stepped into the room, cleared his throat.


The white man at the desk swiveled to face him.  Joplin recognized him instantly.  "Good day, Mr. Berlin," the colored man said.

The white man smiled.  "Why, Scott Joplin - how are you?  I haven't seen you since forever."


Not since 1911, Joplin thought.  Not since "Alexander's Ragtime Band."  He worked to keep his attention on his business.  "Well, I guess that's so.  I know I haven't been by since you moved up to here from Thirty-eighth Street - when was that again?"


"1914, two years ago.  What brings you down?"


The stale smell of old cigar smoke burned Joplin's eyes.  He held out his offering.  The pile of papers shook; he was afraid he might drop the whole stack onto the floor.  "I've got some music I want to talk to you about."


The white man stood, pushed a hardbacked wooden chair toward his visitor.  "Sit down, Scott, huh?  Take a load off, catch your breath.  You say you want me look at your music?"


Joplin nodded.  Lottie had warned him. "Take it slow, Scott, nice and easy.  You get to talkin' fast, your tongue gets all tied up in knots, and even I can't follow you.  An' if I can't, Mr. Berlin sure won't." 


"Sorry, Mr. Berlin."  Joplin could hear the difference, much better now.  Slow and easy.  He lowered himself into the seat.  "I said I want to talk to you about some new music I've got.  Theater music."


He saw the publisher's eyes go glittery as they lit on the pile of paper.  Like a buzzard spotting a chunk of meat in the gutter.  The colored man's hand moved to cover his manuscript, but he told himself, don't go getting mad now.  What's done is done.  And Martin'll be right in the office, he can keep watch.  He won't let Berlin swipe it.


The publisher extended a white, well-manicured hand.  "You gonna let me see it, Scott?  Or you just want to keep me guessing?"


Joplin laid his music, slow-motion, on the desk.  The white man craned his neck to read; his eyebrows went up.  "If, huh?  A musical drama in two acts."


"That's right."


"Looks pretty long."


"Not too long.  Not any longer than Treemonisha."  The colored man jabbed a finger toward the manuscript.  Shaking even worse now.  Thinking about Treemonisha right there in front of Irving Berlin couldn't help but make him nervous.  He fought to go on talking.  "Why don't you look at it, Mr. Berlin?   See what you think."


Instead, the white man leaned back in his chair and took a moment to study his visitor.  "Who did the book?"


"I did.  Just like for Treemonisha.  I do my own work, all of it.  Only Scott Joplin can put the right words to Scott Joplin's music."


"Okay.  But listen, I got to ask you.  How is it you're bringing it here?  To me?"


Anger hit the colored man like a wild animal released from a cage to pounce on his chest.  For what felt like an hour, he couldn't get out a word.  Lottie spoke to him in his mind, gentle but firm.  "Scott, now don't you forget, you ain't goin' down to pick no fight with Mr. Berlin.  What you want is to get him to take on your music." 


The composer struggled to slow his breathing, finally managed to set a firm gaze into the white man's eyes.  "You know, after you published 'Alexander,' I swore I'd never have anything else to do with you.  But I'm sick, Mr. Berlin, which you probably know already.  I wrote this musical, and I'm working on my Symphony Number One, and before I go, I want to see them both on their way.  My piano pupil, Martin, he works in your office, he said I ought to let you take a look at it."


The white man scratched at his head.  "That's Martin Niederhoffer?  Our bookkeeper?"


"The same.  I can never remember that last name, but he's the one.  Why don't you call him in here?  Ask him if I'm not telling you the truth."


The white man's face split into a huge smile; he waved the idea away.  "No need for that, Scott.  I believe you.  Anyway, it's half-past twelve.  Martin's out to lunch right now."


"He said he was going to keep a good eye on my music for me.  That boy is a fine piano student, Mr. Berlin.  And he knows every note of If." 


A lie, and it threw Joplin off track.  For the better part of a year now, he'd kept all his music locked in his piano room, and when he went in to compose, he even locked the door behind him.  No one was ever going to steal another piece of music from Scott Joplin, then use it to make his own career.  "Alexander's Ragtime Band!"  Those three words never failed to set his mind into a whirl.  He jumped from his chair, arms waving.  "Six years it's been now, I left my opera with you, Treemonisha, and you gave it back, told me you couldn't use it.  But you kept a part of the "Real Slow Drag" tune, and it earned you a fortune.  I tell you, Mr. Berlin, that's not going to happen again.  Not ever." 


The white man pushed back in his chair to keep clear of the flailing arms. 


"You steal one note out of If, just one single note, and I'll take you to court, you hear?"  The furious colored man pounded a fist on his manuscript, once, twice; a letter opener jumped off the desk and clattered to the floor.  "My play is going to be a landmark in musical theater - it'll make anything by Cole or Johnson or Cook seem tawdry and cheap.  I want to see it on stage before..." 


He was out of breath, been talking so fast, all out of control.  He wondered vaguely whether the white man had understood what he was saying.  "Slow down," he heard Lottie croon.  "Slow and easy, now, Scott."  But words kept pouring out of his mouth, loud, insistent, rude.  "Mr. Berlin, I'm telling you, you steal any of this, and we won't need a court hearing...because I swear I will kill you." 


The white man raised a hand.  Joplin ducked away, but as he straightened back up, his head whacked against the edge of the open door.  He staggered, then settled to his knees.  He felt blood pour down his face from his forehead, saw it splatter onto his white shirt, coat and trousers.  He had to do something.  But what?


He saw the white man jump to his feet, and take a handkerchief from his pocket.  "Come on, Scott."  The publisher pressed the cloth to the composer's wound, pulled him up, guided him back to his chair.  "Scott, take it easy, now, huh?  Quit worrying.  I ain't gonna steal your music."


     As if in a dream, the colored man saw a second white man come at a run into the room.  "What the hell's going on here," the newcomer shouted.


Joplin saw the first white man wave the other one quiet.  "Scott Joplin's got a new musical drama he wants us to have a look at.  He, uh, tripped and hit his head on the door there."


Joplin's eyes followed the publisher's finger, saw the blood splattered on the door, splashed on the floor.  The second white man whistled.  "Nasty cut."


"He'll be all right."  The voice seemed to come from a great distance.  "We're going to give your work every consideration, Scott, don't you worry."  The colored man saw the white man smile at the newcomer, who replied with a grin.


The Pennsylvania Railroad, like any rail company those days, was run by pious men who believed the last should be first, so they put the colored cars in their trains in front of the white cars.  That way, the colored passengers were privileged to receive the lion's share of soot that blew back from the smoke stack of the steam engine.  Even in the third colored car, a fine layer of black dust nearly obscured the curlicue pattern on the threadbare carpeting.  The horsehair stuffing in the seat cushions had long since deteriorated into powder, such that passengers sat on petrified lumps that assaulted their hindquarters with every bump of the train on the tracks.  The dingy, worn seat covers were pocked by cigar and cigarette burns; many armrests were gone.  The railroad company used the condition of the colored cars as evidence of how reasonable their policy was.  Why, if they let those people just sit anywhere, the whole damn train would look like that, and then how many decent people would want to take a train trip?


Halfway back in that third colored car, a man in his mid-thirties, with a thin, stylish mustache and a forehead extending all the way to the crown of his head, sat hunched over lined music paper.  He hummed short passages, changed a note here, a chord there.  Occasionally, he smiled, or said, "Yeah, that's right."


As he stretched and gave a tug at the starched collar on his brand-new white Arrow shirt, a man who'd been sitting across the aisle got up, stepped over, and started eyeballing his music.  The bald man put down his pencil and looked up.  Young guy, not even twenty, nice-looking kid except for a three-inch raised scar along his left cheek, and a nose that had been broken and not set back nearly straight.  Skin like coffee with a good shot of cream, big brown eyes, ivory-white teeth set just so.  Dark hair rippled over the top of his head, parted cleanly in the middle.  But the suit of clothes on that boy - where on earth did he get those duds?  Yellow and black checked jacket over a black vest and a bright pink silk shirt.  Black patent leather shoes with pearl buttons.  Just a kid puttin' on the style, thinks he looks like the last word, but what he looked like to the older man was a pimp who couldn't keep clear of fists and knives.  The boy fiddled absently with his trousers, pulled at his vest, straightened his tie.  "You write music, huh?" 


St. Lou to New York could be a damn long train ride, the bald man thought, but nasty just wasn't his style.  He half-turned in his seat.  "Yeah, I write.  Play piano, too."  He extended a hand.  "My name's Eubie - Eubie Blake.  Pleased to meet you."


The young man answered with a handshake too energetic by a country mile, then slid past Blake to settle into the inside seat, and turned to face the older man.  "I be Dubie.  Dubie Harris."


Blake laughed out loud.  "Dubie and Eubie?  You pullin' my leg?"


The boy shook his head.  "No stuff.  It's short for DuBois, my gramma was Creole.  An' Mr. Blake, I done heard of you.  'Chevy Chase'?   'Baltimore Todolo?'  Those ain't no easy pieces. He glanced at Blake's hands.  'Less, maybe, a man got fingers long as yours."


Blake tried not to smile.  "You a musician, Dubie?  Takin' yourself off to the Big City?" 


Dubie grinned extravagantly, opened his eyes wide as nature would allow.  "Betcha sweet patootie, Mr. Blake.  St. Louie ain't near big enough to hold me.  I play clarinet and horn, and of course, pianna."  Dubie pointed toward the overhead storage across the aisle.  "Got my instruments up there.  Going to get me a spot in Mr. Jim Europe's band, learn me all of his tricks, and in a couple a years, gonna have my own band, just see if I don't.  I write, too - but I ain't no dummy, gonna let some two-bit publisher in St. Lou or Chi or Kay Cee jew me.  I'm gonna take my music straight on over to Tin Pan Alley."


Where every music publisher is a Jew, Blake thought.  He couldn't decide whether this kid had moxie to burn, or if he was just plain foolish.  "New York can be a tough place, boy.  I hope you got yourself somewhere good to stay."


"Oh yeah, you bet.  My uncle and auntie got plenty room.  They went up to Harlem a few years back, buyed themselves a nice house on West 131st Street, and put in a grocery on the ground floor.  They live in the upstairs.  I'm gonna stay with them, 'least till I get my own place."


"They'll meet your train?"


"Naw.  I tell 'em don't bother.  I know how to get myself around a city."


This kid's gonna get some lessons in a hurry, Blake thought.  For sure he had a little money in his pocket, a plum ripe for picking.  But that's how you learn.  Blake hoped the boy was a quick learner.  "Been playin' in St. Lou?"


"No, Sedalia.  You know Sedalia?"


Blake shook his head.  "I grew up in Baltimore, and I've pretty much lived east my whole life.  I was just out to St. Lou a couple of days, business, and that's the closest to Sedalia I ever got.  I hear it was a damn good music town, say twenty years ago, then all the joints got closed up a little after the eighteens went away.  Where ever you been playing in Sedalia?"


Dubie paused.  "Well...actually I was at the George R. Smith College, studyin' music."  His speech moved up-tempo.  "But I played in every place I could, dances and balls, concerts in the park, marching bands - "


"You don't mind me saying, boy, music school and marching bands ain't likely gonna get you too far in Harlem."


     Dubie moved in his seat like his pants had suddenly gotten too tight.  "Well..." 


Whole-story time, Blake thought. 


"Sedalia still got some places where a colored man can play, for sure on a Saturday night.  They's bars, a couple houses...sometimes they get a professor in from Kay Cee or St. Louie, maybe somebody come up from N'Orleans.  And I always listen hard.  'Course the college don't want us doing that stuff, they ever found out, they'd'a expelled me right that minute.  But they can't keep watch on everybody, every night, can they?"  Dubie's face relaxed into a full smile.  


My, my, Blake thought, what fine and gorgeous teeth.  Flash them pearls like that, this kid could get trampled to death by women. 


"And I tell you the truth, Mr. Blake.  Nobody - I mean nobody - could get 'em up and hollerin' like me when I start in to blow.  Sure, we learned all them dead European composers, but that didn't do me no harm.  After classes I'd go take a walk out in the trees where nobody's gonna hear, and I practiced my Schubert and my Mozart, they be my warmup.  Then I played that New Orleans music I learned from the professors.  Sometimes I played till I seed blood on the reed." 


Blake thought Dubie might just jump up, grab his saxophone out of the overhead storage, and start playing, right there in the train car.  The kid's eyes widened, shone.  "Day I finished school, I say to myself, now it's New York for me, that's the onliest place to be.  I blowed for near-on two months, any place they pay money, any music they wanted.  And I saved every penny, bought me a good suit and shoes, and a ticket for the train."  Dubie pointed at a slip of paper peeking out from his shirt pocket, behind his vest.  "See there - that be my ticket to tomorrow.  Gonna take me to a chair in Mr. Europe's Society Orchestra."


"Sure enough," Blake said.  "You're gonna walk right in and say, 'Mr. Europe, here I am.  Make space.'"


Dubie fumbled behind his vest, came out with a limp piece of paper, which he unfolded and passed to Blake, who read silently, James Reese Europe.  Superior colored musicians.  67-69 West 131st Street, New York.  Telephone 7930 Harlem.


"See?  You see now?"  Dubie could barely contain himself.  "Mr. Europe ain't only got just one Society Orchestra, he got a barn full of them.  Send one out here, one there, go to all sorts of fancy dances, white, black, whatever.  That man need a passel of musicians."


Blake took care not to say anything that might let the cat out about how tight he was with James Reese Europe.  Then, there'd have to be an introduction, and Blake had long ago  learned the folly of giving a man a reference based on what he tells you he can do.


"My auntie, she be the one tell me about Mr. Europe, and you know who she get it from?  Mr. Scott Joplin's missus, no other.  Joplins live right nearby, and Miz Joplin sometimes buy groceries at my uncle and auntie's.  You ever meet Scott Joplin?"


Blake took a deep breath. "Oh, I heard Joplin play a couple times."


     Dubie's eyes were like lanterns.  "You ever hear him play 'Maple Leaf?'  People in Sedalia, they still say hearing Scott Joplin play 'Maple Leaf Rag' was like hearing Gabriel blow his horn on the Judgement Day."


"Some men get to be more in remembrance than they ever was in life," Blake said.  "Fact is, there was lots better players than Scott Joplin, but never a composer could touch him.  Scott Joplin is the King of Ragtime.  He says it himself, and it's truth."


Dubie flashed a look like a six-year-old whose mother had just walked out of the kitchen and left cookies on the table to cool.  "But all the newspapers say Mr. Irving Berlin be the King of Ragtime." 


The boy burst into hilarious laughter, but stopped on a dime at the sight of Blake's face.  "I'll tell you, and I'll tell you true," Blake said.  "No one ever lived on this earth, had ragtime in his soul like Scott Joplin.  There were plenty of rags before 'Maple Leaf,' but it was 'Maple Leaf' and Scott Joplin, put ragtime on the map." 


A thought crossed Blake's mind; he stopped, considered, then decided to come out with it.  "All right, here's something for you.  If you want to take your tunes to the very top, go see Irving Berlin.  I used to play at the Boathouse in Atlantic City, and Mr. Berlin would stop by, Lord, those pointy bright-yellow shoes he always had on."  Blake shook his head.  "He'd holler, "Play my song for me, Eubie, you know which one.  So I'd play 'Alexander's Ragtime Band' for him.  That man can't even play piano himself, and his music ain't in any way ragtime, but oh my, how he does know just exactly what people want.  Give him a few years, and mark my word, he's gonna be the biggest composer and publisher in the whole country, never mind just in New York.  You want me to write down his address for you?"


Dubie, open-mouthed, and, for once, silent, nodded.


Blake pulled a blank music sheet from his pile, picked up his pencil, and wrote, in heavy block capitals, WATERSON, BERLIN, AND SNYDER.  STRAND THEATRE BUILDING, BROADWAY AND 47th STREET.  Then he gave the paper to Dubie, who smiled, folded it, stuck it into his shirt pocket along with James Reese Europe's address.  The kid's smile grew into a full-faced grin.  "I'm sure on my way, now, Mr. Blake.  Not very long, an' you gonna be playin' my tunes for people."


Eubie Blake smiled.  "Good luck, boy."


Five o' clock.  The young couple hurried out of the office, skipped down the stairs, through the door, and out into the swirling, boiling mob on the sidewalk.  The girl reached for the boy's arm, then grasped his hand instead.  The crowd pressed them together; he felt the softness of her breast against his elbow.  His heart leaped, and he stopped walking to admire the treasure at his side.  Full lips, neatly painted, flashed him a smile of expectation.  Warmth beamed from wide brown eyes.  She was beet-cheeked, breathing heavily from the heat of the day, and maybe more.  The boy grabbed her by the arms, pulled her to him, and planted a hard kiss on her mouth.


She quickly pulled away.  "Martin, not out here on the street, with everybody watching."  But she was still smiling.


"Where else, then?  We have no place we can go."


"We will."


A fragment of a tune ran through Martin's mind.  'Oh, tell me how I have to wait.  Why can't I get you now?  Why must I hesitate?'  Hesitation Blues was what he had, all right.  But the piano tune reminded him of his appointment; he put his hand to the girl's back, started steering her along the sidewalk.  "Come on, we don't have much time.  I have to be up in Harlem at seven."


Half a block down, they went into Schneider's Deli.  The boy inhaled the fragrance of corned beef, pastrami, smoked fish.  His stomach growled.  He and the girl took a table, ordered.  As the waiter walked away, Martin said, "Your old man's not going to let up an inch, is he?" 


"He says I'm only seventeen, too young to get married."


"How old is old enough?"


Birdie shrugged.  "Who knows?  But what difference does it make?  If it's not my father, it's yours.  He won't ever think a stupid little Litvak is good enough for his Austrian son."


Martin tried to swallow his anger.  His girlfriend was a doll, round and soft in all the right places.  But his father was not impressed.  "Give her ten years, she'll be so fat you won't be able to shtup her with a putz three feet long."  Nothing Martin could say would make it right with his old man.  The Niederhoffers were Austrian Jews, at the top of the Hebrew social heap, and for one to marry an Eastern European peasant was almost as big a shame on the family as marrying a shiksa


"My father can think what he wants," Martin said.  "But I'm twenty-four years old, and I'll marry who I want...which is you."


The vinegar-faced waiter slid plates in front of them, then moved off, not a word said.  The girl cut a piece of blintz with her fork; Martin lifted the top piece of rye bread off his corned beef sandwich, and spread mustard.  "Well, we're not going to wait forever.  One of these days, I'll get a car, and we'll go down to Elkton and get married.  Then, it won't matter if your father says 'Too young,' or if mine says, 'Not good enough.'"  He took a savage bite, as if the sandwich had somehow insulted him.


Birdie's high color faded.  "If we do that, your father might never talk to you again."


"Good, " Martin muttered around a mouthful of corned beef.  "I've heard more than enough from him for twenty-four years now.  What is he, anyway?  A lousy fruit peddler.  But he's Austrian, so his blood is noble.  Well, this is America, not Austria, and I'm going to make my own money.  I'm not going to be a bookkeeper forever.  I keep my eyes and ears open, and one of these days, I'm going to get myself into music publishing for real, maybe  even the theater.  Then we can get married whenever we want, no matter what anybody says."


Birdie put down her fork.  "Martin, dear, you don't have to get so worked up all the time.  You know I'll marry you and no one else.  And I don't care if you're a bookkeeper.  We could live on that."


He patted her hand across the table.  "I'm not going make you live in a cold-water flat, one dirty room, our children hungry all the time.  My mother says, 'Love is like butter, it goes well with bread,' and I've seen enough to know she's right about that."  He shot a glance at his wrist watch.  "I've got to go.  Mr. Joplin gets sore when his pupils don't come on time."


Birdie's lips parted in a warm smile.  "You really like him, a lot don't you."


"I love him," Martin blurted.  "And I love his music.  I get him to play one of his rags, then I try to do it exactly the same as he does.  Come on, walk me to the subway."  He threw money on the table.


Birdie stood, walked around the table, and slipped her hand into Martin's.  The young man thought his chest might burst with love and pride. He'd get his butter, all right, and bread to go with it.  And if his plan worked the way he figured it would, he might just have them both before leaves started to fall.



End of Chapter One


This historical mystery from Larry Karp is the second novel in the Ragtime Historical Mystery Trilogy was released by Poisoned Pen Press on October 1, 2008.