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THERE was once a Woman who Thoroughly Understood and appreciated Grand Opera. She was Accustomed to Purchase a Libretto Weeks Ahead, and she Played the Score through on her Piano Before she Went to a Performance. So she always Knew What they were Singing and When it was Over. She had a Cousin who did Not Know an Oboe from a Snare-drum, nor a Tenor from a Basso. Nevertheless she Enjoyed the Opera.

One day they were Presented to a Great Tenor. The Woman who Understood Opera spoke to him as Follows:

"Do you not Think the Overture to 'Tannhauser' is a Beautiful Thing? I Adore Wagner. Don't you? But I Thought that the Brasses were a little Flat and that the Eighth Bar of Your Aria in the First Scene was a Little Hurried. Am I Right?"

"Very Probably," replied the Great Tenor. "And does your Cousin, too, Like the Opera?"

"Very much,” said the Cousin. "Especially since I have learned to Distinguish between the Kinds."

"And How do you Do that?" inquired the Great Tenor, with Interest.

"Oh, there are Many Points of Difference," she replied. "In the First Place, the Women wear Flowing Robes in German Opera, but Corsets and Trains in Other Kinds. Then you Yourself wear High Boots and a Long Mantle in Italian, but Low Shoes and a Short Mantle in German."

"What you Say is True," remarked the Great Tenor, "and More than That, it is Interesting. If I had Known this Before, I should have Saved Myself much Confusion. Pray Continue."

"A Good Way to Tell is by the Chorus," said the Cousin. "In German Opera they are Differently Dressed, but in Other Kinds they all Look Alike and Put their Hands on their Hearts all Together. That is the Safest Way to Tell."

"Henceforth I shall Observe the Chorus very Carefully," said the Great Tenor. "You are Evidently an Adept at This. I suppose you Rarely make a Mistake?"

"Not Often," said the Cousin, Modestly. "Although Some things are Perplexing. They Wave their Arms About much the Same in Both Kinds, and the Heroines almost always wear Bronze Slippers with Two Straps. So sometimes, when Your Mantle is Medium Length, I have No Means of Judging."

"I am Sure that All you Need is a little More Practice," said the Great Tenor, "and it would Give me Great Pleasure to Place a Chair in the Orchestra at your Disposal for To-morrow Night, when I will See that my Mantle is Unmistakably Shortened. I should be Glad to Include your Cousin but Unfortunately I have No More Seats Left."

This teaches us that the Parquet is Not Paved with Good Intentions.