The Magic Spinet
by Mrs. J. E.
The gay people of Paris were one day invited to attend a musical
entertainment, in which "a magic spinet" was to be the chief attraction.
Its wonders were set forth in glowing terms, and a large audience
gathered at the appointed time to witness its performance. The poor
musician, whose all was at stake, looked on the assembly with rejoicing
eyes, but perhaps with a little trembling lest his "magic" should not
work as perfectly as at rehearsals.
After some playing by himself and his two little children, all stepped
back, and, at the word of command, the instrument repeated the whole
symphony. This marvel was well received, when the musician pretended to
wind up his machine by a very hard-working winch, which made a terrible
Now the wise ones thought it all explained. "Only a foolish contrivance
of weights and springs, like a barrel-organ," they said. That was just
what the musician wished them to think, as it would make his triumph
more decided. He now proceeded to show them that the instrument had a
mind capable of hearing and obeying. Calling his children away, he waved
his wand, and in an authoritative voice commanded, "Spinet, play"—such
The instrument obediently played the tune. Then the order was given,
"Spinet, be silent," and all was quiet.
"Spinet, give us a light flourish," and it instantly warbled forth the
gayest melody, which was received with rapturous applause. Then the
whole sentiment of the audience was changed, and all admitted that Jean
Baptiste Raisin, the musician, was also a great magician.
Evening after evening he repeated his performance, and the gold poured
in beyond his fondest dreams. His reputation spread far and wide, and at
last reached the King. He would have this novelty brought to court, and
let the Queen and the royal ladies enjoy such a wonderful entertainment.
Jean was not used to courts, but his passion for money was growing fast,
and he determined fairly to outdo himself in such a golden harvest
field. His instrument was "instructed" to a most unusual degree, and at
the appointed time was in good working order at the palace of
Versailles. Everything proceeded famously until the organist carried on
his old trick of "winding up." Royal ears were not used to such horrid
discords as followed the working of that winch. The delicate nerves of
all the ladies were dreadfully shocked, the Queen's in particular.
But I suppose a Queen's curiosity is much like other people's. She must
have a view of the evil spirit inside the instrument, which seemed to
play so unwillingly, judging from the shrieks it gave out on being wound
up. The poor organist protested he had "lost the key." But that was of
"Can not some one break it open?" asked the King. Royalty has a very
persuasive way, so Jean was forced at last to open the box; and what do
you think they found within? A poor trembling little lad, not six years
old, who operated a set of keys inside, which his father had constructed
for him. The whole instrument was planned with this performance in view,
the lad's small size and wonderful musical talent making the deception
It was plain that the little one was half fainting with the stifled air
he had breathed so long; and ready hands reached out to help him, and
kind voices soothed and comforted him. When he was refreshed, all wished
to hear him play in fair sight, and the praising and petting and
confections and gold coins showered upon him would have turned a wiser
head. Defeat was turned into a grand victory.
His father now invented a comedy, in which little Louis acted an
A company appeared seated about a table, with a big black-pudding before
them. When the pudding was cut, a great outcry was heard within. Soon it
began to roll about the plates, and at last out hopped a little pig.
They chased it about awhile with skewers, and finally, just as it was
caught, it changed into an imp, with horns and hoofs, and a sabre by its
side. Of course the company were greatly frightened, and tumbled down on
the stage, pell-mell, all in a heap. But one sad day a performer thrust
too hard with his sharp skewer, and poor little Louis performed and
played no more. They laid him away in the pleasant cemetery, and very
soon a heartbroken little sister, who could not be comforted, was laid