Par 1 At the age of eleven I developed a mania for collecting autographs, and as many of the visiting artists of the day congregated at my father's store [NN: a popular and fashionable restaurant in Chicago] I was able to acquire quite a presentable list.
Par 2 One rainy day my father gave me a ticket for a concert by de Pachman [sic] [NN: evidently during one of his US tours in 1890, 1891 or 1892 when the author would have been about fourteen to sixteen, consistent with her mania for collecting autographs lasting about four years from age eleven, as she mentioned on page 11 of her book]. He couldn't go with me, so I felt very adult and important, going to a performance all by myself.
Par 3 "Now listen attentively," said father, "and remember, it is often just as important to know what NOT to do as it is to know WHAT to do. Come back to the store after the concert and I will take you home."
Par 4 It was a remarkable program, all compositions by Chopin, three of which I had studied myself. I was enchanted by the beauty of them when heard from the stage, and very much astonished by the remarks of the artist while he was playing. The audience seemed amused and demanded ever so many encores. He was a very comical man and went through so many antics that one couldn't help laughing, even though the music was so lovely.
Par 5 But I had something else on my mind. I was going to get his autograph even if I was scared to death, as I most certainly was. So, after the last of the encores, and with quite a crowd of musicians, I managed to squirm my way back stage, with my pencil and a blank card in my hand.
Par 6 When I finally found myself in the "green room" it was most confusing. It was jammed with people and everyone seemed to be talking at once. The small room was crowded, chairs were covered with clothes and music, two half-opened suitcases were on the floor, and in the midst of all this turmoil Mr. de Pachman [sic] was running about, alternately page 10 shaking hands with admirers and shouting "Wo sind meine gumme-shuhen [NN: perhaps Gummi[über]schuhen: Where are my rubber [over]shoes?]" over and over again.
Par 7 He stumbled over me, looked down and demanded, "Vell, vat you vant?"
Par 8 In a choked voice I said, "I want your autograph."
Par 9 He paused, then said, "I give it to you for a kees," and grinned at me mischievously.
Par 10 Then I WAS scared, and while I hesitated some one came up and took his attention.
Par 11 My eye caught the heels of some over-shoes under a pile of music on the floor, and I had an idea. Pushing forward to the group that had his attention I said, "If I find your rubbers, will you give me your autograph?"
Par 12 Afte a puzzled moment he grimaced, "But ya, ya."
Par 13 I dived under the crowd, scrambled on the floor and drew out the over-shoes, amid a shower of clothes, music and programs, and triumphantly held them up. The people around me began to laugh, and I know my face must have been very red, but I thrust the pencil and card right under his nose, and he signed his name in big letters.
Par 12 Then I wriggled out of the Green Room and went happily to my father's store in the rain.