A disheveled man in a great coat shambled into a well frequented bar and, taking the bartender aside, proposed a little performance in lieu of payment for a double whiskey.
“Depends on the show,” said the bartender. “Whaddya got?”
The man pulled out of his inside breast pocket a miniature piano and placed it carefully on the bar. Returning to the same pocket he delicately removed a tiny piano stool which he put nicely before the piano. He then delved into another pocket producing a mouse which appeared to have been woken from sleep, and put it upon the stool. At this point all eyes were riveted on the preparations, the mouse looked enquiringly up at his master, and the man nodded his head.
The mouse launched into the opening bars of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and the entire house was enraptured. At the end of the performance all patrons gave the mouse a rousing ovation and the bartender, rightfully discerning something more than one mere whiskey might be in order, opened a new bottle of Dimple, caught up a sturdy tumbler, and passed them reverentially over the bar.
“That’s not all,” said the man in the fraying great coat, and with these words he put his hand into a deep inside pocket while the patrons held their breath. A tiny cage was soon revealed, and in it, perched happily on its little bough, was the most vivid yellow canary anyone had ever seen.
The man coaxed the bird from its perch and it obediently hopped onto his finger, whereupon he then put it on the piano, nodded to the musicians, and the mouse accompanied the canary’s perfectly rendered Nessun Dorma from Turandot by Giacomo Puccini. There was scarcely a dry eye in the house.
A distinguished looking gentleman who had been sitting nearly paralysed with amazement was suddenly on his feet, and with words stuttered by excitement demanded to know what ransom the man might accept for the sublime singing canary.
“I couldn’t part with that bird for less than a million dollars.”
“My dear man you have yourself a deal,” said the greying gentleman as he pulled out his pocket book. “And to whom do I have the honour of making out this cheque?”
Formalities observed, the canary was returned to its cage, and the transaction effected. The proud new owner, cage held aloft with canary bouncing on its bough, jubilantly swept out of the room, hummed strains of Nessun Dorma wafting in his wake.
“What did you do that for?” demanded the bartender. “You could have sold that canary for billions!”
The man tapped the side of his nose, winking. “Doesn’t matter,” he said, “The mouse is a ventriloquist.”