“Oh, God bless you for that!” said Bambi, her eyes wet with gratitude.
“We ought to cast you for the girl. You are enough like her to have sat for the portrait,” said Mr. Frohman, wickedly.
Jarvis turned to look at Bambi in his earnest way. He marked the likeness, again, himself.
“I shall play it just as you read it, Mrs. Jocelyn,” said the girl who was cast for the lead.
“You will greatly improve on my Francesca, I’m sure,” Bambi nodded to her.
Parts were distributed, much discussion followed as to character drawing and business, then they separated to meet for rehearsal the next day at 10:30. Mr. Frohman had an immediate appointment, so the Jocelyns had no opportunity for a word in private.
“Queer that Mr. Frohman should think that you are like Francesca, too,” said Jarvis, on their way to the club.
“Oh, I don’t know. We are the same type. That’s all.”
“You could play the part wonderfully.”
“Could I? It would be fun! Still, I think we can make more money and have more fun writing plays.”
She seemed always to be harping on their future together!
The next day was full of surprises for them both. They were entirely ignorant of conditions in and about the theatre. The big, dark house, with its seats all swathed in linen covers, the empty, barn-like stage, with chairs set about to indicate properties; the stage hands coming and going, the stage manager shouting directions—it was all new to them. The members of the company were as businesslike as bank clerks. No hint of illusion, no scrap of romance!
“Mercy! it’s like a ghost house,” said Bambi.
A deal table was set at one side, down stage, for the Jocelyns, with two scripts of the play. They sat down like frightened school children, bewildered as to what would be expected of them.
The actors sat in a row of chairs at one side. The stage manager made some explanations and remarks about rehearsals, and then the first act was called. It was slow and tedious work. Over and over again the scenes were tried. Some of the actors fumbled their lines as if they had never read English before. Now and then the manager appealed to the authors for the reading of a line, or an intonation, and Bambi always answered. At the end of one scene the man who was to play the young musician came to them.
“I’ve been thinking over my part, Mrs. Jocelyn, and I think that if you could write in a scene right here, in act first, to let me explain to the old fiddler my reason for being in this situation——”
“Oh, no, you mustn’t explain. The whole point of the first act is that you explain nothing.”
“Yes, but it would play better,” he began, in the patronizing tone always used to newcomers in the theatre.
“I can’t help that. I cannot spoil the truth of a whole character, even if it does play better,” said Bambi, smiling sweetly.