“No, but it’s the way men always celebrate, isn’t it?”
The Professor wanted the whole story of the writing of the book, the prize winning, Mr. Frohman’s order, and all, so, after breakfast, she made a clean breast of it, and they laughed over it for a couple of hours. Then Jarvis’s message came. Her face quivered as she read it.
“What is it, dear? Is it Jarvis?”
She nodded, the slow tears falling.
“He isn’t hurt?”
“Not physically hurt, but I’ve hurt his feelings. Oh, Daddy, I’ve made such a mess of it. I wanted to be dazzled by my success, because he thinks I’m a helpless sort of thing, and now he only hates me for it.”
She broke down and wept bitterly. The Professor, distressed and helpless, took her into his arms and petted her.
“There, there, Baby, it will work out all right. Just let us go home, where we’re used to things, and everything will look different.”
“Yes, that’s it, we’ll all go home,” sobbed Bambi, wiping her eyes.
“Where is Jarvis?”
“I don’t know. But I can leave word for him here that we’ve gone back home.”
“Then we can get the two o’clock train. Nothing but misery comes to people in these cities.”
By dint of much hurry they caught the train, Ardelia protesting up to the moment when the train started that they couldn’t possibly make it. Bambi sat, chin on hand, all the way, a sad, pale-faced figure. No one could suspect, to see her now, that she had been the brilliant flame-thing of the night before. Once the Professor patted her hand and she tried to smile at him, but it wasn’t much of a success.
When they entered the house, and Ardelia bustled about to get them some tea, Bambi sat dejectedly, with all her things on, among the travelling-bags.
“Be of good courage, little daughter,” her father said.
“Oh, Father Professor, are the fruits of success always so bitter—so bitter?” she cried to him.
The first week of the play went by, and it was an assured success. The royalty for the first seven days was a surprise, which would have thrown Bambi into raptures under ordinary circumstances. But the Bambi of these days and rapture were no longer playmates.
There had been no word from Jarvis since that time of the first brief message. Bambi went about the house a thin, white-faced, little ghost, with never a song or a smile.
“Fo’ Gawd, Perfessor, it makes me cry to look at Miss Bambi, an’ I don’ dare ask her what’s de mattah.”
“I think we must just let her alone, Ardelia. She’ll work this thing out for herself.” But he, too, was alarmed at the change in her.
The more she thought of how she had thrown away Jarvis’s love, the more she lacerated herself with reproaches. Her fatal love of play-acting had brought her sorrow this time. How could she have done it? Why didn’t she see that Jarvis would never understand what made her do it, that he would resent it.