“What time do you expect Mr. Belasco?”
“Goodness only knows.”
“Do you think he will come to-day?”
“Far be it from me to say.”
“But I wish to see him.”
“Many a blond has twirled his thumbs around here for weeks for the same reason.”
“But I am only in New York for a little while.”
“I should worry,” said she, opening her typewriter desk. “Give me your play. I’ll see that it gets to him.”
“I’d rather talk to him myself.”
“I suppose I can wait here?”
“No charge for chairs,” said the cheerful one.
An hour passed, broken only by the click of the typewriter. Conventional overtures from the cheerful one being discouraged, she smashed the keys in sulky silence. From eleven to twelve things were considerably enlivened. Many sleek youths, of a type he had seen on Broadway, arrived. They saluted the cheerful one gayly as “Sally” and indulged in varying degrees of witty persiflage before the inevitable “The Governor in?”
“Expect him to-day?”
“Thank you, little one.”
Sometimes they departed, sometimes they joined Jarvis’s waiting party. Lovely ladies, and some not so lovely. Old and young, fat and thin, they climbed the many stairs and met their disappointment cheerfully. They usually fell upon Jack, or Billy, or Jim, of the waiters, who, in turn, fell upon Belle, or Susan, or Fay.
“What are you with? How’s business?” were always the first questions, followed by shop talk, unintelligible to Jarvis. One youth said that he had been to this office ten successive mornings without getting an appointment. The others laughed, and one woman boasted that she had the record, for she had gone twenty-eight times before she saw Frohman, the last engagement she sought.
“But he engaged me the 29th,” she laughed.
They impressed Jarvis as the lightest-hearted set he had ever encountered. They laughed over everything and nothing. By one o’clock Jarvis and the cheerful one were again in sole possession.
“Don’t you ever eat?” she asked him.
“Oh, is it lunch time?” he inquired.
“Come out of the trance.”
She went through the entire performance before the mirror, in putting on her hat.
“Shall I bring you anything, dearie?” she asked him, as she completed her toilette.
“I’m going, too,” he said. “I’ll be back.”
He plunged down the stairs. When he reached the street he thought of Bambi’s face when he returned with the announcement of his futile morning. He went into a shop, telephoned the club that he had been detained and would not be back to lunch. Then he foraged for food and went back to his sitting on the top floor of the Belasco.
“Well, little stranger,” said the cheerful one, on her return.