“Only by appointment. He is in Europe now.”
Jarvis relinquished his precious bundle and departed. It occurred to him, when he reached the street, that part of his depression was from hunger. He bought a sandwich and coffee at a Childs restaurant. Later, he went into a drug store and looked up magazine offices in the telephone book. Then he set out. From Collier’s to the Cosmopolitan is many a weary mile. And Jarvis walked it, visiting all the intervening offices.
In only one case did he get to the editor. Mr. Davis, of Munsey’s, let him come in, and was decent to him, promised to read anything he sent in at once, took his address, and made him feel like a human being. Many a young writer besides Jarvis has to thank Mr. Bob Davis for just such a bit of encouragement. For the most part, he saw clerks or secretaries who made excuses for the editor, took his name and address with the same old “Come in again.” Out in the hot sun the pavement wavered and melted into hillocks before his dizzy eyes. So he went back to the hot bedroom, which seemed, all at once, a haven of rest.
He threw himself on the hard bed and was asleep in a second. It seemed aeons later that he was dragged up from the depths of slumber by continued pounding on his door. The slattern chambermaid announced that a gentleman wished to see him. He called to her it must be a mistake. He didn’t know any gentlemen.
“’E h’ast for Jarvis Jocelyn. ’Ere’s ’is card,” she retorted, opening the door and marching to the bed with it.
“Richard Strong. Tell him I’m out.”
“Hi’ve already said you was in. Hi see you come hup.”
“The devil! Where is he?”
“Coolin’ ’is ’eels in the ’all.”
“Say I’ll be down in a minute. Ask him to wait.”
“Hi get you,” said she, and clomped out.
Then Jarvis’s eye fell on Bambi’s letter on his table, unopened. It must have come the day before, when he was lost in his play. He glanced through it. At the mention of Strong’s visit he frowned. He read that part twice. There was no doubt of it. Strong had the only chance with her. He made no secret of his devotion to her, and the probabilities were that now that he, Jarvis, was out of the way, she would realize how much she cared for Strong.
“Well, what is, is,” he muttered. He’d have no favours from Strong, though, that was sure.
Twenty minutes later, shaved and dressed, he descended upon his guest, who sat in torment, on a hall-tree shelf, in Stygian darkness.
“How do you do?” said Jarvis, stiffly. “Sorry to keep you waiting in this hole of Calcutta.”
“How are you, Jocelyn?” said Strong, cordially. “Your wife gave me your address, and I thought you might save me from a deadly evening by dining with me at Claremont.”
“Thank you, I have dined,” replied Jarvis.
“So early? Well, come with me while I get a bite somewhere, and we will go to a show, or hear some music.”