’She’ll be correct enough; she’ll miss nothing, and yet somehow she’ll miss the whole thing. But you must go at once to Ford. He was saying only this morning that if you didn’t turn up soon, he’d have to give up the idea.’
‘I can’t go and see him to-night. You see what a state I’m in.’
‘You’re rather dusty; where have you been? what have you been doing?’
‘I’ve been down at the dock.... I thought of going to America.’
’Well, we’ll talk about that another time. It doesn’t matter if you are a bit dusty and worn-out-looking. Now that he’s going to revive your play, he’ll let you have some money. You might get a new hat, though. I don’t know how much they cost, but I’ve five shillings; can you get one for that?’
Hubert thanked her.
‘But you are not offended?’
’Offended, my dear Rose! I shall be able to manage. I’ll get a brush up somewhere.’
’That’s all right. Now I’m going to jump into that ‘bus,’ and she signed with her parasol to the conductor. ‘Mind you see Ford to-night,’ she cried; and a moment after he saw a small space of blue back seated against one of the windows.
There was much prophecy abroad. Stiggins’ words, ’The piece never did, and never will draw money,’ were evidently present in everybody’s mind. They were visible in Ford’s face, and more than once Hubert expected to hear that—on account of severe indisposition—Mr. Montague Ford has been obliged to indefinitely postpone his contemplated revival of Mr. Hubert Price’s play Divorce. But, besides the apprehension that Stiggins’ unfavourable opinion of his enterprise had engendered in him, Ford was obviously provoked by Hubert’s reluctance to execute the alterations he had suggested. Night after night, sometimes until six in the morning, Hubert sat up considering them. Thanks to Ford’s timely advance he was back in his old rooms in Fitzroy Street. All was as it had been. He was working at his play every evening, waiting for Rose’s footsteps on the stairs. And yet a change had come into his life! He believed now that his feet were set on the way to fortune—that he would soon be happy.
He stared at the bright flame of the lamp, he listened to the silence. The clock chimed sharply, and the windows were growing grey. Hubert had begun to drowse in his chair; but he had promised to rewrite the young girl’s part, Ford having definitely refused to intrust Rose with the part of the adventuress. He was sorry for this. He believed that Rose had not only talent, but genius. Besides, they were friends, neighbours; he would like to give her a chance of distinguishing herself—the chance which she was seeking. All the time he could not but realise that, however he might accentuate and characterise the part of the sentimental girl, Rose would not be able to do much with it. To bring out her special powers something strange, wild, or tragic was required. But of what use thinking of what was not to be? Having made some alterations and additions he folded his papers up, and addressed them to Miss Massey. He wrote on a piece of paper that they were to be given to her at once, and that he was to be called at ten. There was a rehearsal at twelve.