‘That is how you imagine un génie raté,’ said Phillips. ’Your conception is clear enough; why don’t you write the book?’
’Because there is nothing more to say on the subject. It is a subject for a sketch, not for a book. But of this I’m sure, that the dry-rock man would come out more clearly in a book than the soft, insipid, gentle, companionable, red-bearded fellow.’
’If Price were the dry, sterile nature you describe, we should feel no interest in him, we should not be discussing him as we are,’ said Phillips.
’Yes, we should—Price suffers; we’re interested in him because he suffers—because he suffers in public—“I never was happy except on those rare occasions when I thought I was a great man.” In that sentence you’ll find the clew to his attractiveness. But in him there is nothing of the irresponsible passion which is genius. There’s that little Rose Massey—that little baby who spends half her day dreaming, and who is as ignorant as a cod-fish. Well, she has got that something—that undefinable but always recognisable something. It was Price who discovered her. We used to laugh at him when he said she had genius. He was right; we were wrong. The other night I was standing in the wings; she was coming down from her dressing-room—she lingered on the stairs, looking the most insignificant little thing you can well imagine; but the moment her cue came a strange light came into her eyes and a strange life was fused in her limbs; she was transformed, and went on the stage a very symbol of passion and romance.’
The slate colour of the sky did not seem to change, and yet the night grew visibly denser in the park; and there had come the sensation of things ended, a movement of wraps thrown over shoulders and thought of bedtime and home. The crowd was moving away, and nearly lost in the darkness Hubert came towards his friends. He had just knocked the ash from his cigar, and as he drew in the smoke the glow of the lighted end fled over his blonde face.
One day a short letter came from Hubert, asking Mrs. Bentley to send the dog-cart to the station to fetch him. He had decided to come home at once, and postpone the production of his play till the coming spring.
Every rehearsal had revealed new and serious faults of construction. These he had attempted to remove when he went home in the evening, but though he often worked till daybreak, he did not achieve much. The very knowledge that he must come to rehearsal with the re-written scene seemed to produce in him a sort of mental paralysis, and, striking the table with his fist, he would get up, and a thought would cross his mind of how he might escape from this torture. After one terrible night, in which he feared his brain was really giving way, he went down to the theatre and dismissed the company, for he had resolved to return to Ashwood and spend another autumn and another