Suddenly Edward Henry halted the perambulator, and, stepping away from it, raised his hat. An excessively elegant young woman leading a Pekinese by a silver chain stopped as if smitten by a magic dart and held spellbound.
“How do you do, Miss April?” said Edward Henry, loudly. “I was hoping to meet you. This is my wife. Nellie—this is Miss April.” Nellie bowed stiffly in her black silk. (Naught of the fresh maiden about her now!) And it has to be said that Elsie April in all her young and radiant splendour and woman-of-the-worldliness was equally stiff. “And there are my two boys. And this is my little girl—in the pram.”
Maisie screamed, and pushed an expensive doll out of the perambulator. Edward Henry saved it by its boot as it fell.
“And this is her doll. And this is nurse,” he finished. “Fine breezy morning, isn’t it?”
In due course the processions moved on.
“Well, that’s done!” Edward Henry muttered to himself. And sighed.
THE FIRST NIGHT
It was upon an evening in June—and a fine evening, full of the exquisite melancholy of summer in a city—that Edward Henry stood before a window, drumming thereon as he had once, a less-experienced man with hair slightly less grey, drummed on the table of the mighty and arrogant Slosson. The window was the window of the managerial room of the Regent Theatre. And he could scarcely believe it—he could scarcely believe that he was not in a dream—for the room was papered, carpeted and otherwise furnished. Only its electric light fittings were somewhat hasty and provisional, and the white ceiling showed a hole and a bunch of wires—like the nerves of a hollow tooth—whence one of Edward Henry’s favourite chandeliers would ultimately depend.
The whole of the theatre was at least as far advanced towards completion as that room. A great deal of it was more advanced; for instance, the auditorium, foyer, and bars, which were utterly finished, so far as anything ever is finished in a changing world. Wonders, marvels and miracles had been accomplished. Mr. Alloyd, in the stress of the job, had even ceased to bring the Russian Ballet into his conversations. Mr. Alloyd, despite a growing tendency to prove to Edward Henry by authentic anecdote, about midnight, his general proposition that women as a sex treated him with shameful unfairness, had gained the high esteem of Edward Henry as an architect. He had fulfilled his word about those properties of the auditorium which had to do with hearing and seeing—in so much that the auditorium was indeed unique in London. And he had taken care that the Clerk of the Works took care that the builder did not give up heart in the race with time.