She quitted the stage.
“Ring down the curtain,” said Mr. Marrier in a thrilled voice.
Shortly afterwards Mr. Marrier came into the managerial office, lit up now, where Edward Henry was dictating to his typewriter and hospital-nurse, who, having been caught in hat and jacket on the threshold, had been brought back and was tapping his words direct on to the machine.
It was a remarkable fact that the sole proprietor of the Regent Theatre was now in high spirits and good humour.
“Well, Marrier, my boy,” he saluted the acting-manager, “how are you getting on with that rehearsal?”
“Well, sir,” said Mr. Marrier, “I’m not getting on with it. Miss Euclid refuses absolutely to proceed. She’s in her dressing-room.”
“But why?” inquired Edward Henry with bland surprise. “Doesn’t she want to be heard—by her gallery-boys?”
Mr. Marrier showed an enfeebled smile.
“She hasn’t been spoken to like that for thirty years,” said he.
“But don’t you agree with me?” asked Edward Henry.
“Yes,” said Marrier, “I agree with you—”
“And doesn’t your friend Carlo want his precious hexameters to be heard?”
“We baoth agree with you,” said Marrier. “The fact is, we’ve done all we could, but it’s no use. She’s splendid, only—” He paused.
“Only you can’t make out ten per cent of what she says,” Edward Henry finished for him. “Well, I’ve got no use for that in my theatre.” He found a singular pleasure in emphasizing the phrase, “my theatre.”
“That’s all very well,” said Marrier. “But what are you going to do about it? I’ve tried everything. You’ve come in and burst up the entire show, if you’ll forgive my saying saoh!”
“Do?” exclaimed Edward Henry. “It’s perfectly simple. All you have to do is to act. God bless my soul, aren’t you getting fifteen pounds a week, and aren’t you my acting-manager? Act, then! You’ve done enough hinting. You’ve proved that hints are no good. You’d have known that from your birth up, Marrier, if you’d been born in the Five Towns. Act, my boy.”
“But haow? If she won’t go on, she won’t.”
“Is her understudy in the theatre?”
“Yes. It’s Miss Cunningham, you know.”
“What salary does she get?”
“Ten pounds a week.”
“Well—partly to understudy, I suppose.”
“Let her earn it, then. Go on with the rehearsal. And let her play the part to-morrow night. She’ll be delighted, you bet.”
“Miss Lindop,” Edward Henry interrupted, “will you please read to Mr. Marrier what I’ve dictated?” He turned to Marrier. “It’s an interview with myself for one of to-morrow’s papers.”
Miss Lindop, with tears in her voice if not in her eyes, obeyed the order and, drawing the paper from the machine, read its contents aloud.