“Miss Rose Euclid,” said Mr.. Bryany, puffing and bending.
ENTRY INTO THE THEATRICAL WORLD
Once, on a short visit to London, Edward Henry had paid half-a-crown to be let into a certain enclosure with a very low ceiling. This enclosure was already crowded with some three hundred people, sitting and standing. Edward Henry had stood in the only unoccupied spot he could find, behind a pillar. When he had made himself as comfortable as possible by turning up his collar against the sharp winds that continually entered from the street, he had peered forward, and seen in front of his enclosure another and larger enclosure also crowded with people, but more expensive people. After a blank interval of thirty minutes a band had begun to play at an incredible distance in front of him, extinguishing the noises of traffic in the street. After another interval an oblong space rather further off even than the band suddenly grew bright, and Edward Henry, by curving his neck first to one side of the pillar and then to the other, had had tantalizing glimpses of the interior of a doll’s drawing-room and of male and female dolls therein.
He could only see, even partially, the inferior half of the drawing-room—a little higher than the heads of the dolls—because the rest was cut off from his vision by the lowness of his own ceiling.
The dolls were talking, but he could not catch clearly what they said, save at the rare moments when an omnibus or a van did not happen to be thundering down the street behind him. Then one special doll had come exquisitely into the drawing-room, and at the sight of her the five hundred people in front of him, and numbers of other people perched hidden beyond his ceiling, had clapped fervently and even cried aloud in their excitement. And he, too, had clapped fervently, and had muttered “Bravo!” This special doll was a marvel of touching and persuasive grace, with a voice—when Edward Henry could hear it—that melted the spine. This special doll had every elegance and seemed to be in the highest pride of youth.
At the close of the affair, as this special doll sank into the embrace of a male doll from whom she had been unjustly separated, and then straightened herself, deliciously and confidently smiling, to take the tremendous applause of Edward Henry and the rest, Edward Henry thought that he had never assisted at a triumph so genuine and so inspiring.
Oblivious of the pain in his neck, and of the choking, foul atmosphere of the enclosure, accurately described as the Pit, he had gone forth into the street with a subconscious notion in his head that the special doll was more than human, was half divine. And he had said afterwards, with immense satisfaction, at Bursley: “Yes, I saw Rose Euclid in ‘Flower of the Heart.’”