“Thanks. No, I don’t know exactly,” he went on again. “But I know the arrangement with Miss Pryde is broken off. And Sir John wants a play at once. He told me that! At once! Yes. ‘The Orient Pearl.’ That was the title. At the Royal first, and then the world’s tour. Fifteen months at least in all, so I gathered. Of course I don’t speak officially. Well, many thanks. Saoo good of you. I’ll tell Sir John it’s arranged. One-thirty to-morrow. Good-bye!”
He hung up the telephone. The excited, eager, effusive tones of Rose Euclid remained in his ears. Aware of a strange phenomenon on his forehead, he touched it. He was perspiring.
“I’ll teach ’em a thing or two,” he muttered.
“Serves her right.... ’Never, never appear at any other theatre, Mr. Machin!’ ... ‘Bended knees!’ ... ‘Utterly!’ ... Cheerful partners! Oh! cheerful partners!”
He returned to his supper-party. Nobody said a word about the telephoning. But Rose Euclid and Carlo Trent looked even more like conspirators than they did before; and Mr. Marrier’s joy in life seemed to be just the least bit diminished.
“So sorry!” Edward Henry began hurriedly, and, without consulting the poet’s wishes, subtly turned on all the lights. “Now, don’t you think we’d better discuss the question of taking up the option? You know, it expires on Friday.”
“No,” said Rose Euclid, girlishly. “It expires to-morrow. That’s why it’s so fortunate we got hold of you to-night.”
“But Mr. Bryany told me Friday. And the date was clear enough on the copy of the option he gave me.”
“A mistake of copying,” beamed Mr. Marrier. “However, it’s all right.”
“Well,” observed Edward Henry with heartiness, “I don’t mind telling you that for sheer calm coolness you take the cake. However, as Mr. Marrier so ably says, it’s all right. Now I understand if I go into this affair I can count on you absolutely, and also on Mr. Trent’s services.” He tried to talk as if he had been diplomatizing with actresses and poets all his life.
“A—absolutely!” said Rose.
And Mr. Carlo Trent nodded.
“You Iscariots!” Edward Henry addressed them, in the silence of the brain, behind his smile. “You Iscariots!”
The photographer arrived with certain cases, and at once Rose Euclid and Carlo Trent began instinctively to pose.
“To think,” Edward Henry pleasantly reflected, “that they are hugging themselves because Sir John Pilgrim’s secretary happened to telephone just while I was out of the room!”
MR SACHS TALKS