Some entertainment Vida give me, telling this, setting on her bed under a light that showed up more lines than ever in her face. She was looking close to forty now—I guess them crying scenes had told on her, and her yearning for the lost Clyde—anyway she was the last woman on earth could of got herself insulted even if she had tried her prettiest, only she didn’t know that. And she’d had her little thrill. We’ve all dreamed of how we’d some day turn down some impossible party who was overcome by our mere beauty.
I said I’d always known this director was an unspeakable scoundrel, because he insisted on calling me Mrs. Pettijohn.
Then we had a nice talk about Clyde. She’d had no word for a year now, the last being a picture card saying he would spend the winter in Egypt with some well-known capitalists that wouldn’t take no for an answer. And did I believe he might now be wandering over the face of the earth, sick and worn, and trying to get back to her; didn’t I think some day he would drag himself to her door, a mere wreck of his former self, to be soothed at last on her breast? That was why she kept a light burning in the front window of this here bungalow. He would know she had waited.
Well, I’d never said a word against Clyde except in conversation with myself, and I wasn’t going to break out now. I did go so far as to hint that an article that had come out about her in this same magazine might draw Clyde back a little quicker than the light in the window. The article said her salary was enormous. I thought its rays might carry.
So I come home again and near a year later I get a telegram from Vida: “Happy at last—my own has come home to me.” I threw up my hands and swore when I read this. The article had said her salary was seven hundred and fifty dollars a week.
The next winter I run down to see the happy couple. Vida was now looking a good forty, but Clyde was actually looking younger than ever; not a line nor a wrinkle to show how he had grieved for her, and not a sign of writer’s cramp from these three picture cards he had sent her in five years. She’d been afraid he’d come back worn to the bone.
But listen! By the time I got there Clyde was also drawing money. He’d felt a little hurt at first to find his wife a common actress, and asked to see her contract because you couldn’t believe what you see in these magazines. Then he’d gone round the lot and got to be an actor himself. I gathered that he hadn’t been well liked by the men at first, and two or three other directors, when Vida insisted he should have a chance to act, had put him into rough-house funny plays where he got thrown downstairs or had bricks fall on him, or got beat up by a willing ex-prize fighter, or a basket of eggs over his head, or custard pies in his perfect features, with bruises and sprains and broken bones and so forth—I believe the first week they broke everything but his contract.