The thing got a sociological twist eventually, of course, when Jane wanted to know if it were true, as alleged by a prominent woman writer on feminism, that the chorus-girls were driven to prostitution by inadequate pay. Jimmy demolished this assertion with more warmth than he often showed. He didn’t know any other sort of job that paid a totally untrained girl so well. There were initial requirements, of course. She had to have reasonably presentable arms and legs and a rudimentary sense of rhythm. But it took a really accomplished stenographer, for instance, to earn as much a week as was paid the average chorus-girl. The trouble was that the indispensable assets in the business were not character and intelligence and ambition, but just personal charms.
Rose grinned across at Rodney. “That’s like wives, isn’t it?” she observed.
“And then,” Jimmy went on, “the work isn’t really hard enough, except during rehearsals, to keep them out of mischief.” Rose smiled again, but didn’t press her analogy any further. “But a girl who’s serious about it, who doesn’t have to be told the same thing more than once, and catches on, sometimes, without being told at all,—why, she can always have a job and she can be as independent as anybody. She can get twenty-five dollars a week or even as high as thirty. It’s surprising though,” he concluded, “considering what a bunch of morons most of them are, that they work as well as they do; turn up on time for rehearsals and performances, even when they’re feeling really seedy, stand the awful bawling out they get every few minutes—because some directors are downright savages—and keep on going over and over a thing till they’re simply reeling on their pins, without any fuss at all.”
“They can always lose their job,” said Barry. “There’s great merit in that.”
The latter part of this conversation was what she was to remember afterward, but the thing which impressed Rose at the time, and that held her for hours looking on at the League show rehearsals, was what Jimmy had told her about the technical side of the work of production, the labors of the director, and so on.
The League was paying their director three hundred dollars a week, and by the end of the third rehearsal Rose decided that he earned it. The change he could make, even with one afternoon’s work, in the effectiveness, the carrying power, of a dance number was astonishing. It wasn’t at all a question of good taste. There stood Bertie Willis simply awash with good taste and oozing suggestions whose hopeless futility was demonstrated, even to him, the moment an attempt was made to put them into effect. The director was concerned with matters of fact. There were ascertained methods of getting a certain range of effects and he knew what they were and applied them—as well as the circumstances admitted. He was working under difficulties, poor chap! Rose, enlightened by Jimmy Wallace,