Those four sulky, rather supercilious chorus-girls, coming to Rose under a threat of dismissal, for lessons in the one last thing that a free-born American will submit to dictation about, might not want to learn, nor mean to learn, but they couldn’t help learning. You couldn’t be unaware of Rose and, being aware of her, you couldn’t resist doing things as she wanted you to.
Informally, too, she taught them other things than speech. “Here, Waldron!” Galbraith would say. “This is no cake-walk. All you’ve got to do is to cross to that chair and sit down in it like a lady. Show her how to do it, Dane.” And Rose, with her good-humored disarming smile at the infuriated Waldron, would go ahead and do it.
I won’t pretend that she was a favorite with the other members of the sextette, barring Olga. But she managed to avoid being cordially hated, which was a very solid personal triumph.
I have said that there were two small incidents destined to have a powerful influence at this time, in Rose’s life. One of them I have told you about—the chance that led her to teach Olga Larson to talk. The other concerned itself with a certain afternoon frock in a Michigan Avenue shop.
The owners of The Girl Up-stairs were very inadequately experienced in the business of putting on musical comedies. Galbraith spoke of them as amateurs, and couldn’t, really, have described them better. Your professional gambler—for musical-comedy producing is an especially sporting form of gambling and nothing else—assesses his chances in advance, decides coolly whether they are worth taking or not, and then, with a steely indifference awaits the event. The amateur, on the contrary, is always fluttering between an insane confidence and a shuddering despair; between a reckless disregard of money and a foolish attempt to save it. It had been in one of their hot fits that the owners of The Girl Up-stairs had retained Galbraith. The news item Rose had read had not exceeded truth in saying that he was one of the three greatest directors in the country. They couldn’t have got him out to Chicago at all but for the chance that he was, just then, at the end of a long-time contract with the Shumans and holding off for better terms before he signed a new one. The owners were staggered at the prices they had to pay him, at that, but they recovered and were still blowing warm when they authorized him to engage Devereux, Stewart, Astor and McGill (McGill was the chief comedian, the Cosmetic King) for all of these were high-priced people.
But by the time the question of costumes came up, they were shivering in a perfect ague of apprehension. Was there no limit to the amount they were to be asked to spend? This figure that Galbraith indicated as the probable cost of having a first-class brigand in New York design the costumes and a firm of pirates in the same neighborhood execute them, was simply insane. New York managers might be boobs enough