And all through those five hours, fast as her mind flew, utterly absorbed as it seemed to be, she never once lost the consciousness of the almost palpable presence of Rodney Aldrich there in the room with her. Once she laughed outright over the memory of a girl who had tried to win her husband’s friendship by studying law. Fancy Rodney trying to study costumes! But he would understand what it meant to conceive them and the sort of work it took, once they were conceived, to project them as something objective to herself—something that had to challenge expert opinion; meet the exactions of criticism. He’d understand the thrill, too, of seeing them come up for judgment—the triumph of getting them accepted and paid for.
And, in the confidence born of that understanding, he’d be able to offer for her to understand, the fundamentals of his own work. Not the dry husks of technical considerations. What did they amount to anyway, except as they formed the boundaries of the live thing he meant? But the live thing itself—the thing that spelled challenge and work and victory for him,—that thing, since at last she’d grown to deserve it, he’d give her. Freely, fully,—just because he couldn’t help giving it.
Tired as she was, she could hardly bear to stop work. The half finished thing on the manikin lured her on from one moment to another. It was really insane not to stop. She must get up at seven-thirty, three hours or so from now, in order to get to the shops ahead of the crowds and begin the selection of her fabrics. At last, with a single movement of resolution she turned out the gas and undressed, or rather, finished undressing, in the dark, amid a litter of pins and paper cambric.
And now, for the first time in this squalid, mean little room, the dark had balm in it, became a fragrant miracle, obliterating the harsh actualities of her immediate yesterdays and to-morrows, winging her spirit for a breathless flight straight to the end she sought,—to the time when the long pilgrimage before her should be accomplished.
What a wonderful thing Rodney’s cool firm friendship would be! Worth anything, anything in the world it might cost to win it. But ... But....
She drew in a long unsteady breath and pressed her cooling hands down upon her face.
What a thing his love would be, when it should come, free of its tasks and obligations; no longer in the treadmill making her world go round, but given its wings again!
SUCCESS—AND A RECOGNITION
There is a kaleidoscopic character about the events of the ten days or so preceding the opening performance of most musical comedies which would make a sober chronicle of them seem fantastically incredible; and this law of Nature made no exception in the case of The Girl Up-stairs. There were rehearsals which ran so smoothly and swiftly that they’d have done for performances; there were others so abominably bad that the bare idea of presenting the mess resulting from six weeks’ toil, before people who had paid money to see it, was a nightmare.