His attempt to carry out this part of his plan was disastrously unsuccessful. Theatrical managers no doubt cherish an ideal of courteous behavior. But, since ninety-nine out of a hundred of the strangers who ask for them at the box-office window, are actuated by a desire to get into their theaters without paying for their seats, they develop, protectively, a manner of undisguised suspicion toward all people who don’t know them, and toward about three-quarters of those who pretend they do. It wasn’t a manner Rodney was accustomed to, and it irritated him. Then, until he had got his request half stated, it didn’t occur to him in what light the manager would be amply justified in regarding it. That notion, which he interpreted from a look in the manager’s face, confused and angered him, and he stumbled and stammered, which angered him still more.
“We don’t do that sort of thing in this theater,” the manager said loudly (the conversation had taken place in the lobby of the theater, too) and turned away.
The grotesque improbability of the true explanation that the woman whose name he was inquiring about was his wife, silenced him and turned him away. It was fortunate for Rodney it did so. The thing would have made a wonderful story for the press agent, if he hadn’t stopped just where he did.
He spent the rest of that evening, and a good part of the next day, trying to think of some alternative to waiting again at the stage door. But, except for the still inadmissible one of going to Jimmy Wallace, he couldn’t think of one. So, at a quarter past seven that night, he stationed himself once more in the miserable alley, to wait for Rose. Seeing her before the show would, he thought, be an improvement on waiting till after it. The mere fact that they wouldn’t have very long to talk, ought to reassure her that he didn’t mean to take any advantages. He could show her how contrite he was, how little he meant to ask, and then leave it to her to select a place, at her own leisure and convenience, to talk over the terms of their treaty.
He waited from a quarter after seven to half past eight, but Rose didn’t come. The thought that perhaps he hadn’t taken his station early enough sent him back to another vigil at half past ten. At a quarter to twelve, his patience exhausted, he opened the stage door and told the doorman he was waiting for one of the girls in the sextette. The doorman informed him they had all gone home.
There was, unfortunately, no matinee the next day, and it was only by the exercise of all the will power he had, that he stayed in his office and did his work and waited for the hour of the evening performance. Then he went to the theater and bought a ticket. When the sextette made its first appearance on the stage, he saw that another girl than Rose was taking her part. He went out into the lobby, and once more sought the manager. But this time with a different air.