Analyzing what little Alec McEwen actually said, disregarding the tone of his voice and the look in his eye; disregarding, indeed, the meaning he attached to his own words, and sticking simply to the words themselves, it would be difficult to bring home against him the charge of untruthfulness, or even of exaggeration.
Because it was in a simple panic that Rose, on the morning after Rodney’s visit, had gone to Goldsmith and demanded to be transferred to the second company, which had started rehearsing as soon as a month of capacity business had demonstrated that the piece was a success.
Goldsmith was disgusted. Little Alec had been right about that, too. The unnaturalness of the request—for indeed it flew straight in the face of all traditions that a girl who might stay in Chicago if she liked, taking it easy and having a lot of fun, and rejoicing in the possession of a job that was going to last for months, should deliberately swap this highly desirable position for the hazards and discomforts of a second-rate road company, playing one-night stands over the kerosene circuit—was one too many for him. He demanded explanations without getting any. And as Jimmy Wallace had guessed, it was not until she’d convinced him that in no circumstances would she stay on in the Chicago company that he assented to the transfer. He didn’t abandon his attempts to dissuade her until the very last moment. But neither his pictures of the discomforts of the road, nor his carefully veiled promises of further advancement if she stayed in Chicago, had the slightest effect on her. All that she wanted was to get away, and as quickly as she could!
The collapse of her courage was not quite the sudden thing it seemed. Forces she was vaguely aware had been at work, but didn’t realize the seriousness of, had been undermining it steadily since the opening night when she recognized Jimmy Wallace in the audience, and when later she parted from Galbraith with his promise of a New York job as soon as he could get his own affairs ready for her.
Chief of these forces was the simple reaction of fatigue. Strong as she was, she had abused her strength somewhat during the last weeks of rehearsal; had taken on and triumphantly accomplished more than any one has a right to accomplish without calculating on replacing his depleted capital of energy afterward. It was her first experience with this sort of exhaustion, and she hadn’t learned (indeed it is a lesson she never did fully learn) to accept the phase with philosophic calm as the inevitable alternate to the high-tension effective one.
She missed Galbraith horribly. She had, as she’d told him, personified the show as a mere projection of himself; he was it and it was he. Everything she said and did on the stage had continued, as it had begun in her very first rehearsal by being, just the expression of his will through her instrumentality. It was amazing to her that, with the core of it drawn out, the fabric should still stand; that the piece should go on repeating itself night after night, automatically, awakening the delighted applause of that queer foolish monster, the audience, just with its galvanic simulation of the life he had once imparted to it.