She was doing her own part, she felt at all events, in a manner utterly lifeless and mechanical. It was a stifling existence!
The most discouraging thing about it was that the others in the company seemed not to feel it in the same way. Anabel Astor for example: night after night she seemed to be born anew into her part with the rise of the first curtain; she fought and conquered and cajoled, and luxuriated in the approbation of every new audience, just as she had in the case of the first, and came off all aglow with her triumph, as if the thing had never happened to her before. And with the others, in varying degrees, even with the chorus people, the effect seemed to be the same.
But it was actually in the air, Rose believed, not merely in her own fancy, that she was failing to justify the promise she had given at rehearsal. Not alarmingly, to be sure. She was still plenty good enough to hold down her job. But the notion, prevalent, it appeared, before the opening, that she was one of those persons who can’t be kept down in the chorus, but project themselves irresistibly into the ranks of the principals, was coming to be considered a mistake.
Galbraith, as was evident from his last talk with her, hadn’t made that mistake. She remembered his having said she never could be an actress. That was all right of course. She didn’t want to be. In a way, it was just because she didn’t want to be that she couldn’t be. But having it come home to her as it was doing now, in her own experience, made her all the more impatient to get out of the profession that wasn’t hers and into the one that had beckoned her so alluringly.
It was just here that her disappointment was sharpest. The light that for a few weeks had flared up so brightly, showing a clear path of success that would lead her back to Rodney, had, suddenly, just when she needed it most, gone out and left her wondering whether, after all, it had been a true beacon or only fool’s fire.
A resolution she came to within twenty-four hours after Galbraith left was that she would not wait passively for his letter summoning her to New York. She’d go straight to work (and fill in the disconcerting emptiness of her days at the same time) preparing herself for the profession of stage costume designing. She wasn’t entirely clear in her mind as to just what steps this preparation should consist in, but the fact that Galbraith had once asked to see her sketches and had seemed amazed to learn that she hadn’t any, gave her the hint that she might do well to learn to draw. She knew, of course, that she couldn’t learn very much in the fortnight or so she supposed would elapse before Galbraith’s letter came in, but she could learn a little. And anything to do that went in the right direction was better than blankly doing nothing.