Altogether it made complete and irresistible, a whole-souled loathing of the life. Her attempt to find a way to a career along this filthy stage-door alley must be confessed a total failure. She could never, she knew, nerve herself to look for another job in a musical-comedy chorus.
At the next overnight stop they made, Dolly went in to room with the duchess, and the duchess’ former roommate, a fattish blonde girl with a permanent cold in the head, came in with her.
Somehow the days dragged along until the pursuing and long visible disaster finally overtook the company in Centropolis, Illinois (this is not the real name of the city, but it is no more flagrant a misnomer than the one it boasts). They played a matinee here and an evening performance, to two almost empty houses; that gave them the coup de grace.
There was no call posted on the bulletin board that night, and the next day, after a brisk exchange of telegrams with Chicago, the manager called the company together in one of the sample-rooms of the hotel and announced that the tour was off. He also announced, with a magnanimity that put far into the background the fact that he owed them all at least two weeks’ salary, that everybody in the company would be provided with a first-class ticket for Chicago. There was nothing, except his scrupulous sense of honor, he managed to imply without saying it in so many words, to prevent his going off to Chicago all by himself and leaving them stranded here. But, though this might be good business, he was incapable of it. If they would all come down to the station at eleven o’clock, and sign a receipt discharging him from further obligations, he would see that their transportation was arranged for.
It was just after this that Rose caught a glimpse of Dolly shivering in a corner, weeping into a soiled pocket-handkerchief. The fat girl with a cold supplied her with the explanation.
Dolly’s chorus-man, it seemed, had already departed on an earlier train to St. Louis, where he lived, without taking any leave of her at all.
Rose wanted to go over and try to comfort the child, but somehow she couldn’t manage to. Sentimentalizing over her grief and disillusionment wouldn’t do any good. The grief probably wasn’t more than an inch deep anyway, and the illusions had been too tawdry to regret. As for doing anything, what was there one could do?
There wasn’t much that Rose could do at any rate. Because after weeks of drifting, she’d come to a resolution.
She didn’t go to the railway station to sign her receipt and get her ticket to Chicago. What was there in Chicago for her? She meant to stay, for the present, at any rate, in Centropolis. She checked her suit-case in the coat-room and, with a sensation of relief, watched the mournful company file away.
She had three dollars and some small change, and the day before her.