As Jessica stood watching listlessly, indeed almost unconsciously, a handsome motor rolled up before the imposing entrance. The little group surged back before the white-gloved commissionaire, who hurried forward, but the door of the car had already been thrown open by the chauffeur, and a gentleman and lady stepped out.
At the sight of one of them, Jessica’s indifference became changed to a feverish eagerness. The colour left her face, her eyes dilated, her lips parted. She swayed back, half fearful, half desirous that he should see her; for it was he, the man for whom she had waited so long, the man she had enshrined within her heart.
Adrien, all his doubts as to the possibility of winning Constance’s love returning to him in full force once he had left her presence, had come down to the theatre with two objects. One to distract his thoughts from his hopes and fears, the other to arrange with Jasper for the entire transfer of the theatre to Ada. He meant this to be the last night as far as the Casket and Ada Lester were concerned.
Absorbed in his own reflections, he hardly saw the group of humble spectators, and did not appear to hear their murmurs of recognition, but turned and held out his hand to assist the lady who accompanied him.
Jessica’s eyes flashed fiercely as they wandered from his face to that of the woman beside him.
“She is beautiful,” she murmured beneath her breath. “She is beautiful, and with him!”
All the love which had been aroused in her passionate heart surged up, and, for the minute, almost turned to jealous hate. “Beautiful, and with him.” It was agony to her to see him as he bent down to catch some light words of his companion, whose perfumed satin cloak swept by the crouching girl, as the pair passed into the theatre.
Full well she knew that she herself could never hope to hear his voice, or feel the pressure of his hand; yet it was with the bitterness of death that she saw him pass her by in the company of this beautiful woman. Mingled also with her jealousy was another feeling, that of partial recognition. For the moment—she could not remember where—but at some time in the past, she fancied she had seen that dark, highly-coloured face, and heard the harsh vulgar voice.
As Leroy turned from the motor, she heard him say to the chauffeur:
“Be here at eleven.”
“At eleven,” she thought, “then I will be here too, and see him once more.”
She hung on the outskirts of the group and listened with greedy ears for any chance word that might arise about her idol.
“A reg’lar beauty, I should just think so,” said a man, addressing another who had passed a remark on the lady in question. “She’s the biggest star on the stage, you bet! Ada Lester knows her value, and ain’t likely to forget it neither.”
The other man ventured a remark concerning the lady’s escort.