“Well, did he tell you that he draws three per cent of the gross receipts? You saw the house we had last night. It was a fair average house. We are playing to over fourteen thousand dollars a week. George’s little bit of that is—I can’t do it in my head, but it’s a round four hundred dollars. That’s eighty pounds of your money. And did he tell you that this same show ran over a year in New York to big business all the time, and that there are three companies on the road now? And did he mention that this is the ninth show he’s done, and that seven of the others were just as big hits as this one? And did he remark in passing that he gets royalties on every copy of his music that’s sold, and that at least ten of his things have sold over half a million? No, he didn’t, because he isn’t the sort of fellow who stands around blowing about his income. But you know it now.”
“Why, he’s a rich man!”
“I don’t know what you call rich, but, keeping on the safe side, I should say that George pulls down in a good year, during the season—around five thousand dollars a week.”
Lord Marshmoreton was frankly staggered.
“A thousand pounds a week! I had no idea!”
“I thought you hadn’t. And, while I’m boosting George, let me tell you another thing. He’s one of the whitest men that ever happened. I know him. You can take it from me, if there’s anything rotten in a fellow, the show-business will bring it out, and it hasn’t come out in George yet, so I guess it isn’t there. George is all right!”
“He has at least an excellent advocate.”
“Oh, I’m strong for George. I wish there were more like him . . . Well, if you think I’ve butted in on your private affairs sufficiently, I suppose I ought to be moving. We’ve a rehearsal this afternoon.”
“Let it go!” said Lord Marshmoreton boyishly.
“Yes, and how quick do you think they would let me go, if I did? I’m an honest working-girl, and I can’t afford to lose jobs.”
Lord Marshmoreton fiddled with his cigar-butt.
“I could offer you an alternative position, if you cared to accept it.”
Billie looked at him keenly. Other men in similar circumstances had made much the same remark to her. She was conscious of feeling a little disappointed in her new friend.
“Well?” she said dryly. “Shoot.”
“You gathered, no doubt, from Mr. Bevan’s conversation, that my secretary has left me and run away and got married? Would you like to take her place?”
It was not easy to disconcert Billie Dore, but she was taken aback. She had been expecting something different.
“You’re a shriek, dadda!”
“I’m perfectly serious.”
“Can you see me at a castle?”
“I can see you perfectly.” Lord Marshmoreton’s rather formal manner left him. “Do please accept, my dear child. I’ve got to finish this damned family history some time or other. The family expect me to. Only yesterday my sister Caroline got me in a corner and bored me for half an hour about it. I simply can’t face the prospect of getting another Alice Faraday from an agency. Charming girl, charming girl, of course, but . . . but . . . well, I’ll be damned if I do it, and that’s the long and short of it!”