“I beg your pardon!” he said.
The girl sat down before a small writing-table. She reached among some papers and finally found what she sought.
“Mr. Warrington, all this has been in very bad taste; I frankly confess it. There are two things you may do: leave the house in anger, or remain to forgive me this imposition.”
“I fail to understand.” He was not only angered, but bewildered.
“I have deceived you.”
“You mean that you have lured me here by trick? That you have played upon my sympathies to gratify ...”
“Wait a moment,” she interrupted proudly, her cheeks darkening richly. “A trick, it is true; but there are extenuating circumstances. What I have told you has happened, only it was not to-day nor yesterday. Please remain seated till I have done. I am poor; I was educated in the cities I have named; I have to earn my living.”
She rose and came over to his chair. She gave him a letter.
“Read this; you will fully understand.”
Warrington experienced a mild chill as he saw a letter addressed to him, and his rude scribble at the bottom of it.
Miss Challoner—I beg to state that I have neither the time nor the inclination to bother with amateur actresses. Richard Warrington.
“It was scarcely polite, was it?” she asked, with a tinge of irony. “It was scarcely diplomatic, either, you will admit. I simply asked you for work. Surely, an honest effort to obtain employment ought not to be met with insolence.”
He stared dumbly at the evidence in his hand. He recalled distinctly the rage that was in his heart when he penned this note. The stage manager had lost some valuable manuscript that had to be rewritten from memory, the notes having been destroyed.
“For weeks,” said the girl, “I have tried to get a hearing. Manager after manager I sought; all refused to see me. I have suffered a hundred affronts, all in silence. Your manager I saw, but he referred me to you, knowing that probably I should never find you. But I was determined. So I wrote; that was your answer. I confess that at the time I was terribly angry, for courtesy is a simple thing and within reach of every one.”
To receive a lesson in manners from a young woman, when that young woman is handsome and talented, is not a very pleasant experience. But Warrington was, a thorough gentleman, and he submitted with grace.
“I know that you are a busy man, that you are besieged with applications. You ought, at least, to have formal slips, such as editors have. I have confidence in my ability to act, the confidence which talent gives to all persons. After receiving your letter I was more than ever determined to see you. So I resorted to this subterfuge. It was all very distasteful to me; but I possess a vein of wilfulness. This is not my home. It is the home of a friend who was kind enough to turn it over to me this night, relying upon my wit to bring about this meeting.”