He had only one fault to find with Miss Howe—she had no artistic conscience—none, and he found this with the utmost leniency, basking in the consciousness that it made his own more conspicuous. She was altogether in the grand style, if you understood Mr. Stanhope, but nothing would induce her to do herself justice before Calcutta; she seemed to have taken the measure of the place and to be as indifferent! Try to ring in anything worth doing and she was off with the bit between her teeth, and you simply had to put up with it. The second lead had a great deal more ambition, and a very good little woman in her way, too, but of course not half the talent. He was obliged to confess that Miss Howe wasn’t game for risks, especially after doing her Rosalind the night the circus opened to a twenty-five rupee house. It was monstrous. She seemed to think that nothing mattered so much as that everybody should be paid on the first of the month. There was one other grievance, which Llewellyn mentioned only in confidence with a lowered voice. That was Bradley. Hilda wasn’t lifting a finger to keep Bradley. Result was, Bradley was crooking his elbow a great deal too often lately and going off every way. He, Llewellyn, had put it to her if that was the way to treat a man the Daily Telegraph had spoken about as it had spoken about Hamilton Bradley. Where was she— where was he—going to find another? No, he didn’t say marry Bradley; there were difficulties, and after all that might be the very way to lose him. But a woman had an influence, and that influence could never be more fittingly exercised than in the cause of dramatic art based on Mr. Stanhope’s combinations. Mr. Stanhope expressed himself with a difference, but it came to that.
Perhaps if you pursued Llewellyn, pushed him, as it were, along the track of what he had to put up with, you would have come upon the further fact that as a woman of business Miss Howe had no parallel for procrastination. Next season was imminent in his arrangements, as Christmas numbers are imminent to publishers at midsummer, and here she was shying at a contract as if they had months for consideration. It wasn’t either as if she complained of anything in the terms—that would be easy enough fixed—but she said herself that it was a bigger salary than he, Llewellyn, would ever be able to pay unless she went round with the hat. Nor had she any objection to the tour—a fascinating one—including the Pacific Slope and Honolulu. It stumped him, Llewellyn, to know what she did object to, and why she couldn’t bark it out at once, seeing she must understand perfectly well it was no use his going to Bradley without first settling with her.