It was the following Monday that was to see the first appearance of Le Mire at the Stuyvesant. I had not thought of going, but on Monday afternoon Billy Du Mont telephoned me that he had an extra ticket and would like to have me join him. I was really a little curious to see Le Mire perform and accepted.
We dined at the club and arrived at the theater rather late. The audience was brilliant; indeed, though I had been an ardent first-nighter for a year or two in my callow youth, I think I have never seen such a representation of fashion and genius in America, except at the opera.
Billy and I sat in the orchestra—about the twelfth row—and half the faces in sight were well known to me. Whether Le Mire could dance or not, she most assuredly was, or had, a good press-agent. We were soon to receive an exemplification of at least a portion of the reputation that had preceded her.
Many were the angry adjectives heaped on the head of the dancer on that memorable evening. Mrs. Frederick Marston, I remember, called her an insolent hussy; but then Mrs. Frederick Marston was never original. Others: rash, impudent, saucy, impertinent; in each instance accompanied by threats.
Indeed, it is little wonder if those people of fashion and wealth and position were indignant and sore. For they had dressed and dined hastily and come all the way down-town to see Le Mire; they waited for her for two hours and a half in stuffy theater seats, and Le Mire did not appear.
The announcement was finally made by the manager of the theater at a little before eleven-o’clock. He could not understand, he said—the poor fellow was on the point of wringing his hands with agitation and despair—he could not understand why the dancer did not arrive.
She had rehearsed in the theater on the previous Thursday afternoon, and had then seemed to have every intention of fulfilling her engagement. No one connected with the theater had seen her since that time, but everything had gone smoothly; they had had no reason to fear such a contretemps as her nonappearance.
They had sent to her hotel; she was gone, bag and baggage. She had departed on Friday, leaving no word as to her destination. They had asked the police, the hotels, the railroads, the steamship companies—and could find no trace of her.
The manager only hoped—he hoped with all his heart—that his frank and unreserved explanation would appease his kind patrons and prevent their resentment; that they would understand—
I made my way out of the theater as rapidly as possible, with Billy Du Mont at my side, and started north on Broadway.
My companion was laughing unrestrainedly.
“What a joke!” he exclaimed. “And gad, what a woman! She comes in and turns the town upside down and then leaves it standing on its head. What wouldn’t I give to know her!”
I nodded, but said nothing. At Forty-Second Street we turned east to Fifth Avenue, and a few minutes later were at the club. I took Du Mont to a secluded corner of the grill, and there, with a bottle of wine between us, I spoke.