Miss Lynnette D'Armande turned her
back on Broadway. This was but tit for tat, be-
cause Broadway had often done the same thing to
Miss D'Armande. Still, the "tats" seemed to have
it, for the ex-leading lady of the "Reaping the
Whirlwind" company had everything to ask of
Broadway, while there was no vice-versa.
So Miss Lynnette D'Armande turned the back of
her chair to her window that overlooked Broadway,
and sat down to stitch in time the lisle-thread heel
of a black silk stocking. The tumult and glitter of
the roaring Broadway beneath her window had no
charm for her; what she greatly desired was the
stifling air of a dressing-room on that fairyland
street and the roar of an audience gathered in that
capricious quarter. In the meantime, those stock-
ings must not be neglected. Silk does wear out so,
but -- after all, isn't it just the only goods there is?
The Hotel Thalia looks on Broadway as Marathon
looks on the sea. It stands like a gloomy cliff above
the whirlpool where the tides of two great thorough-
fares clash. Here the player-bands gather at the end
of their wanderings, to loosen the buskin and dust the
sock. Thick in the streets around it are booking-
offices, theatres, agents, schools, and the lobster-pal-
aces to which those thorny paths lead.
Wandering through the eccentric halls of the dim
and fusty Thalia, you seem to have found yourself
in some great ark or caravan about to sail, or fly, or
roll away on wheels. About the house lingers a sense
of unrest, of expectation, of transientness, even of
anxiety and apprehension. The halls are a labyrinth.
Without a guide, you wander like a lost soul in a
Sam Loyd puzzle.
Turning any corner, a dressing-sack or a cul-de-sac
may bring you up short. You meet alarming
tragedians stalking in bath-robes in search of ru-
mored bathrooms. From hundreds of rooms come the
buzz of talk, scraps of new and old songs, and the
ready laughter of the convened players.
Summer has come; their companies have disbanded,
and they take their rest in their favorite caravansary,
while they besiege the managers for engagements for
the coming season.
At this hour of the afternoon the day's work of
tramping the rounds of the agents' offices is over.
Past you, as you ramble distractedly through the
mossy halls, flit audible visions of houris, with veiled,
starry eyes, flying tag-ends of things and a swish of
silk, bequeathing to the dull hallways an odor of
gaiety and a memory of frangipanni. Serious young
comedians, with versatile Adam's apples, gather in
doorways and talk of Booth. Far-reaching from
somewhere comes the smell of ham and red cabbage,
and the crash of dishes on the American plan.
The indeterminate hum of life in the Thalia is
enlivened by the discreet popping -- at reasonable
and salubrious intervals -- of beer-bottle corks.
Thus punctuated, life in the genial hostel scans easily
-- the comma being the favorite mark, semicolons
frowned upon, and periods barred.
Miss D'Armannde's room was a small one. There
was room for her rocker between the dresser and the
wash-stand if it were placed longitudinally. On the
dresser were its usual accoutrements, plus the ex-lead-
ing lady's collected souvenirs of road engagements
and photographs of her dearest and best professional
At one of these photographs she looked twice or
thrice as she darned, and smiled friendlily.
"I'd like to know where Lee is just this minute,"
she said, half-aloud.
If you had been privileged to view the photograph
thus flattered, you would have thought at the first
glance that you saw the picture of a many-petalled
white flower, blown through the air by a storm. But
the floral kingdom was not responsible for that swirl
of petalous whiteness.
You saw the filmy, brief skirt of Miss Rosalie Ray
as she made a complete heels-over-head turn in her
wistaria-entwined swing, far out from the stage, high
above the heads of the audience. You saw the cam-
era's inadequate representation of the graceful,
strong kick, with which she, at this exciting moment,
sent flying, high and far, the yellow silk garter that
each evening spun from her agile limb and descended
upon the delighted audience below.
You saw, too, amid the black-clothed, mainly mas-
culine patrons of select vaudeville a hundred hands
raised with the hope of staying the flight of the bril-
liant aerial token.
Forty weeks of the best circuits this act had
brought Miss Rosalie Ray, for each of two years.
She did other things during her twelve minutes -- a
song and dance, imitations of two or three actors who
are but imitations of themselves, and a balancing
feat with a step-ladder and feather-duster; but when
the blossom-decked swing was let down from the flies,
and Miss Rosalie sprang smiling into the seat, with
the golden circlet conspicuous in the place whence it
was soon to slide and become a soaring and coveted
guerdon -- then it was that the audience rose in its
seat as a single man -- or presumably so -- and in-
dorsed the specialty that made Miss Ray's name a
favorite in the booking-offices.
At the end of the two years Miss Ray suddenly an-
nounced to her dear friend, Miss D'Armande, that
she was going to spend the summer at an antediluvian
village on the north shore of Long Island, and that
the stage would see her no more.
Seventeen minutes after Miss Lynnette D'Armande
had expressed her wish to know the whereabouts of
her old chum, there were sharp raps at her door.
Doubt not that it was Rosalie Ray. At the shrill
command to enter she did so, with something of a
tired flutter, and dropped a heavy hand-bag on the
floor. Upon my word, it was Rosalie, in a loose,
travel-stained automobileless coat, closely tied brown
veil with yard-long, flying ends, gray walking-suit and
tan oxfords with lavender overgaiters.
When she threw off her veil and hat, you saw a
pretty enough face, now flushed and disturbed by
some unusual emotion, and restless, large eyes with
discontent marring their brightness. A heavy pile
of dull auburn hair, hastily put up, was escaping in
crinkly, waving strands and curling, small locks from
the confining combs and pins.
The meeting of the two was not marked by the
effusion vocal, gymnastical, osculatory and catecheti-
cal that distinguishes the greetings of their unpro-
fessional sisters in society. There was a brief clinch,
two simultaneous labial dabs and they stood on the
same footing of the old days. Very much like the
short salutations of soldiers or of travellers in for-
eign wilds are the welcomes between the strollers at
the corners of their crisscross roads.
"I've got the hall-room two flights up above
yours," said Rosalie, "but I came straight to see you
before going up. I didn't know you were here till
they told me."
"I've been in since the last of April," said Lyn-
nette. "And I'm going on the road with a 'Fatal
Inheritance' company. We open next week in Eliz-
abeth. I thought you'd quit the stage, Lee. Tell
me about yourself."
Rosalie settled herself with a skilful wriggle on
the top of Miss D'Armande's wardrobe trunk, and
leaned her head against the papered wall. From
long habit, thus can peripatetic leading ladies
and their sisters make themselves as comfort.
able as though the deepest armchairs embraced them.
"I'm going to tell you, Lynn," she said, with a
strangely sardonic and yet carelessly resigned look
on her youthful face. "And then to-morrow I'll
strike the old Broadway trail again, and wear some
more paint off the chairs in the agents' offices. If
anybody had told me any time in the last three months
up to four o'clock this afternoon that I'd ever listen
to that 'Leave-your-name-and-address' rot of the
booking bunch again, I'd have given 'em the real Mrs.
Fiske laugh. Loan me a handkerchief, Lynn. Gee!
but those Long Island trains are fierce. I've got
enough soft-coal cinders on my face to go on and play
Topsy without using the cork. And, speaking of
corks -- got anything to drink, Lynn?"
Miss D'Armande opened a door of the wash-stand
and took out a bottle.
"There's nearly a pint of Manhattan. There's a
cluster of carnations in the drinking glass, but -- "
"Oh, pass the bottle. Save the glass for com-
pany. Thanks! That hits the spot. The same to
you. My first drink in three months!"
"Yes, Lynn, I quit the stage at the end of last
season. I quit it because I was sick of the life. And
especially because my heart and soul were sick of men
of the kind of men we stage people have to be up
against. You know what the game is to us -- it's a
fight against 'em all the way down the line from the
manager who wants us to try his new motor-car to the
bill-posters who want to call us by our front names.
"And the men we have to meet after the show are
the worst of all. The stage-door kind, and the man-
ager's friends who take us to supper and show their
diamonds and talk about seeing 'Dan' and 'Dave'
and 'Charlie' for us. They're beasts, and I hate 'em.
"I tell you, Lynn, it's the girls like us on the stage
that ought to be pitied. It's girls from good homes
that are honestly ambitious and work hard to rise in
the profession, but never do get there. You bear a
lot of sympathy sloshed around on chorus girls and
their fifteen dollars a week. Piffle! There ain't a
sorrow in the chorus that a lobster cannot heal.
"If there's any tears to shed, let 'em fall for the
actress that gets a salary of from thirty to forty-five
dollars a week for taking a leading part in a bum
show. She knows she'll never do any better; but she
hangs on for years, hoping for the 'chance I that
"And the fool plays we have to work in! Having
another girl roll you around the stage by the hind legs
in a 'Wheelbarrow Chorus' in a musical comedy is
dignified drama compared with the idiotic things I've
had to do in the thirty-centers.
"But what I hated most was the men -- the men
leering and blathering at you across tables, trying
to buy you with Wurzburger or Extra Dry, accord-
ing to their estimate of your price. And the men in
the audiences, clapping, yelling, snarling, crowding,
writhing, gloating -- like a lot of wild beasts, with
their eyes fixed on you, ready to eat you up if you
come in reach of their claws. Oh, how I hate 'em!
"Well, I'm not telling you much about myself, am
I, Lynn ?
"I had two hundred dollars saved up, and I cut
the stage the first of the summer. I went over on
Long Island and found the sweetest little village that
ever was, called Soundport, right on the water. I was
going to spend the summer there, and study up on
elocution, and try to get a class in the fall. There
was an old widow lady with a cottage near the beach
who sometimes rented a room or two just for com-
pany, and she took me in. She had another boarder,
too -- the Reverend Arthur Lyle.
"Yes, he was the head-liner. You're on, Lynn.
I'll tell you all of it in a minute. It's only a one-act
"The first time he walked on, Lynn, I felt myself
going; the first lines he spoke, he had me. He was
different from the men in audiences. He was tall and
slim, and you never heard him come in the room, but
you felt him. He had a face like a picture of a knight
-- like one of that Round Table bunch -- and a voice
like a 'cello solo. And his manners!
"Lynn, if you'd take John Drew in his best draw-
ing-room scene and compare the two, you'd have John
arrested for disturbing the peace.
"I'll spare you the particulars; but in less than a
month Arthur and I were engaged. He preached at a
little one-night stand of a Methodist church. There
was to be a parsonage the size of a lunch-wagon, and
hens and honeysuckles when we were married. Ar-
thur used to preach to me a good deal about Heaven,
but be never could get my mind quite off those honey-
suckles and hens.
"No; I didn't tell him I'd been on the stage. I
hated the business and all that went with it; I'd
cut it out forever, and I didn't see any use of stirring
things up. I was a good girl, and I didn't have any-
thing to confess, except being an elocutionist, and
that was about all the strain my conscience would
"Oh, I tell you, Lynn, I was happy. I sang in
the choir and attended the sewing society, and re-
cited that 'Annie Laurie' thing with the whistling
stunt in it, 'in a manner bordering upon the profes-
sional,' as the weekly village paper reported it. And
Arthur and I went rowing, and walking in the woods,
and clamming, and that poky little village seemed to
me the best place in the world. I'd have been happy
to live there always, too, if --
"But one morning old Mrs. Gurley, the widow
lady, got gossipy while I was helping her string beans
on the back porch, and began to gush information, as
folks who rent out their rooms usually do. Mr. Lyle
was her idea of a saint on earth -- as he was mine,
too. She went over all his virtues and graces, and
wound up by telling me that Arthur had had an ex-
tremely romantic love-affair, not long before, that had
ended unhappily. She didn't seem to be on to the de-
tails, but she knew that he had been hit pretty hard.
He was paler and thinner, she said, and he had some
kind of a remembrance or keepsake of the lady in a
little rosewood box that he kept locked in his desk
drawer in his study.
"'Several times," says she, "I've seen him
gloomerin' over that box of evenings, and he always
locks it up right away if anybody comes into the
"Well, you can imagine how long it was before I
got Arthur by the wrist and led him down stage and
hissed in his ear.
"That same afternoon we were lazying around in a
boat among the water-lilies at the edge of the bay.
"'Arthur,' says I, 'you never told me you'd had
another love-affair. But Mrs. Gurley did,' I went on,
to let him know I knew. I hate to bear a man lie.
"' Before you came,' says he, looking me frankly
in the eye, 'there was a previous affection - a strong
one. Since you know of it, I will be perfectly candid
"'I am waiting,' says I.
"'My dear Ida,' says Arthur -- of course I went
by my real name, while I was in Soundport -- 'this
former affection was a spiritual one, in fact. Al-
though the lady aroused my deepest sentiments, and
was, as I thought, my ideal woman, I never met her,
and never spoke to her. It was an ideal love. My
love for you, while no less ideal, is different. You
wouldn't let that come between us.'
"'Was she pretty?' i asked.
"' She was very beautiful,' said Arthur.
"'Did you see her often?' I asked.
"' Something like a dozen times,' says he.
"'Always from a distance?' says I.
"'Always from quite a distance,' says he.
"'And you loved her?' I asked.
"'She seemed my ideal of beauty and grace -- and
soul," says Arthur.
"'And this keepsake that you keep under lock and
key, and moon over at times, is that a remembrance
"'A memento,' says Arthur, 'that I have
"'Did she send it to you?'
"'It came to me from her' says be.
"'In a roundabout way?' I asked.
"'Somewhat roundabout,' says he, 'and yet rather
"'Why didn't you ever meet her?' I asked.
'Were your positions in life so different?'
"She was far above me,' says Arthur. 'Now,
Ida,' he goes on, 'this is all of the past. You're not
going to be jealous, are you?'
'Jealous!' says I. 'Why, man, what are you
talking about? It makes me think ten times as much
of you as I did before I knew about it.'
"And it did, Lynn - if you can understand it.
That ideal love was a new one on me, but it struck me
as being the most beautiful and glorious thing I'd
ever heard of. Think of a man loving a woman he'd
never even spoken to, and being faithful just to what
his mind and heart pictured her! Oh, it sounded
great to me. The men I'd always known come at
you with either diamonds, knock-out-drops or a raise
of salary, -- and their ideals! -- well, we'll say no
"Yes, it made me think more of Arthur than I did
before. I couldn't be jealous of that far-away divin-
ity that he used to worship, for I was going to have
him myself. And I began to look upon him as a saint
on earth, just as old lady Gurley did.
"About four o'clock this afternoon a man came to
the house for Arthur to go and see somebody that was
sick among his church bunch. Old lady Gurley was
taking her afternoon snore on a couch, so that left me
pretty much alone.
"In passing by Arthur's study I looked in, and
saw his bunch of keys hanging in the drawer of his
desk, where he'd forgotten 'em. Well, I guess we're
all to the Mrs. Bluebeard now and then, ain't we,
Lynn? I made up my mind I'd have a look at that
memento he kept so secret. Not that I cared what it
was -- it was just curiosity.
"While I was opening the drawer I imagined one
or two things it might be. I thought it might be a
dried rosebud she'd dropped down to him from
a balcony, or maybe a picture of her he'd cut
out of a magazine, she being so high up in the
"I opened the drawer, and there was the rosewood
casket about the size of a gent's collar box. I found
the little key in the bunch that fitted it, and unlocked
it and raised the lid.
"I took one look at that memento, and then I went
to my room and packed my trunk. I threw a few
things into my grip, gave my hair a flirt or two with
a side-comb, put on my hat, and went in and gave the
old lady's foot a kick. I'd tried awfully hard to use
proper and correct language while I was there for
Arthur's sake, and I had the habit down pat, but it
left me then.
"Stop sawing gourds," says I, "and sit up and
take notice. The ghost's about to walk. I'm going
away from here, and I owe you eight dollars. The
expressman will call for my trunk.'
"I handed her the money.
"'Dear me, Miss Crosby!' says she. 'Is any-
thing wrong? I thought you were pleased here.
Dear me, young women are so hard to understand,
and so different from what you expect 'em
"'You're damn right,' says I. 'Some of 'em are.
But you can't say that about men. When you know
one man you know 'em all! That settles the human-
"And then I caught the four-thirty-eight, soft-
coal unlimited; and here I am."
"You didn't tell me what was in the box, Lee," said
Miss D'armande, anxiously.
"One of those yellow silk garters that I used to
kick off my leg into the audience during that old
vaudeville swing act of mine. Is there any of the
cocktail left, Lynn?"