Marjorie Benton Cooke.

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"Oh, their subtlety, I suppose. They look and act so aimless, and they
are going somewhere all the time. They are lazy and useful and - wet. I
like them."

"Is there anything in the universe you don't like?" Jarvis inquired.

"Yes, but I can't think what it is just now," she answered, and sang
"Ships of mine are floating - will they all come home?" so zestfully that
an old gentleman in the front seat turned, with a smiling "I hope so,
my dear!"

She nodded back at him gayly, to Jarvis's annoyance. As they approached
Grant's Tomb, she glanced at him suspiciously. When they got safely by,
she sighed with content.

"If you had said anything bromidic about Grant's Tomb, Jarvis Jocelyn, I
should have thrown myself off the top of the stage to certain death."

"At times you underestimate me," he replied.

At Claremont, Bambi ordered a most enticing repast, and they were very
gay. Everybody seemed gay, too. The sun shone, the early spring air was
soft, and a certain gala "stolen sweets" air of Claremont made it seem
their most intimate meal.

Everybody smiled at Bambi and she smiled back.

"Nice sort of hookey place, isn't it?" she commented.

"Do you know the man at the next table?"

"Which one?"

"The fat one, who is staring so."

"Oh, no. I thought you meant the one who lifts his glass to me every
time he drinks."

Jarvis pushed back his chair furiously.

"I will smash his head," he said, rising.

"Jarvis! Sit down! You silly thing! He's only in fun. It's the spirit of
the place."

"I won't have you toasted by strange men," he thundered.

"All right. I'll make a face at him next time," she said, soothingly;
but somewhere, down in the depths of her being, where her cave ancestor
lurked, she was pleased. As they finished their coffee, Bambi picked up
the check, which the waiter laid beside Jarvis's plate.

"Do you mind my paying it? Would you rather do it?"

"Certainly not. It's your money. Why should I pretend about it?"

She could have hugged him for it. Instead, she overfed the waiter.

"It's too heavenly, out of doors, for pictures, after all," she said, as
they came out on to the drive. "What shall we do?"

"Let's get that double-decker again, and ride until we come to the end
of the world."

"Righto. Here it comes, now."

Downtown they went, to Washington Square, where they dismounted, to
wander off at random. All at once they were in another world. It was
like an Alice in Wonderland adventure. They stepped out of the quiet of
the green, shady quadrangle into a narrow street, swarming with life.

Innumerable children, everywhere, shrieking and running at games. Fat
mothers and babies along the curb, bargaining with pushcart men. A
wheezing hurdy-gurdy, with every other note gone to the limbo of lost
chords, rasped and leaked jerky tunes. All the shops had foreign names
on the windows - not even an "English spoken here" sign. The fresh wind
blew down the dirty street, and peppered everything with dust.
Newspapers increased their circulation in a most irritating manner under
foot. The place was hideous, lifting its raucous cry to the fair
spring sky.

Jarvis looked at Bambi, silenced, for once. Her face registered a loud
protest.

"Well?" he challenged her.

"Oh, I hate ugliness so. It's like pain. Is it very weak of me to hate
ugliness?" she begged.

"It's very natural, and no doubt weak."

"I wouldn't mind the thought of poverty so much - not hunger, nor thirst,
nor cold - but dirt and hideousness - they are too terrible."

"This is life in the raw. You like it dressed for Fifth Avenue better,"
he taunted.

"Do you prefer this?"

"Infinitely."

She looked about again, with a sense of having missed his point.

"Because it's fight, hand-to-throat fight?"

"Yes. You can teach these people. They don't know anything. They are
dumb beasts. You can give them tongue. It's too late to teach your
Upper End."

A woman passed close, with a baby, covered with great sores. Bambi
caught at Jarvis's sleeve and tottered a step.

"I feel a little sick," she faltered.

He caught her hand through his arm, and hurried her quickly back the way
they had come. As they mounted the stage, he looked at her white face.

"We will have to expurgate life for you, Miss Mite."

"No, no. I want it all. I must get hardened."

Back at the club, she hurried into her hot bath, with a vague hope of
washing off all traces of that awful street. But their talk at dinner
was desultory and rather serious. Jarvis talked for the most part,
elaborating schemes of social reform and the handling of our
immigrant brothers.

They started off to the theatre, with no definite plan. Bambi's spirits
rose to the lights of Broadway, like a trout to a silver shiner. There
is a hectic joyousness on Broadway, a personification of the "Eat, drink
and be merry, for to-morrow we die" spirit which warms you, like
champagne, or chills you, like the icy hand of despair, according to
your mood. Bambi skipped along beside Jarvis, twittering gayly.

"People are happy, aren't they?"

"Surface veneer."

"Jarvis, you old bogie-man, hiding in the dark, to jump out and say
'Boo!'"

"That's my work - booing frauds. Let's go in here," he added.

"'Damaged Goods,'" Bambi read on the theatre poster. "Do you know
anything about it?"

"I've read it. It is not amusing," he added.

She followed him without replying. The theatre was packed with a motley
audience of unrelated people. Professors and their wives, reformers,
writers, mothers with adolescent sons, mothers with young
daughters - what, in Broadway parlance, is called a "high-brow"
audience - a striking group of people gathered together to mark a daring
experiment of our audacious times; a surgical clinic on a social sore,
up to this moment hidden, neglected, whispered about.

Bambi came to it with an open mind. She had heard of Brieux, his
dramatic tracts, but she had not seen the text of this play, nor was she
prepared for it. The first act horrified her into silence during the
whole intermission. The second act racked her with sobs, and the last
act piled up the agony to the breaking point. They made their way out to
the street, part of that quiet audience which scarcely spoke, so deep
was the impression of the play.

Broadway glared and grinned and gambolled, goat-like. Bambi clung to
Jarvis tightly. He looked down at her swollen face, red eyes, and
bewildered mouth without a word. He put her into a taxicab and got in
after her. In silence she looked out at the glittering white way.

"The veneer is all rubbed off. I can see only bones," she said, and
caught her breath in a sob.

Jarvis awkwardly took her hand and patted it.

"I am sorry we went to that play to-night. You must not feel things so,"
he added.

"Didn't you feel it?"

"I felt it, didactically, but not dramatically. It's a big sermon and a
poor play."

"I feel as if I had had an appendicitis operation, and I am glad it is
over."

"I must meet young Richard Bennett. He has contributed to the big issues
of the day. He's a fine actor. He must be an intelligent man."

For the rest of the way they drove in silence.

"Tired?" Jarvis asked as they neared the club.

She looked so little and crumpled, with all the shine drowned in her
eyes.

"Life has beaten me raw to-day," she answered him, with a shadowy smile.



VI

Bambi announced the next morning that she had to have an entire day in
which to get over "Damaged Goods." Jarvis was nothing loath to put off
the evil hour when he was to start on his manager-hunt. So they agreed
on one more day of freedom.

The clouds threatened, so they looked over the papers for an
announcement of picture exhibitions, concerts, and lectures. The choice
was bewildering. They finally decided on a morning lecture, at Berkeley
Lyceum, entitled "The Religion of the Democrat." They made their way to
the little theatre, in a leisurely manner, to find the street blocked
with motor cars, the sidewalk and foyer crowded with fashionable women,
fully half an hour before the lecture was announced. Distracted ushers
tried to find places for the endless stream of ardent culturites, until
even the stage was invaded and packed in solid rows.

"This is astonishing," said Jarvis. "What on earth do these fine birds
care for democracy?"

"Must be the lecturer," said wise Bambi.

"Humph! A little mental pap before they run on to lunch."

The cackle and babble ceased suddenly as the chairman and lecturer
appeared. After a few announcements, the leading man was introduced.
Bambi was right. It was the man. You felt personality in the slow way he
swept the audience with his eyes, in the charming, friendly smile, in
the humour of his face. The women fairly purred.

Jarvis grunted impatiently, and Bambi felt a sense of guilt for her
ready response to this man, who had not yet spoken. Then he began, in a
good, resonant voice, to hook this lecture to the one of the
week before.

"Oh, it's a course," Bambi whispered.

Jarvis nodded. He wished he was well out of it. He hated the woman-idol
kind of lecturer. Then a stray phrase caught his wandering attention,
and he began to listen. The man had the "gift of tongues." That was
evident. This was his last conscious comment. It seemed but a few
minutes later that he turned to Bambi, as the lecturer sat down. She sat
forward in her chair, with that absorbed responsiveness he had marked in
her before. He touched her before she realized that it was time to go.

"That was big, wasn't it?" she said.

"It was. He is somebody. He gave them real meat instead of pap."

"And they liked it," Bambi said, reaching for her furs, her bag, and her
umbrella, strewn under the seat in her trance.

"That fellow is all right. He makes you feel that there are fine, big
things to be done in the world, and that you must be about it - not
to-morrow, but to-day," Jarvis said, as they pushed their way out.

"I wonder what these women are doing about it?" Bambi speculated.

"Talking."

"Boo!" she scoffed at him.

They strolled, with the strollers, on the avenue. They ate what Jarvis
dubbed "a soup√Іon" of lunch in a tea-shop, and to elude a dribble of
rain they betook themselves to the Armory, down on Seventeenth Street,
to the much-talked-of International Modern Art Exhibition.

Adam and Eve, the first day in the Garden, could not have been any more
dazed than these two young things who had strayed in out of the rain. No
sated sensibilities here, prodded by the constant shocks of metropolitan
"latest thing," but fresh, enthusiastic interest was their priceless
possession. They wandered aimlessly through several rooms, until they
emerged into the Cubist and Futurist sections and stood rooted to the
floor with surprise and horror.

"What are these?" Bambi demanded.

"Damaged Goods," Jarvis laughed, with a rare attempt at a joke.

"Are they serious?"

"Tragic, I should say."

He looked about with an expression of amusement, but Bambi felt actual,
physical nausea at the sight of the vivid blue and orange and purple.

"It's wicked!" she said, between closed teeth.

"Let's sit down and try to get the idea," said Jarvis.

"There isn't any idea."

"Oh, yes, there must be. The directors would never get together an acre
of these atrocities unless there was some excuse."

"It's low and degenerate. It's a school of hideousness. Come away!"

"You go sit in another room if you like. I am going to give these
fellows a fair chance. Maybe they've got hold of something new."

"There is nothing new about that awful woman with a decayed face. She
has been dead for weeks."

"Just put your emotions away, Bambi, and train your mind on this thing.
Here is a whole school of men, working in a new medium, along new ideas.
They can't all be crazy, you know."

"You like it?"

"Of course I don't like it, but it interests me. I haven't read or heard
anything about it, so it is a shock."

"You shall not make for yourselves false images," she said, shaking her
head.

"Maybe these maniacs are trying to break up the conventions of Painting
and Sculpture. They want more freedom."

"They are anarchists, vandals!"

"Possibly, but if they are necessary to the development of a bigger art
expression - - "

"They ought to work in secret, and exhibit in the dark."

"No, no! We have to be prepared for it. Our old standards have got to
go."

"I feel as medieval as the Professor. I never really understood him
before."

"We ought to bring him here."

"I think it would kill him," Bambi answered.

They spent a couple of hours, and then went back to the club. For some
reason the Cubists had stirred Jarvis deeply. He divined something new
and sincere, where Bambi felt only pose and degeneracy.

"When you think of that awful street, and 'Damaged Goods,' and that
exhibit of horrors, all in two days, I don't wonder I feel like an old,
old woman," she said.

"Suppose we stay in to-night? There is some kind of special meeting
announced here, to discuss the drama. We might go in for a
little while."

"All right. But 'early to bed,' for to-morrow we set out on our
careers."

"You haven't told me what yours is, yet," he objected.

"Mine is a secret."

The dining-room of the club was entirely full when they went down, and
the hum of talk and laughter roused Bambi's tired sensibilities.

"It's quite jolly," she said. "Some of the people look interesting,
don't they?"

"I talked to that little man, over there, with the red necktie, while I
was waiting for you, and he has ideas."

"Lovely woman with him."

They chatted personalities for a while.

"Seems ages since we left home, doesn't it?"

"Yes. Big mental experiences obliterate time."

"The Professor has forgotten to write, of course."

"He has probably forgotten us."

"Oh, no!"

"I feel that I am getting rather well acquainted with you," he nodded
and smiled.

"How do you like me, now that you have met me?" she teased.

"You are an interesting specimen over-sensitized."

"Jarvis!" she protested. "I sound like a Cubist picture."

After dinner they drifted with the crowd into the art gallery, where
they talked to several people who introduced themselves. It was very
friendly and social. The lecturer they had heard in the morning was
there. Jarvis went to speak to him, and brought him back to Bambi. She
found him jolly and responsive. She even dared to twit him about his
feminine audience.

People seated themselves in groups, and finally a chairman made some
remarks about the Modern Drama and invited a discussion. A dramatic
critic made cynical comment on the so-called "uplift plays," which
roused Jarvis to indignation. To Bambi's surprise, he was on his feet
instantly, and a torrent of words was spilled upon the dramatic critic.
He held the attention closely, in an impassioned plea for thoughtful
drama, not necessarily didactic, but the serious handling of vital
problems in comedy, if necessary, or even in farce. It need not be such
harrowing work as Brieux makes it, but if the man who had things to say
could and would conquer the technique of dramatic writing, he would
reach the biggest audiences that could be provided, which ought to pay
him for the severity of his apprenticeship.

Bambi thrilled with pride in him, his handsome face, his passionate
idealism, and his eloquence. He sat down, amid much applause, and Bambi
knew he had made his place among these clever people. He took some part
in the discussion that followed, and when they went upstairs she marked
the flush of excitement and the alive look of his face.

"I was proud of you, Jarvis," she said, as they stopped at her door.

"Nonsense. The man I talked against was a duffer, but this has been a
great day," he said. "This place stimulates you every minute."

"Tomorrow we move on Broadway, Captain Jocelyn. Get your forces in order
to advance."

"Very good, General. Good night, sir."

"Good-night."

As she closed her door she skipped across the room. She knew the first
gun had been fired when Jarvis rose to speak. If she was to act as
commander in the making of his career, she was glad she had a
personality to work with. Nobody would forget that Greek head, with its
close-cropped brown curls, those dreaming blue eyes, and that sensitive,
over-controlled mouth. Her own dreams were wrought about them.



VII

The day which Bambi foretold would some time be famous in history dawned
propitiously, with sun and soft airs. A sense of excitement got them up
early. Breakfast was over, and Jarvis ready for action, by eight-thirty.

"I don't believe Mr. Belasco will be down this early, Jarvis," Bambi
said.

"Well, he is a busy man. He'll probably get an early start. I want to be
on the ground when he arrives, anyhow. If he should want me to read the
play this morning, we should need time."

She made no more objections. She straightened his tie, and brushed his
coat, with shining eyes, full of excitement.

"Just think! In five hours we may know." He took up his hat and his
manuscript.

"Yes," he answered confidently. "Shall we lunch here?"

"Yes, and do hurry back, Jarvis."

At the door he remembered her.

"Where are you going? Do you want to come?"

"No. I have something to attend to myself. Good luck."

She held out her hand to him. He held it a second, looking at it as if
it was a specimen of something hitherto unknown.

"I am not forgetting that you are giving me this chance," he said, and
left abruptly.

Bambi leaped about the rooms in a series of joy-leaps that would have
shamed Mordkin, before she began the serious business of the day.

Jarvis had carefully looked up the exact location of the Belasco
Theatre. He decided to walk uptown, in order to arrange his thoughts,
and to make up his mind just how much and what he would say to Mr.
Belasco. The stir, the people, the noise and the roar were unseen,
unheard. He strolled along, towering above the crowd, a blond young
Achilles, with many an admiring eye turned in his wake.

None of the perquisites of success, so dear to Bambi's dreams, appealed
to him. He saw himself, like John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness,
which was the world, and all the people, in all the cities, were roused
out of their lethargy and dull submission at his call - not to prayer,
but to thought. It was a great mission he was upon, and even Broadway
became consecrated ground. He walked far beyond the cross street of the
theatre in his absorption, so it was exactly half-after nine when he
arrived at the box office.

"I want to speak to Mr. Belasco," he said to the man there.

"Three flights up."

"Is there an elevator?"

"Naw."

He resented the man's grin, but he made no reply. He began to climb the
long flights of dark stairs. Arrived at the top, the doors were all
locked, so he was forced to descend again to the box office.

"There is nobody up there," he said.

"You didn't expect anybody to be there at this hour of the dawn, did
you?"

"What time does Mr. Belasco usually come?"

"There is nothing usual about him. He is liable to land here any time
between now and midnight, if he comes at all."

"He doesn't come every day, then?"

The man grinned.

"Say, you're new to this game, ain't you? Sometimes he don't show up for
days. The steno can tell you whether he is coming to-day."

"The steno?"

"Yes. The skirt that's in his office."

"When does she come?"

"Oh, about ten or eleven."

"Thank you."

"Don't mention it."

Jarvis made the ascent again. He stood about for nearly an hour before
the office girl arrived. "Those stairs is the limit," she gasped. "You
waiting for me?"

"I am waiting for Mr. Belasco."

"Oh! Appointment?"

"No."

"Got a letter to him?"

"No."

"What do you want to see him about? A job?"

"No. About a play."

She ushered him in, opened the windows, took off her hat, looked at
herself in the mirror, while she patted her wonderful hair. She powdered
her nose, fixed her neck ruffle, apparently oblivious of Jarvis.

"What time do you expect Mr. Belasco?"

"Goodness only knows."

"Do you think he will come to-day?"

"Far be it from me to say."

"But I wish to see him."

"Many a blond has twirled his thumbs around here for weeks for the same
reason."

"But I am only in New York for a little while."

"I should worry," said she, opening her typewriter desk. "Give me your
play. I'll see that it gets to him."

"I'd rather talk to him myself."

"Suit yourself."

"I suppose I can wait here?"

"No charge for chairs," said the cheerful one.

An hour passed, broken only by the click of the typewriter. Conventional
overtures from the cheerful one being discouraged, she smashed the keys
in sulky silence. From eleven to twelve things were considerably
enlivened. Many sleek youths, of a type he had seen on Broadway,
arrived. They saluted the cheerful one gayly as "Sally" and indulged in
varying degrees of witty persiflage before the inevitable "The
Governor in?"

"Nope."

"Expect him to-day?"

"I dunno."

"Billy here?"

"Dunno."

"Thank you, little one."

Sometimes they departed, sometimes they joined Jarvis's waiting party.
Lovely ladies, and some not so lovely. Old and young, fat and thin, they
climbed the many stairs and met their disappointment cheerfully. They
usually fell upon Jack, or Billy, or Jim, of the waiters, who, in turn,
fell upon Belle, or Susan, or Fay.

"What are you with? How's business?" were always the first questions,
followed by shop talk, unintelligible to Jarvis. One youth said that he
had been to this office ten successive mornings without getting an
appointment. The others laughed, and one woman boasted that she had the
record, for she had gone twenty-eight times before she saw Frohman, the
last engagement she sought.

"But he engaged me the 29th," she laughed.

They impressed Jarvis as the lightest-hearted set he had ever
encountered. They laughed over everything and nothing. By one o'clock
Jarvis and the cheerful one were again in sole possession.

"Don't you ever eat?" she asked him.

"Oh, is it lunch time?" he inquired.

"Come out of the trance."

She went through the entire performance before the mirror, in putting on
her hat.

"Shall I bring you anything, dearie?" she asked him, as she completed
her toilette.

"I'm going, too," he said. "I'll be back."

He plunged down the stairs. When he reached the street he thought of
Bambi's face when he returned with the announcement of his futile
morning. He went into a shop, telephoned the club that he had been
detained and would not be back to lunch. Then he foraged for food and
went back to his sitting on the top floor of the Belasco.

"Well, little stranger," said the cheerful one, on her return.

His interest in the afternoon callers waned. At five o'clock he gave it
up. He arranged with his new friend to call her up in the morning to see
if she had any news from the front. Then he slowly turned his footsteps
toward the club. He was irritated at the long delay, and for the first
time aware that there might be more difficulty in seeing managers than
he had anticipated. He had thought the condescension all on his part,
but eight hours of airing his heels in the outer purlieus had altered
his viewpoint a trifle.

His main concern was Bambi's disappointment. She had sent him out with
such high hopes - she would receive him back with his Big Chief feathers
drooping. He was sorrier than he would admit to drown the shine in her
eyes. He walked downtown to postpone the evil hour, but in the end it
had to be faced.



VIII

After Jarvis had departed on his conquering way Bambi turned her
attention to herself. She made a most careful toilette. When she was
hatted, and veiled, and gloved, she tripped up and down before her
mirror, trying herself out, as it were. She made several entrances into
editorial sanctums. Once she entered haltingly, drawn to her full
five-feet-one; once she bounced in, confidently, but she vetoed that,
and decided upon a dignified but cordial entrance. One more trip to the
mirror for a close inspection.

"Oh, you pretty thing!" she nodded to herself.

She set forth, as Jarvis had done, with the address on the publisher's
letter clasped in her hand. She marched uptown with a singing heart. She
saw everything and everybody. She wondered how many of them carried
happy secrets, like hers, in their thoughts - how many of them were going
toward thrilling experiences. She shot her imagination, like a
boomerang, at every passing face, in the hope of getting back secrets


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