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In Preparation :

a Vamp

The Ginger-Jar










HOT in London. Very hot.

In a small bed that was a series of humps and bumps,
but which nevertheless did not seem to trouble the depth
of her young repose in the very least, a girl lay sleeping,
her dark brown hair tumbling over the pillow, one bare
arm flung over the coverlet, part of a white and shapely
leg revealed by the slipping of the same a girl who,
distinctly at variance with the drab and dingy bedroom,
was exceedingly good to look upon.

When she was asleep was about the only time Patsy's
vivacious features were ever completely in repose. In
sleep they took on a happy aspect of serenity that was
really the keynote to a peculiarly buoyant temperament
a temperament not without depth, of extraordinary
courage in times of stress and of superabundant high spirits
for every other day in the week. Patsy was charming to
behold, awake. She was also and this is very much more
rare equally beautiful to gaze upon asleep.

A beam of sunlight streaming in through the window
fell full upon her face, revealing the fine grain of a per-
fect complexion, which neither the cheap face-powder
she used so lavishly by day nor nineteen years of a hand-
to-mouth existence, ten of them spent upon the stage, had
done anything to impair.

She slumbered on. The hot stream of sunlight did not
disturb her, neither did the penetrating cries of a rag-
and-bone merchant vociferously pursuing his calling in the
street. She slept serenely, like a child, her dark lashes



lying like painted fans upon the roses and lilies of her

The minute hand of the cheap clock on the mantelpiece
ticked briskly on, but the one that should have recorded
the hour had fallen off, and Patsy had not the wherewithal
to have it mended. Her finances were always in a dwind-
ling or minus condition. She had never in the whole of
her life possessed more than three pounds the highest
salary she had ever received for more than five whole
minutes together. But even if she was in want she never
worried. Something or other always turned up. At least,
that was her optimistic creed.

Considering her abundant looks, too, she was extra-
ordinarily simple-minded, for she never marketed her
beauty, as other girls frequently did. She was worldly-
wise, as any girl who had been familiarised with the careless
conditions of the stage since early childhood would be ;
but, in spite of that, her outlook on life was generous,
unspoilt and exuberant. Bad examples and there were
many of them never affected her. Temptations such as
come the way of all girls at different times scarcely in-
fluenced her. She pursued a sociable, lively, yet somewhat
lonely course, in full possession of her head and heart,
rather despising the hangers-on and the flatterers of her
world, completely indifferent to their siege or advances.

Her attitude as regards men was mainly indifferent. As
a sex, she did not admire them. In her experience, they
often promised but seldom performed. They loved and
ran away. Up to the present, Patsy's tolerant, good-
humoured but almost contemptuous attitude to the
opposite sex had been one of her principal safeguards.
She had had her pursuers and her presents crowds of
satellites she could not count, the inevitable, typical


hangers-on whom she invariably shook off, though very
occasionally real hunger or a sudden fit of loneliness would
make her break her golden rule and accept a lunch or

A knock at the door, followed by the entrance of Mrs.
Kerley, her landlady, with the breakfast tray, did not
awaken her any more than the streaming sunlight had
done. Her sleep was too deep for outside noises to obtrude.
She had not gone to bed till past midnight, because the
Kerley baby was cutting a troublesome back tooth, and
his infantile agonies refused to be assuaged by anyone
except Patsy of the cool arms and soft young bosom.
Patsy had a mother's way with her. She adored any-
thing young puppies or babies or kittens and she spent
a good deal of her spare time with the Kerley infant,
understanding its nursery needs by instinct very much
better than its own mother, who lacked maternal wisdom
of any sort.

Approaching the bedside now, the slatternly Mrs. Kerley
contemplated her unconscious lodger with a look of genuine
admiration and affection. It seemed a pity to disturb her,
but Patsy had particularly asked to be called if she did not

Mrs. Kerley picked up a spoon and rattled it against the
tin breakfast tray, close to the sleeper's head.

Patsy was not proof against the violent tintinnabulation.
She opened her eyes wide and sat up.

" Goodness ! What's the time ? " she queried. " Have
I overslept ? "

" Only an hour, dearie. It's ten o'clock, that's all. I
did pop my head in before, but I hadn't the heart to disturb
you. Besides, your time's your own in a manner of speak-
ing, seeing that you're out of a shop."


" I dare say." Patsy took the breakfast tray on her
knees. " That's all the more reason why I should get up
early and catch the agents on the step. The funny thing
is, I never do, even if I arrive there at half-past nine ! I
think they must have underground passages to come in
and out by, because one minute they're there and the next
they're not, and no one sees them come or go. And, oh !
you've given me an egg, Ma ! And bacon ! And I owe
you for three weeks' rent ! "

" If you don't deserve hegg and bacon after sittin' up
half the night with Charles George, then I don't know who
does ! " rejoined the grateful mother. " Ever since you
got 'im off in your arms he's slept like a lamb, and woke up
at eight and took his bottle every drop and went straight
off again."

" Let him sleep till he wakes up of his own accord,"
said Patsy. " It upsets a baby to disturb it. And
if he's not hungry to-day, let him miss a bottle.
Just offer it to him at the proper tune, that's all. I
think you try and coax him too often, and his little
tummy can't stand it just now, and that's what makes
him sick."

" It's wonderful how you seem to know these things, and
never been told," marvelled Mrs. Kerley. " Last night,
when he was screamin' fit to burst and only temper it
seemed to me, ' He's thirsty, poor pet ; give him some sips
of water,' you said. And sips of water made him quiet.
Perhaps you've had a lot to do with little ones at some
time, Miss Greville ? "

" Well, I've got five of my own," said Patsy, laughing.
" Darling kiddies ! Some are fair, like my husband, and
the others are dark, like me a set of twins and three little


Mrs. Kerley's eyes and mouth opened wide in astonish-

" You don't say ! " she exclaimed. " And for this six
weeks I've known you, you've told me you was a single
young lady, nineteen years of age ! "

Patsy laughed.

" So I am," she answered. " But I often imagine my
future husband and the children we'll have by and by.
My husband is fair a red gold-brown fairness. I'm quite
sure of that. And he holds himself beautifully, like an
army man. Perhaps he is in the Army. I haven't the
faintest idea what he does, because I haven't met him yet.
I know our children by heart and sight. ... I adore
them already. They're fast asleep at present, on shelves,
all done up in cotton-wool in the workshop of the world,
with all the other darling babies that are waiting their turn
to get born ! Am I talking sheer rubbish ? You just wait
and see, till one day this time six or seven years hence,
when I'll knock at your door and say to you : ' Oh, good
morning, Mrs. Kerley ! Don't you remember Patsy
Greville, who used to live with you a long time ago ? Allow
me to introduce you to Captain Blank, my husband. And
these are Joan and Valerie, and Bob. Peter and Dick are
at school."

Mrs. Kerley smiled slowly. Jokes always had to be
explained to her, and she never could follow Patsy's turns
and twists of humour.

" You are a one for talkin' fanciful," she said. " Just
for a minute you quite took my breath away, with your
husband and children that you're only supposin' ! Five's
far too many, in my opinion. Why, I didn't even want
Charles George, though I'm gettin' used to him now.
Would you like another cup of tea ? "


" No, thanks. I've had a splendid breakfast. And
please put that egg and bacon down on my bill." Patsy
relinquished the tray. " Now I'm going to get up and
dress, without wasting another minute. Ma, dear, may I
have a proper bath ? I'm too big for a basin, and you say
my splashes come through the ceiling."

" There's only the cold tap, as you know ; but if you
don't want any kettles heated, you're welcome to it all the
summer," Mrs. Kerley replied. " I'll turn it on as I go out.
It don't take long to run."

She departed. Patsy heard the tap turned on and the
gurgling of cool water. Then she wrapped the counter-
pane round her hi lieu of the dressing-gown she did not
possess and pattered into the bathroom.

A few minutes later, fresh and glowing, she was back in
her bedroom, ready for the day except for the donning of
a frock. The question of what she should wear presented a
problem for some thought. Patsy's wardrobe was badly
in need of replenishment. She possessed a sea-green
evening frock very much out of date, that had once been
the property of a company she was playing in and pre-
sented to her by the wardrobe mistress ; a coat-frock that
was shabby and too warm, and a linen dress washed for
her by Mrs. Kerley, at present hanging up to dry hi the
yard outside. This torrid morning demanded silk or voile,
or something very cool and fresh, especially if she wanted
to catch a jaded agent's eye. . . . She had worn the
coat-frock for six months. ... It made her look a back
number, proclaimed her as too poor to be able to dress in
summer-girl array. . . . Clothes and a fresh appearance
mean so much to a girl on the stage when she is seeking
for an engagement. Patsy was quite puzzled. Though
deliriously cool and appropriate, she could not sally forth


in her present garb, a floppy hat which she had just re-
trimmed and tried on for effect before she had finished
dressing, and a slip-on petticoat.

Suddenly she was seized by a brilliant idea. She darted
to her chest of drawers, took out a hitherto unworn garment
a five-shilling bargain from a summer sale rummaged
for needle and thread, worked feverishly for five minutes
on a hem and a run, and slipped the inspiration over her

A broad band of ribbon, tied sash-wise, completed a
simple and effective toilette. Patsy executed a little step-
dance with delight, ran out on to the stairs, and called over
them :

" I say, Ma ! Do come up and see my new dress ! I
want to see how it strikes you. Oh, and will you bring up
my shoes as well ? I'm ready to go out now."

Mrs. Kerley came up, breathing heavily, with Patsy's
shoes in her hand.

" They're that thin the soles '11 drop off if you don't have
'em seen to soon," she remarked. " But I've took and
sewed some buckles on to smarten them up." Then her
eyes fell on Patsy in the pristine frock. " Is that the
dress you was speakin' of ? " she inquired. " It suits you a
fair treat."

Patsy revolved slowly for her benefit.

" Do you like it ? I knew you would," she replied
triumphantly. " But can you guess what it is ? You
never will, so I'll tell you ! I've made a deeper hem,
and it's only a flowered voile nightie \ It's the very
latest fashion, too ! Not the nightie, but the flowered
voile ! "

Mrs. Kerley gasped.

" A night-dress I " she exclaimed in a scandalised tone.


" But you can't ! You'd never ! I only heard of one
young woman who walked out dressed like that, and she
wasn't in her right mind, but wandering ; so they put
her away."

" But I'm in my right mind," Patsy declared. " You
never guessed until I told you, and neither would anyone
else. I call it a positive inspiration ! "

" Well, it's to be hoped you don't go tellin' people then,"
Mrs. Kerley cautioned, " or you might get taken up for
not wearin' the right sort of clothes. I'm sure I hope
you'll have some luck to-day, Miss Greville ; for if anyone
deserves it you do six weeks out of work, and trying so
hard all the time ! I'm glad I never went on the stage,
though I was often told I'd make my fortune as a
mimic. There's Charles George crying. He must have just
woke up."

" I must peep at him before I go," said Patsy.

She followed Mrs. Kerley down to the kitchen unbear-
ably hot, with its coal fire on such a molten day.

Charles George was grizzling in his Treasure cot. Patsy
made a bee-line for him, bent down, raised him in her
arms, murmuring like a young mother, and the whimpering
instantly ceased. It changed to a gurgle, a baby's chuck-
ling crow of sheer joy, than which there is no more delightful
sound in the whole universe. She lifted him up. Con-
sidering his plain parents, Charles George was a very
presentable baby indeed.

" Duck ! " Patsy murmured.

" He'll crush your night your frock," amended Mrs.
Kerley. " And you won't be fit to be seen ! "

Patsy snuggled him closer.

" A delicious crush," she said. " There, my son !
You've got to lie down again; flat I You're ever so much


better to-day. Aren't babies' eyes like bits of heaven ? "
She turned to Mrs. Kerley. " Just sky and dreams ! "

" I wish he'd dream a little more sometimes," said Mrs.
Kerley. " I never did know such a child for wakin' up,
especially when there's work to do, and in the hot weather
when you'd think he'd sleep ! "

" Put him in my room, where it's a little cooler, if you
want more peace. He'll be happier there," advised Patsy.
" And you can hear him if he cries if you leave the door
open. It's healthier for him. He was good for hours on
my bed yesterday afternoon, just kicking his little legs
and talking to himself. Do take him up ! He can't fall
out if you put a chair against the bed. I wish I could
stay and bath him, but I've got to look for work ! Oh,
dear ! And I've forgotten to powder my nose ! "

She ran upstairs, taking them two at a time. The
operation of fluffing a full puff over her nose occupied a
second or so. Then Mrs. Kerley heard her singing again
on her blithe way downstairs.

" She's a dear girl, that she is ! " she remarked to Charles
George, who cooed like a pigeon in reply.

The front door banged.

Patsy pursued her way to Maiden Lane spirits high,
purse with a shilling in it only, and a nightgown for a


BROWNING'S the theatrical agent's offices were full when
Patsy climbed the stone stairs whose well-worn treads and
particular unevennesses she was getting to know by heart
Browning's curving stone stairs ; Den ton's steep wooden


ones. Browning and Denton knew her very well, and had
often fixed her up as a show-girl or in pantomime. Patsy
never aspired to a " part." She had capability and good
looks and a tuneful voice. Her beautiful face and shape
usually ensured her an engagement at a living wage,
generally on tour. Her chief talent she was particularly
nimble on her feet and a born dancer she was inclined
to hide under a bushel. She knew she needed more
training, and had never been able to afford it.

At the moment, Patsy's luck was more than usually out.
She had only recently recovered from a severe attack of
whooping-cough, which ailment she had evidently escaped
in her infantile days ; and the paroxysmal outbursts, only
recently a thing of the past, had made it impossible for
her to seek or expect an engagement. When she was
well again the theatrical close season was at its height,
and there was very little doing at the time. She had
been unemployed now for six weeks, had pawned
her few possessions, and was *deeply in Mrs. Kerley's

A less optimistically minded girl might have lost heart.
Not so Patsy. She was thoroughly accustomed to the
fluctuations of fortune. Luck ran in streaks. All of a
sudden, for no apparent reason, things would begin to
happen usually two or three things at a time. To-day
there might not be a sail on the horizon. She was becalmed
on the theatrical ocean not an engagement in sight.
To-day, to-morrow, or any minute, a welcome breeze
might spring up and she would get going again. It was
no use getting panicky. Besides, she was lucky. She had
only herself to think of, not other people dependent on
her, like so many had. She could endure hardships and
rebuffs with a fair fortitude, because she was young and


strong. What would have upset her equilibrium would
have been to see anyone she loved putting up with priva-
tions on her account.

So the smile on her mobile lips as she waited amongst
the crowd without even thrusting herself forward was
quite unforced. She wanted work badly, but she was
neither desperate nor depressed.

Also, she was pleased with her " frock." Several girls
she knew had audibly admired it, and in a confidential
whisper Patsy had shared her secret and advised them to
do likewise. She never could keep a good thing to herself.

Time flew at Browning's. Three-quarters of an hour
flitted by in conversation with various groups of girls and
men some she knew and some she didn't.

One girl standing apart attracted Patsy's attention
almost at once, because she looked different from the rest.
She was slender and graceful, quietly dressed, and evidently
a stranger to her surroundings. She looked nervous and
unhappy and altogether out of her element. No one had
noticed or spoken to her, and she had probably been there
some time. Patsy's fine eyes roamed all over her, approv-
ing her aristocratic appearance. She felt drawn hi sym-
pathy towards her, because she had a forlorn look. She
crossed over to where the girl was standing and smiled at
her in a friendly way.

" You'll never get noticed if you keep so far back," she
said. " The best place to stand is by the rails, and when
he darts out, nab him." She referred to the busy agent
they were all waiting to see. " Don't you know the
ropes ? "

The girl shook her head.

" I'm quite new to it all," she said ; " but I must find
work. It's absolutely essential."


Patsy nodded.

" Same here, and everywhere," she answered. " There's
an awful scrum in this profession though. Everything's
overcrowded, but the stage is worst of all. It's very
difficult to get a look in unless someone gives you a shove.
What's your line ? Drama ? "

" No. I sing and recite. I have my songs here."

Patsy glanced at the music-roll she carried.

" Well, Brownie won't hear you himself. He hasn't
time. You want to go to a voice trial. I can tell you all
about those. Are you particularly keen on the stage ? "
She eyed the graceful girl curiously. " It's a rotten life.
You've got to have the constitution of an ox to stand it.
You'll find it jolly hard if you're a lady born and bred,"
she added frankly.

" I don't mind hardship," the other answered, " if I
could only find work."

" Are you hard up ? "

" I haven't any money left at all until I get next quarter's

" Allowance ! " Patsy pricked up her ears. " Why,
then you must be rich ! Private means ! How lovely ! "

The girl smiled wistfully.

" I'm a naval officer's daughter, and I get a pension of
thirty pounds a year until I'm twenty-one, that's all,"
she answered.

" I knew you were something high up in the world,"
Patsy remarked, with an air of triumph at her own discern-
ment. " Was he an admiral ? "

" No, only a commander."

" Surely that's more important than an admiral ? It
sounds like it, anyway ! "

' It isn't. It ranks next to a lieutenant. My father was


killed in the battle of Jutland, and I lost my mother last
month. I had to find something to do, so I came straight
up from Devonshire to London, and I've been searching
for an engagement ever since. It seems so hopeless
waiting here day after day." Tears filled her eyes.

Patsy gave her arm a friendly pressure.

" Nothing's hopeless," she declared. " It's always
dark before the dawn and winter before it's spring. /
never give up hoping, and I've been up against it all my
life. There's Brownie, now ! Buttonhole him ! Make
him notice you quick ! "

A small, dapper, dark, volcanic-looking man dived out
from his office fastness, pausing for a word or two with
individuals here and there, shaking off others, in a hurry
all the time, his experienced eyes roving over the none-too-
good material at his disposal.

Lee Barclay was over from the States and wanted six
English girls for his famous" Follies." . . . The " Cabaret
Kid," a No. 2 company was going on tour ; understudy
required for Lottie Lee, the dancer, also a few chorus-girls
who could really sing. . . . Fresh-looking girls, the
manager had stipulated not the usual type. . . . Breezy
girls . . . beautiful girls . . . girls with good figures and
legs. . . .

All of a sudden Patsy was observed. The little man
darted towards her.

" Just a minute, dear. I want you. Come in ! "

He had her by the arm, piloting and pressing her through
the crowd that thronged about him towards his inner
office door. It closed. Patsy found herself in the desired
sanctuary at last. Browning was sure to have some sug-
gestion for her. He never wasted time.

" You're looking very nice to-day, dear. That's a


charming frock. Caught my eye at once. So dainty.
Let's see, I've fixed you up before, haven't I ? When was
it last month or last year ? "

" In the spring," answered Patsy. " I've been ill since,
and I'm out of work now."

" Why didn't you come to see me sooner ? I haven't
noticed you."

" I've been here every morning and afternoon for a
whole month," replied Patsy.

" Not in that dress "

" No ; but I was here all the same, in a dark blue coat-
frock ; only it's too shabby to wear on a bright day."

" That's it, dear. Depend upon it, that's why I didn't
notice you. Never wear shabby frocks. Bad policy.
Now, the little thing you've got on to-day gives you dis-
tinction and style. Simple as you please, but it came from
Paris, I'll be bound. Been shopping over there ? Go and
see Lee Barclay at the Ritz to-morrow morning at eleven.
I'll give you a card. He's in London, looking for lovely
English types. Wear that frock, mind ! In the mean-
time, you might as well see Charlie Horn us at the Empyrean
at two-thirty this afternoon. One or two dancers and
chorus wanted for No. 2 ' Cabaret Kid,' provincial tour,
rehearse in London next week. Don't fix up with Homus
unless Barclay definitely turns you down. One leads to
nothing but a cheap engagement ; the other's the chance
of a lifetime for an ambitious girl. Are you ambitious,
dear ? "

Patsy shook her head.

" I don't think I am. I'm not frantically keen to be a
star, if that's what you mean. I'm perfectly content if
I've got enough to rub along with."

" And haven't you ? "


Mystified, he eyed Patsy's " frock." Because he was a
man it had deceived him. He even judged it expensive.

" Tenpence in the world, at the moment," she informed
him. "I'm really on the rocks. I want an engagement quick."

" Then this might suit you." Browning rummaged on
his desk. " Here we are. Lady Banholme is giving an in-
formal dance to-night in Curzon Street. Here's her letter
and address. She wants a girl who knows the Charleston,
as a sort of dancing partner, I suppose. Three guineas
for the evening. Care to ? It'll put a little of the
ready in your pocket, dear. Let me know how you get
on with the other two. Good luck ! I believe you're one
of the very few who really deserve it. As for your looks,
they ought to take you up to the top of the tree without
much waiting."

He shook her hand cordially.

Patsy felt like hugging him.

" You're a dear, Mr. Browning ! " she affirmed. " You're
always doing something kind."

" Tut, tut, dear ! Never did a kind action in my life,"
the little man repudiated. " Much too busy. Oh, and by

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