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   Chapter 39 No.39

The Regent By Arnold Bennett Characters: 6470

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


Shortly afterwards Mr. Marrier came into the managerial office, lit up now, where Edward Henry was dictating to his typewriter and hospital-nurse, who, having been caught in hat and jacket on the threshold, had been brought back and was tapping his words direct on to the machine.

It was a remarkable fact that the sole proprietor of the Regent Theatre was now in high spirits and good humour.

"Well, Marrier, my boy," he saluted the acting-manager, "how are you getting on with that rehearsal?"

"Well, sir," said Mr. Marrier, "I'm not getting on with it. Miss Euclid refuses absolutely to proceed. She's in her dressing-room."

"But why?" inquired Edward Henry with bland surprise. "Doesn't she want to be heard-by her gallery-boys?"

Mr. Marrier showed an enfeebled smile.

"She hasn't been spoken to like that for thirty years," said he.

"But don't you agree with me?" asked Edward Henry.

"Yes," said Marrier, "I agree with you-"

"And doesn't your friend Carlo want his precious hexameters to be heard?"

"We baoth agree with you," said Marrier. "The fact is, we've done all we could, but it's no use. She's splendid, only-" He paused.

[264] "Only you can't make out ten per cent of what she says," Edward Henry finished for him. "Well, I've got no use for that in my theatre." He found a singular pleasure in emphasizing the phrase, "my theatre."

"That's all very well," said Marrier. "But what are you going to do about it? I've tried everything. You've come in and burst up the entire show, if you'll forgive my saying saoh!"

"Do?" exclaimed Edward Henry. "It's perfectly simple. All you have to do is to act. God bless my soul, aren't you getting fifteen pounds a week, and aren't you my acting-manager? Act, then! You've done enough hinting. You've proved that hints are no good. You'd have known that from your birth up, Marrier, if you'd been born in the Five Towns. Act, my boy."

"But haow? If she won't go on, she won't."

"Is her understudy in the theatre?"

"Yes. It's Miss Cunningham, you know."

"What salary does she get?"

"Ten pounds a week."

"What for?"

"Well-partly to understudy, I suppose."

"Let her earn it, then. Go on with the rehearsal. And let her play the part to-morrow night. She'll be delighted, you bet."

"But-"

"Miss Lindop," Edward Henry interrupted, "will you please read to Mr. Marrier what I've dictated?" He turned to Marrier. "It's an interview with myself for one of to-morrow's papers."

Miss Lindop, with tears in her voice if not in her eyes, obeyed the order and, drawing the paper from the machine, read its contents aloud.

[265] Mr. Marrier started back-not in the figurative but in the literal sense-as he listened.

"But you'll never send that out!" he exclaimed.

"Why not?"

"No paper will print it!"

"My dear Marrier," said Edward Henry, "don't be a simpleton. You know as well as I do that half-a-dozen papers will be delighted to print it. And all the rest will copy the one that does print it. It'll be the talk of London to-morrow, and Isabel Joy will be absolutely snuffed out."

"Well," said Mr. Marrier, "I never heard of such a thing!"

"Pity you didn't, then!"

Mr. Marrier moved away.

"I s

ay," he murmured at the door, "don't you think you ought to read that to Rose first?"

"I'll read it to Rose like a bird," said Edward Henry.

Within two minutes-it was impossible to get from his room to the dressing-rooms in less-he was knocking at Rose Euclid's door. "Who's there?" said a voice. He entered and then replied: "I am."

Rose Euclid was smoking a cigarette and scratching the arm of an easy-chair behind her. Her maid stood near by with a whisky-and-soda.

"Sorry you can't go on with the rehearsal, Miss Euclid," said Edward Henry very quickly. "However, we must do the best we can. But Mr. Marrier thought you'd like to hear this. It's part of an interview with me that's going to appear to-morrow in the press."

Without pausing, he went on to read: "I found Mr. Alderman Machin, the hero of the Five Towns and the proprietor and initiator of London's [266] newest and most up-to-date and most intellectual theatre, surrounded by a complicated apparatus of telephones and typewriters in his managerial room at the Regent. He received me very courteously. "Yes," he said in response to my question, "the rumour is quite true. The principal part in 'The Orient Pearl' will be played on the first night by Miss Euclid's understudy, Miss Olga Cunningham, a young woman of very remarkable talent. No, Miss Euclid is not ill or even indisposed. But she and I have had a grave difference of opinion. The point between us was whether Miss Euclid's speeches ought to be clearly audible in the auditorium. I considered they ought. I may be wrong. I may be provincial. But that was and is my view. At the dress-rehearsal, seated in the gallery, I could not hear her lines. I objected. She refused to consider the objection or to proceed with the rehearsal. Hinc illae lachrymae!" ... "Not at all," said Mr. Machin in reply to a question, "I have the highest admiration for Miss Euclid's genius. I should not presume to dictate to her as to her art. She has had a very long experience of the stage, very long, and doubtless knows better than I do. Only, the Regent happens to be my theatre, and I'm responsible for it. Every member of the audience will have a complete uninterrupted view of the stage, and I intend that every member of the audience shall hear every word that is uttered on the stage. I'm odd, I know. But then I've a reputation for oddness to keep up. And by the way, I'm sure that Miss Cunningham will make a great reputation for herself."

"Not while I'm here, she won't!" exclaimed Rose Euclid, standing up, and enunciating her words with marvellous clearness.

Edward Henry glanced at her, and then continued to read: "Suggestions [267] for headlines. 'Piquant quarrel between manager and star-actress.' 'Unparalleled situation.' 'Trouble at the Regent Theatre.'"

"Mr. Machin," said Rose Euclid, "you are not a gentleman."

"You'd hardly think so, would you?" mused Edward Henry, as if mildly interested in this new discovery of Miss Euclid's.

"Maria," said the star to her maid, "go and tell Mr. Marrier I'm coming."

"And I'll go back to the gallery," said Edward Henry. "It's the place for people like me, isn't it? I daresay I'll tear up this paper later, Miss Euclid-we'll see."

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