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   Chapter 46 No.46

The Regent By Arnold Bennett Characters: 5799

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


She was sitting down in a cosy-corner, her feet on a footstool, and she seemed a negligible physical quantity as he stood in front of her. This was she who had worsted the entire judicial and police system of Chicago, who spoke pentecostal tongues, who had circled the globe, and held enthralled-so journalists computed-more than a quarter of a million of the inhabitants of Marseilles, Athens, Port Said, Candy, Calcutta, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Hawaii, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago, and lastly, New York! This was she!

"I understand we're going home on the same ship!" he was saying.

She looked up at him, almost appealingly.

"You won't see anything of me, though," she said.

"Why not?"

"Tell me," said she, not answering his question, "what do they say of me, really, in England? I don't mean the newspapers. For instance, well-the Azure Society. Do you know it?"

[297] He nodded.

"Tell me," she repeated.

He related the episode of the telegram at the private first performance of "The Orient Pearl."

She burst out in a torrent of irrelevant protest:

"The New York police have not treated me right. It would have cost them nothing to arrest me and let me go. But they wouldn't. Every man in the force-you hear me, every man-has had strict orders to leave me unmolested. It seems they resent my dealings with the police in Chicago, where I brought about the dismissal of four officers, so they say. And so I'm to be boycotted in this manner! Is that argument, Mr. Machin? Tell me. You're a man, but honestly, is it argument? Why, it's just as mean and despicable as brute force."

"I agree with you," said Edward Henry, softly.

"Do they really think it will harm the militant cause? Do they really think so? No, it will only harm me. I made a mistake in tactics. I trusted-fool!-to the chivalry of the United States. I might have been arrested in a dozen cities, but I on purpose reserved my last two arrests for Chicago and New York, for the sake of the superior advertisement, you see! I never dreamt-! Now it's too late. I am defeated! I shall just arrive in London on the hundredth day. I shall have made speeches at all the meetings. But I shall be short of one arrest. And the ten thousand pounds will be lost to the cause. The militants here-such as they are-are as disgusted as I am. But they scorn me. And are they not right? Are they not right? There should be no quarter for the vanquished."

"Miss Joy," said Edward Henry, "I've come over from London specially to see you. I want to make up the loss of that ten thousand pounds as [298] far as I can. I'll explain at once. I'm running a poetical play of the highest merit, called 'The Orient Pearl,' at my new theatre in Piccadilly Circus. If you will undertake a small part in it-a part of three words only-I'll pay you a record salary, sixty-six pounds thirteen and four-pence

a word-two hundred pounds a week!"

Isabel Joy jumped up.

"Are you another of them, then?" she muttered. "I did think from the look of you that you would know a gentlewoman when you met one! Did you imagine for the thousandth part of one second that I would stoop-"

"Stoop!" exclaimed Edward Henry. "My theatre is not a music-hall-"

"You want to make it into one!" she stopped him.

"Good day to you," she said. "I must face those journalists again, I suppose. Well, even they-! I came alone in order to avoid them. But it was hopeless. Besides, is it my duty to avoid them-after all?"

It was while passing through the door that she uttered the last words.

"Where is she?" Seven Sachs inquired, entering.

"Fled!" said Edward Henry.

"Everything all right?"

"Quite!"

Mr. Rentoul Smiles came in.

"Mr. Smiles," said Edward Henry, "did you ever photograph Sir John Pilgrim?"

"I did, on his last visit to New York. Here you are!"

He pointed to his rendering of Sir John.

"What did you think of him?"

"A great actor, but a mountebank, sir."

[299] During the remainder of the afternoon Edward Henry saw the whole of New York, with bits of the Bronx and Yonkers in the distance, from Seven Sachs's second automobile. In his third automobile he went to the theatre and saw Seven Sachs act to a house of over two thousand dollars. And lastly he attended a supper and made a speech. But he insisted upon passing the remainder of the night on the Lithuania. In the morning Isabel Joy came on board early and irrevocably disappeared into her berth. And from that moment Edward Henry spent the whole secret force of his individuality in fervently desiring the Lithuania to start. At two o'clock, two hours late, she did start. Edward Henry's farewells to the admirable and hospitable Mr. Sachs were somewhat absent-minded, for already his heart was in London. But he had sufficient presence of mind to make certain final arrangements.

"Keep him at least a week," said Edward Henry to Seven Sachs, "and I shall be your debtor for ever and ever."

He meant Carlo Trent, still bedridden.

As from the receding ship he gazed in abstraction at the gigantic inconvenient word-common to three languages-which is the first thing seen by the arriving, and the last thing seen by the departing, visitor, he meditated:

"The dearness of living in the United States has certainly been exaggerated."

For his total expenses, beyond the confines of the quay, amounted to one cent, disbursed to buy an evening paper which had contained a brief interview with himself concerning the future of the intellectual drama in England. He had told the pressman that "The Orient Pearl" [300] would run a hundred nights. Save for putting "The Orient Girl" instead of "The Orient Pearl," and two hundred nights instead of one hundred nights, this interview was tolerably accurate.

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