Nona Vincent by Henry James
"Certainly my leading lady won't make Nona much like you!" Wayworth one day gloomily remarked to Mrs. Alsager. There were days when the prospect seemed to him awful.
"So much the better. There's no necessity for that."
"I wish you'd train her a little--you could so easily," the young man went on; in response to which Mrs. Alsager requested him not to make such cruel fun of her. But she was curious about the girl, wanted to hear of her character, her private situation, how she lived and where, seemed indeed desirous to befriend her. Wayworth might not have known much about the private situation of Miss Violet Grey, but, as it happened, he was able, by the time his play had been three weeks in rehearsal, to supply information on such points. She was a charming, exemplary person, educated, cultivated, with highly modern tastes, an excellent musician. She had lost her parents and was very much alone in the world, her only two relations being a sister, who was married to a civil servant (in a highly responsible post) in India, and a dear little old-fashioned aunt (really a great-aunt) with whom she lived at Notting Hill, who wrote children's books and who, it appeared, had once written a Christmas pantomime. It was quite an artistic home--not on the scale of Mrs. Alsager's (to compare the smallest things with the greatest!) but intensely refined and honourable. Wayworth went so far as to hint that it would be rather nice and human on Mrs. Alsager's part to go there--they would take it so kindly if she should call on them. She had acted so often on his hints that he had formed a pleasant habit of expecting it: it made him feel so wisely responsible about giving them. But this one appeared to fall to the ground, so that he let the subject drop. Mrs. Alsager, however, went yet once more to the "Legitimate," as he found by her saying to him abruptly, on the morrow: "Oh, she'll be very good--she'll be very good." When they said "she," in these days, they always meant Violet Grey, though they pretended, for the most part, that they meant Nona Vincent.
"Oh yes," Wayworth assented, "she wants so to!"
Mrs. Alsager was silent a moment; then she asked, a little inconsequently, as if she had come back from a reverie: "Does she want to very much?"
"Tremendously--and it appears she has been fascinated by the part from the first."
"Why then didn't she say so?"
"Oh, because she's so funny."
"She is funny," said Mrs. Alsager, musingly; and presently she added: "She's in love with you."
Wayworth stared, blushed very red, then laughed out. "What is there funny in that?" he demanded; but before his interlocutress could satisfy him on this point he inquired, further, how she knew anything about it. After a little graceful evasion she explained that the night before, at the "Legitimate," Mrs. Beaumont, the wife of the actor-manager, had paid her a visit in her box; which had happened, in the course of their brief gossip, to lead to her remarking that she had never been "behind." Mrs. Beaumont offered on the spot to take her round, and the fancy had seized her to accept the invitation. She had been amused for the moment, and in this way it befell that her conductress, at her request, had introduced her to Miss Violet Grey, who was waiting in the wing for one of her scenes. Mrs. Beaumont had been called away for three minutes, and during this scrap of time, face to face with the actress, she had discovered the poor girl's secret. Wayworth qualified it as a senseless thing, but wished to know what had led to the discovery. She characterised this inquiry as superficial for a painter of the ways of women; and he doubtless didn't improve it by remarking profanely that a cat might look at a king and that such things were convenient to know. Even on this ground, however, he was threatened by Mrs. Alsager, who contended that it might not be a joking matter to the poor girl. To this Wayworth, who now professed to hate talking about the passions he might have inspired, could only reply that he meant it couldn't make a difference to Mrs. Alsager.
"How in the world do you know what makes a difference to me?" this lady asked, with incongruous coldness, with a haughtiness indeed remarkable in so gentle a spirit.
He saw Violet Grey that night at the theatre, and it was she who spoke first of her having lately met a friend of his.
"She's in love with you," the actress said, after he had made a show of ignorance; "doesn't that tell you anything?"
He blushed redder still than Mrs. Alsager had made him blush, but replied, quickly enough and very adequately, that hundreds of women were naturally dying for him.
"Oh, I don't care, for you're not in love with her!" the girl continued.
"Did she tell you that too?" Wayworth asked; but she had at that moment to go on.
Standing where he could see her he thought that on this occasion she threw into her scene, which was the best she had in the play, a brighter art than ever before, a talent that could play with its problem. She was perpetually doing things out of rehearsal (she did two or three to-night, in the other man's piece), that he as often wished to heaven Nona Vincent might have the benefit of. She appeared to be able to do them for every one but him--that is for every one but Nona. He was conscious, in these days, of an odd new feeling, which mixed (this was a part of its oddity) with a very natural and comparatively old one and which in its most definite form was a dull ache of regret that this young lady's unlucky star should have placed her on the stage. He wished in his worst uneasiness that, without going further, she would give it up; and yet it soothed that uneasiness to remind himself that he saw grounds to hope she would go far enough to make a marked success of Nona. There were strange and painful moments when, as the interpretress of Nona, he almost hated her; after which, however, he always assured himself that he exaggerated, inasmuch as what made this aversion seem great, when he was nervous, was simply its contrast with the growing sense that there were grounds--totally different--on which she pleased him. She pleased him as a charming creature--by her sincerities and her perversities, by the varieties and surprises of her character and by certain happy facts of her person. In private her eyes were sad to him and her voice was rare. He detested the idea that she should have a disappointment or an humiliation, and he wanted to rescue her altogether, to save and transplant her. One way to save her was to see to it, to the best of his ability, that the production of his play should be a triumph; and the other way--it was really too queer to express--was almost to wish that it shouldn't be. Then, for the future, there would be safety and peace, and not the peace of death-- the peace of a different life. It is to be added that our young man clung to the former of these ways in proportion as the latter perversely tempted him. He was nervous at the best, increasingly and intolerably nervous; but the immediate remedy was to rehearse harder and harder, and above all to work it out with Violet Grey. Some of her comrades reproached him with working it out only with her, as if she were the whole affair; to which he replied that they could afford to be neglected, they were all so tremendously good. She was the only person concerned whom he didn't flatter.
The author and the actress stuck so to the business in hand that she had very little time to speak to him again of Mrs. Alsager, of whom indeed her imagination appeared adequately to have disposed. Wayworth once remarked to her that Nona Vincent was supposed to be a good deal like his charming friend; but she gave a blank "Supposed by whom?" in consequence of which he never returned to the subject. He confided his nervousness as freely as usual to Mrs. Alsager, who easily understood that he had a peculiar complication of anxieties. His suspense varied in degree from hour to hour, but any relief there might have been in this was made up for by its being of several different kinds. One afternoon, as the first performance drew near, Mrs. Alsager said to him, in giving him his cup of tea and on his having mentioned that he had not closed his eyes the night before:
"You must indeed be in a dreadful state. Anxiety for another is still worse than anxiety for one's self."
"For another?" Wayworth repeated, looking at her over the rim of his cup.
"My poor friend, you're nervous about Nona Vincent, but you're infinitely more nervous about Violet Grey."
"She is Nona Vincent!"
"No, she isn't--not a bit!" said Mrs. Alsager, abruptly.
"Do you really think so?" Wayworth cried, spilling his tea in his alarm.
"What I think doesn't signify--I mean what I think about that. What I meant to say was that great as is your suspense about your play, your suspense about your actress is greater still."
"I can only repeat that my actress is my play."
Mrs. Alsager looked thoughtfully into the teapot.
"Your actress is your--"
"My what?" the young man asked, with a little tremor in his voice, as his hostess paused.
"Your very dear friend. You're in love with her--at present." And with a sharp click Mrs. Alsager dropped the lid on the fragrant receptacle.
"Not yet--not yet!" laughed her visitor.
"You will be if she pulls you through."
"You declare that she won't pull me through."
Mrs. Alsager was silent a moment, after which she softly murmured: "I'll pray for her."
"You're the most generous of women!" Wayworth cried; then coloured as if the words had not been happy. They would have done indeed little honour to a man of tact.
The next morning he received five hurried lines from Mrs. Alsager. She had suddenly been called to Torquay, to see a relation who was seriously ill; she should be detained there several days, but she had an earnest hope of being able to return in time for his first night. In any event he had her unrestricted good wishes. He missed her extremely, for these last days were a great strain and there was little comfort to be derived from Violet Grey. She was even more nervous than himself, and so pale and altered that he was afraid she would be too ill to act. It was settled between them that they made each other worse and that he had now much better leave her alone. They had pulled Nona so to pieces that nothing seemed left of her-- she must at least have time to grow together again. He left Violet Grey alone, to the best of his ability, but she carried out imperfectly her own side of the bargain. She came to him with new questions--she waited for him with old doubts, and half an hour before the last dress-rehearsal, on the eve of production, she proposed to him a totally fresh rendering of his heroine. This incident gave him such a sense of insecurity that he turned his back on her without a word, bolted out of the theatre, dashed along the Strand and walked as far as the Bank. Then he jumped into a hansom and came westward, and when he reached the theatre again the business was nearly over. It appeared, almost to his disappointment, not bad enough to give him the consolation of the old playhouse adage that the worst dress-rehearsals make the best first nights.
The morrow, which was a Wednesday, was the dreadful day; the theatre had been closed on the Monday and the Tuesday. Every one, on the Wednesday, did his best to let every one else alone, and every one signally failed in the attempt. The day, till seven o'clock, was understood to be consecrated to rest, but every one except Violet Grey turned up at the theatre. Wayworth looked at Mr. Loder, and Mr. Loder looked in another direction, which was as near as they came to conversation. Wayworth was in a fidget, unable to eat or sleep or sit still, at times almost in terror. He kept quiet by keeping, as usual, in motion; he tried to walk away from his nervousness. He walked in the afternoon toward Notting Hill, but he succeeded in not breaking the vow he had taken not to meddle with his actress. She was like an acrobat poised on a slippery ball--if he should touch her she would topple over. He passed her door three times and he thought of her three hundred. This was the hour at which he most regretted that Mrs. Alsager had not come back--for he had called at her house only to learn that she was still at Torquay. This was probably queer, and it was probably queerer still that she hadn't written to him; but even of these things he wasn't sure, for in losing, as he had now completely lost, his judgment of his play, he seemed to himself to have lost his judgment of everything. When he went home, however, he found a telegram from the lady of Grosvenor Place--"Shall be able to come--reach town by seven." At half-past eight o'clock, through a little aperture in the curtain of the "Renaissance," he saw her in her box with a cluster of friends--completely beautiful and beneficent. The house was magnificent--too good for his play, he felt; too good for any play. Everything now seemed too good--the scenery, the furniture, the dresses, the very programmes. He seized upon the idea that this was probably what was the matter with the representative of Nona--she was only too good. He had completely arranged with this young lady the plan of their relations during the evening; and though they had altered everything else that they had arranged they had promised each other not to alter this. It was wonderful the number of things they had promised each other. He would start her, he would see her off--then he would quit the theatre and stay away till just before the end. She besought him to stay away--it would make her infinitely easier. He saw that she was exquisitely dressed--she had made one or two changes for the better since the night before, and that seemed something definite to turn over and over in his mind as he rumbled foggily home in the four- wheeler in which, a few steps from the stage-door, he had taken refuge as soon as he knew that the curtain was up. He lived a couple of miles off, and he had chosen a four-wheeler to drag out the time.
When he got home his fire was out, his room was cold, and he lay down on his sofa in his overcoat. He had sent his landlady to the dress- circle, on purpose; she would overflow with words and mistakes. The house seemed a black void, just as the streets had done--every one was, formidably, at his play. He was quieter at last than he had been for a fortnight, and he felt too weak even to wonder how the thing was going. He believed afterwards that he had slept an hour; but even if he had he felt it to be still too early to return to the theatre. He sat down by his lamp and tried to read--to read a little compendious life of a great English statesman, out of a "series." It struck him as brilliantly clever, and he asked himself whether that perhaps were not rather the sort of thing he ought to have taken up: not the statesmanship, but the art of brief biography. Suddenly he became aware that he must hurry if he was to reach the theatre at all--it was a quarter to eleven o'clock. He scrambled out and, this time, found a hansom--he had lately spent enough money in cabs to add to his hope that the profits of his new profession would be great. His anxiety, his suspense flamed up again, and as he rattled eastward--he went fast now--he was almost sick with alternations. As he passed into the theatre the first man--some underling--who met him, cried to him, breathlessly:
"You're wanted, sir--you're wanted!" He thought his tone very ominous--he devoured the man's eyes with his own, for a betrayal: did he mean that he was wanted for execution? Some one else pressed him, almost pushed him, forward; he was already on the stage. Then he became conscious of a sound more or less continuous, but seemingly faint and far, which he took at first for the voice of the actors heard through their canvas walls, the beautiful built-in room of the last act. But the actors were in the wing, they surrounded him; the curtain was down and they were coming off from before it. They had been called, and he was called--they all greeted him with "Go on--go on!" He was terrified--he couldn't go on--he didn't believe in the applause, which seemed to him only audible enough to sound half- hearted.
"Has it gone?--has it gone?" he gasped to the people round him; and he heard them say "Rather--rather!" perfunctorily, mendaciously too, as it struck him, and even with mocking laughter, the laughter of defeat and despair. Suddenly, though all this must have taken but a moment, Loder burst upon him from somewhere with a "For God's sake don't keep them, or they'll stop!" "But I can't go on for that!" Wayworth cried, in anguish; the sound seemed to him already to have ceased. Loder had hold of him and was shoving him; he resisted and looked round frantically for Violet Grey, who perhaps would tell him the truth. There was by this time a crowd in the wing, all with strange grimacing painted faces, but Violet was not among them and her very absence frightened him. He uttered her name with an accent that he afterwards regretted--it gave them, as he thought, both away; and while Loder hustled him before the curtain he heard some one say "She took her call and disappeared." She had had a call, then--this was what was most present to the young man as he stood for an instant in the glare of the footlights, looking blindly at the great vaguely- peopled horseshoe and greeted with plaudits which now seemed to him at once louder than he deserved and feebler than he desired. They sank to rest quickly, but he felt it to be long before he could back away, before he could, in his turn, seize the manager by the arm and cry huskily--"Has it really gone--really?"
Mr. Loder looked at him hard and replied after an instant: "The play's all right!"
Wayworth hung upon his lips. "Then what's all wrong?"
"We must do something to Miss Grey."
"What's the matter with her?"
"She isn't in it!"
"Do you mean she has failed?"
"Yes, damn it--she has failed."
Wayworth stared. "Then how can the play be all right?"
"Oh, we'll save it--we'll save it."
"Where's Miss Grey--where is she?" the young man asked.
Loder caught his arm as he was turning away again to look for his heroine. "Never mind her now--she knows it!"
Wayworth was approached at the same moment by a gentleman he knew as one of Mrs. Alsager's friends--he had perceived him in that lady's box. Mrs. Alsager was waiting there for the successful author; she desired very earnestly that he would come round and speak to her. Wayworth assured himself first that Violet had left the theatre--one of the actresses could tell him that she had seen her throw on a cloak, without changing her dress, and had learnt afterwards that she had, the next moment, flung herself, after flinging her aunt, into a cab. He had wished to invite half a dozen persons, of whom Miss Grey and her elderly relative were two, to come home to supper with him; but she had refused to make any engagement beforehand (it would be so dreadful to have to keep it if she shouldn't have made a hit), and this attitude had blighted the pleasant plan, which fell to the ground. He had called her morbid, but she was immovable. Mrs. Alsager's messenger let him know that he was expected to supper in Grosvenor Place, and half an hour afterwards he was seated there among complimentary people and flowers and popping corks, eating the first orderly meal he had partaken of for a week. Mrs. Alsager had carried him off in her brougham--the other people who were coming got into things of their own. He stopped her short as soon as she began to tell him how tremendously every one had been struck by the piece; he nailed her down to the question of Violet Grey. Had she spoilt the play, had she jeopardised or compromised it--had she been utterly bad, had she been good in any degree?
"Certainly the performance would have seemed better if she had been better," Mrs. Alsager confessed.
"And the play would have seemed better if the performance had been better," Wayworth said, gloomily, from the corner of the brougham.
"She does what she can, and she has talent, and she looked lovely. But she doesn't see Nona Vincent. She doesn't see the type--she doesn't see the individual--she doesn't see the woman you meant. She's out of it--she gives you a different person."
"Oh, the woman I meant!" the young man exclaimed, looking at the London lamps as he rolled by them. "I wish to God she had known you!" he added, as the carriage stopped. After they had passed into the house he said to his companion:
"You see she won't pull me through."
"Forgive her--be kind to her!" Mrs. Alsager pleaded.
"I shall only thank her. The play may go to the dogs."
"If it does--if it does," Mrs. Alsager began, with her pure eyes on him.
"Well, what if it does?"
She couldn't tell him, for the rest of her guests came in together; she only had time to say: "It sha'n't go to the dogs!"
He came away before the others, restless with the desire to go to Notting Hill even that night, late as it was, haunted with the sense that Violet Grey had measured her fall. When he got into the street, however, he allowed second thoughts to counsel another course; the effect of knocking her up at two o'clock in the morning would hardly be to soothe her. He looked at six newspapers the next day and found in them never a good word for her. They were well enough about the piece, but they were unanimous as to the disappointment caused by the young actress whose former efforts had excited such hopes and on whom, on this occasion, such pressing responsibilities rested. They asked in chorus what was the matter with her, and they declared in chorus that the play, which was not without promise, was handicapped (they all used the same word) by the odd want of correspondence between the heroine and her interpreter. Wayworth drove early to Notting Hill, but he didn't take the newspapers with him; Violet Grey could be trusted to have sent out for them by the peep of dawn and to have fed her anguish full. She declined to see him--she only sent down word by her aunt that she was extremely unwell and should be unable to act that night unless she were suffered to spend the day unmolested and in bed. Wayworth sat for an hour with the old lady, who understood everything and to whom he could speak frankly. She gave him a touching picture of her niece's condition, which was all the more vivid for the simple words in which it was expressed: "She feels she isn't right, you know--she feels she isn't right!"
"Tell her it doesn't matter--it doesn't matter a straw!" said Wayworth.
"And she's so proud--you know how proud she is!" the old lady went on.
"Tell her I'm more than satisfied, that I accept her gratefully as she is."
"She says she injures your play, that she ruins it," said his interlocutress.
"She'll improve, immensely--she'll grow into the part," the young man continued.
"She'd improve if she knew how--but she says she doesn't. She has given all she has got, and she doesn't know what's wanted."
"What's wanted is simply that she should go straight on and trust me."
"How can she trust you when she feels she's losing you?"
"Losing me?" Wayworth cried.
"You'll never forgive her if your play is taken off!"
"It will run six months," said the author of the piece.
The old lady laid her hand on his arm. "What will you do for her if it does?"
He looked at Violet Grey's aunt a moment. "Do you say your niece is very proud?"
"Too proud for her dreadful profession."
"Then she wouldn't wish you to ask me that," Wayworth answered, getting up.
When he reached home he was very tired, and for a person to whom it was open to consider that he had scored a success he spent a remarkably dismal day. All his restlessness had gone, and fatigue and depression possessed him. He sank into his old chair by the fire and sat there for hours with his eyes closed. His landlady came in to bring his luncheon and mend the fire, but he feigned to be asleep, so as not to be spoken to. It is to be supposed that sleep at last overtook him, for about the hour that dusk began to gather he had an extraordinary impression, a visit that, it would seem, could have belonged to no waking consciousness. Nona Vincent, in face and form, the living heroine of his play, rose before him in his little silent room, sat down with him at his dingy fireside. She was not Violet Grey, she was not Mrs. Alsager, she was not any woman he had seen upon earth, nor was it any masquerade of friendship or of penitence. Yet she was more familiar to him than the women he had known best, and she was ineffably beautiful and consoling. She filled the poor room with her presence, the effect of which was as soothing as some odour of incense. She was as quiet as an affectionate sister, and there was no surprise in her being there. Nothing more real had ever befallen him, and nothing, somehow, more reassuring. He felt her hand rest upon his own, and all his senses seemed to open to her message. She struck him, in the strangest way, both as his creation and as his inspirer, and she gave him the happiest consciousness of success. If she was so charming, in the red firelight, in her vague, clear-coloured garments, it was because he had made her so, and yet if the weight seemed lifted from his spirit it was because she drew it away. When she bent her deep eyes upon him they seemed to speak of safety and freedom and to make a green garden of the future. From time to time she smiled and said: "I live--I live--I live." How long she stayed he couldn't have told, but when his landlady blundered in with the lamp Nona Vincent was no longer there. He rubbed his eyes, but no dream had ever been so intense; and as he slowly got out of his chair it was with a deep still joy--the joy of the artist--in the thought of how right he had been, how exactly like herself he had made her. She had come to show him that. At the end of five minutes, however, he felt sufficiently mystified to call his landlady back--he wanted to ask her a question. When the good woman reappeared the question hung fire an instant; then it shaped itself as the inquiry:
"Has any lady been here?"
"No, sir--no lady at all."
The woman seemed slightly scandalised. "Not Miss Vincent?"
"Miss Vincent, sir?"
"The young lady of my play, don't you know?"
"Oh, sir, you mean Miss Violet Grey!"
"No I don't, at all. I think I mean Mrs. Alsager."
"There has been no Mrs. Alsager, sir."
"Nor anybody at all like her?"
The woman looked at him as if she wondered what had suddenly taken him. Then she asked in an injured tone: "Why shouldn't I have told you if you'd 'ad callers, sir?"
"I thought you might have thought I was asleep."
"Indeed you were, sir, when I came in with the lamp--and well you'd earned it, Mr. Wayworth!"
The landlady came back an hour later to bring him a telegram; it was just as he had begun to dress to dine at his club and go down to the theatre.
"See me to-night in front, and don't come near me till it's over."
It was in these words that Violet communicated her wishes for the evening. He obeyed them to the letter; he watched her from the depths of a box. He was in no position to say how she might have struck him the night before, but what he saw during these charmed hours filled him with admiration and gratitude. She was in it, this time; she had pulled herself together, she had taken possession, she was felicitous at every turn. Fresh from his revelation of Nona he was in a position to judge, and as he judged he exulted. He was thrilled and carried away, and he was moreover intensely curious to know what had happened to her, by what unfathomable art she had managed in a few hours to effect such a change of base. It was as if she had had a revelation of Nona, so convincing a clearness had been breathed upon the picture. He kept himself quiet in the entr'actes-- he would speak to her only at the end; but before the play was half over the manager burst into his box.
"It's prodigious, what she's up to!" cried Mr. Loder, almost more bewildered than gratified. "She has gone in for a new reading--a blessed somersault in the air!"
"Is it quite different?" Wayworth asked, sharing his mystification.
"Different? Hyperion to a satyr! It's devilish good, my boy!"
"It's devilish good," said Wayworth, "and it's in a different key altogether from the key of her rehearsal."
"I'll run you six months!" the manager declared; and he rushed round again to the actress, leaving Wayworth with a sense that she had already pulled him through. She had with the audience an immense personal success.
When he went behind, at the end, he had to wait for her; she only showed herself when she was ready to leave the theatre. Her aunt had been in her dressing-room with her, and the two ladies appeared together. The girl passed him quickly, motioning him to say nothing till they should have got out of the place. He saw that she was immensely excited, lifted altogether above her common artistic level. The old lady said to him: "You must come home to supper with us: it has been all arranged." They had a brougham, with a little third seat, and he got into it with them. It was a long time before the actress would speak. She leaned back in her corner, giving no sign but still heaving a little, like a subsiding sea, and with all her triumph in the eyes that shone through the darkness. The old lady was hushed to awe, or at least to discretion, and Wayworth was happy enough to wait. He had really to wait till they had alighted at Notting Hill, where the elder of his companions went to see that supper had been attended to.
"I was better--I was better," said Violet Grey, throwing off her cloak in the little drawing-room.
"You were perfection. You'll be like that every night, won't you?"
She smiled at him. "Every night? There can scarcely be a miracle every day."
"What do you mean by a miracle?"
"I've had a revelation."
Wayward stared. "At what hour?"
"The right hour--this afternoon. Just in time to save me--and to save you."
"At five o'clock? Do you mean you had a visit?"
"She came to me--she stayed two hours."
"Two hours? Nona Vincent?"
"Mrs. Alsager." Violet Grey smiled more deeply. "It's the same thing."
"And how did Mrs. Alsager save you?"
"By letting me look at her. By letting me hear her speak. By letting me know her."
"And what did she say to you?"
"Kind things--encouraging, intelligent things."
"Ah, the dear woman!" Wayworth cried.
"You ought to like her--she likes you. She was just what I wanted," the actress added.
"Do you mean she talked to you about Nona?"
"She said you thought she was like her. She is--she's exquisite."
"She's exquisite," Wayworth repeated. "Do you mean she tried to coach you?"
"Oh, no--she only said she would be so glad if it would help me to see her. And I felt it did help me. I don't know what took place-- she only sat there, and she held my hand and smiled at me, and she had tact and grace, and she had goodness and beauty, and she soothed my nerves and lighted up my imagination. Somehow she seemed to give it all to me. I took it--I took it. I kept her before me, I drank her in. For the first time, in the whole study of the part, I had my model--I could make my copy. All my courage came back to me, and other things came that I hadn't felt before. She was different--she was delightful; as I've said, she was a revelation. She kissed me when she went away--and you may guess if I kissed her. We were awfully affectionate, but it's you she likes!" said Violet Grey.
Wayworth had never been more interested in his life, and he had rarely been more mystified. "Did she wear vague, clear-coloured garments?" he asked, after a moment.
Violet Grey stared, laughed, then bade him go in to supper. "You know how she dresses!"
He was very well pleased at supper, but he was silent and a little solemn. He said he would go to see Mrs. Alsager the next day. He did so, but he was told at her door that she had returned to Torquay. She remained there all winter, all spring, and the next time he saw her his play had run two hundred nights and he had married Violet Grey. His plays sometimes succeed, but his wife is not in them now, nor in any others. At these representations Mrs. Alsager continues frequently to be present.