Citation
Her first appearance

Material Information

Title:
Her first appearance
Creator:
Davis, Richard Harding, 1864-1916
Gibson, Charles Dana, 1867-1944 ( Illustrator )
Ashe, Edmund M ( Edmund Marion ), 1867-1941 ( Illustrator )
Harper & Brothers ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
New York ;
London
Publisher:
Harper & Brothers
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
[4], 52, [1] p., [3] leaves of plates : col. ill. ; 21 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Fathers and daughters -- Fiction ( lcsh )
Child actors -- Fiction ( lcsh )
Divorce -- Fiction ( lcsh )
Theaters -- Fiction ( lcsh )
Actors -- Fiction ( lcsh )
Friendship -- Fiction ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1901
Genre:
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- New York -- New York
England -- London

Notes

General Note:
Frontispiece and plates facing p. 18 and 40. Text and illustrations in blue within gilt ornamental borders.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Richard Harding Davis ; illustrated by C.D. Gibson and E.M. Ashe.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
022312631 ( ALEPH )
ALG5582 ( NOTIS )
00420043 ( OCLC )
01027441 ( LCCN )

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The Baldwin Library

University
mB vs
Florida









‘**CAN I SIT UP HERE BESIDE YOU?









First Hppearance

By

Richard harding Davis

Author of “Van Bibber, and Others”
“Princess Aline” etc.

ILLUSTRATED BY
C.D, GIBSON anp E. M. ASHE



NEW YORK AND LONDON

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
MCMI





Copyright, 1892, 1901, by Harper & BROTHERS.



All rights reserved.



{Uustrations

b. “*“CAN I SIT UP HERE BESIDE
ae your” . . .. . « + Frontispiece



‘““BuT HE KNEW THAT WAS NOT
J" THE REASON” . . . . . Facing p 18
if “you HAVE TRIED ME VERY

SORELY’” . . . s « 2 ft 40








her First Appearance







her First Appearance

IT was at the end of the first act
of the first night of ‘‘ The Sultana,’’
and every member of the Lester
Comic Opera Company, from Lester
himself down to the wardrobe wo-
man’s son, who would have had to
work if his mother lost her place,
was sick with anxiety.

There is perhaps only one other
place as feverish as it is behind the
scenes on the first night of a comic
opera, and that is a newspaper office
on the last night of a Presidential
campaign, when the returns are
being flashed on the canvas outside,
and the mob is howling, and the
editor-in-chief is expecting to go to
the Court of St. James if the election

ee







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

comes his way, and the office-boy is
betting his wages that it won't.
Such nights as these try men’s
souls; but Van Bibber passed the
stage-door man with as calmly polite
a nod as though the piece had been
running a hundred nights, and the
manager was thinking up souvenirs
for the one hundred and fiftieth,
\ and the prima donna had, as usual,
begun to hint for a new set of
costumes. The stage-door keeper
hesitated and was lost, and Van Bib-
ber stepped into the unsuppressed
excitement of the place with a
pleased sniff at the familiar smell of
paint and burning gas, and the dusty
odor that came from the scene-lofts
above.

For a moment he hesitated in
the cross-lights and confusion about
him, failing to recognize in their
new costumes his old acquaintances
of the company; but he saw Kripps,
the stage-manager, in the centre of







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

the stage, perspiring and in his shirt-
sleeves as always, wildly waving an
arm to some one in the flies, and
beckoning with the other to the gas-
man in the front entrance. The
stage hands were striking the scene
for the first act, and fighting with
the set for the second, and dragging
out a canvas floor of tessellated mar-
ble, and running a throne and a prac-
tical pair of steps over it, and aiming
the high quaking walls of a palace
and abuse at whoever came in their
way.

“ Now then, Van Bibber,” shouted
Kripps, with a wild glance of recog-
nition, as the white-and-black figure
came towards him, ‘‘ you know
you ’re the only man in New York
who gets behind here to-night. But
you can’t stay. Lower it, lower it,
can’t you?’’ This to the man in
the flies. ‘‘ Any other night goes,
but not this night. I can’t have it.
I— Where is the backing for the







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

centre entrance ? Didn ’t I tell you
men—”’

Van Bibber dodged two stage
hands who were steering a scene at
him, stepped over the carpet as it
unrolled, and brushed through a
group of anxious, whispering chorus
people into the quiet of the star’s
dressing-room.

The star saw him in the long mirror
before which he sat, while his dresser
tugged at his boots, and threw up
his hands desperately.

‘* Well,’’ he cried, in mock resig-
nation, ‘‘ are we in it or are we not?
Are they in their seats still or have
they fled ?”’

‘* How are you, John ?”’ said Van
Bibber to the dresser. Then he
dropped into a big arm-chair in the
corner, and got up again with a pro-
testing sigh to light his cigar between
the wires around the gas-burner.
‘Oh, it ’s going very well. I
would n’t have come around if it

6

i







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

was n’t. If the rest of it is as good
as the first act, you need n’t worry.”’

Van Bibber’s unchallenged free-
dom behind the scenes had been a
source of much comment and per-
plexity to the members of the Lester
Comic Opera Company. He had
made his first appearance there dur-
ing one hot night of the long run of
the previous summer, and had con-
tinued to be an almost nightly visitor
for several weeks. At first it was
supposed that he was backing the
piece, that he was the ‘‘ Angel,”’ as
those weak and wealthy individuals
are called who allow themselves to
be led into supplying the finances
for theatrical experiments. But as
he never peered through the curtain-
hole to count the house, nor made
frequent trips to the front of it to
look at. the box sheet, but was, on
the contrary, just as undisturbed on
arainy night as on those when the
‘* standing room only ’’ sign blocked














































HER FIRST APPEARANCE

the front entrance, this supposition
was discarded as untenable. Nor
did he show the least interest in the
prima donna, or in any of the other
pretty women of the company; he
did not know them, nor did he make
any effort to know them, and it was
not until they inquired concerning
him outside of the theatre that they
learned what a figure in the social
life of the city he really was. He
spent most of his time in Lester’s
dressing-room smoking, listening to
the reminiscences of Lester’s dresser
when Lester was on the stage; and
this seclusion and his clerical attire
of evening dress led the second
comedian to call him Lester’s father
confessor, and to suggest that he

\V came to the theatre only to take the
& \ star to task for his sins. And in this
~ the second comedian was unknow-
ingly not so very far wrong. Lester,
the comedian, and young Van Bib-
ber had known each other at the

8



































&





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

university, when Lester’s voice and
gift of mimicry had made him the
leader in the college theatricals; and
later, when he had gone upon the
stage, and had been cut off by his
family even after he had become
famous, or on account of it, Van
Bibber had gone to visit him, and
had found him as simple and sincere
and boyish as he had been in the
days of his Hasty-Pudding successes.
And Lester, for his part, had found
Van Bibber as likable as did every
one else, and welcomed his quiet
voice and youthful knowledge of the
world asa grateful relief to the bois-
terous camaraderie of his professional
acquaintances. And he allowed Van
Bibber to scold him, and to remind
him of what he owed to himself, and
to touch, even whether it hurt or
not, upon his better side. And in
time he admitted to finding his
friend’s occasional comments on
stage matters of value as coming









HER FIRST APPEARANCE

from the point of view of those who
look on at the game; and even
Kripps, the veteran, regarded him
with respect after he had told him
that he could turn a set of purple
costumes black by throwing a red
light on them. To the company,
after he came to know them, he was
gravely polite, and, to those who
knew him if they had overheard,
amusingly commonplace in his con-
versation. He understood them
better than they did themselves, and
made no mistakes. The women
smiled on him, but the men were
suspicious and shy of him until they
saw that he was quite as shy of the
women; and then they made hima
confidant, and told him all their
woes and troubles, and exhibited all
their little jealousies and ambitions,
in the innocent hope that he would
repeat what they said to Lester.
They were simple, unconventional,
light-hearted folk, and Van Bibber

Io









HER FIRST APPEARANCE

found them vastly more entertaining
and preferable to the silence of the
deserted club, where the matting
was down, and from whence the
regular hadituds had departed to the
other side or to Newport. He liked
the swing of the light, bright music
as it came to him through the open

door of the dressing-room, and the

glimpse he got of the chorus people
crowding and pushing for a quick

‘charge up the iron stairway, and

the feverish smell of oxygen in the
air, and the picturesque disorder of
Lester’s wardrobe, and the wigs and
swords, and the mysterious articles
of make-up, all mixed together on a
tray with half-finished cigars and
autograph books and newspaper
““ notices.”’

And he often wished he was clever
enough to be an artist with the talent
to paint the unconsciously graceful
groups in the sharply divided light
and shadow of the wings as he saw

II




















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i
































em

HER FIRST APPEARANCE

them. The brilliantly colored, fan-
tastically clothed girls leaning against
the bare brick wall of the theatre, or
whispering together in circles, with

or reading apart and solitary, or
working at some piece of fancy-work
; as soberly as though they were ina
rocking-chair in their own flat, and
not leaning against a scene brace,
with the glare of the stage and the
applause of the house just behind
them. He liked to watch them co-
quetting with the big fireman de-
tailed from the precinct engine-house,
and clinging desperately to the cur-
tain wire, or with one of the chorus
men on the stairs, or teasing the
phlegmatic scene-shifters as they
tried to catch a minute’s sleep on a
pile of canvas. He even forgave the
prima donna’s smiling at him from
the stage, as he stood watching her
from the wings, and smiled back at
her with polite cynicism, as though





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

he did not know and she did not
know that her smiles were not for
him, but to disturb some more in-
terested one in the front row. And
so, in time, the company became so
well accustomed to him that he
moved in and about as unnoticed
as the stage-manager himself, who
prowled around hissing “ hush ”’ on
principle, even though he was the
only person who could fairly be said
to be making a noise.

The second act was on, and Lester
came off the stage and ran to the
dressing - room and beckoned vio-
lently. ‘‘ Come here,’’ he said ;
‘you ought to see this; the children
are doing their turn. You want to

ear them. They ’re great!”

Van Bibber put his cigar into a
tumbler and stepped out into the
wings. They were crowded on both
sides of the stage with the members
of the company; the girls were tip-
toeing, with their hands on the

13











HER FIRST APPEARANCE

shoulders of the men, and making
futile little leaps into the air to get
a better view, and others were resting
on one knee that those behind might
see over their shoulders. There were
over a dozen children before the
footlights, with the prima donna in
the centre. She was singing the
verses of a song, and they were fol-
lowing her movements, and joining
in the chorus with high piping voices.
They seemed entirely too much at
home and too self-conscious to please
Van Bibber; but there was one ex-
ception. The one exception was the
smallest of them, a very, very little
girl, with long auburn hair and black
eyes; such a very little girl that
every one in the house looked at her
first, and then looked at no one else.
She was apparently as unconcerned
to all about her, excepting the pretty
prima donna, as though she were by
a piano at home practising a singing
lesson. She seemed to think it was



14





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

some new sort of a game. When
the prima donna raised her arms, the
child raised hers; when the prima
donna courtesied, she stumbled into
one, and straightened herself just in
time to get the curls out of her eyes,
and to see that the prima donna was
laughing at her, and to smile cheer-
fully back as if to say, “ We are
doing our best anyway, are n’twe?”’
She had big, gentle eyes and two
wonderful dimples, and in the excite-
ment of the dancing and the singing
her eyes laughed and flashed, and
the dimples deepened and disap-
peared and reappeared again. She
was as happy and innocent looking
as though it were nine in the morn-
ing and she were playing school at
a kindergarten. From all over the,
house the women were murmuring!
\ their delight, and the men were ¢

laughing and pulling their mustaches

and nudging each other to “ look at

the littlest one.”’

















HER FIRST APPEARANCE

The girls in the wings were raptur-
ous in their enthusiasm, and were
calling her absurdly extravagant
titles of endearment, and making so
much noise that Kripps stopped grin-
ning at her from the entrance, and
looked back over his shoulder as he
looked when he threatened fines and
calls for early rehearsal. And when
she had finished finally, and the
prima donna and the children ran off
together, there was a roar from the
house that went to Lester’s head like
wine, and seemed to leap clear across
the footlights and drag the children
back again.

‘“* That settles it!’’ cried Lester,
in a suppressed roar of triumph.
‘‘T knew that child would catch
them.”’

There were four encores, and then
the children and Elise Broughten,
the pretty prima donna, came off
jubilant and happy, with the Littlest
Girl’s arms full of flowers, which the







Diy BIS HFS ss



HER FIRST APPEARANCE

management had with kindly fore-
thought prepared for the prima don-
na, but which that delightful young

person and the delighted leader of

the orchestra had passed over to the

little girl.

‘‘ Well,’’ gasped Miss Broughten,
as she came up to Van Bibber laugh-
ing, and with one hand on her side
and breathing very quickly, ‘‘ will 4
you kindly tell me who is the lead-
ing woman now? Am I the prima
donna, or amI not? I wasn’t in it,
was 1?”’

‘*- Vou were not,’’ said Van Bibber.

He turned from the pretty prima
donna and hunted up the wardrobe
woman, and told her he wanted to
meet the Littlest Girl. And the
wardrobe woman, who was fluttering
wildly about, and as delighted as
though they were all her own chil-
dren, told him to come into the
property-room, where the children
were, and which had been changed



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aM HER FIRST APPEARANCE
“into a dressing-room that they might
Ly,

i» be by themselves. The six little
fs) girls were in six different states of

lax) dishabille, but they were too little to
py mind that, and Van Bibber was too
4 polite to observe it.

4 ‘‘ This is the little girl, sir,’’ said

the wardrobe woman, excitedly,
proud at being the means of bring-
ing together two such prominent
people. ‘‘ Her name is Madeline.
Speak to the gentleman, Madeline;
he wants to tell you what a great
big hit youse made.”’

The little girl was seated on one of
the cushions of a double throne so
high from the ground that the young
woman who was pulling off the child’s
silk stockings and putting woollen
ones on in their place did so without
stooping. The young woman looked
y \.. at Van Bibber and nodded somewhat
doubtfully and ungraciously, and
Van Bibber turned to the little girl

in preference. The young woman’s





















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HER FIRST APPEARANCE

face was one of a type that was too
familiar to be pleasant.

He took the Littlest Girl’s small
hand in his and shook it solemnly,
and said, ‘‘ I am very glad to know |
you. Can I sit up here beside you,
or do you rule alone ?”’

‘Yes, ma’am—yes, sir,’’ answered
the little girl.

Van Bibber put his hands on the
arms of the throne and vaulted up
beside the girl, and pulled out the
flower in his button-hole and gave it
to her.

‘‘ Now,” prompted the wardrobe
woman, ‘‘ what do you say to the
gentleman ?”’

‘* Thank you, sir,”’ stammered the
little girl.

‘* She is not much used to gentle-
men’s society,” explained the woman
who was pulling on the stockings.

‘TI see,’’ said Van Bibber. He
did not know exactly what to say
next. And yet he wanted to talk

19





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oy ta pe VO ghee

HER FIRST APPEARANCE

to the child very much, so much
more than he generally wanted to
talk to most young women, who
showed no hesitation in talking to
him. With them he had no diffi-
culty whatsoever. There was a doll
lying on the top of a chest near them,
and he picked this up and surveyed
it critically. ‘‘ Is this your doll ?’’
he asked.

““ No,”’ said Madeline, pointing to
one of the children, who was much
taller than herself; ‘‘ it ’s ’at ’ittle
durl’s. My doll he ’s dead.”’

‘“ Dear me!’’ said Van Bibber.
He made a mental note to get a live
one in the morning, and then he said:
*“ That ’s very sad. But dead dolls
do come to life.’’

The little girl looked up at him,
and surveyed him intently and criti-
cally, and then smiled, with the
dimples showing, as much as to say
that she understood him and ap-
proved of him entirely. Van Bibber

20





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

answered this sign language by tak-
ing Madeline’s hand in his and ask-
ing her how she liked being a great
actress, and how soon she would
begin to storm because ¢hat pho-
tographer had n’t sent the proofs.
The young woman understood this,
and deigned to smile at it, but Mad-
eline yawned a very polite and
sleepy yawn, and closed her eyes.
Van Bibber moved up closer, and
she leaned over until her bare shoul-
der touched his arm, and while the
woman buttoned on her absurdly
small shoes, she let her curly head
fall on his elbow and rest there.
Any number of people had shown
confidence in Van Bibber—not in
that form exactly, but in the same
spirit—and though he was used to
being trusted, he felt a sharp thrill
of pleasure at the touch of the child’s
head on his arm, and in the warm
clasp of her fingers around his. And \
he was conscious of a keen sense of 7







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

pity and sorrow for her rising in him,
which he crushed by thinking that it
was entirely wasted, and that the
child was probably perfectly and
ignorantly happy.

‘Look at that, now,’ said the
wardrobe woman, catching sight of
the child’s closed eyelids; ‘‘ just
look at the rest of the little dears,
all that excited they can’t stand still
to get their hats on, and she just as
unconcerned as you please, and after
making the hit of the piece, too.”’

‘‘ She ’s not used to it, you see,”
said the young woman, knowingly;
‘‘she don’t know what it means.
It ’s just that much play to her.”’

This last was said with a question-
ing glance at Van Bibber, in whom
she still feared to find the disguised
agent of a Children’s Aid Society.
Van Bibber only nodded in reply,
and did not answer her, because he
found he could not very well, for he
'-was looking a long way ahead at

22















HER FIRST APPEARANCE

what the future was to bring to the
confiding little being at his side, and
thinking of the evil knowledge and
temptations that would mar the
beauty of her quaintly sweet face,
and its strange mark of gentleness
and refinement. Outside he could
hear his friend Lester shouting the
refrain of his new topical song, and
the laughter and the hand-clapping
came in through the wings and open
door, broken but tumultuous.

‘“ Does she come of professional
people ?’’ Van Bibber asked, drop-
ping into the vernacular. He spoke
softly, not so much that he might
not disturb the child, but that she
might not understand what he said.

‘““Ves,’’ the woman answered,
shortly, and bent her head to smooth
out the child’s stage dress across her
knees.

Van Bibber touched the little girl’s
head with his hand and found that
she was asleep, and so let his hand

23





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CA DQ ALRIS WSS
he av os 2 ma - ie
a HER FIRST APPEARANCE ne
a rest there, with the curls between ors
Bey, his fingers. ‘‘ Are—are you her NS
wt mother ?’’ he asked, with a slight OR
(| inclination of his head. He felt AN
a ' quite confident she was not; at VA
Ba least, he hoped not. i}
v4 The woman shook her head. yi
m ‘No,’ she said. ‘\

‘“‘ Who is her mother ?”’

The woman looked at the sleeping
child and then up at him almost
defiantly. ‘‘Ida Clare was her
mother,’’ she said.

Van Bibber’s protecting hand left
\ the child as suddenly as though
; \ 73 something had burned it, and he
drew back so quickly that her head
slipped from his arm, and she awoke
and raised her eyes and looked up at
him questioningly. He looked back
at her with a glance of the strangest
concern and of the deepest pity.
Then he stooped and drew her to-
wards him very tenderly, put her head
back in the corner of his arm, and

24.





















HER FIRST APPEARANCE

watched her in silence while she
smiled drowsily and went to sleep
again.

‘“ And who takes care of her
now ?”’ he asked.

The woman straightened herself
and seemed relieved. She saw that
the stranger had recognized the
child’s pedigree and knew her story,
and that he was not going to com-
ment on it. ‘‘I do,’’ she said.
“After the divorce Ida came to me,”’
she said, speaking more freely. “I
used to be in her company when she
was doing ‘Aladdin,’ and then when
I left the stage and started to keep
an actors’ boarding-house, she came
to me. She lived on with us a year,
until she died, and she made me the
guardian of the child. I train chil-
dren for the stage, you know, me
and my sister, Ada Dyer; you ’ve
heard of her, I guess. The courts
pay us for her keep, but it is n't
much, and I ’m expecting to get

25







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

what I spent on her from what she
makes on the stage. Two of them
other children are my pupils; but
they can’t touch Madie. She is a
better dancer an’ singer than any of
them. If it had n’t been for the
Society keeping her back, she would
have been on the stage two years
ago. She ’s great, she is. She "il
be just as good as her mother

@ was.”’

2 Van Bibber gave a little start, and
winced visibly, but turned it off into
«4° a cough... And her ‘father,”’ he
‘(7 said hesitatingly, ‘‘ does he—”’

‘* Her father,’’ said the woman,
tossing back her head, ‘‘ he looks
after himself, he does. We don’t
ask no favors of him. She ’Il
get along without him or his folks,
thank you. Call him a gentleman ?
Nice gentleman he is!’’ Then
she stopped abruptly. ‘‘I guess,
though, you know him,’’ she added.
‘‘ Perhaps he’s a friend of yourn ?”’

26













HER FIRST APPEARANCE

‘‘T just know him,’’ said Van
Bibber, wearily.

He sat with the child asleep beside
him while the woman turned to the
others and dressed them for the third

. act. She explained that Madie

would not appear in the last act,
only the two larger girls, so she let
her sleep, with the cape of Van
Bibber’s cloak around her.

Van Bibber sat there for several
long minutes thinking, and then
looked up quickly, and dropped his
eyes again as quickly, and said, with
an effort to speak quietly and un-
concernedly: ‘‘ If the little girl is
not on in this act, would you mind
if I took her home? Ihave a cab
at the stage door, and she ’s so
sleepy it seems a pity to keep her
up. The sister you spoke of or
some one could put her to bed.”’

‘“-VYes,’’ the woman said, doubt-
fully, ‘‘ Ada’s home. Yes, you can
take her around, if you want to.”’

27





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

She gave him the address, and he
sprang down to the floor, and gath-
ered the child up in his arms and
stepped out on the stage. The
prima donna had the centre of it to
herself at that moment, and all the
rest of the company were waiting to
go on; but when they saw the little
‘ girl in Van Bibber’s arms they made
a rush at her, and the girls leaned
over and kissed her with a great
show of rapture and with many gasps
of delight.

‘‘Don’t,’’ said Van Bibber, he
could not tell just why. ‘‘ Don’t.’’

‘‘ Why not ?’’ asked one of the
girls, looking up at him sharply.

‘* She was asleep; you ve wakened
her,’’ he said, gently.

But he knew that was not the
reason. He stepped into the cab at
II \j ~the stage entrance, and put the child

—~!\W \ carefully down inonecorner. Then {





| he looked back over his shoulder to
| see that there was no one near enough







5 HER FIRST APPEARANCE

to hear him, and said to the driver,
‘“To the Berkeley Flats, on Fifth
Avenue.’’ He picked the child up
gently in his arms as the carriage
started, and sat looking out thought-
fully and anxiously as they flashed
past the lighted shop-windows on
Broadway. He was far from certain
of this errand, and nervous with
doubt, but he reassured himself that
he was acting on impulse, and that
his impulses were so often good.
The hall-boy at the Berkeley said,
yes, Mr. Caruthers was in, and Van
Bibber gave a quick sigh of relief.
He took this as an omen that his
impulse was a good one. The young
English servant who opened the hall
door to Mr. Caruthers’s apartment
suppressed his surprise with an ef-
fort, and watched Van Bibber with
alarm as he laid the child on the
divan in the hall, and pulled a cov-
ert coat from the rack to throw over
her.

29




















AER FIRST APPEARANCE

‘‘ Just say Mr. Van Bibber would
like to see him,’’ he said, ‘‘ and you
need not speak of the little girl hav-
ing come with me.’’

She was still sleeping, and Van
Bibber turned down the light in the
hall, and. stood looking down at her
gravely while the servant went to
speak to his master.

*‘ Will you come this way, please,
sir ?’’ he said.

‘Vou had better stay out here,’’
said Van Bibber, ‘‘ and come and
tell me if she wakes.”’

Mr. Caruthers was standing by the
mantel over the empty fireplace,
wrapped in a long, loose dressing-
gown which he was tying around
him as Van Bibber entered. He
was partly undressed, and had been
just on the point of getting into bed.
Mr. Caruthers was a tall, handsome
man, with dark reddish hair, turning
below the temples into gray; his
mustache was quite white, and his

ig
‘ UU P I
——=—"

|





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

eyes and face showed the signs of
either dissipation or of great trouble,
or of both. But even in the form-
less dressing-gown he had the look
and the confident bearing of a gentle-
\ man, or, at least, of the man of the
world. The room was very rich-
looking, and was filled with the
medley of a man’s choice of good
paintings and fine china, and papered
with irregular rows of original draw-
ings and signed etchings. The win-
dows were open, and the lights were
turned very low, so that Van Bibber
could see the many gas lamps and
the dark roofs of Broadway and the
Avenue where they crossed a few
blocks off, and the bunches of light
on the Madison Square Garden, and
to the lights on the boats of the East
River. From below in the streets
came the rattle of hurrying omni-
buses and the rush of the hansom
cabs. If Mr. Caruthers was surprised
at this late visit, he hid it, and came

31



ala an datos re ET TS





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

forward to receive his caller as if his
presence were expected.

‘‘ Excuse my costume, will you ?”’
he said. ‘‘ I turned in rather early
to-night, it was so hot.’’ He pointed
to a decanter and some soda bottles
on the table and a bowl of ice, and
asked, ‘‘ Will you have some of
this ?’’ And while he opened one
of the bottles, he watched Van Bib-
ber’s face as though he were curious
to have him explain the object of his
visit.

‘No, I think not, thank you,”’
said the younger man. He touched
his forehead with his handkerchief
nervously. ‘‘ Yes, it is hot,’’ he
said.

Mr. Caruthers filled a glass with
ice and brandy and soda, and walked
back to his place by the mantel, on
which he rested his arm, while he
clinked the ice in the glass and
looked down into it.

‘‘T was at the first night of ‘ The

32










HER FIRST APPEARANCE

Sultana’ this evening,’ said Van
Bibber, slowly and uncertainly.

‘‘ Oh, yes,’’ assented the elder
man, politely, and tasting his drink.
‘‘ Lester’s new piece. Was it any
good ?”’

‘«T don’t know,’’ said Van Bibber.
‘Ves, I think it was. I did n't see
it from the front. There were a lot
of children in it—little ones; they
danced and sang, and made a great
hit. One of them had never been
on the stage before. It was her
first appearance.”’

He was turning one of the glasses
around between his fingers as he
spoke. He stopped, and poured
out some of the soda, and drank it
down in a gulp, and then continued
turning the empty glass between the

“i

tips of his fingers. I
“‘ It seems to me,’’ he said, ‘* that Wy
it is a great pity.’’ He looked up#









HER FIRST APPEARANCE

any returning show of interest. “I
say,’’ repeated Van Bibber—‘‘ I say
it seems a pity that a child like that
should be allowed to go on in that
business. A grown woman can go
into it with her eyes open, or a girl
who has had decent training can too.
But it’s different with achild. She
has no choice in the matter; they
don’t ask her permission; and she
is n’t old enough to know what it
means; and she gets used to it and
fond of it before she grows to know
what the danger is. And then it’s
too late. It seemed to me that if
there was any one who had a right
to stop it, it would be a very good
thing to let that person know about
her—about this child, I mean; the
one who made the hit—before it was
too late. It seems to me a respon-
sibility I would n’t care to take my-
self. I would n’t care to think that
I had the chance to stop it, and had
let the chance go by. You know

34









HER FIRST APPEARANCE

what the life is, and what the tempta-
tion a woman—” Van Bibber.stopped
with a gasp of concern, and added,
hurriedly, ‘‘ I mean we all know—
every man knows.”’

Mr. Caruthers was looking at him
with his lips pressed closely together,
and his eyebrows drawn into the
shape of the letter V. He leaned
forward, and looked at Van Bibber
intently.

““ What is all this about ?’’ he
asked. ‘‘ Did you come here, Mr.
Van Bibber, simply to tell me this ?
What have you to do with it ? What
have Ito do withit ? Why did you
come ?’”’

‘* Because of the child.”’

** What child ?”’

“Your child,’’ said Van Bibber.

Young Van Bibber was quite pre-
pared for an outbreak of some sort,
and mentally braced himself to re-
ceive it. Herapidly assured himself
that this man had every reason to be

35






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ED oaaerapatt Sa ieee NUD Sree Te hem itiell gureim ep Midn ttle LVI ng teem MS

5 i
° rods.

aa ght Sagat were
BD oe we oe

a
@











HER FIRST APPEARANCE

angry, and that he, if he meant to
accomplish anything, had every
reason to be considerate and pa-
\ tient. So he faced Mr. Caruthers
YY with shoulders squared, as though it
were a physical shock he had to
stand against, and in consequence
he was quite unprepared for what
followed. For Mr. Caruthers raised
his face without a trace of feeling in
it, and, with his eyes still fixed on
the glass in his hand, set it carefully
down on the mantel beside him, and
girded himself about with the rope
of his robe. When he spoke, it was
in a tone of quiet politeness.

‘“Mr. Van Bibber,’’ he began,
‘* you are a very brave young man.
You have dared to say to me what
those who are my best friends—what
even my own family—would not care
to say. They are afraid it might
hurt me, I suppose. They have
some absurd regard for my feelings;
they hesitate to touch upona subject







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

which in no way concerns them,
and which they know must be very
painful to me. But you have the
courage of your convictions; you
have no compunctions about tearing
open old wounds; and you come
here, unasked and uninvited, to let
me know what you think of my con-
duct, to let me understand that it
does not agree with your own ideas
of what I ought to do, and to tell
me how I, who am old enough to be
your father, should behave. You
have rushed in where angels fear to
tread, Mr. Van Bibber, to show me
the error of my ways. I suppose I
ought to thank you for it; but I
have always said that it is not the
wicked people who are to be feared
in this world, or who do the most
harm. We know them; we can
prepare for them, and checkmate
them. It is the well-meaning fool
who makes all the trouble. For no
one knows him until he discloses

37







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

himself, and the mischief is done be-
fore he can be stopped. I think, if
you will allow me to say so, that you
have demonstrated my theory pretty
thoroughly, and have done about as
much needless harm for one evening
as you can possibly wish. And so,
if you will excuse me,” he continued,
sternly, and moving from his place,
‘* I will ask to say good-night, and
will request of you that you grow
older and wiser and much more con-
siderate before you come to see me
again.”’

Van Bibber had flushed at Mr.
Caruthers’s first words, and had
then grown somewhat pale, and
straightened himself visibly. He
did not move when the elder man
had finished, but cleared his throat,
and then spoke with some little diffi-
culty. ‘‘It is very easy to call a
man a fool,’’ he said, slowly, ‘‘ but
it is much harder to be called a fool
and not to throw the other man out

38












HER FIRST APPEARANCE



of the window. But that, you see,
would not do any good, and I have
something to say to you first. Iam
quite clear in my own mind as to my
position, and I am not going to allow

anything you have said or can say to
annoy me much until I am through. \



There will be time enough to resent
it then. Iam quite well aware that I
did an unconventional thing in com-
ing here—a bold thing or a foolish
thing, as you choose—but the situ-
ation is pretty bad, and I did as I
would have wished to be done by if I
had had a child going to the devil and
did n’t know it. Ishould have been
glad to learn of it even from a
stranger. However,” he said, smiling
grimly, and pulling his cape about
him,‘‘there are other kindly disposed
people in the world besides fathers.
There is an aunt, perhaps, or an uncle
or two; and sometimes, even to-day,
there is the chance Samaritan.”
Van Bibber picked up his high hat

39















HER FIRST APPEARANCE

from the table, looked into it criti-
cally, and settled it on his head.
‘“‘ Good-night,’’ he said, and walked
slowly towards the door. He had
his hand on the knob, when Mr.
Caruthers raised his head.

‘‘ Wait just one minute, please,
Mr. Van Bibber ?’’ asked Mr. Car-
uthers.

Van Bibber stopped with a prompt
obedience which would have led one
to conclude that he might have put
on his hat only to precipitate matters.

‘‘ Before you go,’’ said Mr. Car-
uthers, grudgingly, ‘‘ I want to say
—I want you to understand my posi-
tion.”’

‘* Oh, that ’s all right,’’ said Van
Bibber, lightly, opening the door.

‘* No, it is not all right. One mo-
ment, please. I do not intend that
you shall go away from here with

z= the idea that you have tried to do
- me a service, and that I have been

unable to appreciate it, and that you















HER FIRST APPEARANCE

are a much-abused and much-misun-
derstood young man. Since you have
done me the honor to make my af-
fairs your business, I would prefer that
you should understand them fully.
I do not care to have you discuss my
conduct at clubs and afternoon teas
with young women until you—’’

Van Bibber drew in his breath
sharply, with a peculiar whistling
sound, and opened and shut his
hands. ‘‘ Oh, I would n’t say that
if I were you,’’ he said, simply.

‘‘T beg your pardon,”’ the older
man said, quickly. ‘‘ That was a
mistake. Iwas wrong. I beg your
pardon. But you have tried me
very sorely. You have intruded
upon a private trouble that you
ought to know must be very painful
to me. But I believe you meant
well. I'know you to be a gentle-
man, and I am willing to think you
acted on impulse, and that you will
see to-morrow what a mistake you

4





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

have made. It is not a thing I talk
about; I do not speak of it to my
friends, and they are far too consid-
erate to speak of it tome. But you
have put me on the defensive. You
have made me out more or less of a
brute, and I don’t intend to be so
far misunderstood. There are two
sides to every story, and there is
something to be said about this,
even for me.”’

He walked back to his place beside
the mantel, and put his shoulders
against it, and faced Van Bibber,
with his fingers twisted in the cord
around his waist.

““When I married,’’ said Mr.
Caruthers, ‘‘I did so against the
wishes of my people and the advice
of all my friends. You know all
about that. God help us! who
does n’t'?’’ he added, bitterly. “‘ It
was very rich, rare reading for you
and for every one else who saw the
daily papers, and we gave them all







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

they wanted of it. I took her out
of that life and married her because
I believed she was as good a woman
as any of those who had never had
to work for their living, and I was
bound that my friends and your
friends should recognize her and re-
spect her as my wife had a right to
be respected; and I took her abroad
that I might give all you sensitive,
fine people a chance to get used to
the idea of being polite to a woman
who had once been a burlesque
actress. It began over there in
Paris. What I went through then
no one knows; but when I came
back—and I would never have come
back if she had not made me—it was
my friends I had to consider, and
not her. It was in the blood; it
was in the life she had led, and in.
the life men like you and me had
' taught her to live. And it had to
come out.”’

The muscles of Mr. Caruthers’s

43









ES NS : a
FS son Ss CSR

g \

NATE
WY) N

HER FIRST APPEARANCE

face were moving, and beyond his
control; but Van Bibber did not see

this, for he was looking intently out \
of the window, over the roofs of the

city.

‘« She had every chance when she
married me that a woman ever had,”’
continued the older man. ‘“‘ It only
depended on herself. I did n’t try
to make a housewife of her or a
drudge. She had all the healthy
excitement and all the money she
wanted, and she had a home here
ready for her whenever she was tired

ron ee

SG poat
ae

>

LSS

>
=

~<

° of travelling about and wished to
settle down. And I was—and a
| ! husband that loved her as—she had
Tr everything—everything that a man’s

: whole thought and love and money

could bring to her. And you know
what she did.”’

© He looked at Van -Bibber, but Van

? Bibber’s eyes were still turned to-

wards the open window and the





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

‘* And after the divorce—and she
was free to go where she pleased,
and to live as she pleased and with

whom she pleased, without bringing ;
disgrace on a husband who honestly
loved her—I swore to my God that
I would never see her nor her child
not even when she died. I loved

again. And I never saw her again,
the mother, and she deceived me
and disgraced me and broke my
heart, and I only wish she had killed
me; and I was beginning to love her
child, and I vowed she should not
live to trick me too. I had suffered
as no man I know had suffered; in

a way a boy like you cannot under-
stand, and that no one can under-

stand who has not gone to hell and
been forced to live after it. -And
was I to go through that again?
Was I to love and care for and wor- s



ship this child, and have her grow
up with all her mother’s vanity and
animal nature, and have her turn on

45







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

me some day and show me that what
is bred in the bone must tell, and
that I was a fool again—a pitiful
fond fool ? I could not trust her. I
can never trust any woman or child
again, and least of all that woman’s
child. She is as dead to me as
though she were buried with her
mother, and it is nothing to me
what she is or what her life is. I
know in time what it will be. She
has begun earlier than I had sup-
posed, that is all; but she is nothing
to me.’’ The man stopped and
turned his back to Van Bibber, and
hid his head in his hands, with his
elbows on the mantelpiece. “‘ Icare
too much,’’ he said. ‘‘ I cannot let
it mean anything to me; when I do
care, it means so much more to me
than to other men. They may pre.
tend to laugh and to forget and to
outgrow it, but it is not so with
me. Itmeanstoo much.’’ He took
a quick stride towards one of the

46










HER FIRST APPEARANCE

arm-chairs, and threw himself into it.
‘“ Why, man,”’ he cried, “‘ I loved
that child’s mother to the day of her
death. I loved that woman then,
and, God help me! I love that
woman still.’’

He covered his face with his hands,
and sat leaning forward and breath-
ing heavily as he rocked himself to
and fro. Van Bibber still stood
looking gravely out at the lights that
picketed the black surface of the city.
He was to all appearances as un-
moved by the outburst of feeling
into which the older man had been
surprised as though it had been
something ina play. There was an
unbroken silence for a moment, and
then it was Van Bibber who was the
first to speak.

‘‘T came here, as you say, on im-
pulse,’’ he said; ‘‘ but I am glad I
came, for I have your decisive an-
swer now about the little girl. I
have been thinking,’’ he continued,











HER FIRST APPEARANCE

slowly, ‘‘ since you have been speak-
ing, and before, when I first saw her
dancing in front of the footlights,
when I did not know who she was,
that I could give up a horse or two,
if necessary, and support this child
instead. Children are worth more
than horses, and a man who saves a
soul, as it says ’’’—he flushed slightly,
and looked up with a hesitating, dep-
recatory smile—‘‘ somewhere, wipes
out a multitude of sins. And it may
be I'd like to try and get rid of some
of mine. I know just where to send
her; I know the very place. It ’s
down in Evergreen Bay, on Long
Island. ‘They are tenants of mine
there, and very nice farm sort of
people, who will be very good to
her. They would n’t know any-
thing about her, and she 'd forget
what little she knows of this present
life very soon, and grow up with the
other children to be one of them;
and then, when she gets older and

48





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

becomes a young lady, she could go
to some school—but that’s a bit too
far ahead to plan for the present;
but that ’s what I am going to do,
though,”’ said the young man, con-
fidently, and as though speaking to
himself. ‘‘ That theatrical boarding-
house person could be bought off
easily enough,’’ he went on, quickly,
“and Lester won’t mind letting her
go if I ask it, -and—and that ’s what
Ill do. As you say, it ’s a good
deal of an experiment, but I think
I ’ll run the risk.”’

He walked quickly to the door and
disappeared in the hall, and then
came back, kicking the door open as
he returned, and holding the child
in his arms.

“This is she,’’ he said, quietly.
He did not look at or notice the
father, but stood, with the child
asleep in the bend of his left arm,
gazing down at her. ‘‘ Thisis she,’’
he repeated; “‘ this is your child,”

D i

49





potty ee She paare pete, een aticassa tsi Pees
Si: aor. eee es BEE Be 3 Ce ce ORS st |
:

«







HER FIRST APPEARANCE




There was something cold and
satisfied in Van Bibber’s tone and
manner, as though he were con-
gratulating himself upon the engag-
ing of a new groom; something that
placed the father entirely outside of
it. He might have been a disinter-
ested looker-on.

‘* She will need to be fed a bit,”’
Van Bibber ran on, cheerfully.
‘‘ They did not treat her very well,
Ifancy. She is thin and peaked and
tired-looking.’” He drew up the
loose sleeve of her jacket, and
showed the bare forearm to the light.
He put his thumb and little finger
about it, and closed them on it
gently. ‘‘ It is very thin,’’ he said.
‘* And under her eyes, if it were not
for the paint,’’ he went on, merci-
lessly, ‘‘ you could see how deep the
lines are. This red spot on her
cheek,’’ he said, gravely, ‘‘ is where
Mary Vane kissed her to-night, and
this is where Alma Stantley kissed

50































HER FIRST APPEARANCE

her, and that Lee girl. You have
heard of them, perhaps. They will
never kiss her again. She is going
to grow up a sweet, fine, beautiful
woman—are you not?’ he said,
gently drawing the child higher up
on his shoulder, until her face
touched his, and still keeping his
eyes from the face of the older man.
“‘She does not look like her mother,”’
he said; ‘‘ she has her father’s auburn
hair and straight nose and finer-cut
lips and chin. She looks very much
like her father. It seems a pity,”
he added, abruptly. ‘‘ She will grow
up,’ he went on, ‘‘ without know-
ing him, or who he is—or was, if he
should die. She will never speak
with him, or see him, or take his
hand. She may pass him some day
on the street and will not know him,
and he will not know her, but she
will grow to be very fond and to be
very grateful to the simple, kind-
hearted old people who will have

51





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

cared for her when she was a little
girl.’’

The child in his arms stirred,
shivered slightly, and awoke. The
two men watched her breathlessly,
> with silent intentness. She raised
her head and stared around the un-
familiar room doubtfully, then turned
to where her father stood, looking
| at him a moment, and passed him
by; and then, looking up into Van
Bibber’s face, recognized him, and
gave a gentle, sleepy smile, and, with
a sigh of content and confidence,
drew: her arm up closer around his
neck, and let her head fall back upon
his breast.

The father sprang to his feet with
a quick, jealous gasp of pain. ‘‘ Give
her to me !”’ he said, fiercely, under
his breath, snatching her out of Van
Bibber’s arms. ‘‘ She is mine; give
her to me!’

Van Bibber closed the door gently
behind him, and went jumping down

52









HER FIRST APPEARANCE

the winding stairs of the Berkeley
three steps at a time.

And an hour later, when the Eng-
lish servant came to his master’s
door, he found him still awake and
sitting in the dark by the open win-
dow, holding something in his arms
and looking out over the sleeping
city.

‘“James,’’ he said, ‘“‘ you can
make up a place for me here on the
lounge. Miss Caruthers, my daugh-



ter, will sleep in my room to-night.” | off
4





















Full Text

The Baldwin Library

University
mB vs
Florida



‘**CAN I SIT UP HERE BESIDE YOU?






First Hppearance

By

Richard harding Davis

Author of “Van Bibber, and Others”
“Princess Aline” etc.

ILLUSTRATED BY
C.D, GIBSON anp E. M. ASHE



NEW YORK AND LONDON

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
MCMI


Copyright, 1892, 1901, by Harper & BROTHERS.



All rights reserved.
{Uustrations

b. “*“CAN I SIT UP HERE BESIDE
ae your” . . .. . « + Frontispiece



‘““BuT HE KNEW THAT WAS NOT
J" THE REASON” . . . . . Facing p 18
if “you HAVE TRIED ME VERY

SORELY’” . . . s « 2 ft 40





her First Appearance




her First Appearance

IT was at the end of the first act
of the first night of ‘‘ The Sultana,’’
and every member of the Lester
Comic Opera Company, from Lester
himself down to the wardrobe wo-
man’s son, who would have had to
work if his mother lost her place,
was sick with anxiety.

There is perhaps only one other
place as feverish as it is behind the
scenes on the first night of a comic
opera, and that is a newspaper office
on the last night of a Presidential
campaign, when the returns are
being flashed on the canvas outside,
and the mob is howling, and the
editor-in-chief is expecting to go to
the Court of St. James if the election

ee




HER FIRST APPEARANCE

comes his way, and the office-boy is
betting his wages that it won't.
Such nights as these try men’s
souls; but Van Bibber passed the
stage-door man with as calmly polite
a nod as though the piece had been
running a hundred nights, and the
manager was thinking up souvenirs
for the one hundred and fiftieth,
\ and the prima donna had, as usual,
begun to hint for a new set of
costumes. The stage-door keeper
hesitated and was lost, and Van Bib-
ber stepped into the unsuppressed
excitement of the place with a
pleased sniff at the familiar smell of
paint and burning gas, and the dusty
odor that came from the scene-lofts
above.

For a moment he hesitated in
the cross-lights and confusion about
him, failing to recognize in their
new costumes his old acquaintances
of the company; but he saw Kripps,
the stage-manager, in the centre of




HER FIRST APPEARANCE

the stage, perspiring and in his shirt-
sleeves as always, wildly waving an
arm to some one in the flies, and
beckoning with the other to the gas-
man in the front entrance. The
stage hands were striking the scene
for the first act, and fighting with
the set for the second, and dragging
out a canvas floor of tessellated mar-
ble, and running a throne and a prac-
tical pair of steps over it, and aiming
the high quaking walls of a palace
and abuse at whoever came in their
way.

“ Now then, Van Bibber,” shouted
Kripps, with a wild glance of recog-
nition, as the white-and-black figure
came towards him, ‘‘ you know
you ’re the only man in New York
who gets behind here to-night. But
you can’t stay. Lower it, lower it,
can’t you?’’ This to the man in
the flies. ‘‘ Any other night goes,
but not this night. I can’t have it.
I— Where is the backing for the




HER FIRST APPEARANCE

centre entrance ? Didn ’t I tell you
men—”’

Van Bibber dodged two stage
hands who were steering a scene at
him, stepped over the carpet as it
unrolled, and brushed through a
group of anxious, whispering chorus
people into the quiet of the star’s
dressing-room.

The star saw him in the long mirror
before which he sat, while his dresser
tugged at his boots, and threw up
his hands desperately.

‘* Well,’’ he cried, in mock resig-
nation, ‘‘ are we in it or are we not?
Are they in their seats still or have
they fled ?”’

‘* How are you, John ?”’ said Van
Bibber to the dresser. Then he
dropped into a big arm-chair in the
corner, and got up again with a pro-
testing sigh to light his cigar between
the wires around the gas-burner.
‘Oh, it ’s going very well. I
would n’t have come around if it

6

i




HER FIRST APPEARANCE

was n’t. If the rest of it is as good
as the first act, you need n’t worry.”’

Van Bibber’s unchallenged free-
dom behind the scenes had been a
source of much comment and per-
plexity to the members of the Lester
Comic Opera Company. He had
made his first appearance there dur-
ing one hot night of the long run of
the previous summer, and had con-
tinued to be an almost nightly visitor
for several weeks. At first it was
supposed that he was backing the
piece, that he was the ‘‘ Angel,”’ as
those weak and wealthy individuals
are called who allow themselves to
be led into supplying the finances
for theatrical experiments. But as
he never peered through the curtain-
hole to count the house, nor made
frequent trips to the front of it to
look at. the box sheet, but was, on
the contrary, just as undisturbed on
arainy night as on those when the
‘* standing room only ’’ sign blocked











































HER FIRST APPEARANCE

the front entrance, this supposition
was discarded as untenable. Nor
did he show the least interest in the
prima donna, or in any of the other
pretty women of the company; he
did not know them, nor did he make
any effort to know them, and it was
not until they inquired concerning
him outside of the theatre that they
learned what a figure in the social
life of the city he really was. He
spent most of his time in Lester’s
dressing-room smoking, listening to
the reminiscences of Lester’s dresser
when Lester was on the stage; and
this seclusion and his clerical attire
of evening dress led the second
comedian to call him Lester’s father
confessor, and to suggest that he

\V came to the theatre only to take the
& \ star to task for his sins. And in this
~ the second comedian was unknow-
ingly not so very far wrong. Lester,
the comedian, and young Van Bib-
ber had known each other at the

8
































&





HER FIRST APPEARANCE

university, when Lester’s voice and
gift of mimicry had made him the
leader in the college theatricals; and
later, when he had gone upon the
stage, and had been cut off by his
family even after he had become
famous, or on account of it, Van
Bibber had gone to visit him, and
had found him as simple and sincere
and boyish as he had been in the
days of his Hasty-Pudding successes.
And Lester, for his part, had found
Van Bibber as likable as did every
one else, and welcomed his quiet
voice and youthful knowledge of the
world asa grateful relief to the bois-
terous camaraderie of his professional
acquaintances. And he allowed Van
Bibber to scold him, and to remind
him of what he owed to himself, and
to touch, even whether it hurt or
not, upon his better side. And in
time he admitted to finding his
friend’s occasional comments on
stage matters of value as coming






HER FIRST APPEARANCE

from the point of view of those who
look on at the game; and even
Kripps, the veteran, regarded him
with respect after he had told him
that he could turn a set of purple
costumes black by throwing a red
light on them. To the company,
after he came to know them, he was
gravely polite, and, to those who
knew him if they had overheard,
amusingly commonplace in his con-
versation. He understood them
better than they did themselves, and
made no mistakes. The women
smiled on him, but the men were
suspicious and shy of him until they
saw that he was quite as shy of the
women; and then they made hima
confidant, and told him all their
woes and troubles, and exhibited all
their little jealousies and ambitions,
in the innocent hope that he would
repeat what they said to Lester.
They were simple, unconventional,
light-hearted folk, and Van Bibber

Io






HER FIRST APPEARANCE

found them vastly more entertaining
and preferable to the silence of the
deserted club, where the matting
was down, and from whence the
regular hadituds had departed to the
other side or to Newport. He liked
the swing of the light, bright music
as it came to him through the open

door of the dressing-room, and the

glimpse he got of the chorus people
crowding and pushing for a quick

‘charge up the iron stairway, and

the feverish smell of oxygen in the
air, and the picturesque disorder of
Lester’s wardrobe, and the wigs and
swords, and the mysterious articles
of make-up, all mixed together on a
tray with half-finished cigars and
autograph books and newspaper
““ notices.”’

And he often wished he was clever
enough to be an artist with the talent
to paint the unconsciously graceful
groups in the sharply divided light
and shadow of the wings as he saw

II




















Xs
{ i
i





























em

HER FIRST APPEARANCE

them. The brilliantly colored, fan-
tastically clothed girls leaning against
the bare brick wall of the theatre, or
whispering together in circles, with

or reading apart and solitary, or
working at some piece of fancy-work
; as soberly as though they were ina
rocking-chair in their own flat, and
not leaning against a scene brace,
with the glare of the stage and the
applause of the house just behind
them. He liked to watch them co-
quetting with the big fireman de-
tailed from the precinct engine-house,
and clinging desperately to the cur-
tain wire, or with one of the chorus
men on the stairs, or teasing the
phlegmatic scene-shifters as they
tried to catch a minute’s sleep on a
pile of canvas. He even forgave the
prima donna’s smiling at him from
the stage, as he stood watching her
from the wings, and smiled back at
her with polite cynicism, as though


HER FIRST APPEARANCE

he did not know and she did not
know that her smiles were not for
him, but to disturb some more in-
terested one in the front row. And
so, in time, the company became so
well accustomed to him that he
moved in and about as unnoticed
as the stage-manager himself, who
prowled around hissing “ hush ”’ on
principle, even though he was the
only person who could fairly be said
to be making a noise.

The second act was on, and Lester
came off the stage and ran to the
dressing - room and beckoned vio-
lently. ‘‘ Come here,’’ he said ;
‘you ought to see this; the children
are doing their turn. You want to

ear them. They ’re great!”

Van Bibber put his cigar into a
tumbler and stepped out into the
wings. They were crowded on both
sides of the stage with the members
of the company; the girls were tip-
toeing, with their hands on the

13








HER FIRST APPEARANCE

shoulders of the men, and making
futile little leaps into the air to get
a better view, and others were resting
on one knee that those behind might
see over their shoulders. There were
over a dozen children before the
footlights, with the prima donna in
the centre. She was singing the
verses of a song, and they were fol-
lowing her movements, and joining
in the chorus with high piping voices.
They seemed entirely too much at
home and too self-conscious to please
Van Bibber; but there was one ex-
ception. The one exception was the
smallest of them, a very, very little
girl, with long auburn hair and black
eyes; such a very little girl that
every one in the house looked at her
first, and then looked at no one else.
She was apparently as unconcerned
to all about her, excepting the pretty
prima donna, as though she were by
a piano at home practising a singing
lesson. She seemed to think it was



14


HER FIRST APPEARANCE

some new sort of a game. When
the prima donna raised her arms, the
child raised hers; when the prima
donna courtesied, she stumbled into
one, and straightened herself just in
time to get the curls out of her eyes,
and to see that the prima donna was
laughing at her, and to smile cheer-
fully back as if to say, “ We are
doing our best anyway, are n’twe?”’
She had big, gentle eyes and two
wonderful dimples, and in the excite-
ment of the dancing and the singing
her eyes laughed and flashed, and
the dimples deepened and disap-
peared and reappeared again. She
was as happy and innocent looking
as though it were nine in the morn-
ing and she were playing school at
a kindergarten. From all over the,
house the women were murmuring!
\ their delight, and the men were ¢

laughing and pulling their mustaches

and nudging each other to “ look at

the littlest one.”’














HER FIRST APPEARANCE

The girls in the wings were raptur-
ous in their enthusiasm, and were
calling her absurdly extravagant
titles of endearment, and making so
much noise that Kripps stopped grin-
ning at her from the entrance, and
looked back over his shoulder as he
looked when he threatened fines and
calls for early rehearsal. And when
she had finished finally, and the
prima donna and the children ran off
together, there was a roar from the
house that went to Lester’s head like
wine, and seemed to leap clear across
the footlights and drag the children
back again.

‘“* That settles it!’’ cried Lester,
in a suppressed roar of triumph.
‘‘T knew that child would catch
them.”’

There were four encores, and then
the children and Elise Broughten,
the pretty prima donna, came off
jubilant and happy, with the Littlest
Girl’s arms full of flowers, which the




Diy BIS HFS ss



HER FIRST APPEARANCE

management had with kindly fore-
thought prepared for the prima don-
na, but which that delightful young

person and the delighted leader of

the orchestra had passed over to the

little girl.

‘‘ Well,’’ gasped Miss Broughten,
as she came up to Van Bibber laugh-
ing, and with one hand on her side
and breathing very quickly, ‘‘ will 4
you kindly tell me who is the lead-
ing woman now? Am I the prima
donna, or amI not? I wasn’t in it,
was 1?”’

‘*- Vou were not,’’ said Van Bibber.

He turned from the pretty prima
donna and hunted up the wardrobe
woman, and told her he wanted to
meet the Littlest Girl. And the
wardrobe woman, who was fluttering
wildly about, and as delighted as
though they were all her own chil-
dren, told him to come into the
property-room, where the children
were, and which had been changed
5 60
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i

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a)

aM HER FIRST APPEARANCE
“into a dressing-room that they might
Ly,

i» be by themselves. The six little
fs) girls were in six different states of

lax) dishabille, but they were too little to
py mind that, and Van Bibber was too
4 polite to observe it.

4 ‘‘ This is the little girl, sir,’’ said

the wardrobe woman, excitedly,
proud at being the means of bring-
ing together two such prominent
people. ‘‘ Her name is Madeline.
Speak to the gentleman, Madeline;
he wants to tell you what a great
big hit youse made.”’

The little girl was seated on one of
the cushions of a double throne so
high from the ground that the young
woman who was pulling off the child’s
silk stockings and putting woollen
ones on in their place did so without
stooping. The young woman looked
y \.. at Van Bibber and nodded somewhat
doubtfully and ungraciously, and
Van Bibber turned to the little girl

in preference. The young woman’s


















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H

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5
a
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a
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HER FIRST APPEARANCE

face was one of a type that was too
familiar to be pleasant.

He took the Littlest Girl’s small
hand in his and shook it solemnly,
and said, ‘‘ I am very glad to know |
you. Can I sit up here beside you,
or do you rule alone ?”’

‘Yes, ma’am—yes, sir,’’ answered
the little girl.

Van Bibber put his hands on the
arms of the throne and vaulted up
beside the girl, and pulled out the
flower in his button-hole and gave it
to her.

‘‘ Now,” prompted the wardrobe
woman, ‘‘ what do you say to the
gentleman ?”’

‘* Thank you, sir,”’ stammered the
little girl.

‘* She is not much used to gentle-
men’s society,” explained the woman
who was pulling on the stockings.

‘TI see,’’ said Van Bibber. He
did not know exactly what to say
next. And yet he wanted to talk

19


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BB RN OE or oe
3 enmmeeee te San * my + 8 te yet Mh, few of) Reo

oy ta pe VO ghee

HER FIRST APPEARANCE

to the child very much, so much
more than he generally wanted to
talk to most young women, who
showed no hesitation in talking to
him. With them he had no diffi-
culty whatsoever. There was a doll
lying on the top of a chest near them,
and he picked this up and surveyed
it critically. ‘‘ Is this your doll ?’’
he asked.

““ No,”’ said Madeline, pointing to
one of the children, who was much
taller than herself; ‘‘ it ’s ’at ’ittle
durl’s. My doll he ’s dead.”’

‘“ Dear me!’’ said Van Bibber.
He made a mental note to get a live
one in the morning, and then he said:
*“ That ’s very sad. But dead dolls
do come to life.’’

The little girl looked up at him,
and surveyed him intently and criti-
cally, and then smiled, with the
dimples showing, as much as to say
that she understood him and ap-
proved of him entirely. Van Bibber

20


HER FIRST APPEARANCE

answered this sign language by tak-
ing Madeline’s hand in his and ask-
ing her how she liked being a great
actress, and how soon she would
begin to storm because ¢hat pho-
tographer had n’t sent the proofs.
The young woman understood this,
and deigned to smile at it, but Mad-
eline yawned a very polite and
sleepy yawn, and closed her eyes.
Van Bibber moved up closer, and
she leaned over until her bare shoul-
der touched his arm, and while the
woman buttoned on her absurdly
small shoes, she let her curly head
fall on his elbow and rest there.
Any number of people had shown
confidence in Van Bibber—not in
that form exactly, but in the same
spirit—and though he was used to
being trusted, he felt a sharp thrill
of pleasure at the touch of the child’s
head on his arm, and in the warm
clasp of her fingers around his. And \
he was conscious of a keen sense of 7




HER FIRST APPEARANCE

pity and sorrow for her rising in him,
which he crushed by thinking that it
was entirely wasted, and that the
child was probably perfectly and
ignorantly happy.

‘Look at that, now,’ said the
wardrobe woman, catching sight of
the child’s closed eyelids; ‘‘ just
look at the rest of the little dears,
all that excited they can’t stand still
to get their hats on, and she just as
unconcerned as you please, and after
making the hit of the piece, too.”’

‘‘ She ’s not used to it, you see,”
said the young woman, knowingly;
‘‘she don’t know what it means.
It ’s just that much play to her.”’

This last was said with a question-
ing glance at Van Bibber, in whom
she still feared to find the disguised
agent of a Children’s Aid Society.
Van Bibber only nodded in reply,
and did not answer her, because he
found he could not very well, for he
'-was looking a long way ahead at

22












HER FIRST APPEARANCE

what the future was to bring to the
confiding little being at his side, and
thinking of the evil knowledge and
temptations that would mar the
beauty of her quaintly sweet face,
and its strange mark of gentleness
and refinement. Outside he could
hear his friend Lester shouting the
refrain of his new topical song, and
the laughter and the hand-clapping
came in through the wings and open
door, broken but tumultuous.

‘“ Does she come of professional
people ?’’ Van Bibber asked, drop-
ping into the vernacular. He spoke
softly, not so much that he might
not disturb the child, but that she
might not understand what he said.

‘““Ves,’’ the woman answered,
shortly, and bent her head to smooth
out the child’s stage dress across her
knees.

Van Bibber touched the little girl’s
head with his hand and found that
she was asleep, and so let his hand

23


NLA seo

CA DQ ALRIS WSS
he av os 2 ma - ie
a HER FIRST APPEARANCE ne
a rest there, with the curls between ors
Bey, his fingers. ‘‘ Are—are you her NS
wt mother ?’’ he asked, with a slight OR
(| inclination of his head. He felt AN
a ' quite confident she was not; at VA
Ba least, he hoped not. i}
v4 The woman shook her head. yi
m ‘No,’ she said. ‘\

‘“‘ Who is her mother ?”’

The woman looked at the sleeping
child and then up at him almost
defiantly. ‘‘Ida Clare was her
mother,’’ she said.

Van Bibber’s protecting hand left
\ the child as suddenly as though
; \ 73 something had burned it, and he
drew back so quickly that her head
slipped from his arm, and she awoke
and raised her eyes and looked up at
him questioningly. He looked back
at her with a glance of the strangest
concern and of the deepest pity.
Then he stooped and drew her to-
wards him very tenderly, put her head
back in the corner of his arm, and

24.


















HER FIRST APPEARANCE

watched her in silence while she
smiled drowsily and went to sleep
again.

‘“ And who takes care of her
now ?”’ he asked.

The woman straightened herself
and seemed relieved. She saw that
the stranger had recognized the
child’s pedigree and knew her story,
and that he was not going to com-
ment on it. ‘‘I do,’’ she said.
“After the divorce Ida came to me,”’
she said, speaking more freely. “I
used to be in her company when she
was doing ‘Aladdin,’ and then when
I left the stage and started to keep
an actors’ boarding-house, she came
to me. She lived on with us a year,
until she died, and she made me the
guardian of the child. I train chil-
dren for the stage, you know, me
and my sister, Ada Dyer; you ’ve
heard of her, I guess. The courts
pay us for her keep, but it is n't
much, and I ’m expecting to get

25




HER FIRST APPEARANCE

what I spent on her from what she
makes on the stage. Two of them
other children are my pupils; but
they can’t touch Madie. She is a
better dancer an’ singer than any of
them. If it had n’t been for the
Society keeping her back, she would
have been on the stage two years
ago. She ’s great, she is. She "il
be just as good as her mother

@ was.”’

2 Van Bibber gave a little start, and
winced visibly, but turned it off into
«4° a cough... And her ‘father,”’ he
‘(7 said hesitatingly, ‘‘ does he—”’

‘* Her father,’’ said the woman,
tossing back her head, ‘‘ he looks
after himself, he does. We don’t
ask no favors of him. She ’Il
get along without him or his folks,
thank you. Call him a gentleman ?
Nice gentleman he is!’’ Then
she stopped abruptly. ‘‘I guess,
though, you know him,’’ she added.
‘‘ Perhaps he’s a friend of yourn ?”’

26










HER FIRST APPEARANCE

‘‘T just know him,’’ said Van
Bibber, wearily.

He sat with the child asleep beside
him while the woman turned to the
others and dressed them for the third

. act. She explained that Madie

would not appear in the last act,
only the two larger girls, so she let
her sleep, with the cape of Van
Bibber’s cloak around her.

Van Bibber sat there for several
long minutes thinking, and then
looked up quickly, and dropped his
eyes again as quickly, and said, with
an effort to speak quietly and un-
concernedly: ‘‘ If the little girl is
not on in this act, would you mind
if I took her home? Ihave a cab
at the stage door, and she ’s so
sleepy it seems a pity to keep her
up. The sister you spoke of or
some one could put her to bed.”’

‘“-VYes,’’ the woman said, doubt-
fully, ‘‘ Ada’s home. Yes, you can
take her around, if you want to.”’

27


HER FIRST APPEARANCE

She gave him the address, and he
sprang down to the floor, and gath-
ered the child up in his arms and
stepped out on the stage. The
prima donna had the centre of it to
herself at that moment, and all the
rest of the company were waiting to
go on; but when they saw the little
‘ girl in Van Bibber’s arms they made
a rush at her, and the girls leaned
over and kissed her with a great
show of rapture and with many gasps
of delight.

‘‘Don’t,’’ said Van Bibber, he
could not tell just why. ‘‘ Don’t.’’

‘‘ Why not ?’’ asked one of the
girls, looking up at him sharply.

‘* She was asleep; you ve wakened
her,’’ he said, gently.

But he knew that was not the
reason. He stepped into the cab at
II \j ~the stage entrance, and put the child

—~!\W \ carefully down inonecorner. Then {





| he looked back over his shoulder to
| see that there was no one near enough




5 HER FIRST APPEARANCE

to hear him, and said to the driver,
‘“To the Berkeley Flats, on Fifth
Avenue.’’ He picked the child up
gently in his arms as the carriage
started, and sat looking out thought-
fully and anxiously as they flashed
past the lighted shop-windows on
Broadway. He was far from certain
of this errand, and nervous with
doubt, but he reassured himself that
he was acting on impulse, and that
his impulses were so often good.
The hall-boy at the Berkeley said,
yes, Mr. Caruthers was in, and Van
Bibber gave a quick sigh of relief.
He took this as an omen that his
impulse was a good one. The young
English servant who opened the hall
door to Mr. Caruthers’s apartment
suppressed his surprise with an ef-
fort, and watched Van Bibber with
alarm as he laid the child on the
divan in the hall, and pulled a cov-
ert coat from the rack to throw over
her.

29

















AER FIRST APPEARANCE

‘‘ Just say Mr. Van Bibber would
like to see him,’’ he said, ‘‘ and you
need not speak of the little girl hav-
ing come with me.’’

She was still sleeping, and Van
Bibber turned down the light in the
hall, and. stood looking down at her
gravely while the servant went to
speak to his master.

*‘ Will you come this way, please,
sir ?’’ he said.

‘Vou had better stay out here,’’
said Van Bibber, ‘‘ and come and
tell me if she wakes.”’

Mr. Caruthers was standing by the
mantel over the empty fireplace,
wrapped in a long, loose dressing-
gown which he was tying around
him as Van Bibber entered. He
was partly undressed, and had been
just on the point of getting into bed.
Mr. Caruthers was a tall, handsome
man, with dark reddish hair, turning
below the temples into gray; his
mustache was quite white, and his

ig
‘ UU P I
——=—"

|


HER FIRST APPEARANCE

eyes and face showed the signs of
either dissipation or of great trouble,
or of both. But even in the form-
less dressing-gown he had the look
and the confident bearing of a gentle-
\ man, or, at least, of the man of the
world. The room was very rich-
looking, and was filled with the
medley of a man’s choice of good
paintings and fine china, and papered
with irregular rows of original draw-
ings and signed etchings. The win-
dows were open, and the lights were
turned very low, so that Van Bibber
could see the many gas lamps and
the dark roofs of Broadway and the
Avenue where they crossed a few
blocks off, and the bunches of light
on the Madison Square Garden, and
to the lights on the boats of the East
River. From below in the streets
came the rattle of hurrying omni-
buses and the rush of the hansom
cabs. If Mr. Caruthers was surprised
at this late visit, he hid it, and came

31



ala an datos re ET TS


HER FIRST APPEARANCE

forward to receive his caller as if his
presence were expected.

‘‘ Excuse my costume, will you ?”’
he said. ‘‘ I turned in rather early
to-night, it was so hot.’’ He pointed
to a decanter and some soda bottles
on the table and a bowl of ice, and
asked, ‘‘ Will you have some of
this ?’’ And while he opened one
of the bottles, he watched Van Bib-
ber’s face as though he were curious
to have him explain the object of his
visit.

‘No, I think not, thank you,”’
said the younger man. He touched
his forehead with his handkerchief
nervously. ‘‘ Yes, it is hot,’’ he
said.

Mr. Caruthers filled a glass with
ice and brandy and soda, and walked
back to his place by the mantel, on
which he rested his arm, while he
clinked the ice in the glass and
looked down into it.

‘‘T was at the first night of ‘ The

32







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

Sultana’ this evening,’ said Van
Bibber, slowly and uncertainly.

‘‘ Oh, yes,’’ assented the elder
man, politely, and tasting his drink.
‘‘ Lester’s new piece. Was it any
good ?”’

‘«T don’t know,’’ said Van Bibber.
‘Ves, I think it was. I did n't see
it from the front. There were a lot
of children in it—little ones; they
danced and sang, and made a great
hit. One of them had never been
on the stage before. It was her
first appearance.”’

He was turning one of the glasses
around between his fingers as he
spoke. He stopped, and poured
out some of the soda, and drank it
down in a gulp, and then continued
turning the empty glass between the

“i

tips of his fingers. I
“‘ It seems to me,’’ he said, ‘* that Wy
it is a great pity.’’ He looked up#






HER FIRST APPEARANCE

any returning show of interest. “I
say,’’ repeated Van Bibber—‘‘ I say
it seems a pity that a child like that
should be allowed to go on in that
business. A grown woman can go
into it with her eyes open, or a girl
who has had decent training can too.
But it’s different with achild. She
has no choice in the matter; they
don’t ask her permission; and she
is n’t old enough to know what it
means; and she gets used to it and
fond of it before she grows to know
what the danger is. And then it’s
too late. It seemed to me that if
there was any one who had a right
to stop it, it would be a very good
thing to let that person know about
her—about this child, I mean; the
one who made the hit—before it was
too late. It seems to me a respon-
sibility I would n’t care to take my-
self. I would n’t care to think that
I had the chance to stop it, and had
let the chance go by. You know

34






HER FIRST APPEARANCE

what the life is, and what the tempta-
tion a woman—” Van Bibber.stopped
with a gasp of concern, and added,
hurriedly, ‘‘ I mean we all know—
every man knows.”’

Mr. Caruthers was looking at him
with his lips pressed closely together,
and his eyebrows drawn into the
shape of the letter V. He leaned
forward, and looked at Van Bibber
intently.

““ What is all this about ?’’ he
asked. ‘‘ Did you come here, Mr.
Van Bibber, simply to tell me this ?
What have you to do with it ? What
have Ito do withit ? Why did you
come ?’”’

‘* Because of the child.”’

** What child ?”’

“Your child,’’ said Van Bibber.

Young Van Bibber was quite pre-
pared for an outbreak of some sort,
and mentally braced himself to re-
ceive it. Herapidly assured himself
that this man had every reason to be

35






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HER FIRST APPEARANCE

angry, and that he, if he meant to
accomplish anything, had every
reason to be considerate and pa-
\ tient. So he faced Mr. Caruthers
YY with shoulders squared, as though it
were a physical shock he had to
stand against, and in consequence
he was quite unprepared for what
followed. For Mr. Caruthers raised
his face without a trace of feeling in
it, and, with his eyes still fixed on
the glass in his hand, set it carefully
down on the mantel beside him, and
girded himself about with the rope
of his robe. When he spoke, it was
in a tone of quiet politeness.

‘“Mr. Van Bibber,’’ he began,
‘* you are a very brave young man.
You have dared to say to me what
those who are my best friends—what
even my own family—would not care
to say. They are afraid it might
hurt me, I suppose. They have
some absurd regard for my feelings;
they hesitate to touch upona subject




HER FIRST APPEARANCE

which in no way concerns them,
and which they know must be very
painful to me. But you have the
courage of your convictions; you
have no compunctions about tearing
open old wounds; and you come
here, unasked and uninvited, to let
me know what you think of my con-
duct, to let me understand that it
does not agree with your own ideas
of what I ought to do, and to tell
me how I, who am old enough to be
your father, should behave. You
have rushed in where angels fear to
tread, Mr. Van Bibber, to show me
the error of my ways. I suppose I
ought to thank you for it; but I
have always said that it is not the
wicked people who are to be feared
in this world, or who do the most
harm. We know them; we can
prepare for them, and checkmate
them. It is the well-meaning fool
who makes all the trouble. For no
one knows him until he discloses

37




HER FIRST APPEARANCE

himself, and the mischief is done be-
fore he can be stopped. I think, if
you will allow me to say so, that you
have demonstrated my theory pretty
thoroughly, and have done about as
much needless harm for one evening
as you can possibly wish. And so,
if you will excuse me,” he continued,
sternly, and moving from his place,
‘* I will ask to say good-night, and
will request of you that you grow
older and wiser and much more con-
siderate before you come to see me
again.”’

Van Bibber had flushed at Mr.
Caruthers’s first words, and had
then grown somewhat pale, and
straightened himself visibly. He
did not move when the elder man
had finished, but cleared his throat,
and then spoke with some little diffi-
culty. ‘‘It is very easy to call a
man a fool,’’ he said, slowly, ‘‘ but
it is much harder to be called a fool
and not to throw the other man out

38









HER FIRST APPEARANCE



of the window. But that, you see,
would not do any good, and I have
something to say to you first. Iam
quite clear in my own mind as to my
position, and I am not going to allow

anything you have said or can say to
annoy me much until I am through. \



There will be time enough to resent
it then. Iam quite well aware that I
did an unconventional thing in com-
ing here—a bold thing or a foolish
thing, as you choose—but the situ-
ation is pretty bad, and I did as I
would have wished to be done by if I
had had a child going to the devil and
did n’t know it. Ishould have been
glad to learn of it even from a
stranger. However,” he said, smiling
grimly, and pulling his cape about
him,‘‘there are other kindly disposed
people in the world besides fathers.
There is an aunt, perhaps, or an uncle
or two; and sometimes, even to-day,
there is the chance Samaritan.”
Van Bibber picked up his high hat

39












HER FIRST APPEARANCE

from the table, looked into it criti-
cally, and settled it on his head.
‘“‘ Good-night,’’ he said, and walked
slowly towards the door. He had
his hand on the knob, when Mr.
Caruthers raised his head.

‘‘ Wait just one minute, please,
Mr. Van Bibber ?’’ asked Mr. Car-
uthers.

Van Bibber stopped with a prompt
obedience which would have led one
to conclude that he might have put
on his hat only to precipitate matters.

‘‘ Before you go,’’ said Mr. Car-
uthers, grudgingly, ‘‘ I want to say
—I want you to understand my posi-
tion.”’

‘* Oh, that ’s all right,’’ said Van
Bibber, lightly, opening the door.

‘* No, it is not all right. One mo-
ment, please. I do not intend that
you shall go away from here with

z= the idea that you have tried to do
- me a service, and that I have been

unable to appreciate it, and that you









HER FIRST APPEARANCE

are a much-abused and much-misun-
derstood young man. Since you have
done me the honor to make my af-
fairs your business, I would prefer that
you should understand them fully.
I do not care to have you discuss my
conduct at clubs and afternoon teas
with young women until you—’’

Van Bibber drew in his breath
sharply, with a peculiar whistling
sound, and opened and shut his
hands. ‘‘ Oh, I would n’t say that
if I were you,’’ he said, simply.

‘‘T beg your pardon,”’ the older
man said, quickly. ‘‘ That was a
mistake. Iwas wrong. I beg your
pardon. But you have tried me
very sorely. You have intruded
upon a private trouble that you
ought to know must be very painful
to me. But I believe you meant
well. I'know you to be a gentle-
man, and I am willing to think you
acted on impulse, and that you will
see to-morrow what a mistake you

4


HER FIRST APPEARANCE

have made. It is not a thing I talk
about; I do not speak of it to my
friends, and they are far too consid-
erate to speak of it tome. But you
have put me on the defensive. You
have made me out more or less of a
brute, and I don’t intend to be so
far misunderstood. There are two
sides to every story, and there is
something to be said about this,
even for me.”’

He walked back to his place beside
the mantel, and put his shoulders
against it, and faced Van Bibber,
with his fingers twisted in the cord
around his waist.

““When I married,’’ said Mr.
Caruthers, ‘‘I did so against the
wishes of my people and the advice
of all my friends. You know all
about that. God help us! who
does n’t'?’’ he added, bitterly. “‘ It
was very rich, rare reading for you
and for every one else who saw the
daily papers, and we gave them all




HER FIRST APPEARANCE

they wanted of it. I took her out
of that life and married her because
I believed she was as good a woman
as any of those who had never had
to work for their living, and I was
bound that my friends and your
friends should recognize her and re-
spect her as my wife had a right to
be respected; and I took her abroad
that I might give all you sensitive,
fine people a chance to get used to
the idea of being polite to a woman
who had once been a burlesque
actress. It began over there in
Paris. What I went through then
no one knows; but when I came
back—and I would never have come
back if she had not made me—it was
my friends I had to consider, and
not her. It was in the blood; it
was in the life she had led, and in.
the life men like you and me had
' taught her to live. And it had to
come out.”’

The muscles of Mr. Caruthers’s

43






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NATE
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HER FIRST APPEARANCE

face were moving, and beyond his
control; but Van Bibber did not see

this, for he was looking intently out \
of the window, over the roofs of the

city.

‘« She had every chance when she
married me that a woman ever had,”’
continued the older man. ‘“‘ It only
depended on herself. I did n’t try
to make a housewife of her or a
drudge. She had all the healthy
excitement and all the money she
wanted, and she had a home here
ready for her whenever she was tired

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° of travelling about and wished to
settle down. And I was—and a
| ! husband that loved her as—she had
Tr everything—everything that a man’s

: whole thought and love and money

could bring to her. And you know
what she did.”’

© He looked at Van -Bibber, but Van

? Bibber’s eyes were still turned to-

wards the open window and the


HER FIRST APPEARANCE

‘* And after the divorce—and she
was free to go where she pleased,
and to live as she pleased and with

whom she pleased, without bringing ;
disgrace on a husband who honestly
loved her—I swore to my God that
I would never see her nor her child
not even when she died. I loved

again. And I never saw her again,
the mother, and she deceived me
and disgraced me and broke my
heart, and I only wish she had killed
me; and I was beginning to love her
child, and I vowed she should not
live to trick me too. I had suffered
as no man I know had suffered; in

a way a boy like you cannot under-
stand, and that no one can under-

stand who has not gone to hell and
been forced to live after it. -And
was I to go through that again?
Was I to love and care for and wor- s



ship this child, and have her grow
up with all her mother’s vanity and
animal nature, and have her turn on

45




HER FIRST APPEARANCE

me some day and show me that what
is bred in the bone must tell, and
that I was a fool again—a pitiful
fond fool ? I could not trust her. I
can never trust any woman or child
again, and least of all that woman’s
child. She is as dead to me as
though she were buried with her
mother, and it is nothing to me
what she is or what her life is. I
know in time what it will be. She
has begun earlier than I had sup-
posed, that is all; but she is nothing
to me.’’ The man stopped and
turned his back to Van Bibber, and
hid his head in his hands, with his
elbows on the mantelpiece. “‘ Icare
too much,’’ he said. ‘‘ I cannot let
it mean anything to me; when I do
care, it means so much more to me
than to other men. They may pre.
tend to laugh and to forget and to
outgrow it, but it is not so with
me. Itmeanstoo much.’’ He took
a quick stride towards one of the

46







HER FIRST APPEARANCE

arm-chairs, and threw himself into it.
‘“ Why, man,”’ he cried, “‘ I loved
that child’s mother to the day of her
death. I loved that woman then,
and, God help me! I love that
woman still.’’

He covered his face with his hands,
and sat leaning forward and breath-
ing heavily as he rocked himself to
and fro. Van Bibber still stood
looking gravely out at the lights that
picketed the black surface of the city.
He was to all appearances as un-
moved by the outburst of feeling
into which the older man had been
surprised as though it had been
something ina play. There was an
unbroken silence for a moment, and
then it was Van Bibber who was the
first to speak.

‘‘T came here, as you say, on im-
pulse,’’ he said; ‘‘ but I am glad I
came, for I have your decisive an-
swer now about the little girl. I
have been thinking,’’ he continued,








HER FIRST APPEARANCE

slowly, ‘‘ since you have been speak-
ing, and before, when I first saw her
dancing in front of the footlights,
when I did not know who she was,
that I could give up a horse or two,
if necessary, and support this child
instead. Children are worth more
than horses, and a man who saves a
soul, as it says ’’’—he flushed slightly,
and looked up with a hesitating, dep-
recatory smile—‘‘ somewhere, wipes
out a multitude of sins. And it may
be I'd like to try and get rid of some
of mine. I know just where to send
her; I know the very place. It ’s
down in Evergreen Bay, on Long
Island. ‘They are tenants of mine
there, and very nice farm sort of
people, who will be very good to
her. They would n’t know any-
thing about her, and she 'd forget
what little she knows of this present
life very soon, and grow up with the
other children to be one of them;
and then, when she gets older and

48


HER FIRST APPEARANCE

becomes a young lady, she could go
to some school—but that’s a bit too
far ahead to plan for the present;
but that ’s what I am going to do,
though,”’ said the young man, con-
fidently, and as though speaking to
himself. ‘‘ That theatrical boarding-
house person could be bought off
easily enough,’’ he went on, quickly,
“and Lester won’t mind letting her
go if I ask it, -and—and that ’s what
Ill do. As you say, it ’s a good
deal of an experiment, but I think
I ’ll run the risk.”’

He walked quickly to the door and
disappeared in the hall, and then
came back, kicking the door open as
he returned, and holding the child
in his arms.

“This is she,’’ he said, quietly.
He did not look at or notice the
father, but stood, with the child
asleep in the bend of his left arm,
gazing down at her. ‘‘ Thisis she,’’
he repeated; “‘ this is your child,”

D i

49


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«







HER FIRST APPEARANCE




There was something cold and
satisfied in Van Bibber’s tone and
manner, as though he were con-
gratulating himself upon the engag-
ing of a new groom; something that
placed the father entirely outside of
it. He might have been a disinter-
ested looker-on.

‘* She will need to be fed a bit,”’
Van Bibber ran on, cheerfully.
‘‘ They did not treat her very well,
Ifancy. She is thin and peaked and
tired-looking.’” He drew up the
loose sleeve of her jacket, and
showed the bare forearm to the light.
He put his thumb and little finger
about it, and closed them on it
gently. ‘‘ It is very thin,’’ he said.
‘* And under her eyes, if it were not
for the paint,’’ he went on, merci-
lessly, ‘‘ you could see how deep the
lines are. This red spot on her
cheek,’’ he said, gravely, ‘‘ is where
Mary Vane kissed her to-night, and
this is where Alma Stantley kissed

50




























HER FIRST APPEARANCE

her, and that Lee girl. You have
heard of them, perhaps. They will
never kiss her again. She is going
to grow up a sweet, fine, beautiful
woman—are you not?’ he said,
gently drawing the child higher up
on his shoulder, until her face
touched his, and still keeping his
eyes from the face of the older man.
“‘She does not look like her mother,”’
he said; ‘‘ she has her father’s auburn
hair and straight nose and finer-cut
lips and chin. She looks very much
like her father. It seems a pity,”
he added, abruptly. ‘‘ She will grow
up,’ he went on, ‘‘ without know-
ing him, or who he is—or was, if he
should die. She will never speak
with him, or see him, or take his
hand. She may pass him some day
on the street and will not know him,
and he will not know her, but she
will grow to be very fond and to be
very grateful to the simple, kind-
hearted old people who will have

51


HER FIRST APPEARANCE

cared for her when she was a little
girl.’’

The child in his arms stirred,
shivered slightly, and awoke. The
two men watched her breathlessly,
> with silent intentness. She raised
her head and stared around the un-
familiar room doubtfully, then turned
to where her father stood, looking
| at him a moment, and passed him
by; and then, looking up into Van
Bibber’s face, recognized him, and
gave a gentle, sleepy smile, and, with
a sigh of content and confidence,
drew: her arm up closer around his
neck, and let her head fall back upon
his breast.

The father sprang to his feet with
a quick, jealous gasp of pain. ‘‘ Give
her to me !”’ he said, fiercely, under
his breath, snatching her out of Van
Bibber’s arms. ‘‘ She is mine; give
her to me!’

Van Bibber closed the door gently
behind him, and went jumping down

52






HER FIRST APPEARANCE

the winding stairs of the Berkeley
three steps at a time.

And an hour later, when the Eng-
lish servant came to his master’s
door, he found him still awake and
sitting in the dark by the open win-
dow, holding something in his arms
and looking out over the sleeping
city.

‘“James,’’ he said, ‘“‘ you can
make up a place for me here on the
lounge. Miss Caruthers, my daugh-



ter, will sleep in my room to-night.” | off
4