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"But she ruins my work."
"No, she donít," returned the former, soothingly. "Itís only a little
fun on the side."
"It is, eh?" exclaimed the big comedian. "She killed my hand all
right. Iím not going to stand that."
"Well, wait until after the show. Wait until tomorrow. Weíll see
what we can do."
The next act, however, settled what was to be done. Carrie was
the chief feature of the play. The audience, the more it studied her,
the more it indicated its delight. Every other feature paled beside
the quaint, teasing, delightful atmosphere which Carrie
contributed while on the stage. Manager and company realised
she had made a hit.
The critics of the daily papers completed her triumph. There were
long notices in praise of the quality of the burlesque, touched with
recurrent references to Carrie. The contagious mirth of the thing
was repeatedly emphasised.
"Miss Madenda presents one of the most delightful bits of
character work ever seen on the Casino stage," observed the sage
critic of the "Sun." "It is a bit of quiet, unassuming drollery which
warms like good wine. Evidently the part was not intended to take
precedence, as Miss Madenda is not often on the stage, but the
audience, with the characteristic perversity of such bodies,
selected for itself. The little Quakeress was marked for a favourite
the moment she appeared, and thereafter easily held attention and
applause. The vagaries of fortune are indeed curious."
The critic of the "Evening World," seeking as usual to establish a
catch phrase which should "go" with the town, wound up by
advising: "If you wish to be merry, see Carrie frown."
The result was miraculous so far as Carrieís fortune was
concerned. Even during the morning she received a congratulatory
message from the manager.
"You seem to have taken the town by storm," he wrote. "This is
delightful. I am as glad for your sake as for my own."
The author also sent word.
That evening when she entered the theatre the manager had a most
pleasant greeting for her.
"Mr. Stevens," he said, referring to the author, "is preparing a
little song, which he would like you to sing next week."
"Oh, I canít sing," returned Carrie.
"It isnít anything difficult. ĎItís something that is very simple,í he
says, Ďand would suit you exactly.í"
"Of course, I wouldnít mind trying," said Carrie, archly.
"Would you mind coming to the box-office a few moments before
you dress?" observed the manager, in addition. "Thereís a little
matter I want to speak to you about."
"Certainly," replied Carrie.
In that latter place the manager produced a paper.
"Now, of course," he said, "we want to be fair with you in the
matter of salary. Your contract here only calls for thirty dollars a
week for the next three months. How would it do to make it, say,
one hundred and fifty a week and extend it for twelve months?"
"Oh, very well," said Carrie, scarcely believing her ears.
"Supposing, then, you just sign this."
Carrie looked and beheld a new contract made out like the other
one, with the exception of the new figures of salary and time.
With a hand trembling from excitement she affixed her name.
"One hundred and fifty a week!" she murmured, when she was
again alone. She found, after all-as what millionaire has not?- that
there was no realising, in consciousness, the meaning of large
sums. It was only a shimmering, glittering phrase in which lay a
world of possibilities.
Down in a third-rate Bleecker Street hotel, the brooding
Hurstwood read the dramatic item covering Carrieís success,
without at first realising who was meant. Then suddenly it came
to him and he read the whole thing over again.
"Thatís her, all right, I guess," he said.
Then he looked about upon a dingy, moth-eaten hotel lobby.