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"Well," said Drouet, whose memory for such things was not the
best, "itís about a girl who gets kidnapped by a couple of crooks-a
man and a woman that live in the slums. She had some money or
something and they wanted to get it. I donít know now how it did
"Donít you know what part I would have to take?"
"No, I donít, to tell the truth." He thought a moment. "Yes, I do,
too. Laura, thatís the thing-youíre to be Laura."
"And you canít remember what the part is like?"
"To save me, Cad, I canít," he answered. "I ought to, too; Iíve
seen the play enough. Thereís a girl in it that was stolen when she
was an infant-was picked off
the street or something-and sheís the one thatís hounded by the
two old criminals I was telling you about." He stopped with a
mouthful of pie poised on a fork before his face. "She comes very
near getting drowned-no, thatís not it. Iíll tell you what Iíll do,"
he concluded hopelessly, "Iíll get you the book. I canít remember
now for the life of me."
"Well, I donít know," said Carrie, when he had concluded, her
interest and desire to shine dramatically struggling with her
timidity for the mastery. "I might go if you thought Iíd do all
"Of course, youíll do," said Drouet, who, in his efforts to enthuse
Carrie, had interested himself. "Do you think Iíd come home here
and urge you to do something that I didnít think you would make
a success of? You can act all right. Itíll be good for you."
"When must I go?" said Carrie, reflectively.
"The first rehearsal is Friday night. Iíll get the part for you to-
"All right," said Carrie resignedly, "Iíll do it, but if I make a
failure now itís your fault."
"You wonít fail," assured Drouet. "Just act as you do around here.
Be natural. Youíre all right. Iíve often thought youíd make a
corking good actress."
"Did you really?" asked Carrie.
"Thatís right," said the drummer.
He little knew as he went out of the door that night what a secret
flame he had kindled in the bosom of the girl he left behind.
Carrie was possessed of that sympathetic, impressionable nature
which, ever in the most developed form, has been the glory of the
drama. She was created with that passivity of soul which is
always the mirror of the active world. She possessed an innate
taste for imitation and no small ability. Even without practice, she
could sometimes restore dramatic situations she had witnessed by
re-creating, before her mirror, the expressions of the various faces
taking part in the scene. She loved to modulate her voice after the
conventional manner of the distressed heroine, and repeat such
pathetic fragments as appealed most to her sympathies. Of late,
seeing the airy grace of the ingenue in several well-constructed
plays, she had been moved to secretly imitate it, and many were
the little movements and expressions of the body in which she
indulged from time to time in the privacy of her chamber. On
several occasions, when Drouet had caught her admiring herself,
as he imagined, in the mirror, she was doing nothing more than
recalling some little grace of the mouth or the eyes which she had
witnessed in another. Under his airy accusation she mistook this
for vanity and accepted the blame with a faint sense of error,
though, as a matter of fact, it was nothing more than the first
subtle outcroppings of an artistic nature, endeavouring to re-create
the perfect likeness of some phase of beauty which appealed to
her. In such feeble tendencies, be it known, such outworking of
desire to reproduce life, lies the basis of all dramatic art.
Now, when Carrie heard Drouetís laudatory opinion of her
dramatic ability, her body tingled with satisfaction. Like the flame
which welds the loosened particles into a solid mass, his words
united those floating wisps of feeling which she had felt, but
never believed, concerning her possible ability, and made them
into a gaudy shred of hope. Like all human beings, she had a
touch of vanity. She felt that she could do things if she only had a
chance. How often had she looked at the well-dressed actresses on
the stage and wondered how she would look, how delightful she
would feel if only she were in their place. The glamour, the tense
situation, the fine clothes, the applause, these had lured her until
she felt that she, too, could act-that she, too, could compel
acknowledgment of power. Now she was told that she really
could-that little things she had done about the house had made
even him feel her power. It was a delightful sensation while it