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The Memento
by [?]

“Oh, pass the bottle. Save the glass for company. Thanks! That hits the spot. The same to you. My first drink in three months!

“Yes, Lynn, I quit the stage at the end of last season. I quit it because I was sick of the life. And especially because my heart and soul were sick of men–of the kind of men we stage people have to be up against. You know what the game is to us–it’s a fight against ’em all the way down the line from the manager who wants us to try his new motor-car to the bill-posters who want to call us by our front names.

“And the men we have to meet after the show are the worst of all. The stage-door kind, and the manager’s friends who take us to supper and show their diamonds and talk about seeing ‘Dan’ and ‘Dave’ and ‘Charlie’ for us. They’re beasts, and I hate ’em.

“I tell you, Lynn, it’s the girls like us on the stage that ought to be pitied. It’s girls from good homes that are honestly ambitious and work hard to rise in the profession, but never do get there. You hear a lot of sympathy sloshed around on chorus girls and their fifteen dollars a week. Piffle! There ain’t a sorrow in the chorus that a lobster cannot heal.

“If there’s any tears to shed, let ’em fall for the actress that gets a salary of from thirty to forty-five dollars a week for taking a leading part in a bum show. She knows she’ll never do any better; but she hangs on for years, hoping for the ‘chance’ I that never comes.

“And the fool plays we have to work in! Having another girl roll you around the stage by the hind legs in a ‘Wheelbarrow Chorus’ in a musical comedy is dignified drama compared with the idiotic things I’ve had to do in the thirty-centers.

“But what I hated most was the men–the men leering and blathering at you across tables, trying to buy you with Wuerzburger or Extra Dry, according to their estimate of your price. And the men in the audiences, clapping, yelling, snarling, crowding, writhing, gloating–like a lot of wild beasts, with their eyes fixed on you, ready to eat you up if you come in reach of their claws. Oh, how I hate ’em!

“Well, I’m not telling you much about myself, am I, Lynn?

“I had two hundred dollars saved up, and I cut the stage the first of the summer. I went over on Long Island and found the sweetest little village that ever was, called Soundport, right on the water. I was going to spend the summer there, and study up on elocution, and try to get a class in the fall. There was an old widow lady with a cottage near the beach who sometimes rented a room or two just for company, and she took me in. She had another boarder, too–the Reverend Arthur Lyle.

“Yes, he was the head-liner. You’re on, Lynn. I’ll tell you all of it in a minute. It’s only a one-act play.

“The first time he walked on, Lynn, I felt myself going; the first lines he spoke, he had me. He was different from the men in audiences. He was tall and slim, and you never heard him come in the room, but you felt him. He had a face like a picture of a knight–like one of that Round Table bunch–and a voice like a ‘cello solo. And his manners!

“Lynn, if you’d take John Drew in his best drawing-room scene and compare the two, you’d have John arrested for disturbing the peace.

“I’ll spare you the particulars; but in less than a month Arthur and I were engaged. He preached at a little one-night stand of a Methodist church. There was to be a parsonage the size of a lunch-wagon, and hens and honeysuckles when we were married. Arthur used to preach to me a good deal about Heaven, but he never could get my mind quite off those honeysuckles and hens.