"Nonsense, Mac. Where Is your theatre? Come along. We'll have to try and get a taxi!"
"They're sending a car at ten to nine, my dear!"
"Good gracious! what swells we are! And it's half-past eight already! Who is on the bill with you?"
"My dear, I haven't an idea... I'm not very well up in the London programmes' I'm afraid... but it is sure to be a good programme. The Palaceum is the only house that's had the courage to break away from this rotten revue craze!"
Barbara was in the hall now, her arms plunged to the shoulder in a great basket trunk that smelt faintly of cocoa-butter. Right and left she flung coats and hats and trousers and band parts, selecting with a sure eye the properties which Mr. Mackwayte would require for the sketches he would play that evening. In the middle of it all the throbbing of a car echoed down the quiet road outside. Then there came a ring at the front door.
* * * * **
At half-past nine that night, Barbara found herself standing beside her father in the wings of the vast Palaceum stage. Just at her back was the little screened-off recess where Mr. Mackwayte was to make the quick changes that came in the course of his turn. Here, since her arrival in the theatre, Barbara had been busy laying out coats and hats and rigs and grease-paints on the little table below the mirror with its two brilliant electric bulbs, whilst Mr. Mackwayte was in his dressing-room upstairs changing into his first costume.
Now, old Mackwayte stood at her elbow in his rig-out as an old London bus-driver in the identical, characteristic clothes which he had worn for this turn for the past 25 years. He was far too old a hand to show any nervousness he might feel at the ordeal before him. He was chatting in undertones in his gentle, confidential way to the stage manager.