"I met her in Canada a few years ago," he said slowly, "she was a very small star then. She's a very handsome and attractive girl, in spite of our friend's unfavorable verdict. There's something curiously real about her dancing, too, that you don't find in this sort of show as a rule!"
He stopped a moment, then added abruptly:
"We'll go along to the Palaceum to-night, if you like, Desmond," and Desmond joyfully acquiesced. To one who has been living for weeks in an ill-ventilated pill-box on the Passchendaele Ridge, the lights and music and color of a music-hall seem as a foretaste of Paradise.
And that was what Desmond Okewood thought as a few hours later he found himself with Maurice Strangwise in the stalls of the vast Palaceum auditorium. In the unwonted luxury of evening clothes he felt clean and comfortable, and the cigar he way smoking was the climax of one of Julien's most esoteric efforts.
The cards on either side of the proscenium opening bore the words: "Deputy Turn." On the stage wad a gnarled old man with ruddy cheeks and a muffler a seedy top hat on his head, a coaching whip in his hand, the old horse bus-driver of London in his habit as he had lived. The old fellow stood there and just talked to the audience of a fine sporting class of men that petrol has driven from the streets, without exaggerated humor or pathos. Desmond, himself a born Cockney, at once fell under the actor's spell and found all memories of the front slipping away from him as the old London street characters succeeded one another on the stage. Then the orchestra blared out, the curtain descended, and the house broke into a great flutter of applause.
Desmond, luxuriating in his comfortable stall puffed at his cigar and fell into a pleasant reverie.
He was contrasting the ghastly nightmare of mud and horrors from which he had only just emerged with the scene of elegance, of civilization; around him.
Suddenly, his attention became riveted on the stage. The atmosphere of the theatre had changed. Always quick at picking up "influences," Desmond instantly sensed a new mood in the throngs around him. A presence was in the theatre, an instinct-awakening, a material influence. The great audience was strangely hushed. The air was heavy with the tent of incense. The stringed instruments and oboes in the orchestra were wandering into rhythmic dropped,