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Beschreibung des Verlags
“The trouble in my game,” he began, “is that the greatest plays can never be staged. There would be no money in them. The public demand a plot—a climax: after that the puppets cease strutting, the curtain rings down. But in life—in real life—there’s no plot. It’s just a series of anti-climaxes strung together like a patchwork quilt, until there comes the greatest anti-climax of all and the quilt is finished.”
He passed his hand through his fast-greying hair, and stared for a moment or two at the fire. The Soldier was filling his pipe; the Writer, his legs stretched in front of him, had his hands thrust deep in his trouser pockets.
“It’s one of the patches in one of the quilts that my story is about,” continued the actor thoughtfully. “Just an episode in the life of a woman—or shall I say, just the life of a woman in an episode?
“You remember that play of mine—‘John Pendlesham’s Wife’?” He turned to the Barrister, who nodded.
“Very well,” he answered. “Molly Travers was your leading lady.”
“I was out of England,” said the Soldier. “Never saw it.”
“It’s immaterial.” The Actor lit a cigarette. “The play itself has nothing to do with my story, except indirectly. But as you didn’t see it, I will just explain this much. I, of course, was John Pendlesham—Molly was my wife, and the third act constituted what, in my opinion, was the finest piece of emotional acting which that consummate actress has ever done in her career.”
The Writer nodded. “I agree. She was superb.”
“Night after night the fall of the curtain found her nearly fainting; night after night there was that breathless moment of utter silence followed by a perfect crash of applause. I am mentioning these old facts because her marvellous performance does concern my story directly—even though the play does not.
“We had been running about a month, I suppose, when my story begins. I had just come off after the third act, and was going to my dressing-room. For some reason, instead of going by the direct door which led into it from the stage, I went outside into the passage. There were some hands moving furniture or something. . . .
“I think you’ve all of you been behind at my theatre. First you come to the swing doors out of the street, inside which the watch dog sits demanding callers’ business. Then there is another door, and beyond that there are three steps down to my room. And it was just as I was opening my door on that night that I happened to look round.
“Standing at the top of the three stairs was a woman who was staring at me. I only saw her for a moment: then the watch dog intervened, and I went into my room. But I had seen her for a moment: I had seen her for long enough to get the look in her eyes.
“We get all sorts and conditions of people behind, as you’d expect—stage-struck girls, actors out of a shop, autograph hunters, beggars. And the watch dog knew my invariable rule: only personal friends and people who had made an appointment by letter were allowed inside the second door. But a rule cannot legislate for every case.