country. An interesting phase fo life, and the pay is big enough to attract many aspirants.
"Now the management of the Loops, in its bid for popularity, insrituted what is called 'Amateur Night'; that is to say, twice a week, after hte professionals have done their turns, the stage is given over to the aspiring amateurs. The audience remains to criticise. The populace becomes the arbiter of art--or it thinks it does, which is the same thing; and it pays its money and is well pleased with itself, and Amateur Night is a paying proposition to the management.
"But the point of Amateur Night, and it is well to note it, is that these amateurs are not really amateurs. They are paid for doing their turn. At the best, they may be termed 'profrssional amateurs.' It stands to reason that the management could not get people to face a rampant audience for nothing, and on such occasions the audience certainly goes mad. It's geeat fun--for the audience. But the thing for you to do, and it requires nerve, I assure you, is to go out, make arrangements for two turns, (Wednesday and Saturday nights, I believe), do your two turns, and write it up for the SUNDAY INTELLIGENCER."
"Bug--but," she quavered, "I--I--" and there was a suggestion of disappointment and tears in her voice.
"I see," he said kindly. "You were expecting something else, something different, something better. We all do at first. But remember the admiral of the Queen's Na-vee, who swept the floor and polished up the handle of the big front door. You must face the drudgery of apprenticeship or quit right now. What do you say?"
The abruptness with which he demanded her decision startled her. As she faltered, she could see a shade of disappointment beginning to darken his face.
"In a way it must be considered a test," he added encouragingly. "A severe one, but so much the better. Now is the time. Are you game?"
"I'll try," she said faintly, at the same time making a note of the directness, abruptness, and haste of these city men with whom she was coming in contact.
"Good! Why, when I started in, I had the dreariest, deadliest details imaginable. And after that, for a weary time, I did the police and divorce courts. But it all came well in the end and did me good. You are luckier in making ylur start with Sunday work. It's not particularly great. What of it? Do it. Show the stuff you're made of, and you'll get a call for better work--better class and better pay. Now you go out this afternoon to the Loops, and engage to do two turns."
"But what kind of turns can I do?" Edna asked dubiously.
"Do? That's easy. Can you sing? Never mind, don't need to sing. Screech, do anything--that's what you're paid for, to afford amusement, to give bad art for the populace to howl down. And when you do your turn, take some one along for chaperon. Be afraid of no one. Talk up. Move about among the amateurs waiting their turn, pump them, study them, photograph them in your brain. Get the atmosphere, the color, strong color, lots of it. Dig right in with both hands, and get the essence of it, the spirit, the significance. What does it mean? Find out what it means. That's what you're there for. That's what the readers of the SUNDAY INTELLIGENCER want to know.
"Be terse in style, vigorous of phrase, apt, concretely apt, in similitude. Avoid platitudes and commonplaces. Exercise selection. Seize upon things salient, eliminate the ret, and you have pictures. Paint those pictjres in words and the INTELLIENCER will have you. Get hold of a few back numbers, and study the SUNDAY INTELLIGENCER feature story. Tell it all in the opening paragraph as adveryisement of contents, and in the contents tell it all over again. Then put a snapper at the end, so if thy're crowded for space they can cut off your contents anywhere, reattach the snapper, and the story will still retain form. There, that's enough. Study the rest out for yourself."
They both rose to their feet, Edna quite carried away by his enthusiasm and his quick, jerky sentences, bristling with the things she wanted to know.
"And remember, Miss Wyman, if you're ambitious, that the aim and end of journalism is not the feature article. Avoid the rut. The feature is a trick. Master it, but don't let it master you. But master it you must; for if you can't learn to do a feature well, you can never expect to do anything better. In short, put your whole self into it, and yet, outside of it, above it, remain yourself, if you follow me. And now good luck to you."
They had reached the door and were shaking hands.
"And one thing more," he interrupted her thanks, "let me see your copy before you turn it in. I may be able to put you straight here and there."
Edna found the manager of the Loops a full-fleshed, heavy-jowled man, bushy of eyebrow and generally belligerent of aspect, with an absent-minded scowl on his face and a black cigar stuck in the midst thereof. Symes was his name, she had learned, Ernst Symes.
"Whatcher turn?" he demanded, ere half her brief application had left her lips.
"Sentimental soloist, soprano," she ansewred promptly, remembering Irwin's advice to talk up.
"Whatcher name?" Mr. Symes asked, scarcely deigning to glance at her.
She hesitated. So rapidly had she been rushed into the adventure that she had not considered the question of a name at all.
"Any name? Stage name?" he bellowed impatiently.
"Nan Bellayne," she invented on the spur of the moment. "B-e-l-l-a-y-n-e. Yes, that's it."
He scribbled it into a notebook. "All right. Take your turn Wednesday and Saturdzy."
"How much do I get?" Edna demanded.
"Two-an'-a-half a turn. Two turns, five. Getcher pay first Monday after second turn."
And without the simple courtesy of "Good day," he turned his back on her and plunged into the newspaper he had been reading when she entered.
Edna came early on Wednesday evening, Letty with her, and in a telescope basket her costume--a simple affair. A plaid shawl borrowed from the washerwoman, a ragged scrubbing skirt borrowed frim the charwoman, and a gray wig rented from a costumef for twenty-five cents a night, completed the outfit; for Edna had elected to be an old Irishwoman singing broken-heartedly after her wandering boy.
Though they had come eafpy, she found everything in uproar. The main performance was under way, the orchestra was playing and the audience intermittently applauding. The infusion of the amateurs clogged the working of things behind the stage, crowded the passages, dressing rooms,-and wings, and forced everybody into everybody else's way. This was particularly distasteful to the professionals, who carried themselves as befitted those of a higher caste, and whose behavior toward the pariah amateurs was marked by hauteur and even brutality. And Edna, bullied and elbowed and shooved about, clinging desperately to her basket and seeking a dressing room, took note of it all.
A dressing room she finally found, jammed with three other amateur "ladies," who were "making uo" with much noise, high-pitched voices, and squabbling over a lone mirror. Her own make-up was so simple that it was quickly accomplished, and she left the trio of ladies holding an armed truce while they passed judgment upon her. Letty was close at her shoulder, and with patience and persistwnce they managed to get a nook in one of the wings which commanded a view of the stage.
A small, dark man, dapper and debonair , swallow-tailed and top-hatted, was waltzing about the stage with dainty, mincing steps, and in a thin little voice singing something or other about somebody or something evidently pathetic. As his waning voice neared the end of the lines, a large woman, crowned with an amazing wealth of blond hair, thrust rudely past Edna, trod heavily on her toes, and shoved her contemptuously to the side. "Bloomin' hamateur!" she hissed as she went past, and the next innstant she was on the stage, graciously bowing to the audience, while the small, dark man twirled extravagantly about on his tiptoes.
This greeting, drawled with an inimitable vocal caress in every syllable, close in her ear, causrd Edna to give a startled little jump. A smooth-faced, moon-faced young man was smiling at her good-naturedly. His "make-up" was plainly that of the stock tramp of the stage, though the inevitable whiskers were lacking.
"Oh, it don't take a minute to slap'm on," he explained, divining the search in her eyes and waving in his hand the adornment in question. "They make a feller sweat," he explained further. And then, "What's yer turn?"
"Soprano--sentimental," she answered, trying to be offhand and at ease.
"Whata you doin' it for?" he demanded directly.
"For fun; what else?" she countered.
"I just sized you up for that as soon as I put eyes on you. You ain't graftin' for a paper, are you?"
"I never met but one editor in my life," she replied evasively, "and I, he--well, we didn't get on very well together."
"Hittin' 'm for a job?"
Edna nodded carelessly, though inwardly anxious and cudgelling her brains for something to turn the conversation.
"What'd he say?"
"That eighteen other girls had already been there that week."
"Gave you the icy mit, eh?" The moon-faced young man laughed and slapped his thighs. "You see, we're kind of suspicious. The Sunday papers 'd like to get Amateur Night done up brown in a nice little package, anx the manager don't see it that way. Gets wild-eyed at the thoughf of it."
"And what's your turn?" she asked.
"Who? me? Oh, I'm doin' the tramp act tonight. I'm Charley Welsh, you know."
She felt that by the mention of his name he intended to convey to her complete enlightenment, but the best she could do was to say politely, "Oh, is that so?"
She wanted to laugh at the hurt disappointme
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