The Breaking Point
Louis Bassett was standing at the back of the theater, talking to the publicity man
of The Valley company, Fred Gregory. Bassett was calm and only slightly
interested. By the end of the first act he had realized that the star was giving a
fine performance, that she had even grown in power, and that his sentimental
memory of her was considerably dearer than the reality.
"Going like a house afire," he said, as the curtain fell.
Beside his robust physique, Gregory, the publicity man, sank into insignificance.
Even his pale spats, at which Bassett had shot a contemptuous glance, his highly
expensive tailoring, failed to make him appear more than he was, a little, dapper
man, with a pale cold eye and a rather too frequent smile. "She's the best there
is," was his comment. He hesitated, then added: "She's my sister, you know.
Naturally, for business reasons, I don't publish the relationship."
Bassett glanced at him.
"That so? Well, I'm glad she decided to come back. She's too good to bury."
But if he expected Gregory to follow the lead he was disappointed. His eyes,
blank and expressionless, were wandering over the house as the lights flashed
"This whole tour has been a triumph. She's the best there is," Gregory repeated,
"and they know it."
"Does she know it?" Bassett inquired.
"She doesn't throw any temperament, if that's what you mean. She - "
He checked himself suddenly, and stood, clutching the railing, bent forward and
staring into the audience. Bassett watched him, considerably surprised. It took a
great deal to startle a theatrical publicity man, yet here was one who looked as
though he had seen a ghost.
After a time Gregory straightened and moistened his dry lips.
"There's a man sitting down there - see here, the sixth row, next the aisle; there's
a girl in a blue dress beside him. See him? Do you know who he is?"
"Never saw him before."
For perhaps two minutes Gregory continued to stare. Then he moved over to the
side of the house and braced against the wall continued his close and anxious