The Tempting of Tavernake
I.12. Tavernake Blunders
Tavernake felt that he had indeed wandered into an alien world as he took his place the
following evening among the little crowd of people who were waiting outside the stage-
door of the Atlas Theatre. These were surroundings to which he was totally
unaccustomed. Two very handsome motor-cars were drawn up against the curb, and
behind them a string of electric broughams and taxicabs, proving conclusively that the
young ladies of the Atlas Theatre were popular in other than purely theatrical circles.
The handful of young men by whom Tavernake was surrounded were of a genus
unknown to him. They were all dressed exactly alike, they all seemed to breathe the same
atmosphere, to exhibit the same indifference towards the other loungers. One or two more
privileged passed in through the stage-door and disappeared. Tavernake contented
himself with standing on the edge of the curbstone, his hands thrust into the pockets of
his dark overcoat, his bowler hat, which was not quite the correct shape, slightly on the
back of his head; his serious, stolid face illuminated by the gleam from a neighboring gas
Presently, people began to emerge from the door. First of all, the musicians and a little
stream of stage hands.
Then a girl's hat appeared in the doorway, and the first of the Atlas young ladies came
out, to be claimed at once by her escort. Very soon afterwards, Beatrice arrived. She
recognized Tavernake at once and crossed over to him.
"Well?" she asked.
"You looked very nice," he said, slowly, as he led the way down the street. "Of course, I
knew about your singing, but everything else--seemed such a surprise."
"Why, I mean your dancing," he went on, "and somehow or other you looked different on
She shook her head.
"'Different' won't do for me," she persisted. "I must have something more specific."
"Well, then, you looked much prettier than I thought you were," Tavernake declared,
solemnly. "You looked exceedingly nice."
"You really thought so?" she asked, a little doubtfully.
"I really thought so. I thought you looked much nicer than any of the others."