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Chapter I.6
"I HOPE Miss Vanstone knows her part?" whispered Mrs. Marrable, anxiously
addressing herself to Miss Garth, in a corner of the theater.
"If airs and graces make an actress, ma'am, Magdalen's performance will
astonish us all." With that reply, Miss Garth took out her work, and seated
herself, on guard, in the center of the pit.
The manager perched himself, book in hand, on a stool close in front of the
stage. He was an active little man, of a sweet and cheerful temper; and he gave
the signal to begin with as patient an interest in the proceedings as if they had
caused him no trouble in the past and promised him no difficulty in the future.
The two characters which opened the comedy of The Rivals, "Fag" and "The
Coachman," appeared on the scene -- looked many sizes too tall for their canvas
background, which represented a "Street in Bath" -- exhibited the customary
inability to manage their own arms, legs, and voices -- went out severally at the
wrong exits -- and expressed their perfect approval of results, so far, by laughing
heartily behind the scenes. "Silence, gentlemen, if you please," remonstrated the
cheerful manager. "As loud as you like on the stage, but the audience mustn't
hear you off it. Miss Marrable ready? Miss Vanstone ready? Easy there with the
'Street in Bath'; it's going up crooked! Face this way, Miss Marrable; full face, if
you please. Miss Vanstone -- " he checked himself suddenly. "Curious," he said,
under his breath -- "she fronts the audience of her own accord!" Lucy opened the
scene in these words: "Indeed, ma'am, I traversed half the town in search of it: I
don't believe there's a circulating library in Bath I haven't been at." The manager
started in his chair. "My heart alive! she speaks out without telling!" The dialogue
went on. Lucy produced the novels for Miss Lydia Languish's private reading
from under her cloak. The manager rose excitably to his feet. Marvelous! No
hurry with the books; no dropping them. She looked at the titles before she
announced them to her mistress; she set down "Humphrey Clinker" on "The