Page:The Intrusion of Jimmy.djvu/199

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Spike's jaw had fallen.

"Put dem back, boss!" he faltered.

"Every single one of them."

"Boss!" said Spike, plaintively.

"Remember. Every single one of them, just where it belongs. See?"

"Very well, boss."

The dejection in his voice would have moved the sternest to pity. Gloom had enveloped Spike's spirit. The sunlight had gone out of his life.

It had also gone out of the lives of a good many other people at the castle. This was mainly due to the growing shadow of the day of the theatricals.

For pure discomfort, there are few things in the world that can compete with the final rehearsals of an amateur theatrical performance at a country-house. Every day, the atmosphere becomes more heavily charged with restlessness and depression. The producer of the piece, especially if he be also the author of it, develops a sort of intermittent insanity. He plucks at his mustache, if he has one: at his hair, if he has not. He mutters to himself. He gives vent to occasional despairing cries. The soothing suavity that marked his demeanor in the earlier rehearsals disappears. He no longer says with a winning smile, "Splendid, old man, splendid. Couldn't be better. But I think we'll take that over just once more, if you don't mind." Instead, he rolls his eyes, and snaps out, "Once more, please. This'll never