Read CHAPTER VI of Iole , free online book, by Robert W. Chambers, on

Neither Lethbridge nor Harrow lately exceedingly important undergraduates at Harvard and now twin nobodies in the employment of the great Occidental Fidelity and Trust Company neither of these young men, I say, had any particular business at the New Arts Theater that afternoon.

For the play was Barnard Haw’s Attitudes, the performance was private and intensely intellectual, the admission by invitation only, and between the acts there was supposed to be a general causerie among the gifted individuals of the audience.

Why Stanley West, president of the Occidental Trust, should have presented to his two young kinsmen the tickets inscribed with his own name was a problem, unless everybody else, including the elevator boys, had politely declined the offer.

“That’s probably the case,” observed Lethbridge. “Do we go?”

“Art,” said Harrow, “will be on the loose among that audience. And if anybody can speak to anybody there, we’ll get spoken to just as if we were sitting for company, and first we know somebody will ask us what Art really is.”

“I’d like to see a place full of atmosphere,” suggested Lethbridge. “I’ve seen almost everything the Cafe Jaune, and Chinatown, and you remember that joint at Tangier? But I’ve never seen atmosphere. I don’t care how thin it is; I just want to say that I’ve seen it when the next girl throws it all over me.” And as Harrow remained timid, he added: “We won’t have to climb across the footlights and steal a curl from the author, because he’s already being sheared in England. There’s nothing to scare you.”

Normally, however, they were intensely afraid of Art except at their barbers’, and they had heard, in various ways as vague as Broad Street rumors, something concerning these gatherings of the elect at the New Arts Theater on Saturday afternoons, where unselfish reformers produced plays for Art’s sake as a rebuke to managers who declined to produce that sort of play for anybody’s sake.

“I’ll bet,” said Harrow, “that some thrifty genius sent Stanley West those tickets in a desperate endeavor to amalgamate the aristocracies of wealth and intellect! as though you could shake ’em up as you shake a cocktail! As though you’d catch your Uncle Stanley wearing his richest Burgundy flush, sitting in the orchestra and talking Arr Noovo to a young thing with cheek-bones who’d pinch him into a cocked hat for a contribution between the acts!”

“Still,” said Lethbridge, “even Art requires a wad to pay its license. Isn’t West the foxy Freddie! Do you suppose, if we go, they’ll sting us for ten?”

“They’ll probably take up a collection for the professor,” said Harrow gloomily. “Better come to the club and give the tickets to the janitor.”

“Oh, that’s putting it all over Art! If anybody with earnest eyes tries to speak to us we can call a policeman.”

“Well,” said Harrow, “on your promise to keep your mouth shut I’ll go with you. If you open it they’ll discover you’re an appraiser and I’m a broker, and then they’ll think we’re wealthy, because there’d be no other reason for our being there, and they’ll touch us both for a brace of come-ons, and ”

“Perhaps,” interrupted the other, “we’ll be fortunate enough to sit next to a peach! And as it’s the proper thing there to talk to your neighbor, the prospect er needn’t jar you.”

There was a silence as they walked up-town, which lasted until they entered their lodgings. And by that time they had concluded to go.