Half a Rogue by Harold MacGrath Page 1 of 309
Half A Rogue
It was Warrington's invariable habit-when no business or social engagement pressed him to go elsewhere-to drop into a certain quaint little restaurant just off Broadway for his dinners. It was out of the way; the throb and rattle of the great commercial artery became like the far-off murmur of the sea, restful rather than annoying.
He always made it a point to dine alone, undisturbed. The proprietor nor his silent-footed waiters had the slightest idea who Warrington was. To them he was simply a profitable customer who signified that he dined there in order to be alone.
His table was up stairs. Below, there was always the usual dinner crowd till theater time; and the music had the faculty of luring his thoughts astray, being, as he was, fonder of music than of work.
As a matter of fact, it was in this little restaurant that he winnowed the day's ideas, revamped scenes, trimmed the rough edges of his climaxes, revised this epigram or rejected this or that line; all on the backs of envelopes and on the margins of newspapers. In his den at his bachelor apartments, he worked; but here he dreamed, usually behind the soothing, opalescent veil of Madame Nicotine.
What a marvelous thing a good after-dinner cigar is! In the smoke of it the poor man sees his ships come in, the poet sees his muse beckoning with hands full of largess, the millionaire reverts to his early struggles, and the lover sees his divinity in a thousand graceful poses.
To-night, however, Warrington's cigar was without magic. He was out of sorts. Things had gone wrong at the rehearsal that morning. The star had demanded the removal of certain lines which gave the leading man an opportunity to shine in the climax of the third act. He had labored a whole month over this climax, and he revolted at the thought of changing it to suit the whim of a capricious woman.