Multitude and Solitude
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Sometimes an actor hesitated for his lines, forgot a few words, or improvised others. He drew in his breath sharply, whenever this happened, it was like a false note in music, but he knew that he was the only person there who felt the discord. He found himself admiring the address of these actors they had nerve they carried on the play, though their memories were a whirl of old tags all jumbled together. It was when there was a pause in the action, through delay at an entrance, that the harrow drove over his soul; for in the silence, at the end of it, when those who wanted to cough had coughed, there sometimes came a single half-hearted clap, more damning than a hiss. At those times he longed to be on the stage crying out to the actors how much he admired them. He was shut up in his box, under cover, but they were facing the music. They were playing to a cold wall of shirt-fronts, not yet hostile, but puzzled by the new mind, and vexed by it. They might rouse pointed indifference in the shirt fronts, they might rouse fury, they would certainly win no praise. Roger felt pity for them. He wished that the end would come swiftly, that he might be decently damned and allowed to go.
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