The Greater Call (1910)
Short, Drama · 20 December 1910
The first scene opens on the stage of the Comedy Theater, showing a part of the wings and Claudine Durand's dressing room. The curtain has fallen on the last act and the star, assisted by her maid, is dressing for the street when Richard Grey, an admirer of Mlle. Durand, enters and is admitted to Claudine's dressing room. The actress greets him effusively, and after a short love scene Grey proposes and is accepted. The scene changes to three years later. The two have married and their marriage has been blessed with a wee girl. The little domestic scene ushers in the first hint of Claudine's dissatisfaction with her life and her longing to return to the stage. Richard has noted his wife's melancholy and trembling reproaches her for her lack of interest in her home and child. Claudine tells her husband that the lure of the stage is too great and that she must go back to it. Ten years have elapsed and we find Claudine in her dressing room at the Comedy Theater, when she is interrupted by a call boy who hands her a card bearing Richard's name. In a moment she wavers and tells the boy to admit the gentleman. Richard has brought with him the little girl, now a young lady of thirteen, who but faintly remembers her mother, and who for a moment clings to her father. Then there is an embrace in which the pent-up love of the mother breaks down all restraint in Claudine as she takes the little one to her heart. The scene is interrupted by the call boy who calls "Overture," and Claudine responds, without even a parting word of good-bye. Richard and the little girl leave the theater. A few weeks later shows another scene on the stage of the Comedy Theater, with Claudine at her mirror in her dressing room. A messenger boy enters and hands Mlle. Durand a telegram which the woman hastily opens and then sinks fainting into her chair. In a moment, however, she has recovered and seizing her wraps runs madly from the room, the message gripped in her hand. The stage manager stops her as she runs to the door; there is a moment's altercation during which Claudine shows him the message: "Come home at once. Your baby is dying," and it is signed by Richard. The manager implores her to continue until the close of the performance, but Claudine is deaf to his entreaties and entering a waiting cab is driven away. At home the little girl is just approaching the crisis of the fever and the doctor and Richard are waiting with sinking hearts for the bare hope of retaining the little white soul. It is then that Claudine enters and runs sobbing to her child, but the doctor holds her hack until the child stirs and slowly opens her eyes. With a faint smile she holds out her arms to her mother, who sinks on her knees and lifts her eyes in thanks.
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