As Hart had predicted the performance went smoothly. When Sarah appeared on the stage, her armpits were wet with transpiration. Nevertheless she said her first lines without the slightest hesitation and then became fully absorbed with her role.
She not once looked into the auditorium and therefore was not aware of the fact that most of the male audience was paying more attention to her than to the actual play.
In the royal box the king and his brother were more attentive than normal. Charles looked more than once at the leading actress, to his brother’s amusement.
“I won’t pretend Shakespeare is my favorite playwright,” the king whispered into James’s ear. “But this Ophelia… She’s a damned good actress and a pretty wench as well. Is she a new acquisition?”
“I don’t know,” James answered.
“Her name is Sarah Davenport,” George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, interrupted. The duke was one of the gentlemen in the king’s suit. He also was a frequent visitor of the theatre. “She is one of Hart’s new discoveries and he thinks rather well of her.”
“Davenport? Interesting,” Charles commented.
He kept silent for a while, completely forgetting the presence of the others. His thoughts lingered away and a secretive smile curled his mouth.
Oh yes, this could become a special occasion indeed…