Merton of the Movies
The Montague Girl Intervenes
He came to life the next morning, shivering under his blankets. It must be cold
outside. He glanced at his watch and reached for another blanket, throwing it
over himself and tucking it in at the foot. Then he lay down again to screen a
tense bit of action that had occurred late the night before. He had plunged
through the streets for an hour, after leaving the pool, striving to recover from the
twin shocks he had suffered. Then, returning to his hotel, he became aware that
The Hazards of Hortense were still on. He could hear the roar of the aeroplane
propeller and see the lights over the low buildings that lined his street.
Miserably he was drawn back to the spot where the most important of all his
visions had been rent to tatters. He went to the end of the pool where he had
stood before. Mr. Rosenblatt-hardly could he bring his mind to utter the hideous
syllables-was still dissatisfied with the sea's might. He wanted bigger billows and
meant to have them if the company stayed on the set all night. He was saying as
much with peevish inflections. Merton stood warming himself over the fire that
still glowed in the brazier.
To him from somewhere beyond the scaffold came now the Montague girl and
Jimmie. The girl was in her blanket, and Jimmie bore a pitcher, two tin cups, and
a package of sandwiches. They came to the fire and Jimmie poured coffee for
the girl. He produced sugar from a pocket.
"Help yourself, James," said the girl, and Jimmie poured coffee for himself. They
ate sandwiches as they drank. Merton drew a little back from the fire. The scent
of the hot coffee threatened to make him forget he was not only a successful
screen actor but a gentleman.
"Did you have to do it again?" he asked.
"I had to do it twice again," said the girl from over her tin cup. "They're developing
the strips now, then they'll run them in the projection room, and they won't suit
Sig one little bit, and I'll have to do it some more. I'll be swimming here till
daylight doth appear."
She now shot that familiar glance of appraisal at Merton. "Have a sandwich and
some coffee, Kid-give him your cup, Jimmie."
It was Merton Gill's great moment, a heart-gripping climax to a two- days' drama
that had at no time lacked tension. Superbly he arose to it. Consecrated to his
art, Clifford Armytage gave the public something better and finer. He drew
himself up and spoke lightly, clearly, with careless ease:
"No, thanks-I couldn't eat a mouthful." The smile with which he accompanied the
simple words might be enigmatic, it might hint of secret sorrows, but it was plain
enough that these could not ever so distantly relate to a need for food.
Having achieved this sensational triumph, with all the quietness of method that
should distinguish the true artist, he became seized with stage fright amounting
almost to panic. He was moved to snatch the sandwich that Jimmie now
proffered, the cup that he had refilled with coffee. Yet there was but a moment of
confusion. Again he wielded an iron restraint. But he must leave the stage. He