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Merton of the Movies

12.
Alias Harold Parmalee
Merton Gill awoke to the comforting realization that he was between sheets
instead of blankets, and that this morning he need not obscurely leave his room
by means of a window. As he dressed, however, certain misgivings, to which he
had been immune the day before, gnawed into his optimism. He was sober now.
The sheer intoxication of food after fasting, of friendly concern after so long a
period when no one had spoken him kindly or otherwise, had evaporated. He felt
the depression following success.
He had been rescued from death by starvation, but had anything more than this
come about? Had he not fed upon the charity of a strange girl, taking her money
without seeing ways to discharge the debt? How could he ever discharge it?
Probably before this she had begun to think of him as a cheat. She had asked
him to come to the lot, but had been vague as to the purpose. Probably his
ordeal of struggle and sacrifice was not yet over. At any rate, he must find a job
that would let him pay back the borrowed twenty-five dollars.
He would meet her as she had requested, assure her of his honest intentions,
and then seek for work. He would try all the emporiums in Hollywood. They were
numerous and some one of them would need the services of an experienced
assistant. This plan of endeavour crystallized as he made his way to the Holden
lot. He had brought his package of stills, but only because the girl had insisted on
seeing them.
The Countess made nothing of letting him in. She had missed him, she said, for
what seemed like months, and was glad to hear that he now had something
definite in view, because the picture game was mighty uncertain and it was only
the lucky few nowadays that could see something definite. He did not confide to
her that the definite something now within his view would demand his presence
at some distance from her friendly self.
He approached the entrance to Stage Five with head bent in calculation, and not
until he heard her voice did he glance up to observe that the Montague girl was
dancing from pleasure, it would seem, at merely beholding him. She seized both
his hands in her strong grasp and revolved him at the centre of a circle she
danced. Then she held him off while her eyes took in the details of his
restoration.
"Well, well, well! That shows what a few ham and eggs and sleep will do. Kid,
you gross a million at this minute. New suit, new shoes, snappy cravat right from
the Men's Quality Shop, and all shaved and combed slick and everything! Say--
and I was afraid maybe you wouldn't show."
He regarded her earnestly. "Oh, I would have come back, all right; I'd never
forget that twenty-five dollars I owe you; and you'll get it all back, only it may take
a little time. I thought I'd see you for a minute, then go out and find a job--you
know, a regular job in a store."
"Nothing of the sort, old Trouper!" She danced again about him, both his hands in
hers, which annoyed him because it was rather loud public behaviour, though he
forgave her in the light of youth and kindliness. "No regular job for you, old
 
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