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Merton of the Movies

20.
Onward And Upward
At the first showing of the Buckeye company's new five-reel comedy-- Five
Reels-500 Laughs--entitled Brewing Trouble, two important members of its cast
occupied balcony seats and one of them throughout the piece brazenly
applauded the screen art of her husband. "I don't care who sees me," she would
reply ever and again to his whispered protests.
The new piece proved to be a rather broadly stressed burlesque of the type of
picture drama that has done so much to endear the personality of Edgar Wayne
to his public. It was accorded a hearty reception. There was nothing to which it
might be compared save the company's previous Hearts on Fire, and it seemed
to be felt that the present offering had surpassed even that masterpiece of satire.
The Gills, above referred to, watched the unwinding celluloid with vastly different
emotions. Mrs. Gill was hearty in her enjoyment, as has been indicated. Her
husband, superficially, was not displeased. But beneath that surface of calm
approval--beneath even the look of bored indifference he now and then
managed--there still ran a complication of emotions, not the least of which was
honest bewilderment. People laughed, so it must be funny. And it was good to be
known as an artist of worth, even if the effects of your art were unintended.
It was no shock to him to learn now that the mechanical appliance in his screen-
mother's kitchen was a still, and that the grape juice the honest country boy
purveyed to the rich New Yorker had been improved in rank defiance of a
constitutional amendment. And even during the filming of the piece he had
suspected that the little sister, so engagingly played by the present Mrs. Gill, was
being too bold. With slight surprise, therefore, as the drama unfolded, he saw
that she had in the most brazen manner invited the attentions of the city villains.
She had, in truth, been only too eager to be lured to the great city with all its
pitfalls, and had bidden the old home farewell in her simple country way while
each of the villains in turn had awaited her in his motor-car. What Merton had not
been privileged to watch were the later developments of this villainy. For just
beyond the little hamlet at a lonely spot in the road each of the motor-cars had
been stopped by a cross-eyed gentleman looking much like the clerk in the hotel,
save that he was profusely bewhiskered and bore side-arms in a menacing
fashion.
Declaring that no scoundrel could take his little daughter from him, he deprived
the villains of their valuables, so that for a time at least they should not bring
other unsuspecting girls to grief. As a further precaution he compelled them to
abandon their motor-cars, in which he drove off with the rescued daughter. He
was later seen to sell the cars at a wayside garage, and, after dividing their spoils
with his daughter, to hail a suburban trolley upon which they both returned to the
home nest, where the little girl would again languish at the gate, a prey to any
designing city man who might pass.
She seemed so defenceless in her wild-rose beauty, her longing for pretty
clothes and city ways, and yet so capably pro by this opportune father who
appeared to foresee the moment of her flights.
 
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