The Film Mystery
29. Microscopic Evidence
Kennedy made some efforts to preserve the forged order which he had restored with the
collodion, but I could see that he placed no great importance upon its possession.
Gradually the yard of the studio had cleared of the employees, who had returned to their
various tasks. Under the direction of one stout individual who seemed to possess
authority the fire apparatus had been replaced in a portable steel garage arranged for the
purpose in a farther corner, and now several men were engaged in cleaning up the dirt
and litter caused in the excitement.
Except in the basement there were few signs of the blaze. Manton accompanied the fire
chief to his car, then hurried up into the building without further notice of us. Mackay
went to McGroarty's machine to claim the traveling bag containing our evidence.
Kennedy and I started for the dressing rooms.
"I want to get blood smears of Shirley and Marilyn," he confided in a low voice. "I shall
have to think of some pretext."
Neither of the two we sought were in their quarters and so we continued on into the
studio. Here we found Kauf at work; at least he was engaged in a desperate attempt to get
something out of his people.
"Ye gods, Gordon!" we heard him exclaim, as we made our way through the debris of the
banquet set to the ballroom now dazzlingly bright under the lights. "What if you do have
to wear a bandage around your head? It's a masked ball, isn't it? You've got a monk's
cowl over everything but your features, haven't you?"
It struck me that the faces had never been more ghastly, although my reason convinced
me it was simply the usual effect of the Cooper-Hewitt tubes. But there was no question
but that the explosion had given everyone a bad fright, that not an actress or actor but
would have preferred to have been nearly anywhere else but under the heat of the glass
roof, now a constant reminder of the accident because of the gaping hole directly above
Marilyn was in the center of the revelers in the set, already in costume. Shirley I saw
close to the camera men, standing uneasily on shaky legs, shielding his eyes with one
hand while he clung to a massive sideboard for support with the other. He had not yet
donned his carnival clothes, nor essayed to put on a make-up.
Enid Faye, the only one in sight whose spirits seemed to have rallied at all, was offering
him comfort of a sort.
"You'll get by, all right, Merle, if you can keep on your pins, and I'll say you deserve
credit for trying it. There's"--she stepped back a bit to study him--"there's just one thing.