The Film Mystery
8. Lawrence Millard
It struck me on the trip to Manton's apartment that the film people were wholly unfeeling,
were even uninterested in the death of Stella Lamar except where it interfered with their
business arrangements. Werner excused himself and did not accompany us, on the score
of the complete realignment of production necessary to place Enid in Stella's part. It
seemed to me that he felt a certain relish in the problem, that he was almost glad of the
circumstances which brought Enid to him. His last words to Manton were, to be sure to
have Millard recast the action of the scenes wherever possible, so as to give Enid the
better chance to display her own personality.
I marveled as I realized that the remains of Stella Lamar were scarcely cold before these
people were figuring on the star to take her place.
As Manton talked, the thought crossed my mind that such a man needed no publicity
manager. I dismissed the idea that he might be capable even of murder for publicity. But
at least it was an insight into some methods of the game.
As our car mounted to the Concourse and turned Manhattanward I was distinctly
unhappy. Manton monopolized Enid completely, insisting upon talking over everything
under the sun, from the wardrobe she would need in Stella's part and the best sort of
personal advertising campaign for her, to the first available evening when she could go to
dinner with him.
She sat in the rear seat, between Kennedy and the promoter, which did not add to my
sense of comfort. The only consoling feature from my viewpoint was that I was
admirably placed to study her, and that Manton held her so engrossed that I had every
opportunity to do so unnoticed. Because she had overwhelmed me so completely I did
nothing of the kind. I knew we were riding with the most beautiful woman in New York,
but I did not know the color of her hair or eyes, or even the sort of hat or dress she wore.
In short I was movie-struck.
We stopped at last at a huge, ornate apartment house on Riverside Drive and Manton led
the way through the wide Renaissance entrance and the luxurious marble hall to the
elevator. His quarters, on the top floor, facing the river, were almost exotic in the
lavishness and barbaric splendor of their furnishings. My first impression as we entered
the place was that Manton had purposely planned the dim lights of rich amber and the
clinging Oriental fragrance hovering about everything so as to produce an alluring and
enticing atmosphere. The chairs and wide upholstered window seats, the soft, yielding
divans in at least two corners, with their miniature mountains of tiny pillows, all were
comfortable with the comfort one associates with lotus eating and that homeward journey
soon to be forgotten. There was the smoke of incense, unmistakably. On a taboret were
cigarettes and cigars and through heavy curtains I caught a glimpse of a sideboard and
decanters, filled and set out very frankly.