The Film Mystery HTML version
4. The Fatal Script
I had no real opportunity to study Manton when he greeted us upon our arrival, and at
that time neither Kennedy nor I possessed even a passing realization of the problem
before us. Now I felt that I was ready to grasp at any possible motive for the crime. I was
prepared to suspect any or all of the nine people enumerated by Mackay, so far as I could
speak for myself, and at the very least I was certain that this was one of the most baffling
cases ever brought to Craig's attention.
Yet I was sure he would solve it. I waited most impatiently for the outcome of his
examination of Lloyd Manton.
The producer-promoter was a well-set-up man just approaching middle age. About him
was a certain impression of great physical strength, of bulk without flabbiness, and in
particular I noticed the formation of his head, the square broad development which
indicated his intellectual power, and I found, too, a fascinating quality about his eyes,
deeply placed and of a warm dark gray- brown, which seemed to hold a fundamental
sincerity which, I imagined, made the man almost irresistible in a business deal.
His weakness, so far as I could ascertain it, was revealed by his mouth and chin, and by a
certain nervousness of his hands, hands where a square, practical palm was belied by the
slight tapering of his fingers, the mark of the dreamer. His mouth was unquestionably
sensuous, with the lips full and now and then revealing out of the studied practiced calm
of his face an almost imperceptible twitching, as though to betray a flash of emotion, or
fear. His chin was feminine, softening his expression and showing that his feelings would
overbalance the cool calculation denoted by his eyes and the rather heavy level brows
As he entered the room, taking the chair indicated by Kennedy, he seemed perfectly cool
and his glance, as it strayed to the lifeless form of Stella, revealed his iron self-control.
The little signs which I have mentioned, which betrayed the real man beneath, were only
disclosed to me little by little as Kennedy's questioning progressed.
"Tell me just what happened?" Kennedy began.
"Well--" Manton responded quickly enough, but then he stopped and proceeded as
though he chose each word with care, as if he framed each sentence so that there would
be no misunderstanding, no chance of wrong impression; all of which pleased Kennedy.
"In the scene we were taking," he went on, "Stella was crouched down on the floor,
bending over her father, who had just been murdered. She was sobbing. All at once the
lights were to spring up. The young hero was to dash through the set and she was to see
him and scream out in terror. The first part went all right. But when the lights flashed on,
instead of looking up and screaming, Stella sort of crumpled and collapsed on top of
Werner, who was playing the father. I yelled to stop the cameras and rushed in. We