And the Montague girl, who, he now fervently hoped, would not be killed while doubling for Mrs. Rosenblatt, was a puzzling creature. He thought his hand must still be warm from her enfolding of it, even when work was resumed and he saw her, with sunbonnet pushed back, stand at the gate of the little farmhouse and behave in an utterly brazen manner toward one of the New York clubmen who was luring her up to the great city. She, who had just confided to him that she was afraid of men, was now practically daring an undoubted scoundrel to lure her up to the great city and make a lady of her. And she had been afraid of all but a clergyman and a stunt actor! He wondered interestingly if she were afraid of Merton Gill. She seemed not to be.
On another day of long waits they ate their lunch from the cafeteria box on the steps of the little home and discussed stage names. "I guess we better can that 'Clifford Armytage' stuff," she told him as she seriously munched a sandwich. "We don't need it. That's out. Merton Gill is a lot better name." She had used "we" quite as if it were a community name.
"Well, if you think so--" he began regretfully, for Clifford Armytage still seemed superior to the indistinction of Merton Gill.
"Sure, it's a lot better," she went on. "That 'Clifford Armytage'-- say, it reminds me of just another such feckless dub as you that acted with us one time when we all trouped in a rep show, playing East Lynne and such things. He was just as wise as you are, and when he joined out at Kansas City they gave him a whole book of the piece instead of just his sides. He was a quick study, at that, only he learned everybody's part as well as his own, and that slowed him. They put him on in Waco, and the manager was laid up, so they told him that after the third act he was to go out and announce the bill for the next night, and he learned that speech, too.
"He got on fine till the big scene in the third act. Then he went bloody because that was as far as he'd learned, so he just left the scene cold and walked down to the foots and bowed and said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, we thank you for your attendance here this evening and to-morrow night we shall have the honour of presenting Lady Audley's Secret.'
"With that he gave a cold look to the actors back of him that were gasping like fish, and walked off. And he was like you in another way because his real name was Eddie Duffy, and the lovely stage name he'd picked out was Clyde Maltravers."
"Well, Clifford Armytage is out, then," Merton announced, feeling that he had now buried a part of his dead self in a grave where Beulah Baxter, the wonder-woman, already lay interred. Still, he was conscious of a certain relief. The stage name had been bothersome.
"It ain't as if you had a name like mine," the girl went on. "I simply had to have help."