She was still again, looking back upon this tremendous episode.
"Yes, that's about the way I felt," he told her. Already his affair with Mrs. Rosenblatt seemed a thing of his childhood. He was wondering, rather, if the preacher could have been the perfect creature the girl was now picturing him. It would not have displeased him to learn that this refulgent being had actually used a double in his big scenes, or had been guilty of mere human behaviour at odd moments. Probably, after all, he had been just a preacher. "Uncle Sylvester used to want me to be a preacher," he said, with apparent irrelevance, "even if he was his own worst enemy." He added presently, as the girl remained silent, "I always say my prayers at night." He felt vaguely that this might raise him to the place of the other who had been adored. He was wishing to be thought well of by this girl.
She was aroused from her musing by his confession. "You do? Now ain't that just like you? I'd have bet you did that. Well, keep on, son. It's good stuff."
Her serious mood seemed to pass. She was presently exchanging tart repartee with the New York villains who had perched in a row on the fence to be funny about that long--continued holding of hands in the motor car. She was quite unembarrassed, however, as she dropped the hand with a final pat and vaulted to the ground over the side of the car.
"Get busy, there!" she ordered. "Where's your understander--where's your top-mounter?" She became a circus ringmaster. "Three up and a roll for yours," she commanded. The three villains aligned themselves on the lawn. One climbed to the shoulders of the other and a third found footing on the second. They balanced there, presently to lean forward from the summit. The girl played upon an imaginary snare drum with a guttural, throaty imitation of its roll, culminating in the "boom!" of a bass-drum as the tower toppled to earth. Its units, completing their turn with somersaults, again stood in line, bowing and smirking their acknowledgments for imagined applause.
The girl, a moment later, was turning hand-springs. Merton had never known that actors were so versatile. It was an astounding profession, he thought, remembering his own registration card that he had filled out at the Holden office. His age, height, weight, hair, eyes, and his chest and waist measures; these had been specified, and then he had been obliged to write the short "No" after ride, drive, swim, dance--to write "No" after "Ride?" even in the artistically photographed presence of Buck Benson on horseback!
Yet in spite of these disabilities he was now a successful actor at an enormous salary. Baird was already saying that he would soon have a contract for him to sign at a still larger figure. Seemingly it was a profession in which you could rise even if you were not able to turn hand-springs or were more or less terrified by horses and deep water and dance music.
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.