It was one of the annoyances incident to screen art that he could not go in at that moment to finish his great scene. But this must be done back on the lot, and the scene could not be secured until the next day.
Once more he became the pitiful victim of a great city, crawling back to the home shelter on a wintry night. It was Christmas eve, he now learned. He pushed open the door of the little home and staggered in to face his old mother and the little sister. They sprang forward at his entrance; the sister ran to support him to the homely old sofa. He was weak, emaciated, his face an agony of repentance, as he mutely pled forgiveness for his flight.
His old mother had risen, had seemed about to embrace him fondly when he knelt at her feet, but then had drawn herself sternly up and pointed commandingly to the door. The prodigal, anguished anew at this repulse, fell weakly back upon the couch with a cry of despair. The little sister placed a pillow under his head and ran to plead with the mother. A long time she remained obdurate, but at last relented. Then she, too, came to fall upon her knees before the wreck who had returned to her.
Not many rehearsals were required for this scene, difficult though it was. Merton Gill had seized his opportunity. His study of agony expressions in the film course was here rewarded. The scene closed with the departure of the little sister. Resolutely, showing the light of some fierce determination, she put on hat and wraps, spoke words of promise to the stricken mother and son, and darted out into the night. The snow whirled in as she opened the door.
"Good work," said Baird to Merton. "If you don't hear from that little bit you can call me a Swede."
Some later scenes were shot in the same little home, which seemed to bring the drama to a close. While the returned prodigal lay on the couch, nursed by the forgiving mother, the sister returned in company with the New York society girl who seemed aghast at the wreck of him she had once wooed. Slowly she approached the couch of the sufferer, tenderly she reached down to enfold him. In some manner, which Merton could not divine, the lovers had been reunited.
The New York girl was followed by her father--it would seem they had both come from the hotel--and the father, after giving an order for more of Mother's grape juice, examined the son's patents. Two of them he exclaimed with delight over, and at once paid the boy a huge roll of bills for a tenth interest in them.
Now came the grasping man who held the mortgage and who had counted upon driving the family into the streets this stormy Christmas eve. He was overwhelmed with confusion when his money was paid from an ample hoard, and slunk, shame-faced, out into the night. It could be seen that Christmas day would dawn bright and happy for the little group.