Again and again she shuffled over the stills, dwelling on each with excited admiration. Her excitement was pronounced. It seemed to be a sort of nervous excitement. It had caused her face to flush deeply, and her manner, especially over the Western pictures, at moments oddly approached hysteria. Merton was deeply gratified. He had expected the art studies to produce no such impression as this. The Countess in the casting office had certainly manifested nothing like hysteria at beholding them. It must be that the Montague girl was a better judge of art studies.
"I always liked this one, after the Westerns," he observed, indicating the Harold Parmalee pose.
"It's stunning," agreed the girl, still with her nervous manner. "I tell you, sit over there in Jeff's chair and take the same pose, so I can compare you with the photo."
Merton obliged. He leaned an elbow on the chair-arm and a temple on the two straightened fingers. "Is the light right?" he asked, as he turned his face to the pictured angle.
"Fine," applauded the girl. "Hold it." He held it until shocked by shrill laughter from the observer. Peal followed peal. She had seemed oddly threatened with hysteria; perhaps now it had come. She rocked on her heels and held her hands to her sides. Merton arose in some alarm, and was reassured when the victim betrayed signs of mastering her infirmity. She wiped her eyes presently and explained her outbreak.
"You looked so much like Parmalee I just couldn't help thinking how funny it was--it just seemed to go over me like anything, like a spasm or something, when I got to thinking what Parmalee would say if he saw someone looking so much like him. See? That was why I laughed."
He was sympathetic and delighted in equal parts. The girl had really seemed to suffer from her paroxysm, yet it was a splendid tribute to his screen worth.
It was at this moment that Baird entered. He tossed his hat on a chair and turned to the couple.