He would buy her a gift whose presentation should mark a certain great occasion. It should occur on the eve of his screen debut, and would fittingly testify his gratitude. For the girl, after all, had made him what he was. And the first piece was close to its premiere. Already he had seen advance notices in the newspapers. The piece was called Hearts On Fire, and in it, so the notices said, the comedy manager had at last realized an ambition long nourished. He had done something new and something big: a big thing done in a big way. The Montague girl would see that the leading man who had done so much to insure the success of Baird's striving for the worth-while drama was not unforgetful of her favours and continuous solicitude.
He thought first of a ring, but across the blank brick wall of the jewellery shop he elected to patronize was an enormous sign in white: The House of Lucky Wedding Rings. This staring announcement so alarmed him that he not only abandoned the plan for a ring-any sort of ring might be misconstrued, he saw-but in an excess of caution chose another establishment not so outspoken. If it kept wedding rings at all, it was decently reticent about them, and it did keep a profusion of other trinkets about which a possible recipient could entertain no false notions. Wrist watches, for example. No one could find subtle or hidden meanings in a wrist watch.
He chose a bauble that glittered prettily on its black silk bracelet, and was not shocked in the least when told by the engaging salesman that its price was a sum for which in the old days Gashwiler had demanded a good ten weeks of his life. Indeed it seemed rather cheap to him when he remembered the event it should celebrate. Still, it was a pleasing trifle and did not look cheap.
"Do you warrant it to keep good time?" he sternly demanded.
The salesman became diplomatic, though not without an effect of genial man-to-man frankness. "Well, I guess you and I both know what women's bracelet-watches are." He smiled a superior masculine smile that drew his customer within the informed brotherhood. "Now here, there's a platinum little thing that costs seven hundred and fifty, and this one you like will keep just as good time as that one that costs six hundred more. What could be fairer than that?"
"All right," said the customer. "I'll take it." During the remaining formalities attending the purchase the salesman, observing that he dealt with a tolerant man of the world, became even franker. "Of course no one," he remarked pleasantly while couching the purchase in a chaste bed of white satin, "expects women's bracelet-watches to keep time. Not even the women."
"Want 'em for looks," said the customer.
"You've hit it, you've hit it!" exclaimed the salesman delightedly, as if the customer had expertly probed the heart of a world-old mystery.