"Kind of funny. He'd do anything on that machine. He'd jump clean over an auto and he'd leap a thirty-foot ditch and he was all set to pull a new one for Jeff Baird when it happened. Jeff was going to have him ride his motorcycle through a plate-glass window. The set was built and everything ready and then the merry old sun don't shine for three days. Every morning Bert would go over to the lot and wait around in the fog. And this third day, when it got too late in the afternoon to shoot even if the sun did show, he says to me, 'c'mon, hop up and let's take a ride down to the beach.' So I hop to the back seat and off we start and on a ninety-foot paved boulevard what does Bert do but get caught in a jam? It was an ice wagon that finally bumped us over. I was shook up and scraped here and there. But Bert was finished. That's the funny part. He'd got it on this boulevard, but back on the lot he'd have rode through that plate- glass window probably without a scratch. And just because the sun didn't shine that day, I wasn't engaged any more. Bert was kind of like some old sea-captain that comes back to shore after risking his life on the ocean in all kinds of storms, and falls into a duck-pond and gets drowned."
She sat a long time staring out over the landscape, still holding his hand. Inside the fence before the farmhouse three of the New York villains were again engaged in athletic sports, but she seemed oblivious of these. At last she turned to him again with an illumining smile.
"But I was dead in love once before that, and that's how I know just how you feel about Baxter. He was the preacher where we used to go to church. He was a good one. Pa copied a lot of his stuff that he uses to this day if he happens to get a preacher part. He was the loveliest thing. Not so young, but dark, with wonderful eyes and black hair, and his voice would go all through you. I had an awful case on him. I was twelve, and all week I used to think how I'd see him the next Sunday. Say, when I'd get there and he'd be working-- doing pulpit stuff--he'd have me in kind of a trance.
"Sometimes after the pulpit scene he'd come down right into the audience and shake hands with people. I'd almost keel over if he'd notice me. I'd be afraid if he would and afraid if he wouldn't. If he said 'And how is the little lady this morning?' I wouldn't have a speck of voice to answer him. I'd just tremble all over. I used to dream I'd get a job workin' for him as extra, blacking his shoes or fetching his breakfast and things.
"It was the real thing, all right. I used to try to pray the way he did--asking the Lord to let me do a character bit or something with him. He had me going all right. You must 'a' been that way about Baxter. Sure you were. When you found she was married and used a double and everything, it was like I'd found this preacher shooting hop or using a double in his pulpit stuff."
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."