He lighted another cigarette, eyed the letters with that whimsical lift of the brows so characteristic of Parmalee, and lazily blew smoke toward them. Then, regarding the smoke, he idly waved a hand through it. "Poor, silly little girls!" But there was a charming tolerance in his manner. One felt his generous recognition that they were not wholly without provocation.
This appeared to close the simple episode. The scenes, to be sure, had not been shot without delays and rehearsals, and a good two hours of the morning had elapsed before the actor was released from the glare of light and the need to remember that he was Harold Parmalee. His peeling of an egg, for example, had not at first been dainty enough to please the director, and the scene with the album had required many rehearsals to secure the needed variety of expressions, but Baird had been helpful in his promptings, and always kind.
"Now, this one you've turned over--it's someone you love better than anybody. It might be your dear old mother that you haven't seen for years. It makes you kind of solemn as you show how fond you were of her. You're affected deeply by her face. That's it, fine! Now the next one, you like it just as much, but it pleases you more. It's someone else you're fond of, but you're not so solemn.
"Now turn over another, but very slow--slow--but don't let go of it. Stop a minute and turn back as if you had to have another peek at the last one, see what I mean? Take plenty of time. This is a great treat for you. It makes you feel kind of religious. Now you're getting it--that's the boy! All right--"
The scene where he showed humorous dismay at the quantity of his mail had needed but one rehearsal. He had here been Harold Parmalee without effort. Also he had not been asked to do again the Parmalee trick of lighting a cigarette nor of withdrawing the handkerchief from its cuff to twice touch his forehead in moments of amused perplexity. Baird had merely uttered a low "Fine!" at beholding these bits.
He drew a long breath of relief when released from the set. Seemingly he had met the test. Baird had said that morning, "Now we'll just run a little kind of test to find out a few things about you," and had followed with a general description of the scenes. It was to be of no great importance--a minor detail of the picture. Perhaps this had been why the wealthy actor breakfasted in rather a plainly furnished room on hard-boiled eggs and potato salad. Perhaps this had been why the costume given him had been not too well fitting, not too nice in detail. Perhaps this was why they had allowed the cross-eyed man to appear as his valet. He was quite sure this man would not do as a valet in a high-class picture. Anyway, however unimportant the scene, he felt that he had acquitted himself with credit.
The Montague girl, who had made him up that morning, with close attention to his eyebrows, watched him from back of the cameras, and she seized both his hands when he left the set. "You're going to land," she warmly assured him. "I can tell a trouper when I see one."
She was in costume. She was apparently doing the part of a society girl, though slightly overdressed, he thought.