The Governor again debated before he spoke. He still doubted. "Say, whose show is this, the lead's or the sailor's that had the wronged sister? You'd have to show the sailor and his sister, and show her being wronged by the heavy--that'd take a big cabaret set, at least- -and you'd have to let the sailor begin his stuff on the yacht, and then by the time he'd kept it up a bit after the wreck had pulled off the fight, where would your lead be? Can you see Parmalee playing second to this sailor? Why, the sailor'd run away with the piece. And that cabaret set would cost money when we don't need it-- just keep those things in mind a little."
"Well," Henshaw submitted gracefully, "anyway, I think my suggestion of Island Love is better than Island Passion--kind of sounds more attractive, don't you think?"
The Governor lighted a cigarette. "Say, Howard, it's a wonderful business, isn't it? We start with poor old Robinson Crusoe and his goats and parrot and man Friday, and after dropping Friday's sister who would really be the Countess of Kleig, we wind up with a steam- yacht and a comic butler and call it Island Love. Who said the art of the motion picture is in its infancy? In this case it'll be plumb senile. Well, go ahead with the boys and dope out your hogwash. Gosh! Sometimes I think I wouldn't stay in the business if it wasn't for the money. And remember, don't you let a single solitary sailor on that yacht have a wronged sister that can blame it on the heavy, or you'll never have Parmalee playing the lead."
Again Merton Gill debated bringing himself to the notice of these gentlemen. If Parmalee wouldn't play the part for any reason like a sailor's wronged sister, he would. It would help him to be known in Parmalee parts. Still, he couldn't tell how soon they might need him, nor how soon Baird would release him. He regretfully saw the two men leave, however. He might have missed a chance even better than Baird would give him.
He suddenly remembered that he had still a professional duty to perform. He must that afternoon, and also that evening, watch a Harold Parmalee picture. He left the cafeteria, swaggered by the watchman at the gate-he had now the professional standing to silence that fellow-and made his way to the theatre Baird had mentioned.
In front he studied the billing of the Parmalee picture. It was "Object, Matrimony-a Smashing Comedy of Love and Laughter." Harold Parmalee, with a gesture of mock dismay, seemed to repulse a bevy of beautiful maidens who wooed him. Merton took his seat with a dismay that was not mock, for it now occurred to him that he had no experience in love scenes, and that an actor playing Parmalee parts would need a great deal of such experience. In Simsbury there had been no opportunity for an intending actor to learn certain little niceties expected at sentimental moments. Even his private life had been almost barren of adventures that might now profit him.
He had sometimes played kissing games at parties, and there had been the more serious affair with Edwina May Pulver-nights when he had escorted her from church or sociables to the Pulver gate and lingered in a sort of nervously worded ecstasy until he could summon courage to kiss the girl. Twice this had actually happened, but the affair had come to nothing, because the Pulvers had moved away from Simsbury and he had practically forgotten Edwina May; forgotten even the scared haste of those embraces. He seemed to remember that he had grabbed her and kissed her, but was it on her cheek or nose?
Anyway, he was now quite certain that the mechanics of this dead amour were not those approved of in the best screen circles. Never had he gathered a beauteous girl in his arms and very slowly, very accurately, very tenderly, done what Parmalee and other screen actors did in their final fade-outs. Even when Beulah Baxter had been his screen ideal he had never seen himself as doing more than save her from some dreadful fate. Of course, later, if he had found out that she was unwed--