Souls for Sale | Rupert Hughes | Published 1900 onward | Book | English | 3/8

chapter 16 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 16 the early morning train from Tucson would deposit ma'am at Yuma in the mid afternoon the railroad was never far from the Mexican border and the desert was stinging hot yet mem suffered an inner chill and her flesh crept clam alee at what she had to do for on that journey she was to get rid of her husband he had been vague before but as she made ready to slaughter him he became fearsomely real she went through the experience of a Bravo who had lightly accepted a commission to assassinate a stranger but on meeting him and coming to know him found him likable lovable and his destruction abominable the scenes the train swept her through were as damned as her deed a famine land of stunted growth or none John Woodville sat beside her in the Train he vanished as soon as she turned to look his way but when she gazed with unfocused lenses through the window at the blurred sand and sage his presence was almost palpable when she closed her scorched eyes she could almost feel him leaning against her shoulder his breath stirring the little curls at the nape of her neck he took in warm strong fingers her cold hand lying idle at her side in the dark of her shut eyes he put his arm about her shoulder and drew her to him and kissed her cheek whispering my wife he turned her head and pressed on her pale mouth so masterful a kiss that her lips reddened and quivered she tried to summon her dead lover to the defense of his rights in her possession but Elwood was more unreal now more remote than the Mirage of this Conqueror she tried to fling him off by opening her eyes and re-establishing the other passengers in the crowded car but the somnolence of the burning morning dragged her back to the weird world of sleep as her eyes closed she caught sight of a cowboy racing the train on a plunging Bronco and when she fell asleep she fell into the saddle of a Pinto alongside John Woodville's Mustang and she rode with him across the sage spotted sands toward the brown mountains and found there a cabin in a dark grove and it was their new home she was the mistress of it but he was the master of her a ruthless laughing husband who would not be denied but mocked her fears and made her his wife broke her to his will as he broke the wildly resisting bronco she ran pursuit but overtaken and woke with the start spent and panting and stared at the drowsy passengers she was astounded and a little disappointed to find herself still on the same car his hot cheek against hers was only the sun-baked windowpane tinkling with the rain of the blown sand she fought off the swooning drowsiness that dragged her back to a siesta of fancy and devoted herself to the stern task of arranging a plausible death for her short-lived bridegroom fear of discovery was as acute in mems heart as if she were planning genuine homicide some authors have wept over the slaughter of their creatures some have rejoiced in their murder as a fine art but mam was a beginner a bungler she was bound to make a bad job of it and she could not trust her imagination after an hour or two of deep study that only increased her sense of hopeless floundering she went to her luncheon in the dining car it was hard to play executioner on an empty stomach on her way back to her place she saw on an empty seat a newspaper the owner had plainly finished with it and tossed it aside he was not visible and she resolved that theft was a proper prelude to a greater atrocity so she snatched up the paper and carried it back to her place it was the Los Angeles Times an enormous budget filled with the proud expression of the fastest growing city in the world a city tumultuous with prosperity at a time when nearly every other city and town was cowering under the aftermath of the world war mem found as is to be expected in any newspapers but those curious documents built to suit the ostriches who believed in concealing reference to crime and other departures from monotony many accounts of murders robberies accidents and other manifestations of human fallibility magnificent burglaries were properly chronicled nearly every day somebody seemed to loot a mail train or a bank messenger of the ransom of a dozen dukes highway robbery was bringing back the glorious days of Dick Turpin Jonathan wild and Claude Duvall those who stood quietly behind their counters had drama brought to them on the tip of a pistol those who motor de long quiet roads or city streets were hailed from other cars by fleeting highway men or highway women or they discovered with their searchlights somber gentlemen or ladies whose watchword was becoming a national greeting put them up it seemed as if one half the world had its hands in the air while the other half went through its pockets cash drawers suitcases or mail pouches Los Angeles as one of the busiest cities going naturally had its share of this industry furthermore its throng streets were superior to every other cities in the number of people killed and maimed by the floods of automobiles mem thought of Los Angeles as the missionary thinks of Benin Somaliland Milan or Shanghai or some other center of crime though none of the foreign murder Mills has ever approached the American Grist in the times she discovered a number of suggestive deaths here was the story of a man who slipped into the swollen Colorado River which was running one of its annual amongst here were a hundred people in Colorado State swept out of their homes and drowned by a torrent here was a rich man whose neck was broken in an overturned car here were a score of faced in a collision between an auto bus and an electric train here was a New Yorker shot dead in his pajamas as he sat with a lap full of mourning letters here was a man found buried in his own cellar here was a Midwestern gentleman for whose murder his wife and his stepdaughter being tried the allegation being that they had filled him with arsenic taken from flypaper here was a man who hired a hobo to play a practical joke on his wife and pretend to hold them up in their doorway then the amazing dramatist shot the hobo dead shot his wife dead and announced that he had taken part in a pistol duel with a highwayman the cynical police found a few flaws in his glib story and wrung a confession from him he was a very religious young man – and superior to all small vices and the jury at his first trial disagreed as to his guilt since he repudiated his confession a second jury found him guilty but he pleaded insanity and deferred the penalty altogether an original genius in crime mem envied him his ingenuity there were instances enough and too many of deaths activities in the newspaper here was an aviator doing a moving-picture stunt whose ship caught fire and brought him down burned to a crisp here was a man killed in his automobile by a big tree falling over him there was such an embarrassment of riches that mem could not select a single method of doing away with mr. Woodville she forgot him utterly for a while in a page devoted to the gossip of moving picture studios she saw that Robina teal and Tom Hobie had come back to Hollywood from a dash to New York for local color and would soon be going out again on location wherever that was she saw that vivid a Artois and her husband had reopened their beautiful bungalow in Edendale she saw that Miriam your had arrived and taken a palatial house for her stay Maurice Maeterlinck had come out on a special train many English men and women of Fame were on their way and herds of authors who being American were unimportant domestic goods are always shoddy and imported elegant ma'am reverted to her plot she had her morning all ready to put on but here was a new complication if she arrived in Yuma as a widow she must dawn her morning in the Train she would have to retire to the narrow cell of the woman's room and make the change there that was inconvenient but not impossible it was the only thing to do yet if she went in a maid and out a widow people might notice the change in wonder for she had been well observed by the other passengers a few of them had remarked that it was hot or asked her if it were not hot pretty hot what one woman had said ma'am had thought peevishly what a funny thing it was the way folks used pretty pretty hot meant hideous hot she knew that women were like cameras for snapshotting other women's clothes at a glance and remembering them like a photograph men didn't notice such things much yet men had noticed her two men particularly one of them a flashy impudent creature with hard exploring eyes that fairly nosed her like a pig snout the other a lonely deride thing pleading for pity with a woman hungry stare mam had a flash of unusual cynicism toward the moralities why is it that we feel so sorry for the loneliness of the timid man and so disgusted with the loneliness of the bold man the loneliness must hurt both of them about the same but she did not dwell on the thought humanity is never going to give the sympathy to the hyena that it wastes on the more destructive rabbit what settled MEMS debate was the realization that if she donned her crape on the train it would cause a stir among the people in whose flying parlour she had sat for seven hours or so and some of them would doubtless beginning off at Yuma she wondered if somebody would come up to her at the station as at Tucson and announce himself as the deputy of her father she hoped not he could hardly have divined that she was bound for Yuma yet she could not feel sure for all she knew the first person she met might be somebody from Cali another point decided her if she wrote to her father that she had left Tucson as a wife and reached Yuma as a widow it would be necessary to push her husband off the train or wreck the train or something and that would be hard to verify there were other reasons for giving herself a little longer experience of wedded bliss this marriage was for a purpose she grew frantic with indecision the Train seemed to be exerting itself to fling her into Yuma before she can make up her mind nothing was easier than to tell a lie but great heavens how difficult it was to foresee all the things that would happen to it as it went along accumulating complications like other works of art a lie must be all things to all men or be strong enough to endure their idiosyncrasies and their attacks doctor breath Rick had told her to hold her head up and run yet not to run he had thereupon shipped her west to a land of strangers yet she could neither break away from the ties at home nor break through the nets ahead of her she was running as fast as she could but she had leg irons on she had not left pursuit behind and the path ahead was all brambles and pitfalls the train went whooping into a low loosely built town as she oscillated from one plan to another a hoarse voice bawled you my you my end of chapter 16 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 17 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit soul's for sale by rupert hughes chapter 17 nobody stepped forward to call men by name but she almost wished that somebody had for she was in a foreign world indeed the town had nothing of two suns quality it was still a Frontier Post in the eternal battle with the savage desert nearly a century and a half ago Spanish missionaries and soldiers had been massacred here by the Yuma Indians Indians were all about the station now and they frightened the girl who knew of them only as demons of cruelty the heat was savage to is saying that only a sheet of paper stands between Yuma and hell mem could have believed it as her thin Souls winced at the oven lid platform and the Sun bored through her hat and her sweaty hair into her very brain she was solicited to go to the hotel but she could hardly afford such splendor she inquired about a boarding house the baggage men recommended one and she wrote the fearing to trust herself to wander about the Sun smitten streets they were torrid those streets but fascinating since everything was foreign to her experience the shabbiest adobe hut was picturesque to her because cooked mud was new to her the stick-in-the-mud houses made of the plastered willow poles were artistic somehow date-palms and mesquite trees and fuzzy cottonwoods pepper trees and domesticated cacti made her cry out with delight but the Indians were the main charm they gave the dusty dreary town a festival look they reminded mem of the days when circuses had come to calve early she had never been permitted to go to them and it had hurt her father's confidence in her when she showed a desire to see the free parades but now she was inside the circus part of the troupe she expected to see an old stagecoach swing into the street pursued by shooting Apaches Yuma was filled with Indians and Indians school was there and a reservation the Indians had their own shops and farms they were tamed now and no longer matched torture and treachery with the soldiers and the Pioneers they were subdued to agriculture and petty commerce their barbaric Souls found expression only in raw flamboyant colors the squaws went down the street in cheap fabrics high in the neck and low in the hem they were mainly blue and white mother hubbard's aided and abetted by capes of colors that massacred one another and tortured the beholder the hot wind flapped their clothes about them with a ruthless draftsmanship that emphasized what it concealed there was no question as to the confirmation of these squat stodgy figures the red fillets about their brows would have been more active if the faces beneath had been more attractive or the lawless hair better kempt even the young squaws had little to commend them to admiration and the contrast between their gold crown teeth and their shoeless feet was not to their advantage the men were better looking and better carried they were mainly tall and lift and haughty they had also a passion for color for bandanas and loud shirts they wore their hair longer than the squaws were theirs tribal custom forbade them to braid it and it fell in long strands sometimes to their waists with no confinement except perhaps a piece of colored string mem could hardly believe her eyes when a long lean buck flew past on a bicycle his hair streaming out like a young girls she passed one boardinghouse in whose front yard was a signboard boasting the storm lessness of the region free board and lodging every day in the year that the Sun don't shine in such a persecuting heat as this men thought the legend on the sign more of a threat than a promise when she reached the boardinghouse selected for her she rejoiced at the sight of shade but here lurked another landlady to be lied to mrs. Drizzt greeted mem hospitably and asked what name please mem managed to check the name stead in' coming up her throat and changed it hastily to mrs. Woodville your husband ain't with you her no he's coming along later and now her heart sank how could she kill off mr. Woodville here when he had not yet arrived how was she to arrive him you'll want a double room then said mrs. drew sit yes of course yes and now she had to pay extra money for a ghost as she moved up to her allotted room the sad eyed man she had noted on the train came up and asked for commendations it was well that ma'am had not put on her mourning she would have been caught indeed she rested in her darkened room to escape the afternoon blaze but when she came down to supper she was placed next to a woman who frightened her worse than a tarantula by the petrifying remar small world ain't it miss Woodville my husband's folks on his mother's side was Woodville's what part of the country does your husband's family hail from mem toks sincerely on a breadcrumb but prolonged the spasm while she tried to plot an answer to this perilous question she had never expected to be cross-examined on her husband's family or habitat and had never equipped him with either so she excused herself and left the table strangled and throat and mind she could not endure the jail of her room and stole out for a walk the desert Twilight was turning the tin roof of the sky into a heavenly ceiling where invisible spirits were wielding brushes of divine splendor the town's one ambitious building the courthouse broke the horizon with a cupola that was a palette of reflected pigments she wandered down along the swollen Colorado a stream of blood in the sunset an old Stern wheeled steamer fought its way up from the California Gulf noisily and ominously like some permeable water beast returning to its lair in the Grand Canyon the mountains in the distance were piled up in mournful dunes against a sea of gleaming light but she was afraid of the Indians slipping noiselessly about on innocent errands she could not believe that they were not planning a massacre this was the old Apache country yet the Indians and the Mexicans whose children played about as naked as the other pigs were not dangerous to her they made little trouble over an unauthorized child or two she hurried back to the main street where the Indians were mere loafers and small-town sports smoking cigarettes and ogling the giggling girls in the evening mood of other small towns she was faint with hunger and entered a drugstore for refreshment she bought herself a nut Sunday as at Calvary on either side of her was an Indian brave treating an Indian girl to the same pale face medicine the Braves were headdresses of gaudy color almost as gaudy as the shirts on the young white bow who were taking their sweethearts to the movies mem followed the crowd and paid two bits to sit with the aristocrats while the greasers the hope eyes and Navajos win in at the other door for 10 cents the Indians had learned to spoon in the dim light and they laughed at the low comedy inside at the low pathos they could read the first universal language and romance was warming their dreary lives mem smiled to think of her father's wrath at the movies as the weapons of Satan for she could not but realize how much safer from temptation these spectators were here watching the unfolding of almost any imaginable fictions then they would be wandering in stealthy couples along the gloomy riverbanks or left to the mercy of their own devices in the dark of their wretched homes she blushed suddenly with the thought that if she and Elwood had spent that Sunday evening in a moving-picture house instead of mooning on the home porch she might have escaped this shameful exile she went back to her boardinghouse relieved a little from the monomania of her own problems by watching the weaving and unweaving of pictured problems when she reached her new home she found the yard full of beds and most of the beds occupied by a sprawling populace with hardly so much as a sheet to mask its night where she stole through the camp to her own room and found it bedless she stood at her door bewildered the woman who had frightened her away from her dinner by her genealogical interest in the Woodville tribe appeared ghost-like in nightgown and a toget sheet and seeing her perplexity explained the custom of the country you'll suffocate if you try to sleep in your own room honey get into your nightgown and bring your bed clothes down with you like I'm doing your bed is in the yard next to mine you'll sleep good and feel right refreshed in the morning there was nothing for mem to do but follow suit to one who had never seen a bathing beach or gone in bathing undress among a crowd the ordeal was terrifying she dreaded it as an early Christian martyr might have recoiled when the Romans tore off her clothes and thrust her into the arena as those three Quaker women must have shuddered when the good Puritans of Boston stripped them to the tied them to the tail of a cart and lashed their bare backs through the snowy streets of 11 towns for their souls sakes just as the good Puritans of 1920 lashed the bare reputations of the moving picture producers for the good of the community fortunately for MEMS tranquillity her would villian relative by marriage was already asleep and a snore when she slipped wraithlike out into the yard and after a pause at the brink ran to her bed and crawled under a tent of mosquito netting and nothing else she lay staring up at familiar stars in a most unfamiliar world and shame and loneliness smothered her as she smothered her sobs in her pillow lest she waked the neighbors the hot breath from her own lungs was cooler than the night breeze and the bed beneath her was so warm that modesty battled almost vainly with nature to keep as much as a sheet over her she wondered why she had come to this Gehenna where she did not purge herself of sin but committed more and more sin she wondered why anybody was here at all having learned to distrust her own wild capabilities for passionate impulse she wondered how long she would endure the penance here she lay tossing like a frying fish in a skillet trying to atone for a moment's rapture with a lifetime of woe while other women had glorious times and fame and luxury and did what they pleased and were fond upon by the whole world that Miriam you're she got ten thousand a week in spite of the fact that people said she had had two children outside the law was she popular in spite of that fact or because of it in such insane brooding mem fell asleep at length she fell asleep so late that she slept on far past the daybreak and when the sun's rays finally flailed her eyelids open she sat up with the start thinking that someone had moved the house out from under and over her her darting eyes met the blurry gaze of the sad eyed man lolling a few beds away he smiled and drawled good Manan this was really quite too incredible she did not answer him but he had under the sheet until she was sure that he had scrambled out and wrapping the drapery of his couch about him had marched into the house then she gathered up her bedclothes and ran she bathed standing up by a washbowl on a wash stand and the cold water was already so warm her flesh already so tingling with the early heat that she dreaded to get into clothes and of course she was suffering nausea every morning her body was as sick of the complexities of life as her mind the relentless machineries within herself seemed as bent upon her punishment as the relentless machineries of human society without her soul stood aghast between the persecutions of the devil inside her and the deep sea of the people outside she grew so distraught with trying to justify the peculiar ways of God to man and especially to woman that she felt afraid of her own rebellious soul she feared her room and herself and ran down to breakfast she was glad to see that the old woman who asked about the Woodville's was not in her place but she came in later and with the kindly a spirit took up the question again I was asking you about the Woodville's when you had a choking fit last evening and you didn't get to tell me about your husband I'm a Rodman myself or was till I married mr. Sloat but his mother was Woodville like I told you and finer folks never was it would be funny if you and me was related kind of that way wouldn't it wouldn't it ma'am echoed and like echo contributed nothing helpful to the conversation just where did your husband come from I don't know you don't know no but he must have come from somewhere no he didn't that is he was an orphan but even orphans have folks what part of the country was he born in he doesn't remember planned a live child are you trying to have fun with me you're not ashamed of the Woodville's are you naturally anyone would have said no oh no so mem being in an unnatural frenzy answered yes this stumped mrs. sloped completely it was her turn to choke when she regained the vocal use of her windpipe she began again half to herself so you're ashamed of the Woodville's eh oh hell well who decided still of course there's a black sheep in all families where do you say your husband oh he was an orphan one me I'd like to talk to him when he gets here you're expecting him I believe you said did I well didn't you maybe I'm liable to say anything when it's so hot say you'd better go lay down you're talking awful funny go out and sit on the corner of the porch they is usually a breeze there if there's any anywheres thanks I will mem had a keen desire to go to her room and laugh uproariously she had found a mad woman's Glee in bewildering old mrs. slow with her evasive answers but in her room her insane self would be waiting to nag her with more baffling questions than mrs. Sloat's so she went to the porch and sat in the rocker at the corner and found a little Nepenthe and watching the tremulous beauty of a pepper tree all soft foliage and shadow it seemed to be draped in old shawls with embroideries of deep red by-and-by the sad eyed man came clumping along the porch and took a chair he was evidently pining for someone to talk to but he nearly lost his audience on the first question excuse me ma'am but landlady says your name is Woodville that right mem nodded and her heart began to beat her side so hard that she wondered if she could not see it leap under her light waist she made ready to escape again but he a later panic reason I asked was I known a man of that name no daggone and his name was Woodward that's right his name was Woodward or no it was well anyways it probably wasn't his real name with that I called him woody or would head he sat chuckling to himself over his reminiscences woody was a nice enough fella not much but meant all right I reckon many's the mountain him and I prospected the chocolates superstitions all of them around these parts see that big peak up there all by itself like Egyptian obelisk that's old Pikachu used to be so rich in gold then a miner who didn't wash $300 of gold today was fired for a no count now it's all abandoned towns and camps there's gold there yet but it sure held to find well this wood Ville or whatever it was seems like Kim and I went over every inch of this country with a pic and a spyglass we like to died a dozen times water give out once we got to a water hole so deep down our rope wouldn't just quite reach it and we couldn't climb down there was a big rattlesnake there at that we was both black in the mouth one of her burros had fell off a ledge and died and the other and shook off his pack and bolted and we was too weak to chase him then woody went plumb crazy he throwed away his blanket and his clothes and took off his boots and flung him down the water hole at the snake and would have jumped after him only I held on to him I was some feeble myself but I got him roped and tied then he certainly gave me in God about the best cussing out either of us ever got and we both been swore at considerable well my brain begun to dry up and go crazy too I was starting to throw away my things when a prospector found us he had water in a string of burros and he brought us in after that I told woody I was going to keep away from the desert he laughed his self sick and says he pawed hland my name is baden-baden I'll bet you $50 you come back before the years out I took him up and I lost and won woody went in again and stayed he stayed ma'am mumbled you mean he's still there he sure is miss Woodville when we say a feller stayed in the desert we mean he never coming back at all there was a piece in the Tucson paper about woody poor ol skate he went back once too often did he die of thirst not him not this time that old desert has more ways and one of eating you up it was Woody's luck after dying of thirst a hundred times to get drownded yes I'm the desert is fuller of jokes than anybody you know take them Rogers for instance when you'd give your soul for a spoonful of wet scum you see a lake and a river and a waterfall playing away just ahead of you it ain't there and you know it and yet you know it is and you just can't have pushing on to see if it ain't there this time but woody he made his camp in a drier royal bed and during the night they was a cloudburst and he must have been hit by a regular river before he knowed what struck him they found him in a pile of brush the river had gathered up when they found him it was as dry as ever in his canteen was empty and now I'm $40 a head for I can't pay him his bet I was bragging about how smart I was to get out and stay out but Here I am going in again as soon as I can get a couple of burros and a few things once the desert gets you it's got you it's like some of these women you hate and can't get rid of they don't love you and they robbed you and torture you and you know they'll kill you someday but you just can't quit them for keeps mem thought a long time before she spoke then she said do women ever go into the desert mr. baudin sometimes not often sometimes a wild look came into her eyes and she nodded unwittingly the vassal of the desert said was you thinking of going in she smiled curiously and even he who knew so little of women read a yes in her smile with your husband he mumbled she smiled again he's a mighty lucky man a mighty lucky man the desert is a tough place on a pretty little lady it'll lose you that white skin in them soft hands but it would be a grand thing man to have a woman to talk to and to take care of to share a canteen with and to find gold for or if you didn't find gold you'd have her under the stars and in the cool of some of them caves and these canyons up there where you find palm trees growing like you was back in the Garden of Eden he was fairly writhing with his vision of such a pilgrimage he sighed like a furnace your husband's Shore one lucky man tell you what miss Woodville if you ever get tired of him just leave me no and I'll push him off a cliff for you or punch a hole in his canteen anyways I'll be on the watch for you I can't give you no address we don't get mail very regular on the desert but everybody knows bottling gosh all hemlock but your husband's Shore one lucky man he got up and walked away as if to escape the temptation to covet his neighbor's wife the girl was so beautiful in his eyes that he would have been ready to commit murder to get her if that would fetch her his visions of her companionship were too fiercely vivid to be borne in her de mere presence but it was mem who was going to do the murdering she had found the way to be rid of her husband for the satisfaction of her people now if she could only find a way to be rid of herself and that way came to her before the long day had burned itself away she had hidden from the Sun in her room the drawn curtains kept out the light and the Sun steeped wind but the still air inside the room seemed to have thorns it stung her flesh with nettles where she lay supine on her bed in his little garb as her schooled modesty would permit she heard two waitresses talking in the dining room below as they set the tables for supper who was that letter you got from some feller nah it was from a lady up to Palm Springs asking me was I coming back up there the season are you nah too quiet for me you mayn't no merry-go-round but Palm Springs my god it's just a little spot of shatter in the desert nice and cool in the season but what does cool get you if you're cut off from all the world would you believe it there ain't even a moving picture there when I want to hide from the world I'll crawl into Palm Springs but not before this lady offer you a job yes she's on her knees to me mrs. Randall's her name is husband's got a ranch nice little hotel there too with jobs going beggin but not for me thank you I'm through with them retreats I'm trying to work my way to a real city give me folks and plenty of them how do you like to go there and take my job at Randall's the other voice mount me not much I run away from home to get love and excitement and look where I landed hi God but I wished I was back in Wichita the voices died in a clowder of plates and knives and forks there was melancholy and thwarted ambition everywhere evidently mem had never heard of Palm Springs but she was looking for just such a place and a ranch she had always wanted to see a ranch the heat here was like a madness upon her but most of all she abhorred this eternal facing of questions mrs. slow was a nuisance a menace writing letters home in getting letters from home had become an intolerable burden on her soul she wanted to get away from everybody that had ever known her she wanted to find some deep dark cave she was the prey already of the instinct that doctor breath Erick had spoken of the instinct to crawl away and hide during the long ugly phase ahead of her and the fearful climax at the end of it there was a blaze of mutiny in her heart against the whole business of her life she understood why Badlands over loaded over driven burro had kicked off its pack and bolted this pack of lies that she was carrying and adding to it every step was bound to crush her sooner or later why be a burro for other people's burdens it would profit her none what reward could she hope for heat and fatigue whipped her into hysteria her soul vomited up all the precepts it had been fed upon she found energy enough for one last desperate letter home then she would declare her soul bankrupt and face the world free of responsibilities to the past darling mama and papa by now you have probably ceased to be surprised at anything I do you'll think I've gone clean crazy and I guess I have but as long as I'm getting better and happier every day you won't mind I've been too busy to write you all about John as I promised he is out here scouting for a famous mine and is going prospecting for it right away it is a famous lost mine that got abandoned on account of some old litigation and was nearly forgotten so he's on the hunt for it and we're going out to hunt for it together it means losing ourselves in the desert and the mountains for a long while there's no telling how long but it will be terribly romantic and fine for my health and when next you hear from me I may be so rich I'll send you a solid gold sewing machine mama and papa a solid gold pulpit there's no mail delivery where we're going and no way of reaching us but don't worry if anything happens I'll let you know if you don't hear from me for a long while you'll know everything's all right you can send your letters to me here and I'll find them when I get back don't send me any more money so goodbye and blessings on your darling heads John sends his love your loving loving loving mem as she finished the letter she thought grimly of what mr. baudin had said she was not quite sure just what was going to happen to mr. Woodville in her morbid humor and her resentment at her own allotted torture she had a leaning toward the most gruesome fates for her husband a death from thirst or a rattlesnakes fangs or a fall down a precipice one thing was sure John would ville was going into the desert to stay she envied him the calm certainty of his fate the main solace to her pride in herself obliteration was the thought that she was going to cease to be a drain on the flat purse of her poor father he and her mother had gone through life like two sad desert burrows carrying burdens they should no longer carry hers villager though she was and used to housework she had been brought up in a certain pride to be a chambermaid or a waitress was a dismal comedown but she must accept it what right had she to pride she would go to Palm Springs and toil humbly as long as she could and save her wages and pretend to be a widow she would go there in mourning and bury her heart in sackcloth and ashes and perhaps in that thief's crucifixion to which she was carrying her own increasingly heavy cross she would die unknown and be lost to the to many miseries of this world and so she fared into the desert to stay she went there to find obscurity and concealment to embrace poverty and humility but everything went by contraries and from that oasis she was to be caught up into a fiery chariot for all the world to behold as it rolled her round and round the globe on an amazing destiny everything that had tortured her and was yet to torture her was a schooling end of chapter 17 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 18 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 18 that a lie never prospers is a lie that always prospers it is discouraging for lovers of the truth to review the innumerable and eternal untruths that are told for the truths sake mem broke away from Yuma with an unusual economy of falsehood her trunk was the only difficulty it had followed her from Tucson to her boardinghouse in Yuma but she could not check it further without giving her destination after a vast amount of thought mem decided to ask her landlady to hold her trunk for her and till she returned for it she put into it everything that she could spare she was going to travel light and forage on the country there was an old shed in the backyard and the dry air would serve as a perfect preservative for her belongings in case she ever came back for them she told the landlady the same story she embodied in her farewell letter home and asked her to hold any mail that might come then she slipped away while mrs. slow was not looking she went to the station with her old suitcase and took the train into the Imperial Valley to her it was as pathless and mapless and as filled with strange beasts asked to the first prospectors only she was not looking for gold or adventure she was looking for peace and like the usual pioneer she was sure to find almost everything but what she hunted in her ignorance membata her ticket to Palm Spring station instead of to whitewater where an auto bus would have met her she was a little more accustomed now to the desert but she took no interest in the miracles that had tamed the wastes of sand and the Salton Sea and put the idle sterile welter to work upon a vast garden had built enormous dams to impound the stray water and endless channels to carry it where it was needed when it was needed men was deposited at the lonely station and fear smothered her as she watched the train vanish into the glare but a rancher almost as shy as she offered her the hospitality of his wagon he was rough unshaven and unkempt the very picture of a stage robber still she preferred him to the solitude and he turned out to be almost as silent he was too timid to ask her questions and she was grateful to him for that he said that he was going past the Randalls ranch anyhow and would leave her there and he said nothing more when the ranchmen had helped her into his wagon he and hitched the horses and made a dash for the seat the horses began the journey with the take-off from the ground that hinted at a voyage through the air rather than along the road then they settled down to their ordinary gate men would have called it a runaway but the driver did not even halt in on the lines after a time mem saw ahead of her a shimmering lake and trees and a waterfall that's Palm Springs I suppose she said no ma'am that's a mirage imaginary Mirage there's nothing there at all no ma'am and now ma'am had learned that her own eyes could lie to her with convincing vividness she wondered if they'd deceived her when they showed her sagebrush and crippled trees bent in rheumatic Agony's she thought she saw a lilliputian alligators scattering here and there they were Chuck Wallace but she did not dare ask about them suddenly as the road led them with an eye shot of two vast hills of San unspotted with vegetation she saw what she was sure was pure mirage a scene that must have come from her memory of a picture in an old volume of bible stories she would almost have sworn that she looked into the desert of Araby for she seemed to see a train of camels in trappings and perched upon their billowy humps men in the garb of better ones she rubbed her eyes and scolded them but they persisted in their story having been so perfectly deceived by the equally visible lake in cascade that were not she did not mention the camels to her host who gave no sign of wander then the horses seemed to suffer from the same delusion for they grew panicky and began to buck and back and leave the road the driver yelled at them and tried to force them ahead but as they drew near the camels they went into hysterics they refused to obey yells or rains or the whiplash or even each other's impulses but at length their insanities coincided they slewed in the same direction carried the wagon into the side ditch and overturned it men found herself gently spilled in the soft sand so little injured that her only thought was for pulling down her skirts she lay still reclining not in pain but in wonderment as the wagon slid on its side the driver stumble along and still clinging to the lines as if he tried to hold giant Falcons and leash the caravan grew restive too and Men was consumed with perplexity as she saw one of the animals forced to its knees not far from her the shake or whatever he was tumbled from the saddle and ran to her a brown face looked out from the hood and from the scarlet lip surrounded by a short beard came a voice startlingly on Arabic miss Steadman misremember Statten she was so dazed that she could only stare into the mysterious face doubly dark against the blinding Sun the Arab smiled and laughed you don't know me don't you recall mr. Woodville this frightened her and confused her unbearably who are you she gasped as a matter of fact I'm only mr. holy Tom Hobie a common movie actor out on location but the last time you saw me you called me mr. Woodville oh did I I was thinking of my husband your husband you were miss deaden a week or two ago yes but oh I see you have taken the fatal step since then is that mr. Woodville playing tag with those dancing demons out there oh no he's dead dead already and you only married a few days why what on earth she dropped her head she could not face the rush of sympathetic horror in those famous eyes she could not think in the flailing sunbeams pounding her aching head Hobie read this as grief and sighed you don't want to talk about it of course forgive me but you can't stay here end of chapter 18 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 19 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 19 they say that the Magdalene was not really a Magdalene that tradition has forgotten the text and mixed her with a woman of Bethany just as Potiphar's wife is carelessly branded with the deeds of another woman but ma'am as she cowered on the sand felt as humble as the Magdalene in the pictures though the man who looked down upon her so tenderly had never posed as a Galilean even in the miracle play they give every summer in the canyon a Hollywood Tom hobee's profession was the opposite of a preacher's he tried to show how people actually did behave not how they ought to his authors would not let him be very real but always forced a moral and that is the true immorality of the moving pictures not that they present wickedness so that innocent people may imitate it but that they present life as if it punishes and rewarded virtue which is a pretty lie but a lie nonetheless while Hobie had an instant suspicion that mem was not telling him the truth he felt no call to rebuke her or to wring it from her he thought she's pretty she's in trouble my business is to be as nice to her as I can he lifted her from the sand brushed her off and went for her suitcase which had been dumped into the stunted stubs of Achaia cactus that vegetable porcupine whose frosty Barb's were fiendishly ingenious in creeping into his skin Hobie brought away a few spines that would cause him long agony until with the knife and pliers he should gouge them out the darts of Cupid might have been plucked from the same bush and Hobie found the thoughts of this shy girl like cactus spines embedded in his thoughts tormenting Lee as he lugged the suitcase back to the road he tripped on the long skirts of his Arabian burnoose he had practiced walking in it when he was before the camera but he was thinking of mem now he was thinking she was not married when I met her on the train a week later she's a widow she has gone through two earthquakes in quick succession a honeymoon and a funeral I have found that whenever a calamity occurs to anybody lack of money adds to the horror of it his instinct was not to save her soul but to make her body comfortable and so when he set the suitcase down by mem he asked her to rest upon it and stood between her in the Sun while he spoke very earnestly tell me to mind my own business if I'm impertinent but may I ask you one question did your husband leave you any money mem was so startled that she mumbled a little not much not much enough for a while have you come here to be with your parents or friends or relatives no I'm looking for a position as a chambermaid oh my god you her eyes were amazed at his horror he cried again you with your beauty oh no she had been brought up on a motto praise to the face is open disgrace she snubbed him with the fierce toss of the head he laughed aloud he had been a small-town youth and had known that model but he had been so long among women who were of a quite opposite mind that he was amused by the quaint backwoods ideal of regarding charm as a thing unmentionable in polite society while he was trying to keep his face straight as he apologized a sharp voice broke in upon them a man in a pith helmet dark goggles and a riding suit had steered a restive horse close to them and was complaining say Hobie do you realize you're keeping the whole company waiting in this ghastly heat I beg your pardon mr. Folger just a moment old man let me present you to miss mrs. Woodville the director touched his helmet and nodded curtly as he whirled his horse to ride back to his Caravan Hobie ran and seizing his bridle led the horse aside and talked to Folger earnestly look here oh man that girl is a friend of mine and beautiful as a peach she's got the skin and the eyes that photograph to beat the band she's just lost her husband and come out to this hellhole to be a chambermaid it's too outrageous to think of give her a chance won't you the director twisted in his saddle and stared at men with expert eyes then laughed at Hobie his she is sweetie of yours none of that now she's as nice as they make him but I can't stand the thought of working on a ranch making beds and wrestling slop jars give her a test and put her in the mob scene or something and don't tell Robina I told you to in heaven's name folger was puzzled Robina teal was a troublemaker in the company but she made profitable trouble in the hearts of the public just now she was smitten with Tom Hobie and she had dealt fiercely with one or two minor actresses he had been polite to but it was bad studio politics to encourage these tyrannies stars had to be disciplined with care like racehorses yet curbed somehow if Hobie could be freed from teals domination even by the sharp knife of jealousy it might be a good thing for the next picture fold your cast another look at mem there was a fresh meekness about her an aura of gracious appeal it would do no harm to try her out if she were a failure no one would know it if she were a discovery he would get the credit it would not hurt him to do whole be a favor for the directors own contract was under question of renewal and a good word from Hobie would not come amiss all right he said I'll take a chance two of the extra women keeled over this morning from the heat I'll have my assistant take her to the wardrobe woman and get her fitted out and made up she can appear in the famine scene and I'll bring her forward for a close-up if she looks good in the rushes we'll keep her on and now for heaven's sake get back on your camel for the cameramen are just about ready to drop he set Spurs to his horse and rode across the field with his megaphone to his lips as he bellowed his orders the caravan resumed its plotting advance and Hobie turned back to say – remember I taken a great Liberty I can't bear the thought of your working as a servant when there may be a big career before you in the pictures the director saw you and he wants you to to help them out there's a shortage in the company for the big scene and you'd be a godsend try it and see if you like it if you don't there's no harm done and you'll be paid well for your trouble if you do like it why but to please me I mean the director do this won't you he knew people well enough to glean from the first glance into her eyes that mem was appalled at the prospect of playing in the movies and that his one hope was to put his gift in the form of a petition before she could quite realize what she was doing ma'am had said well of course if it would be doing you a favor an immense favor I don't know anything you know that's all the better you have nothing to unlearn here's mr. Ellis the assistant director he'll take care of you I've got to go he introduced a young man who rode up and dismounted with all the meekness of the meekest office on earth that of Assistant Director in a tone of more than vice-presidential humility Ellis explained to mem what she was to do she was aghast at the sudden plunge into the deep waters of an unknown sea she turned to tell Tom Hobie that she really could not accept but he was in no position to hear her he was in every position as his camel rose to its knees Hobie was flopped about in the air with a violence that threatened to throw his head afar like a stone in a sling when the camel had established itself on its forced self a cushioned feet it moved off with an undulating motion as sickening as an English Channel steamers men turned to appeal to the man who had promised to drive her to the Randalls ranch but he was standing far out in a sea of sage and cactus dolefully regarding his wagon what lay on its back with three and a half wheels spinning in the air and the other half of one's scattered about the desert while mem floundered in the sands of her own uncertainties many camels went by and horses in gorgeous trappings then followed a string of light automobiles loaded with machinery that she did not understand with lighting equipment with airplane propellers to kick up a sand storm and with paraphernalia of every sort after these walked and rode a great crowd of men and women in Arabian costumes their faces and hands painted in raw colors Ellis checked one of the cars and which sound woman mrs. Kittery to whom he introduced mrs. Woodville explaining what was to be done with her get in here my dear said mrs. Kittery and before mem could protest mr. Ellis had flung her suitcase in helped her to a seat slammed the tin door on her swung into his saddle and away the car kept to what road there was and mrs. Kittery soon learned how abysmal mems innocence was but she was used to the ignorance of extra women and she was glad that mem was not a Chinese a Turk or an Indian she could at least understand English after a long and furiously jolty passage over the sand the caravan of motors and the mob of suffering extras came to a halt on the shady side of a cluster of Arabian tents mrs. Kittery asked one of the extra women to make up mrs. Woodville while she found a costume in the hamper this amiable person was still unknown to fame as leave allymeier really mrs. David Wilkinson whose husband had been killed in the war leaving her with three children whom she supported by this form of toil she preferred it to her previous experiences as a schoolteacher and a trained nurse she made from forty to fifty dollars a week and sometimes more and she led a life of picturesque travel from nationality to nationality a Mexican one week a Hindu another a farm wife again a squaw or a harem auda liske mem felt that the extra woman's life had its fascinations the art was the business to mrs. Wilkinson and she called it that she was generous with greasepaint and information and she had a village mind that translated to MEMS village mind these foreign customs in a language she could understand only such a steady sold person could have kept mem from bolting and panic before the ordeal of having her face kalsa mind and tinted her eyelids painted the lashes leaded her eyebrows penciled her lips incarnadine and red dots put here in there to give depth to her the decoration of the face with any color from outside had been hitherto an advertisement of eager vice and now she was a painted woman to mrs. Wilkinson Zaun face was decorated like in Indian warriors including certain blotches of carmine which she explained my nose is too broad and flat so I paint the sides of it red and that photographs like a shadow and I have a double chin which disappears in the picture thanks to the red and I narrow my fat cheeks the same way but you don't need any of that modeling your perfect men was dazed by this constant reference to her beauty at home it had been a guiding principle that praising children made them conceited these first compliments came like slaps in the face but she was beginning to find them stimulating by the time mom was varnished mrs. Kittery had arrived with gaudy costumes earrings necklaces and bracelets mem was soon so disguised that when LaValle Amer offered her pink in the mirror top of her makeup box she could not recognize herself at all she looked like a cheap crumb o of somebody else there's two things you'll learn about the business if you stay in it said liebe you've got to get up at an ungodly hour and break your neck making ready on time and then you've got to sit around for hours and hours with nothing to do half the time they don't reach you all day and most of the scenes you're taken in are cut out of the final picture otherwise it's a nice life and now that her pores were stuffed with pain which was disastrous to with a handkerchief mem had the task of waiting while the hot wind brought the great drops of sweat to her skin and the blown sand kept up in incessant scratching in the distance in the relentless flagellation of the Sun the principals of the company enacted before a group of cameras a drama that mem could not understand the camels defiled slowly then galloped back and defiled slowly again and again there were long arguments the director and his assistant – back and forth trumpeting through their megaphones the camels alone revealed artistic temperament they began to fight one another a group of two dragged there terrified passengers hither and yon and knocked over a camera one of them fled and dumping his bail Freeman got clean away he was not found until the next day and then in Palm Canyon where he reveled in a perfect duplicate of a homeland Oasis Liva exclaimed to mem what all the father was about you see they take everything first at a distance long shots they call them they have three cameras here but something always goes wrong or looks as if it could be improved so they make a lot of takes then they come closer and take medium shots to cut into the long shots then they take close-ups of the most dramatic moments all these have to match though they usually don't so that they can be assembled in the studio for the finished picture the camels go by one way to show their passing a certain spot then they go by the same spot in the opposite direction to show the return but in the finished picture that won't take place till a week later but they take the things that happen on the same spot at the same time no matter where they occur in the picture it keeps the actors awfully must up in their minds they don't know whether they're playing today last month or two years from now that's real being a teal and that biggest camel she's earning her money today by the sweat of her whole system she's sweet on Tom Hobie and his jealous of him as a feigned she's an awful cat but he's a mighty nice boy not spoiled a bit by being advertised as the most beautiful thing in the world I was in a scene with him once he was just as considerate as if I had been Norma Talmadge or Pauline Frederick well the extras waited and simmered their luncheon was served the property crew went about among them dealing out pasteboard boxes containing sandwiches wrapped in oiled papers a bit of fried chicken hard-boiled eggs a piece of cake and a Californian fruit a peach a pear grapes figs a banana or an orange there was a cauldron of coffee for those that wanted it hot iced tea and bottles of pop mem had never been on a better Fed picnic the women and men squatted on the ground and ate swapping fruit and repartee some of the jokes scent blushes flying beneath the layers of paint on mems skin there was a vast amount of caustic fun made of the principles the director and the management but mem tried to remind herself that the sewing circles at home were just as busy tearing down the reputations of the neighbors only with a holier-than-thou contempt entirely lacking here there was a gypsy spirit in this company that mem had never met the gaiety was irresistible and she managed to control her horror when she found that she was almost the only woman who refused a cigarette even mrs. Wilkinson dug up a package from her desert robes the principles had their refreshments taken to them and snatched it between scenes Robina did not eat at all she lived in an eternal lent since she had to fight a sneaking tendency to plumpness she suffered anguishes of fasting and privation like a religious zealot but from the opposite reason the zealots crucified the flesh because it was the devil's lair she in order to give it a lure meant and keep times claws off her as long as possible so now in a Heath that drove the desert Indians into the shade and idleness these dainty actresses and actors invited sunstroke and labored with muscles and emotions at full blast in order to make pictures and minimize the appalling overhead expense of every wasted hour after a time the extras were called forth from the comparative shelter of the to the scene of action it was like being tossed from the red-hot stove lid into the very fire – mmmm it was all incredible phantasmagoria she could not believe that this was she who stumbled across the sand twitching her skirts out of the talons of the cactuses carefully dabbing the sweat from her face with a handkerchief already colored like a painter's brush rag and jingling as she walked with barbaric jewelry the mob went forward slowly and she recognized Tom Hobie on a camel she hoped that he would not recognize her but he studied all the faces and being used to disguises made her out and hailed her with the password how you standing it she called up to him all right thank you there was vast interest in her from now on the leaning man had singled on an extra woman for special attention and the gossip went round with a rush as of wings mem did not know that she was already a public property she would have fled as from a plague if she had known later she would come to realize that these people loved to believe the worst forgive it and absolve it with the forbearance met hardly anywhere else except in heaven the director masked the extras together and addressed them from his horse ladies and gentlemen you are supposed to be an Arabian tribe driven from your homes by the cruel enemy you are wandering across the desert without food or water dying of hunger and thirst later in the afternoon if we can reach it you will be overtaken by a sandstorm and many of you will perish miserably it's hard work I know but if you will go to it we'll be out of this hellhole tomorrow and there will be more comfortable work in the cool night shots so make it snappy folks and do what you were told on cue with all the pep you can put into it I thank you the company was then divided into groups with business assigned to each long shots were taken again and again small groups were posed with as much care as if the Sun were benign instead of diabolic close-ups of individuals were taken the most striking types being selected and coached to express crisis of feeling you go mad and babble old man will you tear it your throat and let your tongue hang out you miss will you fall back in your mother's arms you be mother will you miss and catch her your to die you know just roll your eyes back and sigh and seek into a heap and you mother wring your hands and beat your breasts and wail you understand oriental stuff a and I'd like somebody just to look up to heaven and pray for mercy somebody with big eyes let me see no your I'm saving you for the you the young lady over there will you step out please come on come on I won't bite unless I'm kept waiting it's warm you know folks come out please oh it's mrs. Woodbridge isn't it I met you this morning here's your chance do this for me like a good girl and give yourself to it look up to heaven if the Sun brings tears to your eyes alright but let them come from your soul there if you can you see you have seen your people dying like flies about you from famine and hardship you look up and say oh god you don't mean for us to die in this useless torture do you dear God take my life and let these others live won't you dear God something like that you know don't look up yet you'll blind yourself wait till I get the camera set here boys make a very close close-up of this mem stood throbbing from head to foot with embarrassment and with the strange in rush of alien moods the fierce eyes of the director burning through his dark glasses the curious instigation in his voice the plea to do well for him quickened her magically the cameramen set up their tripods before her the lenses like threatening muzzles aimed point-blank then they bent and squinted through their finders and brought tapes up and held them so close that their hot hands touched her when they measured her exact distance then adjusted the focuses one of them lifted the fault of her hood a little aside from her brow director stared at her keenly then put on his hand and asked for a powderpuff he dusted her face gently to dull the glistening surface they treated her as if she were in otamatone and she became one a mere channel for an emotion to gush through Folger took her by the arm and murmured just once now dear before we make the take remember what I told you let your heart break give us all you've got look round first and see your dying people that's your father over there just gasping his life out your mother lies dead back there you've covered her poor little body with sin to keep the jackals from it your own heart is broken in a thousand pieces can you do it will you that's right look round now and let yourself go she felt herself bewitched be numbed yet mystically alive to a thousand tragedies her eyes rolled around the staring throng some of them were helping her by looking their agony others were out of the mood adjusting their robes freshening their makeup or whispering and smiling but the gift of belief the genius of substitution fell upon her like a flame and nothing mattered they had brought music out into this inferno a wheezy organ a cello and a violin that cried like the Linnet that had lost her way and sang on a blackened bow in hell her heavy eyes made out Tom Hall be gazing down at her from his camel and pouring sympathy from his own soul into hers then she flung her head from side to side in a torment of woe cast her head back and heaved her big eyes up into the cruel brazier of the skies seemed to see God peering down upon the little multitude and moved her lips in supplication she felt the words and the anguish ringing her throat and the tears came trooping from her eyes ran shining into her mouth and she swallowed them and found them bittersweet with an exultation of agony she did not know that the director had whispered camera and was watching her like a tiger striving to drive his own energy into her she did not hear the camera men turning their cranks there was such weird reality in her grief the directors glasses were blurred with his own tears the cameramen were gulping hard she did happen to note as her upward stare encountered Tom hobee's eyes on high that tears were dripping from his lashes and then his mouth was quivering the sight of his tears sent through her a strange pang of triumphant sympathy and she broke down sobbing would have fallen to the sand if level amer had not caught her and drawn her into her arms kissing her and whispering wonderful wonderful she felt a hand on her arm and was drawn from leiva's arms into a man's her shoulders were squeezed hard by big hands and she heard a voice that identified her captor as the director he was saying god bless you that was the real stuff we won't make you do it over we had two cameras on you you're alright you're a good girl the real thing then she began to laugh and choked and became an utter fool this was her first experience of the passion of mimicry she was as shamed as glorified as dreamed yet as exultant as if a god had ceased her and embraced her fiercely for a moment then left her aching and ember in the ashes the director was already calling the mob to the next task she could not help glancing toward Tom Holby his camel was moving off at the crowd but he was turning back to gaze at her he was nodding his head in approval and he raised his hand in the salute of profound respect end of chapter 19 recording by Deana Beauvais chapter 20 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 20 that afternoon the sand storm was to be pulled off dynamos mounted on trucks carrying airplane propellers were gathered toward the two great dunes piled to the northeast of Palm Springs hiding who knows what under the sands heap by winds that have roared down the San Gorgonio Pass for eons toward the greater of them a mass whose color had now the shitty luster of an Opel 500 feet high a hillock we're on no more vegetation grows than on an Opel and we're on the light plays Milkha Lee through all the gamut of tinges the caravan moved the desert was to represent Sahara in the picture and these actors and actresses were to convince the throngs that they were really a tribe of misery on whom fate heaped a cyclone of sand to crown their martyrdoms of hunger thirst and weariness as the straggling hireling zuv art trudged across the shifty floor of sand panting between the heat that beat down from the sky and shot up from the glassy meadow the air Stood Still and they cooked as in a firebox their feet fried and their hearts staggered the suffocation sent a few of the Crusaders to the ground gasping like fish in a Creole these were gathered up and carried half-dead to the shade where a physician restored them they were humiliated and grieved at the treachery of their own faculties the others hardly so much March des stumbled forward mem was aided somehow by the ardour of her little success she felt that if she could only keep to the fore she might be offered another drought of the new wine of art by and by she overtook Tom Hobie who checked his camel to have a word with her I'd ask you to take my place up here but I'm afraid you'd be a seasick as I was the first time I rode one of these wallowers but hang on to that strap and it will help you a little mem sees dependence strapped and was hailed along she did not know and Tom Hobie did not care how much this interested the neglected multitude after a time as they slackened their pace to mount the dune in whose soft surface her feet sank above the ankles mem noted that the smothering hush of the air was quickened with little agoos of wind gimlets of sand rose and twisted ran and fell a fiendish malice seemed to inspire them and they were vicious as Devils at play then the sky ahead was blotted from sight by a vast yellow blanket it came forward as if Giants were carrying it to spread over the terrified pilgrims ahead of it darted and swirled spinning dervishes of sand the blanket as it approached became a wall hurrying a vast dam driven by mountain floods in the rear the crest of it was a spume of sand the menace of it was as of a day of judgment the actors had never seen anything of its sort but they could guess what the camels knew that it was of dreadful almond a few years before a herd of cattle rolling up from Yuma had been caught in such a sandstorm and when it passed they were all dead and buried the camels began to betrayed the terror that the people surmised they grew frantic with panic but knew that flight was vain they were at the mercy of whatever God it is that beasts the door tom hobee's mount without waiting for command dropped to its belly and stretched out its neck and closed his eyes against the peril but the cameramen set their tripods and began to turn their cranks they had the instinct of the trade and were hopeful that if they themselves did not live their pictures might Tom Howe be dropped from his post and gathered mem into the shelter of the camels bulk she did not know or care that his arm was about her as they stood peering across the parapet of the camel's back at the onset of the advancing niagara other women crowded to the same camel the rest of the crowd flung themselves down and dug their arms to the elbows in the sand lest they be swept away a courier Gale leaped upon them in a yelling charge with whips of fire that flung the tripods over and the cameraman with them but still they persisted and shielding their lenses with their own bodies turned them this way and that grinding the cranks and picking up what groups they saw about them the torrid blast dashed the sand in shovel fulls upon the groveling crowd the great robes fluttered flapped bolide and ripping loose went being the gliding precipice of sand arrived and hid the Sun in a gruesome Safran fog and then precipice was avalanche with abrupt chill a brown cold mountain fell on them stop the breath and played shrapnel on the skin in a maelstrom of dagger points that stabbed from every side Tom Hobie wrapped his burnoose about men as they cowered in the lis of his camel the sand broke over their bulwark as breakers leap across a rock they were drowned in waves that did not receive the sound found them inside their robes it filled their nostrils their mouths when they got for breath The Breakers of sand swept round upon them Brokeback over them and with a grinding uproar that threatened to split the ears they packed with sand Tom Hobie kept struggling to fling off the hillock that formed about them kept lifting men's head above the mound that grew sage brushes ripped from their places shot by tearing the skin they touched roots of old Mesquite went over like clubs prickly pears and masses of cactus hurtled past in the torrent suddenly the sand tide was gone but a sea of rain followed it cruelly cold and ruthless it turned the mounds into gobs of wet sand slimy and odious what had been a world of drought in frenzy became a lake in a squall what garments the wind had not wrenched free grew sloppy and icy and low slimly sticky for half an hour the deluge harried the dismal Caravan then in an instant the rain was over the hurricane of sand pursued by flood passed on up the valley to rend the orange groves and tear the fishing boats from their moorings the Sun resumed his own tyranny and lashed the thrice retched army back to its camp but the cameramen retrieve their instruments from the rubber covers they had wrapped about them with a mothering devotion and the director checked the retreat and formed it in groups for record the airplane propellers that had come forth to imitate the frenzy of the storm had yielded to it and were torn from their axles lost here they're beneath the new surface of the blinking opal end of chapter 20 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 21 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 21 the footsore and saddle-sore moving picture people fell back upon Palm Springs like a defeated army the village a cool shadow on a bleak waist had known nothing of the storm except as a distant spectacle the skirts of the gale had set the palm leaves to rattlin together as an ancient staff play and the limber towers of the tallest tree swayed and shuddered but not one of them had fallen nor been struck headless by lightning the village was alone the winter visitors had gone inside that is to say had departed to the cool seashore at San Diego in Los Angeles and the community had drawn itself together for its long summer nap there was room for the moving picture people and leave a lemare invited mem to share her room in one of the hotel bungalows the Sun sank early behind the vast barricade of the San Jacinto chain rising sheer from the sand and piling height upon height to the crest 10,000 feet in air the mountains were blessed now with a mist of light that the aerial prisms gave the effect of down the brutality of the sky became grace the stark nakedness of the place was here covered with a flesh of earth with grass and flowers and with the large flowers we call trees mem had none the oleander as a tubbed captive at home here it was a giant spreading arms in a benediction of fragrant shade and dangling bouquets that brushed her hair and caught her hat palm trees of vast Bowl hung out umbrellas of sombre green wan cottonwoods held up pallid limbs drooping with fuzz pepper trees let their tresses droop the ancient and honorable black fig tree of the famous San Gabriel lineage date-palms roses flowers and shrubs masked and running wild about the rambling gardens seemed miraculous to mam who had almost forgotten in the dreary hell of the desert that green things had ever been invented and who found herself walking deeper and deeper into a revel of tropical luxury there were Indians here to the little Company of quoi heelas one old buck with hair is blackest tar drip and as long as his hat-brim was broad stood gravely watering hollyhocks with a garden hose a clump of broad squaws worked at basket weaving darting through the streets young Indian girls with bobbed hair flopping and gingham skirts flying beasts rode the wild horses of this village white people rode too cowman from the ranches beyond and children one half-naked little girl bounced along the lane on a monstrous horse so flout of back that she might as well have been riding a galloping plateau yet she was chasing home a troop of horses as big as her own I was never on a horse mem side you'd better learn to ride said leave and lemare it comes in mighty handy in this business but I'm not going into the business men protested hardly able to push one foot ahead of the other I've had enough for the rest of my life that's what my poor husband used to say every time he recovered from a spree and he never took another drop till he got the first chance but mam knew better she was too tired to eat she wanted to lie down and never get up leave a guided her to the bungalow and left her just to be cool just to be still were paradise now after a time a porter brought her her suitcase leave ahead managed to find it but mam was too weary to change her clothes she dropped into a chair by a window and watched a tiny boy drive home a few cattle watched the last red plumage fade on the breast of the mountains watched the first star suddenly shimmer as if a jewel had been tossed from somewhere on the sky other stars twinkled into being here there they're like the first big drops of rain and soon the whole sky was spattered with them the moon that had lurked in the blistered air all day unseen turned up her lamp and carried it somewhere into the sea beyond the shore of the horizon carried the sky with it star by star the moon went reluctantly but the milky way seemed to gleam with added radiance when she was gone the lights in the homes made stars on earth and gave companionship to the dreamy Night at length Liva came along the path a shadow detaching itself from other shadow she was full of high spirits there had been great hilarity in the dining room of the Desert Inn she was still Restless and she urged men to come with her and bathe in the hot springs of the Indian Reservation men was enough restored by now to feel the distress of the sand that filled her hair and her clothes the project had a tang of wild adventure and she went along taking clean clothes over her arm they walked through the double night of the foliage shrouded streets the poems muttering over them and blocking their way on the irregular paths at the reservation an old Indian admitted them with an utter indifference to their thrill of terror inside the cabin lighted only by candles they undressed and stretched themselves in the warm water thickened with sand it crept about them with an uncanny tingling where the stream bubbled from the depths it was a weird a spooky bath but it sent them forth clothed in skins were born when they drifted past the hotel they heard song enriching the night a man's voice carried the burden of the tune sonorous Li and a woman's voice over soared it like a hovering nightingales or so men thought until leave a whispered that's Robina teals singing pretty voice hasn't she beautiful said mem but begrudged the praised with a jealousy that surprised her the man is Tom Hobie I think said liebe awfully nice fellow seems to have taken a great shine to you nonsense said ma'am oddly quickened by the thought and a little by her own delight well we might as well move along leave a grumbled we're only extras and we don't belong with the big folks humbled and outcast but without resentment mem followed through the heavy gloom suddenly smothered with loneliness and uselessness yet panting for something to do something brilliant and tremendously emotional like the moment of desperate passion she hadn't acted in the desert she wondered what the photograph would look like wondered if she would ever see it if anyone else would ever see it or if it would be cut out as Liva had suggested a terrible thing to feel fiercely and be cut out snuff like a candle flame that yearns and leaps and is forever as if it had never been when she reached the cottage she was very weary again but she could not sleep and Liva wanted to read there were two beds in the room and leave a set propped up by a little bed light that painted her in bright vignette against the dark after a long stupor mem abruptly wanted to know something are the moving picture people very wicked she heard herself asking leave us stared into the dark where mem Lee and she laughed a very mems eyed she was sorry to hear it in fact leave a went on I don't know a single moving picture person who is above reproach she finished the page and turned it before she went on but then neither do I know a single person in any other walk of life who is above reproach everybody I ever heard of is full of sin the Bible says that we all fell with Adam and Eve so I suppose it's only natural that movie people should be as faulty as everybody else's but I can't see that there any wicked er than anybody else really mem cried hoisting herself to an elbow really most movie people are stodgy and untempered mental and nice everyday ish folksy Souls they work hard when they can and save their money and raise families and have children and spots and diseases and petty vices like everybody else a few Wild Ones make a splurge and get in the papers but if you read the papers you see all the professions and trades represented in the scandals the other day the front page told about a preacher who ran away with a girl in the choir and left a wife and several children behind him but nobody spoke about the danger of letting girls sing in choirs yet choirs are dangerous heaven knows she cannot see how mam trembled at this random arrow that struck home mem was sorry she spoke and asked no more questions but leva needed no further prompting I've tried a lot of trades stenographer nurse canvassing for magazine subscriptions clerking in a store and just plain home life and there was mischief everywhere don't believe all this talk you hear honey or put it in its proper proportion there were no movies 25 years ago but Satan is a million years old and he hasn't taken a day or a night off yet I used to know a piece about Satan find some mischief still for idle hands to do but he has enough left over for busy hands to are you thinking of staying in the movies no afraid of them no you've got a good start you've made a hit with the star and a director the first day Lord I've been at it two years and still dubbing along better keep at it no thank you don't thank me said liebe I'm nobody I couldn't be of any help except to find you a good boardinghouse in an agent but if you ever come up to Los Angeles I'll give you the address tomorrow don't let me forget I won't leave I returned to her book the turning of every page slashing mems mood like a knife she was thinking that she was not good enough even for the movies her sin had led her to the edge of this paradise and then drawn her back by the hair she was doomed to spend a certain time in increasing heaviness and then to die or to go about dense fourth with a nameless child utter breasts or trudging at her side holding on to her hand and anchoring her to obscurity end of chapter 21 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 22 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit soles for sale by rupert hues chapter twenty two wakened by the sound of rushing waters she ran barefoot to the window there was no sign of rain in that hard marbled sky the mountains looked as if rain had never dampened them she could not think just what their color reminded her of for a time then she recalled the burnt sugared almonds heaped in the window of Calvary Leigh's one candy store how she had loved them but this scorched mottled Brown mountain range had no sweetness only inconceivable bulk still the water gurgled she saw that the yard about the bungalow soft and dusty last night was now a shallow lake with waters dancing everywhere she thrust her head out of the window and drew it in again for a Jap was shutting the water gates of an overflowing trough extending as far as she could see it was an irrigation ditch he was flooding the ground before the Sun could turn the water into burning lenses she was to learn that the desert irrigated yields more richly than rich soil intended just as common human soil responds with miracles to lavish floods of encouragement a boy from the main building of the hotel came skipping across the lawn to waken leva who must be up it times mem would not yield to her appeals that she should come along and resume the movie picture work she would taste no more of the forbidden Cup she put aside especially the temptation to be near Tom Hobie and to taste the wine of his approval and his thoughtfulness temptation like love follows who flees man went back to bed but goaded by discontent Rose bathed and dressed and went to the hotel for breakfast determined that she would inquire at once the way to the Randalls ranch and take up her humble future before her funds were further diminished the dining room was deserted safe for one man and that was Tom Hobie hello he cried come sit with me you're not working neither am i I'm a gentleman till this afternoon they're taking shots that I'm not in so I slept late our poor star Robina is out in the gas stove turning herself into a fricassee while i'll all at ease she's being kidnapped today by a roving band of bad Arabs I was just starting to rescue her yesterday disguised as a shake or something when I fell in with the famine mob I rescued her last week up on the lot in Los Angeles men looked so bewildered that he explained you see we built a whole Arabian Street on the lot and I broke in and broke out and broke up all the furniture tearing Robina from the villains then we came down here to take the scenes of her capture you'll get used to this upside down business when you've been in the movies a while longer I've been in them as long as I'm going to be oh no you haven't whole be laughed I wouldn't blame you for quitting if everyday we're like yesterday but you got the worst of it at the first I've never known a day like yesterday but you'll not be likely to have another in a thousand years I loved it then why are you quitting she could not tell him the truth and no lie occurred to her so she simply drew a veil across her eyes and left him to his own surmises it was not his nature to persist when a woman rebuffed him even though that was a rare experience with him he waived the mystery as her own affair and spoke up cheerily order a good breakfast and come with me to the palm canyon they say it's glorious it will buck you up and save me from the horrors of Solitude he took an unfair advantage of her by appealing to her charity again it was the best way to tyrannize over her she can for lack of ability to imagine a polite excuse and finished her breakfast while he went in search of a car he came back with a rusty flivver which he drove himself there were seven miles of road winding in all directions especially up and down she praised Holby for the skill with which he kept his hands and feet playing I had to drive one of these in my last picture he said you have to handle nearly everything in the pictures I've driven a stagecoach pursued by Indians through canyons and a coach and four down Fifth Avenue and a donkey chaise in a London scene and a sidecar in an imitation Ireland a motorboat a streetcar a caterpillar Tractor an airship a chariot and a steam shovel talented lad a look did you see that ma'am have seen it a long rope of scarlet silk ran across the road and threaded the sagebrush as if a red lasso had learned to flee of its own volition it was a scarlet racer lots of snakes along here but mostly harmless he said Robina loves snakes do you her shimmering repugnance answered for her after a time they passed a patch of ground a little dreary er than the rest of the landscape it had been cleared once and a wooden cross erected their whole be answered her questioning stare that's probably the grave of some poor fellow who died of thirst a villager was telling me last night that only last week a man was found dead within a mile of his ranch he was that near to good water but he couldn't make the distance out of his mind probably they said he was almost naked men who were dying for water have a queer mania for tearing off their clothes men was startled she had heard this very fact from the man in Yuma she had decided to let mr. Woodville die of thirst it seemed odiously cruel now to subject even an imaginary man to such a death this reminded her that she had not yet explained to mr. Hobey the puzzle of her name he had evidently dismissed it from his mind for he was running on I don't suppose the picture can show anybody dying of thirst now with a sensor in full power they believe in clothes and lots of them it looks as if they'd make the moving pictures died of thirst just inside of the promised land just as the hard times are coming on the sensors rise up like a sandstorm and blow from all directions you can hardly find a story that can stand there sandblast they eat away the plot till it falls with a crash just as see that telephone pole chewed away by the sand that blows all the time against it well that's what the censors are doing to the picture game if they don't topple the whole thing over it won't be their fault but what will they do for salaries then in some of the states they cut out all reference to expected children would you believe it they cut out a scene where a working man came home and found his wife making little clothes and rejoiced and was proud was ever anybody on earth as indecent and filthy minded as a prude all crime and sin are pretty well forbidden also hideous isn't it that grown people in a grown-up country called the land of the free in the home of the brave should be bullied and handcuffed till we can't even tell a story we can't play Shakespeare of course or the Bible stories or any of the big literary works anymore and they do it all in the name of protecting morals as if girls and boys never went wrong until the movies came along as if you could stop human beings from being human by closing up the theaters and telling lies to the children but there's no use whining we'll have to take our paregoric the crooked or the politician the more anxious he is to win over the bigots if you'll give them the censorship and a few other idiotic tyrannies they won't interfere with his graft soon they arrived at Palm Canyon and ran the car well up into the gorge along a water that descended a winding stair with little Cascades and broad pools in some of them water snakes could be seeing twisting shadow Lee but the wonder of the place was the embassy of stately poems that had marched down the ravine to the edge of the desert and readed the visitor with the majesty of lofty chieftains in great war bonnets of green plumes some were tall and slender with headdresses of frond and glory others were short and fat and so shaggy of trunk that they resembled the legs of giant Cowboys and SH Appa Rao's there was a little cabin halfway up the canyon but it was locked and deserted on a bulletin board were placards begging for mercy to animal kind and praising nakedness as a kinder godliness he ought to be on a censorship board said Hobie the Hermit who kept this retreat was making good his Creed for when mem and Hobie got out of their car and stared from the edge of the barrier down into a stream meandering through an Eden of shade they saw him naked at his bath both pretended not to have noticed him and turned away before long he came up the steep path in apostolate garb with robe rope girdle sandals and staff he wore a beard and long chestnut curls as in the tradition of the Messiah how easy it is to look like the pictures of Christ Tom Hobie said it gird him a little to meet a man whose ideals and practices were so contrary to his own the Hermit lived on next to nothing took no part in the activities of mankind hid himself in obscurity and led a life of sanctified indolence he did not mortify his flesh and he did not follow the medieval theory that baths are diabolic and dirt divine he was neat and even his nails were manicured with care but he made no use of his body for the public good or gaiety he abstained from beauty and suppress his emotions Tom Hobie by the very opposite ambition treated his flesh as an instrument of many uses he diverted millions of people and his prosperity was gauged by the delight he gave in quality and quantity he was so far from seeking oblivion that his very postures were multiplied and sent about the world the ambitions of the two men were of mutual criticism and reproach yet Hobie was polite to the polite hermit who invited the others into his neat little cabin sold them postal cards with views of the canyon then with a most unhurt like skill played them love tunes on an Hawaiian guitar of his own making he held in his right hand a bar of steel with which he gave his melodies at quaint sliding tongue an amorous whimper of a squirrel like pathos from this cozy retreat hole be led mem down to the center of the palm haunt he was thinking aloud funny business being a professional good man that sort of fellow hates the world and is afraid of it and retires to the desert to save his soul always seemed to me there was something lacking in that idea of being good save your own soul and let the world go to the devil it means nothing to the Hermit whether there is war or peace famine or prosperity he doesn't help any lonely people to smile he doesn't feed anybody or give any money to anybody he doesn't build any railroads or cathedrals or theaters paint any pictures or write any songs or vote or make shoes or anything he doesn't commit any sins maybe any of the crowd sins but he doesn't commit any good deeds either still if a man is so excited about his soul it's better if he will go away by himself and save it than to spend his life trying to save everybody else's soul by censorships and foolish laws about tobacco and sundae and art and everything in the depth of the canyon the poems were densely congregated their branches interlaced into a roof of murmurous green men was in a mood of beyond the world she felt bewitched as she walked over the dried fans of fallen leaves and listened to the birds that made a lyric Caravan three of this Haven it was a realm of Arabian magic with no hint of the American magic that are familiar eyes ignore mem dropped wearily down upon a stone by the brook in a thatched tent of poems Tom Hobie though there was a place at a distance sat down at her side this threw her heart into a flutter his own heart was evident on the scurry – and there was a fierce debate within him whether he should speak or not finally he said you've got me at a terrible disadvantage here I'm all alone with you and helpless it wouldn't do me any good to scream and I'm so weak that you could overpower me with a look she could not make him out at all he had to explain boldly you know when a woman lures a man out to a solitude like this lers well use any word you like just say goes with a man anyway she sets the poor fellow to guessing mighty hard I wouldn't annoy you four worlds I've got a queer hankering to be of some service to you but I can't place you anywhere she did not know his language can't place you at all you have a sweet innocent beautiful face and your eyes are as gentle as a dove but that has been the case with some of the daintiest little Desperados that ever tore up society the first time I met you you told me your name was remember steding you called me mr. Woodville when we said goodbye in Tucson a week or two and we meet again and you are mrs. Woodville and your husband is dead and you're going to be a chambermaid on a ranch it's all possible but it isn't a bit convincing and you've got me puzzled if you've committed a crime and are hiding out you'd better get into a bigger crowd because you're as conspicuous out here as all you sent I'll peek if you've committed a crime I'm sure you had a good reason to and I'm no Informer but I wish you would tell me whether you are the cleverest adventurous I ever met or just a poor scared little lonely lost child her confusion was that of a child he could see no trace of insincerity in her panic and there was a wedding ring on her finger but this did not impress him much he had seen too many married actresses take off their rings to play maidens and too many unmarried actresses put them on to play wives he had seen wonderful sincerity in impersonation Robina could make him weep almost at will in her scenes of hapless innocence he broke out impatiently when mem did not speak tell me honestly one thing is there a mr. Woodville were you ever really married to anybody she turned frightened eyes upon him and spoke with a parrying evasion why why should you doubt it he stared at her sharply then his eye softened and he mumbled you poor little thing what on earth are you up to what are you running away from why should you come to this place out of season under a false name with a wedding ring you bought yourself she carried her other hand to conceal the ring as if it were a shameful baby the instinctive gesture convinced Holby that he had guessed well now she fell into an Ag u of terror she looked this way and that is if for a door of escape but she knew that on all sides of her was a wilderness of mountains and desert she was horribly afraid of Holby he had the domineering demanding manner of a police officer but instead of denouncing her or arresting her he suddenly took her to trembling hands in one of his and with the other pressed her to him and held her tight she struggled fiercely yet with the feeling of a lamb in a shepherd's clasp she knew that he was no enemy if she could not accept him as her friend on so short an acquaintance friendships were not made at such speed and Calv early so she fought until he released her then she rose and staggered along a crackling path scattering little lizards that seemed rather to pretend than to feel fear she began to weep ran blindly into one of the palms and fell but into whole bee's arms again tell me the truth he pleaded let me be your friend I want to help you if it would help you most to let you alone I'll do that if it would help you to be held tight and hugged hard and kissed and loved I'll do that and mighty gladly but in heaven's name don't stand there and have chills and fever and not speak she felt a mad yearning to tell him the truth she felt that he would be very merciful and wise and everything wonderful she felt that he would not be shocked those actors and actresses could not be shocked by anything probably and yet a kind of snobbishness even in humiliation locked her jaws on her secret she was a clergyman's daughter after all and it would be an appalling calm down from all her teaching to make a movie actor her confidant and accept his advice and help and heavens she was already accepting his caresses men was a princess of the parsonage and she was suddenly recalled to her pride of a state please she said quite haughtily oh please Tom whole be rotted when his generous motives were flung back into his face he was filled with rage and yet he pitied her more than ever he pitied her as the vagabond pities the hidebound Puritan who sets him in the pillory he longed for such freedom in equality as he enjoyed in his wrangles with Robina tiel who swore at him and struck at him with a manly vigor he controlled himself and groaned an ironic forgive me when she ingeniously answered I do he almost suffocated with tormented wrath and sardonic amusement he dumbfounded her by speaking in the jargon of his craft they say that when Griffith wanted to get the final grimace of agony and Lillian Gish's face in the scene where her illegitimate baby dies in way down East you know they photographed her face why he held her feet and tickled them I don't know how true the story is but I feel just that way do I look it he was so interested in expression that he actually thrust his face close to hers for her verdict on his mien she had still another Baffler for him whose Griffith this heathenish ignorance of the first god of the american cinema took his breath like a blow on the solar plexus and he could only whisper huskily let's go back end of chapter 22 recording by Deanna Beauvais

Michael Martin

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  1. Souls for Sale | Rupert Hughes | Published 1900 onward | Book | English | 3/8

    16: [00:00:00] – Chapter XVI

    17: [00:12:31] – Chapter XVII

    18: [00:41:25] – Chapter XVIII

    19: [00:48:47] – Chapter XIX

    20: [01:14:58] – Chapter XX

    21: [01:22:25] – Chapter XXI

    22: [01:33:40] – Chapter XXII

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