Souls for Sale | Rupert Hughes | Published 1900 onward | Book | English | 7/8



chapter xlviii 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 librivox.org Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 48 nothing could reveal the extreme youth and the swift maturity of the moving pictures like the career of Charles Chaplin for a few years he was a byword of critical condemnation for his buffoonery a proof of the low public tastes suddenly he was hailed as one of the master artists of time it was not he that had improved or the public it was the critics who were educated in spite of themselves to the loftiness of buffoonery and the fine genius of Chaplin the public had loved him from the start he was at this moment in Europe meeting such a welcome as few other visiting monarchs ever got mobs blocked the streets where he progressed until the police had to rescue him there eminences of literature and statecraft pleaded with him for interviews lloyd-george begged for a comedy of charlie's to help him as abraham lincoln leaned on Artemus Ward and yet he was just out of his 20s and only a dozen years or so before he had left England as the humblest of acrobats and the least known of her immigrants as ignored as he was himself ignorant of the newborn American made art that was to lift him to universal glory his picture the kid had been hailed as a work of the noblest quality rich in pathos as in hilarity solemn editorials proclaimed him the supreme dramatic artist of his generation he was a household word about the world a millionaire and is familiar to the children as Santa Claus he had become a Santa chaplain to the grown-ups yet numberless raucous asses who were quite as solemn as Charlie but not so profitably or amusingly asinine were still he hung the old braids that the moving pictures were not an art but only an industry of course it all depended on one's own private definition of the indefinable word our and it was quite overlooked by those who denied the word to the movie that if it were only an industry it was a glorious industry Mark Twain decided that if Shakespeare's plays were not written by Shakespeare they were written by someone else of the same name so if the movies are not an art they are something else quite as artistic to remember steding they were her first language for expressing her turbulent self to her they were philosophy and criticism of life painting and sculpture given motion and infinite velocity with perfect record they were many wonderful things to men as to the myriads of bright spirits that had flocked to this new banner golden calf or brazen serpent as you will and now ma'am having tasted of the sorrows of the movies was a thirst for the light wine clowning at its best is a supernal wisdom and Chaplin's the idol class was full of laughter that had an edge a comment on humanity a rejoinder if not an answer to the riddles of existence and its conduct he played a dual role in this picture both a swell and the Tramp he had made as classic as Perrault according to a plot there was the aristocratic loafer and Tipler of the first impersonation forgot to meet his wife at the train the train on which the Tramp had stolen a ride to his favorite resort there was mockery not only of pompous toffee but of serious emotion as well when the besotted young swell receives from his neglected wife a letter saying that she will never see him again until he stops drinking he turns away and his shoulders seemed to be agitated with sobs of remorse but when he turns round it is seemed to be a cocktail that he is shaking the gesture was tweaking the nose of love and repentance and bringing all the high ideals off the shelf with a bang the audience bullied a little too well by trite nobility's roared with emancipation again when he dresses in a suit of armor for the costume ball he cannot resist one more cocktail but just as he lifts it to drain the glass the visor of his helmet snaps down and will not be open for all his frantic struggles and the painful efforts of those who come to his aid the least intellectual spectator shouting at his antics could not but feel the satirical allegory of all life wherein the visor always Falls and locks when the brim is at the lip but the triumph of joyous cynicism was the last flash the big brute who has roughly handled and despised the ragged Tramp repents of his cruelty and runs to humble himself an apology the Tramp listens to his beautiful self abasement and everyone expects a gracious finish but the incorrigible clown gives the penitent a kick in the behind and runs away bitter philosophy it was and shocking to the best principles yet it was the flash of the pride that rewards condescension and patronage and mawkish charity with a kick in the tail and takes to flight it pictured what everyone in the audience had often wanted to do in those resentful moods which are so very human because they are so far from divine for the soul like the body needs its redemption from too much sweetness as well as from too much bitterness there is the diabetes from unassimilated sugar that is as fatal as too much salt and that is the noble service that farce and clownery rendered to the world they guarantee the freedom of the soul freedom not only from glooms and despairs but from the tyrannies of bigotry as well from the outrages of religion of groveling idolatries all sorts of good impulses and high principles that ought to be respected but not revered ought to be used in moderation but not with slavish awe going to a farce of such a sort was for remember Stedman going to a school of the highest educational value it was a lessening in life that she sorely needed she had been taking life and love and art and ambition and sin morosely Tom Hobie found her already changed when they set out for her home she had been restlessly unapproachable before the comedy like a Mustang that will not submit to the bridle will not run far but will not be taken that stands and waits with the kind the air but just as the hand reaches out whirls and bolts now that she had seen the picture she was serene she was genial amiable she snuggled close to whole be in the car and yet when he spoke tenderly she made fun of him giggled reminded him of bits of the picture that had amused her this enraged him I'm going in for comedy she said it's the only thing worth while all this tears and passion business makes me sick I'd love to have it so that when anybody hears my name he smiles wouldn't it be glorious to have a washerwoman look up from her table and say remember stead –n o kiss I seen her in the picture once and I laughed till I cried wouldn't it be glorious to have the tired businessman say to his tired Society wife I've got the blues and some of you there's one of students pictures in town for God's sake let's go see it and have a good laugh wouldn't that be a wonderful thing to stand for ho be made a grunting sound that implied I suppose so if you think so he added after a silence funny thing though more people get relief from a good cry than from a good laugh if you have tears to shed and you go laugh your head off at some damn foolishness you'll find the tears are still there when you get home but if you see Camille or Juliet or some pathetic thing if you watch some imaginary person's misery and cry over it you'll find your own tears are gone that may be true said ma'am but all the same I'd like to take a whack at comedy whole be fought out in his soul a decent battle of self-sacrifice before he brought himself to the height of recommending arrival there's Ned Ling he's looking for a pretty leading woman he's not Chaplin but he's awfully funny in his own way and he's getting a big following he usually gets engaged to his leading lady saves money that way they say if you're so hell-bent on a comic career get your agent to go after him Ned Ling she mused yes I've seen him he's fun me he might do I may make a try at him a little later just now I feel a little tuckered out I want to get away from the studio's out into the High Sierras I believe I'll buy a little car and go all by myself but when she reached her home there was something waiting in ambush for her a letter from her father and this was not farce nor to be greeted with a kick and run oh I was wondering if you would ever come her mother wailed as men came laughing in the door still laughing at Chaplin's Blythe rebuffed too maudlin penances it was odd to be greeted so by the patient little woman who imitated ma'am often us by her meek patients I was so worried for fear you had had some accident why couldn't you have telephoned me I told you I might be detained at the studio mama and not to expect me till you saw me ma'am answered and had not the courage to tell the rest of the truth oh I know I oughtn't to worried but I'm a nuisance to myself and to you and to everybody there she was again taking that maddening tone of self-reproach but mem simply could not rebuke her for it she embraced her and held her tight instead it was all because of a letter I had from your father if you had come home sooner I wouldn't have mentioned it to you maybe heaven knows you have trouble enough and now I'm sorry I spoke just forget it then ensued a long battle over the letter mem insisting upon reading it fighting for it as for a cup of poison held out of her reach and it proved to be a cup of poison when finally she got it from her mother's reluctant fingers dear wife the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away I have lost you and my darling daughter and my head is bowed in shame and loneliness but I still can say thy will be done I think you should know however how things are here otherwise I should not write you but I am afraid that the daughter that was once ours might tire of the husks of sin and wish to come home repentant filled my soul when I learned that she was leading a life of riotous mockery and when I saw the picture of her smiling and wanton attire at the side of that smirking French general I had it in my heart to curse her I wrote in my haste I repented my hardness of heart and bowed my head in humble shame when I read your angry reply I had lost your love and your admiration but that was deserved punishment for the idolatry that had grown up in my heart to yours and for the mistakes I must have made in not giving our erring daughter a better care but now it has pleased the Lord to pour out the vials of his wrath on my gray hairs the old mortgage on the church fell due long ago but foreclosure had been postponed from time to time we gave a benefit to pay it off but everybody was too poor to respond and it did not pay expenses the manager of the motion picture house here offered to share the profits on the showing of a picture in which as he had the impudence to tell me my daughter played a part but while it would have drawn money for curiosity that would not have responded to a Christian appeal I felt that it would be a compounding with evil and I put Satan behind me and ordered the fellow out of the house then I made a desperate appeal to our banker mr. sight and he promised to do what he could for us but the other day his bank was closed after a run upon it he had previously mortgaged his house and sold his automobile the one that killed the poor boy Elwood Farnham II whom you will remember as one of our choir the banker was our only wealthy member and with him failed our last hope the crops have been poor and the hard times have affected the local merchants so that pure rents have not been paid and the usual donations have been withheld there were no conversions at the last communion even the baptisms and the weddings that brought me an occasional little fee have been warranting the campaign we made to close the motion picture houses on Sunday was lost at the last election we are fallen on evil days what small religious enthusiasm is left in the town has been drawn away to other churches where there are younger ministers with more fashionable creeds and fresher oratory I have not been spared overhearing carelessly cruel remarks that I was too old to hold the pulpit any longer and should give way to a fresher mind but I have not known where else to go as I have had no calls from outside and I could not God forgive my vanity I could not believe that I was yet too old to toil in the vineyard of the Lord I have endured every other loss but that and now the vineyard is closed the church is to be closed we had no fire in the stove last Sunday and almost no worshipers were present the sexton was ill and his graceless son refused to leave his bed what I shall do next or how take care of the little children that's still cling to our home the Lord has not yet told me in answer to my prayers I still have faith that in his good time he will provide a way or call his servant home and I hope you will not take this letter as a plea for pity it is only to explain to you that if you should plan to return to the fold you will find the fold a ruin I could not even send you the money for your railroad fare there was a piece in the paper saying that the moving picture studios were also closing for lack of funds and I wonder if my poor daughter has been turned out of the city of pleasure in which she elected to spend her life the rainfall a–the alike on the just and the unjust my cup is full and running over but my chief dread is that unhappiness and want may be your portion as well as mine and that I shall fail you utterly after providing so scantily for you all your days I can only pray that my fears are the result of loneliness and age and weariness it has not been easy to write this but it would have been dishonest to let you know for months I used to think every time I heard the train whistle perhaps it brings my loved ones home for the last few weeks I have feared that it might lest I should have to welcome you to utter poverty even the oil is wanting to keep burning the lamp I used to set in the window every evening and now may the Lord shield you with his ever-present mercy or at least give us the strength to understand that in all things he knoweth best your loving husband as she read this letter and saw back of the lines the heavy brows of her old father saw the bald spot she had stared out from the choir loft saw all the sweet wrongheadedness of the veteran Saint MEMS heart hurt intolerably from her eyes fell streams of those tears that she had sold for so much a piece her face was blubbered and crumpled and soppy as in the crying contest for points her old-fashioned heartache and I shower ended in an old-fashioned hysterics of shrieking laughter a farcical cynicism at the ridiculous sublimity 's of life she startled her mother by crying suddenly the Lord is another Charlie Chaplin mama he's just planted another kick where it will do the most harm end of chapter 48 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 49 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 librivox.org Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter xlix men had been debating what make of car to buy cars were cheaper in price now and wonderful bargains were to be had in slightly used cars purchased by hardly used stars who could not complete the payments or keep the gasoline tanks filled she had cried herself into money not much but a good deal considering the hard times the general unemployment and her inexperience she had spent little of it had no time to shop or even to go down into the streets and staring at the windows she had hardly found the time to read the advertisements and study the fashion plates in the sunday supplements what car to buy and what new house to rent had been amusing conundrums for idle moments of musing and now those conundrums were solved her mother sobbed what on earth can I write the poor darling mem replied the answer is easy I'm going to send him all the money I've got her mother cried out against robbing one of her loves to pay another it seemed a cruel shame to take the first bit of cake from her daughter and sell it to buy bread for her husband you'll need it yourself you may not have another job soon you need new clothes and a rest rest and the clothes can wait her mother kept a miserable silence for a long while before she could say your father will never accept money that you have earned from the pictures you know him he'd rather die he'd rather the whole world would die this gave him only a brief pause she answered simply doctor brethren got me into this business by making up the pack of lies that brought me out here now he can make up a few more and save poor daddy from desperation she sat down at once and wrote the doctor a letter telling him what he must know already of her father's helplessness she enclosed a money order for two hundred and fifty dollars she wrote a check at first but she was afraid to have it put through the bank at Calvary lest her father hear of it she instructed the doctor to make up another of his scenarios about a repentant member of the congregation wishing to restore some stolen funds or anything that his imagination could invent then she set the wheels of motion to secure an immediate engagement with the next to the greatest comedian on the screen Ned Ling a man whose private life was as solemn as his public life was frantic and foolish whose personal dignity was as sacred as his professional dignity was degraded a man of intellectuality a reader of important books a debater of art theories but above all a man afraid of nothing so much as he was afraid of of the berm owned company was declaring another holiday letting out such of its people as were not under contract farming out such others as it could find places for in the shriveled market the public was not flocking to the pictures or to anything else the exhibitors were losing money or closing down it was a period of dead calm and torpid cease wise men were trimming sails to the least breeze and jettisoning perilous cargo the two courageous ones were sinking vanishing blowing up dying a famine when mem spoke to Vermont of her desire to play a comedy with Ned Ling Berman leapt at the idea it would take her off his salary list for weeks and it would help her fame he was not altogether selfish he arranged a dinner under the pretext of a private preview of Tom Hall Bea's new picture it was not yet in its final shape but the producers were glad to lend it to burr mone her mom warned men to wear her best clothes there was a certain shame in her heart at baiting such a trap but she felt now that she had a higher purpose than her personal ambition she was working for her father in his church as well and religious motive has always been a wondrous sedative to a conscience Ramon saved her the price of a gown by lending her a flashing Parisian miracle from his own big wardrobe it was astounding to him as it was to mem to find what had changed clothes make in a soul the simple thing she had worn hitherto had once given her a simple modesty in her first scenes she had been as bad as Miss Bevan for ever pulling her skirts down her muscles remembered when her mind forgot Kendrick had yelled to her once in God's name miss didn't forget your knees and don't advertise them by always covering them when she saw herself before her mirror now in the Paris gown she recoiled in red horror a tide of blood swept under her entire skin her bosom was bared in a great Moony sweep there were no straps at all across the shoulders and her back was revealed to the waist she had never known how beautiful it was until she stood before her mirror and looked slantwise across her shoulder at the ramie charm of the gently rippling plane she rose to the challenge of opportunity and clothed herself in audacity the consciousness of her beauty gave a little tough bravado to her carriage she was happy in herself and silenced her old modesty's with a pious thought that the Lord never gave her such flesh for concealment her mother was pale with terror of the White Swan this pretty duckling had grown too but she let her sail away the unsuspecting meddling came to the dinner and never dreamed that mem was there to play the Lorelei she shuddered at her own coquetry but it was art for art's sake and in heaven's name besides she met the comedian with a mixed attitude of homage and of self-confidence she made him proud and she made him happy best of all she put him at his best he said witty things and her laughter was a final allurement after the dinner they sank into big chairs in the Berman's living room to watch the new picture from a table behind them a little domestic projection machine sent a cone of light across their heads to a small curtain and there a lilliputian twin of mem wept and fought and won through a tiny drama from the dark the happy gloom meddling kept crying out his enthusiasms from M skill he was frank enough in criticism of the picture as a structure he groaned at the comic relief and he shouted in ridicule of the hackneyed situations burr moan echoed his praise and his censure the picture was not a burm own creation but mem was in an interlude during a change of reels meddling said with all the earnestness of an earnest clown I love your tears miss deaden they make me weep see how wet my eyes are he leaned close and made her look into his melancholy orbs their melancholy was their fortune for in his pictures he never smiled except when he was in a plight of comic despair I love to weep he went on shamelessly last Christmas how do you suppose I spent my last Christmas I stayed at home alone and felt sorry for myself I did honestly I just wallow in self-pity I sat for an hour beef a mirror and watch the tears pour down my cheeks and when they fell into my sobbing mouth I drank them and loved them because they were so bitter it was the happiest Christmas I ever spent next Christmas lets you and me sit together before a mirror and have a glorious cry and weeping duet I can't imagine anyone else who wouldn't make me weep as lusciously as you will you come I'll be there said ma'am half with pity and half with mockery thereupon as the lights went out again he laid his hand on hers where it rested on the arm of her chair when she moved it he clutched it eagerly and whispered oh please and clung to it like a lonely child he laughed aloud at the wonderful battle Tom hold me put up but he cheered mems every scene as she dashed through the storm how brave how beautiful you are he murmured leaning close she whispered to him the tale of how near she was to death in the scene when she thrust her way through the tree and now he clung to her with both hands as if we would save her thus belatedly from danger I was very near to death in my last picture he said I was supposed to sit down innocently on a plumber's torch I had on asbestos trousers but somehow my coattails caught fire and I should have burned to death if miss clave hadn't thrown a rug around me awfully nice girl I could have gone on loving her but she kept talking about marriage and I was afraid she'd get me to the altar someday and God knows I'm afraid of marriage aren't you it's sickened me when I heard the audience scream with laughter at the scene we kept it in as it was and gave it a funny title it had just the touch of obscenity that everybody loves too bad we Americans make such a bane of obscenity a little wholesome smut never hurt anybody when the picture was finished he told Berman what a genius he had him miss deaden and said he wished he had her himself Berman adroitly and coquettish Lee forced the card on his hand and before Ned Ling quite knew it it had been arranged that men should be lent to him at a figure far above her Burma salary I stuck him for the extra money Berman laughed afterward but I love to make Ned Ling pay it hurts himself I'll split the bonus with you my dear end of chapter 49 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 50 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 librivox.org soles for sale by rupert hues chapter 50 Tom hull be called on mem the following evening he had so earnest to face so longing a matter that she had not the heart to tell him at once of her triumph over Ned Ling and her engagement to play the leading role in his next farce but Hobie seemed to realize that something had happened to take her a little farther out of his parish there was a few geisha sness in her manner and independence of him that terrified him he grew as flat-footed Lee direct and simple as one of the big Bluff he men he so often played he actually twirled his hat running his fingers round and round the brim as he did when he was a cowboy making love to a gal from down east he was as sheepish as Will Rogers playing Romeo but not so shrieking Lee funny his very boorishness pleaded for him and if mem had been free of this new hunger of hers for a taste of comedy she might have taken pity on him lovingly but she was in a mood of deferment at least and her smiling teasing manner baffled him in his confusion he noted a bundle of letters in his pocket and for lack of other topic pulled them out this is a pack of letters that came to the studio just as I was leaving he explained I stuffed him in my pocket I haven't had a chance to look them over mostly mash notes I guess he took out the lot and riffled them over like a pack of cards if they think we movie people are fools what have they got to say of the public that deluges us with this stuff here's one let's see what it's like he read from a welter of passionate script dear mr. Hobey if I could only tell you how much I admire you you would be the proudest man on earth there's a picture of you on my Bureau now but it's only a clipping from a sunday supplement I take it out only when the door is locked mama would skin me if she knew I had it I turn it away when I dress but oh I do just admire you so much if I could only have a real photo of you to kiss goodnight how proud I'd be won't you please send me one with your own really truly autograph on it you are my favorite of all actors so manly and virile and handsome oh I just Tom shook his head and stuffed it back in its envelope will she get the photograph said ma'am with the scorn of one woman for another oh yes we can't afford to antagonize a single fan my secretary will send her a picture and autograph it for me who is your secretary a girl Holby slid a glance of eager query under his eyelids he hoped that there was a tinge of jealousy in her heart that would be vastly encouraging but her eyes revealed contempt only for men and the parasite is's then haunt them now he's a man said Tom dolefully combination of press agent valet dresser and secretary the next letter had a philippine islands postmark it was from a man in Cebu it said dear friend kindly please send me a copy of your sympathy portrait hoping to received it in your benevolent reply many thanks for my best wishes he read a few more they represented a cosmic clientele but he saw that they were boring them and put them back into his pocket brave man she said you open your mail in the presence of the woman you you I love and expect to marry he said gripping her hand it was a grip of authority it was Cupid the constable so different from the pathetic clutch of Ned Ling the clown child just now it was MEMS humour to control somebody she did not oppose hobee's clutch or resent it she followed the most loathsome Pig parading of all policies non-resistance you're not going to marry me Tommy she said I don't want to be one of Solomon's wives Solomon's wives yes your wedded already to an army of fans half the women in the United States seem to claim you as their spiritual bridegroom I just soon marry a telephone booth or a census report you make Brigham Young look like a confirmed bachelor he had only 40 wives or so you have a million they make me tired maybe but what wouldn't they do to me I get poisoned candy or infernal machines in the mail I'd never dare marry you it would be committing suicide she was not altogether without seriousness she felt a premie vil jealousy a perm evil sense of monopoly she ride that the thought of possessing only a minut fraction of a universal husband a syndicated consort whose portrait on a thousand bureau's inspired numberless strange women with an ardor they called artistic admiration as the medieval girls and spinster set up images of saints and made violent love to them under the name of religion clothing amorous raptures and pious phrases and burning with desires that they interpreted as heavenly yearnings mem turned green at the thought of a husband whose real lips she must share with actresses on the scene and whose pictured lips would be kissed goodnight all around the world it was a monstrous fantastic jealousy but his foundation was real she shuddered at the prospect of being embraced by a husband whose virility thrilled a multitude of anonymous maintenance if all these idiots wrote how many must there be who worshiped in silence but she did not express this revulsion to Tom Hobie she did not really feel enough desire for him just now to be jealous except with a prophetic remoteness just now she was curious about another type of soul about a comic sprite she felt sure that no women wrote Ned Ling love letters or set him up as an icon on a bureau Ned Ling's pictures were not sifting around the globe sending fool girls aglow for nedley's published portraits were always grotesque he was photographed with a caricatured face of white chalk and a charcoal grimace with a nonsensical hat and collar becoming almost as familiar now as Charlie Chaplin's neat slovenly nastasia's and his splay foot shoe 'he's surely ned Ling was free from the amorous bombardment of anonymous love letters a woman might stand a chance of keeping his heart for her very self and it would be cheerful to have one's own comedian on the hearth thinking these things mem said I'd be jealous of your public tom it is a big one and you've got to be true to it I suppose it's because I've got none of my own I've hardly had a letter yet that's because your first picture is only being released now just wait you'll be snowed under and would you like it if I read you a letter from some man in Oklahoma who had my picture on his Bureau and kissed me every night goodnight no would you be jealous yes I'd want to kill him really there was a pleasant thrill in this a thrill that will be a long time dying out of the female soul the excitement of stirring up battle ardor in two or more males men went on teasing yet exploring Lee and would you kill any man who put me on a shrine and worshipped me no I'd realize that that was part of the penalty of loving a great artist there's a penalty about loving a stupid woman that nobody else cares for – I'd realized that you have right – the world's love and I'd be proud of you however much it hurt I shouldn't lift my finger to hamper your glory she was just about to kiss him lightly on the nearer ear for the fervor of the first part of his speech but the last line checked her there can never fail to be a little something disappointing about a love that is willing to share its prey with anyone else even if it is with everyone else perhaps to punish this sickly saintliness she told him flatly now that she was going to be Ned Ling's leading lady this hurt him as much as she hoped it's a comedown for you he said it's a back you'd have been the next big star in the emotional field now you'll be swallowed up in a comic two-reeler Ling never gives anybody else any credit and his pictures all you'll do will be to stand round and feed him feed him yes do things and say things that will give him a funny comeback this was a trifle dampening if he had held to that line of argument he might have turned her aside but as always he had to say too much besides as I told you Ned Ling always makes love to his leaning lady he quarreled with the last one miss clave because she wanted more publicity she wanted to get a laugher to herself and a line or two in the advertisements this stirred in them a double emotion one of curiosity one of self-confidence she had had Ned Ling clinging to her fingers like a baby she could wrap him round one of them no doubt because miss clay failed that did not prove that a wiser woman would Hobie did not quite persuade her to refuse the opportunity with Ling but he sent her to it with misgivings he put a fly in the ointment there are always flies anointment a few days later a wasp fell into her ointment she received one of the first of the numerous letters that were to swarm about her path end of chapter 50 recording by Deanna Bhavan chapter 51 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 librivox.org Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter fifty one time in southern california flew on wings that seemed never to change their plumage at home-in Calver lee the birds put on their springtime splendor lost it and flew away the trees feathered out in leaves and in a courtship glory of blossoms then lost all the flower bushes ran the same scale from shabby 'no Stube reef beauty and back again the very ground was was green was bald was white with snow that went and came again but Los Angeles was always green in December March always there were great roses glowing often high up in some tree they had climbed sometimes mem grew angry at the monotony of beauty she read of blizzards in the east and north and long for a frostbite or the nip cheeks of a calve early winter there was music in her memory of the frozen snow that rang like muffled cymbals under her aching little feet as she ran to school pretending she was a locomotive and her breath the steam but this was only the fretfulness of the unconquerable human discontent she had hated winter when it tortured her and now the California paradise tortured her because it was winter –less even in heaven the Angels grew weary of gold and Jasper architecture and harp music and tried to change their government discontent with the weather was only one of men's unhappiness 'as her ambition was ruthless and her critical faculty rebuked her she prayed for opportunities for bigger roles and blushed at her obscurity yet when she saw her finished scenes she suffered direful II because she had done them so ill when her colleagues applauded her she said her true thought when she answered it could have been done so much better if only we could retake it she was living the artists life goaded to expression rejoicing and utterance and afterward anguished with regrets that she had not phrased herself a little differently as with every other artist in the world's history her personality her preferences her very face and form offended many people nobody ever pleased everybody she overheard harsh criticisms or they were brought to her one way or another they hurt her cruelly and the more cruelly since it was her nature to believe them justified and even a little less than harsh enough some happier nature's than hers could always protect themselves by saying that the critic had a personal spite or was a failure venting the critics own disappointment or was too shallow to appreciate or had been bribed but mem never could wrap her wounded soul in such bandages she thought that the truth was worse than the worst she heard she could always find some fault and her achievements that the critics had overlooked she could not retake her pictures however and when occasionally a scene had been shot over again and she could correct some fault she always found another one or more to replace it obscurity was a further anguish she suffered because so few people had seen her pictures and the hard times that diminished the audience's look like a personal injury to her in her artistic cradle and then she had a stab of another sort she learned the curse of success one of her pictures was shown at the california theatre in los angeles and she sat in a vast throng and saw with pride that people strange to her were leaning forward with interest and devouring her with their eyes she saw a fat woman sniffle and thought it a beautiful tribute she saw a bald-headed man sneak a handkerchief out and pretending to blow his nose – his shameful tears away and that was beautiful to her with a wonderful beauty she played a minor role but she heard people speak of her as the mob went out among the inbound mob crowning to the next showing the papers the next day in their criticisms gave her special mention she loved Florence Lawrence and guy Price grace Lindsay Edwards Schallert Munroe Lathrop all of those who tossed her a word and put her name in print a marvelous thing to see one's name in print and with a bouquet tied to it she had but a little while to revel in this perfect reward for in a few days a letter came to her forwarded from the studio the writing on the envelope was strange to her when she opened it there was no signature there was a savagery about the very writing her heart plunged with terrorists she read I seen your picture last night and it made me sick you're awful innocent and sweet in the picture and he look like butter wouldn't melt in your mouth but I know better for I'm the guy held you up in Topanga Canyon when you was there with that other guy and took your wedding ring off you I didn't know who you was then and I don't know who you is yet but I'm wise to you and all I got to say is I've got my eye on you and you better behave or else quit playing these innocent parts you movie people make me sick you're only a gang of hypocrites so beware mem felt odious to herself with all the revolting nausea of evil revealed there is remorse enough for a struggling soul that knows its own defeats and backslidings but it is nothing to the remorse that follows a published fault this letter was more hideous than headlines in a paper it was more dreadful than such a pilloried public shame as Hester Prynne's it meant that somewhere there was a man in an invisible cloak of namelessness and facelessness who despised her and jeered at her sublimity 'he's of purity her highest ambitions were doomed to sneering mockery she was thrown back into the dark ages when girls were told that Guardian Devils floated about them as well as guardian angels all manner of leering enemies incubi succubi witches fairies she could hear such hellish laughter as fasts Gretchen heard she longed to find this man and implore His mercy but how could she discover him he was a thief and could only disclose himself by betraying his own crime yet he felt himself less wicked than she she saw before her a long life of such attacks she resolved to do two things lead thence forth a blameless life and played them forth only such characters has made no pretense of perfection she was the more determined to seek a foothold in comedy in wild farce she wanted to play a woman of sin a vampire anything that would free her of the charge of wearing a virtuous mask she burned the letter but she could never forget it she could not walk along the street or ride in a car without wondering if the last man who cast a glance her way might not be the thief who had robbed her of something irretrievable when she sat in a moving picture theater she wondered if he were not the man at her elbow and since few men failed to look at her with a trailing glance that caught a little on her beauty as on a hook she was incessantly thrown into panics in time she grew brazen and said she didn't care a little later she forgot the terror that walked by but now and then it would return upon her as often when she was alone as when she was in the range of human eyes end of chapter 51 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 52 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 librivox.org soul's for sale by rupert hughes chapter 52 the first thing that struck mem about the business of selling jokes was the melancholic despondency of it in the other Studios there had been a deadly earnestness at times but usually a cheerful informality but nan Ling was in a state of nerves and dismal with anxieties the first scene rehearsed showed mem being ardently proposed to by a dapper young juvenile whose grace and beauty were to be the foil for Ned Ling's triumphant ugliness the juvenile was instructed to do a simple bit of business young mr. McNeil realising that the scene was supposed to be mildly funny tried to play it in a mood of gaiety to horse it a little with a slight extravagance of manner and a humorous twinkle in his eye Ned Ling checked him at once cut out the comedy mr. McNeil if you please it's all right to be funny in an emotional picture but comedy is a serious business a joke is dynamite and if it's handled carelessly it will blow up in your hands and take you with it I want the audience to blow up not you so you carry that scene as seriously as you can the criticism hurt young mr. McNeil but it warned mem she went through her own business with a simple matter of fact miss as if it had no humor in it this was because she did not know how to make it funny to her amazement Ned Ling cried out crate perfect play it straight the audience wants to laugh at your expense don't let him know you know your funny or you're gone but mr. McNeil I must ask you not to crab miss Stebbins seen crab the seen sir what did I do you moved don't you want me to move never not when somebody else is getting off a point you can kill half or all the laughs by distracting attention an audience can only see one thing at a time get one idea at a time you've got to ship them your jokes like a train of boxcars you can't jumble them or there's a rack when Miss deadens at work you freeze and miss Denon will do the same when it's your turn and when I'm with you I'll murder you if you move an eyelid when I'm springing something and you can murder me if I breathe during anything of yours and one thing more watch out that you don't spoil your own comedy by moving the wrong part of your Anatomy I can kill the best face play in the world by moving my feet or my hands I can kill the work of my hands by rolling my eye remember that comedy is the most solemn business there is man was amazed dismayed at the anguish of exactitude attending each little bit of silly wet she had captured her tears and her dramatic climaxes with a rush but wit had to be stolen upon prepared and exploded just so Ned Ling at lunchtime told her of a year of meditation spent on one idiotic incident he had not got it right yet it might not be ready for this picture or the next someday it would come out just right and then it would appear like an improvisation of the moment he was especially delicate about the broad bits he was a lover of course jokes he loathed the Puritanism that gave them an immoral quality yet they would not have been half so funny or perhaps not funny at all if it were not for the forbidding of them just as nakedness would have no spice no commercial value and would suggest no evil thoughts if it were ignored or made compulsory or if the wrongheaded moralists did not surround it with horror and give it the fascination of rarity mem suffered acutely from Ned Ling's discussions of risky humor she had never heard such talk she was like a trained nurse getting her first glimpse of life through the eyes of the doctor learning not to swoon at the lifting of the veils Ned Ling had a doctors and patients of prudery the same contempt for the vicious and decency of what he called the nasty nice he jolted mem horribly but he shook the furniture of her soul into more solid places like a nurse like a woman dr. mem was far more decent after this course of training than before but it took all her nerve to keep from wincing from protesting from taking up that obsolescent woman's weapon how dare you she learned in time to laugh wholeheartedly like a man at the course verities she was not educated up to rebel a few women have ever yet gone so high in the upper humanities she would never love the great vulgarities but she was emancipated from the smaller squeamishness the wide-eyed doll mind and the kate greenaway innocence that was why perhaps she could revel so wonderfully in The Beggar's Opera when she saw it it was the first opera she ever did see grandeur comic not even a musical comedy had passed her eyes and ears her father did not believe in opera and if he had had his way Mozart Verdi and Wagner would have been as dumb as Shakespeare for he abhorred the Playhouse to the catalogue of his appearances was unending he abhorred almost everything human that he could think of except when it was twisted into a form of Prayer he liked opera when it was disguised as oratorio and the singers were their own clothes instead of evil costumes he liked plays about Santa Claus and he vaguely approved the old miracle plays the church had fostered since he never dreamed how indecent many of them were he was beginning to admit that motion pictures of educational or religious purpose might atone for their sins but mem would as soon have asked permission to go to a dance as to a Theatre in Calvary Los Angeles had for a city of its size a minimum of theatrical entertainments the long haul across the deserts made it prohibitive of late years for most companies to visit the Pacific coast she had seen a few plays given by the city stock companies and by the Hollywood community players she had even dragged her mother to those devilish amusements and brought her away without a sniff of brimstone her acquaintance with the world was almost exclusively of the movies movie Sh like the people of all other trades when the centimetres had a free evening they spent it in more of the same the picture houses were frequented by the picture people of whom there were thousands in Los Angeles her first opera was curiously the last opera one might be expected to see it all in her day somebody in London had been inspired to revive the sensation of 1728 it had run for a solid year in the new London and another season in New York its ancient art had glistened like a Toledo Blade it made the epigrams of Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw look old-fashioned an opera whose hero was a thief and whose scenes were sorted the gayest of operas it dumbfounded them as it had set old London aghast there where the rival Italian companies had made war in an otherwise undisputed field it suddenly arose and laughed them off the boards drove Handel into bankruptcy drove him to such despair that he went to Ireland and casting about for something to do besides the operas that were a closed career for him tossed off in three weeks the Messiah and became immortal as a religious force thus much ma'am learned before the curtain rose after it was up she learned to laugh uproariously at the utmost delicacies of indecency it made an earthquake in memfs soul to sit alongside Ned Ling and listen to the scene where the heroine horrifies her parents by announcing her marriage to a handsome young man horrifies them not because she wished to marry a highwayman but because she wished to marry at all except possibly some old man for financial reasons men was aghast when they ridiculed their daughters talk of love at the father protested do you think your mother and I should have lived comfortably together so long if we'd been married this was as terrifying as a scarlet snake but mem shook with laughter then collapsed into dismay if she could laugh at that what decency had she left her soul grumbled in itself remorsefully until the next epic Ram jarda doubt of its opossum ISM and she laughed again she had so lost her orientation by the finish of the seductive villainies that she did not faint when ned Ling said I've left myself hungry I haven't ordinarily any appetite let's go to my house and have a bite to your house yes it's all right I'm quite alone there just a Jap very secluded she wanted to say you tell me not why I should go but why I should not and I won't but it seemed a silly little girlish old maid ish prunes and Prisma Sh thing to say wasn't she an independent woman now a voter a free and equal self-supporting citizen of the United States in her imagination she could hear the wild crew of The Beggar's Opera laughing at her for a shy little hypocrite lacking the courage to obey her instinct and her training she said all right and got into Ling's car when he said home to the driver she almost swooned but not quite the Jap showed no surprise that the late arrival of his master with a lady evidently it was the ordinary thing mem longed for a mask or a fire escape or a gun she glanced about for weapons of Defence but Ned Ling said some scrambled eggs and bacon some wine would you rather have red or white or a little champagne let's have some champagne yes yes we'll have some champagne native California but good she felt as Jack of the Beanstalk felt when he found himself among augurs but Ling turned out to be an infantile ogre if ochre and all he was more like an art gallery guide at first he showed her treasurers he knew something of art or so she judged him from his talk for she knew nothing of it herself but his manner was impressive he was especially proud of a portrait just painted of him by one of the California artists Ling spoke of him as of the California school Ling had brought home some Jade's from a voyage to China he was addicted to Jade's of a certain deep dark emerald hue he hated the sickly pallor of the usual jade men decided to take up Jade hunting as a sport when she got rich at the table Ling resumed his play with her fingers she felt only curiosity she could feel neither alarm nor anger she was hungry but he kept one of her hands prisoner and preferred to talk afterward they went into the beautiful living room a strange room for a clown more like what she imagined a millionaire's room to be judging from what millionaires room she had seen in the movies he put on a Caruso record on the Victrola that old whale from Pagliacci the heartbreak of the clown who is human in spite of the powder and feels red blood beneath the greasepaint Caruso was just recently dead and honored with the funeral of the church dignitary wild minstrel that he was singing his way around the world on rubber wheels the way filmers traveled in celluloid spools a few years ago settling and a singer's voice died with him and now Caruso is singing here everywhere he'll sing as long as Homer poor old blind Homer who never saw a picture never knew that his own songs would live after him in the invention of the alphabet never dreamed that they would be printed and used as schoolbooks thousands of years after he quit poking about the world singing about the fighters of his day a few years ago and we actors were condemned to oblivion as soon as we left the boards but we can go on forever now they're laughing around the world at me this minute listen he kept an eerie quiet and she could almost hear what he perked his ears to catch that's a gang of sweaty coolies in China there helped to forget the opium laughing at me here that that's starving people in Russia forgetting their hunger because the seed of my breeches caught on fire did you hear that Yelp that was one of the exiled kings go fine when I got shot in the pants by an angry husband the king has forgotten his own grief this cosmic boastfulness did not keep him long and pride but I hate my pictures I'm jealous of them people don't like me they just like that thing with the chalky mug they love him because he's such a fool I want to be loved because I am me and not a fool look at this painting of me the artist caught the real me see all the sorrow in the eyes and behind the mouth see the longing and the unhappiness that painter got under my skin he got to me I love that because it's me suddenly he bent over and kissed his own image on the mouth it was the mad act of a Yankee narcissus overcome not by his own loveliness but by his own loneliness mem was dazed as she had a normal woman's normal interest in her mirror because a mirror is the show window of the goods she has for sale she had become of necessity self-conscious self-critical she had admired extravagantly the reflection of herself in the looking-glass the night she went forth to meet this Ned Ling in her first magnificent gown but she had never divided herself into such a pair of twins such a mutual consolation Society Ltd as Ned Ling had organised and has often happens seeing that he was so sorry for himself she felt a drought upon her own sympathy she simply stared and wondered he made her sit down on a long couch and snuggled close to her she was still rather curious than alarmed he took up her hand again and studied it talking in the rather literary manner he sometimes assumed each separate finger has its own soul don't you think hands are families your own hands anybody's hands are a group of people hands are different and fingers they're wicked capable of such terrible things holding daggers gifts caressing throttling playing music exploring loving hating queer things fingers your right hand and your left hand aren't the least alike and your face is still a third person before mem quite realized how solemnly ludicrous a couple of comedians could be if anybody had been looking except God and perhaps that job delay Ned Ling's head was on her breast and his eyes were turned up into hers like a baby's it was in a newborn prattling humor that was a secret of his success he was a baby with all the baby's privileges of impropriety selfishness hatefulness adorableness he could revert to infancy and take his audience with him make old men and women laugh at the simple things that had tickled their childish hearts and with all there was an amazing sophistication he was a baby that calculated and measured triumph and yet wept and wanted always the next toy he was thinking of mem as his next toy as she was thinking of him as her next child his warm head and his brown eyes like maple sugar just as it is lick Wesson to syrup and with the same gold flakes glinting they were quaintly babyish to her in spite of his old talk I want to love and be loved but not to love too much I'm afraid of love it has hurt me too bitterly some of them haven't been true to me and that hurt me horribly and I haven't been true to some of them and that hurt me still worse I don't know which is ghastlier to see a woman laugh at you or cry at you marriage is no solution I don't see how it can help being the end of love love ought to be free like art and speech of course art isn't free there's the censorship well marriage is like censorship everything you do and say and feel must be submitted to the censor they call this a free country and have censorships and marriage she smiled he was more like a prattling baby the more cynical he grew his heavy head made her breasts ache and yearned for a baby but he wanted only the froth of life without the body and the dregs could you love me just enough and not too much he pleaded if he had said marry me tomorrow he might have had her then but she had not his opinion of marriage she had played the game without the name endured the ecstasy and the penalty without the ceremony she had escaped public shame by a miracle of lucky lies and accidents The Hunger remained for the rewards of marriage the honesty of a home the granite foundations of respectable loyalty so when he pleaded with her for love that cheated and played for fun and not for all for a kiss for caresses she shook her head mystically as he thought but very saintly and calmly in truth she was far away mothering a shadowy child swaying in a rocking chair thrown ned Ling's prayers gained fervor from her aloofness he called upon a goddess who would not hear she held his hands and slapped them with a matronly condescension that drove him frantic he could not get past the cloudy masonry he had built round her by deriding marriage it was a good subject for jokes but contempt for it was more ridiculous than the thing ridiculed finally she yond in the face of his passion and said I'll be going home now please he was so sported and rejected that he sent her home alone she was grateful for that end of chapter 52 recording by Deana Beauvais chapter 53 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 librivox.org Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 53 again when she got home her mother was waiting for her her father was waiting for her again her mother had fallen asleep with her father's letter in her hand as men slipped in guiltily and stared at her she leaped up in alarm and cried out in protest with a sleepy reversion to ancient authority mem have you proven utterly shameless have you gone wrong at last mem smiled and shook her head something in her calm convinced her mother more than any angry disclaimer could have done she breathed deeply with relief from the nightmare that rides mother's Souls night and day she smiled as she held on another letter from the old child they were both mothering my beloved wife you will find it hard to believe what I'm about to write for you were never quite convinced that prayers are answered well mine have been and I am more than ever confirmed in my faith a miracle has been vouchsafed unto me even me this morning doctor breath Rick called to see me and stated that he had been entrusted with a mysterious message a former parishioner of mine a man whose name he was forbidden to disclose had embezzled some money years ago and had never been discovered the still small voice of his conscience however was never silenced and at last it drove him to restitution but he found that the people whom he had wronged were dead and there were no heirs to receive the funds in his distress at being unable to relieve his soul of its remorse he bethought himself of his old church and wrote to dr. brethren who had been his physician in the old days asking him to convey the money to me for such use as I found best doctor brother ik placed two hundred and fifty dollars in my hands and assured me that more would come from time to time until the principal and the interest had been paid I fell on my knees and thankfulness and even dr. brethren hopeless old skeptic that he is was not free from a moisture about the eyes when I reproached him with his little faith he could not deny that there was something in this beyond his ability to explain by any of his materialistic nonsense he would not even give a hint as to the anonymous donor but I have my suspicions as to who the man is he left town some years ago and has grown rich in New York my prayers follow him I cannot write more I am too busy renewing the life of this dear old church the mortgagees have accepted a part payment and agreed to prolong the loan the members have taken a new lease on faith and some of the Wanderers have been drawn back to the fold a member on an outlying farm has turned in three fat pigs to sell and to merchants have endorsed a note which the bank had discounted the other preachers may be younger but they cannot point to such a miracle as Elijah was fed by the Ravens so some unknown benevolence has rescued this old man of yours from the deeps of helplessness if only you could come home now and if our beloved child could see the light all would be well tell her of my good fortune and say that my cup of joy would overflow indeed if only she might give up her error before the night falleth I am trying not to ask too much of heaven but I am counting on seeing you your loving husband never had mem felt more ancient or more motherly than when she saw this aged child converted again to Santa Claus his blind confidence in his wrongheadedness filled her heart with tender amusement she was thoroughly happy and fully rewarded for the sacrifice of her savings but she was too freshly come from the home of the far sir to escape a torment of cynicism she put ice in her mother's heart when she said I saw The Beggar's Opera tonight mama the wickedest thing I ever did see – but if it hadn't been for that handle wouldn't have written the Messiah this was academic enough to pass her mother without protest but mam went on with diabolical logic if Eve hadn't eaten the Apple then Christ would never have come to earth hush in heaven's name hush is always good advice mama but I can't help realizing that if I hadn't well sinned is the word with poor Elwood farn abhi I'd never have run away from home if I'd never run away from home I never have come out here I'd never have earned a cent I'd never have had a cent to send poor daddy and his church would have gone to smash so you see no I don't send mrs. Stedman and you better not all right I won't said ma'am kissing the frightened face but it's a funny world isn't it mama not at all said mama end of chapter 53 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 54 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 librivox.org Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 54 mem dreaded to go to the studio the next day for fear of the comedian who had overnight become a rejected lover but Ling separated shop from life completely and gave no sign of the self tormentor the love puzzle he became of evenings he was once more the chemist fretting over the minutiae of laughs getting pondering the hair's breadth lift of an eyebrow perfecting the mixtures of action to the least scruple the child's lonely heart was forgotten and he was the keen professor in his laboratory mam wondered if other scientists became just such babblers when they went back to their homes and their boarding houses she also became the woman professor storing up information she began to wonder if the same accuracy would not be of value the manufacturer and sale of tears and sorrows she began to revert to her old ambitions and to feel that the business of laughter making was not her line the pathos and the amiable farce of her father's delusion warmed her heart toward the homely sentiments of the everyday people she wanted to play small-town heroines and enact village tragedies with a sunlight of laughter woven through them after all most people were either in or from small towns the richest bought themselves farms in dwelt in villages and she had read that Marie Antoinette had her petite Rhiannon where she dressed as a peasant and fed chickens she began to long for a role made to order for herself she had been putting on other people's ready-made ideas wearing characteristics that came to her complete adjusting her own body and spirit to a preconceived creation now like all growing actors Souls she grew impatient for a mantel cut to her own shoulders of a tent suited to her own complexion one evening when a Thursday night dance at the Hollywood Hotel drew a throng of movie makers of all the branches of the industry she fell in with a miss Driscoll who wrote continuities and was one of the leading spirits of the screenwriters guild she was also one of the chief officers of the new writers Club which had just bought a house and opened a clubhouse where men and women mingled in disregard of ancient prejudice miss Driscoll thrilled mem by saying that she ought to have a picture written especially for her she said she had been watching MEMS work had been talking about her a lot to Tom Hobie she paid men the marvelous compliment of a personality and individuality she wanted to write something around her for men who begged mem for a dance were vaguely snubbed miss Driscoll's voice was more fascinating with that theme of herself then even the saxophone with its voice like the call of a goat leg shaggy pan turning dance floors into leafy forests and putting a nymph or a faun inside each ball gown or dinner coat love a very fleshly and woodland appeal was of an inferior magic to the spell voice that said let me write and publish you as your own self to the world men was beginning to respond to the same self splitting introspection that she had pitied or scorned in Ned Ling and in other actors who were always worrying over an infidelity to their selves Tom Hobie came up and commanded her to dance when she begged off he lifted her from her chair and eloped with her like Jupiter carrying off Europa but her thoughts remained with miss Driscoll and this wonderful new world where she was to enact herself Tom Hobie soon realized that he had only an empty shell in his arms and he put her back into her chair but Miss Driscoll had been carried away by another dancer and men found herself alongside a man whom she recognised as an author of continuities also one of the sheaf spirits of the screenwriters guild and one of the chief officers of the writers club and he introduced himself as mr. Hobbs saying that he had been watching her work for some time and that she had a distinct personality a peculiar photographic genius I'd love to write something around you he said ma'am chuckled with the infantile pride of discovering that she had toes ten of them she also had a me and an altar was rising to it when Miss Driscoll returned panting and mopping her brow she said to Hobbs you lay off my star I seen her first nonsense said mr. Hobbs I've been dreaming about her for weeks mem felt divinely foolish as the wishbone of such a rivalry but when Tom Holby drifted back as always and Ned Ling came up to glorify her with attentions both of them felt that she was cut off from them by some transparent but impossible cloud end of chapter 54 recording by Dianna Beauvais chapter 55 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 librivox.org Souls for sale by Rupert Hue's chapter 55 mem found it a marvelous thing to have geniuses begging for the privilege of writing the words to the music of her beauty librettos for her limber personality she had met so few authors and those few so briefly that she's still thought of them as miracle workers of a peculiar mystery creators who spun out little universes at their own sweet will the hack continuity writers she had encountered had not confirmed this quaint theory and she soon learned that most of them somewhat like the dwellers on a certain famous island earned a precarious existence by stealing one another's plots the novelist she had read but not seen were still cloudy beings who dropped tablets from their private sign eyes she felt that if she were even lucky enough to touch the hem of the garment of one of them she would ask him how on earth do you ever think of your plots in good time she would learn to know some of the most famous of the men and women who plowed with the pen and were as much hitch to it as it to them and she would find them all so poor harrowed plain people wondering what life is all about and why their sawdust dolls would not behave like humanity each of them had his or her favorite critics who made life a burden and every new work a target still for a time it was drinking the milk of paradise and feeding on honeydew to find herself inspiring strangers with a desire to build stories as airplanes and chariots for her to ride and drive to glory it was warming to have strange persons writing in from nowhere and everywhere imploring her to touch their manuscripts with her life-giving radiance make them walk and lift their authors out of their hell's of oblivion when the compliment became a commonplace it became a bore a nuisance a past an outrage an amazing number of strangers wrote her that their life stories would make her rich and famous and were far more dramatic than the works of Griffith Jeannie Macpherson John Emerson Anita Luce Marion Fairfax June Mathis Thompson Buchanan JG Hawkes Charles Kenyon Monte quatre John and the other photo playwrights she answered such letters as she could by hand and labored to avoid repetitions of phrase then she said her mother to work to copying out forms and finally made her mother sign them with her best imitation of MEMS name and now I'm a forger gasps – mrs. Steadman what next by-and-by both of them were so overworked with the increasing task of answering letters from every kind of person ranging from little girls of eight to elderly Japanese gentleman and offering everything from a prayer for a photograph to an opportunity to pay off a mortgage that men began to hate and revile her annoys here and there was a letter of gracious charm a cry from some sore beset soul a word of rewarding gratitude from one who felt a debt to her art a glimpse of some wretch with the cancer of ambition gnawing a hapless soul young girls unluckily married and dwelling on farms far distant from Los Angeles described the color of their hair in eyes and the compliments they had had from their neighbors and begged to be brought to Los Angeles that they might trade their messes of pottage for their birthrights of wealth and renown they opened their windows to Los Angeles as to the city of deliverance which it had been to a multitude sometimes the letter unconsciously conveyed more landscape and character then a laborious author could achieve and carried with it an air of helpless doom that was heartbreaking there were many of the following sort dear miss Steadman may I introduce myself to you I'm a little Arizona girl and I want to know how to become a movie star will you please take a few minutes of your time and tell me all about it does it take lots of money to become a movie star every since I was fifteen years old I've craved to be a star my people objected very much when I was 17 I began work and when 19 I married iein husband separated so now I'm on the plains with my father and Mather I have a two months old baby boy I'll be 21 in Feb I'm disappointed brunette I wait 117 five feet four inches I think I'll send you a little picture of myself so you can see for yourself how I look I am a pretty good dancer as I was pretty busy myself I must go please take a few minutes and drop me a few lines about this yours truly mrs. Jacob Layton Youth might break through the hasps of fate though ma'am could only answer that thousands of experienced actresses were out of work and there was little chance there was less hope still for the dowdy middle-aged errs who wrote from Midwestern villages in closing photographs that would have ended their chances if they had had any but they wanted to know how to get famous quick actors without experience authors who could not spell people of every imaginable and unimaginable disability sent their pleas to this new goddess and she was as helpless to grant them as the gods above have always been to respond to the petitions that rain toward them from the volcanic fires of the molten hearts of this world men could not answer even with advice and she felt that she was making enemies everywhere faster than friends fame too has its income tax to pay and the rate increases by the same doubling and trebling with which the government punishes success in the form of money writhing at the humiliations of obscurity mem was coming swiftly up into the humiliations of conspicuity the letter from the holdup man was followed by another less terrifying but no less belittling to her pride she had just been glowing with the first thrill of the first requests for her photograph and for her autograph paid for in advance by flattery if not postage when her eager eyes met this from Yuma written by a landlady who carried her hash making propensity into her English misremember Stedman nay mrs. John Woodville Berman Studios Los Angeles California dear Madame seeing as I seen your picture at the theatre here last night recognized you as the lady who left a trunk here saying she would send for it as soon as she and her husband got their selves located and you never done so and going to the moving picture the other night as I say I saw you or so I believe on the screen as Miss Stenton and very pretty you was too I must admit and so how about your trunk is what I am asking and there is storage charges on it and mrs. Drizzt who is still with me and seen the picture with me says to ask you do you remember her asking you about being a Woodville and you're saying you was ashamed of your husband's folks or rather that he didn't have no folks at all and she notices as you used another name and hoping to hear from you soon and do what is right is my motto and I expect other folks to do the Sam yours respectfully mrs. Clem Sloat MEMS own behavior had been more inelegant than mrs. slowed syntax her whole life indeed had been ungrammatical to the last degree she had slunk away from Yuma with all the IgG nobility of a coyote and this sudden Searchlight restored her to her Craven memories she had crept from dark to dark then but now she was both the priestess and the prisoner of the light the victim of her fame the captive rather than the captain him of the soul she had for sale the tremendously advertised soul she had for sale Helen of Troy found the face that launched a thousand ships a most embarrassing possession for the thousand ships went after her and besieged her and now men's past was coming up in all directions like troops of siege she wondered now who would be the next to confront her with some half-forgotten distortion of the truth she wondered if every step she had taken and was to take would leave a petrified footprint like the fossilized traces of a premie vil insect for all eternity she could not decide what answer to make to either letter and so made none at all the writer naturally supposed her guilty of indifference and contempt for her feelings but her silence was actually due to contempt for herself and her inability to devise a and excuse now and then she sought escape from brooding in spurts of gaiety she went about with Tom Hobie and meddling and with other suitors among the various pleasance 'as of los angeles she danced at the alexandria to the bewitching fiddler ii of max Fisher and at the Coconut Grove in the Ambassador made part of the Musil a Janice Eddy of humanity that tried to follow art Hickman's uncanny music she missed snow Wednesday night at the sunset in and on one occasion almost when a dancing prize with a wonderful lounge lizard Thursday nights found her at the Hollywood Hotel she was dancing fiercely but never quite away from her past at the Turkish village she drank the thick sweet glue called coffee and chatted with Lucille she learned to know the Mexican dishes the carne con chili and the tamales at the Spanish kitchen she went through the inevitable phase of looking up odd places to eat and enjoying poor food because it was quaint she joined the horseback rides that set out from the Beverly Hills hotel and threaded the canyons till they came upon breakfast spread in a Glen she muttered to Santa Barbara and heard the nightingale at Arab Marisol or sat on the terrace of the moonlit summer can and dreamed herself in Persia she motored to San Diego and beyond tasting the rival delights of the old Spanish mission at San Juan Capistrano and the gambling across the Mexican border in Tijuana she took a course of Philharmonic concerts heard the world-famous singers and instrumentalists and regretted the tongueless career she had adopted but she learned to chatter of art and music in little groups of devotees composers painters sculptors vers makers story writers that make up the countless clubs of a city already is big and is busy as half a dozen Athens's she was broadening and deepening her mind in her heart and aerating volatilizing her spirit she toiled all the while at her own technique when she finished the short comedy with meddling she was drawn back to the berm own studio for the principal role in a big picture she was not yet to be star but she was to be featured with a young man Clive Cleland who was spoken of as Tom Hobie successor Young Cleland fell prey to her growing fascinations but he was so much her business rival and their professional love scenes were such duels for points that she could not think of him as an amateur in love besides an unsuspected loyalty to Tom Hobie was wakened in her heart by the pretense that this raw youth was Tom successor Tom Hobie was out in the Mojave Desert on location and his absence pleaded for him like a still small voice that interfered with the murmurs of nearer lovers she was full of impatience of every sort she had fallen out of love with herself mannerisms that directors her critics pointed out or that she discovered for herself vexed her to distraction it was a strange thing to recognize in herself a fault that she detested in others and was yet unable to eradicate striving to avoid these recurrent tricks she grew self-conscious and people said that she was getting a swelled head when she was most in a panic what they took for conceit was the bluff of a rabbit at bay and all the while the longing for a home a single love a normal average life alternated with on sets of cynical defiance for the conventions while nature was clamoring in her blood for mating and motherhood her new freedom drove her to anarchic protests against submission to the functions of the beasts mem was in a chaos morally she was at her spring all her senses a leap with youth and desire and a Wilding joy in breaking through old rules the moralities were too heard the ice that the April Brooks sweep away and the torrent smelt the grim white ice of winter that freezes life and puts love and art and beauty asleep she was so horrified by the indecencies of the Puritans and the fencers and the critics of her career that revelry became a duty the Maypole was a Liberty pole but the dramatic world had its Puritans as the religious world has its gypsies in the picture she was making at this time the role of her rival for the love of the lover was played by a Miss Bevan who made such a parade of her undenied virtues that they became vices in the eyes of her colleagues by now men had departed so far from her early training that she had little left of what she wants would have called common decency she went extremely decollete to dances she climbed the mountains and breeches and patties and on the stage she wore which she was told to wear left off what she was told to leave off without thought of protest Miss Bevan however was of an opposite mind she considered her person entirely her own and her future husband's she refused to wear one gown because it was too low in the neck and another because it was too high in the skirt she refused to be photographed actually kissing an actor on the lips she would let him pretend to press his mouth against her cheek and she would hide her face behind his butt no more in one scene she had to run out into a high wind in a frenzy of terror the airplane propeller twirled her skirts about her and displayed the shapely knees the Lord had wasted on her she forgot the overwhelming emotion of her roll and bent to clutch down her spiraling skirts when the director shouted cut she was distraught with shame and demanded that he retake the scene and temper the wind to her shorn frock he refused with disgust she insisted then that the picture be cut before the wind displayed her her limbs the director answered I'll cut the scene just before you began to hide him not because the public is interested in your legs but because I've got to get you through the door miss bevin was frantic she ran to mem and poured out her woe I think that director is the most indecent person in the world don't you know mem snapped but I think you are men despised prudery and felt that such maniac modesty could only be due to the frenzy of a mine eternally thinking evil women like Miss Bevan seemed to her to squander important energies on a battle with dirt like fanatic housewives who devote so much of their days to keeping their homes that they have no time to accomplish anything else mem had devoted her body and her soul to her public in office hours but there still remained much idle time for mischief and in these hours and in the days and weeks between pictures she found love nagging her insufferably she was in the humor of the Floradora maidens whose motto rang through her mind I really must love someone and it might as well be you the you was almost any attractive man she tends to be with at the time and men were frequenting her increasingly as they have always flocked about actresses since actresses are the peaches at the top of the basket the stage and the motion pictures offer opportunity to beauty as the army to bravery the church to piety the law to probity and finance to ingenuity mem space was her fortune and her mind was its steward her perfection of me drew people to her as a lamp draws a Wayfarer or a pilgrim or a moth seekers after a night's lodging a month's flirtation or a life's companionship saw her from afar and ran to rewards she was in a marriage mood and her heart and her friends gave her conflicting counsel don't marry an actor don't marry an author don't marry a businessman don't marry anybody but the Floradora tune kept tinkling in her heart she really must Wed someone Ned Ling was one of MEMS most abject worshippers he had taught her the mechanics of comedy and helped her tragedy thereby without being able to laugh at himself he taught her to laugh at herself and at him he grew morbid for her he cast away his fears of love and his horror of marriage and his sense of humor at the same time he clung to her hand and played with her fingers lolled against her with his head on her breast and implored her to be his mistress his wife his rescuer from despondency but his caresses were like the fumblings of a child at a maternal bosom and his wildest prayers were mere childish not eNOS to her the only love she could feel for him was a sense of amused motherhood and he did not want he flew into tempest of anger at her unresponsiveness and became a tragic clown at whom she could not help smiling he made comic exits from her presence swearing he would never see her again and comic returns but ma'am would only flirt with him and with anyone else whom used her she came in at four one morning after a party given to celebrate Charles Chaplin's return from his royal progress through Europe a triumph that seemed to lift the whole motion picture world in the person of its representative the film people felt that they were at last a nation finding recognition as when the emissary of a republic is accepted as an ambassador the party was innocent enough devoted to dances charades impromptu speeches imitations songs operatic burlesque and an almost pure I'll hilarity but it lasted almost to the hour when good children are getting out of bed while men was passing through this phase of moral and romantic skepticism and experiment in acting pretenses of devout love before the camera and mocking at love outside its range and her mother was not quite sure that she had not quite gone to the devil her first pictures were going about the world like missionaries winning proselytes to her shrine the whim to be married recurred to her incessantly and grew to a fixed purpose it appealed to her various moods in various ways when she was under the spell of her home training marriage was a sacramental duty when she heard it discussed with cynicism a read of the shipwreck of some other marriage it stirred her sporting blood she wanted to bet she could make a success of it when she was in an amorous fever it recommended itself as an assurance of abundant warmth and safety when she was lonely it was companionship when she was shocked by the recklessness of others or by her own remorse it was respectability but it was always something unknown that she wanted to know no experience of life could be complete without it Tom Hobie came back from the desert browner than ever less subtle more undeniable than ever he fought hard for her in the spirit of the hero he was playing at the time a man who acted on the theory that the caveman his woman's ideal and that she prefers above all things to be caressed with a club but these highly advertised tactics were not to MEMS liking at least at the moment when he grew too fierce she struck him in the mouth with a fist that had stout muscles for a driving bar and she brought the blood to his nose with the slash of her elbow she railed at his awkward confusion but thereafter she was out when he called end of chapter 55 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 56 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 librivox.org Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 56 eventually she met Hobie at the golden wedding anniversary of an old actor who had been on the stage since boyhood had married a young and pretty actress at 21 and was still married to her after half a century of pilgrimage along the dramatic highways there were other old theatrical couples at the feast and they made wedlock look like a good investment the occasion was exceedingly benign and men was so gentle that she accepted Tom hobee's apologies and his company home how wonderful she said on the Palm gloomed way to be loved by one man for 50 years I could love you for a hundred Tom groaned let's get married and quit wasting so much time something impelled her to think aloud you're determined to play the simple Septimus after all in spite of the censors she regretted the mad indiscretion an instant too late Hobie was startled and startled her by his quick demand you don't mean that you were about to that you are going to – no she said but like a child or a dog the simple Hobie occasionally had an instinctive understanding of something unspoken he astounded memba saying so that's why you were hiding in Palm Springs with that phony wedding ring Tom she cried aghast at his astounding guess at the truth forgive me he grumbled and that was that neither of them ever alluded again to the subject deeply as it rankled in both their hearts they were wise enough to leave buried secrets in their graves but in spite of what Hobie must have imagined he dogged ly persisted let's get married in spite of in spite of everything he stormed tomorrow is the nearest day there is she loved him for that impetuous determination of his he swept her past aside as she had seen him conquer other obstacles avalanches thugs wild animals terrors that daunted most men she offered a weakening resistance what chance of happiness could we have as much as anybody she had to make an old-fashioned struggle but her reasons were modern I wouldn't give up my career for all the happiness in the world he had evidently been thinking that matter over a long while for he was positively glib I don't suppose any woman ever gave up her career when she got married how do you mean most women have been brought up for a career of housekeeping a father or mother told them what to do and scolded them when they did something else they learned how to make dresses and sew and cook and that was their business when they married they just moved their shop over to their husband's home and expected him to provide the raw stock and tell them what to do and scold him if they didn't do it or spank him this struck men as a new way of putting an old story but she saw one great difference but that wife lived at home and her husband knew where to find her and he wouldn't let her do business with any other customer in our lives if we lived them together the husband would be away from home half the time so is the average husband with his store and his Lodge in his club but then there's the travel when you're on location or when I'd be travel doesn't keep businessmen or lecturers or soldiers or sailors from marrying and half the wives in the world go away for the summer or the winter or on long visits but you'd be hugging other girls before the camera and other men would be hugging me as long as it didn't mean anything but it might come too well for the matter of that a lot of hugging goes on in a lot of homes and outside of them I was reading that most of the girls on the street were ruined in domestic service chamber mains and cooks are pretty dangerous things around a house for husbands and husbands for them and doctors and preachers are dangerous to wives it's not a nice thing to say but it's true then there are the stenographers and the offices and the sales ladies in the stores and the cloak models and cashiers and oh it's a busy little world and it's always been so the old patriarchs had their concubines and their slaves and their extra wives no guarantee ever went with marriage that was good for anything and there's none now we've got as good a chance as anybody but what if we should fall out divorces are so loathsome they're pretty popular though they're more decent than the old way and divorces are as ancient as the world Moses brought down from heaven the easiest system yes but Christ said Christ said nothing about a woman ever getting a divorce at all he only allowed a man to get it on one ground but a good deal less than half of our population even pretends to belong to a church or ever did I was reading that only a third of the passengers on the Mayflower were Puritans you can't run this country by the church especially while the churches don't agree on any one thing we'd have to have a license even if a clergyman should marry us men was shocked by the possibility of a civil marriage it would not be wedlock at all unless a parson sanctified it whole be broke in upon her musings but here we are arguing argument is death to love let's love let's marry let's take a chance we can't be any worse off than we are now we'd be happy for a while anyway he took her in his arms and she did not resist neither did she surrender her mind was away and her voice a remote murmur how long could it last we've just come from a golden wedding and there were couples there that have had their silver anniversaries but Jimmy Kohler and Edith Myna were married on Monday and separated on Tuesday and mr. and mrs. Gaines have lived apart for years and they would be divorced if she weren't a Catholic and the Bliss's lived together but everybody knows their other affairs the actors are no one happier than the plumbers are the merchants we'd have as good a chance as anybody we'd be happy for a while anyway let's take a chance but mam was not in a gambling mood she withdrew herself gently from his relaxing arms she wanted to ponder a while longer marriage was a subject about which the best people told the most lies if you are truly respectable you never tell the truth about marriage or religion and you never permit it to be told in your presence men cherished the ancient ideal of an innocent bride going shyly into the word of a husband who will instruct her reverently into awful secrets she felt that she had somehow lost the right to be a bride for there were no secrets to tell her how could she enter a school when she was already postgraduate in its classes she did not know how rare such ignorance has always been she did not know that many good wise people had felt it a solemn duty to instruct little boys and girls in all the mysteries long before they came to nobility she was not yet aware of the new morality that denies the virtue or the safety of ignorance and loathe the ancient hypocrisy 'he's the evil old ideal that a normal man wants to marry a female idiot she was pitifully convinced that she was unworthy of Tom hobee's arms she knew that he had led the average life she did not expect to find him ignorant of life but that had never been expected of bridegroom's it was from a deep regard for him that she denied his prayer and went sadly to her solitary room as to his self for a fallen woman Oh to have been always good there she rebelled against her doom she grew fiant the orange tree in the patio had both fruit and blossoms her heart was full of knowledge and yet of innocence she knew the life calls of desire but she knew also the hearth yearnings of the bride she had the steadfast eagerness of the wife to bend her neck to the yoke she loved her art she loved her public she felt at times immortal yearnings immortal assurances the doting author mr. Hobbes waxed lyrical about the future of the movies he was as much of a scholar as his years permitted and he mocked the contemptible contempt of the cinema phobes the pompous oldsters and the ridiculous press yosity of the affected youngsters who prayed it of art and thought it meant a lifting of themselves by their own bootstraps above the heads of the common people and they make me sick the pups he said Chesterton said it when he said that some of the talk of art for art's sake made him want to shout no art for God's sake when the skyscraper was new the same kind of posers held that it was a monstrosity rotten commercial blot on the landscape proof that the Americans were hopeless Philistines now everybody that knows says that the skyscraper is the one great addition to architecture that has been made for centuries the Greek the gothic the American when the drama was new in Athens that was mocked at Europe ADIZ was the popular one and wrote the human thing the SOB stuff of his time and Aristophanes tore him to pieces worse than anybody ever toured the cheapest movie he said that Euripides stuff had all gone to hell already and now we revere it and Plato spoke of the laugh and the tear just as we do I can stand the contempt of these webs better than their patronage I see red when they say that the movies are cheap and trashy stuff now except a few foreign eccentrics like dr. Caligari but that they will someday be great someday he'll pardon my french someday is yesterday great movies were done from the start they sprang full arm from the brow Joe just as the drama did and the skyscrapers and the novels they're great now they were great ten years ago Griffith's Birth of a Nation is a gigantic classic his broken blossoms converted a lot of hybrids because it was sad and hopeless but happy endings are harder to contrive than the tragic ones and no more inartistic then there are all the big directors rex ingram a sculptor and a poet reginald barker with his scotch grimness and tenderness hopper with his realism al Green's gaiety and grace Henry King Hayes hunter the Tuda Mills all passionate hunters of beauty and emotion it's the critics that are small and always late the critics always miss the Express and come up on the slow Freight they always discover things the way Columbus discovered America after it had been here a million years think how marvelous it is for you and me to be pioneers in the greatest art that ever was the all-in-all art we are like the Greeks like the men of trousers time and Shakespeare's time in Fielding's we're presiding at the birth of an immortal art some of us don't know it but posterity will know it we're among the Immortals miss Teton isn't it tremendous it's certainly very nice if it's true said ma'am who certainly belonged in the silent drama but as usual her face was inspired with the emotion though her words flunked her heart swung toward the author now Hobbes made love to her in the thin disguise of scenarios and schemes for immortalizing her genius and his own the partnership of an author and an actress seemed ideal but when she was out of Hobbes range and under Tom Hobie spell she was easily convinced that the ideal partnership was an actor and an actress she had been of a mind that actress and director made the perfect combination claimer had left his autograph on her soul then a rich man wintering at los angeles fell into her orbit and began to circle about her in shortening ellipses he wanted to put big money back of her and organize the remember stead in productions inc make pictures exclusively for her but he talked so large and was so large that he frightened off her love and the wealth of Wall Street that he'll of iniquity and persecution of the toilers seemed to be sobbing away like the last water in a leaky tub this love business was driving ma'am frantic in all the pictures she had played as in the traditions of her girlhood love was the thing that came once and never came again good women knew their true fate mates at once and never swerved in their devotion yet here she was passionately interested in several gentlemen finding each of them fascinating just so far and fault 'fl thereafter instead of giving herself meekly to the Bliss of matrimony she was debating its advisability practicability and profit she must be at heart a bad woman one of those adventurous either fiction was very untrue to life or life very untrue to fiction then came the pause hard times struck the movies so hard that in the studio's they became no times at all the disarmament convention met in Washington to prepare a naval holiday and guarantee another end to war war that is always ending and never ended most of the motion-picture factories disarmed entirely and the rest of them nearly the Birman Studios kept one company at work and it was not MEMS company she was stricken with terror as she confronted her problems the smiling future was a dead past the garden land of Los Angeles had reverted to the desert all that art talk suddenly became bread and butter talk what could she do now not to perfect her fame but to make a living she would be poorer than her father she would have to discontinue the installments of that conscience fund which he had learned to expect from dr. brethren she could not even pay the installments on numerous vanities she had bought for herself from the shops her lover's whereas D future Daz herself authors actors directors all they talked poverty instead of marriage and chapter 56 recording by Deanna Beauvais

Michael Martin

1 Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment