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



chapter 57 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 57 no one had talked hard times longer or louder than Vermont he had been mocked at hated accused of greed when he cut salaries ruthlessly refused to renew contracts slowed up production artists said it was a cheap excuse for grabbing more profits having heard him croak of disaster so long mem assumed that his studio would be one of the first to crash her contract would be cancelled or rendered worthless or its provisions interrupted by a long vacation Vermont sent for her and she went prepared for the guillotine he said I like you miss Steadman you've worked hard you've made no trouble you've taken good care of yourself and in every picture you're a little better than before I find that the exhibitors are wiring in give us more stead and stuff our patrons as they go out stop to say how much they like Steadman why don't you start what the exhibitors say goes as far as it can I don't want to fight the public though I try to give them better things all the time we can't star you now all our stars are going out we can't put any more money in pictures till we sell what we've got on the shelves but I believe in you I want people to know you and when the good times come again you must be ready for them so I'll go on paying your salary and send you out on a tour of personal appearances your last picture looks like a knockout I'm going to take down Clive Cleland's name and feature yours alone I want you to go east to New York and Boston Philly ciao all the big cities and let the people see you when they see the picture will pay your traveling expenses give you a drawing room that means we have to buy two tickets anyway so your mother can go along as our guest will give you a big publicity and a nice time in every city what do you say of course mem cried and it's ever so kind of you this days burr mom who was not used to gratitude he gasped that's nice all right go home and pack she hastened home and her heart went clickety clickety with the lilting thrill of her first railroad voyage that had taken her from the Midwest to the southwest now she was to triumph back across the Midwest and on and on to the Northeast the southeast the two borders the two coasts and all the towns between remember the cinnamon it was going forth like Peter the air might to summon people to her banner of rescue of sympathy of ardor her mother was as joyous as she the crusade was a new youth to her it brought belatedly all the treasures of experience she had given up hoping for the best she had ever expected was an occasional change of village to move as the evicted wife of a poor preacher from one parsonage whose dullness she had grown used to to a new boredom now she would travel like a Dowager Empress from capital to capital as the mother the author of a famous scream queen the royal progress was to begin with a transcontinental leap to New York to assist at the opening of the picture on Broadway on Broadway to the actor what in heaven is to the Saint in Rome to the priest in Washington to the politician in gold to the athlete the abandoned suitors of mem made a sorry squad at the Santa Fe station they stared at her with humiliated devotion Burman sent a bushel of flowers and fruit to her drawing-room he saw to it that there were reporters to give her a good send-off she left Los Angeles another woman from the Lorne lone thing that had crept into the terrifying City as so many sick lungers faint harder wounded war victims had crept into it and founded a restoring fountain of health and hope and ambition she waved goodbye with a homesick sorrow in her eyes her consolation was her last shout I'll come back I'll come back she had a little of the feeling Eve must have had as she made her last walk down the quick-set paths of Eden toward the gate that would not open again the Train stole out of Eden like the serpent that wheedled Eve into the outer world it glided through opulent Pasadena and Redlands and San Bernardino a wilderness of olives palms and dangling apples of gold in oceans of orange trees by-and-by came Cajon Pass where the train began to clamber over the mountain walls that were the gate of this paradise up the deep ravine known as murder Canyon when this land was unattainable until a pathway of human and animal bones had been laid down winter was waiting on the other side there was winter here too of a sort but it was the pretty winter of Southern California the landscape was mooted to wistfulness white trees were all aflutter with gilded leaves as if butterfly swarms were clinging their windblown soon the orange and fig trees no longer enriched the scene Juniper's and cactus versatile and ugliness manzanita and joshua trees were the emblems of nature's poverty yet there was something dear to mem in the very soil she could have kissed the ground goodbye as Ulysses flung himself down and pressed his lips on the good earth of Ithaca the snow sugared crests of the cuckoo mangas and old baldies bleak Majesty were stupendously beautiful but they seemed to be only monstrous enlargements of the tiny mountains that ants and beetles climbed as the Train lumbered up the steep the earth passed before mam's eyes slowly slowly she found the ground more absorbing than the peaks or the sky she stared inwardly into herself and the common people that she sprang from and spoke to she found them the same as the Giants not so big in size but infinitely bigger in number the Sierras and the foothills were only vast totals of minut mountains she found the world wrinkles of the canyons the huge slabs of rock patched with rags of green repeated in the tiny scratches that raindrops had made in lumps of dirt the wind of the passing train set lunches of pebbly dirt rolling through forests of petty weeds small lizard started yet were not so fast as the train that kept on its way out of paradise winding like a gorged Python on some of the twists of track she could see its double head and the smoke it breathed the mountains appeared to rise with the train mocking it as human effort is always mocked since its every climb discloses new heights every horizon conquered points with satiric laughter – farther horizons offered for a prize meek and unimportant as the little pebbles were on the slopes of the mountains the peaks had also their inequalities and looked to be forever snubbing one another a tunnel killed the picture like a broken film instantly mem imagined Tom Hobie at her side snatching out a kiss he would have been caught in the theft for the mountain snapped back into view only to be blacked out again there would have been time for a long long kiss for many kisses in this rich gloom once more she found Tom Hobie wooing her best in his absence she wondered if she were not a fool to leave him he had told her that he had saved money enough to live a long while without working to travel abroad with her to give her a gorgeous home but she had thought of her ambition and followed it she reviled herself for her automatic discontent when she saw the monotony of home as it held most women captive she was glad she was a freer over in art when she was free and roving she envied them their luxury of repose now she was by herself her mother was nice but mothers and fathers cannot count in that realm of the heart finally the breathless train paused at the top of its climb she was stung with an impulse to step down and take the first train back here she was at summit with a capital S yet there was nothing much to see a red frame station building with dull green doors and windows a chicken yard a red water tank on stilts a baggage truck a row of one room houses crowded together for company in spite of the to abundant space probably the summit of success would be about the same the fun and the glory were in the scramble up but it seemed lonely and uncomfortable at best to work so hard for such a cold reward and she had left orange groves and love and the rich shade of obscurity then the train was on its way again the helper engine with drawn aside panting with exertion the train would Coast down to the levels without help you don't need help to get down only when you get down you would find desert instead of a bower the other side of the mountains after all the effort of getting across would be like crawling back of a tapestry to study the seamy side the knots and the patternless waste still her youthful eagerness always served as an antidote for her discontent the desert had its charms the dead platitudinous levels made easier going platitudes were labor saving and you went faster and safer over them and you can see farther on the level up high the mountains get in one another's way as do jealous artists and contradictory Creed's the next morning found the deserts still running by the ground was as brown and red and Shaggy as the height of an ancient squaw there were scabs of snow in the wrinkles in the air and annoyance of stingy little snowflakes the mountains here along were cruel and snarling they would not understand the yearning for warmth because they could not they were cold as the Sierras of critics that men must try to conquer but she could feel sorry for them also it could not be much fun to be cold and bleak and critical the cattle sprinkled about the region were working hard for sparse fodder life was like that in the warm sweet summer food and drink were easy to get and luscious waking was a dream and sleeping a beatitude love was bomb in the air in the winter though food and drink were scant and harsh waking was misery and sleep a shivering love hardly more than two waves shivering together to keep warm at one station Indian girls ran along the track offering gaudy little earthenware baskets and bright beadwork they had made to an express train would not stop long enough even for such passengers as would take the trouble to buy the girls were strike Navajo shawls that were not warm enough their other clothes were inappropriate somehow civilized garb that took away picturesqueness and conferred ugliness instead of comfort wrinkled black stockings hi think plaid dresses the poor things that had been Indian princesses a large word for their true estate yet it was a comedown from the pre me ville cliff caves to the track side where they offered beads for pennies to the pale faces who had once swapped beads for empires mem saw resemblance to herself in one copper colored maid who held up her handiwork she herself each of her fellow creatures white brown red or black was but a poor ignorant Savage offering some crude we're too busy strangers drawn past in an express train it was self consideration as much as sympathy that made her hurry to the platform and opened the vestibule door she wanted to buy that girl's merchandise so that people would buy her own soul when she thrusted at them but a long dark train drew into the station drove the Indian girl back and cut off all communication it reminded me of a long hostile criticism one of those lumbering reviews that ran over her own heart now and then because her body was in the way and because the train came from the opposite direction before the westbound train drew out her own moved on and she never saw the Indian girl again the next thing she saw on that side was a saw blade of mountains dashing the blue sky with its jagged teeth the world was an almighty big place there was so much desert and then so much farmland so many large cities one night they came to Kansas City were the Train wait in an hour this had been the first big city ma'am had ever seen on this platform she had met Tom Hobie and Robina teal never dreaming that she would play such havoc in his cosmic heart on this platform she had bought her first moving picture magazines and her soul had been rocked by her first knowledge of the wild things women were making of themselves and now when she and her mother went up to the vast waiting room and she bought many moving picture magazines there was only one of them that emitted a picture of her own and that magazine promised for the next month an article about her as the most promising star of the morrow the morrow and the next month what would they do to her what would she do the world next month the media morale found her on the train again and staring into the dark in a blissful forward-looking nightmare the dark was like the inside of her eyelids when they closed a mystic sky of purple nebula widening circles of flame crawling rainbows in Vitesse amol komets rushing through the interstellar deeps of her eyelids she had forced her mother to accept the full space of the bed made up on the two seats she chose the narrow couch and maidenly solitude she slept ill that night or rather she lay awake well her mind was an eager loom streaming with bright threads that flowed into tapestries of heroic scope she was a personage of importance a genius with the future an artist of a new art the youngest and the best of the arts the young Pantagruel born about the year that she was born it had already best ridden the narrow world like a colossus and had made the universal language a fact she was speaking this long sought Esperanto for everybody to understand she had already seen clippings from London newspapers referring to her with praise she had seen in a South American magazine a picture of herself as senior Rita rememberest Eddin she had seen a full-page picture of herself in a French magazine with the caption referring to her as own de tres se la plus Belle de l'homme her art was good to her and she must be good to it it demanded a kind of celibacy as some religions did perfection and celibacy was not often attained in either field and the temptations to lawful wedlock and stodgy domesticity were as fierce and burning as too lawless whim but here she was on her way to glory yet she tossed in loneliness a popper of love well she was fulfilling the newly discovered destiny of her sex during the night the train crossed the Meridian that would have led her to her old home in Calver Lee and her father he had advanced a little but not much from the most ancient patriarchal ways from the time when a father affianced his daughter before she left her cradle to some boy who had hardly fallen out of his and married her as soon as nature permitted to a husband she had perhaps never seen till he lifted her veil and led her away to a prison called home a locks table where she would be kept for breeding purposes and supplemented with other mates if she failed of her one great duty they had thought it beautiful not so long ago for a 14 year old child to have a child now in the more decent states it was called abduction or seduction to marry a girl even with her parents consent before she was 16 the husband could be sent to prison for the crime today all the American women were voters millions of them were independent money makers and this seemed right to men though preachers had shrieked that it meant the end of all morality but morality is as indestructible as any other human instinct the obscene old ideal that reproduction was the prime obligation of womanhood revolted men what was the use of devoting one's life merely to passing life belong to another generation the fish the insects the beasts of the field did that much and only achieved progress less procession round and round the same old ring of instincts each generation handed over like a slave to unborn masters themselves the slaves of the unborn who profited to the women of MEMS time and mind the old-fashioned woman was neither wise nor good but a futile female who deserved the slavery she accepted for each generation to climb as high as it could was surely its first duty love would take care that successor should be born and science would protect the young than all the old mother murdering systems it was only in the last few years that science freed from religious meddling had checked the death rate that had slaughtered infants by the billion under priestly rule and now birth control was the crying need marriage had never been the whole duty of man and man was sure that never again would it be the whole duty of woman a man had always heretofore felt that he should assure his own career before he took on the fetters of matrimony and a woman would always hereafter feel the same thing terrible euphemisms for slavish Ness miscalled meekness submissiveness modesty piety propriety had been held as lashes over women for ages now whipping was out of style a girl could go where she pleased and go alone she could take care of herself better than men had ever taken care of her there had always been something wrong about letting the Wolves elect themselves as guardians of the you Lambs her mother was with men and that satisfied some people and made her father happier but the real reason for her mother's presence was that mam wanted the poor old soul to get a little fun out of life before it was too late she and her mother were merely young girl and old girl in a globe-trotting adventure men was still awake or was wakened from a half sleep when the racket of the wheels upon the rails sounded a deeper note she guessed that the train must be crossing a bridge she rose and leaned softly across the bed where her mother dreamed of the old home in the exhausting demands of her children men lifted the edge of the curtain aside a little and peered out the train was in midair passing through a channel of rattling girders the vast water that swept beneath moonlit and Placid was the Mississippi going south in the night it would soon flow past calve early she remembered that she had once thought of drowning herself in its flood to hide her shame there and solve her problem the equation of all the X's and Y's of her life had seemed to be zero now it was infinity how wonderful it was that she had not yielded to despair it gave her an idea for a picture nearly everything was taking the scenario for him in her meditations nowadays wouldn't it make a great film to show a desperate girl flinging herself in a river to hide her shame and then to have it roll before her the life she might have lived if she had not drowned herself scenes of struggle and triumph usefulness and helpfulness joy and love could follow and then fade out in the drifting body of the dead girl who had lost her chance mem saw herself in the role and she shivered with the delight of her inspiration then she sighed the censors would never permit the film girls must not go wrong or commit suicide on the screen they could go on sinning and slaying in real life as they had always done in drama but the screen was in slavery now and must remember its cell but she at least was eastward bound toward the mourning that was marching toward her beyond the sombre Hills of slumber she breathed deep of the aural promise in the very stars whose light was dying in the greater light even while they lay shuddering beads of Quicksilver scattered along the sky end of chapter 57 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 58 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 58 the next mem knew was the shutter of the doorbell the porter called through the metal panel a warning that Chicago was loping toward them out of the east and they must make ready to leave the train they scurried to get up and pack and out then they went with their baggage across the roaring streets to the lakeshore station and got breakfast there this on the advice and under the guidance of an affable gentleman who met them and said that he represented the Vermont companies Chicago exchange and had been ordered by mr. Bowman to take a special care of miss Steadman mem tried to look as if she were used to such distinction but she failed joyously a day was all they had for learning Chicago it was even larger and busier than Los Angeles Mel felt lost and ignored until she saw in a bulbous glimmer of unlighted electric letters hung in front of a big motion picture theater the name of her latest film the theatre would not open until 11:00 but her own pictures were scattered about the lobby and that was something tremendous she and her mother drank deep of this cup of fame they took their luncheons scudding on the 20th century limited they had not yet left Chicago when the trained stenographer rapped at the door and asked their names against the possibility of a telegram ma'am noted how her mother sat a little higher with proud humility as she answered miss remember stead in and mother there were italics in mrs. Stebbins voice and exclamation points in the stenographers eyes after a moment's hesitation as his pencil stumbled on the pad he mumbled that name is very familiar in our home if you'll excuse me the wife says you are the biggest comer of them all and I must say I agree with her if you don't mind mem didn't mind she gave him one of her queenly of smiles and concealed her own agitation until he had closed the door on his she was encountering strangers who had loved her and were hopeful for her wonderful winter was in full sway outside but the train slid across the white world like a skater and there was a lilt in its rush the next morning found the Hudson alongside moving slowly under its plate mail of ice to New York mrs. Stedman loyally denounced the river as far inferior to her own Mississippi but mem found the New York stream better groomed somehow it seemed to be used to great cities it led on to the metropolis of Metropolis the New York that she was come to conquer she wondered if the city would be nice to her she had heard that it had a mind of its own and that it never knew who came or went if the chicago courier had said that New York was the Hickock village in the USA just a bundle of small towns whatever it was it was destiny yet here again the arms of Ramon had provided her with a reception committee a most affable gentleman from the New York office and two photographers one with a motion camera also two or three young reporters whose stories would never be published but neither they nor mem knew this and she underwent the pleasant anguish of being interviewed on the station platform rooms have been reserved for her at the Gotham and she went thither in a covey of attendance it was a good deal of high life for a young girl and when she and her mother were left alone aloft in luxury she flung herself down on a divan and lay supine another Danai smothered under the reigning favors of the gods on high there was more and more to come her experience of the city had been experienced by millions of visitors to whom the high buildings the Metropolitan Opera the Metropolitan Art Museum the aquarium and other things Metropolitan were the realization of old dreams she went to a theatre or an opera every night and to a matinee every afternoon when there was one and she marveled that her father's religion had set the curse of denial upon the whole cloud realm of the drama on Sundays the theaters were closed except to sacred concerts but the good people who were trying to close the motion-picture houses had not yet succeeded on her first Sunday night in town she and her mother went to the Capitol the supreme word in motion picture exhibition the new art had already in this building the largest theater in the world from its vast foyer illuminated with mural paintings by William cotton a marble stairway mounted nobly to a balcony as big as a lake above a lower ocean both levels peopled was such a multitude that their heads were mere stippling the architecture seemed perfection Dammam perfection with grandeur yet of an indefinable exquisiteness everything was Roman or Etruscan gold there was a forest of columns as tall as the Sequoias of California a grove of gilded trees fluted and capped in splendor the sweeping curve of the bow he was like a bay along the Santa Monica coast here long devons gave the spectator a Persian luxury from somewhere back of beyond the projection machines sent their Titanic brushes and spread miracles on the immense screen more than 5000 people were seated there and a varied feast was served them before the pictures was erupted the feelin divertissement a pipe organ word its harmonious thunders abroad until an orchestra of 70 men sat down before a curtain a futuristic art and played a classic overture then the curtains drew back and to one of Brahms Hungarian dances a booted girl in white hussar uniform with the cloak of scarlet flying from one shoulder and one hip flung her nimble limbs about the stage a Basso profundo sang and there was a ballet in gray translucent silhouette against a shimmer of glowing cream the first picture was one of the Bible stories to whose prestige the censors permitted almost complete nudity and horrific crimes denied the secular films a tenor sang a news picture unrolled scenes from all the world then came a prologue to the film de resistance tonight it was the silent call by Lawrence Trimble and Jane Murphy the authoress as mem had heard had bought a police dog abroad at a cost of $5,000 and trained it tirelessly to be the hero in the story by how GA verts the theme was the cross pole between the wolf and the dog in the poor beasts heart and the amazing animal enacted all the moods from devotion to man and the gentleness that the dog has mysteriously learned to the wild Raven and man hate that the wolf has never unlearned there was no super canine psychology only the moods and passions of the animal but they were deep passionate sincere with this too sold four-footed protagonist the company had gone into the snowy wilderness and brought back a wonderland of white Craigs stormy skies cruel men and brave the dog eloped with a white wolf as' and proved a good husband and father until his household was destroyed by relentless man then he went back to dog hood fought for the sore beset heroin fondled the fearless hero pursued and tore to pieces the savage villain with fiercer savagery in all his humors he was irresistible a brave sweet soul and there was incessant Felicity in the composition of the pictures he dignified the highest inspirations of landscape art were manifest fifteen thousand people saw the dog play his role that Sunday in that one room and a whole herd of him was playing in other theaters throughout the country he would gallop around the globe that dog the moral of it all to men was despair of man she poured her heart out to her mother in the language of one trained in church leanness for the rebel cannot escape his past what better things could anybody learn in a church than here mama aren't God's gifts developed isn't he praised in color and music and sermon and sympathy it's all hymns to me hymns of light and sound sacred dances and travel into the noblest scenes God ever made yet they call it a sin even to go there and they say there is a bill coming up to close all the theaters as well as the barbershops and delicatessens on Sunday so as to drive the people to church or force them to stay at home in dullness poor souls that work all week and don't want to go to a dull church and sleep before a dull preacher they don't want to be preached at they want to be entertained what on earth makes good people so bad and so stupid they've been trying for 10,000 years to scold and whip people to be good their way and they've never succeeded yet that ought to show them that God is not with them or he wouldn't put it in people's hearts to fight the cruelty of the good just as hard as they fight the cruelty of the bad according to them I'm a lost soul on my way to hell yet my heart tells me that I'm leading a far far far more worshipful life building pictures than I ever could have done back there in Cali if I'd stayed there and been good and married a good man and got nowhere but to church in the kitchen and the nursery all my days and look at that biblical picture tonight I saw the one before with Adam and Eve both stark naked except for a few bushes they'd have put the actress in jail if she had played like that in anything but a Bible story if religion can sanctify a thing why can't art and when Adam and Eve clothes themselves they only put on a few leaves if that was costume enough then why should we have to wear long skirts and hide bonuses now they get prizes to little girls to read the Bible through from cover to cover even Papa praises that as a soul saving thing he made me read it all and it includes the songs of Solomon and a hundred stories that leave nothing horrible untold are you talking against the Bible her mother bristled no I think it is all that Papa believes I think it is a good thing for children and grown-ups to know by heart but what stumps me is the inconsistency of the professional soul sabers who want the law to prevent grown-up people from seeing things that children are encouraged to read in Los Angeles I saw one of William dimille's pictures where a pious boar was reading from the songs of Solomon and when they quoted what he was reading they had to blot out part of it on the title card think of that mama yet the book is in every Christian home or is supposed to be you're not arguing that it oughtn't to be of course not the Bible never harmed anybody but neither did the screen really the crime is in robbing the film of all freedom and making it the slave of all the old women of both sexes the subject was intensely uncomfortable for her mother as with most people morality was the subject that she thought unfit for discussion nice people had morals as well as bowels but believed that their irregularities should remain equally UNCHR onna cold miss deaden yawned and said that she was going to bed it was late and mem turned into in the meanwhile in the great rhythm of the world the Puritans were on the upswing as so often before they would gain the Baron artless height of their ideals and then the billa would break and carry them snarling back to the trough of the sea while the merrymakers swept up their frothy Supremes of license only two laps to defeat with equal impermanence of either failure or success the world was apparently in for a gray Sabbath and it would satisfy nobody any more than the last or the next Saturnalia censorship had already taken the moving pictures almost altogether out of the realm of freedom and the peoples of the theatres the magazine's the books the paintings the fashions the shops were already murmuring and dread we're next but yet a while there was mirth and beauty though the shackles rattled when the feet danced too high or ran too far whatever the fate of her art mem was flying high the papers of New York were publishing her engaging eyes the billboards all about town were announcing her and in paragraph and advertisement she was celebrated but so many others were also claiming the public eye other newcomers and favorites in impregnable esteem people who had come from Cali were claiming them as a fellow citizen and feeling that they gained some mystic authority from mere vicinage some of them called upon her in person or by telephone and said her heart agog she wanted to do them and the town justice somehow she endured until the night her own picture was shown and then stepped out before what seemed to be the world in convention assembled she felt as tiny as she looked to the farthest girl in the ultimate seat up under the back rafters she parroted the little speech that Berman's publicity man had written for her and afterward wondered what she had said there was a cloudburst of hand clapping and a salvo from the orchestra that swept her from the stage into the wings and that was that she did not know one of the town's wealthiest men was lolling in a faux till down front and that her beauty and her terror smote him his motto had been go after what you want and bringing home he prided himself on being a go-getter who had not often come back foiled he wanted men and he went after her he was willing even to bring her home end of chapter 58 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 59 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 59 there was no difficulty about meeting mem for a man whose name smelled of Millions honestly amassed and gracefully dispersed Austin Boas came humbly to mem to pay his respects and his enormous name made her tremble as her bisque daintiness sent him a quiver he was shy ashamed of his own lack of heroic beauty and mem was dazed to find herself feeling sorry for him pity was a dangerous mood for her Boas gazed at her with eyes as hungry and his winning as the eyes of the dog strong heart like the dog he was earning wealth that he could not spend for his own happiness in his longing was for caresses and devotion he would give his life to one who would rub his head if Boas have had any lurking thought of dazzling mem into a mercenary submission to his Caprice he never revealed it he was not at all the vicious capitalist she had read about and seen in so much film bribing poor gals to dishonour he sent her flowers but they were pretty and appealing rather than expensive he made no proper of jewelry never suggested money life she found rarely ran true to fiction mrs. Steadman was usually in the offing and Boas may have thought that she was one of those canny mother managers who try to force rich gallons into matrimony when mrs. Steadman was out of sight mem was a little more elusive than ever Boas revealed to her phases of opulence that she had never imagined the most striking thing about them to her was that they were not so very opulent after all his home was somber and dull his servants cozy old neighbours his own Manor humble his art gallery when he led her and her mother into it was severe a mere background for paintings and after all not many paintings their men knew nothing about the virtues of what she saw and she cried out equally over the things he had bought by mistake and the happy investments the bow ass automobile which carried them to and from their hotel was a good car but exceedingly quiet mem had ridden in a dozen in Los Angeles that were far more gorgeous but beau ass was lonely he was pathetic he reminded her somehow of Ned Ling who squandered joy and kept none boas was drowned in wealth and was poor he might have one Memphian e if he had not tried to win her from her career he was a monopolist by inheritance and he wondered all there was of mem he promised her everything that money could buy or love could propose with the one proviso that the money should not be her own earning but his gift and that the public should see her no more mrs. Stedman was all for him she pointed out to men how good the Lord was in sending her such a catch she emphasized the good she could do with millions the poor she could feed in clothe the churches she could adorn her build the missions she could endow but a parent's recommendation is the poorest character a lover can possess contradictory torments wrung men's heart she was human enough to cover ease and the hot air of money but she had outgrown the ability to enjoy or even endure the old-fashioned parasitism of the woman who takes and takes and takes girls had decided that it was no longer flattery or good wooing to be offered a life of nonentity who wanted to be anybody silly curly locks and except as a compliment the promise thou shalt not wash dishes nor yet feed the swine but sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam and feed upon strawberries sugar and cream boas had one terrific rival the many-headed monster it is not hard to seduce an actress from the stage but it is hard to keep her off there's a courtship that the public alone can offer and no one man can give her as much applause as a nightly throngs that form of polyandry is irresistible to most of the women who have been lucky enough to get on the stage or the screen and to win success there one day burr monk summoned her to his New York office and said how about getting to work again I've got a great story for you and they need you at the studio on your way back you can make personal appearances at 4 or 5 cities but it's back on the job for you eh that's right that's a good girl Vermont offered ma'am neither East nor devotion except devotion to her publication he offered her toil and wages hardships and discontent sleepless malaise and bad press notices and she could have flung her arms about him and kissed him Austin boas was at the station to see ma'am off for his last fling he filled her drawing-room with flowers poor things that drooped and died and were flung from the platform by the porter long after their spell had been forgotten the sad gaze of boas as he cried goodbye haunted her it was her increasing regret that she could not love everybody and give herself to everybody who wanted her being unable to distribute herself to the multitudes by any miracle as of the loaves and fishes she withheld herself and scattered photographs by the hundred thousand she had murmured to boas when i make another picture or two I may decide to be sensible and then if you are still I shall be waiting said bolus and he gave up with a groan marry me anyway and have your career too I'll put my money into your company I'll back you to the limit that staggered her but before she could even think up an answer the train started and divorced her from him for the present at least at Buffalo and at Cleveland she paused to come before huge audiences and prattle her little piece when she reached Chicago she found awaiting her a long letter from the manager of the Moving Picture House in Calvary he implored her to visit her old hometown and make an appearance at his theatre he promised that everybody would be there this was success indeed to appear in New York was triumph but to appear in her native village was almost a divine vengeance she had resolved to leave her mother at Calvary in any case mrs. Steadman was wearying of adventure and her heart had endured too long an absence from her husband and the other children the younger sister Gladys had done her best to take her mother's place but mrs. deadens real career was her family and men knew that she was aching to get back to it and so one morning they crossed the Mississippi again at Burlington they must leave the train wait two hours and then ride south to calve early as ma'am and her mother stepped down from their car in Iowa both gasped and clutched the Reverend dr. Stedman was a few yards away from them studying the off getting passengers let's see if he knows us snickered mrs. Stedman with a relapse to girlishness well that said ma'am they knew him instantly of course he were the same suit they had left him in and the only change they could describe was a little more white in a little less hair but he did not know them at all it amused them to pass him by and notice casual glance at the smart hat and the polite traveling suit of his wife he had expected a change in his daughter but he was probably braced for something loud and gaudy mem looked really younger than when she left him she had then been a premature old maid dowdy and repressed now for all her girlishness she was a list ayran her eyes knowing her too expressive body carried learnedly in clothes that boasted of what they hid boasted subtly but all the more effectively in spite of the Phatak modesty of her clothes mem had lived so long among butterflies in orchids and had striven so desperately for expression that she did not realize how i'm Phatak she was so her father passed her by when mrs. Stedman turned and hailed him in a voice that was glad her and more tender than she knew he whirled with his heart bounding then he paused and stared befuddled at the tailor-made model running toward him he knew all about the other world and how to get there but he was lost in the cities of the earth when his wife rushed into the arms he had flung open to her voice he was almost afraid to close them about her he felt a bit like Joseph with the captain's wife clinging to him when he stared across her trim shoulders and took in the sumptuous Delilah floating toward him with his daughters countersign Papa he was aghast at her beauty she was ungodly beautiful long ago when she had sung in the choir he had noted with alarm and almost indecent fervour in her hemming now she had learned to release all the fragrances and allurement of her being like a Pandora's box broken open and now he felt that he had to avert his gaze from her two lovely two luscious charm he shut his eyes instead and drew her into his bosom with one long arm and his wife with the other and they heard his hungry feasting heart groaning I thank thee O God now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace but neither the Lord nor his family granted that prayer his two children chattered at once both seemed children to him his wife had turned time far back she looked fair then he had ever known her and her traveling hat hid her gray white hair poor thing she had never known till this year the rapture of being fashionable had never dared never understood how to look her best hiding under his high chin men begged his forgiveness for all the heartaches she had caused him she wept on his white bowtie twisting a button on his coat and pouring out her regret for dragging his wife away from him and causing them to quarrel over her these tears these gestures of pathos were endearing her to the multitudes who saw her half the time through the radiant dimness of her own tears poor dr. Stetten had never a chance with her his own tears powdered down on her hat the Blessed Demoiselle heard his tears they would probably spot the crown mem said that it was a crime for her to have taken her mother on east and left him alone but he protested do you suppose I wanted my little girl traveling in those wicked cities all by herself this gladden mem exquisitely it showed that for all her wanton career she was still in her father's eyes an innocent child who must be protected from the world of course it was rather the world that needed to be protected from her but she would not disturb his sweet delusion he said he wished he might have gone along and seen great cities he had never seen all cities were Carcassonne stood him he spoke of the anonymous benefactor the conscious stricken stranger who had sent him money through dr. brethren but he could not use that money for travel it was for the church any side the good man has forgotten to send the last installment as he promised mem gave a start and had almost said I forgot all about it in the rush of leaving I'll give it to you now she checked herself so abruptly that she was not quite sure that she had not spoken she seemed to hear the echo of her words her father was called away for a moment to speak to an old parishioner and mem said to her mother this is exactly what we call a situation in the business the audience knows something the principal actor doesn't know if Papa had found out that I was the remorseful gentleman he'd have dropped dead he came back with the parishioner who had begged for the honor of an introduction to his famous daughter the old man had once wished that she had died before she went so wrong but now he was plainly very glad indeed that she had been spared he fluttered like a hen whose duckling has swum the pond and come back to the wing the parishioner moved on at last leaving embarrassment dr. Stetten was afraid to ask his daughter the details of her new life lest she should tell him she could not think of much to say that would be certain not to shock him the reunion was too blissful to be risked at length a very long length the southbound train drew in and took them aboard they watched the landscape and indulged in flurries of small talk that rushed and died like flaws of wind on the river now it was the Mississippi that streamed south in a burly leisure while the Train flew noisily end of chapter 59 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 60 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 60 and finally Cowher Lee came up along the track and stopped at the station the place shocked ma'am by it's a penis and it's pettiness when she left it she had never seen a city and she was afraid of her hometown now her eyes were acquainted with the cyclopean architecture of New York the garden mansions of Pasadena and the maelstrom streets of Chicago yet she was as shy before the crowds that waited for her as they of her the mayor had come down to give her welcome he was as shabby as the sheriff in a western movie but he was the villages best and he used his largest words in a little speech as soon as he could push through the mob of stead in children that devoured ma'am and her mother the manager of the Calvary Capitol with its capacity of 200 brushed the mayor aside and claimed mrs. Stedman and his prize he had a carriage waiting for her and a room at the hotel in case the parsonage was overcrowded dr. Stedman grew Isaiah as he stormed back my daughter stays in her own home this brought mem snuggling to his elbow and from that sanctuary she greeted her old sunday-school teacher several of the public schoolteachers an old Negro janitor a number of young men and who called her by her first name two or three of the girls had been Belles of the town and she had looked on them with off for their beauty their fine clothes and they're fast reputations now they seemed startlingly dubby gawky silly and now the AH was theirs mem noted that her own sisters were duh beer Gawker sillier still except Gladys who had matured amazingly and in whose eyes and mouth and ill furbish roundness –is MEMS experience saw a terrifying latent voluptuousness and a capacity for fierce emotions the first resolve mem made was to buy her sister's clothes worthy of them and of her own high rank just as she was stepping into a waiting automobile doctor breath Ric came along happened by with the very badly acted pretence of surprise mem told him that she wanted to come over and have him look at her throat she coughed for convictions sake and he warned her that there was a lot of flu going about the car moved off and she felt as if she were passing through a wooden toy town her father's Church looked about to fall over it was not half so big as she remembered it and dismal e in need of paint and the home was it possible that the old fence was so near the porch and the porch so small once it had been a growth of romantic gloom deep and fatal enough to bring about her damnation with a sudden stab she remembered Elwood Farnham II and the far-off girl that he had loved too madly well in that moonlit embrasure how little and pitiful that mem had been there was a toyish unimportance in her very fall the debacle of a marionette world but Elwood farn abhi was great by virtue of his absence and his death he was a hero now with Romeo and Leander and Abelard and the other geniuses of passion whose shadows had grown gigantically long in the sunset of a tragic punishment for their Arturs she stumbled as she mounted the steps and there was a misery in her breast then the house opened its door and took her in into its little apportioned Hall and stair way she laid off her hat and gloves in the parlor with the dining room alongside it was like a caricature of homeliness just such a set had been rejected at the studio because it was a burlesque on such a home wonderment at the hallucinations of her youth and gratitude even for the disaster that had hurled her out of the jail filled her heart she never acted more desperately than in her mimicry of the emotions of rapture at her coming home she insisted on helping to get the midday dinner gladys protested but men was frantic for something to keep her hands busy and for little things to talk about lest her dismay at the humbleness of her beginnings insult the poor wretches who had no know better her mother was having a similar battle though the return was easier since she had never gone so far afield at the dinner table the old preachers humble grace for the bounty of the Lord saddened mem again the poor old dear had suffered every hardship and know nothing of luxury yet he was grateful for bounty after the table was cleared and the dishes washed and put away mem escaped on the pretext of a visit to the doctor she was waylaid by old friends on the walks and hailed from all the porches there was a little condescension in the manner of a few matrons and a few embittered Belles but mem knew enough to take this as the unwitting tribute of envy she found dr. and mrs. Frederic waiting for her the doctor got rid of his wife and closed the door on mem then he flung up his hands and cried well he shook his shaggy Pole and mumbled a wide grin and repeated half-a-dozen wells of varied meaning before he exclaimed well if I'm not a success as an author manager and producer of a one talent show me one our little continuity has certainly worked out beyond the fondest dreams of author and star his star took less pride in it than he somehow ma'am drew humiliation from the lowliness of her origin instead of pride this room had seen her first confession of guilt in this room Elwood Barnaby had made his last battle for life a horrifying thought came to man if he had not died she would have become his wife and the mother of his premature child she would have been a laughingstock material for ugly whispers about the village and she would have been the shabbiest of wives even here she would never have known Fame or ease or wealth what a scenario it would make she thought in spite of her wrath against herself for harboring such an infamous thought but she could not deny her mind to it suppose a story were written around her life a girl in her plight has a choice of two careers in one her lover lives makes her the partner of his humble obscurity in poverty and she becomes a shabby life broken down in the other her lover dies and she goes on a loan to wealth beauty and the heights of splendor which would she choose the very hesitation was murderous yet how would she choose would she kill her lover or let him live a vampire to destroy her soul she felt a compulsion to penance and a humbling of herself at the grave of her thwarted husband she was afraid to walk through the streets to the cemetery and she asked the doctor to drive her thither and the little car he now effected he consented and rose to lead the way she checked him and took out her purse I want to give you the installment I forgot of the conscience money please get it to Papa as soon as you can and here's a little extra the doctor took the bills with a curious smile she seemed to feel his sardonic perplexity as she mused aloud along a well-fought path if I hadn't been a fallen woman I couldn't have saved Papa's Church from ruin how do you explain it what's the right and wrong of it all the old doctor shook his head I'm no longer fool enough honey to try to explain anything that happens to us here I don't even wonder about what's going to happen to us Hereafter if anything as for right and wrong huh I can't tell him apart when some terrible calamity comes your father says it is God's will he moves in a mysterious way well I let it go with that for good luck – I neither think nor blame anybody for anything and I don't pray to anybody to make it come out the way I wanted according to one line of thinking your misstep was the Divine Plan according to another good can never come out of evil of course we know it does every day an evil out of good the only folks who know things know because they think that being pigheaded is being knowing it's too much for the wise ones so let's let it alone and make the best of what comes we're only human after all so let's be as human as we can and I guess that's about as divine as we'll ever get down here he let her out to his woeful little tin wagon and they went looping through the streets out into the cemetery that at least had increased in population and some new monuments brightened it set like paper weights to hold down poor bodies that the wind might else blow away a few Werner's were moving about planting flowers clipping grass lifting away old scraps of paper or just brooding over what the earth had gathered back unto itself they looked up startled and offended at the profaning clowder of doctor breath rick's car some of them mem recognized one or two women whose grief was so old that it was almost comfortable waved to her she had a sudden fear that if she paused to kneel at Elwood's mound and worshiped there she would start a wonder that intuition would change to ugly surmise the scandal had died before its birth like the stillborn child it would do ma'am little harm for she had been the victim of much harsh talk and was always under that cloud of suspicion that envelops all stage people in the eyes of the conventional but Elwood in his grave ought to be spared from such a resurrection the tongues of the busy bodies must not dig him up and play the ghoul with him in a panic of indecision as to her true duty she recognized old mrs. Barnaby morning by a little hillock swaying near her was her husband old fall down Farnum II still how capable of intoxication the doctor knew better than to pause at all and MEMS only right of atonement was a glance of remorseful agony cast word Elwood's resting place it sheltered that the founder of her fortunes was honored only by a wooden headboard already warped inside long one last favor she mumbled to dr. breath Rick get a decent tombstone for the poor boy and let me pay for it alright honey said the doctor in the car jangled out of the gates again into the secular road and that was that end of chapter 60 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 61 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 61 when she reached home mem was so beaten down and frustrated that she begged permission to rest a while in bed for the night sir deal at the supper table the younger children beset her with questions Gladys was particularly curious and searching in her inquiries then came the hour of the theater-going nobody had dared to ask dr. Stedman if he would accompany his family he had not made up his own mind he dared not the family tacitly assumed that his conscience or his pride forbade him to appear in the sink of iniquity he had so often denounced the family bade him goodbye and left him but had hardly reached the gate when he came pounding after he flung his arms about mems shoulders and cast off all his offices except that of a father chuckling where my daughter goes is good enough for me he made almost more of a sensation in the theatre than men there was applause and cheering and even a slow and awkward rising to the feet until the whole packed auditorium was erect in clamorous seats of Honor were reserved for the great star and the family that reflected her effulgence as soon as they were seated that the young woman who flailed the piano began to batter the keys and MEMS latest picture began to flow down the screen she could feel at her elbow the rigid arm of her father undergoing martyrdom she felt it wince as her first close-up began to glow her huge eyes pleading to him in a glisten of superhuman tears the arm relaxed as he surrendered to the wonder of her beauty it tightened again when danger threatened her and she could hear his sigh of relief when she escaped one peril his gasped as she encountered another he was like a child playing with his first toy hearing his first fairy story he was entranced she heard him laugh with the boyishness she had never associated with him she heard him blow his nose with the blast that might have shaken a wall in Jericho a sneaking side glance showed her that his eyes were dripping and when the applause broke out at the finish of the picture she heard his great hands making the loudest wax of all this was heartbreaking bliss for her then the manager appeared on the narrow stage and spoke of the honor of having with them the great star of whom Calver Leigh was so proud and he took great pleasure in introducing misremember Stedman America's Sweetheart this stolen attribute embarrassed ma'am only a moment in the sium embarrassments that swallowed her she hardly knew how she reached the stage or what happened there whatever she said she said to her father staring down at him as so often from the choir gallery his eyes were bright with a layman's ecstasy in a child's glory she came down and made her way slowly through a foul links of friends without thrust fingers snatching at the hem of her fame eager to be able to say I shook hands with remember Stedman once the family rode home in state the children and the mother loud and comment the father silent the old parson had to think it all out once at home he sent the children up to bed and held ma'am and her mother with his glittering eye for a long while before he delivered his sermon it was his nature to be forever praying for forgiveness for something and now his very pride took the form of contrition my beloved wife and daughter I I want to plead for the forgiveness of you both I have been wrongheaded and stiff-necked as so often but now I am humbled before you in spite of all my pride it has just come over me that when God said let there be light and there was light he must have had in mind this glorious instrument for portraying the wonders of his handiwork our dear Redeemer used the parable for His divine lessons and it has come to me that if he should walk the earth again today he would use the motion pictures you have build it better than you knew perhaps my child and now I ask you to pardon me for being ashamed of you when I should have been proud you were using the gifts that heaven sent you as heaven meant you to use them your eloquence is far greater than mine has ever been never have I seen the beauty of purity amid temptation so vividly brought home I would not presume to seem to criticize you my darling but I implore you to keep your heart and your art clean not only for your own precious sake but for the sake of the people whom you are helping in their own struggles with temptation your art is sacred and you can't you won't Sully it in your life God forgive me for my unbelief and send you happiness and goodness and a long long usefulness in the path you have elected heroes and bent down to kiss ma'am on the brow then he escaped into his study leaving the two women to weep in each other's arms with the joyous abandonment none of her father's thunderings against wantonness none of his chantings about the divine delights of self-denial ever had such influence upon mem soul as his meek surrender before her power as an artist nothing has ever made anybody want to be good so much as the rewards the praise for having been good that night memnet again by her old bed a nun knees accustomed to prayer implored strength to keep her gift like a chalice a grail of holiness she woke with an early morning resolved to be the purest woman and the devout estar 'test that ever lived other hours and other influences brought other moods but consecration was her spirit now the next day she left the town with all its blessings no longer a scapegoat cynllun lifting into the wilderness but a missionary God sped into the farthest lands of the earth it seemed that all Calvary was there to wring her hand and waft her salutations the family was whoa begun at losing her all but Gladys who were a mysterious smile that puzzled them the conductor called all aboard and hasty farewells were taken in clenched of hand an awkward kiss ma'am Ram to the rear platform and waved and waved lengthening signals of love to her dwindling family she noted the absence of Gladys and wondered at it as she went to her drawing-room there she found the girl s constant fairy triumph smiling like a pretty witch what on earth are you doing here ma'am cried going to Los Angeles with you I may never be great like you but I'm going to have a mighty good time trying can you blame me for running away from that graveyard when I see what came to you how could men blame her how could she fail to understand her and to promise her help all the world was filled with runaway girls striking out for freedom and for wealth and renown MEMS little sister was only another in the multitude and she was so pretty so desirable delectable magnetic that her future looked all roses I'm jealous of you ma'am said you'll ruin my chances you're so much better looking and and oh you GLaDOS laughed in disclaimer there were many questions to exchange and mem soon learned that her sister had flung off the chains that one or two ardent lovers had tried to fasten about her she had substituted for the old saws the modern instances she had changed the old ditty to run the boy left behind me Gladys was not beginning her future with the dark groping fearsomeness of MEMS mem had been like a pioneer who fights old wilderness and makes the path easy for the followers when mem with a last faltering reproach asked her sister if she were wise to toss aside the devotion of a good man Gladys laughed let love wait the men have kept us waiting for thousands of years till they were ready now let them wait for us there was no gainsaying this it had been MEMS own feeling when she left Los Angeles and her lover's their consternation must be rife at home in Calvary where Gladys elopement was doubtless realized by now but there would be more consternation in the hearts of countless men when the fascinations of the stead and sisters should shine upon them from the silver sheet members off to save her sister from the anguishes she had known in her own pilgrimage she felt already a veteran and a guide with a diploma from the College of life her first thought had been a remorseful feeling that she had not only gone wrong but had led her own sister astray as well now she felt that she had let her sister out of the dark into the light she had been somehow rescued from oblivion into the higher opportunities she would make her name famous and keep it if she ever got a husband she would still keep her name and not use his except for the sweet purposes of domesticity life had not plucked her to fling away or merely to adorn the buttonhole of some lover life had transplanted her into a garden where the choicest flowers bloomed she would make herself the rosiest rose that she could she would yearn upward toward the Sun and spread the incense of her soul as far as the winds of the world would carry it and when she died she would leave her name and her face in immortal pictures of deathless motion she had sinned indeed her life had been redeemed from nullity through her sin at home she would sin again but then everybody sinned again and but she would make atonement by entertainment purging her soul not by hiding in the wilderness but by shining like a little Sun around the world blessing the world with sympathy and the nobility of tears shed for and other sorrows let love wait then till she had made the best of herself and then let love not demand that she bow her head and shrivel in his shadow but let him bloom his best alongside she wondered who that fellow of her destiny would be Tom Holby may be Austin Boas or still another perhaps or others perhaps including him or them in any case he or they had better behave and play fair as for being a mother let that wait – she was going to mother the multitudes and tell them stories to sue them there was far more in this dream than vanity far more than selfishness the hope of the world lay there in for the world can never advance farther than its women she had a soul to sell and it was all her own and she was going to mark it the dawn was hers for conquest mankind was her lover and her beloved that one man passion called love could tarry until at least the late forenoon end of chapter 61 end of souls for sale by Rupert Hughes recording by Deanna Beauvais

Michael Martin

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