The Movie Gesture
Spud made Miles a movie hero but it was Gloria who found him the role he craved
NEVER during the course of his twenty years had Miles Carden felt so unhappy. Never had he looked so unhappy. Unhappiness, rather than growth, seemed to have shortened his suit of clothes: unhappiness, rather than nature, seemed to have lengthened his nose to a point pensively blue.
"Love.” he sighed, "certainly plays the dickens with
He sat in the window of his antique store, surrounded by the old prints and colonial furniture his uncle had formerly collected, his attention strictly directed on the window tn the tenement building opposite. Behind that window lived t :e girl with whom he had been hopelessly and wretchedly in love for two years and more. In all that time he had not made the slightest headway.
But his present unhappiness lay deeper than that.
Since leaving school he had. at least, been privileged to love Gloria Latta at a distancethe width, to be precise. of the street: a situation maintained by her squarejawed and pugnacious brother, a young hooligan known as Spud. But now he hadn’t seen Gloria for seventeen days, and she was lying dangerously ill not sixty feet from where he kept his daily" vigil.
However, the hour had come when danger meant nothing to him. and he knew he would shortly cross the street to defy Spud Latta with the demand that he be told the condition of Gloria's health.
His services had been offered once before: the evening after her accident at the
"One thing's sure,” Spud informed him. "She don’t
need a teacher's pet! Nowget outa here before I hang
one on your beezer!"
He feared Spud Latta with a fear that sprang from a series wallopings sustained during school days. In the beginning he had fought back; though when he did he invariably got it worse than ever. He was too thin and long-legged for his chunky, thick-set opponent, and in the end a mere look from Spud sufficed.
■Just when and where this animosity had begun, Miles Carden couldn't say. Sometimes he blamed it on the teacher who made him correct Spud Latta when that terror of the school gave the wrong answer: which was often. Within school walls Miles was head of his class. Outside, he was less than the dust into which he was so often tumbled. Indeed it had been painfully stamped upon Miles' consciousness that Spud considered him a mollycoddle. Teacher's pet! was the epithet. And it was reasonable to suppose that Gloria was guided by her brother's opinion, for she appeared to enjoy" his lickings exceedingly. Yet, despite her indifference, despite the dynamite in her brother's fist, Miles just couldn’t help loving her.
I".'. love her for ever and ever,” he said, looking up
o: her window.
late Phineas Carden was wont to change the * .-voer of his window display every week. Collecto: antiques, he took considerable pride in his dis-
cernment. But sin e his death the passers-by had grown accustomed oc ‘.ne everlasting sight of the same tallboy set a little In iront and to the side of the same melancholy youth who stared out of the window from morn till night. The tallboy, which Phineas had unearthed somewhere in Prince Edvard Island was for sale. So were other
things in walnut, silver and water-color. Miles dusted them every morning, then let them rest in peace. Once in a blue moon a customer appeared. Miles was too love-sick to make a sale.
Phineas Carden’s discernment had stopped short in the matter of his nephew’s clothes. Possibly he selected them with an eye to antiquarianism, but here his genius was faulty. Cheap materials with elaborate patterns comprised the suitings out of which Miles shot with amazing growth.
However, before dying and leaving his nephew heir to the little bit of property in Lachine—and all the anti-
quated treasures in it—old Phineas Carden taught him something of the art of collecting furniture, prints and old water-colors. “There’s good profits to be made,” he had said. “All you got to do is nose round a little.” But Miles thought only of Gloria Latta and her dark loveliness. Realizing there was little glory in being continuously forced to eat the dust before her limpid, laughing eyes, he started to exercise. Upstairs, in his room, he fought imaginary Spuds until he had them begging for mercy under his long, thin legs. Using a pair of silver candlesticks, he whirled them about his head like flails. From the open window he took in deep breaths of air, expanding his chest until the blood rushed to his ears. But when he felt like a giant and went to the mirror to measure his physical progress he found the same gentle brown eyes, the same oval face, smooth and tranquil as cream cheese, and the same Pacific nose that almost invited a punch. Teacher’s pet! the image seemed to cry at him.
School days were over now, and for a year Gloria Latta had been employed at one of the factories. Every morning Miles watched her set out; every evening he waited for her return. The magic of her young beauty illumined his antique store. Sometimes her bright eyes strayed in his direction. Once or twice Miles thought she had smiled at him. But now —for almost three weeks— there had been no'sign of her.
rT'0-DAY Lachine was cele-*■ brating. Flags and banners decorated the streets. A movie star was in town. His photograph could be seen everywhere; on the front page of the newspapers, in shop windows; and on a banner his name appeared in twelve-inch letters. In brief, Dennis La Tour, a native son, born in Lachine and christened Pasquale Campopiano, had come home for a visit.
Not for a moment did Miles Carden give him the slightest thought. His mind was fully occupied with other matters. What, he kept wondering, was going on behind that second floor window? Did Gloria ever think of him?
At the moment, Gloria was thinking only of Dennis La Tour, and Spud, having waded through three different newspapers, was now requested to read everything about the famous movie star all over again. Gloria sat in an armchair, the upper part of her face heavily bandaged. The mill owners had paid for her treatments, but the local doctor had done all he could for her. In time the marks on her forehead would disappear. However, if her sight wasn’t to be seriously impaired an immediate operation by a specialist was absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, this additional expense was not specified in the compensation.
Mrs. Latta, a widow, also worked in the factory. To her, twenty-one years ago, had been born a son who grew up favored only in the matter of thick-headedness, sinew and pugnacity. Three yeaijs later, Gloria had arrived; both children born in Lachine. Mrs. Latta often wondered how it happened she was the mother of two such utterly different children; one so ill-tempered, the other so gentle.
To a number of mean-looking youths whose clubhouse was the street corner, Spud Latta was a bob-cat among bob-cats. To his mother and the community he was something of a hooligan. But to Gloria he remained a brother, who shielded her from all harm, and she loved him.
“Read where it says he’s going to pick out a Lachine girl to act in his next picture,” she begged. “Think, Spud!”—Gloria quivered under the imagined thrill of it —“it might have been me.”
Spud Latta had seen Dennis La Tour in the pictures, and considered him on a par with Miles Carden. One put him in mind of the other; except that ‘the teacher’s pet’ had light, sandy hair and was long and thin.
“You’re crazy over that movie nut, ain’t you?” he growled.
Gloria admitted it. “If anybody was to ask me, right now, what I’d like to see most of all—it would be Dennis La Tour.”
Spud’s idea of a real man was his friend, Mickey Dunlin, the Lachine lightweight. But to please his sister, now she was likely never to regain her sight, he switched over in the screen-actor’s favor. Under the circumstances, the untruthful statement he had seen him, actually spoken with him, was, perhaps, excusable. Spud Latta, for all his waywardness, would have given his life for his sister Gloria.
“Sure I talked with him,” he repeated. “The minute he arrived this morning—at the depot.”
She was all excited. “What did he look like, Spud— close to?”
“Not so much. Bet he couldn’t fight a lick.”
“What did he say to you?”
“ ’Hello, Spud,’ he says. ‘How’s tricks?’ ”
“But how did he know your name?”
“Seen me fight in a preliminary one night over in Montreal. He’s a great fight fan—I’ll say that for him.” Gloria sighed deeply. “If it hadn’t been for my accident, Spud, maybe you could have introudced me.” “How’d you like him to step round here—this afternoon?”
“Oh!” She was very impressed. “Honestly? Do you think he’d come? Up here? To this room?”
Spud realized he had gone too far. But now he had to bluff it through. “Sure! Ever know me fall down on anything? Listen, sis—you only gotta ask me. Just say you want the nut up here—and I’ll do the rest.” "You’re kidding me.”
“All right,” said Spud, reaching for his hat, “watch my smoke. I’ll have that ham up here within an hour-— if I gotta drag him at the end of a rope. See you later.” Miles Carden chose this unfortunate moment to reveal his courage. There was no elevator in the tenement building, so he had to climb the stairs. Halfway up the second flight he paused to direct a pair of apprehensive eyes upward.
Spud in the attitude of watchful waiting, was glaring down at him.
‘‘What do you want?”
Miles tried to ask him about Gloria’s health, but words refused to come. There, just above him, was the bully who had knocked him down a dozen times, blackened both his eyes, humiliated him in so many ways. But instead of retreating, Miles slowly
and very deliberately went right on up to meet him.
“I’ve got to know,” he stammered, “if there’s anything I can do for Gloria?”
Spud inhaled noisily through his nostrils. “Anything you can do for Gloria?” he emphasized. “Sure there is. You can beat it!” And taking the visitor by his collar he shoved him down the stairs and pitched him headlong into the street.
“The next time I see you anywheres round them stairs, I’ll bust you on the beezer,” he promised.
Miles limped back to his antiques, brushed the dust from his blue suit—the one he wore only on special occasions—put it carefully away in the closet, then, in his underwear, went through a strenuous battle with an imaginary Spud Latta whom he quickly beat into complete insensibility. The hated adversary thrown out on a rubbish heap, he descended to his post and once more glued his eyes on Gloria’s window.
Spud, however, had a serious problem of his own to work out. He was leaning against the tenement entrance trying to figure the best way of abducting Dennis La Tour. Noticing Miles, he favored him with a long and continuous stare. Suddenly, as if on murder bent, he came striding across the street.
Quaking a little, Miles Carden rose, hauled a gatelegged table, two chairs and a divan out of the way, took off his coat and prepared to do or die.
For once, however, Spud Latta seemed to be friendly enough.
“Hello, Dennis La Tour!” he grinned.
Miles pawed with his left. “I’m ready,” he said. “Come on.”
Spud was unable to believe his eyes. “Say!” he gasped, “you thrive on punishment, don’t you?” Casually, he covered Miles’ face with a large, horny hand, then abruptly straightened his arm. Miles went flying into one of his colonial chairs. “Sit down. I gotta proposition to make.”
“I’ll lick you yet—you bully.”
Spud paid no attention to the threat. “You're dippy over Gloria ain’t you? All right, how’d you like to see her this morning?”
“You mean she—she wants to see me?”
“She can’t see anybody no more,” was the reply. “And likely never will—again. Her eyes are gone.” He came nearer, stood over Miles like a terrier dog. “Now get this! She’s crazy about this Dennis La Tour—see?— and I told her I’d bring him up there to see her this morning.
“You,” he continued, pointing a tense finger, “you are gonna be Dennis La Tour. Get the idea? With that line of soft talk you got she’ll never know the difference. Nobody’s gonna tell her. If they ever do”—Spud Latta expectorated on a hooked rug—“I’ll beat him up so he’ll look like a piece of chewed string. All right—now climb into your Prince Albert and make it snappy.”
Miles had gone limp. “Is Gloria blind?” he asked in a hollow voice.
Spud swore horribly. “Never mind all that,” he said. “Get under your lid—and we’ll go over.”
“But what will I say to her?” murmured the tall, thin youth. “For God’s sake, Spud—don’t tell me she is blind?”
“Shut up,” was the shout. “Tell her about Hollywood —anything. And listen—if anybody outside of me and you gets to hear about it, you are gonna wake up sitting on a cloud playing a golden harp. Come on—let’s go.”
Miles Carden was nervous enough as he crossed the street and followed Spud up to the second floor; but when he found himself in Gloria’s room his knees began to tremble. The sight of her pale, bandaged face shocked him. She was sitting back in a faded armchair, looking woefully helpless and delicate.
“Well, sis—here he is! ” Spud announced breezily. “Mr. La Tour, this is my little kid sister I was telling you about.”
Gloria’s awe, embarrassment, was expressed in the working of her fingers. Her lips remained slightly parted. A nervous hand went up to her hair to smooth it in place.
Miles was nudged into articulation by a sharp dig in the ribs. “Well, Miss Latta,” he said automatically, “I’m so-sorry to s-see you like this.” He glanced appealingly at Spud. “But I’m sure,” he continued in a thin
tone, you will soon be all right again.” “Honestly—are you Dennis La Tour?”
The shop-clothes Miles was wearing would hardly have suited the fancy of the regal star he represented. It was the last suit his uncle had bought him, and the sleeves were short a good two inches of material that was patterned after the style of a bed quilt.
He cleared his throat. “Just call me Dennis,” he evaded, standing first on one foot, then on the other. “I want you to think of me as one of Spud’s friends. I’ve known you a long time— haven’t I, Spud?” “You bet.”
“Being a movie star isn’t all it seems,” Miles Carden went on tremulously. “I like
Continued on page 50
Continued from page 9
to get away now and then—just to hang round with my old friends.”
"Sit down, Dennis,” invited Spud. Miles did so, took the chair nearest Gloria, sat down gingerly.
"Spud said he knew you,” she breathed smiling timidly and pulling her skirt over her knees. "Only 1 thought he was kidding me honestly 1 did.”
"Well, here 1 am,” said the fake screen star, fetching a little laugh.
“I’d just love to see you,” said Gloria. T think you're the best-looking actor in the movies.”
"He's looking beautiful right now',” offered Spud. “Ain’t you, Dennis?” Miles Carden didn’t reply to that. "How did you and Spud happen to meet this morning?” Gloria asked, directing the inquiry at her distinguished caller.
"Why he came right over the minute he saw me. Didn’t you, Dennis?”
"Ye-es—that’s just, what I did.”
There was a silence. A little color had crept into Gloria’s cheeks. “Is it true you earn a thousand dollars a week?”
;*: Miles gulped. “Sometimes even more,” he lied.
"Isn’t that wonderful? I wish I could earn money like that.”
“Money doesn’t mean a thing to me. It’s my art, you know,” said Miles Carden, trying to speak loftily. “And I really' must send you a specialist—to see about your eyes. I’m acquainted with a very good one—a great friend of mine.” "In Lachine?”
“N-no—in—in Montreal. I’m terribly distressed about your eyes, Miss Latta— really I am. And I’ll send you some flowers—if I may?”
But she returned to the subject of the specialist. “Do you think your friend could—could—?”
“I’m sure he could,” he went on blushingly. “He’s one of the greatest eye specialists in the world.”
Her lips had started to tremble. “Would he charge an awful lot?”
“Oh, leave that to me, Miss Latta,” said Miles, his head in a whirl as he committed himself to heroic deeds in the fulfilment of his promise.
“Y'ou’re awful kind,” she said. “It’s wonderful to think you are right here—in this room,” she proceeded. “I’ve never spoken to a movie star before. My girl friends’ll be quite jealous when I tell them.” She laughed happily. “Were you awful excited when you got that reception at the railway station? Spud was reading me all about it in the papers.” The fake screen actor mumbled something inarticulate.
“Are you glad to be back home again?” “Very.”
“And have you picked out a Lachine girl yet—to act in your next picture?” Miles Carden squirmed a little on his chair. “Not yret,” he said. “You see I haven’t had much time to look around—” “There’s a girl friend of mine—Rose Williams. She’s awful pretty. I just know' she’d be a hit in the pictures.” “Rose Williams?” Miles slipped on this one. “I’m afraid she is too thin and—” “Why!—do you know her?”
“Oh, ye-es,” he stammered, looking helplessly at Spud. “I know pretty near everybody in Lachine. Don’t forget I was born here.”
Another silence, during which Miles Carden got very red in the face.
“I’d love to act in the pictures,” said Gloria. “I w’on a prize once—for dancing.’ “They’d rave about you in Hollywood,” enthused the masquerading screen star, “and I’d certainly choose you for my next picture if only—only you—”
She blushed prettily. “Maybe you’re only saying that to please me—now my eyes are ruined.”
A lump rose up in Miles’ throat. “I swear it,” he cried. “And please don’t think you’ve lost your sight permanently.
Y'ou’ll be all right again in a short while— I’m sure you will.”
“You see, mother can’t afford a specialist—not right now.”
“Don’t you worry about that,” insisted Miles Carden. “I’ll send up my friend from Montreal.”
Her lips suddenly parted. “You remind me of somebody,” she declared. “I mean the way you talk.”
Again he squirmed; met Spud’s eye with a sickly grin.
Spud commenced a series of hand motions that signified the fact he thought Dennis La Tour had about concluded his visit.
“I’d like to ask you something personal,” said Gloria.
“Are—are you married?”
“No, Gloria—not yet?”
“Maybe you haven’t picked her out— from among the thousands?”
Miles Carden couldn’t control his ardor. “It’s a secret,” he gulped. “But I’ll trust you and Spud to say nothing. I have picked her out—long ago.” “Honestly?” Gloria laughed, excitedly. “What’s she like? I bet she’s a blonde.” Ignoring Spud’s threatening approach, Miles poured out his heart. “No, she’s not a blonde,” he said. “Her hair is a wonderful blue-black, her eyes used to be —that is, I mean they’re like sapphires, her lips are like rose-petals and her hands—”
“Oh!” said Gloria in an awed voice. But cruel fingers had closed about the fake actor’s arm and he was being dragged to the far end of the room.
“Pipe down on that stuff,” whispered Spud.
Miles broke away and rushed back to Gloria. “At present she’s sick,” he continued desperately. “Here in Lachine. She got injured in a factory explod m and—and she has a bandage over her eyes. But soon—very soon—she’s going to be all right again, and then—”
Her face was crimson. In a tiny voice she said, “You don’t mean me?”
“Oh, I do, Gloria—I do,” was the ardent reply. “I think you are the most beautiful girl in the world, and if only you—”
Without the slightest ceremony Spud yanked him to the door, opened it, and threw him outside. “Oh, sis,” he called. “I think Mr. La Tour is going.”
“You’ll come and see me again, won’t you?” she cried.
“If—if I can,” promised Miles. “I’ll try my best—”
The rest of his speech was lost to her, for he was outside a closed door and being rudely escorted down the stairs.
"V\ WAITING upon a movie star has * * become much of an honor, and Spud Latta escorted this one home—to his antique store. Once in there he shut and bolted the door.
“I’ve a good mind to knock you for a loop?” he swore.
“What’s the matter?” inquired Miles. “Didn’t I play the part right?”
“You know what I mean. That love stuff wasn’t in the act.”
“But I do love her,” shouted Miles. “Some day I hope to marry her.”
“Say, listen—you tripe-hound. When sis gets married I’ll see she marries a man —not a teacher’s pet. And what in hell did you shoot off your face about that specialist for? Ain’t you got any sense? Don’t you know it’ll get her worrying—” “I meant it,” retaliated Miles Carden. “Every word of it. I know a specialist who could fix her eyes in a week.”
“Aw! forget it. You were just fooling her—that’s what you were doing. Getting the poor kid excited all over nothing.”
“I wasn’t. I swear to God I meant it. I’ll go to Montreal and—”
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t~o E I u ed ro in pu ge 50
page "Gimme the guy's name?” yelled Spud. "Tell me where he hangs out—and I’ll go down there and stick him up with a gun till he promises to see Kit.”
The devotion inspiring such a desperate deed suddenly electrified Miles Carden. He clenched his hands. “That’s just what I’m going to do myself!” he cried. "You’re what?"
"Loan me your gun—and I’ll have a specialist up here this afternoon.”
Spud Latta studied him for a moment. "I ain’t got a gun,” he admitted, sheepishly. "1 don’t carry one.”
"Well, I do,” came back Miles, conscious of the first spark of victory over his old enemy. "Get that friend of yours, Mickey Dunlin, to bring his car round. That’s all 1 need, now.”
Spud yanked him forward until their noses were almost, touching.
"You do that little thing for Gloria,” he said, "and I’ll call you a man!”
"Meet me here with the car in fifteen minutes," said Miles, feeling like a gunman who had sworn to pillage and rob the province of Quebec.
A S SOON as Spud had gone Miles went -L C t0 a directory and looked up the telephone number of a Montreal Ear and Eye hospital. Telephoning them, he inquired the name of the best eye specialist in the city. This, he wrote down. Then he went upstairs, and from a glass case took an old antiquated pistol. It was too bulky to put in his pocket, so—on calmer reflection— Miles Carden left it where it was and chose a milder weapon.
The honk of a motor-horn made him shiver. Miles was horribly undecided. He wanted to creep downstairs, lock and bolt the front door, then hide under the bed. Instead, he pulled down a cap over his eyes, adopted a slouching walk, and went cut to meet his fellow gangsters with his right hand suspiciously thrust deep into his coat pocket.
In a neat touring car were four young toughs. Mickey Dunlin was at the wheel. In the back two fellows he had never seen before made way for him. Spud sat beside the driver.
“All right—where to?” snapped Mickey Dunlin.
“Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal,” said Miles. “And step on it.”
Mickey did. It seemed to Miles that they reached Montreal in no time at all. He had no idea what he was going to do. For him, the whole thing was a movie gesture, and he listened to their advice as in a dream. It was arranged that Dunlin and the two lads in the back seat should wait with the car at the nearest corner. Spud was to go on with him as far as the doctor’s house—to make sure he wasn’t fooling. After that, Miles was to be left to his own devices.
“Keep him covered,” suggested Dunlin,” and walk the guy back to the car. Then we’ll rush him to Lachine.”
The moment his back was turned he heard a suppressed giggle. Spud, also, was trying to hide a grin; but he didn’t wholly succeed. Miles felt determined now. He’d show these tough guys what sort of a man he was.
Doctor Constant Stuart occupied one of the most imposing houses on Sherbrooke Street. Miles, his heart beating wildly, found himself in a large reception room. There w*ere ten other people there, waiting. A nurse approached and asked his name. Miles gave it. She then wished to know if Mr. Carden had an appointment. Miles said he had not. This occasioned a sorrowful smile. Under no consideration could Doctor Stuart see him that day— or week.
“But, you see—”
The nurse shook her head. “Sorry. Doctor Stuart will see no one except by appointment.”
“I’ll wait,” said Miles for the third time. Wait he did. Patients came and patients went. Still Miles waited. About
three o’clock Spud Latta came in and wanted to know what was holding up the works.
“You think I’m not going through with it, don’t you?” said Miles. “Just you wait and see. Tell Dunlin to hold that car for me.”
Spud Latta grinned and went back to report to the gang.
There were several pieces of Chippendale in the room. Miles examined the two divans, saw they were genuine Louis Quatorze, and dimly recalled having seen the identical pair in his uncle’s store. The shaft of sunlight slowly traversed the floor-rug, climbed the wall,dwelt for a time on the ceiling, then disappeared for the day, leaving the room in twilight. Still, Miles Carden waited.
At six o’clock Doctor Stuart came in. Miles’ heart bounded to his throat; his limbs trembled. The great specialist was a tall, distinguished-looking man, and he completely disarmed Miles Carden with his smile and rich, kindly voice. He said he was sorry to keep him waiting all day, but that every moment of his time had been taken up. “In fact,” he apologized, “I can’t possibly see you before next Thursday—at eleven-thirty in the morning.”
“Doc-doctor,” stuttered Miles, “it’s somebody else I want you to s-see. Not me. And—and you’ve got to see her at once. To-night.”
The specialist came nearer. “Why, my poor lad, you’re positively shivering. Have you a fever?”
“It isn’t a fever,” said Miles Carden, rising hysterically to his feet. “It’s—it’s this!” Lifting his coat pocket he pointed something hard and menacing at the doctor’s breast.
“Great Heavens!” cried Doctor Stuart, stepping back.
“Don’t worry, doctor,” came the stuttering voice. “I won’t f-fire—I promise you I won’t fire. But you’ve got to come to-night. If Gloria loses her sight —I don’t care what happens to me. You see, doctor, I—I 1-love her. I’ll pay you anything you ask—I swear I will. I’ll sell everything my uncle left me—and I’ve got $471 in the bank. You can have all I’ve got. Only you’ve got to come at once, because . . . because ...”
The arm that held up the coat pocket drooped, and with a sob Miles Carden broke down, buried his face in his arms on the table.
Doctor Constant Stuart sprang on him, thrust his hand into the coat pocket, and drew forth—an old meerschaum pipe.
When Miles finished telling his story, the specialist was in a more lenient frame of mind. “I knew Phineas Carden intimately,” he said, “and I distinctly remember you when you were all arms and legs.” His eyes began to twinkle. “Now let me see. I think the best thing I can do is to return with you to Lachine and see what can be done for this—this young lady you talk about. My fee is one thousand dollars. I’ll order my car, right away.” He hesitated. “Unless, of course, you still wish to kidnap me?”
“Well, sir, as I told you, if I could make a hit with Spud, I think he’d let me see Gloria occasionally.”
Doctor Stuart bowed. “Very well,” he agreed. “I hope you don’t want to keep my hands up?”
“No, sir. It’ll be fine—if you just walk on ahead of me.”
The four youths had waited all afternoon hoping to see some fun. They got the surprise of their lives when Miles, preceeded by a tall, handsome stranger, came towards them. They were all set to beat a hasty retreat, but a word of command from Miles stopped them.
All the way to Lachine not a word was. spoken. The doctor played his part to perfection and was apparently dominated by his youthful captor and the everthreatening right-hand coat pocket. It was a seven days’ wonder to the gang.
“The kid sure surprised me,” Spud told Mickey Dunlin. “You certainly gotta hand it to him for nerve.”
Mickey agreed. “But who’s gonna pay the doc his thousand berries?” he questioned.
“Maybe I will,” said Spud. “I start work, Monday.”
/'"A LORIA was moved to Doctor Stuart’s private hospital. Every day, Miles sent her flowers and candy. With each gift went a plain card, on which was written in disguised handwriting, ‘Love, from Dennis La Tour.’
From Miss Latta, however, he had no direct communication until she returned home, weeks later. She was more heavily bandaged than ever, but now it was merely a question of time before she recovered the use of her eyes. The operation had been successful.
That same morning, Spud brought a message from her. “She wants to thank you, personally,” he began, a worried expression on his face*
“But Dennis La Tour has been gone for weeks,” said Miles.
“Sure, he’s gone. Only I’ve been making out he was still in Lachine all this time —like we agreed.”
“It’s an awful risk,” said Miles. “Supposing she finds out?”
“Aw, the bandage is still over hèr eyes, ain’t it? Before the doc removes it—that ham actor can be over in China for all we care.”
“If she ever finds out—she’ll never forgive me.”
“You!” Spud Latta looked surprised. “What’s it gotta do with you? Soon as she gets well you won’t be seeing her ähy more, will you? Listen, Miles—she never had any use for you—so don’t kid yourself. If you want to talk to her once more —do it now while she can’t see who it is. The minute she can use her peepers again —you ain’t gotta chance.”
“I guess you’re right, Spud,” he said dejectedly. “All right, tell her Dennis La Tour will be up to see her about three o’clock.”
OCTOR CONSTANT STUART’S bill for services rendered came in the shape of a visit from the celebrated specialist himself. He found Miles sitting by the window, gazing at the tenement building opposite.
“Good afternoon, doctor,” he said, rising nervously.
“The last time I was here, young man, I bought two Louis Quatorze divans from your uncle. Now I have come on a more commercial quest.”
“Yes, sir,” said Miles, turning pale.
The specialist was glancing round the store. “These, then, are the securities you promised me?”
Miles took out his cheque-book. “I also have a little money in the bank,” he said.
“Ah!” Doctor Stuart paid no attention. “Those prints are excellent. And, by Jove!”—he was examining the tallboy in the window—“what a delightful bit of walnut. The price, please?”
In his uncle’s price-book it was marked at $250, with a note in old Phineas’ handwriting to the effect it was worth twice that sum.
“Five hundred dollars,” said Miles. “Yes, it is worth áll of that—and more,” the doctor agreed. “Well, now young sir,” he said sternly, “what about my bill?”
“Certainly, sir. I had $471 saved—but I’ve spent a little of it lately—for flowers and such like.”
“That’s bad,” frowned Doctor Stuart. “Well, suppose we settle it this wa3?: You sell me that tallboy—I’ll write you a cheque for five hundred—and we’ll call the matter square.”
“But what about your fee, sir? You told me your charge was a thousand dollars.”
“So I did,” was the remark. “By the way, what’s the price of those two watercolors?
Miles looked at them. “I haven’t de-
Continued on page 54
e~oNtiHued from pace 52
cided, yet, sir,” he equivocated. “You see 1 went to a sale about a month ago, all
on my own, and I—”
"Will you take two hundred dollars for
“1 only paid fifty dollars for the pair”.
"Then you have your uncle’s eye for a good bargain. If 1 knew anything about water-colors, those two are worth a hundred dollars apiece.
"Will you accept them, sir? I'll will, ingly give them to you—as part payment of your bill.”
"Very well, my boy—I will,” said Doctor Stuart. “Now here's my cheque for that tallboy. We’ll consider everything settled.”
Miles could only murmur bis thanks. “And— about Miss Latta, sir? When do you think she’ll be able to see again?”
"I’ve just come from her room,” was the reply. "I advised her not to remove the bandages for a week or so.” A friendly smile, a warm handshake, and be was gone.
At five minutes to three, Spud Latta I came over. "There’s something in the wind," be cautioned. “Sis is laughing like she'd never stop.”
“Maybe she’s found out I’m not Dennis I La Tour?” suggested Miles.
"Dunno. Anyway, she says you gotta see her alone for a minute. I’ll be waiting j at the foot of the stairs. Mickey Dunlin wants you to join the gang—and reform it.”
That distinction failed to give Miles Carden any courage. He approached Gloria’s door as though he were about to enter the lair of a tigress. His knock was faint and indecisive.
Seated by the window, Gloria gave the impression of great composure for a young lady called upon by a movie star. Her lips were red, and the sunlight played in her luxuriant hair.
“I want to thank you for all you have done,” she began, smiling at him. “That’s nothing,” said Miles.
“Isn’t Doctor Stuart the loveliest man
you ever knew?”
“You bet he is.”
“He told me he was most interested in you—Mr. La Tour.” Her smile was mischievous. “You see, I told him everything. About you coming to see me and
Miles Carden’s tongue was dry. “Wwhat did he say?”
“Why, he said you’d altered quite a little since the last time he saw you in the pictures. In fact, he said you didn’t look a bit like your photographs.”
“Oh!” said Miles Carden, rising very quietly and edging towards the door.
“You’re not going, are you?” Gloria spoke almost anxiously. “You know I can see a little. Under my bandage.” “I’ve got an appointment I must keep,” said Miles, turning scarlet. “I—I really must go—right away.”
“Oh, please, Mr. La Tour. Please stay a while. I haven’t even thanked you, yet.”
“I don’t need any thanks,” came a wavering voice.
“But what about all those nice things you said to me the last time you were here? Maybe you didn’t mean them?” “Yes, I did.”
“Everything you said?”
“That I was the prettiest girl you’d ever seen?”
“Yes,” he choked.
“And that you—you loved me?” “Ye-es, Gloria.
“Well,” she said, “I’m sorry to disappoint you, Mr. La Tour. Because I love somebody else. A boy by the name of Miles Carden ... all he’s done for me ... I love him more than anybody in the whole world ...”