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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Moving Picture Girls: First Appearances In Photo Dramas - Chapter 5. Replaced
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The Moving Picture Girls: First Appearances In Photo Dramas - Chapter 5. Replaced Post by :emersond Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :2064

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The Moving Picture Girls: First Appearances In Photo Dramas - Chapter 5. Replaced

CHAPTER V. REPLACED

For a few moments the two girls said nothing. They simply stood there, looking at their father, who was bowed with grief. It was something new for him--a strange role, for usually he was so jolly and happy--going about reciting odd snatches from the plays in which he had taken part.

"Does--does it hurt you, Daddy?" asked Ruth softly, as she stepped closer to him, and put her hand on his shoulder.

He raised himself with an effort, and seemed to shake off the gloom that held him prisoner.

"No--no," he answered in queer, croaking tones, so different from his usual deep and vibrant ones. "That's the odd part of it. I have no real pain. It isn't sore at all--just a sort of numbness."

"Did it come on suddenly?" asked Alice.

"Well, it did yesterday--very suddenly. But this time I was hoarse when I started to rehearse and it kept getting worse until I couldn't be heard ten feet away. Of course it was no use to go on then, so the stage manager called me off."

"Then he'll wait until you're better?" asked Alice.

Her father shrugged his shoulders.

"He'll wait until to-morrow, at any rate," was the hesitating answer.

"Didn't going to the doctor's office help any?" asked Ruth.

"For a few minutes--yes. But as soon as I got to the theater I was as bad as ever. I had some of his spray with me, too, but it did little good. I think I must see him again. I'll go to his office now."

"No, he must come here!" insisted Ruth. "You shouldn't take any chances going out in the air, Father, even though it is a warm spring day. Let him come here. I'll go telephone."

She was out into the hall before he could remonstrate, had he had the energy to do it. But Mr. DeVere seemed incapable of thinking for himself, now that this trouble had come upon him.

Dr. Rathby came a little later. He had a cheery, confident air that was good for the mind, if not for the body.

"Well, how goes it?" he asked.

"Not--very well," was Mr. DeVere's hoarse reply.

"I'm afraid you'll have to do as I suggested and take a complete rest," went on the doctor. "That's the only thing for these cases. I'll take another look at you."

The examination of the throat was soon over.

"Hum!" mused the physician. "Well, Mr. DeVere, I can tell you one thing. If you keep on talking and rehearsing, you won't have any voice at all by the end of the week."

"Oh!" cried the girls, together.

"Now, don't be frightened," went on the doctor quickly, seeing their alarm. "This may not be at all serious. There is a good chance of Mr. DeVere getting his voice back; but I confess I see little hope of it at the present time. At any rate he must give himself absolute rest, and not use his voice--even to talk to you girls," and he smiled at them.

"I know that is going to be hard," the doctor went on; "but it must be done sir, it must be done."

"Impossible!" murmured Mr. DeVere. "It cannot be!"

"It must be, my dear sir. Your vocal chords are in such shape that the least additional strain may permanently injure them. As it is now--you have a chance."

"Only a chance did you say?" asked the actor, eagerly.

"Yes, only a chance. It would be cruel to deceive you, and try to tell you that this is only temporary, and will pass off. It may, but it is sure to come back again, unless you give your throat an absolute rest."

"For--for how long?"

"I can't say--six months--maybe a year--maybe----"

"A year! Why, Doctor, I never could do that."

"You may have to. You can speak now, but if you keep on you will get to the point where you will be next to absolutely dumb!"

The girls caught their breaths in sharp gasps. Even Mr. DeVere seemed unnerved.

"It may seem harsh to say this to you," went on Dr. Rathby, "but it is the kindest in the end. Rest is what you need."

"Then I can't go to rehearsal in the morning?"

"Certainly not. I must forbid it as your physician. Can't you get a few days off?"

Mr. DeVere shook his head.

"Aren't there such things as understudies? Seems to me I have heard of them," persisted the physician.

"I--I wouldn't like to have to put one on," said the actor.

His daughters knew the reason. Times were but little better than they had been in the theatrical business. Many good men and women, too, were out of engagements, and every available part was quickly snapped up. Mr. DeVere had waited long enough for this opening, and now to have to put on an understudy when the play was on the eve of opening, might mean the loss of his chances. Theatrical managers were uncertain at best, and an actor in an important part, with a voice that would not carry beyond the first few rows, was out of the question.

Mr. DeVere knew this as well as did his daughters.

"I'll tell you what I'll do," went on Dr. Rathby. "I'll speak to your manager myself. I'll explain how things are, and say it is imperative that you have one or two days of rest. It may be that your chords will clear up enough in that time so that I can treat them better and you can resume your duties."

"Will you do that?" cried the actor, eagerly. "It will be awfully good of you. Just say to Mr. Gans Cross--he's the manager of the New Columbia theater--that I will be back in two days--less, if you will allow me, Doctor."

The physician shook his head.

"It must be at least two days," he said, and he went off to telephone, promising to come back as soon as he could.

He did return, later in the evening, with a new remedy of which he said he had heard from a fellow doctor.

"What did Mr. Cross say?" Mr. DeVere asked eagerly.

"I have good news for you. He agreed to use an understudy for two days. He said you were letter-perfect in the part, anyway, and it was the others who really needed the rehearsing. So now we have two full days in which to do our best. And in that time I want you to talk the deaf and dumb language," laughed Dr. Rathby.

Mr. DeVere eagerly promised.

Then began a two-days' warfare against the throat ailment. Ruth and Alice were untiring in attendance on their father. They saw to it that he used the medicine faithfully, and they even got pads and pencils that he might write messages to them instead of speaking.

On his part the actor was faithful. He did not use his voice at all, and on the second day Dr. Rathby said there was some improvement. He was not very enthusiastic, however, and when Mr. DeVere asked if he could attend rehearsals next day the doctor said:

"Well, it's a risk, but I know how you feel about it. You may try it; but, frankly, I am fearful of the outcome."

"I--I've got to try," whispered Mr. DeVere.

He went to the rehearsal, and the worst fears of the physician were realized. After the first act Mr. DeVere was hoarser than ever before. The other players could not hear him to get their "cues," or signals when to reply, and come on the stage. The rehearsal had to be stopped. There was a hasty conference between the manager of the company and the treasurer of the same.

"The play will have to open on time," said the manager.

"Yes, we've had a big advance sale," replied the treasurer.

"And DeVere can't do it."

"No. I'll have to put his understudy in until we can cast someone else. I'll tell him."

The actor must have guessed what was coming, for he was washing off his make-up in the dressing-room when the manager entered.

"I'm awfully sorry about this, DeVere," began Mr. Cross. "But I'm afraid you won't be able to go on Monday night."

"No, Mr. Cross, I myself am of the same opinion. My voice has failed me utterly."

"And yet--and yet--you understand how it is. We must open on time."

"Yes, I know. The show must go on--the show must go on."'

"And the only way----"

"Is to replace me. I know. You can't help it, Mr. Cross. I know just how it is. It isn't your fault--it's my misfortune. I thank you for your patience. You'll have to--to replace me. It's the only thing to do. And yet," he added so softly that the manager did not hear "what am I to do? What are my daughters to do?"

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CHAPTER IV. DESPONDENCYStartled and alarmed the two girls hastened to the side of their father. They flitted helplessly about him for a moment, like pretty, distressed birds. As for Mr. DeVere, his hand went to his aching throat as though to clutch the malady that had so suddenly gripped him, and tear it out. For none realized as keenly as he what the attack meant. It was as though some enemy had struck at his very life, for to him his voice was his only means of livelihood. "Oh, Father!" gasped Ruth. "What is it? Speak! Tell us! What shall we
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