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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Moving Picture Girls: First Appearances In Photo Dramas - Chapter 8. "Pay Your Rent, Or----"
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The Moving Picture Girls: First Appearances In Photo Dramas - Chapter 8. 'Pay Your Rent, Or----' Post by :emersond Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :1977

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The Moving Picture Girls: First Appearances In Photo Dramas - Chapter 8. "Pay Your Rent, Or----"


Alice liked the appearance of Mr. Pertell, manager of the Comet Film Company, from her first glimpse of him. He seemed so sturdy, kind and wholesome. He was in his shirt sleeves, and his clothing was in almost as much disorder as his ruffled hair. But there was a kindly gleam in his snapping eyes, and a firm look about his mouth that showed his character.

"Oh, Mr. Pertell, can you spare a moment?" Russ called to him.

"Oh, hello, Russ; is that you?" was the cordial greeting. "How is the patent? I could use it if I had it now. Spare a minute? Yes, several of 'em. They've spoiled that one act and it's got to be done over. I don't see why they can't do as they're told instead of injecting a lot of new business into the thing! I've got to sit still and do nothing now for ten minutes while they fix that scene up over again. Go ahead, Russ--what can I do for you?"

He sat down on an overturned box, and motioned for Russ and Alice to occupy adjoining ones. Clearly there was not much ceremony about this manager. He was like others Alice had observed behind the scenes in real theatres, except that he did not appear so irascible.

"This is Miss Alice DeVere," began Russ, "and she has come to you about her father. He has lost his voice, and she and I think he might fit in some of your productions, where you don't need any talking."

"Yes, sometimes the less talking in the movies the better," agreed Mr. Pertell. "But you do need acting. Can your father act, Miss?"

"He is Hosmer DeVere," broke in Russ. "He was with the New Columbia Theatre Company. They were to open in 'A Matter of Friendship,' but Mr. DeVere's throat trouble made him give it up."

"Hosmer DeVere! Yes, I've heard of him, and I've seen him act. So he wants an engagement here; eh?"

"Oh, it isn't exactly that!" interrupted Alice, eagerly. "He--he doesn't know a thing about it yet."

"He doesn't know about it?" repeated the manager, wonderingly.

"No. He--I--Oh, perhaps you'd better tell him, Russ," she finished.

"I will," Russ agreed, with a smile. And, while Alice looked at some of the other dramas being enacted before the clicking eyes of the cameras, her companion told how it had been planned to overcome the prejudice of Mr. DeVere and get him to try his art with the "movies."

Alice was tremendously interested, and looked on with eager eyes as the actors and actresses enacted their roles. Some of them spoke, now and then, as their lines required it, for it has been found that often audiences can read the lips of the players on the screen. But there was no need for any loud talking--in fact, no need of any at all--whispering would have answered. Indeed some actors find that they can do better work without saying a word--merely using gestures. Others, who have long been identified with the legitimate drama, find it hard to break away from the habit of years and speak their lines aloud.

"Oh, I'm sure father would like this," thought Alice. "And he wouldn't have to use his poor throat at all. I must tell him all about it."

She looked at two girls--they did not seem much older than herself and Ruth, who were playing a scene in a "society" drama. They were both pretty, but Alice thought they were rather too flippant in manner when out of the scene. They laughed and joked with the other actors, and with the machine men.

But the latter were too busy focusing their cameras, and getting all that went on in the scenes, to pay much attention to anything else. The least slip meant the spoiling of many feet of film, and while this in itself was not so expensive, it often meant the making of a whole scene over again at a great cost.

"Well," Mr. Pertell said at length, "I am greatly interested in Mr. DeVere. I know him to be a good actor, and I greatly regret his affliction. I think I can use him in some of these plays. Can he ride a horse--does he know anything about cowboy life, or miners?" he asked Alice.

"Oh, I'm sure daddy wouldn't want to do any outdoor plays," the girl exclaimed. "He is so used to theatrical scenes."

"Well, I might keep him in "parlor" drama," Mr. Pertell remarked. "Please tell him to come and see me," he went on. "I would like to talk to him."

"Thank you, so much!" returned Alice, gratefully. "I shall tell him, and--well, there's no use saying I'm sure he'll come," she went on with a shrug of her shoulders. "It's going to be rather difficult to break this to him. It--it's so--different from what he has been used to."

"I can understand," responded Mr. Pertell. "But I think if he understood he would like it. Tell him to come here and see how we do things."

"I will!" Alice promised.

Russ escorted her to the street, and then, as he had to see about some changes in the working of his proposed patent, he bade her good-bye. She said she would find her way home all right.

"Well?" asked Ruth, as Alice entered the apartment a little later, "did you do anything rash?"

"Perhaps!" Alice admitted, as she took off her hat, jabbed the pins in it and tossed it to one chair, while she sank into another.

"Oh, Alice! You--aren't going to be one of those--manicures; are you?"

"I hope not, though there are lots worse things. A manicure can be just as much a lady as a typist. But, Ruth, I have such news for you! I have found an engagement for dad!"

"An engagement for daddy?"

"Yes. In the movies! Listen. Oh, it was so exciting!"

Then, with many digressions, and in rather piece-meal manner, interrupting herself often to go back and emphasize some point she had forgotten, Alice told of her morning trip with Russ. She enlarged on the manner in which the moving pictures were made, until Ruth grew quite excited.

"Oh, I wish I could see how it is done!" she cried.

"You may--when dad takes this engagement," said Alice.

"He never will," declared her sister. "You know what he thinks of the movies."

"But he thinks wrong!" exclaimed Alice. "It's so different from what I thought."

"He'll never consent," repeated Ruth. "Hark! Here he comes now. Perhaps he has found something to do."

Footsteps were heard coming along the hallway. Alice glanced at the table before which her sister was sitting.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Looking over our bills, and trying to make five dollars do the work of fifteen," answered Ruth, with a wry smile. "Money doesn't stretch well," she added.

Mr. DeVere came in. It needed but a look at his face to show that he had been unsuccessful, but Ruth could not forbear asking:

"Well, Daddy?"

"No good news," he answered, hoarsely. "I could hardly make myself understood, and there seem few places where one can labor without using one's voice. I never appreciated that before."

"But I have found a place!" cried Alice, with girlish enthusiasm. "I have a place for you Daddy, where you won't have to speak a word."

"Where--where is it?" he whispered, and they both noted his pitiful eagerness.

"In the movies!" Alice went on. "Oh, it's the nicest place! I've been there, and the manager----"

"Not another word!" exclaimed Mr. DeVere. "I never would consent to acting in the moving pictures. I would not so debase my profession--a profession honored by Shakespeare. I never would consent to it. The movies! Never!"

There was a knock at the door.

"I'll see who it is," offered Ruth, with a sympathetic glance at Alice, who seemed distressed. Then, as Ruth saw who it was, she drew back. "Oh!" she exclaimed, helplessly.

"Who is it?" asked Mr. DeVere, rising.

"I've come for the rent!" exclaimed a rasping voice. "This is about the tenth time, I guess. Have you got it?" and a burly man thrust himself into the room from the hall.

"The rent--Oh!" murmured Mr. DeVere, helplessly. "Let me see; have we the rent ready, Ruth?"

"No," she answered, with a quick glance at the table where she had been going over the accounts, and where a little pile of bills lay. "No, we haven't the rent--to-day."

"And I didn't expect you'd have it," sneered the man. "But I've come to tell you this. It's either pay your rent or----" He paused significantly and nodded in the direction of the street.

"Three days more--this is the final notice," and thrusting a paper into the nerveless hand of Mr. DeVere, the collector strode out.

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