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Photoplay (Volume 36 – 37 (Jul. - Dec. 1929)) online

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"Oh!" It was a wail of sheer defiance from
the girl. Fiercely, with set lips, she got to
her feet again. But that was all she could do.
Suddenly, with a moan that was lost in the
silence that followed it, she slid to the polished
floor.

"pOR a moment Peter stood above her, look-
■*- ing down at her. He was so sure she was
acting! He spoke to her, curtly at first, and
then, as something about her prone body
startled him, sharply. He bent over her, lifting
the glinting hair that lay across one cheek.
The sight of an open, jagged cut, revealed for
the first time, horrified him.

In a moment, cursing himself for his own
blindness, sure now that this girl, whatever
her game had been, v/as really hurt, he picked
her up and carried her into his bedroom,
calling for Hawley as he went.

An hour later Peter walked out upon his
terrace with Dr. Whiteside, hastily sent for
from town. The doctor was saying, "I don't
know — she may pull through — she may not.
These concussions are tricky things. You say
she dragged herself up from your gate?"

Peter nodded. " She must have. First thing
I knew, she was standing in the doorway,
hanging on. "

The doctor shook his head. "Amazing en-
durance. She must have been in agony — ■
though perhaps too dazed to realize it at first.
The broken ribs — that gash in her ankle —
painful, but nothing dangerous about them.
But for the rest — well, it's a case of waiting."

" You think — you'd better leave her here? "

"My dear fellow, whoever she is, I imagine
you don't want to kill her! You'd have a good
chance of doing it, if you insisted on having her
moved. However, it's your house — "

" I hardly meant that," put in Peter hastily.
" Do asyou think best, of course. I — "he wiped
his brow — "it's just that — I'd rather not have
it known, you know. Reporters — and what
like — all over the place at dawn."

Dr. Whiteside smiled. He knew, and liked,
Peter Dunsany. "Leave it to me, Mr.
Dunsany. If her name is turned in missing,
I '11 notify her family, if she has one. As for her,
she won't be interested in what the world is
doing or saying for a while, I imagine."

A ND, in truth, Seville was not. For five days
-'^■straight she lay like a slim, white wraith on
the wide bed to which she'd been carried that
first evening, w-hile two nurses and the doctor —
Peter being host, took his responsibility seri-
ously — were at her side day and night.

She looked strangely young, lying so, like the
little golden Lady of Shalot as she went on her
last ride down to Camelot, and Peter Dunsany,
who stole in on several occasions to look at her,
found it rather hard to belie%'e she had actually
started out to track down a man, an utter
stranger, at that.

He also wondered just w-ho she was, since
nobody, it seemed, had missed her when she'd
dropped from sight. No one, indeed, had been
found who belonged in any way to her.

And then, at last, she opened her eyes again
— not upon Peter Dunsany, however. This was
life and not a romantic picture. It was Dr.
Whiteside who sat watching her as she came
back from the distant places to which her spirit
had gone. For a little while she lay there,
weary, perhaps, from the journey back, and
then she spoke, in that same, \abrant, lovely
voice that had first made Peter prick up his ears.

"What — happened to me?" asked the girl
called Seville.

Dr. Whiteside smiled. "You tried to drive
through a gate, my dear, and the gate, being
iron, got the best of you."

.■\t that she wriiikled her brows, thinking.
"I — seem to remember. I was going — rather
fast. You have your curves — so suddenly
around here." Silence, then, "Where am I
now?"

"In the home of the gentleman who owned
the gate."

More thinking — things coming back to a
cloudy mind.



"That man — the insane one?" Seville was
remembering more, now.

The doctor smiled again, then rose. "No
more talking now, my child. Try to sleep."

"Sleep!" muttered Seville, but already her
eyes were closing. It was curious the way
sleep reached out and took her in its arms.

But the next day she was stronger, could
talk a little longer.

"My — host?" she asked, a little curious.
"He didn't seem to like — accidents on his front
lawn."

Dr. Whiteside eyed her. "His name is Peter
Dunsany. Do you know of him?"

" Peter Dunsany?" SevUle looked amused.
"Does anybody not know Peter Dunsany —
front, profile and in the fadeout? I cut my
dramatic teeth on Peter Dunsany — but I never
thought I'd be occupying his guest room!"

■QR. 'W'HITESIDE wandered about the
-'-^room. He wished he knew just what had
happened between this mysterious young pa-
tient of his and the uncommunicative Dunsany,
"A pleasant young man," he ruminated, "in
spite of his rather queer slant towards hiding
away from the world."

Seville grinned at him. "You wouldn't call
him — exactly hospitable, Avould you? I re-
member he was trying to shoo me out his front
door when things went black." She hesitated.
"Do you mind telling me — what happened
next? I don't seem to be managing my own
life, these days."

"You had," returned Dr. Whiteside, "a
pretty nasty blow on the head. For the rest,
two broken ribs and a cut or so. You will be
quite all right now, however, if you keep quiet
a little longer. But since that last is necessary,
perhaps you'll tell me who you are — we've
found no trace of your family or friends to
notify, Miss — •"

"Hawthorne," returned Seville absently.
"Seville Hawthorne. So it's my ribs that put
me in this strait jacket, is it? I thought it
might be — my host. Oh, family? Sorry,
doctor, but I'm a changeling. I'd just come
here — been here a week or two — and the only
woman I knew sailed for Honolulu the day
before I crashed. It's nice I didn't flicker out,
isn't it? You wouldn't have known what to
put on the tombstone." .\nd ujxjn that, she
dropped off to sleep again. This time, when
she woke, it was to find Peter Dunsany stand-
ing at the foot of her bed.

Now Peter, being the person he was, was
still chagrined at his behavior that first night.
.•\nd not a little shaken when he thought how
easily this girl might have died, simply because
he hadn't believed she was injured. He'd
decided, thinking it over, that she'd been pun-
ished enough for her foolishness. Besides, she
was in no condition now to "get" anybody.
So when she opened her eyes he smiled at her.

Seville eyed him thoughtfully. "HuUo," she
volunteered at last. "I — not only break your
nice gate — I try to die in your house, you see."

"Please don't think about the gate," Peter
returned politely. " And as for dying, I 'm very
glad you decided not to."

""^TOT half as glad as I am," sighed the girl.

•'-^"From the little sample I've had, djing
isn't half as pleasant as the poets tell us. "

Silence fell between them, Se\-ille wondering
how she was going to tell this silly yout>g man
— he must be silly, to have thought she de-
liberately tried to kill herself at his doorstep —
that she was quite able to repay him, finan-
cially, for the trouble she'd put him to, and
Peter determining to follow the casual, im-
personal attitude he'd decided on.

It was Peter who broke the silence. "I hope
you will stay here while I'm away for the next
two weeks. I — will be on location."

Seville smiled. "I'm quite conscious of who
you are," she told him. "Your profile, you
know. Like Barrymore's — famous." Then,
as he flushed, she added confidentially. "It's
all right about your profile, Peter Dunsany. I
like your acting in spite of it. I really do. But
I think I'll move on to the nearest hospital."



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Peter looked troubled. "I really wish you
wouldn't. I feel— in a way — responsible. I
didn't understand, that first night — "

Seville tried to put him at his ease. She
really thought him rather nice, in spite of his
ideas about women. "I doubt if I looked as
bloody as I felt. And no doubt you were
worried. Women go gunning for you, I under-
stand. But confess now, wouldn't you rest
easier if I were nicely established away from
under your own roof?"

'DETEI't felt uncomfortable. What sort of per-
■'- son was this girl, anyway? He felt she was
laughing at him, in some subtle, delicate sort of
way. "I w^ould rest easier," he said, "if .1
thought you were here, well taken care of.
^ ou see, I do feel responsible. And as I shall be
away — •' '

"Safe from my wiles?" murmured Seville
gently. After all, she owed him a dig or two for
being so certain she'd deliberately trailed him.
Then, smiling generously, "Thank you — it's
really awfully decentof you. And Imay stay, a
few days, anyway. Of course, it's understood I
shall take care of the little matter of the doctor
and what other expenses I've imposed on you."

"That," returned Peter Dunsany stiffly.
"shall be as you wish, of course. But please
stay as long as you wish." And with that ho
left.

He should, of course, have gone oil to loca-
tion with a feeling of relief at having ended the
matter so pleasantly. Also, not bein^ inter-
ested in women, he should have forgotten all
■about Seville. But somehow he didn't. .\nd
when he had the chance to return inside of a
week, he took it. Aher all, he thought, she
was probably gone.

But Seville, it seemed, wasn't. For one
thing she was still subject to occasional diz7.\'
spells. And for another, she was enjoying
Peter's library. She'd never dreamed he had
such an excellent one.

He found her there, wearing a slim green
rcjbe that made her look like adaffodil, and lost
in the pages of an exceedingly rare se\'enteenth
century volume on abbeys. It was hard to tell
which surprised Peter the most, her beauty or
the book she was reading. He said, after the
first exchange of greetings, "I'd hardly
imagined you would enjoy that, you know,"
and he pointed to the book in her hands.

CEVILLE eyed him quizzically. This curious
'-'young man! "I can read, you know," she
smiled.

There she was, thought Peter, making him
feel uncomfortable again. "1 only meant —
that sort of book — "

Seville looked puzzled. " Is it — any particu-
lar sort of book? I thought it rather authentic,
you know."

"But — " Peter felt more uncomfortable
than ever. How explain that he hardly ex-
pected a lady who boasted of her ability to
attach herself to strange men to appreciate or
even understand the delights of seventeenth
century abbeys? He finished, clumsily, "Per-
haps I didn't expect to find you up on that
special tjT^e of architecture."

"Oh, but I'm up on many types of archi-
tecture," Seville nodded. "I could talk for
hours on it — " and she did, for the next hour at
least, leaving Peter Dunsany absolutely open-
mouthed at the knowledge she displayed.
And he'd thought he knew a thing or two
liimself!

But architecture, it seemed, wasn't the only
tiling Se\'ille Hawthorne was up on. Peter
found that out that evening, when, after a
dinner during which she was the perfect
hostess, making him feel more brilliant than he
had in months, he went to the grarkd piano in
the room beyond, and, sitting down, ran his
agile fingers over the keys. For a moment he
was absorbed in trying to pick out a phrase
that escaped his memory. Then he turned to
find Seville behind him.

"I was trying to remember something," he
explained. "Funny, the way music stays in
your mind but refuses to be captured."



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"Doesn't it go like this?" Seville hummed a
phrase once or twice, "Debussy, isn't it?"

Peter whirled to face her. "Why, that's it!
How did you — "

She finished for him. "How did I know it?
I'm not sure I do. But if you like I'll try to
play it for you."

TDETER did like, and Seville sat down at his
-*- piano. And forthwith, magic came into the
room, for under her slim, flying fingers the en-
chantment of Debussy's "Dance of Puck "woke
to Ufe. And when it was finished, the loveli-
ness of Ravel's "Fountain" held sway. As for
Peter Dunsany, his was no mean ability, but
Seville made him feel hke an amateur. She
played like a professional, and Peter was
entranced.

When she finished, he looked at her \vith such
astonishment in his face that Seville laughed
outright. "Dear me, Peter Dunsany, does it
really seem as incredible as all that?"

"You — why, you play like a professional!
.\re }'ou, possibly — "

Seville read his thoughts. "So that is what
you've decided about me, at last! Oh, no — I
really didn't break my head against yoiu: gate
just to get publicity for a concert."

She felt herself growing a little impatient
with his denseness. Need he be so surprised to
find she'd read a book or two and knew a black
note from a white one! She looked at him
thoughtfully. "You know," she said at last,
"you still seem to expect me to turn into a
Ijandit — or a lovelorn admirer, risking death to
sit in admiration at your feet."

That nettled Peter, especially as he hated
the thought of anybody sitting at his feet, no
matter what their attitude. .^s for this
Se\ille — hadn't he heard her bragging about
her intended conquest of him?

".\fler all," he said stubbornly, "I'm a bit
justified for some of my thoughts, you know.
Though I don't think you intended to come
quite so near death when you came here. The
gate, I imagine, was a last resort. But even
iron gates are easier to open than studio gates."
Se\Tlle sprang to her feet, thoroughly ex-
asperated. "Oh, you are quite impossible!"
she flamed. "I made up my mind to forget
how you acted that first night, when you made
up for it so generously afterwards. .\nd when
I learned a little more about you, I e\en tried
to get your viewpoint. But when you carry
your obsession about pursuing women to the
point of seeing a possible menace in everyone
you see, it's just too much! You'll think I'm
trying to compromise you, ne.xt!"

NOW Peter, in all truth, had had one or two
such thoughts. It was natural, in the sur-
roundings in which he lived. His face gave him
away, though he said, "I don't compliment
myself to that extent, really."

"You do," insisted Se\'ille, momentarily
getting more annoyed. "You've lived so long
among people who'd do anything, from com-
mitting bigamy to adopting chimpanzees, to
get publicity, that you expect the worst from
everyone."

Peter stared at her. Her bluff w^as mag-
nificent.

He was almost tempted to let her get
away with it, but it irritated him to find that
her tactics were so like those of all women.
"Perhaps it's not a case of expecting," he said
quietly. "It may be just — anticipating."

"But were you — andcipating me?" de-
manded Seville.

Peter lit a cigarette. Unconsciously, he took
an attitude out of his most recent picture.
"Certainly," he said coolly, adding, "Oh, not
the manner in which you came, of course. I
doubt if even you planned so dramatic an
entrance. But the fact remains, I expected
)'ou and here you are."

Oh, he was quite hopeless! Seville gave him
up. "I never e.xpected," she told him cut-
tingly, "to find actors so amusing in private.
I really think you are the most conceited man
I've ever seen in my whole Ufe!" and she swept
hotly from the room.



She said as much to Dr. Whiteside when he
came, at her request, to drive her into town the
following morning. She had not seen Peter
Dunsany again, but her opinion of him hadn't
varied.

"I think you do him an injustice," returned
the doctor frankly. "You must admit the
atmosphere here is filled with maudhn senti-
mentahty. Fan mail by the truckload. Men
made famous overnight."

"But Peter Dunsany — he was famous before
he ever heard of Hollywood! He's from the
stage, not the ribbon counter! It shouldn't
go to his head!"

"I doubt if it hcus. But he has been driven
to expect inroads on his private Ufe. After all,
you know, an Englishman's home is his castle.
Dunsany feels the same way about his life
away from the screen."

Seville relented a little. "I suppose it might
warp one's outlook — the continual spothght.
But that's .\merica for you. We let our stage
idols do their business behind the footlights.
The rest of the time they can tuck away on
their own private shelves. But our movie
heroes are our playthings. We want to take
them down and peel the paint off — see how
their emotions w-ork."

npHE doctor nodded. " And usually they like
•'• it. Look at most of them — their private
lives are staged for publicity. But take a Peter
Dunsany, it makes him edgy. Funny thing
about that young man," Dr. Whiteside was
getting philosophical, "he's a lot like Lind-
bergh, you know. Lindbergh has a phobia
about crowds — hates to be handled. Dunsany
is the same about his private life — hates to
have it turned into public property."

"For all of me," announced Seville frankly,
"it can be as private as a toothbrush. I'll pick
on a doctor's gate the next time."

The doctor grinned at her. " I don't imagine
Peter Dunsany's obsession will keep him from
calhng on his late house guest," he said.

"Oh, won't it!" Seville nodded knowingly.
"That young man! He thinks I'm a trap.
Cautious he is — and onto us women! I'll
warrant, even now, he's wondering ivhat my
next step is going to be!"

And Peter was. Not that he was conceited
enough to think that Seville was personally
interested in him. But hadn't he heard her
planning her campaign, in the same impersonal
manner in which she would have planned a
dinnerparty?

So he sat and waited for her next move, and
when a week had passed and she'd made no
move at all. he began to think about her — a
dangerous proceeding for a man who hadn't
thought much of any woman for several years.
On top of that, he heard from Dr. Whiteside
that she was leaving soon, going nobody knew
where.

AND then, quite inexpUcably, Peter called
upon SeWlle Hawthorne, not kno\ving just
why he did so. Certainly Seville didn't know.
She received him in her hotel suite with frank
astonishment.

"It's kind of you to see me," said Peter
rather stiffly, annoyed to find himself at a loss
for words. "I thought — that is, I wanted to
inquire how you were. Dr. Whiteside said you
were leaving soon."

Seville looked not quite so astonished.
".\nd that reassured you?" she murmured
-wickedly.

She'd caught him again. Peter admitted it,
with a rueful smile. "I really didn't mean
that, you know. I — I wanted to see you. Fact
is, I rather thought—" he broke off, confused
again.

But SesiUe wouldn't let him off. She had
an uncanny knack of reading his mind. "You
thought I'd be back again? Oh, no, really —
one cracked head is all you can have to your
credit."

Peter smiled engagingly. He gave her credit
for holding her own. "I say," he said frankly,
"I may be all in the %VTong. But give me my
due for one thing — I took a chance on your



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io<



cutting me cold, you know. Though I'm glad
you didn't. I — I'd really like to be friends."

For a moment Seville eyed him, then she
smiled, in the most friendly manner. "All
right," she said suddenly. "We will be."

It was amazing, the pleased feeling Peter
had. ".\nd will you — I mean, I'd like it
awfully if you'd dine with me — sometime."

SevUle looked interested. "Tonight?" It
was evident that Se\'ille was going more than
half way in burj'ing her hatchet. And Peter,
who frankly hadn't expected things to move
quite this rapidly, found himself saying eagerly,
"If you will!" It wasn't until he was out in
the street again that he recalled he had gone
there merely to inquire after her health, not to
ask for both her friendship and her company at
dinner.

"NJOT that he didn't enjoy that dinner — he



Online LibraryMoving Picture Exhibitors' AssociationPhotoplay (Volume 36 – 37 (Jul. - Dec. 1929)) → online text (page 62 of 145)