Picture-Play Weekly (Apr-Oct 1915)

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6 PICTURE-PLAY WEEKLY with a low laugh, as he drew his wallet from the inner pocket of his coat and placed the daisy in it. "The girl thought enough to give it to me from her own dress, and it is only courteous that I should keep it. "You see. Belle," he said jokingly, "the daisy is more steadfast a friend than the rose, after all. If your dainty blossom had fallen from that height, it would have lost all its petals when it landed, but my daisy did not." Dorville replaced the wallet in his pocket and took his companion by the arm, aiding her into the machine. She did not seem to take the matter of the flowers with tlie indif¥erence that Dorville did, and plainly showed her jealousy on her countenance, though she made no reference to it in conversation. Dorville saw her safely home, and returned to his own apartments, which he did not leave again, except for meals, until it was time for the performance on the following evening, due to the fact that he was studying his part with the hope of improvement. When he arrived at the theater the next evening, Dorville \vas greeted with a familiar welcome. "Why, hello, Gerald!'' came a man's voice, which he immediately recognized as that of an old friend of the stage. "I certainly am glad to see you." Dorville turned, and was surprised to see the shabby appearance of his old friend who was standing in the entrance. "Hello !" he returned. "Come on into the dressing room and we can have a talk while I get ready. I haven't time to stand here." The other followed, and when he was seated on a chair after Dorville had closed the door and turned on the light, the opera star noticed that the apparel of his former acquaintance was even poorer and more dilapidated than it had seemed outside. He wondered what the cause of his friend's decline could have been, and, as their intimate relation in days gone by justified it, he inquired. "What has the world done to you, Leslie?" he asked kindly. "I take it that things have not been as well as they might have with you. Tell me about it." "It's a short tale to tell, Gerald," replied the shabby one, "and it's not the fault of the world nor any one except myself. I have been a fool, and am pay ing for it. To be perfectly frank, I was making excellent money and a reputation for myself, when, carelessly and well-meaning enough, I allowed too much champagne and other liquor to enter my mouth. I saw what havoc it was wreaking with me, but — well, as I said, I have been a fool, and I didn't stop. This is where it has brought me, and not until I have come to a realization of things and not until it is too late have I stopped. But it is too late, and all that I am fit to do now is to wait until the end of a fool's career, end as it may." Leslie finished in a low, tense, and extremely serious voice, and his words sank into the heart of Gerald Dorville, who could readily understand what it meant to his former friend to be in the situation in which he now was, after years of success and popularity on the stage, both as an actor and a director. "Don't you think there is some way that you can get to your feet again?" Dorville asked. "There must be, especially if you have been able to stop drinking." "There is no way, Gerald,'' replied the other dejectedly, "for, in the first place, I have no money to help me. I am just a rank failure, and with no one to blame, which makes it even harder to bear." "But money?" said Dorville meaningly. "Money would mean a lot," replied Leslie hopefully at the suggestion of the opera star; "if you could spare " "I may have made myself misunderstood," broke in Dorville, shattering all the hope his former words had kindled. "I cannot establish you in the world again. I'll give you a little, however, to carry you over for a while, but I cannot make it much. You have admitted that you are a fool, and don't know how to care for yourself. If I were to give you any amount, there is no telling how you would use it after you have so demonstrated your folly." "There is no telling, unless I am trusted," replied Leslie, with a sigh. "But I won't press you, as I did not come here for any other purpose except to see an old friend and to get a cup of cofifee, if you happened to have it in your dressing room." As he finished speaking, Dorville's valet appeared at the door and announced that the opera was about to begin. "Prepare some coffee for this man," Dorville instructed his attendant; and then added, turning to Leslie: "If you will wait until I return I shall give you what I promised." As the door closed behind Dorville, Leslie turned and surveyed the room. Leslie left soon after for water with 1 which to make the coffee on the little stove with which the opera singer's room was provided. As the dejected old actor's eyes wandered from one thing to another on the walls and about the chamber, they suddenly stopped and Leslie's face was set with a grim expression. He had seen the coat of thel' opera star hanging on the back of achair, and, with the sight, had come the' temptation to search it in hopes of find: ing enough money to start him anew in life. His plea to Dorville had been sincere, and he had resolved to reform himself, but no one, he felt, would believe; not even the opera singer, for he had said so. "He won't give me much," mused Leslie, "and yet it would mean the making j of a ruined man. I'll take — no I — yes,".; he decided, with a sudden determina-l' tion. "I'll take it, if there is anything in it, and return it when I am making enough. Dorville won't miss it in all that he has, and it will mean everything in the world to me.'' Rising from his chair, Leslie walked j over to the garment and placed hisrj hand into the inner pocket. His fingers touched something, and he drew forth Dorville's stout wallet. Working quickly and fumbling with the contents, Leslie extracted a packet of bills of large denomination. From them he took one — one with four figures in the corner — and placed it in his own pocket. Nervously the wallet slipped from his hand and dropped to the floor, but he stooped and picked it up, smiling at the : way he trembled. Hardly had he replaced the pocketbook in the coat of the opera singer, when the valet returned with the water and proceeded with the cooking of the coffee. When it was finished, Leslie drank with relish, for he was truly hungry. Then the valet left, and, soon after, Dorville came in again. His face was beaming with smiles as the result of the gracious applause he had received, but, as he closed the door behind him, a frown darkened his j countenance and the smile faded away.