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    Chapter 6

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    Chapter 6
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    "Hello, Billy! Who's your good-looking friend?" Rosythe was in full sail before a breeze of his own making.

    How could I answer. "Why--er--"

    The stranger spoke. "They call me Carpenter."

    "Ah!" said the critic. "Mr. Carpenter, delighted to meet you." He gave the stranger a hearty grip of the hand. "Are you on location?"

    "Location?" said the other; and Rosythe shot an arrow of laughter towards me. Perhaps he knew about the vagaries of my Aunt Caroline; anyhow, he would have a fantastic tale to tell about me, and was going to exploit it to the limit!

    I made a pitiful attempt to protect my dignity. "Mr. Carpenter has just arrived," I began--

    "Just arrived, hey?" said the critic. "Oviparous, viviparous, or oviviparous?" He raised his hand; actually, in the glory of his wit, he was going to clap the stranger on the shoulder!

    But his hand stayed in the air. Such a look as came on Carpenter's face! "Hush!" he commanded. "Be silent!" And then: "Any man will join in laughter; but who will join in disease?"

    "Hey?" said Rosythe; and it was my turn to grin.

    "Mr. Carpenter has just done me a great service," I explained. "I got badly mauled in the mob--"

    "Oh!" cried the other. "At the Excelsior Theatre!" Here was something to talk about, to cover his bewilderment. "So you were in it! I was watching them just now."

    "Are they still at it?"

    "Sure thing!"

    "A fine set of boobs," I began--

    "Boobs, nothing!" broke in the other. "What do you suppose they're doing?"

    "Saving us from Hun propaganda, so they told me."

    "The hell of a lot they care about Hun propaganda! They are earning five dollars a head."

    "What?"

    "Sure as you're born!"

    "You really know that?"

    "Know it? Pete Dailey was at a meeting of the Motion Picture Directors' Association last night, and it was arranged to put up the money and hire them. They're a lot of studio bums, doing a real mob scene on a real location!"

    "Well, I'll be damned!" I said. "And what about the police?"

    "Police?" laughed the critic. "Would you expect the police to work free when the soldiers are paid? Why, Jesus Christ----"

    "I beg pardon?" said Carpenter.

    "Why--er--" said Rosythe; and stopped, completely bluffed.

    "You ought not swear," I remarked, gravely; and then, "I must explain. I got pounded by that mob; I was knocked quite silly, and this gentleman found me, and healed me in a wonderful way."

    "Oh!" said the critic, with genuine interest. "Mind cure, hey? What line?"

    I was about to reply, but Carpenter, it appeared, was able to take care of himself. "The line of love," he answered, gently.

    "See here, Rosythe," I broke in, "I can't stand on the street. I'm beginning to feel seedy again. I think I'll have a taxi."

    "No," said the critic. "Come with me. I'm on the way to pick up the missus. Right around the corner--a fine place to rest." And without further ado he took me by the arm and led me along. He was a good-hearted chap inside; his rowdyisms were just the weapons of his profession. We went into an office building, and entered an elevator. I did not know the building, or the offices we came to. Rosythe pushed open a door, and I saw before me a spacious parlor, with birds of paradise of the female sex lounging in upholstered chairs. I was led to a vast plush sofa, and sank into it with a sigh of relief.

    The stranger stood beside me, and put his hand on my head once more. It was truly a miracle, how the whirling and roaring ceased, and peace came back to me; it must have shown in my face, for the moving picture critic of the Western City "Times" stood watching me with a quizzical smile playing over his face. I could read his thoughts, as well as if he had uttered them: "Regular Svengali stuff, by God!"
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