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    Chapter 11

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    Chapter 11
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    You know the screen stars, of course; but maybe you do not know those larger celestial bodies, the dark and silent and invisible stars from which the shining ones derive their energies. So, permit me to introduce you to T-S, the trade abbreviation for a name which nobody can remember, which even his secretaries have to keep typed on a slip of paper just above their machine--Tszchniczklefritszch. He came a few years ago from Ruthenia, or Rumelia, or Roumania--one of those countries where the consonants are so greatly in excess of the vowels. If you are as rich as he, you call him Abey, which is easy; otherwise, you call him Mr. T-S, which he accepts as a part of his Americanization.

    He is shorter than you or I, and has found that he can't grow upward, but can grow without limit in all lateral directions. There is always a little more of him than his clothing can hold, and it spreads out in rolls about his collar. He has a yellowish face, which turns red easily. He has small, shiny eyes, he speaks atrocious English, he is as devoid of culture as a hairy Ainu, and he smells money and goes after it like a hog into a swill-trough.

    "Hello, everybody! Madame, vere's de old voman?

    "She ees being dressed--"

    "Vell, speed her up! I got no time. I got--Jesus Christ!"

    "Yes, exactly," said Mary Magna.

    The great man of the pictures stood rooted to the spot. "Vot's dis? Some joke you people playin' on me?" He shot a suspicious glance from one to another of us.

    "No," said Mary, "he's real. Honest to God!"

    "Oh! You bring him for an engagement. Vell, I don't do no business outside my office. Send him to see Lipsky in de mornin'."

    "He hasn't asked for an engagement," said Mary.

    "Oh, he ain't. Vell, vot's he hangin' about for? Been gittin' a permanent vave? Ha, ha, ha!"

    "Cut it out, Abey," said Mary Magna. "This is a gentleman, and you must be decent. Mr. Carpenter, meet Mr. T-S."

    "Carpenter, eh? Vell, Mr. Carpenter, if I vas to make a picture vit you I gotta spend a million dollars on it--you know you can't make no cheap skate picture fer a ting like dat, if you do you got a piece o' cheese. It'd gotta be a costume picture, and you got shoost as much show to market vun o' dem today as you got vit a pauper's funeral. I spend all dat money, and no show to git it back, and den you actors tink I'm makin' ten million a veek off you--"

    "Cut it out, Abey!" broke in Mary. "Mr. Carpenter hasn't asked anything of you."

    "Oh, he ain't, hey? So dat's his game. Vell, he'll find maybe I can vait as long as de next feller. Ven he gits ready to talk business, he knows vere Eternal City is, I guess. Vot's de matter, Madame, you got dat old voman o' mine melted to de chair?"

    "I'll see, I'll see, Meester T-S," said Madame, hustling out of the room.

    Mary came up to the great man. "See here, Abey," she said, in a low voice, "you're making the worst mistake of your life. Apparently this man hasn't been discovered. When he is, you know what'll happen."

    "Vere doss he come from?"

    "I don't know. Billy here brought him. I said he must have come out of a stained glass window in St. Bartholomew's Church."

    "Oho, ho!" said T-S.

    "Anyhow, he's new, and he's too good to keep. The paper's 'll get hold of him sure. Just look at him!"

    "But, Mary, can he act?"

    "Act? My God, he don't have to act! He only has to look at you, and you want to fall at his feet. Go be decent to him, and find out what he wants."

    The great man surveyed the figure of the stranger appraisingly. Then he went up to him. "See here, Mr. Carpenter, maybe I could make you famous. Vould you like dat?"

    "I have never thought of being famous," was the reply.

    "Vell, you tink of it now. If I hire you, I make you de greatest actor in de vorld. I make it a propaganda picture fer de churches, dey vould show it to de headens in China and in Zululand. I make you a contract fer ten years, and I pay you five hunded dollars a veek, vedder you vork or not, and you vouldn't have to vork so much, because I don't catch myself makin' a million dollar feature picture vit gawd amighty and de angels in it for no regular veekly releases. Maybe you find some cheap skate feller vit some vild cat company vot promise you more; but he sells de picture and makes over de money to his vife's brudders, and den he goes bust, and vere you at den, hey? Mary Magna, here, she tell you, if you git a contract vit old Abey, it's shoost like you got libbidy bonds. I make dat lovely lady a check every veek fer tirty-five hunded dollars, an' I gotta sign it vit my own hand, and I tell you it gives me de cramps to sign so much money all de time, but I do it, and you see all dem rings and ribbons and veils and tings vot she buys vit de money, she looks like a jeweler's shop and a toy-store all rolled into vun goin' valkin' down de street."

    "Mr. Carpenter was just scolding me for that," said Mary. "I've an idea if you pay him a salary, he'll feed it to the poor."

    "If I pay it," said T-S, "it's his, and he can feed it to de dicky-birds if he vants to. Vot you say, Mr. Carpenter?"

    I was waiting with curiosity to hear what he would say; but at that moment the door from the "maternity-room" was opened, and the voice of Madame Planchet broke in: "Here she ees!" And the flesh-mountain appeared, with the two caryatids supporting her.
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