"Say, you mustn't hand out things like that, Jean!" he protested, when they were quite out of sight and hearing of the others. "Let me give you a tip, girl. If you've got any photo-play ideas that are worth talking about, don't go spreading them out like that for Bobby to pick and choose!"
"Pick to pieces, you mean," Jean corrected. help it; he's putting on some awfully stagey plots, and they cost just as much to produce as--"
"Listen here. You've got me wrong. That plot of yours could be worked up into a dandy series; the idea of a story running through a lot of pictures is great. What I mean is, it's worth something. You don't have to give stuff like that away, make him a present of it, you know. I just want to put you wise. If you've got anything that's worth using, make 'em pay for it. Put 'er into scenario form and sell it to 'em. You're in this game to make money, so why overlook a bet like that?"
"Sure, you could! No reason why you shouldn't, if you can deliver the goods. Burns has been writing his own plays to fit his company; but aside from the features you've been putting into it, it's old stuff. He's a darned good director, and all that, but he hasn't got the knack of building real stories. You see what I mean. If you have, why--"
"I wonder," said Jean with a sudden small doubt of her literary talents, "if I have!"
"Sure, you have!" Gil's faith in Jean was of the kind that scorns proof. "You see, you've got the dope on the West, and he knows it. Why, I've been watching how he takes the cue from you right along for his features. Ever since you told Lee Milligan how to lay a saddle on the ground, Burns has been getting tips; and half the time you didn't even know you were giving them. Get into this game right, Jean. Make 'em pay for that kind of thing."
Jean regarded him thoughtfully, tempted to yield. "Mrs. Gay says a hundred dollars a week--"
"It's good pay for a beginner. She's right, and she's wrong. They're featuring you in stuff that nobody else can do. Who would they put in your place, to do the stunts you've been doing? Muriel Gay was a good actress, and as good a Western lead as they could produce; and you know how she stacked up alongside you. You're in a class by yourself, Jean. You want to keep that in mind. They aren't just trying to be nice to you; it's hard-boiled business with the Great Western. You're going awfully strong with the public. Why, my chum writes me that you're announced ahead on the screen at one of the best theaters on Broadway! `Coming: Jean Douglas in So-and-so.' Do you know what that means? No, you don't; of course not. But let me tell you that it means a whole lot! I wish I'd had a chance to tip you off to a little business caution before you signed that contract. That salary clause should have been doctored to make a sliding scale of it. As it is, you're stuck for a year at a hundred dollars a week, unless you spring something the contract does not cover. Don't give away any more dope. You've got an idea there, if Burns will let you work up to it. Make 'em pay for it."