"It looks awfully queer," said Jean to Mr. Dewitt, who wanted to know what she thought of it all; "they don't explain what it's all about, or anything."
"No, they don't." Dewitt pulled his mustache and piloted her back to the machine. "They don't have to."
"No," echoed Robert Grant Burns, with the fat chuckle of utter content in the knowledge of having achieved something. "From the looks of things, they don't have to." He looked at Jean so intently that she stared back at him, wondering what was the matter; and when he saw that she was wondering, he gave a snort.
"Good Lord!" he said to himself, just above a whisper, and looked away, despairing of ever reading the riddle of Jean's unshakable composure. Was it pose Was the girl phlegmatic,--with that face which was so alive with the thoughts that shuttled back and forth behind those steady, talking eyes of hers? She was not stupid; Robert Grant Burns knew to his own discomfiture that she was not stupid. Nor was she one to pose; the absolute sincerity of her terrific frankness was what had worried Robert Grant Burns most. She must know that she had jumped into the front rank of popular actresses, and stood out before them all,--for the time being, at least. And,--he stole a measuring sidelong glance at her, just as he had done thousands of times in the past four months,--here she was in the private machine of the President of the Great Western Film Company, with that great man himself talking to her as to his honored guest. She had seen herself featured alone at one of the biggest motion-picture theaters in Los Angeles; so well known that "Jean, of the Lazy A" was deemed all-sufficient as information and advertisement. She had reached what seemed to Robert Grant Burns the final heights. And the girl sat there, calm, abstracted, actually not listening to Dewitt when he talked! She was not even thinking about him! Robert Grant Burns gave her another quick, resentful glance, and wondered what under heaven the girl WAS thinking about.
As a matter of fact, having accepted the fact that she seemed to have made a success of her pictures, her thoughts had drifted to what seemed to her more vital. Had she done wrong to come away out here, away from her problem? The distance worried her. She had not even found out who was the mysterious night-prowler, or what he wanted. He had never come again, after that night when Hepsy had scared him away. From long thinking about it, she had come to a vague, general belief that his visits were somehow connected with the murder; but in what manner, she could not even form a theory. That worried her. She wished now that she had told Lite about it. She was foolish not to have done something, instead of sticking her head under the bedclothes and just shivering till he left. Lite would have found out who the man was, and what he wanted. Lite would never have let him come and go like that. But the visits had seemed so absolutely without reason. There was nothing to steal, and nothing to find. Still, she wished she had told Lite, and let him find out who it was.
Then her talk with the great lawyer had been disquieting. He had not wanted to name his fee for defending her dad; but when he had named it, it did not seem so enormous as she had imagined it to be. He had asked a great many questions, and most of them puzzled Jean. He had said that he would take up the matter,--by which she believed he meant an investigation of her uncle's title to the Lazy A. He said that he would see her father, and he told her that he had already been retained to investigate the whole thing, so that she need not worry about having to pay him a fee. That, he said, had already been arranged, though he did not feel at liberty to name his client. But he wanted to assure her that everything was being done that could be done.
She herself had seen her father. She shrank within herself and tried not to think of that horrible meeting. Her soul writhed under the tormenting memory of how she had seen him. She had not been able to talk to him at all, scarcely. The words would not come. She had said that she and Lite were on their way to Los Angeles, and would be there all winter. He had patted her shoulder with a tragic apathy in his manner, and had said that the change would do her good. And that was all she could remember that they had talked about. And then the guard came, and--
That is what she was thinking about while the big, purple machine slid smoothly through the tunnel, negotiated a rough stretch where the street-pavers were at work, and sped purring out upon the boulevard that stretched away to Hollywood and the hills. That was what she kept hidden behind the "eternal calm" that so irritated Robert Grant Burns and so delighted Dewitt and so interested Jim Gates, who studied her for what "copy" there was in her personality.