She was up in the saddle and gone in a flurry of dusts while Robert Grant Burns stood with his hands on his hips and watched her gloatingly.
"Lord! But that girl's a find!" he ejaculated, and this time he did not seem to care who heard him. He cut the scene just as Jean pulled up at the gate. "See how she set that sorrel down on his haunches?" he chuckled to Pete. "Talk about feature-stuff; that girl will jump our releases up ten per cent., Pete, with the punches I can put into Gay's parts now. How many feet was that scene, twenty-five?"
"Fifteen," corrected Pete. "And every foot with a punch in it. Too bad she's got to double for Gay. She's got the face for close-up work, believe me!"
To this tentative remark Robert Grant Burns made no reply whatever. He went off down the path to meet Jean, critically watching her approach to see how nearly she resembled Muriel Gay, and how close she could come to the camera without having the substitution betrayed upon the screen. Muriel Gay was a leading woman with a certain assured following among movie audiences. Daring horsewomanship would greatly increase that following, and therefore the financial returns of these Western pictures. Burns was her director, and it was to his interest to build up her popularity. Since the idea first occurred to him, therefore, of using Jean as a substitute for Muriel in all the scenes that required nerve and skill in riding, he looked upon her as a double for Muriel rather than from the viewpoint of her own individual possibilities on the screen.
"I don't know about your hair," he told her, when she came up to him and stopped. "We'll run the negative to-night and see how it shows up. The rest of the scene was all right. I had Pete make it. I'm going to take some scenes down here by the gate, now, with the boys. I won't need you till after lunch, probably; then I'll have you make that ride down off the bluff and some close-up rope work."
"I suppose I ought to ride over to the ranch," Jean said undecidedly. "And I ought to try out this sorrel if you want me to use him. Would some other day do just--"
"In the picture business," interrupted Robert Grant Burns dictatorially, "the working-hours of an actor belong to the director he's working for. If I use you in pictures, your time will belong to me on the days when I use you. I'll expect you to be on hand when I want you; get that?"
"My time," said Jean resolutely, "will belong to you if I consider it worth my while to let you have it. Otherwise it will belong to me."