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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 323 pages of information about Ma Pettengill.

Anyway, when he begun to think he wasn’t meant for this art, who steps in but this same director that had made such a beast of himself with Vida?  He puts Clyde into a play in which Vida is the mother and Clyde is the noble son that takes the crime on his shoulders to screen the brother of the girl he loves, and it was an awful hit.  Naturally Vida was never so good before and Clyde proved to be another find.  He can straighten up and look nobler when he’s wrongfully accused of a crime than any still actor I ever see.  He’s got now to where they have to handle him with gloves or he’d leave ’em flat and go with another company.  Vida wrote me only last week that they had a play for him where he’s cast off on a desert island with a beautiful but haughty heiress, and they have to live there three months subsisting on edible foods which are found on all desert islands.  But Clyde had refused the part because he would have to grow whiskers in this three months.  He said he had to think of his public, which would resent this hideous desecration.  He thought up a bully way to get out of it.  He said he’d let the whiskers grow for a few scenes and then find a case of safety razors washed ashore, so he could shave himself just before the haughty millionaire’s daughter confessed that she had loved him from the first and the excursion steamer come up to rescue ’em.  I believe he now admits frankly that he wrote most of the play, or at least wrote the punch into it.  A very happy couple they are, Clyde having only one vice, which is candy that threatens his waistline.  Vida keeps a sharp watch on him, but he bribes people to sneak chocolate creams into his dressing room.  The last night I was there he sung “Good-night, Good-night, Beloved!” so well that I choked up myself.

Of course women are crazy about him; but that don’t bother Vida a little bit.  She never wanted a husband anyway—­only a son.  And Clyde must have had something wake up in his brain them years he was away.  He had a queer look in his eyes one night when he said to me—­where Vida couldn’t hear:  “Yes, other women have loved me, but she—­she knows me and loves me!” It’s the only thing I ever heard him utter that would show he might be above a pet kitten in intellect.

And, of course, these letters he gets don’t mean anything in his life but advertising—­Oh, yes!  I forgot to tell you that his stage name is J. Harold Armytage.  He thought it up himself.  And the letters coming in by the bushel really make Vida proud.  In her heart she’s sorry for the poor fools because they can’t have as much of dear Clyde as she has.  She says she’s never deserved her present happiness.  I never know whether I agree with her or not.

She’s a queer one.  Darned if she don’t make a person think sometimes—­listening to her chatter—­that there must be something kind of decent about human nature after all!

III

RED GAP AND THE BIG-LEAGUE STUFF

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