There Azalea found him, and she faced him bravely.
“That baby is safe,” she said, “where you can’t get at her! And now I will tell you what I think of you! You are a thief and a scoundrel! You don’t deserve to be allowed to carry on a reputable business! I don’t want any further connection with you or your company. I am proud to be fired from such a lot of bandits as you people are!”
So angry was she, and so unguarded as to what she was saying that she fairly flung the words at him.
For a moment he was stunned at her wild tirade, and then his artist instinct was stirred,—for the picture she made was beautiful and dramatic. She had no thought of this, for she was in earnest, and her whole soul was up in arms at thought of the threatened abduction of Fleurette. And, so, knowing that the child was safe with Mrs. Gale, she let the vials of her wrath pour forth on the villain who had so aroused it, and her voice was raised in scathing obloquy.
“All right!” Merritt said, as she paused from sheer want of breath, “I’ll take my beating, if you’ll go over to the studio with me and repeat this scene. Let me pose you while you’re in this humour,—you’ll never reach such heights again!”
“Nor will I ever pose for you again! I’m through with you,—all of you, and all the moving-picture business! I was warned to keep out of it,—but I didn’t know what wretches I would find in it! Go! Go at once! and never let me see your face again!”
It was at this moment that the Gale motor party returned.
Patty and Bill, hearing Azalea’s loud tones, rushed to the library and found her there with Merritt.
“Where’s Baby?” Patty cried, starting for the stairs.
“She’s safe, Patty,” Azalea said, stopping her. “She’s all right,—she’s over to Mrs. Gale’s.”
“Mrs. Gale’s!” and Patty flew off like the wind, caring for nothing but the assurance of her own eyes that Fleurette was safe.
“Help me, Bill,” said Azalea, going toward Farnsworth, “you said once, you’d defend me.”
“I will, dear. What’s this all about? Who are you?” He addressed Merritt quietly, but with a fire in his blue eyes that was disturbing.
“Merritt, of the Flicker Film Company, very much at your service,” and the man drew a card from his pocket and presented it.
“Well, Mr. Merritt, leave at once, and never return. I don’t care for your explanations or excuses. Simply go.”
“Is that right, Zaly?” Bill said, as the crestfallen visitor left them. “I didn’t want any words with him,—for I might have lost my temper. I’d rather have the story from you.”
“And I’ll tell it to you,—all. But, oh, Bill, I’m so glad Fleurette is all right!”
“She is so!” and Patty came dancing on, with the smilingest child in the world. Van Reypen followed, and then the whole crowd drew together anxious to know what the commotion was all about.