The Man who was Twoby Fred M White
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The Throne Room in the Royal Windsor Hotel was discreetly full of diners--the management never allowed that sacred haven to be packed even in holiday times--and every little table, with its shaded pink lights, held its sheaf of youth and beauty spilling with laughter and dazzling with eyes as bright and alluring as the gems that seemed to float there on a sea of foamy froth cradled in pink and mauve chiffon and diaphanous lace. There was something exceedingly intimate in the half-shrouded tables, each encrusted with the loveliest things that breathe and palpitate in this transient life of ours, and yet it seemed part of one smooth harmonious whole as if the elect gathered there were, after all, one exclusive family.
It was warm and alluring there that eventful New Year's Eve, with its lights and warmth and laughter, its well-trained waiters, and the scent of roses that clung caressingly to it all. The mere whisper of care or sorrow or tragedy there would have savoured of outrage, and yet those inconsequent diners were no more than ordinary flesh and blood with the heritage of sorrow and suffering that comes to us all. But not to-night, surely not to-night, amidst the wealth of flowers and the ripple of laughter and the sheer joy of being. And it was some half humorous philosophy like this that Roy Gilette was casting inconsequently before his three dinner companions as he sat at Sir Marston Manley's table in the centre of the room.
"Now, to an old traveller like me," he frivolled on, "this is a lasting joy. To a man of the world, Sir Marston, this is a dozen novels rolled into one. How many stories, how many plots for my film dramas that one day shall thrill the world are awaiting me here if only the gifts of Asmodeus were mine?"
Gilette waved his well-manicured hand comprehensively around and smiled into the faces of his companions. That clean-shaven, handsome face of his was distinctly alluring. Sir Marston smiled, too, but it was a smile of envy, that the famous painter successfully disguised behind his white flowing beard and wide-rimmed silver spectacles. Yet he loved to be with youth and bathe in it. And that was why he was entertaining youth and beauty tonight.
"It's good to hear that you are going to do something at last," he said "Even the youngest of us has his responsibilities. But the cinema! Really, my dear Roy."
"And why not?" Gilette demanded. "There's a great future before the pictorial drama when the cowboys cease from troubling and the Chaplins are at rest. And it fills me with grief, my dear old guardian, to see this professional jealousy. A painter who is the friend of kings ought to be beyond such weakness."
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