Ruthe Wheeler.

Janet Hardy in Radio City





I enjoy writing, she said, but the question of ability hasnt been very well determined yet.

But you sold a script for film purposes only recently, pressed the director.

Yes, thats true, but I think it was more luck than anything else.

Be that as it may, Id like you to write some of the intimate and unusual things that go on in the production of such a picture. Get in all of the thrilling material possible. Get me?

I think so, replied Janet, recalling the vivid hours that had marked the production work on Kings of the Air when the company was out in the desert and she had been kidnaped.

Then take the rest of the day off and try to get some of the material into my hands tomorrow morning. Well have it whipped into shape by the studio continuity writers, for this program goes on the air day after tomorrow.

Ill do my best, Mr. Adolphi, promised Janet, and the director hurried away to give further instructions to others in the company.

Helen looked at Janet admiringly.

Well, you certainly get yourself into all kinds of work, she smiled. Now youll have to go back to the hotel room and pound away on a rented typewriter while I go down and see a show in the Music Hall.

Oh, dont do that, begged Janet, who was anxious to see the interior of the worlds largest theater. Wait another day until I can go with you. Therell be plenty for you to see in New York beside the Music Hall.

All right, agreed Helen. Well plan on that for tomorrow afternoon.

As they left the studio they bumped into a slender, dark-haired girl who was hurrying in.

Clumsy fools, Janet heard the other girl murmur as she went on and Janets face flushed for it had been as much the others fault as their own.

They dropped down to the street level in the elevator and Janet started back for the hotel while Helen walked toward Fifth avenue to enjoy a window shopping tour along the exclusive shops that had made the avenue famous throughout the world.

Chapter Nineteen
A MANUSCRIPT VANISHES

Janet went directly to their hotel and asked at the desk about renting a typewriter. Arrangements were made to have one delivered at her room within half an hour and she went to change into an older dress, something that wouldnt be hurt by wrinkles that were bound to come as she labored over the typewriter.

The machine was delivered promptly and Janet used a supply of the hotel stationary for her writing material. At first the idea of setting down intimate little things about the filming of the picture had appeared easy, but now that the task was before her, the words and ideas did not come freely.

Janet wondered if she dared to record the story of the sabotage when the company was on desert location. She could imagine that it would make grand material for broadcasting purposes and so she set resolutely about the task. The worst that could happen would be for Mr.

Adolphi to reject it entirely. Janet finally got started and once under way the flow of words came smoothly and her fingers moved rapidly over the keyboard.

She worked steadily for more than an hour, got up, stretched, walked around the room and returned to the writing. She wasnt attempting to make it a complete story, just giving the sequences as they had happened during the filming of Kings of the Air and the mysterious events which had taken place out on the desert. It was natural that Janet should hint that the plotting was the work of another concern for it had been common talk in their own company later that Premier Films, also producing an air story, had attempted to keep their own film from a successful conclusion. But it had only been talk for there was no definite proof.

Helen came hurrying in just as Janet finished her work.

How is it going? she asked.

All through, replied her companion. Have a good time?

Grand. I never knew there could be so many beautiful shops in such a small area. Come on now. I want to ride a subway.

Ill have to change clothes, said Janet.

Never mind changing for a subway trip. Well go down to the Battery. I inquired the way at the desk.

Janet slipped on a light brown coat and followed Helen down and across to the Times Square subway station where they found themselves engulfed in the crowd and the noise. Helen dropped two nickels in the turnstile and they went through the gate, Helen still in the lead and striding along as though she were the veteran of many a ride in the subway instead of a rank beginner.

A train roared out of the darkness of the tube and Janet saw a sign, South Ferry, on the windows.

This is our train, cried Helen, shoving her companion ahead of her and into one of the seats. Other passengers piled in, the doors clanged and they were roaring through the tunnel far under the street level. Their train was an express and occasionally they shot past a slower local. The air was close with an odor that is peculiar to a subway, but Janet enjoyed the ride, watching the crowd in the car. It was evident that most of them were accustomed to using the subway several times a day and they were either visiting or reading evening papers, which they had folded so they would take up the least possible room.

At the South Ferry station they walked up to the street levels and entered Battery park. Janet paused a moment, struck by the beauty of the harbor in the late afternoon. Beyond the Battery was the Statue of Liberty and even further the tidewater flats of Jersey.

Several freighters, which had cleared their docks a few minutes before, were going down the harbor and Janet and Helen, standing along the Battery wondered for what distant port they might be bound.

They walked past the Aquarium. On another afternoon they would come back and spend several hours going through that fascinating building.

Im tired, confessed Janet. Lets get back to the hotel now, clean up, and have dinner. Perhaps well go to a show after that.

Helen readily agreed to the suggestion and they returned to the South Ferry station where they caught an uptown express that took them to Times Square at a dizzy pace.

When they emerged from the tube, the shadows were lengthening in the heart of the city. Sidewalks were crowded with hundreds of men and women on their way home after a days work in the city. They paused for several minutes to watch the teeming mass of humanity and then turned and entered their hotel.

Janet was the first to step into their rooms and the instant she passed the threshold a feeling of foreboding gripped her and she stopped so suddenly that Helen bumped into her.

Whats the matter? asked Helen, looking up quickly.

Janet looked a little sheepish. I dont know. For some reason I thought there was something wrong in here.

Want me to scream? smiled Helen. I can do a good job of that and I guarantee to get someone here in less than a minute with one scream.

In spite of the banter Janet was far from reassured for a feeling of unrest had settled down upon her. She snapped on the lights in the room and looked around.

Apparently nothing had been disturbed and Helen walked past her and went on into her own room. A puff of wind stirred the curtains at the half-opened window and Janet walked over and looked out. There was no fire escape nearby and it would have been impossible for anyone to have gained access to their room in that manner. But then, she asked herself, why would anyone want to enter their room. They carried no personal jewelry of any value and the money they had left in the room was of such a small amount that it would not make robbery worth while.

In the next room Helen was humming to herself as she undressed and prepared to take a shower. Janet dropped down on the bed to rest a moment. It had been a hectic day and she was tired. Her eyes dropped and she fell into a deep sleep.

Helen finished her shower, looked in at Janet, then returned to her own room, where she partially dressed, put on a dressing gown, and sat down to write a letter home chronicling the events of her first day in New York.

Janet awoke as suddenly as she had fallen asleep. Helen had turned out the light in her room and it was quite dark now, the only light coming through the half-opened door that led to the bathroom and on to Helens room.

Janet turned on the light over the desk where she had been writing and glanced down at the manuscript she had been working on. She turned and called sharply to Helen.

Did you pick up the manuscript I finished this afternoon? she asked.

Havent seen it since we left for the Battery, replied Helen. The last I knew it was right beside your typewriter. Maybe youre too sleepy to see it.

Im not that sleepy, retorted Janet.

Perhaps she had put it on the dresser and she turned toward that article of furniture but there was no sign of the manuscript there. She pulled open the drawers, but the manuscript was not there and Helen joined her in the hunt.

Sure you havent taken it to your room and mislaid it? asked Janet, a deep pucker of worry lining her forehead.

Well look to make sure, said Helen and they hastened to her room, but the search there was just as fruitless as the one in Janets room. Janet even looked in the closets, but there was no encouragement there. In a last hope, she went through the wastepaper basket, but she was doomed to disappointment and turned to Helen, her voice shaking with emotion.

Theres no doubt about it now, she declared. Someone entered our rooms while we were away and stole the manuscript I had been working on!

Chapter Twenty
THE MYSTERY DEEPENS

The girls stared helplessly at each other and Helen was finally the first to speak.

But Janet, that cant be possible. It must be here somewhere.

Janet shook her head firmly. It isnt here and we both know it. My premonition when we entered the room was right. Something is decidedly wrong.

But what can we do about it? asked Helen.

Im going to call the clerk, said Janet, picking up the telephone. She explained briefly what had happened. The assistant manager is here. Hes coming up in five minutes, she said when she replaced the instrument on the stand.

Helen rushed back to her own room to finish dressing and was fully clothed when the assistant manager arrived. He made a careful examination of the door and the lock and then went all over the rooms with the girls, but as Janet had felt convinced, there was no further trace of the missing papers.

I regret this deeply, said the hotel official, and can only promise that every effort will be made to see that the papers are returned if they are still in the building. He excused himself to question the housekeeper about any maid who might have been working in the room while the girls were away.

In less than five minutes he returned, a maid following close behind him.

I think the mystery is solved, he explained. The maid says she came in to put fresh towels in the bathroom and someone knocked at the door. She answered and a man from the World Broadcasting Company said he had come to get your manuscript. He came right on in and picked up the papers beside the typewriter. Of course she should not have admitted him, but he appeared to know just what he wanted.

What did he look like? Janet asked the maid.

Well, I didnt pay particular attention, but he was small and I guess you would call him dark. He had on a hat and it was pulled down over his forehead. He took the papers and went on out. Said theyd be waiting for you at the broadcasting office tomorrow.

I believe this solves the mystery, said the assistant manager.

I hope so, agreed Janet. Were sorry to have caused you so much trouble.

When the hotel official and the maid had taken their departure, Helen turned to her companion.

I didnt know the radio people were in such a hurry for the material you were working on, she said.

Neither did I, replied Janet, but I guess it is all right. Lets have dinner now and then perhaps a show. I feel tremendously relieved about the manuscript.

They added a dab of powder and a touch of rouge to their faces and went downstairs. Further down the block they had noticed an attractive Old English Inn and they walked there where they enjoyed a leisurely dinner.

What shall we do now? asked Helen as she finished the dish of ice cream which was their dessert.

Shall we go back to Radio City and see the Music Hall? asked Janet.

Id like nothing better. Were on our way.

They strolled along at a leisurely pace, turned into Sixth Avenue and headed north toward the great mass of gray limestone which was Radio City. Overhead the trains rumbled along the elevated, but Janet and Helen had eyes only for Radio City.

Ahead of them opened the doors of the worlds largest theater and with their hearts beating faster than usual they purchased their tickets and walked into the grand foyer, the most majestic, breath-taking enclosure either of them had ever been in. Their feet sank into the heavy pile of the great carpet and their eyes feasted on the beauty of the towering bronze doors which led into the theater itself.

Then they went on into the Music Hall, which with its sixty-two hundred seats, was the largest of the worlds modern theaters. A great expanse of space greeted their eyes, the theater sloping gently forward to the huge stage. An orchestra, in full dress, was rising from the depths of its pit as though lifted by the hand of some unseen giant. The orchestra broke into a full swell of music and Janet and Helen, sinking into deep, comfortable seats, were enraptured. Above them hidden lights changed the color effect of the ceiling continuously. Then the overture was over and the curtains of the stage parted and for half an hour they enjoyed a musical entertainment based on Coney Island, the famed fun center of the city. After that came the feature picture, and they enjoyed every moment of the nearly three hours of entertainment.

When it was over they walked out slowly, for the Music Hall was one great part of Radio City. Tomorrow, across the street and up on the twenty-seventh floor, they would be in another but very vital part of Radio City, in the broadcasting studios of the World Broadcasting Company. As they walked down Sixth Avenue they glanced aloft and far up in the building a blaze of light shone from windows. Some company was busy up there tonight, providing thousands of radio fans with drama or music for their entertainment and they thrilled at the thought that within a very short time, they, too, would be a part of the radio world.

Back in their rooms that night Janet glanced at the place beside the typewriter where the manuscript had disappeared. She would have liked to have telephoned Curt Newsom and told the lanky cowboy about the incident but he had not mentioned where he was staying. She thought of telephoning Mr. Adolphi, their radio director, but dismissed that for she felt that he might think her foolish. Undoubtedly he had sent for the manuscript.

They were up early the next morning, refreshed after a night of sound sleep. A quick shower was followed by a rapid but thorough toilet and they were ready for what they might have in store for them. They had breakfast in the grill room which opened off the main lobby of their hotel and then started for Radio City.

There was a touch of fall in the air and they walked briskly, pushing through other hurrying throngs of men and women who were on their way to work.

The elevator shot them up to the twenty-seventh floor in a dizzy, breathless rush and they stepped out into the reception room. A page took them to studio K and there were only two others there when they entered Ben Adolphi, their director, and Curt Newsom. The cowboy star looked a little pale.

Sick? asked Janet.

Curt shook his head. Not exactly, but I didnt sleep very well last night. Too much noise here in the city. Im going to move. My hotels right on Times Square.

Why, were staying there too, said Helen. Our hotel is the Dorchester. We slept fine.

Im staying there, replied Curt, but I dont see how you slept. I heard fire engines and police patrols and street cars and newsboys all night. I might as well have been down in the subway trying to sleep on an express train.

The radio director looked at Janet.

Manuscript ready? he asked.

Janet stared at him and he repeated the question.

Havent you got it? she asked.

Certainly not, he snapped, evidently a little provoked at what he considered dull wits.

But the maid at the hotel said someone from the studio called yesterday afternoon for it. Its gone!

Certainly I didnt send for it, he retorted. Evidently it was some ones idea of a practical joke.

I dont think it was much of a joke, said Curt quietly. If the manuscript Janet was working on has disappeared, it vanished because someone was afraid of what she might write.

Chapter Twenty-one
INSINUATIONS

At the cool words of the cowboy star, the radio director whirled to face him.

Just what do you mean by that, he demanded, his face flushing.

I mean just this, retorted Curt. There was a very real attempt made on the coast to stop the filming of Kings of the Air and it begins to look like that attempt is being carried on even in New York in an effort to stop the promotion of the picture. All Ive got to say is that someone had better be careful.

Are you insinuating anything? demanded the radio director.

Im not insinuating; Im just saying, said the cowboy star firmly.

The director turned back to Janet.

Youre sure the manuscript was stolen?

It was unless someone in the studio here has it, she replied.

Ill make inquiries, he promised, but I am sure no one in the studio would have sent for it.

Mr. Adolphi left studio K and Janet, Helen and Curt Newsom were alone.

Youre not kidding about the manuscript being missing? Curt asked.

No, Curt, Im terribly serious. We went out for a time yesterday afternoon. While we were gone the maid came in to leave clean towels and while she was in the room a man came in. He said he was from the studio here and had come for the manuscript. Naturally the girl didnt object and he walked out with the papers.

What did you have in the story?

Oh, a lot about the final days in the desert. How the attempts were made to stop the picture, the bombing from the sky and my own kidnaping.

Did you hint that some other company was responsible for this? The question was snapped at Janet.

Come to think of it, I did, but of course I didnt mention any company by name.

Curt scratched his head in frank worry.

You know, he confessed, this thing has got me puzzled. There is some powerful agency at work to stop the picture Helens father made and I believe its influence must extend right here into this studio. You girls be sure and watch your step and especially at night.

But nothing will happen to us, protested Helen.

No, I dont suppose there will, but you keep on the alert just the same, Curt warned them.

Mr. Adolphi returned and shook his head in response to Janets inquiring gaze.

Ive checked everyone in the studio, he said, and no one knows anything about it. Can you do the manuscript over?

Probably, assented Janet, but Id prefer not to under the circumstances.

The director did not insist and Janet thought perhaps he even seemed a little relieved.

Other members of the company arrived. Several of them had been in the film company on the coast but most of them were from the regular stock company which the studio maintained for its dramatic needs. Most of them were pleasant enough. Only one of them turned Janet against her and that was the small, dark-haired actress who had bumped into her the day before and called her a clumsy fool. That was Rachel Nesbit and Janet thought her eyes a trifle too close together and her mouth too hard. It looked as though it was difficult for Rachel to look pleasant and there was a sulky twist to her lips.

Janet soon found that Rachel was the pampered member of the studios stock company. She was considered an actress of ability and she arrived late and left early during rehearsals. Her one redeeming grace was that she came through when she was before a microphone. Janet also learned that Rachel was writing in addition to her acting and that she had had several of her skits produced on the air.

As soon as the company was assembled, Director Adolphi plunged into the task of rehearsing. Sound men brought in the necessary paraphernalia and through the hours of the morning they went over the first scene which was to be presented in their radio show. The program was to be unusual, running half an hour for five consecutive nights, each of them increasing the tempo and mystery of the action. Janet, reading the script, could feel the thing getting into her blood and she was anxious for the hour to come when they would actually go on the air.

She had no fear of the microphone, now, for that had vanished while she was working for Billy Fenstow in the westerns with Curt Newsom and Helen.





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