March 30th 1919: Olive Thomas in «Toton»

Film:

The film is lost, unfortunately.

olive thomas in toton
«Yvonne, the French flower girl in the Latin Quarter.»

Novelization:

However, here is a novelization of the movie:

Had David Lane not married Yvonne, then there would be no story to tell. But so long as the prettiest and most chic maids from the south of France persist in meeting good-looking young American artists — then there will be stories — or we burst. Just as though David Lane wouldn’t have married Yvonne! Even the ghost of the thought is absurd, once you know of Yvonne — and David’s love for her.

olivetotonIt was shortly after the young American had established himself in the Latin Quartier to find out what the old world knew of art that his genius hadn’t taught him (rather, what it had hidden from him), that he met the French girl. She was a flower-girl, and although David was attracted by the blossoms, their attractiveness willed the instant he observed to whom he was to pay the money. One glance led to another and first thing the folks about the Quartier knew, the young American had the girl posing for him — an honor long desired by many of the artists, but never realized. Yvonne guided David to the open country and showed his artist soul the unpainted pictures of rural France. And followed a summer of romance and courtship — and a little painting. Friendship led into love, and love into marriage.

Now it seems that every time a story is spun about two young persons who get married, or who are determined to get married, the inevitable ogre is introduced in the form, usually, of that imp—Parental Opposition. This time the ogre took the form of David Lane’s father, who couldn’t understand, having lived thirty years since he had done the same thing, why a youth will make such a fool out of himself as to spoil his career by early marriage. After the honeymoon blossomed an idyll that would never end. so long as the kaiser’s gang kept out of France.

Toton_28191929_-_1Then came a cable from the United States, telling David to return home immediately as his mother was seriously ill. Yvonne was filled with a vague uneasiness at his leaving David nearly missed the train bound for the channel in giving her the assurance oi his speedy return. When David told his father of his marriage he waited expectantly for the great outburst that did not come. The father, though greatly angered, swallowed his wrath and only said: «I don’t think we had better tell your mother. In her condition . . . might prove unfortunate.» Meanwhile, nervously, David was attempting to tell about his wife. «I met her when I first went over. A dark-eyed native from the south of France. Vivacious and intellectual. You should hear her amazing attitudes on art.» But hardly had he finished his awkward plea for justification when the father had walked heavily out of the room. He had already decided that the marriage would not be sanctioned. He would see his attorneys. He would treat the French girl as she doubtless deserved.

olivetotonb«A silly infatuation.» he told the lawyer that afternoon. «The boy will soon forget. Notify your Paris representatives at once.» Which was done, as Yvonne soon learned. While David was in America waiting the recovery of his mother, eager to return to Yvonne, she received a call from strange attorneys in Paris. With her went Pierre — of the under- world — a rough-cast apache whose one good energy was a love for Yvonne — a love that had begun almost before that of David’s. For a long time Pierre had yearned for Yvonne from a distance but with David’s departure he became more arrogant and insistent. Yvonne treated his attentions with cold disdain, but did not overlook the fact that he was the one person, outside of David, who would do much for her, if the need came.

Pierre had repeatedly attempted to decry the faithfulness of David, long before he had left even and now that he was gone seemed to await avidly for the time when the girl would find that he was unfaithful. Thus it happened that when she was summoned to appear before the lawyers, Pierre, who feared they would not give her a square deal, went along. Yvonne was met by an icy representative of the law who informed her that David Lane’s parents had ordered them to ask her to withdraw her claim on David. «Unless you do this your husband will be disowned.» she was told. At first the girl was inclined to fight, but when the attorney added that David sanctioned his parents’ attitude, then she broke down — while Pierre glared slyly at the legal iceberg before them. There was a brief moment of disbelief. But the imperturbable eyes of the attorney, as Yvonne stared hopefully at him, did not seem to be lying. She turned to go and the attorney called after her. «Then you relinquish your claim to your husband?»

But her interrogator might have been a puny archaeologist, shouting questions at the Sphinx for all the answer he received. The attorney was quite out of Ivonne’s mind, too trivial to consider. The situation was growing more impossible each moment, she assured herself passing out of the building. Then she told Pierre, who was secretly enjoying the realization that the American had proven fickle… The child would arrive shortly, and then…

olivetotonaPierre, overwhelmed by the news, now melted into honest concern. Yvonne became hysterical and pleaded with Pierre as her only friend, to stay by her. Later she crouched in a dark corner of the studio, staring dully at the familiar things about her. David’s old pipe, a Yankee corncob, lay cold and dead on a baseboard of an abandoned easel. Yvonne shivered. She must be leaving, now that David was through with her — them. Yvonne did not survive the grotesque motherhood, but left a girl-image who was to find it exceedingly difficult to preserve her beautiful inheritance in the environment of Pierre and his people. But Pierre made good of his promise technically, at least. He took charge of the infant, and after the poignancy of Yvonne’s death had passed, was able to think in professional numbers, and to plan for the girl’s «career».

As time passed the wily apache learned all that he had suspected, regarding the real condition of the desertion of  David. When Yvonne was alive he did not admit his suspicion that David was not to blame. And now that she was dead, he intended to find out.

His mother now on the road to health after a seeming unending illness. David boarded ship for England. His father, still silent as to the course he had quietly taken on the marriage, bade him goodbye, feeling in his monstrous ignorance that the youth was well-rid of a non-essential to his career and happiness.

Arriving in Paris, David hurried to the Latin quarter only to be met by a darkened studio and, later. Pierre. He grabbed the apache by the arm and demanded to know where Yvonne was. The pickpocket leered at him slyly. «Dead,» he said, crudely. «Did you expect her to be well and happy after you had thrown her aside?» David’s fingers clutched the Frenchman’s throat and he muttered with a shriek in his voice: «Dead:-‘ What killed her?»

«Fool!» whispered Pierre, now released and rubbing his throat. And he told him of the coming of the daughter. Then indeed was David overcome by supreme sorrow, anger. «Where is my daughter?» he demanded. Now Pierre was suddenly silent. He did not intend giving up the little girl, inasmuch as he had already made extravagant plans for her future. She was to become the greatest pickpocket in the underworld. So he shook his head. «She is dead also!» Then the pickpocket slunk away, suggesting that he call on his father’s Paris attorneys.

Information was what David wanted, demanded — demanded to know why this had been kept from him: and if his father had been meddling. A jabbering, excited lawyer, trying to smother the rising fire within the American’s heart, said: «Your father thought you’d soon forget.

«Soon forget!… The utter imbeciles… His father must have been mad to cut them apart as he had. And to think that Yvonne had died, thinking him indifferent. After lingering over a weed-covered grave, David locked some memories in his heart, and vowing to never marry again, returned listlessly to America.

Oblivious to the lure of any finer way of living, placid and unquestioning, the child of Yvonne and David Lane became a picturesque and whimsical part of the Paris underworld. Under the coaching arm of Pierre, she learned the many secrets of apache existence. From babyhood up she had been dressed in the garb of the masculine sex. And there were none to even suspicion that under the smutty, ragged man-clothes shimmered the fair white skin of a girl as beautiful and as classic as her mother.

And when she had reached the age of seventeen she met Kent Carew, a young American art student, adopted son of David Lane, a student in his father’s old studio. And as is the way in this diminutive old world of ours, he stumbled, first thing, over Toton, daughter of his father. He had hired her as his guide and upon reaching for a coin to pay her with, a small American flag dropped out of his pocket. The girl was instantly aroused. «Bah!» she sneered. «Keep your money. It would bring a curse!

Kent was smilingly puzzled. Thus did Toton champion the distrust for Americans which Pierre had craftily imbued within her through her child- hood. For he feared that some day one of them would come and lure her away from him. So he taught her to always treat the American artists with suspicion. Kent tried to make the girl explain her reason for the strange action but she tossed a burned-out cirarette to the pavement and walked off. Kent threw the coin at her feet. And later, when he saw her opening the pocket- book of an innocent bystander at a news stall, he grabbed her arm. «You’re just a thief,» he admonished frankly. «But I am going to make a man of you'» Then, leading the girl toward his studio entrance, he went on. «I am going to need someone to clean up my place and’ be generally useful. It may not he very nice work but it is belter than picking pockets.»

Toton went with Kent, not because she was impressed by the opportunity to be honest, but out of curiosity. Once the two had become really acquainted however, Toton grew to like him and Kent to like her: though, naturally enough, he was bewildered by the dawn of his affection for her. As time passed she cared less and less for the crudity of apache existence and more and more for the finer, cleaner life of this American. Perhaps it was the haunting ghost-presence of her mother that made Toton so at ease about the studio; at any rate she soon came to forget that she was bound to Pierre and his ways of iniquity. The real nature of the girl fused to the surface under the gentle, unconscious encouragement of the good-blooded American. As the months passed a splendid friendship sprang up between them. During his long stretches of work on his canvases, Kent found great amusement and diversion in the chattering of Toton, who lounged about on pieces oi furniture never intended to be sat upon, puffing gracefully, femininely, on cigarettes and speaking of the quartier characters as though each of thom owed her money. There was a marked artistic appreciation alive within the Toton’s head, Kent noted, that was distinctly not alien in its qualities. He could imagine the frail, sensitive angers tracing marvelous lines and touching bewitching shadows onto dead canvases. Yet, paradoxically, Toton was not inclined to take art seriously.

And as time passed she thought less and less of Pierre.

One days she wandered back into her old haunts and found Pierre and his gang, lounging about in a low cellar. Although she had deluded herself into believing that this visit was a mere casual one yet she knew that she was half-minded to make it one of great moment: denouncement of her whole past life. She had tasted deeply of respectability, honesty, and now she wanted none of that which was not. Pierre grabbed her by the shoulder and whirled her around. «Where have you been?» he demanded. Toton was defiant. «Why do you ask?» she smiled, bantering. Pierre’s face darkened. He sensed the truth. «The damned American, eh?» «Perhaps, cheri,» she retorted. «A fine fellow, for sure.» She thought quickly and then decided. «I just came back to tell you that I’m through with this life, Pierre.» Toton looked slowly about her and although the place and the faces were all familiar, she did not feel a spark of regret over giving them up. «I — I have decided that I won’t steal any more,» she said slowly, earnestly.

The pickpocket leered at her angrily. «Don’t tell me why,» he said excitedly. «It’s that artist. As though I had never said a word to you about their perfidy. As though I had never warned you that the artists who come here are as deadly as poison!» Toton smiled blandly at him, as he held his head close to her face, shadowed under the piquant cap that hid glorious bobbed hair. His maledictions had no effect on her. She turned and would have gone, but Pierre called to her and she waited for him just outside. He wished to try and hold her — Toton, the super-pickpocket, the midas-fingered of all the apaches. She now looked at Pierre with repugnance where used to hover amused toleration, lyric acceptance of the looseness of his ilk. «Listen to me.» he muttered. And then he told his story of Toton’s genesis. It was not a pretty story as he told it — neither pretty nor true. That she was astounded goes without saying. And all the venom Pierre had engendered against David Lane for having stolen his heart’s desire went into painting this «story a fearful malediction against the American artists. For Pierre was making a last stand in his fight to retain the girl in his gang.

Pierre told of the love affair with Yvonne, justifying it and painting the American, whom he did not name, as tin- intruder who had turned the girl’s head from real affection. Then of the marriage, the departure for America, the amazing desertion and finally, the birth of Toton and the death of her mother.

After a long silence, Toton addressed Pierre. «Do you think, Pierre that, had my father known me, he would have loved me?» Pierre, his tongue now well oiled for deceit, spoke fiercely. «Had he known of you? He did know you!» But can you say he loved you when he returned to France and looked right into your baby lace as you lay in your cradle, and then walked out and went back to America, knowing that by leaving you here in my care you would necessarily be subjected to the greatest ol hardships? That was his love».

Toton was aghast. This turned her mock-hatred into something nearer the real. Yet, as she walked slowly out — still determined to go — she fought off any tendency to put David in the class with her father.

In the early summer of 1914, David Lane returned to France. He had come to paint his greatest masterpiece in the quiet and seclusion of a chateau. Moreover, astounding his colleagues in art, he was to work without a model. «From memory,'» he said tersely, and a little sadly. And his friends waited for the completion of this masterpiece. Not even the rumblings of the generating European war could detract him from his obsession. For, as he worked, Imperial Germany was spinning the hemp that was four years later to hang itself.

Kent was overjoyed to see his father, of course, and took Toton along with him to the country place. Toton was not particularly eager to go, for she veered away from Americans, other than Kent. And with David Lane were a group of his countrymen, all artists. Deep in Toton’s heart burned a vague desire to harm these men in some way, in the hopes that it would relieve her accumulating hatred -against the clan of her father. And when, one day she overheard the group of them discussing the impending invasion of the huns, wondering over the safety of their properties in case of a German raid, she knelt deep into the heavy plush of a great chair and listened. They announced their plan to bring all their valuable paintings to Lane’s chateau, believing that the Hund would respect the neutrality of the American’s estate.

After the paintings had arrived, Toton scurried to Paris and told Pierre and his crew. Pierre’s eyes lighted with a fierce yoy that was two-fold in its instigation: first, because of the change to thieve from the Americans; and second, because there were indications of the return of Toton to the clan.

At nightfall the apaches crept to the estate, lead by Toton. Once inside, the location of the paintings was easy and they took them all, including the now completed masterpiece of David Lane. Lane, aroused by the noise of the intruders, came into the room on the lower floor and faced Pierre. Each recognized the other instantly; and to Pierre’s mind the rather fading past flooded back in a brilliant, incensing reality. He lunged at the artists and there, on the floor, the two of them struggled. To the aid of Pierre came the wildcat Toton and when Pierre had finally overcome the artists and had kicked and beaten him unmercifully, then he began to banter.

«I lied to you those years ago,» he finished, as Toton crept away with some of the paintings. «Your daughter did not die. On the contrary, she lived to be the most celebrated pickpocket in Paris.» The elderly artist, on the floor, gasped, «Where is she, then?» he demanded to know. But Pierre only gave him another kick and then swept out through the window after his band of thieves. In a hut on a distant hill the band waited for daylight.

Advancing, into France in that never-to- be-forgotten August of 1914, the army of the Hun spread out over a great area, in pillaging and vandalisms. One wing veered toward the country in which lay Lane’s chateau, and the hut where the apaches waited for daylight. The House of Krupp had produced a new heavy gun and to test its range, the gunners aimed it on the abandoned hut in the distance. Their aim was all too true.

What prevented Toton and Pierre from being instantly killed can only be laid to the concession of chance. When Toton opened her eyes she saw Pierre lying, inert, under some debris a few feet away. Pierre had raised his face and was staring at Lane’s portrait that lay uncovered near his head. His eyes, pain-dinged, opened wide with growing wonder as he stared at the face on the canvass, seen through the floating dust of the debris. He lifted one hand to his forehead

«Yvonne!»‘ came a whisper on the apache’s slow breath. Toton, ten feet away, now standing weakly, was drinking in the fantastic tableau. Pierre, feeling the fingers of Death closing about his arm, hastened to divulge the great secret he held from Toton, the girl he had raised in a great lie. His eyes searched the swirling atmosphere for her figure and finding it, he beckoned. She went on swift feet.

«Listen,» he whispered. He raised his hand and pointed to the divinely exquisite face of Yvonne, the old lover, conjured by the heart and genius of Lane who had never forgotten. Moreover, the figure was that of a madonna — from the depth of the great eyes to the grace of the enfolding arms.

Then hysterically — racing Death — the apache poured out the real story he had concealed through the years. Before this madonna that seemed to live and to prompt his conscience, he told the real love of Lane and Yvonne. Of his call home and of the base intrusion of Lane’s father. How the parents had stepped into their idyll and broken its spell and how Yvonne had died from a broken heart. Lastly, how Lane had gone back to America, sorrowing, out- raged. And how he — Pierre — had raised Toton as a boy and under a lie.

Toton stared at the canvass of her mother. «But — but — who painted this?» she demanded.

«David Lane.» Toton gasped. «Your father!» Pierre finished.

For a long time after the apache had breathed his last, the girl sat in the growing daylight. Over three hills she saw the red-tiled roof of David Lane’s chateau. She arose and very deliberately gathered up the scattered canvasses and, holding that of her mother tenderly to her heart, trod over the three hills to the home of David Lane.

In the chateu, she thew herself into Kent’s arms. Then, paying for the ability to word her emotions, she went over to Lane and laid her head on his shoulder.

«Father!»

Lane looked at the tear-streaked face of the grimy Toton and stared deep into her eyes. Then he crushed her to him.

That week the three of them sailed for America. Toton looked forward to this trip with the keenest of pleasure. The name America was no longer one to be dreaded. And three years later, while Uncle Sam was getting into condition to finish off the Germans, on the docs at New York stood two young people. One of them was a man in uniform of the American navy, and his name was Kent Carew. And the other, enfolded in his arms, was a young woman in the attire of a Red Cross nurse. And her name was Toton.