MoboReader> Literature > Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways

   Chapter 10 THE RUNAWAYS

Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways By Annie Roe Carr Characters: 7034

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


The almost level rays of a sinking sun shone upon a vast waste of white when the two girls from the snow-bound train started off with the farmer toward the only sign of life to be seen upon the landscape-a curl of blue smoke rising from a chimney of a farmhouse.

"That's Peleg's place," explained Mr. Snubbins. "He's a right well-to-do man, Peleg Morton is. We don't mind havin' our Celia go so much with Sallie Morton-though her mother does say that Sallie puts crazy notions into our Celia's head. But I reckon all gals is kinder crazy, ain't they?" pursued the farmer, with one of his sly glances and chuckles.

"Always!" agreed Bess, heartily. "Half of our girls at Lakeview Hall have to be kept in straightjackets, or padded cells."

"Mercy, Bess!" whispered Nan. "That's worthy of extravagant Laura

Polk herself."

"Thank you," responded Bess, as the farmer recovered from a fit of "the chuckles" over Bess Harley's joke. Bess added this question:

"What particular form of insanity do your daughter and Sallie Morton display, Mr. Snubbins?"

"Movin' picters," ejaculated the farmer. "Drat 'em! They've jest about bewitched my gal and Sallie Morton."

"Goodness!" gasped Nan. "There aren't moving picture shows away out here in the country, are there?"

"Oncet a week at the Corner," said Mr. Snubbins. "An' we all go. But that ain't so much what's made Celia and Sallie so crazy. Ye see, las' fall was a comp'ny makin' picters right up here in Peleg's west parster. Goodness me! there was a crowd of 'em. They camped in tents like Gypsies, and they did the most amazin' things-they sure did!

"Dif'rent from Gypsies," pursued the farmer, "they paid for all they got around here. Good folks to sell chicken an' aigs to. City prices, we got," and Mr. Snubbins licked his lips like a dog in remembrance of a good meal.

"An' I vow ter Maria!" the man went on to say, with some eagerness. "We 'most all around here air in them picters; ya-as'm! Ye wouldn't think I was an actor, would ye?" And he went off into another spasm of chuckles.

"Oh, what fun!" cried Bess.

"Paid us two dollars a day for jest havin' our photographts took, they did," said Mr. Snubbins.

"And they paid three to the gals, 'cause they dressed up. That's what set Celia and Sallie by the ears. Them foolish gals has got it in their heads that they air jest cut out for movin' picter actresses. They wanter go off ter the city an' git jobs in one o' chem there studios! Peleg says he'll spank his gal, big as she is, if she don't stop sich foolish talk. I reckon Celia won't go fur without Sallie."

"My! it must be quite exciting to work for the pictures," said romantic Bess.

"Sure it is," chuckled the farmer. "One feller fell off a hoss while they was up here an' broke his collarbone; an' one of the gals tried ter milk our old Sukey from the wrong side, an' Sukey nigh kicked her through the side of the shed," and Mr. Snubbins indulged in another fit of laughter over this bit of comedy.

He was still chuckling when they climbed down from the hard eminence of a drift into a spot that had been cleared of snow before the Morton's side door. At once the door was opened and a big, bewhiskered man looked out.

"Well, well, Si!" he ejaculated. "I thought them was your Celia and my Sallie. Them girls air strangers, ain't they? Some more of that tribe of movin' picture actresses?"

"I vow ter Maria, Peleg!" ejaculated Mr. Snubbins. "What's happened to

Celia? Ain't she here?"

"No. Nor

no more ain't Sallie," Mr. Morton said. "Come in. Bring in them young ladies. I'll tell ye about it. Sallie's maw is mighty upsot."

"But ain't Celia here?" reiterated Mr. Snubbins, as he and the chums from Tillbury passed into the warm, big kitchen.

"No, she ain't, I tell you."

"But she started over for here yesterday morning, figgerin' to spend the day with your Sallie. When she didn't come back at night my woman an' me reckoned it snowed so hard you folks wouldn't let her come."

"Oh, lawk!" exclaimed Mr. Morton. "They was off yesterday mornin' just as soon as your Celia got here. Planned it all a forehand-the deceivin' imps! Said they was goin' to the Corner. An' they did! Sam Higgin picked 'em up there an' took 'em along to Littleton; an' when he plowed past here jest at evenin' through the snow he brought me a note. Hi, Maw, bring in that there letter," shouted Peleg Morton.

That the two men were greatly disturbed by the running away of their daughters, there could be no doubt. Nan was sorry she and Bess had come over from the train. These people were in serious trouble and she and her chum could not help them.

She drew the wondering Bess toward the door, and whispered: "What do you think, Bess? Can't we go back to the train alone?"

"What for, Nan?" cried Bess.

"Well, you see, they are in trouble."

At that moment Mrs. Morton hurried in with a fluttering sheet of paper in her hand. She was a voluminous woman in a stiffly starched house dress, everything about her as clean as a new pin, and a pair of silver-bowed spectacles pushed up to her fast graying hair. She was a wholesome, hearty, motherly looking woman, and Nan Sherwood was attracted to her at first sight.

Even usually unobservant Bess was impressed. "Isn't she a love?" she whispered to Nan.

"Poor woman!" Nan responded in the same tone, for there were undried tears on the cheeks of the farmer's wife.

"Here's Si, Maw," said Mr. Morton. "He ain't been knowin' about our girl and his Celia runnin' off, before."

"How do, Si?" responded Mrs. Morton. "Your wife'll be scairt ter death, I have no doubt. What'll become of them foolish girls-Why, Peke! who's these two young ladies?"

Mr. Morton looked to Mr. Snubbins for an introduction, scratching his head. Mr. Snubbins said, succinctly: "These here gals are from a railroad train that's snowed under down there in the cut. I expect they air hungry, Miz' Morton."

"Goodness me! Is that so?" cried the good woman, bustling forward and jerking her spectacles down astride her nose, the better to see the unexpected guests. "Snowed up-a whole train load, did you say? I declare! Sit down, do. I won't haf to put any extry plates on the supper table, for I did have it set, hopin' Sallie an' Celia would come back," and the poor mother began to sob openly.

"I vow, Maw! You do beat all. Them gals couldn't git back home through this snow, if they wanted to. And they likely got to some big town or other," said Mr. Morton, "before the worst of the blizzard. They've got money; the silly little tykes! When they have spent it all, they'll be glad to come back."

"Celia will, maybe," sobbed Mrs. Morton, brokenly. "She ain't got the determination of our Sallie. She'd starve rather than give in she was beat. We was too ha'sh with her, Paw. I feel we was too ha'sh! And maybe we won't never see our little gal again," and the poor lady sat down heavily in the nearest chair, threw her apron over her head, and cried in utter abandon.

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