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   Chapter 12 RAVELL BULSON'S TROUBLE

Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways By Annie Roe Carr Characters: 7052

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"What do you think of those two girls, anyway, Nan?" Bess Harley asked.

This was late in the evening, after the porter had made up their berths again in the Pullman. The baskets of food had been welcomed by the snow-bound passengers with acclaim. The two girls were thanked more warmly for their thoughtfulness than Nan and Bess believed they really deserved.

Bess Harley's question, of course, referred to Sallie Morton and Celia Snubbins, the girls who had run away from home to become moving picture actresses. Nan replied to her chum's query:

"That Sallie Morton must be a very silly girl indeed to leave such a comfortable home and such a lovely mother. Perhaps Celia Snubbins may not have been so pleasantly situated; but I am sure she had no reason for running away."

Bess sighed. "Well," she murmured, "it must be great fun to work for the movies. Just think of those two country girls appearing in a five-reel film like 'A Rural Beauty.'"

"Well, for goodness' sake, Bess Harley!" cried Nan, astonished, "have you been bitten by that bug?"

"Don't call it 'bug'-that sounds so common," objected Bess. "Call it 'bacilli of the motion picture.' It must be great," she added emphatically, "to see yourself acting on the screen!"

"I guess so," Nan said, with a laugh. "A whole lot those two foolish girls acted in that 'Rural Beauty' picture. They were probably two of the 'merry villagers' who helped to make a background for the real actresses. You know very well, Bess, that girls like us wouldn't be hired by any film company for anything important."

"Why-you know, Nan," her chum said, "that some of the most highly paid film people are young girls."

"Yes. But they are particularly fitted for the work. Do you feel the genius of a movie actress burning in you?" scoffed Nan.

"No-o," admitted Bess. "I think it is that hard boiled egg I ate. And it doesn't exactly burn."

Nan went off in a gale of laughter at this, and stage-struck Bess chimed in. "I don't care," the latter repeated, the last thing before they climbed into their respective berths, "it must be oodles of fun to work for the movies."

While the chums slept there were great doings outside the snow-bound train. The crew turned out with shovels, farmers in the neighborhood helped, and part of a lately arrived section gang joined in to shovel the snow away from the stalled engine and train.

Cordwood had been bought of Peleg Morton and hauled over to the locomotive for fuel. With this the engineer and fireman managed to make sufficient steam to heat the Pullman coach and the smoking car. Nan and Bess had brought little "Buster," as the spaniel had been named, into their section and, having been fed and made warm, he gave the girls hardly any trouble during the night.

Selfish Mr. Bulson, who had shipped the puppy home to his little boy, seemed to have no interest whatsoever in Buster's welfare.

It was not until the great snow-plow and a special locomotive appeared the next morning, and towed the stalled train on to its destination, and Nan Sherwood and her chum arrived at Tillbury, that Nan learned anything more regarding Mr. Ravell Bulson.

Mr. and Mrs. Sherwood had been more than a little worried by Nan's delay in getting home and Mr. Sherwood was at the station to meet the train when it finally steamed into Tillbury.

Owneyville, which the girls knew to be Mr. Bulson's home town, was a station beyond Tillbury, and a much smaller town. The fat man had to change cars, so it was no

t surprising that he stepped down upon the Tillbury platform just as Nan ran into her father's arms.

"Oh, Papa Sherwood!" Nan almost sobbed.

"My dear Nancy!" he returned, quite as much moved.

And just then Mr. Bulson appeared beside them. "Well, Sherwood!" the fat man growled, "have you come to your senses yet?"

Robert Sherwood's face flushed and he urged Nan away along the snowy platform. "I don't care to talk to you, Bulson," he said shortly.

"Well, you will talk to me!" exclaimed the angry fat man. "I'll get you into court where you'll have to talk."

Mr. Sherwood kept right on with Nan and Bulson was left fuming and muttering on the platform. Bess had already been put into the family sleigh and was being whisked home. Nan and her father tramped briskly through the snowy streets toward "the little dwelling in amity," which Nan had not seen since leaving Tillbury for her Uncle Henry Sherwood's home at Pine Camp, ten months before.

"Oh, dear, Papa Sherwood!" gasped Nan. "What is the matter with that horrid man? He says the most dreadful things about you!"

"What's that?" demanded her father, quickly. "What do you know about Bulson?"

"More than I really want to know about him," said Nan, ruefully. She related briefly what had happened a few days before on Pendragon Hill. "And when he called you a rascal, I-oh! I was very, very angry! What did he mean, Papa Sherwood?"

But her father postponed his explanation until later; and it was really from her mother that Nan heard the story of Mr. Sherwood's trouble with Ravell Bulson. Mrs. Sherwood was very indignant about it, and so, of course, was Nan.

A week or more before, Mr. Sherwood had had business in Chicago, and in returning took the midnight train. The sleeping car was side-tracked at Tillbury and when most of the passengers were gone the man in the berth under Mr. Sherwood's began to rave about having been robbed. His watch and roll of banknotes had disappeared.

The victim of the robbery was Mr. Ravell Bulson. Mr. Bulson had at once accused the person occupying the berth over his as being the guilty person. Nan's father had got up early, and had left the sleeping car long before Mr. Bulson discovered his loss.

The railroad and the sleeping car company, of course, refused to acknowledge responsibility for Mr. Bulson's valuables. Nor on mere suspicion could Mr. Bulson get a justice in Tillbury to issue a warrant for Mr. Sherwood.

But Ravell Bulson had been to the Sherwood cottage on Amity Street, and had talked very harshly. Besides, the fat man had in public loudly accused his victim of being dishonest.

Mr. Sherwood's reputation for probity in Tillbury was well founded; he was liked and respected; those who really knew him would not be influenced by such a scandal.

But as Mr. Sherwood was making plans to open an agency in Tillbury for a certain automobile manufacturing concern, he feared that the report of Mr. Bulson's charge would injure his usefulness to the corporation he was about to represent. To sue Bulson for slander would merely give wider circulation to the story the fat man had originated.

Ravell Bulson was a traveling man and was not often in Tillbury-that was one good thing. He had a reputation in his home town of Owneyville of being a quarrelsome man, and was not well liked by his neighbors.

Nevertheless a venomous tongue can do a great deal of harm, and a spiteful enemy may sometimes bring about a greater catastrophe than a more powerful adversary.

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