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   Chapter 13 ADVENTURES IN A GREAT CITY

Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways By Annie Roe Carr Characters: 7110

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"Now! what do you know about this?" Bess Harley demanded, with considerable vexation.

"Of course, it's a mistake-or else that big clock's wrong," declared

Nan Sherwood.

"No fear of a railroad clock's being wrong," said her chum, grumpily. "That old time table was wrong. They're always wrong. No more sense to a time table than there is to a syncopated song. It said we were to arrive in this station three-quarters of an hour ago-and it turns out that it meant an entirely different station and an entirely different train."

Nan laughed rather ruefully. "I guess it is our own fault and not the time table's. But the fact remains that we are in the wrong place, and at the wrong time. Walter and Grace, of course, met that other train and, not finding us, will have gone home, not expecting us till to-morrow."

"Goodness, what a pickle!" Bess complained. "And how will we find the

Mason's house, Nan Sherwood?"

The chums had the number and street of their friends' house, but it occurred to neither of them to go to a telephone booth and call up the house, stating the difficulty they were in. Nor did the girls think of asking at the information bureau, or even questioning one of the uniformed policemen about the huge station.

"Now, of course," Nan said firmly, "some street car must go within walking distance of Grace's house."

"Of course, but which car?" demanded Bess.

"That is the question, isn't it?" laughed Nan.

"One of these taxi-cabs could take us," suggested Bess.

"But they cost so much," objected her friend. "And we can't read those funny clocks they have and the chauffeur could overcharge us all he pleased. Besides," Nan added, "I don't like their looks."

"Looks of what-the taxis?"

"The chauffeurs," responded Nan, promptly.

"We-ell, we've got to go somehow-and trust to somebody," Bess said reflectively. "I wonder should we go to that hotel where we stayed that week with mother? They would take us in I suppose."

"But goodness! why should we be so helpless?" demanded Nan. "I'm sure two boys would start right out and find their way to Grace's."

"Would you dare?" cried Bess.

"Why not? Come on! We don't want to spend all our money in taxi fares. Let's go over there and ask that car man who seems to be bossing the conductors and motormen."

The girls, with their handbags, started across the great square before the station. Almost at once they found themselves in a tangle of vehicular traffic that quite confused Bess, and even troubled the cooler-headed Nan.

"Oh, Nan! I'm scared!" cried her chum, clinging with her free hand to

Nan's arm.

"For pity's sake, don't be foolish!" commanded Nan. "You'll get me excited, too-Oh!"

An automobile swept past, so near the two girls that the step brushed their garments. Bess almost swooned. Nan wished with all her heart that they had not so recklessly left the sidewalk.

Suddenly a shrill voice cried at her elbow: "Hi, greeny! you look out, now, or one of these horses will take a bite out o' you. My! but you're the green goods, for fair."

Nan turned to look, expecting to find a saucy street boy; but the owner of the voice was a girl. She was dirty-faced, undersized, poorly dressed, and ill-nourished. But she was absolutely independent, and stood there in the crowded square with all the assurance of a traffic policeman.

"Come on, greenies," urged this strange little mortal (she could not have been ten years old), "and I'll beau you over the crossing myself. Something'll happen to you if you take

root here."

She carried in a basket on her arm a few tiny bunches of stale violets, each bunch wrapped in waxed paper to keep it from the frost. Nan had seen dozens of these little flower-sellers of both sexes on the street when she had passed through Chicago with her Uncle Henry the winter before.

"Oh, let's go with her," cried the quite subdued Bess. "Do, Nan!"

It seemed rather odd for these two well-dressed and well-grown girls to be convoyed by such a "hop-o'-my-thumb" as the flower-seller. But the latter got Nan and Bess to an "isle of safety" in a hurry, and would then have darted away into the crowd without waiting to be thanked, had not Nan seized the handle of her basket.

"Wait!" she cried. "Don't run away."

"Hey!" said the flower-seller, "I ain't got time to stop and chin-chin. I got these posies to sell."

"Sell us two," Nan commanded. "Wait!"

"Aw right. 'F you say so," said the small girl. "Fifteen a bunch," she added quickly, shrewdly increasing by a nickel the regular price of the stale boutonnières.

Nan opened her purse to pay for both. Bess said, rather timidly: "I should think you would be afraid of getting run over every time you cross the street-you're so little."

"Aw-say!" responded the strange girl, quite offended. "What d'ye think I am-a kid? I live here, I do! I ain't country, and don't know me way 'round."

"Meaning that we are, I suppose?" laughed Nan.

"Well," drawled the girl, "it sticks out all over you. I can tell 'em a block away. An' I bet you're lost and don't know where you're goin'. You two didn't come here to be pitcher actors, did ye?"

"Why-no!" gasped Bess.

Nan was moved to ask. "What put that idea in your head, honey?"

"I guess 'most girls that run away from home nowadays are lookin' to make a hit in the pitchers-ain't they?"

"You ridiculous child, you!" laughed Bess. "We haven't run away."

"No? Well, I thought mebbe youse did," said the flower-seller, grinning impishly. "I see a plenty of 'em comin' off the trains, I do."

"Runaway girls?" cried Nan,

"They don't tell me they have run away. But they are all greenies-just as green as grass," this shrewd child of the street declared.

"Have you seen any girls lately who have come to the city to be picture actresses?" Nan asked with sudden eagerness.

"Yep," was the reply.

"Sure?" cried Bess. "You don't mean it!"

"Yes, I do. Two girls bigger'n you. Le's see-it was last Friday."

"The second day of the big blizzard?" cried Nan.

"That's the very day," agreed Bess. "It's when Sallie and Celia would have got here if they were coming to Chicago."

"Hi!" exclaimed the flower girl. "What's you talkin' about? Who's Sallie and Celia?"

"Girls whom we think came to the city the other day just as you said,"

Nan explained. "They have run away to be moving picture actresses."

"Hi!" exclaimed the flower-seller again. "What sort o' lookin' girls?"

"Why-I don't know exactly," confessed Nan. "Do we, Bess? Mrs. Morton said Sallie took with her those photographs that were taken while the girls were playing as extras in 'A Rural Beauty.'"

"That's it!" suddenly interrupted the flower-girl. "I bet I seen those two. They didn't call each other 'Sallie' and 'Celia'; but they had some fancy names-I forgot what."

"Oh! are you sure?" cried Bess.

"They had them photographs just like you say. They showed 'em to me. You see," said the little girl, "I showed 'em where they could eat cheap, and they told me how they was going to join a movie company."

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