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Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways By Annie Roe Carr Characters: 9936

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Nan did not forget Inez, the flower-girl, nor the fact that the runaways-Sallie Morton and Celia Snubbins-might still be traced through Mother Beasley's cheap lodging house.

Both Walter and Grace Mason had been interested, as well as amused, in the chum's account of their first adventure in Chicago. The brother and sister who lived so far away from the squalor of Mother Beasley's and who knew nothing of the toil and shifts of the flower-seller's existence, were deeply moved by the recital of what Nan and Bess had observed.

"That poor little thing!" Grace said. "On the street in all weathers to sell posies-and for a drunken woman. Isn't it awful? Something should be done about it. I'll tell father."

"And he'd report the case to the Society," said her brother, promptly.

"Father believes all charity should be done through organizations.

'Organized effort' is his hobby," added Walter, ruefully. "He says I lack

proper appreciation of its value."

"But if he told the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children about Inez, they would take her and put her in some institution," objected Nan.

"And put a uniform on her like a prisoner," cried Bess. "And make her obey rules like-like us boarding school girls. Oh, dear!"

The others laughed at that.

"Oh, you girls!" said Walter. "To hear you talk, one would think you were hounded like slaves at Lakeview Hall. You should have such a strict teacher as my tutor, for instance. He's the fellow for driving one. He says he'll have me ready for college in two years; but if he does, I know I shall feel as stuffed as a Strasburg goose."

"This learning so much that one will be glad to forget when one grows up," sighed Bess, "is an awful waste of time."

"Why, Bess!" cried Grace Mason, "don't you ever expect to read or write or spell or cipher when you grow up?"

"No more than I can help," declared the reckless Elizabeth.

"And yet you've always talked about our going to college together," said

Nan, laughing at her chum.

"But college girls never have to use what they learn-except fudge-making and dancing, and-and-well, the things that aren't supposed to be in the curriculum," declared Bess.

"Treason! treason!" said Nan. "How dare you, Elizabeth? Pray what do girls go through college for?"

"To fit themselves for the marriage state," declared Bess. "My mother went to college and she says that every girl in her graduating class was married inside of five years-even the homely ones. You see, the homely ones make such perfectly splendid professors' wives. There's even a chance for Procrastination Boggs, you see."

"You ridiculous girl!" Nan said. "Come on! Who's going down town with me? I can find my way around now, for I have studied a map of Chicago and I can go by the most direct route to Mother Beasley's."

"And find that cunning little Inez, too?" asked Grace.

"Yes. If I want to. But to-day I want to go to see if Sallie and Celia went back to Mrs. Beasley's. I heard from Sallie's mother by this morning's post, and the poor woman is dreadfully worked up about the runaways. Mrs. Morton had a bad dream about Sallie, and the poor woman believes in dreams."

"She does!" exclaimed Grace. "I suppose she looks at a dream book every morning to see what each dream means. How funny!"

"Goodness!" cried Bess. "Come to think of it, I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamed that I saw myself in the looking-glass and my reflection stepped right out and began to talk to me. We sat down and talked. It was so funny-just as though I were twins."

"What an imagination!" exclaimed Walter. "You don't lack anything in that particular, for sure."

"Well," declared Bess, "I want to know what it means."

"I can make a pretty close guess," said Nan, shrewdly.

"'Vell, vas ist?' as our good Frau Deuseldorf says when she gets impatient with our slowness in acquiring her beloved German."

"It means," declared Nan, "that a combination of French pancake with peach marmalade, on top of chicken salad and mayonnaise, is not conducive to dreamless slumber. If you dreamt you met yourself on Grand Avenue parading at the head of a procession of Elizabeth Harleys, after such a dinner as you ate last night, I shouldn't be surprised."

"Carping critic!" exclaimed Bess, pouting. "Do let me eat what I like while I'm here. When we get back to Lakeview Hall you know Mrs. Cupp will want to put us all on half rations to counteract our holiday eating. I heard her bemoaning the fact to Dr. Beulah that we would come back with our stomachs so full that we would be unable to study for a fortnight."

"My! she is a Tartar, isn't she?" was Walter's comment.

"Oh, you don't know what we girls have to go through with at the

Hall-what trials and privations," said his sister, feelingly.

"I can see it's making you thin, Sis," scoffed the boy. "And how about all those midnight suppers, and candy sprees, and the like?"

"Mercy!" exclaimed Bess. "If it were not for those extras we should all starve to death. There! we've missed that jitney. We'll have to wait for another."

The girls and their escort got safely to the shabby street in which Mother Beasley kept her eating and lodging house; but they obtained no new information regarding the runaway girls who had spent their first night in Chicago with the poor, but good-hearted widow.

Nor did they find Inez in her accustomed haunts near the railroad station; and it was too late that day to hunt the little flower-seller's lodging, for Inez lived in an entirely different part of the town.

"Rather a fruitless chase," Walter said, as they walked from the car on which they had returned. "What are you going to do about those runaway girls, now?"

"I don't know-oh! stop a moment!" Nan suddenly cried. "What's that over there?"

"A picture palace; goodness knows they're common enough," said Bess.

"But see what the sign says. Look, girls! Look, Walter!" and Nan excitedly pointed out the sheet hung above the arched entrance of the playhouse. "'A Rural Beauty'!" she cried. "That's the very picture those two girls took part in. It's been released."

"We must see it," Bess cried. "I'm just crazy to see how Sallie and Celia look on the screen."

"Why! you never saw them. Do you think they will be labeled?" scoffed Walter.

"Oh, we saw a photograph of Sallie; and if Celia looks anything like Mr. Si Snubbins, we can't mistake her," laughed Bess. "Let's run over and go in."

"No," Grace objected. "Mother never lets us go to a picture show without asking her permission first."

"No? Not even when Walter is with you?" asked Bess.

"No. She wishes to know just what kind of picture I am going to see. She belongs to a club that tries to make the picture-play people in this neighborhood show only nice films. She says they're not all to be trusted to do so."

"I guess this 'Rural Beauty' is a good enough picture," Nan said; "but of course we'll ask your mother's permission before we go in."

"There it is," groaned Bess. "Got to ask permission to breathe, I expect, pretty soon."

But she was glad, afterward, that they did ask Mrs. Mason. That careful lady telephoned the committee of her club having the censorship of picture plays in charge, and obtained its report upon "A Rural Beauty." Then she sent Walter to the playhouse to buy a block of seats for that evening, and over the telephone a dozen other boys and girls-friends of Grace and Walter-were invited to join the party.

They had a fine time, although the chums from Tillbury had not an opportunity of meeting all of the invited guests before the show.

"But they are all going home with us for supper-just like a grown-up theatre party," confided Grace to Nan and Bess.

"Pearl Graves telephoned that she would be a little late and would have to bring her cousin with her. Mother told her to come along, cousin and all, of course."

Nan and Bess, with a couple of friends of the Masons' whom they had already met, sat in the front row of the block of seats reserved for the party, and did not see the others when they entered the darkened house.

Several short reels were run off before the first scene of "A Rural Beauty" was shown. It was a very amusing picture, being full of country types and characters, with a sweet little love story that pleased the girls, and some quite adventurous happenings that made a hit with Walter, as he admitted.

Sallie Morton and Celia Snubbins were in the picture and the chums easily picked the runaways out on the screen. Sallie was a pretty girl, despite the fault her father had pointed out-that she was long-limbed. Nan and Bess knew Celia Snubbins because she did look like her father.

The two girls had been used in the comedy scene of "A Rural Beauty" as contrasts to the leading lady in the play, who was made up most strikingly as the beautiful milkmaid who captured the honest young farmer in the end.

There was a buzz of excitement among the Masons and those of their friends who had heard about the runaways over the appearance of Sallie and Celia when they came on the screen. As the party reached the lobby after the end of the last reel, Walter expressed his opinion emphatically regarding the runaway girls.

"I declare! I think those two girls awfully foolish to run away from home if they couldn't do anything more in a picture than they did in that one."

Nan was about to make some rejoinder, for Walter was walking beside her, when somebody said, back of them:

"Why, you must know those girls ahead. They go to Lakeview Hall with

Gracie Mason."

"Goodness! they are not staying with Grace and Walter, are they?" demanded a shrill and well remembered voice. "Why, I saw Nan Sherwood in trouble in one of the big stores the other day, for taking something from one of the counters."

Nan turned, horrified. The speaker was Linda Riggs.

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