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   Chapter 24 OTHER PEOPLE'S WORRIES

Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways By Annie Roe Carr Characters: 11370

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Nan had written home quite fully about the presentation of the medal. It was the first her father and mother had known of the courage she had displayed so many weeks before in saving the life of the tiny girl at the Junction.

The fact that some of her fellow passengers had seen the act and considered it worthy of commemoration, of course, pleased Mr. and Mrs. Sherwood; but that Nan had been in peril herself on the occasion, naturally worried her mother.

"I hope you will not go about seeking other adventures, my dear child," wrote her mother, with gentle raillery. "What with your announcement of the presentation of the medal, and Mrs. Mason's enthusiastic letter, your father and I begin to believe that we have a kind of female knight errant for a daughter. I am afraid we never shall get our little Nan back again."

Nan did not really need any bubble of self-importance pricked in this way. She was humbly thankful to have been able to save the little girl from the snake, and that the horrid creature had not harmed her, either.

She had hidden the medal away, and would not display it or talk about it. The thought that her name and her exploit were on the Roll of Honor of the National Society actually made Nan's ears burn.

She had other worries during these brief winter days-mostly other people's worries, however. The absolute disappearance of Inez was one; another was the whereabouts of the two runaway girls, Sallie and Celia, who should by this time have discovered that they were not destined to be great motion picture actresses.

Nan had come away from the apartment of her friend, "the Moving Picture Queen," as Walter called her, that afternoon, with the address of the studio and a letter to Madam's assistant, Mr. Gray. The next morning, she and Bess went to the studio to make inquiries about the runaway girls. They went alone because Grace had much to do before returning to school; and now their day of departure for Lakeview was close at hand.

"And oh! how I hate to go back to those horrid studies again," groaned Bess.

Nan laughed. "What a ridiculous girl you are, Bess Harley," she said.

"You were just crazy to go to Lakeview in the first place."

"Yes! wasn't I?" interposed Bess, gloomily. "But I didn't know I was crazy."

When once the chums came to the motion picture studio they had no thought for anything but their errand and the interesting things they saw on every side. At a high grilled gate a man let them into the courtyard after a glance at the outside of the letter Nan carried.

"You'll find Mr. Gray inside somewhere," said the gatekeeper. "You'll have to look for him."

Nan and Bess were timid, and they hesitated for some moments in the paved yard, uncertain which of the several doors to enter. They saw a number of girls and men enter through the gate as they had, and watched the men hurry to one door, and the women and girls to another.

"Lets follow those girls," suggested Bess, as a chattering trio went into the building. "We can't go far wrong, for the sheep and the goats seem to be separated," and she giggled.

"Meaning the men from the women?" said Nan. "I guess those doors lead to the dressing rooms."

She was right in this, for when the two friends stepped doubtfully into a long, high, white-plastered passage, which was quite empty, but out of which many doors opened, they heard a confusion of conversation and laughter from somewhere near.

"What are you going to do?" asked Bess, at once-and as usual-shifting all responsibility to her chum's shoulders. "Knock at all the doors, one after the other, until we find somebody who will direct us further?"

"Maybe that would not be a bad idea, Bess," Nan returned. "But-"

Just then a door opened and the confusion of voices burst on the visitors' ears with startling directness. A girl, dressed as a Gypsy, gaudy of raiment and bejeweled with brilliantly colored glass beads, almost ran the chums down as she tried to pull the door to behind her. The girl's face was painted with heavy shadows and much white, and so oddly that it looked almost like the make-up for a clown's part.

"Hello, kids. Going in here?" she asked pleasantly enough, refraining from closing the door entirely.

Nan and Bess obtained a good view of the noisy room. It was lighted by high windows and a skylight. There were rows of lockers for the girls' clothes along the blank wall of the room. Through the middle and along the sides were long tables and stools. The tables were divided into sections, each of which had its own make-up and toilet outfit.

A mature woman was going about, re-touching many of the girl's faces and scolding them, as Nan and Bess could hear, for not putting on the grease paint thick enough.

"That nasty stuff!" gasped Bess, in Nan's ear. "I wouldn't want to put it on my face."

Right then and there Bess lost all her desire for posing for the moving picture screen. Nan paid little attention to her, but ran after the girl who was hurrying through the passage toward the rear of the great building.

"Oh, wait, please!" cried Nan. "I want to find Mr. Gray-and I know he can't be in that dressing-room."

"Gray? I should say not," and the girl in costume laughed. Then she saw the letter in Nan's hand. "Is that for Gray?"

"Yes," Nan replied.

"Come along then. I expect he's been waiting for me for half an hour now-and believe me, he's just as kind and considerate as a wild bull when we keep him waiting. I overslept this morning."

It was then after ten o'clock, and Nan wondered how one could "oversleep" so late.

"I'm only glad Madam isn't going to be here this morning. By th

e way," the girl added, curiously, "who's your letter from? You and your friend trying to break into the movies?"

"My goodness, no!" gasped Nan. "I have no desire to act-and I'm sure I have no ability."

"It might be fun," Bess said doubtfully. "But do you all have to paint up so awfully?"

"Yes. That's so we will look right on the screen. Here! that's Gray-the bald-headed man in the brown suit. I hope you have better luck than two girls from the country who were in here for a couple of days. Gray bounced them yesterday. Who's your letter from?" added the girl, evidently disbelieving what both Nan and Bess had said when they denied haying any desire to pose for the screen.

"Madam, herself," said Nan, demurely. "Do you think Mr. Gray will give me a hearing?"

"Well, I guess yes," cried the girl in costume. "Oh, do give it to him just as he starts in laying me out, will you?"

"Anything to oblige," Nan said, smiling. "Can we go right over and speak to him?"

"After me," whispered the girl. "Don't get into any of the 'sets,' or you'll get a call-down, too."

They had entered an enormous room, half circular in shape, with the roof and the "flat" side mostly glass. There were countless screens to graduate the light, and that light was all directed toward the several small, slightly raised stages, built in rotation along the curved wall of the studio.

Each of these stages had its own "set" of scenery and was arranged for scenes. On two, action of scenes was taking place while the energetic directors were endeavoring to get out of their people the pantomimic representation of the scenario each had in charge.

One director suddenly clapped his hands and shouted.

"Get this, John! All ready! You dude and cowboy start that scene now. Be sure you run on at the right cue, Miss Legget. Now, John! Ready boys?"

The representation of a tussle between a cowboy and an exquisitely dressed Eastern youth, in which comedy bit the so-called dude disarmed the Westerner and drove him into a corner till his sweetheart bursts in to protect him from the "wild Easterner," went to a glorious finish.

The camera clicked steadily, the man working it occasionally calling out the number of feet of blank film left on the spool so that the director might know whether to hasten or retard the action of the picture.

Nan and Bess stopped, as they were warned by the girl dressed in Gypsy costume, and watched the proceedings eagerly. Just as the scene came to an end the bald man in the brown suit strode over to the three girls.

"What do you mean by keeping me waiting, Miss Penny?" he demanded in a tone that made Bess shrink away and tremble. "Your scene has been set an hour. I want-Humph! what do these girls want? Did you bring them in?"

Miss Penny poked Nan sharply in the ribs with her elbow. "Show him the letter," she whispered. Adding aloud: "Oh, I brought them in, Mr. Gray. That's what delayed me. When I saw they had a letter for you-"

"For me?" snorted the director, and took doubtfully enough the epistle Nan held out to him. But when he sighted the superscription he tore it open with an exclamation of impatient surprise.

"Now, what does Madam want?" he muttered, and those few words revealed to Nan Sherwood what she had suspected to be the fact about the director-that she was a very exacting task-mistress.

Miss Penny, nodding slily to Nan and Bess, slipped away to the stage on which the Gypsy camp was set, and around which several men in brigandish looking costumes were lounging.

"What's this you young ladies want of me?" asked the director, rather puzzled, it seemed, after reading the note. "All she writes is to recommend Miss Sherwood to my attention and then includes a lot of instructions for to-morrow's work." He smiled sourly. "She is not explicit. Do you want work?"

"Oh, mercy me! no!" cried Nan.

"I should say not!" murmured Bess.

The director's worried, querulous face showed relief. He listened attentively while Nan explained about the runaways. She likewise repeated the actress' version of the discharging of the girls whom she had afterward identified as the two for whom Nan and Bess were in search.

"Yes, yes! I remember. And Madam was quite right in that instance," grudgingly admitted the director. He drew a notebook from his pocket and fluttered the leaves. "Yes. Here are their names crossed off my list. 'Lola Montague' and 'Marie Fortesque.' I fancy," said Mr. Gray, chuckling, "they expected to see those names on the bills."

"But, oh, Mr. Gray!" cried Nan Sherwood, feeling in no mood for laughing at silly Sallie Morton and Celia Snubbins. "Don't you know where they live-those two poor girls?"

"Why-no. They were extras and we get plenty of such people," said the

director, carelessly. "Now, the girl who sent them is as daring a girl as

I ever saw. I'm sorry she's hurt, or sick, or something, for although

Jenny Albert has little 'film charm,' as we call it, she is useful-

"There!" suddenly broke off Mr. Gray. "You might try Jenny's address. She sent those girls here. She probably knows where they live."

He hastily wrote down the street and number on a card and handed it to

Nan. "Sorry. That's the best I can do for you, Miss Sherwood."

He turned away, taking up his own particular worries again.

"And, goodness me, Nan!" sighed Bess, as they went out of the cluttered studio, back through the passage, and so into the courtyard and the street again. "Goodness me! I think we have the greatest lot of other people's worries on our shoulders that I ever heard of. We seem to collect other folk's troubles. How do we manage it?"

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