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   Chapter 28 WHAT HAPPENED TO INEZ

Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways By Annie Roe Carr Characters: 7552

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Walter, who had gone downstairs to wait after he had brought the doctor, had a long wait in the cold court at the door of the lodging house in which Jennie Albert lived. A less patient and good-natured boy would have been angry when his sister and her school chums finally appeared.

He was glad that Grace took an interest in anything besides her own pleasure and comfort. His sister, Walter thought, was too much inclined to dodge responsibility and everything unpleasant.

He wanted her to be more like Nan. "But, then," the boy thought, "there's only one Nan Sherwood in the world. Guess I can't expect Grace to run a very close second to her."

However, when the girls did appear Grace was chattering just as excitedly as Bess Harley herself; and she led Inez by the hand.

"Yes, she shall! She'll go right home with me now-sha'n't she, Walter?" Grace cried. "You get a taxi, and we'll all pile in-did you ever ride in a taxi, Inez?"

"Nope. But I caught on behind a jitney once," confessed the little girl, "and a cop bawled me out for it."

"We're going to take her home, and dress her up nice," Bess explained to

Walter, "and give her the time of her life."

Inez seemed a bit dazed. In her own vernacular she would probably have said-had she found her voice-that "things was comin' too fast for her." She scarcely knew what these girls intended to do with her; but she had a good deal of confidence in Nan Sherwood, and she looked back at her frequently.

It was to Nan, too, that Walter looked for directions as to their further movements, as well as for exact information as to what had gone on up stairs in Jennie Albert's room.

"She's an awfully plucky girl," Nan said. "No; she's not very ill now," the doctor said, "but she does have a dreadful cough. However, the doctor has given her medicine.

"It's odd," Nan added thoughtfully, "but she got this cold down at Tillbury. The company she was out with were taking pictures near there. There's a big old mansion called the Coscommon House that hasn't been occupied for years. It's often filmed by movie people; but never in the winter before, that I know of."

"But, Nan!" exclaimed Walter. "What did we come over here for, anyway?

How about those runaway girls?"

"I'm sorry," Nan said, shaking her head; "but we haven't found them. They don't live here, and Jennie doesn't know where they do live."

"Goodness! What elusive creatures they are," grumbled Walter.

"Aren't they!" Bess exclaimed. "Jennie Albert just happened to meet them when they were looking for work, and told them where she lived. So they came around to see her the other day. That Mr. Gray we saw at the studio had just sent for Jennie, and so she told them to go around and see him. Yes! Just think! 'Lola Montague' and 'Marie Fortesque'! Say! Aren't those names the limit?"

But Nan considered the matter too serious to joke about. "I am afraid that Sallie and Celia must be about to their limit," she said. "Poor Mrs. Morton! She said Sallie was stubborn, and she must be, to endure so many disappointments and not give up and go home."

"The sillies!" said Walter. "How about it, kid? Would you run away from a good home, even if it were in the country?"

"Not if the eats came reg'lar and they didn't beat me too much," declared

Inez, repeating her former declaration.

"Well, then, we'll take you where the 'eats' at least come regular," laughed Walter. "Eh, Grace?"

"Of course. Do hurry and get that taxi."

"What do you suppose your mother will say, Grace?" demanded Bess, in sudden doubt, when Walter had departed to telephone for the taxi-cab.

"I know mother will pity the poor little soul," Grace declared. "I'm sure she belongs to enough charitable boards and committees so

that she ought to be delighted that we bring a real 'case,' as she calls them, to her," and Grace laughed at her own conceit.

Nan, however, wondered if, after all, Mrs. Mason would care to take any practical responsibility upon herself regarding the street waif. It was one thing to be theoretically charitable and an entirely different matter to take a case of deserving charity into one's own home.

But that thought did not disturb Nan. She had already planned a future for little Inez. She was determined to take her back to Tillbury and leave Inez with her mother.

"I'm sure," Nan said to herself, "that Momsey will be glad to have a little girl around the house again. And Inez can go to school, and grow to be good and polite. For, goodness knows! she is a little savage now."

Eventually these dreams of Nan for little Inez came true. Just at present, however, much more material things happened to her when they arrived at the Mason house.

Grace and Bess hung over the little girl, and fussed about her, as Walter laughingly said, "like a couple of hens over one chicken."

Nan was glad to see her schoolmates so much interested in the waif. She knew it would do both Grace and Bess good to have their charitable emotions awakened.

As for Mrs. Mason, Nan soon saw that that kindly lady would be both helpful and wise in the affair. Left to their own desires, Grace and Bess would have dressed Inez up like a French doll. But Nan told Mrs. Mason privately just what she hoped to do with the child, and the lady heartily approved.

"A very good thing-very good, indeed, Nan Sherwood," said Mrs. Mason, "if your father and mother approve."

As it chanced, there was a letter from Mrs. Sherwood awaiting Nan when she and her schoolmates arrived with Inez; from it Nan learned that her father would be in Chicago the next day, having been called to a final conference with the heads of the automobile corporation.

"Mr. Bulson is so insistent, and is so ugly," the letter said, "that I fear your dear father will have to go to court. It will be a great expense as well as a notorious affair.

"Fighting an accusation that you cannot disprove is like Don Quixote's old fight with the windmill. There is nothing to be gained in the end. It is a dreadful, dreadful thing."

Nan determined to meet her father and tell him all about Inez. She was sure he would be interested in the waif, and in her plans for Inez's future.

That night, however, at the Mason house, there was much excitement among the young people. Of course the girls got Katie, the maid, to help with Inez. Katie would have done anything for Nan, if not for Grace herself; and although she did not at first quite approve of the street waif, she ended in loving Inez.

In the first place they bathed the child and wrapped her in a soft, fleecy gown of Grace's. Her clothing, every stitch of it, was carried gingerly down to the basement by Katie, and burned.

From the garments Mrs. Harley had sent a complete outfit for the child was selected. They were probably the best garments Inez had ever worn.

"She looks as nice now as me own sister," Katie declared, when, after a deal of fussing and chatting in the girls' suite, the street waif was dressed from top to toe.

"Now ye may take her down to show the mistress; and I belave she will be plazed."

This was a true prophecy. Not only was Mrs. Mason delighted with the changed appearance of Inez, but Mr. Mason approved, too; while Walter considered the metamorphosis quite marvelous.

"Great!" he said. "Get her filled up, and filled out, and her appearance alone will pay you girls for your trouble."

While they talked and joked about her, Inez fell fast asleep with her head pillowed in Nan Sherwood's lap.

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