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Hour of Enchantment / A Mystery Story for Girls By Roy J. Snell Characters: 6496

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

"Of course, when I sail away on that glorious yachting party, you'll come here to live." That Lorena LeMar, Jeanne's double, spoke in a matter-of-fact tone made no difference. Jeanne's heart fluttered.

"Here!" she managed to gasp as her eyes swept the spacious hotel apartment with its glimmer of silver and gold, silk and satin. "Here? I couldn't!"

"Oh, but you must!" In Lorena LeMar's tone there was a note of finality. "You couldn't well live anywhere else. This is the apartment of Lorena LeMar. Every one knows that. This is my address. They call me on the phone here, my company, my friends, my-"

"Your friends!" Jeanne gasped afresh. "Am I to be Lorena LeMar to your friends also? How-how very impossible!"

Jeanne's head was in a wild whirl. For three days she had haunted the steps of her double, Lorena LeMar. They had been obliged to show great caution. Never had they been where others might see them together. This would have proved fatal to their plans. Nevertheless in out-of-the-way places and in this, Lorena LeMar's apartment, Jeanne had been privileged to study her famous double until, as she expressed it to Florence, "already I am no more Petite Jeanne, but altogether Lorena LeMar."

Never until this moment had it occurred to her that if she were to carry off her part she must abandon the shabby comfort of her rooms with Florence and come here to live, nor that Lorena LeMar's friends must for two weeks be her friends.

"How does Lorena LeMar live?" she asked herself with a sinking heart. "And what do those friends expect of her?"

Little need to ask. Already she knew all too well. Lorena LeMar was an American, city-bred girl, no better and no worse than the average. Slender, vivacious, frank, quite lovable, she lived as those others live. There were dances, late parties, jazz and everything that went with it. Jeanne knew very little of this type of life.

"Your-your friends-" she stammered again.

"Oh, well, as to that-" Lorena LeMar shrugged her shoulders. "Shake 'em, every one of them. Tell them that Lorena LeMar, meaning you, is doing a picture, a vastly important picture, going to make you famous and all that. Tell 'em you are in mourning or something like that, no parties, no nothing until this picture is made."

"I-I see," Jeanne replied.

"And that," she thought aside, "is perhaps more true than you think."

Once again her gaze swept the room. Could she do it, live like an American queen for two weeks?

Costly paintings were on the walls, the sort she loved. Inch-deep Oriental rugs were on the floor. Against the broad wall was a great friendly hearth where a real wood fire burned. Heavy draperies were everywhere.

"Those Oriental embroideries, threads of silver and gold," she thought suddenly. "How they would fit in here!

"But no! No! It must never be! I-"

"If you'll step in here for a moment," the movie queen threw open a door, "I will show you my wardrobe."

"It's rather poor," she apologised. "Some good things, though."

Jeanne found herself in a sleeping chamber. The opening of a second door revealed row upon row of coats and gowns. Here squirrel, mink and ermine vied with silk and satin.

"Oh!" she breathed. "Oo, la la!"

"Of co

urse," once again Lorena LeMar's tone was matter-of-fact, "while you are Lorena LeMar you will wear these. Nothing will go so far toward perfecting your disguise."

This time Jeanne had no word to offer. She was trying in vain to picture herself, Petite Jeanne-the little French girl who for many months had traveled with gypsies, dancing with a bear-living in this apartment and wearing these clothes.

It was true that for the better part of a year she had been considered rich. But, in France, to be rich is to be thrifty. Her people were all that. She had fallen into their way of thinking. Few garments had been added to her wardrobe.

"And now this!" she thought. "Ah, well, I am to be a queen, a queen of the movies for two weeks."

She went skipping away across the floor in one of her wild gypsy dances.

Lorena LeMar caught her in her arms as she came dancing back. "Then you will do it? You dearest of all creatures!"

"How could I resist it?"

And yet, left alone in the midst of all this splendor while her double went on a shopping tour to secure sports clothes for her yachting trip, the little French girl was all but overcome with misgivings. It is one thing to appear on a movie lot each day and say certain words, go through certain gestures that have been learned and rehearsed; but quite another to live as your double has lived, among acquaintances, associates, friends off stage, from morning till night.

"I shall become a bookworm," she assured herself. "When I am not rehearsing or playing a part I shall be right here curled up reading a book."

But could she? Would Lorena LeMar's friends permit it? What did those friends expect?

"Ah, well, time will tell," she sighed.

"And besides, there is that so beautiful story, the movie story of mountain life, life of Lincoln's own country, where he was born. One cannot forget, one must not forget!

"When the dogwood is in bloom," she murmured. "If only I can do it! If only I can!

"Ah, well," she consoled herself, "Lorena LeMar belongs in California. All her friends are there, or nearly all. They must be."

That she was mistaken in this, she was to know, and that almost at once. As she left the hotel elevator on the way home, a hand touched her arm. She turned about to find herself looking into a pair of smiling eyes.

"I'm Jerry," the boy was saying. "You remember me, don't you, Miss LeMar? Could I-"

For a second Jeanne's head spun, then she found her senses and her ready French tongue.

"No, no, Jerry! No dates! I'm out on the lot, doing a picture, you know. It-it's dreadfully important. Sorry, Jerry. Good-bye."

"There now," she whispered to herself as she leaped into a taxi, "I got away with it."

For all that, a sinking feeling lurked around the pit of her stomach. "This," she was thinking, quite against her will, "is but the beginning. Miss LeMar has many friends and more admirers. Not all of these will be as smiling and as kind as this Jerry.

"Oh, well," she reassured herself, "Florence shall be my bodyguard. She'll throw them from the window." She smiled a merry smile.

But Florence was working. Long hours every day she was on the Enchanted Island. And just there came the blow to Jeanne's plans.

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