Part 3 out of 4
LONG TO BE REMEMBERED
There were lights and music and flowers all about the big reception
rooms, and a number of ladies and gentlemen were present besides the
committee that had brought the medal for Nan. This was no time to retail
such gossip as Linda Riggs had brought to her ears, and Miss Hagford, the
governess, did not take her employer into her confidence at that time.
Besides, Nan was suddenly made the heroine of the hour.
If she had felt like running away as the party of young people returned
to the Mason house from the moving picture show, Nan was more than
desirous of escape now. The situation was doubly embarrassing after Linda
Riggs' cruel accusation; for Nan had the feeling that some, at least, of
these strange girls and boys must believe Linda's words true.
Nan knew that, all the way from the picture show, Linda had been eagerly
giving her version of the difficulties that had risen between them since
she and Nan had first met on the train going to Lakeview Hall. These
incidents are fully detailed in the previous volume of this series, "Nan
Sherwood at Lakeview Hall," as likewise is the incident which resulted in
the presentation to Nan of the medal for bravery.
The ladies and gentlemen who had made it their business to obtain this
recognition of a very courageous act, had traced the modest schoolgirl by
the aid of Mr. Carter, the conductor of the train on which Nan and Bess
had been so recently snow-bound.
The committee were very thoughtful. They saw that the girl was greatly
embarrassed, and the presentation speech was made very brief. But Mrs.
Mason, with overflowing kindness, had arranged for a gala occasion. A
long table was set in the big dining room, and the grown folk as well as
the young people gathered around the board.
The ill-breeding of Linda Riggs, and her attempt to hurt Nan's
reputation in the eyes of the Masons' friends, were both smothered under
the general jollity and good feeling. Afterward Bess Harley declared
that Linda must have fairly "stewed in her own venom." Nobody paid any
attention to Linda, her own cousin scarcely speaking to her. Only once
did the railroad magnate's daughter have an opportunity of showing her
This was when the beautiful gold medal was being passed around the
table for the inspection of the company individually. It came in the
course of events, to Linda. She took the medal carelessly and turned it
over on her palm.
"Oh, indeed--very pretty, I am sure. And, of course, useful," she
murmured. "I have been told that most of these medals finally find their
way to the pawnshops."
This speech made Mrs. Mason, who heard it, look curiously at Linda; the
girls about her were silent--indeed, nobody made any rejoinder. It caused
Mrs. Mason, however, to make some inquiries of Miss Hagford, and later of
Grace and Bess.
The young folk danced for an hour to the music of a big disc machine. The
committee of presentation had bidden Nan good-bye, and thanked Mrs. Mason
for her hospitality. The party was breaking up.
Mrs. Mason called the young people together when the wraps of those who
were leaving were already on.
"One last word, boys and girls, before we separate," the lady said
softly, her arm around Nan, by whom she seemed to stand quite by chance.
"I hope you have all had a pleasant time. If we cultivate a happy spirit
we will always find pleasure wherever we go. Remember that.
"Criticism and back-biting in any social gathering breed unhappiness and
discontent. And we should all be particularly careful how we speak of or
to one another. I understand that there was one incident to mar this
otherwise perfect evening. One girl was unkind enough to try to hurt the
feelings of another by a statement of unmistakable falsehood."
Mrs. Mason's voice suddenly became stern. She was careful to avert her
gaze from Linda Riggs' direction; but they all knew to whom she referred.
"I speak of this, boys and girls, for a single reason," the lady pursued.
"For fear some of you may go home with any idea in your minds that the
accusation against the girl vilified or against her father is in any
particular true, I want you to tell your parents that _I_ stand sponsor
for both our dear Nan and her father. Neither could be guilty of taking
that which was not his.
"Now, good-night all! I hope you have had a lovely time. I am sure this
night will long be remembered by our Nan!"
The boys, led by Walter, broke into a hearty cheer for Nan Sherwood.
Every girl save Linda came to kiss her good-night. Her triumph seemed
Yet the first mail in the morning brought a letter which dealt a
staggering blow to Nan's Castle of Delight. Her mother wrote in haste to
say that Mr. Ravell Bulson had been to the automobile manufacturers with
whom Mr. Sherwood had a tentative contract, and had threatened to sue Mr.
Sherwood if he did not return to him, Bulson, his lost watch and chain
and roll of bankbills, amounting to several hundred dollars.
The automobile manufacturers had served notice on Mr. Sherwood that
they would delay the signing of any final contract until Bulson's
accusation was refuted. Almost all of Mrs. Sherwood's ready money,
received through the Scotch courts, had been invested in the new
automobile showroom and garage.
WHAT HAS BECOME OF INEZ?
Nan could not bring herself to speak of the sudden turn her father's
difficulties had taken. She had long-since learned that family affairs
were not to be discussed out of the family circle.
It was bad enough, so she thought, to have Tillbury and Owneyville people
discussing the accusation of Ravell Bulson, without telling all the
trouble to her friends here in Chicago. Enough had been said on the
previous evening, Nan thought, about the matter. She hid this new phase
of it even from her chum.
It was Bess who suggested their activities for this day. She wanted to do
something for Inez, the flower-girl, in whom usually thoughtless Bess had
taken a great interest. She had written to her mother at once about the
poor little street arab, and Mrs. Harley had sent by express a great
bundle of cast-off dresses outgrown by Bess' younger sisters, that easily
could be made to fit Inez.
Mrs. Mason had shoes and stockings and hats that might help in the
fitting out of the flower-seller; and she suggested that the child be
brought to the house that her own sewing maid might make such changes in
the garments as would be necessary to make them of use for Inez.
"Not that the poor little thing is at all particular, I suppose, about
her clothes," Bess remarked. "I don't imagine she ever wore a garment
that really fitted her, or was made for her. Her shoes weren't mates--I
saw that the other day, didn't you, Nan?"
"I saw that they were broken," Nan agreed, with a sigh. "Poor
"And although fashion allows all kinds of hats this season, I am very
sure that straw of hers had seen hard service for twelve months or more,"
Walter, hearing the number and street of Inez's lodging, insisted upon
accompanying the chums on their errand. Grace did not go. She frankly
admitted that such squalid places as Mother Beasley's were insufferable;
and where Inez lived might be worse.
"I'm just as sorry for such people as I can be and I'd like to help them
all," Grace said. "But it makes me actually ill to go near them. How
mother can delve as she does in the very slums--well, I can't do it!
Walter is like mother; he doesn't mind."
"I guess you're like your father," said Bess. "He believes in putting
poor people into jails, otherwise institutions, instead of giving them a
chance to make good where they are. And there aren't enough institutions
for them all. I never supposed there were so many poor people in this
whole world as we have seen in Chicago.
"I used to just detest the word 'poor'--Nan'll tell you," confessed Bess.
"I guess being with Nan has kind of awakened me to 'our duties,' as Mrs.
Cupp would say," and she laughed.
"Oh!" cried Grace. "I'd do for them, if I could. But I don't even know
how to talk to them. Sick babies make me feel so sorry I want to cry, and
old women who smell of gin and want to sell iron-holders really scare me.
Oh, dear! I guess I'm an awful coward!"
Nan laughed. "What are you going to do with that crisp dollar bill I saw
your father tuck into your hand at breakfast, Gracie?" she asked.
"Oh, I don't know. I hadn't thought. Papa is always so thoughtful. He
knows I just _can't_ make ends meet on my fortnightly allowance."
"But you don't absolutely need the dollar?"
"Then give it to us. We'll spend it for something nice with which to
treat those kid cousins that Inez told us about."
"Good idea," announced Walter. "It won't hurt you to give it to
"All right," sighed Grace. "If you really all say so. But there is such a
pretty tie down the street at Libby's."
"And you've a million ties, more or less," declared Bess. "Of
course we'll take it from her, Walter. Come on, now! I'm ready."
Under Walter's piloting the chums reached the street and number Inez had
given Nan. It was a cheap and dirty tenement house. A woman told them to
go up one flight and knock on the first door at the rear on that landing.
They did this, Walter insisting upon keeping near the girls. A red-faced,
bare-armed woman, blowsy and smelling strongly of soapsuds, came to the
door and jerked it open.
"Well?" she demanded, in a loud voice.
Bess was immediately tongue-tied; so Nan asked:
"Is Inez at home?"
"And who be you that wants Inez--the little bothersome tyke that she is?"
"We are two of her friends," Nan explained briefly. It was plain that
the woman was not in a good temper, and Nan was quite sure she had
"And plenty of fine friends she has," broke out the woman, complainingly.
"While I'm that poor and overrun with children, that I kin scarce get
bite nor sup for 'em. And she'll go and spend her money on cakes and
ice-cream because it's my Mamie's birthday, instead of bringing it all
home, as I told her she should! The little tyke! I'll l'arn her!"
"I am sorry if Inez has disobeyed you," said Nan, breaking in on what
seemed to promise to be an unending complaint. "Isn't she here--or can
you tell us where to find her?"
"I'll say 'no' to them two questions immediate!" exclaimed the woman,
crossly. "I beat her as she deserved, and took away the money she had
saved back to buy more flowers with; and I put her basket in the stove."
"Oh!" gasped Bess.
"And what is it to _you_, Miss?" demanded the woman, threateningly.
"It was cruel to beat her," declared Bess, bravely, but unwisely.
"Is that so? is that so?" cried the virago, advancing on Bess with the
evident purpose of using her broad, parboiled palm on the visitor, just
as she would use it on one of her own children. "I'll l'arn ye not to
come here with your impudence!"
But Walter stepped in her way, covering Bess' frightened retreat. Walter
was a good-sized boy.
"Hold on," he said, good-naturedly. "We won't quarrel about it. Just tell
us where the child is to be found."
"I ain't seen her for four days and nights, that I haven't," declared
That was all there was to be got out of her. Nan and her friends went
away, much troubled. They went again to Mother Beasley's to inquire, with
like result. When they told that kind but careworn woman what the child's
aunt had said, she shook her head and spoke lugubriously.
"She was probably drunk when she treated the child so. If she destroyed
Inez basket and used the money Inez always saved back to buy a new supply
of bouquets, she fair put the poor thing out o' business."
"Oh, dear!" said Nan. "And we can't find her on the square."
"Poor thing! I wisht she had come here for a bite--I do. I'd have trusted
her for a meal of vittles."
"I am sure you would, Mrs. Beasley," Nan said, and she and her friends
went away very much worried over the disappearance of Inez, the
JUST TOO LATE
Walter Mason was not only an accommodating escort; he was very much
interested in the search for Inez. Even Bess, who seldom admitted the
necessity for boys at any time in her scheme of life, admitted on this
occasion that she was glad Walter was present.
"That woman, poor little Inez's aunt, would have slapped my face, I
guess," she admitted. "Isn't it mean of her to speak so of the child?
And she had beaten her! I don't see how you had the courage to face
"I should give him my medal," chuckled Nan. "Where now, Walter?"
"To see that officer," declared the boy.
The trio were again on the square where Inez had told Nan she almost
always sold her flowers. Walter came back in a few moments from his
interview with the police officer.
"Nothing doing," he reported. "The man says he hasn't seen her for
several days, and she was always here."
"I suppose he knows whom we mean?" worried Bess.
"Couldn't be any mistake about that," Walter said. "He is afraid
she is sick."
"I'm not," Nan said promptly. "It is just as Mrs. Beasley says. If her
aunt took Inez's basket and money away, she is out of business. She's
lost her capital. I only hope she is not hungry, poor thing."
"Dear, dear!" joined in Bess. "If she only knew how to come to us! She
must know we'd help her."
"She knows where we are staying," Nan said. "Don't you remember I showed
her Walter's card?"
"Then why hasn't she been to see us?" cried Bess.
"I guess there are several reasons for that," said sensible Nan.
"Well! I'd like to know what they are," cried her chum. "Surely, she
could find her way."
"Oh, yes. Perhaps she didn't want to come. Perhaps she is too proud to
beg of us--just beg _money_, I mean. She is an independent little thing."
"Oh, I know that," admitted Bess.
"But more than likely," Nan pursued, "her reason for not trying to see us
was that she was afraid she would not be admitted to the house."
"My gracious!" exclaimed Walter. "I never thought of that."
"Just consider what would happen to a ragged and dirty little child who
mounted your steps--even suppose she got that far," Nan said.
"What would happen to her?" demanded the wondering Bess, while Walter
"If she got into the street at all (there is always a policeman on fixed
post at the corner) one of the men at the house, the butler or the
footman, would drive her away.
"You notice that beggars never come through that street. They are a
nuisance and wealthy people don't want to see people in rags about
their doorsteps. Even the most charitable people are that way, I
guess," added Nan.
"Your mother is so generous, Walter, that if beggars had free access to
the street and the house, she could never go out of an afternoon without
having to push her way through a throng of the poor and diseased to reach
"Oh, mercy!" cried Bess.
"I guess that is so," admitted Walter. "You've got mother sized up
"I know it's so," said Nan, quickly. "Do you know, I think your mother,
Walter, would have made a good chatelaine of a castle in medieval times.
Then charitably inclined ladies were besieged by the poor and miserable
at their castle gates. The good lady gave them largess as she stepped
into her chariot. Their servants threw silver pennies at a distance so
that the unfortunates would scramble for the coins and leave a free
passage for miladi.
"In those days," pursued Nan, quite in earnest, "great plagues used to
destroy a large portion of the population--sweeping through the castles
of the rich as well as the hovels of the poor. That was because the
beggars hung so upon the skirts of the rich. Wealth paid for its
cruelty to poverty in those days, by suffering epidemics of disease
with the poor."
"Goodness, Nan! I never thought of that," said Walter. "What a
girl you are."
"She reads everything," said Bess, proudly; "even statistics."
Nan laughed heartily. "I did not get _that_ out of a book of statistics,
Bess. But that is why we have so many hospitals and institutions for
housing poor and ill people. Society has had to make these provisions for
the poor, to protect itself."
"Now you sound like a regular socialist or anarchist or something," said
Bess, somewhat vaguely.
"You'd have heard it all before, if you'd listened to some of Dr.
Beulah's lectures in the classroom," Nan said. "But we're far off the
subject of Inez. I wish we could find her; but there seems no way."
"Oh, Nan! are you sure? Put on your thinking-cap," begged Bess.
"I have thought," her chum replied. "I thought of trying to trace her
through the people who sell flowers to her. I asked Mrs. Beasley, and she
told me that the flowers Inez sells come from the hotels and big
restaurants where they have been on the tables over night. They are
sorted and sold cheap to street pedlers like Inez. Hundreds of little
ragamuffins buy and hawk these bouquets about the streets. The men who
handle the trade would not be likely to remember one little girl.
"Besides," added Nan, smiling sadly. "Inez is a bankrupt. She is out of
business altogether. The few pennies she saved back every day--rain or
shine, whether she went hungry, or was fed--was her capital; and that her
aunt took away. I'm dreadfully worried about the poor thing," concluded
Nan, with moist eyes.
She felt so bad about it that she could not bring herself to join the
matinee party that had been arranged by Grace for that afternoon. Some of
the girls were going to have a box at a musical comedy, with Miss Hagford
Nan did not plead a headache; indeed, she was not given to white lies.
She wished to call on the lovely actress whom she had met the day of her
adventure in the department store. She wanted to inquire if she had seen
or heard anything of the runaways, Sallie and Celia.
"I'd dearly love to go with you," Bess observed. "Just think of your
knowing such a famous woman. You have all the luck, Nan Sherwood."
"I'm not sure that it was _good_ fortune that brought me in contact with
the lady," Nan returned ruefully.
"Well! it turned out all right, at least," said Bess. "And _my_ escapades
never do. I never have any luck. If it rained soup and I was hungry, you
know I wouldn't have any spoon."
Nan set forth before the other girls started for the theatre. She knew
just how to find the fashionable apartment hotel in which the actress
lived, for she and her friends had passed it more than once in the car.
At the desk the clerk telephoned up to the actress' apartment to see if
she was in, and would receive Nan. The maid did not understand who Nan
was, and was doubtful; but the moment Madam came to the telephone herself
and heard Nan's name, she cried:
"Send her up--send her up! She is just the one I want to see."
This greatly excited Nan, for she thought of Sallie and Celia. When she
was let out of the elevator on one of the upper floors, the apartment
door was open, and Madam herself was holding out a welcoming hand to her,
"You dear girl! You are as welcome as the flowers in May. Come in and let
me talk to you. How surprising, really! I had no thought of seeing you,
and yet I desired to--so much."
Nan was drawn gently into the large and beautiful reception room, while
the actress was talking. She saw the woman's furs and hat thrown
carelessly on a couch, and thought that she must have recently come in,
even before Madam said:
"I have just come from an exhausting morning in the studio. Oh, dear!
everybody seemed so stupid to-day. There are such days, you
know--everything goes wrong, and even the patient camera-man loses
"Yes, Marie, you may bring the tea tray. I am exhausted; nothing but tea
will revive this fainting pilgrim.
"And, my dear!" she added, turning to Nan again, "I have news for
you--news of those runaway girls."
"Oh, Madam! Are Sallie and Celia found?" cried Nan. "I want so to make
Mrs. Morton happy."
"We-ell," said the actress, with less enthusiasm. "I believe I can give
you a trace of them. But, of course, I haven't them shut up in a cage
waiting for their parents to come for them," and she laughed.
"It really is an odd occurrence, my dear. At the time I was telling you
the other day that those girls could not be working with my company, that
is exactly what they were doing."
"Oh!" cried Nan, again.
"Yes, my dear. Just fancy! I only learned of it this very morning. Of
course, I give no attention to the extra people, save when they are
before the camera. My assistant hires them and usually trains the 'mob'
until I want them.
"Now, fancy!" pursued the lovely woman, "there was a girl, named Jennie
Albert, whom we had been using quite a good deal, and she fell ill. So
she sent two new girls, and as Mr. Gray needed two extras that day, he
let them stay without inquiring too closely into their personal affairs.
"Oh, I blame Mr. Gray, and I told him so. I did not see the girls in
question until the big scene we put on this morning. Then the company
before the camera was too large; the scene was crowded. I began weeding
out the awkward ones, as I always do.
"Why, positively, my dear, there are some girls who do not know how to
wear a frock, and yet they wish to appear in _my_ films!
"These two girls of whom I speak I cut out at once. I told Mr. Gray never
to put them into costume again. Why! sticks and stones have more grace of
movement and naturalness than those two poor creatures--positively!"
cried the moving picture director, with emphasis.
"Ah, well! I must not excite myself. This is my time for relaxation,
and--a second cup of tea!"
Her light laughter jarred a bit on Nan Sherwood's troubled mind.
"To think!" the lovely actress said, continuing, "that it never occurred
to my mind that those two awkward misses might be your runaways until I
was standing on one side watching the scene as they passed out. One was
crying. Of course I am sorry I had to order their discharge, but one must
sacrifice much for art," sighed Madam.
"One was crying, and I heard the other call her 'Celia.' And then the
crying girl said: 'I can't help it, Sallie. I am discouraged'--or
something like that.
"Of course, you understand, my dear, my mind was engaged with far more
important matters. My sub-consciousness must have filmed the words, and
especially the girls' names. After the scene suited me, it suddenly came
back to me that those names were the _real_ names of the runaway girls.
They had given Mr. Gray fictitious names, of course. When I sent him out
to find them, he was just too late. The girls had left the premises."
OTHER PEOPLE'S WORRIES
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 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
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,"
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
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
"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 the 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
"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
"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
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?"
RUNAWAYS OF A DIFFERENT KIND
The chums, on leaving the moving picture studio, stopped to read more
carefully the card Mr. Gray, the director, had given them. The street on
which Jennie Albert lived was quite unknown to Nan and Bess and they did
not know how to find it.
Besides, Nan remembered that Mrs. Mason trusted her to go to the moving
picture studio, and to return without venturing into any strange part
of the town.
"Of course," groaned Bess, "we shall have to go back and ask her."
"Walter will find the place for us," Nan said cheerfully.
"Oh--Walter! I hate to depend so on a boy."
"You're a ridiculous girl," laughed her chum. "What does it matter _whom_
we depend upon? We must have somebody's help in every little thing in
this world, I guess."
"Our sex depends too much upon the other sex," repeated Elizabeth,
primly, but with dancing eyes.
"Votes for Women!" chuckled Nan. "You are ripe for the suffragist
platform, Bessie. I listened to that friend of Mrs. Mason's talking the
other day, too. She is a lovely lady, and I believe the world will be
better--in time--if women vote. It is growing better, anyway.
"She told a funny story about a dear old lady who was quite converted to
the cause until she learned that to obtain the right to vote in the first
place, women must depend upon the men to give it to them. So, to be
consistent, the old lady said she must refuse to accept _any_thing at the
hands of the other sex--the vote included!"
"There!" cried Bess, suddenly. "Talk about angels--"
"And you hear their sleighbells," finished Nan. "Hi, Walter! Hi!"
They had come out upon the boulevard, and approaching along the
snow-covered driveway was Walter Mason's spirited black horse and Walter
driving in his roomy cutter.
The horse was a pacer and he came up the drive with that rolling action
peculiar to his kind, but which takes one over the road very rapidly. A
white fleck of foam spotted the pacer's shiny chest. He was sleek and
handsome, but with his rolling, unblinded eyes and his red nostrils, he
looked ready to bolt at any moment.
Walter, however, had never had an accident with Prince and had been
familiar with the horse from the time it was broken to harness. Mr. Mason
was quite proud of his son's horsemanship.
Walter saw Nan as she leaped over the windrow of heaped up snow into the
roadway, and with a word brought Prince to a stop without going far
beyond the two girls. There he circled about and came back to the side of
the driveway where Nan and Bess awaited him.
"Hop in, girls. There's room for two more, all right," cried Walter.
"I'll sit between you. One get in one side--the other on t'other. 'Round
here, Nan--that's it! Now pull the robe up and tuck it in--sit on it.
Prince wants to travel to-day. We'll have a nice ride."
"Oh-o-o!" gasped Bess, as they started. "Not too fast, Walter."
"I won't throw the clutch into high-gear," promised Walter, laughing.
"Look out for the flying ice, girls. I haven't the screen up, for I want
to see what we're about."
Walter wore automobile goggles, and sat on the edge of the seat between
the two girls, with his elbows free and feet braced. If another sleigh
whizzed past, going in the same direction, Prince's ears went back and he
tugged at the bit. He did not like to be passed on the speedway.
Bess quickly lost her timidity--as she always did--and the ride was most
enjoyable. When the first exuberance of Prince's spirit had worn off, and
he was going along more quietly, the girls told Walter what they had seen
and heard at the motion picture studio.
"Great luck!" pronounced the boy. "I'd like to get into one of those
places and see 'em make pictures. I've seen 'em on the street; but that's
different. It must be great."
"But we didn't find Sallie and Celia there," complained Nan.
"You didn't expect to, did you?" returned the boy. "But I know where that
street is. We'll go around there after lunch if mother says we may, and
look for that girl who knows them."
The chums had caught sight of the same thing at the same moment. Just
ahead was a heavy sleigh, with plumes on the corner-posts, drawn by two
big horses. They could not mistake the turnout. It belonged to the
Graves' family with whom Linda Riggs was staying.
The chums had not seen Linda since the evening of the party, when the
railroad president's daughter had acted in such an unladylike manner.
"I see the big pung," laughed Walter. "And I bet Linda's in it, all alone
in her glory. Pearl told me she hated the thing; but that her grandmother
considers it the only winter equipage fit to ride in. You ought to see
the old chariot they go out in in summer.
"Hello," he added. "Got to pull up here."
A policeman on horseback had suddenly ridden into the middle of the
driveway. Just ahead there was a crossing and along the side road came
clanging a hospital ambulance, evidently on an emergency call.
The white-painted truck skidded around the corner, the doctor on the rear
step, in his summerish looking white ducks, swinging far out to balance
the weight of the car.
The pair of horses drawing the Graves' sleigh, snorted, pulled aside and
rose, pawing, on their hind legs. The coachman had not been ready for
such a move and he was pitched out on his head.
The girls and Walter heard a shrill scream of terror. The footman left
the sleigh in a hurry, too--jumping in a panic. Off the two frightened
horses dashed--not up the boulevard, but along the side street.
"That's Linda," gasped Bess.
"And she's alone," added Nan.
"Say! she's going to get all the grandeur she wants in a minute,"
exclaimed Walter. "Why didn't she jump, too, when she had the chance?"
He turned Prince into the track behind the swaying sleigh. The black
horse seemed immediately to scent the chase. He snorted and increased
"Oh, Walter! Can you catch them?" Nan cried.
"I bet Prince can," the boy replied, between his set teeth.
The policeman on horseback was of course ahead in the chase after the
runaways. But the snow on this side road was softer than on the speedway,
and it balled under his horse's hoofs.
The black horse driven by Walter Mason was more sure-footed than the
policeman's mount. The latter slipped and lost its stride. Prince went
past the floundering horse like a flash.
The swaying sleigh was just ahead now. Walter drew Prince to one side so
that the cutter would clear the sleigh in passing.
The chums could see poor, frightened Linda crouching in the bottom of the
sleigh, clinging with both hands to one of the straps from which the
plumes streamed. Her face was white and she looked almost ready to faint.
AN UNEXPECTED FIND
The mounted policeman came thundering down the street after them, his
horse having regained its footing. The reins of the big steeds were
dragging on the ground, and Walter and his girl companions saw no way of
getting hold of the lines and so pulling down the frightened horses.
There was another way to save Linda Riggs, however. Walter looked at Nan
Sherwood and his lips moved.
"Are you afraid to drive Prince?" he asked.
"No," declared Nan, and reached for the reins. She had held the black
horse before. Besides, she had driven her Cousin Tom's pair of big
draught horses up in the Michigan woods, and Mr. Henry Sherwood's
half-wild roan ponies, as well. Her wrists were strong and supple, and
she was alert.
Walter passed the lines over and then kicked the robe out of the way.
Bess sat on the left side of the seat, clinging to the rail. She was
frightened--but more for the girl in the other sleigh, than because of
their own danger.
Walter Mason motioned to Bess to move over to Nan's side. The latter was
guiding Prince carefully, and the cutter crept up beside the bigger
vehicle. Only a couple of feet separated the two sleighs as Walter leaned
out from his own seat and shouted to Linda:
"Look this way! Look! Do exactly as I tell you!"
The girl turned her strained face toward him. The bigger sleigh swerved
and almost collided with the cutter.
"Now!" yelled Walter, excitedly. "Let go!"
He had seized Linda by the arm, clinging with his other hand to the rail
of the cutter-seat. She screamed--and so did Bess.
But Walter's grasp was strong, and, after all, Linda was not heavy. Her
hold was torn from the plume-staff, and she was half lifted, half
dragged, into the cutter.
Prince darted past the now laboring runaways. One of the latter slipped
on a smooth bit of ice and crashed to the roadway.
His mate went down with him and the sleigh was overturned. Had Linda
not been rescued as she was, her injury--perhaps her death--would have
They stopped at the first drug store and a man held the head of the
excited black horse while Walter soothed and blanketed him. Then the boy
went inside, and into the prescription room, where Nan and Bess were
comforting their schoolmate.
"Oh, dear! oh, dear! I'd have been killed if it hadn't been for you,
Walter Mason," cried Linda, for once so thoroughly shaken out of her pose
that she acted and spoke naturally. "How can I ever thank you enough?"
"Say!" blurted out Walter. "You'd better thank Nan, here, too. I couldn't
have grabbed you if it hadn't been for her. She held Prince and guided
"Oh, that's all right!" interjected Nan, at once very much embarrassed.
"Anybody would have done the same."
"'Tisn't so!" cried Bess. "I just held on and squealed."
But Linda's pride was quite broken down. She looked at Nan with her own
"Oh, Sherwood!" she murmured. "I've said awfully mean things about you.
I'm so sorry--I really am."
"Oh, that's all right!" muttered Nan, almost boyish in her confusion.
"Well, I have! I know I made fun of your medal for bravery. You deserve
another for what you just did. Oh, dear! I--I never can thank any of you
enough;" and she cried again on Bess Harley's shoulder.
Walter telephoned to the Graves' house, telling Linda's aunt of the
accident and of Linda's predicament, and when a vehicle was sent for the
hysterical girl the boy, with Nan and Bess, hurried home to a late
luncheon, behind black Prince.
Although Mrs. Mason, naturally, was disturbed over the risk of accident
Walter and the girl chums had taken in rescuing Linda Riggs, the interest
of the young folks was in, and all their comment upon, the possible
change of heart the purse-proud girl had undergone.
"I don't know about these 'last hour conversions,'" said the pessimistic
Bess. "I should wring the tears out of the shoulder of my coat and bottle
'em. Only tears I ever heard of Linda's shedding! And they may prove to
be crocodile tears at that."
"Oh, hush, Bess!" said Nan. "Let's not be cruel."
"We'll see how she treats you hereafter," Grace said. "I, for one, hope
Linda _has_ had a change of heart. She'll be so much happier if she stops
quarreling with everybody."
"And the other girls will have a little more peace, too, I fancy; eh?"
threw in her brother, slyly. "But how about this place you want to go to
this afternoon, Nan?" he added.
"I should think you had had enough excitement for one day," Mrs. Mason
sighed. "The wonderful vitality of these young creatures! It amazes me.
They wish to be on the go all of the time."
"You see," Nan explained, "we have only a few more days in Chicago and I
am _so_ desirous of finding Sallie and Celia. Poor Mrs. Morton is
heart-broken, and I expect Celia's mother fears all the time for her
daughter's safety, too."
"Those foolish girls!" Mrs. Mason said. "I am glad you young people
haven't this general craze for exhibiting one's self in moving pictures."
"You can't tell when that may begin, Mother," chuckled Walter. "When Nan
was holding on to Prince and I was dragging Linda out of that sleigh, if
a camera-man had been along he could have made some picture--believe me!"
"You'll walk or take a car to the address," Mrs. Mason instructed them.
"No more riding behind that excited horse to-day, please."
"All right, Mother," said Walter, obediently. "Now, whenever you girls
are ready, I am at your service. It's lucky I know pretty well the poorer
localities in Chicago. Your calling district, Nan Sherwood, seems to
number in it a lot of shady localities."
However, it was only a poor neighborhood, not a vicious one, in which
Jennie Albert lived. Grace had accompanied the chums from Tillbury, and
the trio of girls went along very merrily with Walter until they came
near to the number Mr. Gray had given them.
This number they had some difficulty in finding. At least, four hundred
and sixteen was a big warehouse in which nobody lodged of course. Plenty
of tenement houses crowded about it but four hundred and sixteen was
surely the warehouse.
While Walter was inquiring in some of the little neighboring stores, Nan
saw a child pop out of a narrow alley beside the warehouse and look
sharply up and down the street. It was the furtive, timid glance of the
woods creature or the urchin of the streets; both expect and fear the
attack of the strong.
The Lakeview Hall girls were across the street. The little girl darted
suddenly toward them. Her head was covered by an old shawl, which half
blinded her. Her garments were scanty for such brisk winter weather, and
her shoes were broken.
"Oh, the poor little thing!" murmured Grace Mason.
Nan was suddenly excited by the sight of the child crossing the crowded
street; she sprang to the edge of the walk, but did not scream as the
little one scurried on. Down the driveway came a heavy auto-truck and
although the little girl saw the approach of this, she could not well see
what followed the great vehicle.
She escaped the peril of the truck, but came immediately in the path of a
touring car that shot out from behind to pass the truck. With a
nerve-racking "honk! honk!" the swiftly moving car was upon the child.
Bess and Grace _did_ scream; but Nan, first aware of the little one's
danger, was likewise first to attempt her rescue. And she needed her
breath for that effort. Other people shouted at the child and, from
either sidewalk, Nan was the only person who darted out to save her!
The driver under the steering wheel of the touring car did his best to
bring it to an abrupt stop; but the wheels skidded and--for a breathless
moment--it did seem as though the shawl-blinded child must go under the
wheels of the vehicle.
Nan Sherwood seized the shawl and by main strength dragged its owner to
the gutter. The car slid past; both girls were safe!
"You lemme be! you lemme be!" shrieked the girl Nan had rescued,
evidently considering herself much abused by the rough treatment her
rescuer had given her, and struggling all the time to keep Nan from
lifting her upon the sidewalk.
"Why, you little savage!" gasped Bess Harley. "Don't you know you've
"Who wants to be saved?" demanded the smaller girl, looking up at the
three older ones out of the hood of the shawl she had clung to so
desperately. "What youse savin' me _from_?"
Bess grew more excited. "Why, Nan!" she cried. "It is--it must be! Don't
you see who she is?"
Nan was already looking down into the dark, shrewd and thin countenance
of the little one with a smile of recognition. It was Inez, the little
flower-girl, whom she had so fortunately pulled out of the way of the
"Hullo, honey; don't you know us?" Nan asked her.
"Hi!" exclaimed the street waif. "If it ain't me tony friends from
Washington Park. Say! youse got ter excuse me. I didn't know youse."
"Why, Inez!" exclaimed Nan, kindly. "You have a dreadful cold."
"Say! if I don't have nothin' worse than that I'll do fine," croaked
the little girl, carelessly. "But I never expected to see youse tony
"Why, Inez!" exclaimed Bess. "And we've been hunting all over for you."
"Goodness me!" burst out Grace Mason. "You don't mean to say that this is
the poor little thing we've been in such a fuss about?"
"Of course she is," Bess replied.
"This is positively Inez," laughed Nan, squeezing the little one's cold
hand in her own. "Aren't you glad to see us, child?"
"I dunno," said Inez, doubtfully. "Youse ain't come to take me back to
me aunt, have youse?" and she looked around for a chance to escape. "I
ain't goin' to live with her no more--now I tell youse!" and she became
Nan sought to reassure her. "Don't you be afraid, honey. We wouldn't
see you abused. We only want to help you. That is why we have been
searching for you."
"You been huntin' me up--jest to _help_ me?" gasped Inez, in wonder.
"Of course we have," said Bess.
"Hi!" exclaimed the flower-seller, with an impish grin. "I reckon me aunt
would say some of yer buttons was missin'. Youse can't be right in the
upper story," and she pointed to her own head to illustrate her meaning.
"Goodness!" gasped Grace. "Does she think we are crazy because we want to
do her a kindness?"
"She's not used to being treated with much consideration, I am afraid,"
Nan observed, in a low voice.
"You ridiculous child!" came from Bess. "Don't you know that we were both
interested in you that first day? We told you we would see you again."
"Aw, that don't mean nothin'," sniffed Inez. "I didn't expect nothin'
would come of it. If youse folks from Washington Park ain't crazy, what
is the matter wit' youse? I ain't nothin' ter you."
"Why, goodness me!" cried Grace again. "Do you think everybody who is
kind must be out of his head? Who ever heard the like?"
"Folks ain't generally crazy to do me no favors," said Inez, with one of
her sharp glances. "But if you girls want ter give me somethin' for
nothin,' you've lost some of yer buttons, that's sure!"
Nan and her two companions had to laugh at this, but the laughter was
close to tears, after all. It was really pathetic that this waif of
the streets should suspect the sanity of anybody who desired to do her
JENNIE ALBERT--AND SOMEBODY ELSE
"Well! what do you know about that?" was Walter's comment, when
he came back to the girls and found them surrounding the hungry
looking little street waif, of whom he had already heard so much
from Nan and Bess.
"We go out to shoot partridges and bring down a crow," he added.
"Goodness! what a hungry looking kid. There's a bakeshop over the way.
Bring her in and see if we can't cure this child of old Father Famine."
Inez looked at Walter askance at first. But when she understood that he
was going to stand treat to coffee and cakes, she grew friendlier.
"Yep, I'm hungry," she admitted. "Ain't I _always_ hungry? M-m--!" as the
shop door opened and she sniffed the odors of coffee and food.
"Do, _do_ hurry and feed the poor little thing," urged Grace, almost in
tears. "Oh! I'm sorry I came with you girls. Hungry! Only think of being
Inez looked at Grace as though she thought she was losing her mind.
"Aw, say," said she, "don't let it worry youse. I'm uster being empty,
_I_ am. And 'specially since me and me aunt had our fallin' out."
"Oh! we know about that, Inez," cried Bess. "We went there to look for
"To me aunt's?" asked Inez, in some excitement.
"Yes," Nan replied.
"Is she a-lookin' for me?" demanded the child with a restless glance at
the door of the shop.
"I don't think she is," Nan said.
"I should say not!" Bess added. "She seems to fairly hate you, child. And
didn't she beat you?"
"Yep. She's the biggest, ye see. She took away all me money and then
burned me basket. That was puttin' me on the fritz for fair, and I went
wild and went for her. This is what I got!"
She dropped the shawl off her head suddenly. There, above the temple and
where the tangled black hair had been cut away, was a long, angry wound.
It was partially healed.
"Oh, my dear!" cried Nan.
Grace fell to crying. Bess grew very angry and threatened all manner of
punishments for the cruel aunt.
"How did she do it?" Walter asked.
"Flat iron," replied the waif, succinctly. "I had the poker. She 'got' me
first. I didn't dare go back, and I thought I'd die that first night."
"Oh, oh!" sobbed Grace. "Out in the cold, too!"
"Yes'm," Inez said, eating and drinking eagerly. "But a nice feller in a
drug store--a night clerk, I guess youse call him--took me in after one
o'clock, an' give me something to eat, and fixed up me head."
"What a kind man!" exclaimed Bess.
"So you see, Inez, there are some kind folks in the world," said Nan,
smiling at the waif. "Some kind ones beside _us_."
"Yep," the child admitted. "But not rich folks like youse."
"Goodness, child!" gasped Grace. "We're not rich."
Inez stared at her with a mouthful poised upon her knife. "Cracky!" she
ejaculated. "What do youse call it? Furs, and fine dresses, and nothin'
ter do but sport around--Hi! if youse girls from Washington Park ain't
rich, what d'ye call it?"
Nan was looking serious again. "I guess the child is right," she said,
with a little sigh. "We _are_ rich. Compared with what _she_ has, we're
as rich as old King Midas."
"For goodness' sake!" cried Bess. "I hope _not_--at least, not in ears."
The others laughed; but Nan added: "I guess we don't realize how well
off we are."
"Hear! hear!" murmured Walter. "Being sure of three meals a day would be
riches to this poor little thing."
"Hi!" ejaculated Inez, still eating greedily. "That'd be _Heaven_,
"But do let her finish her story, girls," urged Bess. "Go on, dear. What
happened to you after the kind druggist took you in?"
"I staid all night there," said Inez. "He fixed me a bunk on an old
lounge in the back room. An' next morning a girl I useter see at Mother
Beasley's seen me and brought me over here. She ain't well now and her
money's about run out, I reckon. Say! did youse ever find them two
greenies youse was lookin' for?" she suddenly asked Nan.
"Oh, no! We're looking for them now," Nan replied. "Have you seen
"I dunno. I b'lieve my friend may know something about them."
"You mean the girl you are with?" Nan asked.
"Who is she?" asked Bess.
"She's one o' them movin' picture actorines. She does stunts."
"'Stunts'?" repeated Walter, while Nan and Bess looked at each other with
interest. "What sort of 'stunts,' pray?"
"Hard jobs. Risky ones, too. And that last one she went out on she got an
awful cold. Whew! I been expectin' her to cough herself to pieces."
"But what did she do?" repeated the curious Walter.
"Oh, she was out in the country with the X.L.Y. Company. She was playin'
a boy's part--she's as thin as I am, but tall and lanky. Makes up fine as
a boy," said Inez, with some enthusiasm.
"She was supposed to be a boy helpin' some robbers. They put her through
a ventilator into a sleepin' car standin' in the railroad yards. That's
where she got cold," Inez added, "for she had to dress awful light so's
to wiggle through the ventilator winder. It was a cold mornin', an' she
came back ter town 'most dead."
"Where is she now?" asked Walter.
But it was Nan's question which brought out the most surprising response.
"Who is she?" Nan asked the little girl. "What is her name?"
"Jennie Albert. An' she's a sure 'nough movie girl, too. But she can't
get good jobs because she ain't pretty."
"I declare!" exclaimed Bess, finally, after a moment of surprised
"I know she can't live over there in that big warehouse, and that's
number four hundred and sixteen," said Grace.
"She lives in a house back in a court beside that big one," explained
Inez. "It's four hundred and sixteen _and a half_."
"Then it's only half a house?" suggested Bess Harley.
"I know it can be only _half_ fit to live in," said Walter. "Not many of
these around here are. What are you going to do now, Nan?"
"Inez will take us over and introduce us to Jennie."
"Sure thing!" agreed the waif.
"Tell us, Inez," Nan said. "What can we take in to your friend Jennie?"
"To eat, or comforts of any kind?" cried Grace, opening her purse at
"Hi!" cried Inez. "Jest look around. Anything youse see. _She ain't got
"Which was awful grammar, but the most illuminating sentence I ever
heard," declared Bess, afterward.
The girls made special inquiries of the child, however, and they did more
than carry over something for the sick girl to eat. They bought an oil
heater and a big can of oil, for the girl's room was unheated.
There was extra bed-clothing and some linen to get, too, for Inez was an
observant little thing and knew just what the sick girl needed. Walter
meanwhile bought fresh fruit and canned goods--soup and preserved
fruit--and a jar of calf's foot jelly.
The procession that finally took up its march into the alley toward
number four hundred and sixteen _and a half_, headed by Inez and with the
boy from the shop bearing the heater and the oil can as rear guard, was
an imposing one indeed.
"See what I brought you, Jen Albert!" cried Inez, as she burst in the
door of the poorly furnished room. "These are some of me tony friends
from Washington Park, and they've come to have a picnic."
The room was as cheaply and meanly furnished as any that the three girls
from Lakeview Hall had ever seen. Nan thought she had seen poverty of
household goods and furnishings when she had lived for a season with her
Uncle Henry Sherwood at Pine Camp, in the woods of Upper Michigan. Some
of the neighbors there had scarcely a factory made chair to sit on. But
this room in which Jennie Albert lived, and to which she had brought the
little flower-seller for shelter, was so barren and ugly that it made Nan
shudder as she gazed at it.
The girl who rose suddenly off the ragged couch as the three friends
entered, startled them even more than the appearance of the room itself.
She was so thin and haggard--she had such red, red cheeks--such feverish
eyes--such an altogether wild and distraught air--that timid Grace shrank
back and looked at Walter, who remained with the packages and bundles at
the head of the stairs.
Nan and Bess likewise looked at the girl with some trepidation; but they
held their ground.
"What do you want? Who are you?" asked Jennie Albert, hoarsely.
"We--we have come to see you," explained Nan, hesitatingly. "We're
friends of little Inez."
"You'd better keep away from here!" cried the older girl, fiercely. "This
is no place for the likes of you."
"Aw, say! Now, don't get flighty again, Jen," urged little Inez, much
worried. "I tell youse these girls is all right. Why, they're pertic'lar
friends of mine."
"Your--your friends?" muttered the wild looking girl. "This--this
is a poor place to bring your friends, Ina. But--do sit down! Do
take a chair!"
She waved her hand toward the only chair there was--a broken-armed parlor
chair, the upholstery of which was in rags. She laughed as she did so--a
sudden, high, cackling laugh. Then she broke out coughing and--as Inez
had said--she seemed in peril of shaking herself to pieces!
"Oh, the poor thing!" murmured Bess to Nan.
"She is dreadfully ill," the latter whispered. "She ought really to have
a doctor right now."
"Oh, girls!" gasped Grace, in terror. "Let's come away. Perhaps she has
some contagious disease. She looks just _awful_!"
The sick girl heard this, low as the three visitors spoke. "And I feel
'just awful!'" she gasped, when she got her breath after coughing. "You'd
better not stay to visit Ina. This is no place for you."
"Why, we must do something to help you," Nan declared, recovering some of
her assurance. "Surely you should have a doctor."
"He gimme some medicine for her yisterday," broke in Inez. "But we ain't
got no more money for medicine. Has we, Jen?"
"Not much for anything else, either," muttered the bigger girl, turning
her face away.
She was evidently ashamed of her poverty. Nan saw that it irked Jennie
Albert to have strangers see her need and she hastened, as usual, to
relieve the girl of that embarrassment.
"My dear," she said, running to her as Jennie sat on the couch, and
putting an arm about the poor, thin, shaking shoulders. "My dear! we
would not disturb you only that you may be able to help us find two lost
girls. And you _are_ so sick. Do let us stay a while and help you, now
that we have come, in return for the information you can give us about
Sallie Morton and Celia Snubbins."
"Gracious! who are they?" returned Jennie Albert. "I never heard of them,
I'm sure," and she seemed to speak quite naturally for a moment.
"Oh, my dear!" murmured Nan. "Haven't you seen them at all? Why, they
told me at the studio--"
"I know! I know!" exclaimed Bess, suddenly. "Jennie doesn't know their
right names. Nan means Lola Montague and Marie Fortesque."
Jennie Albert stared wonderingly at them. "Why--_those_ girls? I remember
them, of course," she said. "I supposed those names were assumed, but I
had no idea they really owned such ugly ones."
"And where, for goodness' sake, are they?" cried the impatient Bess.
"Miss Montague and her friend?"
"Yes," Nan explained. "We are very anxious to find them, and have
been looking for them ever since we came to Chicago. You see, they
have run away from home, Jennie, and their parents are terribly
worried about them."
"Maybe they were ill-treated at home," Jennie Albert said, gloomily.
"Oh, they were not!" cried Bess, eagerly. "We know better. Poor old Si
Snubbins thinks just the world and all of Celia."
"And Mrs. Morton is one of the loveliest women I ever met," Nan added.
"The girls have just gone crazy over the movies."
"Over acting in them, do you mean?" asked the girl who "did stunts."
"Yes. And they can't act. Mr. Gray says so."
"Oh, if they were no good he'd send them packing in a hurry," groaned the
sick girl, holding her head with both hands. "I sent them over to him
because I knew he wanted at least _one_ extra."
"And he did not even take their address," Nan explained. "Do you know
where they live?"
"No, I don't. They just happened in here. I know that they recently moved
from a former lodging they had on the other side of town. That is really
all I know about them," said Jennie Albert.
Meanwhile Walter had been quietly handing in the packages to his sister
and Bess. The oil stove was deftly filled by the good-hearted boy before
he lifted it and the can of oil inside.
When the big lamp was lit the chill of the room was soon dispelled.
Little Inez opened the packages eagerly, chattering all the time to
Jennie Albert about the good things the young folks from Washington Park
But the sick girl, after her little show of interest in Nan's
questioning, quickly fell back into a lethargic state. Nan whispered to
Inez and asked her about the doctor she had seen for Jennie.
"Is he a good one?" she asked the child. "And will he come here if
we pay him?"
"He's a corker!" exclaimed the street waif. "But he's mighty busy. You
got to show him money in your hand to get him to come to see anybody. You
know how these folks are around here. They don't have no money for
nothin'--least of all for doctors."
She told Nan where the busy physician was to be found, and Nan
whispered to Walter the address and sent him hurrying for the man of
pills and powders.
Until the doctor returned with Walter the girls busied themselves
cleaning up the room, undressing the patient, and putting her into bed
between fresh sheets, and making her otherwise more comfortable. There
was a good woman on this same floor of the old tenement house, and Grace
paid her out of her own purse to look in on Jennie Albert occasionally
and see that she got her medicine and food.
For they were all determined not to leave little Inez in these poor
lodgings. "Goodness knows," Bess remarked, "if she gets out of our sight
now we may never find her again. She's just as elusive as a flea!"
The child looked at Bess in her sly, wondering way, and said: "Hi! I
never had nobody worry over what become of me 'fore this. Seems like it's
WHAT HAPPENED TO INEZ
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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.
THE KEY TO A HARD LOCK
The young people had planned to spend that next forenoon at a skating
rink, where the ice was known to be good; but Nan ran away right after
breakfast to meet her father's train, intending to join the crowd at the
"I'll take your skates for you, Nan," Walter assured her, as she set
forth for the station.
"That's so kind of you, Walter," she replied gratefully.
"Say! I'd do a whole lot more for you than _that_," blurted out the boy,
his face reddening.
"I think you have already," said Nan, sweetly, waving him good-bye from
the taxi in which Mrs. Mason had insisted she should go to the station.
She settled back in her seat and thought happily for a few minutes. She
had been so busy with all sorts of things here in Chicago--especially
with what Bess Harley called "other people's worries"--that Nan had
scarcely been able to think of her hopes for the future, or her memories
of the past. She had been living very much in the present.
"Why," she thought, with something like a feeling of remorse, "I
haven't even missed Beautiful Beulah. I--I wonder if I am really
growing up? Oh, dear!"
Mr. Sherwood thought her a very much composed and sophisticated
little body, indeed, when he met her on the great concourse of the
"Goodness me, Nan!" he declared, when he had greeted her. "How you
_do_ grow. Your mother and I have seen so little of you since we came
back from Scotland, that we haven't begun to realize that you are a
big, big girl."
"Don't make me out _too_ big, Papa Sherwood!" she cried, clinging to his
arm. "I--I don't _want_ to grow up entirely. I want for a long time to be
_your_ little girl.
"I know what we'll do," cried Nan, delightedly. "You have plenty of time
before your business conference. We'll walk along together to see how
Jennie Albert is--it isn't far from here--and you shall buy me a bag of
peanuts, just as you used to do, and we'll eat 'em right on the street as
we go along."
"Is that the height of your ambition?" laughed Mr. Sherwood. "If so, you
are easily satisfied."
Nan told her father all about the search for the runaway girls, and about
little Inez and Jennie Albert. She wanted to see how the latter was. The
comforts she and her friends had left the sick girl the day before, and
the ministrations of the physician, should have greatly improved Jennie's
Nan left her father at the entrance to the alley leading back to Jennie's
lodging; but in a few minutes she came flying back to Mr. Sherwood in
such excitement that at first she could scarcely speak connectedly.
"Why, Nan! What is the matter?" her father demanded.
"Oh! come up and see Jennie! _Do_ come up and see Jennie!" urged Nan.
"What is the matter with her? Is she worse?"
"Oh, no! Oh, no!" cried the excited girl. "But she has got such a
wonderful thing to tell you, Papa Sherwood!"
"To tell me?" asked her father wonderingly.
"Yes! Come!" Nan seized his hand and pulled him into the alley. On the
way she explained a little of the mystery.
"Dear me! it's the most wonderful thing, Papa Sherwood. You know, I told
you Jennie was working for a moving picture company that was making a
film at Tillbury. She had a boy's part; she looks just like a boy with a
cap on, for her hair is short.
"Well! Now listen! They took those pictures the day before, and the very
day that you came back from Chicago to Tillbury and that awful Mr. Bulson
lost his money and watch."
"What's that?" demanded Mr. Sherwood, suddenly evincing all the interest
Nan expected him to in the tale.
As they mounted the stairs Nan retailed how the company had gone to the
railroad yards early in the morning, obtaining permission from the
yardmaster to film a scene outside the sleeping car standing there on a
siding, including the entrance of Jennie as the burglars' helper through
the narrow ventilator.
"Of course, the sleeping car doors can only be opened from the inside
when it is occupied, save with a key," Nan hastened to say; "so you see
she was supposed to enter through the ventilator and afterward open the
door to the men."
"I see," Mr. Sherwood observed, yet still rather puzzled by his
Jennie Albert, however, when he was introduced to her by Nan, gave a much
clearer account of the matter. To take up the story where Nan had broken
off, Jennie, when she wriggled through the window into the car, had seen
a big negro man stooping over a man in a lower berth and removing
something from under his pillow.
The man in the berth was lying on his back and snoring vociferously.
There seemed to be no other passenger remaining in the car.
Jennie did not see what the colored man took from the sleeping passenger,
but she was sure he was robbing him. The negro, however, saw Jennie, and
threatened to harm her if she ever spoke of the matter.
The director of the picture and other men were outside. The girl was
alarmed and more than half sick then. She had the remainder of the
director's instructions to carry out.
Therefore, she hurried to open the sleeping car door as her instructions
called for, and the negro thief escaped without Jennie's saying a word to
anybody about him.
Mr. Sherwood, as deeply interested, but calmer than Nan, asked questions
to make sure of the identity of the sleeping passenger. It was Mr. Ravell
Bulson, without a doubt.
"And about the negro?" he asked the girl. "Describe him."
But all Jennie could say was that he was a big, burly fellow with a long,
"An awfully long nose for a colored person," said Jennie. "He frightened
me so, I don't remember much else about him--and I'm no scare-cat,
either. You ask any of the directors I have worked for during the past
two years. If I only had a pretty face like your Nan, here, Mr. Sherwood,
they'd be giving me the lead in feature films--believe me!"
The mystery of how the negro got into the locked car was explained when
Mr. Sherwood chanced to remember that the porter of the coach in which he
had ridden from Chicago that night answered the description Jennie Albert
gave of the person who had robbed Mr. Bulson.
"I remember that nose!" declared Mr. Sherwood, with satisfaction. "Now
we'll clear this mystery up. You have given me a key, Miss Jennie, to
what was a very hard lock to open."
This proved to be true. Mr. Sherwood went to his conference with the
automobile people with a lighter heart. On their advice, he told the
story to the police and the description of the negro porter was
recognized as that of a man who already had a police record--one
This negro had obtained a position with the sleeping car company under a
false name and with fraudulent recommendations.
These facts Nan, at least, did not learn till later; she ran off to the
skating rink, secure in the thought that her father's trouble with Mr.
Ravell Bulson was over. She hoped she might never see that grouchy fat
man again. But Fate had in store for her another meeting with the
disagreeable Mr. Bulson, and this fell out in a most surprising way.
When Nan was almost in sight of the building where she expected to join
her friends on skates, there sounded the sudden clangor of fire-truck
whistles, and all other traffic halted to allow the department machines
to pass. A taxi-cab crowded close in to the curb where Nan had halted,
just as the huge ladder-truck, driven by its powerful motor, swung around
Pedestrians, of course, had scattered to the sidewalks; but the wheels of
the ladder-truck skidded on the icy street and the taxi was caught a
glancing blow by the rear wheel of the heavier vehicle.
Many of the onlookers screamed warnings in chorus; but all to no avail.
Indeed, there was nothing the driver of the cab could have done to avert
the catastrophe. His engine was stopped and there was no possibility of
escape with the car.
Crash! the truck-wheel clashed against the frail cab, and the latter
vehicle was crushed as though made of paper. The driver went out on his
head. Screams of fear issued from the interior of the cab as it went over
in a heap of wreckage and the ladder-truck thundered on.
Nan saw a fat face with bulging eyes set in it appear at the window of
the cab. She was obliged to spring away to escape being caught in the
wreck. But she ran back instantly, for there were more than the owner of
the fat face in the overturned taxi.
With the sputtering of the fat man there sounded, too, a shrill, childish
scream of fear, and a wild yelp of pain--the latter unmistakably from a
canine throat. Amid the wreckage Nan beheld a pair of blue-stockinged
legs encased in iron supports; but the dog wriggled free.
"Hey! Hey!" roared the fat man. "Help us out of this. Never mind that
driver. He ought to have seen that thing coming and got out of the way.
Hey! Help us out, I say."
Nobody seemed to be paying much attention to the fat and angry citizen;
nor would Nan have heeded him had it not been for the appeal of those two
blue-stockinged legs in the iron braces.
The fat man was all tangled up in the robes and in the broken fittings
of the cab. He could do nothing for himself, let alone assist in the
rescue of the owner of the crippled little limbs. The dog, darting
about, barked wildly.
As Nan stooped to lift the broken cab door off the apparently injured
boy, the dog--he was only a puppy--ran yapping at her in a fever of
apprehension. But his barking suddenly changed to yelps of joy as he
leaped on Nan and licked her hands.
"Why, Buster!" gasped the girl, recognizing the little spaniel that she
and Bess Harley had befriended in the snow-bound train.
She knew instantly, then, whose was the fat and apoplectic face; but she
did not understand about the legs in the cruel looking iron braces until
she had drawn a small and sharp-featured lad of seven or eight years of
age from under the debris of the taxi-cab.
"Jingo! Look at Pop!" exclaimed the crippled boy, who seemed not to have
been hurt at all in the accident.
Mr. Ravell Bulson was trying to struggle out from under the cab. And to
his credit he was not thinking of himself at this time.
"How's Junior?" he gasped. "Are you hurt, Junior?"
"No, Pop, I ain't hurt," said the boy with the braces. "But, Jingo! you
do look funny."
"I don't feel so funny," snarled his parent, finally extricating himself
unaided from the tangle. "Sure you're not hurt, Junior?"
"No, I'm not hurt," repeated the boy. "Nor Buster ain't hurt. And see
this girl, Pop. Buster knows her."
Mr. Ravell Bulson just then obtained a clear view of Nan Sherwood,
against whom the little dog was crazily leaping. The man scowled and in
his usual harsh manner exclaimed:
"Call the dog away, Junior. If you're not hurt we'll get another cab
and go on."
"Why, Pop!" cried the lame boy, quite excitedly. "That pup likes her a
whole lot. See him? Say, girl, did you used to own that puppy?"
"No, indeed, dear," said Nan, laughing. "But he remembers me."
"From where?" demanded the curious Ravell Bulson, Jr.
"Why, since the time we were snow-bound in a train together."
"Oh! when was that?" burst out the boy. "Tell me about it snow-bound in a
steam-car train? That must have been jolly."
"Come away, Junior!" exclaimed his father. "You don't care anything about
that, I'm sure."
"Oh, yes I do, Pop. I want to hear about it. Fancy being snow-bound in a
"Come away, I tell you," said the fat man, again scowling crossly at Nan.
"You don't want to hear anything that girl can tell you. Come away, now,"
he added, for a crowd was gathering.
"Do wait a minute, Pop," said Junior. The lame boy evidently was used to
being indulged, and he saw no reason for leaving Nan abruptly. "See the
dog. See Buster, will you? Why, he's just in love with this girl."
"I tell you to come on!" complained Mr. Bulson, Senior. He was really a
slave to the crippled boy's whims; but he disliked being near Nan
Sherwood, or seeing Junior so friendly with her. "You can't know that
girl, if the dog does," he snarled.
"Why, yes I can, Pop," said the lame boy, with cheerful insistence. "And
I want to hear about her being snowed up in a train with Buster."
"Your father can tell you all about it," Nan said, kindly, not wishing to
make Mr. Bulson any angrier. "He was there in the snowed-up train, too.