“Mercy, Bess!” whispered Nan. “That’s worthy of extravagant Laura Polk herself.”
“Thank you,” responded Bess, as the farmer recovered from a fit of “the chuckles” over Bess Harley’s joke. Bess added this question:
“What particular form of insanity do your daughter and Sallie Morton display, Mr. Snubbins?”
“Movin’ picters,” ejaculated the farmer. “Drat ’em! They’ve jest about bewitched my gal and Sallie Morton.”
“Goodness!” gasped Nan. “There aren’t moving picture shows away out here in the country, are there?”
“Oncet a week at the Corner,” said Mr. Snubbins. “An’ we all go. But that ain’t so much what’s made Celia and Sallie so crazy. Ye see, las’ fall was a comp’ny makin’ picters right up here in Peleg’s west parster. Goodness me! there was a crowd of ’em. They camped in tents like Gypsies, and they did the most amazin’ things—they sure did!
“Dif’rent from Gypsies,” pursued the farmer, “they paid for all they got around here. Good folks to sell chicken an’ aigs to. City prices, we got,” and Mr. Snubbins licked his lips like a dog in remembrance of a good meal.
“An’ I vow ter Maria!” the man went on to say, with some eagerness. “We ’most all around here air in them picters; ya-as’m! Ye wouldn’t think I was an actor, would ye?” And he went off into another spasm of chuckles.
“Oh, what fun!” cried Bess.
“Paid us two dollars a day for jest havin’ our photographts took, they did,” said Mr. Snubbins.
“And they paid three to the gals, ’cause they dressed up. That’s what set Celia and Sallie by the ears. Them foolish gals has got it in their heads that they air jest cut out for movin’ picter actresses. They wanter go off ter the city an’ git jobs in one o’ chem there studios! Peleg says he’ll spank his gal, big as she is, if she don’t stop sich foolish talk. I reckon Celia won’t go fur without Sallie.”
“My! it must be quite exciting to work for the pictures,” said romantic Bess.
“Sure it is,” chuckled the farmer. “One feller fell off a hoss while they was up here an’ broke his collarbone; an’ one of the gals tried ter milk our old Sukey from the wrong side, an’ Sukey nigh kicked her through the side of the shed,” and Mr. Snubbins indulged in another fit of laughter over this bit of comedy.
He was still chuckling when they climbed down from the hard eminence of a drift into a spot that had been cleared of snow before the Morton’s side door. At once the door was opened and a big, bewhiskered man looked out.
“Well, well, Si!” he ejaculated. “I thought them was your Celia and my Sallie. Them girls air strangers, ain’t they? Some more of that tribe of movin’ picture actresses?”
“I vow ter Maria, Peleg!” ejaculated Mr. Snubbins. “What’s happened to Celia? Ain’t she here?”
“No. Nor no more ain’t Sallie,” Mr. Morton said. “Come in. Bring in them young ladies. I’ll tell ye about it. Sallie’s maw is mighty upsot.”