“Celia will, maybe,” sobbed Mrs. Morton, brokenly. “She ain’t got the determination of our Sallie. She’d starve rather than give in she was beat. We was too ha’sh with her, Paw. I feel we was too ha’sh! And maybe we won’t never see our little gal again,” and the poor lady sat down heavily in the nearest chair, threw her apron over her head, and cried in utter abandon.
“A RURAL BEAUTY”
Nan Sherwood could not bear to see anybody cry. Her heart had already gone out to the farmer’s wife whose foolish daughter had left home, and to see the good woman sobbing so behind her apron, won every grain of sympathy and pity in Nan’s nature.
“Oh, you poor soul!” cried the girl, hovering over Mrs. Morton, and putting an arm across her broad, plump shoulders. “Don’t cry—don’t, don’t cry! I’m sure the girls will come back. They are foolish to run away; but surely they will be glad to get back to their dear, dear homes.”
“You don’t know my Sallie,” sobbed the woman.
“Oh! but she can’t forget you—of course she can’t,” Nan said. “Why ever did they want to run away from home?”
“Them plagued movin’ picters,” Mr. Snubbins said gruffly, blowing his nose. “I don’t see how I kin tell my woman about Celia.”
“It was that there ‘Rural Beauty’ done it,” Mr. Morton broke in peevishly. “Wish’t I’d never let them film people camp up there on my paster lot and take them picters on my farm. Sallie was jest carried away with it. She acted in that five-reel film, ‘A Rural Beauty.’ And I must say she looked as purty as a peach in it.”
“That’s what they’ve run away for, I bet,” broke in Si Snubbins. “Celia was nigh about crazy to see that picter run off. She was in it, too. Of course, a big drama like that wouldn’t come to the Corner, and I shouldn’t wonder if that’s what took ’em both to the city, first of all. Still,” he added, “I reckon they wanter be actorines, too.”
Bess suppressed a giggle at that, for Si Snubbins was funny, whether intentionally so or not. Nan continued to try to soothe the almost hysterical Mrs. Morton. Mr. Morton said:
“Let’s have that letter, Maw, that Sallie writ and sent back by Sam Higgins from Littleton.”
Mrs. Morton reached out a hand blindly with the paper in it. Nan took it to give to Mr. Morton.
“You read it, Si,” said Mr. Morton. “I ain’t got my specs handy.”
“Neither have I—and I ain’t no hand to read writin’ nohow,” said his neighbor, honestly. “Here, young lady,” to Nan. “Your eyes is better than ourn; you read it out to us.”
Nan did as she was asked, standing beside Mrs. Morton’s chair the while with a hand upon her shoulder:
“’Dear Maw and Paw:—
“’Celia and me have gone to the city and we are going to get jobs with the movies. We know we can—and make good, too. You tell Celia’s Paw and Maw about her going with me. I’ll take care of her. We’ve got plenty money—what with what we earned posing in those pictures in the fall, the Rural Beauty, and all. We will write you from where we are going, and you won’t mind when you know how successful we are and how we are getting regular wages as movie actresses.