“One of these taxi-cabs could take us,” suggested Bess.
“But they cost so much,” objected her friend. “And we can’t read those funny clocks they have and the chauffeur could overcharge us all he pleased. Besides,” Nan added, “I don’t like their looks.”
“Looks of what—the taxis?”
“The chauffeurs,” responded Nan, promptly.
“We-ell, we’ve got to go somehow—and trust to somebody,” Bess said reflectively. “I wonder should we go to that hotel where we stayed that week with mother? They would take us in I suppose.”
“But goodness! why should we be so helpless?” demanded Nan. “I’m sure two boys would start right out and find their way to Grace’s.”
“Would you dare?” cried Bess.
“Why not? Come on! We don’t want to spend all our money in taxi fares. Let’s go over there and ask that car man who seems to be bossing the conductors and motormen.”
The girls, with their handbags, started across the great square before the station. Almost at once they found themselves in a tangle of vehicular traffic that quite confused Bess, and even troubled the cooler-headed Nan.
“Oh, Nan! I’m scared!” cried her chum, clinging with her free hand to Nan’s arm.
“For pity’s sake, don’t be foolish!” commanded Nan. “You’ll get me excited, too—Oh!”
An automobile swept past, so near the two girls that the step brushed their garments. Bess almost swooned. Nan wished with all her heart that they had not so recklessly left the sidewalk.
Suddenly a shrill voice cried at her elbow: “Hi, greeny! you look out, now, or one of these horses will take a bite out o’ you. My! but you’re the green goods, for fair.”
Nan turned to look, expecting to find a saucy street boy; but the owner of the voice was a girl. She was dirty-faced, undersized, poorly dressed, and ill-nourished. But she was absolutely independent, and stood there in the crowded square with all the assurance of a traffic policeman.
“Come on, greenies,” urged this strange little mortal (she could not have been ten years old), “and I’ll beau you over the crossing myself. Something’ll happen to you if you take root here.”
She carried in a basket on her arm a few tiny bunches of stale violets, each bunch wrapped in waxed paper to keep it from the frost. Nan had seen dozens of these little flower-sellers of both sexes on the street when she had passed through Chicago with her Uncle Henry the winter before.
“Oh, let’s go with her,” cried the quite subdued Bess. “Do, Nan!”
It seemed rather odd for these two well-dressed and well-grown girls to be convoyed by such a “hop-o’-my-thumb” as the flower-seller. But the latter got Nan and Bess to an “isle of safety” in a hurry, and would then have darted away into the crowd without waiting to be thanked, had not Nan seized the handle of her basket.
“Wait!” she cried. “Don’t run away.”