“Hey!” said the flower-seller, “I ain’t got time to stop and chin-chin. I got these posies to sell.”
“Sell us two,” Nan commanded. “Wait!”
“Aw right. ’F you say so,” said the small girl. “Fifteen a bunch,” she added quickly, shrewdly increasing by a nickel the regular price of the stale boutonnieres.
Nan opened her purse to pay for both. Bess said, rather timidly: “I should think you would be afraid of getting run over every time you cross the street—you’re so little.”
“Aw—say!” responded the strange girl, quite offended. “What d’ye think I am—a kid? I live here, I do! I ain’t country, and don’t know me way ’round.”
“Meaning that we are, I suppose?” laughed Nan.
“Well,” drawled the girl, “it sticks out all over you. I can tell ’em a block away. An’ I bet you’re lost and don’t know where you’re goin’. You two didn’t come here to be pitcher actors, did ye?”
“Why—no!” gasped Bess.
Nan was moved to ask. “What put that idea in your head, honey?”
“I guess ‘most girls that run away from home nowadays are lookin’ to make a hit in the pitchers—ain’t they?”
“You ridiculous child, you!” laughed Bess. “We haven’t run away.”
“No? Well, I thought mebbe youse did,” said the flower-seller, grinning impishly. “I see a plenty of ’em comin’ off the trains, I do.”
“Runaway girls?” cried Nan,
“They don’t tell me they have run away. But they are all greenies—just as green as grass,” this shrewd child of the street declared.
“Have you seen any girls lately who have come to the city to be picture actresses?” Nan asked with sudden eagerness.
“Yep,” was the reply.
“Sure?” cried Bess. “You don’t mean it!”
“Yes, I do. Two girls bigger’n you. Le’s see—it was last Friday.”
“The second day of the big blizzard?” cried Nan.
“That’s the very day,” agreed Bess. “It’s when Sallie and Celia would have got here if they were coming to Chicago.”
“Hi!” exclaimed the flower girl. “What’s you talkin’ about? Who’s Sallie and Celia?”
“Girls whom we think came to the city the other day just as you said,” Nan explained. “They have run away to be moving picture actresses.”
“Hi!” exclaimed the flower-seller again. “What sort o’ lookin’ girls?”
“Why—I don’t know exactly,” confessed Nan. “Do we, Bess? Mrs. Morton said Sallie took with her those photographs that were taken while the girls were playing as extras in ‘A Rural Beauty.’”
“That’s it!” suddenly interrupted the flower-girl. “I bet I seen those two. They didn’t call each other ‘Sallie’ and ‘Celia’; but they had some fancy names—I forgot what.”
“Oh! are you sure?” cried Bess.
“They had them photographs just like you say. They showed ’em to me. You see,” said the little girl, “I showed ’em where they could eat cheap, and they told me how they was going to join a movie company.”