“Hi!” ejaculated Inez again. “Ain’t you the greenie? D’ye want yer egg fried on one side, or turned over?”
“Turned over,” Bess murmured.
“An’ you?” asked the flower-seller of Nan.
“I always like the sunny-side of everything,” our Nan admitted.
“Hi, Mother Beasley!” shouted Inez, to the woman in the kitchen. “Two of them eggs sunny-side up, flop the other.”
Nan burst out laughing again at this. Bess was too funny for anything—to look at!
There were other girls in the long room, but none near where Nan and Bess and their strange little friend sat. Plainly the strangers were working girls, somewhat older than the chums, and as they finished their late dinners, one by one, they went out. Some wore cheap finery, but most of them showed the shabby hall-mark of poverty in their garments.
By and by the steaming food appeared. Inez had been helping herself liberally to bread and butter and the first thing Mother Beasley did was to remove the latter out of the flower-seller’s reach.
“It’s gone up two cents a pound,” she said plaintively. “But if it was a dollar a pound some o’ you girls would never have no pity on neither the bread nor the butter.”
The stew really smelled good. Even Bess tried it with less doubt. Inez ate as though she had fasted for a week and never expected to eat again.
“Will you have coffee, dearies?” asked Mother Beasley.
“Three cents apiece extry,” said Inez, hoarsely.
“Yes, please,” Nan said. “And if there is pie, we will have pie.”
“Oh, you pie!” croaked Inez, aghast at such recklessness. “I reckon you do ’blong up to Washington Park.”
Nan had to laugh again at this, and even Bess grew less embarrassed. When Mrs. Beasley came back with the coffee and pie, Nan drew her into conversation.
“Inez, here, says she introduced two other girls from the country to your home a few days ago,” said Nan. “Two girls who were looking for jobs with the movies.”
“Were they?” asked Mrs. Beasley, placidly. “My girls are always looking for jobs. When they get ’em, if they are good jobs, they go to live where the accommodations are better. I do the best I can for ’em; but I only accommodate poor girls.”
“And I think you really must do a great deal of good, in your way, Mrs. Beasley,” Nan declared. “Did these two we speak of chance to stay with you until now?”
“I was thinkin’,” said Mrs. Beasley. “I know, now, the ones you mean. Yes, Inez did bring ’em. But they only stayed one night. They wus used to real milk, and real butter, and strictly fresh eggs, and feather beds. They was real nice about it; but I showed ’em how I couldn’t give ’em live-geese feather beds an’ only charge ’em a dollar apiece a week for their lodgin’s.
“They had money—or ‘peared to have. And they heard the movin’ picture studios were all on the other side of town. So they went away.”