“Oh, dear!” sighed Bess.
“Well, they were all right at that time. I’ll write and tell Mrs. Morton,” Nan said.
“Did they tell you their names, Mrs. Beasley?” she asked.
“Bless you! if they did, I don’t remember. I have twenty-five girls all the time and lots of ’em only stay a few nights. I couldn’t begin to keep track of ’em, or remember their names.”
This was all the information the chums could get from Mrs. Beasley regarding the girls whom Nan and Bess believed to be the runaways. A little later they went out with Inez, the latter evidently filled to repletion.
“Hi! but that was a feed! You girls must be millionaires’ daughters, like the newspapers tell about,” said the street girl.
“Oh, no, we’re not,” Nan cried.
“Well, you better be joggin’ along toward Washington Park. I don’t want youse should get robbed while I’m with you. Mebbe the police’d think I done it.”
“If you will put us on the car that goes near this address,” said Nan, seriously, showing Inez Walter Mason’s card, “we’ll be awfully obliged.”
Inez squinted at the address. “I kin do better’n that,” she declared. “I’ll put youse in a jitney that’ll drop ye right at the corner of the street—half a block away.”
“Oh! a jitney!” Bess cried. “Of course.”
Inez marched them a couple of blocks and there, on a busy corner, hailed the auto-buss. Before this Nan had quietly obtained from the child her home address and the name of her aunt.
“In you go,” said the flower-seller. Then she shouted importantly to the ’bus-driver: “I got your number, mister! You see’t these ladies gets off at their street or you’ll get deep into trouble. Hear me?”
“Sure, Miss! Thank ye kindly, Miss,” said the chauffeur, saluting, with a grin, and the jitney staggered on over the frozen snow and ice of the street.
They came to the Mason house, safe and sound. An important-looking man in a tail coat and an imposing shirt-front let the girls into the great house.
“Yes, Miss,” he said, in answer to Nan’s inquiry. “There must have been some mistake, Miss. Miss Grace and Mister Walter went to the station to meet you, and returned long ago. I will tell them you have arrived.”
He turned away in a stately manner, and Bess whispered: “I feel just as countrified as that little thing said we looked.”
Nan was looking about the reception room and contrasting its tasteful richness with Mother Beasley’s place.
A SPIN IN THE PARK