“Fancy!” she said, in her low, pleasant drawl. “Just fancy! had I not chanced to be known to you, and a customer of the store, I might have been marched up to the superintendent’s office myself. It really is a wonderfully good situation for a film—a real moving picture scene made to order.”
THE RUNAWAYS AGAIN
Nan was ordinarily brave enough. But the disgrace of this scene—in which the fashionably attired woman merely saw the dramatic possibilities—well nigh broke the girl’s spirit. If she moved from this place she feared the whispering people would follow her; if she remained, they would remain to gape and wonder.
The troubled girl glanced hurriedly around. Was there no escape? Suppose her chum and Mrs. Mason and Grace should appear, searching for her?
The floodgates of her tears were all but raised when the placid woman who had caused all the trouble turned suddenly to her.
“I do owe an apology to you, my dear,” she said. “I see you feel very badly about it. Don’t. It really is not worth thinking of. You evidently have a spiteful enemy in that girl who has run away. But, of course, my dear, such unfounded accusations have no weight in the minds of sensible people.” She seemed quite to have forgotten that hers was the first accusation.
She glanced about disdainfully upon the group of whispering women and girls. Some of them quite evidently recognized her. How could they help it, when her features were so frequently pictured on the screen? But Nan had not identified this woman with the great actress-director, whose films were being talked of from ocean to ocean.
“Come, my dear,” she said. “We can find a quieter place to talk, I know. And I do wish to know you better.”
Whether it were unwise or not, Nan Sherwood found it impossible to refuse the request of so beautiful a woman. Nan immediately fell under the charm of her beauty and her voice. She went with her dumbly and forgot the unpleasant people who stood about and stared. The lovely woman’s light hand upon her arm, too, took away the memory of the detective’s stern grasp.
The actress led her to the nearest elevator where a coin slipped into the palm of the elevator man caused him to shoot them up to another floor without delay. In this way all the curious ones lost trace of Nan and her new friend. In a few moments they were sitting in one of the tea-rooms where a white-aproned maid served them with tea and sweets at Madam’s command.
“That is what you need, my dear,” said Nan’s host. “Our unfailing nerve-reviver and satisfier—tea. What would our sex do without it? And how do we manage to keep our complexions as we do, and still imbibe hogsheads of tea?”
She laughed and pinched Nan’s cheek. “You have a splendid complexion yourself, child. And there’s quite some film-charm in your features, I can see. Of course, you have never posed?”