But she was glad, afterward, that they did ask Mrs. Mason. That careful lady telephoned the committee of her club having the censorship of picture plays in charge, and obtained its report upon “A Rural Beauty.” Then she sent Walter to the playhouse to buy a block of seats for that evening, and over the telephone a dozen other boys and girls—friends of Grace and Walter—were invited to join the party.
They had a fine time, although the chums from Tillbury had not an opportunity of meeting all of the invited guests before the show.
“But they are all going home with us for supper—just like a grown-up theatre party,” confided Grace to Nan and Bess.
“Pearl Graves telephoned that she would be a little late and would have to bring her cousin with her. Mother told her to come along, cousin and all, of course.”
Nan and Bess, with a couple of friends of the Masons’ whom they had already met, sat in the front row of the block of seats reserved for the party, and did not see the others when they entered the darkened house.
Several short reels were run off before the first scene of “A Rural Beauty” was shown. It was a very amusing picture, being full of country types and characters, with a sweet little love story that pleased the girls, and some quite adventurous happenings that made a hit with Walter, as he admitted.
Sallie Morton and Celia Snubbins were in the picture and the chums easily picked the runaways out on the screen. Sallie was a pretty girl, despite the fault her father had pointed out—that she was long-limbed. Nan and Bess knew Celia Snubbins because she did look like her father.
The two girls had been used in the comedy scene of “A Rural Beauty” as contrasts to the leading lady in the play, who was made up most strikingly as the beautiful milkmaid who captured the honest young farmer in the end.
There was a buzz of excitement among the Masons and those of their friends who had heard about the runaways over the appearance of Sallie and Celia when they came on the screen. As the party reached the lobby after the end of the last reel, Walter expressed his opinion emphatically regarding the runaway girls.
“I declare! I think those two girls awfully foolish to run away from home if they couldn’t do anything more in a picture than they did in that one.”
Nan was about to make some rejoinder, for Walter was walking beside her, when somebody said, back of them:
“Why, you must know those girls ahead. They go to Lakeview Hall with Gracie Mason.”
“Goodness! they are not staying with Grace and Walter, are they?” demanded a shrill and well remembered voice. “Why, I saw Nan Sherwood in trouble in one of the big stores the other day, for taking something from one of the counters.”
Nan turned, horrified. The speaker was Linda Riggs.