“Oh, Madam! Are Sallie and Celia found?” cried Nan. “I want so to make Mrs. Morton happy.”
“We-ell,” said the actress, with less enthusiasm. “I believe I can give you a trace of them. But, of course, I haven’t them shut up in a cage waiting for their parents to come for them,” and she laughed.
“It really is an odd occurrence, my dear. At the time I was telling you the other day that those girls could not be working with my company, that is exactly what they were doing.”
“Oh!” cried Nan, again.
“Yes, my dear. Just fancy! I only learned of it this very morning. Of course, I give no attention to the extra people, save when they are before the camera. My assistant hires them and usually trains the ‘mob’ until I want them.
“Now, fancy!” pursued the lovely woman, “there was a girl, named Jennie Albert, whom we had been using quite a good deal, and she fell ill. So she sent two new girls, and as Mr. Gray needed two extras that day, he let them stay without inquiring too closely into their personal affairs.
“Oh, I blame Mr. Gray, and I told him so. I did not see the girls in question until the big scene we put on this morning. Then the company before the camera was too large; the scene was crowded. I began weeding out the awkward ones, as I always do.
“Why, positively, my dear, there are some girls who do not know how to wear a frock, and yet they wish to appear in my films!
“These two girls of whom I speak I cut out at once. I told Mr. Gray never to put them into costume again. Why! sticks and stones have more grace of movement and naturalness than those two poor creatures—positively!” cried the moving picture director, with emphasis.
“Ah, well! I must not excite myself. This is my time for relaxation, and—a second cup of tea!”
Her light laughter jarred a bit on Nan Sherwood’s troubled mind.
“To think!” the lovely actress said, continuing, “that it never occurred to my mind that those two awkward misses might be your runaways until I was standing on one side watching the scene as they passed out. One was crying. Of course I am sorry I had to order their discharge, but one must sacrifice much for art,” sighed Madam.
“One was crying, and I heard the other call her ‘Celia.’ And then the crying girl said: ’I can’t help it, Sallie. I am discouraged’—or something like that.
“Of course, you understand, my dear, my mind was engaged with far more important matters. My sub-consciousness must have filmed the words, and especially the girls’ names. After the scene suited me, it suddenly came back to me that those names were the real names of the runaway girls. They had given Mr. Gray fictitious names, of course. When I sent him out to find them, he was just too late. The girls had left the premises.”