“But that big actor?” suggested Cecile.
“Surely,” gasped Mrs. Tapp, “the girl cannot fancy such a person as that?”
“My! you should just see Judson Bane,” sighed Cecile.
“He’s the matinee girl’s delight,” drawled Marian. “Ford has the advantage, however, if he will take it. He’s too modest.”
Mrs. Tapp’s face suddenly paled and she clasped a plump hand to her bosom. “Oh, girls!” she gasped.
“Now what, mother?” begged Prue.
“What will I. Tapp say?”
“Oh, bother father!” scoffed L’Enfant Terrible.
“He doesn’t care what Ford does,” Prue said.
“Does he ever really care what any of us does?” observed Marian, yet looking doubtfully at her mother.
“You don’t understand, girls!” wailed Mrs. Tapp, wringing her hands. “You know he made me write and invite that Johnson girl here.”
“Oh, Dot Johnson!” said Prue. “Well, she is harmless.”
“She’s not harmless,” declared Mrs. Tapp. “I. Tapp ordered me to get her here because, he wants Ford to marry her.”
“Marry Dot Johnson?” gasped Prue.
“Oh, bluey!” ejaculated the slangy Cecile.
“But of course Ford won’t do it,” drawled Marian.
“Then he means to disinherit poor Ford! Oh, yes, he will!” sobbed the lady. “They’ve had words about it already. You know very well that when once I. Tapp makes up his mind to do a thing, he does it.” And there she broke down utterly, with the girls looking at each other in silent horror.
BETWEEN THE FIRES
The discovery of Louise’s identity was but a mild shock to Lawford after all. His preconceived prejudice against the ordinary feminine member of “The Profession” had, during his intercourse with Cap’n Abe’s niece, been lulled to sleep. Miss Louder and Miss Noyes more nearly embodied his conception of actresses—nice enough young women, perhaps, but entirely different from Louise Grayling.
Lawford forgave the latter for befooling him in the matter of her condition in life; indeed, he realized that he had deceived himself. He had accepted the gossip of the natives—Milt Baker was its originator, he remembered—as true, and so had believed Louise Grayling was connected with the moving picture company.
Her social position made no difference to him. At first sight Lawford Tapp had told himself she was the most charming woman he had ever seen.
For a college graduate of twenty-four he was, though unaware of the fact, rather unsophisticated regarding women.
He had given but slight attention to girls. Perhaps they interested him so little because of his three sisters.
He remembered now that he and Dot Johnson had been pretty good “pals” before he had gone to college, and while Dot was still in middy blouse and wore her hair in plaits.