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Laura Lee Hope - Die Mädchen vom Film - Kapitel 1

Eine ungezwungene Abreise

"Oh, ist es nicht herrlich, Ruth? Hast du nicht Lust zu singen und zu tanzen? Komm, lass uns Two-Step tanzen! Ich werde pfeifen!"

"Alice! Wie kannst du nur so - so ungestüm sein?" protestierte das größere der beiden Mädchen, die in der Mitte ihres kleinen und ziemlich heruntergekommenen Wohnzimmers standen.

"Ungestüm! Wolltest du nicht sagen - ungesittet?" fragte lachend diejenige, die zuerst gesprochen hatte. "Komm schon, gib es zu! Wolltest du das nicht?" Und das kleinere der beiden, ein Mädchen, eher mollig und hübsch, mit fröhlichen braunen Augen, legte den Arm um die Taille ihrer Schwester und bemühte sich, sie durch das Gewirr von Stühlen im Wirbel eines Tanzes zu führen und pfiff währenddessen eine fröhliche Verzerrung von einem der letzten Broadwayerfolge.

"Oh, Alice!" kam in ziemlich gereiztem Ton. "Ich weiß nicht... " Du weißt nicht, was du von mir halten sollst?" Das ist es, nicht wahr, du meine Schwester? Oh, ich kann in dir lesen wie in einem Buch. Aber, Ruth, warum bist du nicht ab und zu ausgelassen? Warum immer der "verzweifelte-Jungfrauen" Blick auf deinem Gesicht? Warum dieser ferne, abwesende Blick in deinen Augen "Anne, Schwester Anne, siehst du gerade jemanden näherkommen?" Sprich über Blaubart! Komm schon, dreh eine Runde mit mir. Ich lerne den One-Step, weißt du, und es ist wunderschön!"

"Komm schon, lach und sing!" Bist du nicht wirklich froh, dass Papa endlich eine Anstellung hat? Eine echte Anstellung, die etwas Geld reinbringt! Freust du dich nicht? Es bedeutet so viel für uns. Geld! Na, ich habe in letzter Zeit nicht genug echtes Geld gesehen, um damit Bekanntschaft zu machen. Wir waren für alles verantwortlich, außer für das Fahrgeld und das wäre schon bald soweit gekommen. Sag, dass du froh bist, Ruth!"

Das jüngere Mädchen gab den Versuch auf, ihre Schwester zu einem Tanz zu verleiten, und stand ihr gegenüber, der Arm still um ihre Taille, die lachenden braunen Augen blickten verschmitzt in die eher traurigen blauen Augen des größeren Mädchens.

"Froh? Natürlich bin ich froh, Alice deVere, und das weißt du. Ich bin genauso froh wie du, dass Vati eine Anstellung hat. Er hat lange genug auf eine gewartet, weiß Gott!"

"Du hat eine komische Art, deine Freude zu zeigen", kommentierte die andere trocken und zuckte mit ihren wohlgeformten Schultern. "Warum, ich kann einfach nicht ruhig bleiben. La-la-la-la! La-la-la-la! La-la-la!" Sie summte die Melodie eines Wiener Walzers, während sie anmutig mit ausgestreckten Armen herumwirbelte, ihr Kleid ballonartig um sie herumfliegend.

"Oh, Alice! Nicht!" wandte ihre Schwester ein.

"Ich kann nicht anders, Ruth. Ich muss einfach tanzen. La-la!"

Sie blieb plötzlich stehen, als eine Vase von einem Tisch auf den Boden krachte und in tausend Stücke zerbrach.

"Oh!" schrie Alice bestürzt, als sie die Verwüstung sah, die sie unbeabsichtigt angerichtet hatte. "Oje, und Vati hat diese Vase so gemocht!"

"Da, sieh, was du getan hast!" rief Ruth aus, die, obwohl erst siebzehn, dennoch zwei Jahre älter als ihre Schwester war, eine etwas ruhigere Charakteranlage hatte. "Ich habe dir gesagt, du sollst nicht tanzen!"

"Du hast so etwas nicht gesagt, Ruth DeVere. You just stood and looked at me, and you wouldn't join in, and maybe if you had this wouldn't have happened—and—and—" She did not finish, her voice trailing off rather dismally as she stooped to pick up the pieces of the vase.

"Sie kann auch nicht repariert werden," fuhr sie fort, und als sie aufschaute waren ihr fröhlichen, braunen Augen tränengetrübt. Ruths Herz wurde sofort weich.

"There, dear!" she said in consoling tones. "Natürlich konntest du nichts dafür. Keine Sorge. Vati wird nicht traurig sein, wenn du ihm sagst, du hättest nur einen kleinen Freudentanz aufgeführt, weil er endlich eine Anstellung hat."

Auch sie bückte sich und ihr helles Haar vermengte sich mit den dunkelbraunen Zöpfen ihrer Schwester, als sie die Bruchstücke einsammelten.

"Das ist mir egal!" verkündete Alice schließlich, als sie in den Sessel sank. "Ich werde es Vati selbst erzählen. Ich bin sowieso froh, auch wenn die Vase kaputt ist. Ich habe sie nie gemocht. Ich weiiß nicht, warum Vati so ein altes Ding so wichtig ist."

Du vergisst Alice, das war eine von - " "Muttis - ja, ich weiß," und sie seufzte. "Vater schenkte sie ihr, als sie heirateten, aber eigentlich fühlte Mutter so wie ich, - sie hat sie nie gemocht."

"Ja, Alice, du bist Mutter sehr ähnlich," erwiderte Ruth mit sanfter Würde. "Du wirst jeden Tag mehr wie sie."

"Werde ich das wirklich?" Und die kleine Schwester sprang freudig auf, ihre Trauer über die Vase, für einen Augenblick vergessen. "Bin ich ihr wirklich ähnlich, Ruth?" Ich bin so froh! Erzähl mir mehr von ihr. Ich kann mich kaum an sie erinnern. Ich war nur sieben Jahre alt, als sie starb, Ruth."

"Acht, meine Liebe. Du warst acht Jahre alt, aber so ein winziges kleines Ding! Ich konnte dich in den Armen wiegen."

"Das könntest du jetzt nicht tun!" lachte Alice, mit einem Blick nach unten auf ihre mollige Figur. Doch sie war nicht zu dick, sondern hatte die beginnenden Rundungen und den Anmut des sich anbahnenden Frauseins.

"Nun, ich könnte dich nicht lange halten", lachte Ruth. "Aber ich frage mich, wo Vati bleibt? Er rief an und sagte, dass er direkt nach Hause kommen würde. Es liegt mir sehr daran, dass er uns alles darüber erzählt!"

"Ich auch. Er musste wahrscheinlich bleiben, um die Proben zu arrangieren," erwiderte Alice. "In welchem Theater hat er gesagt, hätte er seinen ersten Auftritt?"

"The New Columbia. Es ist auch eines der schönsten in New York."

„Oh, ich bin so froh. Jetzt können wir hin und wieder zu einem Theaterstück gehen - ich bin nahezu ausgehungert nach dem Anblick von Rampenlicht und darauf, das Stimmen des Orchesters zu hören. Und du weißt, während er keine Anstellung hatte, ließ uns Papa nicht sein Berufsprivileg zu Nutze machen und seine Karte an der Abendkasse präsentieren."

"Ja, ich weiß, dass er so sonderbar ist." Aber ich freue mich ebenfalls, ab und zu ein Theaterstück zu besuchen. Ich setze wirklich Rost an. Ich wollte so gerne Maude Adams sehen, als sie hier war. Aber—" „Ich wäre nie in dem Kleid gegangen, das ich besaß!“ unterbrach Alice. "Ich brauche etwas Hübsches zum Anziehen, du nicht auch?"

"Natürlich ist das so, Liebes. But with things the way they were—" "We had to eat our prospective dresses," laughed Alice. "Es war, als ob man gestrandet wäre, als die Seeleute ihr Boote in Streifen schneiden mussten und einen Eintopf daraus machten.

"Alice!" rief Ruth, ziemlich schockiert.

"Es war so!" bestätigte die Andere. "Menschenskind, du musst es x-mal in diesen Romanen gelesen haben, die du immer eifrig gelesen hast. Der Held und die Heldin auf einem Floß - sie schaut auf in seine Augen und seufzt. "Nimm noch eine Kleinigkeit von der Boot-Suppe, Liebling!" Denk nur, zum Zeitpunkt als Vati das Geld verwenden musste, hatte er mir fast schon das Geld für diese Charmeuse versprochen, und wir kauften das Nachtessen im Feinkostgeschäft - weißt du, das war als Herr Blake vorbeikam und du ihn eingeladen hast, zum Tee zu bleiben, als wir nichts zum Essen im Haus hatten - erinnerst du dich daran?"

"Ja, aber ich verstehe nicht, was das damit zu tun hat, dass die schiffsbrüchigen Matrosen ihre Stiefel essen. Wirklich Alice --" "Natürlich war es dasselbe," erklärte das jüngere Mädchen, fröhlich. "Es gab nichts Geeignetes, was man Herrn Blake schenken konnte, und ich nahm das Geld, was zur Bezahlung meiner Charmeuse bestimmt gewesen war, und schlich mich weg zu Herrn Dinkelspatchers - oder wie auch immer er heißt - und kaufte etwas zu essen. Also, wir aßen mein Kleid, das ist alles, Ruth."

"Wirklich, Alice!"

"Und ich wünsche mir, dass wir es hatten, um nochmal zu essen," fuhr die andere fort mit einem kleinen Seufzen. "Ich weiß nicht, was wir uns zum Abendessen machen sollen. Wie viel haben wir im Portemmonaie?"

"Nur ein paar Dollar."

Und ich denke, wir müssen das aufsparen, bis Vati sein Gehalt bekommt, was noch einige Zeit dauern wird. Und wir sollten das wirklich irgendwie feiern, da er jetzt diese Glückssträhne gehabt hat! Oh, ist es nicht furchtbar, arm zu sein!"

"Sei still, Alice! Die Nachbarn werden dich hören. Die Wände von diesem Appartement sind so furchtbar dünn!"

"Mir ist es egal, wenn sie uns hören. Sie alle wissen, dass Vati seit sehr langer Zeit kein Engagement am Theater gehabt hat. Und sie alle wissen, dass wir keine, was man - Mittel - nennen könnte, haben, oder wir würden hier nicht wohnen. Natürlich wissen sie, dass wir arm sind - das ist nichts Neues!"

"Ich weiß, meine Liebe. Aber du nimmst kein - kein Blatt vor den Mund."

"Ich bin froh darüber. Oh, Ruth, wann wirst du je aufhören, dir vorzumachen, dass wir etwas sind, was wir nicht sind? Du bist eine liebe, nette, süße, romantische Schwester, und ich hoffe, eines Tages wird der Märchenprinz auf seinem schneeweißen Ross vorbeireiten - und, sag mal, Ruth, warum sollte der Märchenprinz immer auf einem schneeweißen Ross reiten? Das ist etwas, was noch nie erklärt worden ist.

"In allen Romanen und Märchen kommen schneeweiße Rösser vor, auf denen der Held herantänzelt, wenn er die klagende Jungfrau rettet. Und wenn es irgendeine Farbe gibt, die schneller schmutzig wird und dazu führt, dass ein Pferd aussieht, als ob es keine Hoffnung mehr gäbe, ist es weiß. Ich weiß natürlich, dass sie dafür sorgen können, dass ein Zirkuspferd schneeweiß bleibt, aber für Prinzen und Helden ist es nicht praktisch. Die erste Schlammpfütze, die es durchpatscht - Und...ach ja! Wenn der Prinz später in seinem Geschick versagt und sich verdingen muss, um einen Kohlewagen zu fahren! Würde sein schneeweißes Ross dann süß aussehen? Dort fährt gerade einer," und sie zeigte aus dem Fenster auf die darunterliegende Straße.

"Wenn dein Prinz kommt, Ruth, besteh bitte darauf, dass er sein Ross für eines in einem gedeckten Braun eintauscht. Es wird sich besser machen."

"Sei nicht albern, Alice!"

"Oh, ich kann nichts dafür. Hört sich das nicht wie Papa an?"

Die beiden Mädchen lauschten und drehten den Kopf zur Eingangstür des Flurs.

"Nein, es ist jemand drüben bei den Dalwoods - über den Hausflur."

Der Lärm im Treppenhaus nahm zu. Es gab hastige Schritte und dann ziemlich laute Stimmen.

"Ich sag dir, ich will nichts mit dir zu tun haben, und du musst hier nicht mehr herumschleichen. Ich bin fertig mit dir!"

"Das ist Russ", flüsterte Alice.

"Ja," stimmte Ruth zu, und ihre Schwester bemerkte eine leichte Röte auf ihren holden Wangen.

Then came a voice in expostulation: "But I tell you I can market it for you, and get you something for it. Wenn du versuchst, es allein zu machen - " "Nun, das ist genau das, was ich tun werde - es allein machen, und ich will von dir nichts mehr hören. Jetzt verschwinde!"

"But look here—" There was a sound of a scuffle, and a body crashed up against the door of the DeVere apartment.

"Oh!" riefen Ruth und Alice zugleich.

Ihre Tür schwang auf, denn jemand hatte sich offenbar am Türknauf festgehalten, um sein Hinfallen zu verhindern. Die Mädchen konnten einen Blick von ihrem Nachbarn auf der anderen Seite der Halle erhaschen, Russ Dalwood mit Namen, der einen fremden Mann auf das obere Ende der Treppe drängte.

"Jetzt raus mit dir!" rief Russ, und der Mann gab auf, ganz ohne Umschweife und rutschte zwei oder drei Schritte nach unten, bevor er sein Gleichgewicht wiederfinden und das Geländer greifen konnte.

"Oh, mach schnell die Tür zu, Alice!" japste Ruth.

Literature Network/ Laura Lee Hope/ Das bewegte Bild/ Kapitel 1
unit 1
Laura Lee Hope / The Moving picture Girls / Chapter 1.
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AN UNCEREMONIOUS DEPARTURE.
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"Oh, isn't it just splendid, Ruth?
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Don't you feel like singing and dancing?
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Come on, let's have a two-step!
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I'll whistle!"
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"Alice!
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How can you be so—so boisterous?"
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"Boisterous!
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Weren't you going to say—rude?"
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laughingly asked the one who had first spoken.
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"Come, now, 'fess up!
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Weren't you?"
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"Oh, Alice!"
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came in rather fretful tones.
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"I don't—" "You don't know what to make of me?
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That's it; isn't it, sister mine?
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Oh, I can read you like a book.
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But, Ruth, why aren't you jolly once in a while?
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Why always that 'maiden all forlorn' look on your face?
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Talk about Bluebeard!
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Come on, do one turn with me.
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I'm learning the one-step, you know, and it's lovely!
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"Come on, laugh and sing!
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Really, aren't you glad that dad has an engagement at last?
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A real engagement that will bring in some real money!
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Aren't you glad?
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It will mean so much to us!
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Money!
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We've been trusted for everything, except carfare, and it would have come to that pretty soon.
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Say you're glad, Ruth!"
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"Glad?
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Of course I'm glad, Alice DeVere, and you know it.
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I'm just as glad as you are that daddy has an engagement.
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He's waited long enough for one, goodness knows!"
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"Why, I can hardly keep still.
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La-la-la-la!
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La-la-la-la!
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La-la-la!"
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"Oh, Alice!
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Don't!"
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objected her sister.
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"Can't help it, Ruth.
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I've just got to dance.
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La-la!"
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"Oh!"
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cried Alice, aghast, as she stood looking at the ruin she had unwittingly wrought.
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"Oh, dear, and daddy was so fond of that vase!"
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"There, you see what you've done!"
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"I told you not to dance!"
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"You did nothing of the sort, Ruth DeVere.
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Ruth's heart softened at once.
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"There, dear!"
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she said in consoling tones.
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"Of course you couldn't help it.
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Don't worry.
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"I don't care!"
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announced Alice, finally, as she sank into a chair.
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"I'll tell dad myself.
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I'm glad, anyhow, even if the vase is broken.
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I never liked it.
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I don't see why dad set such store by the old thing."
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"You forget, Alice, that it was one of—" "Mother's—yes, I know," and she sighed.
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"Yes, Alice, you are much as mother was," returned Ruth, with gentle dignity.
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"You are growing more like her every day."
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"Am I, really?"
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and in delight the younger girl sprang up, her grief over the vase for the moment forgotten.
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"Am I really like her, Ruth?
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I'm so glad!
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Tell me more of her.
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I scarcely remember her.
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I was only seven when she died, Ruth."
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"Eight, my dear.
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You were eight years old, but such a tiny little thing!
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I could hold you in my arms."
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"You couldn't do it now!"
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laughed Alice, with a downward glance at her plump figure.
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Yet she was not over-plump, but with the rounding curves and graces of coming womanhood.
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"Well, I couldn't hold you long," laughed Ruth.
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"But I wonder what is keeping daddy?
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He telephoned that he would come right home.
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I'm so anxious to have him tell us all about it!"
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"So am I.
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Probably he had to stay to arrange about rehearsals," replied Alice.
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"What theater did he say he was going to open at?"
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"The New Columbia.
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It's one of the nicest in New York, too."
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"Oh, I'm so glad.
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"Yes, I know he is peculiar that way.
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But I shall be glad, too, to attend a play now and again.
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I'm getting quite rusty.
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I did so want to see Maude Adams when she was here.
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But—" "I'd never have gone in the dress I had!"
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broke in Alice.
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"I want something pretty to wear; don't you?"
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"Of course I do, dear.
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"Alice!"
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cried Ruth, rather shocked.
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"It was so!"
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affirmed the other.
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The hero and heroine on a raft—she looks up into his eyes and sighs.
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'Have another morsel of boot soup, darling!'
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"Yes, but I don't see what it has to do with shipwrecked sailors eating their boots.
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Well, we ate my dress, that's all, Ruth."
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"Why, Alice!"
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"And I wish we had it to eat over again," went on the other, with a half sigh.
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"I don't know what we are going to do for supper.
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How much have we in the purse?"
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"Only a few dollars."
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Oh, isn't it just awful to be poor!"
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"Hush, Alice!
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The neighbors will hear you.
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The walls of this apartment house are so terribly thin!"
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"I don't care if they do hear.
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They all know dad hasn't had a theatrical engagement for ever so long.
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Of course they know we're poor—that's no news!"
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"I know, my dear.
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But you are so—so out-spoken."
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"I'm glad of it.
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Oh, Ruth, when will you ever give up trying to pretend we are what we are not?
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There's something that's never been explained.
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The first mud puddle he splashed through—And, oh, say!
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Wouldn't his milk-white steed look sweet then?
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There goes one now," and she pointed out of the window to the street below.
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It will wear better."
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"Don't be silly, Alice!"
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"Oh, I can't help it.
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Hark, is that dad's step?"
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The two girls listened, turning their heads toward the hall entrance door.
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"No, it's someone over at the Dalwoods'—across the corridor."
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The noise in the hallway increased.
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There were hasty footsteps, and then rather loud voices.
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I'm done with you!"
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"That's Russ," whispered Alice.
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"Yes," agreed Ruth, and her sister noted a slight flush on her fair cheeks.
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Now you get out!"
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"Oh!"
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cried Ruth and Alice together.
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"Now you get out!"
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"Oh, shut the door, quickly, Alice!"
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gasped Ruth.
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Literature Network / Laura Lee Hope / The Moving Picture Girls / Chapter 1.
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Laura Lee Hope / The Moving picture Girls / Chapter 1.

AN UNCEREMONIOUS DEPARTURE.

"Oh, isn't it just splendid, Ruth? Don't you feel like singing and dancing? Come on, let's have a two-step! I'll whistle!"

"Alice! How can you be so—so boisterous?" expostulated the taller of two girls, who stood in the middle of their small and rather shabby parlor.

"Boisterous! Weren't you going to say—rude?" laughingly asked the one who had first spoken. "Come, now, 'fess up! Weren't you?" and the shorter of the twain, a girl rather plump and pretty, with merry brown eyes, put her arm about the waist of her sister and endeavored to lead her through the maze of chairs in the whirl of a dance, whistling, meanwhile, a joyous strain from one of the latest Broadway successes.

"Oh, Alice!" came in rather fretful tones. "I don't—"

"You don't know what to make of me? That's it; isn't it, sister mine? Oh, I can read you like a book. But, Ruth, why aren't you jolly once in a while? Why always that 'maiden all forlorn' look on your face? Why that far-away, distant look in your eyes—'Anne, Sister Anne, dost see anyone approaching?' Talk about Bluebeard! Come on, do one turn with me. I'm learning the one-step, you know, and it's lovely!

"Come on, laugh and sing! Really, aren't you glad that dad has an engagement at last? A real engagement that will bring in some real money! Aren't you glad? It will mean so much to us! Money! Why, I haven't seen enough real money of late to have a speaking acquaintance with it. We've been trusted for everything, except carfare, and it would have come to that pretty soon. Say you're glad, Ruth!"

The younger girl gave up the attempt to entice her sister into a dance, and stood facing her, arm still about her waist, the laughing brown eyes gazing mischievously up into the rather sad blue ones of the taller girl.

"Glad? Of course I'm glad, Alice DeVere, and you know it. I'm just as glad as you are that daddy has an engagement. He's waited long enough for one, goodness knows!"

"You have a queer way of showing your gladness," commented the other drily, shrugging her shapely shoulders. "Why, I can hardly keep still. La-la-la-la! La-la-la-la! La-la-la!" She hummed the air of a Viennese waltz song, meanwhile whirling gracefully about with extended arms, her dress floating about her balloonwise.

"Oh, Alice! Don't!" objected her sister.

"Can't help it, Ruth. I've just got to dance. La-la!"

She stopped suddenly as a vase crashed to the floor from a table, shattering into many pieces.

"Oh!" cried Alice, aghast, as she stood looking at the ruin she had unwittingly wrought. "Oh, dear, and daddy was so fond of that vase!"

"There, you see what you've done!" exclaimed Ruth, who, though only seventeen, and but two years older than her sister, was of a much more sedate disposition. "I told you not to dance!"

"You did nothing of the sort, Ruth DeVere. You just stood and looked at me, and you wouldn't join in, and maybe if you had this wouldn't have happened—and—and—"

She did not finish, her voice trailing off rather dismally as she stooped to pick up the pieces of the vase.

"It can't be mended, either," she went on, and when she looked up the merry brown eyes were veiled in a mist of tears. Ruth's heart softened at once.

"There, dear!" she said in consoling tones. "Of course you couldn't help it. Don't worry. Daddy won't mind when you tell him you were just doing a little waltz of happiness because he has an engagement at last."

She, too, stooped and her light hair mingled with the dark brown tresses of her sister as they gathered up the fragments.

"I don't care!" announced Alice, finally, as she sank into a chair. "I'll tell dad myself. I'm glad, anyhow, even if the vase is broken. I never liked it. I don't see why dad set such store by the old thing."

"You forget, Alice, that it was one of—"

"Mother's—yes, I know," and she sighed. "Father gave it to her when they were married, but really, mother was like me—she never cared for it."

"Yes, Alice, you are much as mother was," returned Ruth, with gentle dignity. "You are growing more like her every day."

"Am I, really?" and in delight the younger girl sprang up, her grief over the vase for the moment forgotten. "Am I really like her, Ruth? I'm so glad! Tell me more of her. I scarcely remember her. I was only seven when she died, Ruth."

"Eight, my dear. You were eight years old, but such a tiny little thing! I could hold you in my arms."

"You couldn't do it now!" laughed Alice, with a downward glance at her plump figure. Yet she was not over-plump, but with the rounding curves and graces of coming womanhood.

"Well, I couldn't hold you long," laughed Ruth. "But I wonder what is keeping daddy? He telephoned that he would come right home. I'm so anxious to have him tell us all about it!"

"So am I. Probably he had to stay to arrange about rehearsals," replied Alice. "What theater did he say he was going to open at?"

"The New Columbia. It's one of the nicest in New York, too."

"Oh, I'm so glad. Now we can go to a play once in a while—I'm almost starved for the sight of the footlights, and to hear the orchestra tuning up. And you know, while he had no engagement dad wouldn't let us take advantage of his professional privilege, and present his card at the box office."

"Yes, I know he is peculiar that way. But I shall be glad, too, to attend a play now and again. I'm getting quite rusty. I did so want to see Maude Adams when she was here. But—"

"I'd never have gone in the dress I had!" broke in Alice. "I want something pretty to wear; don't you?"

"Of course I do, dear. But with things the way they were—"

"We had to eat our prospective dresses," laughed Alice. "It was like being shipwrecked, when the sailors have to cut their boots into lengths and make a stew of them."

"Alice!" cried Ruth, rather shocked.

"It was so!" affirmed the other. "Why, you must have read of it dozens of times in those novels you're always poring over. The hero and heroine on a raft—she looks up into his eyes and sighs. 'Have another morsel of boot soup, darling!' Why, the time dad had to use the money he had half promised me for that charmeuse, and we bought the supper at the delicatessen—you know, when Mr. Blake stopped and you asked him to stay to tea, when there wasn't a thing in the house to eat—do you remember that?"

"Yes, but I don't see what it has to do with shipwrecked sailors eating their boots. Really, Alice—"

"Of course it was just the same," explained the younger girl, merrily. "There was nothing fit to give Mr. Blake, and I took the money that was to have been paid for my charmeuse, and slipped out to Mr. Dinkelspatcher's—or whatever his name is—and bought a meal. Well, we ate my dress, that's all, Ruth."

"Why, Alice!"

"And I wish we had it to eat over again," went on the other, with a half sigh. "I don't know what we are going to do for supper. How much have we in the purse?"

"Only a few dollars."

"And we must save that, I suppose, until dad gets some salary, which won't be for a time yet. And we really ought to celebrate in some way, now that he's had this bit of good luck! Oh, isn't it just awful to be poor!"

"Hush, Alice! The neighbors will hear you. The walls of this apartment house are so terribly thin!"

"I don't care if they do hear. They all know dad hasn't had a theatrical engagement for ever so long. And they know we haven't any what you might call—resources—or we wouldn't live here. Of course they know we're poor—that's no news!"

"I know, my dear. But you are so—so out-spoken."

"I'm glad of it. Oh, Ruth, when will you ever give up trying to pretend we are what we are not? You're a dear, nice, sweet, romantic sister, and some day I hope the Fairy Prince will come riding past on his milk-white steed—and, say, Ruth, why should a prince always ride a milk-white steed? There's something that's never been explained.

"All the novels and fairy stories have milk-white steeds for the hero to prance up on when he rescues the doleful maiden. And if there's any color that gets dirtier sooner, and makes a horse look most like a lost hope, it's white. Of course I know they can keep a circus horse milk-white, but it isn't practical for princes or heroes. The first mud puddle he splashed through—And, oh, say! If the prince should fail in his fortunes later, and have to hire out to drive a coal wagon! Wouldn't his milk-white steed look sweet then? There goes one now," and she pointed out of the window to the street below.

"Do, Ruth, if your prince comes, insist on his changing his steed for one of sober brown. It will wear better."

"Don't be silly, Alice!"

"Oh, I can't help it. Hark, is that dad's step?"

The two girls listened, turning their heads toward the hall entrance door.

"No, it's someone over at the Dalwoods'—across the corridor."

The noise in the hallway increased. There were hasty footsteps, and then rather loud voices.

"I tell you I won't have anything to do with you, and you needn't come sneaking around here any more. I'm done with you!"

"That's Russ," whispered Alice.

"Yes," agreed Ruth, and her sister noted a slight flush on her fair cheeks.

Then came a voice in expostulation:

"But I tell you I can market it for you, and get you something for it. If you try to go it alone—"

"Well, that's just what I'm going to do—go it alone, and I don't want to hear any more from you. Now you get out!"

"But look here—"

There was a sound of a scuffle, and a body crashed up against the door of the DeVere apartment.

"Oh!" cried Ruth and Alice together.

Their door swung open, for someone had seemingly caught at the knob to save himself from falling. The girls had a glimpse of their neighbor across the hall, Russ Dalwood by name, pushing a strange man toward the head of the stairs.

"Now you get out!" cried Russ, and the man left rather unceremoniously, slipping down two or three steps before he could recover his balance and grasp the railing.

"Oh, shut the door, quickly, Alice!" gasped Ruth.

Literature Network / Laura Lee Hope / The Moving Picture Girls / Chapter 1.