Janet Hardy in Hollywood
Ruthe Wheeler

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Janet Hardy in Hollywood
Ruthe Wheeler

Ruthe S. Wheeler

Janet Hardy in Hollywood

Chapter I


Winter hung on grimly in the Middle West that year. Late March found the streets piled high with snow and on that particular morning there was a threat of additional snow in the air as Janet Hardy, a blond curl sticking belligerently out from under her scarlet beret, hurried toward school.

It was an important day for members of the senior class of the Clarion High School, for Miss Williams, the dramatics instructor, was going to hand out parts to read for the class play. For that reason, Janet walked more briskly than usual and she failed to hear footsteps behind her until another girl, running lightly, called.

“Slow up a minute, Janet. I’m nearly breathless. I’ve been chasing you for more than a block.”

Janet turned to greet Helen Thorne, who lived half a block beyond her own home and on the same broad, comfortable thoroughfare.

The girls fell into step, Janet slowing her pace until Helen could recover her breath.

“What chance do you think we’ll have of getting parts in the play?” asked Helen, her face reflecting her hopefulness.

“Just as good as any of the rest,” replied Janet. “I don’t think there are any Ethel Barrymores in school and I wouldn’t worry if there were. I won’t be heart-broken if I don’t get a part.”

“That’s easy to say, but I’m afraid I’ll be pretty much disappointed if I don’t get one. You have the Weekly Clarion to keep you busy.”

“It does that all right,” conceded Janet, who was editor of the page of high school news which appeared once a week in the local daily paper, the Times, under the title of “The Weekly Clarion.”

The girls turned into the street which led up the hill to the high school, a sprawling brick structure which covered nearly a block. The original building had been started in 1898 and as the city had grown additions had been made, seemingly at random, until hardly any one knew how many rooms there were and it was not unusual for a new student to get lost.

Janet was slightly taller than Helen. Her hair was a golden blond with just enough of a natural curl to make her the envy of most of the girls in school. Her blue eyes had a friendly, cheery look and her mouth had an upward twist that made it easy for her to smile.

Helen was a complement to Janet, with dark brown hair, brown eyes and a dusky skin. Because of her brunette coloring, she inclined to gayer colors than her blond companion.

It was half an hour before school when they reached the building, but a goodly number of seniors were already on hand and competition for rôles in the play would be intense. With 132 in the senior class, not many more than a score could hope to win parts.

“There’s so many it’s going to be a discouraging business,” said Helen as they went upstairs to the chemistry auditorium where the class was to meet.

“If a lot of the others think that, it will be easy for us,” smiled Janet. “Come on, tell yourself you’re going to win a part and you will.”

“I want to for Dad’s sake. He wrote that he would be home for my graduation and would attend all of the senior activities. So I’ve just got to make the play cast.”

“Keep up that kind of a spirit and you’re as good as in,” encouraged Janet, who secretly confessed that it was going to be quite a job to win a place in the play.

The chemistry auditorium was well filled when they arrived. Almost every senior girl was there and at least half of the boys.

Janet looked around the large room, gauging the mettle of the girls they would have to compete against. Well up toward the rostrum was Margie Blake, petite and blond and exceedingly vivacious. Margie was popular, confessed Janet, and probably stood a good chance of winning a part in the play for she had innate dramatic ability, while Janet, who had taken a leading rôle in the junior play, had been compelled to study each bit of action carefully.

Near Margie was Cora Dean, a pronounced brunette, who had already announced that she intended to have a leading rôle, and Cora had a reputation of getting whatever she went after, whether it was a place on the honor roll or a part in one of the drama club’s one act plays.

“I’m afraid Cora will be after the part I try out for,” whispered Helen. “She’s good, too.”

“She’s not a bit better than you are, and not half as pretty,” retorted Janet.

“But you don’t always win play parts on your looks,” said Helen.

Just then Miss Williams, the dramatics instructor, hurried in. In one hand she carried a large sheaf of mimeographed sheets while in the other was the complete book for the play. Several plays had been tentatively considered, but final approval had been up to Miss Williams and she was to announce the title that morning as well as give out reading parts.

The room quieted down as a few stragglers, coming in at the last minute, found seats at the rear.

Miss Williams sorted the mimeographed sheets into piles and at exactly 8:45 o’clock she rapped briskly on the desk with a ruler. The dramatics teacher was pleasant and almost universally liked. She smiled as she looked over the seniors who had gathered.

“It looks like we’re going to have real competition for the play parts this year,” she said. “I suppose, though, that first you’d like to know the name of the play.”

She paused a moment, then went on.

“I’ve read all the plays the committee recommended carefully and my final choice is ‘The Chinese Image.’”

There was a ripple of applause, for a number of seniors, including Janet and Helen, had read portions of “The Chinese Image.”

Helen leaned toward her companion.

“That’s the play I’ve been hoping would be selected. There’s a part I think I can win.”

“The leading rôle?” asked Janet.

“Well, hardly, but it isn’t a bad part.”

Miss Williams held up her hand and the buzz of conversation which had started after her announcement ceased.

“I have had parts for every character mimeographed and each sheet gives sufficient reading material for tryouts. There are 23 rôles in ‘The Chinese Image.’ I’m familiar with the ability of almost all of you and if you’ll come up as I call your names, I’ll give you tryout sheets. The first sheet contains a brief synopsis of the play with the complete cast of characters and the second sheet has the part I want you to try for. You will also find the hours on the second sheet when I want you to go down to the gym for the tryouts.”

Janet had to confess that she was more than a little nervous as she waited for Miss Williams to call her name. Senior after senior was called up to the desk and handed his sheets. To some of them Miss Williams added another word or two, but she talked too low to be heard by the main body of pupils.

As the tryout sheets were handed out, the seniors left the room for it was nearly assembly time.

Helen looked anxiously at Janet.

“I wonder if we’re going to be called? There are less than a dozen left.”

“We’ll know in a couple of minutes,” replied Janet. “There goes Margie Blake. Wonder what part she’ll get a chance at?”

“One of the leads, you can be sure of that. And there’s Cora Dean. I suppose Cora will get the part I try for. That happened in several of the one acts last year.”

“This isn’t last year and Cora’s a bit too temperamental. Well, we are going to be the last.”

All of the others had been called before Miss Williams spoke to Janet and Helen, and with a feeling of misgiving they advanced toward her desk.

Chapter II
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