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Janet Hardy in Hollywood

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Miss Williams smiled pleasantly as she looked up from the now slender pile of sheets with the tryout parts.

“Afraid I was going to forget you?” she asked.

“We were commencing to worry,” admitted Janet, “for after all there’s only one senior play.”

“Right. And I’m determined that ‘The Chinese Image’ be the best ever produced by Clarion High.”

The electric gong that heralded the opening of school banged its lusty tone through the hall.

“Never mind about opening assembly,” said Miss Williams. “I’ll explain to the principal that I detained you.”

The dramatics instructor looked quizzically at Janet and Helen.

“You make a good team, don’t you?”

“Well, we don’t exactly fight,” smiled Helen, “but there are times when we don’t agree.”

“Of course. That’s only human. What I mean is that when you get together with a goal in mind, you work hard to attain that goal. When Janet went out for editor of the Weekly Clarion last fall, you were working hard for her to win.”

“I did my best,” admitted Helen.

“And it had a lot to do with my winning out over Margie Blake,” said Janet whole-heartedly.

“Which is just the kind of spirit I’m looking for to put across the senior play. I’ll have to make a little confession or you’ll wonder why I’m so intensely interested in the success of this special play. A dramatic producing company has made me a tentative offer, but their final decision will be made after one of their representatives has seen the senior play.”

“But that would mean leaving Clarion,” protested Helen.

“I’m afraid it would, and while I wouldn’t like that, the opportunity offered by this company, if it finally develops, would be such that I just couldn’t afford to reject it.”

“I suppose there isn’t a whole lot of money in teaching dramatics in a high school,” said Janet.

“Not enough so I want to make it a life career,” replied Miss Williams. “But this isn’t getting along with my plan. Helen, I’m assigning you for a tryout for the leading rôle. Here’s your part. Read it over carefully and be ready tomorrow afternoon at 4:15 o’clock.”

Miss Williams handed the mimeographed sheets to the astounded Helen.

“They won’t bite,” she smiled.

“But the lead? I never dreamed you would want me to try out for that.”

“Why not? It calls for a brunette with ability and brains and I think you answer that description.”

Miss Williams turned to Janet.

“Here’s your rôle, Janet. It’s the second lead. You play a jittery little blond who hasn’t a brain in her head and probably never will have.”

“Does that rôle fit me?” asked Janet, her eyes twinkling.

“Well, hardly, but I think you’ll have a lot of fun working on such a part. Margie Blake is going to try for it, also.”

“Who will be trying for the part you’ve assigned me?” asked Helen.

“Cora Dean. I expect that with such competition both of you will be forced to do your best to win the part. Maybe it’s a little mean of me to match you against each other this way, but I’ve got to have a superlative cast for the play.”

“You’ll get it,” promised Janet, “for Helen and I are going to do our best to win these rôles. Why Helen’s father is planning on coming back for graduation week and Helen’s got to make the play.”

“Is he really coming?” asked Miss Williams, almost incredulously, for the name of Henry Thorne was a magic word in Clarion.

“He’s promised, and both mother and I are counting on it. We haven’t seen him since last fall.”

“Then I know one dramatics teacher who is going to be doubly nervous the night of the play. Just think of it – Henry Thorne, star director of the great Ace Motion Picture Company, watching a high school play. I’m afraid the cast may go all to pieces, they’ll be so nervous.”

“But Dad’s so entirely human,” said Helen. “That’s just the trouble. Because he’s made a success in films, people think he must be some kind of a queer individual who goes around with his head in the air thinking he is better than anyone else. He’s just like Janet’s father and when he gets home he likes nothing better than getting his old fishpole out, digging a can of worms, and going out along the creek to fish and doze.”

“I suppose you’re right, but his pictures have been so outstanding it seems that directing them must be some sort of a genius. I’ve never quite understood why you and your mother stayed on here, though.”

Miss Williams had often wanted to ask that question just to satisfy her own curiosity, but the opportunity had never opened before.

“Dad’s working under pressure on the coast, long hours and a terrific strain, and he says some of the things that are said about Hollywood are true. Most of the people are fine and hard working, but a small, wild crowd gives the rest a bad name and he doesn’t want to take any chance on my getting mixed up with that bunch.”

“But you wouldn’t,” said Miss Williams.

“I don’t think so, but Dad thinks it best for us to stay here in Clarion and mother and I are happy here with all of our friends. Of course we don’t see a whole lot of Dad, but when he does get home or we go out there, we have an awfully good time.”

Miss Williams glanced at her watch.

“It’s 9:10. You’d better go down to assembly. I’ll explain why you were late. Don’t forget, tryouts for both of you tomorrow afternoon and I’m counting on you to do your best.”

“We’ll try,” promised Janet, as they picked up the sheets with the tryout parts and left the chemistry auditorium.

In the hall Helen, her dark eyes aglow with excitement, turned to Janet.

“Just think; I’ve got a chance at the leading rôle. Of course Cora will probably get it, but at least Miss Williams is considering me.”

“Now let’s stop right here,” said Janet firmly, “and get one thing straight. You have a chance at the leading rôle.” Helen nodded.

“Cora has a chance at the lead.” Again Helen nodded.

“But,” went on Janet, “you are going to win the lead.”

“Oh, do you really think so?” There was a tinge of desperation in Helen’s voice.

“I know you are.” Janet spoke with a definiteness that she didn’t quite feel, for Cora was a splendid little actress. But Helen needed some real encouragement and Janet knew that if Helen felt confident from the start half of the battle was won.

The morning passed in a whirl of routine classes, but Janet found time to study her tryout sheets for several minutes.

“The Chinese Image” was ideally suited for a senior play, with an excellent mystery story to carry the action. A whole lot of dramatic ability was unnecessary for the rapid tempo of the story would carry along the interest of the audience.
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