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Janet Hardy in Hollywood

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The synopsis Miss Williams had prepared was brief and Janet read it twice.

“The Chinese Image” centered about a strange little figure which had been brought back from China in 1851 by Ebenezer Naughton, then captain of one of the clipper ships which had sailed out of Salem for far-away ports in the Orient. The strange, squat little figure had remained in the Naughton family ever since for Captain Ebenezer, in his will, had stipulated that it must never be given away or sold.

“When grave troubles befall my family, turn to ‘The Chinese Image,’” he had written, “and therein you will find an answer.”

But the Naughtons had prospered and the will had been almost forgotten until the family came upon hard times and its fortune dwindled. Two grandsons of Captain Ebenezer, now heads of their own families, quarreled bitterly and in the ensuing family feud the image became involved. It finally fell to the lot of Abbie Naughton, the rôle played by Janet, to solve the mystery of the image, which she did in as thorough a manner as might have been expected of the light-headed Abbie.

Janet chuckled over the lines she was to read in the tryout. The part of Abbie should be great fun, for Abbie did about every nonsensical thing possible and the giddier the part could be made, the better, decided Janet.

Helen’s rôle was more serious, for she was supposed to be in love with one of the boys of the other branch of the family and many were the trials and tribulations of their love affair. It was a delicate rôle, with much sweetness and tenderness, and it should prove ideal for Helen. Janet couldn’t conceive of Cora Dean, who had a certain harshness about her, getting the part. But then, Cora was capable and she might be able to play the rôle to perfection.

Just before noon the sky, grey since morning, turned a more desolate shade and the clouds disgorged their burden of snow. It was dry and fine and tons of it seemed to be coming down.

Janet met Helen in the hall.

“What about lunch?”

“I’m going to stay at school and have mine in the cafeteria,” replied Helen. “How about you?”

“I don’t relish the long walk home, but I didn’t bring any money with me.”

Helen smiled. “You wouldn’t accept a loan, would you?”

“I might,” conceded Janet, “because I’m more than a little hungry.”

“I’ve got fifty cents. That ought to buy enough food to last until we get home tonight.”

“But we’re not going home,” Janet reminded her companion. “Have you forgotten about the roller skating party at Youde’s?”

Helen flushed. “To tell the truth, I had. I’ve been thinking so much about the play I completely forgot the party.”

“Better not. It will be lots of fun.”

“I don’t know whether I ought to go. If I do, I won’t have much time to study over my tryout part.”

“There’ll be an hour after school and you haven’t more than two paragraphs to memorize.”

“I know them now,” said Helen.

“Then come on and go to the party. The bus is leaving school at five o’clock. We’ll be at Youde’s in an hour and there’ll be a hot supper and the skating party afterward.”

“It’s snowing hard,” observed Helen, gazing out into the swirling grey.

“You think of everything,” expostulated Janet. “Of course, it’s snowing, but the road to Youde’s is paved part of the way. If it gets too thick we can turn around and come back.”

Both Janet and Helen had one open period in the afternoon which came at the same hour and they went into the library to study their tryout parts.

Janet read her lines, stopping several times to chuckle over the nonsensical words which Abbie Naughton was required to say in the play.

“This is going to be great fun,” she told Janet. “How is your part going?”

“It’s a grand rôle, and lots of fun. I know the lines, but I’m supposed to be in love.”

“That shouldn’t be a hard part then. You rather like Jim Barron, don’t you?”

“Yes, but what’s that got to do with my part?”

“I heard this noon that Jim was trying out opposite you.”


“Honest true. Of course he may not get it.”

“Jim’s a grand fellow.”

“Seems to me I’ve heard you say that before,” chuckled Janet. “I have a hunch you’ll get that part all right.”

Helen went through her rôle while Janet looked on with critical eyes, suggesting several minor changes which she thought would improve her companion’s chances.

The bell for the final class period sounded and they folded up their parts and hastened back to the assembly. Their last class for the day was honors English, a group of advanced English students who also served as the editors and reporters for the Weekly Clarion, writing and editing all of the high school news which appeared each Friday in the Times, the afternoon daily paper published in Clarion.

It was the honors English class which was sponsoring the roller skating party at Youde’s and Jim Barron, the sports editor, was in charge of the plans.

There were seventeen in the class, including Cora Dean and Margie Blake, who wrote the girls’ athletic news. Miss Bruder, the instructor, was small and dark, but somehow she managed to keep her high-tempered class under control.

This was a mid-week period and the entire time was devoted to writing stories, which were turned over to Janet for final editing. It was Janet’s task to write the headlines, a job at which she had become exceedingly proficient.

Promptly at 3:30 o’clock the final bell sounded and writing materials were shoved hastily aside.

Jim Barron stood up.

“I’m counting on everyone being at the party. The bus will be here at five o’clock. We’ll stop at Whet’s drug store on the way out of town to pick up any of you who aren’t here when we start. Remember, we’re taking the money for the party out of the profit we’ve made from the Weekly Clarion and it won’t cost you a cent. Wear old clothes and plenty of warm ones. See you here at five.”

The class scattered, some of them remaining at school to finish up odd tasks, others hurrying home to change clothes and prepare for the party.

“Going home?” asked Helen.

“Right now. I’m certainly not going to fall down in these clothes while I’m skating. I’ve got an old tweed suit and boots I’m going to wear. Why don’t you change to your corduroys?”

“I thought I’d stay on and work on my part.”

“You know that almost to perfection now. Better get into some older clothes.”

Helen acquiesced and they donned their winter school coats and started down the hill toward home. The snow was still coming down steadily, as fine and dry as ever.

“I’m glad there’s no wind. This would drift terribly if there was,” said Janet, kicking her way through the fine spume.

Chapter III
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