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osity or social cruelty, had elected to rebuke her for having left the little inner New England circle so silently and abruptly!
“I know something of the circumstances surrounding your uncle's death, Prue, and something of the position in which you found yourself,” Aline continued. “It has caused unpleasant gossip; but what is gossip between true friends? I often feel that half the mistakes and injustices of the world result from careless, senseless gossip.
“You and I have been good friends, and friendship is too precious a thing to let lightly slip into oblivion. If you are in trouble, I want to belp you. If it is money—don't be purse proud. If it is merely the sympathy and, perhaps, the advice of one who cares, don't hesitate
to let me know. In any event, please give in to me and come to spend two weeks at the old place up here, just as soon as you receive this letter. Wire me when to expect you.”
Prudence let the letter fall into her lap. The world was not so cruel after all. Twice within a few hours she had found real sympathy. She recalled the remarks of the young man just outside the Vandergrift offices. Now she held this comforting message from Aline. Tears came to her eyes as she looked at this penciled postscript beneath "Lovingly, Aline:" "Just between us, Prue, if, for any reason, you're short of funds and haven't money enough to come on, wire at once and you'll get what you need through the Vandergrift Banking House.”
RUE stared at the last three words and
then her tears changed to nervous laughter. How screamingly funny if she should present herself at the office from which she had just been discharged to obtain money for a visit to Aline Bradford!
“It's the funny little twists of life that make troubles fade away, if we only have a sense of humor!" Prudence told herself. Then she consulted her check book. There was not a great deal left, but more than sufficient to finance the visit to Aline. Prudence told herself that her acceptance of the genuinely sympathetic invitation would prove a good invest
ment. So she resolved to go. With Aline, she would be frankly truthful. She would explain her new situation. But if Back Bay society was to prove coldly appraising, Prudence resolved that it should not read the innermost secrets of her heart. She meant to learn the truth about the genuineness of her uncle's paintings, and, while the guest of Aline, she figured that she could run into Boston and interview Mr. Lanning.
The housemaid knocked
The skull-capped, skeletonlike person shrewdly tried to analyze the methods and motives of his fair visits r. His canny brain made hn suspicious.
"You buy old masters?" she asked.
at hier door and announced, “A gentleman to see Miss Parker.” “Theodore Vandergrift" was the name on the proffered card. Prue's heart beat faster. Of course it was the young inan she had met outside the office door that afternoon and, he must be Richard Vandergrist's son. She calculated that he had secured her name and address from the records of the firm that had employed and discharged her all in one short afternoon. And for some unknown reason, he had made it his business to call. Unknown reason? Prue glanced into her mirror and discovered the reason-smiling back at her with impudent delight. "Tell him I'll be down in a few minutes,” said Prue.
It will be a case of no questions asked, and no confidences exchanged-except by mutual consent. Do say you'll come!"
Prue hesitated. Then she refused. Young Mr. Vandergrift was insistent-so insistent that Miss Parker finally consented. In the lobby of the hotel where they decided to dine, Prudence filed her telegram to Aline, promising to leave on the morning train.
Mr. Vandergrift proved a most considerate and charming host. Learning that Prudence was interested in business affairs, he confided to her his own ambitions. “I don't think that just because dad has a few millions, I am justified in being pampered son," he said. “Sis rather has that idea and goes in for all sorts of queer fads and acquaintances. Personally, I want to carve out something for myself.”
Prudence looked at him in astonishment. In the circle in which she had been reared, such ambition on the part of a rich man's son was distinctly refreshing if not amazing. And his ideas blended perfectly with her own. But Prudence was not ready to reveal her true self and her status to Teddy Vandergrift, and when he parted from her on the brownstone steps of her boarding house, that night, he still looked upon her as a well educated and very charming young secretary who had incurred his father's displeasure. She had told him that she would be out of town for several weeks and he promised to call immediately after her return.
UT even Prue Parker was not prepared
for the look of surprise that came over Texldy Vandergrift's features when she greeted him in the old-fashioned parlor with its faded furniture. Instead of the prim, businesslike girl he had seen outside his father's office, he was facing the most ravishingly beautiful and stylishly gowned young woman he had seen in a long while. Disappointment mingled with suspicion crossed his features. This was the girl his sister and Taranoff-and even his father-had accused of trying to practice deception in connection with a valuable painting. He had been all sympathy for the girl as he had listened to their statements; but now, in view of the change in her appearance and manner, he wondered if after all she might bea crook.
Prudence sensed the besitaney and saw the doubt in his eyes. She wanted to laugh, but she was enjoying the situation too intensely. “Haven't you come to arrest me?" she asked teasingly.
"No," he said slowly. “I came up here to say that I thought you'd been unfairly treated --and to try to make amends. I hope it isn't a guilty conscience that made you ask me that question."
“Mr. Vandergrift.” Prue explained, “I cannot blame
for distrusting me, and now I can see that your father was right from his standpoint. But there is quite a little story behind what has happened. Some day, perhaps, I will be able to tell
you about it-if you care to hear the truth. I am preparing to go away.
While I appreciate the spirit of your visit, I must ask you to excuse me."
“ You may think me presumptuous and you may doubt my motive,” said Teddy Vandergrift, “but it isn't merely idle curiosity to know what this is all about. I am not going to excuse you, and I want you to come to dinner
EITHER Prudence nor Teddy realized
that they had been observed at dinner. At another table, behind a bank of palms, Margaret Vandergrift and Taranoff seated. Both observed in amazement the tete-a-tete across the room. Totally unable to understand the companionship of Prudence and Teddy, they were frankly puzzled. A worried expression frequently passed over the art dealer's brow.
“Father would be furious—and I don't blame him!" Margaret said. “I think I see it all now. Teddy doesn't like you and he has some ridiculous ideas about spending father's money. To him, the purchase of paintings and such things is the rankest extravagance. He'd rather give it to the Boy Scouts and the poor. I believe he planted this girl in father's office to-"
Taranoff raised his hand. “Do not speak unguardedly,” he advised. “We may suspect what we like, but we cannot, must not make accusations. How different is the present aspect of the young lady! The office girl has
changed her spots, and is now a well-dressed until I know the truth about the whole miserwoman of the world.”
able affair.” Two days later, Prudence Parker entered the "Don't be foolish, dear,” soothed Aline. “I living room of the Bradford homestead, to find am sure no such thought has ever entered his some newly arrived guests who had just been head. Anyway we are going to get to the motored up from the railroad station. On the bottom of the affair, and I am sure the best man threshold she paused and flushed, and an in all the world to help us is Teddy Vandergrift inarticulate exclamation burst from the aston- himself. I want you to let me tell him all that ished lips of a young man. It was Teddy you've told me, so he can begin an investigation Vandergrift.
at once and find out just what has happened as They went through their introduction me- well as the events that led up to it.” chanically, each hesitating to confess to previous “Oh, you mustn't!" Prudence begged; but acquaintance. Prudence gladly sought the Aline was insistent. refuge of the tea-table, where Aline was acting “Leave it to me,” she suggested. “Just lie as hostess, yet her glance wandered covertly in down and rest a little while and you'll feel much Vandergrift's direction. She was aware that he better by dinner time. was observing her curiously. Suddenly a tea cup slipped from her hand. She started with FTER Aline had gone down to join her nervous fright as she beard Buckley Leamon telling the party of a bit of news.
position in which she found herself. She could “I heard the story as I was leaving the not rid her mind of the picture of Lanning Courts Building,” he said. “Lanning Lanning Lanning, dead by his own hand and because of committed suicide this morning. Shot himself her. Now she knew why he had never anin a fit of despondency. It seems that some swered her telegram, and she was sure that estate he had recently settled, went wrong in there was something crooked about the offering some way.”
of the Corot to Vandergrift senior. Gradually Aline looked curiously at Prudence, who felt she dismissed her fears and overcame her as if she were going to faint. There could be no hesitancy. It was her duty to sift the matter doubt about it—the act had been committed on to the bottom, not only to square herself but to her account and it was probably her telegram prevent the possible practice of similar decepthat had awakened Lanning to the fact that tion of others in a similar manner. he had been duped. Not for a moment did The thought of material reward, of regaining Prudence believe that the lawyer's failure was her lost fortune, never entered her head. She the result of carelessness or culpability on her knew that she would never touch the money part. She felt like a murderess as she listened Lanning had evidently willed to her and of to the comments on his death.
which his family probably stood in need. To “It seems,” Leamon went on, “that there was her, the thought of accepting the dead man's some mix-up regarding the sale of some paint- fortune was horrible—it only strengthened her ings. I don't know the details, but it is be- determination to make her own way in the lieved that Lanning was cheated by a clever business world. band of art thieves."
Meanwhile, Aline had sought Teddy Vander
grift and taken him from the other guests into RUDENCE did not hear further. She the quiet of her father's library. “Teddy,” she
too bewildered. She hung her head, said when she had related the whole story to aware that Teddy Vandergrift was staring at him, “we simply must do something to help ber horrified. Aline, who knew a little of Prudence. Your father evidently thinks she Prudence's story, slipped her arm through her tried to trick him. In any event, she imagines guest's sympathetically. “Come up to my he does. But most of all, there is her own peace room, dear,” she said. “Don't let this upset of mind to consider. I do wish you would run you. It will all straighten out somehow.” into Boston in the morning and see just what
Prudence let Aline lead her from the room, you can find out. She is determined not to her excuse being a sick headache.
touch Lanning's money and to go back to When the two were alone, Prudence com- business; but I feel that we must do all we can pleted her confidence to Aline, telling her, for to try to get her money for her-if it is true that the first time, of her employment by Vander- she has been swindled out of it.” grift and the dinner with Teddy. “I know he “She's splendid!” Vandergrift said with suspects that I'm dishonest,” Prudence said enthusiasm, “and you can bet I'll do everything chokingly. “I simply can't face him again
(Continued on page 123)
FRANK CRAVEN Who has written a remarkable play about that phase of a young
Reviewed by Robert Mackay
Photographs by Ira Schwartz
(Publication of dialogue excerpts permitted by the author, Frank
Craven. Copyrighted, 1920, by Frank Craven.)
John Golden, an American producer of clean wholesome plays, is responsible for the production.
The play is called “The First Year.” It is a slice of what is popularly known as small-town life. It is a story simply and directly told. The hero wins the girl of his
heart in the first act, quarrels with her in the second, and Tim Murphy, as “Dr. Anderson,” the
a reconciliation is effected in the third; but the story that kindly old bachelor who, naturally,
runs through these three acts is so natural and unforced, knows jus how young men should pro
so full of genuine fun and the tragedies that break the pose and young couples live happily youthful heart that one feels as if the action might
have been taken from a chapter in his own life. V one of his inimitable satires, Voltaire re
marks most casually that if a young married
couple manages to get through the first year of wedded existence, there is no telling how long husband and wife can live in peace after that. All the petty differences that beset married happiness come into being somehow during the first twelvemonth, and the lute is so full of rifts that even the semblance of a tune is impossible. That is the Voltairian philosophy. On this, Frank Craven, the American author-actor, has written what he calls a comic-tragedy: Winchell Smith, also American and a veritable wizard of stage
Frank Craven, as "Tommy Tucker,” and Roberta Arnold, as “Grace craftsmanship, has di
Livingston,” find that a young married couple may disagree even over rected the action, and
carving a roast chicken
MRS. LIVINGSTON:Read it.
As he gets into it, Grace puts down her book and listens). Friends of Richard A. Loring, junior, will be pleased to hear of his association with the Central Pacific Railroad as a construction engineer. While they will regret his departure from town, they will be anxious to see him succeed in his chosen profession. We understand from Richard that he is to receive a fine remuneration.
Mrs. LIVINGSTON :-Well, thank goodness I have a daughter and not a son.
DR. ANDERSON:—Wouldn't you like to have a son, sister?
The scene of the play is laid progressively in Reading, Illinois, and Joplin, Missouri, not that these towns are more important to the play than any other Middle West municipalities.
The Livingston household consists of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Livingston and their daughter, Grace. She is a girl of twenty, no particular beauty, but a girl any fellow would find attractive. She is the sort of a girl one must go to a small town to find-a clean, athletic, feminine, normal girl.
The fourth member of the family is Dr. Myron Anderson, Mrs. Livingston's brother. He is a doctor of the old school, the sort of man to inspire confidence and good enough for any one who hasn't sufficient money to indulge in a specialist. It is generally Dr. Anderson who does most of the talking after dinner, every day, and up to the time when the young men drop in to call on Grace. It is nearer truth to say he does the talking. Perhaps Grace would be playing the piano; Mrs. Livingston would have some family mending to occupy her restless hands; Mr. Livingston with his evening paper would be lost to everything but the news, and after the doctor had finished bis customary “forty winks,” he was ready to talk for or against any subject of which he happened to be given a lead.
One night, Mr. Livingston found an item about a regular caller at the Livingston home, Richard Loring. and, at Mrs. Livingston's request, read it aloud. There is a ring at the door bell and Dick Loring enters. He was, as Mrs. Livingston described him, “a wild, straying sort," and as anxious to leave the home town. as Grace. He had a sort of contempt for those fellows who considered Reading “good enough” and who decided to keep on there. Having a college education, seen a bit more of life than his fellows, he had a feeling of superiority and this was not always concealed.
LIVINGSTON :-Young Dick Loring is leaving town, Grace.
GRACE:Yes, I know.
Mrs. LIVINGSTON:—Grace knows about it, dear; but it's the first I've heard. What does it say?