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osity or social cruelty, bad 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 help 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 in vest
ment. So she resolved
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 visitr. His canny brain made hin suspicious.
"You buy old masters?". she asked.
at her door and announced, “A gentleman to
It will be a case of no questions see Miss Parker.” “Theodore Vandergrift" asked, and no confidences exchanged-except was the name on the proffered card. Prue's by mutual consent. Do say you'll come!” heart beat faster. Of course it was the young Prue hesitated. Then she refused. Young man she had met outside the office door that Mr. Vandergrift was insistent-so insistent that afternoon and, he must be Richard Vander- Miss Parker finally consented. In the lobby of grift's son.
She calculated that he had se- the hotel where they decided to dine, Prudence cured her name and address from the records filed her telegram to Aline, promising to leave of the firm that had employed and discharged on the morning train. her all in one short afternoon. And for some Mr. Vandergrift proved a most considerate unknown reason, he had made it his business to and charming host. Learning that Prudence call. Unknown reason? Prue glanced into was interested in business affairs, he confided to her mirror and discovered the reason-smiling her his own ambitions. “I don't think that back at her with impudent delight. “Tell him just because dad has a few millions, I am I'll be down in a few minutes,” said Prue. justified in being a pampered son," he said.
“Sis rather has that idea and goes in for all UT even Prue Parker was not prepared sorts of queer fads and acquaintances. Per
for the look of surprise that came over sonally, I want to carve out something for Teddy Vandergrift's features when she greeted myself.” him in the old-fashioned parlor with its faded Prudence looked at him in astonishment. In furniture. Instead of the prim, businesslike the circle in which she had been reared, such girl he had seen outside his father's office, he ambition on the part of a rich man's son was was facing the most ravishingly beautiful and distinctly refreshing if not amazing. And his stylishly gowned young woman he had seen in ideas blended perfectly with her own. But a long while. Disappointment mingled with Prudence was not ready to reveal her true self suspicion crossed his features. This was the and her status to Teddy Vandergrift, and when girl his sister and Taranoff--and even his he parted from her on the brownstone steps of father-had accused of trying to practice her boarding house, that night, he still looked deception in connection with a valuable paint- upon her as a well educated and very charming ing. He had been all sympathy for the girl as young secretary who had incurred his father's he had listened to their statements; but now, displeasure. She had told him that she would in view of the change in her appearance and be out of town for several weeks and he manner, he wondered if after all she might be promised to call immediately after her return. a crook.
Prudence sensed the hesitancy and saw the EITHER Prudence nor Teddy realized doubt in his eyes. She wanted to laugh, but
that they had been observed at dinner. she was enjoying the situation too intensely. At another table, behind a bank of palms, "Haven't you come to arrest me?" she asked Margaret Vandergrift and Taranoff
seated. Both observed in amazement the "No," he said slowly. “I came up here to tete-a-tete across the room. Totally unable to say that I thought you'd been unfairly treated understand the companionship of Prudence and -and to try to make amends. I hope it isn't a Teddy, they were frankly puzzled. A worried guilty conscience that made you ask me that expression frequently passed over the art question."
dealer's brow. “Mr. Vandergrift," Prue explained, “I cannot "Father would be furious-and I don't blame blame you for distrusting me, and now I can see him!” Margaret said. “I think I see it all now. that your father was right from his standpoint. Teddy doesn't like you and he has some But there is quite a little story behind what has ridiculous ideas about spending father's money. happened. Some day, perhaps, I will be able to To him, the purchase of paintings and such tell you about it if you care to hear the things is the rankest extravagance. He'd truth. I am preparing to go away.
While I rather give it to the Boy Scouts and the poor. appreciate the spirit of your visit, I must ask I believe he planted this girl in father's office you to excuse me.”
to-" “You may think me presumptuous and you Taranoff raised his hand. “Do not speak may doubt my motive,” said Teddy Vander- unguardedly,” he advised. “We may suspect grift, “but it isn't merely idle curiosity to know what we like, but we cannot, must not make what this is all about. I am not going to accusations. How different is the present excuse you, and I want you to come to dinner aspect of the young lady! The office girl has
until I know the truth about the whole miserable affair."
“Don't be foolish, dear,” soothed Aline. “I am sure no such thought has ever entered his head. Anyway we are going to get to the bottom of the affair, and I am sure the best man in all the world to help us is Teddy Vandergrift himself. I want you to let me tell him all that you've told me, so he can begin an investigation at once and find out just what has happened as well as the events that led up to it.”
“Oh, you mustn't!" Prudence begged; but Aline was insistent.
“Leave it to me,” she suggested. “Just lie down and rest a little while and you'll feel much better by dinner time.
changed her spots, and is now a well-dressed woman of the world."
Two days later, Prudence Parker entered the living room of the Bradford homestead, to find some newly arrived guests who had just been motored up from the railroad station. On the threshold she paused and flushed, and an inarticulate exclamation burst from the astonished lips of a young man. It was Teddy Vandergrift.
They went through their introduction mechanically, each hesitating to confess to previous acquaintance. Prudence gladly sought the refuge of the tea-table, where Aline was acting as hostess, yet her glance wandered covertly in Vandergrift's direction. She was aware that he was observing her curiously. Suddenly a tea cup slipped from her hand. She started with nervous fright as she heard Buckley Leamon telling the party of a bit of news.
"I heard the story as I was leaving the Courts Building," he said. “Lanning Lanning committed suicide this morning. Shot himself in a fit of despondency. It seems that some estate he had recently settled, went wrong in some way.”
Aline looked curiously at Prudence, who felt as if she were going to faint. There could be no doubt about it—the act had been committed on her account and it was probably her telegram that had awakened Lanning to the fact that he had been duped. Not for a moment did Prudence believe that the lawyer's failure was the result of carelessness or culpability on her part. She felt like a murderess as she listened to the comments on his death.
“It seems,” Leamon went on, “that there was some mix-up regarding the sale of some paintings. I don't know the details, but it is believed that Lanning was cheated by a clever band of art thieves."
FTER Aline had gone down to join her
guests, Prudence pondered over the position in which she found herself. She could not rid her mind of the picture of Lanning Lanning, dead by his own hand and because of her. Now she knew why he had never answered her telegram, and she was sure that there was something crooked about the offering of the Corot to Vandergrift senior. Gradually she dismissed her fears and overcame her hesitancy. It was her duty to sift the matter to the bottom, not only to square herself but to prevent the possible practice of similar deception of others in a similar manner.
The thought of material reward, of regaining her lost fortune, never entered her head. She knew that she would never touch the money Lanning had evidently willed to her and of which his family probably stood in need. To her, the thought of accepting the de fortune was horrible—it only strengthened her determination to make her own way in the business world.
Meanwhile, Aline had sought Teddy Vandergrift and taken him from the other guests into the quiet of her father's library. “Teddy,” she said when she had related the whole story to him, “we simply must do something to help Prudence. Your father evidently thinks she tried to trick him. In any event, she imagines he does. But most of all, there is her own peace of mind to consider. I do wish you would run into Boston in the morning and see just what you can find out. She is determined not to touch Lanning's money and to go back to business; but I feel that we must do all we can to try to get her money for her—if it is true that she has been swindled out of it.”
"She's splendid!" Vandergrift said with enthusiasm, “and you can bet I'll do everything
(Continued on page 123)
RUDENCE did not hear further. She
too bewildered. She hung her head, aware that Teddy Vandergrift was staring at her horrified. Aline, who knew a little of Prudence's story, slipped her arm through her guest's sympathetically. “Come up to my room, dear,” she said. “Don't let this upset you. It will all straighten out somehow.”
Prudence let Aline lead her from the room, her excuse being a sick headache.
When the two were alone, Prudence completed her confidence to Aline, telling her, for the first time, of her employment by Vandergrift and the dinner with Teddy. “I know he suspects that I'm dishonest,” Prudence said chokingly. “I simply can't face him again
Who has written a remarkable play about that phase of a young
couple's existence 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
a reconciliation is effected in the third; but the story that Tim Murphy, as “Dr. Anderson,” the 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 busband 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 dep ure 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?