THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS AT SEA
A Pictured Shipwreck That Became Real
LAURA LEE HOPE
Author of "The Moving Picture Girls," "The Moving Picture Girls at Rocky Ranch," "The Outdoor Girls Series," "The Bobbsey Twins Series," Etc.
The World Syndicate Publishing Co. Cleveland, O. New York, N. Y. Copyright, 1915, by Grosset & Dunlap Printed in the United States of America by The Commercial Bookbinding Co. Cleveland, O.
I THE GREAT MARINE FILM 1
II JACK JEPSON 10
III SOMETHING OF A MYSTERY 21
IV THE SAILOR'S STORY 28
V THE MARY ELLEN 36
VI CAPTAIN BRISCO 45
VII JEPSON IS WORRIED 53
VIII HARD WORK 60
IX THE RISING TIDE 68
X TOO MUCH REALISM 76
XI A REVISED FILM 87
XII OVERHEARD 94
XIII "ALL ABOARD!" 104
XIV OVERBOARD 114
XV "SAIL HO!" 123
XVI THE ACCUSATION 133
XVII THE STORM 141
XVIII GRINDING AWAY 149
XIX DISABLED 158
XX IN THE VORTEX 165
XXI WRECKED 172
XXII "MUTINY!" 182
XXIII HELP AT LAST 188
XXIV A SIGNAL OF DISTRESS 200
XXV CLEAR SKIES 206
THE GREAT MARINE FILM
"Well, at last a breathing period, Ruth. Oh, I am surely tired!" and the girl threw herself on the couch, without stopping to remove her light jacket and hat. Her head sank wearily on a cushion.
"Oh, Alice! Be careful! Look out!" exclaimed the other occupant of the pleasant little room, a room made habitable by the articles of tasteful adornment in it, rather than by the location of the apartment, or the place itself. There was a "homey" air about it.
"I'm too tired to look out, or even look in," was the answer, as the younger girl closed her eyes. Truly she seemed much "fagged," and worn out.
"But, Alice, dear—your hat!"
"It doesn't matter, Ruth. Please let me rest. I thought we'd never get home."
"But it isn't your old hat, Alice, and——"
"It's an old hat from now on!" broke in the younger girl, not opening her eyes. "It's spoiled anyhow. Some of the water from that parlor scene, where Mr. Bunn upset the globe of gold fish, splashed on it, and the spots never will come out."
"Oh, Alice, is your hat spoiled?"
"It doesn't matter. Mr. Pertell is going to buy me a new one. He said it was up to the company to do that, especially as I did so well in that burning room scene the other day. There!" and the girl on the couch raised her small fist and plumped it full on the crown of the chic little toque she was wearing.
"Alice DeVere!" cried her sister, aghast.
"Ruth DeVere—Lady Clarissa—Senorita Alamondi! Whatever you like, only let me—alone! I've posed and acted and otherwise contorted myself before at least five thousand feet of film today, and I'm not going to be disturbed now, just for the sake of a hat that is as good as paid for anyhow, so 'please go 'way and let me sleep,'" and Alice murmured the chorus of a once popular song.
Ruth sighed. Somehow, looking at her gentle and refined face, one understood that a sigh, from her, was the only possible answer under the circumstances. Not that the girl on the couch, with closed eyes, was unrefined. But there was a wholesome air of good health about her that caused one to think of a "jolly good fellow," rather than a girl who needed to be helped on and off trolley cars.
"You are tired," commented Ruth, after a pause. "Shall I make you a cup of tea, dear? Or we could go over to Mrs. Dalton's, if you like. You know she told us always to come in when we came from the theatre, and have tea."
"No, dear, thank you. It's awfully good of you to offer, but I don't want you to trouble. I'll be all right in a few minutes. I just want to rest."
"It was a tiresome day; wasn't it, dear?"
"I should say so, 'and then—some,' as Russ would say."
"You shouldn't quote Russ when he uses slang," was the older girl's rebuke.
"Can't help it, Ruth. That just seemed to fit. But you can't feel so very rested yourself. You had some heavy parts today."
"Oh, I don't mind. I really was in love with that role of Lady Clarissa. I always did like English plays, anyhow."
"Well, we are getting more than our share of them this season. I wish Mr. Pertell would swing to a good American drama again. Say, didn't we have fun at Rocky Ranch?" and as she asked this some of the weariness seemed to slip off Alice as a discarded garment is let fall. She sat up, her eyes flashing with fun, and her cheeks that had been pale were now suffused with a heightened color.
"Yes, we did have fun," assented Ruth. "But it was hard work, too,—especially when that prairie fire came a little too close for comfort."
"That was rather scary," assented Alice. "But it was outdoors, and that was what I love. Oh, I can just smell that wonderful air yet!" and she breathed in a long breath. A look of annoyance passed over her face, and she made a gesture of disapproval, "wrinkling" her nose.
"They're having corned beef and cabbage again downstairs," she said, pointing to the apartment below them.
"Well, they have a right to it," Ruth said, with a tolerant smile.
"Not when daddy hates it so," disagreed Alice. "Come on, let's make a cup of tea. And is there any cheese?"
"Yes," the younger girl went on. "I'm going to make a Welsh rarebit. Daddy just adores them, and the smell of the toast will take away the odor of that cabbage. Is there any cheese?"
"I think so. But I thought you were tired."
"I was, but I guess thinking of the moving picture days at Rocky Ranch acted as a tonic. I'm rested now. There!"
She tossed the hat, which she had so mistreated, on a chair, slipped off her jacket and started for the kitchen.
"I think there is some cheese," went on Ruth, following her younger sister. "But don't make the rarebit as you did last time. It was so tough that Russ said it would do very well to half sole his rubber boots."
"That was because I put the milk in too suddenly. I won't do it that way this time. Come on, we'll get up a nice little tea for daddy. He's sure to be tired also. They had to film that big scene of the accusation over three times before Mr. Pertell was satisfied."
"Is that so? I didn't know that, I was so busy with that English play. Then father will be late."
"A little. He said he'd follow us in about an hour, though. So we'll just about have it ready in time. Did Russ come out with you?"
"No," and though she uttered but this simple word the cheeks of Ruth took on a more ruddy hue.
"I saw Pearl waiting for him," went on Alice. "But——"
"You did?" cried Ruth, and then she added quickly: "Oh, I mean I suppose he had to go with her to film that scene in Central Park, near the lion's cage."
"Don't get jealous now," teased Alice. "I said Pearl waited for him, but, she is—still waiting, I guess."
"What do you mean?"
Ruth tried to appear indifferent, but it was not an unqualified success.
"I mean that Russ got one of the other camera men to take his place, and go out with Miss Pennington," said Alice with a laugh as she began cutting the bread in thin slices for toast.
"He went up town. He told me to tell you he thought he could get that book you spoke of."
"Oh, I didn't want him to go to all that trouble!" remonstrated Ruth, looking at her sister, and then suddenly averting her gaze.
"Guess he doesn't call much trouble where you are concerned," said Alice significantly, cutting up some chunks of cheese which she put in a double boiler with some lumps of butter. "He said if you wanted a book to give you some of the details of the country, where that English play was supposed to take place, you were going to have it."
"It's awfully good of him," murmured Ruth. "I just casually mentioned that I'd like to know something about the people of that section, and he offered to get a book he had once heard of. But I didn't want him to make such a fuss over it."
"La-la-la!" chanted Alice, about nothing in particular.
The girls busied themselves getting tea. The kettle was soon singing on the gas stove, the crisp odor of toast had replaced the heavier one of cabbage, and the rarebit was almost ready to serve, when a step was heard out in the hall of the apartment house where the DeVere family had their New York home.
"There's daddy!" exclaimed Alice.
"And just in time," added Ruth, as she poured the boiling water on the tea, adding to the fragrant food perfumes that now filled the apartment.
The key clicked in the lock, the door opened, and a rather imposing figure of a man entered, laying aside his hat and light overcoat, for the Spring day was a bit chilly.
"Hello, Daddy!" called Alice, putting up her face to be kissed, as she came in from the kitchen with a plate of delicately browned toast. "You're just in time. And it's such a lovely rarebit!"
"That's good, my dear."
"Oh, Father, how hoarse you are!" cried Ruth. "Is your throat bad again?"
"Well, this harbor dampness isn't just the best medicine for it. But I shall spray it, and it will be better."
He sank somewhat wearily into a chair as he spoke, and Ruth glided over to him.
"Daddy," she said, "you look worried. Has anything happened? Is anything wrong at the moving picture studio?"
"No, nothing wrong, but—"
It was evident that something out of the usual had occurred. Even light-hearted Alice sensed it.
"What is it?" she asked.
"Oh, nothing so much," her father said in weary tones. "I suppose I shouldn't make such a fuss over it. But Mr. Pertell has finally decided to film the great marine drama, and that means we shall have to go out on the water, more or less. And with my sore throat that isn't just the best thing in the world for me."
"A marine drama!" cried Alice. "Oh, I shall just love that!"
A look of worry still clouded Mr. DeVere's face.
"Father, there is something else," insisted Ruth. "You haven't told us all about this sea film."
"No, I—I haven't," he said. "And, to tell the truth, I'd rather we weren't going to be in that marine drama."
Hosmer DeVere's words and manner alike were alarming to his daughters. Seldom had they seen him so moved, especially over such a seemingly simple matter as the announcement of a new moving picture drama. He and the girls, in common with the other members of the Comet Film Company, had to portray many different scenes in the course of a season's work, and though some of it was distasteful, it was seldom objected to by anyone, unless perhaps by Pepper Sneed, the "grouch," or perhaps by Mr. Wellington Bunn, an actor of the old school, who could not reconcile himself to the silent drama.
"Why, Daddy, what is the matter?" asked Alice. "I think it will be perfectly fine to have a little trip out to sea, especially now that Summer is coming on."
"But not if the damp salty air is going to irritate his throat," declared Ruth.
"Oh, it isn't so much that," Mr. DeVere said, "but you girls evidently don't know that the big scene in this drama is a shipwreck, and what follows. I am to be 'cast' in that, and so are you."
"Well, what of it?" asked Alice. "It won't be a real shipwreck; will it?"
"Real? Of course not!" exclaimed Ruth. "The idea!"
"I certainly hope it won't be real," Mr. DeVere said, "But—Oh, well, I suppose I may as well admit the truth. You'll probably call me fussy and all that, and laugh at the superstition of an old actor. But you know we have our traditions, though I am free to confess that I have lost many of them since entering on this moving picture work. But I had a dream about this same shipwreck, and that was before I knew we were to be in it, for I might mention that Mr. Pertell has included you girls in the drama, and has prominent parts selected for you."
"Oh, I'm glad!" cried Alice enthusiastically.
"I'm not," her father said, and he did not smile. "As I said I had a dream about this drama before I knew we were to have parts in it. And in that dream I saw——"
"Oh, Daddy! Now don't tell a depressing dream before tea!" begged Alice, slipping her arms about his neck, and imprinting a kiss on a spot, which, if it were not already bald, was fast becoming so. "Wait until after supper—the rarebit will spoil if we don't eat it at once. Wait, Daddy dear!"
"All right, I will," he assented with a sigh. "Perhaps I may have a less gloomy view of it after a cup of tea."
And while the little family party is gathered about the table, I shall take just a moment to tell my new readers something about the previous books of this series.
Ruth and Alice DeVere were moving picture girls, which you have probably guessed already. That is, they were actresses for the silent film dramas that make so much for enjoyment nowadays. Mr. DeVere was also an actor in the same company. He had been a semi-tragedian of the "old school," but his voice had failed, because of a throat ailment, and he could no longer declaim his lines over the footlights. He was in distress until it was suggested to him that he take up moving picture work.
This suggestion came from young Russ Dalwood, who, with his widowed mother and little brother, lived across the hall from the DeVere family, in the Fenmore Apartment on one of the West Sixty streets of New York. Russ had invented a new attachment for a moving picture camera, and he himself was a camera operator of ability.
At first Mr. DeVere had refused to consider moving picture work, but he finally consented, and even allowed his daughters to take their parts in the silent drama. In the initial book of the series, "The Moving Picture Girls," I related their first experiences.
All was not smooth sailing. Though Mr. Frank Pertell, manager of the Comet Film Company, was a most agreeable man, the other members of the theatrical company were like those of any other organization—some were liked, and some were not. Among the former, at least from the standpoint of Ruth and Alice, was Russ; Paul Ardite, who played juvenile leads; Pop Snooks, the property man and one who did all the odd tasks; and Carl Switzer, a round-faced German, who was funny without knowing it.
But neither Ruth nor Alice cared much for Laura Dixon and Pearl Pennington, two former vaudeville actresses who thought they were conferring a favor on the cameras to pose for moving pictures. Mr. Bunn, an actor of the kind styled "Hams", was in like case.
Mr. Bunn was always bemoaning the fact that he had left the "legitimate" drama with a chance of playing "Hamlet", to take up moving picture work. But he might have been glad—especially on paydays—for he had made more out of camera work than he could have done on the regular stage.
Pepper Sneed was never satisfied. He was of a gloomy nature, and always looking for trouble. Sometimes he found it, and for a time he was happy in saying "I told you so." But more often he proved a dismal failure as a predicter of calamities.
This was the company, with others whom you will meet from time to time, in whose fortunes Ruth and Alice DeVere had cast their lots.
After the girls' first introduction to the camera they went to Oak Farm where a series of pictures were taken, and, incidentally, a mystery was cleared up. Getting snowbound was another experience for our friends, but they forgot the cruelties of Winter in the happy days under the palms. And they had only recently come back from Rocky Ranch, where a number of Western dramas had been filmed, when the little scene of our opening chapter took place.
Those of you who have read the previous books of this series do not need to be told much about moving pictures. And even those who select this volume as their first venture in becoming acquainted with our heroines must well know how the film pictures look from the front of the screen.
To the uninitiated I might say that in making picture plays a company, somewhat like a regular theatrical organization, is gotten together. The play is decided upon, but instead of the acts taking place before an audience they are enacted before a camera and a man who acts as director, or manager.
Some of the action takes place out of doors, amid the surroundings of nature, but most interior scenes are "filmed," or taken, in the studio, under the brilliant glare of electric lights. The pictures are taken in succession on a narrow strip of celluloid film, of the same nature as those in any camera. The strips are of a standard length of one thousand feet, though some plays may "split," and take only half a "reel" while others will fill several.
When the film has been exposed, it is developed in a dark tank, and from that one "master" film, any number of "positives" can be made for use in the projecting machines. Doubtless you know that the same machine which takes the pictures does not show them on the screen.
But enough of this detail.
"Was the rarebit good?" asked Alice, smiling up into her father's face, as the supper progressed.
"You may give me some more, which is the best answer in the world, my dear," he replied, smiling.
"Be careful!" Ruth warned him. "You may have dreams, Daddy!"
A shadow seemed to pass over the face of the old actor. He had been jokingly gay during the meal, but now there seemed to be a sense of depression.
"Might as well tell us, and have it over with," suggested Ruth. "We don't believe in dreams, anyhow. Do we Alice?"
"Not a bit, and I've named the corners of my bed ever so many times," and she laughed at that old sweethearts' superstition.
"Well, my dream was very vivid," Mr. DeVere said. "I don't usually believe in omens, but this one impressed me. I dreamed we were all at sea, on a vessel in a storm, and, somehow, we became separated. I saw you girls going down with the ship, while I was taken up on a life raft."
"Well, what of it, Daddy?" asked Alice. "I've often had unpleasant dreams myself. Probably you ate something you ought not to have taken. I'm rather sorry, now, I made this rarebit."
"Oh, not at all! It was excellent!" he exclaimed. "I would perhaps, have thought nothing of my dream had not Mr. Pertell, a short time ago, told me something of his plans for the future. He spoke of a great marine drama he had in prospect, and we are to have prominent parts in it. But I was startled when he told me that one scene—the great one, in fact—was to be a shipwreck. He has engaged an old vessel for this purpose, and he is going to sink it with all on board."
"All on board!" cried Ruth. "You don't mean——"
"Well, that's how it will appear in the camera, anyhow. You girls are to be well in front, and your swimming abilities will be very necessary, for you will have to go into the water."
"I hope it is warm," murmured Alice.
"Oh, it will be Summer before we get to the shipwreck part," went on Mr. DeVere. "But what worries me is my dream in connection with the drama. I almost told Mr. Pertell we would have nothing to do with it."
"Oh, Father! You can't do that!" exclaimed Ruth. She, as housekeeper, knew how much money was required in these days of the high cost of living. Though Mr. DeVere and his daughters received fair salaries, there were many expenses to be met, and if they refused present engagements they might not find it so easy to get others.
"Oh, of course I didn't actually turn it down," said the old actor, "but it gave me quite a turn, I must say. I haven't gotten over it yet, seeing you girls disappear under the waves."
"Don't think of it, Daddy!" urged Alice. "Have some of this apple slump. Mrs. Dalwood sent it in."
"Your idea is that a man's mind is in his stomach, isn't it, daughter," laughed her father. "Well, I will have some of the dessert. Oh, but I almost forgot, you will have to go down an hour earlier in the morning to the studio."
"Why?" Ruth wanted to know.
"A heavy day's work on, and Mr. Pertell wants to sketch out the preliminary scenes of the marine drama. We are actually going to sea, I believe, and he has engaged some old sailors, or at least one so far, to give it a proper nautical flavor. It's only for tomorrow that we have to go earlier than usual."
Mr. DeVere seemed more like himself after he had told his daughters of his vision. It did not so depress him now, and the rest of the meal passed off in a much more jolly manner.
In the evening Russ Dalwood came in from across the hall, and they played bridge whist, of which Mr. DeVere was fond.
"Fancy daddy, Russ," laughed Alice, "wanting us to give up a chance to go to sea just because he dreamed of a shipwreck!"
"Oh, I didn't actually want you to give it up," her father remonstrated. "Perhaps I was foolish even to mention it. But I can't forget it—I can't!" and he seemed to look through the walls of the room on some distant and fateful scene.
"Well, I must be getting back," Russ said. "You've won the rubber, as usual, Mr. DeVere. Lots to do tomorrow, and I have a new assistant to break in, so I'll say good-night."
There were busy times for all next day, in the studio of the moving picture concern. In the big room brilliant with electric lights as well as from the illumination that came through a sky-glass, there were several scenes from different dramas being filmed at the same time.
When Ruth and Alice DeVere entered with their father, Mr. Pertell, the manager of the Comet company, was engaged off to one side, evidently instructing a man in what he must do before the camera. The man was a sailor, and it needed but a glance to show that he was a real one, and not "made up" for the occasion.
"You see," said Mr. Pertell, "you come into the shipping office, and pretend to hand over the papers. But you slip the clerk the wrong ones, and while he is examining them you reach over behind him and take the documents you want."
"Avast there! Belay!" came the hoarse voice of the sailor. "I do that there, do I?"
"Steal the papers?"
"Well, it isn't stealing, exactly. It's only——"
"Stealin' is what I call it, and it can't be called by another name to my way of thinkin'. It won't do, sir, it won't do! Jack Jepson got into trouble once, but he isn't goin' to do it again. No sir! That stealin' won't do for Jack Jepson. You've got to get someone else to sign them articles for you. No stealin' for Jack Jepson!" and the figure of the old sailor turned and, with a rolling gait, he started across the big studio room.
SOMETHING OF A MYSTERY
"Look out there!"
"Where you going?"
"Hold him back, somebody! Look out, you'll spoil that scene! Don't cross in front of the camera!"
Half a dozen frantic voices were calling to the sailor who, with dogged persistence, kept on, shaking his grizzled and gray head, and muttering over and over again:
"It won't do for Jack Jepson! No sir! It won't do. I had one experience with trouble and I don't want any more. No sir!"
Evidently utterly unused to a moving picture studio, the old man kept on his way. He was headed directly toward a camera that was "filming" an elaborate ball room scene.
If any figure came between the scene and the camera with the pictures it was imprinting on the sensitive celluloid film (at the rate of sixteen per second) part of the elaborate work would have to be done over again. And as one of the characters in the little play was a celebrated dancer, whose time was paid for at an almost unbelieveable sum per hour, it would mean a heavy expense.
"Stop him!" cried Mr. Pertell. "Come back here!"
"Halt! Vamoose! Turn about!" Paul Ardite called to the worked-up traveler of the deep blue sea.
This had no effect.
"Avast there! Belay!" cried Russ Dalwood, who was not at that moment engaged at the crank of some camera. He used the same sea terms the old man himself had uttered, but this salt-water "lingo," or translation of the command to halt, had no effect either.
Then came an interruption at a most opportune time. Just ahead of the sailor a scene from a Wild West drama was being enacted. A group of cowboys were engaged in a quarrel in the bunk house, which had been set up in the studio. The outdoor scenes of the little play were to be made later, for it is the custom in this business to make all the scenes, taking place in one locality, at the same time, regardless of their sequence in the finished play. Later the film is cut up into strips, pasted together with the proper headings, or captions, and the finished play results.
And just as the old sailor, who called himself Jack Jepson, was about to step in front of the ball room scene camera, to the frantic horror of the operator, one of the cowboys, following out his lines, drew his revolver, and fired a blank cartridge at the "villain."
In the studio the noise was like that of a small cannon.
"Mutiny!" yelled Jack Jepson, jumping in the air a foot or more. "Mutiny!"
But he stopped, and just in time. Two steps more would have brought him in front of the clicking camera.
"Mutiny!" he fairly roared. "What is this! Who's firin' a shot across my bows? All hands on deck t' repel boarders! Avast there!" and he stood looking around in bewilderment, while the smoke from the revolver floated upward.
"Come here!" called Mr. Pertell running forward, and grasping the arm of the sailor before he could get away to step in front of any of the other moving picture machines. "You don't understand, Mr. Jepson. I merely want you to——"
"Yes, I reckon I heard you say what you wanted me to do. Now look here! I don't know much about you, but you come over t' our Sailors' Snug Harbor, an' you took some pictures. That was all right, I'm not captain there an' I haven't anything t' say. You said you wanted an old able-bodied man for certain work, an' I volunteered. I didn't know where the voyage was, but I signed on, an' come here; didn't I?"
"You did," said Mr. Pertell. "But let me explain."
"No, you listen to me, first!" exclaimed the old salt, shaking a thickened and roughened finger at the manager. "I come here, willin' to do anything from slushin' th' mast, or holystonin' th' decks t' furlin' sail in a blow. But what do I get; eh? I ask you what do I get? Why an order to steal shippin' papers, that's what I get! An' that's a serious crime. I'm not goin' t' be mixed up with it. No sir! Not for Jack Jepson!" and he tried to break away.
"Wait a minute!" Mr. Pertell begged. "You don't understand. It's only the business of stealing the papers, you know."
"Well, it's mighty poor business for any man t' be in; that's my opinion. I was raised honest, an', man and boy, I've lived honest for fifty years, with one exception, an' that wasn't my fault, and now——"
Again he made an effort to leave, which effort, if not blocked, would have once more taken him in front of some clicking camera.
"Oh, can't you understand!" cried the manager with a hopeless gesture.
"Perhaps I could explain to him," suggested Ruth in a low voice. "I have plenty of time, Mr. Pertell, and though I don't know this gentleman——"
"Oh, I forgot. He's going to act with you and your sister, Miss DeVere," said the manager. "Come over and be introduced. You too, Mr. DeVere. He's to have a part in our great sea drama, that is, if I can ever get it started. I began explaining to Jepson, here, about taking the papers which have to do with the case, but he can't——"
"You can't make me believe stealin's right, no matter how you go at it!" interrupted the old salt, doggedly shaking his head.
"Perhaps I can," put in Ruth with a smile, as the manager mentioned their names to the newest and, seemingly, the most refractory member of the company.
"Well, Miss," said the sailor, "you look honest. I would believe what you'd tell me, for I know you couldn't do no wrong. Perhaps I was a bit hasty, but you see this is all new to me—this play-actin', an' shootin' at folks unexpected like. I wouldn't have tried it, only the captain at the Sailors' Snug Harbor, over on Staten Island, where I'm berthed, asked me as a favor to come here. But I don't like it!"
"I didn't at first," said Alice, joining with her sister, in an attempt to placate the old salt. "But I became used to it."
"Ha! You're pretty young to be in this business," said Jack Jepson, who evidently said what he thought.
"Oh, I'm older than I look," replied Alice with a smile. "I just love the sea. I wish you would tell me about some of your voyages, for I'm sure you must have been on many."
"That I have, Miss, but this is th' queerest cruise I ever started on," and he looked around at the many scenes being enacted.
Meanwhile Ruth had slipped to Mr. Pertell's side.
"Give me a brief outline of the play," she suggested. "I think I can make it plain to him. He is all fussed up because it's something new. You haven't time to go into details."
"That's right—I haven't," agreed the harassed manager. "Well, this is enough for you to know just now. There's a plot to sink a ship, and it is necessary that certain papers appear to be stolen.
"I picked Jepson up, as he says, at a sailors' home, over on Staten Island. He's a typical salt, but he balks at even a semblance of wrong-doing."
"I think I can make him understand," Ruth said as she took the typewritten pages of the scenario, or plot, of the drama from the manager.
"I wish you would," Mr. Pertell said. "I've a thousand and one things to do."
Ruth started toward the old sailor. To her surprise her sister Alice was now in earnest conversation with him. Jack Jepson seemed to have warmed to Alice at once. And Ruth heard him saying, as she approached:
"Well, Miss, you see it was this way. There was a mutiny, an' I was accused, but I wasn't guilty. There was a mystery about it when the captain disappeared, an' that mystery hasn't been solved yet, though I'd give a good bit if it were. It's hangin' over me like a nightmare, Miss. Now I'll tell you all about it, if I don't tire you."
"I should love to listen!" exclaimed Alice, with dancing eyes and flushed cheeks.
THE SAILOR'S STORY
Ruth, on her way to explain to sailor Jack Jepson what was wanted of him in the matter of acting for moving pictures, paused as she saw Alice and the aged salt in earnest conversation.
"I think I had better defer my explanations a while," Ruth told herself. "Perhaps he will be in a bettor frame of mind to listen, after he has talked with Alice. What a wonderful way she has of making friends!" the older girl mused as she looked at the interested and flushed face of her pretty sister. At that moment Alice glanced up and caught Ruth's gaze on her.
"Do come and listen," she called. "I'm going to hear a wonderful story, Ruth dear."
The old sailor looked up quickly, stopping in his progress toward a bench, whither Alice was leading him. It was in a quiet corner of the studio, some distance away from the various little groups that, in three-sided rooms (before the open part of which cameras were placed, and over which big lights hissed) were going through their parts in the silent dramas.
"This is my sister," Alice said.
"Oh, yes, I remember now," Jack Jepson said. "There's so much goin' on that I get a bit confused. But I can see you two look alike. Are you goin' to put me reefin' sails or scrubbin' decks?" he asked.
"Neither one," Ruth said with a smile. "I told Mr. Pertell, our manager, that I'd explain what was wanted of you. It is very simple, and——"
"I don't call it simple t' rob an' cheat!" cried Jack with energy, "an' that's what he wanted me to do."
"I'll explain, and I think you'll find it all right," Ruth went on. "My sister and I are in this business," she added, "and I don't believe you think we would do anything wrong."
"Far be it—far be it," said the old salt, earnestly.
"Oh, but before you came, Ruth dear," suggested Alice, "Mr. Jepson was going to tell me——"
"Avast there! Belay! Hold on!" exclaimed the sailor, his voice ringing out through the studio, above the tones of those actors who, to give greater verisimilitude to their work were talking their parts, as well as going through them. They smiled at the old salt's energy.
"Wait a minute, Miss," he went on in lower tones. "I didn't mean t' be so quick, but that Mr. Jepson business won't do. Not at all!"
"Why, isn't that your name?" asked Ruth. "I understood Mr. Pertell to say——"
"Oh, that's my name—at least the Jepson part of it is. But I don't like the mister. I'm not used to it. The only time of late years when I was called Mister was when I was up before the lawyers, and I didn't like it then. Jest please call me Jack Jepson, an' 'twill sound more natural. I ask it as a favor, Miss," and he looked from Ruth to Alice.
"Why of course we'll call you Jack," assented the latter. "It will sound nicer anyhow, I think," she added. "Now go on with your story. You said there was a mystery in it. Has it anything to do with—buried treasure?" and Alice leaned forward eagerly.
"Buried treasure? No, Miss. What made you ask that?"
"The idea!" exclaimed Ruth with a laugh. "I'm afraid you'll think my sister very romantic, Mr.—er—Jack."
"That's better!" he laughed. "Well, I don't know much about romance. My life's been mostly hard work."
"I just mentioned treasure," Alice said with a little laugh, and a glance toward where Miss Pennington and Miss Dixon, having a rest from their moving picture work, were curiously eyeing the old sailor and the two girls.
"Well, my mystery hasn't anything t' do with buried treasure," resumed Jack Jepson. "It's about a mutiny that took place off th' Hole in th' Wall, about five years ago, an'——"
"Hole in the Wall!" interrupted Ruth. "I thought mutinies always took place on the high seas."
"Well, this was the high seas," Jack answered.
"But the Hole—?"
"That's the name of a passage between Great Abaco Island and Eleuthera, in the West Indies," the sailor replied. "I don't know why it's called that, but it is."
"A queer name," murmured Ruth.
"Go on, please," urged Alice.
"Well, I was second mate aboard a five masted schooner engaged in the lumber business," went on Jack Jepson. "We were going down to South America, in ballast t' bring back a cargo of hard woods, an' off the Hole in the Wall th' trouble started.
"Some of the crew kicked on account of the grub—that's the stuff we eat on a ship," he explained.
"Oh, we know something of such talk," said Alice with a laugh. "We haven't been out West among the cowboys for nothing!"
"Well, some of th' hands laid it to the grub, an' others t' th' hard work of sailing th' craft," went on Jack. "She was a mighty poor schooner in ballast, an' owing t' storms an' rough weather we had t' be takin' in or lettin' out reefs all th' while. It wasn't so bad up t' th' time we got off th' Hole in th' Wall, but from then on it was fierce!
"I'd heard rumors that th' crew was goin' t' mutiny an' demand that we put in at some port, an' get better grub, an' more hands, for we was short of sailors. But I didn't pay much attention to th' underhand talk until it was too late. Then, all at once, when we had got away down about off Anegada, th' mutiny broke in full force. The men riz up, an' overpowered th' officers—th' captain was made a prisoner in his cabin, an' I was given my choice of joinin' th' mutineers or walkin' th' plank."
"What's that?" asked Ruth, a bit startled.
"That's when they blindfold a man, and make him walk a plank that is put out over the bulwarks, or side of the ship," said Alice.
"Why, if he were blindfolded I should think he'd fall off, not knowing when he came to the end," Ruth remarked, with a little shudder.
"He doesn't know," Alice said. "That's an easy way of sending a man to his doom."
"That's it, Miss!" chimed in Jack. "You got th' idea!"
"But Alice, how did you know that dreadful thing?" her sister wonderingly demanded.
"Read it in a book. Go on please, Mr.—er—Jack."
"Of course I didn't want t' walk no plank," resumed the sailor, "so I temporized. I thought maybe I could beat th' mutineers after all. So I pretended t' join 'em. Things got pretty bad. Many of 'em was for puttin' th' captain away—tossin' him overboard, an' there was a fight about it. Matters got t' such a pass that pistols were fired, an' th' captain would have been shot, an' killed, only a fellow named Mike Tullane, a rough character, an' one of the leaders of th' mutiny, stepped up sudden like an' saved th' captain's life by knockin' aside th' ruffian's gun.
"Well, of course there was a fight then, but Mike seemed t' come out all right, bein' a leader, an' havin' th' men pretty well with him. Anyhow, th' mutineers were in charge of th' ship, an' off Anegada, one of th' little British Islands of the West Indies, we were put about t' run for port. Jest what was t' be done no one seemed to know. After the men got th' ship they didn't know what to do with her.
"Then came th' mystery. One night th' captain an' Mike Tullane disappeared. They was seen in th' cabin, talkin' together, an' some of th' hot-headed ones thought Mike was goin' back on his pals. They was for makin' him walk th' plank.
"But cooler heads made 'em wait. They said they wanted t' give Mike a chance to explain. But he never got it."
"Do you mean they—" began Alice, somewhat horrified.
"I mean that night he an' th' captain disappeared," Jack said. "They couldn't be found anywhere. No boat was taken, so they couldn't have gotten off in one of them craft, an' we wasn't near enough land t' make swimmin' safe. But they totally disappeared, an' that was th' mystery. Whether they had a fight, an' jumped overboard together in th' darkness, no one ever knowed, for them mutineers didn't keep extra good watch.
"But anyhow they was gone—mysteriously missin' as they say in the paper. That sort of took the heart out of some of th' mutineers and they got careless. First we knew a British vessel overhauled us, and, not likin' th' looks of things, began to ask questions. Of course there wasn't any captain, such as there should be on a ship, an' that made it look suspicious. Th' worst of it was that nobody could say where the captain was. None of us knew.
"Then th' story of th' mutiny came out, of course, an' it was all up. The Britisher took charge of us. I was arrested as the ringleader of the mutiny, an' put in chains! An' I had no more to do with it than a baby, Miss. No more than a baby!" and Jack Jepson looked from Ruth to Alice, his blue eyes expressing the indignation he had felt at the time.
"An' that's th' story of th' mystery, as I said I'd tell your sister," he added turning to Ruth.
THE MARY ELLEN
During the silence that followed the rather sudden ending of the old salt's story, Ruth and Alice looked at each other with wonder in their eyes. On all sides of them could be heard the clicking of the moving picture cameras, the loud directions issued by the men who were managing the different little dramas, and occasionally the sound of shots from the cowboy play that was going on in front of where our friends were seated on the bench, though at some distance away, for the studio was large.
"But that can't be all of it," said Alice, at length.
"All of what, Miss?" Jack Jepson asked.
"That's all there is to any mystery, Miss," he said. "A mystery is a mystery, an' if it isn't solved, it's a mystery still, an' nobody can make any more of it. Th' captain and Mike Tullane completely disappeared, an' were never heard of afterward. That's th' mystery, an' all there is to it, jest as I told you."
"But about yourself?" asked Ruth. "You said you were put in chains, under arrest, as the ringleader of the mutiny."
"So I was."
"But what became of you?"
"Well, I escaped, Miss. It may not be a very nice thing to confess, but I escaped. Th' British ship took us to a jail on some island—I forget th' name of it. Anyhow I was locked up, an' so were a lot of th' others. We were tried, an' I was accused of startin' th' mutiny. Some of th' worst men on th' ship put th' blame on me, an' I wasn't a bit guilty. But it was no use in denyin' it. They was all banded together t' accuse me t' save themselves. I was found guilty, though I wasn't at all, an' I was sentenced to a long imprisonment. I just escaped hanging by a hair, for mutiny on th' high seas is a serious crime.
"But I was innocent, an' I knew it, an' when I found th' trial goin' against me, I took a chance that offered, an' planned t' escape. I found a French vessel puttin' t' sea an' as they was short handed I signed on. Since then I've been in many vessels, but I always keep away from English ones, and from English ports, for I would be arrested the minute I set my foot on shore in one. A big reward is out for me."
"How long ago was all this?" asked Ruth.
"Oh, some years."
"But isn't the unjust charge outlawed now?" Alice wanted to know.
"I'm afraid not, Miss. Such things are never outlawed. I daren't go t' an English port, an' that's hampered me. I have to take what berths I can get."
"Can't you disprove the mutiny charge?" asked Ruth.
"Not unless some of them involved was to confess, Miss. An' land knows where those fellers are now. They've disappeared with th' captain an' Mike Tullane. Of course if I could find either one of them, I could prove my innocence, an' then I'd be free t' go where I pleased. But I've about given that up, Miss.
"So I sort of come t' anchor in th' Sailors' Snug Harbor, an' when I heard about this movin' picture business, and th' chance it gave t' make a little money, I took it. But when it comes t' doin' some crime for it, I draws th' line. As I said, I've always lived honest, man and boy, for many years, an' that one charge is th' only one against me. I'm not goin' t' take them papers, and substitute false ones."
"But you don't exactly understand," Ruth said with a smile. "I am going to explain it to you. Mr. Pertell said I might. Now here is the story we are supposed to act out; and, mind you, it is only supposing—make believe, as we children used to say."
"Oh, it's make believe; is it?" asked Jack Jepson.
"Yes, just make-believe."
"I had a little gal once—long years ago," he said softly, "an' she used to be great on make-believe games. Is this takin' of them papers a make believe game?"
"Exactly!" chimed in Alice. "My sister and I have to pretend every day. It's fun!"
"Well, of course I didn't know that," said Jack. "Maybe I made a mistake in bein' so quick. There was nothin' wrong in it?" he questioned.
"Not the least in the world," said Ruth. "It is just a game, played for the amusement of the public. I'll explain," and from the typewritten scenario she held she went over the outlines of the big marine drama, as one of the authors of the Comet company had written it. As she gave the details, the simple, kindly face of the sailor cleared. His doubts vanished.
"Say, wasn't I th' old landlubber though!" he cried. "T' think I thought I was really committin' a crime. Ha! Ha!"
"Well, your past experience had made you careful," Alice said.
"That's what it had, Miss. It's no fun t' be barred from the ports of the country that has more of 'em than any nation of the world. It hampers a man. But I daren't go on British soil."
"Could they come here and take you?" asked Ruth.
The old man looked around before replying.
"They maybe wouldn't know me," he hoarsely whispered. "I've grown a beard since those days."
"Well, then, how would the British authorities know you?" asked Alice with a smile.
"I'm not takin' any chances, Miss," was the answer. And though it might seem to an outsider that it would be safe, under those circumstances, for Jepson to visit British ports, if he kept away from the island where he had been imprisoned, he could not see it that way.
"No sir!" he exclaimed. "No British ports for mine!"
By this time Mr. DeVere, who had been engaged in finishing a few scenes in a play that had started the day before, came up to join his daughters.
"Well, how is the great marine drama coming on?" he asked, his voice being more hoarse than usual. He had done some talking, as he found it helped to give a better idea of the characters he portrayed, but it was not necessary, in these picture plays, to get his voice "over the footlights."
"There has been a halt," explained Ruth with a smile. "This is Jack Jepson, Father. He is to have one of the principal parts, but he balked at some underhand work, and—"
"Pleased t' know you," Jack broke in with a jerky bow. "Your daughter's a smart gal," he said. "She made everything as clear as daylight t' me. I'm goin' on with th' play now."
"That is when Mr. Pertell is ready," put in Alice. "He seems to have found some difficulty in that cowboy drama."
This was evident, for the Western play had been stopped, and the camera operator, with a weary look on his face, was leaning against a post, as if in despair of ever completing that day's run of film.
"No, no, Mr. Bunn, you must not do it that way," the manager was saying. "When Ardite, in the character of the young outlaw, shoots at you, stand up without flinching. That's your part—to be indifferent to gunfire."
"Oh, that's my part, is it? Just to be shot at!" cried the old "Ham" actor. "Well, it's a mighty poor part, that's all I've got to say! It will be the last time I ever take a part like that. Oh, why did I ever leave the legitimate stage?"
"Ha! Maybe it was because the stage would have left you, had you not left it," said Mr. Switzer, who was dressed up as a German comedian, and taking part in another play.
"Ha! What is that?" asked Mr. Bunn pompously. But Mr. Switzer did not repeat his remark. He was called to resume his part.
"Now Mr. Bunn, stand up and be shot at!" commanded Mr. Pertell. "Come, come! We can't lose all day on this little play. I've got to get busy on the marine drama, and I want some of you in that. Ready with that gun now, Paul!"
"Yes, shoot him!" murmured Mr. Pepper Sneed, the human grouch. "Aim it right at him. Of course they are only blank cartridges," he added cheerfully, "but if the wadding hits you Bunn, lockjaw is almost sure to follow. Go on and shoot. I know something will happen," and he looked as though he would be disappointed if his prophesy were not borne out. "Go on, shoot!"
"No! No! I protest! I withdraw from this play!" cried Mr. Bunn, looking around for his tall hat, without which he seldom was seen. It was his one remnant of departed glory.
"No, you'll not withdraw!" cried Mr. Pertell. "We've got half the film run off with you on, and you've got to stick it out. Go on, Paul. And, Mr. Sneed, you needn't trouble to stand here and look on, as you're not in this cast. You have a—depressing effect."
Mr. Sneed certainly did. However, he moved away, and the play went on. It was successfully filmed, and then Mr. Pertell was free to take up, where he had left off, the discussion of the preliminaries of the marine drama. "Out on The Deep" it was to be called.
"Well, how about it?" asked the manager, as he approached the moving picture girls, their father and sailor Jack. "Have you succeeded in convincing him?"
"That's what they have, Mr. Pertell," the old salt said. "I'm sorry I made such a fuss about those false papers. I didn't know it was only make-believe."
"Well, if that difficulty is over with, we'll go on, though we can do only a few of the simple scenes today," the manager said.
"Do you understand the play?" he asked of Mr. DeVere.
"Not altogether. I will look over the scenario."
"I can save you the trouble," the manager went on. "I'll outline it briefly for you. 'Out on the Deep,' is, as you can tell by the name, a marine story. Part of it will take place in a sailors' home. That will be the Snug Harbor, where I found Jack Jepson. We will go over to Staten Island some day and film those scenes.
"Another part of the drama will take place in a shipping office. Of course that will be a studio scene, taken right here. I was starting in on that when Jack balked."
"Well, I won't again," the sailor promised.
"Glad to hear it," came from the manager. "But the big part of the play will actually take place on deep water," Mr. Pertell resumed. "We are going out in a big schooner, and——"
"A real schooner?" asked Jack, eagerly.
"Yes, a real schooner. It isn't a very good one, but it will answer our purpose, especially as we have to wreck her, and she will be a total loss. I had to pay pretty high for her, too. But I think it will be worth it. The shipwreck scenes, in the storm, ought to be great. And now, as I have decided to postpone the rehearsal of the play for a while, I think it would be a good plan for some of us to go and look at the Mary Ellen, and get familiar with her layout."
"The Mary Ellen!" cried Sailor Jack.
"Yes, that is the name of the schooner I have purchased to use as a shipwreck," said the manager.
"Why—th' Mary Ellen!" cried Jack. "That was th' name of th' vessel where th' mutiny was!" and he started to his feet in great excitement.
"Mutiny! What do you mean?" demanded Mr. Pertell, a little startled by the action of the old sailor.
"That's just what I mean, sir! Oh, I forgot you don't know. But I told these young ladies about me being in a mutiny, an' I'm under suspicion in connection with it still. I can't go in an English port, and that's a nice blight to put on a man!" he said indignantly.
Mr. Pertell looked bewildered.
"Perhaps I can explain," said Ruth, "and if I go wrong, Jack, please correct me."
"That I will, Miss!" he exclaimed.
Thereupon Ruth told the whole story, much more connectedly, and more briefly, than would have been possible for the old salt. But Ruth had the knack of condensing a long scenario into a few words.
"Was that it?" she asked Jack, when she had finished.
"That's it, Miss, an' you did me more credit in the story than I deserved."
"Oh, no I didn't," Ruth said, smiling. "I'd like to help you solve that mystery, too—the mystery of the disappearance of the captain and Mike Tullane."
"That's it!" cried Jack. "If I could only find one of them, or if some of th' real mutineers would confess, it would clear me an' I could be free t' roam wherever I wanted t' in th' world. But it's too much t' hope for that. But you said th' name of th' vessel we was t' make believe be shipwrecked on was th' Mary Ellen, sir," and he turned to the manager. "The Mary Ellen was the name of the craft where the mutiny occurred. Could it be—" he paused, hope showing on his eager face.
"No, there's hardly a chance that this is the same one," said Mr. Pertell. "Mary Ellen is a common name for vessels," he went on, "and there must be scores with it painted on their bows. I don't know anything about the vessel I have bought, but I doubt if she was ever in a mutiny. She is a very old craft, and isn't really fit for service now. But her owners say she will do for what I want. We are going to take her to Southern waters, and the main scenes of the drama will be photographed aboard her, and around her."
"Where is the craft now, if I may ask?" inquired Mr. DeVere.
"Over in Erie Basin," answered the manager. "I am having her fitted up, and a crew is being engaged. Of course it will be some time before we sail, but I want to get everything in readiness. So suppose we take a run over there now, and look at her."
"That suits me!" exclaimed Jack, to whom matters nautical were as the breath of life. "And I hope you'll sign me on, sir; when it comes to makin' up your crew, sir."
"I intend to ship you," was the answer. "Captain Brisco said he would need some good officers. You have a mate's certificate, have you not, Jack."
"Yes, sir, and mighty glad and proud I'll be to fill that berth, sir."
"Oh, won't it be jolly to go sailing!" exclaimed Alice. "I shall just love it!"
Mr. DeVere sighed resignedly.
"I'm afraid it won't be very good for your throat, Daddy," said Ruth in a low tone. "The damp air will be sure to make you cough."
"Oh, well—" he began.
Mr. Pertell overheard what was said.
"I don't like to ask you, Mr. DeVere," he said, "to do anything that will be bad for your health. But I certainly need your services, and those of your daughters, in this sea drama. Otherwise I would not ask you to run any risks with your throat.
"But I will say this. We shall not be afloat until Summer, and, as we shall be in a warm climate, perhaps the bad effects will not be so pronounced."
"No, I think so myself," the old actor admitted. "It may even do me good. I will doctor up in the meanwhile. And I realize that if I do not go, my daughters cannot. I would not like to have them miss this fine opportunity."
"Oh, Daddy! We wouldn't go if it harmed you!" Alice cried.
"Oh, I dare say I can manage," her father replied. "The new treatment I am taking seems to agree with me. Who knows? Perhaps, when it comes time to sail, my throat may not trouble me at all."
"Let us hope so," Alice broke in. "I do so love the water, and the Southern sea will be a dream!"
Perhaps if Alice could have looked ahead, and seen what lay before her, she would not have been so enthusiastic in anticipating the future.
Mr. Pertell saw that the other plays under way in the studio were running smoothly, and then prepared to take Mr. DeVere, his daughters, and the old sailor over to Erie Basin, to inspect the Mary Ellen, as she lay in her slip, being refitted for another voyage—her last—for she was to rest beneath the waves when she had played her part in the moving picture play.
"I wish I were going with you," said Russ Dalwood, as Ruth passed him where he was having a moment's respite from grinding away at the crank of a camera.
"I wish so, too," she answered, in a low voice.
"But I've got to stay here, and grind away at this film," he said hopelessly.
"We'll see you to-night," she called to him, as she went out.
Paul Ardite waved to Alice as she "twinkled" her fingers at him. Paul was in a cowboy costume, playing a scene in the cowboy story, which seemed to be giving more and more trouble as it proceeded.
"This is the fifth time we've done that act," Paul called to Alice in an aside as she passed. "And all because Mr. Bunn is so fussy. They'll take him out, if he isn't careful. Where are you going, Alice?"
"Over to see Mary Ellen."
"Who's she? A new actress?"
"Yes, she's a 'she' I suppose, and she's going to have a big part in a drama. I'll tell you about it later."
The Mary Ellen certainly did not present a very trim appearance as the little party went aboard her at the dock in Erie Basin. The decks were cluttered up with an assortment of ropes, planks, casks, boxes and other things, so that it was impossible to move about without great care. On coming in sight of the craft Jack Jepson's face wore a look of expectancy.
"She might be the same Mary Ellen that I was on," he said.
But when he saw that the craft had three masts, whereas the ship where the mutiny had occurred boasted of five, Jack shook his head.
"She isn't th' same ship," he murmured.
Yet as he stepped on deck he gave a start, and an exclamation escaped his lips.
"What's the matter?" asked Alice, who was near him.
"Well, Miss, you may think it strange," he said, "but if I had my eyes shut, I'd say I was on my old ship—th' Mary Ellen I was tellin' you about."
"But she had five masts, and this one——"
"Yes, I know, Miss Alice. But, masts or no masts there's somethin' about this craft that's strangely familiar. I'm sure I've been on her before, and yet—no, it can't be—three masts can't make five, no matter how you count."
"Well, this is the ship," said Mr. Pertell to his guests. "This will be our home when we get her fitted up in ship-shape. I don't know much about such things myself, so I've given Captain Brisco full charge. He is to get her in readiness."
"Well, if you were to ask me I should say it would take the greater part of a year to get this in ship-shape," said Ruth. "I never saw such confusion—never!" and she gazed about the deck.
"Why, Miss, this isn't anythin'—nothin' at all!" cried Jack Jepson. "With a few of my old shipmates I could get this craft ready for a voyage in half a day—that is, if she's all right below th' water line," he added as an afterthought.
"I'm trusting all that to Captain Brisco," said Mr. Pertell. "He was recommended to me by the ones from whom I purchased this boat. I think he will have everything in ship-shape for us in time."
As they stood looking about the deck a man came up from below. From his appearance he was unmistakably a sailor, and one in authority. He issued several orders, on hearing which a number of men bestirred themselves, and then, catching sight of the little party, he called out in rough tones.
"Come now! What's this? No visitors are allowed on board here. Get ashore at once!"
"Hello, Captain Brisco!" called Mr. Pertell. "That is, if that's the proper nautical greeting."
"Oh, Mr. Pertell. I didn't recognize you," said the commander of the Mary Ellen. "I beg your pardon! Won't you walk this way?"
"We are on a little tour of inspection," the manager went on. "These are some of my principle moving picture actors, and I want them to get familiar with the ship. And, Captain Brisco, this is an old salt who will be with us. He is to be second mate, I believe. Jack Jepson, let me present you to Captain Brisco."
A strange look came over the old salt's face. He stepped forward and burst out with:
"I guess I've met Captain Brisco before, but that wasn't his name—then!"
Captain Brisco started back as though a shot had been fired near him.
JEPSON IS WORRIED
For an instant only did the commander of the Mary Ellen show signs of perturbation. He recovered himself with an effort, hardly obvious to the moving picture girls who were watching. It was as though a cloud had passed over the sun so quickly as to give an observer no time to glance up and see it, before the shadow was gone. Then Captain Brisco smiled.
"I think you've made a mistake, my man," he said, with the air of one used to commanding. "I'm sure I don't know you, whether or not you think you have had the pleasure of my acquaintance. How about it?"
He turned a sharp look on Jack Jepson, and the latter faltered.
"Well—well, maybe I am mistaken," he said slowly. "But I sure did take you for an old shipmate of mine. I sure did—an old shipmate," and he spoke the words slowly.
"For instance—who?" asked Captain Brisco, and the words seemed to come out like the closing of the jaws of a steel trap.
"Oh—er—you wouldn't know if I told you," said Jack. "I guess I was mistaken," he added.
"And I'm sure of it," Captain Brisco said, coolly. "I don't know many in these parts, for I've been away for some time. And—er—who might you be?" he asked, with more of that commanding air.
"This is the sailor who will be one of your mates on our little trip," explained Mr. Pertell. "You said you would need officers, even for a short voyage such as we intend making, so I picked up Jack Jepson. Do you think he'll do?"
"Depends on how much he knows of navigation," was the sharp answer.
"Oh, I have my certificate," Jack answered. "If you want t' see it I have it——"
"Never mind now," interposed Captain Brisco. "There are a thousand and one things to do, and nothing seems to be going right. Lay aloft there, some of you!" he cried to a group of men. "Get those halyards reeved and straightened out. Think we're going to lie here all Summer? Lively now! I think I could use you, if you've any knack of handling men," he added in lower tones, turning to Jack. "It's slow work, getting fitted out."
"I could come any time," Jepson answered, and Alice noted that the old sailor gazed furtively now and then at the captain. It was as though he wanted to impress his memory with the face of the commander. "I'm over in Sailors' Snug Harbor," Jepson went on, "I came over to do some actin'——"
"Yes, this play acting business is new to me, too," said Captain Brisco. "But I suppose I can get used to it. Seems rather queer to go to all this work and expense," he went on to Mr. Pertell, "just to fit a schooner out, and then sink her. It's a waste of good money, I should say."
"We'll get our money back, never fear, if the film turns out all right," said Mr. Pertell. "Now how are you coming on? That's what I came to see. I want some of my principal actors to get familiar with the ship, so I brought them down. I started with Jepson, up in the studio," he added in a lower voice, for the benefit of Captain Brisco, "but he balked, I'll tell you about it later. He can stay and help you if you like."
"Well, I probably can use him," the commander said, as he looked at Jepson, who was wandering about the deck with a curiously abstracted air.
"Sort of funny thinking he knew you, wasn't it?" commented Mr. Pertell, while Alice, Ruth and Mr. DeVere looked on with interest at the various activities connected with getting the Mary Ellen ready for sea.
"Oh, not at all queer," answered Captain Brisco, quickly. "I have commanded so many men and ships in my day that I must be familiar by name, at least, to hundreds of sailors. But I never saw this Jepson before. However, he seems to be a good, honest soul."
"Too honest, by far!" laughed Mr. Pertell. "He wouldn't even pretend to take some false papers to carry out a film idea. Said he'd been in enough trouble over being falsely accused in a mutiny!"
"A mutiny!" exclaimed Captain Brisco. "A mutiny!"
"Yes. Why, is that remarkable?" asked the manager, for Captain Brisco seemed startled.
"No, oh, no! I don't know as it is. I was only thinking if he was given to starting mutinies, he wouldn't be a safe man to have on board here."
"Oh, you needn't fear for Jepson," the manager said. "He was innocent in that mutiny affair, I believe. But now as to details. I want to consult with you in regard to certain matters."
And while the captain and manager sought a quiet corner, where they might converse, and go over the plot of the great marine drama, Alice and Ruth wandered about the ship. The sailors who were fitting her out looked curiously at the girls as they went to and fro. Mr. DeVere found a sheltered spot where he said he would wait until Mr. Pertell was finished with the captain.
"Does your throat pain you much?" asked Alice solicitously.
"Oh, not as much as I expected, coming so near the water. I think it will be all right. Don't worry."
"Isn't it perfectly wonderful, to think we're going to be on board this schooner!" exclaimed Alice to her sister. "And are we going to sleep here and eat here, Jack?" she asked, as the old sailor came toward them.
"Well, Miss, if you goes on a voyage you can't walk off th' ship whenever you want to, you know, to get a berth, and some grub. I mean something to eat and a place to sleep," he quickly translated. "You has to stay right on board until the voyage ends."
"Oh, and could we see where we sleep?" asked Ruth.
"The staterooms? Yes, of course," said Captain Brisco, who with Mr. Pertell came forward just then. "Jepson, take the ladies below. If you're a sailor you don't need to be told the way."
"No, sir," was the respectful answer. Jack seemed to have acquired new dignity since coming aboard; and it was noticeable, a little later, that he took more pains with his talk, being more grammatical, and pronouncing his words better, as befitted a mate.
"And I want to see where they do the cooking," remarked Ruth. "What is it they call it—the alley?"
"The galley," corrected Alice. "Don't you remember?"
"Oh, yes, so it is. What a funny name for a kitchen."
"This way," directed Jack, as he started for the companionway. Meanwhile Mr. Pertell and Captain Brisco having settled on certain details, called Mr. DeVere into consultation, since that actor was to have a prominent part in the scenes that would take place aboard the ship.
Jack Jepson led his two pretty charges below, where some men were also at work. They inspected the sleeping quarters, the galley and other parts of the ship. Then, at the suggestion of Alice they penetrated to the men's quarters—the forecastle, or "fo'cas'l," as Jack pronounced it, sailor-fashion.
As they passed two carpenters doing some "patch-work," Jack paused and looked closely at what they were doing. Suddenly he turned to Alice and asked:
"Is this craft to make a voyage all by herself?"
"A short one—yes," Alice answered, for she had looked over the scenario. "Why do you ask?"
"Oh, nothin'—nothin'—," answered Jack Jepson. "Only, oh, well, I s'pose it's all right," he went on. But as he led the way forward Ruth noticed a look of worriment on the face of the old sailor. It was so evident that it startled her—the more so as she heard him murmur:
"Going all by herself; eh? Well, she certainly needs a consort."
Ruth took advantage of the first opportunity to question Sailor Jack Jepson. The memory of that look on his face haunted her. But it was not until they had come from the Mary Ellen that Ruth found her chance.
While on board, arrangements had been made for taking some of the preliminary scenes of the marine drama, and Mr. Pertell urged Captain Brisco to hasten, as much as he could, the preparations for the voyage.
But finally, when Alice and her father had gone on ahead, walking with Mr. Pertell, and were deep in a discussion about a certain scene, Ruth found a chance to ask:
"Didn't you like what you saw downstairs in the Mary Ellen, Jack?"
"Downstairs, Miss?" the sailor questioned, a puzzled look on his face.
"Or whatever the right sea-term is for under the deck?" she went on.
"Oh, you mean below."
"Yes, didn't you like what you saw below?" asked Ruth.
"What do you mean, Miss?"
"Well, you didn't seem altogether pleased. I don't want them to hear," she went on, motioning to her father and sister, "but you looked worried. Was anything—wrong?"
"Wrong? No, Miss, not exactly wrong. But some of them fellers didn't seem to know their business in repairin' a ship, that was all. But we aren't goin' on much of a voyage, so I don't s'pose it matters—much."
"But we are going on a pretty long trip, and for a time we'll all be alone on board the Mary Ellen, some distance from land," Ruth said. "I know, for I've read the outlines."
"Is that so, Miss? Why—I—I didn't exactly know that. I wonder if I'd better——"
Before Jack Jepson could continue Mr. Pertell turned back and called:
"Oh, I believe I forgot to tell you people, but we are also to have a motorboat in connection with the Mary Ellen. A big, powerful gasoline craft, she is, called the Ajax. She'll follow us, part of the time, for some of the pictures have to be taken from a distance, as she trails along at the stern. We'll have plenty of time for rehearsal, though."
"Ah, a motorboat to follow us. Then there isn't so much danger," said Jack Jepson, and he seemed talking to himself.
"Danger!" exclaimed Ruth. "What do you mean by that?"
"Danger? Did I say danger, Miss?" he asked, and again Ruth was surprised at the strange look on his face.
"You certainly did say it," she replied.
"Well, I didn't mean it," he said, though he spoke with an obvious effort. "I meant it would be much more company—company for you folks as aren't used to sailin' the seas. That's all, Miss. Oh, no, there's no real danger—that is there won't be to you, as long as old Jack Jepson can ward it off," he murmured under his breath.
The little party went back to the studio, and, after lunch, some of the easiest and less important scenes in the marine drama were rehearsed. Sailor Jack soon understood what was wanted of him, and did very well. Ruth and Alice took pleasure in coaching the honest, simple old salt. His too-conscientious scruples about doing a seemingly wrongful act were overcome when it was explained to him, and he went through the scene in the studio shipping office very well.
"And that will be all you'll have to do for a few days," Manager Pertell told him. "You will not be needed to take part in any scenes until we get ready for the second act. Meanwhile you had better arrange to stay aboard the Mary Ellen, while she is in the Erie Basin, and help Captain Brisco."
"That I will! Aye, aye, sir!" exclaimed Jack. "And it'll be a relief to be where I can feel the heave of a deck, even if the craft is anchored, and to smell the real salt water again. I'll go aboard as soon as I can get back to the Snug Harbor, and stow my dunnage in a bag."
He really seemed delighted to make the change, and the worried look left his face, though Ruth could not forget the shadow it had cast. What did it mean? She asked herself this over and over again.
Meanwhile there was hard work for the moving picture girls and Mr. DeVere. A company engaged in the making of films does not content itself with merely producing one big play. There are any number of small reels that are needed, as "fillers." Some of them are called "split reels," meaning that there are two plays, or sketches, on each one. And in the intervals of going through scenes in "Out on The Deep," or rehearsing for them, Ruth and Alice took part, with others of the Comet organization, in the making of many pictures.
Several weeks went by in this way. Spring was gradually turning into Summer, to the delight of the girls, who loved the outdoors. Of course they loved Winter, too, for they had many outdoor scenes to take part in then, since snow effects are always easy to photograph.
"But Summer is the best!" cried Alice, gaily dancing about the studio, after she had finished in a little comedy scene, one day.
"I think so, too," agreed Ruth.
"And when we get out on the deep blue sea," the younger girl added, "it will be ideal. Oh, I can hardly wait for the Mary Ellen to start on her last voyage. Isn't it too bad she has to be sunk?" she asked.
"Yes, it is rather tragic," agreed Ruth. "I hope we get far enough away when she takes her last plunge beneath the waves," she added with an involuntary shudder.
"Oh, trust Captain Brisco for that," Alice said.
"I had rather trust—Sailor Jack Jepson," murmured Ruth in a low voice.
Meanwhile work on refitting the schooner had gone on apace. The moving picture girls, and their friends, had paid several visits to her, and found Captain Brisco, Jack Jepson and the others hard at work making the vessel a semblance of her former self.
"She's an old tub," said Jack to the girls, "but she's in better shape than she was when you were here afore, Missies."
And indeed the Mary Ellen did seem so. A new coat of paint added as much to her appearance, as a new dress and hat does to a young lady, though Mary Ellen could no longer be classed as young.
Then came a day when many members of the theatrical company, including Jack Jepson, who now enjoyed that distinction, were taken down to the seacoast, some distance from New York. They went in a tug specially hired for the occasion.
"Some of the scenes of the marine drama take place on the seacoast," explained Mr. Pertell. "I want to get them now, when we have the chance. I need a rocky shore, and this is the nearest one we can reach. Get ready now. We have rehearsed these scenes, you remember."
They were not easy scenes, and, even though they had been gone over in the studio, when it came to actually going through them on the beach, one difficulty after another arose.
In the first place it was a raw, windy day, and there was a pretty high sea, dashing up among the rocks of the shore, and sending a spray over toward the cameras.
"I can't do anything from this point!" finally complained Russ Dalwood, who was at the machine. "I've spoiled about a hundred feet of film now. We'll have to get around that point."
"All right," agreed Mr. Pertell, "but the scenery isn't so good there."
But when one difficulty was disposed of another one was found. Mr. Bunn made trouble when he was asked to do a certain "fall" in the water. He complained that he did not want to spoil his tall hat.
"Oh, you and your tall hat!" impatiently exclaimed the manager. "Go on with that scene, I tell you!"
"But I—er—I—" expostulated the old actor.
Before he could make further objection a mist of heavy spray dashed over him, thoroughly wetting his beloved hat.
"There!" cried Mr. Pertell. "Your tile is spoiled anyhow, now go on and fall in. It can't get any wetter!"
"Oh, what a life! What a life!" groaned the "Ham" actor, but he went through the "business." Perhaps he realized that other engagements were not any too plentiful for men of his talent.
Nor did Ruth and Alice have an easy time. They had to scramble over rocks, they had to escape from smugglers, they had to hide in caves, and once Alice had to fall down on the rocks, and pretend to be hurt. It was a very real fall, too, and she did not have to make much of a pretense at limping.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" exclaimed Paul Ardite, hastening to her side. "Shall I carry you?" he asked eagerly.
"No indeed. I'm all right. I just——"
"Keep back there, Paul! Keep back!" cried Mr. Pertell. "Don't get in range and spoil the picture. That's fine, Miss DeVere. It's very natural—that limp!"
"It ought to be!" murmured Alice, biting her lips to keep back an exclamation of pain. "It's real enough, especially the pain."
Moving picture acting is not all as easy as it seems.
THE RISING TIDE
"Well, that's very good, so far," said Mr. Pertell, when there came a lull in the taking of the preliminary scenes of the marine film. "A little more life wouldn't have hurt any, but the conditions aren't just the best. It was fairly well done."
"Huh! Fairly well done!" exclaimed Pepper Sneed. "I wonder what he wants, anyhow? I nearly broke my neck scrambling over those rocks, and the skin is all gone from the palms of my hands, and all he says is that it was 'fairly well done!' I wonder what he wants, anyhow?"
"Ha! He vants dot you shouldt altogedder preak your neck, ain't it?" put in Mr. Switzer. "Dot vould be a real funny picture, alretty yet!" he went on in his favorite character of a Dutch comedian. "Preak your neck, Mr. Sneed, und let Russ make der picture."
"Ha! I think I see myself!" exclaimed the "grouch," as he looked for a seaweed-cushioned rock whereon to sit. "There's been a lot of trouble today, but, mark my words, there'll be more before we have finished. That's all I've got to say," and by the sour look on his face anyone would have thought that he rejoiced in his prediction of trouble to come.
"What is the matter now?" asked Ruth, coming up in time to hear part of the discussion.
"Oh, Pepper is sure the world is going to come to an end before the public has a chance to see him in his great rescue act of 'Out on The Deep,' I guess," replied Paul Ardite. "Cheer up!" he added. "The worst is yet to come."
"You're right there," agreed Mr. Sneed, darkly. "There'll be an accident before this day is over, mark my words!"
"Oh, Alice, are you hurt?" asked Ruth quickly, as she saw her sister limping toward her, for the little scene in which Alice had slipped and hurt her ankle, had taken place when Ruth was busy in another part of the play, farther down the shore line.
"It isn't anything," the younger girl answered, bravely keeping back an exclamation of pain.
"Will you be able to go on?" Mr. Pertell asked. He had followed Alice, when the scene closed, and when he had stopped Paul in time to prevent the photographs from being spoiled.
"Oh, yes, I can go on, of course," Alice said, with an effort.
"Because you have some important parts yet to do," the manager continued. He was not as heartless as this sounds. Really he was most kind and considerate. Yet he knew the pictures must be made and the present was the best time. If there were a delay, there was no telling what might intervene.
He knew that Alice herself realized this. She would not give up unless positively unable to go on. The general public little realizes how often those who entertain them do so under positive pain and suffering. Of course moving picture scenes can be postponed more easily than can those in a real theatre. But the general rule holds good for the movies, as for the legitimate. "The show must go on!" That is the watchword of manager and player alike. "The show must go on!"
"I have a bottle of arnica with me," said Mrs. Maguire, the "old lady" of the company. "I heard we were to do some rock-scrambling today and I brought it along. I'll rub some of it on your ankle," she said to Alice.
"Yes, doctor her up a bit," advised Mr. Pertell. "She's too important to be left out of the film, for a while at least. I don't want to force you, Miss DeVere," he went on, "but really——"
"Oh, I'll be able to go on," Alice bravely said. "It is only a little wrench, I think."
Behind a screen of rocks Mrs. Maguire removed Alice's shoe and stocking, and the motherly old lady and Ruth bathed the injured foot. It was not as bad as Alice had feared, and when it was bound up again she found she could use it by "favoring" it slightly. She would not have to take part in a scene for nearly an hour, and she took advantage of the rest afforded by the wait.
Meanwhile Mr. DeVere and some other members of the company were going through their parts. An old fisherman's hut had been found, a little way down the beach, and for a small sum of money the grizzled old salt had agreed to vacate for the morning, and allow the moving picture actors to use his home as the background for several scenes.
"It isn't just what the scenario calls for," said Mr. Pertell, "but we can switch things around at the studio later, to make it fit."
This is a secret of more than one film. The producer takes advantage of things as he finds them. Often, after a film has all been planned, and the pictures are being taken, a chance accident, or incident, will suggest an advantageous change, and it is made on the spot. Later the film is "cut" or added to, so that the change fits in.
Again, on going to the outdoor scene called for in the scenario, the manager may see a background that suits him better than one he intended using. On the spot he will stop and have the act take place there, altering, or adapting, the plot of the story to fit. And many an accident has been turned to good account in making a film. But these are secrets known only to the initiated, and the public that sees the finished picture in some theatre little realizes how much chance had to do with its making.
Scene after scene was "filmed," Russ and his camera associates grinding away at the machines. It was not easy work, for the wind and spray often interfered with the clearness of the picture. But of course that only added to the reality of it when the finished picture was shown.
"Now for that scene on the far rocks," called Mr. Pertell when he had brought to a satisfactory conclusion a difficult part of the drama. "Are you able to go out there, Miss DeVere?" and he looked anxiously at Alice.
"Oh, yes, I'm much better," she answered.
"All ready then!" called the manager. "Russ, I want one or two 'close-up' views in this, so prepare yourself accordingly."
"All right," answered the operator, who was talking to Ruth. He put in a fresh reel of film, and adjusted the camera.
A "close-up" view, I might explain, is one taken with the person, or subject, very close to the camera, so that it appears very large—larger than usual. For instance, it might be necessary, in some play, to show a certain ring. The hand of the person, with the ring on the finger would be held close to the camera, so that the resultant picture on the screen would show every detail of the ring clearly. You have often seen such views in moving pictures, though you may not have known what they were technically called.
The "rock scene" that was to be filmed now was to take place out on a little rocky group some distance from shore. It was reached by a long, narrow rocky ledge that curved out into the bay. Alice, Ruth and Paul were to be in this picture, and Russ would plant his camera on the rocky ledge, between the actors and the shore.
"Can you walk out there, Alice?" asked Paul, as he stepped along beside her, Russ walking with Ruth.
"Oh, yes," was the answer. "My ankle is much better now. It was silly of me to slip that way."
"You couldn't very well help it," he said.
"That seaweed is very treacherous. I hope there is none on the rocks out there."
"Why?" she asked. "Is the water deep?"
"Rather, so that fisherman said."
"Well, I'm not going to slip," declared Alice.
It was not easy work getting out to the group of rocks on the narrow path of black stone, made slippery by the spray. But they managed it, and finally Ruth, Alice and Paul took their places.
"All ready," called Mr. Pertell, who, with a copy of the scenario in his hand stood back of Russ to direct matters. "You are all supposed to be talking together, and then Paul discovers a sail out on the bay. You register surprise, Paul."
"Very good," answered the young actor.
I might explain that the word "register" is used to indicate that an actor or actress is to depict, or go through, the "business" of showing certain emotions, either by facial expression, or gestures.
"And after Paul sights the vessel, you register hope, Miss Ruth," went on the manager. "All ready now—begin."
So the filming of that scene went on.
"Very good," complimented the manager. "Just a little more force there, Paul. Wait a minute, Russ. Do that one bit over."
The scene was started over again, but it had proceeded only a minute or so before Russ gave an exclamation of annoyance.
"What's the matter?" asked Mr. Pertell.
"Spring broke," reported the operator. "I'll have to go get the other camera, and it will take me half an hour to get it in shape."
"Well, we'll have time enough," Mr. Pertell said, with a look at the sun, which is a sort of god to photographers. Without its beams little can be done. "I'll go back and help you," said the manager who used to be an expert operator himself before he rose in the ranks.
"You'll have to wait a bit," Russ called to Ruth, Alice and Paul. "Got to fix another camera."
"All right. We'll stay here," announced Alice. "I don't want to make that trip again with my lame ankle," and she sat down in a niche of the rocks. The others followed her example. The minutes passed quickly in pleasant talk, but presently Paul jumped to his feet. There was alarm in his action.
"What's the matter?" asked Ruth, startled.
"Look!" he said. He pointed toward the shore. The path of rocks was broken midway by a stretch of water. The tide had risen, cutting off the retreat to the beach.
TOO MUCH REALISM
"Oh dear!" exclaimed Ruth. It seemed a silly, futile thing to say, but, perhaps, very natural under the circumstances. Ruth arose, and put her arms about her sister, who tottered a little as she stood upright.
"The tide has risen?" asked Alice, and her tone was questioning.
"That's what has happened," went on Paul. "Pshaw! I ought to have kept watch of it. Russ was gone longer than I thought. But here we are now, fairly caught."
"Can't we—can't we wade back to shore?" faltered Alice.
"I wouldn't like to have you try it," answered Paul, and he moved over closer to the girl.
"Why not?" she asked. "I'm not at all afraid of getting wet, and it can't be so very deep over those rocks—not yet."
"It isn't that you would get wet," Paul answered. "But the rocks were slippery enough as they were. Covered with water, as they now are between us and the shore, I'm afraid you'd slip off, especially as your ankle will give you a twinge if you twist it."
"It certainly will," agreed Alice. "It hurts worse now. But oh! We must get back to shore!" she exclaimed. "We must!"
"We—I—I think I could lift her over the place where the water is," said Ruth.
"But you might both slip in," objected Paul. "And the water is quite deep on either side of this ledge of rocks. You see the ocean washes in against them, and scoops out the sand. So that there is a deep channel, ten feet or more, right alongside of the ledge of rocks. If you fell in there——"
"Oh, don't speak of it!" begged Alice. "I wouldn't mind swimming if I were prepared for it but it isn't exactly Summer yet, and with a disabled foot——"
"It isn't to be thought of," finished Ruth. "But we must get ashore somehow, Paul. The water is getting higher every minute."
"Yes, the tide has just begun to come in," said the young actor. "I should have noticed it before, but I didn't. Now I wonder—"
He did not finish, but gazed back toward the beach, nearly a quarter of a mile away. To his surprise, and also alarm, not one of the members of the moving picture company was in sight.
"That's strange," thought Paul, but he did not speak his thought aloud.
"Oh!" screamed Alice, so suddenly as to startle them all.
"What is the matter?" demanded Ruth.
"A wave splashed right up behind me! Look!"
The rising wind was sending little waves over the outer edge of the small island of rocks on which the three were marooned. It was another evidence that the tide was getting higher and higher.
"What shall we do?" asked Ruth.
"We must get help—somehow!" Alice said. Then she looked shoreward, in the direction Paul was gazing, and she uttered the single expression:
But it was fraught with meaning.
"Why—they've gone!" gasped Ruth. "What—what——"
"They'll be back!" Paul interrupted. "Probably Mr. Pertell just thought of some scene he could get, and he took them off down the beach to put them all in it. They'll be back in a little while, and then we can signal to them."
"If—if it isn't too—too late!" faltered Alice.
"Too late? What do you mean?" demanded her sister.
"I mean these rocks will soon be covered, and covered deep, too," Alice said. "The high water mark is away above them."
"Is it, Paul?" demanded the older girl. She wanted the statement of Alice disproved.
"I'm afraid it is," the young actor made answer. "And the tide, I am sorry to say, is likely to be unusually high today. The moon has something to do with it. But we will be taken off before then."
"Suppose we aren't?" asked Alice. "The wind and the sea are rising, and if we are swept off the rocks——"
"Don't be so tragic about it!" broke in Ruth. "If we are to go to sea, and be in a shipwreck, even if it is only pictured, we must learn to face perils. And here we are only a little way from shore."
"That's right!" cried Paul. "That's the way to look at it, Alice. There's no danger!"
"That's easy enough for you to say—you two who haven't a lame ankle," the younger girl said, seriously enough. "But I don't believe I can even swim!"
"There will be no need of that," Paul said. "They are sure to come back and see our plight soon. I can't see what's keeping Russ. He promised to come back as soon as he fixed up another camera. It's very strange."
Later they learned that when Russ and Mr. Pertell got back to the beach, leaving, as they supposed Ruth, her sister and Paul safe on the rocks, Pop Snooks, the veteran property man, discovered a certain nook that would answer for an important scene in the play. Wishing to take advantage of it at once, while the light was good, Mr. Pertell ordered the entire company over there to go through the prescribed "business." He took Russ and the two other camera operators with him, to make sure of getting at least one film.
That is why the beach opposite the rocks where the three were marooned by the rising tide, was deserted just then. For the time both Mr. Pertell and Russ forgot their three friends, or, if they thought of them at all, it was to think that they were perfectly safe, and would come to no harm by waiting a bit.
The tide rose higher and higher. In a few minutes it would lap the feet of the three marooned ones. A desperate resolve came into Paul's mind.
"I'll swim, or wade, to shore," he said, "and get a boat."
"And leave us here?" demanded Alice.
"Yes. There is nothing else to be done," he answered, desperately.
"No, please don't go!" begged Alice, putting a detaining hand on his arm. "I can't bear to be left here."
"But it will be only for a few minutes," Paul said, "and the tide isn't rising so fast that it will sweep you away in that time."
"I know—but—don't go!" begged Alice, her voice trembling.
Paul looked at Ruth.
"Perhaps you had better stay," suggested the older girl. "They are sure to come back soon, and—well, we don't want to be left here."
"All right," agreed Paul. "But I think I could get back with a boat in time."
However, there was no need for him to go. A moment later the moving picture company, headed by Russ and the two other camera men, came around the turn of some sand dunes.
"There they are!" cried Ruth.
"Oh, come and get us!" fairly screamed Alice.
Paul put his fingers to his mouth and sent out a shrill whistle.
It needed only a glance on the part of Mr. Pertell and the others to show the plight of the three marooned ones.
"I forgot all about them!" the manager exclaimed. "Russ—Mr. Bunn—Switzer—a boat—where's that fisherman—where's the life-saving station? This is——"
"Avast there! Belay!" came the deep tones of Jack Jepson, who had come out to do certain parts in the shore scenes. "I'll take that boat out and get 'em. Don't worry!"
"Oh, but my daughters!" exclaimed Mr. DeVere, hoarsely.
"And Alice with a sprained ankle!" gasped Mrs. Maguire.
"Don't worry! I'll get 'em!" declared the old salt. "Come on," he called to Mr. Bunn. "You look like you could handle an oar," and he started toward a dory that was drawn up on the beach.
"I—I can't row!" exclaimed the old actor. "Besides, I might——"
"Yes, he might spoil his dignity," said Russ fiercely in an undertone. "I'll go with you," he said to the sailor. "I can manage a boat!"
"Good! That's the way to talk. Come on!"
A few minutes later Russ and Jack had shoved out the fisherman's craft, and were quickly rowing toward the rocks. The tide was now so high that Paul and the two girls stood ankle-deep in the water that completely covered the rocks.