THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS IN WAR PLAYS
The Sham Battles at Oak Farm
LAURA LEE HOPE
Author of "The Moving Picture Girls," "The Moving Picture Girls at Sea," "The Outdoor Girls Series," "The Bobbsey Twins Series," "The Bunny Brown Series," Etc.
The Saalfield Publishing Co. Akron, Ohio New York Made in U.S.A.
Copyright, 1916, by Grosset & Dunlap
I THE OLD NEWSPAPER 1
II OFF FOR OAK FARM 11
III HARD AT WORK 21
IV A REHEARSAL 30
V A DARING RIDER 40
VI A NEEDED LESSON 48
VII ESTELLE'S LEAP 61
VIII A MASSED ATTACK 70
IX MISS DIXON'S LOSS 79
X LIEUTENANT VARLEY 87
XI WONDERINGS 97
XII AN INTERRUPTION 103
XIII FORGETFULNESS 111
XIV IN THE SMOKE 120
XV THE HOSPITAL TENT 130
XVI A RETAKE 137
XVII ESTELLE'S STORY 143
XVIII "WHAT CAN WE DO?" 149
XIX A BIG GUN 158
XX A WRONG SHOT 164
XXI THE BIG SCENE 171
XXII ALICE DOES WELL 179
XXIII A BAD FALL 186
XXIV A DENIAL OF IDENTITY 192
XXV REUNION 199
THE MOVING PICTURE GIRLS IN WAR PLAYS
THE OLD NEWSPAPER
"There, I think I have everything in that I'll need at Oak Farm."
"Everything! Good gracious, Ruth, how quickly you pack! Why, I've oceans and oceans of things yet to go into my trunk! Oh, there are my scout shoes. I've been looking everywhere for them. I'll need them if I do any hiking in those war scenes," and Alice DeVere dived under a pile of clothing, bringing to light a muddy, but comfortable, pair of walking shoes. "I don't know what I'd do without them," she murmured.
"Alice!" cried Ruth, her sister, and the shocked tone of her voice made the younger girl look up quickly from the contemplation of the shoes.
"Why, what have I done now?" came in rather injured accents. "I'm sure I didn't use any slang; and as for not having all my things packed as quickly as you, why, Ruth, my dear, you must remember that you are an exception—the one that proves the rule."
"I didn't say you used any slang, Alice dear. Nor did I intimate that you were behind in your packing. I'll gladly help you. But it—— Those shoes!" and she pointed a finger dramatically at the "brogans," as Alice sometimes called them.
"Those shoes? What's the matter with them? They're a perfectly good pair, as far as I can see; and they're mighty comfortable."
"Well, I can't get over using such words, especially since we heard so many strong expressions from the sailors when we were in those sea films. Mine sound weak now. But what's the matter with the shoes, Ruth?"
"They're so muddy, dear. They will soil all your pretty things if you put them in your trunk in that condition. You don't want that, do you?"
"I should say not—most decidedly! Especially since pretty things with me last about one day. I don't see how it is you keep yours so nice and fresh, Ruth."
"It's because I'm careful, dear."
"Careful! Bosh! Care killed a cat, they say. I'm sure I'm careful, too—— Oh, here's that lace collar I've been looking everywhere for!"
She made a sudden reach for it, there was a ripping, tearing sound, and Alice was gazing ruefully at a rent in the sleeve of her dress.
"Oh, for the love of trading stamps!" she ejaculated.
"Alice!" gasped Ruth.
"Well, I don't care! I had to say something. Look at that rip! And I wanted to wear this dress to-day. Oh——"
"That's just it, Alice," interrupted Ruth, in a gentle, chiding voice. "You are too impulsive. If you had reached for that lace less hurriedly you wouldn't have torn your dress. And if you took care of your things and didn't let your laces and ribbons get strewn about so, they would last longer and look fresher. I don't want to lecture——"
"I know you don't, you old dear!" and Alice leaned over—they were both sitting on the floor in front of trunks—and made a motion as though to embrace her sister. But a warning rip caused her to desist, and, looking over her shoulder, she found her skirt caught on a corner of the trunk.
"There! Did you ever?" she cried. "I can't even give you a sisterly hug without pulling myself to pieces. I'm all upset—excited—unstrung—Wellington Bunn doing Hamlet isn't to be compared to me. I must get straightened out."
"I guess that's it—you're all tangled up in your packing," said Ruth, with a laugh. "Truly, I don't mean to lecture, Alice, but you must go a bit slower."
"Not with this packing—I can't, and be ready in time. Why! you are all prepared to go. I'll just throw the things into my trunk and——"
"Now, don't do that. Don't throw things in. You can put in twice as much if you lay the things in neatly. I'll help you. But—oh, dear——!"
Ruth made a gesture of despair.
"What's the matter now? What are you registering?" and Alice used the moving picture term for depicting one of the standard emotions. The girls were both moving picture actresses.
"I'm trying to register dismay at the muddy state of those scout shoes, as you call them, Alice. They may be nice and comfortable, as you say, and really they do look so. And I have no doubt you will find them useful if we have to do much tramping over the hills of Oak Farm. But——"
"Oh, we'll have to do plenty of hiking, as Russ Dalwood warned us," Alice put in. "You know, there are to be several Civil War plays filmed, and they didn't have automobiles or motor cycles to get about on in those days. So we'll have to walk. And it will be over rough ground, so I thought these shoes would be just the thing."
"They will, Alice. I must get a pair myself, I think. But I was just wondering how you got them so terribly muddy. How did you?"
"Oh, Paul Ardite and I were in that Central Park scene the other day. You know, 'A Daughter of the Woods,' and some of the scenes were filmed in the park. It was muddy, and I didn't get a chance to have the brogans cleaned, for I had to jump from the park into the ballroom scene of 'His Own Enemy,' and there was no time. We had to retake in that scene because one of the extras was wearing white canvas shoes instead of ballroom slippers, and the director didn't notice it until the film was run out in the projection room.
"So that accounts for the mud on the shoes, Ruth. But I suppose I can 'phone down to the janitor and have him send them out to the Italian at the corner. He'll take the mud off."
"No, I don't know that you can do that, Alice. We haven't any too much time. If I had an old newspaper, I could wrap the shoes up in that for you, and pack them in the bottom of your trunk. Then the mud wouldn't soil your clothes."
"An old newspaper? Here's a stack of them. Daddy just brought them from his room. Guess he's going to throw them away."
Alice reached up to a table and lifted the top paper from a pile near the edge. She opened it with a flirt of her hand and was about to wrap the muddy shoes in it when some headlines on one page caught her attention. She leaned eagerly forward to read them, and spent more than a minute going over the article beneath.
"Well," remarked Ruth finally, with a smile, "if you're going to do that, Alice, you'll never get packed. What is it that interests you?"
"This, about a missing girl. Why, look here, Ruth, there's a reward of ten thousand dollars offered for news of her! Why, I don't remember seeing this before. Look, it's quite startling. A San Francisco girl—Mildred Passamore—mysteriously disappears while on a train bound for Seattle—can't find any trace of her—parents distracted—they've got detectives on the trail—going to flood the country with photographs of her—all sorts of things feared—but think of it!—ten thousand dollars reward!"
"Let me see," and in spite of the necessity for haste in the packing, Ruth DeVere forgot it for the moment and came to look over her sister's shoulder to read the account of the missing California girl.
"It is strange," murmured Ruth. "I don't remember about that. I wonder if she could be around here? The New York police are wonderful in working on mystery cases."
"But the funny part of it is," said Alice, "that I haven't noticed anything about it in the New York papers. Have you? This is a San Francisco paper. Naturally they'd have more about it than would the journals here. But even the New York papers would have big accounts of such a case, especially where such a large reward is offered."
"That's so," agreed Ruth. "I wonder why we haven't seen an account of it in our papers. I read them every day."
"What's that? An account of what? Have the papers been missing anything?" asked a deep, vibrating voice, and an elderly man came into the girls' room and regarded them smilingly.
"Oh, hello, Daddy!" cried Alice, blowing him a kiss. "I'm almost ready."
"Hum, yes! You look it!" and he laughed.
"It's this, Daddy," went on Ruth, holding out the paper. "We were going to wrap Alice's muddy shoes in this sheet, when we happened to notice an account of the mysterious disappearance of a Mildred Passamore, of San Francisco, for whom ten thousand dollars reward is offered. There has been nothing in the New York papers about it."
Mr. DeVere, an old-time actor, and now employed, with his daughters, by a large motion picture concern, reached forth his hand for the paper. He gave one look at the article, and then his eyes went up to the date-line. He laughed.
"No wonder there hasn't been anything in the New York papers of to-day about this case," he said. "This paper is four years old! But I remember the Passamore case very well. It created quite a sensation at the time."
"Poor girl! Was she ever found?" asked Ruth.
"Why, yes; I believe she was," said Mr. DeVere, in rather dreamy tones. He was looking over other articles in the paper.
"Who got the reward?" asked Alice.
"Eh? What's that?" Her father seemed to come back from a mental journey to the past.
"I say, who got the reward?"
"Why, Daddy! The one offered for the finding of Miss Passamore. The girl we just told you about—in the paper—ten thousand dollars. Don't you remember?"
"Oh, yes. I was thinking of something else I just read here. Oh, the reward! Well, I suppose the police got it. I don't remember, to tell you the truth. I know that her disappearance at the time created quite a sensation."
"And are you sure she was found?"
"Oh, yes, quite sure. Look here!" and with a smile on his face he leaned forward, one rather fat finger pointing to the article he had just been reading. "I was wondering how you girls got hold of this old back-number paper, but I see it's one of several I saved because they had printed notices of my acting. This is a very good and fair criticism of my work when I was appearing in Shakespearian drama—a very fair notice, ahem!" and Mr. DeVere leaned back in his chair, a gratified smile on his face.
"A fair notice! I should say it was!" laughed Alice. "It does nothing but praise you, and says the others offered you miserable support."
"Well, it was fair to me," said Mr. DeVere. "Yes, I remember that tour very well. We were in California at the time of this Miss Passamore's disappearance. Helen Gordon was my leading lady then. Ah, yes, that was four years ago."
"No wonder there wasn't anything in to-day's New York papers," said Alice. "Well, let me wrap up my shoes, and I'll try to have this packing done in time to get out to Oak Farm."
"Yes, I just stopped in to see how you were coming on," put in her father. "Mr. Pertell wants to get started, and it won't do to disappoint him. There are to be several thousand men and horses in the production, and the bill for extras will be heavy."
"I'll hustle along, Daddy!" cried Alice. "Do you want that paper?"
"No, you may take it. I'll just tear out this page with the theatrical notice of myself."
He handed the remainder of the paper to his daughter, who, with the help of her sister, wrapped up the muddy shoes.
Then the girls proceeded with the putting in of other articles and garments that would be needed during their stay at Oak Farm.
"I wonder——" began Alice, when there came a knock on their door, and a voice demanded:
"I say, girls!—are you there?"
"Yes, Russ. Come on in!" answered Alice.
"Oh, and with the room looking the way it is!" remonstrated Ruth.
"Can't be helped. Russ knows what packing is," Alice declared, as a tall, good-looking young man entered.
"Come on!" he cried. "No time to lose."
"What's the matter? Is the place on fire?" asked Ruth.
"No. But there's got to be a retake in that last scene of 'Only a Flivver,' and Mr. Pertell sent me to get you. It won't take long, but they're in a hurry for it. Come on! Paul is waiting outside in the machine and I've got the camera. Hustle!"
OFF FOR OAK FARM
"What's that, Russ? A retake?" asked Alice.
"Yes, of that auto scene in the park."
"Is that the one I'm in?" Ruth inquired.
"Yes. You're both in it, and so is Paul. It's the scene where Mr. Bunn is struck by the auto mud-guard—not hurt, you know, and you, Ruth, jump out to give first aid."
"What's the matter with the scene?" asked Alice. "I certainly struck him all right with the mud-guard."
"Yes, that part was all right," Russ admitted. Alice had been running the automobile in the scene.
"And didn't I do my first aid business well?" Ruth demanded.
"Yes," Russ acknowledged. "Your part came out perfect. But just at the critical moment—you know, where Mr. Bunn was supposed to think he was dying and wanted to right the wrong he had done in cutting his daughter off in his will with only a dollar—some boys got in the way of the camera. They were outsiders, butting in, the way they always do when we film stuff in the park. It wouldn't have been so bad, only one of the youngsters began to pull off some funny stuff right in range of Mr. Bunn's agonized face. I didn't see him at the time, or I'd have stopped the running of the film. It was only when we got it in the projection room that we discovered it.
"So Mr. Pertell ordered a retake of that one scene, and it's got to be done in a hurry. It won't take long. Mr. Bunn will meet us in the park. Be sure and wear the same things you had on that day. It won't do to have you get out of the auto in one dress, Ruth, and, a second later, kneel down beside Mr. Bunn in a gown entirely different."
"All right, Russ, I'll be careful."
"Oh, dear! But my packing!" sighed Alice. "I'll never get it done, and we must start for Oak Farm——"
"Mr. Pertell will have to make allowances," said Russ, quickly. "Come on—move the boat! You won't be needed in the real war scenes for a couple of days, anyhow, though I suppose there'll be rehearsals. But it can't be helped. This retake is holding up the whole film, and it's to be released next week."
Delaying only long enough to put on the proper dresses and to tell their father where they were going, Ruth and Alice DeVere were soon on their way to Central Park, where the scene was to be filmed, or photographed over again—a "retake," as it is called, the bane alike of camera men and directors.
And while the girls—the moving picture girls—are on their way to do over a bit of work, I shall take the opportunity of telling my new readers something about Ruth and Alice DeVere.
I have called them just what they are: "The Moving Picture Girls," and that is the title of the first volume of this series, which depicts them and their adventures.
Their mother had died some years previously, leaving them to the care of their father, Hosmer DeVere, at one time a talented actor in the legitimate drama. But a throat affection forced him to give up his acting and, at the opening scene in the first volume, we find him and his daughters in rather straitened circumstances, living in a second-rate apartment house in New York.
Across the hall dwelt Russ Dalwood, with his mother. Russ was a "camera man." That is, he took moving pictures in the big studios and out of doors for the Comet Film Company, of which Mr. Frank Pertell was manager and director.
It was Russ who suggested to Mr. DeVere a way out of his troubles. He could not act in the "legitimate," as his voice was gone; but no voice is needed to appear on the films for the movies, since a mere motion of the lips suffices, when any speaking is to be done. The "silent drama" has been the salvation of many an actor who, if he had to declaim his lines, would be a failure.
At first Mr. DeVere would not hear of acting before the camera, but he soon came to know that greater actors than he had fallen in line with the work, especially since the pay was so large, and finally he consented. An account of his success and of the entrance of his daughters into the field is given in the initial book.
Ruth, the elder girl, was, like her father, of a romantic turn. Also she was rather tall and willowy, as Mr. DeVere had been before he had taken on flesh with the passing of the years; and she was cast for parts that suited her type. She was deliberate in her actions, and in "registry."
Alice, like her late mother, was warm-hearted and impulsive, plump, vivacious and full of fun. Both girls were excellent movie actresses. In the company they had joined was Mr. Wellington Bunn, an old actor, who hoped, some day, to appear in Hamlet—Hamlet in the legitimate.
Paul Ardite, who played light parts, had become very fond of Alice. Russ Dalwood had a liking for Ruth, and the four had many pleasant hours in each other's company.
Pearl Pennington was the leading lady at times, and was rather disposed to domineer over our girls, as was her chum, Laura Dixon. Mrs. Maguire was the "mother" of the film company. She portrayed old lady parts, and her two grandchildren, Tommie and Nellie, the orphans, were cast for characters suitable to them.
Carl Switzer, a German-American, did comedy parts and was a good fellow, though occasionally he would unconsciously say some very funny things. His opposite in character was Pepper Sneed, the grouch of the company. But Pepper could do valuable work, especially as a villain, and so he was kept on. As for Pop Snooks, the company could not have got along without him. It was Pop, the property man of the company, who made many of the devices used when the company went to "Oak Farm," as told in the second volume, where scenes for farm dramas were filmed. Pop could use a drawbridge in one scene, and, in the next, convert it into a perfectly good cow-barn. Pop was a valuable man.
There were other members of the company, of more or less importance, whom you will meet as this story progresses.
It was in the third volume of the series, "The Moving Picture Girls Snowbound," that Ruth and Alice succeeded in getting "the proof on the film" that saved Mr. DeVere from an unjust charge.
From the cold and frostiness of Deerfield the girls went to Florida, where "Under the Palms," many stirring acts were filmed. It was here that Alice and Ruth helped find two girls who were lost in the wilds of the Everglades.
"The Moving Picture Girls at Rocky Ranch" gave Ruth and Alice a taste of cowboy life, and though rivals tried to spoil some of the valuable films, they were not altogether successful, even though a prairie fire figured in their schemes.
The girls, with their father, had recently returned from a perilous trip. This is told about in the volume immediately preceding the one you are reading—"The Moving Picture Girls at Sea." In that Alice and Ruth proved, not only their versatility as actresses, but also that they could be brave and resourceful in the face of danger. And they more than repaid the old sailor, Jack Jepson, who saved their lives, by doing him a good turn.
"Well, life at Oak Farm will be vastly different from that on the Mary Ellen," remarked Alice, as she looked from the automobile as it swung along through the New York streets on the way to the park.
"Yes," agreed her sister. "But I like it up there."
"There are going to be some strenuous times," said Paul. "We've got to do some hustling work."
"All the better," declared Russ. "I like to keep the film running. This sitting about all day and reeling off only ten feet makes me tired."
"You like action!" laughed Ruth.
"Yes; and plenty of it."
Oak Farm was the property of the Apgars. There was Mr. Belix Apgar, the father, Nance, his wife, and Sandy, an energetic son. The farm was located in New Jersey, about forty miles from New York, and it provided a picturesque background for the scenes evolved by Mr. Pertell and his company. It was during a scene on the farm, some time before, that a valuable discovery had been made, which endeared the moving picture girls and their chums to the Apgars.
"How did Mr. Pertell come to pick out Oak Farm for the war plays?" asked Ruth, as the automobile bounced along.
"Well, I suggested it to him," answered Russ. "I remembered the background, and I felt sure we could get all sorts of settings there to make the proper scenes. There are hills, mountains, valleys, streams, bridges, waterfalls, cliffs and caves. Everything needed for perfectly good war dramas."
"How did they come to want that sort of stuff?" asked Paul.
"Oh, war stuff is going big now," Russ answered. "All this talk of preparedness, you know, the war in Europe, and all that. The public is fairly 'eating up' war pictures."
"I hope we don't have to fire any guns!" exclaimed Ruth, with a shudder.
"You'll see and hear plenty of 'em fired," Russ told her. "There are to be some big battle scenes and cavalry charges. But one of you will be back of the firing line, I believe."
"How is that?" asked Alice.
"Well, one of you girls is to be cast for an army nurse, and the other will be a spy. The spy has to carry a revolver."
"I'm going to be the spy!" cried Alice, impetuously. "I know how to shoot a gun."
"I'd rather be the nurse," murmured Ruth, and truly she was better fitted for that part.
"'A Girl in Blue and A Girl in Gray' is to be the title of the war play—or at least one of them," went on Russ. "There will be some lively scenes, and I'll be on the jump most of the time."
"Are you going to film them all?" asked Paul.
"Oh, no. I'm to have several assistants, but I'll be in general charge of the camera squad. So, girls, look your prettiest."
"They always do that," said Paul.
"Thank you!" came in a feminine duet.
A little later the place where the retake was to be made was reached. Mr. Bunn was on hand, wearing his air of "Hamletian gloom," as Alice whispered, and the work of retaking the scenes was soon under way.
This time all went well. Alice drove her "flivver" at Mr. Bunn, who was properly knocked down and looked after by Ruth. No small boys, with an exaggerated sense of humor, got in the way, and the girls were shortly back in their apartment. They had moved to a more pretentious home since their success in moving pictures, and the Dalwoods had taken an apartment in the same building.
"And now to get on with my packing!" sighed Alice. "All I am sure of is that I have my 'brogans' in."
"I'll help you," offered Ruth.
Two days later the Comet Film Company, augmented for the occasion, was at the depot in Hoboken, ready to take the Lackawanna train out to Oak Farm, New Jersey, where it nestled in the hills of Sussex County.
"I don't see how they are going to take battle scenes with just this company," observed Alice, as she surveyed her fellow workers. "And where are the guns and horses?"
"They'll come up later," Russ informed her. "There are to be two big companies and a couple of batteries, but they won't be on hand until they are really needed. It costs too much to keep them when they are not working."
"Are you all here?" asked Mr. Pertell hurrying along the seats with a handful of tickets—"counting noses," so to speak.
"All here, I think," answered Russ.
"Where is Carl Switzer?" asked the manager.
"He was here a minute ago," Alice said.
"Well, he isn't here now," remarked Mr. Bunn.
"And almost time for the train to start!" exploded the director. "We need him in some of the first scenes to-morrow. Get him, somebody!"
"Hey, Mister! Does yer mean dat funny, moon-faced man what talks like a pretzel?" asked a newsboy in the station.
"Yes, that's Mr. Switzer," was the answer. "Where is he?"
"I jest seen him go out dat way," and the boy pointed toward the doors leading to the street in front of the ferry. This street led over to the interned German steamships at the Hoboken piers.
HARD AT WORK
"Great Scott!" ejaculated Mr. Pertell. "I might have known that if Switzer came anywhere near his German friends he'd be off having a confab with them. Go after him, somebody! It's only five minutes to train time, and it will take those Germans that long to say how-de-do to one another, without getting down to business."
"I'll get him," offered Paul, hurrying off toward the swinging doors.
"I'll go wit' youse," said the newsboy. "I likes t' listen t' him talk. Does he do a Dutch act?"
"Sometimes," laughed Paul.
"Youse is actors, ain't youse?" the boy asked.
"Movies," answered Paul, hurrying along toward the entrance to the shipyards.
"I wuz in 'em onct," went on the lad. "Dey wuz a scene where us guys wuz sellin' papes, an' anudder guy comes along, and t'rows a handful of money in de street—he had so much he didn't know what t' do wit' it—dat wuz in de picture," he explained. "I wuz in de scene."
"Was it real money?" asked Paul.
"Naw—nottin' but tin," and the tone expressed the disappointment that had been experienced. "But we each got a quarter out of it fer bein' in de picture, so we didn't make out so worse. Dere's your friend now," and the newsboy pointed to the comedian standing at the entrance to one of the piers, talking to the watchman. Both had raised their voices high, and were using their hands freely.
"Hey, Mr. Switzer, come along!" cried Paul. "It's time for the train."
"Ach! Der train! I t'ought der vos plenty of time. I vant to see a friend of mine who is living on vun of dese wessels. Haven't I got der time?"
"No, not a minute to spare. You can see him when you come back."
"Ach! Maybe I neffer comes back. If I get in der war plays I may be shotted."
"Oh, come on!" laughed Paul, while the newsboy went into amused contortions at the exaggerated language and gestures of Mr. Switzer.
"See you later, Hans!" called the comedian to the watchman at the pier.
"Ach, Himmel! Vot I care!" the latter cried. "I don't care even if you comes back neffer! You can't get on dose ship!" and he waved his hand at the big vessels, interned to prevent their capture by the British warships.
"I was having quite an argument with him," said Mr. Switzer, speaking "United States," as he walked back to the station with Paul.
"Wouldn't he let you go on board?"
"No. Took me for an English spy, I guess. But I know one of der officers, and I thought I'd have time for a chat with him."
"Mr. Pertell is in a hurry," said the young actor.
"Well, if we miss this train there's another."
"Not until to-morrow, and he wants to start the rehearsals the first thing in the morning."
"Ach! Den dat's differunt alretty yet again, wasn't it so?" and Mr. Switzer winked at the admiring newsboy, and tossed him a quarter, with the advice to get a pretzel and use it for a watch charm. Whereat the boy went into convulsive laughter again.
"What do you mean, Switzer, by going off just at train time?" demanded the indignant director and manager.
"Train time is der time to go off—so long as you don't go off der track!" declared the German. "But I vanted to go on—not go off—I vanted to go on der ships only dey vouldn't let me. However, better late than be a miss vot's like a bird in der hand," and with a shrug of his shoulders and a last wink at the newsboy, Mr. Switzer went out to the waiting train with the others.
It was a long and rather tedious ride to Oak Farm, which lay some miles back in the hills from the railroad station, and it was late afternoon when the company of moving picture actors and actresses arrived, to be greeted by Sandy Apgar and his father and his mother.
"Well, I am glad to see you all again!" cried Sandy, shaking hands with Mr. DeVere, the girls and the others. "It seems like old times!"
"We're glad dot you are glad!" declaimed Mr. Switzer. "Haf you any more barns vot need burning down?"
"Not this time," laughed Sandy. "One barn-burning is enough for me." A barn, an old one, had been destroyed on the occasion of the previous visit of the moving picture company—a burning barn being called for in one of the scenes.
Oak Farm was a big place, and, in anticipation of the war plays to be enacted there, several buildings had been built to accommodate the extra actors and actresses, where they could sleep and eat. The DeVere girls and the other members of the regular company would board at the farmhouse as they had done before.
Hard work began early the next day. There was much to do in the way of preliminary preparation, and Pop Snooks, the property man, with a corps of assistants, was in his element. While Ruth, Alice and the others were going through a rehearsal of their parts without, of course, the proper scenic background, the property man was setting up the different "sets" needed in the various scenes.
While they were working on one piece, Sandy Apgar came along on his way to look after some of the farming operations.
"Hello!" he cried. "Say! you fellows did that mighty quick."
"Did what?" asked Alice, who stood near, not being engaged for the time being.
"Why, dug that well. I didn't know you could strike water so soon," and he pointed to an old-fashioned well with a sweep, which stood not far from the house. "What'd you use—a post-hole digger?" he asked. "What sort of water did you strike?"
Before any one could answer him he strode over to the well, and, as he looked down into it, a puzzled look came over his face.
"Well, I'll be jiggered!" he cried. "'Tain't a well at all! Only an imitation!"
And that was what it was. Some canvas had been stretched in a circle about a framework, and painted to represent stones. The well itself stood on top of the ground, not being dug out at all. It made a perfectly good water-scene, with a sweep, a chain, a bucket and all.
"I'm supposed to stand there and draw water for the thirsty soldiers," explained Ruth, coming up at this point.
"Huh! How are you goin' to git water out of there?" demanded Sandy. "It's as dry as a bone. Why, I've got a good well over there," and he pointed to a real one, under an apple tree.
"That's in the shade—couldn't get any pictures there," explained Russ. "The well has to be out in the open."
"But what about water?" asked Sandy. "Hang me if I ever heard of a well without water!"
"We'll run a hose up to this one," explained Pop Snooks. "A man will lie down behind the well-curb, where he won't show in the camera. As fast as Ruth lowers her bucket into the well the man'll fill the pail with water for the soldiers to drink. It'll be quicker than a real well, and if we find we don't like it in one place we can move it to another. This is a movable well."
"Well, I'll be——" began Sandy, but words failed him. "This is sure a queer business," he murmured as he strode off.
The hard work of preparation continued. All about the farm queer parts of buildings were being erected, extra barns, out-houses, bits of fence, and the like.
In what are called close-up scenes only a small part of an object shows in the camera, and often when a magnificent entrance to a marble house is shown, it is only a plaster-of-Paris imitation of a door with a little frame around it.
What is outside of that would not photograph; so what is the use of building it? Of course in many scenes real buildings figure, but they are not built for the purpose.
In one of the war plays a small barn was to be shown, and a soldier was supposed to jump through the window of this to escape pursuit. As none of the regular buildings at Oak Farm was in the proper location, Pop Snooks had been ordered to build a barn.
He did. That is, he built one side of it, propping it up with braces from behind, where they would not show. The window was there, and some boards; so that, seen through the camera, it looked like a small part of a big out-building.
Some hay was piled on the ground to one side, away from the camera, and it was on this hay that the escaping soldier would land. Then Ruth was to come to him, and go through some scenes. But these would be interior views, which would be taken in the improvised studio erected on the farm for this purpose.
Mr. Switzer was to be the soldier, and would plunge through the barn window head first. He was called on to rehearse the scenes a few days after the semblance of a barn had been put in position and the hay laid out to make his landing safe.
"Are you ready?" asked Mr. Pertell, who was directing the scene. "All ready, there, Switzer?"
"Sure, as ready as I ever shall be."
"All right, then. Now, you understand, you come running out of those bushes over there, and when you get out you stop for a minute and register caution. Look on all sides of you. Then you see the barn and the open window. Register surprise and hope. You say, 'Ah, I shall be safe in there!'
"Then you run, look back once or twice to see if you are pursued, and make a dive, head first, through the open window on to the hay. All ready now?"
"Sure, I'm ready!"
"How about you, Russ?"
"Let her go."
"All ready, then! Camera!"
Russ began to grind away at the film. Mr. Switzer had taken his place in the clump of bushes, his ragged Union garments flapping in the wind. He came out, looked furtively around, and then, giving the proper "registration," he advanced cautiously toward the barn.
"Go on now—run!" cried Mr. Pertell through his megaphone.
The German actor ran. He made a beautiful leap through the window, and the next moment there came from him howls of dismay.
"Donner vetter! Ach Himmel! Ach! My face! My hands! Hey, somebody! bring a pail of water! Quick!"
Mingled in German and English came the shouts of dismay from Herr Switzer inside the dummy shed, through the window of which he had leaped on to the hay.
"Oh, what is it?" cried Ruth, clasping her hands and registering "dismay" unconsciously.
"He must have fallen and hurt himself," ejaculated Alice. "Do, Paul, go and see what it is."
"Stop the camera!" yelled Mr. Pertell through his megaphone. "Don't spoil the film, Russ. You got a good scene there. He went through the window all right, and his yells won't register. Stop the camera!"
"Stopped she is," reported Russ.
Then those of the players who had been looking on and wondering at Mr. Switzer's cries could hurry to his rescue.
For it is a crime out of the ordinary in the annals of moving pictures for any one not in the scene to get within range of the camera when an act is being filmed. It means not only the spoiling of the reel, perhaps, but a retaking of that particular action. When Russ ceased to grind at the camera crank, however, it was the same as when the shutter of an ordinary camera is closed. No more views can be taken. It was safe for others to cross the field of vision.
"What's the matter?" cried Paul, who, with Ruth and Alice and some of the others trailing after him, was hurrying toward the false front of boards that represented a shed.
"Did a cow critter or a sheep step on you?" Russ questioned.
"Ach! My face! My clothes! Ruined!" came in accents of deep disgust from the actor. "Never again will I leap through a window without knowing into what I am going to land. Ach!"
"What happened?" asked Paul, trying to keep from laughing, for the player's voice was so funnily tragic.
"What happened? Come and see!" cried Mr. Switzer. "I have into a chicken's home invaded myself already!"
"Invaded himself into a chicken's home!" exclaimed Mr. Pertell. "What in the world does he mean?"
"I guess he means he sat down in a hen's nest!" chuckled Paul, and this proved to be the case.
Going around to the other side of the erected boards, the players and others saw a curious sight.
Seated on the hay, his face, his hair, his hands, and his clothing a mass of the whites and yellows of eggs, was Carl Switzer. He held up his fingers, dripping with the ingredients of half a dozen omelets.
"The chicken's home was right here, in the hay—where I jumped. I landed right in among the eggs—head first. Get me some water—quick!" implored the player.
"Didn't you see the eggs before you jumped among 'em?" asked Mr. Pertell.
"See them? I should say not! Think you I would have precipitated myself into their midst had I done so?" indignantly demanded Mr. Switzer, relapsing into his formally-learned English. "I have no desire to be a part of a scrambled egg," he went on. "Some water—quick!"
While one of the extra players was bringing the water, Sandy Apgar strolled past. He was told what had happened.
"Plumped himself down in a hen's nest, did he?" exclaimed the young proprietor of Oak Farm. "Wa'al, now, if you folks go to upsettin' the domestic arrangements of my fowls that way I'll have t' be charging you higher prices," and he laughed good-naturedly.
"Ach! Dat is better," said Mr. Switzer, when he had cleansed himself. "How came it, do you think, Mr. Apgar, that the hen laid her eggs right where I was to make my landing when escaping from the Confederates?"
"Huh! More than one hen laid her eggs there, I reckon," the farmer said. "There must have been half a dozen of 'em who had rooms in that apartment. You see, it's this way. Hens love to steal away and lay their eggs in secret places. After you folks built this make-believe shed and put the hay in, I s'pose some of my hens seen it and thought it would be a good place. So they made a nest there, and they've been layin' in it for the last few days."
"More as a week, I should say!" declared Mr. Switzer in his best German comedian manner. "There were many eggs!"
"Yes, you did bust quite a few!" said Sandy, critically looking at the disrupted nest. "But it can't be helped."
"Well, the film wasn't spoiled, anyhow," observed Mr. Pertell. To him that was all that counted. "You got him all right as he went through the window, didn't you, Russ?"
"Oh, yes. It wasn't until he was inside, down behind the boards and out of sight, that the eggs happened."
"No more eggs for me!" declared the comedian. "I shall never look a chicken in the face again."
"Go on with the scene," ordered the director. "You are supposed to steal out to the barn to give the hidden soldier food," he said to Ruth. "You come out from the house, and are astonished to see a man's head sticking out of the shed window. You register surprise, and start to run back to the house, but the soldier implores you to stay, and you reluctantly listen to him. Then he begs for food——"
"But don't bring me a hard-boiled egg, whatever you do!" called Mr. Switzer.
"No funny business now," warned the director, with a laugh. "Go on now, and we'll see how you do it."
After one or two trials Mr. Pertell announced himself as satisfied and the filming of that part of the war drama went on.
So many details in regard to the taking of moving pictures have been given in the previous books of this series that they need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that the pictures of the players in motion are taken on a long celluloid strip of film, just as one picture is taken on a square of celluloid in a snap-shot camera.
This long reel of film, when developed, is a "negative." From it a "positive" strip of film is made, and this is the one that is run through the projection machine throwing the pictures on the white screen in the darkened theatre. The pictures taken are very small, and are greatly magnified on the screen.
So much for the mechanical end of the business. It may interest some to learn that the photo-play, as seen in the theatre, is not taken all at once, nor in the order in which the scenes are seen as they are reeled off.
When a play is decided on, the director or one of his helpers goes over the manuscript and picks out all the scenes that take place in one location. It may be in a parlor, in a hut, on the side of a mountain, in a lonely wilderness, on a battlefield, on a bridge—anywhere, in fact. And several scenes, involving several different persons, may take place at any one of these places.
It can be understood that it would involve a great deal of work to follow the logical sequence of the scenes. That is to say, if the first scene was in an office showing a girl taking dictation from her employer, and the next showed the same girl and her employer on a ferryboat, and the third scene went back to the office, where some papers were being examined, it would mean a loss of time to photograph, or film, the first office scene, then take every one involved in the act to the ferryboat, and then back to the office again.
Instead, the two office scenes, and possibly more, are taken at one time, on the same film, one after the other, without regard to whether they follow logically or not. Afterward the film is cut apart, and the scenes fitted in where they belong.
So, too, all the scenes pertaining to a hut in the wilderness, on a bridge, in the woods, in a parlor—it makes no difference where—are taken at the same time. In this way much labor and expense are saved.
But it makes a queer sort of story to an uninitiated person looking on; and sometimes the players themselves do not know what it is all about.
So Mr. Pertell wanted to get all the scenes centering around the shed at the same time, though they were not in sequence. And Ruth and Mr. Switzer and the others in the east went through their parts with the shed as a background.
In one scene Ruth had to discover the hidden soldier. Then she had to steal out to him with food. Later, at night, she was to help him to escape. Then, a week later, she was to go out to the same shed and discover a letter he had hidden in the hay. That ended the scenes at the shed, and it could be taken away to make room for something else.
"Oh, Ruth, you did that splendidly!" exclaimed Alice, as her sister finished her work and went up on the shady porch to rest.
"Did you like it? I'm glad."
"Like it? It was great! Where you discovered that letter in the hay, your face showed such natural surprise."
"I'm glad it didn't register merriment."
"Because, as I picked up the letter, I found a big blot of the yellow from the hens' eggs on it. I hope it doesn't show in the picture. I had all I could do to keep from laughing when I thought of Mr. Switzer in the omelet scene."
"Oh, well, you know they want all white stuff yellow when they make pictures."
"In the studio, but not outdoors."
This is a fact. As the scenes in the studio are taken in the glare of a special kind of electric light, all white objects, even the collars and cuffs of the men, are yellow in tone, though in the picture they show perfectly white. This is due to the chemical rays of the lights used. Out of doors, under sunlight, colors are seen in their own hues.
"You did very well in that funny little scene with Paul," said Ruth to her sister.
"You mean in the swing under the apple tree?"
"I was so afraid he would swing me too high," Alice went on. "He was cutting up so. I told him to stop, but he wouldn't."
"It was very natural. I think it will show well. Hark! what's that?" cried Ruth, leaping to her feet.
"Thunder," suggested Alice, as a distant, rumbling noise came to their ears.
"Sounds more like big guns."
"Oh, that's what it is!" agreed Alice. "They are going to rehearse one of the battle scenes this afternoon, I heard Mr. Pertell say. The soldiers must have come, and they're practising over in the glen. Come on over and watch. We're in on the scenes later, but we can watch now."
"All right," agreed Ruth. "Wait until I get my broad-brimmed hat, the sun is hot up here."
Presently the two sisters, with Paul Ardite and some other members of the company, were strolling over the fields toward the scene of the distant firing. As they came in sight of several hundred men and horses, they saw the smoke of cannon and heard the shouting of the director and his assistants who were using big megaphones. It was the rehearsal of one of the many battle scenes that were to take place about Oak Farm.
"Oh, look at that girl ride!" suddenly exclaimed Alice, pointing to a young woman who dashed past on a spirited horse. "Isn't she a wonder?"
"She is indeed," agreed Ruth. "I wonder who she is?"
"One of the extras," said Paul. "A number of them have just arrived. We'll begin active work soon, and film some big scenes with you girls in them."
Alice gazed across the fields toward the figure of the girl on horseback. There was something spirited in her riding, and, though she had never seen her before, Alice felt strangely drawn toward the new player.
A DARING RIDER
"Come on now, Confederates!"
"No, you Union chaps hold back there in ambush. You're not to dash out until you get the signal. Wait!"
"Keep that horse out of the way. He isn't supposed to dash across, riderless, until after the first volley."
"Put in a little more action! Fall off as though you were shot, not as though you were bending over to see if your horse had a stone under his shoe! Fall off hard!"
"And you fellows that do fall off—lie still after you fall! Don't twitch as though you wanted to scratch your noses!"
"If some of 'em don't stay quiet after they fall off they'll get stepped on!"
"All ready now! Come with a rush when the signal's given!"
Mr. Pertell and his men were stationed near a "battery" of camera men, who were ready to grind away; and the director and his assistants were calling their instructions through big megaphones. To reach the soldiers in the more distant parts of the field recourse was had to telephones, the wires of which were laid along the ground in shallow trenches, covered with earth so that the trampling of the horses would not sever them.
"Get that battery farther back among the trees!" cried Mr. Pertell to one of his helpers. "It's supposed to be a masked one, but it's in plain sight now. Even the audience would see it, let alone the men it's supposed to fire on. Get it back!"
"Yes, sir," answered the man, and he telephoned the instructions to the assistant director in charge of a battery of field guns that had been thundering away—the sound which had brought Ruth and Alice to the scene.
"Do we have any part in the battle scenes?" asked Ruth.
"Yes, quite big parts," Paul informed her. "But you don't go on to-day. This is only a rehearsal."
"But they've been firing real powder," remarked Alice, "and it looks as though they were going to fire more," and she pointed to where men of the masked battery were ramming charges down the iron throats of their guns.
"Yes, they're firing, and charging, and doing all manner of stunts, and the camera men are grinding away, but they aren't using any film," went on Paul. "It's just to get every one used to working under the excitement. They have to fire the guns so the horses will get so they don't mind them when the real time comes."
Hundreds of extra players had been engaged to come to Oak Farm for these battle scenes in the drama, "A Girl in Blue and A Girl in Gray," and some of them were already on hand with their mounts. As has been said, special accommodations had been erected where they were to stay during the weeks they would be needed. There were more men than women among the extra people, though a number of women and girls were needed in the "town" scenes.
Most of the men were former members of the militia, cowboys and adventurers, all of whom were used to hard, rough riding. This was necessary, for when battle scenes are shown there must be some "killed," and when a man has a horse shot from under him, or is shot himself, riding at full speed, even though the cartridges are blank, the action calls for a heavy fall, sudden and abrupt, to make it look real. And this is not easy to do, nor is it altogether safe with a mob of riders thundering along behind one.
Yet the men who take part in these battle scenes do it with scarcely a thought of danger, though often many of them are hurt, as are the horses.
In brief the story of the play in which Ruth was to take the part of a girl in Blue, and Alice of a girl in Gray, was this. They were cousins, and Ruth was visiting Alice's home in the South when the war broke out. Alice, of course, sided with her people, and loved the gray uniforms, while Ruth's sympathies were with the North.
Ruth determined to go back North and become a nurse, while Alice, longing for more active work, offered her services as a spy to help the Confederacy. Though on opposite sides, the girls' love for one another did not wane.
Then came the scenes of the war. Battles were to be shown, and there were plots and counter-plots, in some of which Ruth and Alice had no part. Mr. DeVere was cast for a Northern General, and the character became him well. Later on Alice and Ruth were to meet in a hospital among the wounded. Alice was supposed to get certain papers of value to her side from a wounded Union officer. As she was escaping with them Ruth was to intercept her, and the two were to have a "strong" scene together.
Alice, ignoring the pleadings of her cousin and about to depart with the papers, learns that the officer from whom she took them was the same one that had saved her father's life on the battlefield. She decides to forego her mission as a spy, even though it may mean the betrayal of her own cause, when the news comes in of Lee's surrender, and her sacrifice is not demanded. Then "all live happily for ever after."
That is but a mere outline of the play, which was to be an elaborate production. And it was the rehearsal for the preliminary battles and skirmishes that the girls were now witnessing.
"Tell that battery to get ready to fire!" cried Mr. Pertell, and this word went over the telephone.
"Come on now with that Union charge!" was the next command.
Then hundreds of horses thundered down the slopes of Oak Farm, while the hidden guns thundered. Down went horses and men while the girls screamed involuntarily, it all seemed so real.
"It's a good thing we didn't plant no corn in that there field this season," observed Belix Apgar, Sandy's father, as he saw the charge.
"That's right," agreed his wife. "There wouldn't have been 'nuff left to make a hominy cake."
"Do it over again!" ordered the manager. "Some of you fellows ride your horses as if you were going to a croquet game. Get some action into it!"
Once more the battery thundered its harmless shots and the men charged. This time the scene was satisfactory, and preparations were made to film it. Again the men thundered down the slope, and when they were almost at the battery a single rider—a girl—dashed out toward the approaching Union soldiers.
"Oh, she'll be killed!" cried Ruth. "They'll ride right over her!"
It did seem so, for she was headed straight toward the approaching horsemen.
"She's all right," said Paul. "She's quite a rider, I believe. Her part, as a Union sympathizer, is to rush out and warn them of the hidden battery, but she is delayed by a Southerner until it is too late, and she takes a desperate chance. There go the guns!"
Horses and riders were lost in a cloud of smoke. This time the film was being taken. When that charge was over, and men and horses, some limping, had gone back to their quarters, Mr. Pertell signaled to the daring woman rider to come to him.
"That was very well done, Miss Brown," he said. "You certainly showed nerve."
"I am glad you liked it," was the answer in a quiet, well-bred voice. "Shall you want me again to-day?"
"Not until later, and it will be an interior. Is your horse all right?"
"Oh, yes. I am in love with him!" and she patted the arching neck of the handsome creature. "He is so speedy."
"He sure is speedy, all right," agreed Paul, and the girl—she was scarcely more than that—who had been addressed as Miss Brown by the director smiled at the young actor. Then she let her friendly gaze rest on Ruth and Alice.
"Isn't she fine!" murmured Alice.
"Like to meet her?" whispered Paul.
"Yes!" exclaimed Alice eagerly, paying no attention to Ruth's plucking of her sleeve.
"Miss Brown, allow me to present——" and Paul introduced the two DeVere girls.
"That was a daring ride of yours!" remarked Alice, with enthusiasm.
"Indeed it was," agreed Ruth, more quietly.
"Do you think so? I'm glad you like it. I have been riding ever since I was a little girl."
"Did you learn in the West?" asked Alice.
"Why, yes—that is I—I really—oh, there goes that wild black horse again!" and Miss Brown turned to point to an animal ridden by one of the Confederate soldiers. The horse seemed unmanageable, and dashed some distance across the field before it was brought under control.
Then the talk turned to moving picture work, though Ruth could not help wondering, even in the midst of it, why Miss Brown had not been more certain of where she had learned to ride.
"It isn't something one would forget," mused Ruth.
A NEEDED LESSON
Rehearsals, the filming of scenes, retakes and the studying of their parts kept busy not only the moving picture girls, but all the members of Mr. Pertell's company. There was work for all, and from the smallest girls and boys, including Tommie and Nellie Maguire, to Mr. DeVere himself, little spare time was to be had.
Ruth and Alice had important parts, and they were given a general outline of what was expected of them. They would be in many scenes, and a variety of action would be required. In order that they do themselves and the film justice, since they were to be "featured," the girls spent much time studying in their rooms and practising to get the best results from the various registerings.
"That is going to be a very strong scene for you and Alice," said Mr. DeVere to Ruth one day. "I refer to that scene where Alice takes the paper and afterwards discovers the identity of the man to whom she owes so much—the life of her father. Now let me see how you would play it, Alice."
Alice did so, and she did well, but her father was not satisfied. The stage traditions meant much to him, and though he had been forced to give up many of them when he went into the motion pictures, still he knew what good dramatic action was, and he knew that it would "get over" just as certainly in the silent drama as it did in the legitimate. So he made Alice go over the scene again, and Ruth also, until he was satisfied.
"Now, when the time comes, you'll know how to do it," he said. "Don't be satisfied with anything but the best you can do, even if it is only a moving picture show. I am convinced, more and more, that the silent drama is going to take a larger place than ever before the public."
It was on one afternoon following a rather hard day's work before the cameras, that Ruth and Alice, with Miss Pennington and Miss Dixon, sat on the porch of the farmhouse, waiting for the supper bell. Russ and Paul were off to one side, talking, and Mr. DeVere and Mr. Bunn were discussing their early days in the legitimate. Mr. Pertell came up the walk, a worried look on his face, seeing which Mr. Switzer called out:
"Did a cow step on some of the actors, Herr Director, or did one of our worthy farmer's rams knock over a camera after it had filmed one of the battle scenes?"
"Neither one, Mr. Switzer," was the answer. "This is merely a domestic trouble I have on my mind."
"Domestic!" exclaimed Alice. "You don't mean that some of your pretty extra girls have eloped with some of your dashing cowboy soldiers, do you? I wouldn't blame them if they——"
"Alice!" chided her sister.
"Oh, well, you know what I mean!"
"No, it isn't quite that," laughed the director, "though you have very nearly hit it," and he took a chair near Alice and her sister, and near where Pearl Pennington and Laura Dixon were rocking and chewing gum.
"Tell us, and perhaps we can help you," Alice suggested.
"Well, maybe you can. It's about Miss Estelle Brown, the young lady who made that daring ride in front of the masked battery the other day."
"What! Has she left?" asked Ruth. "She was such a wonderful rider!"
"No, she hasn't left, but she threatens to; and I can't let her go, as she's in some of the films and I'd have to switch the whole plot around to explain why she didn't come in on the later scenes."
"Why is she going to leave?" Alice queried.
"Because she has been subjected to some annoyance on the part of a young man who is one of the extras. You know the extras all live down in the big bungalow I had built for them. I have a man and his wife to look after them, and I try to make it as nearly like a happy family as I can. But Miss Brown says she can't stay there any longer. This young man—a decent enough chap he had seemed to me—is pestering her with his attentions. He is quite in love with her, it seems."
"Oh, how romantic!" gurgled Miss Dixon.
"Miss Brown doesn't think so," said the manager dryly. "I don't know what to do about it, for I have no place where I can put her up alone."
"Bring her here!" exclaimed Alice, impulsively.
"Indeed, no!" cried Miss Pennington. "We actresses were told that none of the extra people would be quartered with us! If that had not been agreed to I would not have come to this place."
"Nor I!" chimed in Miss Dixon. "We professionals are not to be classed with these extras—and amateurs at that!"
"I know I did promise you regulars that you would be boarded by yourselves," said Mr. Pertell, scratching his head in perplexity, "and I don't blame you for not wanting, as a general run, to mix with the others. For some of them, while they are decent enough, have a big idea of their own importance. I wouldn't think of asking you to let one of the extra men come here, but this young lady——"
"She is perfectly charming!" broke in Alice. "And she certainly can ride!"
"She did seem very nice," murmured Ruth.
"Pooh! A vulgar cowgirl!" sneered Miss Dixon.
"There is a nice room near mine," went on Alice. "She could have that, I should think. The Apgars don't use it, and it is certainly annoying to be pestered by a young man!" and she looked with uptilted nose at Paul, who said emphatically:
"Well, I like that!"
"If I could bring her here——" began Mr. Pertell.
"By all means!" exclaimed Ruth. "We will try to make her happy and comfortable—if she is an amateur."
"She has no right to come here!" burst out Miss Dixon.
"No, indeed!" added Miss Pennington. "If she comes, I shall go! I will not board in the same place with an amateur cowgirl doing an extra turn in the pictures."
"Nor I!" snapped Miss Dixon.
"All right—all right!" said Mr. Pertell quickly. "I know it's contrary to my promise, and I won't insist on it. Only it would have made it easier——"
"Let Miss Brown come," quickly whispered Alice in the director's ear. "They won't leave. They're too comfortable here, and they get too good salaries. Let Miss Brown come!"
"Will you stand by me if I do?"
"Yes," said Alice.
"So will I," added Ruth.
Then the supper bell rang and the discussion ended for the time being. Later Mr. Pertell explained privately to Ruth and her sister that Miss Brown was a quiet and refined young lady about whom he knew little save that she had answered his advertisement for an amateur who could ride. She had made good and he had engaged her for the war scenes.
"But she tells me that among the young men in the same boarding bungalow is one who seems quite smitten with her. He is impudent and exceedingly persistent, and she does not desire his attentions. She said she thought she would have to leave unless she could get a quiet place where he could not follow. It is all right during the day, as he can not come near her, but after hours——"
"Do bring her!" urged Alice. "We'll try to make her comfortable. And don't fear what they will do," and she nodded toward the two other actresses, who had been in vaudeville before going into motion pictures.
So it was that, later in the evening, Miss Brown brought her trunk to the Apgar farmhouse and was installed in a room near Alice and Ruth.
"Oh, it is so much nicer here!" sighed Estelle Brown, as she admitted Ruth and Alice, who knocked on her door. "I could not have stood the other place much longer. Though every one—except that one man—was very nice to me."
"Let us be your friends!" urged Alice.
"You are very kind," murmured Estelle, and the more the two girls looked at her, the prettier they thought her. She had wonderful hair, a marvelous complexion, and white, even teeth that made her smile a delight.
"Have you been in this business long?" asked Ruth.
"No, not very—in fact, this is my first big play. I have done little ones, but I did not get on very well. I love the work, though."
"Were your people in the profession?" asked Alice.
"I don't know—that is, I'm not sure. I believe some of them were, generations back. Oh, did you hear that?" and she interrupted her reply with the question.
"That" was the voice of some one in the lower hall inquiring if Miss Brown was in.
"It's that—that impertinent Maurice Whitlow!" whispered Estelle to Ruth and Alice. "I thought I could escape him here. Oh, what shall I do?"
"I'll say you are not at home," returned Ruth, in her best "stage society" manner, and, sweeping down the hall, she met the maid who was coming up to tell Miss Brown there was a caller for her below.
"Tell him Miss Brown is not at home," said Ruth.
"Very well," and the maid smiled understandingly.
"Ah! not at home? Tell her I shall call again," came in drawling tones up the stairway, for it was warm, and doors and windows were open.
"Little—snip!" murmured Estelle. "I'm so glad I didn't have to see him. He's a pest—all the while wanting to take me out and buy ice-cream sodas. He's just starting in at the movies, and he thinks he's a star already. Oh! but don't you just love the guns and horses?" she asked impulsively.
"Well, I can't say that I do," answered Ruth. "I like quieter plays."
"I don't!" cried Alice. "The more excitement the better I like it. I can do my best then."
"So can I," said Estelle. Then they fell to talking of the work, and of many other topics.
"Did Estelle Brown strike you as being peculiar?" asked Ruth of her sister when they were back in their rooms, getting ready for bed.
"Peculiar? What do you mean?"
"I mean she didn't seem to know whether or not her people were in the profession."
"Yes, she did side-step that a bit."
"Well, avoid answering, if you like that better. But my way is shorter. Say, maybe she has gone into this without her people knowing it, and she wants to keep them from bringing her back."
"Maybe, though it didn't strike me as being that way. It was as though she wasn't quite sure of herself."
"Sure of herself—what do you mean?"
"Well, I can't explain it any better."
"I'll think it over," said Alice, sleepily. "We've got lots to do to-morrow," and she tumbled into bed with a drowsy "good-night."
Miss Laura Dixon and Miss Pearl Pennington most decidedly turned up their noses at the breakfast table when they saw Estelle sitting between Ruth and Alice. And their murmurs of disdain could be plainly heard.
"She here? Then I'm going to leave!"
"The idea of amateurs butting in like this! It's a shame!"
Fortunately Estelle was exchanging some gay banter with Paul and did not hear. But Ruth and Alice did, and the latter could not avoid a thrust at the scornful ones. To Ruth, in an unnecessarily loud voice, Alice remarked:
"Do you remember that funny vaudeville stunt we used to laugh over when we were children—'The Lady Bookseller?'"
"Yes, I remember it very well," answered Ruth. "What about it, Alice?" for she did not catch her sister's drift.
"Why, I was just wondering how many years ago it was—ten, at least, since it was popular, isn't it?"
"I believe so!"
"It's no such a thing!" came the indignant remonstrance from Miss Pennington. It was in this sketch that she had made her "hit," and as she now claimed several years less than the number to which she was entitled, this sly reference to her age was not relished. "It was only six years ago that I starred in that," she went on.
"It seems much longer," said Alice, calmly. "We were quite little when we saw you in that. You were so funny with your big feet——"
"Big feet! I had to wear shoes several sizes too large for me! It was in the act. I—I——"
"They're stringing you—keep still!" whispered her chum, and with red cheeks Miss Pennington subsided.
But Alice's remarks had the desired effect, and there were no more references, for the present, directed at pretty Estelle. Miss Dixon and Miss Pennington had a scene with Mr. Pertell, though, in which they threatened to leave unless Estelle were sent back to the bungalow where the other extra players boarded. But the manager remained firm, and the two vaudeville actresses did not quit the company.
Hard work followed, and Estelle made some daring rides, once narrowly escaping injury from the burning wad of a cannon, which went off prematurely as she dashed past the very muzzle. But she put spurs to her horse, who leaped over the spurt of fire and smoke. A few feet of film were spoiled; but this was better than having an actor hurt.
Alice was sitting on the farmhouse porch one afternoon, waiting for Estelle and Ruth to come down, for they were going for a walk together, not being needed in the films. Estelle had been taken into companionship by the two girls, who found her a very charming companion, though little disposed to talk about herself.
Alice, who was reading a motion picture magazine, was startled by hearing a voice saying, almost in her ear:
"Is Miss Brown in?"
"Oh!" and Alice looked up to see Maurice Whitlow smirking at her. He had tiptoed up on the porch and was standing very close to her. She had never been introduced to him, but that is not absolutely insisted on in moving picture circles, particularly when a company is on "location."
"Is Miss Brown in?" repeated Whitlow.
"I don't know, I'm sure," replied Alice.
"Ah, well, I'll wait and find out. I'll sit down here by you and wait," went on the young man, drawing a chair so close to that of Alice that it touched. "Fine day, isn't it? I say! you did that bit of acting very cleverly to-day."
"Did I?" and Alice went on reading.
"Yes. I had a little bit myself. I carried a message from the field headquarters to the rear—after more ammunition, you know. Did you notice me riding?"
"I did not."
"Well, I saw you, all right. If Miss Brown isn't home, do you want to go over to the village with me?"
"I do not!" and Alice was very emphatic.
"Then for a row on the lake?"
"You look as though you would enjoy canoeing," went on the persistent Whitlow. "You have a very strong little hand—very pretty!" and he boldly reached up and removed Alice's fingers from the edge of the magazine. "A very pretty little hand—yes!" and he sighed foolishly.
"How dare you!" cried Alice, indignantly. "If you don't——"
"See how you like that pretty bit of grass down there!" exclaimed a sharp voice behind Alice, and the next moment Mr. Maurice Whitlow, eye-glasses, lavender tie, socks and all, went sailing over the porch railing, to land in a sprawling heap on the sod below.
"Oh!" murmured Alice, shrinking down in her chair. "Oh—my!"
She gave a hasty glance over her shoulder, to behold Paul Ardite standing back of her chair, an angry look on his face. Then Alice looked at the sprawling form of the extra player. He was getting up with a dazed expression on his countenance.
"What—what does this mean?" he gasped, striving to make his tones indignant. But it is hard for dignity to assert itself when one is on one's hands and knees in the grass, conscious that there is a big grass stain on one's white cuff, and with one's clothing generally disarranged. "What does this mean? I demand an explanation," came from Mr. Maurice Whitlow.
"You know well enough what it means!" snapped Paul. "If you don't, why, come back here and try it over again and I'll give you another demonstration!"
"Oh, don't, Paul—please!" pleaded Alice in a low voice.
"There's no danger. He won't come," was the confident reply.
By this time Whitlow had picked himself up and was brushing his garments. He settled his collar, straightened his lavender tie and wet his lips as though about to speak.
"You—you—I——" he began. "I don't see what right you had to——"
"That'll do now!" interrupted Paul, sternly. "It's of no use to go into explanations. You know as well as I do what you were doing and why I pitched you over the railing. I'll do it again if you want me to, but twice as hard. And if I catch you here again, annoying any of the ladies of this company, I'll report you to the director. Now skip—and stay skipped!" concluded Paul significantly. "Perhaps you can't read that notice?" and he pointed to one recently posted on the main gateway leading to the big farmhouse. It was to the effect that none of the extra players were allowed admission to the grounds without a permit from the director.
"Huh! I'm as good an actor as you, any day!" sneered Whitlow, as he limped down the walk.
"Maybe. But you can't get over with it—here!" said Paul significantly.
The notice had been posted because so many of the cowboys and girls had fairly overrun the precincts of Mr. Apgar's home. He and his family had no privacy at all, and while they did not mind the regular members of Mr. Pertell's company, with whom they were acquainted, they did not want the hundreds of extra men, soldiers, cowboys and horsewomen running all over the place.
So the rule had been adopted, and it was observed good-naturedly by those to whom it applied. Whitlow must have considered himself above it.
"Did he annoy you much, Alice?" asked Paul.
"Not so very. He was just what you might call—fresh. He asked for Miss Brown, and when she wasn't here to snub him he turned the task over to me. Ugh!" and Alice began to scrub vigorously with her handkerchief the fingers which Whitlow had grasped. "I'm sorry you had that trouble with him, Paul," she went on. "But really——"
"It was no trouble—it was a pleasure!" laughed Paul. "I'd like to do it over again if it were not for annoying you. I happened to come up behind and heard what he was saying. So I just pitched into him. I don't believe he'll come back. He'll be too much afraid of losing the work. Mr. Pertell has had a great many applications from players out of work who want to be taken on as extras, and he can have his pick. So those that don't obey the regulations will get short notice. You won't be troubled with him again."
And Alice was not, nor was Miss Brown. That is, as regards the extra player's trespassing on the grounds about the farmhouse. But he was of the kind that is persistent, and on several occasions, when the duties of the girls brought them near to where Whitlow was acting, he smiled and smirked at them.
Alice wished to tell Paul about it and have him administer another and more severe chastisement to Whitlow, but Ruth and Estelle persuaded the impulsive one to forego doing so.
"I can look after myself, thank you, Alice dear," Estelle said. "Now that I don't have to board in the bungalow with him it is easier."
"Don't make a scene," advised Ruth.
"Oh, but I just can't bear to have him look at me," Alice said.
Several of the scenes in the principal drama had been made, but most of the largest ones, those of the battles, of Alice's spy work, and of Ruth's nursing, were yet to come.
The making of a big moving picture is the work not of days, but of weeks, and often of months. If every scene took place in a studio, where artificial lights could be used, the filming could go on every day the actors were on hand, or whenever the director felt like working them and the camera men. Often in a studio, even, the director will be notional—"temperamental," he might call it—and let a day go by, and again the glare of the powerful lights may so affect the eyes of the players that they have to rest, and so time is lost in that way.
But the time lost in a studio is as nothing compared to the time lost in filming the big outdoor scenes. There the sun is a big factor, for a brilliant light is needed to take pictures of galloping horses, swiftly moving automobiles and locomotives, and every cloudy day means a loss of time. For this reason many of the big film companies maintain studios in California, where there are many days of sunshine. They can take "outdoor stuff" almost any time after the sun is up.
But at Oak Farm there were times when everything would be in readiness for a big scene, the camera men waiting, the players ready to dash into their parts, and then clouds would form, or it would rain, and there would be a postponement. But it was part of the game, and as the salaries of the players went on whether they worked or not, they did not complain.
One morning Alice, on going into Estelle's room, found her busy "padding" herself before she put on her outer garments.
"What in the world are you doing?" Alice asked.
"Getting ready for my big jump," was the answer.
"Your big jump?"
"Yes, you know there is a scene where I carry a message from headquarters to one of the Union generals at the front. Your father plays the latter part."
"Oh, yes, now I remember. And Daddy is sure no one can do quite as well as he can in the tent scene, where he salutes you and takes the message you have brought through with such peril."
"Yes, that's nice. Well, I'm to ride along and be pursued by some Confederate guerrillas. It's a race, and I decide to take a short cut, not knowing the Confederates have burned the bridge. I have to leap my horse down an embankment and ford the stream. I'm getting ready for the jump now—that's why I'm padding myself. For Petro—that's my horse—might slip or stumble in jumping down that embankment, and I want to be ready to roll out of the way. It's much more comfortable to roll in a padded suit—like a football player's—than in your ordinary clothes. Your friend, Russ Dalwood, told me to do this, and I think it is a good idea."
"It's sure to be if Russ told you, isn't it, Ruth?" asked Alice, with a mischievous look at her sister, who had just come in.
"How should I know?" was the cool response. "I suppose Mr. Dalwood knows what he is doing, though."
"Oh, how very formal we are all of a sudden," mocked Alice. "You two haven't quarreled, have you?"
"Silly," returned Ruth, blushing.
"Are you really going to jump your horse down a cliff?" asked Alice.
"I really am," was the smiling answer. "There is to be no fake about this. But really there is little danger. I am so used to horses."
"Yes, and I marvel at you," put in Ruth. "Where did you learn it all?"
"I don't know. It seems to come natural to me."
"You must have lived on a ranch a long time," ventured Ruth.
"Did I? Well, perhaps I did. Say, lace this up the back for me, that's a dear," and she turned around so that Alice or Ruth could fasten a corset-like pad that covered a large part of her body. It would not show under her dress, but would be a protection in case of a fall.
Alice and Ruth were so greatly interested in the coming perilous leap of Estelle's that they did not pursue their inquiries about her life on a ranch, though Alice casually remarked that it was strange she did not speak more about it.
The two DeVere girls had no part in this one scene, and they went to watch it, safely out of range of the cameras. For there were to be two snapping this jump, to avoid the necessity of a retake in case one film failed.
"All ready now!" called Mr. Pertell, when there had been several rehearsals up to the actual point of making the jump. Estelle had raced out of the woods bearing the message. The Confederate guerrillas had pursued her, and she had found the bridge burned—one built for the purpose and set fire to.
"All ready for the jump?" asked the director.
"All ready," Estelle answered, looking to saddle girths and stirrups.
"Then come on!" yelled the director through his megaphone.
Estelle urged her horse forward. With shouts and yells, which, of course, had no part in the picture, yet which served to aid them in their acting, the players who were portraying the Confederates came after her, spurring their horses and firing wildly. On and on rushed the steed bearing the daring girl rider.
She reached the place of the burned bridge, halted a moment, made a gesture of despair, and then raced for the bank, down which she would leap her horse to the ford.
"Come on! Come on!" yelled Mr. Pertell. "That's fine! Come on! You men there put a little more pep in your riding. Turn and fire at them, Miss Brown! Fire one shot, and one of you men reel in his saddle. That's the idea!"
Estelle had quickly turned and fired, and one man had most realistically showed that he was hit, afterward slumping from his seat.
Now the girl was at the edge of the bank. She was to make a flying jump over its edge and come down in the soft sand, sliding to the bottom—in the saddle if she could keep her seat, rolling over and over if, perchance, she left it.
"That's the idea! Get every bit of that, Russ! That's fine!" yelled Mr. Pertell.
"There she goes!" cried Alice, grasping her sister's arm, and as she spoke Estelle spurred her horse and it leaped full and fair over the edge of the embankment. Estelle had made her big jump. Would she come safely out of it?
A MASSED ATTACK
While Russ Dalwood and his helper were grinding their cameras, reeling away at the film on which was being impressed the shifting vision of Estelle Brown taking her hazardous leap, Alice, Ruth, and the others were watching to see how the daring young horsewoman would come out of it.
"She's going to land in a minute!" exclaimed Miss Dixon.
"In a minute? In a half second!" cried Alice. "But don't talk!"
"There—she's fallen!" gasped Miss Pennington.
With his feet gathered under him, Petro had come down straight on the sliding, shifting sand of the embankment. For a moment it looked as though he had stumbled and that Estelle would be thrown.
But she held a firm rein, and leaned far back in the saddle. The horse stiffened and then, keeping upright with his forelegs straight out in front of him and his hind ones bunched under him, he began to slide.
Down the embankment he slid, as the Italian cavalrymen sometimes ride their horses, with Estelle firm in the saddle. And, as a matter of fact, the girl said afterward it was from having seen some moving pictures of these Italian army riders that she got the idea of doing as she did.
"She won't fall!" murmured Paul.
"Oh, I'm so glad! The picture will be a success, won't it?"
"I should think so," Paul said. "It certainly was a daring ride."
"I wouldn't mind doing it if I had her horse," put in Maurice Whitlow, smirking at the girls. "I think you could do that, Miss DeVere," and he looked at Alice.
She turned away with only a murmured reply, but, nothing daunted, the "pest" went on:
"Estelle is certainly a fine rider. I think she must have been a cowgirl on a ranch at one time, though she won't admit it."
"She wouldn't to you, at any rate," said Paul, significantly.
"Oh, if you don't know it's of no use to tell you. Look! Now she goes into the water!"
The action called for the halting at the top of the embankment of the Confederate riders, who dared not make the jump. They fired some futile shots at Estelle, then rode around to a less dangerous descent to try to catch her. But Estelle was to ford the stream and continue on to the Union lines with her message.
Reaching the bottom of the slope, her horse gathered himself together for another bit of moving picture work. At the edge of the stream another camera man was stationed, for Estelle and her horse were by this time too far away from Russ and his helper to make good views possible.
Into the water splashed the girl, urging on her spirited horse, that was none the worse for his jump and his long slide.
"Good work! Good work!" cried an assistant director, who was stationed near the stream to see that all went according to the scenario. "Keep on, Miss Brown!"
Estelle bent low over her horse's neck, to escape possible bullets from the Confederate guns, and on and on she raced until she pulled up at the tent of "General" DeVere. Here her mission ended, after the father of Alice and Ruth, in a dusty uniform of a Union officer, had come out in response to the summons from his orderly.
Estelle slipped from her saddle, registered exhaustion, saluted and held out the paper she had brought through the Confederate lines at such risk. Nor was the risk wholly one of the play, for she might have been seriously hurt in her perilous leap.
But, fortunately, everything came out properly and a fine series of pictures resulted.
"I'm so glad!" Estelle exclaimed, when it was all over, and, divested of her padding, she sat in her room with Ruth and Alice. "I want to 'make good' in this business, and riding seems to be my forte."
"Do you like it better than anything else?" asked Alice.
"Yes, I do. And I just love moving pictures, don't you?"
"Indeed we do," put in Ruth. "But we were never cut out for riders."
"I'd like it!" exclaimed Alice. "I'd like to know how to ride a horse as well as you do."
"I'll show you," offered Estelle. "I'll be very glad to, and it's easy. It's like swimming—all you need is confidence, and to learn not to be afraid of your horse but to trust him. Let me show you some day."
"I believe I will!" decided Alice, with flashing eyes. "It will be great."
"Better ask father," suggested Ruth.
"Oh, he'll let me, I know. We've ridden some, you know; but I would like to ride as well as Estelle," and Alice and Estelle began to talk over their plans for taking and giving riding lessons. In the midst of the talk the return of the boy who went daily to the village for mail was announced.
"Oh, I hope my new waist has come!" Alice exclaimed, for she had written to her dressmaker to send one by parcel post. There was a package for her—the one she expected—and also some letters, as well as one for Ruth. Estelle showed no interest when the distribution of the mail was going on.
"Don't you expect anything?" asked Alice.
"Why, no, I don't believe I do," was the slowly given answer. "I don't write any, so I don't get any, I suppose," and both girls noticed that there was a far-away look in Estelle's eyes. Perhaps it was a wistful look, for surely all girls like to get letters from some one.
"I believe she is estranged from her family," decided Alice to her sister afterward. "Did you see how pathetic she looked when we got letters and she didn't?"
"Well, I didn't notice anything special," Ruth replied. "But there is something queer about her, I must admit. She is so absent-minded at times. This morning I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk, and she said she had no ticket."
"Yes, that's what she said. And when I laughed and told her one didn't need a ticket to walk around Oak Farm, she sort of 'came to' and said she was thinking about a boat."
"A boat—what boat?"
"That was all she said. Then she began to talk about something else."
"Do you know what I think?" asked Alice, suddenly.
"No. But then you think so many things it isn't any wonder I can't keep track of them."
"I think, as I believe I've said before, that she has run away from some ranch to be in moving pictures. That's why she doesn't write or receive letters. She doesn't want her folks to know where she is."
"I can hardly believe that," declared Ruth. "She is too nice and refined a girl to have done anything like that. No, I just think she is a bit queer, that is all. But certainly she doesn't tell much about herself."
However, further speculation regarding Estelle Brown was cut short, as orders came for the appearance of nearly the entire company in one of the plays.
The first scene was to take place in a Southern town, and for the purpose a street had been constructed by Pop Snooks and his helpers. There was a stately mansion, smaller houses, a store or two and some other buildings. True, the buildings were but shells, and, in some cases, only fronts, but they showed well in the picture.
Ruth, Alice, and a number of the girls and women and men were to be the inhabitants of this village, and were to take part in an alarm and flee the place when it was known that the Confederate forces were being driven back and through the place by the Unionists.
"Come on—get dressed!" cried Alice, and soon she, her sister, Estelle and the other women were donning their Southern costumes, wide skirts, with hoops to puff them out, and broad-brimmed hats, under which curls showed.
There was to be a massed attack by the Unionists on the town, through which the Confederates were to flee, and it was the part of Ruth and Alice to rush from their father's "mansion" bearing a few of their choice possessions.
All was in readiness. The Southern defenders were on the outskirts of the town, drawn up to receive the Unionists. Toward these Confederates, their enemies came riding. This was filmed separately, while other camera men, in the made street, took pictures of the activities there. Men, women and children went in and out of the houses. Though, as Mr. Belix Apgar said, "If you call them houses you might as well call the smell of an onion a dinner. There ain't nothin' to 'em!"
Suddenly an excited rider dashed into the midst of the peaceful activities of the Southern town.
"They're coming! They're coming!" he cried, waving his hat. "The Yankees are coming!" This would be flashed on the screen.
Then ensued a wild scene. Colored mammies rushed here and there seeking their charges. Men began to look to their arms. Then came the advance guard of the retreating Confederates, turning back to fire at their enemies.
"Come on now, Ruth—Alice! This is where we make our rush—just as the first of the Union soldiers appear!" called Paul, who was acting the part of a Southern youth. "Grab up your stuff and come on!"
Ruth was to carry a bandbox and a case supposed to contain the family jewels. Alice, who played the part this time of a frivolous young woman, was to save her pet cat.
"Here they come!" yelled Paul, as the first of the Unionists came into view at the head of the street. "Hurry, girls!"
Out they rushed, down the steps of the mansion, fleeing before the mounted Union soldiers, who laughed and jeered, firing at the Confederates, who were retreating.
Ruth and Estelle, with some of the other women, were in the lead. Alice had lingered behind, for the cat showed a disposition to wiggle out of her arms, and she wanted to keep it to make an effective picture.
Finally the creature did make its escape, but Alice was not going to give up so easily. She started in pursuit, and then one of the Union soldiers, Maurice Whitlow, spurred his horse forward. He wanted to get in the foreground of the picture and took this chance.
"Get back where you belong!" yelled the director angrily. "Who told you to get in the spotlight? Get back!"
But it was too late. Alice, in pursuit of the cat, was running straight toward Whitlow's horse, and the next moment she slipped and went down, almost under the feet of the prancing animal.
MISS DIXON'S LOSS
"Look out!" shouted Paul, and, dropping what he was carrying, he made a leap toward the animal Whitlow was riding.
"Roll out of the way of his feet!" cried the director.
"Shall I keep on with the film?" asked the camera man, for his duty was to turn until told to stop, no matter what happened.
"Let it run!" Alice cried. "I can get out of the way. Don't stop on my account!"
She had been in motion pictures long enough to know what it meant to spoil a hundred feet or more of film in a spirited picture, necessitating a retake. She had seen her danger, and had done her best to get out of harm's way.
The cat had leaped into some bushes and was out of sight.
Whitlow, his face showing his fear and his inability to act in this emergency, had instinctively drawn back on the reins. But it was to the intelligent horse itself, rather than to the rider, that Alice owed her immunity from harm. For the horse reared, and came down with feet well to one side of the crouching girl, who had partly risen to her knees.
At the same moment Paul sprang for the steed's bridle and swerved him to one side. Then, seeing that Alice was practically out of danger, Paul's rage at the carelessness of Whitlow rose, and he reached up and fairly dragged that young man out of the saddle.
"You don't know enough to lead a horse to water, let alone ride one in a movie battle scene!" he cried, as he pushed the player to one side. "Why don't you look where you're going?"
Whitlow was too shaken and startled to reply.
"Go on. Help her up and keep on with the retreat!" cried the director. "That's one of the best scenes of the picture. Couldn't have been better if we had rehearsed it. Never mind the cat, Miss DeVere. Run on. Paul, you land a couple of blows on Whitlow and then follow Alice. Hold back, there—you Union men—until we get this bit of by-play."
Paul, nothing loath, gave Whitlow two hard blows, and the latter dared not return them for fear of spoiling the picture, but he muttered in rage.
Then Paul, shaking his fist at the Unionists, hurried on after Alice, and the retreat continued. What had threatened to be a disaster, or at least a spoiling of the scene, had turned out well. It is often so in moving pictures.
In the remainder of the scene the girls had little part. They had been driven from their home, and, presumably, were taken in by friends. The rest of the scenes showed the Union soldiers making merry in the Southern town they had captured.
"My! That was a narrow escape you had!" exclaimed Ruth, when she and her sister were at liberty to return to the farmhouse. "Were you hurt?"
"No; I strained one arm just a little. But it will make a good scene, so Russ said."
"Too good—too realistic!" declared Paul. "When I get a chance at that Whitlow——"
"Please don't do anything!" begged Alice. "It wasn't really his fault. If I hadn't had the cat——"
"It was his fault for pushing himself to the front the way he did," said the young actor. "Only the best riders were picked to lead the charge. He might have known he couldn't control his horse in an emergency. That's where he was at fault."
"He is a poor rider," commented Estelle. "But you showed rare good sense, Alice, in acting as you did. A horse will not step on a person if he can possibly avoid it. Mr. Whitlow's horse was better than he was."
"Just the same, I got in two good punches!" chuckled Paul, "and he didn't dare hit back."
"He may make trouble for you later," Alice said.
"Oh, I'm not worrying about that. I'm satisfied."
There was a spirited battle scene later in the day between the Union and Confederate forces; the latter endeavoring to retake the village.
A Confederate battery in a distant town was sent for, and the Union position was shelled. But as by this time the Union cannon had come up and were entrenched in the town, an artillery duel ensued.
Views were shown of the Union guns being manned by the men, who wore bloody cloths around their foreheads and who worked hard serving the cannon. Real powder was used, but no balls, of course, and now and then a man would fall dead at his gun.
Similar views with another camera were taken of the Confederate guns and the scenes alternated on the screen afterward, creating a big sensation.
Then came an attack of the Confederate infantry under cover of the Southern battery. This was spirited, detachments of men rushing forward, firing and then seeking what cover they could. At times a man would roll over, his gun dropping, sometimes several would drop at the same time. These were those who were detailed to be shot.
The Unionists replied with a counter charge, and for a time the battle waged fiercely on both sides. Then came a lull in the fighting, with the Confederates ready to make a last charge in a desperate attempt to recapture the town.
"I know what would make a good scene," said Maurice Whitlow, during the lull when fresh films were being loaded into the cameras. "If we had an airship now some of us Union fellows could go for reinforcements in that. It would make a dandy scene."
"An airship!" cried Russ. "Say! remember that these scenes are supposed to have taken place in 1863. The only airships then were those the inventors were dreaming about or making in their laboratories. No airships in Civil War plays! I guess not! Balloons, maybe, but no airships."
"More fighting! Camera!" called Mr. Pertell, and again the spirited action was under way. Cannon boomed; rifles spat fire and smoke; men fought hand to hand, often rolling over dead; riderless horses dashed here and there. Now and then a man would narrowly escape being run down. As it was, several were burned from being too near the cannon or the guns, and one man's leg was broken in a fall from his horse.
But it was part of the game, and no one seemed to mind. A real hospital was set up at Oak Farm, not a mere shell of a building, and here the injured, as well as those who simulated injury, were attended.
Ruth and some of the women made up as nurses, though this was not the big scene in which Ruth and Alice were to take part.
"Confederates retreat!" directed Mr. Pertell, and the Southern forces, having been defeated, were forced to withdraw. Their attempt to recapture their town had failed.
"Whew! that was hot work!" cried Paul, as he came back to the farmhouse, having played his part as a Confederate soldier.
"It certainly was," agreed Mr. DeVere, who had been the directing Union General. Now that the "war" was over Northerners and Southerners mingled together in friendly converse, their differences forgotten.
"I just can't bear the smell of powder!" complained Miss Dixon. "I wish I had my salts."
"I'll get them for you, dear," offered Miss Pennington. "I'm going up to our rooms." The former vaudeville actresses, with Ruth, Alice, and some of the others, were resting on the farmhouse porch.
Miss Dixon smelled the salts and declared she felt much better.
"There's to be a dance in the village to-night," Paul remarked at the supper table.
"Let's go!" proposed Alice. "Will you take me, Paul?"
"Of course I will."
"May I have the pleasure?" asked Russ, of Ruth.
"Why, yes, if the rest go."
"We'll all go!" chimed in Miss Dixon. "Some of the extra men are good dancers. They proved it in the ballroom scene the other day. We can get a man, Pearl."
"All right, my dear, just as you say."
The little party was soon arranged.
"Estelle might like to go," suggested Alice.
"I'll go to ask her," offered Ruth, for Miss Brown had quit the supper table early and gone to her room.
As Ruth mounted the stairs she heard Miss Dixon and Miss Pennington talking in the hall outside their rooms.