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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Moving Picture Girls At Rocky Ranch: Great Days Among The Cowboys - Chapter 1. The Spy
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The Moving Picture Girls At Rocky Ranch: Great Days Among The Cowboys - Chapter 1. The Spy Post by :Ronald Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :2047

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The Moving Picture Girls At Rocky Ranch: Great Days Among The Cowboys - Chapter 1. The Spy


"Well, Ruth, aren't you almost ready?"

"Just a moment, Alice. I can't seem to get my collar fastened in the back. I wish I'd used the old-fashioned hooks and eyes instead of those new snaps."

"Oh, I think those snaps are just adorable!"

"Oh, Alice DeVere! Using such an extreme expression!"

"What expression, Ruth?"

"'Adorable!' You sometimes accuse me of using slang, and there you go----"

"'Adorable' isn't slang," retorted Alice.

"Oh, isn't it though? Since when?"

"There you go yourself! You're as bad as I am."

"Well, it must be associating with you, then," sighed Ruth.

"No, Ruth, it's this moving picture business. It just makes you use words that _mean something, and not those that are merely sign-posts. I'm glad to see that you are getting--sensible. But never mind about that. Are you ready to go to the studio? I'm sure we'll be late."

"Oh, please help me with this collar. I wish I'd made this waist with the new low-cut effect. Not too low, of course," Ruth added hastily, as she caught a surprised glance from her sister.

Two girls were in a room about which were strewn many articles of feminine adornment. Yet it was not an untidy apartment. True, dresser drawers did yawn and disclose their contents, and closet doors gaped at one, showing a collection of shoes and skirts. But then the occupants of the room might have been forgiven, for they were in haste to keep an appointment.

"There, Ruth," finally exclaimed the younger of the two girls--yet she was not so much younger--not more than two years. "I think your collar is perfectly sweet."

"It's good of you to say so. You know I got it at that little French shop around the corner, but sewed some of that Mexican drawn lace on to make it a bit higher. Now I'm sorry I did, for I had to put in those snap fasteners instead of hooks. And if you don't get them to fit exactly they come loose. It's like when the film doesn't come right on the screen, and the piano player sounds a discord to call the operator's attention to it."

"You've hit it, sister mine."

"Oh, Alice! There you go again. 'Hit it!'"

"You'd say 'hit it' at a baseball game," Alice retorted.

"Oh, yes, I suppose so. But we're not at one," objected the older girl, as she finished buttoning her gloves, and took up her parasol, which she shook out, to make sure that it would open easily when needed.

"There, I think I'm ready," announced Alice, as she slipped on a light jacket, for, though it was spring, the two rivers of New York sent rather chilling breezes across the city, and a light waist was rather conducive to colds.

"Have you the key?" asked the older girl, as she paused for a moment on the threshold of the private hall of the apartment house. She had tied her veil rather tightly at the back, knotting it and fastening it with a little gold pin, and now she pulled it away from her cheeks, to relieve the tension.

"Yes, I have it, Ruth. Oh, don't make such funny faces! Anyone would think you were posing."

"Well, I'm not--but this veil--tickles."

"Serves you right for trying to be so stylish."

"It's proper to have a certain amount of style, Alice, dear. I wish I could induce you to have more of it."

"I have enough, thank you. Let's don't talk dress any more, or we'll have a tiff before we get to the moving picture studio, and there are some long and trying scenes ahead of us to-day."

"So there are. I wonder if daddy took his key?"

"Wait, and I'll look on his dresser."

The younger girl went back into the apartment for a moment, while her sister stepped across the corridor and tapped lightly at an opposite door.

"Has Russ gone?" she asked the pleasant-faced woman who answered.

"Yes, Ruth. A little while ago. He was going to call for you girls, but I knew you were dressing, for Alice came in to borrow some pins, so I told him not to wait."

"That's right. We'll see him at the studio."

"You're coming in to supper to-night, you know."

"Oh, yes, Mrs. Dalwood. Daddy wouldn't miss that for anything!" laughed Ruth, as she turned to wait for her sister. "Of course he _says our cooking is the best he ever had since poor mamma left us," Ruth went on, "but I just _know he relishes yours a great deal more."

"Oh, you're just saying that, Ruth!" objected the neighbor.

"Indeed I'm not. You should hear him talk, for days afterward, about your clam chowder." She laughed genially.

"Well, he does seem to relish that," admitted Mrs. Dalwood.

"What's that?" asked Alice, as she came out.

"We're speaking of clam chowder, and how fond daddy is of Mrs. Dalwood's recipe," said Ruth.

"Oh, yes, indeed! I should think he'd be ashamed to look a clam in the face--that is, if a clam _has a face," laughed Alice. "It's awfully good of you, Mrs. Dalwood, to make it for him so often."

"Well, I'm always glad when a man enjoys his meals," declared Mrs. Dalwood, who, being a widow, knew what the lack of proper home life meant.

"I'm afraid we're imposing on you," suggested Alice, as she started down the stairs. "You have us over to tea so often, and we seldom invite you."

"Now don't be thinking that, my dear!" exclaimed the neighbor. "I know what it is when you have to pose so much for moving pictures.

"My boy Russ tells me what long hours you put in, and how hard you work. And it's trouble enough to get up a meal these days, and have anything left to pay the rent. So I'm only too glad when you can come in and enjoy the victuals with us. I cook too much anyhow, and of late Russ seems to have lost his appetite."

"I fancy I know why," laughed Alice, with a roguish glance at her sister.

"Alice!" protested Ruth, in shocked tones. "Don't you dare----"

"I was only going to say that he has not seemed well since coming back from Florida--what was the harm in that?" Alice wanted to know.

"Oh!" murmured Ruth. "Do come on," she added, as if she feared her fun-loving sister might say something embarrassing.

"Russ will be better soon, Mrs. Dalwood," Alice called as she and her sister went down the stairway of the apartment house.

"What makes you think so?" asked his mother. "Not but what I'm glad to hear you say that, for really he hasn't eaten at all well lately."

"We're going on the road again, I hear," went on Alice. "The whole moving picture company is to be taken off somewhere, and a lot of films made. Russ always likes that, and I'm sure his appetite will come back as soon as we start traveling. It always does."

"You are getting to be a close observer," remarked Ruth, with just the hint of sarcasm in her voice. "Oh, Alice, do finish buttoning your gloves in the house!" she exclaimed. "It looks so careless to go out fussing with them."

"All right, sister mine. Anything to keep peace in the family!" laughed the younger girl.

Together they went down the street, a charming picture of youth and happiness.

A little later they entered the studio of the Comet Film Company, a concern engaged in the business of making moving pictures, from posing them with actors and actresses, and the suitable "properties," to the leasing of the completed films to the various theaters throughout the country.

Alice and Ruth DeVere, of whom you will hear more later, with their father, were engaged in this work, and very interesting and profitable they found it.

As the girls entered the studio they were greeted by a number of other players, and an elderly gentleman, with a bearing and carriage that revealed the schooling of many years behind the footlights, came forward.

"I was just wondering where you were," he said with a smile. His voice was husky and hoarse, and indicated that he had some throat affection. In fact, that same throat trouble was the cause of Hosmer DeVere being in moving picture work instead of in the legitimate drama, in which he had formerly been a leading player.

"We stopped a moment to speak to Mrs. Dalwood," explained Ruth.

"Clam chowder," added Alice, with a laugh. "She's going to have it this evening, Daddy."

"Good!" he exclaimed, rubbing his hands together in a manner that indicated gratification. "I was just hungry for some."

"You always seem able to eat that," laughed Alice. "I must learn how to make it."

"I wish you would!" exclaimed her father, earnestly. "Then when we are on the road I can have some, now and then."

"Oh, you are hopeless!" laughed Alice. "Here is your latch-key, Daddy," she went on, handing it to him. "You left it on your dresser, and as Ruth and I are going shopping when we get through here, I thought you might want it."

"Thank you, I probably shall. I am going home from here to study a new part."

The scene in the studio of the moving picture concern was a lively one. Men were moving about whole "rooms"--or, at least they appeared as such on the film. Others were setting various parts of the stage, electricians were adjusting the powerful lights, cameras were being set up on their tripods, and operators were at the handles, grinding away, for several plays were being made at once.

"Just in time, Ruth and Alice!" called Russ Dalwood, who was one of the chief camera men. "Your scene goes on in ten minutes. You have just time to dress."

"It's that 'Quaker Maid;' isn't it?" asked Ruth, for she and her sisters took part in so many plays that often it was hard to remember which particular one was to be filmed.

"That's it," said Russ. "Don't forget your bonnets!" he laughed as he focused the camera.

"All ready now!" called Mr. Pertell, the manager of the company, and also the chief stage director, a little later. "Take your places, if you please! Mr. DeVere, you are not in this until the second scene. Mr. Bunn, you'll not need your high hat in this act."

"But I thought you said----" began an elderly actor, of the type known as "Hams," from their insatiable desire to portray the character of Hamlet.

"I know I did," said Mr. Pertell, sharply. "But I have had to change my mind. You are to take the part of a plumber, and you come to fix a burst water pipe. So get your overalls and your kit. You have a plumber's kit; haven't you, Pop?" the manager called to Pop Snooks, the property man, who was obliged, on short notice, to provide anything from a diamond ring to a rustic bridge.

"All right for the plumber!" called Pop. "Have it for you in a minute."

"And, Mr. Sneed," called the manager to another actor. "You are supposed to be the householder whose water pipe has burst. You try to putty it up and you get soaked. Go over there in the far corner, where the tank is; we don't want water running into this Quaker scene."

"Oh, I get all wet; do I?" asked Mr. Sneed, in no very pleasant tones.

"That's what you do!"

"Well, all I've got to say is that I wish you'd give some of these tank dramas to someone else. I'm getting tired of being soaked."

"You haven't been really wet since the trip to Florida," declared Mr. Pertell. "Lively now, we have no time to lose. Come on, Russ!" he called to the young operator. "You're to film the Quaker scenario. I'll have Johnson make the water pipe scene. All ready, ladies and gentlemen!"

Various plays were going on at once in different parts of the studio. Ruth and Alice DeVere took their places in one where a Quaker story was being portrayed. Later they posed in a church scene, in which a number of extra people, or "supers," were engaged to represent the congregation.

Mr. Pertell, once he had the various scenes going, took a moment in which to rest, for he was a very busy man. He sat down near Alice, who, for the time being, was out of the scene. But hardly had the manager stretched out in a chair, resting one shirt-sleeved arm over the back, when he started up, and looked intently toward one corner of the studio.

"I wonder why he is going in there?" observed the manager, half aloud.

"Who?" asked Alice, for the moving picture company was like one big family, in a way.

"That new man," went on Mr. Pertell. "Harry Wilson, he said his name was. Now he's going into the proof room, where he has no business. I must look into this. I wonder, after all, if there could be any truth in that warning I received the other day."

"What warning?" asked Alice.

"About a rival film company trying to discover some of the secrets of our success. I must look into this."

He sprang from his chair and hurried across the big studio toward the room where the films were first shown privately, to correct any defects, mechanical or artistic. It was there that the initial performance, so to speak, was given.

Before Mr. Pertell reached the room, where the projection machine was installed, the man of whom he had spoken had entered. And, just as the manager reached the door, the same man came violently out, impelled by a vigorous push from one of the operators, who at the same time cried:

"Get out of here, you spy! What do you mean by sneaking in here, trying to get our secrets? Get out! Where's Mr. Pertell? I'll tell him about you."

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