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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Moving Picture Girls At Rocky Ranch: Great Days Among The Cowboys - Chapter 15. The Indian Rites
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The Moving Picture Girls At Rocky Ranch: Great Days Among The Cowboys - Chapter 15. The Indian Rites Post by :wfelixb Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :757

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The Moving Picture Girls At Rocky Ranch: Great Days Among The Cowboys - Chapter 15. The Indian Rites

CHAPTER XV. THE INDIAN RITES

Alice glanced curiously at the cowboy. There seemed to be a strange look on his face.

"What do you mean?" she asked, adding in a half-bantering tone: "Is it haunted?"

"Oh, Alice!" objected Ruth, shaking out her skirt so it would hang down a little longer, for the girls rode side-saddle.

"No, Miss, it ain't exactly haunted," replied Baldy. "But it ain't a safe place to go--least-ways, not all alone."

"But why?" persisted Alice.

"Because that's a sort of sacred place--at least some of the Indians from the reservation think so--and, though it's off their land, and really belongs to Mr. Norton, them redskins come over, once in a while, to hold some of their heathen rites on it."

"Oh, how interesting!" the girl cried. "I wonder if we couldn't see them? Do they do a snake dance, and things like that?"

"Well, yes, in a way," Baldy admitted. "But it ain't safe to go watch 'em. Them Indians are peculiar. They don't want strangers lookin' on, and more than once they've made trouble when outsiders tried to climb up there and watch. As I said, the Indians come from their reservation, which is several miles away, to that place for their ceremonies. And they come at odd times, so there's no tellin' when you might strike a body of 'em up on top there, pow-wowin' to beat the band, and yellin' fit to split your ears. So it's best to keep away."

"Are the Indians really dangerous?" asked Mr. DeVere.

"Well, I don't s'pose they'd actually _scalp you," replied Baldy, slowly.

"Oh, how terrible!" exclaimed Ruth with a shiver.

"They ain't got no right to come off their reservation," went on the cowboy; "but they do it all the same. You see this place is pretty well out of the way, and by the time we could get troops here to drive 'em back, they'd probably be gone of their own accord, anyhow. So we sort of let 'em alone. They don't bother us, and we don't bother them. Just keep away from that hill, that's all, for it's so high you can't see the top of it unless you climb up, and there's no tellin' when the Indians come and go."

"I should like to see some of those rites, just the same," declared Alice.

"Oh, but you won't go there; will you?" begged Ruth. "Promise me you won't, my dear. Daddy, make her!"

"I won't go _alone_, I promise you that," laughed Alice.

"Of course with a party it might be all right," assented Baldy, "but even then the Indians act rather hostile."

"Mr. Pertell will be sure to want some moving pictures of the Indians, if he hears about them," said Mr. DeVere. "Better not tell him, or he might run into danger--or send Russ."

"Then we won't say a thing about it!" exclaimed Ruth, with such sudden energy that Alice laughed.

"Oh, no, we mustn't endanger _Russ_!" she said, mockingly.

"Alice!" exclaimed Ruth, with gentle dignity, her face the while being suffused with a burning blush. "I meant I didn't want _anyone to run into danger."

"I understand, my dear. Oh, but isn't that sunset gorgeous?--to change the subject," and she laughed at the serious expression on Ruth's face.

The scene was indeed beautiful. The _mesa seemed to be suffused by a purple glow, while, farther off, the foothills, from which it was separated by a level expanse, were in a golden haze. The _mesa stood up boldly, almost like some giant toadstool, save that the stem was thicker. There was an overhang to the top, or table part, though, that carried out the resemblance.

"I should think that would be difficult of access," observed Mr. DeVere.

"There's an easy way up on the other side," returned Baldy. "The Indians always use that side. It's a narrow path to the top."

The cowboys, their work over for the day, were indulging in some of their pastimes--rough riding, feats in throwing the lariat, jumping, wrestling and the like.

"Don't you want to go with them?" asked Alice of their escort.

"No, Miss, I--I'd rather be with you," Baldy replied, simply, but he blushed even under his coat of tan.

"Now who's to blame?" asked Ruth in a low voice of her sister, as she regarded her with a quizzical smile.

"I can't help it if he likes me," murmured the younger girl.

In fact both Ruth and Alice were favorites with all the cowboys, who were always willing to perform any little service for them. The other members of the moving picture company, too, were well liked; but Ruth and Alice seemed to come first. Perhaps it was because they were both so natural and girlish, and took such an interest in the life and doings at Rocky Ranch.

Ruth and Alice were fast becoming adepts in the saddle. The other members of the company, too, soon felt more at home on the back of a horse, and Mr. Pertell allowed them to rehearse in the scenes where mounted action was necessary.

Mr. Bunn had one rather unlucky experience on a horse, and for some time after that he refused to mount a steed, even going to the length of threatening to resign if compelled to.

The "old school" actor was rather supercilious in his manner, and this was resented by some of the cowboys, who thought him "stuck up." They therefore planned a little joke on him. At least, it was a joke to them.

The horse Mr. Bunn had learned to ride was a steady-going beast that had outlived its frisky days, and plodded along just the pace that suited the actor. But there was, among the ranch animals, a "bucking bronco," who looked so much like Mr. Bunn's horse that even some of the cowboys had difficulty in telling them apart.

A bucking bronco, it might be explained, is a steed who by nature or training uses every means in its power to unseat its rider. The bucking consists in the horse leaping into the air, with all four feet off the ground, and coming down stiff-legged, jarring to a considerable degree the person in the saddle.

One day, just for a "joke," the bucking bronco was brought out for Mr. Bunn to ride, when a certain film was to be made. He did not notice that it was not his regular mount. The bronco was quiet and tractable enough until Mr. Bunn settled himself in the saddle, and then, just as Russ was about to make the film, the pony set off at a fast pace.

"Whoa, there! Whoa!" cried Mr. Bunn, trying to halt the beast, and not understanding what could have gotten into his usually quiet mount. "Whoa, there!"

"Give him a touch of the spur," called the mischievous cowboy.

Mr. Pertell did not know what to make of the actions of his actor, for the play called for nothing like that.

"Shall I get that?" asked Russ, and before the manager could answer the bronco began running around in a circle.

"Yes! Get it!" ordered Mr. Pertell. "We can change the play to work it in. It's too funny to lose."

"Whoa! Stop it! Somebody stop him! I'm getting dizzy!" cried Mr. Bunn, leaning forward and clasping his arms about the neck of the pony.

By accident he dug the spurs lightly into the side of the beast, and as this always made the animal buck, or leap up into the air, it now changed its tactics.

With legs held stiff it rose several feet, and came down hard. Mr. Bunn was bounced up, and would have been bounced off had he not had that neck grip. Again the bronco bucked.

"Oh stop him! Stop him!" cried the actor.

"Get every move of that, Russ!" called Mr. Pertell.

But there was not much more to get, for with the next buck Mr. Bunn's hold was loosened and away he shot, out of the saddle. Fortunately he landed on a pile of hay and was not hurt beyond a shaking up. But Russ got a good picture of the whole scene. The actor picked himself up, and without a word started for the ranch house. Probably he suspected the trick that had been played on him, and for some days after that he refused to mount a horse, so Mr. Pertell had to make some changes in his plans, as he did not care to antagonize Mr. Bunn by insisting on his taking part.

And when the actor did again get into the saddle, he had his horse branded on one hoof, as army horses are marked, so he could not again be deceived.

Life at Rocky Ranch was a delight to all the moving picture players, though there was plenty of hard work, too.

Of course it was impossible to keep from Mr. Pertell the story of the Indians and their rites on the _mesa_, and he determined, before he left the West, to get a film of them.

"But you'll have to be careful, Russ, how you go about it," he said.

"That's what I will," agreed the operator.

It was about a week after this that Russ, Paul, Alice, Ruth and Mr. DeVere were riding out toward the _mesa to get some scenes in the foothills, the two girls, their father and Paul being scheduled to go through a little act by themselves.

As they passed under the shadow of the eminence Russ looked up and saw a thin wisp of smoke curling around the top.

"Look!" he exclaimed. "I wonder if the Indians can be there now, doing some of their snake ceremonies?"

"Let's have a look," suggested Paul. "We've got lots of time. I'd like to have a peep."

"I would too!" exclaimed Alice.

"Oh, Daddy, will it be safe?" asked Ruth, for she saw that her father seemed interested.

"There are so many of us, I think so," he replied. "We will try it, at all events. They can no more than tell us to go. I should very much like to see what they do, and perhaps I can get some of their weapons or musical instruments for my collection," for the actor had that fad. And then, though Ruth was a bit timid about it, they turned toward the elevated table land to see if the Indians were at their rites.

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