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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Moving Picture Girls At Rocky Ranch: Great Days Among The Cowboys - Chapter 2. Western Plans
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The Moving Picture Girls At Rocky Ranch: Great Days Among The Cowboys - Chapter 2. Western Plans Post by :Ronald Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :2213

Click below to download : The Moving Picture Girls At Rocky Ranch: Great Days Among The Cowboys - Chapter 2. Western Plans (Format : PDF)

The Moving Picture Girls At Rocky Ranch: Great Days Among The Cowboys - Chapter 2. Western Plans

CHAPTER II. WESTERN PLANS

"What is it, Walsh? What is the trouble?" exclaimed Mr. Pertell, as he hastened toward the proving room, where the films were tested before being "released."

"This man, Mr. Pertell! This fellow you hired as a comedy actor. He came in here just now, and I caught him starting to take notes of the first film of our new play."

"You did!" cried the manager sharply.

"Yes. He came in when it was dark; but the film broke, and I turned on the light. Then I caught him!"

"That's not so--you did not!"

The accused man--the spy he had been called--stood facing them all, the picture of injured innocence. Ruth, Alice and some of the other women members of the company drew aside, a little frightened at the prospect of trouble.

And trouble seemed imminent, for it was easy to see that Mr. Pertell was very angry. As for the other, his face was white with either anger or fear--perhaps the latter.

"I saw you taking notes of the action on that film!" cried James Walsh, the testing room expert.

"And I say you did not!" asserted Harry Wilson, the new player, hired a few days before as a "comic relief." The other members of the company knew very little of him, and he had attracted small attention until this episode. During a period when he was not engaged in one of the plays he had gone into the room, permission to enter which was not often granted, even to favored members of the Comet Film concern--at least until after the release of the film was decided.

"Don't let that man get way!" cried Mr. Pertell, sharply, as he saw Wilson edging toward the hallway. "Lock the doors and we'll search him!"

There was some confusion for a moment, but the doors were locked, and Pop Snooks seized the new actor.

And, while preparations are being made to search the man I will trespass on the time of my new readers sufficiently to tell them, as briefly as I can, something about the previous books of this series, and of the main characters in this one.

The initial volume was entitled "The Moving Picture Girls; Or, First Appearances in Photo Dramas." The girls were Ruth and Alice DeVere, aged respectively seventeen and fifteen years. Their mother was dead, and they lived with their father, Hosmer DeVere, in the Fenmore Apartment House, New York. Across the hall from them lived Russ Dalwood, a moving picture operator, with his widowed mother, and his brother Billy.

Mr. DeVere was a talented actor in the "legitimate," as it is called to distinguish it from vaudeville and moving pictures. But the recurrence of an old throat ailment made him suddenly so hoarse that he could not speak loud enough to be heard across the footlights. He was already rehearsing for a new play when this happened, and after several trials to make himself audible, he was finally forced to give up his engagement.

This was doubly hard, as the DeVeres were in straitened circumstances at this time, money being very scarce. They had really entered upon a period of "hard times" when Russ, a manly young fellow, whose first acquaintance with the girls had quickly ripened into friendship, made a suggestion.

"Why don't you try moving pictures?" he had said to Mr. DeVere. "You can act, all right, and you won't have to use your voice."

At first the veteran actor was much opposed to to the idea, rather looking down upon moving pictures as "common." But his daughters induced him to try it, and he came to like them very much. The pay, too, was good.

Thus Mr. DeVere became attached to the Comet Film Company. Mr. Frank Pertell, as I have said, was manager, and Russ was his chief operator, though there were several others. There were, too, a number of actors and actresses attached to the company. Besides Ruth, Alice and their father, there were Miss Laura Dixon and Miss Pearl Pennington, former vaudeville stars, between whom and the DeVere girls there was not the best of feeling. Ruth and Alice thought that the two actresses were of a rather too "showy" type, and Miss Pennington and Miss Dixon rather looked down on Alice and Ruth as being "slow" and old-fashioned.

Pop Snooks, as I have intimated, was the efficient property man. Paul Ardite, whom Alice liked very much, was the juvenile leading man.

Wellington Bunn was the "old school" actor already mentioned. He and Pepper Sneed were rather alike in one way--they made many objections when called on to do "stunts" out of the ordinary. Mr. Bunn always wanted to play Shakespearean parts, and Mr. Sneed was always fearful that something was going to happen.

Of a contrasting disposition was Carl Switzer, the jolly German comedian. Nothing came amiss to him, and he was always ready for whatever was on the program, making a joke of even hard and dangerous work.

Mrs. Maguire was the "mother" of the company. She often played "old woman" parts, and her two grandchildren, Tommy and Nellie, were sometimes used in child sketches.

Ruth and Alice really got into moving picture work by accident. One day two extra actresses failed to appear when needed, and Mr. Pertell, who was in a hurry, appealed to Mr. DeVere to allow his daughters to "fill in." They did so well that they were engaged permanently, and very much did they like their work.

Alice was like her dead mother, happy, full of life and jollity, and her brown eyes generally sparkled with laughter. She was a rather matter-of-fact nature, whereas Ruth was more romantic. Ruth was a deal like her father, inclined to look on the more serious side of life. But her blue eyes could be laughing and jolly, too, and between the two girls there was really not so much difference after all.

Soon after getting into moving picture work they became aware of a bold attempt to get away from Russ Dalwood an invention he had made for a camera. How Ruth and Alice frustrated this, and how they "made good," as Mr. Pertell put it, in an important drama, is fully told in the first book.

The second volume was entitled "The Moving Picture Girls at Oak Farm; Or, Queer Happenings While Taking Rural Plays." The manager had made the acquaintance of Sandy Apgar in New York. Sandy managed his father's farm, in New Jersey, and Mr. Pertell took his entire company there, to make a series of farm dramas.

A curious mystery developed at once, and did not end until the discovery of a certain secret room, in which was concealed a treasure that was of the utmost benefit to the Apgar family.

"The Moving Picture Girls Snowbound; Or, The Proof on the Film," was the third book. To get a series of dramas in which snow and ice effects would form the background, Mr. Pertell took his company of players to the backwoods of New England. There they had rather more snow than they expected, and were caught in a blizzard.

Also Ruth and Alice made a curious discovery concerning a dishonest man, and not only frustrated his plans to swindle a certain company, but also were able to save their father from paying a debt the second time. In addition they took part in many important plays.

From the cold bleakness of New England to the balmy air of Florida was a change that Ruth and Alice experienced later, for on their return to New York from the backwoods the members of the company were sent to the peninsular state.

In "The Moving Picture Girls Under the Palms; Or, Lost in the Wilds of Florida," is related what happened when the company went South.

Exciting incidents occurred from the first, when the ship caught fire, and, even as it burned, Russ "filmed" it.

But the company reached St. Augustine safely, and then came busy times, making various moving picture dramas.

How the two sisters learned of the plight of the two girls whom they knew slightly, and how after getting lost themselves on one of the sluggish rivers of interior Florida, Ruth and Alice were able to render a great service to the Madison girls--this you may read in the fourth volume.

The company had come back to New York in the spring, and now nearly all the members were assembled at the studio, when the incident narrated in the first chapter took place.

"Here it is!" cried Mr. Pertell, as, slipping his hand into the pocket of the accused actor, he brought forth a crumpled paper.

"And wasn't he making notes, just as I said, of our new big play?" demanded Walsh.

"That's what he was!" exclaimed the manager as he quickly scanned the crumpled document. "He didn't have time to make many notes, though."

"No, I was too quick for him!" declared the tester.

Harry Wilson had no more to say. His bravado deserted him and he was now in abject fear.

"What have you to say for yourself?" demanded Mr. Pertell, angrily.

The other did not answer.

"Now, you get out of here!" ordered the manager, "and never come back."

"I'll not go until I get what is coming to me," was the sullen retort.

"If you got what is coming to you it would be arrest!" declared Walsh.

"I want my money!" mumbled Wilson.

"Here is an order on the cashier for it," said Mr. Pertell. "Get it and--go!"

Hastily writing on a slip of paper, he tendered it to the actor, who took it without a word, and slunk off. The others watched him curiously. It was something they had never before witnessed--an attempt to gain possession of the secrets of the company--for a moving picture concern guards its films jealously, until they are "released," or ready for reproduction.

"Curious," remarked Mr. Pertell, "but I had a distrust of that chap from the first. Do any of you know him?"

"I acted mit him vunce in der Universal company, but he dit not stay long," said Mr. Switzer.

"Probably he was up to some underhand work," observed Walsh.

"I wonder what his object was?" went on the manager. "He evidently wasn't doing this for himself." Idly he turned over the scrap of paper on which the other had been making notes in the testing room. Then the manager uttered a cry of surprise.

"Ha! The International Picture Company! This is part of one of their letter heads. So Wilson was working for them! They very likely sent him here to get a position, and instructed him to steal some of our secrets and ideas, if he could. The scoundrel!"

"He didn't see much!" chuckled Walsh. "The film broke after a few feet had been run off, and I switched on the lights. He didn't see a great deal."

"No, his notes show that," said the manager. "But only for that accident he might have learned of our plans and given our rivals information sufficient to spoil our big play."

"Have you new plans?" asked Mr. DeVere, who was on very friendly terms with the manager.

"Yes, we are going to make a big three-reel play, called 'East and West,' and while some of the scenes will be laid in New York, the main ones will be filmed out beyond the Mississippi. One of the most important New York scenes has already been made. It was this one which was being tested when Wilson went in there. Had he seen it all he might have guessed at the rest of our plans and our rivals, the International people, would have been able to get ahead of us. They are always on the alert to take the ideas of other concerns. But I think I'll beat them this time."

"So we are to go West; eh?" queried Mr. DeVere.

"Yes, out on what prairies are left, in some rather wild sections, and I think we will make the best views we have yet had," responded Mr. Pertell. "Now, if you please, ladies and gentlemen, take your places, and go on with your acts. I am sorry this interruption distracted you."

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