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CHAPTER II A MISSING DOG
After the first crash, the sudden stop, and the terrified cries, a silence followed that was almost as startling and nerve-racking as the accident had been.

Then benumbed senses gradually came back to their owners, and the passengers began to take stock of themselves and their surroundings.

"Is anybody hurt?" demanded Mr. Pertell, as he surveyed the interior of the car.

"We seem to be all right," replied Mr. DeVere, hoarsely, as he noted where his two daughters were standing together, their arms about each other.

"Py gracious, dot vos a smash, all right!" exclaimed Carl Switzer, the comedian of the company. "I pelief me dot I haf busted——"

"Not your leg—don't say you have broken your leg!" cried Mrs. Maguire, as she clasped her two grandchildren in her arms. Nellie, the little girl, was crying, from having bumped her nose against the back of a seat.

"No, t'ank my lucky stars I haf not broken my leg. It iss only my shoe-lace!" exclaimed Mr. Switzer, triumphantly, as he held it up, dangling.

"Luck!" grunted Mr. Sneed in gloomy tones. "Is there any such thing as good luck? I knew something would happen when we started out on track thirteen. This company is doomed—I can see that."

"Well, then, please keep it to yourself," requested Mr. Pertell, sharply. "You are getting on the nerves of the ladies, Sneed!"

For Miss Pearl Pennington, and her friend Miss Laura Dixon—the two rather flashily-pretty girls mentioned before—were crying hysterically.

"It doesn't seem to be a very bad smash," went on Mr. Pertell. "Suppose we go out and see what caused it? I hope none of our baggage has been damaged."

"Oh, let's go out and see Russ taking moving pictures of the wreck!" proposed Alice, as she brushed off her blue suit.

"Are you sure you're all right?" asked Ruth, anxiously.

"Oh, certainly! Not hurt at all. Just jolted up a bit. Come on. You too, Daddy!"

Indeed the whole theatrical company, as well as the other passengers, made for the doors of the car. And while they are going out to see the extent of the damage I will take just a moment to make my new readers somewhat better acquainted with the characters of this story.

To begin with the moving picture girls themselves, they were Ruth and Alice DeVere, aged seventeen and fifteen respectively, the daughters of Hosmer DeVere, formerly a well known actor. As told in the first volume, "The Moving Picture Girls; Or, First Appearances in Photo Dramas," Mr. DeVere's voice had suddenly given out, when he was rehearsing for a part in a new play.

This came particularly hard, as he had been without an engagement for some time, and finances were low. The DeVere family lived in the Fenmore Apartment on one of the West Sixtieth streets of New York City. They were, in fact, about to be dispossessed for non-payment of rent when Mr. DeVere experienced a return of an old throat affection, making it impossible for him to speak his lines.

He was replaced in the character, and matters looked black indeed. Across the hall from the DeVere family lived Russ Dalwood, a moving picture operator, with his widowed mother and brother, Billy. Russ learned of the distress of his neighbors, and suggested that as Mr. DeVere could act he might get a place with a moving picture company that produced picture dramas. In this work he would not need to speak very much.

At first Mr. DeVere would not hear of it, as he was an actor of some reputation in the "legitimate." But finally he yielded and became a member of the Comet Film Company. How his two daughters joined the company, through a mere accident, and how they made fame for themselves, you will find set down in the book; also how they aided Russ greatly when it seemed as if a valuable patent he had perfected, for an attachment to a moving picture camera, was in danger of being stolen.

Toward the close of that story you may learn how Mr. Pertell became acquainted with a young farmer named Sandy Apgar, who was working a large farm for his aged father, near Beatonville, in New Jersey. It happened that Mr. Pertell was contemplating the filming of a number of rural plays, and he made arrangements with Mr. Apgar to use the farm as a background for the scenes. The company would also live and board at the farmhouse, which was a large, old-fashioned home.

The players were on their way there when the accident occurred.

To go a little more into detail about the two girls, and the others, I might say that Ruth was tall, with deep blue eyes and light hair. She was rather inclined to be romantic, too, as might be suspected.

Alice was just the opposite—plump, jolly, always laughing or joking, and with a wealth of brown hair, and eyes like hazel nuts. She was very like her dead mother, while Ruth was more like her father in character.

Mr. Pertell was the manager and owner of the Comet Film Company, and I have already mentioned the principal players. Ruth and Alice were the newest members. Miss Pennington and Miss Dixon were from the vaudeville stage, and you could see this without being told. They were a bit jealous of the DeVere girls.

Mrs. Maguire, who was billed as "Cora Ashleigh," was generally played in "old woman parts." And she played them well. Her two grandchildren, Tommy and Nellie, occasionally had small parts in the plays. Mr. Switzer was the comedian, and, opposite to him, was Pepper Sneed, the "grouch." Wellington Bunn seemed always to have a grievance because he had not made a success in Shakespeare.

Pop Snooks was the "Old Reliable" property man of the company, and what he could not manufacture in the way of "props" at short notice was hardly worth mentioning.

The company of moving picture players and the other train passengers found a scene of desolation awaiting them as they alighted. But it was not as bad as might have been expected, and no one had been killed. In fact, no one was hurt, save the fireman and engineer of the passenger train, and they only slightly.

What had happened was this: A freight train, on a siding, had overrun a switch, and one of the cars encroached on the main line tracks. The passenger engine had "side-swiped" it, as the railroad term has it. That is, the engine had struck a glancing blow, and had been derailed. The baggage car, directly behind the engine, had been smashed, but a quick survey on the part of Mr. Pertell showed that the company's baggage had not been damaged.

The wreck was bad enough, however, and meant a delay until the track was cleared. The members of the company, and the other passengers, gathered about, looking on while the railroad men held a consultation as to what was best to be done.

"Look, there's Russ, taking pictures!" exclaimed Ruth, pointing to him. The young operator had gone to the baggage car and obtained the tripod of his camera. This he had set up in an advantageous position, and was industriously grinding away at the handle, taking pictures of the wreck on the moving strip of celluloid.

"This will be all right for our newspaper service!" he called to Mr. Pertell.

"That's right! Good work, Russ! But this will mean a delay in getting to Oak Farm."

However, there was no help for it. One of the trainmen went to the nearest station to telephone for the wrecking crew. Fortunately it was not necessary to bring one out from Hoboken, since at Dover, a station some miles down the line, such an equipment was kept. And a little later the wrecking crew was on the scene.

"I'll get some fine pictures now!" exulted Russ. "I'm glad I'm here, though I wouldn't want a railroad collision to happen every day. We might not get off so lucky next time."

"Luck! Don't mention luck!" grumbled Mr. Sneed. "The idea of starting out on track thirteen! I told you something would happen."

"Den you vas not disappointmented alretty yet!" laughed Mr. Switzer.

The work of getting the engine back on the track was comparatively easy, and it was found that the train could proceed, since the running gear of the baggage car was intact.

The train was almost ready to go on again, when a woman, flashily dressed, and wearing many diamonds, came bustling up from the parlor car.

"Is my dog safe?" she inquired of the baggageman. "Is he hurt?"

"No'm, he's all right; or he was a little while ago," the man answered. "He was tied in the corner, just where you told me to put him. I guess he's there yet. His end of the car wasn't hit. But he howled a lot."

"Poor Rex! Let me see him." The lady went to the open door of the baggage car, and looked in. "Why, he's gone!" she cried. "My dog—my darling dog—is gone!"

"Can't be!" exclaimed the trainman. "He was tied right there a minute ago."

He jumped into the shattered car and looked about.

"Is he there?" cried the woman.

"No, ma'am, he's gone," was the answer. "But I don't see how it could be."

"Did he break loose?" the lady asked, with much eagerness.

"No, the strap is gone, and he couldn't possibly untie the knot I put in it. Someone has taken him, ma'am."

"Then this company is responsible, and I shall sue it!" the lady cried, bristling with what might be righteous anger. "My dog was a valuable one. Rex III has taken prize after prize, and I was on my way with him to a dog show now. Oh, Rex! Who could have taken you?" and she seemed genuinely distressed.

"What kind of a dog was he?" asked Alice, for she loved animals.

"A collie—a most beautiful collie. He had a pink bow on, and here it is! Oh, how I loved him! We were inseparable! And now he is gone!" and tears filled the lady's eyes.


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