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CHAPTER VIII IN THE OLD BARN
"Quick, Russ! Get that!" cried Mr. Pertell, with a laugh. "Don't miss a single motion."

"Do you mean it?" cried the astonished operator. He had ceased, for a moment, to grind on the handle, for he supposed the scene was spoiled.

"Surely I mean it!" cried the manager. "I'll change this and make a comic film of it. Go on, Switzer. Soak him some more! Use that hose for all its worth!"

"Vot! You means dot I vet him all ofer?"

"Certainly I do. Wet him well!"

"I—I protest! I shall not permit——" began Wellington Bunn, but again he was silenced by the volume of water in his mouth. He waved his arms about wildly. He took off his silk hat, probably intending to protect it, but Mr. Switzer had now fully entered into the spirit of the affair, and sent a stream into the hat, filling it as he would a pail.

"Oh, this is awful! This is terrible! I must protest——"

Swish! went the water into his mouth again, and his protest was silenced.

"Go on!" encouraged Mr. Pertell. "This is great! This will make a fine comic film. Soak him thoroughly, Switzer."

"Oh, yah! Sure, I soak him goot!"

"And you, Mr. Bunn! Don't get so far over. You'll get out of range of the camera. Can you film him, Russ?"

"Surely. I'm getting every bit of it."

"That's right! We need every move. A little more life in it, Mr. Bunn! Act as though you didn't like to be soaked!"

"Like it! Of course I don't like it!" cried the actor. "I—hate it! And my hat—my silk hat——"

Again the relentless stream of water stopped him.

"I'll buy you a new hat!" promised Mr. Pertell, choking with laughter. "This is worth it! Lively, Mr. Bunn! Jump around a little. Switzer, don't miss him, but don't wet the camera. And that dog! Get him in it, too!"

"Vot! Maybe he bites my legs yet already!" objected the German. "I likes not dot beast! Und my legs——"

"Oh, I'll get a doctor if he bites you!" promised the manager. "See him get into the action! This will be a great picture. I'll have to get a story that it will fit in."

But at last even the enthusiastic manager was satisfied with the water scene, and he allowed the almost exhausted Mr. Bunn a rest.

"Look at me—look at me!" groaned the actor, as he gazed down at his suit, which dripped water at every point.

"Wait now; don't go away!" objected Mr. Pertell. "I want to get you in another scene now. Come around to the barn."

"What! Film me in this water-soaked suit!" protested Mr. Bunn.

"Certainly. I am going to make a whole reel of you."

"But my hat! Look at my hat! Ruined! Utterly ruined!"

"All the better. I want you in the character of a broken-down actor now, and you wouldn't look the part with a new and shiny tile. Put a couple of dents in it, Mr. Bunn!"

"Oh, you are heartless! Heartless!" cried the actor, as he completed the demolition of his cherished headpiece.

"Isn't it killing, Ruth?" asked Alice, who had come out with her sister to see the fun.

"Funny, yes. But I feel rather sorry for Mr. Bunn."

"Oh, he's getting paid for it. And it's so warm to-day that I almost wish Mr. Switzer would turn the hose on me!"

"Alice DeVere!"

"Well, I do! It is very warm. It must be terrible in the city. Come on out to the barn, and let's see what the next act will be."

The next scene, which Mr. Pertell had thought of on the spur of the moment, required Mr. Bunn to fall into the horse trough, and the actor, after strenuously objecting, finally yielded. He fell into the big hollowed-out log that served to hold the water for the farm animals, making a mighty splash as the camera clicked.

Then came other scenes that, later, would be added to and made into a short reel of "comics." Horse-play though it was, the manager knew that it would at least round out a program, and cause roars of delight from the children, who must be catered to as well as the grown-ups.

"Well, I think that will do for the time being," said Mr. Pertell at length. "You may go and get dry, Mr. Bunn, and, later, we will film the original play, where you come to the farmhouse and do the Shakespearean scenes."

"That will be a relief from this buffoonery," remarked the actor. "But how am I to do it in—this?" and he held out the silk hat, now much the worse for what it had gone through.

"Oh, I'll supply a new hat. Trot along and get dried out. I guess you'll have to have your suit pressed. Possibly there is a tailor in the village."

Mr. Bunn went off by himself, rather sulkily. Mr. Switzer was in high good humor at the fun he had had with the hose.

"Good joke!" laughed Paul. Then he made his way to the side of Alice, and made an engagement to walk to the village with her that evening.

"This is the barn I intend to burn in one of our big rural plays," said Mr. Pertell to Mr. DeVere, who, with his daughters, had strolled out to the ancient structure.

"What sort of a scene will it be a part of?" asked the actor.

"A rescue. One of the young ladies—or possibly two of them—will be saved from the burning barn. The play is not completed yet, but I have that much of it worked out. Let us look at the interior and see how it is suited to our needs."

As the little party entered they heard, off in one corner, a noise as though someone was running across the sagging floor, which contained many loose boards.

"Who is there?" called Mr. Pertell, suddenly, while Ruth and Alice drew back, close to the side of their father.

There was no answer.

"I'm sure I heard someone," said Mr. Pertell.

"So did I," agreed Alice. "Perhaps it was a cow or a horse."

"No, the old barn is not in use," returned the manager. "I think we had better tell Sandy——"

"What is it you want to tell me?" asked the young farmer himself, as he appeared in the doorway.

"We heard someone in the barn," explained the manager. "We were looking at it, to get ready for our moving picture play, and we evidently surprised someone. Does anyone stay here?"

"No, and I've told the hired men to keep out, for I thought maybe they might disturb something, and spoil it for you."

"And no animals are in here; are they?" asked Mr. DeVere.

"No, not a one," replied Sandy.

"But I heard someone!" declared Mr. Pertell. "Hark! There is the sound again!" he cried, and they all heard a noise as of a heavy body falling.


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