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首页 » 英文短篇小说 » The Moving Picture Girls at Oak Farm » CHAPTER IX THE RESCUE
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"Over this way!" cried Mr. Pertell, making a leap toward a distant corner of the barn, which was in deep shadow. "The noise was over there."

"I think it was there," exclaimed Sandy, pointing toward the opposite corner.

"Come, girls, I think you had better go out," suggested Mr. DeVere to his daughters. "There may be trouble."

"I'd like to see it," said Alice, with a laugh.

"Oh, how can you?" exclaimed Ruth. "Come away, dear!"

"Well, I suppose I've got to," and Alice actually sighed. Her "bump of curiosity" was very well developed.

Following each his own belief as to where the noise had come from, Mr. Pertell went to one corner, and Sandy to the other. Mr. DeVere took his daughters outside, and bade them go on toward the house.

"But where are you going, Daddy?" asked Alice, as he turned back.

"They may need help," he replied.

"Oh, I wish we could go!" pleaded Alice. "At least let us stay here and watch!"

"Well, not too near," conceded her father.

But it seemed that the search for the cause of the mysterious noise was to be fruitless. Neither Mr. Pertell nor Sandy could find any person or creature, though they looked thoroughly. There were many nooks and crannies in the old structure, for in its day it had been the main barn on the farm. But it had fallen into decay and others had been built.

There were harness rooms, oat and feed bins, a small room where the former owner had done his "tinkering and odd jobs," and many other places where someone might have hidden. But no one could be found. No farm animal had made the noise, that was evident, for Sandy could account for all the larger stock on the place, and it must have been a body of considerable size the fall of which had startled them.

"Could it have been bats flying about?" asked Mr. DeVere.

"No bat was heavy enough to make that racket," said Sandy, "though there are bats in here. I don't know what it could have been."

"A tramp, perhaps," suggested Mr. Pertell.

"It might have been," admitted the young farmer, as he thought of the smashed lock on the bull's enclosure. "We sometimes have them fellers to bother us; but not so much in summer. They're afraid of bein' put to work."

The three men made a more thorough search of the barn, but could find nothing that looked suspicious.

"Whoever it was must either be here yet, in hiding, or else they got away while we were looking around," said Mr. Pertell. "Unless you believe in ghosts, Sandy."

"Nope. Not a ghost do I believe in. And I hope this won't spoil the barn for you folks to get your pictures from."

"Oh, no, it takes more than a noise to scare a theatrical troupe," laughed the manager. "Well, we'll have to give it up, I suppose."

There seemed to be nothing else to do, and the party returned to the house, the girls joining them on the way back.

"After all, it might have been some loose board, or plank, falling down. The place is nigh tumblin' t' pieces," declared Sandy. "But I'll keep a watch around. I don't want any tramps on this place."

"I might use one in a moving picture," said Mr. Pertell, musingly. What he could not use in a moving picture film was small indeed. "I believe that would make a good scene," he went on. "A tramp comes to beg at the farmhouse. He is told that he must saw a lot of wood, or do something like that. Then, let me see—yes, I'll have him eat first, and then refuse to saw the wood. He thinks the lady of the house is home alone. But he makes a mistake, for she proves to be one who has taken physical culture lessons, and she is a match for the tramp. She stands over him until he saws all the wood.

"That ought to go. I'll cast Mrs. Maguire for the strenuous lady, and Mr. Sneed can be the tramp. He has a sour enough face. That's what I'll do!"

"I can just imagine Mr. Sneed in that r?le," said Alice to Ruth, with a laugh. "He won't like that a bit!"

"I suppose not. Still, we have to do many things in this moving picture business that we don't like."

"I like every bit of it!" Alice declared. "I think it's all fun!"

"I wish I had your happy way of looking at things!" sighed Ruth. "It is a great help in getting through life."

"Why don't you practice it?" Alice asked. "It's easy, once you start. There are so many funny things in this world."

"And so many sad ones!"

"Bosh!" laughed Alice. "Excuse my slang, sister mine, but you ought to read fewer of those romantic stories, and more joke books. Oh, there goes Paul, and with a fish pole, too. I'm going with him!"

"He hasn't asked you!"

"What of it? I know he'll be glad to have me. Oh, here comes Laura Dixon after him. I'm going to get there first. Paul! Paul!" Alice called, "can't I go fishing, too?"

"Of course!" he cried, his face lighting up with pleasure. "Come along. I've got an extra line and hooks in my pocket, and we can cut a pole along the stream. Come along."

He did not see Miss Dixon, who was behind him, but she saw Alice and heard what was said. For a minute she paused, and then, with a rather vindictive look on her face, turned back.

"Alice!" called Ruth, "I'm not sure father would want you to go. It is getting near supper time."

"Oh, you tell him I just had to go, Ruth dear!"

Mr. DeVere, with Sandy and Mr. Pertell, had gone on ahead.

Ruth shrugged her shoulders. There was little she could do with Alice, once the younger girl had set her mind on anything. And, really, there was no harm in going fishing with Paul. The favorite spot was not far from the farmhouse, and within view of it.

"It's fine of you to come!" said Paul, as he walked along over the meadow with the laughing, brown-eyed girl. "I'm sure we'll have good luck."

"I'm never very lucky at fishing," said Alice. "But I'll watch you."

"No, you've got to fish, too. I'll cut you a light pole."

"And will you bait my hook—I don't like to do that."

"Surely I will."

They walked on, chatting of many things, and as they reached the fishing hole—a deep eddy on the overhanging bank of which they could sit—they saw Russ Dalwood, with his camera, going along the opposite bank.

"What are you doing?" called Paul.

"Oh, just getting some odd scenes here and there of farm work. Mr. Pertell wants to work them into some of the plays. There are some men spraying a potato patch over in the next field, to get rid of the bugs. I'm going to make a scene of that."

"All right. Good luck!" called Alice, pleasantly. "And, if you like, you can take a fishing scene. Paul and I are going to catch some for supper."

"All right, I'll film you on the way back," laughed Russ.

It was a pleasant summer afternoon, and the bank where Alice and Paul took their places was bathed in the golden light of the setting sun.

"The fish ought to bite well to-day," observed Paul, when he had "rigged up" an outfit for Alice.

"Why is to-day better than any other day?" she asked.

"Because the wind is right. 'When the wind's in the west, the fish bite best,' is an old saying. Sandy reminded me of it when I started out to-day."

They tossed in their hooks, and then waited. The water a little way below the eddy flowed over white stones, flecked here and there with green moss. The stream made a pleasant sound, and formed an accompaniment to the songs of the birds which flitted in and out of the willow trees that lined the stream.

At the foot of the bank, on which sat the two fishers, ran the deep eddy, silent, and whirling about in a circular motion, caused by the impact of the brook against the shore, the waters being forced back on themselves. It was a quiet, and rather still pool, and was reputed to contain many fine, large fish.

"I—I think I have a nibble," whispered Alice.

"Be careful—don't jerk up too soon," warned Paul. "Yes, there is one after your bait. See your cork float bob up and down."

"Does that show he's sampling it?"

"Something of that sort, yes. Now, pull in!"

Alice was a bit slow about it, for she had not fished much. Paul, fearing the fish would get away, reached over toward her, and took hold of the pole himself.

As he did so he felt the part of the shelving bank on which they were sitting give away.

"Look out! Throw yourself back!" he cried to Alice. But it was too late, and the next instant they both found themselves sliding down in a little avalanche of earth and stones—into the deep eddy.

"Hold your breath!" Alice heard Paul cry as a last direction, and she obeyed.

The next instant she felt herself in the water, and it closed over her head.

Alice could swim, and, after the plunge into the stream, she did not lose her head. She knew she would come up in a second, even though hampered by her clothes. Her only fear was lest she be entangled in the fish-line. And in another second she knew this was the case. She could feel her feet bound together. But her hands were free, and she had seen expert swimmers make their way through the water with their feet purposely bound.

She struck out with her hands, and found herself rising. Her lungs seemed ready to burst for want of air, for she had not had time to take a full breath.

Then her head shot up out of water, and she could breathe. She shook her head to get the water from her eyes, and saw Paul striking out toward her.

"I'll get you!" he cried, and then he uttered an exclamation of horror, for a log of wood, coming down stream, struck Alice on the head, and all grew black before her.

She felt herself sinking again, and tried to strike out to keep her head above the water, but it seemed impossible. Then she felt herself grasped in a strong arm, and she realized that Paul had come to her rescue.

At the same moment she dimly heard, in her returning consciousness, a voice crying something from the opposite shore.


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