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CHAPTER XV THE LONELY CABIN
"Stop the reel! Hold that, Russ! Everyone keep position! We don't want that spoiled!" cried Mr. Pertell, when he had seen, at a glance, that Mr. Sneed was not hurt. "Hold your positions, everybody!"

This is an order frequently given during the taking of moving pictures, when any accident happens. Often the film will break, while the exposures are being made, and if the actors keep to the places and positions they had when the break occurred, the film can be threaded up again, and mended. Then, later, undesireable parts can be cut out of the exposed part, so that no great harm is done.

For a moment the little accident rather upset the crowd of farm lads, who were not used to such happenings. But the moving picture actors themselves were not unduly alarmed. Russ had stopped operating his camera.

"You're not hurt; are you, Mr. Sneed?" asked the manager.

"Hurt—no! But I might have been! I was sure something would happen to-day, for I saw a black cat as I got up. Well, it's lucky it's no worse. But I wish you'd make those fellows with their big cutters keep farther back, Mr. Pertell. They might slice my legs off. I know some serious accident will happen before the day is over."

"Oh, cheer up!" laughed Russ.

The actor arose, Mr. Pertell cautioned the young farmers about coming too close with their keen, swinging scythes, and the moving picture play went on.

Ruth and Alice DeVere had parts in the little drama, but they were to enact them with a different background, and when Russ finished filming the scenes in the wheat field he went back to the farmhouse to get other pictures.

There appeared to be something unusual going on, for out in the road stood two carriages, and on the porch could be seen Mr. and Mrs. Apgar, and Sandy, with two men. The moving picture actors and actresses who had not gone to the field were also there.

"I wonder what is going on?" said Mr. Pertell.

"Something has happened!" exclaimed Mr. Sneed. "I knew it would—I told you so!"

Hurrying to the porch where the group was, Mr. Pertell heard one of the strangers saying:

"Well, we've got to do it whether you like it or not, Mr. Apgar. Squire Blasdell wants the money on that mortgage, and the only way he can get it is to foreclose. So I've got to post the notices of the sale."

"To think that I should live to see this day!" sighed Mr. Apgar. "My farm to be sold under foreclosure!"

"It is hard, Pa, dreadful hard," said Mrs. Apgar. "But we are honest. We'd pay if we could."

"If only I could find Uncle Isaac's money," sighed Sandy. "Couldn't you give us a little more time, Sheriff Hasell?"

"No, I'm sorry; but I can't," replied the official. "You see this isn't actually selling the farm. We're only going to post notices that it will be sold. That has to be done, according to the law here. It'll be some time though, before the farm is auctioned off to the highest bidder."

"And we can stay here until then; can't we?" asked Sandy.

"Oh, yes, sure, and for a little while after. You see these things take time," the sheriff returned. "It's too bad—I'm sorry, but me and my deputy has to do our duty."

"Go ahead, then," said Sandy, and there were tears in his eyes. "We won't stop you, but it's hard—it's terrible hard—to lose the place we worked so long for, an' all because of some mistake. Uncle Isaac would want us to have that money paw lent him, but he died afore he could tell where he hid it."

The sheriff and his man then went about the farm, posting several notices of the sale on the different buildings. This gave Russ an idea, and he suggested it to Mr. Pertell.

"Why not make a film of this," said the young operator. "Old couple—going to be turned off their farm—foreclosure of mortgage—posting the notices—the cruel creditor—the sheriff and all that. We could make up a good play."

"So we could!" cried the manager. "A good idea, and I'll pay Mr. and Mrs. Apgar for posing for us. It'll give 'em a little extra money."

At first the aged couple would not hear of posing before the camera, but Sandy explained matters to them, and told them they could easily do it. Mr. Pertell promised to pay well, and this finally won them over. The sheriff and his deputy good-naturedly agreed to do their tacking up of the notices in front of the camera, and so an unexpected film was obtained. It is often that way in making moving pictures. The least germ of an idea often leads to a good play.

The other scenes in "The Loss of the Farm," as the play was to be called, would be made later. For the present it was necessary to go on with the scenes of the drama, part of which had been laid in the wheat field.

Russ put some fresh film in his camera and was ready for Ruth and Alice, who had some pretty little scenes together.

The day was hot, the work was exacting, and when it was over everyone was ready to rest. Russ was perhaps busier than any, for he had to prepare the films to be sent in light-tight boxes to New York for development, arrangement, and printing.

"Let's go off to the woods," suggested Alice to her sister, when they had changed their costumes for walking dresses of cool brown, with white waists. "I declare I just want to get under a tree and lie down on the soft green moss."

"So do I, dear. We'll go up to that little dell which is so pretty—the one where we got the lovely flowers. It is so restful there."

Together the sisters set off, walking slowly, for the air was sultry.

"Don't you want to come, Daddy?" called Ruth to her father, who was sitting on the farmhouse porch.

"No, thank you," he answered. "I have some letters to write."

His voice had grown somewhat stronger under the influence of the pure, country air, and from the fact that he used it very little. But still it was not clear enough to enable him to go back into legitimate theatrical work. And, truth to tell, he rather preferred the moving pictures now. It was easier, even if there was no audience to applaud him.

Ruth and Alice soon reached the edge of the cool woods, and then they strolled slowly along until they came to a little dell—a nook they had discovered one day when out walking.

"Oh, this is delightful!" exclaimed Alice, as she sank down on a bed of moss.

"Yes, it is very soothing to the nerves," agreed Ruth. "Oh, dear!" she suddenly cried, leaping to her feet.

"What is it?" demanded Alice.

"A bug walked right over my shoe!"

"Oh, mercy me!" mocked her sister. "Are you so scared that even a bug can't look at you, sister mine? Why, it's only a lady-bug—very proper to have on one's shoes, I'm sure," she added, as she saw the harmless insect.

"I don't care! I just hate bugs!" cried Ruth. "I wish I had a rug to sit on."

"Oh, you were never meant for the country!" laughed Alice. "Come, sit down, I'll keep the bugs away from you," and she pulled a big fern, which she used as a fan.

The sisters sat and talked of many things, speculating on the identity of the mysterious man and wondering if the Apgars would ever discover Uncle Isaac's missing money and so save the farm.

The day was drawing to a close, and the girls felt that they must soon return to the farmhouse.

"Hark! What's that?" asked Alice, suddenly, after a period of silence. A distant rumble came to their ears.

"Wagon going over a bridge, I should say," replied Ruth.

"More like thunder," Alice went on. "It is thunder," she said a moment later, as a sharp clap reverberated through the still air. "Come on, Ruth, or we'll be caught."

They scrambled up from the mossy bed, and hurried from the little glen. But the storm came on apace, and before they were half-way out of the woods there was a sudden flurry of wind, and then came a deluge of rain, ushered in by vivid lightning, and loud thunder.

"Oh, Alice, we'll be drenched—and our new dresses!" cried Ruth.

"Let's get under a tree," suggested the younger girl. "That will shelter us."

"And get struck by lightning! I guess not!" protested Ruth. "Trees are always dangerous in a thunder storm."

"But we must find shelter!" said Alice, as they ran on.

They came to a little clearing in the woods, and pausing at the edge saw a lonely cabin in the midst of it.

"Come on over there!" cried Alice. "They'll take us in, whoever they are, until the shower is over."

Seizing Ruth's hand she darted toward the cabin. Then both girls saw a man open the door and stand in it—a man at the sight of whom they drew back in alarm.



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