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Title: Ruth Fielding in the Great Northwest - Or, The Indian Girl Star of the Movies
Author: Emerson, Alice B., pseud.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ruth Fielding in the Great Northwest - Or, The Indian Girl Star of the Movies" ***

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RUTH FIELDING IN THE GREAT NORTHWEST

OR

THE INDIAN GIRL STAR OF THE MOVIES

BY

ALICE B. EMERSON

AUTHOR OF "RUTH FIELDING OF THE RED MILL," "RUTH FIELDING IN THE
SADDLE," "RUTH FIELDING DOWN EAST," ETC.


_ILLUSTRATED_


NEW YORK CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY PUBLISHERS


[Illustration: BEHIND HER THE TIMBERS POURED DOWN THE BLUFF.
"Ruth Fielding in the Great Northwest." Page 159]



BOOKS FOR GIRLS

BY ALICE B. EMERSON

RUTH FIELDING SERIES

12mo. Cloth. Illustrated.

       *       *       *       *       *

RUTH FIELDING OF THE RED MILL

RUTH FIELDING AT BRIARWOOD HALL

RUTH FIELDING AT SNOW CAMP

RUTH FIELDING AT LIGHTHOUSE POINT

RUTH FIELDING AT SILVER RANCH

RUTH FIELDING ON CLIFF ISLAND

RUTH FIELDING AT SUNRISE FARM

RUTH FIELDING AND THE GYPSIES

RUTH FIELDING IN MOVING PICTURES

RUTH FIELDING DOWN IN DIXIE

RUTH FIELDING AT COLLEGE

RUTH FIELDING IN THE SADDLE

RUTH FIELDING IN THE RED CROSS

RUTH FIELDING AT THE WAR FRONT

RUTH FIELDING HOMEWARD BOUND

RUTH FIELDING DOWN EAST

RUTH FIELDING IN THE GREAT NORTHWEST

       *       *       *       *       *

BETTY GORDON SERIES

BETTY GORDON AT BRAMBLE FARM

BETTY GORDON IN WASHINGTON

BETTY GORDON IN THE LAND OF OIL

BETTY GORDON AT BOARDING SCHOOL


CUPPLES & LEON CO., PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK.


COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY

       *       *       *       *       *

RUTH FIELDING IN THE GREAT NORTHWEST

Printed in U.S.A.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                    PAGE

    I. RUTH IN PERIL                         1
   II. A PERFECT SHOT                       10
  III. IN THE RING                          18
   IV. SMOKING THE PEACE PIPE               26
    V. INSPIRATION                          34
   VI. EVERYBODY AGREES BUT DAKOTA JOE      43
  VII. DAKOTA JOE'S WRATH                   50
 VIII. A WONDERFUL EVENT                    59
   IX. THE PLOT DEVELOPS                    65
    X. ONE NEW YORK DAY                     75
   XI. EVADING THE TRAFFIC POLICE           89
  XII. BOUND FOR THE NORTHWEST              96
 XIII. DAKOTA JOE MAKES A DEMAND           104
  XIV. THE HUBBELL RANCH                   112
   XV. PURSUING DANGER                     122
  XVI. NEWS AND A THREAT                   130
 XVII. THE PROLOGUE IS FINISHED            138
XVIII. AN ACCIDENT THREATENING             146
  XIX. IN DEADLY PERIL                     154
   XX. GOOD NEWS                           160
  XXI. A BULL AND A BEAR                   168
 XXII. IN THE CANYON                       175
XXIII. REALITY                             183
 XXIV. WONOTA'S SURPRISE                   192
  XXV. OTHER SURPRISES                     198



RUTH FIELDING IN THE GREAT NORTHWEST



CHAPTER I

RUTH IN PERIL


The gray dust, spurting from beneath the treads of the rapidly turning
wheels, drifted across the country road to settle on the wayside hedges.
The purring of the engine of Helen Cameron's car betrayed the fact that
it was tuned to perfection. If there were any rough spots in the road
being traveled, the shock absorbers took care of them.

"Dear me! I always do love to ride in Nell's car," said the plump and
pretty girl who occupied more than her share of the rear seat. "Even if
Tom isn't here to take care of it, it always is so comfy."

"Only one thing would suit you better, Heavy," declared the
sharp-featured and sharp-tongued girl sitting next to Jennie Stone. "If
only a motor could be connected to a rocking-chair--"

"Right-o!" agreed the cheerful plump girl. "And have it on a nice shady
porch. I'd like to travel that way just as well. After our experience
in France we ought to be allowed to travel in comfort for the rest of
our lives. Isn't that so, Nell? And you agree, Ruthie?"

The girl at the wheel of the flying automobile nodded only, for she
needed to keep her gaze fixed ahead. But the brown-haired, brown-eyed
girl, whose quiet face seemed rather wistful, turned to smile upon the
volatile--and voluble--Heavy Stone, so nicknamed during their early
school days at Briarwood Hall.

"Don't let's talk about it, honey," she said. "I try not to think of
what we all went through."

"And the soup I tasted!" groaned the plump one. "That diet kitchen in
Paris! I'll never get over it--never!"

"I guess _that's_ right," agreed Mercy Curtis, the sharp-featured girl.
"How that really nice Frenchman can stand for such a fat girl--"

"Why," explained Heavy calmly, "the more there is of me the more there
is for him to like." Then she giggled. "There were so few fat people
left in Europe after four years of war that everybody liked to look at
me."

"You certainly are a sight for sore eyes," Helen Cameron shot over her
shoulder, but without losing sight of the road ahead. She was a careful,
if rapid, driver. "And for any other eyes! One couldn't very well miss
you, Heavy."

"Let's not talk any more about France--or the war--or anything like
that," proposed Ruth Fielding, the shadow on her face deepening. "Both
your Henri and Helen's Tom have had to go back--"

"Helen's Tom?" repeated Mercy Curtis softly. But Jennie Stone pinched
her. She would not allow anybody to tease Ruth, although they all knew
well enough that the absence of Helen's twin brother meant as much to
Ruth Fielding as it did to his sister.

This was strictly a girl's party, this ride in Helen Cameron's
automobile. Aside from Mercy, who was the daughter of the Cheslow
railroad station agent, and therefore lived in Cheslow all the year
around, the girls were not native to the place. They had just left that
pretty town behind them. It appeared that Ruth, Helen, and surely Jennie
Stone, knew very few of the young men of Cheslow. So this jaunt was, as
Jennie saucily said, entirely "_poulette_".

"Which she thinks is French for 'old hen,'" scoffed the tart Mercy.

"I do not know which is worse," Ruth Fielding said with a sigh, as Helen
slowed down for a railroad crossing at which stood a flagman. "Heavy's
French or her slang."

"Slang! Never!" cried the plump girl, tossing her head "Far be it from
me and et cetera. I never use slang. I am quite as much of a purist as
that professor at Ardmore--what was his name?--that they tell the story
about. The dear dean told him that some of the undergrads complained
that his language was 'too pedantic and unintelligible.'"

"'Never, Madam! Impossible! Why,' said the prof, 'to employ a vulgarism,
perspicuity is my penultimate appellative.'"

"Ow! Ow!" groaned Helen at the wheel "I bet that hurt your vocal cords,
Heavy."

She let in the clutch again as the party broke into laughter, and they
darted across the tracks behind the passing train.

"Just the same," added Helen, "I wish some of the boys we used to play
around with were with us. Those fellows Tom went to Seven Oaks with were
all nice boys. Dear me!"

"Most of them went into the war," Ruth reminded her. "Nothing is as it
used to be. Oh, dear!"

"I must say you are all very cheerful--not!" exclaimed Jennie. "Ruth is
a regular Grandmother Grimalkin, and the rest of you are little better.
I for one just won't think of my dear Henri as being food for cannon. I
just won't! Why! before he and Tom can get into the nasty business again
the war may be over. Just see the reports in the papers of what our boys
are doing. They really have the Heinies on the run."

"Ye-as," murmured Mercy. "Running which way?"

"Treason!" cried Jennie. "The only way the Germans have ever run forward
is by crawling."

"Oh! Oh! Listen to the Irish bull!" cried Helen.

"Oh, is it?" exclaimed Jennie. "Maybe there is a bit of Irish in the
McStones, or O'Stones. I don't know."

She certainly was the life of the party. Helen and Ruth had too recently
bidden Tom Cameron good-bye to feel like joining with Jennie in
repartee. Though it might have been that even the fat girl's repartee
was more a matter of repertoire. She was expected to be funny, and so
forced herself to make good her reputation.

This trip by automobile in fact was a forced attempt to cheer each other
up on the part of the chums. At the Outlook, the Cameron's handsome
country home, matters had become quite too awful to contemplate with
calm, now that Tom had gone back to France. At least, so Helen stated.
At the Red Mill Ruth had been (she admitted it) ready to "fly to
pieces." For naturally poor Aunt Alvirah and Jabez Potter, the miller,
were pot cheerful companions. And the two chums had Jennie Stone as
their guest, for she had returned from New York with them, where they
had all gone to bid Tom and Henri Marchand farewell.

The three college friends had picked Mercy Curtis up (she had been with
them at boarding-school "years and years before," to quote Jennie) and
started on this trip from Cheslow to Longhaven. On the outskirts of
Longhaven a Wild West Show was advertised as having pitched its tents.

"And, of course, if there is anything about the Wild West close at hand
our movie writer must see it," said Jennie. "Give you local color, Ruth,
for another western screen masterpiece."

"I suppose it is one of these little fly-by-night shows!" scoffed Mercy.
"Let's see that bill. Dakota Joe's Wild West and Frontier Round-Up' Mm!
Sounds big. But the bigger they sound the smaller they are, as a rule."

"I am glad I am not a pessimist," sighed Jennie Stone. "It must be an
awfully uncomfortable feeling inside one to wear such a cloak."

"Ow! Ow!" cried Helen again. "Another Hibernianism, without a doubt."

She turned the car into a much-traveled road just then. Not a mile ahead
loomed the "big top." A band was playing, and what it lacked in
sweetness it certainly made up in noise.

"Look at the cars!" exclaimed Ruth, becoming interested. "We shall have
to park before long, Helen, and walk to the show lot."

"Right here!" returned Helen, with vigor, and turned her car into a field
where already a dozen automobiles were parked. A man with a whisp of
whisker on his chin, and actually chewing a straw, motioned the young
girl where to run her car. He was evidently the farmer who owned the
field, and he was surely "making hay while the sun shone," for he was
collecting a quarter from every automobile owner who wished to get his
car off the public road.

"Your car'll be all right here, young ladies," he said, reaching for the
quarter Ruth offered him. "I'm going to stay here myself and watch 'em
until the show's over. Cal'late to stay here anyway till them wild
Injuns and wilder cowboys air off Peleg Swift's land yonder. No knowing
what they'll do if they ain't watched."

"Listen to the opinion our friend has of your old Wild West Show,"
hissed Jennie, as Ruth hopped out of the seat beside Helen.

Ruth laughed. The other girls, getting out of the car on the other side,
were startled by hearing her laugh change to a sudden ejaculation.

"Dear me! has that thing broken loose from the show?"

Jennie was the first to speak, and she stepped behind the high car in
order to catch sight of what had caused Ruth's exclamation. Instantly
the plump girl emitted a most unseemly shout:

"Oh! Oh! Look at the bull!"

"What is the matter with you, Heavy?" demanded Mercy snappishly.

But when she and Helen followed the plump girl behind the automobile,
they were stricken dumb with amazement, if not with fear. Tearing down
the field toward the row of automobiles was a big black bull--head down,
strings of foam flying from his mouth, and with every other indication
of extreme wrath.

"Run!" shrieked Jennie, and turned to do so.

She bumped into Mercy and Helen, who clung to her and really retarded
the plump girl's escape. But plowing right on to the shelter of the
automobile, Jennie actually swept her two friends with her.

Their cries and evident fright attracted the notice of the farmer before
he really knew what was happening. Then he saw the bull and gave tongue
to his own immediate excitement:

"Look at that critter! He's broke out of the barnyard--drat him! Don't
let him see you, gals, for he's as vicious as sin!"

He started forward with a stick in his hand to attack the enraged bull.
But the animal paid no attention to him. It had set its eyes upon
something which excited its rage--Ruth Fielding's red sweater!

"Oh, Ruth! Ruth!" shrieked Helen, suddenly seeing her chum cornered on
the other side of the car.

Ruth tried to open the car door again. But it stuck. Nor was there time
for the girl of the Red Mill to vault the door and so escape the charge
of the maddened bull. The brute was upon her.



CHAPTER II

A PERFECT SHOT


One may endure dangers of divers kinds (and Ruth Fielding had done so by
land and sea) and be struck down unhappily by an apparently ordinary
peril. The threat of that black bull's charge was as poignant as
anything that had heretofore happened to the girl of the Red Mill.

After that first outcry, Ruth did not raise her voice at all. She tugged
at the fouled handle of the automobile door, looking back over her
shoulder at the forefront of the bull. He bellowed, and the very sound
seemed to weaken her knees. Had she not been clinging to that handle she
must have dropped to the earth.

And then, Crack! It was unmistakably a rifle shot.

The bull plowed up several yards of sod, swerved, shook his great head,
bellowing again, and then started off at a tangent across the field with
the farmer, brandishing a stick, close on his heels.

Saved, Ruth Fielding did sink to the earth now, and when the other girls
ran clamorously around the motor-car she was scarcely possessed of her
senses. Truly, however, she had been through too many exciting events to
be long overcome by this one.

Many queer experiences and perilous adventures had come into Ruth
Fielding's life since the time when, as an orphan of twelve years, she
had come to the Red Mill, just outside the town of Cheslow, to live with
her Great Uncle Jabez and his queer little old housekeeper, Aunt
Alvirah.

The miller was not the man generously to offer Ruth the advantages she
craved. Had it not been for her dearest friend, Helen Cameron, at first
Ruth would not have been dressed well enough to enter the local school.
But if Jabez Potter was a miser, he was a just man after his fashion.
Ruth saved him a considerable sum of money during the first few months
of her sojourn at the Red Mill, and in payment for this Uncle Jabez
allowed her to accompany Helen Cameron to that famous boarding school,
Briarwood Hall.

While at school at Briarwood, and during the vacations between
semesters, Ruth Fielding's career actually began, as the volumes
following "Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill" show. The girl had numerous
adventures at Briarwood Hall, at Snow Camp, at Lighthouse Point, at
Silver Ranch, on Cliff Island, at Sunrise Farm, among the gypsies, in
moving pictures, down in Dixie, at college, in the saddle, in the Red
Cross in France, at the war front, and when homeward bound. The volume
just previous to this present story related Ruth's adventures "Down
East," where she went with Helen and Tom Cameron, as well as Jennie
Stone, Jennie's fiancé, Henri Marchand, and her Aunt Kate, who was their
chaperon.

The girl of the Red Mill had long before the time of the present
narrative proved her talent as a scenario writer, and working for Mr.
Hammond, president of the Alectrion Film Corporation, had already made
several very successful pictures. It seemed that her work in life was to
be connected with the silver sheet.

Even Uncle Jabez had acknowledged Ruth's ability as a scenario writer,
and was immensely proud of her work when he learned how much money she
was making out of the pictures. For the old miller judged everything by
a monetary standard.

Aunt Alvirah was, of course, very proud of her "pretty" as she called
Ruth Fielding. Indeed, all Ruth's friends considered her success in
picture-making as only going to show just how smart Ruth Fielding was.
But the girl of the Red Mill was far too sensible to have her head
turned by such praise. Even Tom Cameron's pride in her pictures only
made the girl glad that she succeeded in delighting him.

For Ruth and Tom were closer friends now than ever before--and for years
they had been "chummy." The adventures which had thrown them so much
together in France while Tom was a captain in the American Expeditionary
Forces and Ruth was working with the American Red Cross, had welded
their confidence in and liking for each other until it seemed that
nothing but their youth and Tom's duties in the army kept them from
announcing their engagement.

"Do finish the war quickly, Tom," she had said to him whimsically, not
long before Tom had gone back to France. "I do not feel as though I
could return to college, or write another scenario, or do another single
solitary thing until peace is declared."

"And _then_?" Tom had asked significantly, and Ruth had given him an
understanding smile.

The uncertainty of that time--the whole nation waited and listened
breathlessly for news from abroad--seemed to Ruth more than she could
bear. She had entered upon this pleasure jaunt to the Wild West Show
with the other girls because she knew that anything to take their minds
off the more serious thoughts of the war was a good thing.

Now, as she felt herself in peril of being gored by that black bull a
tiny thought flashed into her mind:

"What terrible peril may be facing Tom Cameron at this identical
moment?"

When the bull was gone, wounded by that unexpected rifle shot, and her
three chums gathered about her, this thought of Tom's danger was still
uppermost in Ruth's mind.

"Dear me, how silly of me!" she murmured. "There are lots worse things
happening every moment over there than being gored by a bull."

"What an idea!" ejaculated Helen. "Are you crazy? What has that to do
with you being pitched over that fence, for instance?"

She glanced at the fence which divided the field in which the
automobiles stood from that where the two great tents of the Wild West
Show were pitched. A broad-hatted man was standing at the bars. He
drawled:

"Gal ain't hurt none, is she? That was a close shave--closer, a pile,
than I'd want to have myself. Some savage critter, that bull. And if
Dakota Joe's gal wasn't a crack shot that young lady would sure been
throwed higher than Haman."

Ruth had now struggled to her feet with the aid of Jenny and Mercy.

"Do find out who it was shot the bull!" she cried.

Jennie, although still white-faced, grinned broadly again. "_Now_ who is
guilty of the most atrocious slang? 'Shot the bull,' indeed!"

"Thar she is," answered the broad-hatted man, pointing to a figure
approaching the fence. Helen fairly gasped at sight of her.

"Right out of a Remington black-and-white," she shrilled in Ruth
Fielding's ear.

The sight actually jolted Ruth's mind away from the fright which had
overwhelmed it. She stared at the person indicated with growing interest
as well as appreciation of the picturesque figure she made. She was an
Indian girl in the gala costume of her tribe, feather head-dress and
all. Or, perhaps, one would better say she was dressed as the white man
expects an Indian to dress when on exhibition.

But aside from her dress, which was most attractive, the girl herself
held Ruth's keen interest. Despite her high cheekbones and the dusky
copper color of her skin, this strange girl's features were handsome.
There was pride expressed in them--pride and firmness and, withal, a
certain sadness that added not a little to the charm of the Indian
girl's visage.

"What a strange person!" murmured Helen Cameron.

"She is pretty," announced the assured Mercy Curtis, who always held her
own opinion to be right on any subject. "One brunette never does like
another," and she made a little face at Helen.

"Listen!" commanded Jennie Stone. "What does she say?"

The Indian girl spoke again, and this time they all heard her.

"Is the white lady injured, Conlon?"

"No, ma'am!" declared the broad-hatted man. "She'll be as chipper as a
blue-jay in a minute. That was a near shot, Wonota. For an Injun you're
some shot, I'll tell the world."

An expression of disdain passed over the Indian girl's face. She looked
away from the man and Ruth's glance caught her attention.

"I thank you very much, Miss--Miss--"

"I am called Wonota in the Osage tongue," interposed the Indian maiden
composedly enough.

"She's Dakota Joe's Injun sharpshooter," put in the man at the fence.
"And she ain't no business out here in her play-actin' costume--or with
her gun loaded that-a-way. Aginst the law. That gun she uses is for
shootin' glass balls and clay pigeons in the show."

"Well, Miss Wonota," said Ruth, trying to ignore the officious man who
evidently annoyed the Indian maiden, "I am very thankful you did have
your rifle with you at this particular juncture." She approached the
fence and reached over it to clasp the Indian girl's hand warmly.

"We are going in to see you shoot at the glass balls, for I see the show
is about to start. But afterward, Wonota, can't we see you again?"

The Indian girl's expression betrayed some faint surprise. But she bowed
gravely.

"If the white ladies desire," she said. "I must appear now in the tent.
The boss is strict."

"You bet he is," added the broad-hatted man, who seemed offensively
determined to push himself forward.

"After the show, then," said Ruth promptly to the girl. "I will tell you
then just how much obliged to you I am," and she smiled in a most
friendly fashion.

Wonota's smile was faint, but her black eyes seemed suddenly to sparkle.
The man at the fence looked suspiciously from the white girls to the
Indian maid, but he made no further comment as Wonota hastened away.



CHAPTER III

IN THE RING


"What do you know about that Indian girl?" demanded Jennie Stone
excitedly. "She was just as cool as a cucumber. Think of her shooting
that bull just in the nick of time and saving our Ruth!"

"It does seem," remarked Mercy Curtis in her sharp way, "that Ruthie
Fielding cannot venture abroad without getting into trouble."

"And getting out of it, I thank you," rejoined Helen, somewhat offended
by Mercy's remark.

"Certainly I have not been killed yet," was Ruth's mild observation,
pinching Helen's arm to warn her that she was not to quarrel with the
rather caustic lame girl. Mercy's affliction, which still somewhat
troubled her, had never improved her naturally crabbed disposition, and
few of her girl friends had Ruth's patience with her.

"I don't know that I feel much like seeing cowboys rope steers and all
that after seeing that horrid black bull charge our Ruthie," complained
Helen. "Shall we really go to the show?"

"Why! Ruth just told that girl we would," said Jennie.

"I wouldn't miss seeing that Wonota shoot for anything," Ruth declared.

"But there is nobody here to watch the automobile now," went on Helen,
who was more nervous than her chum.

"Yes," Jennie remarked. "Here comes 'Silas Simpkins, the straw-chewing
rube,'" and she giggled.

The farmer was at hand, puffing and blowing. He assured them that "that
critter" was tightly housed and would do no more harm.

"Hope none o' you warn't hurt," he added. "By jinks! that bull is jest
as much excited by this here Wild West Show as I be. Did you pay me for
your ortymobile, young ladies?"

"I most certainly did," said Ruth. "Your bull did not drive all memory
away."

"All right. All right," said the farmer hastily. "I thought you did, but
I wasn't positive you'd remember it."

With which frank confession he turned away to meet another motor-car
party that was attempting to park their machine on his land.

The four girls got out into the dusty road and marched to the ticket
wagon that was gaily painted with the sign of "Dakota Joe's Wild West
and Frontier Round-Up."

"This is my treat," declared Ruth, going ahead to the ticket window with
the crowd. "I certainly should pay for all this excitement I have got
you girls into."

"Go as far as you like," said Jennie. "But to tell the truth, I think
the owner of the black bull should be taxed for this treat."

Dakota Joe's show was apparently very popular, for people were coming to
it not only from Longhaven and Cheslow, but from many other towns and
hamlets. This afternoon performance attracted many women and children,
and when the four young women from Cheslow got into their reserved seats
they found that they were right in the midst of a lot of little folks.

The big ring, separated from the plank seats by a board fence put up in
sections, offered a large enough tanbark-covered course to enable steers
to be roped, bucking broncos exhibited, Indian riding races, and various
other events dear to the heart of the Wild West Show fans. And the
program of Dakota Joe's show was much like that of similar exhibitions.
He had some "real cowboys" and "sure-enough Indians," as well as
employees who were not thus advertised. The steers turned loose for the
cowboys to "bulldog" were rather tame animals, for they were used to the
employment. The "bronco busters" rode trick horses so well trained that
they really acted better than their masters. Some of the roping and
riding--especially by the Indians--was really good.

And then came a number on the program that the four girls from Cheslow
had impatiently awaited. The announcer (Dakota Joe himself, on horseback
and wearing hair to his shoulders _à la_ Buffalo Bill) rode into the
center of the ring and held up a gauntleted hand for attention.

"We now offer you, ladies and gentlemen, an exhibition in rifle shooting
second to none on any program of any show in America to-day. The men of
the old West were most wonderful shots with rifle or six-gun. To-day the
new West produces a rifle shot that equals Wild Bill Hickok, Colonel
Cody himself, or Major Lillie. And to show that the new West, ladies and
gentlemen, is right up to the minute in this as in every other
pertic'lar, we offer Wonota, daughter of Chief Totantora, princess of
the Osage Indians, in a rifle-shooting act that, ladies and gentlemen,
is simply marv'lous--simply marv'lous!"

He waved a lordly hand, the band struck up a strident tune, and on a
"perfect love of a white pony," as Helen declared, Wonota rode into the
ring.

She looked just as calm as she had when she had shot the bull which
threatened Ruth. Nothing seemed to flutter the Indian girl's pulse or to
change her staid expression. Yet the girls noticed that Dakota Joe
spurred his big horse to the white pony's side, and, unless they were
mistaken, the man said something to Wonota in no pleasant manner.

"Look at that fellow!" exclaimed Helen. "Hasn't he an ugly look?"

"I guess he didn't say anything pleasant to her," Ruth rejoined, for she
was a keen observer. "I shouldn't wonder if that girl was far from
happy."

"I shouldn't want to work for that Dakota Joe," added Mercy Curtis.
"Look at him!"

Unable to make Wonota's expression of countenance change, the man, who
was evidently angry with the Indian girl, struck the white pony sharply
with his whip. The pony jumped, and some of the spectators, thinking it
a part of the program, laughed.

Unexpecting Dakota Joe's act, Wonota was not prepared for her mount's
jump. She was almost thrown from the saddle. But the next instant she
had tightened the pony's rein, hauled it back on its haunches with a
strong hand, and wheeled the animal to face Dakota Joe.

What she said to the man certainly Ruth and her friends could not
understand. It was said in the Osage tongue in any case. But with the
words the Indian girl thrust forward the light rifle which she carried.
For a moment its blue muzzle was set full against the white man's
chest.

"Oh!" gasped Jennie. And she was not alone in thus giving vent to her
excitement. "Oh!"

"Why doesn't she shoot him?" drawled Mercy Curtis.

"I--I guess It was only in fun," said Helen rather shakingly, as the
Indian girl wheeled her mount again and rode away from Dakota Joe.

"I wouldn't want her to be that funny with me," gasped Jennie Stone.
"She must be a regular wild Indian, after all."

"I am sure, at least, that this Dakota Joe person would have deserved
little sympathy if she had shot him," declared Mercy, with confidence.

"Dear me," admitted Ruth herself, "I want to meet that girl more than
ever now. There must be some mystery regarding her connection with the
owner of the show. They certainly are not in accord."

"You've said something!" agreed Jennie, likewise with conviction.

If Wonota had been at all flurried because of her treatment by her
employer, she no longer showed it. Having ridden to the proper spot, she
wheeled the white pony again and faced the place where there was a steel
shield against which the objects she was to shoot at were thrown.

Dakota Joe rode forward as though to affix the first clay ball to the
string. Then he pulled in his horse, scowled across the ring at Wonota,
and beckoned one of the cowboys to approach. This man took up the duty
of affixing the targets for the Indian girl.

"Do you see that?" chuckled Jennie Stone. "He's afraid she might change
her mind and shoot him after all."

"Sh!" cautioned Ruth. "Somebody might hear you. Now look."

The swinging targets were shattered by Wonota as fast as the man could
hook them to the string and set the string to swinging. Then he threw
glass balls filled with feathers into the air for the Indian girl to
explode.

It was evident that she was not doing as well as usual, for she missed
several shots. But this was not because of her own nervousness. Since
the pony had been cut with Dakota Joe's whip it would not stand still,
and its nervousness was plainly the cause of Wonota's misses.

The owner of the show was, however, the last person to admit this. He
showed more than annoyance as the act progressed.

Perhaps it was the strained relations so evident between the owner of
the show and Wonota that affected the man attending to the targets, for
he became rather wild. He threw a glass ball so far to one side that to
have shot at it would have endangered the spectators, and the Indian
girl dropped the muzzle of her rifle and shook her head. The curving
ball came within Dakota Joe's reach.

"Some baseball player, I'll say!" ejaculated Jennie Stone slangily.

For the owner of the show caught the flying ball. He wheeled his
spirited horse, and, holding the ball at arm's length, he spurred down
the field toward the Indian girl.

"Oh!" cried Ruth under her breath. "He is going to throw it at her!"

"The villain!" ejaculated Mercy Curtis, her eyes flashing.

But if that was his intention, Dakota Joe did not fulfill it. The Indian
girl whipped up the muzzle of her rifle and seemed to take deliberate
aim at the angry man. Evidently this act was not on the bill!



CHAPTER IV

SMOKING THE PEACE PIPE


Ruth Fielding almost screamed aloud. She rose in her seat, clinging to
Helen Cameron's arm.

"Oh! what will she do?" gasped the girl of the Red Mill, just as the
rifle in the Indian sharp-shooter's hands spat its brief tongue of
flame.

The glass ball in Dakota Joe's fingers was shattered and he went through
a cloud of feathers as he turned his horse at a tangent and rode away
from the Indian girl. It was a good shot, but one that the proprietor of
the Wild West Show did not approve of!

"Oh!" exclaimed Mercy Curtis, bitterly, "why didn't she shoot him
instead of the ball? He deserves it, I know."

"Dear me, Mercy," drawled Jennie Stone, "you most certainly are a
blood-thirsty person!"

"I just know that man is a villain, and the Indian girl is in his
power."

"Next reel!" giggled Helen. "It is a regular Western cinema drama, isn't
it?"

"I certainly want to become better acquainted with that Wonota,"
declared Ruth, not at all sure but that Mercy Curtis was right in her
opinion. "There! Wonota is going off."

The applause the Indian girl received was vociferous. Most of the
spectators believed that the shooting of the glass ball out of the man's
hand had been rehearsed and was one of Wonota's chief feats. Ruth and
her friends had watched what had gone before too closely to make that
mistake. There was plainly a serious schism between Dakota Joe and the
girl whom he had called the Indian princess.

The girls settled back in their seats after Wonota had replied to the
applause with a stiff little bow from the entrance to the dressing-tent.
The usual representation of "Pioneer Days" was then put on, and while
the "stage" was being set for the attack on the emigrant train and
Indian massacre, the fellow who had stood at the pasture fence and
talked to the girls when the black bull had done his turn, suddenly
appeared in the aisle between the plank seats and gestured to Ruth.

"What?" asked the girl of the Red Mill "You want me?"

"You're the lady," he said, grinning. "Won't keep you a minute. You can
git back and see the rest of the show all right."

"It must be that Wonota has sent him for me," explained Ruth, seeing no
other possible reason for this call. Refusing to let even Helen go with
her, she followed the man up the aisle and down a narrow flight of steps
to the ground.

"What is the matter with her? What does she want me for?" Ruth asked him
when she could get within earshot and away from the audience.

"Her?"

"Yes. You come from Wonota, don't you?"

The man chuckled, but still kept on. "You'll see her in a minute. Right
this way, Miss," he said.

They came to a canvas-enclosed place with a flap pinned back as though
it were the entrance to a tent. The guide flourished a hamlike hand,
holding back the canvas flap.

"Just step in and you'll find her," he said, again chuckling.

Ruth was one not easily alarmed. But the fellow seemed impudent. She
gave him a reproving look and marched into what appeared to be an
office, for there was a desk and a chair in view.

There, to her surprise, was Dakota Joe, the long-haired proprietor of
the Wild West Show! He stood leaning against a post, his arms folded and
smoking a very long and very black cigar. He did not remove his hat as
Ruth entered, but rolled his cigar from one corner of his mouth to the
other and demanded harshly:

"You know this Injun girl I got with the show?"

"Certainly I know her!" Ruth exclaimed without hesitation, "She saved my
life."

"Huh! I heard about that, ma'am. And I don't mean it just that way. I'm
talking about her--drat her! She says she has got a date with you and
your friends between the afternoon and night shows."

"Yes," Ruth said wonderingly. "We are to meet--and talk."

"That's just it, ma'am," said the man, rolling the cigar again in an
offensive way. "That's just it. When you come to talk with that Injun
girl, I want you to steer her proper on one p'int. We're white, you an'
me, and I reckon white folks will stick together when it comes to a game
against reds. Get me?"

"I do not think I do--yet," answered Ruth hesitatingly.

"Why, see here, now," Dakota Joe went on. "It's easy to see you're a
lady--a white lady. I'm a white gent. This Injun wench has got it in for
me. Did you see what she come near doin' to me right out there in the
ring?"

Ruth restrained a strong wish to tell him exactly what she had seen. But
somehow she felt that caution in the handling of this rough man would be
the wiser part.

"I saw that she made a very clever shot in breaking that ball in your
hand, Mr. Dakota Joe," the girl of the Red Mill said.

"Heh? Well, didn't you see she aimed straight at me? Them reds ain't got
no morals. They'd jest as lief shoot a feller they didn't like as not.
We have to keep 'em down all the time. I know. I been handling 'em for
years."

"Well, sir?" asked Ruth impatiently.

"Why, this Wonota--drat her!--is under contract with me. She's a drawin'
card, I will say. But she's been writin' back to the agency where I got
her and making me trouble. She means to leave me flat if she can---and a
good winter season coming on."

"What do you expect me to do about it, Mr.--er--Dakota Joe?" asked Ruth.

"Fenbrook. Fenbrook's my name, ma'am," tardily explained the showman.
"Now, see here. She's nothin' but an ignorant redskin. Yep. She's
daughter of old Totantora, hereditary chief of the Osages. But he's out
of the way and her guardian is the Indian Agent at Three Rivers Station
in Oklahoma where the Osages have their reservation. As I say, this gal
has writ to the agent and told him a pack o' lies about how bad she is
treated. And she ain't treated bad a mite."

"Well, Mr. Fenbrook?" demanded Ruth again.

"Why, see now. This Injun gal thinks well of you. I know what she's told
the other performers. And I see her looking at you. Naturally, being
nothin' but a redskin, she'll look up to a white lady like you. You tell
her she's mighty well off here, all things considered--will you? Just
tell her how hard some gals of her age have to work, while all she does
is to ride and shoot in a show. All them Injuns is crazy to be
play-actors, you know. Even old Chief Totantora was till he got mixed up
with them Germans when the war come on.

"Huh? You savvy my idee, Miss? Jest tell her she's better off with the
show than she would be anywhere else. Will you? Do as I say, Miss, and
I'll slip you a bunch of tickets for all your friends. We're showin' at
Great Forks on Friday, at Perryville Saturday, and at Lymansburg fust of
the week. You can take your friends in and have fust-class seats to all
them places."

"Thank you very much, Mr. Fenbrook," said Ruth, having difficulty to
keep from laughing. "But owing to other engagements I could not possibly
accept your kind offer. However, I will speak to the girl and advise her
to the best of my ability."

Which was exactly what Ruth did when, later, she and her friends were
met by the Princess Wonota at the exit of the big tent. The girl of the
Red Mill had had no opportunity to explain to Helen and Jennie and Mercy
in full about her interview with Dakota Joe. But she was quite decided
as to what she proposed to do.

"Let us go on to the automobile, girls," Ruth said, taking Wonota's
hand. "We want to talk where nobody will overhear us."

It was Mercy, when they arrived at Helen's car, who put the first
question to the Indian maid:

"Why didn't you shoot that man? I would have done so!"

"Oh, hush, Mercy!" ejaculated Jennie Stone. "She will think you are
quite a savage."

Helen laughed gaily and helped Wonota into the tonneau.

"Come on!" she cried. "Let us smoke the peace-pipe and tell each other
all our past lives."

But Ruth remained rather grave, looking steadily at the Indian girl.
When they were seated, she said:

"If you care to confide in us, Wonota, perhaps we can advise you, or
even help you. I know that you are unhappy and unkindly treated at this
show. I owe you so much that I would be glad to feel that I had done
something for you in return."

The grave face of the Indian girl broke into a slow smile. When she did
smile, Ruth thought her very winsome indeed. Now that she had removed
her headdress and wore her black hair in two glossy plaits over her
shoulders, she was even more attractive.

"You are very kind," Wonota said. "But perhaps I should not trouble you
with any of my difficulties."

"If you have troubles," interposed Jennie, "you've come to the right
shop. We all have 'em and a few more won't hurt us a bit. We're just
dying to know why that man treats you so mean."

"He wouldn't treat me that way!" put in Mercy vigorously.

"But you see I--I am quite alone," explained Wonota. "Since Father
Totantora went away I have been without any kin and almost without
friends in our nation."

"That is it," said Ruth. "Begin at the beginning. Tell us how the chief
came to leave you, and how you got mixed up with this Dakota Joe. I have
a very small opinion of that man," added the girl of the Red Mill, "and
I do not think you should remain in his care."



CHAPTER V

INSPIRATION


It was on the verge of evening, and a keen and searching wind was
blowing across the ruffled Lumano, when Helen Cameron's car and its
three occupants came in sight of the old Red Mill. Mercy Curtis had been
dropped at the Cheslow railway station, where she had the "second trick"
as telegraph operator.

For the last few miles of the journey from the Wild West Show there had
been a good-natured, wordy battle between Ruth and Helen as to which of
the twain was to have Jennie Stone for the night.

"Her trunk is at my house," Helen declared. "So now!"

"But her toilet bag is at the farmhouse. And, anyway, I could easily
lend her pajamas."

"She could never get into a suit of yours, you know very well, Ruth
Fielding!" exclaimed Helen.

"I'd get one of Uncle Jabez's long flannel nightgowns for her, then,"
giggled Ruth.

"Look here! I don't seem to be in such great favor with either of you,
after all," interposed the plump girl. "One would think I was a freak.
And I prefer my own night apparel in any case."

"Then you'll come home with me," Helen announced.

"But I have things at Ruth's house, just as she says," said Jennie.

At the moment the car wheeled around the turn in the road and Helen
stopped it at the gate before the old, shingled farmhouse which was
connected by a passage with the grist mill. A light flashed in the
window and at once the place looked very inviting. A door opened upon
the side porch, and to the girls' nostrils was wafted a most delicious
odor of frying cakes.

"That settles it!" ejaculated Jennie Stone, and immediately sprang out
of the car. "I'm as hungry as a bear. I'll see you to-morrow, Nell, if
you'll ride over. But don't come too near mealtime. I never could
withstand Aunt Alvirah's cooking. M-mm! Griddle-cakes--with lashin's of
butter and sugar on 'em, I wager."

"Dear me!" sighed Helen, as Ruth, too, got out, laughing. "You are
incurable, Jennie. Your goddess is your tummy."

But the plump girl was not at all abashed. She ran up the walk on to the
porch and warmly greeted the little old woman who stood in the doorway.

"How-do, Jennie. Oh, my back and oh, my bones! Be careful, child! I'm
kinder tottery to-day, and no mistake. Coming in, Helen Cameron?"

"Not to-night, Aunt Alvirah," replied the girl, starting the car again.
"Good-night, all."

"And here's my pretty!" crooned Aunt Alvirah, putting up her thin arms
to encircle Ruth's neck as the girl came in. "It does seem good to have
you home again. Your Uncle Jabez (who is softer-hearted than you would
suppose) is just as glad to have you home as I am, to be sure."

They had a merry supper in the wide, home-like kitchen, for even the
miller when he came in was cheerful. He had had a good day at the grist
mill. The cash-box was heavy that night, but he did not retire to his
room to count his receipts as early as usual. The chatter of the two
girls kept the old man interested.

"It is a shame that the Indian agent should let a girl like Wonota sign
a contract with that Dakota Joe. Anybody might see, to look at him, that
he was a bad man," Jennie Stone said with vehemence at one point in the
discussion.

"I am not much troubled over that point for the girl," said Ruth. "She
says she has already written to the agent at the Three Rivers Station,
Oklahoma, telling him how badly Fenbrook treats her. That will soon be
over. She will get her release."

"I shouldn't wonder," said Uncle Jabez, "that if a gal can fire a gun
like you say she can, there ain't much reason to worry about her. She
can take care of herself with that showman."

"But suppose she should be tempted to do something really desperate!"
cried Ruth. "I hope nothing like that will happen. She is really a
savage by instinct."

"And a pretty one," agreed Jennie, thoughtfully.

"Shucks! Pretty is as pretty does," said Aunt Alvirah. "I didn't s'pose
there was any real wild Injuns left."

"You'd think she was wild," chuckled Jennie, "if you'd seen her draw
bead on that Dakota Joe person."

"All that is not so much to the point," pursued Ruth. "I know that the
girl wants to earn money--not alone for her mere living. She could go
back to the reservation and live very comfortably without working--much.
The Osage Nation is not at all poverty stricken and it holds its
property ill community fashion."

"What makes her travel around in such a foolish way, then?" Aunt Alvirah
asked.

"She wants ready cash. She wants it for a good purpose, too," explained
Ruth thoughtfully. "You see, this girl's father is Chief Totantora, a
leading figure in the Osage Nation. The year before Germany began the
war he was traveling with a Wild West Show in Europe. The show was in
the interior of Germany when war came and the frontiers were closed.

"Once only did Wonota hear from her father. He was then in a detention
camp, for, being a good American, he refused to bow down to Hun gods--"

"I should say he had a right to call himself an American, if anybody
has," said Jennie quickly.

"And he is not the only Indian who proved his loyalty to a Government
that, perhaps, has not always treated the original Americans justly,"
Ruth remarked.

"I dunno," grumbled Uncle Jabez. "Injuns is Injuns. You say yourself
this gal is pretty wild."

"She is independent, at any rate. She wishes to earn enough money to set
afoot a private inquiry for Chief Totantora. For she does not believe he
is dead."

"Well, the poor dear," Aunt Alvirah said, "she'd ought to be helped, I
haven't a doubt."

"Now, now!" exclaimed the miller, suspiciously. "Charity begins at home.
I hope you ain't figgerin' on any foolish waste of money, Niece Ruth."

The latter laughed. "I don't think Wonota would accept charity," she
said. "And I have no intention of offering it to her in any case. But I
should like to help the girl find her father--indeed I should."

"You'd oughtn't to think you have to help everybody you come 'cross in
the world, gal," advised Uncle Jabez, finally picking up the cash-box to
retire to his room. "Every tub ought to stand on its own bottom, as I've
allus told ye."

When he was gone Aunt Alvirah shook her head sadly.

"Ain't much brotherhood of man in Jabez Potter's idees of life," she
said. "He says nobody ever helped him get up in the world, so why should
he help others?"

"Of all things!" exclaimed Ruth, with some warmth. "I wonder what he
would have done all these years without you to make a home for him
here!"

"Tut, tut!" objected the old woman. "'Tain't me that's done for him. I
was a poor lone creeter in the poorhouse when Jabez Potter came and took
me out. I know that deep down in his old heart there's a flame of
charity. Who should know it better?"

"Oh, dear!" cried Ruth. "He keeps it wonderfully well hidden--that
flame. He certainly does."

Jennie laughed. "Well, why shouldn't he be cautious? See how many times
you have been charitable, Ruth, and seen no gratitude in return."

"Well!" gasped the girl of the Red Mill, in disgust, "is _that_ what we
are to be charitable for? For shame!"

"Right you are, my pretty," said Aunt Alvirah. "Doin' one's duty for
duty's sake is the way the good Lord intended. And if Jabez Potter is
charitable without knowin' it--and he _is_--all the better. It's charged
up to his credit in heaven, I have no doubt."

The girls were tired after their long ride in the keen evening air and
they were ready for bed at a comparatively early hour. But after Ruth
had got into bed she could not sleep.

Thoughts rioted in her brain. For a week she had felt the inspiration of
creative work milling in her mind--that is what she called it. She had
promised the president of the Alectrion Film Corporation to think up
some unusual story--preferably an outdoor plot--for their next picture.
And thus far nothing had formed in her mind that suggested the thing
desired.

Outdoor stories had the call on the screen. They had but lately made one
on the coast of Maine, the details of which are given in "Ruth Fielding
Down East." Earlier in her career as a screen writer the girl of the Red
Mill had made a success of a subject which was photographed in the
mining country of the West. "Ruth Fielding in the Saddle" tells the
story of this venture.

There spun through her half-drowsing brain scenes of the Wild West Show
they had attended this day. That was surely "outdoor stuff." Was there
anything in what she had seen to-day to suggest a novel scheme for a
moving picture?

She turned and tossed. Her eyes would not remain closed. The program of
Dakota Joe's Wild West and Frontier Round-Up marched in sequence through
her memory. She did not want anything like that in her picture. It was
all "old stuff," and the crying need of the film producer is "something
new under the sun."

Yet there was color and action in much of the afternoon's performance.
Even Dakota Joe himself--as the figure of a villain, for instance--was
not to be scorned. And Princess Wonota herself--

If the story was up to date, showing the modern, full-blooded Indian
princess in love and action! Ruth suddenly bounded out of bed. She
grabbed a warm robe, wrapped herself in it and ran across to Jennie's
room.

"Jennie! Jennie! I've got it!" Ruth cried in a loud whisper.

Jennie's only answer was a prolonged and pronounced snore! She was lying
on her back.

"Jennie Stone!" exclaimed Ruth, shaking the plump girl by the shoulder.

"Wo--wow--ough! Is it fire?" gasped Jennie, finally aroused.

"No, no! I've got it!" repeated Ruth.

"Well--ell--I hope it isn't catching," said the other rather crossly.
"You've spoiled--ow!--my beauty sleep, Ruthie Fielding."

"Listen!" commanded her friend. "I've the greatest idea for a picture. I
know Mr. Hammond will be delighted. I am going to get Wonota on contract
when she breaks with Dakota Joe. I'll make her the central figure of a
big picture. She shall be the leading lady."

"Why, Ruthie Fielding! that's something you have never yet done for me,
and I have been your friend for years and years."

"Never mind. When it seems that the time is ripe to screen a story about
a pretty, plump girl, you shall have an important part in the
production," promised Ruth. "But listen to me--do! I am going to make
Princess Wonota an Indian star--"

"I believe you," drawled the plump girl. "I suppose you might call her a
'shooting star'?"



CHAPTER VI

EVERYBODY AGREES BUT DAKOTA JOE


An inspiration is all right--even when it strikes one in the middle of
the night. So Jennie Stone remarked. But there had to be something
practical behind such a venture as Ruth Fielding had suggested to the
sleepy girl.

Her thought regarding Princess Wonota of the Osage Tribe was partly due
to her wish to help the Indian girl, and partly due to her desire to
furnish Mr. Hammond and the Alectrion Film Corporation with another big
feature picture.

Ruth and Jennie (who became enthusiastic when she was awake in the
morning) chattered about the idea like magpies from breakfast to lunch.
Then Helen drove over from The Outlook, and she had to hear it all
explained while Ruth and Jennie were making ready to go out in the car
with her.

"You must drive us right to Cheslow," Ruth said, "where I can get Mr.
Hammond on the long-distance 'phone. This is important. I feel that I
have a really good idea."

"But what do you suppose that Dakota Joe will say?" drawled Helen. "He
won't love you, I fear."

"Has he got to know?" demanded Jennie. "Don't be a goose, Helen. This is
all going to be done on the q.t."

"Very well," sniffed the other girl. "Guess you'll find it difficult to
take Wonota away from the Wild West Show without Joe's knowing anything
about it."

"Of course!" laughed Ruth. "But until the fatal break occurs we must not
let him suspect anything."

"I see. It is a fell conspiracy," remarked Helen. "Well, come on! The
chariot awaits, my lady. If I am to drive a bunch of conspirators, let's
be at it."

"Helen would hustle one around," complained Jennie, "if she were in the
plot to kill Cæsar."

"Your tense is bad, little lady," said Helen. "Cæsar, according to the
books, has been dead some years now. Right-o?"

The girls sped away from the old mill, and in a little while Ruth was
shut into a telephone booth talking with Mr. Hammond in a distant city.
She told him a good deal more than she had the girls. It was his due.
Besides, she had already got the skeleton of a story in her mind and she
repeated the important points of this to the picture producer.

"Sounds good, Miss Ruth," he declared. "But it all depends upon the
girl. If you think she has the looks, is amenable to discipline, and has
some natural ability, we might safely go ahead with it, I will get into
communication by telegraph with the Department of Indian Affairs at
Washington and with the agent at Three Rivers Station, Oklahoma, as
well. We can afford to invest some money in the chance that this Wonota
is a find."

"Fifty-fifty, Mr. Hammond," Ruth told him. "On whatever it costs,
remember, I am just as good a sport as you are when it comes to taking a
chance in business."

He laughed. "I have often doubted your blood relationship to Uncle
Jabez," Mr. Hammond declared "He has no gambler's blood in his old
veins."

"He was born too long before the moving picture came into existence,"
she laughingly returned. "Now I mean to see Wonota again and try to
encourage her to throw in her fortunes with us. At least, I hope to get
her away from that disgusting Dakota Joe."

Later Jennie teasingly suggested: "You should have taken up with his
offer, Ruthie. You could have had free passes to the show in several
towns."

"I don't much wish to see the show again," Ruth declared.

"I bet Mercy Curtis would like to see it," giggled Helen, "if Wonota was
sure to shoot Joe. What a bloodthirsty child that Mercy continues to
be."

"She has changed a lot since we were all children together," Ruth said
reflectively. "And I never did blame Mercy much for being so scrappy.
Because of her lameness she missed a lot that we other girls had. I am
so glad she has practically gotten over her affliction."

"But not her failings of temper," suggested Jennie. "Still, as long as
she takes it out on Dakota Joe, for instance, I don't know but I agree
with her expressions of savage feeling."

"Hear! Hear!" cried Helen.

Despite their expressed dislike for Fenbrook, Helen and Jennie Stone
accompanied Ruth the next day to the afternoon performance of the Wild
West Show at a town much farther away than that at which they had first
met Wonota, the Indian princess.

Wonota was glad to see them--especially glad to see Ruth Fielding. For
Ruth had given her hope for a change. The Indian girl was utterly
disillusioned about traveling with a tent show; and even the promises
Fenbrook had made her of improved conditions during the winter, when
they would show for week-runs in the bigger cities, did not encourage
Wonota to continue with him.

"Yet I would very much like to earn money to spend in searching for the
great Chief Totantora," she confessed to the three white girls. "The
Great Father at Washington can do nothing now to find my father--and I
do not blame the White Father. The whole world is at war and those
peoples in Europe are sick with the fever of war. It is sad, but it
cannot be helped."

"And if you had money how would you go about looking for Chief
Totantora?" Helen asked her curiously.

"I must go over there myself. I must search through that German
country."

"Plucky girl!" ejaculated Jennie. "But not a chance!"

"You think not, lady?" asked Wonota, anxiously.

"We three have been to Europe--to France. We know something about the
difficulties," said Ruth, quietly. "I understand how you feel, Wonota.
And conditions may soon change. We believe the war will end. Then you
can make a proper search for your father."

"But not unless I have much money," said Wonota quickly. "The Osage
people have valuable oil lands on their reservation. But it will be some
years before money from them will be available, so the agent tells me.
That is why I came with this show."

"And that is why you wish to keep on earning money?" suggested Ruth
reflectively.

"That is why," Wonota returned, nodding.

At this point in the conversation the showman himself came up. He
smirked in an oily manner at the white girls and tried to act kindly
toward his pretty employee. Wonota scarcely looked in the man's
direction, but Ruth of course was polite in her treatment of Dakota Joe.

"I see you're doin' like I asked you, ma'am," he hoarsely whispered
behind his hairy hand to the girl of the Red Mill. "What's the
prospect?"

"I could scarcely tell you yet, Mr. Fenbrook," Ruth said decidedly.
"Wonota must decide for herself, of course."

"Humph! Wal, if she knows what's best for her she'll aim to stay right
with old Dakota Joe. I'm her best friend."

Ruth left the girl at this time with some encouraging words. She had
told her that if she, Wonota, could get a release from her contract with
the showman there would be an opportunity for her to earn much more
money, and under better conditions, in the moving picture business.

"Oh!" cried Wonota with sparkling eyes, "do you think I could act for
the movies? I have often wanted to try."

"There it is," said Helen, as the girls drove home. "Even the Red Indian
is crazy to act in the movies. Can you beat it?"

"Well," Ruth asked soberly, "who is there that is not interested in
getting his or her picture taken? Not very many. And when it comes to
appearing on the silver sheet--well, even kings and potentates fall for
that!"

Ruth was so sure that Wonota could be got into the moving pictures and
that Mr. Hammond would be successful in making a star of the Indian
girl, that that very night she sat up until the wee small hours laying
out the plot of her picture story--the story which she hoped to make
into a really inspirational film.

There was coming, however, an unexpected obstacle to this
achievement--an obstacle which at first seemed to threaten utter failure
to her own and to Mr. Hammond's plans.



CHAPTER VII

DAKOTA JOE'S WRATH


It was a crisp day with that tang of frost in the air that makes the old
shiver and the young feel a tingling in the blood. Aunt Alvirah drew her
chair closer to the stove in the sitting-room. She had a capable
housework helper now, and even Jabez Potter made no audible objection,
for Ruth paid the bill, and the dear old woman had time to sit and talk
to "her pretty" as she loved to do.

"Oh, my back and oh, my bones!" she murmured, as she settled into her
rocking-chair. "I am a leetle afraid, my pretty, that you will have your
hands full if you write pictures for red savages to act. It does seem to
me they air dangerous folks to have anything to do with.

"Why, when I was a mite of a girl, I heard my great-grandmother tell
that when she was a girl she went with her folks clean acrosst the
continent--or, leastways, beyond the Mississippi, and they drove in a
big wagon drawed by oxen."

"Goodness! They went in an emigrant train?" cried Ruth.

"Not at all. 'Twarn't no train," objected Aunt Alvirah. "Trains warn't
heard of then. Why, _I_ can remember when the first railroad went
through this part of the country and it cut right through Silas
Bassett's farm. They told him he could go down to the tracks any time he
felt like going to town, wave his hat, and the train would stop for
him."

"Well, wasn't that handy?" cried the girl.

"It sounded good. But Silas didn't have it on paper. First off they did
stop for him if he hailed the train. He didn't go to town more'n three
or four times a year. Then the railroad changed hands. 'There arose up a
new king over Egypt which knew not Joseph'--you know, like it says in
the Bible. And when Silas Bassett waved his hat, the train didn't even
hesitate!"

Ruth laughed, but reminded her that they were talking about her
great-grandmother's adventures in the Indian country years and years
before.

"Yes, that's a fact," said Aunt Alvirah Boggs. "She did have exciting
times. Why, when they was traveling acrosst them Western prairies one
day, what should pop up but a band of Indians, with tall feathers in
their hair, and guns--mebbe bow and arrows, too. Anyway, they scare't
the white people something tremendous," and the old woman nodded
vigorously.

"Well, the neighbors who were traveling together hastened to turn their
wagons so as to make a fortress sort of, of the wagon-bodies, with the
horses and the cattle and the humans in the center. You understand?"

"Yes," Ruth agreed. "I have seen pictures of such a camp, with the
Indians attacking."

"Yes. Well, but you see," cackled the old woman suddenly, "them, Indians
didn't attack at all. They rode down at a gallop, I expect, and scared
the white folks a lot But what they come for was to see if there was a
doctor in the party. Those Indians had heard of white doctors and knowed
what they could do. The chief of the tribe had a favorite child that was
very sick, and he come to see if a white doctor could save his child's
life."

"Oh!" cried Ruth, her eyes sparkling. "What an idea!"

"Well, my pretty, I dunno," said Aunt Alvirah. "'Twas sensible enough, I
should say, for that Indian chief to want the best doctoring there was
for his child. The medicine men had tried to cure the poor little thing
and failed. I expect even Red Indians sometimes love their children."

"Why, of course, Aunt Alvirah. And you ought to see how lovable this
girl Wonota is."

"Mm--well, mebbe. Anyway, there was a doctor in that party my
great-grandmother traveled with, and he rode to the Indian village and
cured the sick child. And for the rest of their journey across them
plains Indians, first of one tribe, then of another, rode with the party
of whites. And they never had no trouble."

"Isn't that great!" cried Ruth.

And when she told Helen and Jennie about it--and the idea it had given
Ruth for a screen story--her two chums agreed that it was "perfectly
great."

So Ruth was hard at work on a scenario, or detailed plot, even before
Mr. Hammond made his arrangements with the Indian Department for the
transferring of the services of Princess Wonota from Dakota Joe's Wild
West Show to the Alectrion Film Corporation for a certain number of
months.

The matter had now gone so far that it could not be kept from Dakota
Joe. He had spent money and pulled all the wires he could at the
reservation to keep "Dead-Shot" Wonota in his employ. At first he did
not realize that any outside agency was at work against him and for die
girl's benefit.

Ruth and her friends drove to a distant town to see the Indian girl when
the Wild West Show played for two days. They attended the matinee and
saw Wonota between the two performances and had dinner with her at the
local hotel. After dinner they all went to an attorney's office, where
the papers in the case were ready, and Wonota signed her new contract
and Helen and Jennie were two of the witnesses thereto. Mr. Hammond
could not be present, but he had trusted to Ruth's good sense and
business acumen.

In a week--giving Dakota Joe due notice--the old contract would be dead
and Wonota would be at liberty under permission from the Indian Agent to
leave the show. As Helen stopped the car before the torch-lighted
entrance to the show for Wonota to step out, Dakota Joe strode out to
the side of the road. He was scowling viciously.

"What's the matter with you, Wonota?" he demanded. "You trying to queer
the show? You ain't got no more'n enough time to dress for your act. Get
on in there, like I tell you."

Instead of propitiating Ruth now, he showed her the ugly side of his
character.

"I guess you been playin' two-faced, ain't you, ma'am?" he growled as
Wonota fled toward the dressing tent "I thought you was a friend of
mine. But I believe you been cuttin' the sand right out from under my
feet. Ain't you?"

"I do not know what you mean, Mr. Fenbrook," said Ruth sharply.

"You're Ruth Fielding, ain't you?" he demanded.

"Yes. That is my name."

"So they tell me," growled Dakota Joe. "And you are coupled up with this
Hammond feller that they tell me has put in a bid for Wonota over and
above what she's wuth, and what I can pay. Ain't that so?"

"If you wish to discuss the matter with Mr. Hammond I will give you his
address," Ruth said with dignity. "I am not prepared to discuss the
matter with you, Mr. Fenbrook."

"Is that so?" he snarled. "Well, ma'am, whether you want to talk or
don't want to talk, things ain't goin' all your way. No, ma'am! I got
some rights. The courts will give me my rights to Wonota. I'm her
guardian, I am. Her father, Totantora, is dead, and I'll show you
folks--and that Injun agent--just where you get off in this business!"

"Go on," said Ruth to Helen, without answering the angry man. But when
the car had gone a little way along the road, the girl of the Red Mill
exclaimed:

"Dear me! I fear that man will make trouble. I--I wish Tom were here."

"Don't say a word!" gasped Helen. "But not only because he could handle
this Western bully do I wish Tommy-boy was home and the war was over."

"Why don't you offer Dakota Joe a job in your picture company, too?"
drawled Jennie Stone.

"He'd make such a fine 'bad man.'"

"He certainly would," agreed Helen.

Just how bad the proprietor of the Wild West Show could be was proved
the following day. Mr. Hammond sent Ruth a telegram In the morning
intimating that something had gone wrong with their plans to get Wonota
into their employ.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The Court has given Fenbrook an injunction. What do you know about it?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, of course, Ruth Fielding did not know anything at all about it. And
after what she had seen of Dakota Joe she had no mind to go to him on
behalf of Mr. Hammond and herself. If the Westerner was balking the
attempt to get Wonota out of his clutches, nothing would beat him, Ruth
believed, but legal proceedings.

She telegraphed Mr. Hammond to this effect, advising that he put the
matter in the hands of the attorney that had drawn the new contract with
the Indian girl.

"The goodness knows," she told Aunt Alvirah and Uncle Jabez, "I don't
want to have anything personally to do with that rough man. He is just
as ugly as he can be."

"Wal," snorted the miller, "he better not come around here cutting up
his didoes! Me and Ben will tend to him!"

Ruth could not help being somewhat fearful of the proprietor of the Wild
West Show. If the man really made up his mind to make trouble, Ruth
hoped that he would not come to the Red Mill.

Helen and Jennie drove over to the mill to get Ruth that afternoon, and
they planned to take Aunt Alvirah out with them. She had lost her fear
of the automobile and had even begun to hint to the miller that she
wished he would buy a small car.

"Land o' Goshen!" grumbled Uncle Jabez, "what next? I s'pose you'd want
to learn to run the dratted thing, Alvirah Boggs?"

"Well, Jabez Potter, I don't see why not?" she had confessed. "Other
women learns."

"Huh! You with one foot in the grave and the other on the gas, eh?" he
snorted.

However, Aunt Alvirah did not go out in Helen's car on this afternoon.
While the girls were waiting for her to be made ready, Helen looked
back, up the road, down which she and Jennie had just come.

"What's this?" she wanted to know. "A runaway horse?"

Jennie stood up to look over the back of the car. She uttered an excited
squeal.

"Helen! Ruthie!" she declared. "It's that Indian girl--in all her
war-togs, too. She is riding like the wind. And, yes! There is somebody
after her! Talk about your moving picture chases--this is the real
thing!"

"It's Dakota Joe!" shrieked Helen. "Goodness! He must have gone mad. See
him beating that horse he rides. Why--"

"He surely has blown up," stated Jennie Stone with conviction. "Ruthie!
what are you going to do?"



CHAPTER VIII

A WONDERFUL EVENT


Wonota was a long way ahead of the Westerner. She was light and she
bestrode a horse with much more speed than the one Dakota Joe rode. She
lay far along her horse's neck and urged it with her voice rather than a
cruel goad.

The plucky pony was responding nobly, although it was plain, as it came
nearer to the girls before the old mill farmhouse, that it had traveled
hard. It was thirty miles from the town where the Wild West Show was
performing to the Red Mill.

"Oh, Wonota!" cried Jennie Stone, beckoning the Indian girl on. "What is
the matter?"

Ruth had not waited to get any report from Wonota. She turned and dashed
for the house. Already Sarah, the maid-of-all-work, had started through
the covered passage to the mill, shrieking for Ben, the hired man.

Ben and the miller ran down the long walk to roadside. Jabez Potter was
no weakling despite his age, while Ben was a giant of a fellow, able to
handle two ordinary men.

Wonota pulled her pony in behind Helen's car, whirling to face her
pursuer. She did not carry the light rifle she used in her act. Perhaps
it would have been better had she been armed, for Dakota Joe was quite
beside himself with wrath. He came pounding along, swinging his whip and
yelling at the top of his voice.

"What's the matter with that crazy feller?" demanded the old miller in
amazement. "He chasin' that colored girl?"

"She's not colored. She is my Indian princess, Uncle Jabez," Ruth
explained.

"I swanny, you don't mean it! Hi, Ben!" But nobody had to tell Ben what
to do. As Fenbrook drew in his horse abruptly, the mill-hand jumped into
the road, grabbed Dakota Joe's whip-hand, broke his hold on the reins,
and dragged the Westerner out of the saddle. It was a feat requiring no
little strength, and it surprised Dakota Joe as much as it did anybody.

"Hey, you! What you doin'?" bawled Dakota Joe, when he found himself
sitting on the hard ground, staring up at the group.

"Ain't doing nothing," drawled Ben. "It's done. Better sit where you be,
Mister, and cool off."

"What sort o' tomfoolishness is this?" asked the miller again. "Makin'
one o' them picture-shows right here on the public road? I want to
know!"

At that, and without rising from his seat in the road, Dakota Joe
Fenbrook lifted up his voice and gave his opinion of all moving picture
people, and especially those that would steal "that Injun gal" from a
hard-working man like himself. He stated that the efforts of a "shark
named Hammond" and this girl here that he thought was a lady an'
friendly to him were about to ruin his show.

"They'll crab the whole business if they git Wonota away from me. That's
what will happen! And I ought to give her a blame' good lickin'--"

"We won't hear nothing more about that," interrupted the old miller,
advancing a stride or two toward the angry Westerner. "Whether the gal's
got blue blood or red blood, or what color, she ain't going to be
mishandled none by you. Understand? You git up and git!"

"But what has happened, Wonota?" the puzzled Ruth asked the Indian girl.

Wonota pointed scornfully at Fenbrook, just then struggling to his feet.

"Joe, heap smart white man. Wuh!" She really was grimly chuckling. "He
go get a talking paper from the court. Call it injunction, eh?"

"I heard about the injunction," admitted Ruth interestedly.

"All right Wonota can't leave Joe to work for you, eh? But the paleface
law-man say to me that that talking paper good only In that county. You
see? I not in that county now."

"Oh, Jerry!" gasped Jennie Stone. "Isn't that cute? She is outside the
jurisdiction of the court."

"Sho!" exclaimed Jabez Potter, much amused by this outcome of the
matter. "It is a fact. Go on back to your show, mister. The gal's here,
and she's with friends, and that's all there is to it."

Dakota Joe had already realized this situation. He climbed slowly into
his saddle and eyed them all--especially Ruth and Wonota--with a savage
glare.

"Wait!" he growled. "Wait--that's all. I'll fix you movie people
yet--the whole of you! It's the sorriest day's job you ever done to get
Wonota away from me. Wait!"

He rode away. When he was some rods up the road, down which he had
galloped, he set spurs to his horse again and dashed on and out of
sight. For a little while nobody spoke. It was Jennie who, as usual,
light-hearted and unafraid, broke the silence.

"Well, all right, we'll wait," she said. "But we needn't do it right
here, I suppose. We can sit down and wait just as easily."

Helen laughed. But Ruth and Wonota were sober, and even Uncle Jabez
Potter saw something to take note of in the threat of the proprietor of
the Wild West Show.

"That man is a coward. That's as plain as the nose on your face. And a
coward when he gits mad and threatens you is more to be feared than a
really brave man. That man's a coward. He's mean. He's p'ison mean! You
want to look out for him, Niece Ruth. I wouldn't wonder if he tried,
some time, to do you and Mr. Hammond some trick that won't bring you in
no money, to say the least."

The old miller went off with that statement on his lips. Ben, the hired
man, followed him, shaking his head. The girls looked at each other,
then at the rapidly disappearing cloud of dust raised by Dakota Joe's
pony. Jennie said:

"Well, goodness! why so serious? Guess that man won't do such a much!
Don't be scared, Wonota. We won't let anybody hurt you."

"I wish Tom were here," Ruth Fielding repeated.

And in less than forty-eight hours this wish of the girl of the Red Mill
seemed to her almost prophetical. Tom Cameron was coming home!

The whole land rejoiced over that fact. The whole world, indeed, gave
thanks that it was possible for a young captain in the American
Expeditionary Forces to look forward to his release and return to his
home.

The armistice had been declared. Cheslow, like every town and city in
the Union, celebrated the great occasion. It was not merely a day's
celebration. The war was over (or so it seemed) and the boys who were so
much missed would be coming home again. It took some time for Ruth and
her friends to realize that this return must be, because of the nature
of things, postponed for many tiresome months.

Before Tom Cameron was likely to be freed from the army, the matter of
the Indian girl's engagement with the moving picture corporation must be
completely settled--at least, as far as Dakota Joe's claim upon Wonota's
services went.



CHAPTER IX

THE PLOT DEVELOPS


Ruth had insisted upon Wonota's remaining at the Red Mill from the hour
she had ridden there for protection. Not that they believed Fenbrook
would actually harm the Indian girl after he had cooled down. But it was
better that she should be in Ruth's care as long as she was to work
somewhat under the latter's tutelage.

Besides, it gave the picture writer a chance to study her subject. It
would be too much to expect that Wonota could play a difficult part. She
had had no experience in acting. Ruth knew that she must fit a part to
Wonota, not the girl to a part. In other words, the Indian girl was
merely a type for screen exploitation, and the picture Ruth wrote must
be fitted to her capabilities.

Grasping, like any talented writer does, at any straw of novelty, Ruth
had seen possibilities in the little incident Aunt Alvirah had told
about her ancestor who had crossed the Western plains in the early
emigrant days. She meant to open her story with a similar incident, as
a prologue to the actual play.

Ruth made her heroine (the part she wished to fit to Wonota, the Osage
Indian girl) repay in part the debt her family owed the white physician
by saving a descendant of the physician from peril in the Indian
country. This young man, the hero, is attracted by the Indian maid who
has saved his life; but he is under the influence of a New York girl,
one of the tourist party, to whom he is tentatively engaged.

But the New York girl deserts the hero when he gets into difficulty in
New York. He is accused of a crime that may send him to the penitentiary
for a long term and there seems no way to disprove the crime. Word of
his peril comes to the Indian maid in her Western home. She knows and
suspects the honesty of the timber men with whom the hero is connected
in business. She discovers these villains are the guilty ones, and she
travels to New York to testify for him and to clear him of the charge.
The end of the story, as well as the beginning, was to be filmed in the
wilds.

With the incidents of her plot gradually taking form in her mind and
being jotted down on paper, Ruth's hours began to be very full. She was
with Wonota as much as possible, and the Indian girl began to show an
almost doglike devotion to the girl of the Red Mill.

"That is not to be wondered at, of course," Jennie Stone said, as she
was about to return to her New York home. "Everybody falls for our Ruth.
It's a wonder to me that she has not been elected to the presidency."

"Wait till we women get the vote," declared Helen. "Then we'll send Ruth
to the chair."

"Goodness!" ejaculated Jennie. "That sounds terrible, Nell! One might
think you mean the electric chair."

"Is there much difference, after all, between that and the presidential
chair?" Helen demanded, chuckling. "The way some people talk about a
president!"

"We are a loose-talking people," Ruth interrupted gravely, "and I think
you girls talk almost as irresponsibly as anybody I ever heard."

"List to the stern and uncompromising Ruthie," scoffed Jennie. "I am
glad I am going back to Aunt Kate. She is a spinster, I admit; but she
isn't anywhere near as old-maid-like as Ruth Fielding."

"I'll tell Tom about that," said Tom's sister wickedly.

"Spinsters are the balance-wheel of the universe machinery," declared
Ruth, laughing. "I always have admired them. But, joking aside, at this
time when the whole world should be so grateful and so much in earnest
because of the end of a terrible war, trivial matters and trivial talk
somehow seems to jar."

"Not so! Not so!" cried Helen vigorously. "We have been holding in and
trying to keep cheerful with the fear at our hearts that some loved one
would suddenly be taken. It was not lightness of heart that made people
dance and act as though rattled-pated during the war. It was an attempt
to hide that awful fear in their hearts. See how the people in Cheslow
acted as though they were crazy the night of the armistice. And did you
read what the papers said about the times in New York? It was only a
natural outbreak."

"Well," remarked. Ruth, shrugging her shoulders, "you certainly have got
off the subject of old maids--bless 'em! Give my love to your Aunt Kate,
Jennie, and when we come to the city to take the shots for this picture,
I'll surely see her."

"Hi!" cried Miss Stone energetically. "I guess you will! You'll come
right to the house and stay with us during that time!"

"Oh, no. I shall have Wonota with me. We will stay at a hotel. Our hours
are always so uncertain when we shoot a picture that I could not
undertake to be at any private house."

There was some discussion over this. Ruth did not intend to let Wonota
out of her sight much while the picture was being made. Nor did she
propose to let the script of the picture out of her sight until copies
could be made of it, and the continuity man had made his version for the
director. Ruth was not going to run the risk of losing another scenario,
as she had once while Down East.

Ruth put in two weeks' hard work on the new story. As she laughingly
said, she ate, slept, and talked movies all the time. Wonota had to
amuse herself; but that did not seem hard for the Indian girl to do. She
was naturally of a very quiet disposition. She sat by Aunt Alvirah for
hours doing beadwork while the old woman darned or knitted.

"You wouldn't ever suspect she was a Red Indian unless you looked at
her," Aunt Alvirah confessed to the rest of the family. "She's a very
nice girl."

As for Wonota, she said:

"I used to sit beside my grandmother and work like this. Yes, Chief
Totantora taught me to shoot and paddle a canoe, and to do many other
things out-of-doors. But my grandmother was the head woman of our tribe,
and her beadwork and dyed porcupine-quill work was the finest you ever
saw, Ruth Fielding. I was sorry to leave my war-bag with Dakota Joe. It
had in it many keepsakes my grandmother gave me before she passed to
the Land of the Spirits."

A demand had been made upon the proprietor of the Wild West Show for
Wonota's possessions, but the man had refused to give them up. The girl
had not brought away with her even the rifle she had used so
successfully in the show. But her pony, West Wind, was stabled in the
Red Mill barn. Indeed, Uncle Jabez had begun to hint that the animal was
"eating its head off." The miller could not help showing what Aunt
Alvirah called "his stingy streak" in spite of the fact that he truly
was interested in the Indian maid and liked her.

"That redskin gal," he confessed in private to Ruth, "is a pretty shrewd
and sensible gal. She got to telling me the other day how her folks
ground grist in a stone pan, or the like, using a hard-wood club to
pound it with. Right slow process of makin' flour or meal, I do allow.

"But what do you think she said when I put that up to her--about it's
being a slow job?" and the miller chuckled. "Why, she told me that all
her folks had was time, and they'd got to spend it somehow. They'd
better be grinding corn by hand than making war on their neighbors or
the whites, like they used to. She ain't so slow."

Ruth quite agreed with this. The Osage maiden was more than ordinarily
intelligent, and she began to take a deep interest in the development
of the story that Ruth was making for screen use.

"Am I to be that girl?" she asked doubtfully. "How can I play that I am
in love when I have never seen a man I cared for--in that way?"

"Can't you imagine admiring a nice young man?" asked Ruth in return.

"Not a white man like this one in your story," Wonota said soberly. "It
should be that he did more for himself--that he was more of a--a brave.
We Indians do not expect our men to be saved from disgrace by women.
Squaws are not counted of great value among the possessions of a chief."

"So you could not really respect such a man as I describe here if he
allowed a girl to help him?" Ruth asked reflectively, for Wonota's
criticism was giving her some thought.

"He should not be such a man--to need the help of a squaw," declared the
Indian maid confidently. "But, of course, it does not matter if only
palefaces are to see the picture."

But Ruth could not get the thought out of her mind. It might be that the
Indian girl had suggested a real fault in the play she was making, and
she took Mr. Hammond into her confidence about it when she sent him the
first draft of the story. Her whole idea of the principal male character
in "Brighteyes" might need recasting, and she awaited the picture
producer's verdict with some misgiving.

While she waited a red-letter day occurred---so marked both for herself
and for Helen Cameron. The chums had hoped--oh, how fondly!--that they
would hear that Tom Cameron was on his way home. But gradually the fact
that demobilization would take a long time was becoming a fixed idea in
the girls' minds.

Letters came from Tom Cameron--one each for the two girls and one for
Mr. Cameron. Instead of being on his way home, Captain Cameron had been
sent even farther from the French port to which he had originally sailed
in the huge transport from New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I am now settled on the Rhine--one of the 'watches,' I suppose, that
the Germans used to sing about, now stamped 'Made in America,' however,"
he wrote to Ruth. "We watch a bridge-head and see that the Germans don't
carry away anything that might be needed on this side of the most
over-rated river in the world. I have come to the conclusion, since
seeing a good bit of Europe, that most of the scenery is over-rated and
does not begin to compare with the natural beauties of America. So many
foreigners come to our shores and talk about the beauty-spots of their
own countries, and so few Americans have in the past seen much of their
own land, that we accept the opinions of homesick foreigners as to the
superiority of the beauties of their father-and-mother-lands. After this
war I guess there will be more fellows determined to give the States the
'once over.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Tom always wrote an Interesting letter; but aside from that, of course
Ruth was eager to hear from him. And now, as soon as she could, she sat
down and replied to his communication. She had, too, a particular topic
on which she wished to write her friend.

Now that embattled Germany would no longer hold its prisoners
_incommunicado_, Ruth hoped that news about the imprisoned performers of
the Wild West Show might percolate through the lines. Chief Totantora
had been able but once to get a message to his daughter.

This message had reached America long before the United States had got
into the war. Although the Osage chieftain was an American (who could
claim such proud estate if Totantora could not?), the show by which he
was employed had gone direct to Germany from England, and anything
English had, from the first, been taboo in Germany. Now, of course, the
Indian girl had no idea as to where her father was.

"See if you can hear anything about those performers," Ruth wrote to
Tom. "Get word if you can to the Chief of the Osage Indians and tell him
that his daughter is with me, and that she longs for his return.

"I should love to make her happy by aiding in Chief Totantora's
reappearance in his native land. She is so sad, indeed, that I wonder if
she is going to be able to register, for the screen, the happiness that
she should finally show when my picture is brought to its conclusion."



CHAPTER X

ONE NEW YORK DAY


That "happy ending" became a matter of much thought on Ruth's part, and
the cause of not a little argument between her and Mr. Hammond when he
came up to Cheslow and the Red Mill to discuss "Brighteyes" with its
youthful author. He had come, too, to get a glimpse of Wonota in the
flesh.

One of the first things Ruth had done when the Indian girl came under
her care was to take Wonota to Cheslow and have the best photographer of
the town take several "stills" of the Indian girl. Copies of these she
had sent to the Alectrion Film Corporation, and word had come back from
both Mr. Hammond and his chief director that the photographs of Wonota
were satisfactory.

The president of the film company, however, was interested in talking
with Wonota and judging as far as possible through cursory examination
just how much there was to the girl.

"What has she got in her? That is what we want to know," he said to
Ruth. "Can she get expression into her face? Can she put over feeling?
We want something besides mere looks, Miss Ruth, as you very well know."

"I realize all that," the girl of the Red Mill told him earnestly. "But
remember, Mr. Hammond, you cannot judge this Osage girl by exactly the
same standards as you would a white girl!"

"Why not? She's got to be able to show on the screen the deepest
feelings of her nature--"

"Not if you would have my 'Brighteyes' true to life," interrupted Ruth
anxiously. "You must not expect it."

"Why not?" he demanded again, with some asperity. "We don't want to show
the people a dummy. I tell you the public is getting more and more
critical. They won't stand for just pretty pictures. The actors In them
must express their thoughts and feelings as they do in real life."

"Exactly!" Ruth hastened to say. "That is what I mean. My 'Brighteyes'
is a full-blooded Indian maiden just like Wonota. Now, you talk with
Wonota--try to get to the very heart of the girl. Then you will see."

"See what?" he demanded, staring.

"What you will see," returned Ruth, with a laugh. "Go ahead and get
acquainted with Wonota. Meanwhile I will be getting this condensed plot
of the story into shape for us to talk over. I must rewrite that street
scene again, I fear. And, of course, we are in a hurry?"

"Always," grumbled the producer. "We must start for our Western location
as soon as possible; but the New York scenes must be shot first."

It was a fine day, and the shore of the Lumano River offered a pleasant
prospect for out-of-door exercise, and after he had spent more than an
hour walking about with Wonota, the canny Mr. Hammond obtained, he said,
a "good line" on the character and capabilities of the Indian girl.

"You had me guessing for a time, Miss Ruth," he laughingly said to the
girl of the Red Mill. "I did not know what you were hinting at I see it
now. Wonota is a true redskin. We read about the stoicism of her race,
but we do not realize what that means until we try to fathom an Indian's
deeper feelings.

"I talked with her about her father. She is very proud of him, this
Totantora, as she calls him. But only now and then does she express (and
that in a flash) her real love and admiration for him.

"She is deeply, and justly, angered at that Dakota Joe Fenbrook. But she
scarcely expresses that feeling in her face or voice. She speaks of his
cruelty to her with sadness in her voice merely, and scarcely a flicker
of expression in her countenance."

"Ah!" Ruth said. "Now you see what I see. It is impossible for her to
register changing expressions and feelings as a white girl would. Nor
would she be natural as 'Brighteyes' if she easily showed emotion. Yet
she mustn't be stolid, for if she does the audience will never get what
we are trying to put over."

"The director has got to have judgment--I agree to that," said Mr.
Hammond, nodding. "Wonota must be handled with care. But she's got it in
her to be a real star in time. She photographs like a million dollars!"
and he laughed. "Now if we can teach her to be expressive enough--well,
I am more than ever willing to take the chance with her, provided you,
Miss Ruth, will agree to supply the vehicles of expression."

"You flatter me, Mr. Hammond," returned Ruth, flushing faintly. "I shall
of course be glad to do my best in the writing line."

"That's it. Between us we ought to make a lot of money. And incidentally
to make an Indian star who will make 'em all sit up and take notice."

Ruth was so much interested in "Brighteyes" by this time that she "ate,
slept, walked and talked" little else--to quote Helen. But Tom's sister
grew much interested in the production, too.

"I'm going with you--to New York, anyway," she announced. "I might as
well. Father is so busy with his business now that I scarcely see him
from week end to week end. Dear me, if Tommy only would come home!"

"I guess he'd be delighted," rejoined Ruth, smiling. "But if you go with
me, honey, you're likely to be dragged around a good deal. I expect to
jump from New York to somewhere in the Northwest. Mr. Hammond has not
exactly decided. The weather is very promising, and if we can shoot the
outdoor scenes before Christmas we'll be all right."

"Well, I do love to travel. Maybe we could get Jennie to go, too," Helen
said reflectively.

"She certainly would help," laughed Ruth. "I would rather laugh with
Jennie than grouch with anybody else."

"The wisdom of Mrs. Socrates," scoffed Helen. "Anyway, Ruthie, I'll
write her at once and tell her to begin pulling wires. You know, Mr.
Stone is as 'sot as the everlasting hills'--and it takes something to
move the hills, you know. He will have to be convinced, maybe, that
Jennie's health demands a change of climate at just this time."

"She looks it."

"Well, one might expect her to fade away a bit because of Henri's
absence. I wonder if she's heard from him since the armistice?"

"If she hasn't she'll need something besides a change of climate, I
assure you," laughed Ruth again. "She hates ocean voyaging, does Jennie;
but she wouldn't wait till she could go in an ox-cart to get back to
France if Henri forgot to write."

There was one thing sure: Jennie Stone was a delighted host when Helen
arrived in New York a few days ahead of Ruth and Wonota. Ruth had not
intended to go to the Stones; she would have felt more independent at a
hotel. She did not know what engagements Mr. Hammond or the director of
the picture might make for her. So she tried to dodge Jennie's
invitation.

When the train got in from New England, however, and Ruth and the Indian
girl, following a red-capped porter with their bags, walked through the
gateway of entrance to the concourse of the Grand Central Terminal,
there were both Jennie and Helen waiting to spy them.

"Mr. Hammond told me to come to the Borneaux. He has made reservations
there," Ruth said.

"That's all right for to-morrow," declared Jennie bruskly. "Hotel rooms
are all right to make up in, or anything like that. But you are both
going to my house for to-night"

"Now, Jennie--"

"No buts or ands about it!" exclaimed her friend. "If you don't come,
Ruthie Fielding, I'll never speak to you again. And if Wonota doesn't
come I declare I'll tell Dakota Joe where she is, and he'll come after
her and steal her. In fact," Jennie added, wickedly smiling, "his old
Wild West Show is playing right here in the Big Town this week."

"You don't mean it!" exclaimed Ruth, while the Indian girl shrank a
little closer to her friend.

"Sure do. In Brooklyn. A three-day stand in one of the big armories over
there, I believe. So a telephone call--"

"Shucks!" exclaimed Helen. "Don't you believe her, Wonota. Just the same
you folks had better come to the Stone house. Mr. Stone has taken a
whole box to-night for one of the very best musical shows that ever
was!"

Ruth could see that the Indian girl was eager to agree. She did show
some small emotions which paleface girls displayed. She laughed more
than at first, too. But she was often downright gloomy when thinking of
Chief Totantora.

However, seeing Wonota wished to accept the invitation, and desiring
herself to please Helen and Jennie, Ruth agreed. They telephoned a
message to the Hotel Borneaux and then went off to dinner at the Stone
house. It was a very nice party indeed, and even busy Mr. Stone did his
best to put Wonota at her ease.

"Some wigwam this, isn't it, Wonata?" said Helen, smiling, as the girls
went upstairs after dinner to prepare for the theatre.

"The Osage nation does not live in wigwams, Miss Cameron," said Wonota
quietly. "We are not blanket Indians and have not been for two
generations."

"Well, look at the clothes you wore in that show!" cried Jennie. "That
head-dress looked wild enough, I must say--and those fringed leggings
and all that."

Wonota smiled rather grimly. "The white people expect to see Indians in
their national costumes. Otherwise it would be no novelty, would it?
Why, some of the girls--Osage girls of pure blood too--at Three Rivers
Station wear garments that are quite up to date. You must not forget
that at least we have the catalogs from the city stores to choose from,
even if we do not actually get to the cities to shop."

"Printer's ink! It is a great thing," admitted Helen. "I don't suppose
there are really any wild Indians left."

The four girls and Aunt Kate were whisked in a big limousine to the
play, and Wonota enjoyed the brilliant spectacle and the music as much
as any of the white girls.

"Believe me," whispered Jennie to Ruth, "give any kind of girl a chance
to dress up and go to places like this, and see other girls all fussed
up, as your Tommy says--"

"Helen's Tommy, you mean," interposed Ruth.

"Rats!" murmured the plump girl, falling back upon Briarwood Hall slang
in her momentary disgust. "Well, anyway, Miss Fielding, what I said is
so. Wonota would like to dress like the best dressed girl in the
theatre, and wear ropes of pearls and a plume in her hat--see that one
yonder! Isn't it superb?"

"The poor birdie that lost it," murmured Ruth.

"I declare, I don't believe you half enjoy yourself thinking of the
reverse of the shield all the time," sniffed Jennie Stone. "And yet you
do manage to dress pretty good yourself."

"One does not have to be bizarre to look well and up-to-date," declared
the girl of the Red Mill. "But that has nothing to do with Wonota."

"I did get off the track, didn't I?" laughed Jennie. "Oh, well! Dress
her up, or any other foreign girl, in American fashion and she seems to
fit into the picture all right--"

"'Foreign girl' and 'American fashion'?" gasped Ruth. "As--as _you_
sometimes say, Jennie, 'how do you get that way'? Wonota is a better
American than we are. Her ancestors did not have to come over in the
_Mayflower_, with Henry Hudson, or with Sir Walter Raleigh."

"Isn't that a fact?" laughed Jennie. "I certainly am forgetting
everything I ever learned at school. And, to tell the truth," she added,
making a little face at her chum, "I feel better for it. I just
_crammed_ at Ardmore and Briarwood."

Helen heard this. She glanced scornfully over Jennie's still too plump
figure. "I should say you did," she observed. "You used to create a
famine at old Briarwood Hall, I remember. But I would not brag about it,
Heavy."

"Crammed my brain, I mean," wailed the plump girl. "Can't you let me
forget my avoirdupois at all?"

"It is like the poor," laughed Ruth. "It is always with us, Jennie. We
cannot look at you and visualize your skeleton. You are too well
upholstered."

This sort of banter did not appeal to the Indian girl. She did not, in
fact, hear much of it. All her attention was given to the play on the
stage and the brilliant audience. She had traveled considerably with
Dakota Joe's show, but she had never seen anything like the audience in
this Broadway theatre.

She went back to the Stone domicile in a sort of daze--smiling and happy
in her quiet way, but quite speechless. Even Jennie could not "get a
rise out of her," as she confessed to Helen and Ruth after they were
ready for bed and the plump girl had come in to perch on one of the
twin beds her chums occupied for the night.

"But I like this Osage flower," observed Jennie. "And I am just as
anxious as I can be to see you make a star actress out of her, Ruthie."

"It will be Mr. Hammond and the director who do that."

"I guess you'll be in it," said Helen promptly. "If it wasn't for your
story they would not be able to feature Wonota."

"Anyway," went on Jennie, "I want to go West with you, Ruth--and so does
Helen. Don't you, Nell?"

"I certainly do," agreed Ruth's good friend. "Heavy and I are going to
tag along, Ruthie, somehow. If there is a chaperone, father said I could
go."

"Not Aunt Kate!" cried Jennie. "She says she has had enough. We dragged
her down East this summer, but she will not leave Madison Avenue this
winter."

"No need of worrying about that. Mother Paisley is going with the
company. I have a part for her in my picture. She always looks out for
the girls--a better chaperone than Mr. Hammond could hire," said Ruth.

"Fine!" cried Helen. "We'll go, then."

"We will," echoed Jennie.

"I wish you'd go to bed and let me go to sleep," complained the girl of
the Red Mill. "I have a hard day's work to-morrow--I feel it."

She was not mistaken in this feeling. At eight Mr. Hammond's assistant
telephoned that the director and the company would meet Ruth and Wonota
at a certain downtown corner where several of the scenes were to be
shot. Dressing rooms in a neighboring hotel had been engaged. Ruth and
her charge hastened through their breakfast, and Mr. Stone's chauffeur
drove them down to the corner mentioned.

It was a very busy spot, especially about noon. Ruth had seen so much of
this location work done, that it did not bother her. She was only to
stand to one side and watch, anyway. But Wonota asked:

"Oh! we don't have to do this right out here in public, do we, Miss
Fielding?"

"You do," laughed her friend. "Why, the people on the street help make
the picture seem reasonable and natural. You need not be frightened."

"But, shall I have to be in that half-Indian costume Mr. Hammond told me
to wear? What will people say--or think?"

Ruth was amused. "That's the picture. You will see some of the
characters in stranger garments than those of yours before we have
finished. And, anyway, in New York you often see the most outlandish
costumes on people--Turks in their national dress, Hindoos with turbans
and robes, Japanese and Chinese women dressed in the silks and brocades
of their lands. Oh, don't worry about bead-trimmed leggings and a few
feathers. And your skirt in that costume is nowhere near as short as
those worn by three-fourths of the girls you will see."

Aside from Wonota herself, there were few of the characters of the
picture of "Brighteyes" appearing in the scenes at this point. Mr.
Hammond had obtained a police permit of course, and the traffic officers
and some other policemen in the neighborhood took an interest in the
affair.

Traffic was held back at a certain point for a few moments so that there
would not be too many people in the scene. Wonota could not be hidden.
Ruth stood in the street watching the arrangements by the director and
his assistants. Two films are always made at the same time, and the two
camera men had got into position and had measured with their tapes the
field of the picture to be taken.

Ruth had noticed an automobile stopped by the police on the other side
of the cross street. She even was aware that two men in it were not
dressed like ordinary city men. They had broad-brimmed hats on their
heads.

But she really gave the car but a momentary glance. Wonota took up her
closest attention. The Indian girl crossed and recrossed the field of
the camera until she satisfied the director that her gait and facial
expression was exactly what he wanted.

"All right!" he said through his megaphone. "Camera! Go!"

And at that very moment, and against the commanding gesture of the
policeman governing the traffic, the car Ruth had so briefly noticed
started forward, swerved into the avenue, and ran straight at Ruth as
though to run her down!



CHAPTER XI

EVADING THE TRAFFIC POLICE


Ruth had turned her back on the car and did not see it slip out of the
crowd of motor traffic and turn into the avenue. But Wonota, the Indian
girl, saw her friend's danger. She uttered a loud cry and bounded out of
the camera field just as the two camera men began to crank their
machines.

"Look out, Miss Fielding!"

The cry startled Ruth, but it did not aid her much to escape. And
perhaps the chauffeur of the car only intended to crowd by the girl of
the Red Mill and so escape from the traffic hold-up.

At Wonota's scream the director shouted for the camera men to halt. He
started himself with angry excitement after the Indian girl. She had
utterly spoiled the shot.

But on the instant he was adding his warning cry to Wonota's and to the
cries of other bystanders. Ruth, amazed, could not understand what
Wonota meant. Then the car was upon her, the mudguard knocked her down,
and her loose coat catching in some part of the car, she was dragged for
several yards before Wonota could reach her.

Over and over in the dust Ruth had been whirled. She was breathless and
bruised. She could not even cry out, the shock of the accident was so
great.

The instant the Indian girl reached the prostrate Ruth the motor-car
broke away and its driver shot the machine around the nearest corner and
out of sight.

A policeman charged after the car at top speed, but when he reached the
corner there were so many other cars in the cross street that he could
not identify the one that had caused the accident.

To Ruth, Wonota gasped: "That bad man! I knew he would do something
mean, but I thought it would be to me."

Ruth could scarcely reply. The director was at her side, as well as
other sympathetic people. She was lifted up, but she could not stand.
Something had happened to her left ankle. She could bear no weight upon
it without exquisite pain.

For the time the taking of the picture was called off. The traffic
officer allowed the stalled cars to pass on. A crowd began to assemble
about Ruth.

"Do take me into the hotel--somewhere!" she gasped. "I--I can't walk--"

One of the camera men and the director, Mr. Hooley, made a seat with
their hands, and sitting in this and with Wonota to steady her, the girl
of the Red Mill was hurried under cover, leaving the throng of
spectators on the street quite sure that the accident had been a planned
incident of the moving picture people. They evidently considered Ruth a
"stunt actress."

It was not until Ruth was alone with Wonota in a hotel room, lying on a
couch, the Indian girl stripping the shoe and stocking from the injured
limb, that Ruth asked what Wonota had meant when she first bounded
toward her, shrieking her warning of the motor-car's approach.

"What did you mean, Wonota?" asked the girl of the Red Mill. "Who was it
ran over me? I know Mr. Hooley will try to find him, but--"

"That bad, _bad_ Dakota Joe!" interrupted the Indian girl with
vehemence, her eyes flashing and the color deeping in her bronze cheeks.
"When your friend told us he was in this city, I feared."

"Why, Wonota!" cried Ruth, sitting up in surprise, "do you mean to say
that Dakota Joe Fenbrook was driving that car?"

"No. He cannot drive a car. But it was one of his men--Yes."

"I can scarcely believe it. He deliberately ran me down?"

"I saw Dakota Joe in the back of the car just as it shot down toward
you, Miss Fielding. He is a bad, bad man! He was leaning forward urging
that driver on. I know he was."

"Why, it seems terrible!" Ruth sighed. "Yes, that feels good on my
ankle, Wonota. I do not believe it is really sprained. Oh, but it hurt
at first! Wrenched, I suppose."

Jim Hooley, the director, had telephoned for Mr. Hammond, and the
producer hurried to the hotel. He insisted on bringing a surgeon with
him. But by the time of their arrival Ruth felt much easier, and after
the medical man had pronounced no real harm done to the ankle, Ruth
dressed again, insisting that a second attempt be made to shoot the
scene while the sun remained high enough.

The police had endeavored to trace the motor-car that had caused the
accident. But it seemed that nobody had noted the numbers on the
machine, or even the kind of car it was. Ruth had forbidden Wonota to
tell what she revealed to her. If it was Dakota Joe who had run her down
there was no use attempting to fasten the guilt of the incident upon him
unless they were positive and could prove his guilt.

"And you know, Wonota, you cannot be _sure_--"

"I saw him. It was for but a moment, but I _saw_ him," said the Indian
girl positively.

"Even at that, it would take corroborative testimony to convince the
court," mused Ruth.

"I do not understand paleface laws," said Wonota, shaking her head. "If
an Indian does something like that to another Indian, the injured one
can punish his enemy. And he almost always does."

"But we cannot take the law into our own hands that way."

"Why not?" asked Wonota. "Is a redman so much superior to a white man?
If the redman can punish an enemy why cannot a white man?"

"Our law does not leave it in our hands to punish," said Ruth, quietly,
though rather staggered by the Indian girl's question. "We have courts,
and judges, and methods of criminal procedure. A person who has been
injured by another cannot be the best judge of the punishment to be
meted out to the one who has harmed him."

"Why not?" demanded Wonota, promptly. "He is the one hurt. Who other
than he should deal out punishment?"

Ruth was silenced for the time being. In fact, Wonota looked upon
mundane matters from such a different angle that it was sometimes
impossible for Ruth to convince her protégé that the white man's way was
better.

However, this incident gave Ruth Fielding a warning that she did not
intend to ignore. A little later she told Mr. Hammond of the Indian
girl's suspicion that it was Fenbrook who had been the cause of Ruth's
slight injury. It was too late then to set the police on the track of
the showman, for on making private inquiry Mr. Hammond found that Dakota
Joe's show had already left Brooklyn and was _en route_ for some city in
the Middle West.

"But it seems scarcely probable, Miss Ruth," the producer said, "that
that fellow would take such a chance. And to hurt _you!_ Why, if he had
tried to injure that Indian girl, I might be convinced. She probably saw
somebody in the car with a sombrero on--"

"I noticed two men in that car with broad hats," confessed Ruth. "But I
gave them only a glance. It doesn't seem very sensible to believe that
the man would deliberately hurt me. Yet he did threaten us when he was
angry, there at the mill. No getting around that."

Mr. Hammond shrugged his shoulders and laughed. "You will begin to
believe that the making of moving pictures is a pretty perilous
business."

"It may be." She laughed, yet rather doubtfully. "I am to be on the
watch for the 'hand in the dark,' am I not? At any rate when we are hear
Dakota Joe again, I will keep a very sharp lookout."

"Yes, of course, Miss Ruth, we'll all do that," returned Mr. Hammond,
more seriously now, for he saw that Ruth was really disturbed. "Still,
whatever his intentions, I do not believe Fenbrook will have the power
to do any real harm. At any rate, keep your courage up, for we are
forewarned now, and can take care of ourselves--and of you," he added,
with a smile, as he left her.



CHAPTER XII

BOUND FOR THE NORTHWEST


Because of the accident in which Ruth might have been seriously hurt,
the company was delayed for a day in New York, Altogether the various
shots (some of them of and in one of the tallest office buildings on
Broadway) occupied more than a week--more time than Mr. Hammond wished
to give to the work in the East.

Nevertheless, Ruth's finished script, as handled deftly by the
continuity writer, promised so well that the producer was willing to
make a special production of it. The money--and time--cost were
important factors in the making of the picture; but the selection of the
cast was not to be overlooked. Jim Hooley had chosen the few acting in
the Eastern scenes with Wonota, including the hero, whom, to tell the
truth, the Indian girl considered a rather wonderful person because she
saw him in a dress suit"

"Yes, it is true! No Indian could look so heroic a figure," she
whispered to Ruth. "He looks like--like a nobleman. I have read about
noblemen in the book of an author named Scott--Sir Walter Scott.
Noblemen must look like Mr. Albert Grand."

"And to me he looks like a head waiter," said Ruth, when laughingly
relating this to Helen and Jennie.

"Don't let Mr. Grand hear you say that," warned Helen. "They tell me
that he refuses to appear in any picture where at least once he does not
walk into the scene in a dress suit. He claims his clientele demand
it--he looks so perfectly splendid in the 'soup and fish.'"

"Then why laugh at Wonota?" demanded Jennie Stone. "She is no more
impressed by his surface qualities than are the movie fans who like Mr.
Grand."

"Well, it is a great game," laughed Ruth. "Some of the movie stars have
more laughable eccentricities or idiosyncracies than that. I wonder what
our Wonota will develop if she becomes a star?"

The development of the Indian girl was promising so far. She had feeling
for her part, if it was at first rather difficult for her to express in
her features those emotions which, as an Indian, she had considered it
proper to hide. She did just enough of this to make her feelings show
on the screen, yet without being unnatural in the part of Brighteyes,
the Indian maid.

Mr. Hammond was inclined to believe that "Brighteyes" would be a big
feature picture. The director was enthusiastic about it as well. And
even the camera man (than whom can be imagined no more case-hardened
critic of pictures) expressed his belief that it would be a "knockout."

Mr. Hammond arranged for a special car for the cross-continent run, and
he took his own family along, as the weather prophesied for the ensuing
few weeks was favorable to out-of-door work and living. The special car
made it possible for Ruth and her two friends, Helen and Jennie, as well
as the Osage Indian girl, to be very comfortably placed during the
journey.

Ruth had traveled before this--north, south, east and west--and there
was scarcely anything novel in train riding for her. But a journey would
never be dull with Jennie Stone and Helen Cameron as companions!

They ruined completely the morale of the car service. The colored porter
could scarcely shine the other passengers' shoes he was kept so much at
the beck and call of the two wealthy girls, who tipped lavishly. The
Pullman conductor was cornered on every possible occasion and led into
discourse entirely foreign to his duties. Even the "candy butcher" was
waylaid and made to serve the ends of two girls who had perfectly idle
hands and--so Ruth declared--quite as idle brains.

"Well, goodness!" remarked Helen, "we must occupy our minds and time in
some way. You, Ruthie, are confined to that story of yours about
twenty-five hours out of the twenty-four. Even Wonota has thought only
for her tiresome beadwork when she is not studying her part with Mr.
Hooley and you. I know we'll have fun when we get to the Hubbell Ranch
where Mr. Hammond says your picture is to be filmed. I do just dote on
cowboys and the fuzzy little ponies they ride."

"And the dear cows!" drawled Jennie. "Do you remember that maniacal
creature that attacked our motor-car that time we went to Silver Ranch,
years and years and years ago? You know, back in the Paleozoic Age!"

"Quite so," agreed Helen. "I have a photographic remembrance of that
creature--ugh! And how he burst our tires!"

_"He,_ forsooth! What a way to speak of a cow!"

"It wasn't a cow; it was a steer," declared Helen confidently.

Ruth retired from the observation platform where her chums were
ensconced, allowing them to argue the matter to a finish. It was true
that the girl of the Red Mill was very busy most of her waking hours on
the train. They all took a recess at Chicago, however, and it was there
a second incident occurred that showed Dakota Joe Fenbrook had not
forgotten his threat to "get even" with Ruth Fielding and the moving
picture producer with whom she was associated.

The special car was sidetracked just outside of Chicago and the whole
party motored into the city in various automobiles and on various
errands. The Hammonds had relatives to visit. Ruth and her three girl
companions had telegraphed ahead for reservations at one of the big
hotels, and they proposed to spend the two days and nights Mr. Hammond
had arranged for in seeing the sights and attending two particular
theatrical performances.

"And I declare!" cried Helen, as they rolled on through one of the
suburbs of the city, "there is one of the sights, sure enough. See that
billboard, girls?"

"Oh!" cried Wonota, who possessed quite as sharp eyes as anybody in the
party.

"We can't escape that man," sighed Jennie, as she read in towering
letters the announcement of "Dakota Joe's Wild West and Frontier
Round-Up."

"I am sorry the show is here in Chicago," added Ruth with serious mien.
"I am still limping. Next time that awful man will manage to lame me
completely."

"You ought to have a guard. Tell the police--do!" exclaimed Jennie
Stone.

"Tell the police _what?"_ demanded Ruth, with scorn. "We can't prove
anything."

"I know it was Joe in that car that ran you down, Miss Fielding,"
declared Wonota, with anxiety.

"Yes. But nobody else saw him--to recognize him, I mean. We cannot base
a complaint upon such little foundation. Nor would it be well, perhaps,
to get Dakota Joe into the courts. He is a very vindictive man--he must
be----"

"He is very bad man!" repeated Wonota vehemently.

"Yes. That is just it. Why stir up his passions to a greater degree,
then?"

"Of course, Ruthie would want to turn 'the other cheek,'" scoffed
Jennie.

"I am not going around with a chip on my shoulder, looking for somebody
to knock it off," laughed the girl of the Red Mill. "I just want Joe to
leave us alone--that's all."

Wonota shook her head and seemed unconvinced of the wisdom of this. She
was not a pacifist. She knew, too, the heart of the showman, and perhaps
she feared him more than she was willing to tell her new friends.

The four girls made their headquarters at the hotel, and then set forth
at once to shop and to look. As the hours of that first day passed
Wonota was vastly excited over the new sights. For once she lost that
stoic calmness which was her racial trait. The big stores and the tall
buildings here in the mid-western city seemed to impress her even more
than had those in New York.

There was reason for that. She was, while in New York, so much taken up
with the part she was playing in "Brighteyes" that she could think of
little else. She saw many things in the stores she wished to buy. Ruth
had advanced Wonota some money on her contract with the Alectrion Film
Corporation. But when it came right down to the point of buying the
things that girls like and long for--little trinkets and articles of
adornment--the Indian girl hesitated.

"Buy it if it pleases you," Ruth said, rather wondering at the firmness
with which Wonota drew back from selecting and paying for something that
cost less than a dollar.

"No, Miss Fielding. Wonota does not need that. Chief Totantora may be
lost to me forever. I should not adorn myself, or think of
self-adornment. No! I will save my money until I can go to that Europe
where the great chief is held a prisoner."

The girls--Helen and Jennie--were both for buying presents for the
Indian girl, as she would not use her own money. But Ruth would not
allow them to purchase other than the simplest souveniers.

"That would spoil it all. Let her deny herself in such a cause--it will
not hurt her," the girl of the Red Mill said sensibly. "She has an
object in life and should be encouraged to follow out her plan for
helping Chief Totantora."

"Maybe he is not alive now," said Helen, thoughtfully.

"I would not suggest that," Ruth hastened to rejoin. "As long as she can
hope, the better for Wonota. And I should not want her to find out that
Totantora has died in captivity, before my picture is finished."

"Whoo!" breathed Jennie. "You sound sort of selfish, Ruthie Fielding."

"For her sake as well as for the sake of the picture," returned the
other practically. "I tell you Wonota has got it in her to be a valuable
asset to the movies. But I hope nothing will happen to make her fall
down on this first piece of work. Like Mr. Hammond, I hope that she will
develop into an Indian star of the very first magnitude."



CHAPTER XIII

DAKOTA JOE MAKES A DEMAND


At first Ruth and her friends did not worry about the presence of
Fenbrook and his Wild West Show in Chicago.

"Just riding past the billboard of the show isn't going to hurt us,"
chuckled Jennie Stone.

It was a fact soon proved, however, that the Westerner had made it his
business in some way to keep track of the movements of Wonota and her
friends. He made this known to them in a most unexpected way, Mr.
Hammond called Ruth up at her hotel.

"I must warn you, Miss Fielding" he said, "that I had a very unpleasant
meeting with that man, Fenbrook, only an hour ago. He actually had the
effrontery to look me up here in Wabash Avenue where I am staying with
my family, and practically demanded that I help finance his miserable
show because I had taken Wonota from him. He claims now she was his
chief attraction, though he would not admit that she was worth a living
wage when he had her under contract He was so excited and threatening
that I called an officer and had him put out of the house."

"Oh!" murmured Ruth. "Then he is in jail? He will not trouble us, then?"

"He is not in jail. I made no complaint. Just warned him to keep away
from here. But he said something about finding Wonota and making
trouble."

"I am sure, Mr. Hammond," said Ruth with no little anxiety, "that we had
better leave Chicago, then, as soon as possible. And if he comes here to
the hotel I will try to have him arrested and kept by the police. I am
afraid of him.

"I do not believe he will do anything very desperate--"

"I am not so sure," Ruth interrupted. "Wonota is confident it was he who
ran me down in New York. I am afraid of him," she repeated.

"Well, I will arrange for the shortening of our stay here. Mr. Hooley
will 'phone you the time we will leave--probably to-morrow morning very
early."

Ruth said nothing to the other three girls--why trouble them with a mere
possibility?--and they went to the theatre that evening and enjoyed the
play immensely. But getting out of the taxicab at the hotel door near
midnight, Wonota, who was the first to step out, suddenly crowded back
into Ruth Fielding's arms as the latter attempted to follow her to the
sidewalk.

"What is the matter, Wonota?" the girl of the Red Mill asked.

"There he is!" murmured the Indian girl, drawing herself up.

"There who is?" was Ruth's demand. Then she saw the object of Wonota's
anxiety, Dakota Joe stood under the portico of the hotel entrance. "He's
waiting for us!" hissed Ruth. "Stop, girls! Don't get out."

Helen and Jennie, over the heads of the others, saw the man. Jennie was
irrepressible of course.

"What do you expect us to do? Ride around all night in this taxi?"

"Call a policeman!" cried Helen, under her breath.

"Come back in here, Wonota," commanded Ruth, making up her mind with her
usual assurance. "Say nothing, girls." Then to the driver Ruth observed:
"Isn't there a side entrance to this hotel?"

"Yes, ma'am. Round on the other street."

"Take us around to that door. We see somebody waiting here whom we do
not wish to speak with."

"All right, ma'am," agreed the taxicab driver.

In two minutes they were whisked around to the other door, and entered
the hotel thereby. As they passed through the lobby to the elevators
one of the clerks came to Ruth.

"A man has been asking for you, Miss Fielding" he said. "He--he seems a
peculiar individual--"

Ruth described Dakota Joe Fenbrook and the clerk admitted that he was
the man. "A rather rude person," he said.

"So rude that we do not wish to see him," Ruth told the clerk. "Please
keep him away from us. He is annoying, and if he attempts to interfere
with me, I will call a policeman."

"Oh, we could allow nothing like that," the clerk hastened to say. "No
disturbance would be countenanced by the management of the hotel," and
he shook his head. "We will keep him away from you, Miss Fielding."

"Thank you," said Ruth, and followed her friends into the elevator. She
felt that they were free of Dakota Joe until morning at least She
assured Wonota that she need not worry.

"That bad man may hurt you. I am not afraid," declared the Indian girl.
"If I only had him out on the Osage Reservation, I would know what to do
to with him."

But she did not explain what treatment she would accord Dokota Joe if
she were at home.

It was only seven o'clock when Jim Hooley called on the telephone and
told Ruth that, following instructions from Mr. Hammond, he had
gathered the company together and that the special car standing in the
railroad yard outside Chicago would be picked up by the nine-thirty
western bound Continental. The girls had scarcely time to dress and
drive to the point of departure. There was some "scrabbling," as Jennie
expressed it, to dress, get their possessions together, and get away
from the hotel.

"Didn't see Dakota Joe anywhere about, did you?" Helen asked, as their
taxi-cab-left the hotel entrance.

"For goodness' sake! he would not have hung about the hotel all night,
would he?" demanded Jennie.

"Mr. Hammond seems to be afraid of the man" pursued Helen. "Or we would
not be running away like this."

Ruth smiled. "I guess," she said, "that Mr. Hammond is hurrying us on
for a different reason. You must remember that he has this company on
salary and that the longer we delay on the way to the Hubbell Ranch the
more money it is costing him while the company is idle."

It was proved, however, that the picture producer had a good reason for
wishing to get out of Dakota Joe's neighborhood. When the four girls in
the taxicab rolled up to the gate of the railroad yard and got out with
their bags, Dakota Joe himself popped out of hiding. With him a
broad-hatted man in a blue suit.

"Hey!" ejaculated the showman, standing directly in Ruth's path. "I got
you now where I want you. That Hammond man won't help me, and I told him
the trouble I'm in jest because he got that Injun gal away from me. I
see her! That's the gal--"

"What do you want of me, Mr. Fenbrook?" demanded Ruth, bravely, and
gesturing Wonota to remain behind her. "I have no idea why you should
hound me in this way."

"I ain't houndin' you."

"I should like to know what you call it then!" the girl of the Red Mill
demanded indignantly.

She was quick to grasp the chance of engaging Fenbrook in an argument
that would enable Wonota and the two other girls to slip out of the
other door of the taxicab and reach the yard gate. She flashed a look
over her shoulder that Helen Cameron understood. She and Jennie and
Wonota alighted from the other side of the cab.

"I got an officer here," stammered Dakota Joe. "He's a marshal. That
Injun gal's got to be taken before the United States District Court.
She's got to show cause why she shouldn't come back to my show and fill
out the time of her contract."

"She finished her contract with you, and you know it, Fenbrook,"
declared Ruth, turning to pay the driver of the cab.

"I say she didn't!" cried Dakota Joe. "Officer! You serve that
warrant--Hey! where's that Wonota gone to?"

The Indian girl and Ruth's friends had disappeared. Dakota Joe lunged
for the gate. But since the beginning of the war this particular
railroad yard had been closed to the public. A man stood at the gate who
barred the entrance of the showman.

"You don't come in here, brother," said the railroad man. "Not unless
you've got a pass or a permit."

"Hey!" shouted Dakota Joe, calling the marshal. "Show this guy your
warrant."

"Don't show me nothin'," rejoined the railroad employee. He let Ruth
slip through and whispered: "Your party's aboard your car. There's a
switcher coupled on. She'll scoot you all down the yard to the main
line. Get aboard."

Ruth slipped through the gate, while the guard stood in a position to
prevent the two men from approaching it. The girl heard the gate close
behind her.

It was evident that Mr. Hammond had been apprised of Dakota Joe's
attempt to bring the Indian girl into court. Of course, the judge would
deny his appeal; but a court session would delay the party's journey
westward.

Ruth saw the other girls ahead of her, and she ran to the car. Mr.
Hammond himself was on the platform to welcome them.

"That fellow is a most awful nuisance. I had to make an arrangement with
the railroad company to get us out of here at once. Luckily I have a
friend high up among the officials of the company. Come aboard, Miss
Ruth. Everybody else is here and we are about to start."



CHAPTER XIV

THE HUBBELL RANCH


"You see, Miss Ruth," Mr. Hammond told the girl of the Red Mill as the
special car rolled out of the railroad yard, "this Dakota Joe has become
a very annoying individual. We had to fairly run away from him."

"I do not understand," Ruth said. "I think he should be shown his
place--and that place I believe is the police station."

"It would be rather difficult to get him into that for any length of
time. And in any case," and the picture producer smiled, it would cost
more than it would be worth. He really has done nothing for which he can
be punished--"

"I don't know. He might have had me killed that time his auto ran me
down," interrupted Ruth, indignantly.

"But the trouble is, we cannot prove that," Mr. Hammond hastened to
repeat. "I will see that you are fully protected from him hereafter."

Mr. Hammond did not realize what a large undertaking that was to be.
But he meant it at the time.

"The man is in trouble--no doubt of it," went on the producer
reflectively. "He has had a bad season, and his winter prospects are not
bright. I gave him an hour of my time yesterday before I advised you
that we would better get away from Chicago."

"But what does he expect of you, Mr. Hammond?" asked Ruth in surprise.

"He claims we are the cause of his unhappy business difficulties. His
show in on the verge of disintegrating. He wanted me to back him with
several thousand dollars. Of course, that is impossible."

"Why!" cried Ruth, "I would not risk a cent with such a man."

"I suppose not. And I felt no urge to comply with his request. He was
really so rough about it, and became so ugly, that I had to have him
shown out of the house."

"Goodness! I am glad we are going far away from him."

"Yes, he is not a nice neighbor," agreed Mr. Hammond. "I hope Wonota
will repay us for all the bother we have had with Dakota Joe."

"It seems too bad. Of course, it is not Wonota's fault," said Ruth. "But
if we had not come across her--if I had not met her, I mean--you would
not have been annoyed in this way, Mr. Hammond."

"Take it the other way around, Miss Ruth," returned her friend, with a
quizzical smile. "We should be very glad that you did meet Wonota.
Considering what that mad bull would have done to you if she had not
swerved him by a rifle shot, a little bother like this is a small price
to pay."

"Oh--well!"

"In addition," said Mr. Hammond briskly, "look what we may make out of
the Indian girl. She may coin us a mint of money, Ruth Fielding."

"Perhaps," smiled Ruth.

But she was not so eager for money. The thing that fascinated her
imagination was the possibility that they might make of Wonota, the
Osage maiden, a great and famous movie star. Ruth desired very much to
have a part in that work.

She knew, because Mr. Hammond had told her, as well as Wonota herself,
that the Osage Indians as a tribe were the wealthiest people under the
guardianship of the American Government. Their oil leases were fast
bringing the tribe a great fortune. But Wonota, being under age, had no
share in this wealth. At this time the income of the tribe was between
four and five thousand dollars a day--and the tribe was not large.

"But Wonota can have none of that," explained the Indian maid. "It is
apportioned to the families, and Totantora, the head of my family, is
somewhere in that Europe where the war is. I can get no share of the
money. It is not allowed."

So, with the incentive of getting money for her search, Wonota was
desirous of pleasing her white friends in every particular. Besides,
ambition had budded in the girl's heart. She wanted to be a screen
actress.

"If your 'Brighteyes,' Miss Fielding, is ever shown at Three Rivers
Station or Pawhuska, where the Agency is, I know every member of the
tribe will go to see the film. When some of the young men of our tribe
acted in a round-up picture when I was a little girl, even the old men
and great-grandmothers traveled a hundred miles to see the film run off.
It was like an exodus, for some of them were two days and nights on the
way"

"The Osage Indians are not behind the times, then?" laughed Ruth. "They
are movie fans?"

"They realize that their own day has departed. The buffalo and elk have
gone. Even the prairie chickens are seen but seldom. Almost no game is
found upon our plains, and not much back in the hills. Many of our young
men till the soil. Some have been to the Carlisle School and have taken
up professions or are teachers. The Osage people are no longer warlike.
But some of our young men volunteered for this white man's war."

"I know that," sad Ruth warmly. "I saw some of them over there in
France--at least, some Indian volunteers. Captain Cameron worked in the
Intelligence Service with some of them. That is the spy service, you
know. The Indians were just as good scouts in France and Belgium as they
were on their own plains."

"We are always the same. It is only white men who change," declared
Wonota with confidence. "The redman is never two-faced or two-tongued."

"Well," grumbled Jennie, afterward, "what answer was there to make to
that? She has her own opinion of Lo, the poor Indian, and it would be
impossible to shake it."

"Who wants to shake it?" demanded Helen. "Maybe she is right, at that!"

The thing about Wonota that "gave the fidgets" to Jennie and Helen was
the fact that she could sit for mile after mile, while the train rocked
over the rails, beading moccasins and other wearing apparel, and with
scarcely a glance out of the car window. Towns, villages, rivers,
plains, woods and hills, swept by in green and brown panorama, and
seemed to interest Wonota not at all. It was only when the train, after
they changed at Denver, began to climb into the Rockies that the Indian
maid grew interested.

The Osage Indians had always been a plains' tribe. The rugged and
white-capped heights interested Wonota because they were strange to
her. Here, too, were primeval forests visible from the windows of the
car. Hemlock and spruce in black masses clothed the mountainsides, while
bare-limbed groves of other wood filled the valleys and the sweeps of
the hills.

Years before Ruth and her two chums had been through this country in
going to "Silver Ranch," but the charm of its mysterious gorges, its
tottering cliffs, its deep canyons where the dashing waters flowed, and
the generally rugged aspect of all nature, did not fail now to awe them.
Wonota was not alone in gazing, enthralled, at the landscape which was
here revealed.

Two days of this journey amid the mountains, and the train slowed down
at Clearwater, where the special car was sidetracked. Although the
station was some distance from the "location" Mr. Hammond's
representative had selected for the taking of the outdoor pictures, the
company was to use the car as its headquarters. There were several
automobiles and a herd of riding ponies at hand for the use of the
company. Here, too, Mr. Hammond and his companions were met by the
remainder of the performers selected to play parts in "Brighteyes."

There were about twenty riders--cowpunchers and the like; "stunt
riders," for the most part. In addition there were more than a score of
Indians--some pure blood like Wonota, but many of them halfbreeds, and
all used to the moving picture work, down to the very toddlers clinging
to their mothers' blankets. The Osage princess was inclined to look
scornfully at this hybrid crew at first. Finally, however, she found
them to be very decent sort of folk, although none of them were of her
tribe.

Ruth and Helen and Jennie met several riders who had worked for Mr.
Hammond when he had made Ruth's former Western picture which is
described in "Ruth Fielding in the Saddle," and the gallant Westerners
were ready to devote themselves to the entertainment of the girls from
the East.

There was only one day of planning and making ready for the picture, in
which Helen and Jennie could be "beaued" about by the cow-punchers. Ruth
was engaged with Mr. Hammond, Jim Hooley, and the camera man and their
assistants. Everyone was called for work on the ensuing morning and the
automobiles and the cavalcade of pony-riders started for the Hubbell
Ranch.

Wonota rode in costume and upon a pony that was quite the equal of her
own West Wind. This pet she had shipped from the Red Mill to her home in
Oklahoma before going to New York. The principal characters had made up
at the car and went out in costume, too, They had to travel about ten
miles to the first location.

The Hubbell Ranch grazed some steers; but It was a horse ranch in
particular. The country was rugged and offered not very good pasturage
for cattle. But the stockman, Arad Hubbell, was one of the largest
shippers of horses and mules in the state.

It was because of the many half-broken horses and mules to be had on the
ranch that Mr. Hammond had decided to make "Brighteyes" here. The first
scenes of the prologue--including the Indian scare--were to be taken in
the open country near the ranch buildings. Naturally the buildings were
not included in any of the pictures.

A train of ten emigrant wagons, drawn by mules, made an imposing showing
as it followed the dusty cattle trail. The train wound in and out of
coulees, through romantic-looking ravines, and finally out upon the flat
grass-country where the Indians came first into view of the supposedly
frightened pilgrims.

Helen and Jennie, as well as Ruth herself, in the gingham and sunbonnets
of the far West of that earlier day, added to the crowd of emigrants
riding in the wagons. When the Indians were supposed to appear the
excitement of the players was very realistic indeed, and this included
the mules! The stock was all fresh, and the excitement of the human
performers spread to it. The wagons raced over the rough trail in a way
that shook up severely the girls riding in them.

"Oh--oo!" squealed Jennie Stone, clinging to Ruth and Helen. "What _are_
they trying to do? I'll be one m-a-ass of bruises!"

"Stop, William!" commanded Ruth, trying to make the driver of their
wagon hear her. "This is too--too realistic."

The man did not seem to hear her at all. Ruth scrambled up and staggered
toward the front, although Mr. Hooley had instructed the girls to remain
at the rear of the wagons so that they could be seen from the place
where the cameras were stationed.

"Stop!" cried Ruth again. "You will tip us over--or something."

There was good reason why William did not obey. His six mules had broken
away from his control entirely.

A man must be a master driver to hold the reins over three span of
mules; and William was as good as any man in the outfit. But as he got
his team into a gallop the leaders took fright at the charging Indians
on pony-back, and tried to leave the trail.

William was alone on the driver's seat. He put all his strength into an
attempt to drag the leaders back into the trail and--the rein broke!

Under ordinary circumstances this accident would not have been of much
moment. But to have pulled the other mules around, and so throw the
runaways, would have spoiled the picture. William was too old a movie
worker to do that.

When Ruth stumbled to the front of the swaying wagon and seized his
shoulder he cast rather an embarrassed glance back at her.

"Stop them! Stop!" the girl commanded.

"I'd like mighty well to do it, Miss Fielding," said William, wagging
his head, "but these dratted mules have got their heads
and--they--ain't---no notion o' stoppin' this side of the ranch
corrals."

Ruth understood him. She stared straight ahead with a gaze that became
almost stony. This leading wagon was heading for the break of a ravine
into which the trail plunged at a sharp angle. If the mules were swerved
at the curve the heavy wagon would surely overturn.

In twenty seconds the catastrophe would happen!



CHAPTER XV

PURSUING DANGER


When a mule is once going, it is just as stubborn about stopping as it
is about being started if it feels balky. The leading span attached to
the covered wagon in which Ruth and her two chums, Helen Cameron and
Jennie Stone, rode had now communicated their own fright to the four
other animals. All six were utterly unmanageable.

"Do tell him to stop, Ruth!" shrieked Jennie Stone from the rear of the
wagon.

The next moment she shot into the air as the wheels on one side bounced
over an outcropping boulder. She came down clawing at Helen to save
herself from flying out of the end of the wagon.

"Oh! This is too much!" shouted Helen, quite as frightened as her
companion. "I mean to get out! Don't a-a-ask me to--to act in moving
pictures again. I never will!"

"Talk about rough stuff!" groaned Jennie. "This is the limit."

Neither of them realized the danger that threatened. Of the three girls
only Ruth knew what was just ahead. The maddened mules were dragging the
emigrant wagon for a pitch into the ravine that boded nothing less than
disaster for all.

In the band of Indians riding for the string of covered wagons Wonota
had been numbered. She could ride a barebacked pony as well as any buck
in the party. She had removed her skirt and rode in the guise of a young
brave. The pinto pony she bestrode was speedy, and the Osage maid
managed him perfectly.

Long before the train of wagons and the pursuing band of Indians got
into the focus of the cameras, Wonota, as well as her companions, saw
that the six mules drawing the head wagon were out of control. The dash
of the frightened animals added considerable to the realism of the
picture, as they swept past Jim Hooley and his camera men; but the
director was quite aware that disaster threatened William's outfit.

"Crank it up! Crank it!" he commanded the camera men. "It looks as if we
were going to get something bigger than we expected."

Mr. Hammond stood behind him. He saw the three white girls in the rear of
the wagon. It was he who shouted:

"That runaway must be stopped! It's Miss Fielding and her friends in
that wagon. Stop them!"

"Great Scott, Boss! how you going to stop those mules?" Jim Hooley
demanded.

But Wonota did not ask anybody as to the method of stopping the runaway.
She was perfectly fearless--of either horses or mules. She lashed her
pinto ahead of the rest of the Indian band, cut across a curve of the
trail, and bore down on the runaway wagon.

"That confounded girl is spoiling the shot!" yelled Hooley.

"Never mind! Never mind!" returned Mr. Hammond. "She is going to do
something. There!"

And Wonota certainly did do something. Aiming her pinto across the noses
of the lead-mules, she swerved them off the trail before they reached
that sharp turn at the break of the rough hill. The broken rein made it
impossible for the driver to swerve the leaders that way; but Wonota
turned the trick.

William stood up, despite the bounding wagon, his foot on the brake,
yanking with all his might at the jaws of the other four mules. All six
swung in a wide circle. But William admitted that it was the Indian girl
who started the crazed mules into this path.

The wheels dipped and bounced, threatening each moment to capsize the
wagon. But the catastrophe did not occur. The other Indians rode down
upon the head of the string of wagons madly, with excited whoops. For
once the whole crowd forgot that they were making a picture.

And that very forgetfulness on the part of the actors made the picture a
great success The finish was not quite as Ruth had written the story, or
as Hooley had planned to take it. But it was better!

"It's a peach! It's a peach! The shot was perfect!" the director cried,
smiting Mr. Hammond on the back in his excitement. "What do you know
about that, Boss? Can't we let her stand as the camera has it?"

"I believe it is a good shot," agreed Mr. Hammond. "We'll try it out
to-night in the car." One end of the special car was arranged as a
projection room. "If the Indians did not hide the wagon too much, that
dash of the girl was certainly spectacular."

"It was a peach," again declared the director. "And nobody will ever see
that she is a girl instead of a man. We got one good shot, here, Mr.
Hammond, whether anything else comes out right or not."

The girls who had taken the parts of emigrant women in the runaway wagon
were not quite so enthusiastic over the success of the event, not even
when the director sent his congratulations to them. All three were
determined that if a "repeat" was demanded, they would refuse to play
the parts again.

"I don't want to ride in anything like that wagon again," declared Ruth.
"It was awful."

"Enough is enough," agreed Helen. "Another moment, and we would have
been out on our heads."

"I'm black and blue--or will be--from collar to shoes. _What_ a jouncing
we did get! Girls, do you suppose that fellow with the shaggy ears did
it on purpose?"

"Whom do you mean--William or one of the mules?" asked Helen.

"I am sure William was helpless," said Ruth. "He was just as much scared
as we were. But Wonota was just splendid!"

"I am willing to pass her a vote of thanks," groaned Jennie. "But we
can't expect her to be always on hand to save us from disaster. You
don't catch me in any such jam again."

"Oh, nothing like this is likely to happen to us again," Ruth said.
"We're just as safe taking this picture as we would be at home--at the
Red Mill, for instance."

"I don't know about that," grumbled Helen. "I feel that more trouble is
hanging over us. I feel it in my bones."

"You'd better get a new set of bones," said Ruth cheerfully. "Yours seem
to be worse, even, than poor Aunt Alvira's."

"Nell believes that life is just one thing after another," chuckled
Jennie Stone. "Having struck a streak of bad luck, it _must_ keep up."

"You wait and see," proclaimed Helen Cameron, decisively nodding her
head.

"That's the easiest thing in the world to do--_wait_," gibed Ruth.

"No, it isn't, either. It's the hardest thing to do," declared Jennie,
and Ruth thought she could detect a shade of sadness in the light tone
the plump girl adopted. "And especially when--as Nell predicts--we are
waiting for some awful disaster. Huh--" and the girl shuddered as
realistically as perfect health and unshaken nerves and good nature
would permit--"are we to pass our lives under the shadow of impending
peril?"

It did seem, however, as though Helen had come under the mantle of some
seeress of old. Jennie flatly declared that "Nell must be a descendant
of the Witch of Endor."

The company managed to make several scenes that day without further
disaster. Although in taking a close-up of the charging Indian chief
one of the camera men was knocked down by the rearing pony the chief
rode, and a perfectly good two hundred dollar camera was smashed beyond
hope of repair.

"It's begun," said Helen, ruefully. "You see!"

"If you have brought a hoodoo into this outfit, woe be it to you!" cried
Ruth.

"It is not me," proclaimed her chum. "But I tell you _something_ is
going to happen."

They worked so late that it was night before the company took the trail
for Clearwater Station. There was no moon, and the stars were veiled by
a haze that perhaps foreboded a storm.

This coming storm probably was what caused the excitement in a horse
herd that they passed when half way to the railroad line. Or it might
have been because the motor-cars, of which there were four, were strange
to the half-wild horses that the bunch became frightened.

"There's something doing with them critters, boys!" William, who was
riding ahead, called back to the other pony riders, who were rear guard
to the automobiles. "Keep yer eyes peeled!"

His advice was scarcely necessary. The thunder of horse-hoofs on the
turf was not to be mistaken. Through the darkness the stampeding animals
swept down upon the party.

"Git, you fellers!" yelled another rider. "And keep a-goin'! Jest split
the wind for the station!"

The horsemen swept past the jouncing motor-cars. Some of the women in
the cars screamed. Helen cried:

"What did I tell you!"

"Don't--_dare_--tell us anything more!" jerked out Jennie.

Through the murk the girls saw the heads and flaunted manes of the
coming horses. Just what harm they might do to the motor-cars, which
could not be driven rapidly on this rough trail, Ruth and her two chums
did not know. But the threat of the wild ponies' approach was not to be
ignored.



CHAPTER XVI

NEWS AND A THREAT


A stampede of mad cattle is like the charge of a blind and insane
monster. River, nor ravine, nor any other obstruction can halt the mad
rush of the horned beasts. They pile right into it, and only if it is
too steep or too high do they split and go around.

A stampede of horses is different in that the equine brain appreciates
danger more clearly than that of the sullen steer. Behind a cattle
stampede is often left an aftermath of dead and crippled beasts. But
horses are more canny. A wild horse seldom breaks a leg or suffers other
injury. It is not often that the picked skeleton of a horse is found in
the hills.

This herd belonging to the Hubbell ranch charged through the night
directly across the trail along which the moving picture company was
riding. Those on horseback could probably escape; but the motor-cars
could not be driven very rapidly over the rough road.

The girls screamed as the cars bumped and jounced. Out of the darkness
appeared the up-reared heads and tossing manes of the ponies. There were
possibly three hundred in the herd, and they ran _en masse,_ snorting
and neighing, mad with that fear of the unknown which is always at the
root of every stampede.

The automobile in which Ruth Fielding and her two friends, Helen and
Jennie, were seated was the last of the string. It seemed as though it
could not possibly escape the stampede of half-wild ponies, even if the
other cars did.

"Get down in the car, girls!" shouted Ruth, suiting her action to her
word. "Don't try to jump or stand up. Stoop!"

There was good reason for her command. The plunging horses seemed almost
upon the car. Indeed one leader--a big black stallion,--snorting and
blowing, jumped over the rear of the car, clearing it completely, and
bounded away upon the other side of the trail.

He was ahead of the main stampede, however. All that found the motor-car
in the path could not perform his feat. Some would be sure to plunge
into the car where Ruth and Helen and Jennie crouched.

Suddenly there rode into view, coming from the head of the string of
cars, a wild rider, plying whip and heel to maddened pinto pony.

"Wonota! Go back! You'll be killed!" shrieked Ruth. And then she added:
"The picture will be ruined if you are hurt."

Even had the Indian girl heard Ruth's cry she would have given it small
attention. Wonota was less fearful of the charging ponies than were the
punchers and professional riders working for Mr. Hammond.

At least, she was the first to visualize the danger threatening the
girls in the motor-car, and she did not wait to be told what to do. Up
ahead the men were shouting and telling each other that Miss Fielding
was in danger. But Wonota went at the charging horses without question.

She forced her snorting pinto directly between the motor-car and the
stampede. She lashed the foremost horses across their faces with her
quirt. She wheeled her mount and kept on beside the motor-car as its
driver tried to speed up along the trail.

The mad herd seemed intent on keeping with the motor-train. Wonota gave
the pinto his head and lent her entire attention to striking at the
first horses in the stampede. Her quirt brought squeals of pain from
more than one of the charging animals.

She fell in behind the car at last, and the scattering members of the
stampede swept by. Back charged several of the pony riders, but too
late to give any aid. The chauffeur of Ruth's car slackened his
dangerous pace and yelled:

"It's all over, you fellers! We might have been trod into the ground for
all of you. It takes this Injun gal to turn the trick. I take off my hat
to Wonota."

"I guess we all take off our hats to her!" cried Helen, sitting up
again. "She saved us--that is what she did!"

"Good girl, Wonota!" Ruth exclaimed, as the snorting pinto brought its
rider up beside the motor-car again.

"It was little to do," the Indian girl responded modestly. "After all
you have done for me, Miss Fielding. And I am not afraid of horses."

"Them horses was something to be afraid of--believe me!" ejaculated one
of the men. "The gal's a peach of a rider at that."

Here Helen suddenly demanded to know where Jennie was.

"I do believe she's burrowed right through the bottom of this tonneau!"

"Haven't either!" came in the muffled voice of the fleshy girl, and she
began to rise up from under enveloping robes. "Take your foot off my
arm, Nell. You're trampling me awfully. I thought it was one of those
dreadful horses!"

"Well--I--like--that!" gasped Helen.

"I didn't," Jennie groaned, finally coming to the surface--like a
porpoise, Ruth gigglingly suggested, to breathe! "I was sure one of
those awful creatures was stamping on me. If I haven't suffered _this_
day! Such spots as were not already black and blue, are now properly
bruised. I shall be a sight."

"Poor Heavy!" said Ruth. "You always have the hard part. But, thank
goodness, we escaped in safety!"

"Do let's go to a hotel somewhere and stay a week to recuperate," begged
the fleshy girl, as they rode on toward the railroad town. "One day of
movie making calls for a week of rest--believe me!"

"You and Helen can remain at the car--"

"Not me!" cried Helen Cameron. "I do not wish to be in the picture
again, but I want to see it made."

After they arrived at the special car, where a piping hot supper was
ready for them, the girls forgot the shock of their adventure. Jennie,
however, groaned whenever she moved.

"'Tis too bad that fat girl got so bunged up," observed one of the
punchers to Helen Cameron. "I see she's a-sufferin'."

"Miss Stone's avoirdupois is forever making her trouble," laughed Helen,
rather wickedly.

"Huh?" demanded the man. "Alfy Dupoy? Who's that? Her feller?"

"Oh, dear me, no!" gasped Helen. "_His_ name is Henri Marchand. I shall
have to tell her that."

"Needn't mind," returned the man. "I can't be blamed for
misunderstanding half what you Easterners say. You got me locoed right
from the start."

The joke had to be told when the three friends retired that night, and
it was perhaps fortunate that Jennie Stone possessed an equable
disposition.

"I am the butt of everybody's joke," she said, complacently. "That is
what makes me so popular. You see, you skinny girls are scarcely
noticed. It is me the men-folk give their attention to."

"Isn't it nice to be so perfectly satisfied with one's self?" observed
Helen, scornfully. "Come on, Ruthie! Let's sleep on that."

There were other topics to excite the friends in the morning, even
before the company got away for the "location." Mail which had followed
them across the continent was brought up from the post-office to the
special car. Helen and Ruth were both delighted to receive letters from
Captain Tom.

In the one to Ruth the young man acknowledged the receipt of her letter
bearing on the matter of Chief Totantora. He said that news of the
captured Wild West performers had drifted through the lines long before
the armistice, and that he had now set in motion an inquiry which might
yield some important news of the missing Osage chieftain--if he was yet
alive--before many weeks. As for his own return, Tom could not then
state anything with certainty.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Nobody seems to know," he wrote. "It is all on the knees of the
gods--and a badgered War Department. But perhaps I shall be with you,
dear Ruth, before long."

       *       *       *       *       *

Ruth did not show her letter to her girl friends. Jennie had received no
news from Henri, and this disaster troubled her more than her bruised
flesh. She went around with a sober face for at least an hour--which was
a long time for Jennie Stone to be morose.

William, the driver who had handled the emigrant wagon the day before,
came along as the men were saddling the ponies for the ride out to the
ranch. He had an open letter in his hand that he had evidently just
received.

"Say!" he drawled, "didn't I hear something about you taking this Injun
gal away from Dakota Joe's show? Ain't that so, Miss Fielding?"

"Her contract with that man ran out and Mr. Hammond hired her," Ruth
explained.

"And that left the show flat in Chicago?" pursued William.

"It was in Chicago the last we saw of it," agreed Ruth. "But Wonota had
left Dakota Joe's employ long before that--while the show was in New
England."

"Wal, I don't know how that is," said William. "I got a letter from a
friend of mine that's been ridin' with Dakota Joe. He says the show's
done busted and Joe lays it to his losing this Injun gal. Joe's a mighty
mean man. He threatens to come out here and bust up this whole company,"
and William grinned.

"You want to tell Mr. Hammond that," said Ruth, shortly.

"I did," chuckled William. "But he don't seem impressed none. However,
Miss Fielding, I want to say that Dakota Joe has done some mighty mean
tricks in his day. Everybody knows him around here--yes, ma'am! If he
comes here, better keep your eyes open."



CHAPTER XVII

THE PROLOGUE IS FINISHED


"We must do something very nice for Wonota," Helen Cameron said
seriously. "She has twice within a few hours come to our succor. I feel
that we might all three have been seriously injured had she not turned
the mules yesterday, and frightened off those mad horses on the trail
last evening."

"'Seriously injured,' forsooth!" grumbled Jennie Stone. "What do you
mean? Didn't I show you my bruises? I was seriously injured as it was!
But I admit I feel grateful--heartily grateful--to our Indian princess.
I might have suffered broken bones in addition to bruised flesh."

"We could not reward her," Ruth Fielding said decidedly. "I would not
hurt her feelings for the world."

"We can do something nice for her, without labeling it a reward, I
should hope," Helen Cameron replied. "I know what I would like to do."

"What is that?" asked Jennie, quickly.

"You remember when they dressed Wonota up in that evening frock there in
New York? To take the ballroom picture, I mean?"

"Indeed, yes!" cried Jennie Stone. And she looked too sweet for
anything."

"She is a pretty girl," agreed Ruth.

"I saw her preening before the mirror," said Helen, smiling. "That she
is an Indian girl doesn't make her different from the other daughters of
Eve."

"Somebody has said that the fashion-chasing women must be daughters of
Lilith," put in Jennie.

"Never mind. Wonota likes pretty frocks. You could see that easily
enough. And although some of the Osage girls may follow the fashions in
the mail order catalogs, I believe Wonota has been brought up very
simply. 'Old-fashioned,' you may say."

"Fancy!" responded Jennie. "An old-fashioned' Indian."

"I think Helen is right," said Ruth, quietly. "Wonota would like to have
pretty clothes, I am sure."

"Then," said Helen, with more animation, "let us chip in--all three of
us--and purchase the very nicest kind of an outfit for Wonota--a real
party dress and 'all the fixin's,' girls! What say?"

"I vote 'Aye!'" agreed Jennie.

"The thought is worthy of you, Helen," said Ruth proudly. "You always
do have the nicest ideas. And I am sure it will please Wonota to be
dressed as were some of the girls we saw in the audiences at the
theatres we took her to."

"But!" ejaculated Jennie Stone, "we can't possibly get that sort of
clothes out of a mail-order catalog."

"I know just what we can do, Jennie. There is your very own
dressmaker--that Madame Joné you took me to."

"Oh! Sure! Mame Jones, you mean!" cried the fleshy girl with enthusiasm.
"Aunt Kate has known Mame since she worked as an apprentice with some
Fifth Avenue firm. Now Madame Joné goes to Paris--when there is no war
on--twice a year. She will do anything I ask her to."

"That is exactly what I mean," Helen said. "It must be somebody who will
take an interest in Wonota. Send your Madame Joné a photograph of
Wonota--"

"Several of them," exclaimed Ruth, interested as well, although
personally she did not care so much for style as her chums. "Let the
dressmaker get a complete idea of what Wonota looks like."

"And the necessary measurements," Helen said. "Give her _carte blanche_
as to goods and cost--"

"Would that be wise?" interposed the more cautious Ruth.

"Leave it to me!" exclaimed Jennie Stone with confidence. "We shall
have a dandy outfit, but Mame Jones will not either overcharge us or
make Wonota's frock and lingerie too _outré_."

"It win be fine!" declared Helen.

"I believe it will," agreed the girl of the Red Mill.

"It will be nothing less than a knock-out," crowed Jennie, slangily.

The three friends had plenty of topics of conversation besides new
frocks for Ruth's Indian star. The work of making the scenes of the
prologue of "Brighteyes" went on apace, and although they all escaped
acting in any of the scenes, they watched most of them from the
sidelines.

Mr. Hooley had found a bright little girl (although she had no Indian
blood in her veins) to play the part of the sick child in the Indian
wigwam. These shots were taken in a big hay barn near the special car
standing at Clearwater, and with the aid of the electric plant that had
been set up here the "interiors" were very promising.

Several other "sets" were built in this make-shift studio, for all the
scenes were not out-of-door pictures. The prologue scenes, however,
aside from the interior of the chief's lodge, were made upon the open
plain on the Hubbell Ranch not more than ten miles from the Clearwater
station. Two weeks were occupied in this part of the work, for outside
scenes are not shot as rapidly as those in a well equipped studio. When
these were done the company moved much farther into the hills. They were
to make the remaining scenes of "Brighteyes" in the wilderness, far from
any human habitation more civilized than a timber camp.

Benbow Camp lay well up behind Hubbell Ranch, yet in a well sheltered
valley where scarcely a threat of winter had yet appeared. A big crew of
lumbermen was at work on the site, and many of these men Mr. Hammond
used as extras in the scenes indicated in Ruth's script.

Ruth had now gained so much experience in the shooting of outdoor scenes
that her descriptions in this story of "Brighteyes," the Indian maid,
were easily visualized by the director. Besides, she stood practically
at Jim Hooley's elbow when the story was being filmed. So, with the
author working with the director, the picture was almost sure to be a
success. At least, the hopes of all--including those of Mr. Hammond, who
had already put much money into the venture--began to rise like the
quicksilver in a thermometer on a hot day.

The small river on which locations had been arranged for was both a
boisterous and a picturesque stream. There were swift rapids ("white
water" the woodsmen called it) with outthrust boulders and many snags
and shallows where a canoe had to be very carefully handled. Several
scenes as Ruth had written them were of the Indian girl in a canoe.
Wonota handled a paddle with the best of the rivermen at Benbow Camp.
There was no failure to be feared as to the picture's requirements
regarding the Indian star, at least.

Having seen the scenes of the prologue shot and got the company on
location at Benbow Camp, Mr. Hammond went back to the railroad to get
into communication with the East. He had other business to attend to
besides the activities of this one company.

Scenes along the bank and at an Indian camp set up in a very beautiful
spot were shot while preparations for one of the big scenes on the
stream itself were being made.

The text called for a freshet on the river, in which the Indian maid is
caught in her canoe. The disturbed water and the trash being borne down
by the current was an effect arranged by Jim Hooley's workmen. The
timbermen working for the Benbow Company helped.

A boom of logs was chained across the river at a narrow gorge. This held
back for two nights and a day the heavy cultch floating down stream, and
piled up a good deal of water, too, for the boom soon became a regular
dam. Below the dam thus made the level of the stream dropped
perceptibly.

"I am going to put Wonota in her canoe into the stream above the boom,"
Hooley explained. "When the boom is cut the whole mass will shoot down
ahead of the girl. But the effect, as it comes past the spot where the
cameras are being cranked, will be as though Wonota was in the very
midst of the freshet. She handles her paddle so well that I do not think
she will be in any danger."

"But you will safeguard her, won't you, Mr. Hooley?" asked Ruth, who was
always more or less nervous when these "stunt pictures" were being
taken.

"There will be two canoes--and two good paddlers in each--on either side
of Wonota's craft, but out of the camera focus of course. Then, we will
line up a lot of the boys along the shore on either side. If she gets a
ducking she won't mind. She understands. That Indian girl has some
pluck, all right," concluded the director with much satisfaction.

"Yes, Wonota's courageous," agreed Ruth quietly.

Arrangements were made for the next morning. Ruth went with Mr. Hooley
to the bunkhouse to hear him instruct the timbermen hired from the
Benbow Company and who were much interested in this "movie stuff."

The girl of the Red Mill had already made some acquaintances among the
rough but kindly fellows. She stepped into the long, shed-like
bunkhouse to speak to one of her acquaintances, and there, at the end of
the plank table, partaking of a late supper that the cook had just
served him, was no other than Dakota Joe Fenbrook, the erstwhile
proprietor of the Wild West and Frontier Round-Up.



CHAPTER XVIII

AN ACCIDENT THREATENING


Probably the ex-showman was not as surprised to see Ruth Fielding as she
was to see him. But he was the first, nevertheless, to speak.

"Ho! so it's you, is it?" he growled, scowling at the girl of the Red
Mill. "Reckon you didn't expect to see me."

"I certainly did not," returned Ruth tartly. "What are you doing at
Benbow Camp, Mr. Fenbrook?"

"I reckon you'd be glad to hear that I walked here," sneered the
showman, and filled his cheek with a mighty mouthful. He wolfed this
down in an instant, and added, with a wide grin: "But I didn't. I saved
my horse an' outfit from the smash, and enough loose change to bring me
West--no thanks to you."

"I am sorry to hear you have failed in business, Mr. Fenbrook," Ruth
said composedly. "But I am sorrier to see that you consider me in a
measure to blame for your misfortune."

"Oh, don't I, though!" snarled Dakota Joe. "I know who to thank for my
bust-up--you and that Hammond man. Yes, sir-ree!"

"You are quite wrong," Ruth said, calmly. "But nothing I can say will
convince you, I presume."

"You can't soft-sawder me, if that's what you mean," and Dakota Joe
absorbed another mighty mouthful.

Ruth could not fail to wonder if he ever chewed his food. He seemed to
swallow it as though he were a boa-constrictor.

"I know," said Dakota Joe, having swallowed the mouthful and washed it
down with half a pannikin of coffee, "that you two takin' that Injun gal
away from me was the beginning of my finish. Yes, sir-ree! I could ha'
pulled through and made money in Chicago and St. Louis, and all along as
I worked West this winter. But no, you fixed me for fair."

"Wonota had a perfect right to break with you, Mr. Fenbrook," Ruth said
decidedly, and with some warmth. "You did not treat her kindly, and you
paid her very little money."

"She got more money than she'd ever saw before. Them Injuns ain't used
to much money. It's jest as bad for 'em as hootch. Yes, sir-ree!"

"She was worth more than you gave her. And she certainly was worthy of
better treatment. But that is all over. Mr. Hammond has her tied up
with a hard and fast contract. Let her alone, Mr. Fenbrook."

"Aw, don't you fret," growled the man. "I ain't come out here to trouble
Wonota none. The little spitfire! She'd shoot me just as like's not if
she took the notion. Them redskins ain't to be trusted--none of 'em. I
know 'em only too well."

Ruth went out of the shack almost before the man had ceased speaking.
She did not want anything further to do with him. She was exceedingly
sorry that Dakota Joe had appeared at Benbow Camp just when the moving
picture company was getting to work on the important scenes of
"Brighteyes." Besides, she felt a trifle anxious because Mr. Hammond
himself did not chance to be here under the present circumstances. He
might be better able to handle Dakota Joe if the ruffian made trouble.

She said nothing to Jim Hooley about Dakota Joe. She did not wish to
bother the director in any case. She had come to appreciate Hooley as,
in a sense, a creative genius who should have his mind perfectly free of
all other subjects--especially of annoying topics of thought--if he was
to turn out a thoroughly good picture. Hooley fairly lived in the
picture while the scenes were being shot. He must not be troubled by the
knowledge of the possibility of Dakota Joe's being at Benbow Camp for
some ulterior purpose.

Ruth told the girls about the man's appearance when she returned to the
shacks where the members of the moving picture company were spending the
night. And she warned Wonota in particular, and in private.

"He is as angry with us as he can be," the girl of the Red Mill told the
Osage maiden. "I think, if I were you, Wonota, I would beware of him."

"Beware of Dakota Joe?" repeated Wonota.

"Yes."

"I would beware of him? I would shoot him?" said the Osage girl with
suddenly flashing eyes. "That is what you mean?"

Ruth laughed in spite of her anxiety. "Beware" was plainly a word
outside the Indian girl's vocabulary.

"Don't talk like a little savage," she admonished Wonota, more severely
than usual. "Of course you are not to shoot the man. You are just to see
that he does you no harm--watch out for him when he is in your
vicinity."

"Oh! I'll watch Dakota Joe all right," promised Wonota with emphasis.
"Don't you worry about that, Miss Fielding. I'll watch him."

To Ruth's mind it seemed that the ex-showman, in his anger, was likely
to try to punish the Indian girl for leaving his show, or to do some
harm to the picture-making so as to injure Mr. Hammond. He had already
(or so Ruth believed) endeavored to hurt Ruth herself when she was all
but run over in New York. Ruth did not expect a second attack upon
herself.

The next morning--the really "great day" of the picture taking--all at
the camp were aroused by daybreak. There was not a soul--to the very
cook of the timber-camp outfit--who was not interested in the matter.
The freshet Jim Hooley had planned had to be handled in just the right
way and everything connected with it must be done in the nick of time.

Wonota in her Indian canoe--a carefully selected one and decorated in
Indian fashion--was embarked on the sullen stream above the timber-boom.
The holding back of the water and the driftwood had formed an angry
stretch of river which under ordinary circumstances Ruth and the other
girls who had accompanied her West thought they would have feared to
venture upon. The Indian girl, however, seemed to consider the
circumstances not at all threatening.

With her on the river, but instructed to keep on either side and well
out of the focus of the cameras, were two expert rivermen, each in a
canoe. These men were on the alert to assist Wonota if, when the dam was
broken, she should get into any difficulty.

Below the dam the men were arranged at important points, so that if the
logs and drift threatened to pile up after the boom was cut, they could
jump in with their pike-poles and keep the drift moving. On one shore
the cameras were placed, and Jim Hooley, with his megaphone, stood on a
prominent rock.

Across from the director's station Ruth found a spot at the foot of a
sheer bank to the brow of which a great pile of logs had been rolled,
ready for the real freshet in the spring when the log-drives would
start. She had a good view of all that went on across the river, and up
the stream.

Jennie suggested that she and Helen accompany Ruth and watch the taking
of the picture from that vantage point, a proposal to which Helen
readily agreed. But Ruth evaded this suggestion of her two friends, for
she wanted to keep her whole mind on her work, and when Helen and Jennie
were with her she found it impossible to keep from listening to their
merry chatter, nor could she keep herself from being drawn into it. The
upshot was that, after some discussion by the three girls, Ruth set off
alone for her station under the brow of the steep river bank.

About ten o'clock, in mid-forenoon, Hooley was satisfied that everything
was ready to shoot the picture. One of the foremen of Benbow Camp--the
best ax wielder of the crew--ran out on the boom to a point near the
middle of the frothing stream and began cutting the key-log. It was a
ticklish piece of work; but these timbermen were used to such jobs.

The gash in the log showed wider and wider. Where Ruth stood she cocked
her head to listen to the strokes of the axman. It seemed to her that
there was a particularly strange echo, flattened but keen, as though
reverberating from the bank of the river high above her head.

"Now, what can that be?" she thought, and once looked up the slope to
the heap of logs which were held in place by chocks on the very verge of
the steep descent.

If those logs should break away, Ruth realized that she was right in the
path of their descent. It would not be easy for her to escape,
dry-footed, In either direction, for the bank of the river, both up, and
down stream, was rough.

But, of course, that chopping sound was made by the man cutting the
boom. Surely nobody was using an ax up there on the pile of logs. She
glanced back to the man teetering on the boom log. The gap in it was
wide and white. He had cut on the down-river side. Already the pressure
from up stream was forcing the gash open, wider and wider----

There came a yell from across the river. Somebody there had seen what
was threatening over Ruth's head. Then Jim Hooley cast his glance that
way and yelled through his megaphone:

"Jump, Miss Fielding! Quick! Jump into the river!"

But at that moment the man on the boom started for the shore, running
frantically for safety. The key log split with a raucous sound. The
water and drift-stuff, in a mounting wave, poured through the gap, and
the noise of it deafened Ruth Fielding to all other sounds.

She did not even glance back and above again at the peril which menaced
her from the top of the steep bank.



CHAPTER XIX

IN DEADLY PERIL


"This stunt business," as Director Hooley called the taking of such
pictures as this, is always admittedly a gamble. After much time and
hundreds of dollars have been spent in getting ready to shoot a scene,
some little thing may go wrong and spoil the whole thing.

There was nothing the matter with the director's plans on this occasion;
every detail of the "freshet" had been made ready for with exactness and
with prodigious regard to detail.

The foreman had cut the key log almost through and the force of the
water and débris behind the boom had broken it. The man barely escaped
disaster by reason of agile legs and sharp caulks on his boots.

The backed-up waters burst through. Up stream, amid the turmoil and murk
of the agitated flood, rode Wonota in her canoe, directly into the focus
of the great cameras. To keep her canoe head-on with the flood, and to
keep it from being overturned, was no small matter. It required all the
Indian girl's skill to steer clear of snags and floating logs. Besides,
she must remember to register as she shot down the stream a certain
emotion which would reveal to the audience her condition of mind, as
told in the story.

Wonota did her part. She was rods above the breaking dam and she could
not see, because of an overhanging tree on Ruth's side of the stream,
any of that peril which suddenly threatened the white girl. Wonota was
as unconscious of what imperiled Ruth as the latter was at first
unknowing of the coming catastrophe.

It was Jim Hooley whom the incident startled and alarmed more than
anybody else. He committed an unpardonable sin--unpardonable for a
director! He forgot, when everything was ready, to order the starting of
the camera. Instead he put his megaphone to his lips and shouted across
to Ruth Fielding--who was not supposed to be in the picture at all:

"Jump, Miss Fielding! Quick! Jump into the river!"

And Ruth did not hear him, loudly as his voice boomed across the flood!
She was deafened by the thunder of the waters and the crashing of the
logs in mid-flood. Her eyes, now that she was sure the foreman was safe
on the other bank, were fixed upon the bow of Wonota's canoe, just
coming into sight behind the ware of foaming water and upreared,
charging timbers.

It was a great sight--a wonderful sight. No real freshet could have been
more awful to behold. Mr. Hooley's feat was a masterstroke!

But behind and above Ruth was a scene of disaster that held those on the
opposite bank speechless--after Hooley's first mighty shout of warning.
At least, all but the camera men were so transfixed by the thing that
was happening above the unconscious Ruth.

Trained to their work, the camera men had been ready to crank their
machines when Hooley grabbed up his megaphone. The boom had burst, the
flood poured down, and the Indian maid's canoe came into the range of
their lenses.

It was the most natural thing in the world that they should begin
cranking--and this they did! Alone among all those on the far bank of
the stream, the camera men were blind to Ruth's danger.

"She'll be killed!" shrieked Jennie Stone, while Helen Cameron ran to
the water's edge, stretching forth her arms to Ruth as though she would
seize her from across the stream.

The next moment the water flooded up around Helen's ankles. The stream
was rising, and had Jennie not dragged her back, Helen would have been
knee-deep in the water--perhaps have been injured herself by one of the
flying logs.

Ruth was out of reach of the logs in the stream, although they charged
down with mighty clamor, their ends at times shooting a dozen feet into
the air, the bark stripping in ragged lengths, displaying angry gashes
along their flanks. It was from that great heap of logs above, on the
brink of the steep bank, that Ruth was in danger.

A fringe of low brush had hidden the foot of the logpile up there. This
hedge had also hidden from the observation of the party across the
stream the villains who must have deliberately knocked out the chocks
which held the high pile of timbers from skidding down the slope.

Mr. Hooley had seen the logs start. Squeezed out by the weight of the
pile, the lower logs, stripped of bark and squealing like living
creatures started over the brink. They rolled, faster and faster, down
upon the unwarned Ruth Fielding. And behind the leaders poured the whole
pile, gathering speed as the avalanche made headway!

The turmoil of the river and the crashing logs would have smothered the
sound of the avalanche until it was upon the girl of the Red Mill. No
doubt of that. But providentially Ruth flashed a glance across the
stream. She saw the party there all screaming at her and waving their
arms madly. Jennie was just dragging Helen back from the rising flood
of the turbulent river. Ruth saw by their actions that they were trying
to draw her attention to something behind her.

She swung about and looked up the almost sheer bluff.

Ruth Fielding was not lacking in quick comprehension. A single glance at
the descending avalanche of logs was sufficient to make her understand
the peril. She knew that she could not clear the hurtling timbers by
running either up stream or down. The way was too rough. As well as Jim
Hooley, she knew that escape was only possible by leaping into the
river. And that chance was rather uncertain.

Ruth was dressed for the rough outdoor life she was living. She wore
high, laced boots, a short skirt, knickerbockers, a blouse, and a
broad-brimmed hat.

When she turned to face the turbulent stream the rocking timbers coming
down with the released water almost filled the pool before the
endangered girl.

Had she worn caulks on the soles of her boots, as did the foreman who
had cut the boom, and been practised as he was in "running the logs,"
Ruth would have stood a better chance of escaping the plunging
avalanche. As it was, she was not wholly helpless.

She had picked up a peavey one of the timbermen had left on this bank
and was using is as a staff as she watched the "freshet" start. Warned
now of the danger she was in, the girl of the Red Mill seized this staff
firmly in both hands and poised herself to leap from the boulder to
which she had stepped.

Only a moment did she delay--just long enough to select the most
promising log in the smother of foam and water before her. Then she
leaped outward, striking down with the pike-staff and sinking its sharp
point in the log to which she jumped.

Behind her the timbers poured down the bluff, landed on their
splintering ends on the rocks, and then--many of them--pitched their
long lengths into the angry river.

The spray flew yards high. It curtained, indeed, all that occurred for
the next few moments upon this side of the stream. However much the
scene, arranged by Jim Hooley might need the attention of the moving
picture makers, here was a greater and more dangerous happening, in
which Ruth Fielding was the leading participant!



CHAPTER XX

GOOD NEWS


Tragedy was very dose indeed at that moment to the girl of the Red Mill.
Many adventures had touched Ruth nearly; but nothing more perilous had
threatened her than this.

She balanced herself on the rushing log with the help of the peavey. She
was more than ordinarily sure-footed. But if the log she rode chanced to
be hit by one of the falling timbers loosened from their station on top
of the bluff--that would be the end of the incident, and the end of the
girl as well!

Perhaps it was well that Helen and Jennie could no longer see their
chum. The curtain of spray thrown up by the plunging logs from above hid
the whole scene for several minutes.

Then out of the turmoil on the river shot the log on which Ruth stood,
appearing marvelously to her friends on the other bank.

"Ruth! Ruth Fielding!" shrieked Helen, so shrilly that her voice really
could be heard. "Are you alive?"

Ruth waved one hand. She held her balance better now. She shot a glance
behind and saw Wonota in the canoe coming down the rapids amid the snags
and drifting débris--a wonderful picture!


Jim Hooley, almost overcome by the shock and fright, suddenly beheld his
two camera men cranking steadily--as unruffled as though all this uproar
and excitement was only the usual turmoil of the studio!

"Bully, boys!" the director shouted. "Keep at it!" Then through the
megaphone: "Eyes on the camera, Wonota! Your lover is in the water--you
must save him! Nobody else can reach him There! He's going down again!
Bend forward--look at him--at the camera! That's it! When he appears
again that log is going to hit him if you do not swerve the canoe in
between the log and him--There! With your paddle! Shoot the canoe in
now!"

He swerved the megaphone to the men waiting on the bank: "Look out for
Miss Fielding, some of you fellows. The rest of you stand ready to grab
Wonota when that canoe goes over."

Again to the Indian girl: "Now, Wonota! Pitch the paddle away. Lean
over--grab at his head. There it is!"

The Indian girl did as instructed, leaning so far that the canoe tipped.
Mr. Hooley raised his hand. He snapped his fingers. "There! Enough!" he
shouted, and the cameras stopped as the canoe canted the Indian girl
headfirst into the stream. The rest of that scene would be taken in
quiet water.

While the man waded in to help Wonota, Ruth reached the bank and sprang
off her log before she was butted off. Helen and Jennie ran to her, and
such a hullabaloo as there was for a few minutes!

Jim Hooley came striding down to the three Eastern girls, flushed and
with scowling brow.

"I want to know who did that?" he shouted. "No thanks to anybody but my
camera men that the whole scene wasn't a fizzle. And what would Mr.
Hammond have said? Who were those men, Miss Fielding?"

"What men?" asked Ruth in wonder.

"Up there on the other bank? Those that knocked the chocks out from
under that heap of logs? You don't suppose that avalanche of timber
started all by itself?"

"I don't know what you are talking about, Mr. Hooley," declared Ruth
Fielding.

"And surely," Helen added quickly, "you do not suppose that it was her
fault? She might have been killed."

"I got a glimpse of a man dodging out of the way just as that pile of
logs started. I saw the flash of the sun on his ax," and the director
was very much in earnest.

It was Jennie who put into words the thought that had come both to Ruth
and Helen as well:

"Where is that awful Dakota Joe? He was here last night. He has tried to
harm our Ruthie before. I do believe he did it!"

"Who's that?" demanded the director. "The man who had Wonota in his
show?"

"Yes, Mr. Hooley. He was here last night. I spoke with him up in the
bunk-house while you were telling the boys about this scene," Ruth said
gravely.

"The unhung villain!" exclaimed the director. "He tried to ruin our
shot."

Jennie stared at him with open mouth as well as eyes.

"Well!" she gasped after a minute. "That is what you might call being
wrapped up in one's business, sure enough! Ruined your shot, indeed! How
about ruining a perfectly good girl named Ruth Fielding?"

"Oh, I beg Miss Fielding's pardon," stammered the director. "You must
remember that taking such a scene as this costs the corporation a good
deal of money. Miss Fielding's danger, I must say, threw me quite off my
balance. If I didn't have two of the keenest camera men in the business
all this," and he gestured toward the turbulent river, "would have gone
for nothing."

"I can thank Mr. Hooley for what he tried to do for me," smiled Ruth. "I
saw his gestures if I could not hear his voice. That was my salvation.
But I believe it must have been Dakota Joe who started that avalanche of
logs down upon me."

"I'll have the scoundrel looked for," promised Hooley, turning to go
upstream again.

"But don't tell these rough men why you want Dakota Joe," advised the
girl of the Red Mill.

"No?"

"You know how they are--even some of the fellows working for the picture
company. They are pretty rough themselves. I do not want murder done
because of my narrow escape."

The other girls cried out at this, but Mr. Hooley nodded
understandingly.

"I get you, Miss Fielding. But I'll make it so he can't try any capers
around here again. No, sir!"

The girls were left to discuss the awful peril that had threatened, and
come so near to over-coming, Ruth. Helen was particularly excited about
it.

"I do think, Ruth, that we should start right for home. This is
altogether too savage a country. To think of that rascal _daring_ to do
such a thing! For of course it was Dakota Joe who started those logs to
rolling."

"I can imagine nobody else doing it," confessed her chum.

"Then I think you should start East at once," repeated Helen. "Don't you
think so, Jennie?"

"I'd hire a guard," said the plump girl. "This country certainly is not
safe for our Ruth."

"Neither was New York, it seemed," rejoined Ruth, with a whimsical
smile. "Of course we are not sure--"

"We are sure you came near losing your life," interrupted Helen.

"Quite so. I was in danger. But if it was Joe, he has run away, of
course. He will not be likely to linger about here after making the
attempt."

And to this opinion everybody else who knew about it agreed. A search
was made by some of the men for Dakota Joe. It was said he had left for
another logging camp far to the north before daybreak that very morning.
Nobody had seen him since that early hour.

"Just the same, he hung around long enough to start those logs to
rolling. And I am not sure but that he had help," Jim Hooley said,
talking the matter over later, after Mr. Hammond had arrived from the
railroad and had been told about the incident, "He is a dangerous
fellow, that Fenbrook."

"He has made himself a nuisance," agreed Mr. Hammond. "Tell William and
the other boys to keep their eyes open for him. The moment he appears
again--if he does appear--let them grab him. I will get a warrant sworn
out at Clearwater for his arrest. We will put him in jail until our
picture is finished, at least."

They did not believe at the time that Ruth was in any further peril from
Dakota Joe. As for the girls, they were particularly excited just then
by some news Mr. Hammond had brought with him from the post-office.

Letters from Tom Cameron! He was coming home! Indeed, he would have
started before Ruth and Helen received the messages he wrote. And in
Ruth's letter he promised a great surprise. What that surprise was the
girl of the Red Mill could not imagine.

"Doesn't he say anything about a surprise for me?" demanded Jennie
Stone.

"He doesn't say a word about you in my letter, Heavy," said Helen
wickedly.

"Why, Jennie, he doesn't know you are with us here in the West," Ruth
said soothingly.

"I don't care," sputtered the fat girl. "He must know about my Henri.
And not a word have I heard from or about him in a month. If the war is
over, surely Henri must be as free as Tom Cameron."

"I suppose some of the soldiers have to stay along the Rhine, Jennie,
dear," replied Ruth. "Maybe Henri is one of those guarding the
frontier."

"He is holding the German hordes back, single-handed, from _la belle_
France," put in Helen, smiling.

"Oh, cat's foot!" snapped Jennie. "The Germans are just as glad to stop
fighting as we are. They certainly don't need Henri in the army any
longer. I am going to write to his mother!"



CHAPTER XXI

A BULL AND A BEAR


Wonota had known nothing of what was supposed to have been a deliberate
attempt to injure Ruth Fielding until some hours after the occurrence.
She had not much to say about it, but, like the three white girls, she
was sure the guilty man was Dakota Joe.

As William had said, Fenbrook was a "mighty mean man," and the Osage
maid knew that to be a fact. She nodded her head gravely as she
commented upon the incident that might have ended so seriously.

"That Dakota Joe is bad. Chief Totantora would have sent him to the
spirit land long since, had he been here. There are white men, Miss
Fielding, who are much worse than any redman."

"I will grant you that," sighed Ruth. "Badness is not a matter of blood,
I guess. This Fenbrook has no feeling or decency. He is dangerous."

"I should have shot him," declared the Osage girl confidently. "I am
afraid I have done wrong in not doing so before."

"How can you talk so recklessly!" exclaimed Ruth, and she was really
troubled. "Shooting Dakota Joe would make you quite as bad as he is. No,
no! That is not the way to feel about it."

But Wonota could not understand this logic.

And yet, Wonota in other ways was not at all reckless or ferocious. She
possessed a fund of sympathy, and was kindly disposed toward everybody
When one of the cook's helpers cut his foot with an ax, she aided in the
rough surgery furnished by the camp boss, and afterwards nursed the
invalid while he was confined to his bunk and could not even hop about.

All the men liked her, and after a time they did not speak carelessly of
her as "that Injun gal." She seemed to be of a different caliber from
the other Indians engaged in making the picture. At least, she was more
intelligent.

The girls from the East did not lose their personal interest in Wonota
in the least degree. But of course while the various scenes were being
made even Ruth did not give all her attention to either the Indian
maiden or to the shooting of the picture.

The great freshet scene, when developed and tried out in the projection
room at Clearwater, proved to be a very striking film indeed. If
"Brighteyes" was to rise to the level of that one scene, every reel of
the picture must be photographed with great care.

While the director and Mr. Hammond and the company in general worked
over some of the lumber-camp scenes, retaking or arranging for the shots
over and over again, Ruth rode with her two chums on many a picturesque
trail around Benbow Camp, Hubbell Ranch and the Clearwater station of
the railroad.

They were quite sure that Dakota Joe Fenbrook had left this part of the
country--and left in a hurry. If he learned that his attempt on Ruth
Fielding's life was not successful, he must have learned it some time
after the occurrence. Just where the "bad man" had gone after leaving
Benbow on the run, nobody seemed to know.

Ruth and Helen and Jennie were in the saddle almost every day. They
found much to interest them on the various trails they followed. They
even discovered and visited several pioneer families--"nesters" in the
language of the cowpunchers and stockmen--who welcomed the Eastern girls
with vast curiosity.

"And how some of these folks can live in such Wild places, and in such
perfectly barren cabins, I do not see," groaned Helen Cameron after a
visit to one settler's family near a wild canyon to the west of Benbow
Camp. "That woman and those girls! Not a decent garment to their backs,
and the men so rough and uncouth. I would not stay there on a bet--not
for the best man who ever breathed."

"That woman's husband isn't the best man who ever breathed," said
Jennie, grimly. "But perhaps he is the best man she ever knew. And,
anyway, having as the boys say 'got stuck on him,' now she is plainly
'stuck with him.' In other words she has made her own bed and must lie
in it."

"Why should people be punished for their ignorance?" complained Helen.

"Nature's way," said Ruth confidently. "Civilization is slowly changing
that--or trying to. But nature's law is, after all, rather harsh to us."

"If I was one of those girls we saw back there," Helen continued, "I
would run away."

"Run where?" asked Ruth slyly. "With a movie company? Or a Wild West
Show?"

"Either. Anything would be better than that hut and the savagery of
their present lives."

"They don't mind it so much," admitted Jennie. "I asked one of them. She
was looking forward to a dance next week. She said they had three of
four through the year--and they seemed to be reckoned as great treats,
but all a girl could expect."

"And think how much we demand," said Ruth thoughtfully. "Welladay! Maybe
we have too much--too much of the good things of the earth."

"Bah!" exclaimed Helen, with disgust. "One can't get too much of the
good things. No, ma'am! Take all you can----"

"And give nothing?" suggested Ruth, shaking her head.

"Nobody can say with truth that you are selfish, Ruthie Fielding," put
in Jennie. "In fact, you are always giving, and never taking."

Ruth laughed at this. "You are wrong," she said. "The more you give the
more you get. At least, I find it so. And we are getting right now, on
this trip to the great Northwest, much more than we are giving. I feel
as though I would be condemned if I did not do something for these
hard-working people who are doing their part in developing this
country--the settlers, and even the timbermen."

"You want to be a lady Santa Claus to that bunch of roughnecks at Benbow
Camp, do you?" laughed Jennie.

"Well, I would like to help somebody besides Wonota. What do you hear
from your New York dressmaker about Wonota's new outfit, Jennie?"

"It will be shipped right out here to Clearwater before long," announced
the plump girl, with new satisfaction. "Won't Wonota be surprised?"

"And delighted!" added Helen, showing satisfaction too.

At that very moment they rode out of a patch of wood which had hidden
from the girls' eyes a piece of lowland fringed by a grove of northern
cottonwood trees. On the air was borne a deep bellow--a sound that none
of the three had noted before.

"What is that?" demanded Helen, startled and half drawing in her
snorting pony.

"Oh, listen!" cried Jennie. "Hear the poor cow."

Ruth was inclined to doubt. "When you hear a 'cow' bellowing in this
country, look out. It may be a wild steer or a very ugly bull. Let us go
on cautiously."

All three of the ponies showed signs of trepidation, and this fact added
to Ruth's easily aroused anxiety.

"Have a care," she said to Helen and Jennie. "I believe something is
going on here that spells danger--for us at least."

"It's down in the swamp. See the way the ponies look," agreed Jennie.

They quickly came to a break in the cottonwood grove on the edge of the
morass. Instantly the ponies halted, snorting again. Ruth's tried to
rear and turn, but she was a good horsewoman.

"Oh, look!" squealed Helen. "A bear!"

"Oh, look!" echoed Jennie, quite as excited. "A bull!"

"Well, I declare!" exclaimed Ruth, her hands full for the moment with
the actions of her mount. "One would think you were looking at a picture
of Wall Street--with your bulls and your bears I Let me see--do!"



CHAPTER XXII

IN THE CANYON


Ruth wheeled her mount the next moment and headed it again in the right
direction. She saw at last what had caused her two companions such
wonder.

In a deep hole near the edge of the morass was a huge Hereford bull.
Most of the cattle in that country were Herefords.

The animal had without doubt become foundered in the swamp hole; but
that was by no means the worst that had happened to him. While held more
than belly-deep in the sticky mud he had been attacked by the only kind
of bear in all the Rockies that, unless under great provocation, attacks
anything bigger than woodmice.

A big black bear had flung itself upon the back of the bellowing,
struggling bull and was tearing and biting the poor creature's head and
neck--actually eating the bull by piecemeal!

"Oh, horrors!" gasped Helen, sickened by the sight of the blood and the
ferocity of the bear. "Is that a dreadful grizzly? How terrible!"

"It's eating the poor bull alive!" Jennie cried.

Ruth had never ridden out from camp since Dakota Joe's last appearance
without carrying a light rifle in her saddle scabbard. She rode a
regular stockman's saddle and liked the ease and comfort of it.

Now she seized her weapon and cocked It.

"That is not a grizzly, girls!" she exclaimed. "The grizzly is
ordinarily a tame animal beside this fellow. The blackbear is the
meat-eater--and the man-killer, too. I learned all about that in our
first trip out here to the West."

"Quick! Do something for that poor steer!" begged Helen. "Never mind
lecturing about it."

But Ruth had been wasting no time while she talked. She first had to get
her pony to stand She knew it was not gun-shy. It was only the scent and
sight of the bear that excited it.

Once the pony's four feet were firmly set, the girl of the Red Mill, who
was no bad shot, raised her rifle and sighted down the barrel at the
little snarling eyes of Bruin behind his open, red jaws. The bear
crouched on the bull's back and actually roared at the girls who had
come to disturb him at his savage feast.

Ruth's trigger-finger was firm. It was an automatic rifle, and although
it fired a small ball, the girl had drawn a good bead on the bear's
most vulnerable point--the base of his wicked brain! The several bullets
poured into that spot, severing the vertebrae and almost, indeed,
tearing the head from the brute's shoulders!

"Oh, Ruth! You've done for him!" cried Helen, with delight.

"But the poor bull!" murmured Jennie. "See! He can't get out. He's done
for."

"I am afraid they are both done for," returned Ruth. "Take this gun,
Jennie. Let me see if I can rope the bull and help him out."

She swung the puncher's lariat she carried hung from her saddle-bow with
much expertness. She had practised lariat throwing on her previous trips
to the West. But although she was able to encircle the bull's bleeding
head with the noose of the rope, to drag the creature out of the morass
was impossible.

He was sunk in the mire too deeply, and he was too far gone now to help
himself. The bear had rolled off the back of the bull and after a few
faint struggles ceased to live. But Bruin's presence made it very
difficult for the girls to force their ponies closer to the dying bull.

Therefore, after all, Ruth had to abandon her lariat, tying the end of
it to a tree and by this means keeping the bull from sinking out of
sight after she had put a merciful bullet into him.

As they rode near the Hubbell Ranch they stopped and told of their
adventure at the swamp, and a party of the boys rode out and saved both
bear and bull meat from the coyotes or from cougars that sometimes came
down from the hills.

The three girls had not been idly riding about the country during these
several days which had been punctuated, as it were, with the adventure
of the bull and the bear. That very day they had found the canyon which
Mr. Hammond and the director had been hoping to find and use in filming
some of the most thrilling scenes of "Brighteyes."

As Ruth was the writer of the scenario it was natural that she should be
quite capable of choosing the location. The lovely and sheltered canyon
offered all that was needed for the taking of the scenes indicated.

The girls went back the next day, taking Mr. Hammond with them. This
time they merely glanced at the spot where the bear and the bull had
died, and they did not visit the family of nesters at all. The shadowy
mouth of the canyon, its sides running up steeply into the hills, was
long in sight before the little cavalcade reached it.

From the mouth of it Mr. Hammond could not judge if Ruth's selection of
locality was a wise one. Certain natural attributes were necessary to
fit the needs of the story she had written. When, after they had ridden
a couple of miles up the canyon, he saw the cliff path and the lip of
the overhanging rock on which the hero of the story and _Brighteyes_'
Indian lover were to struggle, he proclaimed himself satisfied.

"You've got it, I do believe," the producer declared. "This will delight
Jim Hooley, I am sure. We can stake out a net down here under that rock
so if either or both the boys fall, they will land all right. It will be
some stunt picture, and no mistake!"

He wanted to look around the place, however, before riding back, and the
girls dismounted too. The bottom of the canyon was a smooth lawn--the
grass still green. For although the tang of winter was now in the air
even at noon, the weather had been remarkably pleasant. Only on the
distant heights had the snow fallen, and not much there.

There was a silvery stream wandering through the meadow over which the
girls walked. By one pool was a shallow bit of beach, and Ruth, coming
upon this alone, suddenly cried out:

"Oh, Helen! Jennie! I am a Miss Crusoe. Come here and see the
unmistakable mark of my Man Friday."

"What do you mean, you ridiculous thing?" drawled Jennie. "You cannot be
a Crusoe. You are not dressed in skins."

"Well, I like that!" rejoined Ruth, raising her eyebrows in apparent
surprise, "I should think I was covered with skin. Why not? Am I
different from the remainder of humanity?"

Of course they laughed with her as they came to view her discovery upon
the sand. It was the mark of a human foot.

"And no savage, I'll be bound," said Helen. "That is the mark of a
mighty brogan. A white man's foot-covering, no less. See! There is
another footprint."

"He certainly was going away from here," Jennie Stone observed. "Who do
you suppose he is?"

"I wonder if his eyes are blue and if he has a moustache?" queried
Helen, languishingly.

"Bet he has whiskers and chews tobacco. I known these Western men. Bah!"

"Jennie takes all the romance out of it," said Ruth, laughing. "Now I
don't care to meet my Man Friday at all."

They ate a picnic lunch before they rode out of the lovely canyon. Mr.
Hammond was always good company, and he exerted himself to be
interesting to the three girls on this occasion.

"My!" Helen remarked to Jennie, "Ruth does make the nicest friends,
doesn't she? See how much fun--how many good times--we have had through
her acquaintanceship with Mr. Hammond."

Jennie agreed. But her attention was attracted just then to something
entirely different. She was staring up the cliff path that Mr. Hammond
had praised as being just the natural landmark needed for the scene the
company wished to picture.

"Did you see what I saw?" drawled the plump girl. "Or am I thinking too,
too much about mankind?"

"What is the matter with you?" demanded Helen. "I didn't see any man."

"Not up that rocky way--there! A brown coat and a gray hat. Did you
see?"

"Ruth's Man Friday!" ejaculated Helen.

"I shouldn't wonder. But we can't prove it because we haven't the size
of yonder gentleman's boot. Humph I he is running away from us, all
right."

"Maybe he never saw us," suggested Helen.

They called to Ruth and told her of the glimpse they had had of the
stranger.

"And what did he run away for, do you suppose?" demanded Jennie.

"I am sure you need not ask me," said Ruth. "What did he look like?"

"I did not see his face," said Jennie. She repeated what she had
already said to Helen about the stranger's gray hat and brown coat.

Ruth looked somewhat troubled and made no further comment Of course, the
coat and hat were probably like the coat and hat of numberless other men
in the West. But the last time Ruth had seen Dakota Joe Fenbrook, that
individual had been wearing a broad-brimmed gray sombrero and a brown
duck coat.



CHAPTER XXIII

REALITY


Ruth Fielding was not a coward. She had already talked so much about
Dakota Joe that she was a little ashamed to bring up the subject again.
So she made no comment upon the man in the brown coat and gray hat that
Jennie Stone declared she had seen climbing the path up the canyon wall.

Mr. Hammond was not annoyed by it. His mind was fixed upon the scenes
that could be filmed in the canyon. Like Jim Hooley, the director, his
thought was almost altogether taken up with the making of Ruth's
"Brighteyes."

The work of making the picture was almost concluded. Wonota, the Indian
maid, had lost none of her interest in the tasks set her; but she
expressed herself to Ruth as being glad that there was little more to
do.

"I do not like some things I have to do," she confessed. "It is so hard
to look, as Mr. Hooley tells me to, at that hero of yours, Miss
Fielding, as though I admired him."

"Mr. Grand? You do not like him?"

"I could never love him," said the Indian girl with confidence. "He is
too silly. Even when we are about to engage in one of the most thrilling
scenes, he looks first in the handglass to see if his hair is parted
right."

Ruth could not fail to be amused. But she said cautiously:

"But think how he would look to the audience if his hair was tousled
when it was supposed to be well brushed."

"Ah, it is not a manly task," said Wonota, with disgust. "And the Indian
man who is the villain--Tut! He is only half Indian. And he tries to
look both as though he admired me and hated the white man. It makes his
eyes go this way!" and Wonota crossed her eyes until Ruth had to cry
out.

"Don't!" she begged, "Suppose you suffered that deformity?"

"But he doesn't--that Jack Onehorse. Your Brighteyes, I am sure, would
have felt no pity for such an Indian."

"You don't have to feel pity for him," laughed Ruth. "You know, you
shoot him in the end, Wonota."

"Most certainly," agreed Wonota, closing her lips firmly. "He deserves
shooting."

The calm way in which the Indian girl spoke of this taking off of the
Indian lover who became the villain in the end of the moving picture,
rather shocked the young author.

"But," said Jennie, "Wonota it only a single generation removed from
arrant savagery. She calls a spade a spade. You shouldn't blame her. It
is civilization--which is after all a sort of make-believe--that causes
us white folk to refer to a spade as an agricultural implement."

But Ruth would not laugh. She had become so much interested in Wonota by
this time that she wished her to improve her opportunities and learn the
ways--the better ways, at least--of white people.

Mr. Hammond naturally looked at the commercial end of Wonota's
improvement. Nor did Ruth overlook the chance the Osage maid had of
becoming a money-earning star in the moving picture firmament. But she
desired to help the girl to something better than mere money.

Wonota responded to a marked degree to Ruth's efforts. She was naturally
refined. The Indian is not by nature coarse and crude. He is merely
different from the whites. Wonota seemed to select for herself, when she
had the opportunity, the better things obtainable--the better customs
of the whites rather than the ruder ones.

Meanwhile the work of preparing for the scenes of "Brighteyes" to be
shot in the canyon went on. The day came when all the company were
informed that the morrow would see the work begun. At daybreak, after a
hasty breakfast, the motors and vans and the cavalcade of riders left
the Clearwater station for a week--and that the last week of their
stay--up in the lovely canyon Ruth and her two girl chums had found.

"I do declare!" exclaimed the gay Jennie (even the lack of letters from
Henri Marchand could not quench her spirits for long), "this bunch of
tourists does look like an old-time emigrant train. We might be
following the Santa Fe Trail, all so merrily."

"Only there were no motor-cars in those old days," remarked Ruth.

"Nor portable stoves," put in Helen with a smile.

"And I am quite sure," suggested Mr. Hammond, who heard this, "that no
moving picture cameras went along with the old Santa Fe Trailers."

"Yet," said Ruth thoughtfully, "the country about here, at any rate, is
just about as wild as it was in those old days. And perhaps some of the
people are quite as savage as they were in the old days. Oh, dear!"

"Who are you worrying about? William?" asked Helen slyly. "He did sound
savage this morning when he was harnessing those mules to the big
wagon."

But her chum did not reply to this pleasantry. She really had something
on her mind which bothered her. But she did not explain the cause of her
anxiety to the others, even after the arrival of the party in the
canyon.

It looked like a great Gypsy camp when the party was settled on the
sward beside the mountain stream. Mr. Hooley had not seen the location
before, and he was somewhat critical of some points. But finally he
admitted that, unless the place had been built for their need, they
could not really expect to find a location better fitted.

"And thank goodness!" Ruth sighed, when the camera points were severally
decided upon, "after these shots are taken we can head East for good."

"Why, Ruthie! I thought we were having a dandy time," exclaimed Helen.
"Have you lost your old love for the wild and open places?"

"I certainly will be glad to see a porcelain bathtub again," yawned
Jennie, breaking in. "I don't really feel as though a sponge-down in an
icy cold brook with a tarpaulin around one for a bath-house is
altogether the height of luxury."

"It is out here," laughed Helen.

"I do not mind the inconveniences so much," said Ruth reflectively. "The
old Red Mill farmhouse was not very conveniently arranged--above stairs,
at least--until I had it built over at my own expense, greatly to Uncle
Jabez's opposition. It is not the roughing it. That is good for us I
verily believe. But I have a depressing feeling that before the picture
is done something may happen."

"I should expect it would!" cried Helen, not at all disturbed by the
prophecy. Once Helen had prophesied disaster, and it had come. But she
forgot that now. "I expect something to happen--every day, most likely.
But of course it will be a pleasant and exciting something. Yes,
indeedy!"

Neither of her friends, after all, realized that Ruth Fielding was
actually in fear. She was very anxious every waking moment. That strange
man whom the girls had spied here in the canyon might be a perfectly
harmless person. And then again--

Two days were occupied in placing the paraphernalia and training the
actors in their parts. They all got a working knowledge of what was
expected of them when the picture was being photographed, and the
principals learned their lines. For nowadays almost as much care is
given to what is said by actors before the camera as by those having
speaking parts upon the stage.

The big scene--the really big scene in the drama--was set upon that
overhanging lip of rock that Ruth had spied when first she, with Helen
and Jennie, had ridden up the trail. On that overhanging shelf occurred
the struggle between the white lover of _Brighteyes_ and the Indian who
had trailed him and the girl to this wild spot.

Mr. Grand, in spite of Wonota's scorn of him, was a handsome man and
made as fine an appearance in the out-of-door garments the part called
for as he did in the dress-suit to which he was so much addicted. The
Indian who played the part of the villain was an excellent actor and had
appeared many times on the silver sheet. He was earnest in his desire to
please the director, but he failed sometimes to "keep in the picture"
when he was not actually dominating a scene.

Because of this failing in John Onehorse, Mr. Hooley sent Ruth to the
top of the rock to watch and advise Onehorse as the scene proceeded.

She was quite able by this time to act as assistant director. Indeed, it
was Ruth's ambition to direct a picture of her own in the near future.
She sometimes had ideas that conflicted with those of Mr. Hammond and
his directors, and she wished to try her own way to get certain
results.

Now, however, she was to follow Mr. Hooley's instructions exactly.

The arrangement of the cameras were such, both from below and at the
level of the scene to be shot, that Ruth had to stand upon a narrow
shelf quite out of sight of the actors on the overhanging rock, and
hidden as well from most of the people below. This, to make sure that
she was out of the line of the camera.

Behind her the narrow and broken trail led to the top of the canyon
wall. It was up this trail that Jennie and Helen had seen the "Man
Friday" disappear on the occasion of their first visit to the place.

Patiently, over and over again, Mr. Hooley had the principal characters
try the scene. Below, Wonota, as the heroine, was to run into the camera
field at a certain point in the struggle of the two men on the lip of
rock. To time the Indian girl's entrance was no small task. But at last
the characters seemed to be about letter perfect.

"Look out now! We're going to shoot it!" shouted Jim Hooley through his
megaphone. "Miss Fielding! Keep your eye on Onehorse. Keep him up to the
mark while he waits for Mr. Grand's speech. Now! Ready?"

It was at just this moment that Ruth felt something--something hard and
painful--pressing between her shoulder-blades. She shot a glance over
her shoulder to see the ugly face of Dakota Joe Fenbrook peering out at
her between the walls of a narrow crack in the face of the cliff. The
thing he pressed against her was a long stick, and, with a grin of
menace, he drove that stick more firmly against Ruth's body!

"Ready? Camera! Go!" shouted Mr. Hooley, and the scene was on.

Ruth, with a stifled cry, realized that she was being pushed to the edge
of the steep path. There was a drop of twenty feet and more, and where
she stood there was no net to break the fall!

If Fenbrook pushed her over the brink of the path Ruth knew very well
that the outcome would be even too realistic for a moving picture.



CHAPTER XXIV

WONOTA'S SURPRISE


Ruth Fielding might have cried out. But at that moment the attention of
everyone was so given to the taking of the important scene that perhaps
nobody would have understood her cry--what it meant.

Behind her Dakota Joe stretched forward, pushing the stick into the
small of her back and urging her closer to the brink. The spot on which
she stood was so narrow that it was impossible for her to escape without
turning her body, and the bad man knew very well that the pressure of
the stick kept her from doing that very thing!

The cameras were being cranked steadily, and Mr. Hooley shouted his
orders as needed. Fortunately for the success of the scene, Onehorse did
not need the admonitions of Ruth to "keep in the picture." The point
came where he made his leap for the shoulders of the white man, and it
was timed exactly. The two came to the brink of the rock in perfect
accord with the appearance of Wonota on the ground below.

The Indian girl came, gun in hand, as though just from the chase. As she
ran into the field of the camera Hooley shouted his advice and she
obeyed his words to the letter. Until----

She raised her eyes, quite as she was told. But she looked beyond Grand
and Onehorse struggling on the rock. It was to another figure she
looked--that of Ruth being forced over the verge of the narrow path.

The girl of the Red Mill was half crouched, striving to push back
against the thrust of the stick in Dakota Joe's hands. The upper part of
Fenbrook's body was plainly visible from Wonota's station at the foot of
the cliff, and his wicked face could be mistaken for no other.

"Now! The gun!" shouted Mr. Hooley. "Wonota! Come alive!"

The Indian girl obeyed--as far as springing into action went. The gun
she held went to her shoulder, but its muzzle did not point at the
actors above her. Instead, the threatening weapon pointed directly at
the head of the villain who was forcing Ruth off her insecure footing on
the narrow path.

"What are you doing, Wonota? Wonota!" shouted Mr. Hooley, who could not
see Ruth at all.

The Indian girl made no reply. She drew bead upon the head of Dakota
Joe, and his glaring eyes were transfixed by the appearance of the
gaping muzzle of Wonota's gun.

He dropped the stick with which he had forced Ruth to the edge of the
path. She fell sideways, dizzy and faint, clinging to the rough rock
with both hands. As it was, she came near rolling over the declivity
after all.

But it was Dakota Joe, in his sudden panic, who came to disaster. He had
always been afraid of Wonota. She was a dead shot, and he believed that
she would not shrink from killing him.

Now it appeared that the Indian girl held his life in her hands. The
muzzle of her weapon looked to Dakota Joe at that moment as big as the
mouth of a cannon!

He could see her brown finger curled upon the trigger. Each split second
threatened the discharge of the gun.

With a stifled cry he tried to leap out of the crack and along the path
down which he had come so secretly. But he stumbled. His riding boots
were not fit for climbing on such a rugged shelf. Stumbling again, he
threw out one hand to find nothing more stable to clutch than the empty
air!

"Wonota!" shouted Hooley again. "Stop!" He raised his hand, stopping the
cameras.

And at that moment there hurtled over the edge of the path a figure
that, whirling and screaming, fell all the distance to the bottom of the
canyon. Helen and Jennie, for a breathless instant, thought it must be
Ruth, for they knew where she had been hidden. But the voice that roared
fear and imprecations was not at all like Ruth Fielding's!

"Who's that?" shouted Mr. Hammond, likewise excited. "He's spoiled that
shot, I am sure."

Ruth sat up on the shelf and looked over.

"Oh!" she cried. "Is he killed?"

"He ought to be, if he isn't," growled Mr. Hooley. "What did you do that
for, Wonota?"

The Indian girl advanced upon the man writhing on the ground. Dakota Joe
saw her coming and set up another frightened yell.

"Don't let her shoot me! Don't let her!" he begged.

"Shut up!" commanded Mr. Hammond. "The gun only has blanks in it. We
don't use loaded cartridges in this business. Why! hanged if it isn't
Fenbrook."

"Now you have busted me up!" groaned the ex-showman. "I got a broken
leg. And I believe my arm's broken too. And that gal done it."

As Jennie said later, however, he could scarcely "get away with that."
Ruth came down and told what the rascal had tried to do to her. For a
little while it looked as though some of the rougher fellows might do
the dastardly Joe bodily harm other than that caused by his fall. But
Mr. Hammond hurried him in a motor-car to Clearwater, and there, before
the moving picture company returned, he was tried and sent to the State
penitentiary.

The great scene had to be taken over again--a costly and nerve-racking
experience. Like Ruth herself, Helen and Jennie were glad now when the
work was finished and they could head for the railroad.

"Guess you were right, Ruthie," agreed Jennie. "Something did happen. As
Aunt Alvirah would have said, you must have felt it in your bones."

"I feel it in my body, anyway," admitted Ruth. "I got dreadfully bruised
when I fell on that path. My side is all black and blue."

The misadventures of the occasion were soon forgotten however,
especially when the girls reached Clearwater and found a box waiting for
them at the express office. Unsuspicious Wonota was called into the
stateroom in the special car, and there her white friends displayed to
her delighted gaze the "trousseau," as Jennie insisted upon calling the
pretty frock and other articles sent on by Madame Joné.

"For _me_?" asked Wonota, for once showing every indication of delight
without being ordered to do so by the director. "All for me? Oh, it is
too much! How my father, Chief Totantora, would stare could he see me
in those beautiful things. Wonota's white sisters are doing too much for
her. There is no way by which she can repay their kindness."

"Say!" said Jennie bluntly, "if you want to pay Ruth Fielding, you just
go ahead and become a real movie star--a real Indian star, Wonota. I can
see well enough that then she will get big returns on her investment.
And in any case, we are all delighted that you are pleased with our
present."



CHAPTER XXV

OTHER SURPRISES


It was not merely a matter of packing up and starting for the East. It
would be a week still before the party would separate--some of the
Westerners starting for California and the great moving picture studios
there, while Ruth and her friends with Mr. Hammond and his personal
staff would go eastward.

It had been arranged that Wonota should return to the Osage Agency for a
short time. Meanwhile Ruth had promised to try to do another scenario in
which the young Indian girl would have an important part.

Mr. Hammond was enthusiastic, having seen some of the principal scenes
of "Brighteyes" projected. He declared to Ruth:

"She is going to be what our friend the camera man calls 'a knock-out.'
There is a charm about Wonota--a wistfulness and naturalness--that I
believe will catch the movie fans. Maybe, Miss Fielding, we are on the
verge of making one of the few really big hits in the game."

"I think she is quite worthy of training, Mr. Hammond," agreed the girl
of the Red Mill. "When I get to work on the new picture I shall want
Wonota with me. Can it be arranged?"

"Surely. Her contract takes that into consideration. Unless her father
appears on the scene, for the next two years Wonota is to be as much
under your instruction as though she were an apprentice," and he
laughed.

Mention of Chief Totantora did not warn Ruth of any pending event. The
thing which happened was quite unexpected as far as she was concerned.

The westbound train halted at Clearwater one afternoon, while the three
white girls were sitting on the rear platform of their car busy with
certain necessary needlework--for there were no maids in the party. Ruth
idly raised her eyes to see who got off the train, for the station was
in plain view.

"There are two soldiers," she said. "Look! Boys coming home from 'over
there,' I do believe. See! They have their trench helmets slung behind
them with their other duffle. Why----"

She halted. Helen had looked up lazily, but it was Jennie who first
exclaimed in rejoinder to Ruth's observation:

"Dear me, it surely isn't my Henri!"

"No," said Ruth slowly, but still staring, "there is no horizon blue
uniform in sight."

"Don't remind us of such possibilities," complained Helen Cameron with a
deep sigh. "If Tom--"

"It _is_!" gasped Ruth, under her breath, and suddenly the other girls
looked at her to observe an almost beatific expression spread over the
features of the girl of the Red Mill.

"Ruthie!" cried Helen, and jumped up from her seat.

"My aunt!" murmured Jennie, and stared as hard as she could along the
beaten path toward the station.

The two figures in uniform strode toward the special car. One straight
and youthful figure came ahead, while the other soldier, as though in a
subservient position, followed in the first one's footsteps.

Wonota was coming across the street toward the railroad. She, too, saw
the pair of uniformed men. For an instant the Indian girl halted. Then
she bounded toward the pair, her light feet fairly spurning the ground.

"My father! Chief Totantora!" the white girls heard her cry.

The leading soldier halted, swung about to look at her, and said
something to his companion. Not until this order was given him did the
second man even look in the direction of the flying Indian maid.

Ruth and her friends then saw that he was a man past middle age, that
his face was that of an Indian, and that his expression was quite as
stoical as the countenances of Indians are usually presumed to be.

But Wonota had learned of late to give way to her feelings. No white
girl could have flung herself into the arms of her long-lost parent with
more abandon than did Wonota. And that not-withstanding the costume she
wore--the very pretty one sent West from the Fifth Avenue modiste's
shop!

Perhaps the change in his lovely daughter shocked Totantora at first, He
seemed not at all sure that this was really his Wonota. Nor did he put
his arms about her as a white father would have done. But he patted her
shoulder, and then her cheek, and in earnest gutturals he conversed a
long time with the Indian maid.

Meanwhile the three white girls had their own special surprise. The
white soldier, who was plainly an officer, advanced toward the special
car. His bronzed and smiling face was not to be mistaken even at that
distance. Helen suddenly cried:

"Hold me, somebody! I know I'm going to faint! That's Tommy-boy."

Ruth, however, gave no sign of fainting. She dashed off the steps of the
car and ran several yards to meet the handsome soldier. Then she halted,
blushing to think of the appearance she made. Suppose members of the
company should see her?

"Well, Ruth," cried the broadly smiling Tom, "is that the way you greet
your best chum's brother? Say! You girls ought to be kinder than this to
us. Why! when we paraded in New York an old lady ran right out into the
street and kissed me."

"And how many pretty girls did the same, Captain Tom?" Ruth wanted to
know sedately.

"Nobody as pretty as you, Ruth," he whispered, seizing both her hands
and kissing her just as his sister and Jennie reached the spot. He let
Helen--and even Jennie---kiss him also.

"You know how it is, Tommy," the latter explained. "If I can't kiss my
own soldier, why shouldn't I practise on you?"

"No reason at all, Jennie," he declared. "But let me tell the good news.
By the time you get back to New York a certain major in the French
forces expects to be relieved and to be on his way to the States again.
He tells me that you are soon going to become a French citizeness, _ma
cherie."_

It was a very gay party that sat for the remainder of that afternoon on
the observation platform of the special car. There was so much to say
on both sides.

"So the appearance of Wonota's father was the great surprise you had in
store for us, Tom?" Ruth said at one point.

"That's it. And some story that old fellow can tell his daughter--if he
warms up enough to do it. These Indians certainly are funny people. He
seems to have taken a shine to me and follows me around a good deal as
though he were my servant. Yet I understand that he belongs to the very
rich Osage tribe, and is really one of the big men of it."

"Quite true," Ruth said.

The story of Totantora's adventures in Germany was a thrilling one. But
only by hearsay had Tom got the details. The Indians and other
performers put in confinement by the Germans when the war began, had all
suffered more or less. Twice Chief Totantora had escaped and tried to
make his way out of the country. Each time he had been caught, and more
severely treated.

The third time he had succeeded in breaking through into neutral
territory. Even there, in a strange land, amid unfamiliar customs and
people talking an unknown language, he had made his way alone and
without help till he had reached the American lines. Perhaps one less
stoical, with less endurance, than an Indian, and an Indian, like Chief
Totantora, trained in an earlier, hardier day, could not have done it.
But Wonota's father did succeed, and after he reached the American lines
he became attached in some indefinite capacity to Captain Tom Cameron's
regiment.

"When I first saw the poor old chap he was little more than a skeleton.
But the life Indians lead certainly makes them tough and enduring. He
stood starvation and confinement better than the white men. Some of the
ex-show people died in that influenza epidemic the second year of the
war. But old Totantora was pretty husky, in spite of having all the
appearance of a professional living skeleton," explained Tom.

Whether Totantora told Wonota the details of his imprisonment or not,
the white girls never knew. Wonota, too, was inclined to be very
secretive. But she was supremely happy.

She was to have a recess from work, and when the special car started
East with Ruth and her chums, Wonota and her father accompanied them to
Kansas City. Then the Osages went south to the reservation.

Totantora had heard all about his daughter's work in the moving picture
before the party separated, and he put his mark on Mr. Hammond's
contract binding himself to allow the girl to go on as already agreed.
Totantora had possibly some old-fashioned Indian ideas about the
treatment of squaws; but he knew the value of money. The sums Wonota
had already been paid were very satisfactory to the chief of the Osages.

In Ruth's mind, the money part of the contract was the smallest part.
She desired greatly to see Wonota develop and grow in her chosen
profession. To see the Indian maid become a popular screen star was
going to delight the girl of the Red Mill, and she was frank in saying
so.

"See here," Tom Cameron said when they were alone together. "I can see
very well, Ruthie, that you are even more enamored of your profession
than you were before I left for Europe. How long is this going to last?"

"How long is what going to last?" she asked him, her frank gaze finding
his.

"You know what I mean," said the young man boyishly. "Gee, Ruth! the war
is over. You know what I want. And I feel as though I deserved some
consideration after what I have been through."

She smiled, but still looked at him levelly.

"Well, how about it?" he demanded.

"Do you think we know our own minds? Altogether, I mean?" asked the
girl. "You are in a dreadfully unsettled state. I can see that, Tom. And
I have only just begun with Wonota. I could not stop now."

"I don't ask you to stop a single, solitary thing!" he cried with
sudden heat. "I expect to get to work myself--at something. I feel a lot
of energy boiling up in me," and he laughed.

"But, say, Ruth, I want to know just what I am going to work for? Is it
all right with you? Haven't found anybody else you like better than your
old chum, have you?"

Ruth laughed, too. Yet she was serious when she gave him both her hands.

"I am very sure, Tom, dear, that that could never be. You will always be
the best beloved of all boys----"

"Great Scott, Ruth!" he interrupted. "When do you think I am going to be
a man?"

THE END



THE RUTH FIELDING SERIES

By ALICE B. EMERSON

_12mo. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors._

_Price 50 cents per volume. Postage 10 cents additional._

Ruth Fielding was an orphan and came to live with her miserly uncle. Her
adventures and travels make stories that will hold the interest of every
reader.

Ruth Fielding is a character that will live in juvenile fiction.


1. RUTH FIELDING OF THE RED MILL
2. RUTH FIELDING AT BRIARWOOD HALL
3. RUTH FIELDING AT SNOW CAMP
4. RUTH FIELDING AT LIGHTHOUSE POINT
5. RUTH FIELDING AT SILVER RANCH
6. RUTH FIELDING ON CLIFF ISLAND
7. RUTH FIELDING AT SUNRISE FARM
8. RUTH FIELDING AND THE GYPSIES
9. RUTH FIELDING IN MOVING PICTURES
10. RUTH FIELDING DOWN IN DIXIE
11. RUTH FIELDING AT COLLEGE
12. RUTH FIELDING IN THE SADDLE
13. RUTH FIELDING IN THE RED CROSS
14. RUTH FIELDING AT THE WAR FRONT
15. RUTH FIELDING HOMEWARD BOUND
16. RUTH FIELDING DOWN EAST
17. RUTH FIELDING IN THE GREAT NORTHWEST
18. RUTH FIELDING ON THE ST. LAWRENCE
19. RUTH FIELDING TREASURE HUNTING
20. RUTH FIELDING IN THE FAR NORTH
21. RUTH FIELDING AT GOLDEN PASS
22. RUTH FIELDING IN ALASKA
23. RUTH FIELDING AND HER GREAT SCENARIO
24. RUTH FIELDING AT CAMERON HALL
25. RUTH FIELDING CLEARING HER NAME

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers New York



THE LINGER-NOT SERIES

By AGNES MILLER

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_This new series of girls' books is in a new, style of story writing.
The interest is in knowing the girls and seeing them solve the problems
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[Illustration]

1. THE LINGER-NOTS AND THE MYSTERY HOUSE _or The Story of Nine
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How the Linger-Not girls met and formed their club seems commonplace,
but this writer makes it fascinating, and how they made their club serve
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type of girlhood.

2. THE LINGER-NOTS AND THE VALLEY FEUD _or the Great West Point Chain_

The Linger-Not girls had no thought of becoming mixed up with feuds or
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3. THE LINGER-NOTS AND THEIR GOLDEN QUEST _or The Log of the Ocean
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For a club of girls to become involved in a mystery leading back into
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come into her rightful name and inheritance, forms a fine story.

4. THE LINGER-NOTS AND THE WHISPERING CHARM

_or The Secret from Old Alaska_

Whether engrossed in thrilling adventures in the Far North or occupied
with quiet home duties, the Linger-Not girls could work unitedly to
solve a colorful mystery in a way that interpreted American freedom to a
sad young stranger, and brought happiness to her and to themselves.

_Send for Our Free Illustrated Catalogue._

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_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. With colored jacket._

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_May Hollis Barton is a new writer for girls who is bound to win instant
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[Illustration]

1. THE GIRL FROM THE COUNTRY _or Laura Mayford's City Experiences_

2. THREE GIRL CHUMS AT LAUREL HALL _or The Mystery of the School by
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3. NELL GRAYSON'S RANCHING DAYS _or A City Girl in the Great West_

4. FOUR LITTLE WOMEN OF ROXBY _or The Queer Old Lady Who Lost Her Way_

5. PLAIN JANE AND PRETTY BETTY _or The Girl Who Won Out_

6. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE _or The Old Bachelor's Ward_

7. HAZEL HOOD'S STRANGE DISCOVERY _or The Old Scientist's Treasure
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8. TWO GIRLS AND A MYSTERY _or The Old House in the Glen_

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10. KATE MARTIN'S PROBLEM _or Facing the Wide World_

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[Illustration]

_The highest ideals of girlhood as advocated by the foremost
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1. THE GIRL SCOUT PIONEERS _or Winning the First B.C._

A story of the True Tred Troop in a Pennsylvania town. Two runaway
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The story of a timid little maid who is afraid to take part in other
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Luna Land, a little island by the sea, is wrapt in a mysterious
seclusion, and Kitty Scuttle, a grotesque figure, succeeds in keeping
all others at bay until the Girl Scouts come.

4. THE GIRL SCOUTS AT CAMP COMALONG _or Peg of Tamarack Hills_

The girls of Bobolink Troop spend their summer on the shores of Lake
Hocomo. Their discovery of Peg, the mysterious rider, and the clearing
up of her remarkable adventures afford a vigorous plot.

5. THE GIRL SCOUTS AT ROCKY LEDGE _or Nora's Real Vacation_

Nora Blair is the pampered daughter of a frivolous mother. Her dislike
for the rugged life of Girl Scouts is eventually changed to
appreciation, when the rescue of little Lucia, a woodland waif, becomes
a problem for the girls to solve.

_Send for Our Free Illustrated Catalogue._

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers New York

THE BETTY GORDON SERIES

BY ALICE B. EMERSON

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors_

_Price per volume, 65 cents, postpaid_

[Illustration: ]

1. BETTY GORDON AT BRAMBLE FARM _or The Mystery of a Nobody_ At twelve
Betty is left an orphan.

2. BETTY GORDON IN WASHINGTON _or Strange Adventures in a Great City_
Betty goes to the National Capitol to find her uncle and has several
unusual adventures.

3. BETTY GORDON IN THE LAND OF OIL _or The Farm That Was Worth a
Fortune_ From Washington the scene is shifted to the great oil fields of
our country. A splendid picture of the oil field operations of today.

4. BETTY GORDON AT BOARDING SCHOOL _or The Treasure of Indian Chasm_
Seeking treasures of Indian Chasm makes interesting reading.

5. BETTY GORDON AT MOUNTAIN CAMP _or The Mystery of Ida Bellethorne_
At Mountain Camp Betty found herself in the midst of a mystery.

6. BETTY GORDON AT OCEAN PARK _or School Chums on the Boardwalk_ A
glorious outing that Betty and her chums never forgot.

7. BETTY GORDON AND HER SCHOOL CHUMS _or Bringing the Rebels to Terms_
Rebellious students, disliked teachers and mysterious robberies.

8. BETTY GORDON AT RAINBOW RANCH _or Cowboy Joe's Secret_ Betty and
her chums have a grand time in the saddle.

9. BETTY GORDON IN MEXICAN WILDS _or The Secret of the Mountains_
Betty receives a fake telegram and finds both Bob and herself held for
ransom in a mountain cave.

10. BETTY GORDON AND THE LOST PEARLS _or A Mystery of The Seaside_
Betty and her chums go to the ocean shore for a vacation and Betty
becomes involved in the disappearance of a string of pearls.

11. BETTY GORDON ON THE CAMPUS _or The Secret of the Trunk Room_ An
up-to-date college story with a strange mystery that is bound to
fascinate any girl reader.

_Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue_

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY. Publishers New York.

BILLIE BRADLEY SERIES

BY JANET D. WHEELER

_12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in full colors Price per volume, 65
cents, postpaid_

[Illustration]

1. BILLIE BRADLEY AND HER INHERITANCE _or The Queer Homestead at
Cherry Corners_ Billie Bradley fell heir to an old homestead that was
unoccupied and located far away in a lonely section of the country. How
Billie went there, accompanied by some of her chums, and what queer
things happened, go to make up a story no girl will want to miss.

2. BILLIE BRADLEY AT THREE-TOWERS HALL _or Leading a Needed Rebellion_
Three-Towers Hall was a boarding school for girls. For a short time
after Billie arrived there all went well. But then the head of the
school had to go on a long journey and she left the girls in charge of
two teachers, sisters, who believed in severe discipline and in very,
very plain food and little of it--and then there was a row!

3. BILLIE BRADLEY ON LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND _or The Mystery of the Wreck_
One of Billie's friends owned a summer bungalow on Lighthouse Island,
near the coast. The school girls made up a party and visited the Island.
There was a storm and a wreck, and three little children were washed
ashore.

4. BILLIE BRADLEY AND HER CLASSMATES _or The Secret of the Locked
Tower_ Billie and her chums come to the rescue of several little
children who had broken through the ice. There is the mystery of a lost
invention, and also the dreaded mystery of the locked school tower.

5. BILLIE BRADLEY AT TWIN LAKES _or Jolly Schoolgirls Afloat and
Ashore_ A tale of outdoor adventure in which Billie and her chums have a
great variety of adventures. They visit an artists' colony and there
fall in with a strange girl living with an old boatman who abuses her
constantly.

6. BILLIE BRADLEY AT TREASURE COVE _or The Old Sailor's Secret_ A
lively story of school girl doings. How Billie heard of the treasure and
how she and her chums went in quest of the same is told in a peculiarly
absorbing manner.

_Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue_

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers New York





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