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   Chapter 2 A PERFECT SHOT

Ruth Fielding in the Great Northwest; Or, The Indian Girl Star of the Movies By Alice B. Emerson Characters: 9219

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

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 ttfas ufitnistakably 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 a

nything 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.

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