MoboReader > Literature > Ruth Fielding in the Great Northwest; Or, The Indian Girl Star of the Movies

   Chapter 3 IN THE RING

Ruth Fielding in the Great Northwest; Or, The Indian Girl Star of the Movies By Alice B. Emerson Characters: 9130

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

"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!

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