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Ruth Fielding in the Great Northwest; Or, The Indian Girl Star of the Movies By Alice B. Emerson Characters: 7761

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

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 C?sar."

"Your tense is bad, little lady," said Helen. "C?sar, 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 ag

ree 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.

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