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   Chapter 25 OTHER SURPRISES

Ruth Fielding in the Great Northwest; Or, The Indian Girl Star of the Movies By Alice B. Emerson Characters: 20153

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


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

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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

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