16. The Moving Picture
 

When the two Rover boys arrived at the railroad station at Oak Run, they were a little surprised to find themselves once more confronted by the moving picture people they had met on the river.

"Hello! So you are following us up, are you?" said the man who had handled the gun. But he smiled as he spoke, because he saw that the boys carried dresssuit cases and were equipped for traveling.

"Have you taken your picture of the railroad station yet?" questioned Tom.

"We've had one scene in front of the ticket office," returned the man. "But our main scene we shall pull off when the train comes in-- or rather, when it pulls out."

"Perhaps you'll want us in it, after all," broke in Sam.

"See here! If you fellows want to get in this picture, just say so and I guess I can arrange it," said the man who had handled the megaphone in the scene on the river, and who was, evidently, the director of the company.

"That depends on what you want us to do," declared Tom.

"Oh, you won't have much to do. You see, it's like this," went on the manager. "This man who did the shooting wants to escape. He runs up to the railroad station here and buys his ticket-- we have that part of it already. Then he is supposed to be in hiding behind yonder freighthouse. When the train comes in, he waits for all other passengers to get on board, then, as the train pulls out, he rushes forward and catches on the last car. At the same time one of the other fellows rushes out as if to catch him, but he is too late. Now, if you want to get into the scene, you get on the train just before she starts and stand on the back platform."

"Let's do it, Tom; it will be quite a lark!" exclaimed Sam.

"I'm willing," answered his brother; and so the matter was arranged. Then the boys hurried into the ticket office, to get their tickets to New York.

In the office they found old man Ricks, the station agent, grumbling to himself.

"Wot ye want?" he demanded, sourly, as he looked at the Rovers.

"Two tickets to New York, Mr. Ricks," returned Tom. "What's the matter?"

"Wot's the matter, huh? A whole lot, I should say!" declared old Ricks, as he began to make out the tickets. "A lot o' them movin' picter fellers been in here cuttin' up like mad."

"What did they do?" asked Sam, curiously.

"Huh! what didn't they do?" retorted the station master. "Come in here, an' knocked over a box an' a basket, rushed up to the winder, an' the next thing I knew, he had planked down a lot o' money, an' when I stuck my head out the winder here, that feller pretended to grab up a ticket wot I didn't give him at all, an' took up his money and dusted out the door. At the same time while this was goin' on, 'nother feller had a light turned on this here winder wot nearly blinded me, and the feller with that funny lookin' camera was a-turnin' the crank to beat the cars!"

"They were only taking a moving picture, Mr. Ricks," declared Sam. "You shouldn't object to that."

"Huh! I ain't hired by the railroad company to get in no movin' picter," growled the station master. "I'm here to 'tend to the railroad business, and nothin' else."

"Never mind, Mr. Ricks, if they've got you in the picture you ought to be proud of it," declared Tom. "Think of the millions and millions of people all over the world who will be looking at you when they visit the moving picture theaters."

"Huh! I ain't no movin' picter actor, I ain't," snorted old Ricks. "I'm a decent, respectable member o' this community, an' I'm a church member, too. I ain't got no use for them movin' picter shows. It's a waste o' good money, that's jest wot it is," and then Ricks shuffled off to attend to some baggage that had come in.

With their tickets in their pockets, the two Rover boys rejoined the moving picture company on the railroad platform. They were quite interested in watching the camera man set up his machine, and asked him several questions regarding its operation. Then they heard a well-known whistle down the track, and knew that their train was coming.

"All ready, there!" cried the manager of the moving picture company. "Now, don't make a fizzle of it, Jake."

"I won't, unless the train pulls out too quickly," returned Jake. "I am not going to get killed, though."

"Well, you've got to take some chances in this business," said the manager, coolly.

There were six or eight passengers getting off the train, and about an equal number to board the cars. As they had been instructed, the Rover boys got on the rear platform of the last car, and stood in the doorway looking back on the tracks. Tom pretended that he was waving his hand to somebody in the distance.

As the train began to move, and while the camera man was taking the picture, one of the actors, as agreed, rushed across the platform and got hold of the rail of the last step. Then, as he pretended to have hard work to pull himself up, the second actor came running down the platform, shaking his fist at the man who was escaping. Then the train passed out of sight around the bend, and the little moving picture scene came to an end.

"Well, I'm glad that's over," declared he actor, as he followed the boys into the car. "I never like the scenes where I am in danger of getting hurt."

"You certainly must have a strenuous time of it," declared Sam; and then he added quickly: "Are you going to New York with us?"

"Oh, no. I'm to get off at the first station and take another train back to Oak Run. The crowd will wait for me. We have some scenes to do at a farmhouse." And then, as he had a ride of ten minutes, the moving picture man told the boys of some things which had happened to him during his career as a movies' actor.

"How soon do you think they will show that picture?" asked Sam, when the man prepared to leave the train.

"In a week or two," was the answer. "I don't know the exact date for the release;" and then the man said good-bye and left them.

"Do you know, if I didn't have anything else to do, I wouldn't mind going into the moving picture business," remarked Tom, as the train rushed onward. "It must be lots of fun to be in the different scenes."

"Perhaps so, Tom. At the same time, those fellows must put up with a great number of inconveniences. Think of plunging into the water when it is cold, or into a burning building when the thermometer is over a hundred in the shade."

"Oh, I know that, and, come to think of it, I was reading only yesterday about a movies' actor who, in a war scene taken out on the Hackensack meadows, fell into a trench, and broke an arm and also a leg. Just the same, I wouldn't mind trying it."

"Maybe you'll get a chance some day."

On and on went the train, and, with little else to do, the boys discussed the situations at home and in the city.

"One thing is sure, Tom," said the youngest Rover, earnestly. "No matter what happens in New York, we mustn't let father know about it. I think the worry is worse for him than anything else."

"Oh, I agree on that. Even if we lose a lot of money, he must not know one word about it."

"Do you think we'll lose any money?"

"I don't know what to think. One thing is sure, something very much out of the way has happened, or Dick wouldn't have sent that telegram."

"Perhaps Pelter, Japson & Company haven't been as honest as they promised to be. Maybe they are holding back some of the securities that belong to dad."

"That may be so, too. At the same time, you must remember that Songbird's uncle is our attorney, and I don't think Mr. Powell would let them get away with very much. You'll remember what Dick wrote some time ago, that he had taken the office fixtures for part of the debt. That would seem to indicate that he had gotten everything from the firm that he could lay his hands on."

"I wonder if we'll ever meet that Barton Pelter again."

"Perhaps, although if he is a nephew of Jesse Pelter, it is more than likely he will keep out of sight, thinking that a meeting between us would be very unpleasant."

At one of the stops a dining car was attached to the train, and, as the boys were hungry, they lost no time in going in for the evening meal.

"Say, Tom, look there," whispered Sam, during the course of the repast, and, with a look from his eye, he indicated a man sitting on the other side of the car. The fellow was a tall, surly individual, plainly dressed. His face was somewhat flushed, as if he had been drinking.

"Why, that's the head gardener at Hope!" said Tom. "It is queer that he should be on this train, Sam!"

"If you'll remember, he lost his job at the seminary."

"He did? I didn't hear anything of that."

"Oh, yes, Grace told me about it. He was a splendid gardener, but every once in a while he would drink too much, and then get into a quarrel with the other help, so they had to let him go."

"It's a shame that such fellows can't leave drink alone," was Tom's comment.

The man had settled himself, and ordered quite an elaborate dinner. He was in the midst of eating, with the Rover boys paying little attention to him, when he happened to glance at them. He straightened up and stared in astonishment, and then looked decidedly uncomfortable.

"He's looking at us, Tom," whispered Sam.

"Well, let him look if he wants to. It doesn't cost anything," was the reply. And then Tom turned his head squarely, and stared at the former seminary gardener. Immediately, the man dropped his eyes, and went on with his meal. He soon finished, and, paying his bill, left the dining car in a hurry.

"That's a queer way to do," was Sam's comment. "He acted as if he didn't want us to see him."

"Maybe he is ashamed of himself for having lost his position," returned the brother. "Anyway, it's none of our business." And there the talk came to an end.