Chapter XII. The Bobbseys Act




"Well, I guess the battle is over now," said Bert, after a while. The cannon had stopped firing, and the "soldiers" no longer "shot" at each other with their rifles.

"See, the men on horses have captured the other men," spoke Harry. And he pointed to where the cavalry had surrounded a number of the foot soldiers, or infantry, as they are called, and were driving them over the fields toward some log cabins.

"They must have built those log houses on purposes for the moving picture play," said Uncle Daniel. "For they weren't here the other day, when I was over in this valley."

"Very likely they did," agreed Mr. Bobbsey. "It takes a great deal of work to make a moving picture play now-a-days, and often a company will build a whole house, only to set fire to it, or tear it down to make a good picture."

"If they set a house on fire," broke in Freddie, "I could put it out with my fire engine, and I'd be in the movies then."

"Oh, you and your fire engine!" laughed Bert, ruffling up his little brother's hair. "You think you can do anything with it."

"Well, I stopped the turkey gobbler from eating up Snoop," Freddie cried. "Didn't I?"

"So you did!" exclaimed Harry. "You and your fire engine are all right, Freddie."

The soldiers who had fallen off their horses, or who had toppled over in the grass, to pretend that they were shot in battle, now got up-- "coming to life," Bert called it.

The battle scene was over, but the men were not yet done using the cameras, for they took them farther down the valley toward the log cabins. The soldiers were now grouped around these buildings, and Bert and Harry could see several ladies, in brightly colored dresses, mingled with the soldiers in uniform.

"I wonder what they are doing now?" asked Bert.

"Oh, taking a more peaceful scene for the movies," answered his father. "They have had enough of war, I guess."

"That would suit Flossie," remarked Uncle Daniel with a laugh.

The valley was now quiet, but over it hung a cloud of smoke from the cannon. The wind was, however, blowing the smoke away.

"Can we go up to the log cabins and watch them make more pictures, father?" asked Bert.

"Well, yes, I guess so; if you don't get in the way of the cameras. Do you want to come?" asked Mr. Bobbsey of Uncle Daniel. "You don't often get a chance to see moving pictures out here, I guess. Better come."

"No, not now, thank you," was the answer, "I must get back and look after my tomatoes. They need to be picked. But you can go on with the boys."

So Mr. Bobbsey took Bert and Harry up to where other moving pictures were being made. The boys did not understand all that was being done, but they watched eagerly just the same.

They saw men and soldiers talking to the ladies, who were members of the moving picture company. Then they saw soldiers, who pretended to have been hurt in the sham-battle, being put on cots, and bandaged up.

"This is a make-believe hospital," Mr. Bobbsey explained to the boys." They want it to took as natural as possible, you see."

The boys watched while "doctors" went among the "wounded," giving them "medicine," all make-believe, of course. Then one of the ladies, dressed as a nurse, came through the rows of cots which were placed in the open air, under some trees.

"How do you like it?" asked one of the moving picture men of Mr. Bobbsey, coming over to where Bert's father was standing. The man had been turning the crank of one of the cameras, but, just then, he had nothing to do.

"It is very interesting," said Mr. Bobbsey. "We heard your firing and came over to look on. Are you going to be here long?"

"Only a few days. But there will be no more battle pictures. They cost too much money to make. The rest of the scenes will be more peaceful."

"That would suit my little girl," said Mr. Bobbsey, with a laugh. "She didn't like the cannon and guns."

"Oh, have you a little girl?" asked the moving picture man, who seemed to be one of those in charge of the actors and actresses.

"Yes, I have a little girl," Mr. Bobbsey replied.

"And these two boys?" asked the camera man.

"No, only one of the boys is mine," and Bert's father nodded at his son. "The other is my nephew."

"Do you live around here?" the man went on. "Excuse my asking you so many questions," he continued. "My name is Weston, and I have charge of making these moving pictures. We need some children to take small parts in one of the scenes, and, as we have no little ones in our company, I was wondering whether we could not get some country boys and girls to pose for us, or, rather, act for us, for we want them to move, not to just stand still. And I thought if you lived around here," he said to Mr. Bobbsey, "you might know where we could borrow a dozen children for an hour or so."

"I don't live here," Mr. Bobbsey replied, "but I am staying on my brother's farm. What sort of acting do you want the children to do for the moving pictures?"

"Oh, something very simple. You see, one of the ladies in our company is supposed to be a school teacher before the war breaks out. We have taken the war scenes already--that sham battle you looked at was all we need of that.

"The school teacher goes to the front as a nurse, but before she goes, we want a scene showing her in front of the school surrounded by her pupils."

"I see," said Mr. Bobbsey.

"Now we have the schoolhouse," said Mr. Weston, "or, rather, there is an old schoolhouse down the road that will do very nicely to photograph. We have permission to use it, as this is vacation time. We also have the lady who will act as the teacher, and, later as the Red Cross nurse. But we need children to act as school pupils.

"I thought perhaps you might know of some children who would like to act for the movies," the man went on. "It will take only a little time, and it will not be at all unpleasant. They will just have to act naturally, as any school children would do."

"Well, I have four children of my own," said Mr. Bobbsey, as he thought of his two sets of twins, "and my brother has a boy. There are also several children in the village. Perhaps it could be arranged to have their pictures taken."

"I hope it can!" exclaimed Mr. Weston. "I'll talk to you about it in a few minutes. I must go see about this hospital scene now."

He hurried away, while Bert and Harry looked at one another.

"Do you want to be in the movies?" asked Mr. Bobbsey.

"I don't mind," spoke Harry, smiling.

"Neither do I," added Bert. "Freddie would like it, too, but Flossie wouldn't come if they shot any guns."

"They wouldn't shoot guns where children were," said Mr. Bobbsey. "I'll see what your mother, and Uncle Daniel and Aunt Sarah say."

Later that day the moving picture man explained just what was wanted, and as Mrs.

Bobbsey and Aunt Sarah had no objections, it was decided to let the Bobbsey twins, as well as Harry, take part in the moving pictures. Tom Mason, Mabel Herold and some others of the country village were also to be in the scene.

It was taken, or "filmed," as the moving picture people say, the next morning. Down to the old schoolhouse, on the country road, went the children, laughing and talking, a little bit shy, some of them.

But the actress who was to pretend to be a school teacher was so nice that she soon made the little children feel at ease. Flossie and Freddie loved her from the first, and each insisted upon walking along with her, hand in hand.

"That will make a pretty picture," said the moving picture man. "Just walk along the road, Miss Burns," he said to the actress, "with Flossie on one side, and Freddie on the other. I'll take your pictures as if you were going to school."

This was done. Flossie and Freddie soon forgot that they were really "acting" for the movies, and were as natural as could be wished.

"I--I've got a fire engine!" said Freddie, as he trudged along with the actress-teacher.

"Have you, indeed?" she asked pleasantly. "Don't look at the camera," she cautioned Flossie. "Just pretend it isn't there."

"And I've got a doll!" Flossie said, not to let Freddie get the best of her.

"And my fire engine pumps real water," Freddie went on, "and I squirted it on our cat and on the old turkey gobbler."

"Oh, but why did you do that?" asked the actress. "Wasn't that unkind?"

"Oh, no!" exclaimed Freddie, his eyes big and round. "The gobbler was pinching our cat's tail, and Snoop was scratching the turkey. I had to squirt water on them to make them stop."

"Oh, I see!" exclaimed Miss Burns with a jolly laugh.

"Well, anyhow, my doll can open and shut her eyes," said Flossie. "So I don't care!"

"That's enough of that scene," said Mr. Weston. "Now all you children crowd up around the school steps, as if you were going in after the last bell had rung. Pretend you are going into school."

The village children were a little bashful at first, but Bert, Nan and Harry, taking the lead, showed them what to do, and after one trial everything went off well.

The children grouped themselves about the actress-teacher, who clasped her arms about the shoulders of as many as she could reach. It made a pretty scene in front of the old school-house, with the green trees for a background. The use of the school had been allowed the moving picture company for the day.

"Now play about, as if it were recess," directed Mr. Weston, after the first scene had been taken. "Be as natural as you can. And you grown folks please keep back out of the way," he asked, for Mrs. Bobbsey and a number of the fathers and mothers had come to see their children pose for the moving picture camera.

By this time the children had lost their bashfulness, and were acting as naturally as though they really were at school. They played tag and other simple games, while the camera clicked their images on the celluloid film. Miss Burns, as the teacher, took part in some of the girls' games.

"Now I want a larger boy and girl to walk down the road together, the boy carrying the girl's books," said Mr. Weston. "You'll do," he went on to Nan, "and you," to Harry. Soon the two cousins were strolling along, having their pictures taken.

"I want to go with Nan!" cried Freddie "I want my picture taken some more."

"Not now, dear," said Miss Burns, who was not in the scene with Nan and Harry. "Wait a little."

"No, I want to go with Nan now," insisted Freddie, and he broke from the hand of the actress and rushed after his sister.

"Oh, he'll spoil the picture!" cried Bert, solicitously. "Come back, Freddie; that's a good boy!"

But Freddie did not intend to come back.

"Nan, Nan! Wait for me!" begged Freddie.

Nan did not know what to do. She had been told to walk down the road, pretending to talk to Harry, and to take half an apple which he would hand her, in view of the camera.

"That's all right--let the little fellow get into the picture," directed Mr. Weston. "It will make it all the prettier."

So Freddie had his wish, to walk beside his sister. But he had not gone far before he saw, on the edge of a little brook, a bright red flower.

"I'm going to get it!" he cried. "I can hold it in my hand. It will look nice in the picture."

"No, no!" cried Nan. "Stay with me, Freddie."

"Going to get the flower!" he shouted, as he ran on ahead.

And, just as he reached the edge of the brook, his foot slipped, and down he went with a great splash, into the water.

"Oh, Freddie's fallen in! Freddie's fallen in!" cried Nan, rushing forward.

"I'll pull him out!" cried the man grinding away at the crank of the camera.

"No, you stay there and get the moving picture," said Mr. Watson. "It will make a funny scene, and Freddie is in no danger. The water isn't deep! I'll get him out!"

"That's the second time Freddie's fallen in," said Bert, as he ran toward the brook.

"Help me out! Help me out!" sobbed Freddie, splashing about in the water.



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