Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Victor Appleton > Moving Picture Boys on the War Front > This page

The Moving Picture Boys on the War Front, a novel by Victor Appleton

Chapter 4. All Aboard

< Previous
Table of content
Next >

Blake was about to make a sharp reply to the polite Frenchman, when he happened to remember what the commanding officer had said. That was that this man was, in reality, a guest of the nation. That he had come over instructed to give as much help as he could in getting the new soldiers in readiness to go "over the top."

"And so I guess I'd better not say what I was going to," mused Blake. Then, to Monsieur Secor he replied:

"I'm sorry, but we're not supposed to talk about our work without the permission of the commanding officer. You see----"

"Ah, I comprehend!" exclaimed the Frenchman, with another bow--a bow altogether too elaborate, Joe thought. "That is as it should be! Always obey orders. I asked, casually, as I am much interested in this motion picture work, and I have observed some of it in my country. So it was your films that I had the misfortune to spoil? I greatly regret it. I suppose it made much extra work for you."

"It did, Monsieur Secor," replied Joe rather shortly. "That is the work we are doing now."

"And if you will excuse us," went on Blake, "we shall have to leave this place and go to the other side of the parade ground. I'm sorry we cannot tell you more of our work, but you will have to get an order from----"

"Non! Non!" and the blue-uniformed officer broke into a torrent of rapid French. "It does not matter in the least," he began to translate. "I asked more out of idle curiosity than anything else. I will watch as much of your work as is permissible for me to see. Later I shall observe the finished films, I hope."

"If you don't bust 'em again!" murmured Macaroni, when out of the officer's hearing. "I wouldn't trust you any too much," he added, as he and the two chums moved away to get views of the soldiers from a different angle.

"What's wrong between you and Monsieur Secor?" asked Joe. "I mean, aside from his having run into you, which he claims was an accident?"

"Well, maybe it was an accident, and maybe it wasn't," said Charles.

"But that isn't all. I know you, Mac. What else do you mean?" demanded Blake, as Joe began to set up the camera in the new location.

"Well, I don't want to make any accusations, especially against a French officer, for I know they're on our side. But I heard that Sim and Schloss are pretty sore because you fellows got this work."

"Sim and Schloss!" repeated Blake. "That Jew firm which tried to cut under us in the contract for making views of animals in Bronx Park?"

"That's the firm," answered Macaroni. "But they're even more German than they're Jews. But that's the firm I mean. One of their camera men was telling me the other day they thought they had this army work all to themselves, and they threw a fit when they heard that Hadley had it and had turned it over to you."

"It goes to show that Duncan and Stewart are making a name for themselves in the moving picture world," said Blake, with a smile.

"It goes to show that you've got to look out for yourselves," declared Charlie Anderson. "Those fellows will do you if they can, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that this frog-eating chap was in with them, and maybe he spoiled your films on purpose, by running into me."

"Nonsense!" cried Blake, speaking confidently, though at heart a little doubtful. "In the first place. Monsieur Secor wouldn't do anything to aid a German firm. That's positive! Again he would have no object in spoiling our films."

"He would if he's in with Sim and Schloss," suggested Joe, taking sides with their helper. "If he could throw discredit on us, and make it appear that we were careless in doing our work, our rivals could go to the war department and, in effect, say: 'I told you so!' Then they could offer to relieve us of the contract."

"Well, I suppose that's true," admitted Blake. "And we haven't any reason to like Sim and Schloss either. But I don't believe they could plot so far as to get a French officer to help them as against us.

"No, Charlie," he went on, having half convinced himself by his reasoning, "I can't quite agree with you. I think it was an accident on the part of Monsieur Secor. By the way, what's his army title?"

"He's a lieutenant, I believe," answered Joe. "Anyhow, he wears that insignia. He's mighty polite, that's sure."

"Too polite," said Macaroni, with a grim smile. "If he hadn't waited for me to pass him the other day he might not have rammed me. Well, it's all in the day's work, I reckon. Here they come, boys! Shoot!"

Blake and Joe began grinding away at the camera cranks, with their helper to assist them. Charles Anderson was more than a paid employee of the moving picture boys. He was a friend as well, and had been with the "firm" some time. He was devoted and faithful, and a good camera man himself, having helped film many large productions.

In spite of what he had said, Blake Stewart was somewhat impressed by what Charles had told him. And for the next few days, during which he was busily engaged on retaking the films, he kept as close a watch as he could on Lieutenant Secor. However, the attitude and conduct of the Frenchman seemed to be above suspicion. He did not carry out his intention, if he really had it, of seeking permission from the commanding officer to observe more closely the work of Blake and Joe. And for a few days before the last of the new films had been taken the blue-uniformed officer was not seen around the camp.

Blake and Joe were too busy to ask what had become of him. Then, too, other matters engaged their attention. For a letter came from Mr. Hadley, telling them and Charles to hold themselves in readiness to leave for England at any time.

"It's all settled," wrote the producer. "I have signed the contracts to take moving picture films of our boys in the French trenches, and wherever else they go on the Western front. You will get detailed instructions, passes, and so on when you arrive on the other side."

"When do we sail?" asked Joe, after Blake had read him this letter, and when they were preparing to go back to New York, having finished their army camp work.

"The exact date isn't settled," answered his partner. "They keep it quiet until the last minute, you know, because some word might be flashed to Germany, and the submarines be on the watch for us."

"That's so!" exclaimed Joe. "Say, wouldn't it be great if we could get one?"

"One what?" asked Blake, who was reading over again certain parts of Mr. Hadley's letter.

"A submarine. I mean film one as it sent a torpedo to blow us out of the water. Wouldn't it be great if we could get that?"

"It would if the torpedo didn't get us first!" grimly replied Blake. "I guess I wouldn't try that if I were you."

"I'm going to, if I get a chance," Joe declared. "It would make a great film, even a few feet of it. We could sell it to one of the motion weeklies for a big sum."

"It's hardly worth the risk," said Blake, "and we're going to have plenty of risks on the other side, I guess."

"Does Mr. Hadley say how we are to go?" asked Joe.

"From New York to Halifax, of course, and from there over to England. They search the ship for contraband at Halifax, I believe, or put her through some official form.

"From England we'll go to France and then be taken to the front. Just what will happen when we get on the other side nobody knows, I guess. We're to report at General Pershing's headquarters, and somebody there, who has this stunt in hand, will take charge of us. After that it's up to you and Charles and me, Joe."

"Yes, I suppose it is. Well, we'll do our best!"

"Sure thing!" assented Blake.

"We will if some ninny of a frog-skinning Frenchman doesn't try to ram us with an airship!" growled Macaroni. He had never gotten over the accident.

"I believe you are growing childish, Mac!" snapped Blake, in unusual ill-humor.

The last of the army camp films had been made and sent in safety to the studios in New York, where the negatives would be developed, the positives, printed by electricity, cut and pasted to make an artistic piece of work, and then they would be ready for display throughout the United States, gaining recruits for Uncle Sam, it was hoped.

Blake and Joe said good-bye to the friends they had made at the Wrightstown camp, and, with Macaroni, proceeded to Manhattan. There they were met by Mr. Hadley, who gave them their final instructions and helped them to get their outfits ready.

"We'll take the regular cameras," said Blake, as he and Joe talked it over together, "and also the two small ones that we can strap on our backs."

"Better take the midget, too," suggested Joe.

"That's too small," objected the lanky helper. "It really is intended for aeroplane work."

"Well, we may get some of that," went on Joe. "I'm game to go up if they want me to."

"That's right!" chimed in Blake. "I didn't think about that. We may have to make views from up near the clouds. Well, we did it once, and we can do it again. Pack the midget, Charlie."

So the small camera went into the outfit that was being made ready for the steamer. As Blake had said, he and his partner had, on one occasion, gone up in a military airship from Governor's Island, to make some views of the harbor. The experience had been a novel one, but the machine was so big, and they flew so low, that there was no discomfort or danger.

"But if we have to go over the German lines, in one of those little machines that only hold two, well, I'll hold my breath--that's all!" declared Joe.

Finally the last of the flank films and the cameras had been packed, the boys had been given their outfits, letters of introduction, passports, and whatever else it was thought they would need. They had bidden farewell to the members of the theatrical film company; and some of the young actresses did not try to conceal their moist eyes, for Blake and Joe were general favorites.

"Well, do the best you can," said C. C. Piper to them, as he and some others accompanied the boys to the pier "somewhere in New York."

"We will," promised Blake.

"And if we don't meet again in this world," went on the tragic comedian, "I'll hope to meet you in another--if there is one."

"Cheerful chap, you are!" said Blake. "Don't you think we'll come back?"

Christopher Cutler Piper shook his head.

"You'll probably be blown up if a shell doesn't get you," he said. "The mortality on the Western front is simply frightful, and the percentage is increasing every day."

"Say, cut it out!" advised Charlie Anderson. "Taking moving pictures over there isn't any more dangerous than filming a fake battle here when some chump of an actor lets off a smoke bomb with a short fuse!"

At this reference to the rather risky trick C. C. had once tried, there was a general laugh, and amid it came the cry:

"All aboard! All ashore that's going ashore!"

The warning bells rang, passengers gathered up the last of their belongings, friends and relatives said tearful or cheerful good-byes, and the French liner, which was to bear the moving picture boys to Halifax, and then to England, was slowly moved away from her berth by pushing, fussing, steaming tugs.

"Well, we're off!" observed Blake.

"That's so," agreed Joe. "And I'm glad we've started."

"You aren't the only ones who have done that," said Macaroni. "Somebody else has started with you!"


For answer the lanky helper pointed across the deck. There, leaning up against a lifeboat, was Lieutenant Secor, smoking a cigarette and seemingly unconscious of the presence of the moving picture boys. _

Read next: Chapter 5. Anxious Days

Read previous: Chapter 3. Monsieur Secor

Table of content of Moving Picture Boys on the War Front


Post your review
Your review will be placed after the table of content of this book