She gave a little gasp. “Oh, Phil, aren’t you—I mean—are you glad about it?”
“I don’t know,—Azalea,—it seems so queer—but, oh, look at that! Did you really do that, Azalea!”
For the girl on the screen had flung herself, bareback, on a vicious, bucking pony, and holding on by his mane, went through the most hairbreadth escapes, yet was not thrown. Indeed, she finally tamed the wild creature, and dashed madly off on her errand. This was the rescue of a baby who had been left behind, when those who should have looked after the child were themselves fleeing from a cyclone.
The scene was remarkably well staged, and the illusion of the cyclone wonderfully worked out.
The baby, left to the care of servants, was in a lightly built house that rocked in the blasts. It threatened to collapse at any minute, and Azalea, racing against time, in the face of the gale, spurred on her flying steed, and reached the house just as it crashed to ruins.
Flinging herself from the horse, she dashed into the piles of debris, and, the gale nearly blowing her off her feet, contrived to find the child.
Of course, in the taking of the picture, Fleurette had been in no danger whatever; in fact, had not been in the falling house at all, until time for Azalea to find her in the ruins.
But this was not apparent to the audience. To them it seemed that the baby must have been there all the time.
Van Reypen sat breathless, watching the screen with rapt attention.
He thought little of the baby’s danger, knowing the methods of making pictures, but he was lost in admiration of Azalea, her fine athletic figure, and her free, strong motions, as she battled with the winds and triumphantly snatched the baby from harm.
Then, the child in one arm, she flung herself again on the pony’s back, the animal prancing wildly, but tractable beneath Azalea’s determined guidance, and they were off like the wind itself to a place of safety. The wild ride was picturesque, if frightful, and there was a burst of applause from the spectators, as Azalea, panting, exhausted, but safe, at last reached her goal, and leaning down from the horse, placed the baby in the arms of its weeping, distracted mother.
Azalea’s beauty was of the sort that needs excitement or physical exertion to bring out its best effects and as she stood beside the quivering, spent horse, her own heart beating quickly, her own breath coming hard, she was a picture of vivid beauty.
Her dress was disordered, her hair hung in loosened coils, her collar was half torn off by the wind, but the happy smile and the justifiable pride in her success lighted up her countenance till it was fairly radiant.
“By cricky, you’re stunning!” exclaimed Phil, under his breath, as he grasped her hand in congratulation.
And so, because of his praise and appreciation Azalea forgot her fears of censure from the Farnsworths and gave herself up to the delights of the moment.