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   Chapter 14 TWO BLACK HORSES AND A COFFIN

Hour of Enchantment / A Mystery Story for Girls By Roy J. Snell Characters: 4965

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


For a full half hour the little French girl reposed upon that luxurious couch. Now and again her slender fingers touched the folds of her filmy gown. Often her eyes wandered from pictures to tapestries, then to little touches everywhere that told of lavish expenditure.

As a kitten lying on the doorstep basks in the sunshine, she basked in the warmth of elegance that was all about her.

"I am Lorena LeMar," she was telling herself. "I am no longer a very careful little French girl. I am care-free, extravagant. I must tip the porter and the bell boy. I must ride in a taxi. I must-

"Oh!" she exclaimed, springing to her feet. "I came near to forgetting. We must go to the Tavern. I must see Jensie."

"To-night?"

"At once."

Jeanne was out of her finery and into street clothes in a jiffy.

"Now down the elevator and into a taxi." They were away like a streak. "You see," she explained, "there is so very much I do not know about those blessed mountains. Jensie must tell me. She must go with me to-morrow. Ah! That most terrible to-morrow!" she sighed.

Florence scarcely heard her. She was thinking of many things, of the long-eared Chinaman, of Erik Nord's story, of the three-bladed knife and last but not least of Jensie and her "haunts."

"Jeanne," she said quite suddenly, "you didn't believe that, did you?"

"Believe what?" Jeanne's tone showed her astonishment.

"Oh," Florence laughed, "I forgot you were not reading my mind. You don't believe that a ghost was playing the reed organ in the Tavern that night, do you?"

"What should one believe? You saw no one?"

"No one."

"And the doors were locked?"

"Of course."

"The windows, too?"

"Yes, I-I'm sure of it."

"Well then, what shall we say?"

Florence gave up. Jeanne was at heart a gypsy. And for gypsies all manner of curious creatures are real, ghosts and devils, goblins and witches, all quite real, so what could she say?

It was a dark and gloomy night. Black clouds hurried over the black waters of Lake Michigan. The Tavern seemed dark, mysterious, uninviting. Yet, as ever, there was the pale light, the low fire of coals, the slender girl scrubbing on hands and knees.

"Jensie," said Jeanne. Her voice was low and friendly when at last they sat before the fire, which had been made to glow a little. "Jensie, when the big show is over, shall you go back to your mountain home?"

"It is beautiful." Jensie spoke slowly, and with seeming reluctance. "Y-e

-s, I shall probably go back."

"But you do not wish it?" Jeanne was surprised.

"I have been through eighth grade down there. It is as far as I can go. I walked four miles every morning and night for that. I-I would like to study-study more."

"Where?" Jeanne's voice was low.

"There is a place-" The mountain girl's voice took on a new note of enthusiasm. "Such a beautiful place! A school. Lena, my chum, is there now. Her father has a coal mine.

"And this place-" She stared at the fire. "There are trees, great spreading elm trees, very old. And the brown stone building at the top of the hill is old, all grown over with ivy. Some of the teachers are old too. Their hair is like silver. But they are kind, oh so very kind. And they teach you so much. I have visited there. I know." Her voice fell.

"Is it far?" Jeanne asked.

"Only an hour's ride from here."

"We shall go there some time, you and I.

"But Jensie-" The little French girl was all business now. "To-morrow I must go out to the lot."

"The lot?"

"Where they make moving pictures. Will you go with me?"

"I'd love to."

"Will you help me? Will you tell me if the trees are wrong, if the porch on the cabin is right, if the old mountaineer says his lines right?"

"I-I'll do all I can."

"Jensie," Jeanne threw her arms about her. "You are a dear! We will make a picture, oh, such a marvelous picture of the land where your great Lincoln was born. And I-I shall be famous as-as Lorena LeMar. And you, ah, well, I shall not tell you now, but if we succeed you shall have something so very wonderful!"

Releasing her little mountain friend, she went flying away down the dark room in a wild gypsy dance.

Ten seconds later, she was back on tiptoe, her face white with terror.

"The hearse!" she whispered hoarsely. "There are now two black horses and a coffin. It moves! Oh, it moves!"

It was a full five minutes before even the stout-hearted Florence found courage to drive her reluctant feet down the long room. When she did, and had taken one look out of the window, she returned in haste.

"It's gone," she murmured hoarsely, "the hearse is gone!"

"I told you!" Jeanne repeated. "Two black horses and a coffin."

"Haunts!" Jensie's tone was solemn. "The hearse will be back there in the morning."

"Will it?" Florence asked herself.

Gliding silently out of the room, they locked the door, then hurried away into the darkness with not a single backward look.

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