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The Phantom Violin / A Mystery Story for Girls By Roy J. Snell Characters: 5628

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

As Florence and Jeanne sat there in the dark, whispering and wondering about the strange black schooner and its purpose in these waters, wondering too whether they dared light a candle and heat water for tea, something moved in the berth above their heads, and they became once more conscious of the third member of their party, Greta Clara Bronson.

You have been wondering perhaps how it came about that Jeanne and Florence, who spent so much of their time in great cities, were to be found living on this wreck off the primeval shores of Isle Royale. You will find the answer in the third girl, Greta Clara Bronson, who now slid her bare feet over the edge of the berth and prepared to descend.

Greta was slender, rather tall, with black hair, snapping black eyes, and a body that was a fine example of perpetual motion. At this moment she was recovering from an attack of hay fever and asthma. That is why she was here, why they were all here. Isle Royale is a rare retreat for hay fever victims.

Two months before Jeanne had met Greta and had fallen in love with her. Greta could dance almost as well as Jeanne. She played the violin "divinely," as Jeanne expressed it. So when, one midsummer day, Jeanne found her friend sitting up in bed panting for breath, and was told that only a summer on Isle Royale could bring back to her the joy of life, she had hurried away to find Florence. Together they had plotted and planned. And now, here they were.

But why on a wrecked ship? Are there no hotels on the island? Yes, there are four small hotels on Isle Royale. But what trio of happy, energetic, adventure-loving girls would choose a hotel rather than the deck of a wrecked ship for a summer outing? Some might, but not Florence, Greta, and Jeanne.

The only fear, expressed by them a half hour later over their tea, was that some unforeseen event might drive them from their strange retreat.

"Who's afraid?" Florence swung her stout arms wide. And who indeed could be, with Florence as her protector? Strong as a man, a physical director and a gymnast, tipping the scale at one hundred and sixty pounds, she could swim a mile, row a boat through tireless hours, and handle a gun with the best of men. Nor was the gun lacking, a short, business-like rifle hung above her berth.

"Not that you'll ever need it," Swen Petersen, a fine young fisherman who had loaned it to her, had said. "All us fisher folks are simple and honest. And you're not allowed to shoot animals on the Island. It's a game preserve. But you will like to look at my rifle sometimes." So he had left it.

Florence smiled as she recalled his words. She was enjoying "looking at it" this very moment. More than once she had taken it down to handle it lovingly. Once, on seeing a bit of wood bobbing in the water, she ha

d taken aim and fired. The short, stout rifle had a great roar to it. And Florence had a steady aim; she had split the wood in two, first shot.

"All the same," she thought to herself, "I wish people would not prowl around the boat at night. And what would one dive for?" she asked herself. "Three or four barrels of oil in the hold-surely they are not worth all that trouble."

Then it struck her all of a heap that here was a mystery and perhaps some great secret.

"Does this broken hulk of a ship hide some rich treasure?" she asked herself.

She laughed the thought down, but it bobbed up like a cork in water, more buoyant than ever.

"The ship's ghost is gone!" she exclaimed, springing up. "I wonder if those men will come back. I'm going to see."

"And leave us here?" Greta, too, was on her feet. Youngest of the trio, she was unaccustomed to wild, out-of-the-way places.

"Come along," Florence invited. "No ghost costumes though! Get into your long coats."

A moment later three dark shadows stole out upon the slanting deck of the wrecked ship.

"Boo!" Greta gripped Florence's stout arm. "How spooky it all is in the moonlight!"

"And just think!" Jeanne whispered. "Thousands of people have walked this deck, thousands upon thousands! The ship's more than forty years old. Thousands of those passengers will never walk any deck again. They are gone from this world forever."

"Oh-oh! Jeanne, don't talk like that!" dark-eyed Greta implored.

"But where's your black schooner?" Florence demanded.

"Gone for good, I guess," Jeanne said after scanning the dark waters.

"For good?" Florence murmured. "I wonder."

For a full half hour they marched arm in arm up and down the broad deck. During all that time not a dozen words were spoken. It was a time for thought, not for speech. Here they were, three girls alone on the deck of a wrecked ship. They hoped to make it their summer home. Were intruders to bring all this to an end?

"Not if I can help it!" Florence told herself.

"Swen told us we would not be disturbed," she thought. "No one lives near. The Tobin's Harbor settlement is five miles away. Blake's Point with its rugged reefs and wild waves lies between. Few small crafts pass that way.

"Ah well," she whispered to herself, "tomorrow we will row over to Duncan's Bay. Perhaps we shall find some trace of the black schooner there."

After that, for many long moments she gave herself over to contemplation of the scene of wild beauty that lay before her. The golden moon, dark waters, a shore line that was like a ghostly shadow, the wink and blink of a distant lighthouse, all this seemed a picture taken down from an art museum wall.

"Come!" she said at last, giving two slender arms a squeeze. "Come, we must go in. Tomorrow is another day."

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