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   Chapter 4 CAPTIVATING PHANTOM

The Phantom Violin / A Mystery Story for Girls By Roy J. Snell Characters: 5307

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


The music to which Greta listened was unfamiliar. "Is it a song?" she whispered, "or an evening prayer? Who can have written it? Perhaps no one. It may have come direct from heaven."

She could not believe it. Someone was playing that violin. Real fingers touched those strings. She longed to search them out, to come before that mysterious person of great enchantment and whisper, "Teach me!"

Ah yes, but which way should she go? Already the shades of night were falling.

"No! No!" she cried as the music ended. "Don't stop! Go on, please go on!" It was as if the phantom violin were at her very side.

The music did not go on, at least not at once. Emerging from its spell as one wakes from a dream, she became once more conscious of the goodnight song of birds, the dull put-put-put of a distant motor, the cold black rocks beneath her feet, the dark waters far below where some object, probably Florence and Jeanne in the boat, moved slowly forward.

And then her lips parted, her eyes shone, for the phantom had resumed his song of the strings.

* * * * * * * *

In strange contrast to all this, Florence continued her battle with the big fish. In this struggle she was meeting with uncertain fortune. Now she had him, and now he was gone. She reeled in frantically, only to lose her grip on the reel and to see her catch disappear in a swirl of foam. At last, when her muscles ached from the strain, the fish appeared to give up and come in quite readily.

"There! There he is!" Jeanne all but fell from the boat when she caught one good look at the monster. He was fearsome beyond belief, a great head like that of a wolf, two rows of gleaming teeth, a pair of small, snake-like eyes. And, to complete the picture at that moment over the bottle-green waters a long ripple ran like a long green serpent.

"Florence!" she screamed. "Let go! It's a snake! A forty-foot long snake!" The slight little girl hid her eyes in her hands.

No need for this appeal. In a wild whirl of foam the thing was gone again. But still fastened to his bone-like jaw was the three-barbed hook. And the line, as Florence had said, was "stout as a cowboy's lariat." She had him. Did she want him? Who, at that moment, could tell?

Strangely enough, at that moment one of those thoughts that come to us all uninvited, entered the big girl's mind. "What did that diver on the black boat want on our wreck?"

No answer to this disturbing question entered her mind. They had left the ship unguarded. They had come to Duncan's Bay prepared to stay at least for the night. That they would stay she knew well, for the wind was rising again. To face tho

se dark, turbulent waters at night would be perilous. "What may happen to the ship while we are gone?" she asked herself. Again, no answer.

* * * * * * * *

The melody, faint, coming from afar, indistinct yet unbelievably beautiful, having reached Greta's ears once more and entered into her very soul, she stood as before, entranced, while the light faded. She was, however, thinking hard.

"Where can it be, that violin?" she whispered.

Where indeed? On that end of Isle Royale there are two small settlements. To reach the nearest one from that spot would require three hours of struggling through bushes, down precipices and over bogs. The traveler would be doing very well indeed if he did not completely lose his way in the bargain. It was unthinkable that any skilled violinist would undertake such a journey only that he might fling his glorious music to the empty air about the Greenstone Ridge. It was even more unthinkable that anyone could have taken up his abode somewhere among the crags of that ridge. On Isle Royale there are summer homes only along the shore line, and there are very few of these. The three hundred and more square miles of the island are for the most part as wild and uninhabited as they must have been before the coming of Columbus.

"It is a phantom!" Greta whispered, "A phantom of the air, a phantom violin."

Had she willed it strongly enough, she might have gone racing away in fear. She did not will it. The music was too divine for that. It held her charmed.

What piece was it the mysterious one played? She did not know or care; enough that it was played. So she stood there drinking it in while twilight faded into night. Only once had she heard such music. In a crowded hall a young musician had stood up and, all unaccompanied, had played like that.

Could it be he? "No! No!" she murmured. "It cannot be. He is far, far away."

Then a thought all but fantastic entered her mind. "Perhaps I have radio-perfect ears." She had heard of people, read of them in some magazine, she believed, whose ears were so attuned to certain radio sounds that they could receive messages, listen to music with their unassisted ears.

"It has never been so before," she protested. "Yet I never before have been in a place of perfect peace and silence." The thought pleased her.

And then, as it had begun, the marvelous music died away into silence.

For ten minutes the girl stood motionless. Then, seeming to awake with a shudder to the darkness all about her, she snapped on her flashlight and went racing over the narrow moose trail leading away to the distant camping grounds of Duncan's Bay.

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