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The Phantom Violin / A Mystery Story for Girls By Roy J. Snell Characters: 8240

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

The little drama, in which Florence and Jeanne played major roles, continued.

Duncan's Bay is primeval. Not an abandoned shack marks its shores, not a tree has been cut down. When darkness "falls from the wings of night" this bottle-green bay, reflecting the trees, shut in by the gloom of the forest, casts a spell over every soul who chooses to linger there.

It is a solitary spot. Six miles away, around a wind-blown, wave-washed point there are human habitations, none nearer. Little wonder, then, that the frail, blond-haired Jeanne should renew her pleading.

"Florence, let that thing go!"

The "thing" of course was a living creature caught on Florence's hook at the end of the stout line.

"But Jeanne," the big girl remonstrated, "I can't let him go!"

"Cut the line!" Jeanne was insistent.

"It cost two dollars. And that red and white spoon cost another dollar. Shall I throw three dollars into the lake?

"Besides," Florence began reeling in once more, "the thing's a fish, not a snake. There are no boa constrictors in America. He's just a big, old northern pike. Looks like a snake, that's all.

"I-I'll bring him in," she panted. "You just take a good look."

She reeled in fast. The fish, at last weary of battle, came in without a struggle and, for one full moment lay there upon the surface of the water. A magnificent specimen of his kind, he must have measured close to four feet from tip to tail. His eyes and cruel teeth gave him a savage look, but in that failing light his sleek, mottled sides were truly beautiful.

"Wolf of the waters," Florence murmured. "Truly you do not deserve to live! If a herring, gorgeous flash of silver, passes your way, there is a mad swirl and his favorite pool knows him no more. The beautiful speckled trout and the perch fare no better. Even little baby ducklings that sport about on the surface are not safe from your cruel jaws. A swirl, a frantic quack, qua-a-ack, and he is gone forever. And yet," she mused, "who am I that I should set myself up as a judge of wild life?"

"Florence," Jeanne pleaded, "let him go! What do we want with him?"

"Why! Come to think of it, we couldn't really make much use of him." Florence laughed a merry laugh. "Must weigh twenty pounds."

"And if you put him in the boat he might bite you," Jeanne argued.

"Or break a leg with his tail." Florence laughed once more.

She flipped the line. The red and white spoon shot to right and left. She did it again. The fish turned. A third time the spoon rattled. There was a swirl of white waters, then darkness closed in upon the spot where the fish had been.

"He-he's gone!" Jeanne gasped.

"Yes. I gave him his freedom." Florence lifted the red and white spoon from the water to send it rattling to the bottom of the boat. "But think of the picture he would have made! 'Pike caught by girl in Duncan's Bay on Isle Royale.' Can't you just see it?

"But after all," she mused as the darkness deepened, "I don't think so much of that kind of publicity. If we could only have our pictures taken with some innocent wild creature we have saved from destruction, how much better that would be."

There was about this last remark an element of prophecy. But unconscious of all this, Florence took up the oars and prepared for a moonlit row back to the camping grounds.

"Listen!" She suddenly held up a hand for silence.

Across the narrow bay there ran a whisper. Next moment the glassy surface was broken by ten million ripples. At the same time a cloud covered the moon, and the world went inky black.

Directing her course more by instinct than sight, Florence sent her boat gliding right to the bottle necked entrance to the bay. Then the moon came out.

For some time they sat in their tiny craft and stared in amazement. Beyond the entrance to Duncan's Bay lies a mile of jagged, rock-walled shore line. Against this wall waves were now breaking. As the two girls watched, they saw white sheets of foam rise thirty feet in air to spray one section of rocky wall only to rush on and on out to sea until it ended in a final burst

of fury far away.

"Well," Florence sighed, "we're here for the night, whether we like it or not.

"I wonder-" her tone changed. "Wonder if Greta's back."

Greta was not back. As they grounded their boat on the sandy beach, no dancing sprite came to meet them. Florence cupped her hand for a loud "Whoo-hoo!"

"Whoo-hoo," came echoing back from the other shore. After that the woods and waters were still. Only the distant sound of rushing waters against rocky shores beat upon their ears.

"We'll build a rousing campfire," Florence said as she sprang ashore. "If she's lost her way she'll see the light."

A small, dead fir tree offered tinder. The scratch of a match, then the fire flamed high. Larger branches of poplar and mountain ash gave a steadier blaze. "She's sure to see that," Florence sighed as she settled down upon a log.

There was not long to wait. Greta had indeed caught sight of that bursting flame. She had not, however, been lost. Truth is, she had never been lost in her life. There are those who have the gift of location; they always know where they are. It was so with Greta.

"Girls! Oh, girls!" She came bursting through the bush. "The strangest thing! A violin! A phantom violin! I'm sure it was a phantom. Who else could be playing so divinely up there on that ridge at this hour of the night? Such music!" She drew in a long breath. "Such music you never heard!"

She began a wild dance about the fire that surely must have equaled any performance there in the brave days of long ago when only Indians came to pitch their tents on this narrow camping ground.

"Now," said Florence as a broad smile overspread her face, "tell us what really happened up there on the ridge."

Greta did tell them. With the light of the fire playing upon her animated features, she told her story so convincingly that even Florence was more than half convinced that Greenstone Ridge truly was haunted by the ghost of some violinist of enduring fame.

"And after that, one more strange thing," Greta went on. "I went racing headlong down the trail until I almost pitched myself into the antlers of a giant moose who hadn't heard me coming. That frightened me. I went head first down the ridge to tumble against a tree. When I picked myself up I was at the top of one more rocky cliff.

"I stood there panting," she took in a long breath. "I listened for the moose. They don't chase you, do they?"

"Not often, I guess." Florence threw fresh fuel on the fire. "Well, this one didn't. But I was afraid he might. So I waited and listened." Greta paused.

"It was dark by that time," she went on at last. "I looked down where you should be, and saw nothing. I looked back at the ridge. It sort of curves there, and-" Again she took a long breath. "I saw a light, thin, pale green light. It seemed to hover on the side of the ridge. I-it-it frightened me. At first it seemed to move. 'It's coming this way!' I told myself. And you'd better believe my heart danced.

"But it didn't move. Just hung there against the rocks. So, pretty soon I climbed back up to the trail and ran, fast as I dared.

"Now," she sighed, "what do you think of that?"

"I think," Florence chuckled, "you have been seeing things!"

"And hearing them," Jeanne added.

"But you don't think-" Greta spoke in a sober tone. "You don't think that music could have been played on the radio? That my ears picked it up?"

"No," Florence replied at once. "I think that's nonsense."

But the little French girl was not sure. She had heard of such things. Why doubt them altogether? Besides, here was a beautiful, glorious mystery. What more could one ask?

"Greta, I envy you!" She threw her arms about the little musician. "You are the discoverer of a great mystery. But we shall unravel this mystery together, you and I. Is it not so? Mais oui! And Florence," she added, "our big, brave Florence, she shall protect us from all evil."

In the end Florence was to have a word or two to say about this. If there were mysteries to solve, she must play some more active part than merely that of policeman.

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