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The Phantom Violin / A Mystery Story for Girls By Roy J. Snell Characters: 7146

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

It is not difficult to imagine Jeanne's wild joy when, after an hour of disappointment because she had no boat for rowing to Duncan's Bay, she saw the gay gypsy boat slip from out the Narrows and head straight for the spot where she stood upon the sloping deck.

"Oh!" she cried to Greta. "They are coming! Florence has found them. She knows how I love gypsies who are good. She will bring them." She sprang into a dance so wild that Greta thought she would spin quite off the deck and go flying through the air to meet the gay white boat.

"It can't be Bihari!" she exclaimed at last, throwing herself down upon the deck. "It just cannot be!"

It was Bihari for all that. The schooner was still an arm's length from the side of the wreck when with one wild leap Jeanne was in Madame Bihari's strong arms.

"Jeanne! My Petite Jeanne!" the good woman cried. Tears stood in her eyes. "Jeanne, you are with us once more!"

There followed hours of great joy, of music and feasting; telling of stories, too.

"In France," Bihari said to Jeanne, "all is beautiful. Every day grows longer without you. We said, 'Well, we will return to America.' And here we are.

"We came to Chicago. You were not there. We came to the shore of Lake Superior. You were not there. They said, 'She is on an island, Isle Royale.' We said, 'Take our vans. We must have a boat.' See! We have a boat. Is it not a jolly one? And we have you!

"And see!" he exclaimed, pointing at a brown mass of fur against the cabin. "See, we have found you a bear. He is almost as wise as your other one. And Mama here has taught him some of your dances.

"Come!" he exclaimed, poking the sleeping bear with his foot. "Come! Dance for us!"

Unrolling himself, the bear stood up. At first, still groggy with sleep, he looked more like an empty sack trying to play it was a man. When Bihari seized his violin and began to play, it was as if the bear were run by a motor and the current was suddenly turned on. He began hopping about in a most grotesque manner. Soon he and Jeanne were doing a wild, weird dance.

Florence, accustomed to all this from the past, sat looking on in silence. Greta too was silent. Yet how strange it all seemed to her!

"Bravo!" Bihari shouted when the dance was over. "We will visit the island. We will go to every place where there are people. They shall have music and dancing, such entertainment as they have never known before."

The days that followed were one round of joy for the little French girl. The old wreck became once more a pleasure ship. Flags and bunting were hung on every brace and spar. The deserted cabins overflowed with life and echoed sounds of joy from dawn to dark.

Great flat boxes of clay were brought from the mainland. On these campfires were kindled. Their red and yellow gleam might be seen wavering upon the water far and near. Strange dishes were prepared in kettles hung over these fires. They feasted, danced, sang and told stories by the hour. Both Jeanne and Florence lived the life of the open as they had lived it in France with Bihari and his band.

As for the dark-eyed Greta, it was all so wild and strange she could only sit shyly smiling in a corner, both charmed and bewildered by the ways of these people of the open road.

At times she stole away to the prow. One night, when songs were loudest, she took her violin from beneath her arm and played to the rushing waves. Then again she would sit staring away toward the land where no light shone, dreaming strange dreams.

"Gold," she would murmur, "a barr

el of gold. Florence said there might be a barrel of gold buried on the camping ground.

"But that," she would exclaim, "that is absurd!" In spite of all her denials, the conviction clung to her that somehow, somewhere a barrel of gold would play an important part in her life.

"Wonder how much that would be?" she murmured. "Enough for-for everything?" For a long time she had wished to study violin under a very great master, and had not been able.

"Money, money, money," she whispered now. "Some have much more than they need, and some none at all. How strange life is!"

Finding in this no source of joy, she gazed away toward the shores of Isle Royale, to dream that she was once more listening to the magic music of the phantom violin.

In this mood she took up her own violin and was soon lost to all else in an attempt to reproduce the notes of the haunting melody that had come to her that night.

To her unspeakable joy, she found she could catch here and there a few scattered notes. With time it came to her more and more.

So engrossed was she in this joyous adventure into the unknown, she did not know that the gypsy songs had ceased, that soft padded footsteps approached, that a little circle of eager listeners had gathered about her.

"Ah!" someone sighed as her last note died away.

Then, in consternation she became conscious of their presence.

"Magnificent!" Bihari exclaimed. "We have artists of the violin in France. Few play more wonderfully. What piece is that?"

"It-" Greta stared. "Why, that is the song of the phantom."

"Song of the phantom!"

Greta was obliged to tell her story.

"That is no phantom!" Bihari declared stoutly. "Some great artist is hidden away in those hills. Why? I wonder. I should like very much to hunt him out and sit at his feet. But tomorrow-no, the day after-we become water gypsies again. We must play and dance. Coins must jingle, for we must live.

"And you-" He turned eagerly to Jeanne. "You will go with us, round the island?"

"Yes! Yes! She will go, Jeanne will go!" The gypsy band, all old friends, swarmed about her. What more could she say but "Yes, I will go."

"And you," she cried, gathering Greta and Florence in her arms, "you will go also?"

"It would be a grand adventure," Florence replied, "but Greta is here, in part to rest and grow strong. I think we must stay and keep the ship until your return."

So in the end this was agreed upon. "And we," Greta whispered to Florence, "we shall go over to Duncan's Bay. We shall dig for a barrel of gold and hunt down the home of that phantom who plays so divinely."

"Yes," Florence agreed. "We will do just that." But in her own mind's eye was the face of a very ugly man. And that man was trying to cut off her head with an ashen oar.

Next day was Sunday. There was no wild and hilarious music on this day, for Bihari and his band were deeply religious. All day they sat about the ship, some in groups talking quietly, and some alone meditating on the ways of a great Creator who rules the waves and watches over His children in all their wanderings.

As darkness fell a bright fire was lighted. Bihari took down his violin and all joined in those sacred melodies that belong to all time, all lands and all people.

Next day, with many a shout of farewell, the gypsy bark sailed away. And in the prow, standing beside Bihari, was the little French girl.

"I'll be back in ten days," she shouted back as the wreck began to grow small in the distance.

"Will she?" Florence whispered. "I wonder."

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