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   Chapter 12 GOLD

The Phantom Violin / A Mystery Story for Girls By Roy J. Snell Characters: 7409

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Bihari and his gypsy band in their Ship of Joy had scarcely passed from sight around Blake's Point when the sun went under a cloud and a damp, chill wind came driving in from the north.

"Boo! How cold!" Greta wrapped her sweater tight about her.

With the gay flags down, the hilarious music stilled, the wreck seemed a cold, dull and lifeless place. "Something sinister and threatening about it," Florence thought.

To Greta she said, "Pack up the things you'll need for ten days, plenty of warm stockings and the like. We're going camping on the island. We'll tramp all over Greenstone Ridge and sleep where night overtakes us."

"That," Greta cried, "will be grand! Shall I take my violin?"

"Surely. You might be able to take a few lessons from your mysterious phantom," Florence laughed as she began packing away eatables that were both light and nourishing.

"There are streams and small lakes," she murmured half to herself. "We shall have fish to fry, and some berries are ripe, blueberries, raspberries and a sort I have never seen before.

"Here," she said to Greta as her feet touched the shores of the camping ground on Duncan's Bay, "here we shall camp for the night. Tomorrow we will go on. I mean to do a little digging."

"For gold?" Greta stared.

"For a barrel of gold." Florence smiled. "Well, anyway, for something."

Dragging a small trench spade from her pack, she studied the lay of the land.

"Now where would one make camp?" she said thoughtfully as her keen eyes surveyed the narrow patch of ground. "Not too far back. Campfire might be blown into the forest and set the hillside blazing. Not too close to the shore either. Wind might come up and drive the waves over you while you slept.

"About here." She set her spade at the very center of the level stretch of ground that in all is not larger than one city lot.

"You know, Greta," she said thoughtfully as she began to dig, "it really doesn't matter whether we find a barrel of gold. Very often people are harmed by having too much money. It's good for us to work. There are ways of getting things we need-good stout clothes, plain food, and all the education that's good for us, if we are wise and really work hard.

"We may find gold. No one could be sure we will not. We may find charcoal and scorched bones. If we study these carefully we can say, 'This fire was kindled two hundred years ago, before ever white men set foot on these shores.' We will be adding a sentence or two to Isle Royale's strange history. That's something.

"And we might-" she was digging now, cutting away the thin sod, then tossing out shovelfuls of sandy soil. "We might possibly find some copper instruments crudely made by the Indians.

"That-" she stood erect for a moment. "That would be a great deal. Any museum would pay well for those. Some may have been found on the island, but I doubt it. But it is known that the Indians came here from the mainland to take chunks of solid copper from the rocks.

"They had to heat the rock, build great fires upon it, then drag the fire away and crack the brittle hot rock.

"Copper!" She breathed a deep breath. "That's why we have the island instead of Canada. History, Greta, is truly fascinating if you study it as we are doing now, right on the ground. We-what's that!" she broke short off. Some metal object had clinked on her spade.

"Its a coin!" she exclaimed a moment later. "A very old coin, I am sure!" She was all excitement. "Money! I told you, Greta! Gold!"

It was indeed a golden coin, very thin and quite small for all that. By careful scouring they managed to make out that the words stamped on its face were French. They could not rea

d the date.

"Gold!" Greta seized the spade to begin digging vigorously. "Gold! There was a barrel of gold! The barrel rotted long ago. But the gold, it is still there. We will find it!"

In a very short time the slender girl found her breath coming in deep pants. Blisters were rising on her hands. She might soon have exhausted herself had not Florence shoved her gently to one side and taken the spade from her.

Strangely enough, the big girl had thrown out but three shovelfuls of sand when again her blade rang.

This time the earth yielded a greater treasure-not gold, but copper. A small knife with a thin blade and round handle of copper, it showed the marks of the crude native smithy who fashioned it.

"From the past!" Florence's eyes gleamed. "The very distant past! How Doctor Cole of the museum will exclaim over that!"

So engrossed were the two girls in their study of this new treasure, they failed to note three facts. Darkness was falling. A stealthy figure was creeping upon them in the shadows of the forest. A short, powerful motor boat had entered the Narrows and was headed for the camping grounds.

In the meantime Jeanne had made an important discovery. The Ship of Joy had gone cruising round Blake's Point to turn in at a narrow circular bay known as Snug Harbor.

Jeanne thought this one of the most beautiful spots she had ever known. White lodge building, more than half hidden by fir and balsam, little cottages tucked away at the edge of the forest, and about it all an air of quiet and peace. They were at the door of Rock Harbor Lodge.

"We will disturb their quiet," Jeanne thought to herself, "but not their peace, I am sure."

While Bihari was talking with the owner of the lodge regarding a night of music and dancing, she stole away over a path shadowed by mountain ash and fir. At the end of the path she came to a long, low, private cottage, boarded up and closed. Before this house a long narrow dock ran out into the bay. Tied to this dock was a schooner.

"The black schooner!" Jeanne shuddered.

Yet drawn toward it as a bird is drawn to a snake, she walked slowly down the dock to find herself at last peering inside the long, low cabin.

At once she sprang back as if she had seen someone. She had seen no one. The schooner was for the moment deserted. What she had seen, hanging against the wall, was a diver's helmet.

"The black schooner!" she murmured once more as she hurried away, losing herself from sight in the shadow of the forest.

* * * * * * * *

Back on the camping ground, the first intimation Florence and Greta had that there was anyone about was when, with a startling suddenness, a bright searchlight flashed into their eyes. The light came from the water. At the same time there came the sound of movement in the dry leaves of the forest at their backs. Instinctively Florence whirled about. Her bright eyes searched the forest. No one was there.

* * * * * * * *

When Jeanne once more reached the lodge dock where the Ship of Joy was tied, a crowd of people from the cottages had gathered about Bihari and his band. She grasped the sleeve of a tall young man to say in a low, agitated tone, "Do you know what schooner that is?"

"Schooner?" He smiled down at her.

"Yes, the one by that other dock. Over-why!" she exclaimed, "it is gone! It was a black schooner. But now it is not there."

The tall young man looked at her in a manner that seemed to say, "You've been seeing things." This embarrassed her, so she lost herself in the crowd.

But not for long. One moment, and a pleasing voice was saying in her ear, "And are you the golden-haired gypsy who will dance with the bear tonight?"

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