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   Chapter 18 AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ANCIENT MINE

The Phantom Violin / A Mystery Story for Girls By Roy J. Snell Characters: 6732

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


And what of Florence? For one thing, she had made a marvelous discovery.

After leaving her companion, she had wandered for two hours along Greenstone Ridge. Here she paused to examine the surface of a greenish wall of rock. There she drew a chisel and small hammer from her knickers' pocket to drill away on a spot of green. And now, with no thought of rock or greenstone treasure, head down, deep in meditation, she wandered along some moose trail.

On Isle Royale moose trails are everywhere, so too are wild moose. Protected by law from murderous hunters, they wander at will from shore to shore.

This girl, who appeared so much a part of this rugged island, knew she might meet a moose at any turn, yet she was not afraid.

It was during one of these periods of deep thought that she struck her foot against some solid object and all but fell forward on her face.

"What-what was that?" She turned about. "Only a rock. And-and yet-"

She bent over to look more closely. An exclamation of joy escaped her lips.

"A hammer! An Indian hammer!"

At once she was down on her knees tearing away at the thick moss that on Isle Royale hides many a secret.

That the history of this interesting island goes far back of the time when the first white trader saw it, she knew right well.

Back in the dim past Indian tribes fought many a bloody battle over the copper of this strange island. Here, as we have said before, copper in solid masses might be found close to the surface. Rich indeed was the tribe that possessed copper for knives, beads, spear points and arrow heads.

"I'll find something more," she told herself.

As she looked at the surface she had bared she stared in surprise. She had uncovered a mass of charcoal.

"And yet there can have been no forest fire." She looked at the great two-foot-thick trunk of a spruce tree.

"An Indian mine!" she exclaimed. "They built a fire on the surface, then dragged it away to break hot rock with these stone hammers."

She scraped away the charcoal with a sharp stick. As she did so something gave forth a low clink.

"No, not a coin, but a knife," she whispered. "An ancient copper knife! How perfect!" It was indeed a far more perfect specimen than the one she had found on the camping ground. She held the thin blade to the light. Dating back beyond the days of the white man, it held for her an indescribable charm.

"The whole island is a treasure house. I'll find another." Once more she prodded away at the moss and charcoal. Not a second knife, but a spear point greeted her excited vision.

She widened her search. Prying away at a deep bed of moss, she tore it away in a yard-square chunk. And there beneath it, grinning and horrible, was a skull.

At that instant something stirred in the brush above her. With a startled scream she whirled about, took one step backward, lost her balance and plunged downward.

She had gone over the ridge. For an instant her heart was in her mouth; the next she realized that the slope, which was not too steep, ended in a second narrow plateau.

Struggling to break her downward plunge, she grasped at a branch. The branch snapped off. A trailing vine served her no better.

"Yet," she smiled, "the end will come soon."

Sooner than she thought. Just when she was waiting the final bump that should announce her arrival

at the bottom, she dropped a surprising distance straight down, glanced to the right, slid some twenty feet, then dropped again to land with such a rude shock that for a full moment she lay there utterly oblivious to her strange surroundings.

When at last she came to, and strove to discover what had happened, she found herself in a place of almost complete darkness. Only straight above her, at what seemed an incredible distance, a narrow crack of light shone.

She rose stiffly to feel of her bruises. "None fatal, I guess." She tried to face the situation with a smile.

"Don't know where I am, but I'll not stay long."

Had she believed in imps she might have fancied one saying: "Oh, won't you?"

As she stretched her hands above her head to feel for some means of drawing herself up, she found nothing.

"Solid rock." For the first time she was truly startled. Where was she? How was she to escape?

Thrusting a hand in her pocket, she drew out a box of safety matches. Having lighted one, she looked about her. By the yellow light she discovered several facts. This place had been made by men. Holes had been drilled in the rock. The rock had been blasted away. At her feet were bits of greenish rock. This, she found, was not rock, but pure copper.

"An abandoned copper mine! A white man's mine!" Her heart sank. Not one of these mines had been worked for forty years.

"Got to get out of here some way."

She studied the rocky surface about her. "Might get a good foothold here and-"

The match flared out. She lit another. "Could get a handhold there, and there!"

She doubted her ability to make this perilous ascent. She had been fortunate to escape with no broken bones. Next time she might fare badly.

"Might scream. No harm in that."

She screamed at the top of her voice and at once felt better.

When, however, after a half hour's attempt at scaling the rocky wall, she found herself at the bottom with only fresh bruises to show for her trouble, she was near to despair.

Then a curious thing happened. Some object came bumping down the wall, which at the upper end was not steep.

"Rock broke loose." She dodged.

The thing struck her on the head. No rock. It was soft.

Gropingly she felt for and found it.

"Leather," she whispered. "Some little book."

Lighting a match, she examined it. She had just opened this blank book and was looking at a picture between the pages, when of a sudden her heart stood still.

Something was coming down the wall, not bumping, but gliding.

As she waited breathless, her match burned her fingers. And still there came that scraping, gliding sound. Her match sputtered out. She was in the dark.

"Th-there it is," she breathed as she pressed back against the wall. "It-it's a snake!"

She was ready to scream with fright when the real nature of that gliding thing came to her.

"It's a rope! A rope!" she exclaimed in a hoarse whisper. Then-

"Greta! Greta! Are you there?"

No answer. The rope had ceased to glide. All was still as the grave.

Her heart thumped madly. Who was up there? Had the mystery man of Greenstone Ridge come to her aid? Who was he? What was he like? Why did he stay on the ridge?

Suddenly she found herself more afraid than before.

"I don't want to touch that rope." Her whisper ended in tremor.

"And yet I must!"

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