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   Chapter 20 AID FROM THE UNKNOWN

The Phantom Violin / A Mystery Story for Girls By Roy J. Snell Characters: 8026

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


As Greta called for the second time, "Florence! Florence! Where are you?" an answer came floating up to her.

"Here! Down below. I-I'm coming up." There was a suggestion of suppressed pain in Florence's voice. "Wait, you wait there."

Greta had never found waiting easy. To wait now, with a hundred green eyes focussed upon her was all but impossible. And yet, what more was to be done? Florence, having fallen down the hillside in the dark, had taken the flashlight with her. And the darkness all about was intense. Without willing it, again and again she fixed her eyes on those small glowing orbs of green. "If I only knew!" she whispered, and again, "If I only did!"

She heard her companion's panting breath as she struggled up the uncertain slope. "Must be half way up," she whispered finally.

There came the sound of tumbling rocks. "She-she slipped!" Catching her breath, she waited. Yes, yes, she was climbing again.

And then as she was about to despair, a bulk loomed beside her, a strong arm encircled her.

"Greta," a voice whispered, "I've sprained my ankle; not too badly. The flashlight is broken. We must try to find our way back."

Two hours of groping and stumbling, with many a fall; two hours of fighting vines and brambles, then the dull glow of their burned out campfire greeted their tired eyes.

"Home!" Florence breathed. "Home!" And to this girl at that hour the humble six-foot-square tent, which they had set up that evening, was just that-nothing less.

It was Florence who could not sleep that night. The throbbing pain in the sprained ankle defied repose. The strange events of that day and those that had gone before had at last broken through her staunch reserve and entered her inner consciousness.

"Sleep!" she exclaimed at last in a hoarse whisper. "Who can sleep?"

* * * * * * * *

Strangely enough, at that moment in a little cabin at Chippewa Harbor, Vincent Stearns, the young newspaper photographer who had given Greta the white flares, lay on his cot looking away at the moon and wondering in a vague sort of way what was happening to his dark-eyed friend up there on Greenstone Ridge.

"Hope she finds some rare greenstones," he said to the moon. "Hope she is finding adventure, happy adventure.

"Happy adventure." He repeated the words softly. "Guess that's what we all hope to have in life. But so few adventures are happy ones.

"And if that little girl's adventures are not happy ones, there will come the white flare in the night.

"The white flare." He found himself wishing against the will of his better self that he might catch the gleam of that white light against the skyline. "What an adventure!" he murmured. "Racing away to Lake Ritchie, paddling like mad, then struggling up the ridge in the night to find-"

Well, what would he find? What did he expect to find? He did not know. Yet something seemed to tell him that perhaps at some unearthly hour the flare would stand out against the sky.

* * * * * * * *

Adventure. Having given up thoughts of sleep, Florence was going over in her mind the events of that day.

"The hydroplane," she whispered. "Who can be coming up here to hide away on the shore of that narrow lake? And why?

"How simple it is after all, coming up here in a plane without attracting attention! The plane from Houghton comes and goes at all hours. The people at Rock Harbor hear it. If it does not land at their door, they say, 'It has gone to Tobin's Harbor or Belle Isle.' The folks at Tobin's Harbor and Belle Isle think it has gone to Rock Harbor. The strange plane may come and go up here as its pilot wishes, and no one the wiser.

"After all," she sighed, "we are not officers of the law. It's really not our affair. And yet-"

She was thinking of the scream Greta had heard, and of the apparently helpless one carried to a boat and then to land, and after that of the scream they had both heard in the night.

"Life," she told herself, "all human life is so precious tha

t it is the duty of all to protect those who are in danger.

"Probably nothing very terrible," she assured herself. "Nothing to be afraid of. We-"

She broke her thoughts square off to lean forward and listen with all her ears. Had she caught some sound from without, the snapping of a twig perhaps?

"Some prowling wolf or a moose passing."

Not satisfied with this, she opened the flaps of the tent and peered into the moonlight.

The moon was high. The silence was uncanny. Every object, trees, bushes, rocks stood out like pictures in fairyland. Shadows were deep wells of darkness.

Some ten feet from their tent was a large flat rock, their "table." This stood full in the moonlight. That they had left nothing on this "table" she knew right well. She had washed it clean with a canvas bucket full of water from a spring. And yet-

She rubbed her eyes to look again. No, she was not mistaken. Two objects rested on that rock, one white as snow, the other dark and gleaming.

"Well," she sighed, "have to see."

Creeping from the warm blankets, she stepped on the cold, damp floor of night. "Oo!" she shuddered. Next instant her hands closed on the mysterious objects.

"How-how strange!" She shuddered again, but not from the cold, then beat a hasty retreat.

Inside the tent, she turned the objects over in her hands. One was a large roll of bandages, the other a bottle of liniment.

"Who-" she whispered, "who can that have been?"

The answer came to her instantly. "The one who lowered the rope into the copper mine. And, perhaps, the one who plays the violin so gloriously. And who is he?" Here was a question she could not answer.

"'Take, eat,'" she whispered the words of a half forgotten poem.

"Take, eat, he said, and be content.

These fishes in your stead were sent

By him who sent the tangled ram

To spare the child of Abraham!"

At that she rubbed the liniment over her swollen ankle vigorously, bound it tightly, then crept beneath the blankets once more.

Though the bandage relieved her somewhat, she was still conscious of pain. Our waking thoughts as well as our dreams are often inspired by physical sensations. Pain awakens within us a longing for some spot where we have known perfect peace. To Florence, at the moment, this meant the deck of the unfortunate Pilgrim. There, with the waves lapping the old ship's sides, the gentle breezes whispering and the gulls soaring high, she had found peace.

As she allowed her mind to drift back to those blissful days, she was tempted to wish that she and the slender, dark-eyed Greta at her side had never set foot on Greenstone Ridge.

"And yet-" she whispered. The words of some great prophet came to her. "'There is a destiny that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we may.'"

"It was written in the stars that we should be here," she told herself. "And, being here, we shall do what we can for those who are nearest us.

"But, God willing, we shall go back. And then?"

She thought of the narrow camping grounds on the shores of Duncan's Bay. "There is treasure hidden there," she told herself. "How can it be otherwise? It is the only bit of level land on that side of Blake's Point. Countless generations of men have camped there. We will go back there and dig deep.

"And when I am weary of digging-" she laughed a low laugh. "I'll go back and get that monster of a pike. I'll go all by myself. And will I land him? Just you wait!"

A shadow passed over her brow as she thought of the head hunter. "Terrible man! Where can he be now?"

She thought of the strange black schooner with a deep-sea diver on board. "Some treasure on that old ship. When I'm back I'll try diving to see what's there. Might be more important than the wreckers, who stripped the ship, knew.

"All we need," she whispered dreamily as the drugging odor of balsam and the silence of night crept over her, "all we need is a barrel of gold. One barrel of-"

She did not finish. She had fallen asleep.

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