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The Phantom Violin / A Mystery Story for Girls By Roy J. Snell Characters: 4229

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

"A Barrel of gold!" Florence cried as the music ceased and she sprang ashore. "Come on! A copper-bound barrel! A barrel of gold!" She was able to keep her secret no longer.

Forgetting all else, Jeanne, Swen and Vincent followed her. Not so Greta. She had found her mysterious friend once more. She would throw discretion and all conventions to the wind.

"You-you will tell me?" She hurried up to the musician smiling there in the moonlight.

"Why, yes, my sweet little girl, if it will bring you joy I will tell you my secret which, after all-" he motioned her to a seat on a log by the fire. "Which, after all, is truly no secret at all.

"Being famous," he said, smiling in a strange way, "is not all that men think it. To hear people say, 'Here he comes! There he goes!' and to know they mean you, to be stared at all day long! Who could wish for that?"

"But you charmed them with your music," Greta said in a low tone.

"Yes," he agreed, "that was not so bad. To stand before thousands, to know that you are truly bringing joy to their lives, that is grand.

"But even that-" his voice took on a weary note. "Even that loses its charm when you are weary and they still say, 'Play for us. Play here. Play there.' Then you long to be away from it all, to forget, and to make a fresh start.

"And so," he added, smiling down at her, "so I ran away to Greenstone Ridge.

"One more thing-" his tone became more deeply serious. "I wanted to create a little music of my own, all my own. I suppose the desire to create is in the heart of all. Up there alone on Greenstone Ridge I wrote music. I played it to the birds, the wolves, the moose, but mainly to the twittering birds. You have heard some of it. How-how do you like it?"

"I think," Greta whispered, "that it is divine!"

"But now-" Greta's tone was wistful. "Now you will come back and you will play again! And you will teach others?"

"Yes." There was a touch of tenderness in his voice. "Yes, dear little girl, I will go back now. I will teach others, and you shall be my very first pupil."

"Oh!" she breathed. "How-how marvel

ous! But-" her voice sank to a whisper. "We-we are not rich."

"Rich? Who spoke of money?" Once more he beamed down upon her. "No true artist wants money from his disciples. All he asks is that his pupils have the touch divine. And that, my child, is yours. It is your very great gift."

For a time there was silence beside the campfire. That silence was broken by a shout of laughter. It came from the party of treasure hunters. Florence's barrel had been dragged from its sandy hiding place.

"I'll just break in the head with the spade," she said as it lay on its side.

"No! No!" Vincent Stearns took the spade from her. Setting the barrel on end, he rubbed the sand away to find a wooden cork. With the heavy handle of his hunting knife he drove this in, and at once a pungent odor filled the air.

"Rum!" said Vincent. "Very old rum!"

"And not gold?" Florence's hopes fell.

"Just rum," the photographer repeated. "Some trader buried it years ago. Poor fellow! He never came back!"

"I-I'll pour it out." Florence's hand was on the small barrel.

"Oh, I-I wouldn't do that!" Once again Vincent intervened. "They say old rum is very good for colds. That right, Swen?"

"Sure it is, in the winter." Swen smiled broadly.

"Leave it to Swen and me," Vincent suggested. And so it was left.

"But those green eyes I saw up on the ridge," Greta was saying to Percy O'Hara. "I saw them twice. They were horrible."

"That," Percy O'Hara chuckled, "was the light from my green-eyed mansion.

"You see," he laughed again, "I found a great many greenstones on the ridge. One day I got a grinding wheel from Swen's little store."

"He told me," she murmured.

"I left money for it. I polished the stones and set them in some soft sort of rock for tiny windows to the crude cabin I built. When my lamp was lit they shone out green in the night, those eyes to my green-eyed mansion."

"A green-eyed mansion on the ridge of Isle Royale," Greta said in a low tone. "Perhaps some day the whole world will learn of it and make a pilgrimage to it."

"God forbid!" said Percy O'Hara fervently.

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