Author: Snell, Roy J. (Roy Judson), 1878-1959
Mystery and detective stories
Shipwrecks — Juvenile fiction
Deep diving — Juvenile fiction
Salvage — Juvenile fiction
Lake — Description and travel — Juvenile fiction
The Phantom Violin
A Mystery Story for Girls
A Mystery Story for Girls
ROY J. SNELL
The Reilly & Lee Co.
THE REILLY & LEE CO.
PRINTED IN THE U. S. A.
- CHAPTER PAGE
- I The Ship’s Ghost 11
- II Mysteries of Night 22
- III A Phantom of the Air 28
- IV Captivating Phantom 37
- V Pale Green Light 43
- VI A Strange Catch 52
- VII The Last Passengers 63
- VIII Dizzy’s Welcome 72
- IX The Call of the Gypsies 80
- X Silent Battle 90
- XI Song of the Phantom 99
- XII Gold 107
- XIII The Head Hunter 116
- XIV Secret of Greenstone Ridge 126
- XV A Leap in the Dark 138
- XVI Greta’s Secret 146
- XVII The Cavern of Fire 156
- XVIII At the Bottom of the Ancient Mine 166
- XIX Mystery from the Sky 174
- XX Aid from the Unknown 192
- XXI A Song from the Tree Tops 201
- XXII The White Flare 209
- XXIII Musical Enchantment 219
- XXIV The Little Black Tramp 233
- XXV Father Superior Takes a Hand 240
- XXVI Passing of the Pilgrim 250
- XXVII Green-Eyed Mansion 262
- XXVIII Treasure at Last 267
THE PHANTOM VIOLIN
THE SHIP’S GHOST
“Flo—Florence! They saw me!”
The little French girl, Petite Jeanne, sprang noiselessly through the cabin door. Then, as if to keep someone out, closed the door and propped herself against it. “They saw me!” she repeated in a whisper. “And they—I believe they thought me a ghost. I’m sure it was so. I heard one of them, he said ‘ghost.’ I heard him!” Jeanne clasped and unclasped her slender fingers.
“Who saw you?” Florence stared at her through the dim light of the moon that came straying through the narrow window.
“Yes. Who saw you?” came from somewhere above them.
“The men.” Jeanne was growing calmer. “There were two of them. They saw me. They had tied their boat to the wreck. They were going to do something. I am sure of that. Then they saw me and acted very much afraid. And then—”
“You do look like a ghost,” Florence broke in. “In that white dressing gown with your golden hair flying in the moonlight, you look just like a ghost. And I suppose you popped right up out of the hatch like a ghost!” She laughed in spite of herself.
“But these men—” her tone sobered. “What were they doing here at this time of the night?”
“That?” said Jeanne. “How is one to know? They rattle chains. They see me, then Old Dizzy lets out one of his terrible screams, and they are gone!”
Closing her eyes, the little French girl saw all that had happened just as if it were being played before her as a drama. She saw dark waters of night, a golden moon, distant shores of an island, black and haunting and, strangest, most mysterious of all, the prow of a great ship rearing itself far above the surface of Lake Superior’s waters.
The ship was a wreck, you would have said a deserted wreck. And yet, even as you said it, you might have felt the hair rise at the back of your neck, for, appearing apparently through the solid deck, a white apparition rose at the prow. Rising higher and higher, it stood at last a wavering ghost-like figure in that eery moonlight. This was her own figure Jeanne was seeing now. Once again, with eyes closed, she seemed to stand there in her wavy gown of filmy white, bathed in the golden moonlight. Once again she looked at the glory of the night, the moon, the stars, the black waters, the distant, mysterious shores where no one lived.
The distant shore line was that of Isle Royale fifteen miles off the shore of Canada, in Lake Superior.
All this was a grand and glorious dream to her.
They had been here three days, she and Florence Huyler, whom you may have met before, and Greta Clara Bronson, whom you are going to love as Petite Jeanne, who had known her for but two months, loved her.
“Tomorrow,” Jeanne had whispered to herself, standing there in the moonlight, “we are going ashore, ashore on that Mystic Isle.”
Ashore? One would have said she must be standing on a ship lying at anchor. This was not true. The old Pilgrim, a three hundred foot pleasure boat, would never sail again. Fast on the rocks, her stern beneath the black waters, her prow high in air, she would rest there a while until—ah, well, until, who could say what or when?
“This,” the little French girl had whispered, “is our summer home.” How the thought had thrilled her! Three girls, the “last passengers,” they had styled themselves, three girls alone on a great wrecked ship for long summer months.
What fun it had been to fit out the captain’s and the first mate’s cabins—what fun and what work! Bunks had been leveled, chairs and tables fitted with two short and two long legs to fit the slanting floors, a score of adjustments had been made. But now they were all done.
“And tomorrow,” she had repeated in a whisper, “tomorrow—”
But what was that? Had she caught a sound? Yes, there it was again, like the purring of a cat, only louder. It came from the dark waters of night. Listening, intent, motionless, she had failed to fathom its meaning.
“Something on shore,” she had tried to assure herself.
“Ashore.” At once her keen young mind was busy conjuring up fantastic pictures of those shores which, though so near, scarcely a half mile away, were utterly strange to her. Wild moose, wandering about like cattle; wolves, tawny gray streaks in the forest; high ridges; great boulders laden with precious green stones; and in the silent waters of narrow bays such monstrous fishes.
“Ah!” she breathed. “Tomorrow!”
But again her mind was caught and held by that strange sound, a very faint put-put-put.
Even as she listened the sound ceased. Then of a sudden she felt a thud that shook the wrecked ship. At the same instant she made out a dark bulk that was, she felt sure, some form of a craft.
“Men!” she thought with a shudder. “Men coming to the wreck in the night! I wonder why?”
She was frightened, dreadfully afraid. She wanted to escape, to drop through the hatch-way, to go where her friends were in the cabin below. Her feet would not move. So there she stood, white-faced, tossing gold-white hair, waving white robe, a pale ghost in the moonlight.
What did the men on that boat think of her? Of course there were men, two of them, on the deck of that small, black power boat. For the moment they did not see her.
“Why are they here?” Jeanne asked herself. “What will they do?”
This indeed was a problem. The ship had been relieved of her cargo, all but a few barrels of oil in the hold that could not be reached. Even the brass fittings had been removed.
“There is nothing they could want,” she assured herself, “absolutely nothing. And yet—”
Jeanne was gifted with a most vivid imagination. This old ship had sailed the seas for more than forty years. What unlawful deeds might not have been done within this grim old hull! There had been smuggling, no doubt of that. The ship had visited the ports of Canada a thousand times. What secret treasure might still be hidden within this hopeless hulk? She shuddered at the thought.
“All we want,” she breathed, “is peace, peace and an opportunity to explore that most beautiful island.”
Strange to say, the little French girl was not the only person who at that moment felt a cold chill run up his spine. One of the men, the tall one on the little schooner, had caught sight of a patch of wavering white far up on the prow.
“Mart!” he was saying to his companion, and there was fear in his voice, “Do you think anyone ever died on this old ship?”
“Of course. Why not?” His companion’s voice was gruff. “What do you think? She’s sailed the lakes for forty years, this old Pilgrim has, and why wouldn’t people die on her, same as they die on other ships?”
“Then,” the other man’s words came with a little shudder, “then it was a lady that died, for look! Yonder in the prow is her ghost a-hoverin’ still.”
The other man looked at the drifting, swaying figure all in white, and he too began to sway. It seemed he might drop.
Seeming to collect his strength with great effort, he seized the line that held his own tiny craft to the wrecked ship, then grasping a pike pole, was prepared to give it a mighty shove that would send it far out.
At this very moment a strange and terrible sound smote the air; a wild scream, a shrill laugh, all in one it rent the still night air three times, then all was still.
The man with the pike pole shuddered from head to foot. Then, regaining control of his senses, he gave a mighty heave that set his small craft quite free of the apparently haunted ship.
The boat had not gone far when a curious animate thing that seemed neither man nor beast burst from the narrow cabin. The thing began roaring and dancing about the deck like a baboon attacked by hornets. On the creature’s shoulders was something four times the size of a man’s head. The upright body was quite as strange as the head. As the boat continued its course the great round head rolled off and a smaller one appeared. This small head bobbed about and roared prodigiously, but all to no purpose. The little black boat had moved straight on to pass at last from sight into the night.
Then, and not until then, did the wisp of white, which, as you know, was Petite Jeanne, glide forward and vanish. She burst excitedly into a dark cabin.
“I heard chains rattle,” Jeanne repeated, standing still in the cabin doorway. “One of the men spoke. They looked up at me. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t. My—my feet wouldn’t budge!”
She began dancing around the small cabin in her excitement.
“What happened then?” Florence, a large, ruddy-cheeked girl in knickers, demanded. “What did they do?”
“They—why, it was queer! They seemed in an awful hurry. They untied their boat and—
“Of course,” she added as an afterthought, “there was Dizzy. He let out a most terrible scream, and laughed. How he did scream and laugh! Three times—one, two, three. They shoved off, those men did, as if their very life depended on it!”
“Thought you were a ghost,” Florence chuckled. “Can’t be any question about that. Who’d blame them? Look at you!”
“And then,” Jeanne went on, “then some queer thing with two legs came out and danced wildly about the deck. He had an enormous head. Bye and bye his head tumbled off, at least the awful big part, and I heard him roaring at the other men.”
“Yes. It was a man in a diving rig. He’d taken off the helmet. Now, what do you think of that?”
Quite out of breath, the blonde haired little French girl dropped down upon a berth at the side of the cabin.
“Man in a diving suit.” Florence spoke in a matter-of-fact tone. “Going to dive, of course.”
“That’s right. Why?” Florence’s brow wrinkled.
“I wish—” she said slowly after a period of silence, “wish they hadn’t come.”
She was to wish this many times in the days that were to follow. And then she was to change her mind.
MYSTERIES OF NIGHT
As Florence and Jeanne sat there in the dark, whispering and wondering about the strange black schooner and its purpose in these waters, wondering too whether they dared light a candle and heat water for tea, something moved in the berth above their heads, and they became once more conscious of the third member of their party, Greta Clara Bronson.
You have been wondering perhaps how it came about that Jeanne and Florence, who spent so much of their time in great cities, were to be found living on this wreck off the primeval shores of Isle Royale. You will find the answer in the third girl, Greta Clara Bronson, who now slid her bare feet over the edge of the berth and prepared to descend.
Greta was slender, rather tall, with black hair, snapping black eyes, and a body that was a fine example of perpetual motion. At this moment she was recovering from an attack of hay fever and asthma. That is why she was here, why they were all here. Isle Royale is a rare retreat for hay fever victims.
Two months before Jeanne had met Greta and had fallen in love with her. Greta could dance almost as well as Jeanne. She played the violin “divinely,” as Jeanne expressed it. So when, one midsummer day, Jeanne found her friend sitting up in bed panting for breath, and was told that only a summer on Isle Royale could bring back to her the joy of life, she had hurried away to find Florence. Together they had plotted and planned. And now, here they were.
But why on a wrecked ship? Are there no hotels on the island? Yes, there are four small hotels on Isle Royale. But what trio of happy, energetic, adventure-loving girls would choose a hotel rather than the deck of a wrecked ship for a summer outing? Some might, but not Florence, Greta, and Jeanne.
The only fear, expressed by them a half hour later over their tea, was that some unforeseen event might drive them from their strange retreat.
“Who’s afraid?” Florence swung her stout arms wide. And who indeed could be, with Florence as her protector? Strong as a man, a physical director and a gymnast, tipping the scale at one hundred and sixty pounds, she could swim a mile, row a boat through tireless hours, and handle a gun with the best of men. Nor was the gun lacking, a short, business-like rifle hung above her berth.
“Not that you’ll ever need it,” Swen Petersen, a fine young fisherman who had loaned it to her, had said. “All us fisher folks are simple and honest. And you’re not allowed to shoot animals on the Island. It’s a game preserve. But you will like to look at my rifle sometimes.” So he had left it.
Florence smiled as she recalled his words. She was enjoying “looking at it” this very moment. More than once she had taken it down to handle it lovingly. Once, on seeing a bit of wood bobbing in the water, she had taken aim and fired. The short, stout rifle had a great roar to it. And Florence had a steady aim; she had split the wood in two, first shot.
“All the same,” she thought to herself, “I wish people would not prowl around the boat at night. And what would one dive for?” she asked herself. “Three or four barrels of oil in the hold—surely they are not worth all that trouble.”
Then it struck her all of a heap that here was a mystery and perhaps some great secret.
“Does this broken hulk of a ship hide some rich treasure?” she asked herself.
She laughed the thought down, but it bobbed up like a cork in water, more buoyant than ever.
“The ship’s ghost is gone!” she exclaimed, springing up. “I wonder if those men will come back. I’m going to see.”
“And leave us here?” Greta, too, was on her feet. Youngest of the trio, she was unaccustomed to wild, out-of-the-way places.
“Come along,” Florence invited. “No ghost costumes though! Get into your long coats.”
A moment later three dark shadows stole out upon the slanting deck of the wrecked ship.
“Boo!” Greta gripped Florence’s stout arm. “How spooky it all is in the moonlight!”
“And just think!” Jeanne whispered. “Thousands of people have walked this deck, thousands upon thousands! The ship’s more than forty years old. Thousands of those passengers will never walk any deck again. They are gone from this world forever.”
“Oh—oh! Jeanne, don’t talk like that!” dark-eyed Greta implored.
“But where’s your black schooner?” Florence demanded.
“Gone for good, I guess,” Jeanne said after scanning the dark waters.
“For good?” Florence murmured. “I wonder.”
For a full half hour they marched arm in arm up and down the broad deck. During all that time not a dozen words were spoken. It was a time for thought, not for speech. Here they were, three girls alone on the deck of a wrecked ship. They hoped to make it their summer home. Were intruders to bring all this to an end?
“Not if I can help it!” Florence told herself.
“Swen told us we would not be disturbed,” she thought. “No one lives near. The Tobin’s Harbor settlement is five miles away. Blake’s Point with its rugged reefs and wild waves lies between. Few small crafts pass that way.
“Ah well,” she whispered to herself, “tomorrow we will row over to Duncan’s Bay. Perhaps we shall find some trace of the black schooner there.”
After that, for many long moments she gave herself over to contemplation of the scene of wild beauty that lay before her. The golden moon, dark waters, a shore line that was like a ghostly shadow, the wink and blink of a distant lighthouse, all this seemed a picture taken down from an art museum wall.
“Come!” she said at last, giving two slender arms a squeeze. “Come, we must go in. Tomorrow is another day.”
A PHANTOM OF THE AIR
“It’s a phantom, a phantom of the air!” Body aquiver, her black eyes reflecting the light of the setting sun, Greta stood intent, listening with all her ears.
A moment before she had been hearing only the goodnight song and twitter of birds. Strange sounds they were to her. Bird songs all the same. But now this. “It is celestial music from heaven!” she whispered. Yet as she thought it, she knew that was not true. A musician herself, she had recognized at once the notes of a violin.
The sound came from afar. At times a light breeze carried it quite away.
“May be miles away. In this still air sound carries far. But where can that one be who plays so divinely?”
To this question she could find no answer. She was standing on a narrow, natural platform of stone. Before her, almost straight down two hundred feet, were the black waters of Duncan’s Bay. Miles away, with ridges, tangled jungles and deep ravines between, was the nearest settlement.
She had climbed all the way up Greenstone Ridge from the shore of Duncan’s Bay that she might be alone, that she might think. She was not thinking now. She was listening to such music as one is seldom privileged to hear.
Yes, she had climbed all that way through the bush that she might think. Greta was an only child. This was her first long journey away from home and mother. Tears had stood in her mother’s eyes as she bade her goodby, yet she had said bravely enough, “You must go, Greta. The doctor says you will escape from the poison of ragweed. I cannot come with you. You will be safe and happy with Jeanne and Florence. Goodby, and God bless you!”
There were times when this dark-eyed child recalled those words, when great waves of longing swept over her, when her shoulders drooped and all her body was aquiver. At such times as these she wanted nothing so much as to be alone.
As she had stepped into the still shadows of the evergreen forest at the back of the camping ground on Duncan’s Bay that afternoon, she had been caught in such a wave of homesickness as would seem for the moment must sweep away her very soul.
“Florence!” she had called, and there was despair in her heart. “Florence, I am going to climb the ridge. You and Jeanne go on. I have my flashlight. I—I’ll be back after the sun has set.”
“All right,” Florence had called cheerfully. “Don’t go over the ridge. If you do you’ll get lost. Keep on this side. If you lose your way, just come down to the water’s edge and call. We’ll hear you and come for you in the boat.”
“Oh!” the slim black-eyed girl had breathed. “Oh, how good it will be to be alone—to watch the sun set over the black waters and to know that the same sun is making long shadows in our own back yard at home, and perhaps playing hide and seek in mother’s hair!”
She turned her face toward the rocky ridge that towered above her and whispered to herself once more, “Alone, all alone.”
Strangely enough, though no one is known to inhabit Greenstone Ridge, and surely no one at that hour would be found wandering there so far from the regular haunts of men, she had experienced from the first a feeling that on that ridge she was not quite alone.
“And now,” she breathed, “I know I am not alone up here. There is someone else somew