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The Perils of Pauline
by Charles Goddard
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"Polly!"

Harry's voice rang through the little choked room like a thunder blast.

"We are coming—we are quite safe," called Baskinelli, with the sneer tinge in his tone.

"Very well, then; hurry."

Harry's manner aroused Pauline's temper again. She purposely lingered.

The two Chinamen were arguing violently now with the priest.

Harry had closed the door and followed the others down the outer passage.

"Miss Marvin—Pauline!" called Baskinelli with sudden passion. "Have you a heart of stone? Can you not see me helpless in your presence? Do you know what love is?"

He stepped towards her and tried to take her in his arms. But she was stronger and far braver than he. She thrust him aside and fled through the door.

Baskinelli followed, protesting, pleading.

Strangely, as she fled through the narrow corridor, the low, flaring gas jets were extinguished one by one.

She groped in darkness.

Baskinelli's pleading voice became almost a consolation, a protection.

Her elbow struck something in the passageway. The something shrank at the touch. She heard a quick drawn breath that was not Baskinelli's. She tried to run. The tiny passageway chocked her flight. She plunged helplessly between invisible, but gripping walls. She reeled and screamed.

There was the sound of a struggle behind her. She heard Baskinelli crying for help—but, oh, so quietly! She reached the stairs. The stairs were blocked by a closed door. The door was barred. But there was a light left burning by the door.

Her weak hands beat upon the panels, helplessly, hopelessly. How should she know that there were two doors, locked and sealed beyond?

Her wild screams rang through the long passage, through the dark, above the shuffle and beat and cursing of the staged fight.

In the dim light she could see the three Italians grappling with the other men. Baskinelli's voice called to her reassuringly. It might well. Baskinelli was in no danger.

She placed her softly clothed shoulder to the door and strove to break it. She screamed again.

"Harry! Harry!"

Dull crashes answered. There was the crack and cleaving of splintered wood.

"Hold on! I'm here!" she heard.

She fell beside the door. Strong arms seized her. For an instant she felt that she was saved. But she looked up into the lowering face of a man with tilted mustachios. From the wide thick lips came threats and curses.

From the outer passageway sounded the crashing of the doors.

She let herself be lifted, then, with sudden exertion of her trained strength, she broke the grasp of the man.

The door fell open.

Harry, bloody and tattered, stood there—alone.

"Polly?"

"Oh—yes—where are the others? They'll kill you—run!" she cried.

He ran forward into the black corridor. A knife thrust, sheathed in silence, ripped his shoulder gave him his cue. He had one man down and trampled. But another was upon him and yet a third.

A sharp pain dulled the pulsing of his throat. He felt a tickle down his bared and swinging arm.

He fought blindly in the dark.

"Polly!" he panted.

There was no answer.

* * * * *

In the Joss House of the Golden Screens the two Chinamen, dazed with opium, set of purpose, were still arguing with the trembling priest.

The door fell open and a white woman—with bleeding hands—fell at their feet.

"Ha, she has come back!" cried one of the Chinese in his own tongue.

There was the sound of steps in the outer passage.

"Quick—inside!" breathed the Chinaman, pointing to the den.

They lifted Pauline. The old priest stopped them.

"Not there—not there!" he cried. "Any one would look in there."

They dragged her back. The priest hurried to the outer door and locked it.

There was the blunt, battering thrust of a body against the door.

"Open, or I'll break it in!" yelled the voice of Harry.

The priest opened the door.

In deferential silence he saluted the battle grimed newcomer. Battered, panting, bleeding, Harry lunged at the man, gripped him.

"Quick—where is she? You'll die like a spiked rat. Where?" he roared.

The two other Chinamen were kneeling before the Joss.

There was a moment's silence, then a strange sound—like a cry heard afar off.

Harry strode to the little pedestal where the suit of armor stood.

"Where is she?—or I'll rip this place to cockles!" he thundered.

"We do not know what you mean," said the priest.

The two Chinamen began to jabber.

Other figures reeled from the room behind the curtains. But over all their clamor sounded again the faint cry—distant, but near.

In a flash Harry caught from the mailed glove the haft of the sword. As he rushed across the room the Chinese withered away from him. There was a crash as the great sword fell upon one of the windows. Through the broken pane Harry shouted for help. His voice was like a clarion in the silent streets.

He turned in time. Three Chinamen, with drawn knives, were upon him. He swung the unwieldy sword above his head. Its sweep saved him. He dashed at the Joss. Again he lifted the sword. A grasp and then a wail of fear sounded through the room.

He struck. The head of the statue thudded to the floor.

The Chinese rushed upon him. They were desperate now in the face of the violation of their god. But he was behind their god prying open the secret door to the hollow within the statue.

"It's all right, Polly," he said as he drew her gently forth.

He stood above her with his back to the wall swinging the sacred sword against the onslaught of fanatic men. They fell before him, but more came on.

His hands could hardly hold the mighty weapon. For more than half an hour he had been fighting. He was weakening but he braced himself and swung for the last time.

There came a hammering at the door. It crashed in. Police clubs whistled right and left. The Chinese fled into their secret lairs.

* * * * *

"And I guess that will be all," panted Harry in the taxi that took them home. "I don't think you'll ask for any more adventures after this one."

"Why didn't you pick up the Joss's head?" replied Pauline. "It would have looked so nice and dreadful in the library?"

But the glory of her golden hair nestled upon his torn shoulder and he knew that he would go through all the perils in the world for happiness like this.



CHAPTER X

KABOFF'S WILD HORSE

For several months after old Mr. Marvin's death, Owen had kept to his cubby-hole room adjoining the financier's small, plain-furnished, workaday office. But recently he had got the habit of doing his work in the library, where the tall, pure statues looked down upon his skulking head and the grand old books that had borne their messages of good from generation to generation, held their high thoughts in stately contrast to his skilled and cruel plots.

Above the bowed bald head that was planning the death of a young girl to gain her fortune stood a figure of Persephone-child of innocence and sunlight shadowed by black robes of Dis. Upon the coward who feared all but the darkest and most devious passages of crime shone high, clear brows of Caesar and Aurelius. Gray folios of Shakespeare held up to the ambitious ingrate the warning titles of "Lear" and "Hamlet" and "Macbeth." And by his side brooded ever that mystic relic of the farther past—the Mummy, from whose case had stepped a daughter of the Pharaohs in the likeness of Pauline.

But Owen thought little of contrasts.

He was opening his mail on a morning in early May when he came across an envelope addressed in the awkward scrawl of Hicks. He tore it apart nervously, for if Hicks could be moved to write, it must be a matter of concern.

"Dear Owen, No doubt he suspects you of foul play. He has seen his attorneys and is about to take steps to have you removed from the trustee-ship."

The paper crackled in Owen's trembling hand. So the Baskinelli incident had gone a little too far. Harry Marvin had sense enough to know that he would not have to fight three murderous Italians and a rabble of Chinese unless there had been a plot behind Pauline's peril. It might be best to go directly after Harry—to put him out of the way first. And yet, Owen pondered, there was no proof of anything wrong. Pauline was admittedly plunging into these adventures of her own free will. Nothing could be proved against him or Hicks.

He resumed his work. Among the letters lay an advertising dodger which had been dropped through the door. Owen glanced at it carelessly at first, then with keen interest. He read it over:

"BALLOON ASCENSION FROM PALISADES

"Signor Panatella, the famous Italian Aeronaut, will make parachute drop from height never before attempted."

The ascension was to be made that afternoon from one of the amusement parks on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson.

"This is Providence," he muttered to himself, catching up the dodger. Slipping through the door and up the stairs, he tapped at the door of Pauline's room. When there came no answer he entered swiftly, laid a paper on the table and glided back to the hall, back to the library.

From there he called up Hicks.

Hicks' domiciles were so many and suddenly changeable that he claimed nothing so dignified as a regular telephone number. But he had scribbled on the bottom of his note the number of a saloon on the lower West Side.

He was there when Owen rang.

"Hello, Hello, . . . Is that you, Hicks? . . . I want to see you. . . . What? . . . No, right away. . . . Broke? . . . you always are .... you'll get the cash all right. . . . What's that? .... Come here? .... Not on your life. I'll come to you .... Not half that time .... I'll take the motorcycle. All right .... Good-by."

He hung up the receiver, went up to his room and got into cycling kit. As he came down stairs he met Pauline, who was returning from a shopping trip.

"Good morning, Owen," she said brightly. "Do you know, I believe there is more peril in a dry goods store than on a pirate yacht. What parts of my new hat are left?"

"Only the becoming ones."

She sped on up the stairs. After her first imperative inquiries of the mirror concerning what she considered her wild appearance, she picked up the letters on her dressing table and began to run through them.

The large black type of an advertising dodger loomed among the letters.

Pauline tripped down the stairs. To Harry, seated on the steps enjoying the Spring sunshine and puffing a leisurely cigarette, appeared a mysterious vision.

He knew by the elaborate way in which she took her seat beside him and hid the piece of paper in her hand that she had some new whim in fermentation—something to ask him that she knew he wouldn't want to do.

"Yes," he said, moving along the step away from her. "I know you've just bought me the loveliest cravat, that I'm the nicest brother in the world, that I look so handsome in Springy things and—well, what it is?"

Pauline pouted at the other end of the step.

"I'm going up in a balloon and jump down," she announced, "from a height never before attempted."

"Polly I You are going to do nothing of the—"

"No, I wasn't going to, until you grew so great and grand. I just wanted to go over and see him fly."

She tossed the dodger over to him. He glanced at it.

"Well, if you promise you aren't plotting any more pranks, I'll take you."

"That's a worth-while brother. It's a pink one."

"Pink one?"

"Cravat, of course."

Harry groaned. "Give it to the cook," he pleaded. "He wears 'em alive. If that fellow goes up at 2:30, you'd better hurry."

"I'll be ready before you are."

She rose quickly, but Owen, looking, listening, had time to close the door unseen, unheard.

At the rear of a little West Side saloon, he signaled with his horn, and Hicks came out. He was a bit shabbier than usual, and he had been drinking, but he was not intoxicated.

Owen locked his machine and taking his arm walked him rapidly up the avenue.

"What do you mean by writing to me?" demanded Owen. "Haven't I told you never to put words on paper?"

"Oh, I guess you got that house wired so nobody'll catch you," grunted Hicks. "Live wires, too-clever butlers, footmen, maids, chauffeurs, cooks; you're safe enough."

"You forget those are your wires. They don't know they're working for me. Hicks, are you out of your head? Have you told Bemis that you and I are working together?"

"Sure not; but that butler is no fool, Mr. Owen."

"Was it from him you found out that Harry had the lawyers after us?"

"No—queer thing that, that—it wasn't."

"Who, then?"

"The little Espinosa."

"Espinosa—in New York?"

"Yes—met her at the Trocadero a week ago. She'd seen old Calderwood already. I guess she blackmails him—the old reprobate, and him the noble counselor at law for Mr. Harry Marvin!"

"So you put her on the scent—for us?"

"Why not? The young fellow's been acting suspicious for a long time."

"You did very well."

"How about some money—I haven't seen the color of a roll since you put that fool Baskinelli into the game. Ain't you coming across?"

"Certainly; here," said Owen, handing over enough to sate even the predatory greed of Hicks. "Now, what I want you to do is to find me some one among your horse racing friends who is down and out enough to take a little cash job—at certain slight risks?"

"Yes—what?"

"I want a good rider on a wild horse. He could make a thousand dollars in an afternoon if the horse should happen to get wild at the right time and do the right thing."

"Hm'm," mused Hicks. "I wonder if Eddie Kaboff has still got his livery stable down on Tenth avenue. We might go see."

After ten minutes' walk Hicks brought up in front of a bill-plastered door in a fence. He held it open for Owen and they passed across a vacant lot to a large dilapidated-looking stable at the further end.

The short, dark man who sat in a tilted chair against the doorway and puffed lazily at a pipe, seemed to embody the spirit of the building and the business done there.

He was a man who had once—in the days of racing—been called a "sport." He might still be called "horsey" and would consider the term a compliment. But Eddie Kaboff's fame and fortune had both dwindled since the good old betting days when little swindling games larded the solid profits of crooked races. One by one his thoroughbreds had given up their stalls to truck horses, just as Eddie's diamond studs had given place to plain buttons.

His beady black eyes watched the two newcomers on their way across the lot, but he gave no sign of recognition until Hicks and Owen reached the door.

"Hello, Eddie," said Hicks.

Kaboff got up slowly and extended a flabby hand to his acquaintance. He was introduced to Owen, who let Hicks do the talking.

"What's new, Eddie?"

"Nuthin'."

"Still got that wild horse you never was able to sell?"

"Yep."

"Can you still manage him yourself?"

"I guess I could, but he ain't safe to take among traffic."

Hicks stepped close to Kaboff, talking in rapid whispers. The little man turned white.

"No, no; I'm too old for that kind of game," he said.

Owen drew from his pocket a roll of yellowbacks—the biggest roll Eddie Kaboff had seen since the days of "easy money."

"This much to try it," said Owen, "and as much again if you make good."

Kaboff's glance wavered a moment between the penetrating eyes of Owen and the money in his hand.

"Take it; it's yours."

The flabby hand closed almost caressingly around the roll. "We'll go in and have a look at the brute," he said.

They followed him through a line of stalls to a large padded box at the far end of the barn. A beautiful bay saddle horse occupied the box. Kaboff entered and called the animal, which answered by flying into a seeming fury, plunging about the box, kicking, rearing and snapping.

"Same old devil," muttered Hicks. "He'll do."

The sight of an apple in Kaboff's hand calmed the animal. It came to him and ate docilely while he slipped a bridle over its head. Once outside the stall, however, it began another rampage.

Hicks held a last whispered conversation with Kaboff, giving him minute instructions.

"I can just try it, you know," said Kaboff. "I can't guarantee to get away with it."

"As much again if you do, you know," said Owen as he started briskly away with Hicks.

The place that Panatella had chosen for the start of his balloon ascension was a field upon the crest of the Palisades above the amusement park.

Panatella had brought with him from abroad a reputation for dare-devil adventures in the air. And he had proved his reckless courage in the several brief ascensions that he had already made on this side.

Today, with his promise of the longest parachute drop on record, people flocked to the field from New York and all adjacent New Jersey.

"I wish you wouldn't always invite that velvet-pawed servant on our trips," grumbled Harry to Pauline, as Owen went for his dustcoat.

"Owen is my trustee and guardian. You have no right to speak of him as a servant. Besides, when he's along he keeps you from being silly."

Harry stamped out to the garage, swung a new touring car around to the door, and soon, with Owen and Pauline, was speeding for the ferry.

Signor Panatella was superintending the filling of the great gas bag. He was a tall, lithe man in pink tights beneath which his muscles bulged angularly like the gas filling the balloon bag.

A Latin rapidity of speech and motion added to the pink tights made him comically frog-like, and even the abattis of medals on his breast could not save his dignity.

He bustled about giving orders to the workmen who were preparing to cut the ropes, then flitting back to the crowd to answer the questions of impromptu admirers.

Pauline had left the car and was standing between Owen and Harry near the rapidly filling bag.

"I wish I could talk to him, too—he's so cute and hippety-hoppy," she said.

Owen stepped to Panatella's side.

"Would you permit the young lady to see the balloon basket?" he asked.

"With pleasure," said the airman after a glance at Pauline. He led the way to the basket, and helped Pauline up so that she could look at the equipment, the anchor with its long coil of rope, the sand bags and water bottles.

She was plainly fascinated as Panatella explained the manner of his flight and his drop through the air. As she saw them attach the basket to the tugging bag she was thrilled.

At this moment there was a flurry of excitement on the outskirts of the crowd. A horseman on a beautiful bay mount, that was evidently unmanageable, came plunging and swerving down the field.

The crowd broke and scattered in front of the menacing hoofs that flew in the air as the vicious animal reared.

The horseman, clad in a somewhat threadbare riding suit, was a small man with beady black eyes that turned from side to side as he swayed in his saddle. He seemed to be afraid of his mount and to be looking for help. But it was remarkable that apparently so poor a rider held his seat and actually managed to bring the beast to a nervous stand some fifty yards from the balloon.

The little man looked around over the heads of the crowd. He caught sight of Owen beside Pauline near the balloon basket. The lifting of his riding cap might or might not have been a salute and signal.

"Oh, I wish I hadn't promised Harry not to go up. I know Signor Panatella would take me," sighed Pauline.

Harry had turned away to watch the actions of the strange horseman.

"You might scare him a little," Owen suggested.

Those words were the greatest risk he had taken in all his deeply laid plots.

Pauline caught at the suggestion eagerly. She sprang lightly from the little platform into the balloon car.

A murmur of mingled astonishment, applause and alarm rose from the crowd. Two of the workmen were cutting the last ropes that held the basket to earth. Ten others were holding it with their hands awaiting the airman.

Panatella purposely delayed the moment of mounting the basket. The tugging of the huge balloon against the strength of a dozen men gave impress to his feat, and he liked the state of suspense.

But the sound from the surprised throng called his attention now to a scene that made him forget affectation and effect. He started to run toward the basket, shouting peremptory orders:

"Out of the car; out of the car instantly, madame! You are risking your life."

His excitement infected the crowd. Surging, it seemed to sweep with it the rider on the restive horse. For, as a hand was suddenly lifted in the midst of the crowd the horse apparently overcame the legs braced to spring, it shot forward directly at the balloon basket.

The hand that had been raised was the hand of Raymond Owen.

All was happening so swiftly that neither Harry nor Panatella reached the basket before the maddened animal.

The crowd had given way in panic before it. Cries of fright were mingled with cries of pain as the beast charged straight upon the men holding the basket, felling and crushing them with shoulder and hoof.

For an instant a few desperate hands held to the wrenching car. Panatella had all but reached the platform; Harry was within arm's length of it, when, with a writhing twist the bag jerked the basket sideways and upward, knocking to the ground the last two men who had held it and whirling forth into the deathly emptiness of space a cowering, stunned girl, whose white face peered and white hands pleaded over the basket rim—peered down upon the upturned faces of thousands who would have risked their lives to aid, but who stood helpless in their pity, hushed in fear.

For a moment Harry had stood dazed. It was as if the twanging taut of the ropes, as the bag tore almost from his grasp the most precious being in the world, had snapped the fibers of action in him.

The daze passed quickly, but in the moment of its passing. The balloon, risen now five hundred feet in the air, had swept its way westward over a mile of ground.

Harry turned to look for his motor car. Standing as he was at the spot from which the balloon had ascended, he now faced a human barricade. With a shout of warning he charged at what seemed to be a vulnerable point in the files of wedged shoulders. The wall resisted. The throng was lost to all but the dimming view of the balloon. Harry swung right and left with his broad shoulders. He tore his way through.

The car was standing where he had left it on the outskirts of the field. As he approached it he saw Owen emerge from the crowd and hurry toward a runabout that had just been driven upon the field.

"What's the matter?" yelled a man in the machine, and Harry recognized the voice of Hicks.

"Miss Marvin—carried away in the balloon!" cried Owen in a tone of excitement that was not all feigned. He joined Hicks beside the runabout.

Harry sprang to the seat of his touring car. It seemed to leap forward. He shot past the two conspirators and heard Owen's voice calling after him:

"Wait! Where are you going? I'll go with you."

"You're too late," shouted Harry bitterly, over his shoulder. An envelope of dust sealed itself around the spinning wheels of the big machine as he took the road after the balloon.

Steadfast but hopeless he fixed his eyes upon the unconquerable thing in its unassailable element—a thing that seemed to be fleeing from him as if inspired by a human will. Death rode beside him at his breakneck speed, but he did not know it. He knew only that he must follow that black beacon in the sky—that he must be there when its flight was over—when the end came.

He did not know that Owen and Hicks, in the runabout, were also following—that they, too, watched with an interest as deep as his, with a hope as poignant as his hopelessness, the dizzy voyage of Pauline.



CHAPTER XI

FROM CLOUD TO CLIFF

"Wonder what he thinks he can do," growled Hicks as they sat in the runabout and watched Harry pass them.

"Trying to break his own neck—for nothing," replied Owen. "If he keeps up that speed we'll get both birds with one sand bag."

"I hope so. He didn't speak, did he? You can see by the way he acts he don't want us around—even now."

"It doesn't matter what he wants—it's what he does."

"You don't think he can save her?"

"He might—and I don't want her saved this time, Hicks, you understand. I can't afford it this time. I've said too much."

"Well?"

"Where did you get this runabout?"

"Upper East Side—private party; I didn't want to do any business near home."

"That's right."

"How much is this machine worth?" asked Owen irrelevantly.

"Oh, six or seven hundred—it ain't new. Why?"

"If anything should happen to it, there wouldn't be any trouble, provided the bill was paid, would there?"

"I got an idea the owner would grab at $300 for this here buggy. But why?"

"And if this automobile disappeared, vanished—no trace of it; you're sure there wouldn't be any investigation?" pursued Hicks.

"Yes—it would be all right, I tell you. But I want to know what your scheme is. How can you use this machine to get rid of Harry? Tell me," Owen insisted.

"Never mind—yet. How do you make the course of the balloon now?"

"I guess she'll go over Quirksborough and then up between Hoxey and Brent."

"Then we can pass him at Quirksborough."

"How do you figure that?"

"He'll stop for gasoline. He hasn't got enough to go more than two miles beyond there. I saw that he hadn't when we set out."

"What do you want to pass him for? Why not let 'em both break their own merry little necks an' us pick 'em up an' do the weepin' afterward? That's our music."

"You fool! Don't you think a balloon ever came down safe yet? Don't you know that young devil has got his head full of schemes to beat me out' again? I tell you we've got to make sure of this trick. We've got to get him."

Unconsciously Hicks brought the machine to a stop as both men strained their eyes at the balloon, now traversing a lower course more slowly.

They saw Pauline stand erect in the basket and lift the heavy anchor over the side.

Harry, going at terrific speed on the deserted road, saw the drop of the anchor with a thrill of hope. At least—even if it was useless in itself—it showed him that Pauline was brave and calm enough to use her wits. He waved again but there was no answering signal.

Suddenly the balloon itself was lost to sight from the road. At the lowering angle, drawn downward partly by the anchor and partly by the gradual loss of gas, it swung over the hills.

The road led between two hills. Beyond it curved to the east and north. As he reached the curve Harry was surprised that the balloon was not in sight. When after circling another hill Harry had still failed to pick it up he was alarmed as well as puzzled. The hills had muddled his senses of direction, but he knew that he was near the river again—back on the verge of the Palisades. This added to his fears.

There was but one thing to do, though—follow the road. He went on slowly.

Suddenly he uttered a cry and threw on full speed. Over the top of a high, jagged cliff, set like a rampart between two bastion knolls, he saw the upper half of the gas bag.

It veered and tossed in the wind like a tethered thing. The basket was invisible, but Harry knew that the anchor had caught on the cliff side.

As he neared it he discovered that what was a cliff on one side was the river wall on the other. He thanked heaven that the road led to the top of it. He turned the machine up the road, which threaded narrow ledges through growths of bramble and stunted trees.

He saw and turned sick in soul and body, for the pulling of the balloon held the basket almost inverted, and Pauline was not in the basket.

The anchor had doubled itself into rock or root far down the cliff side. From it the balloon dragged toward the river instead of toward the shore. The taut rope writhed fifty feet out from the top of the declivity.

To the edge of the cliff crawled Harry. He moved rapidly, but at the uttermost verge he paused and covered his eyes with his, hand.

At last he looked down.

To Pauline on her wild flight had come increasing calm. As she felt the balloon reaching lower levels—though it still soared high above the hills—she even allowed herself a little hope. Leaning over, she watched the shining blades of the anchor dance through the air. Northeastward she could see the waves of the great river dancing. On the little anchor, hung her hope of life; in the water beyond the farthest cliff lay her final peril.

She had lost track of Harry and the other automobile long ago. She had given up all hope of aid from any living thing.

The balloon moved slowly above the palisade. The anchor dragged on the landward side of the knolls. These were sheer rock that the steel talons clawed in vain.

The balloon moved out over the river, then suddenly glided back. An eddy of breeze from the water had turned its course. The anchor dangled along the river wall of the precipice.

Pauline seized the rope. She alternately pulled and loosened it, trying to hook the anchor to tree or shrub. Suddenly she was flung forward—almost out of the basket. The balloon had stopped with a jerk. Hopefully, fearfully, she pulled in the rope. The anchor held. The balloon was tugging and swaying wildly, but its tether did not break. She looked down at the ledge. Between her and that narrow footing the only thoroughfare was two hundred feet of swaying rope. She pulled upon the rope again. She dropped two more of the heavy ballast bags over the side, and the bag shook and groaned upon its stays as it dragged the anchor deeper into the rock. She put her feet over the edge of the basket. With her hands clutching the rim, she lowered herself. Taking her hands from the basket and grasping the rope, she started down.

The raw hemp tore her hands. The fearful strain upon her arms made her sick and faint. Only desperation nerved her after the first ten yards. The wrenching of the balloon whirled and jostled her. At first, holding only by her hands, she was flung out from the aft halyard like a flag. Then instinct told her to wrap her feet around it and she trembled on. She looked down once, saw the far swaying river, and looked quickly up again. It was not until her groping feet touched the rock of the ledge that she opened her eyes again. At the top of a slender rope whirled and veered and battled a balloon with an empty basket. The sound of creaking ropes mingled in her ears with the chugging of a motor car. The chugging seemed a long way off, but its noise seemed to make her dizzy. She sank in a dead faint upon the narrow ledge beside the hooked anchor.

"Pauline! Pauline! It's I—Harry. Can't you hear me? Pauline!"

There came no sound in answer—only the creaking of the balloon rope in the air, the rasping of the anchor fluke upon the stone.

He sprang up and back to the motor and began throwing out the robes, blankets, tools and chains. He laid a blanket on the ground and began to slash it into strips with his pocket knife. In the ends of the strips he cut slits and linked the slits with the chains to form a rope. He paused only once in his frantic labor. That was when he rushed back to the edge of the cliff to look again and call again-in vain. He fastened the chain at the end of his strange line to a sapling growing some ten feet back of the verge and with a throb of relief saw the other end drop to within a few feet of the unconscious girl. He tested the strength of the cable by pulling on it with all his might. It did not give. He put himself over the cliff side and began the descent.

Owen and Hicks had not only lost the balloon, but had lost Harry, too. They could follow him only by the deep cut tracks of his flying car, and these were as likely to be over marshes and fields as on the highway.

More than once Hicks urged that they turn back.

"We can't do no good," he argued. "If they ain't dead they ain't— that's all."

"I've got to be sure," muttered Owen.

The little runabout had a hard fight to climb the cliff that Harry's big car had taken so easily. But as they came through the grove into view of the balloon and the empty basket the two felt amply rewarded for their worry and trouble and toil.

"By George, it has happened. It's done!" cried Owen. No artist gazing on a finished masterpiece, no conqueror thanking the fates for victory could have spoken with more triumphant fervor.

But Hicks was out of the machine and running to Harry's car. He saw the shreds of the blankets; he saw the knife; finally he caught a glimpse of the chain that was fastened to the sapling.

"Don't be so sure," grumbled Hicks. "Come on—but come quiet."

He got down on his hands and knees and crawled to the edge of the cliff. Owen followed him. Together they drew back with gasps of surprise and anger.

Hicks sprang to his feet. His big-bladed knife flashed in his hand. He sawed excitedly at the small chain. A low curse escaped him as the blade bent on the links.

Owen had dashed to Harry's auto. He was back with a pair of heavy pliers. In a flash he had cut the chain. The end of it shot over the cliff. There was a startled cry from below.

It was several minutes before Hicks and Owen looked down again.

The man they thought they had just killed and the girl whom they had marked to die stood on the ledge in each other's arms, oblivious of life or death, or foe or friend, of everything but love.

Pauline was still aquiver with the shock of her waking. A cry ringing above her had brought her from her swoon and she had looked up to see the terrible balloon still reeling over her and to find Harry dangling from a rope's end not ten feet away.

She rose weakly and stretched out her arms to him.

"Be still; don't move, dear," he called softly.

"You can't help me. You—"

There was a sudden snapping sound from over the top of the cliff. The chain end of the line fell upon his shoulders. He dropped joltingly to the ledge and lunged forward toward a further fall. It was the soft arms of Pauline that caught and held him. Both trembling a little as their lips met.

From overhead came the sound of a starting automobile. Harry shouted at the top of his voice. There was no answer. He stopped quickly and picked up the severed end of the life line.

"Look; it wasn't broken; it was cut;" he cried. "Good heaven, Polly, who is it that hates us like that?"

For answer she merely nestled nearer in his protecting arms.

They sat down on the ledge, and Harry's keen eyes watched the tantrums of the balloon in the wind. It was pulling fiercely toward the river now, but the anchor held fast.

Suddenly Harry sprang up. Pauline started to follow his example, but he motioned her to stay where she was. In his hand gleamed the revolver, that he had carried ever since the battle in Baskinelli's den.

"Who is it?" whispered Pauline. "Can you see some one?"

He raised the revolver in the air, took aim and fired. The balloon rope at his feet suddenly slacked and he caught at its sagging loop to gave the anchor from loosening. He fired twice again at the balloon bag, and Pauline, clinging to his shoulder saw the monster that had held her a slave to its elemental power, that, like some winged gorgon had held her captive in the labyrinth of air, crumple and wither and fall at the prick of a bullet; saw it collapse into a mass of tangled leather and rope and slide in final ruin down the smooth cliff.

She looked at Harry with the whimsical smile that she could not suppress even on the dizzy heights of danger.

"Did you really think I would fly away again?" she asked.

"Hopeless ward," he said. "Pitiful case. Miss Pauline Marvin, crazy heiress—thinks she's funny when she's merely getting killed. No, Miss Flippancy, I wanted a line to slide the rest of the way on," he announced as he gave the anchor rope a twist around a rock.

Pauline's merriment vanished like a flash.

"Oh, I can't do it again, Harry, I can't," she cried tremulously.

"It will be easy this time," he told her. "Here, give me your hands."

With a piece of the blanket rope he tied her wrists together, and placed her arms about his shoulders, grasping a rope that sagged away to the wrecked balloon on the road far below. He placed a leg over the ledge, wrapped it around the rope and bracing the other foot against the rock wall, started joyously on his fearful task.

Joyously, for if ever man rejoiced at the gates of death it was Harry Marvin. To him the chance to risk his life today was a blessing and a boon. It was what he had prayed for, hopelessly, on the long motor dash in the wake of the balloon—just the chance to try and save her. To die with her was all he asked; to die fighting for her was all he wanted; and here he was, holding her in his arms on a stout rope, already half way down the cliff.

At the bottom he let her feel the firm earth once more. "Now you can open your eyes," he said.

With his torn hands he started to lift her arms from his neck; but she clung there, weeping.

"Oh, Harry, you are so patient, so good and brave, and I have made you risk your life again for me."

"Sure; that's it; worry about me, now," he grumbled, although he held her tenderly and close. "When will you find out that my life doesn't matter; it's yours that counts?"

"I will never, never do it again," said Pauline like a naughty child.

"You used to say that when you were four years old. It was usually a lie," said Harry.

"I love you," said Pauline irrelevantly.

"Then why-in-the-dickens-don't-you-marry me?" he demanded.

"Because—"

She stopped. Steps sounded from the roadway. They peered through the thicket that concealed them and saw Owen approaching.

Pauline hailed him. He turned toward the thicket in obsequious haste.

"Thank Heaven, Miss Marvin," he cried. "It must be a miracle. And you are safe, too," he added, turning to Harry.

"How did you know I was ever in danger?" inquired Harry grimly.

"We heard shots," explained Owen. "We saw the balloon fall and we knew what you had done. It was magnificent. I congratulate you."

"Congratulate Polly," said Harry. "She slid out of Heaven, while I only slid down hill."

"Where is your car, Mr. Marvin?"

"Up on the hill—if the kind persons who cut the chain didn't take it with them."

Owen did not change color. "I will go and see if it is there. If not, I'll find Hicks and his runabout. He's waiting somewhere about."

He set off briskly up the road.

"Polly, you still trust that man?" asked Harry.

"One has to trust one's guardian, doesn't one?"

He tossed his hands above his head in a gesture of "Give it all up."

"That's right; keep 'em there," said a rough voice, and a wiry man with white handkerchiefs tied over his face below the eyes sprang with crunching strides through the bushes. "Keep up your hands, I say," he thundered at Harry, as he leveled a revolver.

Pauline was beside him and Harry dared not move. But Pauline dared. With the resourceful courage that always inspired her she whipped his revolver out his hip pocket and fired at the intruder's head.

His hat fluttered off into the road. He sprang at Pauline and wrested the gun from her. As Harry rushed him, he had no time to fire, but the butt of one revolver crashed on the young man's forehead. Harry sank unconscious in the road.

Pauline knelt beside him. She was screaming for Owen—even for Hicks. Hicks was instantly beside her but not to aid or rescue, for Hicks was the man with the handkerchief mask. He half dragged, half carried Pauline to a thicket that concealed the runabout. He drew a roll of tire tape from under the seat and bound it cruelly around her lips. He took ropes and tied her hands and feet, placed her in the seat beside him and started the machine. If Harry, struggling to rise out of the dust of the road, could have seen Pauline now, bound and gagged beside Hicks in the runabout, he would have known her to be in greater peril than ever the balloon had brought her.

Pauline was not long unhidden. As the quick ear of Hicks caught the sound of wheels, he grasped her roughly by the arm and thrust her into the bottom of the machine. Without taking his hand from the lever or slackening speed, he pulled a blanket over her and tucked it in with one hand.

"Don't move, either," he growled, "or you know."

A farmer on his wagon came around a bend. His cheery "good morning" brought only a grunt from Hicks, but the sound of the kind voice thrilled Pauline. She struggled under the blanket and almost reached a sitting posture before Hicks crushed her back.

The runabout had flashed by, but the farmer had seen something that alarmed even his stolid mind.

When a half mile up the road he came upon a young man, dazed and wounded, staggering through the dust, he drew rein and leaped out.

A draught of whiskey from the farmer's bottle braced Harry.

"You passed them on the road?" he cried.

"A machine with a man in it and somethin' else—somethin' in the bottom of it that moved," said the farmer.

"A horse," said Harry, "quick—one of yours will do."

The farmer hesitated. Harry thrust money into his hand. "Quick," he shouted.

Together they unharnessed the team. Coatless and hatless, tattered, wounded and stained, Harry swung himself to the bare back of a stirrupless steed and galloped out on what he knew was the most dangerous of all the pathways of Pauline.



CHAPTER XII

THE OLD GRIGSBY HOUSE PAYS PENANCE

To young Bassett, of The American, the excitement of existence, since he became a reporter and joined the jehus of the truth wagon, had consisted mainly of "chasing pictures" in the afternoons and going to strings of banquets at night. He had no more enthusiasm for photographs than he had for banquets. Word painting and graining was his art. And so when a big story walked up and beckoned to him he was as happy as a boy in love.

It had been a dull day for news. The evening papers were barren of suggestions and the assignments had run out before Bassett's name was reached. That meant another afternoon of dismal lingering in the office, without even a photograph to chase.

Bassett flung himself disgustedly into a chair and straightened a newspaper with a vicious crackle as the last of the other reporters hurried out. He thought he caught a gleam of merry pity in the reporter's eye. Never mind. Let 'em laugh. Let 'em wait. One of these days he'll be the one getting the real stuff and putting it through, too, from tip to type, without a rewrite man or a copy reader touching it. Let 'em wait!

"In a balloon? Where?"

The suddenly vibrant voice of the city editor talking over the telephone caused Bassett to lower his paper and hushed even the chatter of the office boys.

"Palisades—Panatella; yes. Who's the girl? You don't know?"

The paper dropped from Bassett's hands.

"Much obliged. I'll have a man over there, but you go right ahead." The city editor clicked down the receiver and whirled in his chair.

"Oh—Bassett. Our Weehawken man says a young woman has been carried off by Panatella's balloon. They've lost the balloon. Get a car and get over there quick. Go as far as you like, only find the girl and let me hear from you—quick."

Bassett jumped to a phone and ordered a high-powered machine to meet him at Ninety-sixth street. He ran down William street, with his straw hat under his arm, and dived into the subway. An express had him at Ninety-sixth street in a few minutes. His machine was there. They dashed for the ferry and were on the aviation field before the bewildered crowd that had witnessed the runaway flight of the balloon had dispersed.

Bassett jumped out and mingled with the people. They knew nothing except the general direction toward the west that the balloon had taken. Automobilists had pursued for a long way, but had seen the gas bag turn to the north and disappear in the hills. The automobilists had returned—most of them. Two who had been with the girl before she leaped into the basket had not returned.

Bassett got back in the car beside the driver, and they glided off on the westward road.

Every one in the farm houses along the route had seen the balloon. But the houses were further and further apart as Bassett's course was drawn northward and, often he missed the trail.

The trail was blazed by the wheel ruts of a giant touring car and a small runabout that frequently left the highways and plowed across the fields. He lost them in the middle of a field that was marshy where the automobiles left the road and rock-dry at the middle and further side. After a half-hour's maneuvering he ordered the driver to go back to the road.

"Maybe they done the same thing—turned round an' come back," suggested the chauffeur. "Hello, what kind of a rig is that?" he added as a wagon appeared around a bend in the road.

The peculiar thing about the "rig" was that while it was a tongued wagon with whiffletrees for two horses, there was only one horse. The driver, a bearded farmer, was urging the patient animal on, although it was impossible for it to do more than plod in its awkward harness.

"What's the matter?" called Bassett, cheerily, as the machine drew alongside and stopped.

"I dunno," replied the farmer, shaking his grizzled bead. "Ef I was a young feller like you I'd go right off an' find out."

"I'll go right away; what's up?"

"I dunno. I ain't knowed anythin' like it in this part o' the country in fifty year. First, down yonder on the old river road I meets a autymobile, with a man drivin' it and somethin' alive an' movin' lyin' in a blanket by his feet. I ain't got more'n a half mile back from there when I finds a fine young feller, with his good clothes—what he's got left—tore to pieces, no shoes, or hat on him, an' his head bleedin' bad from cuts. 'Where are they? Did you see a autymobile?' he yells at me. I tells him what I had saw, an' he takes my off hoss there an' goes gallopin' up the road."

"What road?" cried Bassett.

"Ye circle this here field an' climb the hill, then take the first turn."

"Which way?"

"West, if you don't want ter jump in the river."

"What, we're back at the river," gasped Bassett.

"That's about my luck. The balloon's gone over the river; it's in New York, and some Harlem reporter is leading it down to his office on a leash to have it photographed, and I'm—I'm hoodooed, that's all."

"I dunno," said the farmer, "but ef ye ast me, I'd say that feller in the autymoble was makin' for the woods beyond Quirksborough. It's lonely up through there, an' he had somethin' in that there machine that he wanted to keep lonely, I'm guessin'."

Bassett motioned to the driver to go on. "We might as well see what it is; the balloon's gone home for supper," he said bitterly.

In five minutes they reached the turn where the farmer had last seen Harry Marvin disappear. They took the turn into an ill-kept, dust-heavy road that had cast its blight of brown upon the reeds bordering it. The woods became more and more dense and the road more narrow. In some places the dust was crusted, as it had dried after the last rain, and the men in the automobile could see that the wheels of another machine and the hoofs of a galloping horse had plunged through this crust but a short time before.

Around a bend in the road, going at full speed, Bassett sighted Harry Marvin for the first time. He stood up beside the driver and hailed him, but Harry did not even turn around. The beat of his horse's hoofs drowned the sound. The deep lines of the runabout's wheels in the dust held his gaze and his senses to one thing alone—the rescue of Pauline. He urged the poor beast to its last tug of strength. Weak and dizzy from his wound, he knew that he could go but a little way afoot. The road's high, close-set wall of trees was broken for the first time by a little clearing. Harry's passing glance showed him that there was a house in the clearing. He was exhausted and a thirst, but his eyes swept back to the wheel tracks on the road.

The runabout had gone on. Harry, without drawing rein, was about to follow. But suddenly, weirdly, the rickety walls of the deserted house gave forth a sound, a rattle and a crash, and from a shuttered window beside the low-silled door bellied a sheet of smoke.

Harry reined the foaming horse and sprang off. Freed of his weight, the animal staggered on a few paces and fell, panting, in the dust.

Harry did not see it. He was battering at the door of the burning house.

Hicks could hardly be called a nervous or a timid man. He was certainly not a coward, like Owen; but neither did he have the shrewd, scheming mind which was the bulwark of the craven secretary's weakness. At the moment when they discovered the young lovers safe at the foot of the cliff after the escape from the balloon and rock ledge, the two arch conspirators were two very different men. Owen was shaking like a leaf in his terror of discovery, but thinking of a hundred schemes to save himself. Hicks was deadly cool, and thinking of just one thing—immediate and cold-blooded murder.

But now, although he thought he had killed Harry, although he knew he had Pauline gagged and bound in the bottom of the runabout, Hicks was afraid. He was afraid of the incompleteness of the thing. He was eager to have done with the girl as well as with the man. And now this latest plan of Owen's was but another chapter of procrastination.

The incident of the farmer's curiosity had unnerved him, too. He put back over his face one of the white handkerchiefs that he had taken off when he began the flight.

"There's no more 'pity-the-poor-girl' stuff in this," he said gruffly to Pauline. "If you don't keep quiet I'll kill you. I mean what I say."

He still had the instinctive crook sense to conceal his natural voice. Hicks was afraid, but as mile after mile fell behind them and the westerning sun gave promise of the early shelter of dark, he began to gain confidence. He mumbled to himself reminiscently:

"The old Grigsby house, eh? Nobody but—" he checked himself. "Nobody but somebody would thought've that."

The "old Grigsby house," in front of which the runabout came to a stop after many miles of travel, was set back from the road about three hundred yards. In front of it and on either side, the trees had been cut away, but a tangle of riotous shrubbery lined the path to the door. Behind the house the trees had been left untouched, and now in its tottering condition the venerable building literally rested on two of the great elms, like an old man on crutches.

The windows were few and shuttered. The black steel blinds were dead as the eyes of a skull. The steel was not rusted and only a little weather-stained.

There were no steps to the door. It opened on the ground level, with a cracked board serving as both porch and foot mat. The signs of attempted preservation were what gave the place its ominous air. There was a menace in the steel shutters of the old Grigsby house, and in the fact that the path to the door was kept clear.

Up this path Hicks carried Pauline. Before he lifted her in his arms he tested her bonds. He did not know that Pauline was too terrified to conceive the simplest plan of action. Compared with the fear that possessed her now the torturing suspense of the balloon flight seemed like peace and safety.

Hicks held her with one arm while with the other he unlocked the low door. Swinging heavy on strong hinges, it opened into a narrow hall, mildewed with the dampness of decay, the dust of disuse. He carried Pauline up the stairs, which groaned and bent under his steps and pushed open a door. There was a broken chair, a table, a cot, a washstand, with pitcher and bowl, and a small oil lamp set in a bracket on the wail.

Hicks laid Pauline on the cot, and lighted the lamp, using the same match for a cigarette. He seemed spurred by a desire to get away as if the tottering, grimy halls held memories too grim for even his hardened soul. After testing the shutters of the window, which were locked on the outside, he stepped back to the cot and cut Pauline's bonds, and removed the bandage from her lips. As she fell back in a half swoon he hurried through the door, closed and locked it and went down the stairs.

Half way down he stopped abruptly, stood for a moment listening, then hastened on, dropping his cigarette over the banister. He did not see where it fell. He did not care. His only aim was to get out—to get away. He had heard a sound as he came down the stairs that turned his fear to terror—it was the distant grumble of an automobile horn. He locked the door and sped down the bramble-walled path to the runabout. He had left it in the middle of the road, so that as he leaped in and started again it left no swerve of its wheel ruts toward the old Grigsby house. It was five miles to the nearest town, but Hicks made it in twenty minutes, and without hearing again the threatening automobile horn. The first thing he did was to telephone to Owen.

For half an hour Owen had been locked in the library of the Marvin house. The events of the early afternoon, the failure of his best-laid plans, the suspense of waiting the result of Hicks's final move, had made him a nervous wreck. He had lighted a dozen cigars and thrown them away. As many times he had picked up the telephone only to set it down again without calling a number. At last he had taken out the thin tube of light pills, had drawn the shades, switched on the electric lights, and sat down to wait for the half-peace that morphine brought to his conscience.

As he leaned back in his chair, awaiting the effect of the drug, the mummy in its case stood in front of him. He closed his eyes in a pleasant stupor. He opened them in terror. For a moment his hands were outstretched in front of him, with claw-like fingers clutching at thin air; then he covered his eyes with them to shut from view the mummy, which stood over him, its upraised hand pointing to him the finger of accusation; its woman's eyes blazing with anger; its cold lips speaking a message that chilled his blood.

The telephone bell jangled again and again before Owen found courage to open his eyes. When he did so he clutched at the instrument, eager for the sound of a human voice.

"Hello! . . . Yes, this is Owen . . ." He glanced apprehensively over his shoulder at the mummy. Its hand was lowered and it stood motionless as before. He turned excitedly back to the telephone. "It's YOU! Hicks? . . . What news? . . . . She's at Grigsby's? What do you mean? Somebody after you? . . . Not him? . . . I give you my word there hadn't been anything on that road for two months. . . . What have you done? What! Nothing? You should have called the police from Jersey. . . . All gone to pieces? . . . Stay over there, I'll join you tonight. Yes, go back to the house and watch. . . . What? . . . All right."

Pauline, left alone, began to regain her courage. After a few moments she was able to stand up and move slowly about her prison room. She tried the door and the window shutters mechanically. She searched the room for something that might be used to batter down the door. There was nothing. She sat on the cot and tried to think.

She sprang up again, trembling. The dry, choking smell of smoke had reached her. Hicks's lighted cigarette had fallen among the wisps of old wall paper in the hall.

She ran to the door. Baffled, piteous, alone, she turned—and looked on death.

For through the cracks in the floor flashed now the golden daggers of flame in sheaths of stifling smoke. She cowered, choking, by the outer wall of the room.

The flame daggers grew into scimitars. The inner wall caught fire. There was no outlet for the suffocating smoke.

She sprang to the middle of the room and seized the broken chair. With all her might she crashed it against the door. It fell in pieces at her feet.

She picked up a leg of the chair and, running to the window, pounded upon the shutters. She screamed, and beat upon the shutters. It was the rattle and crash upon the shutters that made Harry rein in his horse before the old Grigsby house.

He saw smoke burst from the lower windows, and, battering on the locked door, he heard her screams.

"Harry! Harry!"

It was to him she called again in her peril, as she had called before —in the wreck of the yacht, in the den of Baskinelli, and even this day from the rim of the runaway balloon. Always, inspired by that call, he had found their way to safety.

He thrust the full weight of his mighty body against the door which held like solid rock.

"Harry! Harry!" came the cries again.

"I'm coming, Polly; I'm here!"

He dashed to where a heavy tree limb had fallen, carried it to the door, raised it and charged with it as a battering ram. He might as well have slapped the door with his flat palm.

He looked at the windows whence the smoke poured—smoke mingled with flame. Half crazed by the cries from above, he raised the limb to try to break the shutters. He stopped and let it fall. The toot of an automobile horn and the excited voice of young Bassett stopped him.

"What's doing?" gasped the reporter. "Is anybody in there?"

Harry pointed to the shuttered window of the upper room. The cries came again, and with the sound, of the woman's voice Bassett turned sick. He made a dizzy charge at the door, but Harry caught him back.

"All three together," he said.

They flung their strength at the portal—but still it held.

Bassett turned away, sobbing. He looked up to see Harry spring into the big car which he forced through the brambles.

"What are you doing? You're crazy!" yelled the chauffeur, running toward the machine.

"Get her—if I can't—after the smash!" was Harry's answer. The car lunged on at full speed.

The impact rocked the burning house. Frame and door crashed down together before the battering car. It plowed for half its length into the smoke and fire, stopped an instant, quivered and backed out again, splendid ruin.

On Harry's forehead a deep cut streamed.

Bassett sprang to catch him, but he climbed out unhelped. Together they leaped the shattered wall. Through searing smoke they climbed the quaking stairs and burst into the shuttered room.

The lamp still flickered dimly in its bracket.

"Pauline," called Harry, chokingly, "Pauline, answer me."

There was no answer.

On hands and knees he groped over the hot floor. He found her by the window, where she had fallen. And flames choked them as they fled.

Outside he knelt beside her, chafing her hands, when she wakened. He had turned her so that she did not see the towering glare of the flames as the old Grigsby house furnished burnt penance for its crimes. Pauline raised her arms and touched tenderly his bleeding brow. He lifted her into the car that Bassett and the driver had patched up.

"Home, James," said Bassett, with a tired grin, "but stop at a telephone somewhere and let me tell my boss that I've got a piece for the paper."



CHAPTER XIII

DOUBLE CROSS RANCH

"I tell you, Harry, I can't endure it. I couldn't face anyone I know. I want to run away—far, far away, where nobody ever heard of balloons or automobiles, or me."

"Polly, you aren't afraid of a little talk, are you? Everyone is saying how brave you were, and, here, when the danger's over, I find you a flimsy little coward!"

She picked up one of a pile of newspapers that lay on the stand beside her, and thrust it before Harry's eyes with a manner at once questioning and rebuking. He read the head lines:

SOCIETY GIRL CARRIED OFF IN BALLOON

Miss Pauline Marvin Has Remarkable Experience After Accident on Palisades.

Harry laughed and patted her hand reassuringly. "Oh, but that's only one of them," wailed Pauline. "Look at this one:

PAULINE MARVIN LOST IN THE SKY

"Can any woman live after that," she cried.

"Why, it's no crime to be lost in a balloon," said Harry. "See, they tell it just as it was—they make you a real heroine."

"A man might live it down, dear, but a woman, never! To be 'lost in the sky' is altogether too giddy. Margaret!" she called.

The maid stepped quickly forward.

"You may pack my things, Margaret, and be sure to put in some warm winter ones. Is the snow on mountains cold like real snow, or is it like the frosting on cake?" she inquired, turning again to Harry.

"What are you up to this time?" he demanded.

"Montana first," she proclaimed with a melodramatic flourish. "And if I am followed by my fame or by my relatives—I shall go on—to the end of the world."

Harry had long ago abandoned the idea of laughing at her whims. Even the most fantastic of her projects was serious to her.

He merely looked at her in mute suspense awaiting the fall of the blow.

"You needn't begin to see trouble-yet," she laughed. "But I am going, Harry. I'm going to accept Mary Haines's invitation and visit her and her nice, queer husband on their ranch. You remember Mrs. Haines, that dear Western girl that we met on the steamer when she was on her honeymoon?"

"Well, it's pretty tough just at this time," objected Harry. "Business is bothersome, and I ought to be here; but if you insist . . . "

"Oh, you're not coming with me," stated Pauline, cheerily. "In the first place you are not invited, and in the second place you are not needed in the least. Now get me a telegraph blank."

He came back with the desired paper and a fountain pen and she scribbled:

Mrs. Mary Haines, Rockvale, Montana. Care Double Cross Ranch.

Arrive Thursday at 8 a.m. Will explain haste when see you.,

Pauline Marvin."

"Run down and 'phone that to the telegraph office," she told Harry. "And now for the packing, Margaret." She thrust a tiny foot in a pink slipper over the edge of the bed.

"But you are ill, Miss Marvin," protested the nurse with a first faint assertion of authority.

"That's so," said Polly. "How can we get around that? Oh, yes; it's time for your airing, dear—and when you come back I shall be well and packed."

"Plenty of air," suggested Harry sarcastically from the doorway, "if it takes you as long to pack as it does to put on your hat."

Pauline flung him a laughing grimace and he strode off to the library. As he was repeating the brief message to the telegraph office he did not hear the light footfalls that ceased at the library door, nor could he see the drawn, gray face of Owen who heard the message spoken over the telephone, and was passing up the stairs with his slow, dignified tread when Harry came into the hall.

"Good morning, Mr. Harry. I see you are quite yourself again. Yesterday was a terrible day."

"You do look done up," retorted Harry, curtly, as he picked up his hat.

Owen's step was not slow or dignified after the door shut upon Harry. He sprang up the last stairs and into his own room.

Here on a small writing desk was another telephone. He snatched it up nervously and gave the call number of the place where he had held his first conference with Hicks.

He held a brief conversation over the wire, snapped down the receiver, sprang to a wardrobe for his hat and stick and hurried from the house.

The dullness that a sleepless night had left in his eyes had disappeared. The fear that had shaken him ever since the uncanny reappearance of Harry and Pauline was dissipated, or at least concealed by a new hope—a new plan of destruction.

He knew only that Pauline was going away and that she must be followed —no matter whither her whims might lead.

Hicks was seated in a corner of the rendezvous drinking whiskey and water. He was plainly in a black mood.

"You got a pretty fat roll yesterday, Hicks. But," Owen drew out his wallet, "here is a little. Get yourself ready to make a trip tomorrow. I'll let you know the time and the train."

Hicks looked covetously at the bills, but he demurred: "You mean we're after them two again!"

"Hicks, we must be after them because one of them will soon be after us."

"Where they goin' now?"

"Rockvale, Montana. That is, the girl's going. What I haven't found out yet is whether Harry goes, too. If he stays here, I'll stay, and you'll go West."

"After Pauline?"

"Ahead of her!"

"And then what?"

"Then you will have to use your own judgment. But don't get excited and kill her, Hicks."

He accompanied the sharp warning with the alleviating roll of yellowbacks, which Hicks quickly deposited in an inside pocket.

The next morning they shook hands at the gate of the Pennsylvania station. Hicks looking a bit uncomfortable but much improved, in a suit of new clothes, and carrying a suitcase, hurried to catch the flyer for the West. A few hours later Owen was wishing a happy journey to Pauline at the same station rail.

Mary Haines stood in the low doorway of the Double Cross ranch house and gazed down the sun-baked road to where, in the far distance, a little wisp of dust was visible.

Laughing, she turned and called to someone inside the house. A towering, slow-moving, but quick-eyed man, in a flannel shirt, with corduroys tucked into the tops of spurred boots, appeared on the stoop. Hal Haines was so tall that his broad-brimmed hat grazed the porch roof of the house.

"Hal! Hal!" she cried eagerly. "What do you think? Pauline Marvin is coming to visit us—Pauline Marvin!"

"The little girl we met on the ship that I had to yarn to about the wild West?"

"Yes, of course. How you did lie to her! Goodness, I hope that's not why she's coming. She'll be awfully disappointed."

"Oh, I don't know as it's necessary to disappoint her," said Haines. "If the State of Montana don't know how to entertain a lady from the East as she likes to be entertained it's time to quit bein' a State at all."

"Hal!" Mrs. Haines eyed her husband sternly. "I want you to remember who Pauline Marvin is. I'm not going to have her frightened by any of your wild jokes."

Haines burst into a ringing laugh.

"Honest, my dear, I promised that young lady if she ever came to Rockvale she'd see all the Wild West I told her about. I gave her my word. You don't want to make me out a liar, do you?"

"You can say that conditions have changed greatly in the last two years."

"Oh, come, just one little hold-up the day she gets here. She'll think it's great. She'll think she's the lost heiress that was carried off in the mountains—the one I told her about."

"I tell you I will not hear a word of it. She may be ill or something; it would scare her to death."

"I'll ask her if she's ill before I let the boys rob the buck-board. What dye say, mother? Just this once."

His boyish joy in the prank brought laughter to her eyes, and he knew that his sins would be condoned.

Four days later Hicks, who looked as far from home in his excellent clothes as the clothes looked far from home in Rockvale, alighted, from a lumbering local train. He made an inquiry of a man on the platform, and, carrying a heavy suitcase, slouched up the main street of the town.

Ham Dalton's place was the one the man had directed him to, and Hicks, I after engaging the best rooms in the house for seventy-five cents, scrubbed a little of the dust of travel from his person and went down to the bar and gambling room. The drink of whiskey he got made even his trained throat writhe, and he strolled over to the poker table to join a group of calm and plainly-armed spectators of high play.

From the conversation he learned that the dam at Red Gut was washed out; that Case Egan, a noted rancher, was in jail for shooting a deputy sheriff, and that Hal Haines was expecting a "millionairess gal" visitor from New York.

"When'll she be on?" drawled one of the players.

"Tomorrow's express."

"Sence when did the express stop at Rockvale?"

"Sence the president o' the road told it to stop for this here young person," replied the informant crushingly.

Hicks was scanning the faces of the men about him with a purposeful eye. Especially he watched one—a lean man in red shirt and leather breeches, booted and spurred, who stood near the table.

Hicks approached him. "Hello, Patten," he said.

The man whirled so sharply that the revolver he had drawn, in whirling, caught in Hick's coat and jerked him into the middle of the room. The poker game went on without a sound or sign of interruption. The bartender took a casual look at Hicks and the gunman, then went on talking to a customer, as before.

"Hello, Hicks," said Patten, putting up the gun. "I'm much obliged that I didn't kill you. We don't greet old friends quite so hasty out here, boy, as you do in New York—especially when we haven't heard our right name in some years," he added in a lowered voice.

"How long have you been here, Pat?"

"Eight-nine-twelve years; ever since that friend of yours, Mr. Owen, paid me $10,000 for getting rid of a certain—what he called a certain obstacle."

"Which you didn't get rid of?"

"No, he made the mistake of paying me in advance, and it didn't seem necessary to harm anybody."

"Got any of the money left?"

The lean gunman held his head back and guffawed.

"It's near here, I guess, but it ain't mine. It dropped between this bar and that table."

"Do you want a little job?" asked Hicks. "But let's go in the back room."

They strolled into an empty wine room and ordered drinks.

"What kind of a job?" asked Patten.

Hicks leaned across the table and whispered rapidly. His old acquaintance drew back, with a sudden suspicion.

"But no foolin' this time," warned Hicks. "Only part money in advance."

He produced $5,000 in bills from his trousers pocket, but secreted it again quickly as the waiter appeared.

Patten got up and sauntered out into the barroom, returning presently with three men of his own brand—broad-built, grim-eyed ruffians of the far north country—three of Case Egan's cattlemen.

In the meantime Mrs. Haines was flustered not only by the prospect of meeting her distinguished friend, but by the tumultuous staging of the great hold-up scene that was to mark Pauline's welcome. Hal had been up at three o'clock in the morning rehearsing the boys in their parts. He had set off at five o'clock for the station.

As Pauline, trim in her traveling suit of gray and blithe in the clear Western air, tripped from the express, all Rockvale was there to meet her. Hal Haines, mighty man that he was in the region, was red with pride as the girl who could stop the express at Rockvale gave him her hand in happy greeting.

As he helped her into the two-seated buckboard, no one in the crowd noticed the man who had arrived the night before standing on the platform and pointing out the girl to Tom Patten who was seen to mount and ride rapidly away.

"I hope you saved some of that lovely Wild West for me, Mr. Haines," said Pauline, as the finest pair of horses in the Double Cross stable whisked them along the road to the ranch.

"Very little left, Miss Marvin—very little left; still—whoa, there! What's this?"

At a bend in the road five masked and mounted men had dashed from cover and quickly surrounded the buckboard with a small circle of leveled gun-barrels.

Pauline had time to cry out only once before she felt herself gripped by powerful hands and dragged from the wagon seat, where Hal Haines sat shaking with laughter. He stood up and started to draw his revolver slowly. From behind him a lasso was thrown lightly and the noose tightened around his arms.

He kept on laughing, although he was a little afraid the boys were overdoing matters. He knew his wife would never forgive him for this actual kidnapping of Pauline—he certainly had never intended it.

And she was really frightened. He could tell that by her cries as she was thrust across the pommel of the masked leader's horse and the horse was spurred to a tearing gallop down the road.

Haines tried to shout a command and call the joke off, but the riders had all followed after their leader, and he was alone in the buckboard.

"They needn't have been so realistic with their knots," he said, as he struggled to free himself from the rope.

It was ten minutes before he wriggled free. He picked up the lines and drove on toward the ranch—a little nervous now over the receptions he would get, but still laughing.

At the fork where the road to the mountains left the main highway, Haines flashed out his revolver in real excitement. Another group of five masked men had driven their horses out of a clump of small trees. They fired their revolvers as they surrounded the buckboard. Then suddenly discovering that there was no woman passenger, they tore off their masks and came up with quick, eager inquiries.

Perhaps for the first time in his life Hal Haines knew what fear was— not fear for himself, but for another.

"Boys, there was another party on the road. They took her. I took 'em for you," he said in a stifled voice. "Come on. Cabot, give me your horse; take the rig back and tell Mrs. Haines."

He sprang into the saddle, and, filling their revolvers as they rode, the band of jesters, who had suddenly turned so grimly serious, dashed back toward town.

Two miles from where Tom Patten had swung Pauline to his saddle bow they picked up the train hoofs that left the road and made toward the mountains.

The men who had set out so gaily a few hours before rode silently, fiercely now. Mile after mile swept behind them as they held to the trail. Sometimes it followed the roads, sometimes it broke over open country. At last it reached the hills and stopped at the river.

Patten's band had ridden in the water upstream. After a mile of it the leader ordered three of them out on the south side. They left silently, rode five miles across country and separated, each taking a different route. Patten and one companion kept on with Pauline who was now almost insensible. At last they left the stream on the north bank and climbed into the higher hill country where they entered a thicket and stopped.

"Here we are," said Patten. His companion dismounted and lifted Pauline from the other's saddle.

With a swift daring and dexterity, born of fear, she flung aside his arms and sprang toward the horse he had just left. She tried to mount, but her strength was gone. They tied her feet with a rope and seated her on a great fallen tree, while they cleared away a tangle of bushes and began to tug with their combined strength at a giant rock, which the bushes had concealed.

The stone moved inch by inch until behind it Pauline saw, with a chill shudder, the black opening of a cave.

She flung herself from the log pleading piteously. They cut the rope that bound her feet and led her to the cave. As the giant stone was rolled back into its place she uttered one wild far-echoing cry. Then darkness!

For many minutes Pauline lay prostrate. A dim light from some hidden orifice in the top of the cave behind a shelving wall, seemed to become brighter as her eyes became more accustomed to the shadows. She arose and began to inspect the cave.

It was a chamber of rock about forty feet long and twenty feet wide. The bottom and roof converged slightly towards the end farthest from the giant boulder that formed the door. But even there the cave was twenty-five feet high.

The boulder door was set into the rock portal, and not a wisp of light came through the brush that, covered the crevice. Pauline, after a brief hopeless test of her frail strength against the weight of the granite mass, moved slowly along the wall to the extremity of the chamber.

Here, about seven feet from the floor, ran a ledge of rock, between two and three feet in width; and, from this ledge upward the wall slanted at an angle of forty-five degrees to a wide shelf or fissure. It was from this fissure that the faint light came.

Pauline groped her way back along the other wall to the front of the cave again. Despairing, she sat down on the chill stone. The events of the last few hours had left her in a state of mental vertigo. The hold-up of the buckboard and her carrying off by the bandits seemed fantastically impossible.

So this was her "escape" from scenes of adventure. This was the "great, safe, quiet West," where she should forget her perils in New York and wait for others to forget them. She thought of her promise to Harry that she would not try to get into any more scrapes. In her former dangers—even when there seemed hope—she had a buoying trust that there was one man who could save her. He had always saved her. In his protecting shelter she had come to feel almost immune from harm. But with Harry three thousand miles away and totally ignorant of her need of him no sense of imagined protection sustained her now. She took it for granted that Mr. Haines had been made a prisoner or killed. She knew the word would reach Mrs. Haines and the latter would invoke all the powers in the State to find her; but she was, sure she would be dead before anyone unearthed this fearful hiding place.

The light at the far end of the cave grew steadily more dim and Pauline judged that the day was waning.

A rustling sound caught her ear. Sounds are animate or inanimate. This was unmistakably the sound of a living thing.

Pauline trembled a little but she stood up. Was it man or beast that she had for companion in the mysterious cave?

She took a faltering step forward. The sound seemed to come nearer. The cave had gone almost pitch dark, and, suddenly, from the mid-level of the back wall—from the rock ledge—there flashed upon the sight of the imprisoned girl two beady, burning eyes.



CHAPTER XIV

THE GREAT WHITE QUEEN

Hal Haines' best driving team was lathered with foam and the buckboard swung through the gate on two wheels as Bill Cabot drove back to the Double Cross Ranch.

The young cowboy whom Haines had ordered to carry the news of disaster to Mrs. Haines, seeing the buckboard and only Cabot driving, knew instantly that something had gone wrong.

"What is it, Will?" she called, running down to the gate. "Didn't she come? Has anything happened to Hal?"

"She was held up and carried off, Mrs. Haines."

"I know; I know. You played the joke; but what happened?" She looked at the foaming horses. "What made you drive home like this?" she demanded.

"She wasn't carried off by us, Mrs. Haines. Some other crowd got ahead of us—some crowd that meant what they was doing. The Boss and the boys has got the trail by this time, I guess. The Boss said I should come and tell you."

For a moment Mrs. Haines looked at him in doubt.

"Is this another joke, Will?" she asked. "There hasn't been a hold-up in this section for ten years."

"I guess the jokin' is all knocked out've all of us," answered Bill, turning shamefacedly away. "No, ma'am, this is the truth and—and I wish the Boss had took some one else's horse instid of mine."

"Never mind. They'll have all the men in Montana out to find that girl, if this isn't a hoax," cried Mrs. Haines in a voice that choked. "Go tell the other boys to get ready. The Sheriff will want them, if Hal doesn't."

She sped back to the house and with a trembling hand rang the bell of the old-fashioned telephone that furnished a new blessing to the ranches.

A moment later Curt Sikes, the telegraph operator at Rockvale, almost fell from his chair as he took the following message over the wire at Mrs. Haines's dictation:

Harry Marvin,

Fifth Avenue, New York:

Pauline kidnapped. Come at once.

Mary Haines.

"What—what's it mean, Mrs. Haines?" he gasped into the transmitter. "It ain't the young lady that Hal Just took off the express, is it?"

"Yes, that's who it is, Curt. Cabot and the boys are coming into town as fast as they can ride; but you call Sheriff Hill and get as many men as you can-in case we need them. You'll hurry, won't you, Curt?"

"Yes, ma'am; and I'll get your message right on the wire. They'll put it ahead all along the line."

If Curt's speed in getting the telegram away was inspired partly by burning need of telling the news to Rockvale that did not reflect on Curt. He flashed after the New York message a terse call up and down the line to "Find the Sheriff," and then bolted out to the platform. His shout was heard not only at the little hotel across the street from the station, but at the city limits of Rockvale a good mile away. Rockvale answered the shout as a clan answering the beacozes flare. When Curt Sikes shouted it meant news.

His messages along the line had little effect. He had spent the morning flaunting the news to fellow operators and rival communities that the Express had stopped at Rockvale. They had only half believed that, and now this added flourish was too much. Even Sheriff Hill, whom the message overtook at Gatesburg, fifteen miles south, laughed when he read it, and started for Rockvale only because he was going there anyway to get Case Egan.

"There ain't much doubt which is now our leadin' city—Butte or Rockvale," he remarked as he swung to his saddle and set off with two deputies.

He found something more than overdone home town pride in Rockvale, however. The narrow streets were filled with men, women and curious, wide-mouthed children. Horses, packed for long riding, with rifles bolstered to the saddles, were tied all along the rails of both the main hotel and the station. Curt Sikes was the center of a changing but ever interested group, but two of the Haines posse who had just come in without any report of capture, but with all the vivid news of the hold-up were now the main objects of attention.

Briefly they told the story of the pursuit. With Haines leading they had struck a trail that took them to the river. They had waded the river and found no trail on the other side. Knowing the bandits had taken to the middle of the stream, Haines had divided his party. He sent two men down stream, one on each side and he and the three others rode up stream, two on each side.

After long rough riding Haines had found a trail coming out of the water. All four had followed it a long way. There were three bandits making the trail, but the three stopped and each took a different direction, one straight up into the hills, one straight down into the valley, and the other off here towards town. Haines and one man had started on the trail to the hills. The other two—the two talking now—had each taken one of the other trails, but had lost them. They thought Haines would lose his, too. It had been a clean, up-to-date expert piece of work—this kidnapping. The getaway had been a work of art, just as the hold-up had been a wonder-piece of stage setting.

"You saw all the gang that held you up?" asked the Sheriff.

"We wasn't held up—tha'd a been a little too rich, I guess," said one of the cowboys. "It was Boss Haines an' the girl that was stopped."

"Well, then, I mean did Haines see the gang? Were any of them Indians?"

"Injuns? No. The Boss thinks some of 'em were cattle-crooks from the Case Egan outfit. I guess they ain't no Montana Injuns that'd start anythin' like that."

"You guess a lot more than you know," said the Sheriff quietly. "I may be calling on any of you boys for some fast work against old Red Snake any of these days."

"What's the trouble, Sheriff?"

"Oh, just one of their devils brewing bad medicine again up at Shi-wah-ki village. Red Snake always was a little bit crazy—talking about the thieving white man that stole his country and looking for a chance to get the rest of his people killed off."

"I heard that down at Hallick's last week," drawled a man in the crowd. "The Sioux is only waitin' for the Great White Queen to come out o' the heart o' the airth an' lead 'em on the warpath. They got a surprisin' plenty o' arms, too, for reservation Injuns. Know that, Sheriff?"

The Sheriff nodded slowly. "I wish Haines would get in," he said. "I'd like to have a talk with him before we start. But it's getting late."

The dull thudding of tired horses hoofs from the other side of the hill below town came, to him as an answer. Presently Haines and his companion joined, silently, the eager crowd at the station.

The owner of the Double Cross seemed to have aged ten years since he had driven away with Pauline from that same station platform only a few hours before. He would have given all the acres of the Double Cross for just a word about Pauline; he would have given his life to know that she was alive.

"There's nothing for it, Sheriff, but to rake the whole country," he said wearily. "They've hidden her somewheres, if they haven't killed her. And if they've killed her, mind, it's me you're to hang for it."

The Sheriff laid a strong hand on his old friend's shoulder. "I can get the state militia out to look for that girl, Hal," he said. "By the way, is there anything—anything queer about her?" he asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Why, only that her folks have been writing to the Governor at Helena. Sikes just gave me this from Governor Casson himself. Who is this Raymond Owen? Who's been wiring to the Governor?"

"That's her guardian, I think. H'm," mused Haines as he read the message, "that is queer. I wish they'd have wired me that yesterday."

The Sheriff folded the telegram and putting it back in his pocket, stepped up on a box near the hotel door.

"I want to call for a hundred volunteer citizens to go hunt this girl," he announced.

A minute later, all that was left of Rockvale was the buildings and the women, children and old men who stood watching a cloud of dust blotting the sunset glow and listening to the retreating clatter of a flying cavalcade.

Sikes kept the office open late. At 7 o'clock he telephoned to Mrs. Haines at the Double Cross:

"What does he say?" she cried.

"Just one word—Comin'," said Curt in an aggrieved voice. "He could've sent ten words fer the same price," he grumbled.

Red Snake was one of the younger chiefs of the Sioux. He was too young to have had a share in the bloody last stand of his race in their Montana wilderness; but he was old enough to have watched the dwindling of spirit and power among them for twenty years.

And every day of watching kindled new hate in the breast of the Indian. In him the spirit of his fathers had left the old unquenchable belief in the Day of Restoration, when, by some supernatural intervention, the Indians would return to their lands, the lands revert to their primeval state, and civilization be lost in the obliterating wilderness.

The officers of the Agency had had trouble with Red Snake on several occasions. Twice he had started out at the head of war parties and had been caught just in time to prevent bloodshed among the isolated settlers. But of late he had been docile and peaceful. The new disturbances—the occasional shooting of a cowboy and the petty stealing of cattle dated from the beginning of the sway of a new medicine man in Red Snake's principal village of Shi-wah-ki.

His name was of many syllables in the native language, but he was known as Big Smoke. He was a young Indian who had spent some years among the whites in the Southwest, had made a pretense at getting an education, but had reverted violently to the life and faith of his fathers. Big smoke had predicted to Red Snake the coming of the Great White Queen, who would empower the arms of the red man to overthrow the whites and would make him again master of his rightful lands.

Red Snake, squatted on a blanket beside his teepee, listened with immobile features but with a thrilled heart. He summoned a council of the chiefs, secretly, and the medicine man addressed his message to them also.

Thereafter the Indians of Shi-wah-ki were restive. Their growing spirit of rebellion manifested itself in foolish little offenses against the white men. These were punished with the white man's customary sternness and this increased the rancor of the Indians. It increased, too, their eagerness for the fulfillment of the strange prophecy of the coming of the White Queen.

On the very day when the white man's village of Rockvale was in a hubbub of excitement because of the kidnapping of Pauline, the village of Shi-wah-ki was tumultuous with a different fervor.

Into the circle of the assembled chiefs, rimmed with awed faces of squaws and papooses, had danced the weird figure of Big Smoke. He had been called upon by Red Snake to announce what further of the White Queen his medicine had revealed.

Big Smoke wore the head of a wolf with cow's horns set over the ears. His lithe red body was covered with a long bear skin. His legs were bare to the tops of his gaily beaded moccasins.

He circled the silent group with fantastic gyrations and stopped finally in the center. Lifting his hands, he addressed the tribe. First, in glowing rhetoric, he pictured the ancient glory of the Sioux —their wealth in lands, their prowess in the hunt, their triumph over all other red men. He told of their long and brave struggle with the white man, who by the intervention of wicked gods had been enabled to conquer them. But the time of vengeance and retribution had come after long years. The Indian was to return to his own.

"The Great Spirit is sending us a leader," said Rig Smoke. "The Great Spirit has spoken to me and said: 'Lo, I will send a White Queen with golden hair. She shall come from the heart of the Earth, and she shall lead your warriors against the oppressor."

This was the third time Big Smoke had said this. That was what made it most impressive to the listeners. Big Smoke had staked not only his reputation as a medicine man, but, also his life, upon this wonderful prediction, which had aroused his people as they had not been aroused in fifty years. For it was the law of the ancient code that fulfillment must follow immediately the third announcement of the miracle. If fulfillment failed there remained only the Great Death Stone in the valley. No prophet of the tribe had ever won in the race with the Death Stone.

And so the chiefs sat in respectful silence and the young braves arose eager for the war dance when Big Smoke finished speaking.

The dance, beginning slowly, waxed wilder; the tom-toms beat more vibrantly, until the whole village was encircled by the painted and bonneted tribesmen. The red glare of daylight fires illuminated the wild faces. The women cowered with their children beside the teepees. In the midst of the tumult, the medicine man stood with hands stretched upward calling on the Great Spirit to send the White Queen.

When the dance had subsided, the Council resumed its deliberations.

It was arranged that there should be a hunt that afternoon and the foxes or coyotes should be driven as near as possible to the settlements. This would be a means of reconnoitering and it would make the whites think the Indians were engaged in peaceful pursuits.

Pauline, after her first startled cry, stood spellbound by the two glowing eyes that shone from the far end of the cave.

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