There was no light now—save for the eyes. The rift in the roof from which the mysterious glow had come seemed to have been closed suddenly. The pitch darkness made the eyes doubly terrible, and just perceptibly they moved and flashed which showed they were living eyes.
Pauline longed to scream, but could not. Behind those fiery points imagination could picture all manner of horrible shapes. Was the creature about to spring upon her?
The eyes vanished as suddenly as they had appeared.
The low rustling sound came again; then the utter silence.
Pauline, freed of the uncanny gaze, was able to think and act. If that animal could find its way into her prison house, there must be another entrance to the cave.
It was plain that the animal had been crouching on the slant rock above the ledge. Pauline began again to grope around the wall. She could touch the top of the ledge and now in several places she found small crevices in the wall by which she tried to climb.
Time and again she fell back. Her soft hands were torn by the jagged rock; her dress was in shreds; her golden hair fell down upon her shoulders. She might have been some preternatural dweller of the place.
At last her foot held firm in a crevice three feet above the floor. Clutching the ledge-top, she groped for another step—and found it. In a moment she was on the ledge.
She sank there, covering her face with her hands. The eyes had blazed again scarcely three feet away. She felt the breath of hot nostrils, the rough hair of a beast, as the thing sprang. She felt that the end had come, but she still clung to the ledge.
As she uncovered her eyes, slowly, she was astonished to see that the faint light had returned. It came, as she had thought, over a concealed shelf of stone above the rocky incline.
The eyes had vanished. The cave was still.
She began to scale the incline. Her hands and feet caught nubs and slits of the surface and a little higher she felt the cool dampness of earth and grasped the root of a tree. As she drew herself up, she looked over the shelf and saw, at one end of it, the open day.
She crawled a little way upon the shelf then stopped. She hardly dared to go on. What if the opening, large enough to admit the light, were too small for her to pass through? What if the light had been only a lure to torture her? What if she must return into the darkness with that thing unknown, the thing with the blazing eyes!
She crept on with her eyes shut. A stronger glow of light upon the closed lids told her she had reached the end of the shelving. The next moment would tell her if she had reached freedom or renewed captivity. She looked up.
Three of Red Snake's young warriors had gained most of the plaudits of the village during the afternoon of the hunt. They rode together and not only did they bring in many foxes and coyotes but much news of the white people. They had met armed men throughout all the mountain country, riding up and down the river. The armed men had greeted them fairly and had asked them for information of other white men who had stolen a girl and carried her away. The white men were thus fighting among themselves. It was a propitious time for the coining of the new Queen.
These three young men, about five o'clock in the afternoon, had just started the drive of a coyote towards the level country when the quarry doubled suddenly and turned into the hills.
With shouts and shots, the Indians pursued it, but their horses were no match for it on the devious wooded paths, and grunting their disgust they saw it dive into a burrow in a rocky hollow of the cliff.
They dismounted and stood about the mouth of the burrow grumbling and "cursing their luck" in an ancient tongue. At last two of them mounted and started to ride away, and their companion followed, slowly, leading his horse.
A sound made him turn his head. With a cry of mingled fear and joy, of awe and triumph, he threw himself prostrate before the mouth of the burrow.
The other Indians dashed back. They literally fell from their horses to the feet of the wonderful being who had risen from the heart of the earth—the promised goddess who would lead them against the oppressors. In the poor, disheveled person of Pauline, coming from her prison cave, they saw their great White Queen.
THE DEATH STONE
As the thrilled and frightened Indian lay prostrate at her feet, he might well have believed her to be some creature from another world.
Her face was very pale and round it fell in tumultuous glory the cascades of her golden hair. Her dress was torn to shreds by the jagged rocks and there was blood upon the delicate hands that she held out in pleading to the only living thing she saw-the red man.
He did not move. She stepped nearer and, stooping, gently touched his shoulder. At the touch he trembled like a leaf, but raised his head and looked at her with terror and awe and adoration in his eyes.
"Won't you help me? I have ben a prisoner in the cave. I must find Mr. Haines—Haines, do you hear? Or go to Rockvale—Rockvale," she repeated, hoping that the names at least he might understand.
He motioned questioningly toward his horse, and, at her nod, he sprang up and brought the animal to her side. Helping her to mount, he took the bridle and began to lead the way into the thickly wooded hills.
The journey was slow and arduous, but it was not long. Darkness had not yet fallen when the hill trail dipped into a valley, and Pauline's weary, hopeful eyes looked down upon a village on the plain.
The hope vanished quickly as she realized that the houses of the village were teepees and that the people that moved among them were braves and squaws.
An Indian boy of perhaps twelve years sprang suddenly from a thicket beside the trail, gave one glance at her, and, with a shriek, set off at full speed toward the teepees.
Cries sounded and resounded from the hills. Tom-toms were beating. She became aware that the Indians were swarming about her and acclaiming her a guest of unusual honor. They stopped her horse at the entrance to Red Snake's teepee. The great chief stepped forth himself, with Big Smoke, the medicine man, close behind him.
The prophet, who had foretold the coming of the Great White Queen, wore a mien of pride and triumph, even as he bowed low before Pauline. But of all the red folk in Shi-wah-ki village, Big Smoke was undoubtedly the most amazed at the fulfillment of his prophecy.
The braves who were assigned to lift Pauline from her horse and bear her into the Chief's teepee were surprised that one immortal should be so weak as almost to fall into their arms, so weary as to be scarcely able to walk. But Pauline, seated upon a high pile of furs within the teepee, where the weird light of a fire fell upon her pallid features and her flowing hair, presented a picture strange and marvelous.
They gathered around her, Red Snake and the medicine man in the center of the adobe, the lesser chiefs behind them, and in another circle the ranks of the braves.
Even in her utter exhaustion, the savage solemnity of the gathering fascinated Pauline. Had she been left alone she would have fallen asleep upon the piled furs; but this low muttering, grim-visaged assemblage of the red men forced her to respectful attention. That they honored her, she understood; but she saw, too, that the Indians were all armed and some of them were painted. As Red Snake arose to address the tribe a menacing murmur filled the teepee and the young chiefs whetted their knives upon the ground.
Red Snake's harangue, unintelligible to Pauline, had an electrical effect upon the Indians. Frequently as he spoke he turned toward her and always when he did so he bent his head upon his breast and raised his mighty arms in token of submission to a power mightier than his own.
As he finished, Pauline arose, swaying a little from her great weakness. She shook her head in token that she did not understand. Her outstretched, pleading hands bewildered, but subdued the warlike assembly.
Red Snake called a ringing summons, and from the rear circle of the audience shuffled forward the strangest man Pauline had ever seen. His undersized, stooping form was garbed in a miner's cast-off red shirt, a ranchman's ex-trousers, a pair of tattered moccasins and a much-dented derby hat, with a lone feather in the band of it. It was White Man's Hat, a half-breed interpreter.
As he approached, cringing and bowing, Pauline noted that a penetrating, not unkindly eye gleamed from under his bushy brow, scrutinizing her in flashes between his obeisances. Unlike the other Indians, he was not afraid to look the Great White Queen in the face, as he solemnly repeated the last words of Red Snake:
"According to the prophecy, you have come from the heart of the world to lead us against those who steal our land."
Pauline stood for a moment in complete bewilderment. Then, as the meaning of the words, with the meaning of the strange gathering, flashed upon her mind, she took a step forward, speaking in earnest protest.
But she spoke only to the Chief, for the Indians had broken all restraint and were crushing their way out of the teepee, with cries and brandishing of weapons. They swept the little interpreter with them. And Red Snake saw in Pauline's look and tone of appeal only the pleading of a wronged goddess for vengeance upon her enemies. He called the women of his household, who shyly led the Queen away.
Darkness had fallen as the women glided ahead of her to a spot outside the main village, where a spacious teepee had been erected apart. Only a peaceful moon and a firmament glittering with stars lighted their path. But from the town behind came terrifying yells, the rattle of tom-toms and occasionally a rifle shot as the braves prepared their spirits for the test of battle. Pauline found her new home filled with all the luxuries and sacred relics of the tribe. There were rugs richer than those in the Chief's house; the walls were festooned with strung beads, and on the large, low couch of bear skins lay the most splendid of Indian raiment.
The women, with better understanding than men of the earthly needs of immortals, made her lie down, while they bathed her aching temples and wounded hands, replaced her torn garments with a gorgeous blanket robe and smoothed her flying tresses into long comfortable braids. Other women came bringing food. And there was a pipe and a pouch of agency tobacco with which the goddess might soothe the hours before repose.
Pauline ate eagerly while the women looked oil in silent approval. When she had finished, she arose smiling and signed to them that she would rest. They left softly, and neither the exciting recollections of the day's adventures nor the tumult of the braves outside could hold her for a moment longer from the blessedness of sleep.
She slept far into the next morning. But so did the village, for the Indians had reveled to exhaustion. It was nearly noon before she attired herself in a fringed and beaded dress of buckskin, with leggings and exquisite little moccasins and laughingly permitted one of the women attendants to place a painted war feather in her hair. Thus clad and with her wide braids falling, she sat regally to receive the morning call of Red Snake. She was beginning to take a tremulous pleasure in the game of being an immortal. Pauline's questing spirit was too happy in adventure not to find a thrill in being thus translated from hungering captive to reigning queen, from queen to angel.
Red Snake's call was formal and politely brief. He brought with him the amusing interpreter to inquire if the Spirit had found comfort in the hospitality of his people, and more particularly if the war dance of the preceding night had given her satisfaction.
Pauline replied, with gracious solemnity, that her Spirit had found good repose and had been comforted by the pleasant music.
"And when will the White Queen lead us against our enemies—the men of her own color, but not of her kind?" inquired the Chief with child-like eagerness.
Pauline hesitated an instant after the interpreter repeated the question. Then, recovering herself, she answered gravely:
"Today, Red Snake, the Queen rests from her long journey out of the Happy Hunting Ground. Tomorrow also. Upon the next day, perhaps, she will lead the warriors."
The little interpreter's keen eyes flashed understandingly as he left out the word "perhaps" in repeating her answer.
Red Snake was elated. He made profound salutations, promised that the war party would do her honor, and hastened away to announce the news.
The interpreter lingered, pretending to smooth the door rug. He looked up suddenly and his eyes met Pauline's with an expression of friendly interest. Instinctively she accepted the tacitly offered friendship.
"You are a white man—you speak English," she said.
"Part white—part red. You speak all white," he added significantly.
"Of course," she whispered, stepping to his side. "I am not a Queen— not a Spirit. I do not know why they believe I am. But I must get away—to Rockvale, to Mr. Haines's ranch, to the white people anywhere. You will help me?"
He looked at her pityingly now. He had believed that she was an accomplice of the medicine man in a shrewd fraud, and he had merely wanted to share the joke, risky as it was. To find her an accidental and unwilling monarch struck him dumb.
"That is very hard," he said slowly. "Look!"
He parted the folds of the teepee door curtain so that she looked out toward the village. Three women sat next the door and beyond were groups of braves, still in their war paint, some conversing, some stalwart and still. They seemed to be doing nothing in particular.
"Well?" questioned Pauline.
He led her across the teepee to a narrow slit in the rear curtain. Through this she peered as she had peered through the door and saw exactly what she had seen though the door—women crouching at their tasks in the near foreground, an armed circle of warriors beyond. Now she understood.
"I am a prisoner then?"
"They will guard you night and day."
"It was prophesied that a Great White Queen would come to lead them to battle. You have come, as the prophet said, and you have promised to lead them to battle. Above all, be proud, and not afraid."
The ioterpreter hesitated a moment.
"There was another White Queen whose coming was prophesied many hundreds of years ago," he said. "She came. She led the Indians victory over other Indians and then she vanished in the strangest way. I would tell you of it—but I am afraid. They say her spirit is always near. Some day you may know how she vanished."
Before she could speak again, he had glided out of the teepee.
While Pauline was away Harry had planned to accomplish mighty labors. With masculine fatuity he let himself believe—before she went away —that a man can get more work done with his goddess afar than when Cupid has a desk in his office.
It did not take more than thirty-six hours to turn separation into bereavement; not more than forty-eight to turn his "freedom for work" into slavery to the fidgets. The office, instead of a refuge, became a prison to him. However, he made a pretense of sticking to the grind, and it was not until the Thursday on which his chartings showed Pauline would arrive at Rockvale that he actually quit and went home.
He slipped into the library to be alone. It was more restful here. As he sat in the great leather chair and unfolded a newspaper, the portrait of Pauline smiled brightly down at him in seeming camaraderie. At his side stood the Mummy so intimately associated with her and his dead father's strange vision from the tomb.
Harry began to read, but he was still nervous to the point of excitement, and his thoughts wandered from the words. He was suddenly conscious of another presence in the room. He let the paper fall and gazed intently at the portrait.
But a moment later, Harry Marvin sprang excitedly from the chair and fairly leaped towards the picture. From somewhere out of the dim air of the library a hand had reached and touched his. It had touched his shoulder and then, with a commanding finger, had pointed upward at the picture on the wall.
"The Mummy! It has warned again," gasped Harry. "Polly, Polly!" he cried to the portrait, "I'm coming. Just hold on."
He strode bark to the table and pressed a bell.
"Tell Reynolds to pack me up, Bemis," he charged the astonished butler. "Tell him it's for Montana in a rush. Have a machine ready for me in fifteen minutes."
Even Bemis's constitutional aversion to haste was overridden. He sped into the hall, calling to the valet, as Harry picked up a telephone.
"Hello, this is H. B. Marvin. I want our private car attached to the Chicago flyer," he said. "No matter if it holds up the flyer, I'll have President Grigsby's authorization in your hands in five minutes. Thank you. Goodbye."
As he reached the door of the machine, a messenger boy turned up the steps. Harry called to him, took the telegram and read Mrs. Haines' message: "Pauline kidnapped; come at once."
With a muffled ejaculation, he dropped the slip of paper and sprang into the car, which in ten minutes pulled up to the station just as the disgruntled, but curious trainmen were coupling the luxurious Marvinia to the eighteen-hour express.
Owen coming quietly down the steps of the Marvin house, picked up the telegram which Harry had let fall. Reading it, he smiled, and he was still smiling when another messenger boy followed him to the door. Owen took the second message and the smile broadened into an ugly grin as he read:
"Raymond Owen Fifth avenue, New York. All's well. Hicks."
Five days after the disappearance of Pauline, the express stopped again at Rockvale station. As Harry swung from the rear step to the dingy platform, there were many curious eyes to observe his arrival, but the watchers were mostly women and children. The men of Rockvale were still out on the long hunt for Pauline.
Harry hurried first to the station telephone. Sikes had got Mrs. Haines on the wire as soon as the smoke of the express had been sighted ten miles away. But all she could tell Harry was that there was nothing to tell. His lips were set in a hard line as he hung up the receiver. He asked a few hasty questions of Sikes, hurried across to the little hotel, paid for a room and hired a horse. Blankets and provisions strapped behind, he was out and away up the road to the mountains within an hour.
And while he urged his sturdy little mount to better speed on his uncharted journey, Pauline, not twenty miles away, was preparing for the last journey she might ever make.
The blow had fallen. Her royal place, her immortal power had vanished.
The Indians had permitted one postponement of the day of battle. She had said that the Spirits had spoken to her and warned against bloodshed upon that day. It should be the second day thereafter the Spirits had said. The Indians were disappointed, but they bowed to the edict.
The morrow passed quietly, but on the next day—the fifth of her royal captivity—she was summoned from her house by the assembled chiefs in battle paint and feathers. She tried to whisper through the doorway that the Spirits had forbidden again, but Red Snake answered:
"You are greater than all other Spirits; you will lead us today!"
"Tell them," said Pauline to the interpreter, "that the White Queen does not lead today!"
Red Snake, his face black with anger, after haranguing the chiefs, turned to Pauline:
"Daughter of the Earth—twice our warriors have been ready for battle and you would not lead them. Today you must go before the Oracle and prove your immortality. The Oracle will tell."
The warriors departed; only the little interpreter remained.
"What does it mean?" cried Pauline.
"It is the race with the Great Death Stone," he answered, and his own voice trembled. "But," he whispered, "I will ride. I will try to find help. Wait."
He slipped under the back of the teepee. Unseen by the excited Indians, he made his way to the line of ponies, with lariats and rifles swung from their saddles. He picked one and, mounting, rode slowly out of the village, speaking here and there to the braves he met.
Pauline, left alone, fell upon her knees and prayed.
Harry met Haines and two of his posse on the road to the mountains.
They were on their way back to a general rendezvous ordered by the Sheriff, but Harry continued on his way up the mountain.
Mile after mile the little mustang put behind him while the sun was still high. On the slope of a hill they came to a crossroads, and Harry, riding almost blindly, reined to the right.
The pony swerved wildly to the left.
Instinctively Harry gave the frightened horse its head.
A half mile farther on the animal stopped and sniffed the wind. At the same instant Harry heard a feeble shout from the road. A weirdly garbed little half breed lay on the ground holding the bridle of the horse that had thrown him.
"Ankle gone," he explained. "Riding for help, I help was. You ride now. White girl—they're killing her up there now."
"White girl? Where? Talk fast, man."
"Two miles over the mountain and down to the valley straight ahead. You go to the bottom of the valley, not to the top—not where the Indians are. Climb tree; take my rope; it's the only chance now."
Harry caught the coiled lariat from the other's saddle and rode as he had never ridden before. All was vague in his mind, except that Pauline was near, was in peril, and he must reach her.
How, by road and trail, he ever reached the Valley of the Death Stone Harry never knew. Perhaps chance, perhaps some invisible courier guided him to the lonely spot. After long, hard riding he was attracted by the low rumble of many voices lifted in a sort of chant. Following the voices, he came to the foot of a steep cliff side where a long trench, partly of natural formation, partly hewn from the stone, made a chute or runway from mountain top to valley.
At the upper end of the runway a motley band of Indians were engaged in some weird worship. Harry started his horse up the steep in the shelter of the woods. When he came to a spot where a huge tree limb crossed the runway, he remembered the little half breed's words, "Climb the tree; it is the only chance."
Almost at the same instant from the midst of the Indian group emerged two giant braves carrying a white woman between them. They placed her in the runway. Her golden hair, unbound, floated on the wind.
Harry choked back a cry, threw aside his rifle, caught the lariat, and, swinging up the tree, crawled swiftly out on the overhanging limb. Concealed by the foliage he waited.
A rifle cracked, and, for the first time, he saw that at the top of the runway, behind Pauline, the stood a mighty boulder, almost perfectly round, the diameter of which—about five feet—fitted the trench so well that it could roll in it like a ball in a bowling gutter.
None even among the Indians knew how many times the Stone of Death had rolled and been dragged back again to the top of the cliff. The stains upon it were unnumbered. Up on its surface was written in blood the doom of the false prophets and pretending immortals. None had ever won in the race with the Death Stone.
The crack of the rifle was the signal for a group of red men to press behind the stone to free it on its fearful course. It was also the signal for Pauline to run. Her hair streamed wildly in the wind as she sped, like a frightened deer, down the deadly path.
The rifle sounded again and the Indians heaved the stone into the trench.
It rumbled as it came on. It gained upon the fleeing girl. They had planned to prolong the torture by giving her a hopeless lead.
Dancing, gesticulating, shouting, the Indians watched the race. Only one watcher was silent and motionless. Hidden by the leaves he braced himself upon the tree limb. For the first moments after the rock was released he had turned sick and dizzy. Now, as they came near—the thing relentless but inanimate pursuing the thing helpless, beautiful and most precious to him of all things in the world, not the quiver of a muscle hindered the desperate task that he had set himself.
A moment later he was sobbing like a child as he half dragged, half carried Pauline to his waiting horse. By the magic of luck, by the mystery of a protecting Fate, the lariat noose had fallen about her shoulders. To the amazed and terrified Indians up the cliff she had soared suddenly, spirit-like, out of the trench and vanished in the foliage of the tree, while the boulder thundered on, cheated of its prey.
But swiftly out of the woods upon the open plain below appeared a rider with a woman clasped before him on the saddle.
The baffled Indians scurried for their horses. They reached the valley. They gained upon the burdened horseman and his tired horse. They fired as they rode, the bullets spitting venomously in the dust around Harry and Pauline.
The pony stumbled. Harry jerked it up and it struggled bravely on, but the cries behind sounded louder.
The bullets hit nearer.
Suddenly the firing increased. There were more cries. And Harry, reining the pony saw, galloping over the ridge to the westward, the full posse of Hal Haines. They fired as they came. They cut between him and the Indians. He stopped the pony and lifted Pauline to the ground.
"My precious one, God bless you and forgive us all," sobbed Mrs. Haines as Polly was caught in her mothering embrace. "And you—you had to come all the way from New York to save her," she added, turning to Harry.
"Don't say anything about it, Mrs. Haines," he said in a stage whisper. "I came out here to rest and avoid publicity."
SOPHIE MCALLAN'S WEDDING
A few days after their return from Montana Pauline sat reading by the library window. They had come late to the country this Summer and the park of Castle Marvin had had time to leave and bloom into utter splendor. It was like a flowery kingdom in the Land of Faery, and as her eyes were lifted listlessly now and then from the printed page, they roamed over the garden which lay like some vast and radiant Oriental rug in Nature's palace hall. The distant forest was the palace wall, tapestried in green; its dome, a sky of tender blue; its lamp, the morning sun; its Prince, her Harry standing in the garden.
"He should always stand in the garden," thought Pauline tenderly. "The flowers are such a splendid foil for him."
She shut her eyes in sheer satiety of beauty. Not even the shabby man mopping his hot forehead as he came along the road, marred the picture. She was a little surprised to see him, a moment later, talking in an easy way with Harry but there was no false pride in her lover—brother and all men were his friends until they proved themselves his enemies. All except Owen.
The shabby man, holding his hat between his nervous hands, was evidently an applicant for work. Harry pointed to the flower beds and the rose trees with a nod of inquiry. The man assented vaguely. And they came on up the path together, making their way towards the servants' quarters over the garage. Harry paused at the window:
"I have hired a new gardener, who does not know his own name," he said as they passed on.
Pauline turned back to the pages of the Cosmopolitan. A picture in an article on the motor races caught her eye and held it for some reason that she did not at first understand. It was a picture of a man in auto-racer's costume, with a helmet tight upon his head and the keen features and daring eyes peculiar to those who live by peril. She had started to read the caption when she was interrupted by Bemis bringing her letters. With a little flutter of pleasure, womanlike, she began to read the letters from their postmarks before opening them. She hit upon one that brought a little peal of laughter from her, and she opened it eagerly and read:
"Walter and I want you and Harry to be with us at the wedding. Don't faint. We decided only yesterday, and it's going to be very quiet, with just the few people whom we can reach with informal notes like this. You can motor over in an hour. Tell Harry our lions arrived last Thursday from Germany, and after the wedding the keeper will exhibit them. If Harry won't come to see me married, he'll come to see the lions.
"Yours in a flurry, Sophie McAllan."
Pauline laughed again. It was like her unconventional chum, Sophie, to arrange her wedding with the same startling haste that had marked all the breathless events of her life. The lions she mentioned were typical of her original ideas. She had suddenly announced to her parents one day that she was tired of domestic animals and was going to keep lions instead. And her amused and amazed father had not only been forced to yield, but to keep his eye out all over Europe, Asia and Africa for new bargains in well bred lions ever since.
It was also typical of Sophie that she had selected from among all the dashing wooers; at her heels, Walter Trumwell, simple and sedate, who was horrified by her pranks and shocked by her use of slang, but who adored her with the devotion of a frightened puppy. Their engagement had been long announced. It was only in its high-handed abruptness that the wedding was a surprise.
Pauline dropped the letter on the table and hurried from the room to look for Harry.
He had head her first call and was coming in from the garage. Pausing at the door of the library, where he had last seen her, he narrowly avoided a collision with Owen, who was hurrying out. The look of covert guilt on the secretary's face aroused his latent suspicion. But Owen, quickly recovering himself, bowed, apologized and passed on.
Harry stepped into the library. He saw the open letter on the table, looked at the envelope and saw that, he was included in the address. He read the letter, and the old look of trouble came into his eyes as he turned to see if Owen were watching.
As he stepped into the hall he saw the secretary leaving the house. He stood in the doorway and watched Owen depart in his own machine, driven by his own chauffeur, a sullen young fellow whom the other employees held in aversion.
"He's up to something. I wonder what harm he could do at the McCallan wedding," muttered Harry, as he moved down the steps and out to where the new gardener was working. The man had been greatly improved as to cleanliness and clothes, but there was still the strange distant look in his eyes as he got up from a flower bed to speak to Harry.
Pauline, after circling the house in vain search of her brother, had returned to her unread letters and her magazine.
As she lifted the latter from the table, the picture of the man in racing costume again struck her eye, and this time she read the caption:
"Ralph Palmer, whose skull was fractured in the Vanderbilt Cup Race and who disappeared from a hospital six weeks ago."
She studied the face again. It seemed the living likeness of one whom she had seen dead. Suddenly her thoughts crystallized and she sprang up. She rushed again to the front door, carrying the magazine open and saw Harry and the gardener talking on the path. She ran down to them.
The gardener took off his hat, but Pauline looked at him with such piercing scrutiny that he hurried to resume his work. Harry, after a brief affectionate greeting, turned to give some last instructions, and, behind his back, Pauline stole another look at the magazine.
"It is; I am sure it is," she said half aloud.
Harry turned quickly. "What is, dear goddess of the garden?" he asked cheerily.
Pauline closed the magazine abruptly.
"Oh! I—I was dreaming," she answered, with a little nervous laugh.
"You can't have a dream when you are one," he said, putting his arm about her waist as they moved back towards the house.
"I have news," she exclaimed, remembering the wedding invitation. "Sophie McCallan is to be married tonight—just like that—without telling till the last minute."
"I read the letter in the library."
"Did you tell Farrell to have the car ready?"
"I will, dearest. But I am not sure that I can go."
"But you must go."
"I got a telegram this morning, and I must go into town."
"To New York! Oh, Hairy, I simply hate your old business. Haven't we got enough money without trying to make all there is in the world? Aren't we..."
"No, not to New York—just into Westbury, Miss Firebrand. I must use the wire direct to the office."
"Absurd. Why don't you telephone your message?"
"Code messages, dear. They can't be talked."
"But you'll be back in time to go with me?"
"I'll do my best. I'm starting directly. There's Farrell with the machine now."
"But Farrell must get my car ready."
"He will. Farrell isn't going with me."
Her threats and pretty pleadings followed him as he drove away. But Harry did not drive towards Westbury farther than the first crossroads. Instead, he swerved out across country towards Windywild, the great McCallan estate. Only a vague purpose moved him. His suspicions were groping. But he was forming dimly in his mind a plan to keep Pauline away from the McCallan wedding. Premonition whispered that even among the nuptial gayeties there might be danger.
On the crest of Winton's Hill, from which the road slopes down to beautiful Windywild through parked forests, but from which the rambling white villa, with its barns and garage can be seen in striking bird's-eye view, Harry stopped his machine.
To his far vision there was no unusual stir about the McCallan house, in spite of the wedding day. Owen's car was not at the gate nor in the yard, and he certainly would not have sent it to the garage if he were making a business visit to the manager of the estate.
With a hateful sense of spying on the innocent and the sincere dread of being met there by anyone—even by Owen—he was about to turn around, go back and agree to take Pauline to the wedding, when the movement of a figure through the distant garage yard made him stiffen to attention and strain his gaze.
In an instant he had whipped his binoculars from under the seat of the runabout and was staring through them at the establishment below. A few moments afterwards he carefully replaced the glasses, and drove away.
Owen had left the Marvin place in haste, seemingly intent upon a direct and important errand, but if any one had seen where the car stopped an hour later, both the haste and the errand would still have been unexplained.
They were in the loneliest stretch of woods a half mile beyond the McCallan house when Owen leaned forward and said to his driver: "You may stop here."
"Yes, sir," answered the young man with a respect that he showed to no one else. He drew the machine to the roadside and then asked: "Am I to go with you or stay here?"
"Stay here," answered Owen. "But don't sit there lolling in the seat. We have broken down—you understand—and you will keep us broken down and keep on mending the machine until I return."
Owen, who was not averse to physical effort when his dearest object was at stake, walked the half mile to Windywild rapidly. Unlike Harry's, Owen's plans were definite and fixed.
He strode through the front gate but took his way immediately to the stable in front of which two grooms were currying a restless horse.
"Hello, Simon," said Owen. "My car has broken down up the road here. I wonder if you can help me out."
"I guess so," said the groom, not very cheerfully.
"We got plenty to do today as it is, Mr. Owen, with the weddin' party on an' them gol blamed lions to look after."
"Who talka da lions?" cried a grim voice, and, turning, Owen pretended to see for the first time a short, heavy set man of the gypsy type, seated on a box at the stable door smoking a cigarette and evidently regarding all the world as the object of his personal hate.
"Why, who is that man?" asked Owen of the groom in a tone of condescending interest. "Where have I seen him before?"
"If ye ever saw him before, ye wouldn't want to see him again," declared the groom. "He's Garcia, Miss Sophie's new lion tamer, but we ain't had time to tame him yet. He's wild."
The answer to this taunt was a rush from Garcia, who, uttering an unintelligible roar that might have done credit to one of his lions, sprang towards the groom. The latter took quick refuge behind the horse.
The man's fury made Owen step aside, too, but he looked on with an appreciative smile. As Garcia came back, growling, to his seat on the box, the secretary stepped up to him and held out his hand.
"Is it really you?" he said, the patronage in his voice offsetting the familiarity of his manner.
"If it looks like me, it is me," snarled the Gypsy. "Him—over there," he cried, pointing to the groom, "he donta looka like his own face if I get him."
"Come, old friend," said Owen in a low voice. "Don't you remember me? Don't you remember the Zoological Garden in Brussels and the lion that bent a cage so easily one day that it killed Herr Bruner, of Berlin."
The last words spoken almost in a whisper, had an electrical effect upon the lion tamer. He fairly writhed in his seat and cowered away from Owen as from one who held a knife over his head.
It was at this moment that Harry, looking from the hill, put away his binoculars and turned his car around.
"Come, let's see the lions, may I?" asked Owen, cheerily ignoring the man's terror, secretly enjoying it.
Without a word Garcia led the way into the stables.
The lions, six in number, were quartered in box stalls rebuilt with heavy steel bars. They had been quiet, but the sight of a stranger set them wild and their roaring thundered through the building.
Garcia led Owen to farthest cage and stopped abruptly.
"You after me?" he inquired, his nerve partially recovered.
"Yes, but to help you, not to harm you, old friend."
"You lie, I theenk. You tella the police of the leetle accident in Bresseli—no?"
"No, indeed; you are too useful a man to lose, Garcia. Besides, I need you again."
The gypsy held up his hands in refusal. "No," he whispered. "I hava one dead man's face here always." He pointed to his eyes. "I cry it away; I go all over da world. I not forget. He not forget. He folla me."
Owen laughed. "Come, come," he said, "you are foolish. You had nothing to do with that affair, except to loosen one little bar ever so little. (Garcia groaned.) And it would be just as easy to leave say a cage door open tonight while they're having the wedding."
"I mean only a little joke. Nobody will be hurt, I feel sure. Of course, if any one should be, you could not be blamed. Come, I want a quick answer. If you won't do it, of course—you don't want anything said about Brussels, do you, old friend?"
The man uttered another cry.
Owen drew money from his pocket. The man seized it greedily. If he was to do the blackest of deeds, there was nothing in his conscience to prevent him from profiting.
"Tonight—during the wedding, remember," said Owen. "I will give you the signal. And, mind, you brute, if you don't do it, you know what I'll do to you."
A few moments later he was out chatting cheerily with the grooms. "I'm not going to ask you to help me with the car, Simon," he said. "You're too crowded today, I see. I'll send Farrell up to the Hodgins House and wait for him. Good-day."
He swung off down the road, greatly at peace with all the world. He did not even rebuke his chauffeur when he caught him loafing on the grass.
Harry and the household chauffeur, Farrell, were talking together outside the garage and Harry was handing a $10 bill to Farrell, who grinned broadly as he pocketed it. Owen saw nothing in this to cause him apprehension. Harry was always generous with the employees. It was well for Owen's plan that he should go to the wedding in so pleasant a mood.
Pauline looked up from her book as Harry entered the library.
"I'm so happy," she cried. "You are a darling boy to come home so soon."
He accepted her rewarding kiss gratefully.
"Yes, I think it's all right," he said, "though there are some serious matters in hand at the office."
The butler appeared at the door. "Farrell asks if he may have a word with you, Sir."
"Farrell? Why, yes; let him come here."
The chauffeur, cap in hand, stepped into the room.
"Guess I got to take the big car to New York, Sir. I haven't got the parts to fix it, and I can't get them nowhere but in New York."
"Very well; that's all right, Farrell."
"But be back surely by four o'clock, Farrell," warned Pauline. "You are the only driver I have."
"Oh, I'll get back all right, Miss."
But immediately after uttering these words in a tone of perfect respect, Farrell committed an astonishing offense against the laws that separate servitor and employer. He caught the shimmer of a wink upon Harry's eye, and he had the audacity to return it.
Three minutes afterwards Farrell did a stranger thing. Going direct from the house to the telephone in the garage, he took up the receiver and called up the house. Owen, passing by, stopped spellbound, at the door, to hear these mandatory words spoken by the chauffeur to Harry Marvin, whose answering voice could actually be heard by Owen through the open window of the library.
"Mr. Marvin, you are needed at your office. Come at once," phoned Farrell.
He was grinning again as he came out of the garage, got into a machine and drove away. Owen gazed after him with puzzled, lowering brows.
PALMER COMES BACK
Harry had just hung up the receiver of the telephone and had turned to Pauline with feigned disappointment.
"My office is calling me," he said. "I'm needed there at once. I shan't be able to go to the wedding."
The sight of the happiness fading from her flowerlike face filled him with shame. It was the first time in his life that he had lied to her and he was half sorry now that he had done so. But he must go through with it now, and if there was apology in the kisses he pressed on her reproachful eyes it was not confessed.
"I am going to the wedding just the same," declared Pauline.
"Of course, you are," he agreed heartily. "Farrell will be back with the car by five o'clock."
"But who will chaperon me?" she objected, woman-like, to her own decision. "It would look absurd to take Margaret, and Owen isn't invited."
"You will not need a chaperon going over—provided Farrell gets back," he said as he took his hat from the table.
"You mean you don't believe Farrell will get back!" she exclaimed. "You are treating me like a child. You don't want me to go to the wedding just because you can't go."
"Now, don't, don't," he pleaded, as she started to leave the room. "I don't mean anything of the kind. I mean Farrell is the only man who can drive the large car or the roadster safely. There is no reason in the world why he shouldn't get back."
"And how am I to come home?" she demanded, turning again toward him.
"I will call for you in the runabout on my way from New York. Perhaps even I shall be able to arrive in time to greet the happy pair," he added cheerfully. "You'll make my excuses."
Owen, who was listening at the door, had just time, to glide away before Harry hurried out.
The young master of the house had driven far toward the station before the secretary returned to the library.
This time he entered and pretended to be hunting for a magazine. Pauline's disconsolate face gave him the excuse he desired.
"Why, Miss Marvin, has anything happened?" he asked in a tone of concern.
"Oh, everything has gone wrong," she cried, almost in tears.
"What do you mean?"
"Harry is called to the city just when we are invited to Sophie McCallan's wedding, and Farrell has taken the limousine for some silly repairs. They'll not get back; I know they'll not. They never do."
"But, Miss Marvin?"
"Oh, don't try to apologize for him. He cares more for his old business than he does for me. He makes automobiles himself, and yet I can't have enough for my own personal use. I'm sorry I forgave him," she flared.
"You are right, Miss Marvin; it is an outrage."
She looked at Owen in astonishment. It was the first time she had ever heard him venture a critical word against Harry.
"I think it is your fault," she declared. "You are the one who should see that I have cars and drivers—everything I want."
"But you know the machines have not come from the town house, Miss Marvin. They will be here tomorrow."
"Well, Owen, it isn't for you to say that what my brother does is an outrage. He does everything for the best."
"Miss Marvin, Harry is lying to you," he said quietly. "He and your chauffeur have formed a plot against you. Your car will not be back this afternoon at all."
She sprang to her feet, furious.
"Owen, be still! How do you dare to say such things?"
Raymond Owen had found his great moment, His enemy had set his own trap and Owen would see that he should not escape easily. The opportunity to break forever the bond of faith and affection between Harry and Pauline had come. His voice rose as he poured out his revelations and denunciations.
Pauline was leaving the room, when he thrust himself before her.
"You must hear me. I know what I say is true. It hurts me as deeply as it will hurt you, but you must hear it. I believe I have discovered —by the merest accident—the cause of all your perils. The plots against you have been arranged at home."
"You are mad. I will not listen to you. Let me pass."
"Not until you have heard," he declared firmly.
"I was passing the door of the garage only a few moments ago," he went on in a rapid whisper. "I saw Farrell at the telephone. He called the private house number—the number of this phone on the table. You and Mr. Marvin were sitting here. I was so surprised that I stopped and listened to Farrell's words. I could see Mr. Marvin listening at the phone here. Farrell said: 'Mr. Marvin, you are needed at your office. Come at once.' Then he hung up the receiver and came out, laughing. He got into the limousine and drove off towards the city. If he could drive the limousine to the city, could he not drive it to the McCallan's for you?"
Pauline put her hands to her ears with a protesting cry.
"It isn't true," she whispered. "It is only a scheme of Farrell's to get an afternoon off."
"It is a scheme of Harry's to keep you from the wedding—for what purpose only he knows. It is one of many schemes that have held your life in constant peril. I saw their plan arranged. I saw your brother hand money to Farrell at the door of the garage and they parted, laughing."
Pauline's mind whirled. "I won't believe it! I can't; I can't!" she cried. Doubt and fear and fury mingled in her breast. Weeping tumultuously, she rushed past Owen and up to her own room.
Two hours later, the struggle over, she called Margaret, who bathed her hot temples and dressed her for the wedding.
Harry Marvin, in town, tried his best to make good use of the time he had stolen. But the thought of his well-meant chicanery was heavy on his mind and it was not unmixed with apprehension. After all, Pauline might find a way to go to the wedding. Might he not, instead of having averted a danger, simply have absented himself from the scene of danger when he was most needed? His nervousness increased. He found himself incapable of work, and at three o'clock, to the surprise of his clerks, who had thought his unexpected visit must mean an important conference of directors, he called a taxicab and started for Westbury. But he had no intention of going to Castle Marvin unless it was necessary. He meant to telephone from Westbury and learn whether or not Pauline had gone to the wedding. If she had not, he would remain away until late.
A few minutes before four o'clock, Farrell, with his pretty wife whom he had called to share his plot and his holiday, drove up to a rural telegraph office. They were both laughing as Farrell handed this message to the operator:
Miss Pauline Marvin, Castle Marvin, Westbury. Blow-out. Can't get back this evening. George Farre
"You—don't want to say what kind of a blow-out it is, do you?" grinned the operator, glancing out of the window at the spic and span machine.
"If you don't see everything you look at, you'll save your eyesight," replied Farrell cheerfully.
At the next town he telephoned to the Marvin office in New York. He came out of the booth with a worried look.
"The boss has left in a taxi for home," he said. "Wonder what that means. Guess we better sort of travel along towards Westbury. He might need me."
They changed their course and had driven for some time at an easy rate through the smiling country when the sound of a machine coming up speedily behind caused Farrell to look around. The passenger in the open cab waved his hand and Farrell, saluting, slowed down. The cars stopped, side by side. Harry raised his hat to the young woman.
"You're not going home, are you, Farrell?" he said.
"I heard you'd left the office and I thought something might have happened, and I'd be near enough so you could get me quick."
"Nothing has happened. I'll get along nicely with this cab. You'd better keep a good distance and not come home until tomorrow morning."
"Very well, sir. That suits us fine." Farrell grinned.
The taxi started on and Farrell turned off at the next crossroad.
"He's a great boss, but a queer one," he said to his wife. "It's a queer family all around. I wonder what's being cooked up now."
As the time of Farrell's expected return drew near Pauline's despair and anger increased with every moment. When four o'clock struck she arose and walked nervously out to the garage to ask if any word had been received from Farrell. She found Owen there.
As she turned toward him, after her futile questioning, Pauline's grief suddenly mounted to anger.
"It is after four, and Farrell has not returned," she exclaimed.
She had come out to the yard in the exquisite white gown that she was to wear to the wedding, a flashing jewel at her white throat, her hair done regally high. Now, in her anger, she was a picture of fury made beautiful.
Her outburst was interrupted by a messenger boy with a telegram. She opened the message with nervous fingers.
"Blow out. Can't get back this evening," she read.
She tore the message into pieces, dropped them and, stamped upon them with her white slippers.
"It's true, it's true!" she cried, turning desperately to Owen.
"I am terribly, hopelessly sorry—but I knew that it was true," he said solemnly.
At this moment along the drive came the new gardener wheeling a barrow of fresh mold, his rake and hoe lying across it. "Palmer!" Pauline cried.
The man let fall the barrow as if he had been cut with a whip lash. He looked up and for an instant his dazed eyes seemed to brighten. Then he picked up the barrow as if no one had spoken and went on.
Pauline followed him.
"Bring out the roadster," she called over her shoulder, and, as she stopped beside the gardener. The garage men, bewildered, but used to the kindly vagaries of their pretty employer, sent the machine down driveway.
"Can you drive an automobile, Palmer?" asked Pauline.
This time the man's eyes did not brighten. He looked at her respectfully, but dully. She drew him to the car and repeated the question. He only grinned foolishly and kept on shaking his head.
"Wait," she said, and, running back to the house, reappeared directly wearing her hat and flowing white wrap. "Come, Palmer, you must drive me to the wedding," she declared.
She made him get into the car and take the wheel. As she got in beside him, his hands fumbled aimlessly with the lever.
"Palmer! Palmer!" she dinned his forgotten name into his ears. "Don't you remember the race, the road, the flying cars, the speed, the speed! Don't you remember the man who was in the lead—the man the crowd cheered for? That was you, Palmer, the greatest of all the drivers."
She leaned forward in the seat, arms outstretched as if holding a tugging wheel, eyes set straight ahead, slippered feet threading imaginary levers, graceful body swerving.
He watched her, frowning. A vague purpose seemed to animate the hand groping with the levers.
"Wake up, Palmer! It's time for the race—the Vanderbilt Cup. Kirby and Michaels have started. There's Wharton coming to the line. Don't you see the crowds? Can't you hear them cheering? Palmer! Palmer! * * * Yes, we're coming! * * * Palmer is coming back. * * * Way there!"
He found the self-starter; the engine sounded. He found the clutch and gears. His eyes were shut. The car started slowly and he opened his eyes. Pauline sank back in the seat, laughing and clapping her hands, half hysterically.
"Bravo, Palmer!" she exulted.
The astonished workmen saw them glide through the outer gate. Raymond Owen from his window saw them and rubbed his hands pleasantly. Fate indeed seemed to be favoring his deadly work today!
The car swung into the highway.
"Drive faster," commanded Pauline.
The listless hands hardened on the wheel. She saw him bend over and fix his vision on the road. She thrilled at the miracle she had wrought.
More speed, and the wind blew her cape from her shoulders; the dust beat in her face. She merely tightened her veil and sat silent.
"Take the first turn to the right," she called in his ear as they neared the crossroad. He did not slacken the speed.
"It's a sharp turn; slow a little," she cautioned. He did not seem to hear her.
She placed her hand sharply on his arm. He drove past the crossroad, the speed to the last notch.
Pauline tried to stand up in the seat and seize the wheel. He thrust her back with one hand, not even looking at her. He was leaning far over the wheel now, his eyes blazing. She could see the beat of blood in his temple.
"Stop! Stop! You are on the wrong road. You will kill us both!" she screamed in his deaf ears. She tried again to wrest the wheel from him, but this time he held her fast after he had flung her back. She had raised up a Frankenstein for her own destruction. She was being driven by a madman.
As they took the curve outside Westbury village another car filled with men and women fairly grazed them. The women screamed and the men shouted wildly after them. But they flashed on.
Down the hill at Gangley's Mills the pace grew even greater. From the west prong of the road fork at the bottom a taxicab shot into view. There was a shout of warning, a rattle and creak as the taxi swerved, safe by inches.
On the skirts of Clayville a group of farmers and a constable were arguing a roadside dispute. Pauline could see dim figures leap into the road waving arms; she could hear them shouting. The figures jumped to either side as Palmer drove through the group.
They sprang back into the road, cursing and shaking their fists, only to be routed anew by the rush of the taxicab following.
The roadster straightened out on the ledge of Scrogg Hill. In spite of the curve and the precipice Palmer held his speed. His daring, his utter mastery, stirred a kind of admiration in Pauline and the death she saw looming stirred anew her courage. She wrenched her arm free from his grip. She stood up and swung her weight against the man, rasping for the wheel. The car swerved toward the cliff, but he jerked it back, striking at her brutally with his free hand. She fell in the seat, but returned, desperate, to the encounter. She caught the wheel. She tried to command it, but his strength drew the other way. The machine shot toward the abyss. There was a crackle as the wooden guide fence splintered under the wheels. There was a crash!
Harry, leaning from the taxicab behind, uttered a groan. The roadster had gone over the cliff.
Fifty feet down the rock-gnarled hillside they took Pauline from the clutch of the dead driver. His fall had broken hers and it was only from fear that she had fainted. Harry, pressing the taxi driver's flask to her lips, saw her eyes open and his cry was like a prayer of thanksgiving.
When Harry lifted Pauline to carry her to the taxicab, to his abasement he felt her hands press him away. He thought she had not yet recovered, that she believed herself still in the grasp of the madman. He set her on her feet and looked at her questioningly.
Without a word she turned from him and started up the road.
"Pauline!" he cried. "What do you mean? Don't you know me? It's Harry."
She kept on without turning. He caught her by the arm. "Don't you know me, your brother?" he pleaded.
She turned, tremblingly. "You are not my brother," she blazed. "And I did not know you until today."
"You are hurt and ill, dearest. Come, let me take you home."
She walked on up the road.
"But where are you going?" he demanded.
"I am going to the wedding. You tried to keep me away by your base trick but you can't do it."
Now he understood. "I know; I know," he groaned. "It was the meanest and most useless thing. But I did not think it was safe for you to go to the wedding. I am sorry to the bottom of my heart."
"Goodbye," she said coldly, walking on.
"But you can't go like that," he exclaimed, pointing to her torn and draggled clothes, her unfastened hair.
"It is better to go to friends whom I can trust," she said coldly, and moved on.
As gently as he could he lifted her in his arms and carried her to the taxicab. Placing her in the seat he followed, and as the machine started began to pour out his repentance. She would not even answer, but sat with averted face, weeping and trembling.
At last she became quiet. He drew her tattered wrap closer about her shoulders and put his arm around her so that her head rested against his breast. A moment later, looking down, he was surprised to see that she was smiling like a tired child.
A HOT YOUNG COMET
"That's right; praise her; pet her; make her think she's great, so she'll do it all over again."
Harry turned away wrathfully from the joyous greetings of Lucille and Chauncey Hamlin to Pauline.
"Harry is quite right," said Lucille. "I ought to snub you entirely. It is disgraceful, it's wicked to be as brave as you are, Polly."
"Oh, I say, Lucy," pleaded her brother. "You'll have Miss Pauline all upset."
"She likes it," snapped Harry. "She's been upset out of everything from a balloon to a house afire, and now she's looking for new capsizable craft."
"Polly! You wouldn't try it again! You don't want any more thrills after this?" Lucille's astonishment was sincere.
Pauline cast a serpentine glance at Harry. "Am I to live quietly at home with a creature like him?" she inquired.
"Why don't you have me beheaded, O Great White Queen?"
"The braves are reserved for torture. Where are you people going so bright and early?" she added turning to Chauncey.
"Going to take you for a little morning spin. Car's perfectly safe."
"Yes, do come along, Polly," urged Lucille.
"What! In a safe car? Never!" exclaimed Harry. "It isn't done, you know—not in this family. Now, if you had a hot restless young comet hitched at the door, Chauncey."
Pauline laughed merrily. "No, I couldn't go this morning even behind a restless young comet." She glanced mischievously at Harry. "Duty before pleasure; have important business on hand. No, I can't tell even you, Lucille—you're not to be trusted. You'd be sure to tell Harry."
As the Hamlins drove off, Harry turned anxiously.
"You've not forgotten your promise? There is to be a long rest from wildness, isn't there—no more adventures?"
"Yes—a rest from wild ones. I am going to have a tame adventure now."
"Polly, Polly! What do you mean?"
"This," she answered, taking the morning paper from the table. Unfolding it, she showed him a headline:
GREAT LORDNOR STABLES TO BE AUCTIONED
World-Famous Horses of Late Millionaire Sportsman Under Hammer.
"Well?" questioned Harry.
"Don't you see?" she tantalized him.
"Not in the least."
"I am going to buy Firefly and ride him in the steeplechase handicap."
Harry's smile was almost despairing, but he answered quickly. "Oh, I see. You'll have me ride him and break my precious neck. I thought for a second you meant to ride yourself."
"That's just what I do mean. It will be gorgeously exciting—and perfectly safe."
"Well, of course, I might be killed by a fall or something."
He laughed in spite of himself. "I shall not permit it," he said.
"You will not permit it?" she beamed. "Then I'll ask my guardian. I may ride Firefly in the steeplechase if I choose, mayn't I, Owen?" she asked brightly.
Pauline could never bear malice; already she had forgiven Owen, as well as Harry.
The secretary had just entered and was watching the two with a questioning eye.
"If we own Firefly, you may," he smiled back at her.
"I told you," she triumphed over Harry.
"But we don't own him," said Owen, puzzled.
"We shall this afternoon. The Lordnor stables are being sold. Please give me a great deal of money so that I can't be outbid."
"Does Miss Pauline really mean this?" asked the secretary.
"She does," Harry answered in a tone of disgust at what he thought now was only Owen's weakness. There seemed no chance of a plot against Pauline in this original scheme of her own.
"She rides wonderfully. I do not see why she should not," Owen condescended.
"You don't seem to see much of anything," declared Harry.
"But you'll take me to the auction?" coaxed Pauline.
"I'll have to—or you'll spend the whole estate on a Shetland pony."
Owen sauntered from the room, laughing. Bareheaded he walked quite across the garden and down into the wood-copse by the path gate.
A gypsy was leaning upon the gate and gazing nervously up and down the road. He turned at the sound of Owen's footsteps, and the eyes of the young chief, Michel Mario, gazed apprehensively into the smiling eyes of the secretary.
"How are you, Balthazar?" greeted Owen.
"Don't use that name to me," pleaded the gypsy. "You have work for me? I have come all the way back from Port Vincent to see you."
"It was kind of you," said Owen with the faintest tinge of sarcasm. "Yes, I have important work for you. Have you ever doctored a horse, Balthazar?"
"Many times—but not with my beauty medicine," grinned the chief.
"I mean with a hypodermic needle. I mean a race horse-so that he might possibly fall in a race."
"And injure the rider?"
"It is very easy—but very dangerous. I should want—"
"I know; I know," exclaimed Owen petulantly. "Here is the money."
Balthazar gloated over the yellow bills.
"And here is the weapon."
The Gypsy took the needle from the hand of the secretary and thrust it quickly into the inside pocket of his blouse. "Thank you, master. I will do what you say," said the Gypsy, making a move to go.
"Not quite so fast," commanded Owen. "You do not know the place or the time."
"The Jericho track next Saturday," answered the Gypsy promptly. "What is the horse?"
"Firefly. It will be bought at the Jericho stables this afternoon. You will be there to see it and to remember it. Goodbye now."
"Goodbye master—and many thanks."
Michael Caliban, wealthiest of sportsmen, attended the auction of the Lordnor stables, and seemed bent on adding the entire string of splendid horses to his own far-famed monarchs of the track.
The only time during the afternoon that he met with defeat was when the famous steeplechaser Firefly was brought out.
"Five hundred dollars," said Caliban curtly.
"Six hundred," said the musical voice of a girl and the crowd turned to look.
Caliban smiled condescendingly. "A thousand," he said.
"There, you see you can't do it. The horse isn't worth any more," cautioned Harry.
"Fifteen hundred dollars," cried Pauline.
"Does she mean that, or is this only a joke?" demanded Caliban, turning to the auctioneer.
"The lady's word is good enough for me. Going at fifteen hundred— going, going—"
"Two thousand dollars. I guess that'll stop any jokes around here," grinned Caliban.
"Three thousand," said Pauline so quickly that even Harry gasped, cut short in mid-protest.
Caliban turned away and strode disgustedly out of the crowd amid hoots of laughter.
"He is worth it; why he is worth any price," cried Pauline as the smiling groom led Firefly up to her.
The magnificent animal thrust its nose instantly between her outstretched arms, and as she patted him delightedly the crowd rippled with spontaneous applause.
Harry joined her on the way to see Firefly put in his stall. He gave the caretaker instructions, and laughingly dragged Pauline away from her new pet.
As they entered their machine, Raymond Owen came from behind the stable.
Engrossed in the business complications growing out of the European conflict, Harry had quite forgotten Firefly and the steeplechase when the day of the great Jericho handicap arrived.
He was in the library reading a letter when there burst upon his sight through the open doorway a vision that took his breath away.
Pauline, in full jockey uniform, white and blue and yellow, was pirouetting on her gleaming black boots before him.
"Polly!" he cried, unable to grasp the meaning of the prank. "Have you cut off your hair?" he added in alarm.
"No; here it is," she laughed, snapping off her visored cap and revealing masses of hair.
"Oh, don't do it," he begged. "Look! Here's a letter from the McCallans asking us to their house party in the Adirondacks. We're expected tomorrow. Let's go there instead."
He handed her the letter. Without glancing at it she flicked it into the air with her riding crop and danced out of her room..
"So I surrender again," he murmured, laughing in spite of himself.
Riding out toward the starting line, Pauline swerved her course a little to avoid the gaze of the gentlemen riders who eyed her curiously. She heard a call from an automobile beside the track and rode, over to where Harry and Owen were seated in the car.
Their lifted hats as, she bent to shake hands with them caused the crowd to stare in astonishment. Pauline, blushing furiously, sped Firefly to the line.
"That horse works queer," commented Harry, as she rode away.
"Do you think so?" asked Owen.
"Yes, it's on edge, but its legs are shaky. I wonder..."
But the riders were ready. The signal sounded. The crowd's cheer rose in the names of their various favorites. Field-glasses were unbuckled.
"By jolly, Firefly took the first jump in the lead," cried Harry, a thrill of admiration lightening the worry in his heart.
"He's all right," said Owen.
Over the wide green the horses began to string out, with Firefly ahead.
"She's going to win it; I believe she is," exclaimed Harry excitedly as he and Owen stood in the automobile. "No—no; he wobbled at the fourth jump. He's losing ground."
But Firefly seemed suddenly to grip his strength as one horse passed him. He pulled himself together under Pauline's urging. He regained the lead.
They came down splendidly toward the homestretch. The bodies of the powerful beasts rose one by one over the last hedge.
"They're over! They've won—or, heaven help her! They're down!"
Leading at the last jump, the drugged heart of the great horse had conquered his courage. As he stumbled heavily, Pauline shot over his head and lay helpless in the path of the other riders.
Harry, dashing madly toward the track, but hopelessly far from her, had to turn away his head as the crashing hoofs passed her. When he looked again, attendants were carrying her swiftly to the clubhouse. He sped toward it, Owen following.
Harry tore his way through the excited crowd to the side of Pauline. A doctor was administering restoratives. Pauline opened her eyes and looked about her bewildered. She saw Harry's anxious face and smiled penitently.
"I've—learned a lesson this time," she whispered.
"It is nothing serious—her shoulder bruised a little," said the doctor.
"Thank Heaven!" breathed Raymond Owen with well feigned emotion.
OWEN OFFERS A REWARD
Cries of delight coming, in the voice of Pauline, from the direction of the garage made Harry lay down his newspaper and go forth to investigate.
As he approached he saw Bemis and Lucille's coachman lifting a crate from a carriage. From within the crate came the whimpering barks of an imprisoned bull terrier.
"Oh, isn't he dear?" cried Pauline turning to Harry.
"I don't know, I haven't yet made his acquaintance. Where did he come from?"
"Lucille sent him to me. Johnson just brought him over. Hurry, Bemis, and let him out. The poor darling!"
"Is that what is called puppy love?" inquired Harry.
"Hush," commanded Pauline. "And Bemis, run and tell Martha to cook something for him—a beefsteak and potatoes."
"And oysters on the half shell," suggested Harry.
"Love me," announced Pauline sternly, "love my dog."
The coachman had ripped of the last top bar of the crate and a splendid terrier sprang out with a suddenness that made Pauline retreat a little. But, as if he had been trained to his part, he bent his head, and, with wagging tail, approached her. In an instant she was kneeling beside him rewarding his homage with enthusiastic pats and fantastic encomiums.
"Why, he likes me already—isn't he charming?" she demanded.
Harry threw up his hands— "And this for a dog—a new dog—possibly a mad dog!"
"You are a brute."
The dog was making rapid acquaintance with his new home, investigating the garage and, more profoundly, the kitchen, door.
"Here, Cyrus, come Cyrus," called Pauline, and started towards the house. Owen, in his motorcycle togs, was lighting a cigar on the veranda when they came up the steps. Without even pretending to enter into Pauline's enthusiasm over the terrier, he excused himself and walked off briskly in the direction of the garage. A few minutes later they saw him on the motorcycle speeding down the drive.
"I wonder what the impressive business is today," remarked Harry sarcastically.
"Let poor Owen alone. He is good and kind even if he doesn't care for Cyrus."
"Look here! Why don't you ever say any of these nice things to me— the things, you say to dogs—and secretaries?"
"Because I've promised to marry you—some day—and it is fatal to let a husband—even a futurity husband—know that you admire him."
"Well, as long as you do, it is all right."
A half mile down the main road to Westbury a runabout was drawn up, and a converted gypsy was alternately pretending to repair an imaginary break and relieving his nerve-strain by pacing the road. Balthazar's fantastic garments had given way to a plain sack suit and motor duster, but the profit of his employment by Raymond Owen was worth the discomfort of becoming "civilized."
The muttering of a distant motor made him fall to his knees and, wrench in hand, wiggle hastily under the machine.
To all appearance he was bitterly pre-occupied with the woes of a stalled tourist when a motorcycle chugged to a stop beside the runabout and Owen called him.
"I thought you had failed of our appointment, master," he said eagerly as he crawled out. "I have waited for more than half an hour."
"It is sad that you should be inconvenienced, old friend," answered Owen.
"I have done what you commanded me, master," Balthazar said with an ingratiating smile. "I have found them."
"The friends I spoke about at our last meeting—the little band that earns money by—making it."
"Oh, yes—your counterfeiters. Are they to be trusted?"
"Master, all guilty men are to be trusted. There is always protection in knowing the sins of others."
"Sometimes, Balthazar, I almost suspect you of possessing a brain. But, remember, I have told you that I shall soon be through—unless you accomplish something."
"Master, it is because I dare not risk your freedom—your life. For myself I care nothing. I live to serve you, who have been my benefactor."
"You lie, of course," remarked Owen casually. "But what of the new plan?"
"They are in Bantersville, only twelve miles from Castle Marvin. A house that has been long occupied and with no houses near."
"And they are still manufacturing coins there?"
"Yes; but they are becoming frightened. Two of the distributors have been arrested. They would be glad of a safer, a swifter method of making money."
"Come along, then."
Owen mounted the motorcycle while Balthazar sprang to the seat and started the runabout. They sped briskly over the roads, turning at last into an old weed-grown wagon path fringed copse-like by the branches of ever-hanging trees. The machine swished through the barrier leaves and came out upon a small clearing where there stood a gaunt house, evidently long deserted.
Balthazar drove on along the road for almost a quarter of a mile before he stopped the machine, Owen following without question. They left the runabout and the motorcycle and walked back to the house.
"It is an excellent location," commented Owen, as Balthazar lead the way into a basement entrance. "Who did you say was the man in charge of the—concern?"
"Rupert Wallace. He is a world-traveler like yourself, though no match for you in mind, master."
Balthazar, as he spoke, was rapping lightly on a wall, which had no sign of a door. It was pitch dark where they stood. But suddenly with hardly a sound, two sliding doors opened to the Gypsy's signal and a faint light from a gas jet on the wall gleamed on an inner passage. Balthazar, closely followed by Owen, walked quickly down the secret hall, and, without signal this time, another set of silent doors opened upon a brightly lighted room.
A crabbed, withered woman admitted them.
The room was overheated because of the presence of a gas forge on which a cauldron of metal was being melted. On one side there was a stamping press, and on the other a set of molds.
Wallace noted Owen's curiosity, and stepping to the table in the middle of the room, picked up a handful of half-dollar pieces.
"You are interested in our work—the work of supplying the poor with sufficient funds to meet the increased cost of living," he said, smiling. "These are some of our product. We are proud of them. The weight is exactly that of the true fifty-cent piece. And only one man in fifty could tell the difference in the ring of the metal."
Owen looked at the coins in sincere admiration.
"It is very remarkable," he said. "But Balthazar tells me—"
"I know. You have a little business of secrecy for myself and my friends. You may speak here in perfect safety, Mr. Owen. Gossip is not a fault—or a possibility—of our profession."
"I do not believe there is anything to say but what Balthazar has already told you, except—"
"Except what, master? Is there a change in the plan?" asked Balthazar.
"I think there might be. Something occurred today that might give us a favorable lead. Miss Pauline received as a gift a terrier dog. I believe it could be made use of."
"In what way?" asked the counterfeiter.
"By stealing it and bringing it here."
"I don't understand—ah, yes; indeed I do."
"Excellent, master," exclaimed Balthazar. "It could be done today. Can I have two of your men, Rupert?"
"Yes; take Gaston and Firenzi. They are always to be trusted."
At his words two men, stepped forward. One of them had been working at the metal pots. But in response to a hurried word from Rupert he quickly threw off his cap and apron, and caught up a hat and coat.
Rupert Wallace stepped to the side of the room where a pair of upright levers stood out of the floor like the levers of an automobile.
He pulled the one nearest him and the sliding doors parted softly. Owen and Balthazar, with their new escort, stepped through. For a moment, Wallace waited. Then he drew back the other lever, and the departing guests found as they reached the end of the secret passage, that their path opened, almost magically before them, in the hushed unfolding of the second door.
"Goodbye, Cyrus," said, Harry as Pauline strolling down the garden with him, tossed to her new pet a dainty from the box of bon-bons she carried.
"What do you mean by that?" she demanded.
"That the oysters on the half shell would be better for his health."
"I didn't give him oysters on the half shell."
"No; but you gave him everything else in the house. He is stuffed like the fatted calf—or like the prodigal son—I don't care which—"
"If he likes candy he shall have candy," declared Pauline, sitting down on an arbor bench and extending another sugar-plum to the dog.
The gratitude of Cyrus was expressed in a leap to the side of his mistress. As Harry sat down, he discovered that Cyrus had occupied the favored place beside Pauline. Next instant there was a yowl of dismay and the adored gift of Lucille fell several feet away from the bench.
"Harry! I think that is dreadful!" exclaimed Pauline, springing to her feet.
"I do, too," he answered. "That was why I threw it off the bench."
"To treat a poor innocent dumb creature like that!"
"Polly! You don't mean it, do you? You think I hurt him?"
"That doesn't matter, but if I've hurt yours—it does. I apologize."
"You are always joking. You don't understand how sweet and dear animals are. You will probably treat me the same way after we are married."
She ran to the spot where the wary Cyrus was munching the last piece of candy. But he accepted her caresses without enthusiasm, keeping a careful eye on Harry.
She called to the dog and walked briskly toward the house.
But Cyrus did not follow. The box of candy was still on the garden bench, and Cyrus was not immune to temptation.
Owen followed on his motorcycle the runabout in which Balthazar and the two chosen members of Rupert Wallace's band made their swift journey toward Castle Marvin.
A quarter of a mile from the grounds Owen drew alongside.
"This would be a good place to stop. The car can be hidden in the lane."
"Yes; master," said Balthazar.
He wheeled the machine upon a narrow roadway into the cover of the woods, and, with his companions, got out. Owen rode on ahead and was waiting for them as they neared the little foot path gate to the Marvin grounds.
"Look through the hedge there," he directed.
Balthazar crawled on his hands and knees to the box wall that surrounded the grounds. He thrust his shoulders through the bush and gazed for a moment at the dog devouring Pauline's bon-bons on the bench.
"I should say it would be well to act now—instantly, master," he cried, returning.
"Go on. I will be at the house, and will try to hold them back if there is any noise."
As Owen began to wheel his cycle up the drive to Castle Marvin, Balthazar and his two aides wriggled through the hedge-row, crossed a strip of sward and reached the bench. Balthazar caught the dog's head in his powerful hands. There was not a sound. The animal's muzzle was shut fast and in a minute it had been tied, leg and body. They ran to the gate, to the runabout, and were away.
"Why Harry, I can't find him anywhere. What could have happened to him?" cried Pauline, rushing into the library.
"Owen lost? Thank Heaven!" he exclaimed fervently.
"No; Cyrus. Harry it's your fault. He was angry because you pushed him off the bench and he ran away."
"Polly," he said, wheeling in his chair, "I am not worried. I decline to be worried. And I am going away from here."
"Not before you help me find Cyrus."
She turned and whisked crossly out of the room.
Harry picked up his hat and coat, and in a few minutes was being driven away by Farrell on an urgent call to town.
Pauline stood on the veranda and watched his departure with silent wrath.
"I wonder if he is really cruel—or—if he is just a man and doesn't know any better," she pondered audibly.
Then, as she saw Owen approaching from the side path, "Oh, Owen, won't you help me? I've lost Cyrus!"
"Cyrus? Am I sure whom you mean? Ah, yes; the new member of our family circle."
"Yes; he's gone."
"The only thing to do, I should say, is to advertise. I will call up the newspapers immediately, Miss Pauline."
"You are dear! I must have him back. Think what Lucille would say if I lost him on the first day!"
"I'll offer a generous reward and he'll soon be back."
"Thank you, Owen."
CYRUS MAKES A REPUTATION
The proceedings behind the hidden doors in the cellar of the ruined house between Bathwater and Castle Marvin were not interrupted by so small a matter as the kidnapping of an heiress—a kidnapping that had progressed no further as yet than the capture of a dog.
As Owen stepped into the den the next forenoon he saw the bull terrier tied to the wall.
"I see we have the main ingredient of the repast in hand."
"The main ingredient and the most dangerous," said Wallace. "He has done nothing but howl and bark. May we kill him?"
"Not yet," answered Owen. "It is possible that she might demand sight of him before entering the house, or some nonsense of that sort. I would let him howl a little longer."
"Very well," laughed Wallace. "What orders have you for us today, sir?"
The other counterfeiters kept steadily on at their work over the melting pots, the molds and stamping machines. The old woman was stacking half-dollar pieces at the table.
"Why do you have the woman here?" demanded Owen suddenly.
"To prevent starvation," answered Wallace. "Carrie is not only our purchasing agent, but our excellent cook."
The hag looked up for a moment with a cackle of appreciation; then bent again to her work.
"Can she write?" asked Owen.
"Well, then, she can help us. Here is an advertisement which appears in the morning papers."
He presented a newspaper clipping to Wallace, which read:
LOST—A fine white bull terrier. Finder will receive liberal reward if dog is returned to Pauline Marvin. Castle Marvin, N. Y.
"What do you want Carrie to do?"
"Answer the advertisement. Just call her over here."
The hag laid down the coins and moved laboriously to the, table. Wallace produced from a drawer a pen, paper and ink, and told the woman to take his chair. Owen dictated:
"Miss Pauline Marvin:
"A dog came to my house yesterday which I think is the one you advertise for. I am an old, crippled woman and it's hard for me to get out. Can't you come and see if it is your dog?
"Mary Sheila, 233 Myrtle Avenue."
The old woman wrote slowly in a shaking hand, and Owen waited patiently while she addressed an envelope. Then he placed the letter in the envelope, sealed it, and took his leave.
"And no sign of Cyrus?" inquired Harry cheerily as he entered the library, where Pauline sat disconsolate.
She did not even answer and she was still gazing dejectedly out of the window when Bemis brought in the mail. Two of the letters she laid aside, unread; the third, she opened: "A dog came to my house yesterday —" Her face lighted with hope and happiness; she read no further.
"Oh, isn't Owen—splendid," she breathed. "He knew just what to do." And with the letter in her hand she ran out to the veranda.
"Harry! Harry!" she called across the garden. There was no answer.
"Run up to Mr. Marvin's room and see if he is there, Margaret. Bemis, go out and see if he is at the garage."
"No, Miss Marvin," said Bemis. "He has gone into Westbury."
Pauline stood silent for a moment.
"Well, then I must go myself," she said with quick decision.
She sped upstairs and within a few minutes was, out at the garage in her motoring dress. A mechanic was working over her racing car in front of the garage, the racing car that was just recovering from recent calamity in the international race.
"Is it all fixed, Employ? Can I drive it today?" she asked eagerly.
"Why—yes, ma'am—you could," said the mechanic. "But I haven't got it polished up yet."
"That doesn't matter in the least. I want to use it to day—now."
She sprang lightly to the seat of the lithe racer and in a moment was away down the drive.
NO. 233 Myrtle avenue was an address a little difficult to find. Myrtle avenue was well outside the new town and Pauline had made several inquiries before an elderly man, whom she found in the telegraph office, volunteered directions.
She thanked him, and drove back for two miles before she found the turn he had indicated.
The appearance of the place was unprepossessing enough to dampen even the ambitious courage of Pauline. But the sight of woman on the porch training a vine over the front door, allayed her fears.
"You are Mrs. Sheila—you sent me a message that you had found my dog?" she asked, approaching.
For a moment the confusion that the woman had meant to simulate was sincere. She had expected to see no such vision as that of Pauline on the blackened steps of the coiners' den.
"A dog?" she quavered vaguely. Then, "Oh, yes, my—dear little lady —the pretty white dog. He came to us yesterday. My son he brought me the newspaper, and—"
"Oh, you are just a dear," cried Pauline. "May I see him now? I am so fond of him!"
"Yes, my little lady. Will you come in?"
Pauline followed her into the basement. She stepped back with a tremor of suspicion as the woman rapped three times upon the folding doors, and they opened silently on their oiled rails. But she was inside the narrow passage, and the light that gleamed through the second pair of doors allayed her anxiety. With a bow and the wave of a directing hand, the old woman waited for Pauline to enter.
In a breath she was seized from both sides. Strong cruel hands held her, while Wallace smothered her cries with a tight-drawn bandage.
She had hardly had time to see the little terrier tugging at his chain in the corner of the room, but his wild barking was all she knew of possible assistance in the plight in which she found herself.
They laid her on the floor. She heard a voice that seemed strangely familiar giving abrupt orders. Pauline sought in vain to place the memory of the voice of Balthazar, the Gypsy.
Suddenly she heard cries. The barking of the dog had stopped and there was the thud of heavy foot steps on the stone floor of the cellar.
"Catch him! Shoot if you have to," came the command in the mysteriously familiar voice. She felt that her captors were no longer near. There was a beat of rushing foot-steps on the floor.
It was several minutes before she heard voices again.
"The cur hasn't been there long enough to know her. It won't make any difference," said Wallace, coming through the open doors. "But I'm sorry it got away."
"Where is Miss Pauline?" asked Harry, as he entered the house on his return from Westbury.
"She has found her dog, sir," answered Margaret, smiling. "She went to get him—with the racing car."
His brow darkened. "The advertisement was answered, you mean, Margaret?"
"I think so, sir."
An hour later he walked into the garden and sat down on the rustic bench where he and Pauline had quarreled. He had just taken up his newspaper when he was startled by the spring of a small warm body fairly into his face. Lowering the torn paper, he saw Pauline's dog cavorting around the bench in circles of excitement.
The animal rushed towards him again, but did not leap this time. It came very near and, with braced feet, began to bark wildly.
Harry stood up. The dog, with another volley of barks, started towards the gate. Harry followed instinctively. The terrier dashed ahead of him, reached the, gate, returned, renewed the appealing barks, and again led the way.
In another minute Harry was following the urgent little guide. He was thoroughly stirred now. As the dog returned to him the second time, with its appealing yelps, he quickened his speed.
After traversing five miles of dust-laden road they reached a certain house on the thoroughfare, which still carried the dignity of "Myrtle avenue."
The dog rushed up the steps. Harry, following closely, was surprised to find the door was ajar. He entered and found himself in the cellar passageway.
A sound outside made him grasp the broken rope on the collar of the dog. It was an automobile wheezing to a stop and it was followed by the sound of voices. The outer door opened. Harry drew the dog aside into the darkness and held its muzzle tight.
Four men entered. One rapped on the wall and the panels opened softly. The man went in.
Harry's hand had fallen on a slim stick as he stooped in the darkness, and he slipped the stick into the aperture between the folding doors. He carried the dog to the outer door and thrust it through. Then he came back.
"Who is the woman?" asked a gruff voice.
"She does not concern you. Have you distributed all of the coins?"
"All but $5,000. She's a peach, ain't she?"
The door crashed at their heels. Harry was in the room. He had gripped Wallace by the throat before the man could stir. The others backed toward their hidden weapons. Shots blazed in the room but the smoke was protection for Harry, swinging wildly at whomsoever he saw.
"You're there, Polly?"
"Yes," she gasped, tugging at her bonds in desperation. She was almost free.
Harry had Wallace at his feet and Wallace's gun was in his hand. He blazed blindly through room. A shriek told of one man gone.
Pauline felt strong hands grasp her. She was whisked through the door; through the outer door and away, into the fresh air, and into the waiting automobile. She felt Harry's hot breath on her fore head as they sped in flight.
There was clamor behind them for a moment car was starting. Then came only the thrash of footsteps through the grassy road as the coiners rushed to their own machine.
One stern command reached the ears of Pauline and Harry as they sped on:
"It's your lives or theirs. Get them or kill yourselves."
"It's no use, Polly. Come," cried Harry, after a time.
His voice sounded grim, peremptory. The machine with a sudden swerve had gone almost off the road with an exploded tire. It was only Harry's powerful hand that had saved them from wreck.
But as he helped Pauline out and led her on a run into the forest he heard the sound of the pursuing machine coming to a stop and the tumult of voices behind them. He knew that one peril had only been supplanted by another.
"Where—Where are we going, Harry?"
"The Gorman camp—if we can make it; if we can reach the river."
"There's the old quarry," she exclaimed as they came out on the crest of a blast-gnarled cliff overlooking a stream. "I know their camp is near the quarry."
"But on the other side of the river. Don't talk; run," he pleaded, leading her down a footpath that traced a winding way over the face of the cliff into the quarry.
In the shelter of the rocks there stood two small buildings about five hundred yards apart. One was the old tool house of the deserted quarry. The other was a hunter's hut, evidently newly built.
A commanding cry came from the top of the cliff.
"Halt or we fire!"
They ran on. A shot echoed and a bullet flattened itself against the stone base of the quarry not two yards from Pauline.
"In here—quick," said Harry, dragging her to the hunter's lodge and thrusting her through the open door. There was another shot and the thud of another bullet as he slammed the door.
"It looks like a fight now, Polly," he said, as he' moved quickly around the hut. "And thank Heaven—here's something to fight with."
From a rack in the wall he lifted down a Winchester rifle and a belt of cartridges. "Get into the corner and lie down," he ordered.
"No, give me the revolver," cried Pauline.
She did not wait for his protest, but drew from hilt coat pocket the pistol he had wrested from Wallace.
For an instant he looked at her with mingled admiration, love and fear. He opened the little window of the hut, aimed and fired three shots at the group of six men who were running down the cliff path.
"Into the tool house," ordered Balthazar, stopping only for a glance at one of his fellows who had fallen. The five gained the workmen's hut and burst the door open. Immediately from the air hole and the wide chinks in the sagging walls came a blaze of shots.
A small white dog ran down the path into the quarry, but no one saw it.
Balthazar was searching the tool-house. "Ha!" he exclaimed suddenly. "That is what we want!" He lifted from the floor a box of blasting powder. But the next instant he dropped it and sprawled, cursing, beside the half-spilled contents. Another man, shot through the body, had fallen over his leader.
Balthazar quickly recovered himself. He whisked about the hut and found a coil of fuse. The shots were still dinning in his ears while he fashioned, with the powder and the box and the fuse, a bomb powerful enough to have shattered tons of imbedded stone.
"Stop shooting," he commanded. "Here's a better way!"
As he suddenly threw open the door and dashed out, he nearly fell over the dog whining in terror. But Balthazar kept on. In a better business—with a heart in him—he would have been counted among the bravest of men. Running a swaying, zigzag course, in the very face of the fire of Harry and Pauline, he reached the hunter's hut and dropped the bomb beside it.
He did not try to return. With the long fuse in his hand he moved into shelter behind the hut, struck a match, lighted the fuse, and fled toward the river.
After him ran the small white dog.
Balthazar turned and uttered a scream of rage. He dashed at the animal, which dodged and passed him. In its teeth it held the bomb he had just laid at the risk of his life. The fuse was sputtering behind as the dog fled.
Balthazar pursued desperately. The path to the river led through a narrow defile of rock. But the beast was not trapped at the water's edge as the Gypsy had expected. It took to the water with a wide plunge.
Balthazar turned away, cursing. He rushed back to the huts. The guns and pistols were silent. He picked up from the side of the path a huge piece of wood. As he neared his companions, he shouted:
"Come out! Rush them, You cowards! Follow me!"
Harry fired his last two shots and two men fell. Pauline had long ago emptied the revolver.
Three men came on. There was a crash as the log in Balthazar's mighty hands beat down the door and he staggered through.