The Perils of Pauline
Part 3 out of 6
"Miss Marvin -- Pauline!" called Baskinelli with sudden passion. "Have
you a heart of stone? Can you not see me helpless in your presence?
Do you know what love is?"
He stepped towards her and tried to take her in his arms. But she was
stronger and far braver than he. She thrust him aside and fled through
Baskinelli followed, protesting, pleading.
Strangely, as she fled through the narrow corridor, the low, flaring
gas jets were extinguished one by one.
She groped in darkness.
Baskinelli's pleading voice became almost a consolation, a protection.
Her elbow struck something in the passageway. The something shrank at
the touch. She heard a quick drawn breath that was not Baskinelli's.
She tried to run. The tiny passageway chocked her flight. She plunged
helplessly between invisible, but gripping walls. She reeled and
There was the sound of a struggle behind her. She heard Baskinelli
crying for help -- but, oh, so quietly! She reached the stairs. The
stairs were blocked by a closed door. The door was barred. But there
was a light left burning by the door.
Her weak hands beat upon the panels, helplessly, hopelessly. How
should she know that there were two doors, locked and sealed beyond?
Her wild screams rang through the long passage, through the dark, above
the shuffle and beat and cursing of the staged fight.
In the dim light she could see the three Italians grappling with the
other men. Baskinelli's voice called to her reassuringly. It might
well. Baskinelli was in no danger.
She placed her softly clothed shoulder to the door and strove to break
it. She screamed again.
Dull crashes answered. There was the crack and cleaving of splintered
"Hold on! I'm here!" she heard.
She fell beside the door. Strong arms seized her. For an instant she
felt that she was saved. But she looked up into the lowering face of a
man with tilted mustachios. From the wide thick lips came threats and
From the outer passageway sounded the crashing of the doors.
She let herself be lifted, then, with sudden exertion of her trained
strength, she broke the grasp of the man.
The door fell open.
Harry, bloody and tattered, stood there -- alone.
"Oh - yes -- where are the others? They'll kill you -- run!" she
He ran forward into the black corridor. A knife thrust, sheathed in
silence, ripped his shoulder gave him his cue. He had one man down and
trampled. But another was upon him and yet a third.
A sharp pain dulled the pulsing of his throat. He felt a tickle down
his bared and swinging arm.
He fought blindly in the dark.
"Polly!" he panted.
There was no answer.
* * * * *
In the Joss House of the Golden Screens the two Chinamen, dazed with
opium, set of purpose, were still arguing with the trembling priest.
The door fell open and a white woman -- with bleeding hands -- fell at
"Ha, she has come back!" cried one of the Chinese in his own tongue.
There was the sound of steps in the outer passage.
"Quick -- inside!" breathed the Chinaman, pointing to the den.
They lifted Pauline. The old priest stopped them.
"Not there -- not there!" he cried. "Any one would look in there."
They dragged her back. The priest hurried to the outer door and locked
There was the blunt, battering thrust of a body against the door.
"Open, or I'll break it in!" yelled the voice of Harry.
The priest opened the door.
In deferential silence he saluted the battle grimed newcomer.
Battered, panting, bleeding, Harry lunged at the man, gripped him.
"Quick -- where is she? You'll die like a spiked rat. Where?" he
The two other Chinamen were kneeling before the Joss.
There was a moment's silence, then a strange sound -- like a cry heard
Harry strode to the little pedestal where the suit of armor stood.
"Where is she? -- or I'll rip this place to cockles!" he thundered.
"We do not know what you mean," said the priest.
The two Chinamen began to jabber.
Other figures reeled from the room behind the curtains. But over all
their clamor sounded again the faint cry -- distant, but near.
In a flash Harry caught from the mailed glove the haft of the sword.
As he rushed across the room the Chinese withered away from him. There
was a crash as the great sword fell upon one of the windows. Through
the broken pane Harry shouted for help. His voice was like a clarion
in the silent streets.
He turned in time. Three Chinamen, with drawn knives, were upon him.
He swung the unwieldy sword above his head. Its sweep saved him. He
dashed at the Joss. Again he lifted the sword. A grasp and then a
wail of fear sounded through the room.
He struck. The head of the statue thudded to the floor.
The Chinese rushed upon him. They were desperate now in the face of
the violation of their god. But he was behind their god prying open
the secret door to the hollow within the statue.
"It's all right, Polly," he said as he drew her gently forth.
He stood above her with his back to the wall swinging the sacred sword
against the onslaught of fanatic men. They fell before him, but more
His hands could hardly hold the mighty weapon. For more than half an
hour he had been fighting. He was weakening but he braced himself and
swung for the last time.
There came a hammering at the door. It crashed in. Police clubs
whistled right and left. The Chinese fled into their secret lairs.
* * * * *
"And I guess that will be all," panted Harry in the taxi that took them
home. "I don't think you'll ask for any more adventures after this
"Why didn't you pick up the Joss's head?" replied Pauline. "It would
have looked so nice and dreadful in the library?"
But the glory of her golden hair nestled upon his torn shoulder and he
knew that he would go through all the perils in the world for happiness
KABOFF'S WILD HORSE
For several months after old Mr. Marvin's death, Owen had kept to his
cubby-hole room adjoining the financier's small, plain-furnished,
workaday office. But recently he had got the habit of doing his work
in the library, where the tall, pure statues looked down upon his
skulking head and the grand old books that had borne their messages of
good from generation to generation, held their high thoughts in stately
contrast to his skilled and cruel plots.
Above the bowed bald head that was planning the death of a young girl
to gain her fortune stood a figure of Persephone-child of innocence and
sunlight shadowed by black robes of Dis. Upon the coward who feared
all but the darkest and most devious passages of crime shone high,
clear brows of Caesar and Aurelius. Gray folios of Shakespeare held up
to the ambitious ingrate the warning titles of "Lear" and "Hamlet" and
"Macbeth." And by his side brooded ever that mystic relic of the
farther past -- the Mummy, from whose case had stepped a daughter of
the Pharaohs in the likeness of Pauline.
But Owen thought little of contrasts.
He was opening his mail on a morning in early May when he came across
an envelope addressed in the awkward scrawl of Hicks. He tore it apart
nervously, for if Hicks could be moved to write, it must be a matter of
"Dear Owen, No doubt he suspects you of foul play. He has seen his
attorneys and is about to take steps to have you removed from the
The paper crackled in Owen's trembling hand. So the Baskinelli
incident had gone a little too far. Harry Marvin had sense enough to
know that he would not have to fight three murderous Italians and a
rabble of Chinese unless there had been a plot behind Pauline's peril.
It might be best to go directly after Harry -- to put him out of the
way first. And yet, Owen pondered, there was no proof of anything
wrong. Pauline was admittedly plunging into these adventures of her
own free will. Nothing could be proved against him or Hicks.
He resumed his work. Among the letters lay an advertising dodger which
had been dropped through the door. Owen glanced at it carelessly at
first, then with keen interest. He read it over:
"BALLOON ASCENSION FROM PALISADES
Signor Panatella, the famous Italian Aeronaut, will make parachute drop
from height never before attempted."
The ascension was to be made that afternoon from one of the amusement
parks on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson.
"This is Providence," he muttered to himself, catching up the dodger.
Slipping through the door and up the stairs, he tapped at the door of
Pauline's room. When there came no answer he entered swiftly, laid a
paper on the table and glided back to the hall, back to the library.
From there he called up Hicks.
Hicks' domiciles were so many and suddenly changeable that he claimed
nothing so dignified as a regular telephone number. But he had
scribbled on the bottom of his note the number of a saloon on the lower
He was there when Owen rang.
"Hello, Hello,. . . . Is that you, Hicks ?. . . . I want to see
you. . . . What?. . . . No, right away . . . . .Broke?. . . you
always are .... you'll get the cash all right.. . . .What's that? ....
Come here? .... Not on your life. I'll come to you .... Not half that
time .... I'll take the motorcycle. All right .... Good-by."
He hung up the receiver, went up to his room and got into cycling kit.
As he came down stairs he met Pauline, who was returning from a
"Good morning, Owen," she said brightly. "Do you know, I believe there
is more peril in a dry goods store than on a pirate yacht. What parts
of my new hat are left?"
"Only the becoming ones."
She sped on up the stairs. After her first imperative inquiries of the
mirror concerning what she considered her wild appearance, she picked
up the letters on her dressing table and began to run through them.
The large black type of an advertising dodger loomed among the
Pauline tripped down the stairs. To Harry, seated on the steps
enjoying the Spring sunshine and puffing a leisurely cigarette,
appeared a mysterious vision.
He knew by the elaborate way in which she took her seat beside him and
hid the piece of paper in her hand that she had some new whim in
fermentation -- something to ask him that she knew he wouldn't want to
"Yes," he said, moving along the step away from her. "I know you've
just bought me the loveliest cravat, that I'm the nicest brother in the
world, that I look so handsome in Springy things and -- well, what it
Pauline pouted at the other end of the step.
"I'm going up in a balloon and jump down," she announced, "from a
height never before attempted."
"Polly I You are going to do nothing of the --"
"No, I wasn't going to, until you grew so great and grand. I just
wanted to go over and see him fly."
She tossed the dodger over to him. He glanced at it.
"Well, if you promise you aren't plotting any more pranks, I'll take
"That's a worth-while brother. It's a pink one."
"Cravat, of course."
Harry groaned. "Give it to the cook," he pleaded. "He wears 'em
alive. If that fellow goes up at 2:30.you'd better hurry."
"I'll be ready before you are."
She rose quickly, but Owen, looking, listening, had time to close the
door unseen, unheard.
At the rear of a little West Side saloon, he signaled with his horn,
and Hicks came out. He was a bit shabbier than usual, and he had been
drinking, but he was not intoxicated.
Owen locked his machine and taking his arm walked him rapidly up the
"What do you mean by writing to me?" demanded Owen. "Haven't I told
you never to put words on paper?"
"Oh, I guess you got that house wired so nobody'll catch you," grunted
Hicks. "Live wires, too-clever butlers, footmen, maids, chauffeurs,
cooks; you're safe enough."
"You forget those are your wires. They don't know they're working for
me. Hicks, are you out of your head? Have you told Bemis that you and
I are working together? "
"Sure not; but that butler is no fool, Mr. Owen."
"Was it from him you found out that Harry had the lawyers after us?"
"No -- queer thing that, that -- it wasn't."
"The little Espinosa."
"Espinosa -- in New York?"
"Yes -- met her at the Trocadero a week ago. She'd seen old Calderwood
already. I guess she blackmails him -- the old reprobate, and him the
noble counselor at law for Mr. Harry Marvin!"
"So you put her on the scent -- for us?"
"Why not? The young fellow's been acting suspicious for a long time."
"You did very well."
"How about some money -- I haven't seen the color of a roll since you
put that fool Baskinelli into the game. Ain't you coming across?"
"Certainly; here," said Owen, handing over enough to sate even the
predatory greed of Hicks. "Now, what I want you to do is to find me
some one among your horse racing friends who is down and out enough to
take a little cash job -- at certain slight risks?"
"Yes -- what?"
"I want a good rider on a wild horse. He could make a thousand dollars
in an afternoon if the horse should happen to get wild at the right
time and do the right thing."
"Hm'm," mused Hicks. "I wonder if Eddie Kaboff has still got his
livery stable down on Tenth avenue. We might go see."
After ten minutes' walk Hicks brought up in front of a bill-plastered
door in a fence. He held it open for Owen and they passed across a
vacant lot to a large dilapidated-looking stable at the further end.
The short, dark man who sat in a tilted chair against the doorway and
puffed lazily at a pipe, seemed to embody the spirit of the building
and the business done there.
He was a man who had once -- in the days of racing -- been called a
"sport." He might still be called "horsey" and would consider the term
a compliment. But Eddie Kaboff's fame and fortune had both dwindled
since the good old betting days when little swindling games larded the
solid profits of crooked races. One by one his thoroughbreds had given
up their stalls to truck horses, just as Eddie's diamond studs had
given place to plain buttons.
His beady black eyes watched the two newcomers on their way across the
lot, but he gave no sign of recognition until Hicks and Owen reached
"Hello, Eddie," said Hicks.
Kaboff got up slowly and extended a flabby hand to his acquaintance.
He was introduced to Owen, who let Hicks do the talking.
"What's new, Eddie?"
"Still got that wild horse you never was able to sell?"
"Can you still manage him yourself?"
"I guess I could, but he ain't safe to take among traffic."
Hicks stepped close to Kaboff, talking in rapid whispers. The little
man turned white.
"No, no; I'm too old for that kind of game," he said.
Owen drew from his pocket a roll of yellowbacks -- the biggest roll
Eddie Kaboff had seen since the days of "easy money."
"This much to try it," said Owen, "and as much again if you make good."
Kaboff's glance wavered a moment between the penetrating eyes of Owen
and the money in his hand.
"Take it; it's yours."
The flabby hand closed almost caressingly around the roll. "We'll go
in and have a look at the brute," he said.
They followed him through a line of stalls to a large padded box at the
far end of the barn. A beautiful bay saddle horse occupied the box.
Kaboff entered and called the animal, which answered by flying into a
seeming fury, plunging about the box, kicking, rearing and snapping.
"Same old devil," muttered Hicks. "He'll do."
The sight of an apple in Kaboff's hand calmed the animal. It came to
him and ate docilely while he slipped a bridle over its head. Once
outside the stall, however, it began another rampage.
Hicks held a last whispered conversation with Kaboff, giving him minute
"I can just try it, you know," said Kaboff. "I can't guarantee to get
away with it."
"As much again if you do, you know," said Owen as he started briskly
away with Hicks.
The place that Panatella had chosen for the start of his balloon
ascension was a field upon the crest of the Palisades above the
Panatella had brought with him from abroad a reputation for dare-devil
adventures in the air. And he had proved his reckless courage in the
several brief ascensions that he had already made on this side.
Today, with his promise of the longest parachute drop on record, people
flocked to the field from New York and all adjacent New Jersey.
"I wish you wouldn't always invite that velvet-pawed servant on our
trips," grumbled Harry to Pauline, as Owen went for his dustcoat.
"Owen is my trustee and guardian. You have no right to speak of him as
a servant. Besides, when he's along he keeps you from being silly."
Harry stamped out to the garage, swung a new touring car around to the
door, and soon, with Owen and Pauline, was speeding for the ferry.
Signor Panatella was superintending the filling of the great gas bag.
He was a tall, lithe man in pink tights beneath which his muscles
bulged angularly like the gas filling the balloon bag.
A Latin rapidity of speech and motion added to the pink tights made him
comically frog-like, and even the abattis of medals on his breast could
not save his dignity.
He bustled about giving orders to the workmen who were preparing to cut
the ropes, then flitting back to the crowd to answer the questions of
Pauline had left the car and was standing between Owen and Harry near
the rapidly filling bag.
"I wish I could talk to him, too -- he's so cute and hippety-hoppy,"
Owen stepped to Panatella's side.
"Would you permit the young lady to see the balloon basket?" he asked.
"With pleasure," said the airman after a glance at Pauline. He led the
way to the basket, and helped Pauline up so that she could look at the
equipment, the anchor with its long coil of rope, the sand bags and
She was plainly fascinated as Panatella explained the manner of his
flight and his drop through the air. As she saw them attach the basket
to the tugging bag she was thrilled.
At this moment there was a flurry of excitement on the outskirts of the
crowd. A horseman on a beautiful bay mount, that was evidently
unmanageable, came plunging and swerving down the field.
The crowd broke and scattered in front of the menacing hoofs that flew
in the air as the vicious animal reared.
The horseman, clad in a somewhat threadbare riding suit, was a small
man with beady black eyes that turned from side to side as he swayed in
his saddle. He seemed to be afraid of his mount and to be looking for
help. But it was remarkable that apparently so poor a rider held his
seat and actually managed to bring the beast to a nervous stand some
fifty yards from the balloon.
The little man looked around over the heads of the crowd. He caught
sight of Owen beside Pauline near the balloon basket. The lifting of
his riding cap might or might not have been a salute and signal.
"Oh, I wish I hadn't promised Harry not to go up. I know Signor
Panatella would take me," sighed Pauline.
Harry had turned away to watch the actions of the strange horseman.
"You might scare him a little," Owen suggested.
Those words were the greatest risk he had taken in all his deeply laid
Pauline caught at the suggestion eagerly. She sprang lightly from the
little platform into the balloon car.
A murmur of mingled astonishment, applause and alarm rose from the
crowd. Two of the workmen were cutting the last ropes that held the
basket to earth . Ten others were holding it with their hands awaiting
Panatella purposely delayed the moment of mounting the basket. The
tugging of the huge balloon against the strength of a dozen men gave
impress to his feat, and he liked the state of suspense.
But the sound from the surprised throng called his attention now to a
scene that made him forget affectation and effect. He started to run
toward the basket, shouting peremptory orders:
"Out of the car; out of the car instantly, madame! You are risking
His excitement infected the crowd. Surging, it seemed to sweep with it
the rider on the restive horse. For, as a hand was suddenly lifted in
the midst of the crowd the horse apparently overcame the legs braced to
spring, it shot forward directly at the balloon basket.
The hand that had been raised was the hand of Raymond Owen.
All was happening so swiftly that neither Harry nor Panatella reached
the basket before the maddened animal.
The crowd had given way in panic before it. Cries of fright were
mingled with cries of pain as the beast charged straight upon the men
holding the basket, felling and crushing them with shoulder and hoof.
For an instant a few desperate hands held to the wrenching car.
Panatella had all but reached the platform; Harry was within arm's
length of it, when, with a writhing twist the bag jerked the basket
sideways and upward, knocking to the ground the last two men who had
held it and whirling forth into the deathly emptiness of space a
cowering, stunned girl, whose white face peered and white hands pleaded
over the basket rim -- peered down upon the upturned faces of thousands
who would have risked their lives to aid, but who stood helpless in
their pity, hushed in fear.
For a moment Harry had stood dazed. It was as if the twanging taut of
the ropes, as the bag tore almost from his grasp the most precious
being in the world, had snapped the fibers of action in him.
The daze passed quickly, but in the moment of its passing. The
balloon, risen now five hundred feet in the air, had swept its way
westward over a mile of ground.
Harry turned to look for his motor car. Standing as he was at the spot
from which the balloon had ascended, he now faced a human barricade.
With a shout of warning he charged at what seemed to be a vulnerable
point in the files of wedged shoulders. The wall resisted. The throng
was lost to all but the dimming view of the balloon. Harry swung right
and left with his broad shoulders. He tore his way through.
The car was standing where he had left it on the outskirts of the
field. As he approached it he saw Owen emerge from the crowd and hurry
toward a runabout that had just been driven upon the field.
"What's the matter?" yelled a man in the machine, and Harry recognized
the voice of Hicks.
"Miss Marvin -- carried away in the balloon!" cried Owen in a tone of
excitement that was not all feigned. He joined Hicks beside the
Harry sprang to the seat of his touring car. It seemed to leap
forward. He shot past the two conspirators and heard Owen's voice
calling after him:
"Wait! Where are you going? I'll go with you."
"You're too late," shouted Harry bitterly, over his shoulder. An
envelope of dust sealed itself around the spinning wheels of the big
machine as he took the road after the balloon.
Steadfast but hopeless he fixed his eyes upon the unconquerable thing
in its unassailable element -- a thing that seemed to be fleeing from
him as if inspired by a human will. Death rode beside him at his
breakneck speed, but he did not know it. He knew only that he must
follow that black beacon in the sky - that he must be there when its
flight was over -- when the end came.
He did not know that Owen and Hicks, in the runabout, were also
following -- that they, too, watched with an interest as deep as his,
with a hope as poignant as his hopelessness, the dizzy voyage of
FROM CLOUD TO CLIFF
"Wonder what he thinks he can do," growled Hicks as they sat in the
runabout and watched Harry pass them.
"Trying to break his own neck -- for nothing," replied Owen. "If he
keeps up that speed we'll get both birds with one sand bag."
"I hope so. He didn't speak, did he? You can see by the way he acts
he don't want us around -- even now."
"It doesn't matter what he wants -- it's what he does."
"You don't think he can save her?"
"He might -- and I don't want her saved this time, Hicks, you
understand. I can't afford it this time. I've said too much."
"Where did you get this runabout?"
"Upper East Side -- private party; I didn't want to do any business
"How much is this machine worth?" asked Owen irrelevantly.
"Oh, six or seven hundred -- it ain't new. Why?"
"If anything should happen to it, there wouldn't be any trouble,
provided the bill was paid, would there?"
"I got an idea the owner would grab at $3oo for this here buggy. But
"And if this automobile disappeared, vanished -- no trace of it; you're
sure there wouldn't be any investigation?" pursued Hicks.
"Yes -- it would be all right, I tell you. But I want to know what
your scheme is. How can you use this machine to get rid of Harry?
Tell me," Owen insisted.
"Never mind -- yet. How do you make the course of the balloon now?"
"I guess she'll go over Quirksborough and then up between Hoxey and
"Then we can pass him at Quirksborough."
"How do you figure that?"
"He'll stop for gasoline. He hasn't got enough to go more than two
miles beyond there. I saw that he hadn't when we set out."
"What do you want to pass him for? Why not let 'em both break their
own merry little necks an' us pick 'em up an' do the weepin'
afterward? That's our music."
"You fool! Don't you think a balloon ever came down safe yet? Don't
you know that young devil has got his head full of schemes to beat me
out' again? I tell you we've got to make sure of this trick. We've
got to get him."
Unconsciously Hicks brought the machine to a stop as both men strained
their eyes at the balloon, now traversing a lower course more slowly.
They saw Pauline stand erect in the basket and lift the heavy anchor
over the side.
Harry, going at terrific speed on the deserted road, saw the drop of
the anchor with a thrill of hope. At least - even if it was useless in
itself -- it showed him that Pauline was brave and calm enough to use
her wits. He waved again but there was no answering signal.
Suddenly the balloon itself was lost to sight from the road. At the
lowering angle, drawn downward partly by the anchor and partly by the
gradual loss of gas, it swung over the hills.
The road led between two hills. Beyond it curved to the east and
north. As he reached the curve Harry was surprised that the balloon
was not in sight. When after circling another hill Harry had still
failed to pick it up he was alarmed as well as puzzled. The hills had
muddled his senses of direction, but he knew that he was near the river
again -- back on the verge of the Palisades. This added to his fears.
There was but one thing to do, though -- follow the road. He went on
Suddenly he uttered a cry and threw on full speed. Over the top of a
high, jagged cliff, set like a rampart between two bastion knolls, he
saw the upper half of the gas bag.
It veered and tossed in the wind like a tethered thing. The basket was
invisible, but Harry knew that the anchor had caught on the cliff
As he neared it he discovered that what was a cliff on one side was the
river wall on the other. He thanked heaven that the road led to the
top of it. He turned the machine up the road, which threaded narrow
ledges through growths of bramble and stunted trees.
He saw and turned sick in soul and body, for the pulling of the balloon
held the basket almost inverted, and Pauline was not in the basket.
The anchor had doubled itself into rock or root far down the cliff
side. From it the balloon dragged toward the river instead of toward
the shore. The taut rope writhed fifty feet out from the top of the
To the edge of the cliff crawled Harry. He moved rapidly, but at the
uttermost verge he paused and covered his eyes with his, hand.
At last he looked down.
To Pauline on her wild flight had come increasing calm. As she felt
the balloon reaching lower levels -- though it still soared high above
the hills -- she even allowed herself a little hope. Leaning over, she
watched the shining blades of the anchor dance through the air.
Northeastward she could see the waves of the great river dancing. On
the little anchor, hung her hope of life; in the water beyond the
farthest cliff lay her final peril.
She had lost track of Harry and the other automobile long ago. She had
given up all hope of aid from any living thing.
The balloon moved slowly above the palisade. The anchor dragged on the
landward side of the knolls. These were sheer rock that the steel
talons clawed in vain.
The balloon moved out over the river, then suddenly glided back. An
eddy of breeze from the water had turned its course. The anchor
dangled along the river wall of the precipice.
Pauline seized the rope. She alternately pulled and loosened it,
trying to hook the anchor to tree or shrub. Suddenly she was flung
forward -- almost out of the basket. The balloon had stopped with a
jerk. Hopefully, fearfully, she pulled in the rope. The anchor held.
The balloon was tugging and swaying wildly, but its tether did not
break. She looked down at the ledge. Between her and that narrow
footing the only thoroughfare was two hundred feet of swaying rope.
She pulled upon the rope again. She dropped two more of the heavy
ballast bags over the side, and the bag shook and groaned upon its
stays as it dragged the anchor deeper into the rock. She put her feet
over the edge of the basket. With her hands clutching the rim, she
lowered herself. Taking her hands from the basket and grasping the
rope, she started down.
The raw hemp tore her hands. The fearful strain upon her arms made her
sick and faint. Only desperation nerved her after the first ten
yards. The wrenching of the balloon whirled and jostled her. At
first, holding only by her hands, she was flung out from the aut
halyard like a flag. Then instinct told her to wrap her feet around it
and she trembled on. She looked down once, saw the far swaying river,
and looked quickly up again. It was not until her groping feet touched
the rock of the ledge that she opened her eyes again. At the top of a
slender rope whirled and veered and battled a balloon with an empty
basket. The sound of creaking ropes mingled in her ears with the
chugging of a motor car. The chugging seemed a long way off, but its
noise seemed to make her dizzy. She sank in a dead faint upon the
narrow ledge beside the hooked anchor.
"Pauline! Pauline! It's I -- Harry. Can't you hear me? Pauline!"
There came no sound in answer -- only the creaking of the balloon rope
in the air, the rasping of the anchor fluke upon the stone.
He sprang up and back to the motor and began throwing out the robes,
blankets, tools and chains. He laid a blanket on the ground and began
to slash it into strips with his pocket knife. In the ends of the
strips he cut slits and linked the slits with the chains to form a
rope. He paused only once in his frantic labor. That was when he
rushed back to the edge of the cliff to look again and call again-in
vain. He fastened the chain at the end of his strange line to a
sapling growing some ten feet back of the verge and with a throb of
relief saw the other end drop to within a few feet of the unconscious
girl. He tested the strength of the cable by pulling on it with all
his might. It did not give. He put himself over the cliff side and
began the descent.
Owen and Hicks had not only lost the balloon, but had lost Harry, too.
They could follow him only by the deep cut tracks of his flying car,
and these were as likely to be over marshes and fields as on the
More than once Hicks urged that they turn back.
"We can't do no good," he argued. "If they ain't dead they ain't --
"I've got to be sure," muttered Owen.
The little runabout had a hard fight to climb the cliff that Harry's
big car had taken so easily. But as they came through the grove into
view of the balloon and the empty basket the two felt amply rewarded
for their worry and trouble and toil.
"By George, it has happened. It's done!" cried Owen. No artist gazing
on a finished masterpiece, no conqueror thanking the fates for victory
could have spoken with more triumphant fervor.
But Hicks was out of the machine and running to Harry's car. He saw
the shreds of the blankets; he saw the knife; finally he caught a
glimpse of the chain that was fastened to the sapling.
"Don't be so sure," grumbled Hicks. "Come on -- but come quiet."
He got down on his hands and knees and crawled to the edge of the
cliff. Owen followed him. Together they drew back with gasps of
surprise and anger.
Hicks sprang to his feet. His big-bladed knife flashed in his hand.
He sawed excitedly at the small chain. A low curse escaped him as the
blade bent on the links.
Owen had dashed to Harry's auto. He was back with a pair of heavy
pliers. In a flash he had cut the chain. The end of it shot over the
cliff. There was a startled cry from below.
It was several minutes before Hicks and Owen looked down again.
The man they thought they had just killed and the girl whom they had
marked to die stood on the ledge in each other's arms, oblivious of
life or death, or foe or friend, of everything but love.
Pauline was still aquiver with the shock of her waking. A cry ringing
above her had brought her from her swoon and she had looked up to see
the terrible balloon still reeling over her and to find Harry dangling
from a rope's end not ten feet away.
She rose weakly and stretched out her arms to him.
"Be still; don't move, dear," he called softly.
"You can't help me. You --"
There was a sudden snapping sound from over the top of the cliff. The
chain end of the line fell upon his shoulders. He dropped joltingly to
the ledge and lunged forward toward a further fall. It was the soft
arms of Pauline that caught and held him. Both trembling a little as
their lips met.
From overhead came the sound of a starting automobile. Harry shouted
at the top of his voice. There was no answer. He stopped quickly and
picked up the severed end of the life line.
Look; it wasn't broken; it was cut;" he cried. "Good heaven, Polly,
who is it that hates us like that?"
For answer she merely nestled nearer in his protecting arms.
They sat down on the ledge, and Harry's keen eyes watched the tantrums
of the balloon in the wind. It was pulling fiercely toward the river
now, but the anchor held fast.
Suddenly Harry sprang up. Pauline started to follow his example, but
he motioned her to stay where she was. In his hand gleamed the
revolver, that he had carried ever since the battle in Baskinelli's
"Who is it?" whispered Pauline. "Can you see some one?"
He raised the revolver in the air, took aim and fired. The balloon
rope at his feet suddenly slacked and he caught at its sagging loop to
gave the anchor from loosening. He fired twice again at the balloon
bag, and Pauline, clinging to his shoulder saw the monster that had
held her a slave to its elemental power, that, like some winged gorgon
had held her captive in the labyrinth of air, crumple and wither and
fall at the prick of a bullet; saw it collapse into a mass of tangled
leather and rope and slide in final ruin down the smooth cliff.
She looked at Harry with the whimsical smile that she could not
suppress even on the dizzy heights of danger.
"Did you really think I would fly away again?" she asked.
"Hopeless ward," he said. "Pitiful case. Miss Pauline Marvin, crazy
heiress -- thinks she's funny when she's merely getting killed. No,
Miss Flippancy, I wanted a line to slide the rest of the way on," he
announced as he gave the anchor rope a twist around a rock.
Pauline's merriment vanished like a flash.
"Oh, I can't do it again, Harry, I can't," she cried tremulously.
"It will be easy this time," he told her. "Here, give me your hands."
With a piece of the blanket rope he tied her wrists together, and
placed her arms about his shoulders, grasping a rope that sagged away
to the wrecked balloon on the road far below. He placed a leg over the
ledge, wrapped it around the rope and bracing the other foot against
the rock wall, started joyously on his fearful task.
Joyously, for if ever man rejoiced at the gates of death it was Harry
Marvin. To him the chance to risk his life today was a blessing and a
boon. It was what he had prayed for, hopelessly, on the long motor
dash in the wake of the balloon -- just the chance to try and save
her. To die with her was all he asked; to die fighting for her was all
he wanted; and here he was, holding her in his arms on a stout rope,
already half way down the cliff.
At the bottom he let her feel the firm earth once more. "Now you can
open your eyes," he said.
With his torn hands he started to lift her arms from his neck; but she
clung there, weeping.
"Oh, Harry, you are so patient, so good and brave, and I have made you
risk your life again for me."
"Sure; that's it; worry about me, now," he grumbled, although he held
her tenderly and close. "When will you find out that my life doesn't
matter; it's yours that counts?"
"I will never, never do it again," said Pauline like a naughty child.
"You used to say that when you were four years old. It was usually a
lie," said Harry.
"I love you," said Pauline irrelevantly.
"Then why-in-the-dickens-don't-you-marry me?" he demanded.
She stopped. Steps sounded from the roadway. They peered through the
thicket that concealed them and saw Owen approaching.
Pauline hailed him. He turned toward the thicket in obsequious haste.
"Thank Heaven, Miss Marvin," he cried. "It must be a miracle. And you
are safe, too," he added, turning to Harry.
"How did you know I was ever in danger?" inquired Harry grimly.
"We heard shots," explained Owen. "We saw the balloon fall and we knew
what you had done. It was magnificent. I congratulate you."
"Congratulate Polly," said Harry. "She slid out of Heaven, while I
only slid down hill."
"Where is your car, Mr. Marvin?"
"Up on the hill -- if the kind persons who cut the chain didn't take it
Owen did not change color. "I will go and see if it is there. If not,
I'll find Hicks and his runabout. He's waiting somewhere about."
He set off briskly up the road.
"Polly, you still trust that man?" asked Harry.
"One has to trust one's guardian, doesn't one?"
He tossed his hands above his head in a gesture of "Give it all up."
"That's right; keep 'em there," said a rough voice, and a wiry man with
white handkerchiefs tied over his face below the eyes sprang with
crunching strides through the bushes. "Keep up your hands, I say," he
thundered at Harry, as he leveled a revolver.
Pauline was beside him and Harry dared not move. But Pauline dared.
With the resourceful courage that always inspired her she whipped his
revolver out his hip pocket and fired at the intruder's head.
His hat fluttered off into the road. He sprang at Pauline and wrested
the gun from her. As Harry rushed him, he had no time to fire, but the
butt of one revolver crashed on the young man's forehead. Harry sank
unconscious in the road.
Pauline knelt beside him. She was screaming for Owen -- even for
Hicks. Hicks was instantly beside her but not to aid or rescue, for
Hicks was the man with the handkerchief mask. He half dragged, half
carried Pauline to a thicket that concealed the runabout. He drew a
roll of tire tape from under the seat and bound it cruelly around her
lips. He took ropes and tied her hands and feet, placed her in the
seat beside him and started the machine. If Harry, struggling to rise
out of the dust of the road, could have seen Pauline now, bound and
gagged beside Hicks in the runabout, he would have known her to be in
greater peril than ever the balloon had brought her.
Pauline was not long unhidden. As the quick ear of Hicks caught the
sound of wheels, he grasped her roughly by the arm and thrust her into
the bottom of the machine. Without taking his hand from the lever or
slackening speed, he pulled a blanket over her and tucked it in with
"Don't move, either," he growled, "or you know."
A farmer on his wagon came around a bend. His cheery "good morning"
brought only a grunt from Hicks, but the sound of the kind voice
thrilled Pauline. She struggled under the blanket and almost reached a
sitting posture before Hicks crushed her back.
The runabout had flashed by, but the farmer had seen something that
alarmed even his stolid mind.
When a half mile up the road he came upon a young man, dazed and
wounded, staggering through the dust, he drew rein and leaped out.
A draught of whiskey from the farmer's bottle braced Harry.
"You passed them on the road?" he cried.
"A machine with a man in it and somethin' else -- somethin' in the
bottom of it that moved," said the farmer.
"A horse," said Harry, "quick -- one of yours will do."
The farmer hesitated. Harry thrust money into his hand. "Quick," he
Together they unharnessed the team. Coatless and hatless, tattered,
wounded and stained, Harry swung himself to the bare back of a
stirrupless steed and galloped out on what he knew was the most
dangerous of all the pathways of Pauline.
THE OLD GRIGSBY HOUSE PAYS PENANCE
To young Bassett, of The American, the excitement of existence, since
he became a reporter and joined the jehus of the truth wagon, had
consisted mainly of "chasing pictures" in the afternoons and going to
strings of banquets at night. He had no more enthusiasm for
photographs than he had for banquets. Word painting and graining was
his art. And so when a big story walked up and beckoned to him he was
as happy as a boy in love.
It had been a dull day for news. The evening papers were barren of
suggestions and the assignments had run out before Bassett's name was
reached. That meant another afternoon of dismal lingering in the
office, without even a photograph to chase.
Bassett flung himself disgustedly into a chair and straightened a
newspaper with a vicious crackle as the last of the other reporters
hurried out. He thought he caught a gleam of merry pity in the
reporter's eye. Never mind. Let 'em laugh. Let 'em wait. One of
these days he'll be the one getting the real stuff and putting it
through, too, from tip to type, without a rewrite man or a copy reader
touching it. Let 'em wait!
"In a balloon? Where?"
The suddenly vibrant voice of the city editor talking over the
telephone caused Bassett to lower his paper and hushed even the chatter
of the office boys.
"Palisades -- Panatella; yes. Who's the girl? You don't know?"
The paper dropped from Bassett's hands.
"Much obliged. I'll have a man over there, but you go right ahead."
The city editor clicked down the receiver and whirled in his chair.
"Oh -- Bassett. Our Weehawken man says a young woman has been carried
off by Panatella's balloon. They've lost the balloon. Get a car and
get over there quick. Go as far as you like, only find the girl and
let me hear from you -- quick."
Bassett jumped to a phone and ordered a high-powered machine to meet
him at Ninety-sixth street. He ran down William street, with his straw
hat under his arm, and dived into the subway. An express had him at
Ninety-sixth street in a few minutes. His machine was there. They
dashed for the ferry and were on the aviation field before the
bewildered crowd that had witnessed the runaway flight of the balloon
Bassett jumped out and mingled with the people. They knew nothing
except the general direction toward the west that the balloon had
taken. Automobilists had pursued for a long way, but had seen the gas
bag turn to the north and disappear in the hills. The automobilists
had returned -- most of them. Two who had been with the girl before
she leaped into the basket had not returned.
Bassett got back in the car beside the driver, and they glided off on
the westward road.
Every one in the farm houses along the route had seen the balloon. But
the houses were further and further apart as Bassett's course was drawn
northward and, often he missed the trail.
The trail was blazed by the wheel ruts of a giant touring car and a
small runabout that frequently left the highways and plowed across the
fields. He lost them in the middle of a field that was marshy where
the automobiles left the road and rock-dry at the middle and further
side. After a half-hour's maneuvering he ordered the driver to go back
to the road.
"Maybe they done the same thing - -turned round an' come back,"
suggested the chauffeur. "Hello, what kind of a rig is that?" he added
as a wagon appeared around a bend in the road.
The peculiar thing about the "rig" was that while it was a tongued
wagon with whiffletrees for two horses, there was only one horse. The
driver, a bearded farmer, was urging the patient animal on, although it
was impossible for it to do more than plod in its awkward harness.
"What's the matter?" called Bassett, cheerily, as the machine drew
alongside and stopped.
"I dunno," replied the farmer, shaking his grizzled bead. "Ef I was a
young feller like you I'd go right off an' find out."
"I'll go right away; what's up?"
"I dunno. I ain't knowed anythin' like it in this part o' the country
in fifty year. First, down yonder on the old river road I meets a
autymobile, with a man drivin' it and somethin' alive an' movin' lyin'
in a blanket by his feet. I ain't got more'n a half mile back from
there when I finds a fine young feller, with his good clothes -- what
he's got left -- tore to pieces, no shoes, or hat on him, an' his head
bleedin' bad from cuts. 'Where are they? Did you see a autymobile?'
he yells at me. I tells him what I had saw, an' he takes my off hoss
there an' goes gallopin' up the road."
"What road?" cried Bassett.
"Ye circle this here field an' climb the hill, then take the first
"West, if you don't want ter jump in the river."
"What, we're back at the river," gasped Bassett.
"That's about my luck. The balloon's gone over the river; it's in New
York, and some Harlem reporter is leading it down to his office on a
leash to have it photographed, and I'm -- I'm hoodooed, that's all."
"I dunno," said the farmer, "but ef ye ast me, I'd say that feller in
the autymoble was makin' for the woods beyond Quirksborough. It's
lonely up through there, an' he had somethin' in that there machine
that he wanted to keep lonely, I'm guessin'."
Bassett motioned to the driver to go on. "We might as well see what it
is; the balloon's gone home for supper," he said bitterly.
In five minutes they reached the turn where the farmer had last seen
Harry Marvin disappear. They took the turn into an ill-kept,
dust-heavy road that had cast its blight of brown upon the reeds
bordering it. The woods became more and more dense and the road more
narrow. In some places the dust was crusted, as it had dried after the
last rain, and the men in the automobile could see that the wheels of
another machine and the hoofs of a galloping horse had plunged through
this crust but a short time before.
Around a bend in the road, going at full speed, Bassett sighted Harry
Marvin for the first time. He stood up beside the driver and hailed
him, but Harry did not even turn around. The beat of his horse's hoofs
drowned the sound. The deep lines of the runabout's wheels in the dust
held his gaze and his senses to one thing alone -- the rescue of
Pauline. He urged the poor beast to its last tug of strength. Weak
and dizzy from his wound, he knew that he could go but a little way
afoot. The road's high, close-set wall of trees was broken for the
first time by a little clearing. Harry's passing glance showed him
that there was a house in the clearing. He was exhausted and a thirst,
but his eyes swept back to the wheel tracks on the road.
The runabout had gone on. Harry, without drawing rein, was about to
follow. But suddenly, weirdly, the rickety walls of the deserted house
gave forth a sound, a rattle and a crash, and from a shuttered window
beside the low-silled door bellied a sheet of smoke.
Harry reined the foaming horse and sprang off. Freed of his weight,
the animal staggered on a few paces and fell, panting, in the dust.
Harry did not see it. He was battering at the door of the burning
Hicks could hardly be called a nervous or a timid man. He was
certainly not a coward, like Owen; but neither did he have the shrewd,
scheming mind which was the bulwark of the craven secretary's
weakness. At the moment when they discovered the young lovers safe at
the foot of the cliff after the escape from the balloon and rock ledge,
the two arch conspirators were two very different men. Owen was
shaking like a leaf in his terror of discovery, but thinking of a
hundred schemes to save himself. Hicks was deadly cool, and thinking
of just one thing -- immediate and cold-blooded murder.
But now, although he thought he had killed Harry, although he knew he
had Pauline gagged and bound in the bottom of the runabout, Hicks was
afraid. He was afraid of the incompleteness of the thing. He was
eager to have done with the girl as well as with the man. And now this
latest plan of Owen's was but another chapter of procrastination.
The incident of the farmer's curiosity had unnerved him, too. He put
back over his face one of the white handkerchiefs that he had taken off
when he began the flight.
"There's no more 'pity-the-poor-girl' stuff in this," he said gruffly
to Pauline. "If you don't keep quiet I'll kill you. I mean what I
He still had the instinctive crook sense to conceal his natural voice.
Hicks was afraid, but as mile after mile fell behind them and the
westerning sun gave promise of the early shelter of dark, he began to
gain confidence. He mumbled to himself reminiscently:
"The old Grigsby house, eh? Nobody but --" he checked himself.
"Nobody but somebody would thought've that."
The "old Grigsby house," in front of which the runabout came to a stop
after many miles of travel, was set back from the road about three
hundred yards. In front of it and on either side, the trees had been
cut away, but a tangle of riotous shrubbery lined the path to the
door. Behind the house the trees had been left untouched, and now in
its tottering condition the venerable building literally rested on two
of the great elms, like an old man on crutches.
The windows were few and shuttered. The black steel blinds were dead
as the eyes of a skull. The steel was not rusted and only a little
There were no steps to the door. It opened on the ground level, with a
cracked board serving as both porch and foot mat. The signs of
attempted preservation were what gave the place its ominous air. There
was a menace in the steel shutters of the old Grigsby house, and in the
fact that the path to the door was kept clear.
Up this path Hicks carried Pauline. Before he lifted her in his arms
he tested her bonds. He did not know that Pauline was too terrified to
conceive the simplest plan of action. Compared with the fear that
possessed her now the torturing suspense of the balloon flight seemed
like peace and safety.
Hicks held her with one arm while with the other he unlocked the low
door. Swinging heavy on strong hinges, it opened into a narrow hall,
mildewed with the dampness of decay, the dust of disuse. He carried
Pauline up the stairs, which groaned and bent under his steps and
pushed open a door. There was a broken chair, a table, a cot, a
washstand, with pitcher and bowl, and a small oil lamp set in a bracket
on the wail.
Hicks laid Pauline on the cot, and lighted the lamp, using the same
match for a cigarette. He seemed spurred by a desire to get away as if
the tottering, grimy halls held memories too grim for even his hardened
soul. After testing the shutters of the window, which were locked on
the outside, he stepped back to the cot and cut Pauline's bonds, and
removed the bandage from her lips. As she fell back in a half swoon he
hurried through the door, closed and locked it and went down the
Half way down he stopped abruptly, stood for a moment listening, then
hastened on, dropping his cigarette over the banister. He did not see
where it fell. He did not care. His only aim was to get out -- to get
away. He had heard a sound as he came down the stairs that turned his
fear to terror -- it was the distant grumble of an automobile horn. He
locked the door and sped down the bramble- walled path to the
runabout. He had left it in the middle of the road, so that as he
leaped in and started again it left no swerve of its wheel ruts toward
the old Grigsby house. It was five miles to the nearest town, but
Hicks made it in twenty minutes, and without hearing again the
threatening automobile horn. The first thing he did was to telephone
For half an hour Owen had been locked in the library of the Marvin
house. The events of the early afternoon, the failure of his best-laid
plans, the suspense of waiting the result of Hicks's final move, had
made him a nervous wreck. He had lighted a dozen cigars and thrown
them away. As many times he had picked up the telephone only to set it
down again without calling a number. At last he had taken out the thin
tube of light pills, had drawn the shades, switched on the electric
lights, and sat down to wait for the half-peace that morphine brought
to his conscience.
As he leaned back in his chair, awaiting the effect of the drug, the
mummy in its case stood in front of him. He closed his eyes in a
pleasant stupor. He opened them in terror. For a moment his hands
were outstretched in front of him, with claw-like fingers clutching at
thin air; then he covered his eyes with them to shut from view the
mummy, which stood over him, its upraised hand pointing to him the
finger of accusation; its woman's eyes blazing with anger; its cold
lips speaking a message that chilled his blood.
The telephone bell jangled again and again before Owen found courage to
open his eyes. When he did so he clutched at the instrument, eager for
the sound of a human voice.
"Hello! . . . Yes, this is Owen . . ." He glanced apprehensively over
his shoulder at the mummy. Its hand was lowered and it stood
motionless as before. He turned excitedly back to the telephone.
"It's YOU! Hicks? . . . What news? ". . . . She's at Grigsby's?
What do you mean? Somebody after you? . . . . Not him? . . . . I
give you my word there hadn't been anything on that road for two
months. . . . What have you done? What! Nothing? You should have
called the police from Jersey. . . . All gone to pieces? ... Stay over
there, I'll join you tonight. Yes, go back to the house and watch. . .
. What? . . . . All right."
Pauline, left alone, began to regain her courage. After a few moments
she was able to stand up and move slowly about her prison room. She
tried the door and the window shutters mechanically. She searched the
room for something that might be used to batter down the door. There
was nothing. She sat on the cot and tried to think.
She sprang up again, trembling. The dry, choking smell of smoke had
reached her. Hicks's lighted cigarette had fallen among the wisps of
old wall paper in the hall.
She ran to the door. Baffled, piteous, alone, she turned -- and looked
For through the cracks in the floor flashed now the golden daggers of
flame in sheaths of stifling smoke. She cowered, choking, by the outer
wall of the room.
The flame daggers grew into scimitars. The inner wall caught fire.
There was no outlet for the suffocating smoke.
She sprang to the middle of the room and seized the broken chair. With
all her might she crashed it against the door. It fell in pieces at
She picked up a leg of the chair and, running to the window, pounded
upon the shutters. She screamed, and beat upon the shutters. It was
the rattle and crash upon the shutters that made Harry rein in his
horse before the old Grigsby house.
He saw smoke burst from the lower windows, and, battering on the locked
door, he heard her screams.
It was to him she called again in her peril, as she had called before
-- in the wreck of the yacht, in the den of Baskinelli, and even this
day from the rim of the runaway balloon. Always, inspired by that
call, he had found their way to safety.
He thrust the full weight of his mighty body against the door which
held like solid rock.
"Harry! Harry!" came the cries again.
"I'm coming, Polly; I'm here!"
He dashed to where a heavy tree limb had fallen, carried it to the
door, raised it and charged with it as a battering ram. He might as
well have slapped the door with his flat palm.
He looked at the windows whence the smoke poured -- smoke mingled with
flame. Half crazed by the cries from above, he raised the limb to try
to break the shutters. He stopped and let it fall. The toot of an
automobile horn and the excited voice of young Bassett stopped him.
"What's doing?" gasped the reporter. "Is anybody in there?"
Harry pointed to the shuttered window of the upper room. The cries
came again, and with the sound, of the woman's voice Bassett turned
sick. He made a dizzy charge at the door, but Harry caught him back.
"All three together," he said.
They flung their strength at the portal -- but still it held.
Bassett turned away, sobbing. He looked up to see Harry spring into
the big car which he forced through the brambles.
"What are you doing? You're crazy!" yelled the chauffeur, running
toward the machine.
"Get her -- if I can't -- after the smash!" was Harry's answer. The
car lunged on at full speed.
The impact rocked the burning house. Frame and door crashed down
together before the battering car. It plowed for half its length into
the smoke and fire, stopped an instant, quivered and backed out again,
On Harry's forehead a deep cut streamed.
Bassett sprang to catch him, but he climbed out unhelped. Together
they leaped the shattered wall. Through searing smoke they climbed the
quaking stairs and burst into the shuttered room.
The lamp still flickered dimly in its bracket.
"Pauline," called Harry, chokingly, "Pauline, answer me."
There was no answer.
On hands and knees he groped over the hot floor. He found her by the
window, where she had fallen. And flames choked them as they fled.
Outside he knelt beside her, chafing her hands, when she wakened. He
had turned her so that she did not see the towering glare of the flames
as the old Grigsby house furnished burnt penance for its crimes.
Pauline raised her arms and touched tenderly his bleeding brow. He
lifted her into the car that Bassett and the driver had patched up.
"Home, James," said Bassett, with a tired grin, but stop at a telephone
somewhere and let me tell my boss that I've got a piece for the paper."
DOUBLE CROSS RANCH
"I tell you, Harry, I can't endure it. I couldn't face anyone I know.
I want to run away -- far, far away, where nobody ever heard of
balloons or automobiles, or me."
"Polly, you aren't afraid of a little talk, are you? Everyone is
saying how brave you were, and, here, when the danger's over, I find
you a flimsy little coward!"
She picked up one of a pile of newspapers that lay on the stand beside
her, and thrust it before Harry's eyes with a manner at once
questioning and rebuking. He read the head lines:
SOCIETY GIRL CARRIED
OFF IN BALLOON
Miss Pauline Marvin Has Remarkable Experience
After Accident on Palisades.
Harry laughed and patted her hand reassuringly. "Oh, but that's only
one of them," wailed Pauline. "Look at this one:
LOST IN THE SKY
"Can any woman live after that," she cried.
"Why, it's no crime to be lost in a balloon," said Harry. "See, they
tell it just as it was -- they make you a real heroine."
"A man might live it down, dear, but a woman, never! To be 'lost in
the sky' is altogether too giddy. Margaret!" she called.
The maid stepped quickly forward.
"You may pack my things, Margaret, and be sure to put in some warm
winter ones. Is the snow on mountains cold like real snow, or is it
like the frosting on cake?" she inquired, turning again to Harry.
"What are you up to this time?" he demanded.
"Montana first," she proclaimed with a melodramatic flourish. "And if
I am followed by my fame or by my relatives -- I shall go on -- to the
end of the world."
Harry had long ago abandoned the idea of laughing at her whims. Even
the most fantastic of her projects was serious to her.
He merely looked at her in mute suspense awaiting the fall of the
"You needn't begin to see trouble-yet," she laughed. "But I am going,
Harry. I'm going to accept Mary Haines's invitation and visit her and
her nice, queer husband on their ranch. You remember Mrs. Haines, that
dear Western girl that we met on the steamer when she was on her
"Well, it's pretty tough just at this time," objected Harry. "Business
is bothersome, and I ought to be here; but if you insist "
"Oh, you're not coming with me," stated Pauline, cheerily. "In the
first place you are not invited, and in the second place you are not
needed in the least. Now get me a telegraph blank."
He came back with the desired paper and a fountain pen and she
Mrs. Mary Haines, Rockvale, Montana. Care Double Cross Ranch.
Arrive Thursday at 8 a. in. Will explain haste when see you.,
Run down and 'phone that to the telegraph office," she told Harry.
"And now for the packing, Margaret." She thrust a tiny foot in a pink
slipper over the edge of the bed.
"But you are ill, Miss Marvin," protested the nurse with a first faint
assertion of authority.
"That's so," said Polly. "How can we get around that? Oh, yes; it's
time for your airing, dear -- and when you come back I shall be well
"Plenty of air," suggested Harry sarcastically from the doorway, "if it
takes you as long to pack as it does to put on your hat."
Pauline flung him a laughing grimace and he strode off to the library.
As he was repeating the brief message to the telegraph office he did
not hear the light footfalls that ceased at the library door, nor could
he see the drawn, gray face of Owen who heard the message spoken over
the telephone, and was passing up the stairs with his slow, dignified
tread when Harry came into the hall.
"Good morning, Mr. Harry. I see you are quite yourself again.
Yesterday was a terrible day."
"You do look done up," retorted Harry, curtly, as he picked up his
Owen's step was not slow or dignified after the door shut upon Harry.
He sprang up the last stairs and into his own room.
Here on a small writing desk was another telephone. He snatched it up
nervously and gave the call number of the place where he had held his
first conference with Hicks.
He held a brief conversation over the wire, snapped down the receiver,
sprang to a wardrobe for his hat and stick and hurried from the house.
The dullness that a sleepless night had left in his eyes had
disappeared. The fear that had shaken him ever since the uncanny
reappearance of Harry and Pauline was dissipated, or at least concealed
by a new hope -- a new plan of destruction.
He knew only that Pauline was going away and that she must be followed
-- no matter whither her whims might lead.
Hicks was seated in a corner of the rendezvous drinking whiskey and
water. He was plainly in a black mood.
"You got a pretty fat roll yesterday, Hicks. But," Owen drew out his
wallet, "here is a little. Get yourself ready to make a trip
tomorrow. I'll let you know the time and the train."
Hicks looked covetously at the bills, but he demurred: "You mean we're
after them two again!"
"Hicks, we must be after them because one of them will soon be after
"Where they goin' now?"
"Rockvale, Montana. That is, the girl's going. What I haven't found
out yet is whether Harry goes, too. If he stays here, I'll stay, and
you'll go West."
"Ahead of her!"
"And then what?"
"Then you will have to use your own judgment. But don't get excited
and kill her, Hicks."
He accompanied the sharp warning with the alleviating roll of
yellowbacks, which Hicks quickly deposited in an inside pocket.
The next morning they shook hands at the gate of the Pennsylvania
station. Hicks looking a bit uncomfortable but much improved, in a
suit of new clothes, and carrying a suitcase, hurried to catch the
flyer for the West. A few hours later Owen was wishing a happy journey
to Pauline at the same station rail.
Mary Haines stood in the low doorway of the Double Cross ranch house
and gazed down the sun-baked road to where, in the far distance, a
little wisp of dust was visible.
Laughing, she turned and called to someone inside the house. A
towering, slow- moving, but quick-eyed man, in a flannel shirt, with
corduroys tucked into the tops of spurred boots, appeared on the
stoop. Hal Haines was so tall that his broad-brimmed hat grazed the
porch roof of the house.
"Hal! Hal!" she cried eagerly. "What do you think? Pauline Marvin is
coming to visit us -- Pauline Marvin! "
"The little girl we met on the ship that I had to yarn to about the
"Yes, of course. How you did lie to her! Goodness, I hope that's not
why she's coming. She'll be awfully disappointed."
"Oh, I don't know as it's necessary to disappoint her," said Haines.
"If the State of Montana don't know how to entertain a lady from the
East as she likes to be entertained it's time to quit bein' a State at
"Hal!" Mrs. Haines eyed her husband sternly. "I want you to remember
who Pauline Marvin is. I'm not going to have her frightened by any of
your wild jokes."
Haines burst into a ringing laugh.
"Honest, my dear, I promised that young lady if she ever came to
Rockvale she'd see all the Wild West I told her about. I gave her my
word. You don't want to make me out a liar, do you?"
"You can say that conditions have changed greatly in the last two
"Oh, come, just one little hold-up the day she gets here. She'll think
it's great. She'll think she's the lost heiress that was carried off
in the mountains -- the one I told her about."
"I tell you I will not hear a word of it. She may be ill or something;
it would scare her to death."
"I'll ask her if she's ill before I let the boys rob the buck-board.
What dye say, mother? Just this once."
His boyish joy in the prank brought laughter to her eyes, and he knew
that his sins would be condoned.
Four days later Hicks, who looked as far from home in his excellent
clothes as the clothes looked far from home in Rockvale, alighted, from
a lumbering local train. He made an inquiry of a man on the platform,
and, carrying a heavy suitcase, slouched up the main street of the
Ham Dalton's place was the one the man had directed him to, and Hicks,
I after engaging the best rooms in the house for seventy-five cents,
scrubbed a little of the dust of travel from his person and went down
to the bar and gambling room. The drink of whiskey he got made even
his trained throat writhe, and he strolled over to the poker table to
join a group of calm and plainly-armed spectators of high play.
From the conversation he learned that the dam at Red Gut was washed
out; that Case Egan, a noted rancher, was in jail for shooting a deputy
sheriff, and that Hal Haines was expecting a "millionairess gal"
visitor from New York.
"When'll she be on?" drawled one of the players.
"Sence when did the express stop at Rockvale?"
"Sence the president o' the road told it to stop for this here young
person," replied the informant crushingly.
Hicks was scanning the faces of the men about him with a purposeful
eye. Especially he watched one -- a lean man in red shirt and leather
breeches, booted and spurred, who stood near the table.
Hicks approached him. "Hello, Patten," he said.
The man whirled so sharply that the revolver he had drawn, in whirling,
caught in Hick's coat and jerked him into the middle of the room. The
poker game went on without a sound or sign of interruption. The
bartender took a casual look at Hicks and the gunman, then went on
talking to a customer, as before.
"Hello, Hicks," said Patten, putting up the gun. "I'm much obliged
that I didn't kill you. We don't greet old friends quite so hasty out
here, boy, as you do in New York -- especially when we haven't heard
our right name in some years," he added in a lowered voice.
"How long have you been here, Pat?"
"Eight-nine-twelve years; ever since that friend of yours, Mr. Owen,
paid me $10,000 for getting rid of a certain -- what he called a
"Which you didn't get rid of?"
"No, he made the mistake of paying me in advance, and it didn't seem
necessary to harm anybody."
"Got any of the money left?"
The lean gunman held his head back and guffawed.
"It's near here, I guess, but it ain't mine. It dropped between this
bar and that table."
"Do you want a little job?" asked Hicks. "But let's go in the back
They strolled into an empty wine room and ordered drinks.
"What kind of a job?" asked Patten.
Hicks leaned across the table and whispered rapidly. His old
acquaintance drew back, with a sudden suspicion.
"But no foolin' this time," warned Hicks. "Only part money in
He produced $5,000 in bills from his trousers pocket, but secreted it
again quickly as the waiter appeared.
Patten got up and sauntered out into the barroom, returning presently
with three men of his own brand -- broad-built, grim-eyed ruffians of
the far north country -- three of Case Egan's cattlemen.
In the meantime Mrs. Haines was flustered not only by the prospect of
meeting her distinguished friend, but by the tumultuous staging of the
great hold-up scene that was to mark Pauline's welcome. Hal had been
up at three o'clock in the morning rehearsing the boys in their parts.
He had set off at five o'clock for the station.
As Pauline, trim in her traveling suit of gray and blithe in the clear
Western air, tripped from the express, all Rockvale was there to meet
her. Hal Haines, mighty man that he was in the region, was red with
pride as the girl who could stop the express at Rockvale gave him her
hand in happy greeting.
As he helped her into the two-seated buckboard, no one in the crowd
noticed the man who had arrived the night before standing on the
platform and pointing out the girl to Tom Patten who was seen to mount
and ride rapidly away.
"I hope you saved some of that lovely Wild West for me, Mr. Haines,"
said Pauline, as the finest pair of horses in the Double Cross stable
whisked them along the road to the ranch.
"Very little left, Miss Marvin -- very little left; still -- whoa,
there! What's this?"
At a bend in the road five masked and mounted men had dashed from cover
and quickly surrounded the buckboard with a small circle of leveled
Pauline had time to cry out only once before she felt herself gripped
by powerful hands and dragged from the wagon seat, where Hal Haines sat
shaking with laughter. He stood up and started to draw his revolver
slowly. From behind him a lasso was thrown lightly and the noose
tightened around his arms.
He kept on laughing, although he was a little afraid the boys were
overdoing matters. He knew his wife would never forgive him for this
actual kidnapping of Pauline -- he certainly had never intended it.
And she was really frightened. He could tell that by her cries as she
was thrust across the pommel of the masked leader's horse and the horse
was spurred to a tearing gallop down the road.
Haines tried to shout a command and call the joke off, but the riders
had all followed after their leader, and he was alone in the
"They needn't have been so realistic with their knots," he said, as he
struggled to free himself from the rope.
It was ten minutes before he wriggled free. He picked up the lines and
drove on toward the ranch -- a little nervous now over the receptions
he would get, but still laughing.
At the fork where the road to the mountains left the main highway,
Haines flashed out his revolver in real excitement. Another group of
five masked men had driven their horses out of a clump of small trees.
They fired their revolvers as they surrounded the buckboard. Then
suddenly discovering that there was no woman passenger, they tore off
their masks and came up with quick, eager inquiries.
Perhaps for the first time in his life Hal Haines knew what fear was --
not fear for himself, but for another.
"Boys, there was another party on the road. They took her. I took 'em
for you," he said in a stifled voice. "Come on. Cabot, give me your
horse; take the rig back and tell Mrs. Haines."
He sprang into the saddle, and, filling their revolvers as they rode,
the band of jesters, who had suddenly turned so grimly serious, dashed
back toward town.
Two miles from where Tom Patten had swung Pauline to his saddle bow
they picked up the train hoofs that left the road and made toward the
The men who had set out so gaily a few hours before rode silently,
fiercely now. Mile after mile swept behind them as they held to the
trail. Sometimes it followed the roads, sometimes it broke over open
country. At last it reached the hills and stopped at the river.
Patten's band had ridden in the water upstream. After a mile of it the
leader ordered three of them out on the south side. They left
silently, rode five miles across country and separated, each taking a
different route. Patten and one companion kept on with Pauline who was
now almost insensible. At last they left the stream on the north bank
and climbed into the higher hill country where they entered a thicket
"Here we are," said Patten. His companion dismounted and lifted
Pauline from the other's saddle.
With a swift daring and dexterity, born of fear, she flung aside his
arms and sprang toward the horse he had just left. She tried to mount,
but her strength was gone. They tied her feet with a rope and seated
her on a great fallen tree, while they cleared away a tangle of bushes
and began to tug with their combined strength at a giant rock, which
the bushes had concealed.
The stone moved inch by inch until behind it Pauline saw, with a chill
shudder, the black opening of a cave.
She flung herself from the log pleading piteously. They cut the rope
that bound her feet and led her to the cave. As the giant stone was
rolled back into its place she uttered one wild far-echoing cry. Then
For many minutes Pauline lay prostrate. A dim light from some hidden
orifice in the top of the cave behind a shelving wall, seemed to become
brighter as her eyes became more accustomed to the shadows. She arose
and began to inspect the cave.
It was a chamber of rock about forty feet long and twenty feet wide .
The bottom and roof converged slightly towards the end farthest from
the giant boulder that formed the door. But even there the cave was
twenty-five feet high.
The boulder door was set into the rock portal, and not a wisp of light
came through the brush that, covered the crevice. Pauline, after a
brief hopeless test of her frail strength against the weight of the
granite mass, moved slowly along the wall to the extremity of the
Here, about seven feet from the floor, ran a ledge of rock, between two
and three feet in width; and, from this ledge upward the wall slanted
at an angle of forty-five degrees to a wide shelf or fissure. It was
from this fissure that the faint light came.
Pauline groped her way back along the other wall to the front of the
cave again. Despairing, she sat down on the chill stone. The events
of the last few hours had left her in a state of mental vertigo. The
hold-up of the buckboard and her carrying off by the bandits seemed
So this was her "escape" from scenes of adventure. This was the
"great, safe, quiet West," where she should forget her perils in New
York and wait for others to forget them. She thought of her promise to
Harry that she would not try to get into any more scrapes. In her
former dangers -- even when there seemed hope -- she had a buoying
trust that there was one man who could save her. He had always saved
her. In his protecting shelter she had come to feel almost immune from
harm. But with Harry three thousand miles away and totally ignorant of
her need of him no sense of imagined protection sustained her now. She
took it for granted that Mr. Haines had been made a prisoner or
killed. She knew the word would reach Mrs. Haines and the latter would
invoke all the powers in the State to find her; but she was, sure she
would be dead before anyone unearthed this fearful hiding place.
The light at the far end of the cave grew steadily more dim and Pauline
judged that the day was waning.
A rustling sound caught her ear. Sounds are animate or inanimate.
This was unmistakably the sound of a living thing.
Pauline trembled a little but she stood up. Was it man or beast that
she had for companion in the mysterious cave?
She took a faltering step forward. The sound seemed to come nearer.
The cave had gone almost pitch dark, and, suddenly, from the mid-level
of the back wall -- from the rock ledge -- there flashed upon the sight
of the imprisoned girl two beady, burning eyes.
THE GREAT WHITE QUEEN
Hal Haines' best driving team was lathered with foam and the buckboard
swung through the gate on two wheels as Bill Cabot drove back to the
Double Cross Ranch.
The young cowboy whom Haines had ordered to carry the news of disaster
to Mrs. Haines, seeing the buckboard and only Cabot driving, knew
instantly that something had gone wrong.
"What is it, Will?" she called, running down to the gate. "Didn't she
come? Has anything happened to Hal?"
"She was held up and carried off, Mrs. Haines."
"I know; I know. You played the joke; but what happened?" She looked
at the foaming horses. "What made you drive home like this?" she
"She wasn't carried off by us, Mrs. Haines. Some other crowd got ahead
of us -- some crowd that meant what they was doing. The Boss and the
boys has got the trail by this time, I guess. The Boss said I should
come and tell you."
For a moment Mrs. Haines looked at him in doubt.
"Is this another joke, Will?" she asked. "There hasn't been a hold-up
in this section for ten years."
"I guess the jokin' is all knocked out've all of us," answered Bill,
turning shamefacedly away. "No, ma'am, this is the truth and -- and I
wish the Boss had took some one else's horse instid of mine."
"Never mind. They'll have all the men in Montana out to find that
girl, if this isn't a hoax," cried Mrs. Haines in a voice that choked.
"Go tell the other boys to get ready. The Sheriff will want them, if
She sped back to the house and with a trembling hand rang the bell of
the old- fashioned telephone that furnished a new blessing to the
A moment later Curt Sikes, the telegraph operator at Rockvale, almost
fell from his chair as he took the following message over the wire at
Mrs. Haines's dictation:
Fifth Avenue, New York:
Pauline kidnapped. Come at once.
"What -- what's it mean, Mrs. Haines?" he gasped into the transmitter.
"It ain't the young lady that Hal Just took off the express, is it?"
"Yes, that's who it is, Curt. Cabot and the boys are coming into town
as fast as they can ride; but you call Sheriff Hill and get as many men
as you can-in case we need them. You'll hurry, won't you, Curt?"
"Yes, ma'am; and I'll get your message right on the wire. They'll put
it ahead all along the line."
If Curt's speed in getting the telegram away was inspired partly by
burning need of telling the news to Rockvale that did not reflect on
Curt. He flashed after the New York message a terse call up and down
the line to "Find the Sheriff," and then bolted out to the platform.
His shout was heard not only at the little hotel across the street from
the station, but at the city limits of Rockvale a good mile away.
Rockvale answered the shout as a clan answering the beacozes flare.
When Curt Sikes shouted it meant news.
His messages along the line had little effect. He had spent the
morning flaunting the news to fellow operators and rival communities
that the Express had stopped at Rockvale. They had only half believed
that, and now this added flourish was too much. Even Sheriff Hill,
whom the message overtook at Gatesburg, fifteen miles south, laughed
when he read it, and started for Rockvale only because he was going
there anyway to get Case Egan.
There ain't much doubt which is now our leadin' city -- Butte or
Rockvale," he remarked as he swung to his saddle and set off with two
He found something more than overdone home town pride in Rockvale,
however. The narrow streets were filled with men, women and curious,
wide-mouthed children. Horses, packed for long riding, with rifles
bolstered to the saddles, were tied all along the rails of both the
main hotel and the station. Curt Sikes was the center of a changing
but ever interested group, but two of the Haines posse who had just
come in without any report of capture, but with all the vivid news of
the hold-up were now the main objects of attention.
Briefly they told the story of the pursuit. With Haines leading they
had struck a trail that took them to the river. They had waded the
river and found no trail on the other side. Knowing the bandits had
taken to the middle of the stream, Haines had divided his party. He
sent two men down stream, one on each side and he and the three others
rode up stream, two on each side.
After long rough riding Haines had found a trail coming out of the
water. All four had followed it a long way. There were three bandits
making the trail, but the three stopped and each took a different
direction, one straight up into the hills, one straight down into the
valley, and the other off here towards town. Haines and one man had
started on the trail to the hills. The other two -- the two talking
now -- had each taken one of the other trails, but had lost them. They
thought Haines would lose his, too. It had been a clean, up-to-date
expert piece of work -- this kidnapping. The getaway had been a work
of art, just as the hold-up had been a wonder-piece of stage setting.
"You saw all the gang that held you up?" asked the Sheriff.
"We wasn't held up -- tha'd a been a little too rich, I guess," said
one of the cowboys. "It was Boss Haines an' the girl that was
"Well, then, I mean did Haines see the gang? Were any of them
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