Charles Goddard.

The Perils of Pauline online

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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.





CHAPTER XVIII

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."

"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?"

"Exactly."

"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.





CHAPTER XIX

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."

"Found whom?"

"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 - "

Owen hesitated.

"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


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