Charles Goddard.

The Perils of Pauline online

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"I saw her and one of the men make into the park there," said Blount.
"You take charge here and I'll go after them."

As he moved into the thicket in the direction Pauline had taken young
Blount's attention was attracted by a new commotion. The park was on
the crest of a steep cliff overlooking the railroad tracks and from the
tracks came a riot of voices. Blount forced his way through the wood
to a viewpoint from the cliff. Below him a score of men were moving
rapidly along the tracks in wide, open order, evidently bent on some
sort of a hunt.

"The circus men," said Blount to himself. "An animal must have got
out. This is certainly some day for business."

He turned back to the work in hand.

Pauline, spurred by terror as she realized that Wrentz was again upon
her trail, had sped like a wild thing through the park paths. She
could hear the heavy footsteps of her pursuer close behind. She could
hear also a shouting from afar off. She made toward the shouting -
the sound of any voice but the voices of the inhuman men who had
planned her death was welcome to her ears.

She came out upon the cliff where it sloped steeply to the railroad
yards, but not too steeply to prevent her descending. From her
position, the lines of freight cars cut off from her vision the strange
group of hunters who were shouting. Running, stumbling, creeping,
clutching at small bushes, she scrambled down the cliff.

"Stop and come back!" she heard a menacing voice behind her. She sped
on the faster.

A line of high bushes fringed the bottom of the cliff. Between the
bushes and the first rails ran a ditch. Sheltered from all view from
above, Pauline dragged herself along this ditch, seeking a hiding
place. She knew her strength was almost gone. She was in terror of
fainting. If she could hide somewhere and rest -

A single empty freight car stood on the outer track a hundred yards
away. Its open door offered the only means of concealment that she
had. She believed that the bushes were high enough still to shield her
while she climbed into the car.

In this she was wrong. Wrentz, watching from above - for he was
afraid of the voices on the tracks, below and had not followed Pauline
- watched with pleasure as she crawled to the side of the car, and,
after two failures, managed to drag herself through the high door. She
sank exhausted. Gradually, however, her strength returned. Her mind
recovered from the dazing experiences of the last few hours. She began
to gain courage and to plan her further flight.

As she moved toward the car door to reconnoiter, the sense of an
invisible presence suddenly possessed her. Instinctively she turned.

One glance behind her and every fiber of her body seemed to turn to
stone. Fear she had known, but never terror such as this. She stood
paralyzed, unable to close her eyes, unable to move. For there beside
her, towering above her in horrible strength, with wildly grinning face
and cruelly outreaching claws, stood the thing that gave explanation to
the hunt outside and the shouting. Pauline was in the clutches of a
gorilla. She fainted as she felt herself gripped in the hairy arms.

Wrentz was gloating as he stood on watch over Pauline's hiding place.
In a little while the men, would be out of the railroad yard and he
would go down and finish the work. But his rejoicings were turned into
amazement by the sight which now presented itself at the door of the

With Pauline, carried over one arm as if she had been a wisp of straw,
the gorilla was crawling down to the trackside. Wrentz saw it crawl
along the ditch and heard the crunch of broken bushes as the huge
creature clambered up the cliff.

Wondering, scarcely able to believe his eyes, Wrentz followed at a safe

Young Policeman Blount, searching for the fugitive chauffeur of the
wrecked automobile and the mysterious young woman who had escaped from
it, paused at the sound of heavy foot-falls. A low, guttural, snarling
sound - a sound hardly human - accompanied the footsteps. He had
reached the bottom of the cliff a half mile from where Pauline had
found her perilous shelter. Peering up through the bushes, his
astonishment and horror were a match for the astonishment and joy of
Wrentz. The gorilla, with Pauline still clutched in the mighty paw,
had reached almost the top of the cliff at its steepest point.

Blount blew his whistle, blast after blast. He started up the cliff,
but came back at the sound of hurrying footsteps and calls; the hunters
from the railroad yards had heard the signal.

"Hello! Have you seen anything of the gorilla?" yelled the first man
to come up.

Blount pointed up the cliff side to where the hideous beast was just
dragging Pauline over the topmost ledge.

The men stood spell-bound with pity.

"A girl!" gasped one of them. "She's as good as dead, if she isn't
dead now. He just killed our foreman back in the yards."

"No, thank heaven!" cried Blount, "she's not dead. Look!"

At the top of the cliff they saw Pauline's form suddenly quicken into
life. The gorilla had released its hold upon her to make sure of its
footing on the perilous ledge. Now she stood, a frail, pitiful,
hopeless thing, fighting - actually assailing the beast, more mighty
than a dozen men.

Their hearts sick within them they watched the brief struggle. Wrentz,
too, watched it, from his hiding place on the top of the cliff. But
his heart was not sick. In a moment, he was sure, his work would be
accomplished for him, and his employer would be rid of Pauline Marvin
in a way that could reflect no blame on any one.

Blount started up the cliff. He took it for granted that the others
would follow, but looking down after gaining half the distance, he saw
the circus men still huddled together in fascinated awe.

"Look! Look!" they called to him. "He's taking her up the tree."

Blount looked and saw the gorilla climbing ponderously the trunk of a
large tree, the branches of which overhung the precipice. Blount
climbed on frantically. He stopped again. The gorilla was crawling
out upon one of the overhanging branches! The strange beast-brain had
conceived a death for Pauline more terrible than any Raymond Owen bad
ever plotted. Wrentz himself might have envied the gorilla.

Blount drew his revolver. He was not more than a hundred feet below
them now. "It's the chance of hitting her against the chance of saving
her," he muttered. He fired. With a snarl of pain the gorilla turned
and bit savagely at its shoulder. Blount rushed on. He stopped again
and fired. He was at the verge of the cliff. He could blaze away now
with no danger of hitting Pauline, for he was a sure marksman.

With a great throb of joy in his heart the gallant young fellow saw the
beast turn, and, leaving Pauline with her arms around the limb, her
eyes shut against the dizzy depths below, move back and scramble down.

Blount was on the cliff-top as the gorilla reached the ground. The
beast charged. Blount fired again. Again the gorilla, snarling, bit
at its wounded side, but it came an as if a dozen lives vitalized the
gross body.

Blount backed away from the cliff, but the monster was upon him. It
clutched him, hurled him to ground, dragged him back to the dizzy

Slowly Blount was pressed over the precipice. The watchers below saw
him in his last struggle writhe in the deathly grasp, twist his
revolver and fire three shots into the heart of the gorilla.

Down the long fall to the jagged rocks went the beast.

Pauline was bending over the bleeding, battered form of the young
officer when the circus crew reached them.

"Oh, you are brave, brave!" she cried.

He opened his eyes and grinned merrily. "If I'm brave, I'd like to
know what you are."

"Oh, I'm not brave, I'm nothing but a selfish little pig," cried
Pauline. "I've treated the dearest fellow in the world shamefully.
He's forgiven me over and over, but he won't forgive me this time."

"He'll forgive you anything, Mim," Blount assured her, "for the sake of
getting you safe back. But I shouldn't like to be the man who got you
into this, when he hears of it."

"The man's safe enough," said Burgess, who had just up in time to hear
Blount's last words.

"No, he didn't escape that way," as Blount uttered an ejaculation of
disgust. "He ran full tilt into me and when I tried to arrest him he
drew his revolver on me. By good luck I got him first - yes, Jo, he's

"Dead," repeated Pauline in a low tone. "How horrible to go out of
life a moment after you had tried to commit murder."

"It's not his first," Burgess said coolly. "We've been after him and
his gang these six months. It was Wrentz, Jo, and I made a haul of
papers that'll get somebody into trouble."

"Oh, don't hurt the young one," cried Pauline. "He tried to help me."

"Rocco? He was dead when they picked him up. And, now, Miss Marvin,
hadn't I better get you a taxi?"

"Yes, thank you, but," with irrepressible curiosity, "how did you know

Burgess smiled. "How did I know you? I beg your pardon, Miss, but for
nearly a year your picture's been in every paper, more or less, in the
United States. You're a big head-liner - it's an honor to meet you,
face to face. But it's Blount has all the luck. He's saved you - he'll
be a head-liner himself tomorrow."

The hot color rushed over Pauline's face. "A head-liner" - so that
was what she meant to the public, to the man on the street.

"Please, Please, don't let this get into the Papers," she begged.
"I'll do anything in the world for you if you'll just keep it out of
the papers."

"Will you tell us about those other adventures?"

Burgess asked eagerly. "It's a sure thing that somebody's been pulling
the wires, making you walk the tight rope, and somebody that knows
everything you do. Any man on the force who could spot him would be

"No, no," Pauline insisted, an uneasy remembrance of Harry's suspicions
lending emphasis to her denial. "Some of those things were done before
anybody out of the house could know."

"Just as I said," Burgess agreed triumphantly.

"It's somebody in the house. Why he knew about your bull terrier, and
the papers had it had just been given you the day before - darned
clever little dog to give your folks the clue."

"Cyrus?" Pauline's face broke into smiles and dimples. "He's the
cleverest, dearest, most beautiful dog in the world."

"Fine dog, yes Miss, if he's like the picture the reporters got."

Pauline's face clouded - for the moment she had forgotten the horrors
of publicity.

"You won't put this in the papers?" she pleaded.

"He shan't," Blount raised himself weakly on his elbow. "If the
reporters haven't got it already, we'll keep you out of it anyhow,

"Keep a scoop like this out of the papers?" Burgess laughed aloud.
"You're talking through your hat, Blount, it can't be done."

In one terrible flash Pauline saw her name in capitals, her photograph
almost life-size, photographs of her trunk, the gorilla, Blount, in
head-liners, too, and Harry, furious, too far away for moral suasion;
stern, cold, unforgiving, worse still, disgusted. She realized as she
had never realized before that Harry was what counted most, Harry was
the one thing she could not live without. To the terrors of these
hours was added the terror of losing him.

She burst into wild sobs.

"I want Harry, I don't want anything in the world but Harry! Oh, take
me home, please take me home!"

Burgess got a taxi and went with her to the hotel, where She was put to
bed, a doctor sent for, and where at last she fell asleep.

But it was not until noon the next day that she was able to take the
train for New York. And then began, two hours and a half that Pauline
remembered to the last hour of her life. Her photograph stared at her
from the front page of every daily paper - even the glasses and thick
veil she wore to conceal her identity could not soften the conspicuous
pictures. Newsboys called her name, and the gorilla story, Wrentz, and
Blount's names, together - every passenger in the car, it seemed to
her, men, women, and children, were discussing her. There were silly
jokes, contemptuous criticism, half-laughing suggestions that there was
something "queer about Miss Marvin." just behind her, she heard one
woman say to another, "But, then, my dear, what could you expect of any
girl whose mother was an Egyptian" as if this equaled breaking the
whole Decalogue.

Though she had wired Owen, the motor did not meet her, and feeling more
than ever forlorn and forsaken, Pauline got into a taxi. Never had the
old place looked so beautiful as today when she felt that it could
never be her home again - she must tell Harry that her mother was an
Egyptian and then even if he could forgive her this last adventure he
would never marry her. Oh, how could she have been so silly, so
conceited, so cruel to Harry! And what a fool she had been to go in
search of experience in order to write. If she couldn't write with all
this beauty spread out before her, if she couldn't write by living a
real, human, everyday life, the sort of life that brings you close to
normal people, how could she ever hope to write by living on excitement
- on abnormal excitement and with abnormal people and situations?

She paid the driver and was walking slowly up the steps of the veranda,
when, suddenly, she halted as if she had been struck. What was that?
It couldn't be - yes, it was - funeral streamers hanging from the

With a scream that rang through the closed door, Pauline fainted. When
she recovered consciousness she was in the library. Bemis and Margaret
were bending over her, and strong, tender arms were around her.

"Harry," she murmured instinctively.

"Don't try to talk, my darling, drink this. You go," to Bemis and

"Oh, Harry, I thought you were dead."

"I'm very much alive," Harry said with a tremulous laugh.

"But Harry, what does all that black on the door mean?"

"It means," said Harry, savagely, "that though the mills of the gods
grind slowly they grind surely - Owen's dead."

"Owen!" Her eyes large with terror, Blount's words ringing in her ears -
"I shouldn't like to be the man at the bottom of this when Mr. Marvin
hears of it." "'Owen," she repeated in a breathless whisper.

"Harry, you didn't kill him?"

"He didn't give me the chance. He was dead when I got here - overdose
of morphine Dr. Stevens said. Seems he was a drug fiend."

"Why that was the reason," Pauline said, her filling with tears. "He
was crazy, he didn't know what he was doing. Poor Owen, poor Owen" -
then turned hastily to safer topics. "But I thought you went to
Chicago for a week."

"I did, but, you'll laugh, Pauline - I know it sounds fool - the
Mummy came to me just as she came to me in Montana. I took the first
train home. I knew you were in danger - I knew it was a warning.
I'll ever trust, you out of my sight again - you've got to marry me

Pauline shrank back from his kisses. "No, no, Harry I can't - I won't
- there was a woman on the train said my mother was an Egyptian."

Harry broke into a peal of laughter and caught her in his arms.

"Is that the only reason you won't?"

"Harry, is it true?"

"I don't know and I don't care - what difference does it make who your
mother was? You are you, that's all I care for." His voice shook. "I
love you so, Pauline, that I can't stand this life any longer - another
adventure - "

Pauline silenced him with a kiss.

"I'm all through with adventures," she declared. "Harry, I'm going to - "

"Marry me? Polly, do you mean it?"

"Yes, yes. Oh, my dearest, I've been a selfish, silly, conceited
little pig, but I'm cured, I'm cured at last."

As he clasped her in his arms, the shutter swung violently to, and the
case containing the Mummy fell with a clatter to the floor. Harry ran
and lifted it as tenderly as if it had been a little child.

"I suppose we can hardly keep her here," he said regretfully, "but
we'll give, no, I can't give her up entirely, we'll lend her to the
Metropolitan Art Museum where she'll receive due honor. She's been a
faithful friend to us, Polly."

"And here's another," exclaimed Pauline, as Cyrus ran frantically into
the room, and leaping upon the couch with ecstatic barks of welcome,
threatened again to take the place that belonged by right to Harry.
But this time Harry joined in Pauline's caresses.


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Online LibraryCharles GoddardThe Perils of Pauline → online text (page 18 of 18)