Vernonia eagle. (Vernonia, Or.) 1922-1974, December 27, 1935, Image 3

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    VERNONIA EAGLE, VERNONIA. OREGON
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SHIFTING SANDS
By SARA WARE BASSETT
Copyright by the Penn Pub. Co.
WNU Service
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SYNOPSIS
The youthful and comely "Wldder”
Marcia Howe has her late husband’s
niece, Sylvia Hayden, living with
her. A stranger, exhausted, finds his
way to Marcia’s home. His power­
boat ran aground in the fog. Se­
cretly, he asks Marcia to hide a
package containing jewelry. She
does so. There comes news of a jewel
robbery nearby. The stranger gives
his name as Stanley Heath. Sylvia
discovers the jewels, and is sure
Heath is a robber. Marcia feels that
she has too deep an interest in her
guest, but is powerless to overcome
it Heath wires “Mrs. S. C. Heath,”
New York, saying he is safe. He
also wires a man named Currier to
come at once. Sylvia, in her room,
bedecks herself with the jewels. At
Marcia’s approach she hides them
there. Heath asks Marcia to bring
them to him. They are gone! Sylvia
secretly puts the gems back. Elisha
Winslow, the sheriff, by accident,
finds the jewels, and has no doubt
they are the stolen gems, and Heath
is a thief. Saying nothing to Mar­
cia, but replacing the jewels, he
makes plans, with Eleazer Crocker,
for arresting Heath.
CHAPTER VII—Continued
“Oh, of course, you must thank
him for the candy," Marcia agreed.
•‘Still, is It necessary to do so in
such a rush—to walk to the village
this morning?"
"I mean to row over.”
“I’m afraid you can't, dear. I dis­
covered last night the boat was
gone. Eleazer Crocker must have
appropriated It when he was here
yesterday. I shall give him a good
lecture when I see him. It Is a se­
rious thing to be left here with no
way of getting to land. In fact, here
we are with this tremendously im­
portant letter that must be posted
Immediately—willy-nilly,”
With eyes brimming with laugh­
ter, Marcia shot a mischievous
glance at her companion.
“It Isn’t just to thank Hortle for
the candy that I’m writing,” that
young lady replied sedately. “You
see, he asked If he might come to
Wilton for his summer vacation.
He has to know so he can make bls
plans.”
“1 see,” smiled Marcia. “Under
such conditions, I suppose the soon­
er the letter Is sent the better.”
“The sooner I start, the sooner I
shall be back, I suppose," Sylvia
answered with feigned reluctance.
"Men are so unreasonable. Any er­
rands?”
“Not today, thanks. Just the
mall.”
“I’ll wait for It.”
The eagerness betrayed by the
reply left not the slightest doubt
that Sylvia would wait, and gladly.
As the door closed behind her,
Marcia smiled whimsically.
She prepared Heath’s breakfast
tray, and was about to take It up­
stairs when there was a gentle
knock at the kitchen door.
A stranger stood upon the
threshold.
“Is Mr. Stanley Heath staying
here?” Inquired he.
“Yes.”
“I am Currier. Mr. Heath sent
for me.”
“Of course! Come In, won't you?
Mr. Heath Is expecting you. I'll
tell him you are here.”
“You needn't do that, madam. If
you will just show me where he
1»—”
“At the head of the stairs.”
“Very good. Thank you, madam.
I will go up.”
Marcia soon beard the invalid's
voice. Imperative and eager, each
sentence ending with an Interroga­
tion.
To judge from the sounds, Heath
was pouring out an avalanche of
questions.
“He has forgotten all about
breakfast,” murmured Marcia. "1’11
carry It up.”
She mounted the stairs softly
that ner coming might break In as
little as possible upon the conver­
sation of her two guests.
“She was alone In the library
when I went In,” Heath was say-
in, “and turned so white I feared
she might faint or scream. Luck­
ily she did neither.
“‘You know what I’m after,' I
said—‘the jewels. Come, hand them
over.’ At that, she began to cry.
“ ‘Quickly,’ I repeated. ’Some
one may come.’
“With that she produced the
jewel case, pouring out a torrent
of explanations.
“I stopped no longer than I had
to, I assure you. In no time I had
made my getaway. Every detail
of my plan would have gone smooth­
ly but for the fog. I lost my bear­
ings completely.
Ntiaglne my
amazement at finding myself here.”
Marcia waited to hear no more.
So Heath really had taken the
jewels from the resisting woman
who owned them —taken them
against her will and made off with
them 1
He owned It!
Nay, more! Far from regretting
what he had done, in his tone rang
a note of satisfaction in his ac­
complishment.
She had never Believed him
guilty. Not until she heard the
bitter Irrevocable confession from
his own lips did she waver, and
even then she battled against the
truth, refusing to be convinced.
There must be some explanation,
she told herself. Nevertheless, the
shock was overwhelming.
Her head swam. Her heart beat
wildly.
“I must not give way 1” she reit­
erated to herself. “I must put on
a brave front. He must not sus­
pect I know.”
It took a few moments for her
to regain her grip on herself, to
drag back her ebbing strength.
Then she knocked at the door.
“Here is your coffee, Mr. Heath,”
she called.
“Come In, Mrs. Howe. I’m afraid
we’ve delayed you. I had entire­
ly forgotten about breakfast and
so, I'll be bound, had Currier. You
met my right-hand man down
stairs, I take it”
“You found the house without
trouble?” Marcia Inquired, making
an effort to address the newcomer
In a natural, off-hand manner.
“Yes, Mrs. Howe. A young man
at the garage directed me.”
As Marcia turned to go, her un­
failing courtesy prompted her to
say:
“Mr. Currier Is welcome to stay
If he wishes to, Mr. Heath. We can
put him up perfectly well.
"Oh, no. He Is returning direct­
ly. Nevertheless, I greatly appre­
ciate your kindness.”
“Mrs. Heath is anxious,” put In
Currier. “She begged me to come
home as soon as possible that she
might know how Mr. Heath was.
Naturally she has been much wor­
ried."
“There, there, Currier—that will
do," broke In Stanley Heath, flush­
ing. “And now, since Mrs. Howe
is here and is in our secret, I may
as well tell you that part of the
mission on which you came eannot
be accomplished. You cannot take
the gems back with you to New
York. A calamity has befallen
them.”
“A calamity, sir?”
“Mrs. Howe helped me conceal
the jewels downstairs in a hiding
place under the kitchen floor,” con­
tinued Stanley Heath. “When she
went to get them they were gone.”
“It Is all very mysterious,” broke
in Marcia, taking up the tale. “I
cannot In any way account for their
disappearance and am much dis­
tressed. I cannot even see how
anybody had the chance to take
them. No one knew they were
there.”
“Would you be willing to show
me where they were hidden and
allow me to Investigate?”
“Certainly. I’ll take you down­
stairs now, while we have the op­
portunity. When do you start
back?”
“That Is for Mr. Heath to de­
cide.”
“Right off. As soon as you can
get under way," Stanley Heath said
decisively. “Go down now with
Mrs. Howe, since she is so gra­
cious, and have your breakfast. Ex­
amine, too, the place where we con­
cealed the jewel case. You may
discover a clew she has missed."
Preceding Currier into the kitch­
en, Marcia went straight to the
hearth and pointed to the brick at
her feet
“It was here we put the jewel
case,” she said.
“I think, with your permission, I
will take up the brick,” the little
man at her elbow quietly an­
nounced.
“Certainly,” acquiesced Marcia.
Taking out his knife, Currier
knelt and soon had the brick'out of
its hole.
Beneath It lay the jewel case,
wrapped as before In Stanley
Heath's monogrammed handker­
chief.
Marcia could not believe her
eyes.
“But—but—it wasn’t there when
I looked, I could swear it wasn’t.”
“Who could have taken It out?
And if some one did why return
anything 'so valuable?” Currier in­
quired.
“I don’t know. I do not under­
stand It at all,” the woman re­
plied. “There Is something un­
canny about the whole affair.”
“Well, at any rate, the gems are
here now,” said Currier In a mat­
ter-of-fact tone. “Mr. Heath will
be much relieved. Shall I go up
and—’’
“I’ll go.” Marcia cried. “It won’t
take me a minute. I’ll be right
back.”
“As you prefer.”
Marcia
Could
Not Believe
Eyes.
Her
Off flew Marcia.
Her haste, the radiance of her
face must have suggested to the
stranger a thought that had not oc­
curred to him before, for after she
had gone, he stood immovable in
the middle of the floor looking
after her.
Then a slow, shadowy smile
passed across his features.
“So—ho!” he muttered. “So—
ho!”
He was still absorbed In reverie
when Marcia, breathless and flushed,
rejoined him.
“I can think of nothing but the
jewels and their recovery. I am so
happy I had completely forgotten
your breakfast. You might run up
to see Mr. Heath while I am get­
ting it ready.”
“I will do that. I shall be leav­
ing at once and he may have Anal
orders for me. or perhaps a let­
ter for Mrs. Heath.”
“Mr*. Heath!” Marcia repeated,
as If the name suddenly brought
before her conscience something
hitherto forgotten. “Yes, yes! Of
course.”
Then turning her head aside, she
Inquired with studied carelessness:
“How long, I wonder, does Mr.
Heath plan to remain tn Wilton? I
think that as soon as he is able to
make the journey he would better
go home. This climate Is—Is—
damp and be will, perhaps, pick up
faster away from the sea. If you
have any Influence with him, won’t
you please advise it?”
The man’s small, gray eyes nar­
rowed.
“I have no Influence with Mr.
Heath,” replied he. “Mrs. Heath
has, however. Shall I tell her?”
“I wish you would.”
•
••••••
An hour later My Unknown Lady
weighed anchor and disappeared
out to sea, carrying with her Cur­
rier and the jewels.
Marcia watched until the last
snowy ripple foaming In her wake
had disappeared, then she sank Into
a chair and brushed her band
across her eyes.
“And that’s the end of that fool­
ishness 1” she muttered. “The end I”
home an’ leave me—now—at the
last minute.”
“Very well," Eleazer agreed mag­
nificently. “Then 1’11 remain an’
give you my moral support."
Elisha got up and, dragging one
foot after another, moved toward
the house.
"Now knock," commanded the
dictator.
Tremulously Elisha tapped on the
door.
CHAPTER VIII
SPITE of Elisha's Indignation
I N toward
Stanley Heath, and his
resolve to go to the Homestead
with the break of dawn. It was
noon before he and Eleazer got un­
der way.
The stroll to Crocker’s Cove was
not a hilarious one. With each suc­
cessive step Elisha’s spirits dropped
lower and lower.
At last they came within sight
of the bay.
“Where’d you leave the boat?”
Eleazer questioned.
“I pulled her up opposite the fish-
shanty."
“She ain't here.”
"My soul an’ body 1 What’s to be
done now?”
"I reckon we’ll just have to give
it all up,” the sheriff responded
with a sickly grin. “Call It off.”
“An’ let the thief escape? No
sir—ee! We’ve got to go through
with this thing now we’ve started
if it takes a leg. We’ll walk round
by the shore.”
In high dudgeon the two men
plodded through the sand, Its grit
seeping into their shoes with every
step.
It was not until they came within
sight of the Homestead that the
silence between them was broken.
“Wai, here we are!” Eleazer an­
nounced more genially.
"Yes—here—here we are I” his
comrade panted. "My soul on' body
—what a tramp! I’m near dead!
Wait a minute, Eleazer. Let's take
'count of stock an’ decide how
we're goln’ to proceed. We’ve got
to make a plan.”
"But we’ve made a plan a’ready.
After you’ve knocked at the door
an’ gone in—"
“I knocked an’ gone in?”
“Yes, yes,” Elisha repeated. "Aft­
er that, you’ll sorter state the case
to Marcia, 'xplalnin* why we've
come an’ everythin’—”
“An* what’ll you be doin' mean­
time?” Eleazer inquired, wheeling
sharply.
"Me? Why, I’ll be waitin' out­
side, kinder loiterin' 'til it's time
for me to go In—don’t you see?”
“I don't. I think 'twould be bet­
ter was you to go ahead an’ pave
the way for me. That’s how It's
done In plays. Some kinder unim­
portant person goes first an' after­
ward the hero comes In."
"So you consider yourself the
hero of this show, do you?” com­
mented Eleazer sarcastically.
“Ain’t 1?”
“Wai, you don’t ’pear to me to
be. Who egged you on an’ marched
you here—answer me that? If you
ain't the most ungrateful cuss
alive! I've a big half mind to go
back home an' leave you to do your
arrestin’ alone.”
“Don’t do that, Eleazer, don't do
that!” Elisha begged. "Don't go
“Arresting Folks?” Marcia Repeated.
No answer came.
“Knock, I tell you! That ain’t
knockin’. Give the door a good
smart thump so'st folks'll hear it
an' be made aware somethin’ im­
portant’s goln’ on. I'll show you.”
Eleazer gave the door a spirited
bang.
“Law, Eleazer! A rap like that
would wake the dead,” Elisha pro­
tested. “I hear somebody. Stand
by me, Eleazer. Where are you
goln’? Come back here, can’t you?
You promised—”
"I didn't promise to go In first.
You was to do that,” Eleazer called
from his vantage ground round the
corner.
“But—but—” Elisha whimpered.
The door swung open and Marcia
stood on the sill.
“Why, Elisha 1" she exclaimed.
“How you startled me. Come in.
You’re all dressed up, aren’t you?
Have you been to a funeral?"
“No. I—we—”
The sheriff cleared his throat
“Me an’ Eleazer—” he began.
“Eleazer?
Did he come with
you?”
Elisha nodded.
"Isn’t he coming In?”
"Yes—yes. He's coming present­
ly.”
“Well, sit down and tell me the
news."
His dignity, his pomposity put
to rout, Elisha, feeling very small
Indeed, backed into the nearest
chair.
"You won't mind if 1 go on with
my baking, will you?” Marcia said,
bustling toward the stove. “I'm
makln* dried apple turnovers.
They'll be done In a second and
you shall have one. I guess a nice
hot apple turnover won't go amiss.”
With deftness she whisked a tri­
angle of flaky pastry onto a plate
and extended It toward her guest.
He sat down with the plate In hl*
lap.
He had taken only an introduc­
tory mouthful, however, when the
door parted a crack and Eleazer
crept cautiously through the open­
ing.
For a moment he stood trans­
fixed, then he burst out In a torrent
of reproach.
“Llsh Winslow, what on earth
are you doin’? Here I've been wait­
in' outside In the wind, ketchin*
my defth of cold, an’ yon settln*
here by the stove rockin’ an’ eatln’
plei”
(TO BE CONTINUED)