The sun had been up there in the sky shining brightly and cheerfully. But by the time our poet reached the bottom of the mountain, darkness had already descended on the plain below. Dark presentiments of approaching disaster drove him onward - he was convinced his Marygold was in danger. In a dream he had seen sinister Mr. Jim hurrying eastward, in the direction of Norfolk, where Marygold intended to demonstrate her prowess at dancing. Bobby looked in all directions: how was he to find the way to Norfolk in this wilderness? He was about to trust his luck and hope for the best when in the half dusk he saw a wizened old man sitting gloomily among the stones, his head propped on his hands. - "Hey there! how do I get to Norfolk?" Bobby called out to the ill-humoured creature. - "Over beyond the end of the valley!" replied the little man in a sepulchral voice without lifting his head. Bobby got a fright: from behind the bony fingers he noticed a wary glance and the man's eyes shining devilishly. It was Mr. Jim's eyes, and both the nose and the long chin were strikingly similar. Bobby turned quickly away, but when he looked around a little later, the mysterious chap had disappeared without trace. Aha! said Bobby Box to himself: a ghost - or it's the devil in action! He hurried on.
Down in the valley he discovered a secluded house that seemed very strange, showing all signs of decay and neglect despite carefully shuttered windows and locked doors. Who could be living there or have lived there? Bobby wanted to go on; he was very scared, but an invisible force drew him up the steps to the halldoor. He found himself knocking at the door. After a short time a bolt rattled, the door opened a tiny bit, and suddenly it was wide open without anybody being visible. - "A haunted hut!" Bobby said without really meaning to but, just in case, he added: "Good evening!" - He took off his hat and waved it round to make sure there was nobody lurking inside in the darkness. Let us explain to the reader: it was Mr. Jim who had secretly opened the door in order to entice Bobby to come in and then stepped back into an alcove close to the door. However, the Indian's poisoned arrow became detached from the poet's hat and hit treacherous Jim in his hiding place when Bobby chanced to brandish his bowler in the house. The familiar beak-nose got a deep scratch.
Bobby didn't notice a thing, but as he stared into the dark doorway, he suddenly got the idea that Marygold was there and in danger! - So he forced himself to go in. Psssst! He had only taken a few cautious steps when the door was slammed behind him. A thunderous roll of drums followed, and a multitude of rats and revolting nocturnal animals welcomed him, dancing wildly around him in a circle with squeaks and squawks that sounded like devilish laughter. Bobby jumped aside, but then the floor gave way beneath him. He had landed on a trap door which crashed down, throwing him into the darkness below. He fell heavily into a dark empty cellar which smelled of mould and the grave. No sooner had he come to than invisible hands bound him tightly to a beam with a rope. Bobby now realised that he had been devilishly trapped by Mr. Jim. Now what? Who was to help Marygold? He was now tied up and powerless. -
The dust that had been stirred up into a thick cloud now subsided again on to the ground. But now Bobby was astounded. However, the word he was about to call out died on his lips. - Who did he see gagged and bound to the beam opposite him but - Marygold. He clearly saw her in the eery light surrounding her. - "Hi Marygold!!! - Oh Marygold, why must we meet here?" But Marygold remained silent as a fish. - Two people standing opposite each other in this abandoned lonely cellar, motionless, separated only by a small space. But that space seemed immeasurable and unsurmountable. - A third person resembling the prince of darkness crept up to them with a very swollen nose and crazed eyes. "Him - hem - ham - hum!" This person reached greedily into the dollar bag lying in front of the two prisoners. - A terrible scream of disappointment and of pain rent the agonising silence. Mr. Jim had put his hand not into a pile of dollar bills, but into the throat of the rattlesnake hissing in fury. He tried to shake it off, but the reptile's poison fangs were firmly embedded in his hand. Bobby Box's astonishment grew and grew: he now saw that devil Jim with something in his free hand: Bobby's amazement turned into horror - it looked like a bomb filled with explosives. A white wick could be seen in the small opening. "The scoundrel is setting fire to the fuse!" Bobby shouted over to Marygold in complete despair.
But Marygold couldn't see anything: her eyes had been covered with a wide bandage. Having done this bastardly deed, Mr. Jim backed over to a door in the wall, which he pushed open and disappeared with his swollen nose and the rattlesnake in those fingers still clenched in greed for money. So there was a subterranean tunnel leading out of the cellar from the door Bobby had not noticed before. - The fuse was burning. Poor Bobby closed his eyes firmly so as not to see Marygold. - "Lost happiness!" he sighed as he saw all his wonderful dreams dissolve before his inner eye: a cosy home, children playing, a loving and beautiful companion for life! - "That would have been a proper happy ending!" murmured the elegiac poet, regretting that he would not be able to celebrate his disappearing dream of happiness in verse. He was torn out of his thoughts; he wrinkled his nose: there was a smell of burnt cotton. The fuse burnt on and on. The thin flame was approaching the bomb with terrific speed. Rescue seemed out of the question. Bobby made one more huge effort to liberate himself from the ropes. - But what was that?! His hand had grasped the handle of a knife that had been embedded in his coat tails. - "Hey - an Indian knife!" One chop and the awful ropes were gone! - "Oh heart, be silent! Good must prevail!" - Marygold was quickly liberated too. "Hey - there is an Indian hatchet in the handle of the bag!" Now it was Marygold's turn. They both tore to the entrance of the underground tunnel. - One bang, one slam and the lock was broken. - "Quickly, quickly, let's get out! - Who knows, who knows?!" Both called out in feverish haste and raced into the shaft. The fuse was smouldering on the ground behind them and sparks were flying ominously. - Bobby und Marygold reached freedom on the stony patch where the wizened little man had sat. Black as chimney sweeps they peered out from behind a stone slab, waiting in excitement for what was to come. - Bumparrydump! - Head down! - They both thought their eardrums would burst. The house went up in the air as if shot from a rocket.
Gone the well-joint room and casement!
All that's left is lowly basement.
Forever the haunted house is gone
With pelting refuse pouring down.
Bobby had shouted these lines out into the turmoil; the two so miraculously saved looked at each other and laughed aloud. They were so black that they hardly recognised one another. - Suddenly Bobby became serious:
- "Oh dear! my lovely dollar bills have gone up in smoke!"
- "They haven't!" smiled Marygold.
And then came the big moment. To Bobby's astonishment, the girl took the thousand dollars out of her vanity bag and deposited them bill by bill in his bowler hat. Then she turned away, left Bobby standing there with his mouth open and went off to tidy herself up.
Oh! Once there was a maid so sweet
With Marygold the name to greet.
With little means to spare at hand
She was the one to look so grand.
And in her little bag she'd bring
Her bits and pieces, everything.
And for her wondrous, blondie hair
The ever-ready comb was there.
Those lips, that natural embouchure
Were red as rose, as in nature.
She never had the need to cheat.
Oh! Once there was a maid so sweet!
The first rays of sunshine were breaking through dark portals of cloud in the east. Marygold was standing in the first light of morning like Venus just born out of the foam of the sea. Bobby behaved like a madman:
O Mary, Nature's beauty queen!
Take these thousand dollars - deign!
But Marygold declined and said smiling: "Bobby, my dear little lad, keep your money - I don't need it!" - There! "Marygold! - Marygold!" her name resounded in a loud chorus across bush and prairies: the mail coach from Norfolk was there and Black Bell was the destination! The strong sturdy men who, by Jove, commanded respect, were calling, laughing and waving from the coach. They turned the lovely girl's head. Again there was a loud chorus: "Come on, Marygold, come and dance in Black Bell!" - "'Stay here! Mary!" little Bobby called, "don't go with them to that den of iniquity!" But the beautiful dancer found the idea of Black Bell without that devil Jim mighty attractive. The mail coach was approaching, the sound of the whip cracking could already be heard - it seemed to Bobby as though the whole mail coach with horse and wheels had trampled over him. The colourful world revolved around him, men laughed, whips cracked, music could be heard from all sides, Marygold danced in jubilation. - By the time quiet had set in and all the voices had fallen silent, the mail coach was already far away down the valley. The crack of the whip could still be heard in the distance. Bobby looked around him - Marygold was gone! - A gust of wind blew scornfully by, dipping in to the dollar bills which were still in the hat he was holding out in front of him. Chin up, Bobby! Just be philosophical:
I take with me - since I'm not blessed
Of Marygold, that which was best.
E'en though there'll be no married bliss
Maybe it's just as well like this.
On dollar notes I have no store.
May he who gets them need them more.
As Mary will not bring me joy
I'll still enjoy life, boy o boy!