MoboReader> Literature > Hour of Enchantment / A Mystery Story for Girls

   Chapter 2 THE SKY WALK

Hour of Enchantment / A Mystery Story for Girls By Roy J. Snell Characters: 7330

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


As she boarded the down-going car, the girl's mind flashed through the incidents leading up to this strange chase, and then came bang up against a problem with no certain answer. Should she leave the car at the two hundred foot level, the spot from which the cars of the Sky Ride went flashing away into the night, or should she ride to the ground level?

Following instinct, when she reached the Sky Ride level she darted from the car. At once she caught her breath. There was the long-eared Chinaman.

The instant she saw him he was on the move. There was no mistaking the look in her eyes. She meant to have that three-bladed knife. He made no mistake about that. Imitating a monkey, a spider and a snake all in one, he managed by curious contortions to make his way past the waiting rocket-car and out upon the cables that carried the cars on their exciting journey.

At once the place was in a panic.

"A car from the other side will come and crush him! He will fall! He'll be electrocuted!" came from the crowd as men fought for a spot where they might view the impending catastrophe.

But no catastrophe occurred-at least not at once. Standing with the air of a tight rope walker, which indeed this long-eared one must have been, he unfolded his large yellow silk umbrella; then, apparently all unconscious of the shouting throng, he turned and walked the cables as another person might walk the street.

"If another car comes-" Florence came near to wishing she had stuck to her resolve and made it a night of pure pleasure.

No car came from the other side. A quick-witted guard had stopped it in the nick of time, by a phone call.

So the little yellow man in a long yellow jacket with a three-bladed knife in his belt balanced himself with his yellow umbrella and proceeded blithely on his way while an ever increasing sea of faces gazed upward.

Great searchlights began playing upon him. Like fingers they pointed him out. Ten thousand, twenty, fifty, perhaps seventy thousand pairs of eyes were fixed upon him.

Not one of all these people, save Florence, knew what it was all about. "Is this one more feature, a grand surprise in this the grandest of all shows?" This is what the thousands were asking.

Other questions occupied Florence's mind. What did the man mean to do? Did he know himself? How was it all to end?

The suspense continued. It is well that it did. The first few hundred feet of this curious person's sky walk was over the solid earth. Beneath him was the gasping multitude. Jammed together in one solid mass, not one of them could have moved had this sky walker come hurtling down from those dizzy heights.

He did not fall. Instead, with all the grace of a fine lady out for a promenade, he moved along the cables that, being all but invisible in the night, made him seem to walk on air.

"If he were only over water!" Florence spoke without meaning to do so. "Then there would be some chance."

"At two hundred feet?" some one doubted.

All the same, Florence waited and hoped. "Now he's a third of the way to the place above the lagoon," she assured herself. "Now half-now two-thirds.

"Now!"

She caught her breath. Something was happening. The man was seen to teeter.

"If he falls-" She set her lips tight. "If he does, if he falls and kills some one, I shall never forgive myself. A knife!" She all but said it aloud. "A knife with a diamond-studded hilt-what's that to a human life?"

But the man had regained his poise. He was tripping along as before.

"He-he's almost there," she sighed, as a low prayer escaped her lips. "He-he must be over the water. Thank-thank God!"

But

, after all, what did this astounding person propose to do?

Did he plan it, or was it the work of Fate? Perhaps no one will ever know. Be that as it may, just as he reached a spot above the center of the lagoon the man was seen once more to waver.

This time he did not regain his poise, but with a movement that seemed half a leap, half a fall, launched himself into mid-air.

Florence closed her eyes. She opened them at once to find the Chinaman still going down.

"How-how remarkable!" she breathed.

"It's the umbrella," some one at her side volunteered. "It's made for that purpose, like a parachute."

She did not give the information that, as far as she could tell, the man had entertained no notion of making that unusual journey.

She continued to watch while the Chinaman plunged downward. With his fall checked by the umbrella, he had, she believed, a fair chance for a safe landing.

"And then?" Some spirit inside her appeared to ask the question. "Why, then," she answered the spirit, "I'll be after him!"

The Chinaman disappeared into shadows that lay above the surface of the lagoon.

At once spotlights were playing upon the water. If he came to the surface no one saw him.

"But then," Florence assured herself, "there are a hundred boats out there on the lagoon. A man with such a trick as that in his bag must have others. He need only come up alongside a boat, cling there until the excitement is over, then go on his way. We shall meet again.

"But not to-night," she amended, as she surveyed the dense throng below.

"So here's for a sky ride!"

She gave herself over to the joyous excitement of the hour.

Curiously enough, upon descending from the steel tower after a half hour of shooting through space, she bumped squarely into her roommate and pal of many strange adventures-Petite Jeanne.

"Oh, Jeanne!" she exclaimed. "I have found him, the little Chinaman with long ears."

"And the knife?"

"He still has it."

"Tell me about it," Jeanne begged.

In her own truly dramatic style Florence told the story. "And when he dropped," she ended breathlessly, "I said 'that's the end of him!'"

"But it was not?" Jeanne breathed.

"I am not sure it was not. We shall see him again, perhaps many times."

"But, Florence, why does he want that three-bladed knife so very, very much?"

"It is set with jewels," Florence spoke slowly, "but there is something more. I am sure of it. Perhaps something quite terrible. I saw it in his eyes. He'd kill some one to possess that knife, if necessary. I am quite sure of that."

"Then, oh my Florence, you must be careful!"

"We will be careful. But we shall have the knife. It belongs to us. We bought it."

"Yes," Jeanne agreed, "we bought it."

As Jeanne closed her eyes she could see the place of purchase, a long, low auction house blue with tobacco smoke; a bald-headed auctioneer shouting:

"Three dollars. Who'll make it three-fifty?"

A Chinaman in an obscure corner was bidding against her for that chest with a blue dragon on the cover.

Sudden confusion. Three men dragging the protesting Chinaman away.

"What did it all mean?" she asked herself.

"Anyway," she sighed, "we got the chest."

Then a thought struck her all of a heap.

"Florence," she cried, "there were other things in that chest. Oh, so many more!"

"Other things?" Florence fairly sprang at her. "Why did you not tell me? Is it still in our room under the bed?"

"Yes. Oh, yes."

"Then we must hurry home. They may be in our room at this very moment, those little yellow men, carrying the chest away."

"Yes!" Jeanne exclaimed. "Let us hurry!"

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