The Mystery of the Fiery Eye - Артур Роберт - Страница 1
The Three Investigators
The Mystery of the Fiery Eye
Illustrated by Harry Kane
WELCOME, young friends! I am delighted to have you join me and The Three Investigators in another suspenseful and mystifying case. This time they tangle with a mysterious message, a strange legacy, a sinister gentleman from India, and other assorted matters which I will not reveal at this point. Suffice it to say that if your taste runs to mystery, detection, danger and suspense, you have come to the right place.
All those who have been with us before may turn the page and start the main feature immediately. For the benefit of newcomers, let me say that my trio of young friends — Jupiter Jones, Bob Andrews and Pete Crenshaw — call themselves The Three Investigators. Their motto is “We Investigate Anything.” And indeed they do. In the past they have investigated a green ghost, a castle that oozed terror, a whispering mummy, and other matters that were a trifle unusual, to say the least.
Jupiter Jones is known for his remarkable powers of observation and deduction. Pete Crenshaw is the athletic member of the trio. Bob Andrews is more inclined to be studious, and is adept at research. Together they make an excellent team.
Their home is in Rocky Beach, California, a few miles from the fabulous city of Hollywood. They make their headquarters in The Jones Salvage Yard, which is owned by Jupiter’s aunt and uncle, Mathilda and Titus Jones.
Which is enough introduction. On with the story!
A Call for The Three Investigators
IT WAS a busy day at The Jones Salvage Yard. Mrs. Mathilda Jones was keeping her nephew Jupiter and his friends Bob and Pete on the jump. Seated in a wrought-iron garden chair outside the neat little cabin that served as her office, she watched the three boys working with an eagle eye. They were unloading the big salvage yard truck of the assorted objects Titus Jones had brought back from his most recent buying trip.
“Jupiter!” she called now. “All those statues on the truck! You boys bring them over here and stand them in a row on this table. We’ll make a nice display of them.”
She was referring to a number of plaster heads of famous people which lay carefully bedded down on some canvas in the back of the truck. Technically they were not really statues, but busts. About half life-size, they showed only the head and shoulders. They were the kind of sculptures sometimes seen on pedestals in museums and libraries.
Jupiter, Pete and Bob scrambled up into the truck and stared at the busts. To the boys they didn’t look like anything anyone would want very much. Altogether there were thirteen of them, and they all looked a bit grey from many years of gathering dust. The name of the person each represented was chiselled on its square base.
“Julius Caesar, Octavian, Dante, Homer, Francis Bacon, Shakespeare,” Jupiter read off some of the names. “These seem to be all famous men.”
“Augustus of Poland,” Bob read. “I never heard of him.”
“Or Luther or Bismarck,” Pete added, pointing to two very stern-looking busts.
“But you’ve heard of Theodore Roosevelt,” Jupiter said. “And Washington, Franklin and Lincoln.”
“Sure,” Pete agreed. “Well, let’s start with Washington.” He bent down to pick up the bust of George Washington. “Oof!” he gasped. “It’s heavy!”
“Be careful there, Pete!” called Mrs. Jones. “That’s a very valuable and artistic statue. I’m planning to charge five dollars for it!”
“I’ll get down, then you hand it to me,” Jupiter said.
Pete got down on his knees in the back of the truck, and carefully lowered George Washington into Jupiter’s arms. Jupe hugged him tight and staggered backwards. Gingerly he lowered the bust of America’s first President to the table. Then he mopped his forehead.
“Aunt Mathilda,” he said, “I think we should wait for Hans or Konrad to move these busts. Pete and I might drop one.”
“Yes, indeed, you might,” agreed Mrs. Jones, who had been watching every move. “And there would go five dollars! All right, Jupiter, you boys are excused for now. You can go have a club meeting, or whatever it is you do.”
Some time back, Bob, Pete and Jupiter had formed a puzzle-solvers club, which they had later turned into the junior detective firm of The Three Investigators. However, Mrs. Jones had never quite grasped the fact that, though they still solved puzzles and entered contests for fun, their real interest these days was in solving genuine mysteries that came their way.
Mrs. Jones knew that Jupiter had a workshop section, fitted up with various tools and a printing press, in a section of the yard which was hidden from sight by piles of building materials. What she didn’t know was that they had also fixed up a headquarters for their firm of The Three Investigators, close to the workshop.
Headquarters was an old mobile home trailer that Mr. Jones had been unable to sell because it had been damaged in an accident. He had given it to Jupiter to use for a meeting place with his friends. Over the last year the boys, with the help of Hans and Konrad, the sturdy blond Bavarian yard helpers, had piled all kinds of junk round the trailer. Now it was completely hidden from sight and could only be entered through certain secret entrances.
Inside Headquarters was a tiny office equipped with a desk, telephone, tape recorder, filing cabinet and other necessities, and next to it was an equally small laboratory and a darkroom for developing pictures. Almost all the equipment had come in to the salvage yard as junk, but had been rebuilt by Jupiter and the other boys.
The three were about to head for Headquarters now when the other salvage yard truck, the small one, turned in through the gate. Konrad was driving and Titus Jones, a small man whose enormous moustache seemed the largest thing about him, sat beside him. Hans, the other Bavarian brother, was riding in the back of the truck with the load.
The truck stopped and Mr. Jones hopped out. The boys could see that the truck was loaded with a number of curious black objects known as dressmakers’ dummies. These were made of black cloth over a metal frame, shaped to be about the size of a woman, but with a metal stand for feet and no head. Once almost every household had had one, and the lady of the house fitted her hand-made clothing to it. Nowadays, however, you seldom saw one in use.
Mrs. Jones leaped to her feet, clutching her hair.
“Titus Jones!” she cried. “Have you gone out of your mind? In the name of goodness and mercy and sweetness and light, how do you expect to sell a truckload of old dressmakers’ dummies?”
“We’ll find some use for them,” Titus Jones said, his composure unruffled. Mr. Jones was a very unusual junkman — he bought anything that interested him, not just things he knew would sell. And one way or another, he usually sold them again at a tidy profit.
“Jupiter, put your mind to what possible use an old dressmaker’s dummy could be,” his uncle instructed.
“Well,” Jupiter said promptly, “it would make a swell target for an archery club to shoot arrows at.”
“Mmm.” Titus Jones considered this. “Not bad, not bad. Keep trying. Ah! I see you’ve started to unload my fine collection of plaster busts. An artistic and unusual purchase, if I do say so.”
“At first I couldn’t imagine what you bought them for,” Mathilda Jones said. “But now I think I know how to get rid of them. As garden ornaments! They’ll look very nice in people’s gardens, perched on a column among the flowers and shrubs.”