The Mystery of the Silver Spider - Артур Роберт - Страница 1
The Three Investigators
The Mystery of the Silver Spider
“We investigate anything” is the motto of The Three Investigators — Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews. All three boys are from Rocky Beach, California, a town not far from Hollywood, on the Pacific Coast. And they live up to their motto, as those of you know who have met them in earlier books.
They usually solve local mysteries — ones that happen close to their secret Headquarters in The Jones Salvage Yard. That super-junkyard is owned by Mathilda and Titus Jones, Jupiter’s aunt and uncle. But this time The Three Investigators travel all the way to Europe and get tangled up in a devious plot involving a beautiful silver spider.
It’s tempting to let you in on some of the strange events to come, but I’ll restrain myself. All I will tell you is that this time my three young friends find themselves mixed up in a bigger and more dangerous mystery than anyone expected.
That’s all I’ll say for now, except to introduce the boys briefly, in case you’re meeting them for the first time. Jupiter Jones is the head of The Three Investigators and is known for his uncanny brainpower. Pete Crenshaw is tall and muscular and is a natural at sports. Bob Andrews, the smallest of the three, is in charge of research and record keeping for the firm, but displays incredible bravery when danger threatens.
That’s enough background. Sit back — and expect the unexpected!
A Near Miss
“LOOK OUT!” Bob Andrews cried.
“Watch it, Worthington!” echoed Pete Crenshaw.
Worthington, at the wheel of the big, gold-plated Rolls-Royce sedan, jammed on the brakes and The Three Investigators tumbled into a heap in the rear of the car. The Rolls-Royce screamed to a stop scarcely an inch from the side of a gleaming, low-slung limousine.
Instantly several men swarmed out of the limousine. As Worthington descended from the driver’s seat, they surrounded him, jabbering excitedly in some strange language. Worthington ignored them. He approached the other car and spoke sternly to the chauffeur, resplendent in a red uniform with gold braid.
“My man,” Worthington said, “you ignored a Stop sign. You almost wrecked us both. It was clearly your fault, for I had the right of way.”
“Prince Djaro always has the right of way,” the other chauffeur answered loftily. He pronounced the name Jar-o. “Others must not get in his way.”
By now Pete, Bob and Jupiter had picked themselves up and were looking with amazement at the scene. The men who had popped out of the limousine seemed to be dancing around the tall figure of Worthington in their excitement. One, who was taller than the others and seemed to be in authority, spoke in English.
“Imbecile!” he shouted at Worthington. “You almost killed Prince Djaro! You could have caused an international complication! You should be disciplined.”
“I was obeying the traffic laws and you were not,” Worthington said stoutly. “Your driver is at fault.”
“What’s all this about a prince?” Pete muttered to Bob as they watched.
“Don’t you read the papers?” Bob whispered back. “He’s from Europe — a country called Varania, one of the seven smallest countries in the world. He’s visiting the United States on a sightseeing tour.”
“Golly! And we almost smashed him into a pretzel!” Pete said.
“Worthington was in the right,” Jupiter Jones joined in. “Let’s get out and lend him our moral support.”
They clambered out of the car. As they did so, the door of the limousine opened and a boy somewhat taller than Bob, with very black hair cut long in European style, stepped down. Though only a couple of years older than the boys, he immediately took charge.
“Silence!” he said, and immediately all of the jabbering men surrounding Worthington became as quiet as clams. He gestured with his hand, and they fell in respectfully behind him as he approached Worthington.
“I should like to apologize,” he said, in excellent English. “My driver was at fault. I shall see that he obeys all traffic laws in the future.”
“But Your Highness —” protested the tallest man of the group. Prince Djaro waved him to silence. He looked with interest at Bob, Pete and Jupiter as The Three Investigators joined the group.
“I am sorry this happened,” he said to them. “Thanks to your chauffeur’s skill, a serious accident was prevented. You are the owners of this majestic car?” And he nodded toward the Rolls.
“Not exactly the owners,” Jupiter said. “But we use it occasionally.” It was hardly the time to go into the history of the Rolls-Royce and the manner in which he had won the use of it in a contest.
As it happened, the three had just been to visit their friend Alfred Hitchcock and give him the facts of their latest adventure. It was in returning home that the near-accident had happened.
“I am Djaro Montestan, of Varania,” the boy said. “I’m not really a prince yet, not until I’m officially crowned next month. But I can’t keep people from calling me prince. Are you typical American boys?”
It was an odd question. They considered themselves fairly typical American boys but they weren’t quite sure what the other boy meant.
Jupiter answered for them.
“Bob and Pete are quite typical of American boys,” he said. “I don’t suppose you can call me exactly typical because some people think I’m conceited and use too many long words and sometimes get myself pretty well disliked. But I can’t seem to change”
Bob and Pete grinned at each other. What Jupiter said was true, though it was the first time they had ever heard him admit it. Because he had a stocky build and was unusually brainy, some people called him a “fat smart alec.” But that was just other boys who were envious of him, or adults shown up by his mental ability. His friends swore by him. If they had a problem, they knew Jupiter Jones could solve it if anyone could.
Now Jupe pulled a card from his pocket. It was the official card of The Three Investigators, and he never went anywhere without it.
“Here are our names,” he said. “I’m Jupiter Jones, that’s Pete Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews.”
The foreign boy took the card and read it gravely. It said:
They waited, expecting him to ask what the question marks were for. Just about everybody who saw the card asked that.
“Brojas!” Djaro said. He smiled. He had a very nice smile, showing even white teeth against skin a shade darker in complexion than Pete’s. “That means ‘great’ in Varanian. I suppose the question marks are your official symbol.”
They looked at him with new respect for having deduced the truth. Djaro took from his own pocket a card which he handed to Jupiter.
“And this,” he said, “is my card.”
Bob and Pete crowded behind Jupe to look at it. It was very white and very stiff, and in fine engraving said simply Djaro Montestan. Above the name was a crest, embossed in gold and blue. It appeared to be a spider on a golden web holding a sword, though it was done so elaborately that it wasn’t easy to be sure.
“That is my symbol,” the boy said solemnly. “A spider. That is, it is the crest of the reigning family of Varania. It would take too long to tell you how we came to adopt a spider for our national emblem, but I’m very happy to meet you, Pete, Bob, and Jupiter.”
And he shook hands with all three of them.