The Mystery of Monster Mountain - Carey M. V. - Страница 1
The Three Investigators
The Mystery Of Monster Mountain
A Word from Alfred Hitchcock
Greetings, mystery lovers!
Once again I have the pleasure of introducing that team of youthful sleuths known as The Three Investigators. “We Investigate Anything” is their slogan, and so they do. Usually they conduct their operations out of their official Headquarters — an abandoned mobile home trailer in The Jones Salvage Yard in Rocky Beach, a small community not far from Hollywood. This time, however, they journey to the high slopes of the Sierra Nevadas for an adventure which begins, simply, with a search for a missing key. Complications are soon piled on complications as the lads learn the strange secret that threatens the woman called Anna, and discover the truth behind the dark legends of a hermit and a monster.
In the event that any of our readers are meeting The Three Investigators for the first time, I shall only say that Jupiter Jones, the First Investigator and leader of the group, is a stout fellow with an extremely agile mind and a remarkable talent for scenting trouble. Pete Crenshaw is the tallest and most athletic of the trio. Though he is never a coward, he does cherish a sensible desire to keep out of danger. Bob Andrews, quiet and studious, keeps records for the group, and has a flair for research which is invaluable to The Three Investigators.
Now that the introductions are completed, the reader will please turn to Chapter One. Monster Mountain awaits!
“Wow!” said Pete Crenshaw when he first saw Sky Village. “This place looks like a stage set. Somebody should make a movie here!”
Bob Andrews was kneeling beside him in the back of the pickup truck, looking over the roof of the cab at the village street. “Well, it won’t be Mr. Hitchcock,” he said. “This town is too darned wholesome for a mystery movie.”
Jupiter Jones pulled himself to his knees beside Bob and planted his chubby arms on the top of the cab. “Mr. Hitchcock knows that mysteries can occur in all sorts of places,” he reminded his friends. “But you’re right. Sky Village is very new and artificial.”
The truck ground up the steep grade of the street and passed a ski shop that resembled a cottage in the Alps. Next to the ski shop was a motel which had a roof of imitation thatch.
Now, in midsummer, the ski shop and the motel were closed. Bright blue shutters covered the windows of a restaurant called The Yodelerhaus. A few pedestrians strolled along the sunny sidewalks and, in a gas station, an attendant in faded denims dozed in a chair.
The truck turned into the gas station and stopped near the pumps. Hans and Konrad got out of the cab. The two Bavarian brothers had worked for Jupiter’s Aunt Mathilda and Uncle Titus for years. They helped sort, clean, repair, and sell items which Uncle Titus acquired for The Jones Salvage Yard. The brothers were always neat and tidy when they came to work. Today they surpassed themselves. Hans wore a new sport shirt which had not a wrinkle in it, even after the long drive from Rocky Beach through the Owens Valley and up to the ski resort high in the Sierra Nevada. Konrad’s slacks still held their press, and his shoes gleamed.
“They want to make a good impression on their Cousin Anna,” whispered Bob to Jupe.
Jupe smiled and nodded. The three boys watched from the back of the truck as the Bavarian brothers approached the sleeping gas station attendant.
“Excuse me,” said Hans to the man. The man grunted and opened his eyes.
“Please,” said Hans, “where is the home of Anna Schmid?”
“The Slalom Inn?” The man stood up and pointed toward a grove of pines which edged the street. “Go past those trees and you’ll see a white house on your left. You can’t miss it. It’s the last place before the road turns off to the campground.”
Hans thanked him and began to get back into the truck.
“Is Anna expecting you?” asked the man. “I saw her drive down the road toward Bishop a couple of hours ago. I don’t think she’s back yet.”
“Then we wait for her,” said Konrad.
“Could be a long wait,” said the man. “Nearly everything in Sky-Village is closed for the summer, so Anna’s probably got big shopping to do in Bishop.”
“It has already been a long wait,” said Konrad cheerfully. “We have not seen Anna since we were children together, back home, before we come to the United States.”
“Well, well!” exclaimed the man. “Friends from home, eh? Anna will be real pleased.”
“Not friends,” said Konrad. “Family. We are Anna’s family — her cousins. Now we come to surprise her.”
“Hope she likes surprises,” said the man. Then he chuckled. “Hope you do, too. Anna’s been busy these last couple of weeks.”
“Oh?” said Hans.
“You’ll find out.” The man’s eyes sparkled. He reminded Jupiter of several of Aunt Mathilda’s friends who collected tidbits of gossip about their neighbors in Rocky Beach.
Hans and Konrad got back into the truck.
“I have a feeling that guy doesn’t miss much,” said Pete as they drove off.
“He probably doesn’t have much to do in the summer except keep an eye on everybody who goes up and down this road,” decided Bob. “Once the snow’s gone, how many customers can he have?”
The truck went slowly up the village street. They passed an ice cream shop, which was open, and a drugstore, which was closed. The Sky Village General Market was dark, and so was a gift shop.
“I wonder what’s kept Cousin Anna so busy,” said Pete. “This place is really dead.”
“From what Hans and Konrad have told me,” said Jupe, “their cousin can always find something profitable to do. She came to the United States ten years ago and got a job as a maid in a New York hotel. Hans says that in six months she was in charge of the entire housekeeping staff, and in only six years she’d saved enough money to buy a little inn here in Sky Village. A year later she purchased a ski lift, and that must pay handsomely when the snow comes.”
“She did all that on a housekeeper’s salary?” said Pete.
“Not quite. She had a second job, parttime, and she invested in good stocks. She is a smart businesswoman, and Hans and Konrad are very proud of her. They read all of her letters out loud to anyone who will listen. And their rooms are full of snapshots she’s sent them. When Aunt Mathilda and Uncle Titus suddenly decided to close the salvage yard for two weeks and take a holiday, they jumped at the chance to come up here.”
“I’m glad they did,” said. Pete. “How else would we have got away for a camping trip? I’ve been wanting to try some rock climbing, and I hear the Sky Village Campground is great — and never crowded.”
“Too far from the superhighways,” said Bob.
“I just hope Cousin Anna doesn’t mind surprises,” said Jupe. “Hans and Konrad tried to call her before we left, but she wasn’t home. Of course, they’re prepared to camp out with us, so they won’t be imposing on her.”
The truck labored on and up, through the grove of pines which the gas station attendant had pointed out. Once they were beyond the pines, the boys could see a ski slope. It was a barren brown cut on the east side of the mountain, as bare as if some giant had shaved the hill clear of any tree or shrub that might interfere with the downward rush of the skiers. Running up the slope was a series of steel towers connected by cables. Every twenty feet or so, a chair dangled from the cables.