Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos Nose (5 page)

BOOK: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos Nose
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“Pictures and other decorations often appeared on the finer horses,” Mr. Jones replied. “Bently probably liked President Roosevelt because they were born on the same day, October twenty-seventh, 1858.”

Pablo had walked to the far side of the horse.

“This side doesn't have a picture, or writing, or nearly as much carving,” he said, puzzled. “How come?”

“The inner side of wood carousel figures were always plain,” Mr. Jones explained. “The side facing the onlookers had the pictures and fancy carvings.”

“I seem to remember that Bently made very few horses,” Encyclopedia remarked.

“Right again,” Mr. Jones said. “Bently carved only six horses, all different. We know nothing more about him than
that he worked for the William Mangels Company. Not one photograph of his horses exists.”

He gazed at Emperor for a moment.

“The age of the wooden horse is past,” he said sadly. “There will be no more masterpieces like Emperor. Today carousel animals are cast in fiberglass, any number of them alike. Saves money.”

“What happened to Bently's other horses?” Pablo asked.

“They were smashed when a hurricane hit Florida,” Mr. Jones said. “Only Emperor survived.”

He paused to stroke Emperor's back.

“I was walking in Miami last November,” he went on, “when I spotted a wooden horse on a front porch. He was pretty beat up. Yet something about his lines made me stop and take a closer look. Roosevelt's picture and Bently's name were faded but there!”

“How exciting!” Sally exclaimed.

“I couldn't believe my good luck,” Mr. Jones said. “The owner had no use for the old horse anymore. Her children had played on him, but they were all grown up. She was glad to sell him to me.”

“How long did it take you to make him look like new?” Pablo asked.

“Months,” Mr. Jones said. “It was a labor of love.”

“Emperor must be worth a lot of money now,” Sally said.

Mr. Jones whistled through his red beard. “The one remaining Bently horse? He's worth his weight in diamonds.”

“Mr. Jones knows so much,” Sally whispered. “Pablo is lucky to land a job with him.”

“Not if honesty is important,” Encyclopedia whispered back.

What Did Encyclopedia Mean?

(Turn to
this page
for the solution to The Case of the Carousel Horse.)

The Case of the Wilford Whammy

F
ifi O'Brien burst into the Brown Detective Agency.

“I'm going to be so rich I'll be able to live beyond my wildest dreams!” she exclaimed.

“Who said so?” asked Sally.

“Wilford Wiggins.”

Encyclopedia sighed heavily. “Wilford never gives up.”

Wilford Wiggins was a high-school dropout and as lazy as a bedpost. He spent his days dreaming up ways to part little kids from their savings.

He never got a nickel, however. Encyclopedia always stopped his phony deals in time.

Only last week Wilford had tried to peddle chicken feed made from ground-up electric mixers. After eating just half a pound of feed, he said, a hen would lay scrambled eggs.

“Wilford has called a secret meeting at the city dump for five o'clock today,” Fifi said.

“What's he selling now?” Sally inquired. “A sauce that makes space suits taste like pot roast?”

“Wilford didn't say,” Fifi replied. “But he promised to make us little kids so rich our banks will beg for mercy.”

“Wilford is long on promises but so short on memory he thinks he's honest,” Encyclopedia said.

“This time is different,” Fifi insisted. “Wilford told me he isn't lying anymore. I believe him. He hates liars.”

“Is that why he goes around swearing at himself?” Sally snapped.

Fifi suddenly looked troubled.

“I'd better hire you,” she said, handing Encyclopedia a quarter. “I want you to make sure whatever Wilford is selling today is more than fast talk.”

“If we're going to help, we better hurry,” Sally said. “It's nearly five o'clock.”

Wilford was standing beside a beat-up kitchen chair when the detectives and Fifi arrived at the city dump.

“Gather round,” he called to the crowd of small children, “and bring your ears. I don't want any of my young friends to miss this chance of a lifetime!”

The children moved closer. They were eager to hear his newest shortcut to Easy Street.

Wilford threw up his hands. “Crime is rising every day. If it keeps going up, we'll all be criminals.”

“Aw, lay off the laughs!” a boy hollered. “Show us your moneymaker.”

“Right here, friend, right here,” Wilford said.

From under his shirt he pulled a black tube.

His voice rose with excitement. “You're thinking this is just a flashlight. No way! It only looks like a flashlight. That is the beauty of it. A mugger won't suspect a thing until it's too late.”

He peered at the ring of children.

“What is it, you ask? It's the Wilford Whammy! To show you its amazing power, I need a volunteer.”

No one raised a hand.

“I won't hurt you,” Wilford called. “Trust me.”

A blond boy whom Encyclopedia had never seen before pushed forward. “How about me, motormouth?”

“You'll do,” Wilford answered coolly. “Make believe you have a knife. Demand all my cash.”

“Gimme your wallet,” the boy said, speaking as if he meant it.

Wilford whipped the Wilford Whammy against the boy's forehead.

“I can't move,” the boy croaked.

Wilford quickly withdrew the Wilford Whammy. The boy shook his head and slunk away, meek as an off-duty cow.

“You saw for yourself,” Wilford sang. “The Wilford Whammy zapped him silly faster than you can hiccup!”

“Baloney!” shouted Fifi. “Try it on someone we know. Try it on me.”

Her challenge appeared to startle Wilford, but he gathered himself quickly. “I don't use it on girls,” he said.

The other children jeered. They also hissed, hooted, and howled until Wilford gave in.

“Okay, okay,” he said. “Better sit on this chair, little girl. I don't want you falling off your feet and cracking your pretty skull.”

Fifi sat down.

“Chin up, head back, that's it,” Wilford said as he pressed the Wilford Whammy to her forehead. “I'll only use half power. Go on, stand up.”

Fifi could not stand up.

“Oh, you better mousetrap, move over!” Wilford roared in triumph.

The crowd of children stared wide-eyed as he removed the Wilford Whammy.

“I'll be honest with you,” Wilford confessed. “I need money to build a factory. So I'm going to let my little pals buy shares in the Wilford Whammy for five dollars a share. The more shares you buy, the more money you'll make!”

“It really works,” Fifi muttered as she came back to the detectives. “I couldn't get up.”

“Think of it!” Wilford crowed. “You can own a part of the Wilford Whammy company! While my little beauty is fighting crime and protecting your loved ones, it will be making you millions!”

The children looked at one another. Did Wilford say
Millions!

Greed overcame doubt. They lined up to buy shares.

“Encyclopedia,” Sally said, “do something before Wilford takes all their savings. You can, can't you?”

“Of course,” said Encyclopedia.

What Made Encyclopedia So Sure?

(Turn to
this page
for the solution to The Case of the Wilford Whammy.)

The Case of the Racing Reptiles

W
ednesday morning Encyclopedia and Sally went over to Barry Duncan's house. They wanted to see his two racing lizards, Erasmus and Erastus.

Barry had been telling everyone what fast steppers Erasmus and Erastus were. He was training them for Idaville's Great Snake, Turtle, and Lizard Races on Saturday.

When the detectives arrived, Barry was standing in his driveway with Spike Larson, one of Bugs Meany's Tigers. The two boys were jawing at each other, nose to nose and toe to toe.

Encyclopedia couldn't hear what was being said. But it was a cinch they weren't asking each other over for tea.

“Uh-oh, I better break this up before Barry gets hurt,” Sally said.

She hurried across the street. Encyclopedia followed uneasily.

Spike saw them approaching.

“Stay out of this, you gumballs,” he warned. “Go somewhere and adopt a pig.”

Sally didn't scare. “What's going on?” she demanded.

“Spike let Kid Tiger, his snake, slip into the cage with Erasmus and Erastus,” Barry said. “That snake ate them for breakfast!”

“Liar!” Spike roared. “Remember what your face looks like because I'm going to change it.”

“Ease off, Spike,” Encyclopedia ordered, and edged closer to Sally. Spike had learned the hard way what she could do to a Tiger.

“Suppose you tell us exactly what happened,” Sally suggested. “You first, Barry.”

“Lizards are cold-blooded,” Barry began. “In the morning I take Erasmus and Erastus outside and leave them in the cage. I let the sun warm them up to get them moving.”

In the driveway was an empty cage. Its bars shone in the sunlight. From the small door on the side hung a closed lock.

Barry said, “After some time in the sun, Erasmus and Erastus are ready for their workout.”

“Wherever do you get racing lizards?” Sally inquired.

“I found them near Mill Pond two weeks ago,” Barry answered. “There are plenty of big lizards there. Erasmus and Erastus were the hardest to catch. So I knew they were faster than the average lizard.

“The races on Saturday,” he went on, “will be held on a sixteen-foot ramp with a six-inch wall on both sides. My dad built a training ramp like it in the backyard. I get Erasmus and Erastus started by yelling and blowing on them.”

“Which one is faster?” Sally asked.

“Erasmus wins if he rolls,” Barry said. “Erastus is faster
afoot, but I can't count on him. Sometimes he jumps the wall for a side trip in the grass.”

“Did you actually see Kid Tiger in the cage?” Encyclopedia inquired.

“You know it,” Barry declared. “Half an hour ago I came out of the house. Kid Tiger had eaten Erasmus and was finishing off Erastus. He got away before I could catch him.”

Sally said, “The lizards might have escaped through the door of the cage and still be alive. Another snake might have wandered in when the cage was empty.”

“I know Kid Tiger when I see him,” Barry said. “Besides, the door is always locked. I have the only key.”

“Go on,” Spike jeered. “Your story is gripping me.”

“If you had fed that dumb snake, he wouldn't have been hungry!” Barry shot back.

“Oh, yeah?” Spike snarled. “If you bit your lip you'd die of food poisoning.”

BOOK: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos Nose
9.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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