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Книга The Polar Treasure. Содержание - Chapter 4 THE BLIND-MAN HUNT

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The five men and Doc Savage formed an adventuresome group with a definite, although somewhat strange, purpose in life. This purpose was to go here and there, from one end of the world to the other, looking for excitement and adventure, striving to help those in need of help, and punishing those who deserved it.

Doc suddenly went outside. He moved so effortlessly he seemed to glide. He had been seized by a suspicion. Either Victor Vail was still in the skyscraper, or he had been removed by way of the freight elevators.

Hardly was Doc on the walk when a bullet splashed chill air on his bronze face.

Two sedans were parked down the street, near the freight entrance of the giant building.

One machine lurched into motion. It ran rapidly away. Doc did not get a chance to see whether Victor Vail was in it!

Doc flashed over into the shelter of a many-spouted fire hydrant. The hydrant had couplings for several hose lines. It was nearly as large as a barrel.

Down the street, the driver hopped out of the sedan which remained. He was a big man, very fat. He wore a white handkerchief mask.

"Git a hump on yer!" he howled.

The cry was obviously directed at some of his fellows who were still in the skyscraper.

Monk and Ham popped out on the walk. The shot had attracted them. Monk held a pistol which, in his hairy paw, looked small as a watch chain ornament.

The sedan driver leveled a revolver to fire again. Monk's fist spat flame.

The driver jumped about wildly. like a beheaded chicken. His spasmodic actions carried him into the street. He caved down finally and rolled under the sedan.

Three or four evil heads poked out of the freight entrance. Another red spark jumped out of Monk's paw. The heads jerked back.

Suddenly, Doc's low voice reached Monk's ears. Doc spoke half a dozen staccato sentences. Silence followed.

When Monk glanced at the fire hydrant a moment later, Doc Savage was gone!

Several times in the next minute guns roared in the gloomy street. The reports echoed from the man-made walls on either side like satanic laughter.

The driver of the sedan abruptly appeared! The fellow still wore his mask. He hauled himself laboriously to the sedan door. Getting it open, he fell limply into the machine.

This seemed to embolden the fellows in the freight entrance. They launched a volley of bullets at Monk and Ham. The pair were driven out of sight.

A tight group, the gunmen sprinted from the freight entrance to their sedan. They made it safely. They piled in, trampling the prone, white-masked form of the driver.

"T'row de stiff out!" snarled one man, seizing the driver. The driver kicked the man who had grasped him.

"I ain't no stiff, damn yer!" he cursed. "Dey jest winged me!"

"It's a lousy deal, us goin' off an' leavin' our pals in dat buildin'!" growled a gunster.

"What else could we do?" retorted another. "Dey was saps to go bargin' out wavin' our rods. If we hadn't heard 'em squawk, we'd have been caught, too."

"Dry up, you mugs!" snapped the man who had taken the wheel.

The sedan rolled down Broadway. It veered into a side street many blocks downtown.

The street became shabby. Smell of fish permeated the air. Ragged derelicts of men tottered along the thoroughfare. Men in seamen's clothing were plentiful. Raucous music blared out of cheap honkatonks.

It was the water front district — a region of sailor lodging houses, needled beer, and frequent fights.

"De others got here first!" growled a gunman. "Dere's de car dey was drivin'."

The machine the man indicated was the first sedan to pull away from the uptown skyscraper.

* * *

THE EVIL fellows left the two sedans parked close together. "Honkey," the former driver, staggered out, but nearly fell.

"Help 'im, you guys!" directed the man who seemed to be the straw boss.

Honkey was half carried across the walk. This side street was very dark. They did not bother to remove the white mask Honkey still wore.

"Gosh, but he's heavy!" complained a man helping the driver.

They mounted a stairway. The rickety steps whined like dogs when they were stepped on. There was no light, except that from a match a man going ahead had struck.

Into a lighted room, the group went. Several other men waited here.

Still there was no sign of Victor Vail.

"Put Honkey on de bed in de nex' room!" commanded the straw boss.

The two thugs hauled Honkey into an adjacent chamber. It was a slatternly looking place. Wall paper draped from the walls in great scabs. The one bed was filthy.

The pair prepared to lower Honkey.

At this point, Honkey's hands came up with apparent aimlessness. The finger tips touched each man's face.

Instead of Honkey dropping upon the bed, both thugs collapsed upon it! They made no sound.

Honkey now stumbled back into the other room. The gang assembled there eyed him in surprise.

"Yer'd better go ter bed, Honkey!" snarled the one who had been giving orders.

"Aw — I ain't feelin' so tough." Honkey muttered.

"Well, take dat crazy mask off, anyway!"

"In a minute," mumbled Honkey. "Soon's I find me a chair."

He weaved among the gangsters. He seemed very unsteady on his feet. To remain erect, he clutched the persons of such men as he passed. Always, his finger tips touched some portion of bare skin.

He came in contact with six men on his way across the room. The six sat in their chairs with a strange rigidity after he had passed.

The gangster who served as straw boss watched. Curiosity rippled over his face. Then came ugly suspicion.

He shucked two big automatics out of his clothing. He covered the reeling driver.

"Stick 'em up!" he snarled.

There was nothing the driver could do but obey. Up went his arms.

At this point, the six gangsters he had touched fell out of their chairs. They made a succession of thumps on the floor. They were unconscious.

"Whew!" gritted the gunman. "Keep dem hands up!"

He advanced gingerly. With a quick move, he plucked the mask off the driver.

"I t'ought so!" he hissed.

The features revealed were not those of Honkey, the driver.

They were the bronze lineaments of Doc Savage!

Chapter 4


BEWILDERMENT GRIPPED the assembled thugs. They could not comprehend that the bronze man had taken the place of Honkey, back at the uptown skyscraper. It was too much for them to believe that any one could be such a master of voice imitation as to fool them by emulating Honkey's hoarse growl.

They looked at the six of their comrades huddled senseless on the floor. A near-terror distorted their ugly faces.

The bronze man slowly pushed Honkey's cap off his head. The cap was none too clean. It was as though he didn't wish to wear it longer than was necessary.

For a brief instant. his finger tips probed in the bronze hair that lay down like a metal skullcap.

"Keep clawin' fer the ceilin'!" snarled the gang chief.

Doc's arms lifted obediently. His hands nearly touched the ceiling, indicating what a really large man he was.

"Search 'im!" ordered the leader.

Gingerly, four of the thugs advanced. They frisked Doc with practiced fingers. They found some silver coins and a few bills which had belonged to Honkey. These they appropriated. But they unearthed no weapon.

"De umpcha ain't got a rod!" they muttered. The fact that Doc wasn't armed seemed to stun them.

Their leader eyed the six limp hulks on the floor. He moved to the bedroom door. He whitened perceptibly when he saw the two sprawled on the bed.

"I don't savvy dis!" he shivered. "What messed dem guys up like dat?"

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