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Книга The Polar Treasure. Страница 2

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He broke the nose of one attacker with a lucky kick. His hands found the wrist of another. They were artistic hands, graceful and long and very powerful. He twisted the wrist in his grasp.

The man whose arm he held let out a shriek. It blared like a siren over the rumble of New York night traffic. The fellow spun madly to keep his arm from breaking.

The murk of the street aided the blind man, just as it hampered his assailants. The world he lived in was always black.

Blows whistled, thudded. Men hissed, cursed, yelped, groaned. Bodies fell noisily. Laboring feet scuffed the walk.

"Lay aboard 'im, mateys!" howled the seafaring man from his cab. "Make 'im fast with a line! And load 'im aboard this land-goin' scow! Sink 'im with a bullet if you gotta! Keelhaul 'im!"

A bullet wasn't necessary, though. A clubbed pistol reduced the fighting Victor Vail to quivering helplessness. A thin rope looped clumsily about his wrists and ankles. After the fashion of city dwellers, the men were slow with the knots.

"Throw 'im aboard!" shouted the seafarer in the cab. "Let a swab who knows knots make 'im shipshape!"

The gang lifted Victor Vail, bore him toward the taxi.

And then the lightning struck them!

* * *

THE LIGHTENING was the mighty bronze man! His coming was so swift and soundless that it seemed magic. Not one of blind Victor Vail's attackers saw the giant metallic figure arrive. They knew nothing of its presence until they felt its terrible strength.

Then it was as though a tornado of hard steel had struck them. Chins collapsed like eggshells. Arms were plucked from sockets and left dangling like strings.

The men screamed and cursed. Two flew out of the melee, unconscious, not knowing what had vanquished them. A third dropped with his whole lower face awfully out of shape, and he, too, didn't know what had hit him.

Others struck feverishly at the Herculean bronze form, only to have their fists chop empty air. One man found his ankles trapped as in a monster vise of metal. He was lifted. His body swung in a terrific circle, mowing down his fellows like a scythe.

"Sink 'im, mateys!" shrilled the seafaring man in the cab. "Scuttle 'im! Use your guns — "

A piercing shriek from one of his hirelings drowned out the sailor's urgings. The unfortunate one had been inclosed in banding bronze arms. The fearsome arms tightened. The man's ribs breaking made a sound as of an apple crate run over by a truck. The fellow fell to the walk as though dead when released.

Incredible as it seemed, but two of Victor Vail's assailants remained in anything but incapacitated conditions. The sailorman in the taxi was unhurt, and one villain was upright on the walk. Even an onlooker who had seen that flashing battle with his own eyes would have doubted his senses, such superhuman strength and agility had the bronze giant displayed.

* * *

THE MAN upright on the walk abruptly spun end over end for the taxi. He had been propelled by what for the bronze man was apparently but a gentle shove. Yet he caved in the rear door of the cab like a projectile would.

The seafaring hack driver got scared.

"Well, keelhaul me!" he choked.

He slammed the car in gear. He let out the clutch. The cab wrenched into motion.

The sailor saw the bronze man flash toward him. The metallic Nemesis of a figure suddenly looked as big as a battleship to the seafaring man. And twice as dangerous! He clawed out a spike-snouted pistol of foreign make. He fired.

The bullet did nothing but break the plate-glass window in a shoe shop. But the bronze giant was forced to whip into the shelter of a parked car.

The seafaring man kept on shooting, largely to prevent his vehicle being boarded. His lead gouged lone rips in the car behind which the bronze man had taken shelter, broke windows in a book store and a sea-food restaurant. and scared a fat man far up the street so badly that he fainted.

The taxi skidded around a corner and was gone.

* * *

BLIND VICTOR Vail abruptly found himself being lifted to his feet by hands which were unbelievably powerful, yet which possessed a touch gentle as that of a mother fondling her babe. He felt a tug at his wrists.

Something was happening which he would not have thought possible. Bronze fingers were snapping the ropes off Victor Vail's wrists as effortlessly as though they were frail threads!

The sightless man had been dazed during the furious fight. But his ears, keener than an ordinary man's because of his affliction, had given him an idea of the momentous thing which had happened. Some manner of mighty fighter had come to his rescue. A fighter whose physical strength was almost beyond understanding!

"Thank you, sir," Victor Vail murmured simply.

"I hope you were not damaged seriously," said the bronze man.

It struck Victor Vail, as he heard his benefactor speak for the first time, that he was listening to the voice of a great singer. It had a volume of power and tone quality rarely attained by even the great operatic stars. A voice such as this should be known throughout the music world. Yet Victor Vail had never heard it before.

"I am only bruised a little," said the musician. "But who — "

The loud clatter of running feet interrupted him. Police were coming, drawn by the shots. A burly sergeant pounded from one direction. Two patrolmen galloped from the other.

A radio squad car careened into the street with siren moaning in a way that stood one's hair on end.

Cops raced for the giant bronze man. Their guns were drawn. They couldn't see him any too well in the murk.

"Stick 'em up!" boomed the sergeant. Then a surprising thing happened.

The policeman lowered his gun so hastily he nearly dropped it. His face became actually pale. He couldn't have looked more mortified had he accosted the mayor of the city by mistake.

"Begorra, I couldn't see it was you, sor," he apologized. The bronze giant's strong lips quirked the faintest of smiles. But the sergeant saw the smile — and beamed as if he had just been promoted to a captaincy.

A roadster was parked near by. It was a very powerful and efficient machine. The top was down. The color was a reserved gray.

Not another word was spoken. The bronze man escorted Victor Vail to the machine. The roadster pulled away from the curb. The police stood back respectfully. They watched the car out of sight.

"T'row these rats in a cell on a charge av disturbin' the peace," directed the sergeant. Then he looked more closely at the prisoners and grinned widely. "Begorra, 'tis in the hospital yez'd better t'row 'em. Sure, an' never in me born days did I see a bunch av lads so busted up!"

"But won't they be charged with somethin' besides disturbin' the peace?" questioned a rooky who had but lately joined the force.

The sergeant frowned severely. "Glory be, an' didn't yez see that big bronze feller?"

"Sure."

"Then button the lip av yez. If the bronze man had wanted these scuts charged wit' anyt'ing, he would av said so."

The rooky's eyes popped. "Gosh! Who was that guy?"

The sergeant chuckled mysteriously. "Me lad, yez know what they say about our new mayor — that nobody has any pull wit' him?"

"Sure," agreed the rooky. "Every one knows our new mayor is the finest New York has ever had, and that he can't be influenced. But what's that got to do with the big bronze fellow?"

"Nothin'," grinned the sergeant. "Except that, begorra, our new mayor would gladly turn a handspring at a word from that bronze man!"

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