Page:Dick Hamilton's Fortune.djvu/249

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237
THE PANIC

"I'm not a lunatic!" shouted the little man. "I'm Professor Messapatomia!"

"Jump!" shouted Gibbs to Dick. "It isn't far to the ground. This thing will go off in a minute!"

"Half a minute," calmly corrected the stranger, as he snapped his watch shut. At that instant Mary, the waitress, came into the room with a large pitcher of water. As Dick turned to flee, for he realized that he might be courting death to remain, should the lunatic's infernal apparatus go off, Gibbs grabbed the pitcher.

"I'll fix it!" the butler cried, throwing the water at the ticking machine. "But jump, all the same, Master Dick!"

As Dick prepared to jump from one of the dining-room windows, believing that, as he had often read of such things occurring, he was to be made the victim of a crank, the machine gave a louder click. Professor Messapatomia, with a sudden motion of his arm, diverted the aim of Gibbs, and the water flew to one side of the box. At the same moment there was a jar, as from a heavy spring, and a shower of white objects scattered about the room.

"There!" exclaimed the professor, triumphantly, "that's how it works! Very simple, you see, and it scatters the bait all around. Then all you have to do is to take your pole and line and catch all the fish you want."

"Fish!" repeated Dick, somewhat in a daze.