The Spy Who Came North from the Pole

BOOK: The Spy Who Came North from the Pole
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Books by Mary Elise Monsell

Crackle Creek

The Mysterious Cases of Mr. Pin

Mr. Pin: The Chocolate Files

Armadillo

Toohy and Wood

The Spy Who Came North from the Pole:

Mr. Pin, Vol. III

The Spy Who Came North from the Pole

Mary Elise Monsell

“With high regards to David and Derek, who know how to keep their fingers on the seams.” —Mr. Pin

Contents

The Spy Who Came North from the Pole

The Spitter Pitchers

The Spy Who Came North from the Pole

1

The sky was dark. The air was cold and foggy. It had been days since a rock hopper penguin had left the South Pole and made his way north to Chicago.

A black wing pulled the bus cord at Wabash Street. The driver watched as the penguin stepped into the fog. Strange. He thought that penguin looked familiar.

“Mind your step,” the driver said. The penguin snarled back.

The door creaked shut and the bus headed west. The rock hopper headed north.

He was mostly black and white, with long yellow plumes on both sides of his head. He carried a mysterious brown bag under his wing.

Suddenly an elevated train screeched to a stop. A tall man in a trench coat came up to the railing and tossed a small box over the side. As the train screeched away, the rock hopper picked up the box. There was chocolate inside.

“Frango mints!”
he said out loud. He took a magnifying glass out of his brown bag and looked more closely. There was a note inside the box. The rock hopper quickly ate the chocolates, then read the note:

CODEBOOK
CLUE
IN GARGOYLE

He got the idea all right. The clue he was looking for was hidden in a gargoyle. Now he just needed to find the right one. But where? Those strange carved-stone creatures were on buildings all over the city. Not only that, but they were usually up very high. And penguins don't fly.

It was also a little strange that the clue to the whereabouts of the codebook was in a gargoyle to begin with. But in any case, his plan seemed to be working.

“Looks like I arrived in Chicago just in time,” he said out loud.

Just ahead was a diner—Smiling Sally's Good Food. The penguin outside saw another penguin sitting in a booth near the window. I wonder, thought the rock hopper, what would have happened if
that
penguin had seen this box first?

“Too late,” he said out loud again. “But on the other hand, maybe he
should
see it … or one almost like it.”

With sinister plans forming in his mind, the rock hopper penguin chuckled softly to himself, turned away from the diner, and disappeared into the fog. A moment later the lights in Smiling Sally's Diner went out.

2

It was foggy again the next day. The thick, wet air rolled down the sidewalks like sleepwalking ghosts. It would have been a day to be inside Smiling Sally's warm and friendly diner. But Mr. Pin and Maggie were somewhere else.

The two detectives were on the second floor of an old warehouse. They were looking for new stools for Smiling Sally's Diner. The warehouse belonged to Maggie's uncle Otis, who lived on the top floor. He sold an odd assortment of things that he rescued from buildings about to be torn down.

Maggie and Mr. Pin stood between a row of iron fences and old bathtubs with feet. Next to the fences and bathtubs were rows and rows of pillars, carved doors, marble fireplaces, stained-glass windows, restaurant booths, stools, sinks, doorknobs, hinges, and even staircases. Inside each bathtub was a gargoyle.

“This place is spooky,” said Maggie as she looked at the peculiar expressions on the gargoyles' faces. “It's weird seeing old bathtubs all lined up and no one around to take a bath. And what are these things? They look like monsters.”

“They're gargoyles,” said Mr. Pin. “Some gargoyles look like monsters. Some just look like animals. You've seen them decorating old buildings, sometimes at the very top.”

“I don't know how Otis can live here,” said Maggie.

The knotted floorboards creaked.

Maggie shivered. “We should get the diner stools for Sally and go home. This place is giving me nightmares, and I'm not even asleep yet.”

A low, groaning rumble shook the building. An elevator shuddered as it was lowered slowly down the shaft at the end of the row of bathtubs. A grated door opened, and a short, balding man wearing a striped vest stepped out.

“Uncle Otis!” shouted Maggie. “I'm glad to see you. Any minute now I was sure I was going to see a ghost.”

“Hasn't been one here for a few months,” said Uncle Otis. Only half of his mouth turned up in a smile.

“This is Mr. Pin,” said Maggie.

“Detective Pin. Reasonable rates,” said the rock hopper penguin, tipping his checked cap.

Crash!!

“What was that?” asked Otis.

“A ghost!” cried Maggie.

“No,” said Mr. Pin, darting between columns. “Someone dropped a gargoyle.”

“A thief?” asked Otis.

“I don't know,” said Mr. Pin.

“I thought I heard breathing before, and it wasn't ours,” said Maggie.

Maggie and Otis rushed over to where Mr. Pin was examining an odd-shaped stone face that had been broken into several pieces.

“What is it?” asked Maggie.

“It used to be a gargoyle,” said Mr. Pin.

“So where's the thief now?” asked Otis.

“A thief is only one possibility,” corrected Mr. Pin.

But just then they heard running footsteps. A dark figure stepped into the elevator.

“Over there!” said Mr. Pin, pointing with his wing. They ran to the elevator, but it was too late. The door had squeaked shut.

“We'll take the stairs,” directed Mr. Pin. The two detectives raced down the steep stairs, followed more slowly by Uncle Otis. They made it to the first floor just in time to see someone very short step through the fog and onto a waiting bus. Maggie and Mr. Pin watched as the driver, who was wearing a trench coat, pulled the bus away from the curb.

He was getting away!

Mr. Pin held up his wing to signal for a cab speeding around the corner. The cab screeched to a stop. Mr. Pin and Maggie climbed in.

“Follow that bus,” said Mr. Pin to the driver.

“Sure, mister. No problem.”

“I've never seen a bus driver wearing a trench coat,” said Maggie.

“Interesting,” said Mr. Pin. “Not only that, but I think the driver was actually waiting for whoever it was who smashed the gargoyle.”

The bus zigzagged north, then east toward the lake.

“Strange bus route,” said the driver.

“Strange,” said Maggie. “I think that bus has only one passenger.”

“That
is a strange bus,” said Mr. Pin. “But we'd better hurry. It's headed toward the bridge.”

“Sure,” said the cabdriver.

The taxi stayed close, but the bus was fast and the fog was thick.

“The drawbridge is going up!” shouted Maggie as they reached the Chicago River.

“I might just make it,” said the driver.

“Not necessary,” said Mr. Pin. And the taxi squealed to a stop just short of the rising bridge. The bus had made it over just in time.

“Whew! Thank goodness we stopped,” said Maggie.

“Say, mister …,” said the driver.

“Mr. Pin,” corrected the rock hopper.

“And I'm Maggie.”

“I'm Gus,” said the driver. “Glad to meet you. Say, when the bridge comes down, do you want me to keep going, or can I take you somewhere else?”

“Somewhere else, please. We've lost the bus,” said Mr. Pin. “Smiling Sally's Diner on Monroe.”

“I know the place. Food's good, and you meet interesting people,” said Gus.

“I live there,” said Mr. Pin.

“You do? Say, you must be the famous rock hopper penguin detective Mister … uh … Pen.”

“Pin.”

“Is Pen short for pencil?”

“No,” said Mr. Pin. “Pin is just short, Gus.”

“Like penguins, Mr. Pen?”

“Pin.”

“Right. Well,” Gus went on, “I guess this ride is on me. No charge. Just like Smiling Sally always says, no reason why big cities can't have big hearts. Right, Pen?”

“Right. And thanks, Ges.”

3

Back at the diner, Maggie, Mr. Pin, and the taxi driver named Gus were all trying to explain to Smiling Sally what had happened when the two detectives had gone to buy diner stools from Uncle Otis.

“First it was spooky,” said Maggie. “Then it got really spooky. Then Uncle Otis showed up.”

“Did he help you find some nice stools for the diner, dear?” asked Smiling Sally, passing around fresh cinnamon rolls.

“He didn't have a chance,” said Maggie. “You see, that was when we found the gargoyle.”

BOOK: The Spy Who Came North from the Pole
2.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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