He read it over: "BALLOON ASCENSION FROM PALISADES "Signor Panatella, the famous Italian Aeronaut, will make parachute drop from height never before attempted." The ascension was to be made that afternoon from one of the amusement parks on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson. "This is Providence," he muttered to himself, catching up the dodger.
"'At ten-thirty this morning Rudolph Oscar Grabbitall, the millionaire stone-breaker, read the startling news that a foreign Count had just landed in New York. His suffering was pathetic. His daughter, Gasolene Panatella, who will inherit $19,000,000, mostly in bonds, stocks and newspaper talk, was in the dental parlor five blocks away from home when the blow fell.
The little man looked around over the heads of the crowd. He caught sight of Owen beside Pauline near the balloon basket. The lifting of his riding cap might or might not have been a salute and signal. "Oh, I wish I hadn't promised Harry not to go up. I know Signor Panatella would take me," sighed Pauline. Harry had turned away to watch the actions of the strange horseman.
"Do you feel shooting pains in the cerebellum, near the apex of the cosmopolitan?" inquired the doctor. "Surest thing you know," I said. "Have you a buzzing in the ears, and a confused sound like distant laughter in the panatella?" he asked. "It's a cinch, Doc," I said. "Do you feel a roaring in the cornucopia with a tickling sensation in the diaphragm?" he asked. "Right again," I whispered.
Ten others were holding it with their hands awaiting the airman. Panatella purposely delayed the moment of mounting the basket. The tugging of the huge balloon against the strength of a dozen men gave impress to his feat, and he liked the state of suspense. But the sound from the surprised throng called his attention now to a scene that made him forget affectation and effect.
Panatella had all but reached the platform; Harry was within arm's length of it, when, with a writhing twist the bag jerked the basket sideways and upward, knocking to the ground the last two men who had held it and whirling forth into the deathly emptiness of space a cowering, stunned girl, whose white face peered and white hands pleaded over the basket rim peered down upon the upturned faces of thousands who would have risked their lives to aid, but who stood helpless in their pity, hushed in fear.
He led the way to the basket, and helped Pauline up so that she could look at the equipment, the anchor with its long coil of rope, the sand bags and water bottles. She was plainly fascinated as Panatella explained the manner of his flight and his drop through the air. As she saw them attach the basket to the tugging bag she was thrilled.
"Do you feel shooting pains in the cerebellum near the apex of the cosmopolitan?" inquired the doctor. "Surest thing you know," I said. "Have you a buzzing in the ears, and a confused sound like distant laughter in the panatella?" he asked. "It's a cinch, Doc," I said. "Do you feel a roaring in the cornucopia with a tickling sensation in the diaphragm?" he asked. "Right again," I whispered.
Dupont was seated in his private office puffing contentedly at a long panatella when the door opened and the publicity man entered. "What's new, Black? Anything?" Black smiled and dropped into a chair. "Nothing new," he said. "It's getting to be an old story. Every evening paper in the city copied that fellow Hawkins' yarn in The Times about the sea fight at Diablo Island.
This may sound like a steer, but it's straight." Hopalong thought for a minute and then leaned on the cigar case: "I reckon I'll take about a dozen of yore very best cigars, Charley. Got any real high-toned brands?" "Cortez panatella two for a simoleon," Chancy replied. "But, seein' that it's you, I'll throw off a dollar on a dozen.