Sequence: The Heron’s Foot (part six)
In his romance of the life of Aspinall, Dix depicted the professor journeying to the near east, winning the confidence of the ancient caste of fakirs, learning the formulas by which they…played the market. This unlikelihood called for some fair puckey.
“Before my very eyes, the wise man Saki-Mahood actually rose several inches from the floor, his state of trance in no way disturbed by this levitation…he spoke, then, in sepulchral tones, reciting these baffling letters: M…M…K…”
Near the last chapter’s end, a tantalizing confession: the secret involved equations derived from the height of Mount Maha-Maha-Kai, this being the Lost Continent of Atlantis’s tallest peak…if one took the word of Saki-Mahood. Factored in were the date of one’s stock purchase, the amount of money spent, and other hints of coincidence in name and place. But the final page of The Geomancer’s Secret was a tear-out order blank—“Reserve The GEOMANCER’s Secret, Part Two, TODAY, for only fifty cents. Supply limited.”
That was the Armistice House secret.
The door at the back bumped and creaked, hard-soled shoes beating out the rhythm of Charles Huey’s irritable gait. Following this a note higher and more sustained, the door swinging wider. Viola heard a swishing of fabric and a put-upon shuffle. Last came a slight shift in the room’s atmosphere, a puff of outdoor air that groped and fell away. At the same moment Charles reentered the shop, trailed by Ethan Bragg.
“I don’t understand you at all,” Bragg said.
Boxer Chaney loomed at the front door.
He turned the knob, palmed the glass, leaving a print; then, with a gesture like a punch, flung the door back on its hinges, and duck-walked in.
Bragg took out his handkerchief and wiped his glasses. “There. Ask your friend.”
“I don’t even know this guy.”
And Charles glared so piercingly at Chaney, he might as easily have said aloud: “Not a word from you.”
Viola met her father’s eye, telegraphing strong sentiment of her own. “You don’t know who that is, Charles? That’s Boxer Chaney. Boxer’s nothing but a two-bit head-basher. Mr. Bragg,” she went on, “did you pay him to do a job for you?”
The Heron’s Foot
(2016, Stephanie Foster)