Troubles in the Brasses

Troubles in the Brasses by Charlotte MacLeod

Book: Troubles in the Brasses by Charlotte MacLeod Read Free Book Online
Authors: Charlotte MacLeod
lather, rubbed his face dry on the first towel he could lay hands on, and ran downstairs to join the welcoming committee.
    He was just in time to witness the landing, which was a remarkably bad one. The plane bucked and bounced and seesawed like a kid’s teeter-totter, and almost smacked into the grounded Grumman before it finally joggled to a safe stop.
    “My God, who’s that? The Wright brothers?”
    That was Ed Naxton, and his question was a valid one. Not many of those present had ever laid eyes on an open-cockpit triplane, or any kind of triplane, for that matter. That anybody could be flying such an antiquated crate among the treacherous downdrafts of this mountainous area was a matter for wonderment. None of the watchers was at all surprised when the pilot climbed out over the left lower wing wearing jodhpurs with big patches on the seat and knees, a peeling sheepskin jacket, a Lucky Lindy helmet with the chinstraps dangling, cracked and blurred goggles, and a once-white scarf wound four or five times around his neck and still having plenty of frayed ends left to trail in the approved manner. This magnificent man in his flying machine did in fact appear to be male, and he was alone.
    Madoc’s first thought was that this must be one of the turns they put on for the tourists at the ghost town. The pilot was gazing over the assemblage: Delicia, now cocooned in Lady Rhys’s blanket, accepting a squirt of throat spray from Ainsworth Kight; Jason Jasper and Cedric Rintoul with their respective trumpet and trombone to their lips, tooting a snatch of “Come, Josephine, in My Flying Machine”; Madame Bellini and Jacques-Marie Houdon dignified and impassive; Joe Ragovsky and all the rest bouncing with excitement, except for David Gabriel, who remained totally blank.
    The newcomer took off his helmet, presumably so that he could scratch his head. Then he put it back on, shoved his goggles up on top, leaned over to check out the tussocky ground, and finally sat on the wing with his legs dangling. His apparent intention was to let himself down, but it was easy to see why he was hesitating. The drop was maybe five feet, no jump at all for a young man; but this chap was seventy if he was a day. Ed and Steve had already caught on to his dilemma and were on their way to lend him a hand, so Madoc stayed with the waiters.
    As the triplane’s pilot approached, hobbling between Ed and Steve, Madoc judged seventy to have been a conservative estimate. This gaffer couldn’t be one of the Wright brothers, but he might conceivably have patronized their bicycle shop in his youth. He could even have bought the parts for his flying machine there, from what Madoc could see of it.
    At least he wasn’t bashful. He walked straight up to the group in front of the Miners’ Rest, tilted back his head, and roared, “You the bunch that got kilt in the plane crash?”
    Sir Emlyn was with them now. He’d forgotten to take the dish towel from around his waist and Madoc hadn’t seen fit to remind him. Lady Rhys, last to appear (except of course for Lucy Shadd, who hadn’t come at all), whisked the thing out of sight and gave her son one of those exasperated looks he’d been hoping he’d seen the last of. The towel wouldn’t have made any difference; Sir Emlyn was Sir Emlyn no matter what. He stepped forward and addressed the inquirer.
    “How do you do, sir? I am Emlyn Rhys, and these are members of the Wagstaffe Symphony Orchestra. We are on our way to the Fraser River Music Festival; our plane had to make a forced landing here last night. Are we fortunate enough to discover that you have come looking for us?”
    “You sure as shootin’ are, pardner. Ace Bulligan’s my name an’ flyin’s my game. Any casualties?”
    “None whatever, thanks to the skill of Mr. MacVittie here. However, we are without power to continue our journey and also with no means of communication, so we’re most grateful to you for coming to our rescue. How did you

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