“My feet went first (this is not always the case), and then my legs, and I could see the amazement with which the Grand Panjandrum and all the assembled company were regarding the, to them, extraordinary phenomenon.
“The Executioner in his agitation dropped his axe, and stood open-mouthed regarding what was left of me; and, although I was rather anxious lest they should make an attempt to chop off my head before it finally disappeared, I managed despite my gag to ‘grin’ in the Grand Panjandrum’s face, and an instant later I found myself here.”
Shin Shira, having finished his story, drew his little fan from his sleeve and sat fanning himself with great composure, while he regarded my doubtless astonished face with considerable amusement.
“I—I’ll put that story down at once, if you don’t mind,” I stammered, hurrying to my desk and getting out some papers.
The drawer stuck, and it was some seconds before I could get it open, and when I turned round again, to my great dismay, Shin Shira had almost disappeared.
The little yellow shoes were still there and part of a stocking, but even as I watched them they too disappeared, the long pointed toes of the shoes waggling a kind of farewell—or so I thought—and my strange little visitor had vanished.
MYSTERY NO. II
SHIN SHIRA AND THE DRAGON
It was during my holidays in Cornwall that I next met Shin Shira.
I had ridden by motor-car from Helston to the Lizard, and after scrambling over rugged cliffs for some time, following the white stones put by the coastguards to mark the way, I found myself at last at the most beautiful little bay imaginable, called Kynance Cove.
The tide was low, and from the glittering white sands, tall jagged rocks rose up, covered with coloured seaweed; which, together with the deep blue and green of the sky and sea, made a perfect feast of colour for the eyes.
On the shore I met an amiable young guide, who, for sixpence, undertook to show me some caves in the rocks which are not generally discovered by visitors.
They were very fine caves, one of them being called The Princess’s Parlour; and while we were exploring this, I suddenly heard a roar as of some mighty animal in terrible pain.
I turned to the guide with, I expect, rather a white face, for an explanation.
He smiled at my alarm, however, and told me that it was “only the Bellows,” and suggested a visit to the spot whence the sound proceeded.
We scrambled out of the cave and descended to the sands again, and passing behind a tall rock called The Tower, we saw a curious sight.
From between two enormous boulders came at intervals a great cloud of fine spray, which puffed up into the air for about twenty feet, accompanied by the roaring noise that I had previously noticed. My young guide explained to me that the noise and the spray were caused by the air in the hollow between the two boulders being forcibly expelled through a narrow slit in the rocks as each wave of the incoming tide entered. Having made this quite clear to me, he took his departure, warning me not to remain too long on the sands, as the tide was coming in rather rapidly.