- When gypsy queen Madam LaRue arrives in Santa Christina, she wields a strange power to daze, then capture Nancy, and whisk her away to the secret gypsy camp. Eddie and Kathy must act quickly to try and find her, and save their sister from Madam Larue and her son Gaston. But first, they need to decipher the gypsy code, and overcome the gypsy’s mastery of light.
A new poster hung on the big sign board on the front lawn of the Santa Christina School when Kathy, her younger brother Eddie, and the youngest, Nancy Keenan finished the day’s classes. The poster’s red and yellow colors caught Nancy’s eye. The poster read:
Coming, October 1
The Great and Mysterious
Learn Your Future
Cure Your Sickness
Enhance Your Life
4 PM at Santa Christina Pier
“How about that!” Nancy said. “Imagine Madam LaRue coming here to Santa Christina. Do you suppose we’ll get to go see her?”
Eddie said, “It’s tomorrow.”
“I don’t know,” Kathy said. “We’ve got lots of things to do tomorrow after school. You know how Dad is about getting our chores done right and on schedule.” Ever since their mother died, older sister Kathy made sure her brother and sister conducted themselves the way their father wanted them to. This was no exception.
“It doesn’t hurt to ask,” Nancy said. “He might be nice and let us.”
When the three of them got home from school that day they found their father, the attorney Albert Keenan, on the front porch waiting for them. “What did you guy’s learn in school today?” he asked.
Kathy said, “I learned about prisms, rainbows and how they’re made.”
Nancy followed with, “I heard a story about gypsies. They’re really mysterious and exciting.”
Eddie looked at Nancy, and grunted, “I learned that when your little sister follows you around, all your friends tease you.”
“I thought what you’d say was that you learned about the coming of the gypsy, Madam LaRue.” Albert smiled when he said it.
Nancy said, “We saw the poster outside school.”
“Do you want to see her?” Albert asked.
“Yes!” All three of them said together.
“You can go. However, just remember that all gypsies are fakes. They put on a good show. They’re very entertaining. But what they do best is make stupid and unsuspecting people believe what they say. They’re very convincing. They’ll talk the shirt right off your back. But in the end, everything they say and do is only to get people to give them their hard earned money.”
Albert paused. “Do you understand?” he asked.
“Yes,” they all said together.
“You can go,” Albert repeated. “But stay together at all times. They’ve been known to snatch a lone child.”
“We will, Father,” they all said at once. “We will.”
“I guarantee it,” Kathy added.
The next afternoon Kathy, Eddie, and Nancy went straight from school to the base of the Santa Christina pier. Once there, they found yellow caution tape wrapped around a line of orange cones marking the area where Madam Larue’s show would take place. A small crowd already sat or stood behind the tape. Kathy led her brother and sister to a spot in the front row to one side of center. There they sat on the ground and waited.
A few minutes before four o’clock a crane lifted a large white wagon with gold filigree from the bed of a flatbed trailer and set it on the pier. A minute later four coal black horses appeared from the back of a horse trailer. A man hitched the horses to the wagon, and parked it at a spot by the rope. The Keenan’s found themselves sitting next to the wagon’s left front wheel.
After a short wait, a gypsy man dressed in a white shirt with billowing sleeves, purple pants, polished high boots, and a red bandana on his head, emerged from the front door of the wagon. He carried a gold cane in his right hand. After carefully surveying the crowd twice, he pointed at Nancy with his gold cane. “You there,” he said. “Move back away from the tape. The machine goes there.”
Nancy inched back. Her brother, sister, and all the others nearby moved back a foot or two.
The gypsy then reached into the wagon and brought out a piece of furniture that Eddie thought looked like a small science lab table. On top of it sat an odd shaped candle, several scientific looking clamps, and what looked like the eye piece from a microscope.
The gypsy and an assistant then descended to the ground carrying the table. They set it on the ground next Nancy, and then he busied themselves attaching polished pieces of glass to the clamps.
“Look there, aren’t those pieces of glass lenses and prisms?” Kathy asked.
“Yes,” said Eddie. “They’re just like the ones our science teacher, Mister Caverretta, showed us.”
“Hush,” Nancy hissed. “I can’t hear what the man is saying.”
Once attached, the gypsy carefully checked each lens and prism. While he did, he recited over and over and over again:
Blue in the eye,
- Red on the forehead,
- Your mind is mine.
- Red in the eye,
- Blue on the forehead,
- Your mind is yours.
Nancy asked, “I wonder what it means?”
Kathy shook her head and said, “I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.”
A short time later the man lit the candle. Its orange-white glow made it nearly invisible in the afternoon sunlight. The gypsy then set a white sheet of paper by the eye piece, and made a few small adjustments to the lenses and prisms. When he saw a blue spot and a red spot appear on the paper he smiled and said, “Good.”
He then turned a lever. The blue and red spots moved over the surface of the paper. “Very good,” he said with a chuckle.
The man then climbed up on the wagon. With a great show of his puffy sleeves, swept the gold cane slowly from side to side, and waited for the crowd to fall silent. When it finally did, he roared in a deep voice, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I present to you the great Madame LaRue!”