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The World in the Balance

From Saturn they came, and gave the world a three-day ultimatum

UPPER BROADWAY drowsed lazily through the heat of the July afternoon. A policeman, taking advantage of a momentary lull in the rush of traffic, paused to mop his forehead and scan the blue sky above him.

High up over the roofs of the buildings floated a toy balloon, its bright green color plainly seen even at that height. The officer grinned as he speculated over the mental anguish of the child who must have lost it.

The whirl of traffic closed in again, and for two hours the officer guided cars and pedestrians. Then came another break, and as before he brushed his handkerchief across his forehead and scanned the heavens.

Two hours! And yet the balloon was still there, holding the same relative position, except that it was nearer, bigger, out of all proportion to the size of the ordinary toy type. The officer let several cars pass unheeded while he tried to discover how a balloon could float freely and still beat up against the wind, for certainly it was moving toward him in spite of the breeze at his back.

The officer was not the only person in New York who was puzzled by the actions of the green sphere. From all parts of the city people watched, wondering what sort of an advertising project they were witnessing.

Evening came on, and still that gayly colored globe hung over the city, motionless now. Night—and it stood outlined against the sky like a phosphorescent moon, lighted by some sort of shifting fitful flame that seemed to come from within and swirl up over its surface.

From the harbor a brilliant pencil of light shot out, circled around and then up, coming to rest on the strange object. Then New York fairly rubbed its eyes! It was gone! The beam from the searchlight swept here and there, trying to point it out again, but to no avail.

Suddenly from far above came an answering beam; a thin threadlike stream of green. In eerie fashion the beam shortened and lengthened, swept around in a wide arc, and then pointed straight down at the figure of Liberty.

A slight greenish glow surrounded the upper part of the statue.

The harbor searchlight circled to bear on the figure, and the watchers gasped. Liberty was broken! The entire head and half the torso had disappeared, the remaining part standing there with the searchlight playing up and down its shortened length.

There had been no noise, no crash. Half the Statue of Liberty had simply vanished.

Up to that point curiosity had held the city in its grip. Now fear took its place. Telephone and telegraph lines hummed with the news of the vandalism. And out over the harbor that phosphorescent globe suddenly became visible again.

An hour—two hours passed. From Mineola two huge armored bombers took off into the air and winged toward the scene of the disturbance. By the noise of the motors and the flare of the exhausts the populace followed the flight of the airplanes over the city, out over the harbor, straight toward that shining globe.

The bombers cut a wide circle around their objective; and then the roar of the motors became inter...

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