‘WALLOOoooopp Cruuunshhh TSSSshhhh!’ Mint hit the dustbin outside Shout! clothes shop at full speed sending it, and him, crashing to the ground. At the same time, the painting that he was holding flew out of his hands, and, like a strange red bird, rose slowly up into the air – high above his head and the heads of all the tourists and shoppers on the busy street.
Outside the gallery, not knowing which way to go, Tommy, his father and the policeman searched the crowds with their eyes, hungry to see a piece of Mint.
‘Where did he go?’ asked the policeman. ‘It’s so busy. I can’t see him anywhere.’
‘Perhaps he went towards the hotel,’ Mr Winterburn said. ‘He could catch a taxi there and…’
‘LOOK!’ shouted Tommy, watching the painting fall back down to the ground and pointing along the street towards the beach and the railway station. ‘He’s up there,’ and before his father or the policeman could say anything, he was already running.
When he arrived outside Shout!, Tommy saw the dustbin lying on the street, and the painting too, but there was no sign of Mint.
‘Tommy, Tommy,’ called his father, who was running towards him with the policeman, ‘wait for us.’
Just then, the door to Shout! opened and a man in a green jacket and cap left the shop. He was in a hurry and nearly knocked over an old lady. ‘Sorry,’ said the man when she told him to be careful. The man walked quickly up the street, looking back twice while he hurried away.
`There is something strange about him,’ thought Tommy. Just then, his father and the policeman arrived.
‘We’ve lost him,’ said the policeman, looking all around.
‘Where did he go?’ asked Tommy’s father.
‘WAIT!’ shouted Tommy, pointing to the man in the green jacket who was about to turn the corner at the top of the street. ‘It’s him – he’s changed clothes again: the price tag is still on the cap! LOOK!’
‘Hey, you!’ called the policeman. ‘Stop!’ But as soon as the words were out of his mouth, the man in the green jacket threw off his cap and ran as fast as he could around the corner.
‘Hey! Come back,’ called the policeman again and all three of them began chasing Mint; but a second later, when they turned the corner into the small, quiet street behind the busy shops and restaurants, Mint was not there.
‘I don’t believe this!’ Mr Winterburn said. ‘Where has he gone?’
The policeman was talking on his radio, calling for more policemen to come and help and Mr Winterburn was shaking his head.
‘I think he’s hiding somewhere around here,’ said the policeman. ‘Perhaps he has gone into one of these shops through the back door.’
Then Tommy heard it: the loud voice from not so far away. It told him exactly where Mint was.
‘Come on,’ Tommy said. ‘Follow me!’
A price tag (n) – it tells you how much something is