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THE

THREE
INVESTIGATORS
11 – 20

1
Covers

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Three Investigators Mysteries - 11

The Mystery of the Talking Skull

By
Robert Arthur

A Short Preview

Welcome, mystery lovers! We are gathered together again for another stimulating
case of The Three Investigators, whose official motto is "We Investigate Anything".
If they had known what they were getting into when they tackled the curious case of
the talking skull they might have changed their motto.

Be that as it may, they find themselves this time in a mix-up of mystery and danger
which leads them from one perplexing enigma to another until - but I am not a
blabbermouth. I promised faithfully not to tell too much and I shall keep my
promise.

Indeed, I shall only say that The Three Investigators are Jupiter Jones, Pete
Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews, who all make their home in Rocky Beach, a small
municipality in California a few miles from Hollywood. Their Headquarters is a
mobile home trailer in The Jones Salvage Yard, a super junkyard owned by
Jupiter's aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs Titus Jones.

The boys make an excellent team. Jupiter has a quick mind and is adept at
deductions. Pete is less intellectual but sturdy and courageous. Bob is somewhat
studious and an excellent researcher. Together they have solved some very
intriguing mysteries indeed.

Which is all I shall say at this time, for I know you are eager to dispense with this
preview and get to the main feature.

- ALFRED HITCHCOCK

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Chapter 1
Jupiter Buys a Trunk

It all started because Jupiter Jones read the newspaper.

The Three Investigators - Jupiter, Pete Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews - were taking
it easy back in Jupe's workshop section of The Jones Salvage Yard. Bob was writing
up some notes on their last case. Pete was just enjoying the California morning
sunshine. And Jupiter was reading the paper.

Presently he looked up from its pages.

"Has either of you ever been to an auction?" he asked.

Bob said no. Pete shook his head.

"Neither have I," Jupiter said. "The paper says there's an auction this morning at
the Davis Auction Company in Hollywood. They'll be auctioning off to the highest
bidder unclaimed luggage from a number of hotels. The paper says there are trunks
and suitcases with unknown contents, left behind by people who moved, or couldn't
pay their bill, or who just forgot to call for them. I think it might be interesting to
visit an auction."

"Why?" Pete asked. "I don't need a suitcase full of somebody's old clothes."

"Neither do I," Bob said. "Let's go swimming."

"We should seek out new experiences," Jupiter said. "Every new experience helps
broaden our background as investigators. I'll see if Uncle Titus will let Hans drive
us up to Hollywood in the light truck."

Hans, one of two Bavarian brothers who helped in the salvage yard, was free. And
so, an hour later, the boys were standing in a large room crowded with people,
watching a short, plump auctioneer on a raised platform auction off trunks and
suitcases as rapidly as possible. At the moment he had a new-looking suitcase in
front of him and was trying to get one more bid on it.

"Going once! Going once!" he shouted. "Going twice! Going twice! ... Gone! Sold
for twelve dollars and fifty cents to the gentleman with the red necktie."

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The auctioneer banged his gavel, signifying that the sale was final. Then he turned
to see what came next.

"Now we come to lot 98!" he sang out. "A very interesting item, ladies and
gentlemen. Interesting and unusual. Hoist it up where everyone can see it, boys."

Two sturdy workmen lifted a small, old-fashioned trunk on to the platform. Pete
stirred restlessly. It was a hot day and the room was stuffy. Some of the men present
seemed quite interested in bidding on the unknown contents of the luggage, but Pete
couldn't have cared less.

"C'mon, Jupe, let's go!" Pete muttered to his stocky companion.

"Just a little longer," Jupiter whispered back. "This looks like an interesting item. I
think I'll bid on it."

"On that?" Pete stared at the trunk. "You're crazy."

"Just the same, I think I'll try to buy it. If it's worth anything, we'll all share."

"Worth anything? It's probably full of clothes that went out of style in 1890," Bob
said.

The trunk indeed looked old. It was made of wood, with leather straps and leather
binding, and had a rounded top. It looked stoutly locked.

"Ladies and gentlemen!" the auctioneer shouted "I invite your attention to this fine
trunk. Believe me, folks, they don't make trunks like this one any more!"

A snicker went through the crowd. It was certainly true no one made trunks like
that any more. The trunk could easily have been fifty years old.

"I think it's an old actor's trunk," Jupe whispered to his two companions. "The
kind actors touring in plays used to take with them to keep their costumes in."

"One thing we don't need is a bunch of old costumes," Pete muttered back. "For
goodness sake, Jupe - "

But the auctioneer was already shouting his sales talk.

"Look at it, ladies and gentlemen, look at it!" he cried. "Not new, not modern, no
indeed. But think of it as an antique. Think of it as a fond memento of grandfather's
day. And what may be in it?"

He rapped the trunk with his knuckles. It gave off a dull thud.

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"Who knows what it holds? It might hold anything. Why, folks, the crown jewels of
the former czars of old Russia might be in that trunk. I don't guarantee it, but
certainly the possibility can't be denied. Now what am I bid? Give me an offer,
someone. Give me an offer."

The crowd was silent. Apparently no one wanted an old trunk. The auctioneer
looked annoyed.

"Come on, folks!" he implored. "Give me a bid! Let's get this started. This fine old
antique trunk, this precious relic of yesterday, this - "

He was just getting wound up in his spiel when Jupiter Jones took a step forward.

"One dollar!" he called, his voice squeaking slightly with excitement.

"One dollar!" the auctioneer interrupted himself to shout. "I have one dollar from
that intelligent-looking young man in the first row. And you know what I'm going to
do, folks? I'm going to reward this intelligence by selling it to him for one dollar!
Sold!"

And he brought his gavel down hard. The crowd chuckled. No one else wanted the
trunk, and the auctioneer wasn't wasting time trying to get any more bids. Now
Jupiter Jones was the somewhat surprised owner of one antique trunk, tightly
locked, contents unknown.

At that moment, however, there was a stir at the back of the crowd. A woman was
trying to push her way through - a little old lady with white hair, an old-fashioned
hat, and gold-rimmed spectacles.

"Wait a minute!" she called. "I want to bid. Ten dollars! I bid ten dollars for the
trunk!"

People turned to look at her, surprised at anyone wanting to pay ten dollars for such
an old trunk.

"Twenty dollars!" the white-haired woman called, waving her hand. "I'll bid twenty
dollars!"

"I'm sorry, madam," the auctioneer called back. "The article has been sold and all
sales are final. Take it away, men, take it away. We have to get on with the sale."

The two workmen lifted the trunk down from the platform, swinging it towards The
Three Investigators.

"Here you are," one said. Pete and Jupiter stepped forward.

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"Well, it looks as if we own one old trunk," Pete grumbled, seizing a leather handle
at one end. "Now what'll we do with it!"

"Take it back to the salvage yard and open it," Jupe said, grasping the leather
handle at the other end.

"Wait a minute, fellows," the second workman said. "First it has to be paid for.
Mustn't forget that important detail."

"Oh, that's right." Jupe put down his end, reached in his pocket for a leather wallet,
took out a dollar bill, and handed it to the man. The man scribbled on a paper and
gave it to Jupe.

"Your receipt," he said. "Now it's yours. If there're any royal jewels in it, you own
them. Haw haw!" Still laughing, he let the boys take the trunk. With Bob ahead of
them, pushing a way through the crowd, Jupe and Pete carried the small trunk
towards the rear of the room. They had just got it through the rows of people when
the white-haired woman who had come too late to bid bustled up to them.

"Boys," she said, "I'll buy that trunk from you for twenty-five dollars. I collect old
trunks and I want this one for my collection."

"Gosh, twenty-five dollars!" Pete exclaimed.

"Take it, Jupe!" Bob said.

"It's a very good profit - and the trunk isn't really worth a cent more even to a
collector," the woman said. "Here you are, twenty-five dollars."

She took the money from a large pocketbook and thrust it at Jupiter. To the
amazement of Bob and Pete, Jupiter shook his head.

"I'm sorry, ma'am," he said. "We don't want to sell it. We want to see what's in it."

"There can't be anything in it of value," the woman said, looking upset. "Here, I'll
give you thirty dollars."

"No, thank you." Jupiter shook his head again. "I really don't want to sell it."

The woman sighed. Then, just as she was about to say something more, she seemed
to take alarm. She turned and scurried away, losing herself in the crowd. She had
apparently been frightened by the approach of a young man carrying a camera.

"Hi, boys," the young man said. "I'm Fred Brown. I'm a reporter for The
Hollywood News, and I'm looking for a human interest story. I'd like to take your

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picture with the trunk. It's the only thing at all unusual in the sale. Just lift it up,
will you? That's fine. And you - " he spoke to Bob - "stand behind it so you'll be in
the picture."

Bob and Pete looked uncertain, but Jupe quickly motioned them into the pose the
reporter wanted. Standing behind the trunk, Bob noticed that across the top were
stencilled in faded white paint the words THE GREAT GULLIVER. The young
man aimed the camera, a flashbulb went off, and the picture was taken.

"Thanks," the reporter said. "Now may I have your names? And will you tell me
why you refused thirty dollars for it? Seems like a nice profit to me."

"We're just curious," Jupiter said. "I think it's an old theatrical trunk and we want
to see what's in it. We just bought it for fun, not to make a profit."

"Then you don't believe it has the Russian crown jewels in it?" Fred Brown
chuckled.

"That's just talk," Pete said. "It might have old costumes in it."

"Could be," the young man agreed. "That name, The Great Gulliver, sounds very
theatrical. Speaking of names, what did you say yours were?"

"We didn't say," Jupiter answered. "But here's our card. We're - uh - well, we
investigate things."

He handed the reporter one of The Three Investigators' business cards which the
boys carried at all times. It said:

THE THREE INVESTIGATORS


"We Investigate Anything"
? ? ?
First Investigator Jupiter Jones
Second Investigator Peter Crenshaw
Records and Research Bob Andrews

"So?" The reporter raised his eyebrows. "You're investigators, eh? What do the
question marks stand for?"

"That's our symbol," Jupiter told him. "The question marks stand for mysteries
unsolved, riddles unanswered, puzzles of any kind. So we use it as our trademark.
We investigate any kind of mystery."

"And now you're investigating an old theatrical trunk." The young man smiled and
put the card in his pocket. "Thanks a lot. Maybe you'll see your picture in tonight's
paper. Depends on whether the editor likes the story or not."

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He raised his hand in a gesture of good-bye and turned away. Jupe picked up his
end of the trunk again.

"Come on, Pete, we have to get this outside," he said. "We can't keep Hans waiting
any longer."

With Bob leading the way, he and Pete lugged the trunk towards the street exit. Pete
was still grumbling.

"Why did you tell that fellow our names?" he said.

"Publicity," Jupiter said. "Every business needs publicity for people to know about
it. Lately good mysteries have been scarce, and we can use some business or we'll get
rusty."

They went through a big door, out on to the pavement, and down the street a few
yards to where the light truck was parked. After heaving the trunk into the back,
the boys climbed into the cab of the truck with Hans.

"Back home, Hans," Jupiter said. "We have made a purchase and we wish to
examine it."

"Sure, Jupe," Hans agreed, getting the truck started. "You buy something, huh?"

"An old trunk," Pete said. "How're we going to open it, First?"

"We have lots of keys around the salvage yard," Jupiter told him. "If we're lucky
one of them will work."

"Maybe we'll have to break it open," Bob suggested.

"No." Jupiter shook his head. "That would spoil it. We'll get the lock open
somehow."

They rode the rest of the way in silence. When they reached The Jones Salvage Yard
in Rocky Beach, Pete and Jupe handed down the trunk to Hans, who set it to one
side. Mrs Jones came out of the little cabin that served as an office.

"Mercy and goodness, what have you bought?" she asked. "Why, that trunk looks
old enough to have come over on the Mayflower."

"Not quite, Aunt Mathilda," Jupiter said. "But it is old. We paid a dollar for it."

"Well, at least you didn't waste much money on it," said his aunt. "I suppose you
need the bunch of keys to try to open it. They're on a nail over the desk."

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Bob ran in to get the keys. Jupe began trying all that seemed the right size. After
about half an hour he gave up. None of the keys would open the trunk.

"Now what'll we do?" Pete asked.

"Pry it open?" Bob suggested.

"Not yet," Jupe told them. "I believe Uncle Titus has more keys put away
somewhere. We'll have to wait until he comes back and ask him for them."

Jupiter's aunt came out of the office again.

"Well, boys," she said briskly, "can't waste all day. Time to get to work. First lunch,
then work. You have to let the old trunk wait."

Reluctantly the boys went for lunch in the neat two-storey house just outside the
salvage yard where Jupiter lived with his Aunt Mathilda and Uncle Titus. Then they
set to work mending and repairing broken articles in the salvage yard. Titus Jones
would later sell these, giving them part of the profit for spending money. This kept
them well-occupied until late in the afternoon, when Titus Jones and Konrad, the
other yard helper, came lumbering into the yard in the big truck, bearing a load of
junk Mr Jones had bought that day.

Titus Jones, a small man with a large nose and a enormous black moustache,
hopped down as lightly as a boy and embraced his wife. Then he waved a newspaper
he held in his hand.

"Gather round, boys!" he called. "You're in the newspaper."

Curiously the three boys joined him and his wife and Titus Jones spread out The
Hollywood News to show them the first page of the second section. There sure
enough, was their picture - Jupe and Pete holding the old trunk, Bob standing
behind it. It was a good picture - even the name THE GREAT GULLIVER was
clear on the trunk. A headline said YOUNG SLEUTHS TO INVESTIGATE
MYSTERY TRUNK. The story below it told, in a humorous manner, of Jupiter's
buying the trunk and refusing to sell it for a profit, and hinted that the boys
expected to find something very mysterious or valuable inside it. Of course, this last
was just the reporter's imagination, thrown in to make the story more entertaining.
The boys had no idea what they'd find inside the trunk.

The story also gave their names and said their Headquarters was in The Jones
Salvage Yard in Rocky Beach.

"Well, that's publicity, all right," Pete said. "It makes us sound kind of foolish,
though, thinking there's something valuable in the trunk."

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"That was because the auctioneer talked about the Russian crown jewels," Jupiter
said. "We'll have to cut this out and add it to our scrapbook."

"Later," Mrs Jones said firmly. "It's dinner-time now. Put the trunk away and
wash your hands. Bob, Pete, are you going to eat with us tonight?"

Bob and Pete ate at Jupiter's home about as often as they did at their own. But this
time they thought they'd better get on home, so they pedalled off on their bicycles.
Jupiter pushed the old trunk out of the way round the corner of the office and went
in to dinner. Mr Jones came along behind and locked the big iron front gates of the
salvage yard, - fancy, ornamental gates bought from an estate that had burned
down.

The rest of the evening was uneventful, until just as Jupiter was going up to bed
there came a soft knocking on the door. It was Hans and Konrad, who lived in a
small house at the back.

"Just want to tell you, Mr Jones," Hans said softly. "We see a light in the salvage
yard, we look through the fence, somebody is fooling around in there. Maybe we all
better see, huh?"

"Mercy and goodness and sweetness and light! Burglars!" Mrs Jones gasped.

"We'll take a look, Mathilda, my dear," said Mr Jones. "With Hans and Konrad,
we can handle any burglar. We'll slip up on the intruders and catch them by
surprise."

He and the two husky yard helpers began to move cautiously towards the front gates
of the salvage yard. Jupiter tagged along behind. No one had suggested he come, but
on the other hand, no one had said he couldn't.

Now, through the cracks in the board fence surrounding the yard, they could see
flickers of light from a flashlight inside. They tiptoed forward. Then - disaster! Hans
tripped over something, fell heavily to the ground, and let out a surprised "Oof!"

Whoever was inside the yard heard him. Immediately they heard the sound of
running feet. Two dark figures ran out through the front gate, leaped into a car
parked across the street, and roared away.

Mr Jones, Konrad, and Jupiter ran up swiftly. The front gate stood open, the lock
obviously picked. The thieves were gone. But Jupiter, with a sudden suspicion, ran
to where he had left the old trunk he had bought.

The mystery trunk was gone!

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Chapter 2
An Unusual Visitor

Bob Andrews rode his bicycle through the front gate of The Jones Salvage Yard. It
was a bright, sunny morning in late summer and the day promised to be warm. Pete
and Jupiter were already busy in the yard. Pete was taking apart a rusty power
mower, and Jupiter was putting a coat of white enamel on some iron garden chairs
from which he had sanded the rust.

They looked up, dejected, as Bob parked his bike and walked over.

"Hello, Bob," Jupiter said. "Take a brush and get busy. We have a lot of these
chairs to paint."

"Did you get the trunk open?" Bob burst out. "What was inside it?"

"The trunk?" Pete laughed hollowly. "What trunk are you talking about, Bob?"

"You know what trunk," Bob said, puzzled. "The trunk Jupe bought yesterday at
the auction. My mum thought the picture of the three of us was pretty good. She's
curious about the trunk, too."

"Everyone seems to be curious about that trunk," Jupiter said, dabbing on more
paint. "Too curious. We should have sold it and made a profit while we were at it."

"What are you talking about?" Bob demanded.

"He means there isn't any trunk," Pete said. "Not any more. It was stolen last
night."

"Stolen!" Bob stared at him. "Who stole it?"

"We don't know," Jupiter said and then told Bob about the disturbance of the night
before. "Two men ran off and got away," Jupiter finished. "And the trunk was
gone. Obviously they stole it."

"Golly, I wonder why they wanted it!" Bob exclaimed. "What do you suppose was

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in it?"

"Maybe they were just curious, too," Pete suggested. "They read the story in the
paper and they came to have a look."

"I don't think so." Jupiter shook his head. "No one would steal a dollar trunk just
out of curiosity. Too much risk. They must have had a good idea something valuable
was in it. I'm beginning to think that trunk would have been worth investigating.
Too bad we don't have it any more."

The boys' talk was interrupted by the arrival of an expensive blue car. A tall, thin
man with strangely slanting eyebrows got out and came towards them.

"Ah, good morning," he said. He looked at Jupiter. "Jupiter Jones, I believe."

"Yes, sir," Jupiter said. "Can I help you? My aunt and uncle are away for a little
while, but if there's anything in the salvage yard you're interested in, I can sell it to
you."

"I am interested in only one thing," the tall man said. "Yesterday, according to
information in the local press, you bought an old trunk. At an auction. For the large
sum of one dollar. Are the facts as I state them correct?"

"Yes, sir," Jupiter answered, staring at him. Both his appearance and manner of
speaking were certainly a little odd. "That's true."

"Very good," the tall man said. "To waste no more time in conversation, I wish to
buy the trunk from you. I hope, I do hope, you haven't sold it yet?"

"Well, no sir," Jupe admitted. "We haven't sold it. But - "

"Then all is well," the stranger said. He waved his hand, and a number of green
bills appeared between his fingers, spread out like a fan.

"Look," he said. "One hundred dollars. Ten ten-dollar bills. I offer to you for the
trunk." As Jupiter hesitated, he went on, "Surely that is enough? You cannot expect
me to pay more for one old-fashioned trunk containing nothing but odds and ends,
can you?"

"No, sir," Jupiter began again. "But - "

"There is no need to keep saying but!" the man snapped. "I am offering you a fair
price. I want the trunk for sentimental reasons. The story in the newspaper said it
had once belonged to The Great Gulliver. Is that correct?"

"Well," Jupe answered as Bob and Pete watched with puzzled interest, "that name

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was on it. But - "

"But again!" The tall man scowled. "'But me no buts!' Shakespeare said that and I
say it. The fact is, The Great Gulliver was once a friend of mine. I have not seen him
for some years. I fear, alas, that he is no more. Departed. Gone. To put it bluntly,
dead. I should like to own his trunk for old times' sake. Here is my card."

He snapped his fingers. The money in his hand changed to a small white card. He
extended it to Jupiter, who took it. The card said Maximilian the Mystic. A line
below that said he lived at the Sorcerer's Club, at an address in Hollywood.

"You're a magician!" Jupiter exclaimed. Maximilian the Mystic gave a slight bow.

"Once well known," he answered. "Performances before all the crowned heads of
Europe. Now in retirement, devoting myself to writing a history of magic. An
occasional small exhibition of my skills for friends. But back to business."

He snapped his fingers and again the money was in his hands.

"Let us complete our transaction," he said. "I have the money. I wish the trunk.
You are in business to buy and sell. It is as simple as that. You sell, I buy. Why do
you hesitate?"

"Because I can't sell you the trunk!" Jupiter burst out. "That's what I've been
trying to tell you."

"Can't?" The slanting eyebrows of the magician drew close together. His scowl was
black. "Of course you can. Do not make me angry, boy. I still have mystic powers.
Suppose - " he thrust his head towards Jupiter and his dark eyes gleamed -
"suppose I snapped my fingers and made you vanish? Pouf! Like that. Into thin air.
Never to return. Then you might be sorry you had made me angry."

Mr Maximilian sounded so ominous that both Bob and Pete gulped. Even Jupe
looked uneasy.

"I can't sell you the trunk," he said, "because I haven't got it. It was stolen last
night."

"Stolen! Is this the truth, boy?"

"Yes, sir." Jupiter proceeded to relate, for the third time that morning, the events of
the night before. Maximilian listened intently. Then he sighed.

"Alas!" he said. "I should have come the moment I read the newspaper. You have
no clue to the thieves?"

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"They got away before we could get close to them," Jupe said.

"Bad, very bad," the magician muttered. "To think that the trunk of The Great
Gulliver should reappear so strangely, only to vanish again. I wonder why they
wanted it."

"Maybe there is something valuable in it after all," Bob suggested.

"Nonsense!" Maximilian said. "The Great Gulliver never had anything valuable,
poor chap. Except his magic act. There might be some of his old tricks in the trunk,
but they would be valuable only to another magician, such as myself. Did I tell you
The Great Gulliver was a magician? But of course you guessed it.

"He was not really great, though he called himself that. A small man, roly-poly, with
a round face and black hair. He sometimes wore Oriental robes to look like an
Oriental wizard. He had one special act and I had hoped that perhaps - but no
matter. The trunk is gone."

He was silent, thinking. Then he shrugged and the money between his fingers
vanished.

"My trip has been for nothing," he said. "Still, there is a possibility you will get the
trunk back. If you ever do, remember - Maximilian the Mystic wishes it!"

He fixed penetrating eyes on Jupiter.

"Do you understand, young man! I wish the trunk. I will pay for it if it can be
recovered. You will contact me at the Sorcerer's Club. Is it agreed?"

"I don't see how we can hope to get the trunk back again," Pete said.

"Nevertheless, it may happen," Maximilian insisted. "And if it does, I have first


claim to it. Is that agreed, boy?"

"If we should get it back," Jupiter said, "we won't sell it to anybody else without
talking to you first, Mr Maximilian. That's all I can promise. As Pete says, I don't
see how we could possibly get the trunk again. Those thieves are probably a long
way away by now."

"I suppose so." The magician sounded depressed. "Well, we'll wait and see what
happens. Don't lose my card now."

He put his hand into his pocket, seemed surprised, and brought out an egg.

"Now how in the world did that get there?" he asked. "I certainly don't want an egg
in my pocket. Here, boy, catch it."

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He threw the egg towards Pete, who quickly put up his hand to catch it. But in mid-
air the egg vanished. It seemed to wink out like a light.

"Hmm," the magician murmured, "it must have been a dodo's egg. They're extinct,
you know. Well, well, I must be going. Don't forget to call me."

He strode to his car. The Three Investigators half expected something strange to
happen as he went, but he simply drove out through the gates and turned down the
street. "Wow!" Pete said. "That was some customer!"

"He certainly wanted that trunk badly," Jupiter added. "I wonder if it's just
because he and The Great Gulliver were both magicians. Or if there's something
special in that trunk that he'd like to have for himself."

They were pondering this when another car drove in through the gate. At first they
thought it was Mr Maximilian returning. Then they saw it was a smaller car, a little
foreign saloon. It stopped, and out stepped a young man, whom they recognized as
the reporter who had taken their picture at the auction the previous day. "Hi," he
said, "remember me - Fred Brown?"

"Yes, sir," Jupiter answered. "What can we do for you?"

"I came to see if you had opened the trunk yet," the reporter told him. "I think I
can get another feature story about that trunk. You see, it may have something
special in it. I think it contains a talking skull!"

Chapter 3
Mystery upon Mystery

"A TALKING SKULL?" the boys exclaimed together.

Fred Brown nodded. "That's right. A genuine talking skull. Did you find it?"

Jupiter had to admit they hadn't found anything in the trunk because it had been
stolen. Again he told the story. The reporter frowned.

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"Darn!" he said. "There goes my feature! I wonder who took it? Somebody who
read the story in the newspaper, I suppose."

"I suppose so, Mr Brown," Jupiter agreed. "Maybe somebody else knew about that
talking skull and wanted it. Was it a skull that really talks?"

"Call me Fred," the reporter said. "I can't tell you if the skull really talked or not. I
just know it was supposed to. You see, I began thinking about that name on the
trunk - The Great Gulliver. I was sure I'd heard it before. So I looked it up in the
morgue - you know what a newspaper morgue is?"

They nodded. Bob's father was a newspaper man, so they knew that a newspaper
morgue is a room where old news stories, clippings, and pictures are kept on file to
be used for research. It is actually a library of facts about people and events.

"Well," Fred Brown went on, "I decided to look up The Great Gulliver. Sure
enough, there were several stories about him. It seems that though he wasn't very
much of a magician, he had one special trick. He had a talking skull.

"A year ago Gulliver just vanished. Into thin air, like one of his tricks. Nobody
knows if he died or what. But apparently he left his trunk behind at the hotel, and it
came up for auction yesterday and you bought it. I figured that he probably had his
magic apparatus in the trunk, including the skull, and it would make a good story."

"You say he vanished?" Bob asked. "The whole thing is becoming quite
mysterious." Jupiter frowned a bit. "A vanishing magician, a vanishing trunk, and
a skull that is supposed to talk. Very mysterious indeed."

"Now wait a minute, wait a minute - !" Pete protested. "I don't like the look on your
face, Jupe. You're thinking of turning this into an investigation, and I don't want to
investigate any talking skulls. As far as I'm concerned, such a thing doesn't exist
and I don't want to learn different."

"We can't very well investigate anything now that the trunk is gone," Jupiter told
him. "But I would like to know about The Great Gulliver, Fred."

"Sure," the reporter said. He sat down on one of Jupe's unpainted iron chairs. "I'll
give you the background. Gulliver was a small-time magician, but he had this skull
that apparently talked. It would sit on a glass table, with no apparatus around it,
and answer questions."

"Ventriloquism?" Jupiter asked. "Gulliver actually did the talking without moving
his lips?"

"Well, maybe. But it would talk when Gulliver was sitting across the room from it,
and sometimes even when he was out of the room. Even other magicians couldn't

17
figure out how it was done. But eventually it got him into trouble with the police."

"How did that happen?" Bob asked. "Well, Gulliver wasn't doing very well as a
magician so he turned to fortune-telling, which is illegal. He didn't call it fortune-
telling - he called himself an adviser. But he dressed up in Oriental robes and sat in
a little room decorated with mystic symbols. For a fee, superstitious people could
come and ask the skull questions. He even named the skull after an ancient Greek
wise man - Socrates."

"And the skull answered the questions?" Bob asked.

"So it was said. Supposedly it gave some good advice, too, to people with problems.
But Gulliver went too far. Socrates began giving advice on the stock market and
things like that, and some people lost money and complained to the police. Gulliver
was charged with illegal fortune-telling and sent to jail.

"He was in jail about a year. When he got out, he gave up magic and fortune-telling
and got a job as a clerk. Then one day - pouf! Like that he disappeared. There were
rumours that some very tough individuals were interested in him - no one knows
why. Perhaps they had some criminal scheme they wanted to involve him and
Socrates in, and he disappeared to get away from them."

"But he didn't take his trunk with him." Jupiter pinched his lower lip, which always
stimulated his mental machinery. "That makes it seem that either something
happened to him, or he vanished on the spur of the moment."

"Good thinking," Fred said. "Perhaps he was in an accident and never identified."

"I'll bet that's why Maximilian wanted the trunk," Pete put in. "He wanted to get
that skull and learn the secret for his own magic act. Maybe he really used to be
Gulliver's friend, but he thought that if Gulliver was gone he might as well have
Gulliver's tricks for himself."

"Maximilian?" Fred Brown asked, and Jupiter explained about the visit earlier
from the tall, thin magician.

"If he tried to buy the trunk, he certainly wasn't behind its theft," Fred said. "I
wonder if the thieves thought they could put Socrates to work for them. Well, I
don't suppose it matters. I was hoping to get a good story with a picture of you boys
with the skull, and maybe you, Jupiter, dressed up in Gulliver's robes. But that's
impossible, so I'd better be going. Nice to have seen you again."

Fred Brown drove away. Jupiter looked unhappy.

"It certainly would have been an interesting mystery to investigate," he said. "I'm
sorry the trunk is gone."

18
"Well, I'm not," Pete said. "Any trunk that has a talking skull in it can stay gone, as
far as I'm concerned. I don't want any part of it. How can a skull talk, anyway?"

"That's part of the mystery," Jupiter answered "But there's no use thinking about
it because - Oh, here comes Uncle Titus back now."

The big truck drove into the yard, loaded with more junk for the salvage yard.
Jupiter's uncle hopped out and walked over.

"Hard at work, I see," he said to them and winked.

"Good thing Mathilda isn't here. She'd find something for you to do. But you all
look pretty thoughtful. Thinking about something important?"

"The truth is, we're thinking about that trunk that disappeared last night," Jupiter
told him. "We've just learned something interesting about it."

"Oh, that trunk." Titus Jones chuckled. "It hasn't showed up again, then?"

"Why, no, it hasn't," Jupiter said. "I don't suppose we'll ever see it again."

"Now I wouldn't say that," Titus Jones told him.

"Magician's trunk, wasn't it? Well, then, maybe we can make it come back by using
magic on it."

The boys all stared at him.

"What do you mean, Uncle Titus?" Jupiter asked. "What kind of magic could bring
it back?"

"Maybe this kind." Titus Jones looked mysterious. He snapped his fingers three
times, turned round with his eyes closed, and chanted, "Abracadabra, a trunk we
lack. Now it's time that trunk comes back.

"There," he finished, "that's a magic spell. And if that doesn't work, maybe we can
get the trunk back just by using logic."

"Logic?" Jupiter was thoroughly puzzled now. His uncle was a merry type of man
who enjoyed jokes. It looked as if he was having some kind of joke with them now,
but Jupiter couldn't be sure.

"You like riddles and mysteries, Jupiter," Titus Jones said. "You like to solve them
by being logical. Now think about what happened last night. Describe it to us."

19
"Well ... ," said Jupiter, still trying to puzzle out what his uncle was leading up to,
"we all came towards the yard. Two men ran out and jumped in a car and drove
away. The trunk was gone."

"So they stole it, eh?" his uncle asked.

"They must have," Jupiter said. "They picked the lock of the gate and - wait a
minute!" he cried. His round face turned a little pink, with both excitement and
chagrin. "They were still in the salvage yard, apparently looking for the trunk,
when we went after them. They ran to their car and drove off. But they didn't have
the trunk when they ran off. So how could they have stolen it? If they'd already had
it in their car, they wouldn't have hung around. And since they didn't carry it with
them, they must not have been the thieves. There's only one conclusion. The trunk
was already stolen before those two men got here!"

Mr Jones chuckled. "Jupiter," he said, "you're smart. But sometimes it does a


person good to find out he isn't as smart as he thinks he is. There's another
conclusion you've missed. Maybe the trunk wasn't stolen. Maybe those two men just
couldn't find it."

"But I left it beside the office," Jupiter said. "Right out in plain sight. Maybe I
should have locked it inside the office, but I didn't think it was valuable enough for
that."

"And after you went in to get washed up for supper, and Hans and I were locking
up," Titus Jones said, "I said to myself, 'That's a magician's trunk, and wouldn't it
be a surprise for Jupiter if it disappeared magically! He could have some good
exercise hunting for it. So I played a little joke on you, Jupiter. I hid the trunk. Then
when we surprised those would-be thieves, I thought I'd just leave it hidden until
morning in case they tried again. I was going to tell you about it. But then I decided
to see if you could figure things out for yourself. Stimulate your thinking machinery
a little."

"You hid it?" Bob burst out. "Where, Mr Jones?" And Pete echoed, "Where?"

"Where would a good place to hide a trunk so it wouldn't be noticed?" Mr Jones


asked. But already Jupiter was looking all around them, at the piles of timber and
old machinery and other objects that crowded the yard. The trunk could have been
hidden under almost anything. But Jupiter's gaze came to rest on something over
against the wall. There was a six-foot-wide roof extending from the top of the wall
into the yard, and under this roof were kept the more valuable items in the salvage
yard, where they would be protected from the occasional southern California rain.

In one spot half-a-dozen old trunks were lined up. They were all sturdy and in good
repair. And they were all large.

20
"The perfect place to hide a small trunk would be in a big trunk!" Jupiter burst out.
"Is that what you did, Uncle Titus?"

"You could always look and see," his uncle suggested.

Jupiter started towards the trunks. But Pete ran ahead and flung open the first
trunk. It was empty. Jupiter opened the next one. It, too, was empty. So were the
third and the fourth.

By the time they got to the fifth trunk, Bob had joined them. And as the lid went up,
they all stared.

Chapter 4
Introducing Socrates

"Now let's see if any of these keys Uncle Titus gave us will open the trunk," Jupiter
said.

The three boys were back in Jupiter's workshop, hidden from the front of the
salvage yard by piles of second-hand material. They had swiftly taken the auction
trunk from its hiding place back to where they could work on it unseen.

Some customers wandered around in the front part of the salvage yard, looking for
various odds and ends. Mathilda Jones was on hand to deal with them. Titus had
told Jupiter he could have some time off with Bob and Pete, until Titus came back
with the load of goods he was going to pick up.

As Jupiter worked on the lock, he was still feeling annoyed with himself for not
suspecting that the trunk had been in the yard all along. Uncle Titus had played an
embarrassing joke on him, but a good one. He should have known better than to
jump to conclusions the night before. He should have at least realized the truth by
morning, he reflected. He had let surface appearances deceive him completely.

"I made a mistake last night in not analysing the facts thoroughly," he said. "It
teaches you more than you'd learn from doing a thing right the first time. Uncle
Titus taught me a good lesson."

21
Bob and Pete smiled and nodded.

"What about Mr Maximilian?" Bob asked. "We promised to let him know if the
trunk reappeared."

"We promised to let him know before we sold it to anyone else," Jupiter said. "We
aren't planning on selling it, at least not now."

"I vote to sell it," Pete said. "After all, Maximilian offered us a pretty nice profit."

But the idea of owning a talking skull had gripped Jupiter's imagination.

"We can think about selling it later," he said. "I want to find out if Socrates will
really talk."

"That's what I was afraid of," Pete said with a sigh.

Jupe continued trying the keys. Finally one made the old lock turn. After
unbuckling the two long leather straps that held the lid down, Jupiter lifted the lid.

They, all peered in. A length of red silk cloth covered the inside of the trunk.
Beneath the cloth was the top tray of the trunk, where a number of small objects
were packed, some of them wrapped in different-coloured silk cloths. There was a
collapsible birdcage, a small crystal ball with a stand, many small red balls, several
packs of playing cards, and some metal cups that fitted snugly into one another.
There was not, however, a skull or any bundle big enough to contain one.

"Some of Gulliver's magic tricks," Jupiter stated. "If there's anything important,
it'll be underneath, I guess."

He and Pete lifted out the top tray and set it to one side. Underneath there seemed to
be mostly clothing. It was not ordinary clothing, however, for as they lifted it out,
piece by piece, they saw that it consisted of several silk jackets, a long golden robe, a
turban, and other Oriental-looking clothing.

It was Bob who spotted what they were looking for.

"There it is!" he said. "There at the side. Under that purple cloth. Something round.
I bet it's the skull."

"I think you're right, Records," Jupiter agreed.

Jupe lifted out the round object and Bob whisked off the purple wrappings. There
in Jupiter's hands sat a skull, gleaming white, that seemed to look up at him out of
empty eye sockets. It was not a scary skull - somehow it even seemed friendly. It
reminded the boys of the complete skeleton in the biology department at school,

22
which everyone called Mr Bones. They were quite used to Mr Bones, so they weren't
nervous now about the magician's skull.

"I guess that's Socrates, all right," Bob said.

"There's something under it," Jupiter said. Handing Socrates to Bob, he delved
down into the trunk. He came up with a disk two inches thick and about six inches
across, apparently made of ivory. Strange symbols were cut into the edge of it.

"This looks like a stand for Socrates to sit on," Jupiter said. "It has depressions that
would be just right to hold him."

He put the ivory disk on a nearby table and Bob placed the skull on it. Socrates sat
there with what seemed to be a grin while they all stared at him.

"He certainly looks as if he might say something." Pete commented. "But if he does,
I'm going to find business someplace else."

"Probably only Gulliver could make him speak," Jupiter suggested. "My theory is
that he has some kind of mechanism inside."

He picked Socrates up and peered at him closely.

"Not a sign," Jupiter muttered. "If there was anything inside him I'm sure I could
spot it. There would be some evidence, and there isn't - nothing at all. It's very
baffling."

He put Socrates back on his ivory stand.

"Socrates, if you can really talk, say something," he ordered.

His only answer was silence.

"Well, he doesn't seem to be in a talking mood," Jupiter said at last. "Let's see what
else is in the trunk."

He and Bob and Pete began pulling out more Oriental costumes. Then they found a
magician's wand, and several short, curved swords. They were examining these,
their backs to Socrates, when a muffled sneeze sounded behind them.

They whirled around. No one was there. No one, that is, but the skull.

Socrates had sneezed!

23
Chapter 5
Strange Talk in the Dark

THE BOYS looked at each other with round eyes.

"He sneezed!" Pete said. "That's the next thing to talking. If a skull can sneeze it
can probably recite the Gettysburg Address!"

"Hmmm." Jupiter scowled. "You're sure it wasn't you who sneezed, Bob?"

"It wasn't any of us," Bob said. "I distinctly heard the sneeze behind us."

"Peculiar," Jupiter muttered. "If it was some trick of The Great Gulliver's that
made the skull talk or make sounds, I could understand it. But Gulliver isn't here.
He may be dead. I just don't see how a skull could sneeze all by itself. Let's examine
it again."

He picked up the skull and turned it over and over in his hands, studying it intently.
He even held it up to the sunshine to get a better light. But there was absolutely no
sign that Socrates had been tampered with in any way.

"No wires or anything," Jupiter said. "This is really quite mysterious."

"I'll buy a double helping of that!" Pete exclaimed.

"But why should a skull sneeze?" Bob demanded. "There's no reason for it to."

"I don't know why, and I don't know how," Jupiter said. "But it should make a
very nice mystery for us to investigate. It's the kind of mystery that Alfred
Hitchcock would be willing to introduce for us, I bet."

He was speaking of the famous motion-picture producer who had steered them to
several of their most mystifying cases and who took a keen interest in their work.

"Now wait a minute!" Pete cried. "Last night two men tried to steal this trunk.
Today we open it and find a sneezing skull in it. The next thing you know - "

He was interrupted by Mathilda Jones's powerful voice.

24
"Jupiter! Boys! I know you're back there! Come a - running. There's work to be
done!"

"Oh, oh!" Bob said. "Your aunt wants us."

"And that's her 'don't-make-me-wait' voice," Pete added as Mathilda Jones's voice
came again, calling to Jupiter. "We'd better get out front."

"Yes, indeed," Jupiter said hastily. He put Socrates back in the trunk and locked it
and then they all trotted to the front section of the salvage yard. Mrs Jones was
waiting, her hands on her hips.

"There you are!" she said. "It's about time. Your Uncle Titus and Hans and
Konrad have unloaded all that stuff he brought, and I'd like you boys to sort it out
and stack it."

The three boys looked at the pile of second-hand goods in front of the office and
signed. It would take a long time to put it all away neatly, but one thing Mrs Jones
insisted on was neatness. The Jones Salvage Yard was a junkyard, but a very high
class and unusual one, and she would tolerate no unnecessary untidiness.

The boys set to work, pausing only for the lunch that Mrs Jones brought out to
them. Just when they seemed almost finished, Titus Jones arrived with another
truckload of furniture and odds and ends he had bought from an apartment house
going out of business.

So they were busy all afternoon, and though Jupiter itched to get back to the trunk
and its strange contents, he had no chance. Finally Bob and Pete had to start for
home. Pete agreed to meet Jupe back at the yard the next morning. Bob would come
by later, as he had to work at his part-time job in the local library in the morning.

Jupiter ate a hearty dinner and then was too drowsy to think much about the
mystery of the trunk of the missing magician and the supposedly talking skull.
However, it did occur to him that if thieves had tried to steal the trunk once, they
might try again.

He went out and let himself into the salvage yard, and got Socrates and his ivory
stand from the trunk. Putting everything else back in, he locked the trunk and hid it
behind the printing press with some old canvas over it. It should be safe there, he
decided, but he was determined to take no chance with Socrates. He took the skull
back to the house with him.

As he entered the living room with Socrates, his aunt glanced up and gave a slight
scream.

"Stars and comets, Jupiter!" she exclaimed. "What is that awful thing you're

25
carrying?"

"It's just Socrates," Jupiter told her. "He's supposed to be able to talk."

"Be able to talk, eh?" Titus Jones looked up from his newspaper and chuckled.
"What does he say, my boy? He has a rather intelligent appearance."

"He hasn't said anything yet," Jupiter admitted. "I'm hoping he will, though. But I
don't really expect him to."

"Well, he'd better not talk to me or I'll give him a piece of my mind!" Mathilda
Jones said. "The idea! Get him out of my sight, Jupiter. I don't want to look at
him."

Jupiter took Socrates up to his bedroom and set him on his ivory base on the
bureau. Then he went back downstairs to watch television.

By the time he went to bed he had decided that Socrates couldn't possibly talk. The
answer must be that The Great Gulliver, his owner, had been a very gifted
ventriloquist.

He had almost fallen asleep when a soft whistle roused him. It came again, and it
sounded as if it were right in the room with him.

Suddenly wide awake, Jupiter sat upright in bed.

"Who's that? Is that you, Uncle Titus?" he asked, thinking for a moment that his
uncle might be playing another joke.

"It is I," came a soft, rather high-pitched voice from the darkness in the direction of
his bureau. "Socrates."

"Socrates?" Jupiter gulped.

"The time has come ... to speak. Do not turn on ... the light. Just listen and ... do not
be frightened. Do you ... understand?"

The words came as if with difficulty. Jupiter stared through the darkness to where
Socrates was but could see nothing.

"Well - all right." He spoke the words with a slight gulp.

"Good," said the voice. "You must go ... tomorrow ... to 311 King Street. The
password ... is Socrates. Do you ... understand?"

"Yes," said Jupiter, more boldly. "But what is this all about? Who is talking to

26
me?"

"I ... Socrates." The whispering voice trailed away. Jupiter reached out and
switched on the bedside lamp. He stared across at Socrates. The skull seemed to grin
back, quite silent now.

Socrates couldn't have been speaking to him! But - the voice had been in his room.
It hadn't come from the window.

At the thought of the window, Jupiter turned to it. He peered out. The yard outside
was quite open, and there was no one in sight anywhere.

Extremely baffled, Jupiter got back into bed.

The message had been for him to go to 311 King Street the next day. Maybe he
shouldn't - but he knew he would. The mystery was getting more perplexing.

And if there was anything Jupiter couldn't resist, it was a good mystery.

Chapter 6
A Mysterious Message

"YOU'RE SURE you don't want me to come in with you, Jupe?" Pete asked.

Sitting in the front seat of the light truck, which Hans had driven into Los Angeles
for them, Pete and Jupiter were staring at the dingy building which stood at 311
King Street. A faded sign on the porch said Rooms. Underneath was a smaller sign
that said No Vacancies.

The neighbourhood was run-down. There were other rooming houses and some
stores, and everything needed paint and repair. The few people on the street were
quite old. It seemed to be a street where elderly people with small incomes lived.

"I don't think so, Second," Jupiter answered. "You wait here for me in the truck
with Hans. I don't think there's any danger."

Pete swallowed hard. "You say the skull told you to come here?" he asked. "Just

27
like that? Sitting on your bureau it talked to you in the dark?"

"Either that or I had a very remarkable dream," Jupiter told him. "But I wasn't
asleep so I don't think I was dreaming. I'll go in and see what it's all about. If I'm
not out in twenty minutes, you and Hans come in after me."

"Well, if you say so," Pete agreed. "But there's a lot about this business I don't
like."

"If there's any danger," Jupiter said, "I'll yell as loudly as I can for help."

"Be careful, Jupe," said Hans, his big, round face showing concern. "And if you
need help, we come quick!"

He flexed his powerful arm to show that, if necessary, he'd break down doors to
rescue Jupiter. The First Investigator nodded.

"I'll count on both of you," he said as he got out of the truck.

Jupe went up the path to a small front porch, climbed some steps, and pushed the
doorbell. He waited for what seemed a long time before he heard a step inside.

The door opened. A heavy-set man with swarthy features and a moustache looked at
him.

"Yes?" he asked. "What do you want, boy? No rooms for rent. All full."

His accent was slightly foreign and Jupiter could not place it. He put on his stupid
look, which he sometimes adopted when he wanted adults to think he was just a
dumb, pudgy boy. "I'm looking for Mr Socrates," he said, using the password.

"Hah!" For a long moment the man stared at him. Then he stepped back. "You
come in. Maybe he here, maybe he not. All depends. Lonzo will ask."

Jupiter stepped inside and blinked his eyes in the dim light. The hall was dusty and
small. Opening off it was a large room where several other men sat reading
newspapers or playing draughts. All had swarthy features, very black hair, and
muscular builds. All looked up and stared at Jupiter with expressionless faces.

Jupiter waited. Finally the man with the moustache came back from a room at the
far end of the hall.

"You come," he said. "Zelda will see you."

He led Jupiter down the hall into the room, then left and closed the door behind
him. Jupiter blinked his eyes. The room was bright and sunny, and after the dark

28
hall it took him a moment to see the old woman sitting in a big rocking chair. She
was knitting something while looking at him keenly through old-fashioned
spectacles.

She wore a bright red-and-yellow robe and had large gold rings in her ears. As she
peered up at him, Jupiter suddenly realized she was a Gypsy. Her first words
confirmed this.

"I am Zelda, the Gypsy," she said in a soft, husky voice. "What does the young man
wish? To have his fortune told?"

"No, ma'am," Jupiter said politely. "Mr Socrates told me to come here."

"Ah, Mr Socrates," the old Gypsy woman said. "But Mr Socrates is dead."

Thinking of the skull, Jupiter had to admit that Socrates was dead, all right.

"But still he spoke to you," Zelda murmured. "Strange, very strange. Sit down,
young man. There, at that table. I shall consult the crystal."

Jupiter sat down at a small table made of rich wood inlaid with ivory in strange
designs. Zelda rose and seated herself opposite him. From beneath the table she
picked up a small box out of which she took a crystal ball. She put the ball in the
centre of the table.

"Silence!" she hissed. "Say nothing. Do not disturb the crystal."

Jupiter nodded. The old Gypsy placed her hands lightly on the table and leaned
forward to stare into the shiny crystal ball. She was very still. Indeed, she seemed to
have stopped breathing. Long moments passed. At last she spoke.

"I see a trunk," she murmured. "I see men - many men who wish the trunk. I see
another man. He is afraid. His name begins with B - no, with G. He is afraid and he
wishes help. He is asking you to help him. The crystal clears! I see money - much
money. Many men want it. But it is hidden. It is behind a cloud, it vanishes, no one
knows where it goes.

"The crystal is clouding. The man whose name begins with G is gone. He has
vanished from the world of men. He is dead, yet he lives. I can see no more."

The old Gypsy woman, who had been leaning forward to stare intently into the
crystal ball, straightened with a sigh.

"To read the crystal takes much effort," she said. "For today I can do no more. Did
my vision have meaning to you, young man?"

29
Jupiter scowled in puzzlement.

"Part of it did," he said. "About the trunk. I have a trunk that people seem to want.
And G could stand for Gulliver. The Great Gulliver, the magician, that is ... "

"The Great Gulliver," the Gypsy murmured. "To be sure. He was a friend of the
Gypsies. But he has disappeared."

"You said he has vanished from the world of men," Jupiter told her. "That he is
dead, yet he lives. I don't understand that part at all. What does it mean?"

"I cannot say." The Gypsy shook her head. "But the crystal does not lie. We
Gypsies would like to find Gulliver and bring him back, for he was our friend.
Perhaps you can help. You are clever, and though you are a boy, your eye is keen.
You see things that sometimes men do not see."

"I don't know how I could help," Jupiter objected. "I don't know anything about
Gulliver. And I certainly haven't heard anything about any money. All I did was
buy Gulliver's trunk at an auction. It had Socrates, his talking skull, in it. Socrates
told me to come here. That's all I know."

"A long journey starts with a single step," the Gypsy said. "Leave now and wait.
Perhaps you will learn more. Keep the trunk safe. If Socrates speaks, listen well.
Good-bye."

Jupiter rose, more puzzled than ever, and left. Lonzo, the Gypsy with the
moustache, showed him out.

Pete and Hans were waiting in the truck, Pete looking at his wrist watch.

"Golly, Jupe, we were just about to come in after you," he said as Jupiter climbed
into the cab of the truck. "I'm glad you're all right. What happened?"

"I'm not sure," Jupiter said as Hans started the truck and they rolled off down the
street. "I mean, I know what happened, but I don't know what it all meant."

He related the events of the past few minutes to Pete, who whistled at the story.

"That's certainly mixed up," he said. "Gulliver, and money that's hidden, and
Gulliver is dead but he lives. I don't get it."

"I don't either," Jupiter said. "It's very perplexing."

"Say!" Pete exclaimed. "Do you suppose there's a lot of money hidden in Gulliver's
trunk? We didn't really search it too well after we found Socrates. If there's money
in it, that would explain why everybody wants to get hold of the trunk."

30
"I was just thinking that, too," Jupe admitted. "Maybe it isn't Socrates at all these
people are after. We'll have another look in the trunk when we get back ... What is
it, Hans? Why are you speeding up?"

"Somebody follows us," Hans muttered, accelerating still more so that they bounced
and rattled along at a high speed. "A black car with two men in it is behind us for
blocks."

Pete and Jupiter peered back through the rear window. Behind them was indeed a
black car, now trying to overtake them. However, the road was empty, and Hans
kept the truck in the middle of it so that the black car could not pass.

In this fashion they raced along for half a mile, then saw a freeway ahead of them.
Los Angeles has many freeways - roads from four to eight lanes wide that carry
traffic through the crowded city without intersections or stop lights. Some are
elevated above the ordinary streets, and this was one of them.

"I get on the freeway!" Hans muttered. "They do not try to stop us there. Too much
traffic."

Hans turned into the entrance road leading up to the freeway, hardly slackening
speed. The truck leaned far over, then in a moment emerged on the broad freeway,
where many cars sped along in both directions.

The car behind them did not try to follow. The driver must have realized that he
could not stop them - if that was his plan - in the midst of so much traffic, and on a
roadway where stopping was forbidden. The black car went on beneath the freeway
and vanished.

"We lost them okay," Hans said. "I like to get my hands on them, bang their heads
together. Where to now, Jupe?"

"Back home, Hans," Jupiter said. "What is it, Pete? What are you scowling about?"

"I don't like any of this," Pete said. "A skull that talks to you in the night. People
trying to steal the trunk, and then following us. It makes me nervous. I say let's
forget the whole business."

"I don't think we can forget it," Jupiter said thoughtfully. "It looks as if we have a
mystery on our hands that we're going to have to solve whether we want to or not."

31
Chapter 7
Good-bye to Socrates

WHEN they arrived back at The Jones Salvage Yard, Mathilda Jones had some
jobs for Jupe to do. Pete pitched in to help and they were kept busy until after
lunch. About that time Bob arrived, having finished his morning's work at the local
library. All three boys made their way back to the workshop where the old-
fashioned trunk still sat beneath the old canvas Jupiter had thrown over it.

After telling Bob about the events of the morning, Jupiter said, "According to the
Gypsy, Zelda, some money apparently disappeared in some way, and that seems to
be connected up with The Great Gulliver's disappearance."

"Maybe he took the money and went to Europe, or something," Bob suggested.

"No." Jupiter shook his head. "Zelda said he needed help, that he had vanished
from the world of men, was dead, yet lived, and she and the other Gypsies would
like to help him return. That's all very puzzling, but what I deduce is that Gulliver
didn't vanish with the money, but because of the money."

"Maybe he had the money hidden in the trunk," Pete suggested, "and some tough
characters were after it? Remember, Fred Brown mentioned that some tough eggs
were interested in him just before he disappeared. Maybe he hid from them."

"But why would he leave the money in the trunk?" Jupiter asked. "Still, maybe he
did, so the first thing to do is look thoroughly."

But half an hour later, when they had totally unpacked the trunk and had inspected
everything in it carefully, they found no sign of money or anything else valuable.

"That's that," Pete said. "Nothing."

"Money in big bills," Jupiter said, "could be hidden under the lining of the trunk
and not be noticed. Look, down there in the corner there's a slight tear in the
lining."

"You think it could be hidden there?" Bob asked. "It's not nearly a big enough
bump." He reached down and thrust a finger through the tear in the lining.

"There is, there's something here!" he cried excitedly. "Paper! Maybe it's money!"

32
Carefully he pulled out the paper he had touched and held it up.

"Not money," he said. "Just an old letter."

"Hmm," Jupiter murmured. "Let me inspect it ... It's addressed to Gulliver at a


hotel and it's post-marked about a year ago. So he got it just about the time he
disappeared. After he got it, he must have cut the lining of his trunk and hidden the
letter. That means he considered it important."

"Maybe it's a clue to the money Zelda mentioned," Bob said. "It may have a map or
something in it."

He and Pete crowded close as Jupiter pulled a single sheet from the envelope. On it
was written a short note. It said:

State Prison Hospital July 17 Dear Gulliver:

Just a few words from your old pal and cellmate, Spike Neely. I'm in the hospital,
and it looks like I haven't got much longer.

I may last five days, or three weeks, or even two months, the doctors aren't sure. But
in any case, it's time to say good-bye.

If you're ever in Chicago, look up my cousin Danny Street. Tell him hello for me.
Wish I could say more, but this is all I can manage.

Your friend,

Spike

"It's just a letter," Pete said. "From somebody Gulliver knew when he was in jail
for fortune-telling, I guess. It doesn't mean anything."

"Maybe it does and maybe it doesn't," Jupiter disagreed.

"If it doesn't mean anything, why did Gulliver hide it?" Bob asked.

"That's exactly the point," Jupiter said. "Why did he hide it? It looks as if he
considered it important, somehow."

Pete scratched his head. "Well, it certainly doesn't say anything about any money."

"This Spike Neely was in the prison hospital when he wrote it," Bob said. "I think
that letters from prisoners are always read by the authorities before they're mailed.
So Spike couldn't say anything about any money without letting the prison
authorities in on it."

33
"Unless somehow he did it secretly," Jupiter suggested.

"You mean a message in invisible ink, something like that?" Pete asked.

"It's a possibility. I suggest we take this letter into Headquarters and analyse it."

Jupiter went over to the iron grillwork that seemed to be leaning against the back of
the printing press they had rebuilt some time ago. When moved aside, the grillwork
revealed the opening of Tunnel Two, their main entrance into Headquarters. Tunnel
Two was a length of large iron pipe about two feet in diameter, ridged the way pipes
used in culverts are. It went, partly underground, beneath a pile of rather worthless
junk until it came up underneath Headquarters, which was a mobile home trailer
hidden from sight in the midst of the junk.

Jupiter went first, then Bob, then Pete, scrambling on hands and knees through
Tunnel Two, which was padded with old rags so the corrugations in the pipe would
not bruise their knees. They pushed up the trap-door at the other end and
clambered out into the tiny office of Headquarters.

The three boys had built a tiny laboratory in the old trailer, complete with
microscope and other necessary items. There was only room for one at a time in the
lab, so Jupiter took the letter in while Pete and Bob watched from the narrow door.
First Jupe put the letter under a microscope and went over it inch by inch.

"Nothing," he said. "Now I'll test for the most common kind of invisible ink."

He reached for a jar of acid and poured some into a glass beaker. He held the letter
above the beaker in the acid fumes, moving it back and forth. Nothing happened.

"As I expected," he said. "Logic says that someone in a prison hospital wouldn't be
able to get hold of invisible ink, anyway. He just might be able to get a lemon,
though, and lemon juice is a very simple kind of invisible ink. When you write with
it, the writing can't be seen, but if the paper is heated, the words written in lemon
juice will appear. Let's try that."

He lit a small gas burner. Then, holding the letter by the corners, he moved it back
and forth over the flame.

"Again, no results," he said after a few moments. "Let me have the envelope to
test."

However, all tests on the envelope were also negative. Jupiter looked disappointed.

"It seems to be just an ordinary letter, after all," he said. "Yet, after Gulliver
received it, he hid it. Why did he do that?"

34
"Maybe he thought there was a clue in it, but he couldn't find it," Bob suggested.
"Listen, suppose when he was in prison, this Spike Neely told him something about
some hidden money, but not where it was. He could have said that because Gulliver
was his friend, if anything ever happened to him he'd let Gulliver in on the secret.

"Then Gulliver gets this letter from the prison hospital. Spike is dying. Gulliver
thinks Spike may have sent him a clue to where the money is, but he can't find it, so
he hides the letter, planning to study it some more.

"Some other criminals who knew Spike in prison learn somehow that he wrote to
Gulliver. They suspect he told Gulliver the secret. So they come around to see
Gulliver. Gulliver gets very frightened. He doesn't go to the police because he
doesn't know anything he can tell them. But he's afraid the crooks think he knows
where the money is, and might even torture him to make him talk. So - he
disappears. How does that sound?"

"Very well reasoned, Bob," Jupiter said. "I think it may be what happened.

"However, we have studied the letter and can't find any clue to a secret message. So
I deduce that Spike Neely didn't send any such message. He didn't try because he
knew the letter would be read first by the police."

"Just the same, somebody thinks there's a clue in that trunk," Pete stated. "They
want the trunk because of the clue they expect to find. If we don't want trouble with
some tough characters who will probably keep trying to get the trunk, we'd better
get rid of it right away."

"Pete has something there," Bob said. "We can't solve the mystery because we
haven't any clue. If we want to avoid trouble, we'd better get rid of the trunk. It
doesn't mean anything to us, after all."

"Maximilian the Mystic wants us to sell it to him," Pete put in. "I vote we put
Socrates back in the trunk and let Mr Maximilian have the whole shooting match.
Get it off our hands. It's too dangerous to keep around. How about it, Jupe?"

"Mmm." Jupiter pinched his lip. "Zelda seemed to think we could help somehow,
but it certainly doesn't look like it. Two men follow us this morning when we left
Zelda's house and I don't like that very much either.

"All right, we'll telephone Mr Maximilian, since he wants the trunk so badly. We'll
repack it and put Socrates back in. But we'll have to warn him about other people
wanting the trunk, so he'll know. And I won't charge him a hundred dollars - just
the dollar I paid for it."

"It would be awfully nice to have a hundred dollars." Pete said.

35
"It wouldn't be fair, if the trunk is dangerous," Jupiter said. "I'll call him in a
minute. First I want to photograph this letter in case I get any new ideas."

Jupiter made several photographs of both the letter and the envelope. Then he
phoned Maximilian the Mystic, who said he'd be right over for the trunk.

After that they went outside and slid the letter back behind the torn lining,
repacking the trunk carefully. Finally Jupiter went to get Socrates from his room.

He reached his room just in time to find Aunt Mathilda staring with a look of
horror at the skull on the bureau.

"Jupiter Jones!" she said. "That - that thing ... "

Speechless, she pointed at the skull.

"Yes, Aunt Mathilda?" Jupiter asked.

"That awful thing!" the large woman exploded. "You know what it just did? It said
'boo!' to me!"

"Socrates said 'boo' to you?" Jupiter asked.

"It certainly did! I just came in here to clean your room and I said to it, 'You ugly
thing, I don't know where Jupiter got you, but I can tell you one thing. You're not
staying in my house and that's final. I won't have it!"

"And then - then - " her voice faltered again - "it said 'boo!' just as plainly as
anything. 'Boo!' I heard it as clearly as I hear you."

"It's supposed to be a talking skull," Jupiter said, suppressing a smile. "It used to
belong to a magician. If it said 'boo' it was probably playing a joke on you."

"A joke? Is that what you call a joke? Having a nasty old skull grin at a person and
say 'boo'? I don't care if it's a talking skull or a talking horse, I want it out of here
immediately. And that's final!"

"Very well, Aunt Mathilda," Jupiter agreed. "I'll get rid of it. I was already
planning to."

"Be sure you do."

In a thoughtful mood, Jupiter made his way back to the salvage yard with Socrates
and the ivory base. He told Pete and Bob what had happened to his aunt.

36
"It's very puzzling," he concluded. "I have to admit I'm utterly baffled. Why should
Socrates say 'boo' to Aunt Mathilda?"

"Maybe he has a sense of humour," Pete said. "Let's get him packed."

"After this new development," Jupiter said, "maybe we ought to keep Socrates and
the trunk for a while. Perhaps he's ready to talk some more."

"Oh, no!" Pete said, grabbing Socrates, wrapping him up, and stowing him in the
old trunk. "Your aunt says you have to get rid of him, and we'd agreed to get rid of
him. We also agreed to let Mr Maximilian have him and we can't go back on our
word now. I'm not in any mood to hear talk coming from a skull. Some mysteries I
don't want to solve."

He closed the lid and snapped the lock shut. Just as Jupiter was trying to think of an
argument, they heard Hans calling.

"Jupe! Hey, Jupe! Somebody here to see you."

"I bet that's Mr Maximilian," Bob said as he and the others started towards the
front of the salvage yard.

It was indeed the tall thin magician, standing waiting for them, ignoring the other
customers wandering around and the piles of interesting junk.

"Well, boy," he exclaimed, peering at Jupiter. "So Gulliver's trunk turned up, did
it?"

"Yes, sir," Jupiter answered. "And you can have it if you really want it."

"Of course I want it! Didn't I say so? Here's the money - one hundred dollars."

"I'm not going to charge you a hundred dollars for it," Jupiter said. "I paid a dollar
for it and you can have it for a dollar."

"Humph!" the man snorted. "Why are you being so generous, may I ask? Have you
taken something valuable from it?"

"No, sir, the trunk is just the way it was when we got it. But there's a mystery
connected with it, and somebody seems to want it very much. It may be dangerous
to own it. I'm not sure we shouldn't turn it over to the police."

"Nonsense, boy! I shall not worry about any danger. I can take care of myself. I
made the first bid for the trunk and now I demand you sell it to me. Here's your
dollar."

37
He stretched out a long arm, snapped his fingers, and apparently took a silver dollar
from Jupe's ear.

"Now the trunk is mine," he said. "Pray produce it."

"Bob, will you and Pete bring the trunk?" Jupiter asked.

"You bet we will!" said Pete. In less than a minute he and Bob brought out the
trunk. The magician directed the boys to put it on the back seat of his blue saloon,
parked near the gate. They were all so intent on their business that they failed to
notice two men covertly watching them. Maximilian got in behind the wheel.

"Next time I give a performance," he said, "I'll send you tickets. Until then, good-
bye."

The car vanished out of the gate. Pete gave a sigh of relief.

"Well, there goes Socrates," he said. "I bet Mr Maximilian hopes he can learn the
secret of how it talks and use it in his magic act. He's welcome to it. We've seen the
last of that skull and that trunk and I'm glad of it."

He wouldn't have sounded so happy if he'd known how wrong he was.

Chapter 8
"They've Flown the Coop!"

THE REST OF THE DAY passed without anything special happening. Bob went
home early to see his father. Mr Andrews, a feature writer for a big Los Angeles
newspaper, was often away in the evening, but tonight he would be home.

"Well, Bob," his father remarked during dinner, "I saw your picture in the
Hollywood paper, with the story of your friend Jupiter buying an old trunk at
auction. Did you find anything interesting in it?"

"We found a skull that was supposed to be able to talk," Bob answered. "It's name
is Socrates."

38
"A talking skull named Socrates!" his mother exclaimed. "Good gracious, what an
idea! I hope it didn't talk to you."

"No, Mom, it didn't talk to me," Bob said. He thought of mentioning that it had
talked to Jupiter but decided against it. Especially as his father immediately
remarked, with a smile, "Some simple trick of that magician it was supposed to have
belonged to, of course - what was his name? Alexander?"

"Gulliver," Bob corrected. "The Great Gulliver."

"I imagine the man was a good ventriloquist," Mr Andrews said. "What is Jupiter
doing with it? Not keeping it, I hope."

"No, he sold it," Bob said. "To another magician who said he used to know Mr
Gulliver. A man who calls himself Maximilian the Mystic."

"Maximilian the Mystic?" his father frowned. "We had a short news flash at the
paper just before I left. He was hurt in a car accident this afternoon."

Maximilian hurt in a car accident? Bob wondered if the talking skull had brought
him bad luck. Then his father interrupted his thoughts.

"Say, how would you like to go sailing next Sunday?" he asked. "A friend of mine
has invited us all to spend the day on his boat sailing out around Catalina Island."

"That would be great!" Bob said enthusiastically. He forgot about Maximilian's


accident. He did not even remember it the next morning when he joined Pete and
Jupiter at The Jones Salvage Yard.

The three boys set to work taking apart the second-hand washing machine Titus
Jones had bought. By using some parts from another machine, they were able to put
it in perfect working order. They had just finished the repair job when a Rocky
Beach police car drove into the yard. They looked up with surprise as the heavy-set
figure of Police Chief Reynolds got out and walked over towards them.

"Hello, boys," he said. He looked very serious. "I have some questions to ask you."

"Questions, sir?" Jupiter asked, blinking.

"Yes. About a trunk you sold yesterday to a man who calls himself Maximilian the
Mystic. He had an accident as he was driving home. His car was smashed up and he
was badly hurt. He's in the hospital now. At first we thought it was an ordinary
accident - he was unconscious and couldn't talk.

"But this morning he woke up and told us that another car, with two men in it, had
forced him off the road. He told us about the trunk, too. Apparently the two men

39
stole the trunk, for it certainly wasn't in his wrecked car when we had it towed to a
garage."

"Then apparently the two men deliberately wrecked Mr Maximilian's car in order
to get the trunk!" Jupiter exclaimed.

"Exactly what we figured out," agreed Chief Reynolds. "Maximilian couldn't talk
much - the doctor wouldn't let him. He said he bought the trunk from you, Jupiter,
and then the doctor said he'd talked enough. So I've come to find out what was in
the trunk that would make someone want to steal it."

"Well," Jupiter told him as Pete and Bob listened intently, "there was mostly
clothing in it. There was some magical apparatus. The main thing in it was an old
skull that was supposed to be able to talk."

"A skull able to talk!" Chief Reynolds exploded. "That sounds crazy! Skulls can't
talk!"

"No, sir," Jupiter agreed. "But this one used to belong to another magician named
The Great Gulliver and - " He proceeded to tell Chief Reynolds the whole story of
how they had bought the trunk at auction, what they had learned about Gulliver,
how he had spent some time in jail, then had disappeared after being released.

Chief Reynolds listened, frowning and chewing his lips.

"That's certainly a mixed-up story," he said when Jupiter had finished. "You must
have imagined it when you thought you heard the skull talk to you in your room the
other night. Maybe it was a dream."

"I thought of that, sir. But when I went to the address it gave me, I found the Gypsy
woman, Zelda, who seemed to know about Gulliver. She said he was no longer in the
world of men."

Chief Reynolds sighed and mopped his forehead.

"And she spotted this stuff about hidden money that she claimed to see in the
crystal, eh?" he muttered. "Well, it's certainly strange. Now about this letter you
found in the trunk and put back. You say you took photographs of it. I'd like to
have those photographs."

"Yes, sir," Jupiter said. "I'll get them."

He hurried back to the workshop section, slid into Tunnel Two, and was soon inside
Headquarters. Early that morning he had developed the film he had taken the day
before and hung up the prints to dry. He had only one set of prints, but he could
make more if he needed them.

40
He put the dry prints in an envelope and a moment later was back, handing them to
Chief Reynolds. The Chief glanced at the photographs and shook his head.

"Don't suppose they'll mean anything to me," he grumbled. "But I'll study them.
Next thing I want to do, though, is talk to that Gypsy woman, Zelda. Suppose you
drive down there with me now, Jupiter, and we'll see what she has to say. I have a
hunch she knows more than she let on."

Bob and Pete hoped he would invite them, too, but he didn't. Telling them to carry
on while he was gone, Jupiter climbed into the official car with Chief Reynolds, and
the policeman driver started for Los Angeles.

"This is just an unofficial visit," the Chief said to Jupiter as they sped along. "I
suppose she'll clam up and not say anything. Gypsies are very close-mouthed, But
we'll try. I could ask the Los Angeles police for co-operation, but so far I haven't
anything to go on. Zelda didn't tell your fortune, so she hasn't broken any law that I
know of.

"When I get back to my office, one thing I will do, though, is start some inquiries
into the background of this Spike Neely who wrote the letter to Gulliver. Let's see if
we can learn what's behind all this. Certainly has to be some good reason why a
couple of thugs would force a car off the road just to steal a trunk. They must have
been watching the salvage yard. Must have seen you put the trunk in Maximilian's
car and followed him."

Jupiter said nothing, for at this point he had no new ideas and had to admit that he
was completely puzzled by the whole affair.

The police car drove swiftly, and soon they were in front of the run-down building
where Jupe had called on Zelda. Chief Reynolds led the way up the path to the small
porch and rang the door-bell vigorously.

They waited. There was no answer. Chief Reynolds started to look rather grim.
Then an old woman sweeping the steps of the next house called to them.

"If you're looking for those Gypsies," she said, "they're gone."

"Gone!" the Chief exclaimed. "Where'd they go?"

"Who knows where Gypsies go?" The old woman cackled. "They drove away bag
and baggage in some old cars early this morning. Didn't say a word to anybody. Just
cleared out."

"Thunder!" Chief Reynolds growled. "There goes our only lead. They've flown the
coop!"

41
Chapter 9
Warning from Chief Reynolds

"THE MEETING will come to order," Jupiter said.

Bob Andrews and Pete Crenshaw settled themselves in their chairs. Jupiter rapped
a pencil on the wooden desk in front of him in the tiny office in Headquarters.

"The Three Investigators will now discuss future projects," he said. "The meeting is
now open for anyone to make suggestions." When neither Bob nor Pete said
anything, he added, "We all have a day off today. How shall we spend it?"

Two days had passed since the visit from Chief Reynolds. They had been quiet days,
in which the three boys had put in a good many hours repairing and rebuilding
second-hand items in the salvage yard. No one had come in with a mystery to be
solved, rather to Bob and Pete's relief. They were glad to have things quiet for a
change. They were especially glad to have the curious problem of the talking skull
and the mystery trunk off their hands.

"I move we go scuba diving today," Pete said. "It's a swell day for it and we haven't
done any diving lately. We'll get rusty."

"I second the motion," Bob chimed in. "It's a hot day and the water will feel good."

At that moment the telephone rang.

They all jumped slightly and looked at it. The telephone, which they paid for out of
their earnings in the salvage yard, was listed in Jupiter's name. Only a few people
knew that it was The Three Investigators' official phone. It did not ring often, but
when it did the call was usually important.

The phone rang again, and Jupiter picked it up.

"Hello," he said. "The Three Investigators, Jupiter Jones speaking."

"Hello. Jupiter," answered Police Chief Reynolds. They could all hear him over the

42
loudspeaker arrangement Jupiter had rigged up. "I called your house and your
aunt told me to try this number."

"Yes, Chief?" Jupiter answered alertly.

"I told you I was going to start some inquiries," the Chief said. "You know, about
that letter you photographed, and Spike Neely and The Great Gulliver. Well, I've
had some answers. I'm not sure what it all means, but I'd like to talk to you some
more. Can you come down to my office?"

"Yes, sir!" Jupiter said with a trace of excitement "Right now, Chief Reynolds?"

"As good a time as any," the Chief replied. "I'm not busy this morning."

"We'll be there in twenty minutes," Jupiter told him and hung up. "Well," he said
to the other two, "that takes care of our plans for this morning, anyway. Chief
Reynolds has some new information."

"Oh, no!" Pete groaned. "We told him everything we knew. Anyway, you did. As
far as I'm concerned, that whole business of the trunk and the skull is closed.
Finished. Washed up. Out of our hands. Done with."

"Well, of course, if you don't want to come with me, I can probably handle it by
myself," Jupiter said.

Bob grinned. Pete's face was a study in conflicting emotions. He didn't want to be
left out of anything, no matter how much he protested.

"Oh, we'll come with you," Pete said. "The Three Investigators stick together.
Maybe it won't take long and we can still go scuba diving."

"In that case, the meeting is adjourned," Jupiter stated. "Let's go."

Leaving word with Titus Jones that they would be gone for a while, they bicycled
into Rocky Beach. The Jones Salvage Yard was situated on the outskirts of the small
city, but it did not take long to reach the centre of town where Police Headquarters
was located.

They parked their bikes and entered, to be greeted by the officer in charge behind
the big desk.

"Go right in," they were told. "The Chief is waiting for you."

They went down a short hall to a door marked Chief of Police, knocked, and
entered. Chief Reynolds was seated behind his desk, puffing thoughtfully on a cigar.
He waved them to chairs.

43
"Sit down, boys," he said. They sat and waited expectantly. The Chief took another
puff on the cigar before he spoke.

"Well, boys," he said then, "I've had some interesting answers to my questions
about that fellow Spike Neely. He was Gulliver's cellmate in prison for a time, as
you know. It seems that Spike was a bank robber."

"A bank robber!" Jupiter exclaimed.

"Exactly." Chief Reynolds nodded. "In fact, he was sent to prison for robbing a
bank in San Francisco six years ago. He got away with about fifty thousand dollars
in bills of large denominations. He was eventually caught, about a month later, in
Chicago. An alert teller in the bank had noticed when he demanded the money that
he had a slight speech defect - had trouble pronouncing the letter L. This tripped
him up when a policeman in Chicago questioned him.

"However, and this seems to be the big point, the money was never recovered. He
hid it and hid it well. Nobody could even get him to admit he had stolen it.
Undoubtedly he planned to leave it hidden until he got out of prison and then
recover it.

"Now let's take this whole thing step by step. Six years ago, Spike was captured in
Chicago, about a month after the bank robbery. He probably hid the money in
Chicago, but he could have hidden it right here in the Los Angeles area.

"You see, the police learned that before he went to Chicago he spent a week hiding
in the home of his sister in Los Angeles. Her name is - Mrs Miller - Mrs Mary
Miller. She was questioned at the time, but she couldn't tell the police anything
helpful. She's a very respectable woman. Until the police came, she never even knew
her brother was a bank robber.

"Thinking that Spike might have hidden the money in her house before he went to
Chicago, the police searched it thoroughly. They didn't find anything. As he arrived
there the same day he pulled the robbery up in San Francisco, he must have had the
money with him. So the official theory is that Spike hid the money in Chicago."

"In the letter he wrote to Gulliver a year ago, he mentions a cousin, Danny Street, in
Chicago," Jupiter put in. "Could he have left the money with him?"

"The prison authorities thought of that, Jupiter. As you suspected, they read the
letter to Gulliver very carefully before they mailed it. In fact, they wired Chicago to
investigate Danny Street. But the Chicago police couldn't find anyone named Street
who had the slightest connection with Spike Neely.

"They finally decided the letter was harmless, so they mailed it. First, they analysed

44
it in every way for a secret message, but they couldn't find any."

"Neither could I," Jupiter admitted. He was pinching his lips to put his mental
machinery in high gear. "Just the same, I deduce that some other criminals,
learning of the letter, suspected it actually did tell where the money is, somehow. So
they took to shadowing The Great Gulliver. That's when he got frightened and
disappeared."

"Or was killed," Chief Reynolds said gravely. "I think it's plain that Gulliver never
found the money. But someone may have tried to make him tell where it was, and
got angry when he wouldn't - because he couldn't. On the other hand, he may have
just taken alarm and gone into hiding, leaving his trunk behind."

"He must have suspected Spike Neely was trying to tell him something." Jupiter was
thinking hard. "Otherwise why would he hide the letter? Let's suppose he just
disappeared. Then these other criminals, who are still around, read in the paper of
my buying Gulliver's trunk. They believed that there might be a clue to the stolen
money in the trunk.

"That first night, they tried to steal it but were foiled because Uncle Titus had
hidden it. Then they took to following me around. They were watching the salvage
yard, figuring how to get their hands on the trunk, when they saw us sell it to
Maximilian the Mystic. So they followed Mr Maximilian, forced his car off the road,
and stole the trunk."

"They sure wanted that trunk badly!" Pete exclaimed. "I'm glad we got rid of it in
time."

"You really should have brought the trunk to me," the Chief pointed out.

"We suggested that, sir, to Mr Maximilian," Jupiter answered. "He wouldn't hear
of it. He wanted the trunk. And of course we didn't know anyone would actually
injure him to get it. Besides, we couldn't find any clue in it."

"Well, what's done is done," Chief Reynolds said. "But all this talk has been leading
up to a very important point. We're agreed, aren't we, that these criminals think
there's a clue to the missing money in that trunk?"

The boys all nodded.

"Well," the Chief continued, "now the crooks have the trunk. They've searched it
carefully. They haven't found any clue. So what do you suppose they think now?"

Jupiter caught on first and swallowed hard. Seeing that Pete didn't get what the
Chief meant, Bob burst out, "They think we found the clue and took it out of the
trunk before we sold it to Mr Maximilian! They think that we - that we still have the

45
clue to all that money!"

"But gleeps!" Pete objected. "We don't! We don't know a thing!"

"I know that," the Chief said. "And you know that. But if these fellows think you
have the clue - well, they might still come round and try to force you to give it to
them."

They thought about this. It wasn't a pleasant idea.

"You mean we could still be in danger, Chief?" Jupiter said at last.

"I'm afraid so." Chief Reynolds spoke seriously. "So I want you to keep alert. If you
see anyone who looks suspicious hanging around the salvage yard, call me at once.
Or if anyone gets in touch with you about the trunk, let me know. Will you do
that?"

"We certainly will!" Bob promised.

"There's one problem," Jupe said, frowning. "A lot of strangers come to the salvage
yard as customers. It's hard to tell if any of them are suspicious. But if we notice
anyone who does seem suspicious, we'll notify you immediately."

"Be sure you do," said Chief Reynolds.

In a very thoughtful mood, The Three Investigators left Police Headquarters and
rode back to the salvage yard.

Chapter 10
Jupe Tackles the Case

"MORE AND MORE I like this whole business less and less!" Pete exploded. "I
don't want any tough characters thinking we have a clue we don't have. There's no
telling what they might do. People like that don't listen to reason."

"And we thought we were getting rid of all our troubles by getting rid of the trunk"
Bob added. "Got any ideas, Jupe?"

46
The Three Investigators were secluded in the workshop of the salvage yard and
none of them looked happy. Even Jupiter's round face was creased by a frown.

"I'm afraid," he said, "that these men, whoever they are, won't quit until the money
is found. The best way to solve our problem would be to find the money ourselves
and turn it over to the police, with plenty of newspaper publicity. Then they'd give
up."

"Great! Just great!" Pete retorted sarcastically. "All we have to do is find some
money that's been hidden for years. Money that the police and the Treasury
Department agents haven't been able to find. Nothing to it. Easy as falling off a log.
Let's do it before dinner so we can wrap this whole case up."

"Pete's right," Bob said. "I mean, what chance have we of finding any hidden
money when we don't even have a clue to it?"

"It certainly won't be easy," admitted Jupiter. "But I think we have to try. We
won't have any peace of mind until the money is found. We're investigators - it'll be
a real challenge to us."

Pete groaned.

"How would we start, Jupe?" Bob asked.

"First we have to assume that the money is hidden somewhere here in the Los
Angeles region," Jupiter said slowly. "Obviously, if it's hidden in Chicago we
haven't a chance of finding it."

Pete's expression said he didn't think they had a chance anyway.

"Next," Jupiter said, "we have to find out all we can about Spike Neely's actions
when he was hiding out at his sister's house. That means we must locate the sister,
Mrs Miller, and ask her to tell us everything she can."

"But Chief Reynolds said the police questioned her at the time," Bob protested. "If
they didn't learn anything, how can we?"

"I don't know," Jupiter told him. "But we have to try. It's our only lead. I know it's
a long shot, but when there's nothing else to do, you have to try the long shot. Just
possibly we might think of some questions the police forgot to ask."

"I wish you'd never read that piece in the paper about the auction," Pete muttered.
"All right, how do we start?"

"First," Jupiter began, but he was interrupted by his aunt's powerful voice calling

47
to them.

"Boys! Lunch! Come and get it while it's hot."

Pete jumped up. "That's the first thing I've heard today that I've liked!" he
exclaimed. "Let's eat. Then we can think about your idea, Jupe."

In a few minutes the boys were seated in Aunt Mathilda's kitchen. Mrs Jones
bustled about serving them generous helpings of sausages and beans. Presently
Titus Jones came in and joined them.

"Well, Jupiter, my boy," he said, "what have you been up to now? Making friends
with Gypsies, have you?"

"Gypsies?" Jupiter looked up, startled, and Bob and Pete paused with forks half
raised.

"There were a couple of Gypsies in the yard this morning," Titus Jones explained.
"While you lads were downtown. Oh, they didn't say they were Gypsies, and they
weren't dressed like Gypsies, but I could tell. After all, when I was with the circus I
saw a lot of them."

During his younger years, Mr Jones had travelled with a small circus, taking tickets
and playing the steam calliope that every circus had in those days.

"They were looking for me?" Jupiter asked.

"I guess it was you." His uncle chuckled. "They said they had a message from a
friend for the fat one. I know you're not fat, Jupiter, just stocky and well-muscled,
but for some reason people do call you fat."

"What was the message?" Jupiter asked, ignoring his uncle's chuckles.

"It was more like a riddle," Mr Jones replied. "'Let me see now, what they said was,
'A frog in a pond with hungry fish must jump hard to get out.' Does it mean
anything to you?"

Jupiter gulped slightly. Bob and Pete swallowed hard.

"I'm not sure," Jupiter answered. "Maybe it's an old Gypsy proverb. You're sure
they were Gypsies?"

"Positive," his uncle said. "I've seen enough to know. Besides, as they left I heard
them talking in Romany - that's the old Gypsy language. I couldn't understand
everything they said, but I heard what sounded like 'danger', then 'keep a sharp
eye'. I certainly hope you aren't involved in anything dangerous."

48
"Gypsies!" Mrs Jones snorted, seating herself at the table. "Jupiter, now that
you've got rid of that horrible old skull, don't tell me you're getting mixed up with
Gypsies somehow."

"No, Aunt Mathilda," Jupiter answered. "At least I don't think I am."

"Well, they seemed friendly." Titus Jones stated, helping himself to more sausages.

The three boys finished eating in silence, and then returned to Headquarters.

"A Gypsy message," Pete said hollowly. "'A frog in a pond with hungry fish must
jump hard to get out'. Does that mean what I think it means?"

Jupiter nodded. "I'm afraid so. It's a veiled warning to us that we'd better work
hard to solve this case. I wish I knew where the Gypsies fitted into this, though. First
I talked to Zelda. Then Zelda and all her people disappear. Now two Gypsies show
up to leave a message for me, from a friend. I surmise that Zelda is the friend, but I
wish she wouldn't be so mysterious."

"Me, too," Pete said, and sighed.

"Well, what do we do now?" Bob asked.

"We talk to Spike Neely's sister," Jupiter said. "We know she lives in Los Angeles.
Maybe she's in the phone book."

Pete handed him the telephone book and Jupe began phoning. In a deep voice that
sounded quite adult, he said he wished to contact Mr Spike Neely. The first three
women he called said they'd never heard of Spike Neely, but the fourth replied that
Spike Neely was dead and it was impossible to contact him. Jupiter said "Thank
you" and hung up.

"We've located the right Mrs Miller," he told the others. "Her address is over in
Hollywood, in one of the older sections. I propose we visit her immediately and see if
she can give us any information."

"It seems like an awful long shot to me," Pete muttered. "What can she tell us that
she didn't tell the police at the time?"

"I don't know," Jupiter said, "but a frog in a pond with hungry fish must jump
hard to get out."

"I guess you're right," Bob said. "How will we get there? It's too far to ride on our
bikes."

49
"We'll call the Rent - 'n' - Ride Auto Agency and ask for the use of Worthington
and the Rolls-Royce," Jupiter said.

Some time earlier, Jupiter had entered a contest and won the use of a magnificent
old Rolls for a short time. Later, the generosity of a boy whom they had helped
allowed them to continue to use the car occasionally. However, when Jupiter phoned
now, he learned that the car and Worthington, the chauffeur, were both out of town
with a customer.

"Well, if we can't use the Rolls-Royce," he said to the others, "we'll ask Uncle Titus
to lend us Konrad and the light truck. Things aren't busy today so he probably
won't mind."

But it turned out that Mr Jones first had an errand for Konrad and the truck.
Konrad would not be free for several hours, so the boys decided to put in the time
repairing some furniture. They worked in a spot where they could watch everyone
who came into the yard, keeping alert for anyone who looked suspicious. But no one
seemed in the least interested in them.

Finally Konrad came back with the truck and unloaded it. All three boys squeezed
into the front seat beside him, Bob sitting on Pete's lap, and they set off for
Hollywood.

Mrs Miller's home turned out to be an attractive bungalow with a palm tree and
two banana trees outside it. Jupiter pushed the doorbell and a pleasant-looking,
middle-aged woman came to the door.

"Yes?" she said. "If you're selling subscriptions, I'm sorry but I don't need any
more magazines."

"It's not that, ma'am," Jupiter said. "May I give you one of our cards?" And he
handed her one of The Three Investigators' official business cards.

Mrs Miller looked at it, puzzled.

"You boys are investigators?" she asked. "It hardly seems possible."

"You might call us junior investigators," Jupiter said. "Here's another card that the
police gave us."

He let Mrs Miller see the card Chief Reynolds had given him at the time of an
earlier adventure. This one said:

This certifies that the bearer is a Volunteer Junior Assistant Deputy co-operating
with the police force of Rocky Beach. Any assistance given him will be appreciated.
(Signed) Samuel Reynolds

50
Chief of Police

"My, that certainly does look impressive," Mrs Miller said. "But why are you
calling on me?"

"We hope you can help us," Jupiter said frankly. "We're in a little trouble and we
need some information. It has to do with your brother, Spike Neely. It's quite a long
story, but if you'd let us come in I could explain better."

Mrs Miller hesitated, then held the door open.

"All right," she said. "You look like respectable boys. I hoped I'd heard the last of
Spike, but I'll try to help you."

A few moments later they were seated on the sofa in her living room. Jupiter was
explaining as well as he could the curious set of events that had begun with his
buying an old trunk at auction. He left out any reference to Socrates, however, as a
talking skull would be hard for anyone else to take.

"So you see," he finished, "someone apparently thinks there was a clue in Gulliver's
trunk to where the money is hidden. Because we had the trunk for a time, they may
think we found the clue and know where the money is. They might - well, they might
try to make us tell them, and we can't. You can see what a problem it is."

"Goodness, yes," the woman said. "But I don't see how I can help you. I never knew
anything about the money, as I told the police at the time. Why, I never dreamed
that my brother was a criminal until the police came looking for him."

"If you could tell us what you told the police at the time," Jupiter suggested, "we
might spot some clue."

"Well, I'll try. It was six years ago, you know, but I can remember quite clearly.
Frank - that was Spike's real name - and I hadn't seen much of each other since he
left home when he was eighteen. Once in a long while he'd come to see me and my
husband, for a few days, but he never said anything about what he was doing.

"I realize now that he was probably hiding out after committing a robbery, but at
the time I just thought he was restless and liked to travel. When I asked him what
his work was, he said he was a salesman. But, whenever he was staying with us, he
used to help my husband out.

"My husband had a one-man home-repair business. He was a very good workman.
If you needed your house painted, he could paint it. If it needed wall-papering, he'd
do that, too. Or lay a new floor. Or install a bathroom. He could do anything around
the house and he made good money.

51
"As I said, when Spike visited us, he helped on whatever job my husband might
have at the time. But this time he didn't seem to want to go out of the house. He
seemed nervous. His speech defect was worse than usual. You know that's how he
was finally caught - he had trouble pronouncing the letter L in words. For instance,
if he said 'flower,' it came out 'fower'.

"Anyway, I know now that he was hiding out after the bank robbery in San
Francisco. So for almost a week Spike stayed home by himself - I had a job then,
too.

"He did make himself useful. He painted and papered the downstairs rooms. You
know how it is - a busy workman like my husband neglects his own home to do the
outside jobs.

"But then my husband got sick. He was working on a big redecorating job for some
restaurant and got too sick to finish. He asked Spike to take over for him, and Spike
could hardly refuse. But I remember he dressed in baggy overalls and wore dark
glasses every time he left the house.

"It took Spike several days to finish the job, and all that time my husband got
worse. We were just going to move him to a hospital when he unexpectedly died."

Mrs Miller sniffed and dabbed at her eyes a moment. "I certainly thought Frank
would stay with me then, to help me, but he didn't. He left even before the funeral.
He said he had to leave in a hurry and he just packed up and went. I was very
surprised. Later, I figured it out."

"You did?" Jupiter asked. "What was his reason?"

"It was the death notice in the newspaper for my husband. You know death notices
always mention the next of kin, and in my husband's notice I said that he was
survived by me, his wife, and a brother-in-law, Frank Neely, living at the same
address. I think Frank was afraid someone would see it and know where to find
him, so he hurried off.

"The next I heard of him was when the police came to question me after he was
captured in Chicago. But I couldn't tell them anything. As I say, I never knew
Frank was a bank robber."

"When your brother left, did he say anything about coming back or seeing you
again?" Jupiter asked.

"I don't remember anything ... Yes, I do, too. It's just come back to me, now that
you mention it. He said, 'Sis, you're not going to sell this house or anything, are you?
You'll be staying right here so I'll always know where to find you?'"

52
"And what did you answer, Mrs Miller?"

"I said no, I wasn't going to sell the house. I'd be right where I was any time he
came to town."

"Then I think I know where he hid the money!" Jupiter announced triumphantly.
"You say he was alone here a lot while both you and your husband were out
working. Then there's one logical place for him to have hidden the money - right
here in this house!"

Chapter 11
An Unpleasant Surprise

BOTH Bob and Pete looked at Jupe in amazement.

"But Chief Reynolds said the police searched the house and didn't find anything,"
Bob reminded him.

"Because somehow Spike Neely was too clever," Jupiter said. "He hid the money so
well that an ordinary search couldn't find it. Fifty thousand dollars in large bills
wouldn't make a very big package. He could have tucked it away in the attic, under
the eaves, or somewhere like that. He planned to come visiting you again, Mrs
Miller, when the coast was clear, and get the money back. Only he got sent to jail
and died there."

"He did ask Mrs Miller if she was going to stay here!" Bob said excitedly. "That
shows he planned to come back."

"And he had several days in which to think of a hiding place no one would suspect,"
Pete put in, showing some excitement himself. "It would have to be tricky, to fool
the police, but I'll bet you can find it, Jupe!"

"Would you be willing to let us just look around a little, Mrs Miller?" Jupiter asked
hopefully. "Just to see if we can spot any likely place?"

Mrs Miller shook her head.

53
"It does seem possible, the way you reason it out," she said, "but you couldn't ever
find the money in this house." She shook her head again. "You see, this isn't the
house I was living in at the time. I moved four years ago. I didn't think I ever would,
but someone made me such a good offer I couldn't say no. So I sold and moved
here."

Jupiter rallied from his first disappointment.

"Then it could still be in the other house," he said.

"Yes, that could be," Mrs Miller agreed. "After all, Frank was very clever. Even
though the police searched thoroughly, he might have fooled them. I used to live at
532 Danville Street. That's where you'd have to look now."

"Thank you," Jupiter said and got to his feet. "You've been a big help, Mrs Miller.
We must follow up this new information immediately."

They said their good-byes and left hastily. A moment later they were crowding again
into the truck, where Konrad waited for them.

"We want to go to 532 Danville Street, Konrad," Jupiter said. "Do you know where
that is?"

The big blond man dug out a worn map of Los Angeles and the towns around it.
After some study they found Danville Street. It was a fairly short street but some
distance away. Konrad looked doubtful.

"I think we better go home, Jupe," he said. "Mr Titus told me not to be away too
long."

"We'll just drive by the address," Jupiter said. "We'll make sure where it is. After
all, I don't suppose we could just barge in and search somebody's House. We'll have
to tell Chief Reynolds of our deduction."

Pete and Bob knew that Jupiter would have liked to find the money himself and
take it in triumph to the authorities. But they all realized that was impossible.
Konrad agreed, however, that they could drive by the address on Danville Street on
their way back to Rocky Beach, and they started off.

All three boys were in much better spirits now, though Pete still had some doubts.

"After all, Jupe," he said, "we can't be positive that Spike Neely hid the money he
stole in his sister's house."

Jupiter shook his head.

54
"It's the only logical place, Pete," he said. "It's where I would have hidden the
money if I'd been Spike Neely."

After making a number of turns, they came out on Danville Street.

"This is the nine-hundred block," Jupiter announced. "Turn left, Konrad, the five-
hundred block should be in that direction."

Konrad turned and all three boys watched the passing houses sharply, reading the
street numbers.

"We're in the eight-hundred block now," Bob announced. "Three more blocks and
we should be there."

They travelled along past a number of small, neat houses sitting on well-tended
grounds. Now all three boys were leaning forward and craning their necks.

"It ought to be right in the next block," Bob said eagerly. "About the middle of the
block, I'd say. On the right-hand side, of course, because that's where the even-
numbered houses are."

"Stop in the middle of the next block, Konrad," Jupe directed.

"Okay, Jupe," the driver agreed.

He drove a minute and stopped.

"This is the place, Jupe?"

Jupiter did not answer. He was staring open-mouthed at a large apartment house
that took up most of the block on the right-hand side of the street. There were no
small, private residences at all on that side.

"Number 532 is gone!" Bob said hollowly. "There's just that apartment house, and
it's number 510."

"It looks as if we lost a house," Pete said, with a feeble attempt at humour.

"Try the next block, Konrad," Jupiter said. "Maybe number 532 is there."

But in the next block the houses were numbered in the four hundreds. There was no
532 Danville Street. Konrad pulled the truck to a stop and looked questioningly at
the boys.

"Do you suppose Mrs Miller wasn't telling us the truth?" Bob asked. "That she
never lived at 532 Danville Street at all? Maybe back where we left she's tearing the

55
house apart looking for that fifty thousand dollars. Maybe she was just trying to get
rid of us."

"No," Jupiter said. "I believe Mrs Miller was telling us the truth. Something has
happened to number 532. You two wait here. I shall make a quick investigation to
see if I can find out what."

Jupiter slid out of the truck and disappeared. After some minutes he returned,
puffing slightly.

"Well," he said, "I learned something anyway. I talked to the superintendent of the
apartment house. He's been there ever since it was built. He says it was built nearly
four years ago, and that six houses in the block were moved to make room for it."

"Moved!" Pete exclaimed. "Moved where?"

"To Maple Street. That's about three blocks away, parallel with this street. The
houses were in good condition and not too big so instead of being torn down they
were moved over to vacant lots along Maple Street and put on new foundations. Mrs
Miller's house is still around - it's just in a new location."

"Good grief!" Bob said. "A travelling house! How can we find it? It won't be
numbered 532 any more. It'll have a new street number."

"Well," Jupiter said, "we can telephone Mrs Miller and ask her to describe it to us.
Then we can go over to Maple Street and look for it."

"We can't do that today," Bob pointed out. "It's getting too late."

"Yup, Jupe, got to get back to the yard," Konrad put in. "We are late now."

"Well, we'll do it tomorrow," Jupiter said. "All right, Konrad, let's go home."

Konrad started the motor and pulled away from the kerb. As he did so, a large
black car with three very hard-faced men in it also pulled out from the kerb, a block
behind them, and followed. They did not notice it, which was just as well for their
peace of mind.

It was almost closing time at The Jones Salvage Yard when they got back, and Titus
Jones mildly scolded them for being gone so long. Then he turned to Jupiter.

"Jupiter, my boy," he said, "while you were gone, a package came for you. Were
you expecting something?"

"A package?" Jupiter looked surprised. "No, I wasn't expecting anything. What is
it. Uncle Titus?"

56
"I don't know, my boy. It's all wrapped up, a large box, and as it is addressed to
you, naturally I didn't open it. There it is, beside the office door."

All three boys rushed to the box. It was an over-sized cardboard carton, securely
sealed with many strips of heavy brown adhesive paper. The label on it indicated
that it had come by express from Los Angeles but did not give the name of the
sender.

"Golly, what do you suppose it is?" Pete asked.

"We'll have to open it to find out," Jupiter said, puzzled. "Let's take it back to the
workshop and open it there."

With some difficulty he and Pete carried the box around the piles of second-hand
material to the seclusion of the workshop. Jupiter produced his prized Swiss knife
with many blades, swiftly cut through the strips of sealing paper, and folded back
the top of the carton. Then all three stared with dismay at what was inside.

"Oh, no!" Pete groaned. "Not that!"

It took even Jupiter a moment to find his voice.

"Someone," he said, "has sent us back Gulliver's trunk."

They stared at the top of the trunk that they'd thought they were rid of forever. And
as they did so, a very muffled voice spoke.

"Hurry!" it said. "Find - the clue."

Socrates! Speaking to them from inside the trunk!

Chapter 12
The Three Find Some Clues

"WELL, NOW WHAT?" Pete asked gloomily.

57
It was quite late the following afternoon, a Saturday. The Three Investigators were
gathered at the rear of The Jones Salvage Yard for a consultation. The previous
evening they had felt no desire to investigate the riddle of the return of Gulliver's
trunk. Its mysterious reappearance had, indeed, rather shaken them. They had
hidden the box behind the printing press and agreed to put off their next move until
today.

Bob had just arrived from his job in the local library. Jupiter, in charge of the
salvage yard while his aunt and uncle were in Los Angeles for the day, was taking
advantage of a lull in business to join him and Pete.

Now they were all looking at the trunk and wondering what to do with it.

"I know what," Bob said. "Let's take the trunk right down to Chief Reynolds, tell
him everything we know, and let him carry on from there."

"Good idea!" Pete agreed emphatically. "Well, Jupe, what do you say?"

"I suppose so," Jupiter said slowly. "Except that we really don't know too much.
We think Spike Neely hid the stolen money in his sister's house, but we can't be
positive. It's just a good deduction."

"It's good enough for me," Bob said. "Spike showed up at his sister's house the
same day he stole the money in San Francisco. So he must have had it with him. He
was afraid of being caught, so he probably hid it before he left. He thought she'd
keep right on living there, so some day when the coast was clear he could come back
for it."

"Besides," Pete put in, "if he didn't hide it there, we don't know where he hid it and
couldn't find it anyway. It's all we have to go on."

"Yesterday," Jupiter said, "Socrates spoke to us."

"I'll say he did!" Pete shuddered. "And believe me, I didn't like it."

"It was sort of unnerving," Bob agreed.

"But he did speak to us. At the moment I'm not even trying to figure out how,"
Jupiter said. "He told us to hurry and find the clue. So there must be a clue in the
trunk even if we haven't spotted it yet."

"If there's a clue in it, Chief Reynolds can have the police laboratory go over it inch
by inch," Pete argued. "Anyway, he may not need it. If he can locate Mrs Miller's
house on Maple Street, he can get permission to search it and probably find the
money anyway."

58
"That's true," Jupiter agreed. "Well, all right. But first we ought to phone Mrs
Miller to ask her to describe the house, so we can tell the Chief what it looks like."

"Then let's do it!" Pete said. "On to Headquarters."

"Just a moment," said Jupe. He went out to the front of the salvage yard, so that
Hans and Konrad could handle the few customers, then followed Bob and Pete into
Tunnel Two.

A minute later they were inside Headquarters. Jupiter looked up Mrs Miller's
number in the telephone book and very shortly was speaking to her.

"What did my house look like?" Mrs Miller repeated in some surprise. "Why, my
goodness, all you have to do is go to 532 Danville Street and there it is."

When told that the house had been moved, and that a large apartment house now
stood on the spot, she gave a little gasp.

"An apartment house!" she said. "No wonder the man was so anxious to buy it. If
I'd known the truth, maybe I'd have asked for more money. Well, anyway, it's a
cute little bungalow with brown shingle siding. Just one storey, but it has a little
attic with a round window in front. I can't tell you anything special about it. It was
just a nice, well-built little bungalow."

"Thank you," Jupiter said. "I'm sure the authorities will be able to locate it."

He hung up and looked at his two companions.

"The more I think about it," he said, "the more I feel sure that the money is hidden
in Mrs Miller's old house, but in some tricky manner. And I'm sure there's a clue in
the trunk, too."

"Even if there is, I'm tired of that trunk!" Pete said firmly. "See what happened to
Maximilian the Mystic. Now the trunk's come back to us, and I don't want it. It's
dangerous. Let Chief Reynolds look for the clue."

"Well, we did agree to co-operate with Chief Reynolds," Jupiter said. "So I guess
the thing to do is take the trunk to him. We'd better phone to let him know we're
coming."

He used the telephone again, and in a moment was connected with Police
Headquarters.

"Chief Reynolds' office, Lieutenant Carter speaking," a crisp, unfamiliar voice


answered.

59
"This is Jupiter Jones. May I speak to the Chief, please?"

"Chief Reynolds is away until tomorrow," Lieutenant Carter replied curtly. "Try
him then."

"But this may be important," Jupiter said. "You see, I think we have a clue that - "

"Forget it, kid!" Lieutenant Carter said impatiently. "I'm very busy, and one thing
I don't want is boy wonders in my hair. Maybe the Chief lets you mess around in
things sometimes, but personally, I think kids like you should be seen and not
heard."

"But the Chief asked me - " Jupiter began.

"Take it up with him tomorrow! I have to go now!" And the phone at the other end
was hung up with a bang.

Jupiter hung up also and looked blankly at Pete and Bob.

"Something tells me," Pete said, "that Lieutenant Carter doesn't like us."

"He sounded as if he didn't like anybody," Bob put in. "Especially kids."

"His attitude is quite common among adults," Jupiter said with a sigh. "They think
that just because we're young we don't have any good ideas. Actually, we often have
a fresh viewpoint on a problem. But I guess we can't take the trunk down to Chief
Reynolds before tomorrow - maybe not even then, because tomorrow's Sunday. We
may have to wait until Monday. So I suggest we search the trunk again and try to
find that clue Socrates mentioned."

"I'm tired of that trunk," Pete said firmly. "I'm tired of Socrates. I don't want him
talking to me."

"I don't think he'll talk to us any more," Jupiter replied. "Somehow he doesn't
seem to talk face to face. He talked to me in the dark in my room, and from inside
the trunk, but never directly."

"He said 'boo' to your aunt," Bob pointed out.

"Yes. I can't explain that," Jupiter admitted. "But suppose we open the trunk and
have a look. Perhaps someone took something out before returning it."

They crawled out through Tunnel Two and opened the trunk. The interior looked
just as it had before. Socrates, well wrapped in old velvet, was snugly in a corner.
The letter was still in place inside the tear in the lining.

60
Jupiter took Socrates out, unwrapped him and set him on his ivory base on the
printing press. Then he picked up the letter.

"Let's have another look at this," he suggested.

All three read the letter again. It seemed as innocent as before.

State Prison Hospital July 17 Dear Gulliver:

Just a few words from your old pal and cellmate, Spike Neely. I'm in the hospital,
and it looks like I haven't got much longer.

I may last five days or three weeks, or even two months, the doctors aren't sure. But
in any case, it's time to say good-bye.

If you're ever in Chicago, look up my cousin Danny Street. Tell him hello for me.
Wish I could say more, but this is all I can manage.

Your friend,

Spike

"If there's a hidden clue there, I can't find it," Jupiter muttered. "I wonder if -
Wait! I've found something. Look!"

He held out the letter and the envelope to Bob. "Do you see what we missed?"

"What we missed?" Bob looked puzzled. "No, I don't see anything special, Jupe."

"The stamps on the envelope!" Jupe said. "We didn't look under the stamps for a
message!" Bob looked at the two stamps - a two-cent stamp and a four-cent stamp.
He took the envelope and ran his finger over them. His expression changed to one of
great excitement.

"Jupe!" he exclaimed. "You're right! There's something under one of these stamps.
The four-cent stamp feels just a little bit thicker than the two."

Pete also ran his finger over the stamps and nodded.

The four-cent stamp was just a trifle thicker - not enough for the eye to notice unless
you looked very closely.

"Let's get inside Headquarters and steam these stamps off and see what's
underneath!" Bob exclaimed.

They scrambled back through Tunnel Two and within three minutes had a little

61
kettle boiling in the laboratory. Jupiter held the corner of the envelope in the steam
until the stamps loosened. Then he gave a shout of excitement.

"Look!" he cried. "There's another stamp underneath the four. A green one-cent."

"That's queer." Bob frowned. "What does it mean, Jupe?"

"I can tell you what it means," Pete said. "There's nothing mysterious about it.
Don't you remember that back about the time this letter was mailed, the postage
rates went up by a cent? Spike Neely probably put a one-cent stamp on then
realized that wouldn't be enough so he pasted on a two, then put the four-cent
stamp on top of the one."

"Gosh, that could be right," Bob said. "I think Pete has hit on it, Jupe."

"I'm not so sure." Jupe scowled at the green stamp on the envelope. Then, carefully,
he peeled it off. "There may be writing underneath it," he said.

"No," Bob announced when the stamp was off. "No writing. None on the back of
any of the stamps either. What do you say now, Jupe?"

"It's too peculiar to be an accident," Jupe said, still scowling. "It has to mean
something."

"Then what?" Pete demanded.

"I'm thinking," Jupiter said. "Spike knew this letter would be censored. So I deduce
he used the stamps to send his message. He put one stamp under another stamp, so
neatly it wouldn't be noticed. He expected Gulliver to examine the whole letter very
carefully and find it. I deduce that the one-cent stamp being green, the colour of
U.S. paper money, stands for the missing fifty thousand dollars. What Spike meant -
"

He broke off, thinking hard. Bob's shout broke the silence.

"I've got it!" he yelled. "A stamp is a piece of paper, see? Money is paper, too. Spike
put a piece of paper underneath another piece of paper. Spike was telling Gulliver
that the money was hidden somewhere under some paper.

"Mrs Miller told us that while Spike was hiding out in her old house, he papered the
whole downstairs! That was when he hid the fifty thousand dollars. He put the bills
side by side and pasted them underneath the new wallpaper!"

"Wow!" Pete said admiringly. "Bob, you've got it. That has to be the answer,
doesn't it, Jupe?"

62
Jupiter nodded. "Yes," he said. "Remarkable deduction, Bob. I'm just
remembering a story I once read. It's a mystery story by a man named Robert Barr.
In it a character named Lord Chizelrigg hides a lot of gold beating it into goldleaf
and pasting it under some wallpaper. The principle is the same. Only Spike Neely
used paper money, which is much easier to handle."

"But wait a minute!" Bob put in. "Mrs Miller said Spike Neely went out and
finished a job for Mr Miller. Maybe he hid the money there."

"I don't think so." Jupiter shook his head. "The best place would be - Oh! Oh! Oh!"

"Oh! Oh! Oh! what?" Pete asked. "What're you oh-ing about, Jupe?"

"Spike tells us! That is, he told Gulliver. Right in the letter. Look at it!" Jupiter
handed the letter over to Bob and Pete.

"See what he starts off by saying. 'I may last five days, or three weeks, or even two
months.' Take those numbers and put them together. They make 532. What does
that remind you of?"

"That was the number of Mrs Miller's house! "Bob shouted. "532 Danville Street."

"Right," Jupiter said. "And look here. He tells Gulliver, 'If you're ever in Chicago,
look up my cousin Danny Street.'"

"Danny could be a nickname for Danville!" Pete exclaimed.

"Right!" Jupe agreed. "That mention of a cousin, and Chicago is just put in to
distract attention from the words Danny Street. As near as he dared say it, Spike
Neely was telling Gulliver that the money was hidden at 532 Danville Street."

"Under the wallpaper!" Bob chimed in. "He didn't dare say too much, but that was
very tricky, putting one stamp under another!"

"We've solved the riddle," Pete said, jubilant. Then he looked thoughtful. "Now
how do we find the money?"

"If it's underneath somebody's wallpaper, we can't just barge in and say, 'Excuse
us, we have to rip your wallpaper off,'" Bob remarked.

"No," Jupiter agreed. "That's a job for the police. We'll have to tell Chief Reynolds.
It's no use trying to tell Lieutenant Carter - he made it plain he doesn't want us
bothering him. Tomorrow, though, or Monday, when the Chief is back - "

The ringing of the telephone interrupted him. Startled, Jupiter picked it up.

63
"Three Investigators, Jupiter Jones speaking," he said.

"Good!" answered a man's authoritative voice. "This is George Grant speaking."

"George Grant?" Jupiter frowned. The name was unfamiliar to him.

"That's right. Chief Reynolds told you I'd be getting in touch with you, didn't he?"

"Why, no," Jupiter said, puzzled. "He didn't mention you, Mr Grant."

"He must have forgotten," the man said. "It was he who gave me your telephone
number. I'm a special agent for the Bankers' Protective Association. I've been
keeping an eye on you since I read in the paper about your buying that trunk of The
Great Gulliver's. And - "

"Yes?" Jupiter asked, a bit uneasily, as the man paused.

"Do you boys know that three of the worst thugs in California are watching you day
and night?"

Chapter 13
Disturbing News

"W - WATCHING us?" Jupiter's voice quavered slightly. Pete and Bob gulped.

"They certainly are. Watching you and following you. Their names are Three-
Finger Munger, Baby-Faced Benson, and Leo the Knife. They were in prison with
Spike Neely, and they're hoping that you'll lead them to the money he hid before he
was caught."

"We - we haven't seen anyone watching us, Mr Grant."

"Of course not. These men are professionals. They've rented a house down from the
road from the salvage yard and are watching it through field glasses. If you go
anywhere, they follow you."

"We'd better tell the police," Jupiter said, alarmed. Bob and Pete, listening to the

64
little loudspeaker, nodded hard.

"I've already told Chief Reynolds," Mr Grant said. "He offered to chase them away,
but said he couldn't arrest them because watching you isn't illegal. They haven't
actually done anything - yet."

"Chief Reynolds was afraid some criminal might think we knew where the missing
money is," Jupiter said, none too happily. "I guess that's why they're watching us.
To see if we go get it."

"I hope you don't try," Mr Grant said. "No telling what Three-Fingers and the
others might attempt. If you actually have any clue, take my advice and turn it over
to the police."

"But we haven't," Jupiter said. "That is, we didn't have."

"But you do now?" Mr Grant asked.

"Well - yes," Jupiter admitted. "We just found a clue that seems significant."

"Good work!" the man said heartily. "Take it right down to Chief Reynolds. I'll
meet you there and we'll all have a confab ... Uh - oh, that won't work: I just
remembered that the Chief is out of town today."

"That's right," Jupiter agreed. "We tried to telephone him. Lieutenant Carter is
taking his place. The Lieutenant wouldn't even listen to us."

"And if you did go to him now, he'd probably take all the credit and keep you from
getting the reward," Mr Grant said thoughtfully.

"Reward?" Jupiter asked. Bob and Pete looked excitedly at each other.

"The Bankers' Protective Association has offered a ten per cent reward to anyone
who can locate the missing money. That's five thousand dollars that you'd be
entitled to. That is, if your clue is a good one."

"Five thousand dollars!" Pete whispered to Jupe. "That idea I like! Ask him how we
can win it."

"I have an idea," Grant continued. "If you lay your information before the
Bankers' Protective Association directly and we pass it on to the police, you're in
line for the reward. It's on record that you supplied the clue. I could come to see you
and - No, that's not a good idea.

"If those thugs saw me, they'd probably recognize me, and they might make some
desperate move. Suppose you come to see me, secretly. I'm in town now."

65
"I can't leave the salvage yard," Jupiter answered, scowling. "I'm supposed to be in
charge here. My aunt and uncle won't be back for an hour or two."

"Hmm - I see." Mr Grant was silent for a moment. "Do you think you can slip away
later this evening, after you close? All three of you meet me somewhere? You'd have
to get away without Three-Finger and the others seeing you go."

"I believe I could do that, sir," Jupiter agreed. "Of course, Bob and Pete have to
leave soon to go home for dinner. Do you think they'll be followed?"

"I doubt it. You're the one the crooks are interested in. You're sure you can slip
away without being seen?"

"Yes, sir. I'm sure I can," said Jupiter, thinking of Red Gate Rover, the boys' secret
exit in the back fence of the yard. "It'll be late, though, because today is Saturday
and the yard is open until seven o'clock."

"Excellent. Will eight o'clock be all right then?"'

"Yes, Mr Grant, I think so."

"Then suppose we meet in the park - Oceanview Park. I'll be sitting on a bench
inside the east entrance, reading a newspaper. I'll have on a brown sports jacket
and a brown snap-brim hat. You three get there separately, making sure you're not
being followed. That clear?"

"Yes, sir," Jupiter said.

"And don't breathe a word to anyone before we meet. It's important that nothing
leaks out until I have your statement. Bring your clues with you. Check?"

"All clear, Mr Grant," Jupiter agreed.

"Then I'll see you at eight. Good-bye until then."

As Jupiter hung up, Pete let out a suppressed exclamation.

"Wow! A five-thousand-dollar reward. What's the matter, Jupe, why don't you look
happy?"

"We haven't found the money yet," Jupiter said.

"We're bound to find it. Or anyway, the police are ... after Mr Grant gives them our
information. Maybe they'll let us come along when they hunt for it."

66
"Not if that Lieutenant Carter has anything to say about it," said Bob.

"I wish Chief Reynolds wasn't away today," Jupiter said. "I'd like to have him in on
this. But if he knows Mr Grant - "

A voice calling interrupted him.

"Jupe customers need some change!"

"That's Konrad," Jupiter said. "I'd better get back on the job. I'm supposed to be
in charge. Bob and Pete, can you repack the trunk and put Socrates away?"

"Golly!" Bob looked at his watch. "I've got to get to the library before it closes,
Jupe. I left my jacket there when I quit work. Then I'd better get on home."

"It's okay. I'll pack the trunk," Pete said. "Then I'd better get home, too. We'll all
meet at the park at eight o-clock. Right?"

"Right," Jupiter said.

They all left Headquarters and separated. Pete approached the trunk and Socrates
without enthusiasm.

"Well!" he challenged the skull. "What have you got to say now that we've found
the clue?" Socrates grinned at him and remained silent.

Chapter 14
Bob Springs a Bombshell

BURSTING with some new information. Bob pedalled furiously through the back
streets of Rocky Beach, heading in a roundabout way for the meeting place in the
park. He was a little late. He had taken time after dinner to look through a pile of
old newspapers in the garage. He had found the special item he wanted, and now he
was trying to make up for lost time. But when he got to the east entrance to the
park, he saw that Pete and Jupiter were ahead of him. They were seated on a bench
with a young, well-dressed man, talking earnestly. They looked up as Bob
approached, his bicycle brakes squealing.

67
"Sorry I'm late," Bob said, puffing. "I had to hunt for something."

"You have to be Bob Andrews," the man said pleasantly. "I'm George Grant."
They shook hands, and the young man extended a wallet, open to show an engraved
card behind a plastic window. "Here's my identification, Bob. Just to be formal."

The card said that George Grant was an accredited investigator for the Bankers'
Protective Association. Bob nodded and Mr Grant put it away.

"Jupe - " Bob started to say, but Jupiter spoke first.

"We've just been telling Mr Grant what we learned from the letter, about the
money being hidden under the wallpaper in Mrs Miller's old house."

"You boys have done a fine job," Mr Grant said.

"The Bankers' Protective Association will be glad to see that you get the reward. If
the money is pasted under the wallpaper, it's no wonder the police didn't find it
when they searched the house.

"However, we have a little problem. The house is undoubtedly occupied. It'll take
special police authority to enter it and rip off the wallpaper. I'm not sure - "

Bob was unable to hold back his news any longer.

"That's just it, Mr Grant," he burst out. "If the house is still standing, it isn't
occupied, and it won't be standing much longer!"

The others looked at him in amazement. He hurried on to explain.

"When I went back to the library to get my jacket, I heard a woman telling the
librarian about having to get out of her house on Maple Street, and her trouble
finding a new place. She finally moved down here to Rocky Beach. I asked the
librarian about it and she told me there had been a piece in the paper last week. I
looked it up in the copy at the library. Then I found the paper at home and cut out
the story. Here it is!"

He thrust a folded piece of newspaper into Jupiter's hand. Jupiter unfolded it, and
he and Mr Grant and Pete all read it swiftly.

DEMOLITION BEGINS FOR NEW FREEWAY

More than 300 homes, some of them new and attractive, stand empty and silent
today, awaiting the bulldozers of the wreckers. Soon they will be only memories to
the residents who have had to move out of them, to make way for the freeway

68
extension that will rise in their place.

A fifteen-block length of Maple Street will vanish to be replaced by a six-lane


freeway designed to speed the ever-increasing load of traffic through Los Angeles.
Not only Maple Street will be affected, but nearby houses on the cross streets will
also go.

The heartbreak to the residents who have had to move from their homes is new to
them, but it is only a repetition of thousands of similar cases since the freeway
programme in this city began. The urgent need to keep the traffic flowing through
the city has meant the destruction of many thousands of homes to make way for the
freeways.

There was more to the story, but Mr Grant, having read that much, whistled softly.

"Maple Street!" he said. "That's where you said Mrs Miller's house was moved to
four years ago, Jupiter."

"That's what the apartment house superintendent told me," Jupiter answered.

"And now most of Maple Street is going to be demolished," Mr Grant said. "That
changes things. That means the house is empty. It means we have no time for delay.
Why, Three-Finger and the others could be there now. They may have already been
there and found the money!"

"How could that be, Mr Grant?" Pete asked.

"They followed you boys yesterday," Mr Grant said. "They must have followed you
to Mrs Miller's present home and deduced you were getting information from her.
Then they undoubtedly followed you to the apartment house. They could easily have
seen Jupiter go in to question the superintendent, and could have learned what the
superintendent told him. They may have deduced that you think the money is in the
house. They could be looking for it now!"

"Gosh, that's right!" Bob exclaimed. "Maybe we're too late!"

"Ordinarily I'd call on the police for help," Mr Grant said. "But time is short and I
think the only thing to do is to make a bee-line for Maple Street and try to locate the
house, and see if we can rescue the money immediately. No time to get in touch with
the police. You boys can come with me - in fact, I need you, because you have an
idea of what Mrs Miller's former house looks like and I don't."

"That's fine, Mr Grant," Jupiter said. "But how will we go?"

"I have a car parked around the corner. We'll go in that. You can leave your bikes
here and we'll pick them up later."

69
Wasting no time, Pete and Bob locked their bicycles. Jupiter had walked, after
slipping out of the salvage yard through Red Gate Rover. Mr Grant led them to his
car, a black station wagon, and a moment later they were off. Mr Grant headed for
Hollywood by a back route over the hills.

"You're sure the money is hidden under the wall-paper?" he asked Jupiter as they
sped along.

"I'm almost positive," Jupiter said. "Mrs Miller told us that while Spike Neely was
staying with her, he did some papering and painting. He could have pasted the bills
up and put wallpaper over them then.

"Then, when he was in the hospital, he sneaked the address of the house into his
letter. But he couldn't think of any way to tell Gulliver about the hiding place except
by pasting one stamp under the other."

"Paper under paper," Mr Grant nodded. "It figures. If we locate the money, we'll
have to get some equipment to steam the wallpaper off. Luckily, this is Saturday
and some of the stores are open late. But first we have to find it - and find it first!"

He kept the station wagon moving at high speed until they reached a built-up
district, then he slowed down.

"Now let's see that city map in the glove compartment," he told Jupiter. He came to
a stop as Jupiter found the map and gave it to him. He studied the map for a
moment.

"Good," he said. "We can go straight ahead until we come to Houston Avenue, then
cut across on it to Maple Street. You said the five-hundred block?"

"Either that or the six-hundred block, the superintendent thought," Jupiter told
him.

"We'll find it," Mr Grant said grimly. "Lucky we still have some daylight left."

The daylight was fading fast, however, by the time they came to Houston Avenue.
Mr Grant turned left, and they proceeded for some thirty or forty blocks until they
reached Maple Street.

Even though no street signs were still up, they had no trouble telling that it was the
right street. Their way was almost blocked by a mass of wreckage. The houses on
one corner were already down, mere heaps of rubble waiting to be carted away.
Down the blocks to their left they could see that the houses were already gone. Two
huge cranes with clam buckets, which could chew up the wooden houses with their
diesel-powered jaws, were parked in an open space, together with several

70
bulldozers. A building that once had been a restaurant stood forlornly on the corner
beside them as they stopped to survey the scene. Already the cranes had taken a
couple of bites out of the front. It looked as if it had been bombed.

"Wow!" Pete voiced their thoughts. "It sure is a mess. Do you think we're in time,
Mr Grant?"

"Just barely," the investigator said grimly. "If I have it figured right, the five - and
six-hundred blocks are a couple of streets up to right. Let's see."

He eased the car around the rubble and turned right. In a moment they were going
past houses that had not yet been torn down, but stood silent, and dark, with no sign
of life in them.

Only a few hundred feet away was the busy city, but here on Maple Street was an
eerie quality of desertion. The people had all gone. In a few months a concrete
freeway would run through here, carrying thousands of cars. But now they had the
street to themselves, except for a skinny cat that ran across the road.

"The nine-hundred block," Mr Grant said with satisfaction. "We'll be in the six-
hundred block in no time. Keep a sharp eye out for the house."

They drove slowly along, past the silent houses. Here and there a door swung open,
as if to say it no longer mattered whether doors were shut or not.

"Six-hundred block," Mr Grant announced tensely. "See anything?"

"There it is!" Pete almost shouted, pointing to a neat bungalow halfway down the
block.

"There's another one that looks almost like it," Jupiter put in, pointing to the other
side of the street. "Both have round windows up in the attic storage space."

"Two of them, eh?" Mr Grant frowned. "And you don't know which is the right
one?"

"Mrs Miller just said it was a one-storey bungalow with brown shingles and a round
window in the attic."

"It's a common type of house here," Mr Grant muttered. "Let's keep going. We'll
survey the next block."

In the next block they spotted another brown-shingled bungalow, standing between
two stuccoed homes. This one also had a round upper window. Mr Grant brought
the car to a halt. "Three possibilities," he said. "That makes it harder. But we seem
to be here first. I don't see any cars parked on this street, nor any sign that Three-

71
Finger and the others have beaten us to it. We'll park on a side street so we won't be
conspicuous, and then we'll just have to investigate three houses until we find the
right one."

Chapter 15
The Search Begins

IT WAS ALMOST DARK as they approached the first of the brown-shingled


bungalows. Mr Grant cast a quick look up and down the block. No one was in sight
on silent, deserted Maple Street.

He tried the door. It wouldn't open.

"Locked," he said. "But as it's going to be torn down, we don't have to be careful
how we get in."

He took a small crowbar he had carried from the car and inserted the thin end
between the front door and the door jamb. As he pressed, wood splintered and the
door sprang open.

He entered, with The Three Investigators at his heels. Inside it was quite dark. Mr
Grant flashed a light on a wall. They were in a dusty room with a few papers
littering the floor. It was apparently the living room.

"We might as well start here," he said. "Though I'd expect the hiding place to be in
a back room or maybe the hall. Got a knife, Jupiter?"

Jupiter brought out his prized Swiss knife and opened the big blade. He made a cut
in the flowered wallpaper on the nearest wall. Mr Grant eased the edge of a putty
knife into the cut and turned back a strip of the paper. Underneath was only plaster.

"Not here," he said. "We'll have to try different spots on this wall, then the other
walls, then go to the other rooms."

He and Jupiter repeated the process several feet away. Again there was nothing
beneath the paper but plaster. They went around all four walls of the room, testing
in several spots. Each time they drew a blank.

72
"All right, now we'll try the dining room," Mr Grant said.

The flashlight beam showing the way, they proceeded to the dining room. Jupiter
made a cut and Mr Grant turned the edge of the paper back. Pete gave a yip.

"Something green underneath!" he said.

"Jupiter, shine the light close," Mr Grant said. "Maybe we've found it!"

Jupiter brought the light to within inches of the uncovered space. A checked green
surface showed.

"Just another layer of wallpaper," Mr Grant said. "Well, we'll look underneath it."

Underneath, however, was plaster wall again.

They finished with the dining room and went into the first bedroom. Their tests
were still negative. The second bedroom was the same. The bathroom and kitchen
had painted walls. Jupiter climbed a narrow ladder to the small attic. There was no
wallpaper up there.

"Well, we didn't hit the jackpot on this one." Mr Grant's voice was tense and he was
sweating a little. "Let's try the next house."

They emerged into the darkness. Only the street lights at each corner still were on.
The houses were all dark and very spooky. Mr Grant led the boys to the next block
and the first brown-shingled bungalow there. The front door was unlocked this
time.

Inside, the layout was much the same as in the first house. But the wallpaper looked
newer.

"Maybe this is it," Mr Grant said hopefully. "Make a cut, Jupiter."

Jupiter again cut into the wallpaper, Mr Grant turned it back - and there was
nothing underneath.

In growing excitement, they moved through the rest of the house, swiftly testing all
the walls in different places. They found nothing.

"That leaves just one more house," said Mr Grant. His voice was slightly hoarse.
"That has to be it!"

He led the way across the street to the third bungalow that fitted Mrs Miller's
description. As Mr Grant prepared to force the locked door, Jupiter flashed a light

73
on to the door frame. Metal street numbers screwed into the white woodwork
around the door reflected the light.

"Don't do that!" Mr Grant said sharply. "We don't want to attract any attention."

"But I think I've spotted something," Jupiter said. "I think this used to be Mrs
Miller's house."

"How can you tell, Jupe?" Bob said, almost whispering. The dark desertion of the
street somehow made whispering seem proper.

"Yes, how can you tell?" Mr Grant demanded.

"This house is number 671," Jupiter said. "But when it was moved, naturally the
street number would have been changed. I think I saw the marks where the old
numbers were taken off."

"Oh? Then let's have another look. Make it as fast as you can."

Jupiter briefly pressed the button of the flashlight. A small circle of light focused on
the numbers. And they all saw, just above the new numbers, marks in the paint
where the old numbers had been. They were faint but clear.

"Number 532!" Pete exclaimed. "We've found it."

"Good work, Jupiter," Mr Grant said. "Now let's get inside and find that money."

The door opened with a splintering noise, and they rushed into the living room. Bob
found himself breathing fast with excitement. Now, for sure, they were right.
Somewhere in this house fifty thousand dollars were pasted beneath the wallpaper.

"Give us some light, Jupiter," Mr Grant said. Jupiter flashed the light on each wall
in turn. The room was papered in a heavy raised design.

"It could easily be in here," the man said. "Rough wallpaper - easy to hide bills
underneath it. Let's get to work."

Jupiter quickly made a cut and Mr Grant turned the paper back. Underneath was
only the plaster wall.

"We'll start near the corner and work our way right round the room," Mr Grant
said. "Fifty thousand dollars in large bills wouldn't take up a whole wall. Let's make
it snappy."

He and Jupiter had finished the first wall and started on the second, with Pete and
Bob pressing close to watch, when a sudden noise made them freeze.

74
"What - " Mr Grant began. He never finished the sentence. The front door was
flung open and heavy feet came into the room with a rush. The beam of a large
flashlight centred on the little group. And from behind the flashlight an ugly voice
growled:

"All right, all of you! Put up your hands!"

Chapter 16
Where Is the Money?

THEY ALL TURNED, putting up their hands. The strong beam of light made them
blink and squint and prevented them from seeing who was behind it.

"If you're the police," Mr Grant started to say, "I'm George Grant, special
investigator for - "

A brash laugh cut him short.

"George Grant! That's a good one. Is that what you told the kids?"

Jupiter blinked. A sudden sick realization came to him.

"Isn't he Mr Grant from the Bankers' Protective Association?" he asked.

"Him?" The deep, grating voice laughed again. "That's Smooth Simpson, one of the
slickest cons in the business."

"But he has an official card," Pete protested.

"Sure he has. Printed special for him. He has a million of 'em. Don't feel bad if he
fooled you. He's fooled the cops themselves, plenty of times.

"Thought you could grab the cash right under our noses, didn't you, Smooth? But
when the fat kid went into that junkyard and didn't come out again even when they
closed, we knew something was up. We knew the house had to be over here
someplace - got the info from the super of that apartment house after Fatty did

75
yesterday - so we came here in a hurry. Spotted your light when you came into this
house. Now we're here and we'll just take charge."

"You're Three-Finger Munger, aren't you?" Mr Grant - or Smooth Simpson - said.


"Listen, Three-Finger, why don't we all join forces? We haven't actually found the
money yet, and I can help - "

"Shut up!" the man with the flashlight growled. "We'll find the money ourselves
and leave you for the cops. Teach you not to try to pull a fast one on us. Now all of
you turn around, face the wall. Put your hands behind your backs. No false moves
or you'll regret it!

"Leo and Baby-Face, you got the ropes. Tie 'em up good."

With sinking hearts, The Three Investigators obeyed the orders. They realized now
that they had been completely fooled by the slick criminal nick-named Smooth. All
his talk about Chief Reynolds had lulled any suspicion they might otherwise have
had. He must have learned that the Chief was out of town for the day, and had then
called The Three Investigators in a bold effort to trick them into telling anything,
they might know. And no wonder he had found excuses all along for not going to the
police!

Mentally, Jupiter kicked himself for not suspecting something. But it had all been so
plausible! Smooth was just that - smooth. No doubt he had read about the trunk in
the newspaper, and knowing the story of the missing bank-robbery loot and Spike
Neely's letter through underworld gossip, had started checking on Jupiter and the
others. He could easily have obtained Jupiter's telephone number from the phone
book.

Three-Finger and his men had been following The Three Investigators, and Smooth
Simpson had been following all of them!

But it was too late for any regrets. Deft hands were tying the boys' wrists behind
their backs.

Moments later they were ordered to sit on the floor, and then their ankles were
lashed together. When they were helpless, Three-Finger Munger chuckled.

"Now you look real pretty," he taunted them. "We won't gag you because there's
nobody around to hear you if you yell. Anyway, if you act up, we'll clip you one on
the head. Don't worry, someone will find you on Monday when work starts again.
That is, I hope they'll find you before the bulldozers start knocking this house
down."

He chuckled again. Now Jupiter and his companions could see that Three-Finger
Munger was a burly man; his two associates were smaller. They could not see the

76
faces of any of them clearly.

"Now let's see where we stand," Three-Finger said. He shone his light on the wall
where Jupiter and Smooth had been working. "Looking for the money under the
wallpaper, were you? That's a smart hiding place - never would have thought of it.
Did the kid figure it out for you, Smooth?"

"Yes, he did," Smooth Simpson admitted, "The clue was on that letter sent to
Gulliver. It was in the trunk all along."

"I figured it had to be," Three-Finger said. "That's why we wanted to get our hands
on the trunk. My boys got it, too, from that tall thin guy. Only somebody followed
'em and jumped 'em at the hideout and got it away before we could open it. Was
that you, Smooth?"

"Not me," the man on the floor said. "I didn't know anything about that."

"Funny," Three-Finger muttered. "I wonder who it could have been. It certainly
wasn't these kids."

"It was four or five guys with handkerchiefs over their faces," one of the other two
said, speaking for the first time. "They were fast and tough. Laid us out before we
knew what hit us."

"Wonder who it was?" Three-Finger grunted. "Maybe some other mob after the
money. Well, the trunk didn't do them any good or they'd have been here before
this. But we can't stand here talking. Leo, you and Baby-Face see what's under the
wallpaper in the rest of the rooms."

The four captives on the floor watched silently as the two men swiftly slashed open
the wallpaper on the remaining walls. Concerned as he was at their predicament,
Jupiter could not help wondering who had seized Gulliver's trunk from these men
and sent it back to him. But no answer to the riddle came to him. Meanwhile, Three-
Finger's henchmen failed to find anything underneath the living room wallpaper.

"Not in this room, then," Three-Finger said. "Smooth, if you know which room it's
in, better tell us. If you do, maybe we'll untie you when we're finished."

"If I knew I'd have gone straight for it," Smooth Simpson said. "But untie me and
I'll help you find it."

"Not a chance," Three-Finger snapped. "You tried to grab the money from us and
now you can pay for it. Come on, fellows, we'll try the bedrooms."

The three thugs moved back to the first bedroom and left the four captives in
darkness. The Three Investigators could hear them ripping at the wallpaper and

77
cursing at their lack of success.

"Boys, I'm sorry this had to happen," Smooth Simpson said in a low tone. "I admit
I tried to put a fast one over on you, but I didn't plan any violence. That's not how I
work. I use brains, not force."

"It's my fault," Jupiter said, sounding unhappy. "I should have suspected you."

"Don't take it so hard," the man advised him. "I've fooled the best there are."

After that there was silence, except for the sounds from the rear of the house where
Three-Finger and his companions were at work. Then all four captives stiffened.

The front door opened, creaking slightly!

Alertly, they all listened. Very faintly they could see the dark form of a rather small
man ease into the room.

"Who's there?" Smooth demanded, keeping his voice to a whisper.

"Quiet!" came back an answering whisper. "We come to help. Don't let the others
suspect anything."

Another man slipped in through the door, and a third. Still others followed. They
could not be sure how many because of the darkness. The intruders were very
skilful and made almost no noise.

"Men!" said the voice of the first. "Stay close to the walls, near the door. When they
come out, get the bags over their heads and tie them up. No knives! Don't hurt them
if you can help it."

A muffled grunt of understanding answered him.

Jupiter, Bob, and Pete waited with rising hope as well as bewilderment. Who could
the men in the room be? They weren't the police, or they would have stormed in
with lights and guns. Were they really friends? Or were they some other gang also
after the hidden money?

Now the sound of angry voices from the rear indicated that Three-Finger and the
others had failed to find the money. Their footsteps came down the hall to the dark
living room. Three-Finger entered first, shining a light on the floor.

"All right, you fat kid!" he snarled at Jupiter. "We're through fooling. You tell us
where that money is or else!"

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Chapter 17
Struggle in the Darkness

SUDDENLY Three-Finger was overwhelmed by several dark forms. Others


grabbed the man behind and pulled him into the room. The third man tried to flee,
but footsteps pounded after him and his muffled shouts indicated that he had been
caught.

Meanwhile in the living room a terrific struggle followed. Three-Finger dropped his
flashlight to the floor, where it rolled around, kicked by many feet, giving brief
glimpses of the combat.

The Three Investigators could see that there was a bag over Three-Finger's head.
Exerting his strength to the utmost, he threw off a couple of his attackers, but others
leaped on him. He fell to the floor with a crash, and his companion fell on top of
him. They kicked and thrashed about wildly.

"Quickly! Tie their hands and feet. Then gag them!" ordered a voice.

For a moment longer the fight continued furiously. Then Three-Finger and the
others were overpowered and bound. Three-Finger began uttering violent threats,
but these were stilled as a gag was forced into his mouth. In a moment he and the
others were stretched out on the floor, helpless. The only sound was the heavy
breathing of the men who had overpowered the criminals.

"Very good," said a friendly voice. "Wait outside. I will untie the boys."

The other men slipped quietly out the door, leaving only one inside. This one turned
on his flashlight and shone it on the boys for a moment.

"Good." He chuckled. "No one fell on you and smashed you flat. Now I set you
free."

He placed the light on the floor so it would illuminate the boys without shining in
their eyes. Then he approached with a long knife. As he got closer, Bob and Pete saw
a swarthy man with a fierce moustache, whom they had never seen before. But
Jupiter recognized him.

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"Lonzo!" he exclaimed. "The Gypsy from Zelda's house!"

Lonzo chuckled again as he cut the ropes that bound them.

"Yes," he said. "We meet once more."

"But - but how did you get here?" Jupiter asked in bewilderment as he stood up,
rubbing his wrists.

"No time for talk now," the Gypsy said. "Where is the other one?"

He shone the light where Smooth Simpson had been. Smooth was missing. Two
ropes lay on the floor.

"He got away!" Bob exclaimed. "He must have been quietly getting his hands free
all along, and in the fight slipped out!"

"He'll be far away by now," Lonzo said briefly. "No matter. We have three for the
police. Now come outside. Zelda wishes to speak to you."

Zelda! The Gypsy fortune-teller! Jupiter followed Lonzo out the door, with Bob and
Pete at his heels. Three old cars were parked at the kerb. The two in the rear
seemed to be crowded with men - Gypsies. In the front car a woman waited.

It was Zelda. She was not wearing Gypsy clothes, perhaps to avoid attracting
attention.

"They are all right, Zelda," Lonzo reported. "Three are tied up inside. One got
away."

"No matter," Zelda said quietly. "Get in the car, boys, we must talk."

The three squeezed in with her. Lonzo remained on watch.

"So our paths cross again, Jupiter Jones," Zelda said. "It was written in the stars
and in the crystal. I am glad we got here in time."

"Were you following us?" Jupiter asked as his thoughts began to clear.

"Yes," Zelda said. "Lonzo and some of the others were. Since first you visited me.
The crystal said danger, and we wanted to prevent harm from coming to you. Lonzo
followed those who followed you, and when they came here tonight, he sent for the
rest of us to come to your aid. But we must be brief. You have found the money?"

"No," Jupiter sighed. "Apparently it isn't here. Yet I was positive, the money was
hidden in Spike's sister's house. The letter practically said so. That's the place it

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would logically be."

"Gulliver was sure the letter from Spike gave a clue to the hiding place, but he could
not solve it," Zelda said.

"Then you knew Gulliver?" Jupiter demanded.

"We are related," Zelda told him. "In an unusual way. I am anxious to clear his
name and hoped that you, being very clever, could solve the mystery. Where did you
look?"

"Under the wallpaper," Jupiter told her. "It's a place no one would think of. But it
wasn't there."

"Why did you think it was?" Zelda asked.

"Well, Spike knew he couldn't actually say much in a letter," Jupiter explained.
"He knew it would be censored. So he did something quite tricky, yet the only thing
he could do."

"Well, boy, what was it?" Zelda sounded impatient. "Come, speak up."

It was Bob who answered.

"He did something peculiar with the stamps on the envelope. He put on two stamps,
a two and a four. And he put a one-cent stamp, green, the colour of money, under
the four. We were positive he meant - "

"Bob, wait!" Jupiter called out.

Bob blinked. "What's the matter, First?" he asked.

"Say that again. The final words you just said."

"Why, all I said was that he put a one-cent stamp under the four and - "

"That's it!" Jupiter cried. "That's the clue!"

"What's the clue?" Pete put in. He and Bob and Zelda stared in puzzlement at
Jupiter, whose face had suddenly become pink with excitement.

"Miss Zelda," Jupiter said, turning to the Gypsy woman, "Spike Neely had a slight
speech defect. Chief Reynolds told us so. He had trouble pronouncing the letter L in
some words."

"I believe that is true, boy," Zelda answered. "But what - "

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"And his sister said Spike pronounced 'flower' as 'fower'. How would he pronounce
'floor'?"

"He'd pronounce it 'four'," Zelda said after a moment. "Are you trying to tell me -
"

"He put the money under the floor," Bob yelped. "He was sure Gulliver would
remember his speech trouble and understand. Even if he didn't, 'four' and 'floor'
sound enough alike to give the idea if you're looking for something tricky."

"Only we got carried away with the idea that he meant under the wallpaper,
because Mrs Miller told us Spike had papered the downstairs during his stay!"
Jupiter added excitedly. "Actually, I should have realized that pasting money under
wallpaper is a bad idea - you'd never get it off again without ruining it. You'd have
to scrape it off and that would be the end of it. But safe and sound under the floor
somewhere - "

"Lonzo!" Zelda ordered. "Get the tools from the other car. We are going inside -
you and I and the boys."

A moment later they were crowding into the house, ignoring the three bound
prisoners on the living room floor. Consulting hastily, they agreed that the living
room floor was unlikely. Jupiter suggested that the right spot would either be under
the floor in the guest room, where Spike had stayed, or under the floor in the little
attic storage space.

They tried the attic first.

Ten minutes later Lonzo ripped up a board in one corner - and Pete gave a shout.

There, in the beam of the flashlight, lay bundle after bundle of greenbacks, neatly
stacked between the joints of the first-floor ceiling!

"Under the four," Pete said, blinking. "Under the four. What a smooth way to send
a clue when you knew a lot of people were going to inspect your letter like hawks,
looking for something. Jupe, you're the most!"

"I should have thought of it sooner," Jupiter said. "Even if I didn't remember Spike
Neely's speech defect, I should have realized that 'four' and 'floor' sound alike. And
considering that pasting money under wallpaper would ruin it, I - "

"Never mind, boy!" Zelda said. "You did a fine job. Gulliver himself did not suspect
the truth. Now the money is found. The criminals are captured. The Frog has
jumped high and saved himself from the hungry fish in the pond." She chuckled
slightly.

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Jupiter looked as if he were suspecting a great deal that previously had been a
mystery.

"You sent us that warning, Miss Zelda?" he asked.

The old Gypsy woman nodded.

"Indeed I did, boy. My Gypsies were keeping watch over you, but I wanted you to
do your utmost to find the money - which you have. Now we must go. We will call
the police, and the affair will be ended. You wait here for the police. They will take
charge of the money and those crooks downstairs. The police will want to question
us also, but they will not be able to find us. Not yet, at least."

"Wait, Zelda!" Jupiter said as the Gypsy woman and Lonzo turned to go. "Before
you leave, I wish you would tell me something. About the trunk - how did it get back
to us? And about the talking skull, Socrates - did he really talk or - "

"Later, later," the woman said. "In two weeks visit me at the old address. We will
then have returned. Your questions will be answered."

"But at least tell us about Gulliver," Jupiter urged. "Where is he?"

"I thought he was dead," Pete put in.

"I did not say so," Zelda replied. "I said he had vanished from the world of men.
Now, perhaps he may return from the world where he has been. For two weeks -
farewell."

With that, she and Lonzo hurried down the stairs and The Three Investigators
heard the Gypsies' cars roar away into the night. The three looked at each other,
and Bob gave a sigh of relief.

"Wow!" he said. "We did it, Jupe! We found the missing money!"

"With some help from Zelda," Jupiter said. "I'm certainly looking forward to
seeing her again. I have a hunch she can give me some very interesting answers!"

83
Chapter 18
Alfred Hitchcock Asks Questions

ALFRED HITCHCOCK, the noted motion-picture producer, sat behind the desk in
his office and leafed through the many pages of notes regarding the mystery of the
talking skull, which had been prepared by Bob Andrews. Then he glanced across to
where The Three Investigators, in their best clothes, sat in a row and waited for him
to speak.

"Excellently done, lads," Alfred Hitchcock rumbled. "Jupiter, my boy, you did well
to locate the missing money, after the authorities failed for so long."

But Jupiter's round features looked glum.

"No, sir," he sighed. "I should have solved the secret sooner. First, I thought that
one stamp being under the other meant the money was pasted under some
wallpaper. I should have known better and looked for the other meaning. Then, if it
hadn't been for some luck - "

"Luck helps those who are alert," Mr Hitchcock said. "As I have reminded you
before. You can't expect to get the right answer the very first thing every time - no
investigator manages that. In my opinion you did very well."

"Thank you, sir." Jupiter brightened. "Anyway, we did find the missing money."

"And none too soon, either," the director remarked. "Two days later the house
would have been bulldozed to the ground and the money might easily have been lost
forever in the wreckage. Tell me, did you collect the reward?"

Jupiter sighed. Pete sighed. Bob sighed.

"No, sir," Bob said. "There wasn't really any reward - that was just a story Smooth
Simpson made up, along with all the rest he told us. But we did get a very nice letter
from the bank president, and Chief Reynolds said he wished we were old enough to
be on his force as detectives."

"Ah, well, money is not the only reward for a job well done," commented Mr
Hitchcock. "Now, I have a question or two. I believe these notes make clear how
Spike Neely hid the money in the first place, and how he managed to get a very
secret message out of the prison hospital to his friend, Gulliver - so secret, of course,
that no one could solve it until it fell into your hands.

"But my first question, and one your notes do not answer, is what became of
Gulliver. What was his fate?"

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The boys grinned. They had been expecting Mr Hitchcock to ask, and Jupiter was
prepared with the answer.

"When he got the letter from Spike Neely," Jupiter said, "Gulliver suspected Spike
was trying to send him a message, because in prison Spike had said he would tell the
secret to Gulliver if anything ever happened to him. However, Gulliver couldn't
solve the message. So he hid the letter in his trunk.

"Then one day as he was coming back to his hotel, the clerk told him some men had
been asking for him. He recognized the description of Three-Finger Munger and he
became very frightened. He knew that Three-Finger might easily kidnap him and
torture him to find out where the money was and of course Gulliver didn't know. If
he had known, he'd have directed the authorities to it. In any case, he wasn't sure
whether the police would believe his story.

"So without even going up to his room, Gulliver just vanished. He left everything.
His trunk was put into storage when he didn't return, and eventually sold at public
auction. To me."

"Then Gulliver didn't die?" Mr Hitchcock asked sharply. "But the Gypsy, Zelda,
told you that he had vanished from the world of men."

"Which is what he did," Jupiter said, his grin becoming broader. "He wanted to be
sure Three-Finger Munger and his pals couldn't possibly find him. So he dressed up
as a woman and put on a wig. He became a woman in appearance and that way
vanished from the world of men."

"Of course!" Mr Hitchcock exclaimed. "I should have guessed that's what the
words meant. Now - a thought is coming to me. Let me see if I, too, can deduce
correctly. I deduce that the Gypsy woman, Zelda, was really The Great Gulliver!"
Pete chuckled. So did Bob. Jupiter nodded his head. "That's right, sir," he said.
"The Gypsies were old friends of Gulliver's. In fact, his mother had been a Gypsy.
They let him come and live with them. And of course, Gypsies, are very clannish, so
they never betrayed his secret." Now Alfred Hitchcock, too, chuckled. "Well," he
said. "One mystery solved. Obviously Gulliver, who used to be plump, dieted
himself thin and knew that no one would ever dream that a thin Gypsy woman was
really a missing fat magician. What are his plans now?"

"He'll stop being Zelda soon and become himself again," Jupiter said. "As soon as
Three-Finger Munger and his friends are safely in prison. But he's not going to
become a magician again. The Gypsies have come to depend on him to handle their
business affairs and he's going to stay with them."

"I see." Alfred Hitchcock went back through Bob's notes to the beginning. "Ah
hah!" he said. "I see that when you bought the trunk at auction, Jupiter, a little old
lady came rushing in, very excited, and wanted to buy it, but was too late. By any

85
chance, was that - ?"

"Yes, sir. That was Gulliver, wearing a different wig and dressed as an elderly lady.
He kept track of such sales and managed to learn that his trunk was going up for
sale. But he had the time wrong and was too late.

"He would have tried harder to buy it from us, but that reporter appeared with a
camera, and Gulliver was afraid of attracting attention. The story in the newspaper,
though, told him who we were and how to find us."

"It also told Three-Finger Munger and his pals," Pete put in darkly.

"Yes," Jupiter agreed. "First Three-Finger Munger's men tried to steal the trunk.
Later on they did steal it, by following Maximilian the Mystic and running his car
off the road. But they didn't keep it long.

"You see, Mr Hitchcock, as Zelda said, the Gypsies were keeping an eye on us.
When she - I mean Gulliver - learned we had actually solved some difficult
mysteries, he got the idea that we might solve the secret of where the money was
hidden. We would lead the police to it, and then he could reappear.

"That's why he had me come down to meet him, as Zelda, and talked in a
mysterious way to get me interested. Then the Gypsies spotted Three-Finger and his
pals, and when they stole the trunk from Maximilian, a earful of Gypsies was right
behind them. The Gypsies followed the thieves to their hideout, jumped on them,
and got the trunk away before the crooks knew what hit them.

"Then Zelda - that is, Gulliver - sent the trunk back to me, still hoping I'd manage
to solve the mystery. In fact, he knew I almost had to in order to get rid of Three-
Finger and the others. So he had the Gypsies keep a close eye on us, so they could
help us if we needed them.

"That Saturday night when Smooth Simpson tricked us into helping him find Mrs
Miller's lost house, the Gypsies were watching Three-Finger. They didn't know
about Smooth Simpson. When Three-Finger and his gang started out, they followed.
When Three-Finger made us prisoners, they sent for reinforcements and were in
time to rescue us and grab the Three-Finger mob.

"Then - well, you know how we finally found the money."

Mr Hitchcock nodded. He made a steeple of his fingers and looked across it at the
boys.

"Now then," he said. "For the final question. Did Socrates, the talking skull, really
talk? And if he did, how? What was the secret? And I will not accept any
supernatural explanations."

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"No, sir," Jupiter said. "I mean the explanation isn't supernatural. Everything a
magician does is really a trick, of course, and Socrates was a trick, too. Gulliver is a
good ventriloquist. In the beginning he used ventriloquism to make Socrates talk.

"Then, when people began to suspect him, he figured out a way to make Socrates
talk from a distance. He bought a tiny sending and receiving radio device - you
know they can make them very small now - "

"And installed it inside the skull?" Mr Hitchcock frowned. "I would certainly have
expected you to detect that, Jupiter. I believe you examined the skull thoroughly and
could hardly have missed it."

"That's just it, sir," Jupiter explained. "I did examine Socrates carefully. That's
where Gulliver was clever. He put the device inside the ivory base, where it couldn't
be seen."

"Ah!" the director said. "Inside the base where it wouldn't be seen or suspected. A
clever touch."

"The transmitter inside the base was voice-operated," Jupiter went on. "That
means that after we had taken Socrates out of the trunk and put him on the base,
anything we said would be broadcast. The range was about five hundred feet.

"Gulliver, disguised as a woman - not a Gypsy woman - was hanging around the
salvage yard after he learned where the trunk had gone. He had a little speaker in
his ear, hidden by his wig, and a microphone in an ornamental pin on his dress. He
could hear us talking. He didn't intend to speak to us then, but he unexpectedly
sneezed. That's how we heard Socrates seem to sneeze.

"Then that night when I kept Socrates in my room, Gulliver was hiding nearby. He
saw my lights go out and took a chance on speaking to me through Socrates. That
was when he gave me the mysterious message to go down and see Zelda.

"The next day, when Aunt Mathilda was cleaning in my room and telling Socrates
what she thought of him, Gulliver was listening and couldn't resist saying 'Boo!' to
her."

"So the mystery is explained," commented Mr Hitchcock. "It was really The Great
Gulliver at all times. Indeed, a case of science rather than superstition."

"Yes, sir," Jupiter nodded. "And as we usually had Socrates nearby when we were
talking about the case, Gulliver could listen in on our progress and plans. That way
he knew pretty much everything we were doing. That made it a lot easier for him to
keep an eye on us and come to our rescue in the end."

87
"All in all, a most interesting case," the director said. "Well, I will be glad to
introduce it for you, as I have your others. Have you any idea what you'll work on
next?"

"Not yet," Jupiter said as they all rose. "But we're keeping our eyes open. We'll be
in touch with you, Mr Hitchcock."

They filed out of the office, and the director smiled to himself. A talking skull! What
would they come up with next time!

The End.
Three Investigators Mysteries - 12

The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow

By
William Arden

A few words from Alfred Hitchcock

Greetings! I am delighted to have you join me for another adventure with those
three amazing lads who are known as The Three Investigators. This time a
mysterious golden amulet from a lost Indian hoard leads them into more danger
than you could possibly imagine. And for additional excitement, a strange laughing
shadow pops up in the most unlikely places.

If you have read any of their previous cases, of course, you know all about my young
friends. The First Investigator, Jupiter Jones, is stocky, almost fat; Pete Crenshaw is

88
tall and muscular, and Bob Andrews is slighter and more studious. They all live in
Rocky Beach, California, a small community on the shores of the Pacific not far
from glamorous Hollywood, and they make their Headquarters in a mobile home
trailer cleverly hidden from sight in The Jones Salvage Yard. This unique junkyard
is owned by Jupiter's aunt and uncle, with whom he lives.

But why should I bore you with further introductions. On with the case! The
shadow is about to laugh - or would screech be a more appropriate word?

- ALFRED HITCHCOCK

Chapter 1
A Laugh in the Night

BOB ANDREWS and Pete Crenshaw were still two miles from their homes in
Rocky Beach when they had to turn on their bicycle lights. Darkness comes
suddenly in the mountains of southern California in the winter.

"Gosh," Pete said, "we should have started back sooner."

"The swim was worth being late." Bob grinned.

Their fine day in the mountains, topped off by a swim in a mountain stream, had
been spoiled only by the absence of Jupiter Jones, the third member of their Three
Investigators trio. Jupe had had to work in his Uncle Titus's salvage yard.

Tired but happy, the two boys were pedalling past a high stone wall in the mountain
darkness when a thin, startling cry suddenly came out of the night.

"Help!"

Surprised, Pete squeezed his brakes, coming to an abrupt stop. Bob ran full tilt into
him.

"Ooff!" Bob grunted.

Pete whispered, "Did you hear that?"

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Bob untangled his bike and glanced quickly towards the wall. "Yes, I heard it. Do
you suppose someone's hurt?"

While the two boys stood there, listening, something moved in the brush behind the
wall.

"Help!"

This time there was no mistaking the urgency of the cry. Directly ahead of them, a
heavy gate of tall iron bars topped with spearlike spikes was set into the wall. The
boys did not hesitate. Dropping his bicycle, Pete ran to the iron gate. Bob, following
close behind, suddenly gave a low, sharp cry :

"Owwwwww."

Something had flown over the stone wall and struck him on the arm - a small object
that bounced away in the dark.

"Here it is!" Pete bent over to pick it up.

The two boys stared at the object in Pete's hand. It was a tiny, shining, metallic little
statue. No more than three inches long, it resembled a weird, grinning, miniature
man, his legs crossed as if he were sitting on the ground.

"What is it, Pete?"

"Don't ask me. It looks as if it had been fastened on to something. See the loop on its
head?"

"It came from behind the wall," Bob said. "Do you ... "

The sound of heavy noises behind the wall suddenly interrupted him. Somebody was
crashing through the underbrush. Then a muffled voice called :

"He threw something out. Get it!"

"I'll get it, boss," a second voice answered.

The lock of the iron gates rasped as someone struggled to unlock it. Looking around
quickly, the boys discovered a thick growth of bushes close to the wall. They pushed
their bikes out of sight and crouched down in hiding.

The massive iron gate swung slowly open on creaking hinges. Then a shadowy
figure slipped through the trees at the edge of the highway. The boys held their
breath and peered out through the leaves. It came closer, passed, and moved off

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along the road.

"Could you see who it was?" Bob whispered.

"It's too dark."

"Maybe we should give that statuette back. It looks like it could be valuable."

"I guess we ... Watch it!"

A dark shape loomed up not ten feet from where Pete and Bob were crouching in
the bushes. The boys froze, trying not to make a sound. The shadow seemed to
tower above them in the night - tall, twisted, and humpbacked with a long, beaky
nose and a small head that jerked about in an erratic way.

Suddenly a wild laugh shattered the darkness! It came from the tall shadow that
stood so close to their hiding place. As the boys fought the panic that made them
want to run, the shadow suddenly called out in an ordinary man's voice :

"Never mind. It's too dark to look now."

"Okay, boss," the other man answered from farther down the road. "I'll see if I can
find it tomorrow."

The tall, humpbacked shadow with the weird head waited a moment for the other
man to rejoin him. Then both men crunched through the bushes, and the iron gate
creaked shut. Bob and Pete remained in their hiding place until they heard the lock
turn, and the sounds of the two men faded away beyond the wall.

"Did you see that man?" Bob whispered. "The one with the funny head. And that
laugh - what kind of laugh was it?"

"I don't know, and I'm not so sure I want to know," Pete said firmly.

"Let's go home and tell Jupe what happened."

"That idea I like," Pete agreed.

With their bikes, the boys made their way quietly back to the main road. As they
started down towards Las Casitas Pass, the wild laugh again split the night behind
them.

They began to pedal furiously, and didn't slow down until they came out of the pass
and saw the friendly lights of Rocky Beach below.

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Chapter 2
A Mysterious Message

"IT LOOKS LIKE SOLID GOLD!" Jupiter Jones exclaimed.

The stocky First Investigator of the trio looked like a solemn young owl as he
studied the tiny statuette.

"Is it valuable, Jupe?" Bob asked.

"I would guess that it was very valuable," Jupiter pronounced, "and not just
because it's gold."

"Gosh, Jupe, what's more valuable than gold?" Pete asked.

The grinning little statue glistened in Jupiter's hand. "Look at how carefully it's
carved, fellows. It must have been made by a skilled craftsman, and look at the
slanted eyes and feathered head-dress. I think it's the work of some kind of
American Indian, and quite old. I've seen things like it in museums."

The boys were gathered inside the old trailer that served as their headquarters.
Because it had been damaged in an accident, Jupiter's Uncle Titus had not been able
to sell it. Instead, he had given it to the boys to use for their meeting place, and the
boys had piled so much junk over and around the trailer that no one knew it was
there any more.

The trailer-headquarters could be entered only through various secret entrances.


Inside, the boys had built a small office with desk, telephone, tape recorder and
other equipment useful for their investigations. Next to the office was a tiny
laboratory and a dark-room. Just about everything the boys used had come into the
salvage yard as junk and had been rebuilt by them.

Bob and Pete finished telling Jupiter about the rest of their adventure in the
mountains, while Jupiter continued to study the tiny statuette. At the end of their
recital, Jupiter frowned thoughtfully.

"So you two think that whoever called for help also threw this statuette over the
wall," Jupiter said. "Then the two men you heard caught him and came out to find

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the statuette."

"Sure, Jupe," Bob said.

"However, the call for help and the statuette aren't necessarily connected," Jupiter
pointed out. "You're only making an assumption without actual proof."

Pete protested. "Gosh, Jupiter, it's okay to be careful investigators, but what more
do you want? We heard the cry, the statuette was thrown over the wall, those two
men came after it, and one of them called the other 'boss'! It sure sounds like some
kind of gang to me."

"Perhaps, Pete, but you still saw and heard nothing that actually connected the
statuette with the cry for help," Jupiter insisted.

"What about that weird shadow?" Bob said quickly. "I never saw any man who
looked like that shadow or laughed that way."

"Can you fellows describe the laugh?"

"It was high like a kid," Pete said,

"No, it was sort of like a woman," Bob corrected.

"It wasn't any woman. It was crazy."

"Hysterical and scared."

"A real mean laugh, nasty."

"Sort of sad, I'd say. Maybe an old man."

Jupiter listened to his fellow investigators with a puzzled expression. "Are you sure
you both heard the same laugh?"

"Sure we did," Pete said lamely, "but I guess we didn't hear it the same."

"Yet you both heard it clearly, and very close." The First Investigator sighed. "I
guess I'll have to hear it for myself to know what it sounded like. Are you both at
least sure you heard a call for help?"

"We're sure!" Bob and Pete said in unison.

Jupiter's round face was deep in thought. "From where you say you were, and your
description of the wall and gate, I'd say you must have been outside the old Sandow
Estate."

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Bob snapped his fingers. "Of course! The old Spanish Land Grant. More than five
thousand acres!"

"It's mostly mountains, but old Miss Sandow's father had herds of cattle there a
long time ago," Jupiter added.

"Don't they have cattle now?" Pete asked.

Bob shook his head. "No, Pete. I remember reading about the Sandows and their
estate when I was doing some research in the library. Old Miss Sandow's father was
the last one who actually worked the estate. When he died, only Miss Sandow was
left, and she became a kind of hermit. My dad says she's what they call land-poor,
which means she has more land than money. She lives alone out there except for a
maid and a day-gardener. No one ever sees her."

Bob was the Research and Records man of the Three Investigators, and his facts
were always correct about something he had looked up. Jupiter's face took a serious
expression.

"Which means that what you saw and heard to-night, fellows, is quite strange. What
were those men doing on the Sandow Estate, and where did this statuette come
from?"

"Maybe a gang was stealing from Miss Sandow," Pete said.

"But she doesn't have any money," Bob pointed out.

"Perhaps the estate has nothing to do with what you heard. The men might have
just happened to be there," Jupiter suggested. "A little statuette like this would
hardly be worth the time of any gang."

The First Investigator turned the tiny gold man over and over in his hands, staring
at it as if the miniature man would somehow tell him what the boys wanted to know.
Suddenly, he bent over the statuette, his eyes gleaming with excitement.

"What is it, First?" Bob said.

Jupiter was, examining the statuette closely. His fingers began to push and pick at
the bottom of the small figure. He pressed the statuette and twisted it and uttered a
cry of triumph as the bottom of the figure flew open. Something fell to the floor.

"A secret compartment!" Pete cried.

Jupiter retrieved the small piece of paper that had fallen out of the statuette. He
spread it out on the desk of the office, and Bob and Pete crowded round to examine

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it. Jupiter stared at the slip of paper and groaned.

"Is it a message, Jupe?" Bob asked.

The First Investigator bit his lip in frustration. "I don't know. It looks like writing
all right, but I can't read it. It's in some foreign language!"

Pete and Bob stared at the ragged piece of paper.

"It isn't any language I've ever seen before, either," Jupiter added glumly.

The boys fell silent in disappointment. Bob and Pete both knew that Jupiter had
some knowledge of several major languages and spoke three. If he didn't recognize
the writing, what could it be? Then Bob stared more closely at the paper.

"Fe - fellows," he stammered, "that's not written in ink! It's blood!"

Jupiter examined the strange writing again, while Pete brushed uneasily at his hair.

"Bob's right," Jupiter said at last. "It is written in blood. That must mean that
whoever wrote it had to do it in secret without any pen or pencil."

"He must be a prisoner," Bob decided.

"Or maybe someone who wants to break away from the gang," Pete added.

"It could be many things," Jupiter agreed, "which makes me think this is a job for
The Three Investigators. The first thing we have to do is find someone to read the
message."

"Who?"

"Well, we know one man who knows a lot about strange languages, and strange
people," Jupiter decided.

"Alfred Hitchcock!" Pete said.

"Exactly," Jupiter declared. "It's too late tonight, but tomorrow we will call on Mr
Hitchcock and show him this message."

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Chapter 3
Attacked!

THE NEXT MORNING, the instant they had finished breakfast, Pete and Bob
hurried to the salvage yard. Jupiter was already waiting there with Worthington
and the gold-plated Rolls-Royce the boys had originally won the use of in a contest
solved by Jupiter.

"We'll go to Mr Hitchcock's studio first, Worthington," Jupiter instructed as the


boys clambered into the big car.

"Very good, Master Jones," Worthington acknowledged. Despite their now firm
friendship, the elegant chauffeur insisted on being properly correct at all times.

The boys had learned that it was never easy to get into the studio to see the famous
director, so they always used the Rolls-Royce when they went to call on Mr
Hitchcock. The car was now at their permanent disposal, thanks to the financial aid
of a grateful client who might not have received his rightful inheritance without the
help of the Investigators. Because of their impressive car, they were passed quickly
through the gates of World Studios.

"Well, my young friends, what strange events bring you to me this time?" the
famous director asked from behind his mammoth desk in his private office.

The boys eagerly explained the events of the night before and described their
discovery of the message inside the tiny statuette. Mr Hitchcock listened impassively
until Jupiter reached the part about the gold statuette and laid it on the director's
desk.

Mr Hitchcock's eyes sparkled as he studied the jewel-like grinning little man. "It is
indeed very old, boys, as Jupiter surmised. And it is an amulet of American Indian
craftsmanship without a doubt. I happened to learn a good bit about Indian crafts
while filming one of our suspense stories for television. I would say that this amulet
is definitely the work of our local Chumash Indians. We had one quite like it for our
story."

"What's an amulet, sir?" Pete inquired.

"A magic charm, my boy, usually worn on a cord round the neck to ward off evil
spirits or bring good fortune," Mr Hitchcock explained. "That is the reason for the
metal loop at the head of the figure. The Chumash had many different kinds of such
amulets."

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"Gee," Pete said, "I didn't know we ever had Indians round Rocky Beach."

"Sure we did, Pete," said Bob. "I've read all about the Chumash. They were a small,
peaceful tribe. They lived right on the coast here and later worked for the Spanish
settlers."

"That is indeed correct," Mr Hitchcock agreed, "but at the moment I am more


interested in your laughing shadow. You say that it was tall, hump-backed, and had
an oddly small head that seemed to jerk in a strange manner, and laughed wildly?"

"Yes, sir," Bob confirmed.

"You were close to this shadow, yet each of you describes the laugh quite differently.
What do you make of that, young Jones?"

"I don't know, sir," Jupiter admitted, baffled.

"Nor do I, at the moment," said Mr Hitchcock. "Now what of this message you say
dropped out of the statuette?"

Jupiter handed the piece of paper to the famous director. Mr Hitchcock studied it
closely. "Written in blood all right, by thunder! Recently, too, I should deduce from
its legibility, which means that it has not been inside the amulet for long."

"Do you recognize the language, sir?" Bob asked.

"Unfortunately, no. It is not a language I have ever seen before. In fact, it doesn't
even resemble any writing I have seen."

"Gosh," Pete said, "Jupiter was sure you'd know, sir."

"What do we do now?" Bob asked, crestfallen.

"Luckily, I believe I can help despite my ignorance of this language," Mr Hitchcock


declared, smiling. "I will send you boys to a friend of mine. He's a professor at the
University of Southern California, and an expert on American Indian languages. He
served as an adviser for our film. He lives right in Rocky Beach. My secretary will
give you his address, and I shall expect to hear what progress you make."

The three boys thanked the director and stopped at his secretary's desk on the way
out in order to get the professor's address. His name was Wilton J. Meeker, and he
lived only a few blocks from The Jones Salvage Yard.

Jupiter instructed Worthington to take them to the professor's house and then
return the Rolls-Royce to the agency. They could easily walk home.

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Professor Meeker's small, white house was set back from the street. A white picket
fence enclosed the thick tropical-like vegetation that surrounded the house. The
boys opened the white, slatted gate and started up the brick path towards the front
door. When they were half-way up the path, a man suddenly emerged from the
thick garden vegetation directly in front of them.

"Fellows!" Bob gave a warning cry.

The man was short and very broad in the shoulders with a dark skin the colour of
deep-brown leather. His strong teeth gleamed white, and his eyes were black and
wild. He was dressed all in white : a loose white shirt of some heavy, rough material
knotted at his waist, a pair of narrow white trousers of the same rough material,
and a broad white hat. His bare lower legs were brown and heavily muscled.

He held a long, wicked-looking knife!

The boys stood paralysed on the walk as the man advanced on them with a trotting
shuffle, his black eyes fierce. He waved the menacing knife and shouted at them in
some strange, harsh language. Before they could make a sound or run, he was upon
them.

His broad, dark hand reached out and snatched the tiny gold amulet from Jupiter's
grasp. Then he turned quickly and ran into the bushes.

Stunned, the boys were unable to cry out or move for a long moment. Then Pete
recovered :

"He got the amulet!"

Heedless of danger, Pete plunged into the thick bushes in pursuit. Bob and Jupiter
followed close behind. They all reached the far edge of the garden just in time to see
the dark man jump into a battered old car. There was a second man in the car, and
it roared away the instant the man with the amulet jumped in.

"He got away!" Pete cried.

"With our statuette!" Bob wailed.

The boys looked at each other in helpless frustration. The amulet was gone! Then an
angry voice spoke behind them.

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Chapter 4
The Devils of the Cliffs

"WHAT'S GOING ON HERE! ?"

A thin, stooped man with grey hair was standing behind the boys in the garden. He
peered at them angrily through thick, horn-rimmed glasses.

"A man stole our amulet!" Pete blurted out.

"He had a knife!" Bob declared.

"Your amulet?" The man looked puzzled. "Ah! Then you must be the boys Alfred
Hitchcock telephoned about. The Three Investigators."

"We are, Professor," Jupiter confirmed proudly.

"And you have a problem for me? Some language you can't identify," Professor
Meeker went on.

"We did have," Bob said glumly, "but that dark man stole the statuette. It's gone."

"Correction," Jupiter announced. "We still have a problem for Professor Meeker.
The amulet is gone, but not the message. I took the logical precaution of carrying it
separately."

Triumphantly, Jupiter handed the slip of paper to the professor.

"Amazing!" the professor cried, his eyes gleaming with excitement behind his thick
glasses. "Come inside where I can study this properly."

Without another glance at the boys, Professor Meeker trotted to the house. He was
so absorbed in the strange message he was holding in his hands that he almost ran
into a tree. Once inside the small house, the professor waved the boys to chairs in his
book-lined study and sat down at his desk to study the message.

"Yes, yes, there's no doubt about it. Absolutely amazing!" Although the professor
was muttering aloud, he really seemed to be talking to himself. It was as if he had
forgotten that the boys were there. "In blood, too. And fresh, quite recent.
Fantastic!"

Jupiter cleared his throat. "Uh, Professor Meeker, sir, do you know what language

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it is?"

"Eh?" Professor Meeker looked up. "Oh, yes, yes, of course. It's Yaquali. No doubt
at all. It's the Yaquali language. A fabulous people, the Yaquali. Few Indian tribes
ever wrote, you know. No alphabets or vocabulary texts. But the Yaquali learned
the Spanish alphabet, and Spanish missionaries compiled a dictionary for them so
that they could read and write their own language."

"Are the Yaquali a local tribe like the Chumash?" Pete asked.

"Local? Like the Chumash?" Professor Meeker cried, blinking at Pete as if the
Second Investigator was completely crazy. "Good heavens, no! The Chumash were
quite a backward tribe. They never wrote their own language. Yaquali is entirely
different from Chumash - as different as English and Chinese. The Yaquali aren't
local at all."

"But they are American Indians?" Bob queried.

"Of course, although not from the United States," the professor said, and stared
happily at the slip of paper again. "It's simply unbelievable to see a message written
in Yaquali here in Rocky Beach. The Yaquali people rarely leave their mountains.
They hate civilization."

"Er, what mountains, sir?" Jupiter asked. "Where do the Yaquali live?"

"Where? ... Why, in Mexico, of course," Professor Meeker said as if surprised that
everyone didn't know. Then he smiled. "Ah, forgive me, boys. Of course you
wouldn't know about the Yaquali. They're quite obscure, mainly because they shun
contact with other men and the modern world."

"Well, sir," Jupiter observed, "Mexico isn't far from here. I don't see why it should
be so surprising for one of them to come to Rocky Beach."

"In the first place, young man, the Yaquali hate to leave their homes, as I said. In
the second place, they live in the most remote and rugged part of the Sierra Madre
Mountains in Mexico. It is an isolated and terribly dry area called the Devil's
Garden. They have a long record of shunning civilization. In fact, they became so
hard to locate, and so skilful at climbing where no other men could climb, that they
were often called the Devils of the Cliffs."

"Devils?" Pete shivered. "Were they so dangerous, sir?"

"Very dangerous if they were attacked. But, under normal circumstances, they are
a peaceful people who wish only to be left alone. That is why they learned to climb
so well, so that they could live up on their inaccessible mountains."

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"Then how would a message from one of them get here?" Bob asked dubiously.

Professor Meeker rubbed at his lean jaw. "Well, I suppose it isn't so improbable.
Although they are still quite remote, the Mexican government has been working
with them over the last few years. Time and the needs of the modern world may
have caught up with the Yaquali. They are an intelligent people, and they have long
been in demand for their climbing skill."

"You think some of them may have come here to work?" Jupiter asked.

"It's possible, although I haven't heard of any of them being anywhere in the United
States. And I can't really imagine what they would be doing in Rocky Beach. You
did say that you found the message here in Rocky Beach, didn't you?"

"Yes, sir, in a secret compartment in the amulet."

"Ah, yes, the Yaquali are fond of amulets."

"But Mr Hitchcock thought the amulet was the work of the local Chumash tribe,"
Bob explained. "He said it was like one you used in the television show."

"Chumash, eh. Well, that seems odd. I fail to see any connection between the extinct
Chumash and the Yaquali. It's unlikely that Chumash work would have ever
reached the Yaquali in Mexico. And you say that it was this amulet that the dark
man stole from you?"

"Yes, sir," Pete said.

"It was solid gold, too," Bob added.

Professor Meeker stared at the boys. "Gold? A Chumash amulet? That's quite
impossible, boys."

"Oh, no, sir," Jupiter declared firmly. "I examined it closely. I am certain it was
gold."

"You must be mistaken, young man."

Jupiter shook his head. "I really know gold, sir."

"Mr Hitchcock said it was solid gold, too, Professor Meeker," Bob stated.

The professor seemed stunned. His mouth dropped open, then snapped shut. He
rubbed his jaw and stared hard at the boys, his eyes narrowed in thought. Then,
slowly, he leaned forward.

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"If it was truly gold, my young friends, you may have stumbled on to something of
the utmost importance," the professor said carefully, pausing in order to give
emphasis to his words. "You may have found a clue to a mystery that is almost two
hundred years old."

Jupiter's eyes opened wide. "A two-hundred-year-old mystery?"

"Yes, my boy, the mystery of the Chumash Hoard!"

Chapter 5
The Chumash Hoard

"YOU SEE, BOYS," Professor Meeker went on, "the Chumash never used gold!
There was no gold in this part of the state. If that amulet was gold, it must have
come from the Chumash Hoard."

"What is it, sir? The Chumash Hoard?" Bob asked.

"Between 1790 and about 1820," the professor explained, "there was a renegade
band of very dangerous Chumash in the mountains. Although there were a few of
them, they were deadly when defending themselves and expert at hiding. The
Spanish were unable to control them, so they tried to bribe them with gold to leave
the settlers alone. The band soon learned the value of gold, and when the Spanish
didn't give them as much as they wanted they stole more anywhere they could find
it.

"By the time they were finally beaten and their last leader, Magnus Verde, mortally
wounded and captured, they were reputed to have amassed a great hoard of gold
articles - jewellery and bullion. Magnus Verde refused to tell where the Hoard was
hidden. All he said before he died was that no man would ever find it. The rest of
the renegades vanished and were never seen again. Since then many, many men
have looked for the treasure without any success. I have always thought that it was
thrown into some impenetrable place - perhaps the ocean - to keep the white men
from ever finding it."

Jupiter's eyes seemed to be looking far away. "I think it would have been hard for
them to throw away the gold after fighting so hard to get it."

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"You may be right," the professor said. "And if you have actually seen a Chumash
amulet made of gold, there is good reason for thinking the Chumash Hoard does
still exist somewhere. What an exciting discovery!"

"Perhaps the message says something about the Hoard," Jupiter said eagerly.

"Message?" Professor Meeker blinked again. Then he looked down at the slip of
paper. "Goodness me, I forgot all about it. Of course! It may tell us."

The professor frowned as he studied the message. "Primitive languages are often
hard to translate exactly because the writers think in a primitive manner. But as
nearly as I can make out, it says : 'Words smoke. Sing death song. Brothers help.'
I'm afraid that's all."

"But it is a call for help?" Jupiter asked.

"I would say so," the professor agreed and stared at the message with a puzzled
expression. "But I can't understand what a Yaquali message would be doing in a
Chumash amulet. It's really a mystery."

"A mystery we hope to solve, sir," Jupiter pronounced somewhat pompously.

"Of course, my boy." The professor smiled. "And when you do, I shall be most
grateful if you will allow me to examine the Chumash Hoard."

Professor Meeker insisted on seeing the boys as far as the gate, peering in all
directions in the sunny morning to be sure that the dark man had not returned. As
soon as they were by themselves again, Bob and Pete crowded around Jupiter.

"Gosh, Jupe!" Bob exclaimed. "Do you think someone has found the Chumash
Hoard?"

"And someone else is trying to steal it?" Pete added.

"Maybe the amulet is a clue to where the treasure is, and someone is trying to steal
it to find the Hoard!"

"Maybe it's a gang of Indians robbing Miss Sandow!" Pete's imagination began to
run wild.

"That dark man sure looked like some kind of Indian."

"That laughing shadow could have been a wild Indian!"

Jupiter, his round and deceptively innocent face deep in concentration while his

103
companions chattered, suddenly stopped short. "Speculation won't get us anywhere
now," the First Investigator declared decisively. "We must go to the Sandow Estate
and see what we can find out."

"Under cover, Jupe?" Pete said. "You mean we should snoop around?"

"No, we must get into the house and talk to Miss Sandow herself. She might know
something vital or have seen something. The problem is - how do we get into her
house'?"

As they neared the salvage yard they decided that the best way was to have Bob's
dad phone Miss Sandow and ask if they could visit the estate as part of a research
project on Spanish land grants for their California history class. Hans or Konrad,
the stolid Bavarian helpers of Uncle Titus Jones, could drive them.

"Most adults will help boys if they think it's for some school work," Jupiter
observed.

Bob agreed, but Pete was looking ahead to the entrance to the salvage yard.

"Look," Pete hissed, "there's Skinny Norris!"

Sure enough, their old enemy - a tall, skinny boy with a long nose - was leaning
against the entrance with his back to them. E. Skinner Norris, Skinny to the boys,
hated the Investigators, and spent a good deal of time trying to prove he was
smarter than Jupiter. He always failed, but since he had a large allowance and could
drive a car because his father was a legal resident of another state where Skinny
could get a driver's licence, he was in a position to be annoying to the boys.

"Now what's he doing here?" Bob wanted to know.

"I don't expect he's come to help us," Jupiter observed wryly. "Come on, fellows,
we'll go in through Red Gate Rover."

They turned and walked quickly towards the rear of the salvage yard. Out of
Skinny's sight, they hurried past the back fence, which was painted with a dramatic
scene of the San Francisco fire of 1906. Fifty feet from the corner, a little dog sat in
the painting near a red spout of flame. They had named the dog Rover, and one of
his eyes was a knot in the wood. They carefully pulled it out and reached in to
release a catch. Three boards in the fence swung up, and they slipped inside the
yard.

Once inside, unobserved, they crawled beneath piles of junk and through hidden
passages and finally stood before a panel that opened and admitted them into their
trailer headquarters. In the office they quickly discussed just what they would say to
Bob's dad, and Bob reached for the telephone.

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"Jupiter Jones!" a powerful female voice called from somewhere outside.

"Uh!" Pete grunted. "It's your Aunt Mathilda, Jupe. I hope she doesn't want you to
work all afternoon!"

Before the First Investigator could comment, his aunt's voice boomed out again :

"Jupiter! Sakes and goodness, where does that boy get to? Jupiter! There's someone
here to see you, you young scamp! A Mister Sandow! ... Jupiter?"

The boys gaped at each other. A Mr Sandow had come to them! Just when they
were working out a scheme to get into the Sandow Estate. But - who could this Mr
Sandow be?

"Miss Sandow lives alone!" Bob remembered.

"Come on, fellows," Jupiter said, leading the way through Tunnel Two, into his
workshop and the salvage yard.

Chapter 6
Jupiter Reveals a Deception

"WELL, THERE YOU ARE!"

Aunt Mathilda surveyed the boys with a severe expression. "Sometimes I think this
salvage yard was built just for you three to hide in!"

A tall, slender boy only a few years older than the three friends stood beside Aunt
Mathilda. His dark hair was rather long, and his grey suit had a slim, foreign cut.
He grinned at the boys and held out his hand :

"Hello, chaps, I'm Ted Sandow."

Concealing their intense curiosity at the coincidence of Ted Sandow's appearance in


the salvage yard, the boys all shook hands with him, and Jupiter assumed his most
innocent manner.

105
"I'm Jupiter Jones." The First Investigator introduced himself. "And this is Bob
Andrews and Pete Crenshaw."

"I say, I'm pleased to meet you fellows." Ted beamed at the boys. "Friend of yours
told me you were most interesting to get to know. Chap named Skinner Norris."

"Skinny Norris sent you?" Pete blurted out, amazed.

"Said I'd find you unusual, to be exact. Are you unusual? I'm most eager to meet
some unusual American boys. Haven't had much chance, you see, out there on the
estate."

"You're not American, Ted, are you?" Bob asked.

"I'm from England - Cambridge, to be exact. I'm visiting my Great-Aunt Sarah at


the Sandow Estate. Actually, I didn't know I had a great-aunt until my father died a
few months ago! My grandfather, Aunt Sarah's brother, was killed in France before
my father was born. Apparently, my father got in touch with Aunt Sarah when he
realized that he didn't have long to live. She sent a note, and here I am."

The tall boy grinned the whole time he was talking. Ted was obviously an eager
talker. He spoke very fast, and his accent was not easy to follow. Before the boys
could speak, he was off again :

"Well, Aunt Sarah has this barn full of old junk from years ago. She's decided to
spring-clean and needs it all carted away. I suggested she sell it to a salvage man.
She thought it a capital idea and charged me with locating one. I saw the name of
your yard, but I don't know your city, so I contacted Aunt Sarah's lawyer. He lives
here, so he told me to see the son of a friend of his, Skinner Norris. I did, and Norris
brought me here. He refused to come in himself. Rather odd, I thought."

Before the boys had a chance to tell Ted that it wasn't at all odd that Skinny
wouldn't come into the salvage yard, Aunt Mathilda spoke up. Her sharp eyes had
shown great interest at the first mention of a barn full of old junk.

"We'd be glad to look at what your aunt has, Ted. When would you want us to
come?"

"Now would be excellent," Ted declared.

Aunt Mathilda shook her head. "My husband, Titus, is away at the moment. I'm
afraid I can't leave the yard untended. Of course, Jupiter knows what we buy as
well as I do. He could go out there after he has his lunch."

"Why don't all you boys come?" Ted said quickly.

106
"Konrad could drive us in the small truck," Jupiter suggested.

"I say, that would be wonderful!" Ted exclaimed. "The boys and I could talk. I've
learned so little about America."

Aunt Mathilda, who was always on the look-out for items for the yard, was soon
persuaded. The boys ate quickly, then located Konrad. In a very short time they
were all in the truck, following Ted's small sports car. Ted had looked for Skinny
Norris to thank him, but Skinny was nowhere in sight. He had vanished completely.
This surprised the English boy, but it didn't surprise the investigators at all.

"I wonder what Skinny's up to?" Pete said in the truck.

"One of his usual attempts to confound us, I presume," Jupiter answered. "I'm not
worried about Skinny. But I am wondering why Ted happened to show up at the
salvage yard the day after you fellows picked up that amulet."

"You think he knows we found the amulet, but doesn't know it was stolen from us?"
Bob asked.

"Gosh!" Pete said. "That would mean there's more than one group mixed up in
this!"

"Or perhaps he knows the message was removed from the amulet, and wants to get
hold of it," Jupiter suggested.

"Gee," Bob protested, "he seems like too nice a fellow, Jupe."

"Perhaps it is only a coincidence," Jupiter conceded, "but I suggest we be alert,


watch what we say, and keep our eyes open."

Bob and Pete agreed quickly. Meanwhile the truck, which was out of Rocky Beach
by now, followed Ted Sandow's sports car into the mountains. They drove up the
winding road to the top of the pass and soon turned in at the big iron gates of the
Sandow Estate, where Bob and Pete had heard the laughing shadow the previous
night.

Beyond the gates and the high wall, they drove along a narrow macadem road for
about half a mile until they saw the Sandow house. It was a big, Spanish-style house
with white walls and a red-tile roof. There were bars on many windows and small
balconies in front of some on the second floor. But the white walls were cracked and
dingy, and the whole house looked badly neglected.

Ted led them directly to a low, brick barn behind the house. Inside, they found a
great jumble of furniture, bric - a - brac, household items of the past, and some

107
things they could not even name. There was so much dust on everything that it
seemed as if nothing had been touched for at least fifty years.

"Aunt Sarah seems to have been something of a hermit, chaps," Ted observed. "I'm
sure she has no idea what's here."

Jupiter, who loved old junk as much as his Uncle Titus, looked at the mounds of
forgotten relics in awe. "It's a bonanza! Look at that spinning wheel! And that old
lap writing desk for travellers."

For an hour the boys picked happily over the great, dusty piles, completely
forgetting the amulet, the Chumash Hoard, and the weird laughing shadow. Then,
at last, Jupiter gave up and stood back looking at the piles.

"Uncle Titus is going to want just about all of it, and we haven't even made a dent."

"Why not come up to the house, then," Ted suggested. "We'll have some lemonade
and biscuits, and you can talk to Aunt Sarah."

Bob and Pete, remembering their real reason for wanting to come to the Sandow
Estate, nodded quickly and looked at Jupiter. This was just what they wanted, but
no one would have guessed it from seeing Jupiter's impassive face.

"That sounds fine, Ted," the First Investigator agreed. "Konrad can start making a
partial list of what's here."

"I'll send a beer out for him," Ted said.

"A beer is good." The Bavarian grinned.

Inside the big, house, the boys were taken into a cool, informal room with dark,
antique Spanish furniture. Ted went to ask the maid to bring the lemonade. When
he came back, he was with a bird-like woman whose hands fluttered up to her neat
white hair. Her pale eyes lit up with pleasure.

"I'm Sarah Sandow. I'm so glad to see that Theodore has found friends. He tells me
you're from the salvage yard. I want to dispose of everything. I've been letting
things accumulate for far too long."

"Yes, ma'am," Jupiter said, as Bob and Pete nodded.

"Now that Theodore is here I'm beginning to take an interest in things again. The
estate is in dreadful disrepair."

The maid brought in the lemonade and biscuits, and Miss Sandow served them
herself. She seemed happy to have the boys in the house.

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"After last night," she explained, as the boys began to eat, "Ted convinced me that
it wasn't safe to have all those things lying out in the barn."

The boys tensed, and Jupiter said, "Last night, ma'am?"

"A gold statuette was stolen. From under our noses," Miss Sandow said indignantly.
"It was one of two which my poor brother Mark left behind when he had to run
away. They were all I had of Mark's."

"It was really my fault, chaps," Ted explained. "You see, my dad had mentioned
that my grandfather had told him about two little gold statues. I found them lying
forgotten at the bottom of a drawer and was examining them in the library. I left the
library, and when I came back one of them was gone?"

"You don't know who took it?" Jupiter asked.

"We know it was some boy. Mr Harris saw him."

"That I did, boys," said a deep voice from the direction of the door.

The boys turned and saw a healthy-looking man in a bright sports jacket and
Bermuda shorts that displayed his long, knobbly legs. His grey eyes had a twinkle in
them. His hair was sandy-coloured, and a small scar on his ruddy face give him a
perpetual smile.

Ted introduced them, explaining that Mr Harris was a friend of his Aunt Sarah's.

"Interested in our robbery, are you, boys?" asked Mr Harris with a smile. He spoke
with an English accent that was somehow different from Ted's. It sounded to
Jupiter like a slightly cockney accent.

"Saw a boy running from the house and chased him to the gates. When I got there,
though, I couldn't find him. He must have had friends. So I suppose we've seen the
last of that statuette."

"Perhaps we could help, sir," Jupiter said quietly. "We have had some success in
recovering lost and stolen articles."

"And solving mysteries, too," Pete declared.

Mr Harris laughed. "You sound like detectives."

"Yes, sir," Jupiter said. "We are, in a small way. This is our card."

Jupiter handed Mr Harris one of their large business cards which read :

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THE THREE INVESTIGATORS
"We Investigate Anything"
? ? ?
First Investigator Jupiter Jones
Second Investigator Peter Crenshaw
Records and Research Bob Andrews

Mr Harris laughed. "Well, now, perhaps you could get Miss Sandow's statuette
back. Detectives, by jove, and you have solved mysteries?"

"We sure have!" Pete exclaimed. "Chief Reynolds of the Rocky Beach police even
made us deputies."

"Did he indeed?" Mr Harris grinned, looking at the card in his hand.

From his chair across the room, Ted asked, "What are the question marks for,
fellows? You don't question your abilities, do you?"

"The question marks are our symbol," Jupiter explained, looking towards Ted with
a frown. "They stand for all the mysteries we attempt to solve. Sort of a
trademark."

"That's great," Ted said with enthusiasm. "Let the boys try, Aunt Sarah, and I'll
work with them!"

"But, Theodore," Miss Sandow objected. "There may be a gang of thieves. Would it
be safe for boys?"

"Miss Sandow is right," Mr Harris said. "Robbery is not a matter for boys."

"We're always careful, ma'am," Jupiter said, "and we would go to Chief Reynolds
if we found anything serious. If it was a boy who took the statue, we might be in a
good position to help. We've found that boys are often less afraid of other boys. All
we would do is try to locate the statuette."

"There, Aunt Sarah," Ted declared. "You can see that the boys are responsible, and
Chief Reynolds trusts them."

"Well," Miss Sandow said doubtfully. "I suppose it is rather a minor matter to take
to the police directly."

Mr Harris became serious. "The police do have too much to do to look for a trinket
without any evidence as to where it is. Possibly three boys could try to find out what
did happen to it and then inform the police. If they promised to be very careful."

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"Oh, they will!" Ted cried. "I say, why not offer a reward, Aunt Sarah? The boys
will deserve it if they find the statuette."

Miss Sandow smiled at Ted. "Well, as long as you all promise to do nothing at all
dangerous. If you do find it, I will certainly be glad to give you a reward. Suppose
we say fifty dollars."

"Then it's settled," Ted said. "Smashing! Can you come for lunch tomorrow so we
can plan our work?"

"I'm not sure the boys would enjoy our lunch," Mr Harris said hastily. "Miss
Sandow and I are vegetarians, boys. We eat only vegetables. I happen to be
president of the Vegetarian League. Miss Sandow has given me great assistance
getting our League started in Rocky Beach. You must attend a lecture. I'm giving
one this afternoon as a matter of fact."

"We'd like to, sir," Jupiter said, "but now we'd better go back and help Konrad.
My uncle will be anxious to know what Miss Sandow has to sell. We won't be able to
start looking for the statuette until later."

"I'll help you," Ted said. "And don't forget the reward. Aunt Sarah won't even ask
where you found the statue."

"No questions asked, eh, boys?" Mr Harris laughed.

The boys excused themselves and went to rejoin Konrad.

Inside the barn, Jupiter looked around to see if they were alone, then drew Bob and
Pete into the shadows.

"Did either of you notice it?" Jupiter demanded with a grim look on his face.

"Notice what, Jupe?" Pete asked.

"Ted asked about the question marks on our card."

"People always ask, Jupe," Bob said.

"But Ted hadn't seen our card when he asked!"

Bob blinked. "You're right! Harris had the card!"

"You mean he knew about us all the time?" Pete said.

Jupiter nodded. "He knew about our card, which means he was lying to us. He
didn't have to talk to us about selling the junk. If that was all he really came to the

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yard for, he could have talked just to Aunt Mathilda. Fellows, the junk was just an
excuse to meet us!"

Chapter 7
Ghost-to-Ghost Hook-up

"BUT HOW DID HE KNOW about our card?" Pete wondered.

"Skinny must have told him," Bob said.

"No," Jupiter said emphatically. "He knew about us before he went to Skinny, I'm
sure of that. Skinny wouldn't have told him about our card, he's too jealous of us.
Anyway, if he'd learned about The Three Investigators from Skinny, he would have
said so."

"And he didn't!" Bob was beginning to understand. "He pretended he didn't know
we were investigators, before we told him."

"You mean," Pete said, "that he'd found out who we were but didn't want us to
know he knew?"

"But why?" Bob asked. "What reason could he have for not wanting us to know
he'd seen our card? He came to us."

Jupiter pondered the question. "There could only be one reason, fellows. It must be
that the way he found out reveals something that he doesn't want us to know."
Suddenly the First Investigator frowned. "Fellows, do you both have all your
cards?"

Bob and Pete searched their pockets where they always carried a few of the cards.
Pete exclaimed :

"One of mine is missing! I'm sure I had five."

"I bet you dropped one near the gate last night," Bob said. "You probably did it
when you pulled out your handkerchief to wrap up the amulet."

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"And Ted found it," Jupiter added. "That means he must have been there! But he
didn't want us to know!"

"Gosh," Pete said, "do you think he stole the amulet?"

"Perhaps, Pete," Jupiter said ominously.

"But, Jupe," Bob objected, "why would he want to hire us if he's the one who stole
it? I mean, Ted was the one who persuaded Miss Sandow to hire us. He pushed hard
for us."

"Maybe too hard," Jupiter observed. "He almost forced his aunt to hire us. Look,
fellows, he must suspect that we have the amulet. He wants it back. That reward was
his idea, and he made a point of saying no questions will be asked about where we
found it if we turn it over. He's inviting us to return it for the reward."

"How would that help him?" Bob pointed out. "We'd give it to Miss Sandow. Why
didn't he come to us in private? He could have."

Jupiter looked annoyed. "I admit I'm baffled about that. But two things are sure
now : first, Ted wants the amulet; and second, his getting it back is much more
important than any value it has."

Pete groaned. "And we've lost it. There's no way we can get it back."

"But maybe there is," Jupiter said. "I've been thinking about that ever since the
man stole it. With his unusual appearance and clothes he'll have a hard time hiding
in Rocky Beach. He should be easy to spot. We'll just use a Ghost-to-Ghost Hook-
up!"

"Sure!" Pete looked enthusiastic again.

"He should be easy for kids to find," Bob said.

"Let's help Konrad and get home fast," Jupiter suggested.

An hour later they had listed everything they thought Uncle Titus might want, and
were on their way home. They reported to Aunt Mathilda, who was so fascinated by
the list of Miss Sandow's junk that she never noticed the boys slip away to their
headquarters. Once inside the hidden trailer, they went to work setting up the
Ghost-to-Ghost Hook-up.

This was the name Jupiter had given to a method he had devised for locating
someone by using all the kids in Rocky Beach, or the whole area if necessary. It was
a brilliant scheme because it was so simple. The boys simply phoned all their friends
and asked for the information they wanted. If their friends couldn't answer, the

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friends then phoned their friends who were not known to the investigators. In this
way, they could contact every kid in the area in almost no time.

The Three Investigators prepared their description of the man in white and his
battered car, mentioning the fact that another man had been with him, and then
phoned their friends. They left the telephone number of their headquarters and
asked anyone who saw the men or the car to contact them at once. Within an hour
nearly every boy and girl in Rocky Beach would be looking for the dark man.

"Now," Jupiter grinned, "we wait."

But by six o'clock not one call had come in, and the boys looked at each other in
glum surprise. Not one kid in Rocky Beach even thought he had seen the strangers.

"They must be hiding," Bob said.

"If they're in Rocky Beach at all," Pete said.

"I'm sure they are," Jupiter insisted. "The Ghost-to-Ghost Hook-up just takes time.
We'll hear, but meanwhile ... "

"Meanwhile," Pete said, looking at the clock, "we had better get home for dinner."

Jupiter sighed unhappily. The limitations of being a boy sometimes made the stocky
leader of the trio squirm. But he, too, would soon have to appear for his dinner.

"All right," the First Investigator agreed, "but after dinner, Bob, you go to the
library and find out all you can about the Chumash Hoard. The library has a
special collection of local histories, and we need to know everything about the
Hoard. Also, look up Miss Sandow's brother."

"Don't tell me what I'm going to do!" Pete exclaimed.

"You," Jupiter said with determination," are going to go back out to Sandow Estate
with me. Something is going on out there, and I want to know what it is."

"But, Jupe, what can we learn out there?" Pete wanted to know.

"For one thing," the First Investigator said, "we can try to find that laughing
shadow again."

Pete wailed. "Do we have to?"

"Be back here as soon as you can," Jupiter said firmly, ignoring Pete's wail. "And
dress in dark clothes."

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The sun was going down behind the high mountains to the west when Pete and
Jupiter reached the iron gates of the estate. They hid their bikes in a grove of trees,
and Jupiter took a small, bulging sack from his parcel carrier.

"The wall is too high to climb," Jupiter whispered, "and it runs round the whole
estate on the main road side, so I came prepared."

Bending over to open his sack, he took out two of the small, home-made walkie-
talkies he had built for the trio, and a rope with a large, four-pronged hook at the
end.

"The walkie-talkies are in case we become separated," he explained, "and the rope
has a grappling hook on it. I found four of them in a batch Uncle Titus bought
recently."

Jupiter threw the hook up to the top of the wall, where it caught on the stone ridge.
The two boys tested it, and Pete pulled himself up. At the top he peered over. Then
he hauled Jupiter up. They pulled the rope over and lowered themselves down
inside the wall. Jupiter returned the rope to the bag which he hid.

"We'll go up to the house," the First Investigator whispered in the fading twilight.
"Be alert, Pete."

They made their way through the trees and brush to a small rise from where they
could watch the house and barn. The estate grounds became dark and quiet as the
last rays of sunlight vanished. There was light inside the big house, and shadows
moved, but no one came out. All was quiet. In the distance they could hear cars
passing on the road.

The boys became stiff and cramped from lying so long in one position. Pete's leg
went to sleep, and he moved to start the circulation. But Jupiter remained
absolutely still. The lights went out downstairs in the house, and the moonless night
grew even darker.

Suddenly, Jupiter touched Pete.

"What?" Pete whispered, startled.

"There!"

A vague, tall shape moved near the house. The shadow hesitated for a time as if
listening, then began to move past the barn towards the woods to the east.

"When he reaches the woods, we'll ... " Jupiter began.

The First Investigator never finished. At that moment a wild, chilling laugh echoed

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through the dark night.

Chapter 8
Shapes in the Night

THE LAUGH seemed to fill the dark night - high and crazy like a wild hyena.

"It must be him!" Pete whispered. "The laughing shadow! But he looks different
somehow."

"What do you mean?"

"He's not so humpbacked-looking," Pete explained. "But that laugh sure sounded
like him."

"We'd better hurry!" Jupiter warned. "We might lose him."

Quickly they left the small rise and headed towards the woods. The shadowy figure
had taken a path that led through the trees. The boys followed behind as close as
they dared. Fortunately the man never paused or looked back. He kept walking
steadily ahead at a rapid pace. The wild laugh had stopped for the time being.

For more than a mile, according to Pete's estimate, the shadowy figure walked east,
deeper into the forest. Then he turned off the main path into a smaller side path
which led down into a small, bowl-shaped valley. There was a dirt road in the valley,
and a low, rambling house built of logs. The house had a porch all round, shuttered
windows, and a stone chimney.

"Some kind of hunting lodge," Jupiter whispered.

"Look!" Pete hissed.

A large, dark, oblong shape was moving along the road towards the lodge. As it
drew closer, they saw that it was a truck with its lights out. The truck glided to a
stop beside the man they had been following. A second man, short and heavy,
jumped from the cab of the truck. There was a brief, whispered conversation in
front of the lodge, then the short man went to the rear of the truck and lowered the

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tail-board.

Four more shadowy figures climbed down from the rear of the truck. The short
man herded them into a line and pushed them towards the lodge. The taller man
turned on a porch light, and the four newcomers stepped on to the porch, passing
through the front door in single file.

"Yikes!" Pete whispered.

In their brief passage through the light, the four figures had, for a moment, stood
out sharply - four small shapes that had no heads!

"Where ... where are their heads?" Pete's voice quavered.

Even Jupiter was at a loss for words. "I ... I don't know. They ... they looked like
headless midgets!"

The two investigators stared at each other in the darkness.

"What's going on around here?" Pete said.

"I don't know," Jupiter answered, visibly shaken by the sight of the four headless
shapes. "If we could just get closer maybe we could look through one of the
windows."

The boys stared down at the lodge, which was now lighted inside, trying to decide
how to approach closer.

Suddenly a wild, eerie laugh burst out of the night almost beside them. Without
stopping to think what they were doing, both boys headed up the path as fast as they
could go!

While Pete and Jupiter were running madly through the trees and bushes of the
Sandow Estate, Bob was leaving the town library, excited by the results of his
research.

He hurried to headquarters. His fellow investigators were not there, however, so he


left a message for them to phone him.

When he got home his dad was listening to a local news broadcast. Because Mr
Andrews worked on a Los Angeles newspaper, he never missed the news reports if
he could help it. Bob went on into the kitchen, where his mother gave him some milk
and biscuits.

"Did you find what you wanted at the library?" Mrs Andrews asked.

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"I sure did, Mom, but Pete and Jupe are still out."

His father came into the kitchen, looking unusually upset. "I don't know what the
world's coming to," Mr Andrews said. "I just heard a report that a man was
attacked in Rocky Beach this afternoon right in a public meeting hall!"

"In Rocky Beach?" Mrs Andrews exclaimed. "How awful."

"Some fanatics, probably. The man who was attacked was the president of some
vegetarian league. He was giving a lecture when two men in odd, white clothes
attacked him right on the platform. Two dark men, the newscaster said."

Bob almost choked on his milk. "Dark men, Dad?"

"So it says."

"Was he hurt?" Mrs Andrews asked.

"Apparently not, but the two men got away."

Bob said quickly, "What was his name, Dad?"

"Whose name?"

"That man who was attacked. The vegetarian."

"Let me see," Mr Andrews said, scratching his head. "I think it was Harris. Albert
Harris. They said he was president of the Vegetarian League."

It was apparent to Bob that Mr Harris had been attacked by the same men who had
stolen the amulet from Jupiter. While his parents went on talking about the
outrageous attack, Bob quickly finished his milk and slipped out of the kitchen. He
hurried to the telephone. One thing was certain - whoever those dark men were, and
whatever they wanted, the amulet alone wasn't the whole answer.

He let the telephone ring and ring at headquarters. But Pete and Jupiter were still
not back.

Pete and Jupiter crouched low in a grove of trees far from the lodge where the wild,
shrieking laughter had startled the wits out of them. They were weak from running,
scratched by branches and falls over roots, and shaken by their narrow escape.

Pete peered back through the night. "Do you see anything, Jupe?"

"No, I think we're safe now."

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"I don't feel safe," Pete muttered. "What were those things? Midgets without
heads?"

"There must be some simple explanation," Jupiter said nervously. "We didn't really
get a good look. Maybe if we went back and looked in at a window ... "

"Oh, no we don't!" Pete cried. "Not with the laughing shadow on the loose."

Jupiter sighed. "I suppose you're right I didn't see him around, though, when we
heard that last laugh."

"Who needs to," Pete said. "I vote we get out of here - fast !"

Jupe was quiet for a moment, apparently in deep thought. Pete waited anxiously for
his decision.

"Somehow, I feel sure that the dark men and the laughing shadow are part of the
same mystery, Pete."

"Sure, but how?"

"That we have to uncover," Jupiter said. "But right now I agree that it would be
best for us to go home."

"That's what I like to hear!"

Grinning, Pete led them across the rugged country of the estate towards the distant
road. They avoided the holes and gullies this time, but their progress was slow in the
dark. Finally they reached the wall and walked along it until they came to where the
bag was concealed.

Jupiter threw the grappling hook to the top of the wall, but this time it failed to
catch hold on the first two tries. Pete took over for the third throw. It caught, and
Pete was testing the hold when from the direction of the estate road they heard the
sound of a rifle bolt clicking home!

"Come out of there, you two!"

A figure stood in the road. A tall shadow that held a rifle aimed straight at the boys.

There was nothing they could do. The two boys stepped out of the trees and bushes
into the private road. Then Jupiter suddenly smiled:

"Ted! It's Jupiter Jones and Pete Crenshaw!"

Ted Sandow did not smile, and he didn't lower his rifle. Instead, the tall English boy

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watched the two investigators with suspicion.

"What are you doing here?" Ted asked coldly.

Pete protested. "Ted, it's us! We're working for your aunt."

"At this hour?" Ted snapped. "In the dark, sneaking around? You didn't say
anything about coming back here to snoop. Where have you been on the estate?"

"Looking around. We thought the amulet might have been lost near the gate, or
perhaps the thief would return in the dark," Jupiter explained glibly. "We do have
your aunt's permission to try to find the statuette."

Ted hesitated. "I don't know if I should believe you."

"What about us believing you!" Pete blurted out. "You knew we were investigators
all along! You found our card!"

Jupiter tried to stop Pete with a kick on the leg, but it was too late. Ted Sandow
stared at Pete:

"How do you know that?"

Pete told the English boy about his slip in mentioning the question marks before he
had, supposedly, even seen one of their cards. Ted looked rather chagrined, but at
the same time it was, clear that he admired the boys' keen thinking.

"I say," Ted exclaimed, "that was clever of you!" He smiled and lowered the rifle.
"Yes, I found your card near the gate, you see. I told Mr Harris, but he said that
your card might be just a coincidence, that I should proceed with care because I
could be wrong. So I asked Aunt Sarah's lawyer if he knew any boys in Rocky
Beach who called themselves The Three Investigators, and he sent me to Skinner
Norris, as I said. That was how I found out about you boys and the salvage yard and
thought up the idea of approaching you with the offer of Aunt Sarah's junk. That's
the true story, I'm afraid."

Pete suddenly understood. "You thought we were the thieves who had stolen the
statuette!"

"I suppose I did, fellows," Ted admitted. "I told Mr Harris, but he wasn't sure. He
suggested that perhaps the real thief had lost the statuette, and you boys had simply
found it. So we decided to get you out here, offer a reward, and maybe persuade you
to return it under the pretext that you had succeeded in finding it."

Jupiter seemed to be considering Ted's story. "If you thought we stole it, why not
just accuse us?"

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"As I said, Jupiter, Mr Harris thought you might perhaps have found it quite
innocently. He pointed out that unfounded accusations are very dangerous."

"If you thought we had accidentally found it, why not just ask for it back?"

"Well, we discussed that, but Mr Harris thought you might not want to admit that
you'd picked it up. He thought you might be afraid to come forward."

"So you decided to contact us," Jupiter mused, "offer a reward, and let us think
that you didn't know we had the amulet? You wanted to give us a way out, plus an
incentive."

Ted nodded. "I'm really sorry. chaps, but I didn't know you then. Now that I do, I
know you'll give it back. You did find it, didn't you?"

"Bob and Pete did," Jupiter admitted, "but we can't give it back. We don't have it
now." And Jupiter explained how the dark man had stolen the amulet from them.

"Then it's gone," Ted said, crestfallen.

Jupiter shook his head slowly. "No, there may still be a chance of recovering it. If
we can find that man."

Ted grinned. "I say, some secret method? Can I help? I'd really like to work with
you chaps."

"Maybe you can help, Ted," Jupiter agreed. "You keep your eyes open out here,
and when we find the man we'll call you."

"Wonderful!" Ted beamed.

"But now we had better get home," Jupiter said. "It's late."

Ted let them out through the gates. On their bikes they steered slowly towards the
pass in the dark night. Pete was still puzzled as he rode beside the stocky First
Investigator:

"Jupe, why didn't you tell what else Bob and I saw last night? About the call for
help, and the laughing shadow?"

"Because I'm not sure Ted told us the truth," Jupiter said grimly. "If he really
thought we'd stolen that amulet, Pete, I think he would have denounced us right
away - unless, for some reason, he doesn't want anyone else to know how we got the
amulet. I think he's hiding something, Pete!"

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Pete looked troubled as they began the long descent down from the pass to Rocky
Beach.

Chapter 9
"Where No Man Can Find It!"

EARLY THE NEXT MORNING Bob jumped out of bed and dressed quickly. On
his way downstairs he knocked on his parents' door.

"I'll get my own breakfast Mom!"

Her sleepy voice answered, "All right, Bob. Clean up after yourself. Where will you
be today?"

"At the salvage yard, Mom!"

In the sunny breakfast alcove he ate a quick bowl of cereal, drank a glass of orange
juice, and then phoned Pete. Pete's mother told him that Pete had already gone to
the salvage yard, Bob washed his bowl and glass and ran for his bike.

At the salvage yard he ran full tilt into Aunt Mathilda. "Well, at least I've found one
of you! When you find the others, Bob, you tell Jupiter we'll need him to go with us
to the Sandow Estate this morning."

"Yes, ma'am."

Bob walked casually to the rear of the salvage yard and, when Aunt Mathilda could
no longer see him, hurried to the main entrance to the hidden trailer, and crawled
into headquarters. As he came up through the trap door, he found Jupiter and Pete
staring glumly at the silent telephone.

"No calls at all!" Pete announced in dejection. "Jupe's message recorder was
blank."

Pete referred to the recording device Jupiter had built to attach to the telephone to
record messages that came in while all three boys were out of headquarters.

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"I'm afraid the Ghost-to-Ghost Hook-up isn't working this time," Jupiter admitted.

"It may be too soon, Jupe," Bob said optimistically. "Listen to what I found out last
night!"

"You listen to what we saw!" Pete countered, and told Bob about their adventure at
the estate. Bob's eyes widened as he heard about Ted, the weird shapes, and the
laughing shadow.

"Of course," Jupiter said, "they weren't headless midgets, but they sure looked like
it. I was hoping there would be a message on the Ghost-to-Ghost this morning. I
think that the dark men are the key to all the mystery, somehow, if we knew who
they were and what they wanted. Bob, what did you find out about the Chumash
Hoard?"

"It sure looks as if there's something to it according to the local history books," Bob
reported. "After that renegade band disappeared, everyone started looking for the
Hoard. They searched for a long time, but no one ever found it. One of the troubles
was that the Chumash band had hideouts all over the mountains. The Sandow
Estate was just one place where they hid. And no one ever found any clues to the
whereabouts of the Hoard."

"Not even the two amulets Miss Sandow's brother had?" Pete asked. "Did the
histories mention him?"

"Yes," Bob answered. "His name was Mark, and he killed a man and had to run
away. It seemed to be sort of mysterious about the man he killed. He was a hunter
who lived up in the hills on the estate. No one knew why Mark Sandow killed him.
The records don't mention the two Chumash amulets."

"Professor Meeker said he'd never heard of the amulets," Jupiter said, frowning.
"Did you find any reports on exactly what old Magnus Verde said before he died?"

"In four different books," Bob reported, "and they were all different!" Bob dug out
his notebook. "According to one book Magnus Verde is supposed to have said,
'What man can find the eye of the sky?' Another writer quotes him as saying, 'The
sky's eye finds no man.' And two others report that he said, 'It is in the eye of the
sky where no man can find it.' I guess it wasn't easy to translate from Chumash."

"Professor Meeker explained that," Jupiter reminded him. "Besides, they're all
pretty similar. Each one refers to the 'eye of the sky,' which the professor didn't
mention, and they all say that Magnus Verde was sure no one could find the
Hoard."

"But, Jupe," Peter said, "what does 'eye of the sky' mean?"

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Jupiter thought. "Well, what is in the sky that looks sort of like an eye?"

"Some clouds sometimes?" Pete suggested.

"I know," Bob said, "the sun."

Jupiter nodded. "Or the moon. It's supposed to look like a face."

"How could they hide the Hoard in the moon, or the sun?" Pete objected.

"Not in the moon or sun, Pete," said Jupiter, "but maybe a place where the sun or
moon always shines on some exact spot! The way the sun shone on certain temples
in the old days." "Sure," Bob said. "People used to build temples with a hole in the
roof so that the sun would shine right on the altar."

"Only," the First Investigator went on unhappily, "this would have to be a very
special place at a very special time."

Pete understood why Jupiter was unhappy. "You mean we'd have to find the right
spot at exactly the right moment in order to know that the sun or the moon ever
does something special like that."

"I'm afraid so, Pete." Jupiter sounded dejected. Then he suddenly brightened.
"Unless Magnus Verde didn't mean anything that complicated. For instance, he
might have meant that the sun or moon looks like an eye through a certain
mountain pass or valley. Do we know any place like that near here?"

"Gosh, Jupe, not that I ever heard of," Pete said. "Anyway, what if it isn't around
here? Bob said that the Chumash band had hideouts everywhere."

"And Magnus Verde said no one could find it," Bob added.

"I'm convinced that Magnus Verde was taunting his captors with a riddle of some
kind," Jupiter insisted. "If only we knew why that dark man wanted the statuette so
much."

"Gosh, I forgot," Bob cried. "I've got more to tell you. That man and his friend
attacked Mr Harris!"

Bob repeated the news report that his Dad had heard on the radio the previous
evening.

Jupiter jumped up.

"We should go and talk to Mr Harris," the First Investigator said. "He could have
learned something important. But one of us ought to stay with the phone. The

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recorder can't ask questions."

"It's Pete's turn," said Bob.

"I guess it is," Pete agreed.

"We'll take the walkie-talkie so Pete can contact us if he hears anything on the
Ghost-to-Ghost," Jupiter said.

After finding the address of the Vegetarian League, Bob and Jupiter rode over on
their bikes. It took only about ten minutes to reach the large Gothic house on Las
Palmas Street that turned out to be Vegetarian League headquarters. It was the last
house on the block, located right on the edge of town. The dry brown mountains
came straight down to the road on the other side. There was an alley behind the
houses on Las Palmas Street, where the residents had their garages.

The two boys parked their bikes at the gate, went up to the front door, and rang the
bell. A short, heavy man opened the door. They asked for Mr Harris.

"Boys!" called Mr Harris himself from just behind the stocky man. "It's all right,
Sanders, I know the boys. Come in! This is a pleasure. I hardly expected you here so
soon. Have you come to join our League?"

The short man, Sanders, who was obviously an employee of Mr Harris's, went back
to work on a pile of boxes in the dim entrance hall. Jupiter hastily explained that
they had not come to become vegetarians.

"Er, no sir, we didn't come to join. We want to talk to you."

"Talk? Well, let's go into my office. Watch your step, we've hardly settled in here
yet. I do wish you were here to join us. We need all the help we can get. Everything
has to be done by myself, and my two most devoted assistants."

The boys picked their way through the jumble of boxes, hooks, filing cabinets and
stacks of pamphlets. Mr Harris ushered them through a heavy oak door and into a
large, sunny room set up as an office. As he sat down behind an ancient desk, he
waved the boys to chairs.

"Now, what's on your minds?"

Jupiter explained, "We heard about the attack on you, sir."

"Ah, yes, the crazy chap simply jumped on me. There were two of them, but only
one actually attacked me. I was on the platform giving a brief talk. I defended
myself, of course, and the audience began calling for the police, so the two men ran
off."

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"Why did they attack you, sir?" Bob asked.

"I simply don't know."

"Did they say anything?" Jupiter queried.

"Not in English. The rascal shouted a great deal, but it was all gibberish to me. I
tried to capture him, but he eluded me. Both men were gone before the police
arrived. I assume they were some fanatics who hate vegetarians. We've had to face
that kind of ignorant prejudice many times. People often hate someone just because
he is different from them, I'm afraid."

"I know that, sir," Jupiter said, "but I don't think those men were against you
because you were a vegetarian."

Mr Harris looked startled. "No? Then why did they attack me? Do you mean that
you have some theory about it?"

"We sure do!" Bob said firmly. "We know ... "

Bob stopped, suddenly aware of a faint sound somewhere in the office. Mr Harris
heard it, too, and began to look around with a puzzled frown. It was a very low
beep-beep-beep. All at once Bob realized what it was. Pete must be trying to reach
them on the walkie-talkies they were carrying.

Jupiter had heard it, too. He stood up abruptly. "I'm sorry, sir, but we have to go.
We'll be back as soon as we can."

"Of course, Jupiter," Mr Harris said. "I'll be here for a little while before I get to
see Miss Sandow. I visit the dear lady every day. After all, without her I wouldn't
have been able to start our league here in Rocky Beach."

"Yes, sir," Jupiter said, as he turned and hurried out of the office.

The boys knew that Pete could not reach them on their walkie-talkies while they
were inside a building - at least not from such a distance. They walked rapidly
through the haphazard stacks in the entry hall, and out into the sun of the open
front garden. Jupiter found a large bush between the door and the gate, and the two
of them crouched down.

Jupiter pressed his sending button. "First here. Come in, Second. Come in, Second.
We are receiving. Over."

Pete's voice came faintly from the small walkie-talkie. Jupe and Bob leaned close.
"Second here. Do you read me? Come in, First! Do you read me? Over."

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"First and Records receiving. Come in. Over." Jupiter spoke into his transmitter.

"Jupe?" Pete's faint voice sounded excited. "A report just came in on the Ghost-to-
Ghost. A kid saw the dark men! They're in their car parked on Las Palmas Street
near ... "

Bob shouted, "Jupe! It's them! There they are!"

Jupiter jumped up. His finger came off the receiving button, cutting off Pete's voice,
but neither Bob nor Jupiter was thinking about Pete. One of the dark men in the
strange white clothes stood beside their bikes at the gate. The other was standing
between them and the door of the house.

Both men began to move menacingly towards them, brandishing ugly knives. The
boys could not reach their bikes. And they were also cut off from the house.

"Run!" Jupiter cried. "To the hills, Bob!"

Chapter 10
Pursuit in the Hills

THEY TURNED and raced round the corner of the house. The two men stood there
uncertainly for a moment, shouting. At the end of the garden, near the dry brown
hills, the fence was low. The boys went over it without looking back.

"Up to the hills!" Jupiter panted.

They ran across the road and reached the first steep slope of the low mountains that
ringed Rocky Beach. With Bob ahead, and Jupiter puffing behind him, they crashed
their way up through the stiff, dry brushwood. The hard, thick, grey brush tore at
their clothes. Behind them, they could hear the two dark men giving chase.

"What are they shouting?" Bob panted.

"I don't know," Jupiter cried. "I don't understand any of it! Just keep running!"

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"Can we outrun them?"

"I ... hope ... so."

At the top of the first steep slope, they reached an old dirt road. They had gained on
their pursuers. Out of sight for a moment, they turned and ran along the dirt road.
They were running away from Rocky Beach, the Vegetarian League house, and
their bikes, but there was no other way they could go. So they pounded along the
dirt road looking for a way to escape.

"Oh, no!" Bob suddenly exclaimed.

The dirt road ended in a deep ravine. There had once been a bridge, but it was gone,
and the steep sides were much too dangerous to climb down. The boys stopped in
dismay.

"The bridge washed out in a flood!" Bob cried.

"Up the hill!" Jupiter pointed.

They began to climb up the slope of the mountain that towered hot and dusty above
Rocky Beach. Below, they heard shouts. The two men had seen them and were
pointing upwards. While the boys were still looking back, their pursuers began to
climb the slope with amazing speed and skill.

"They're gaining, Jupe!" Bob said.

"Keep climbing!"

They climbed and crawled upwards in the blazing sun on the scorching slope. Their
hands were bleeding from the sharp, iron-hard brushwood. At last they reached a
high shoulder of the mountain. Jupiter dropped, panting, to the dirt. Bob looked
back down.

"They're still coming!"

Jupiter groaned weakly. "Let them come. I'm dying."

Bob shaded his eyes. "We're faster runners, but they can climb better. They climb
like goats. Hey, maybe they're two of those Yaquali! The Devils of the Cliffs."

Jupiter struggled up, revived by the prospect of seeing two Yaquali. "Maybe they're
speaking Yaquali. No wonder we can't understand them."

"I don't care if they're speaking Eskimo," Bob declared. "How do we get away? Do
you suppose Mr Harris saw them chasing us?"

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"I doubt it," Jupiter said, peering across the distance. "Everything is quiet around
the house."

"If we could only get back to our bikes!"

"We can't. They've cut us off. We'll just have to keep running."

"Where?" Bob said in despair, looking round the barren. scorched shoulder of the
mountain. Then his eyes lit up. "Jupe, come on! I know where we are now. I think
there's a way to get away."

Bob started running along the shoulder that curved round the mountain. Jupiter
puffed along behind; once more they were momentarily out of sight of their
pursuers. Some fifty yards away, round the corner of the mountain, Bob ran
straight for a thick. dense growth of twisted live oaks and the impenetrable
brushwood.

"Where are we running?" Jupiter was panting.

"Right there," Bob said.

Jupiter stared as Bob ran straight at the wall of dusty green trees and brushwood.
"Where? I don't see ... "

Bob vanished into the heavy brush before Jupiter could finish his question. The
First Investigator plunged after the smaller boy - and suddenly found himself
running in empty space!

He fell and landed with a thump at the bottom of a narrow gully totally hidden on
all sides by the trees and the brushwood. Panting and bruised, Jupiter sat up, dusted
himself off gingerly, and glared at his chum.

"You could have warned me," he complained.

"There wasn't time. I fell into this gully once when I was chasing a bull snake. They
won't find us in here."

"Maybe," said Jupiter, unconvinced.

"Shhhhhhhh!" Bob hissed.

The boys crouched down in the gully and crawled silently to the bank. Bob peered
through a thin gap in the brush. The two pursuers were standing not fifty feet away!
They were talking, pointing all around and arguing. Jupiter slumped down to the
bottom of the gully.

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"They know we're around here somewhere!"

"What do we do?"

"We keep quiet," the First Investigator pronounced.

They lay silent, listening. The two pursuers were walking and talking somewhere
out beyond the dense brush. The boys could hear clearly, but they had no idea what
the two dark men were saying - except that it sounded harsh and menacing.

Helpless, the boys could do nothing but wait. The voices came closer. There was the
rustle and crash of bushes being searched.

Jupiter whispered, "I'm afraid it's only a matter of time until they find us. They
seem to know that we didn't run beyond this point."

"This gully is pretty well hidden. They might miss it."

"Or they might stumble right into it. Is there any way we can get out of here
unseen?"

Bob thought a moment "There's a big ravine to the left that leads right back down
to the road near the Vegetarian League house. Only we'd have to cross about fifty
feet of open space from the end of this gully to get there."

"Fifty feet of open space?" Jupiter's brow was furrowed with concentration. "Then
we have to have a diversion. Something to distract those men from seeing us cross
that open space. If we could just get them down in here while we run for that
ravine."

"If we were ventriloquists," Bob suggested, "we could throw our voices back here.
Then, while they were coming down here after us, we could get to the ravine."

"Bob, that's it!" Jupiter seemed excited.

"What do you mean that's it? We're not ventriloquists. We can't throw our voices
anywhere."

"Yes, we can! By electronics." Jupiter picked up his walkie-talkie. "We'll leave one
walkie-talkie here, turned up full volume, with the receiving button held down.
Then we'll go down to the end of the gully closest to that ravine, and - "

"And talk into the walkie-talkie so they'll hear us and think we're down here!"

"Exactly," Jupiter said. "They'll, hear us, come to get us, and while they're out of

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sight down here we'll run to the ravine. By the time they find the walkie-talkie, they
won't know where to look for us."

Quickly, Jupiter laid his walkie-talkie behind a bush at the bottom of the gully and
placed a stone on the receiving button. He picked up Bob's walkie-talkie, and the
two boys crawled silently along the bottom of the gully until Bob nodded that they
were as far as they could go.

"You see that big tree across the open space?" Bob whispered. "That's where the
ravine is."

"Here goes," Jupiter whispered back. He squatted down and spoke into the walkie-
talkie. "Bob! I hear them coming!"

Bob spoke into the speaker. "They won't find us down here! We're safe!"

Jupiter listened and heard Bob's voice, faint but clear, farther back in the gully
where they had been hiding. He spoke once more into the walkie-talkie, while Bob
peered through the brush to see what was happening.

"They hear it," Bob whispered. "They're going into the bushes."

"Now, Bob!" Jupiter hissed.

They jumped from the gully and ran full speed towards the big tree and the ravine.
When they reached the tree, they looked back. The two dark men were nowhere in
sight. The boys plunged down into the ravine and scrambled along the bottom
towards the road far below.

Breathing hard, they came out into the street a half-block from the Vegetarian
League house. The two men were still nowhere in sight.

"We better tell Mr Harris that the dark men are back," said Jupiter.

They hastened round the corner to the front door. Jupiter rang the bell. They
waited, but there was no answer. Bob began knocking. There was still no sound
inside the house. He tried the door, but it was locked. Meanwhile Jupiter was
peering in the window beside the door.

"He must have gone out to the estate," Bob said.

"I guess so," Jupiter agreed. "We'd better get out of here - fast!"

Without any further discussion they ran to their bicycles and pedalled away at top
speed. They didn't slow down until they were back at the salvage yard.

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Chapter 11
Jupiter Has a Suspicion

AUNT MATHILDA spied Bob and Jupiter the moment they rode into the salvage
yard.

"There you are! ... Jupiter Jones, are you ready to go to the Sandow Estate?"

"Yes, Aunt Mathilda," Jupiter said, "but we want to get something from my
workshop first."

"You make it short, young man. Konrad and your uncle will be ready in two
minutes."

The boys hurried to the workshop and through Tunnel Two into the hidden
headquarters trailer. Pete was still at his post beside the telephone. He started
talking at once.

"Why did you break off? I was trying to tell you something important. Two kids
called in. They spotted the dark men's car over on Las Palmas Street, and later they
called back to report that the men were chasing two boys!"

"We know," Bob said ruefully.

"They were chasing us," Jupiter added. He explained how the dark men had
appeared just as Pete was trying to talk to them, and described the chase in the hills.

"Wow!" Pete exclaimed. "You were sure lucky."

"Jupe was just too smart for them," Bob said. But Jupiter was not waiting for
compliments, he was too busy planning. "If those men are still hanging around the
Vegetarian League house, they must want something. I think they might attack Mr
Harris again. If he's out with Miss Sandow, I'll see him when I go out there with
Uncle Titus, and I can tell him what happened to Bob and me. But in case he should
go back to the League before I see him, I think you fellows ought to go over to the
house and wait for him."

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"Gosh, First, I have to get home for lunch," Pete said.

"Me, too," Bob agreed.

"All right, but get over there again as soon as you can. Maybe you can spot those
two men and keep an eye on them."

"But, Jupe, we just got away from them!" Bob protested.

Jupiter wasn't bothered by that fact. "I'm convinced that that pair are after
something important. I think they can lead us to the Chumash Hoard. Just be
careful, and don't let them see you."

"That you don't have to tell us," Pete said.

"Do you think they're Yaquali, First?" Bob asked.

Jupiter nodded. "They must be, Pete. Somehow they must have learned about the
Chumash Hoard, maybe through some old Indian writings or legends. It's possible
that they understand old Magnus Verde's message."

"I wish we did." Pete sighed.

"So do I," Jupiter admitted. "It must be the clue to where the Hoard is - 'in the eye
of the sky where no one can find it.' We've got to puzzle it out."

"But, Jupe, if they've figured out what Magnus Verde was saying, what are they still
looking for?"

"I just don't know," Jupiter said, biting his lip.

At that moment they all heard the distant voice of Aunt Mathilda:

"Jupiter Jones! Now where are you?"

"Don't forget, go and warn Mr Harris, and see if you can find those dark men. But
don't let them see you." Jupiter gave them their instructions once more. "And let's
all think about that message of Magnus Verde's."

Bob and Pete nodded, and Jupiter hurried from the hidden headquarters. Out in
the salvage yard the First Investigator found Konrad and Uncle Titus already in the
big truck. His Aunt Mathilda was loading in a lunch hamper. Jupiter jumped into
the cab, and Uncle Titus quickly told Konrad to drive off. Jupiter's uncle, a small
man with an enormous moustache, was a most unusual junkman. He bought
anything that interested him, not just because he thought he could sell it but because
he liked it.

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Soon the truck was out of Rocky Beach and driving up the steep and winding road
into the pass. They reached the top of the pass and drove on to the iron gates of the
Sandow Estate. The gates were open. Konrad roared through and pulled to a stop
before the barn.

Uncle Titus jumped out as eagerly as Jupiter, excited as he always was when he was
about to buy junk for the salvage yard. As they headed for the barn door, Miss
Sandow came from the big house.

"You must be Titus Jones," the birdlike lady said. "I'm pleased to meet you. I hope
you find many things you want. I've been accumulating this junk for far too long."

"I'm sure I will, ma'am," Uncle Titus said with a courtly bow and a flourish of his
fine moustache. "You're sure you want to part with all of it?"

"Oh, dear me, yes! I think it's best to get it all cleared out. Since my nephew,
Theodore, arrived I seem to have more interest in the estate. I want to get
everything in order again."

"Then, with your assistance, Miss Sandow, I'll go and select what I want to buy,"
Uncle Titus said.

Miss Sandow nodded, smiling, and accompanied Uncle Titus and Konrad into the
barn. Jupiter lagged behind until he saw them vanish inside. Then he slipped away
towards the big house to find Mr Harris. Ted appeared behind him :

"Are you investigating something, Jupiter?" the English boy said eagerly.

"In a way, Ted," Jupiter admitted. "I want to talk to Mr Harris."

"He's in the library."

Jupiter followed Ted into the house. They found Mr Harris reading the Rocky
Beach newspaper in the library. When the vegetarian saw Jupiter, he jumped up
and hurried towards the First Investigator.

"Ted has reported his encounter with you boys last night," Mr Harris announced at
once. "I must apologize for my part in our little deception, and for thinking that you
boys might be thieves. Because we suspected that you had the statuette, we thought
it would be a good ruse to offer a reward for its return."

"I understand, sir," Jupiter said quietly.

"Good. Now tell me exactly what happened to the statuette."

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Jupiter told Mr Harris about the call for help that Bob and Pete had heard outside
the estate wall, and the way the statuette had come flying over the wall. Mr Harris
listened intently, frowning from time to time. When Jupiter reached the part about
the laughing shadow, Ted exclaimed:

"A shadow that laughed insanely? That's strange. I thought I heard a peculiar
laugh myself last night."

"You're quite sure, Jupiter?" Mr Harris asked. "It wasn't some trick of the wind,
or the boys' imagination?"

"No, sir, there is a laughing shadow somewhere on this estate," the First
Investigator insisted firmly. "And I think that whoever the shadow is he's holding
some prisoners here."

"Really, Jupiter?" Ted said. "Prisoners? I say!"

"But why, Jupiter?" Mr Harris said. "What is it all about?"

"The Chumash Hoard, sir. I'm sure of it."

"The what?" Mr Harris said, incredulous.

"A vast hoard of gold," Jupiter said, and explained all that the boys had learned
about the Chumash Hoard, Mr Harris and Ted listened open-mouthed. When
Jupiter had finished, Mr Harris smiled.

"I see," he said. "I'm not sure I can believe such a legend - dying words and all - but
I'll accept your contention that there may be some nefarious gang that does believe
it. That could be quite dangerous. I'm not at all sure I like you boys being involved
in such an affair."

"Would you repeat what that old Indian said, Jupiter?" Ted asked.

"Well, in essence," Jupiter explained, "he said that the Hoard was 'in the eye of the
sky where no man could find it.'"

"Gosh, what could it mean?" Ted wondered. "And what does it have to do with
Aunt Sarah's statuette? Why did you say that prisoners are being held on the
estate?"

Before Jupiter could answer, they heard Miss Sandow calling from outside.

"Theodore! I need you for a moment. Where are you, Theodore?"

Ted hurried out of the house in answer to his aunt's summons. As soon as he had

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gone, Jupiter spoke quickly to Mr Harris:

"Sir, I know the laughing shadow is real because I've heard it myself! And I know
there are prisoners on the estate, because there was a message inside the amulet
when we found it!"

"A message? Inside the statuette?" Mr Harris looked concerned.

"A call for help," Jupiter said.

"Have you notified the police?"

"No, sir, we didn't really have anything to tell."

"No, I see that." Mr Harris seemed to be considering the problem. "When did you
see this laughing shadow?"

"Last night just before we met Ted," Jupiter said, and told Mr Harris what he and
Pete had seen at the lodge on the estate.

"What do you make of it, Jupiter?"

"I think that those four strange shapes were prisoners with bags over their heads !
That's why it looked as if they had no heads at all."

"What?" Mr Harris exclaimed. "Four prisoners in Miss Sandow's lodge? Held by


that laughing shadow! Outrageous. How could such things go on right under Miss
Sandow's nose?"

"How much do you really know about Ted Sandow, sir?" Jupiter said bluntly.

"Ted?" Mr Harris gaped and blinked. "You think that Ted is involved? By
thunder, I'm going to get to the bottom of this! Come on, Jupiter, I want to look at
that lodge!"

Mr Harris strode to the desk and opened a drawer. When he turned, he held a pistol
in his hand.

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Chapter 12
Call the Police!

MR HARRIS gripped the pistol grimly as he and Jupiter moved silently along the
forest path towards the lodge. The vegetarian's ruddy face was serious and
determined as they hastened on under the shadows of the trees.

"And you think that the dark men who attacked you and took the statuette are the
same ones who attacked me?" Mr Harris said as he walked.

"They must be, sir."

"If that's true, they may also be the ones who are holding prisoners out here. We
had better approach the lodge with caution."

"They'll probably be gone by now, sir, especially if the shadow saw Bob and me last
night."

"That remains to be seen. If they're so bold as to hold prisoners right on the estate,
they may not have been scared by two boys. What I don't understand is what they
think they're up to, you see."

"I guess I don't understand that, either," Jupiter admitted unhappily. "Maybe the
prisoners are the ones who really know the secret of where the Hoard is, and those
dark men and the laughing shadow are trying to find it."

"That could be, Jupiter. Yes, you may have hit on it. And perhaps we can catch the
ruffians red-handed!"

They hurried on as quietly as they could in the deep forest shadows and came to
where the smaller path led down into the bowl-shaped valley. The truck no longer
stood in front of the lodge. The building looked much less mysterious in the bright
noon sunlight.

Mr Harris motioned for Jupiter to crouch low in the trees and be silent. Then he
began to work his way stealthily down the slope through the trees. Jupiter examined
the lodge closely. There was no sign of movement anywhere. The shutters on the
lodge windows were open, and so was the front door. As soon as he saw the open
door Jupiter was certain that there would be no one inside.

Mr Harris wasn't taking any chances. He continued to slip silently down through
the trees until he reached the edge of the open clearing at the bottom of the valley.
There he stopped for a moment, surveying the lodge. On the rim of the valley,
Jupiter fidgeted under the enforced inaction. But then Mr Harris left the trees and
ran to a corner of the lodge, holding his pistol in one hand, Jupiter watched him

137
peer in at a window.

Mr Harris left the window and ran round to the open front door. He went inside
quickly. Jupiter waited. He could hear a lot of noise inside the lodge. Then Mr
Harris appeared at the door and waved. Jupiter scrambled down the path and
joined the vegetarian in front of the lodge.

"Empty, lad. I looked under everything. Not a hair of them, but they were here all
right. Look."

Mr Harris displayed a pair of small white trousers of a homespun material exactly


like those worn by the two dark men.

"I should guess that it was Indian clothing, right enough. It looks as if your dark
men were here. And the truck you saw was really here, too. There's an oil patch on
the roadway. Dry, though. I'd say the truck has been gone for some time."

"Is there any sign of where they might have gone, Mr Harris?" Jupiter asked.

"None that I could find, but let's take another look. Maybe you can spot
something."

They went inside the lodge. Jupiter surveyed the scene. It was clear that the men he
had seen last night had left the lodge in a hurry. Empty bottles lay around on the
tables; remains of a meal had dried and hardened on unwashed plates still on the
tables. But Jupiter could find nothing that gave even a hint of where the men had
gone.

"I guess there's nothing here," he said, at last. "But I'm sure they must be
somewhere on the estate!"

Mr Harris shook his head. "It's an awfully large estate, Jupiter. And most of it is
mountainous. I'm afraid the rascals are gone. I'm sure that when you spotted them
you blew their entire scheme and they ran."

"I don't think so, sir," Jupiter insisted. "I think they're still trying to find
something. They chased Bob and me when we left your office."

"Chased you? At my house?" Mr Harris stared at Jupiter in astonishment. "But


what could they want from you now?"

"Not from us, Mr Harris. From you!" Jupiter declared.

"From me? What on earth could they want from me?"

"There must be something, sir. After they stole our amulet, they attacked you

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during your lecture. Then when we left your office today they chased us again. They
must have thought that you had given something to us."

"Well, I'm ... By Jove!" Mr Harris cried. "The other statuette! I took it to my office
for safe-keeping the very night the first one was stolen. I insisted Miss Sandow
entrust it to me. I had completely forgotten about it. They must want both amulets."

Jupiter nodded eagerly. "They probably need both of them to tell them where the
hoard is."

"Yes, that's probably it," Mr Harris agreed. "What I don't understand is how those
men could have known I had the second amulet at my office."

"They must have seen you take it there."

"Impossible. It was in a box, and I carried it in my pocket. They couldn't have spied
on me in my office, either."

"Could one of your assistants have told them?" Jupiter asked.

"No, they're old friends and staunch vegetarians. Anyway, they knew nothing about
the amulet."

Jupiter chewed at his lower lip, a sure sign that he was concentrating. "Well, sir,
Miss Sandow herself must have known you had it. So that's one person."

"I hardly think that Sarah Sandow is in cahoots with the thieves. Even if she wanted
to look for the Hoard, she already had the amulets. And Sarah and Ted are the only
-"

Jupiter interrupted, "Ted? ... He knew?"

Mr Harris stood with his mouth open, then slowly closed it again. "This could be
very serious, Jupiter. Poor Miss Sandow - if Ted is involved in some devious scheme
- it could break her heart."

"He was at the gate after Bob and Pete found the first amulet," Jupiter pointed out,
"and he was out in the dark last night. How well do you know him, Mr Harris?"

"Not well at all, actually. We met in England just as he was coming here. I was on
my way to Los Angeles. so when he told me his aunt was a vegetarian, I decided to
come to see her and try to enlist her support." Mr Harris stopped again. He looked
grim. "We'd better talk to young Ted - right away!"

Jupiter had to trot to keep up with Mr Harris as they hurried from the lodge and
back through the forest to the house. Uncle Titus and Konrad were still loading the

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truck. As Mr Harris strode into the house to find Ted, Uncle Titus saw Jupiter.

"There you are! Did you come here to work or not, you young scallywag!" Uncle
Titus roared.

Reluctantly, Jupiter began to help Konrad carry an ornate old wardrobe trunk to
the truck. As he worked he glanced now and then at the door of the house. Time
seemed to crawl, and Jupiter fumed with impatience as he worked. Then Mr Harris
reappeared.

"Ted drove off somewhere. I think I had better return to my office."

"If Ted goes to your office, he'll be seen," Jupiter said with a grin. "Bob and Pete
are there watching right now." Mr Harris seemed to freeze. "What?"

"I sent them to watch for the dark men," Jupiter explained.

"Jupiter!" Mr Harris cried, turning pale. "That second amulet is still there in my
safe. If those boys attempt any foolish move they could be in great danger! I'll drive
in at once. Your uncle is almost finished here. As soon as you get to Rocky Beach go
to the police."

With that ominous instruction, Mr Harris ran for his car and drove off at a
breakneck pace down the private drive to the main road.

Chapter 13
Caught!

AFTER LUNCH, Bob and Pete met again at the salvage yard. They checked the
telephone recorder but found no messages, so they left right away for the
headquarters of the Vegetarian League.

They approached cautiously, alert for any signs of the dark men, but there was no
sign of activity at the big Gothic house. Mr Harris's car was not in front or in the
alley behind, and the front door was locked.

"He must be out at the estate," Pete decided.

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"Jupe will talk to him then," Bob said, "but we'd better stay here. Maybe those men
will come back."

There was a narrow alley between two silent houses across the street from the
Vegetarian League headquarters. Bob and Pete decided to squat down there beside
their bikes and wait for developments. The barren hills where the dark men had
chased Bob and Jupiter were baking in the bright sun, and for a long time nothing
moved in the heat. A single turkey vulture sailed high above the hills. Pete eyed the
great, soaring black bird uneasily.

"I hope that buzzard isn't thinking of us," he said.

"Vultures are very important to nature," Bob protested. "They keep the wilderness
clean and healthy. They're really harmless and necessary."

"They're not necessary for me," Pete declared. "I don't like to think about what
that one has on its hungry mind."

For an hour not even a car passed on the hot street. Pete grew impatient and began
to play with the small stones that lay in the alley. After a while he moved his legs,
which were stiff from squatting so long, and groaned:

"This is one part of being an investigator I don't much like - waiting and watching."

"Jupe says it's the most important part," Bob declared. "Real investigators
sometimes watch the same place for weeks."

"Not me, thank you," Pete said, and groaned again with impatience. "Why does
First think those dark men'll come back here?"

"I think Jupe figures that they want something Mr Harris has. Some other clue to
the Hoard."

"Gosh, then they might show up any time." Pete peered across the street with
revived interest.

"Exactly, and that's why it's so important to watch." Suddenly, from across the hot
and sunny street, there came a muffled shout.

"Hello! Someone! Hello out there!"

The cry was faint but clear in the stillness of the hot afternoon.

"Hey, out there! Help!"

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Pete whispered, "It's from the League house. At the back."

"Maybe Mr Harris is locked in," Bob said. "Maybe the thieves attacked him again."

The boys hesitated. If the dark men were around, they might get into trouble if they
showed themselves. But if Mr Harris was locked in, they ought to try to help him.

"What'll we do?" Pete asked.

"1 guess we had better take a look, but let's be careful, Pete. If we see anything of
those men we better get away fast."

They crossed the empty street warily. Since they knew the front door was locked,
they went cautiously around to the rear of the house and tried the back door.

"It's open," Pete whispered, as he turned the knob. He pushed the door open, and
they walked along a dark hallway until they came to what had been the kitchen of
the old house. It was empty now. They went through a swinging door into the rear
of the cluttered entry hall. In the dim, cool hall they listened.

"I don't hear anything," Bob whispered.

"But I know that call came from somewhere in here," Pete insisted. "Let's try the
office."

They opened the office door carefully, but the room was silent and empty. Bob
pointed to a cupboard door. The two boys tiptoed over to it and listened for a
minute. There was no sound. Gingerly, Bob opened the door while Pete stood to one
side, holding a heavy paperweight from Mr Harris's desk.

The cupboard was empty.

"That shout had to come from somewhere," Pete said. "Maybe he's shut in where
there isn't enough air, and he's collapsed," Bob suggested.

"Gosh, that could be," Pete agreed. "We'd better hurry and look everywhere."

Quickly they searched all the rooms downstairs. Finding nothing, they went up to
the first floor. There they looked into a large meeting room that had been made
from three smaller rooms. It had a platform at one end. Obviously this was the place
where Mr Harris had been attacked during his lecture.

"Hello! Hello! I hear you! Help!" The cry came again, from overhead.

Bob exclaimed, "He must be on the second floor!"

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"Come on!" Pete cried, already running for the stairs. There was little light on the
second floor. The windows were shuttered, and dust lay thick on a pile of planks
strewn about the floor. The doors to all the rooms along the dark corridor were
open. The boys stood there, listening intently.

Suddenly there was a frantic banging at the far end of the corridor. Pete picked up a
large plank, and together they walked down the hall. The room at the end of the
corridor was bare and completely empty. They stood there for a moment, waiting
for another shout or a bang. Then Bob noticed the door on the far side of the room.

"There, Pete!"

Pete nodded, and the two boys approached the closed door. Bob tried the knob,
while Pete stood ready with his plank.

"It's locked," Bob said. "Can we break it down?"

Behind them the door to the corridor slammed shut. They whirled, their eyes wide
and startled. Pete held his plank ready to repel any attack. But no one was there.
Only the closed door.

"Pete!" Bob cried.

The lock on the room door clicked from outside, and a familiar voice roared with
laughter beyond the locked door.

"Boy, are you smart guys ever dumb!" the laughing voice sneered. The voice of
Skinny Norris!

Bob and Pete rushed to the door, but it was tightly locked. Although Pete tugged
and pulled and raged, he couldn't budge it.

"Skinny Norris, you let us out of here!" Bob yelled.

"If you don't," Pete threatened, "we'll fix you when we get out of here. We'll - "

"But you won't get out." Skinny taunted them through the door. "I'm just going to
let the two of you stew in there. Serve you nosey brats right. Too bad Fatso Jones
isn't with you. I'd like to see that fat smart aleck trying to get out of there."

"You wouldn't talk like that if Jupiter was here," Bob said angrily.

"You shut up, Bob Andrews!" Skinny shouted. The envious Skinny hated to have
anyone suggest that he wasn't a match for Jupiter. "You're in bad trouble, you
hear?"

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"You're the one who's going to be in trouble," Pete said. "What do you think you're
doing anyway?"

"What am I doing?" Skinny snickered out in the corridor. "Why, I'm protecting
private property, that's what I'm doing! I heard noises in here when I was passing
by. I came in, and guess what? I caught two trespassers cold."

"You're crazy, Skinny! No one will believe you."

"No? The front door was locked and no one was here.
Just
what were you doing coming in the back way?" Skinny laughed nastily. "I've been
watching that junkyard of Fatso's uncle ever since Ted Sandow asked about you. I
knew I'd catch you at something."

Bob groaned. "Skinny, Mr Harris knows we're here. We're working for Miss
Sandow."

"Don't try to fool me," Skinny said from the corridor. "Ted Sandow told me he was
looking for a valuable statuette, and I could tell he thought you three had stolen it."

"Oh, no!" Pete cried. "That was before we talked to Ted. He's the one who hired us
to find the statuette. Why don't you stop trying to be smarter than Jupiter?"

"I am smarter than that fat show-off! You can just sweat it out in there. If Fatso
Jones is so smart let him rescue you. I'm taking off. So long, wise guys!"

Bob looked despairingly at Pete, then walked over to the locked door. He could hear
Skinny going downstairs. After a long time, they heard the back door slam.

Bob and Pete looked at each other hopelessly as Bob moved away from the door.
They were obviously in a bad spot.

"The windows are barred," Pete said, "and that other door is locked, solid."

"It's an old house," Bob suggested. "How about the walls or the floor? Maybe we
can find a weak spot - a loose board or something."

Pete wasn't optimistic, but he inspected the floor while Bob studied the walls.
Unfortunately there were no weak spots in the floor.

"The walls are solid as a rock, too," Bob said glumly. "Maybe Jupiter or Mr Harris
will come soon," Pete suggested.

"Our bikes are still in that alley, Jupe would see them."

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"Sure," Pete agreed, "he'd know we were in here somewhere."

The boys grinned at each other, but the grins were feeble. Each was aware of the
fact that he was trying to convince the other that Jupiter would somehow come to
their rescue.

"Maybe," Bob said weakly, "Mr Harris will come back."

"And maybe he won't, or not for a long time. Maybe he won't come back until
tomorrow."

"There has to be some way out!" Bob insisted.

They looked all round the small room again without much real hope. They were
stuck, and they knew it. Trapped by that stupid Skinny Norris.

"Bob!" Pete cried, staring at something behind his fellow investigator. "The door! It
opens inwards. The hinges are right there inside."

"We can push out the hinge pins!"

"Sure, it'll be easy. Boy, is that Skinny dumb."

"But we don't have any tools," Bob said.

"Oh, yes, we do." Pete pulled out his heavy scout knife with its many strong blades
and quickly went to work. The hinge pins were covered with old paint, and were
very stiff. Pete began to sweat as he struggled to loosen them.

Bob stood anxiously beside him, trying to help as much as he could.

Finally, the last hinge pin fell into Pete's hand. Bob grasped the upper hinge, and
Pete grabbed the lower. They counted to three and pulled. The door swung inwards,
broke free of the lock, and fell to the floor with a loud crash.

They lunged through the doorway together and headed, for the staircase. From
down below came the unexpected sound of heavy footsteps. Someone - or something
- was coming up the stairs.

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Chapter 14
Jupiter Has a Hunch

AT THE SANDOW ESTATE Jupiter had been working feverishly carrying the
junk from the barn to the truck. The First Investigator was alarmed by Mr Harris's
worry over Bob and Pete. Although he was sure that Bob and Pete could take care
of themselves, Mr Harris might be right about their being in danger. Jupiter wanted
to contact Chief Reynolds right away.

When the truck was finally loaded, Jupiter climbed into the cab and chewed on his
lower lip as Miss Sandow came from the house to talk to Uncle Titus.

"Mr Jones," the birdlike lady said, "I can't imagine what you'll do with all that
ancient clutter of mine."

"Don't you worry, ma'am," Uncle Titus said gallantly, twirling his enormous
moustache. "I'll sell it all at a handsome profit, I'm sure. Now you just see that you
charge me properly."

"Goodness, I wish Ted were here. I haven't the slightest notion what to charge.
Knowing your boys seems to have made Theodore so happy, I really feel I should
give it to you. Especially if they can find my little statuette for me."

"Find your statuette?" Uncle Titus sounded puzzled. Jupiter held his breath, for
Uncle Titus wasn't always pleased about the boys being investigators. But this time
the peppery little man was too happy about his truckload of new junk to be
displeased. He nodded. "Well, the boys do seem to have a knack for that sort of
thing. Now, let's consider what I owe you, ma'am."

Jupiter almost bit a piece out of his lip in impatience, but at last Uncle Titus settled
his business, and the truck rolled out of the estate in the direction of Rocky Beach.
Konrad drove at his usual headlong pace and soon they reached the salvage yard.
Jumping out of the truck, Jupiter rushed to the hidden trailer. Aunt Mathilda and
Uncle Titus were far too excited by their purchases to notice his quick escape.

He crawled into headquarters through the main tunnel, and emerged through the
trapdoor in the floor. Bob and Pete were not there. Quickly, the First Investigator
activated the telephone-recording machine. There were no messages at all. Worried
now, and remembering Mr Harris's instructions, Jupiter crawled back out and left
the junkyard through Red Gate Rover.

He walked the few blocks from the salvage yard to Rocky Beach police and
headquarters. He asked at once for Chief Reynolds and, because the boys were well-
known to the Rocky Beach police, he was soon sitting across a desk from the Chief

146
himself.

"Well, what can I do for you, Deputy?" Chief Reynolds said with a smile. He was
referring to the honorary junior deputy title given to the boys for help on a previous
case.

"We're working on a case, sir," Jupiter said quickly, "and I think we need to call
you in now."

"All right, suppose you tell me all about it."

"There isn't time, sir! Mr Harris ... "

"Slow and steady, Jupiter," the Chief instructed. "Start at the beginning. That's the
way to give a report."

"Yes, sir," Jupiter agreed reluctantly. He started to tell the Chief about the first
night Bob and Pete had seen the amulet and the laughing shadow. He talked rapidly
in an effort to finish his story as fast as possible.

"Whoa!" Chief Reynolds stopped him. "A laughing shadow? Bob and Pete must
have been letting their imaginations run high, don't you think?"

"No, sir," Jupiter said. "Last night I heard it myself, and it was really spooky. It
was tall, too, but I didn't think it looked humpbacked. Pete and Bob were closer, of
course, and they said it had a beaky nose and small head that kept jerking around.

"While Pete and I were watching it, a truck drove up with four headless midgets!"

Chief Reynolds coughed. "Headless midgets?"

"Well, no, not really. I mean, sir, they looked like that, but I think they had bags
over their heads. They were prisoners in that lodge, you see, and someone had put
bags on their heads so that they couldn't see."

"And you think that it could have been one of those 'midget' prisoners who called
for help and threw the amulet over the wall?"

"That's right, sir," Jupiter said. "I think one of those prisoners stole the amulet and
then hid his message for help in it. When he was recaptured, he threw it over the
wall in the hope that someone would find it."

"In a hidden compartment? Pretty slim chance, Jupiter."

"I'm sure he was desperate, Chief. Maybe he expected some friends to be around,
but they weren't and we found it. Then the two dark men attacked us to get the

147
amulet back. They probably wanted the amulet for itself. I doubt if they even knew
about the message."

"Dark men?" Chief Reynolds snapped. "What dark men?"

"I'm sorry, sir, you're right about telling it in order. I forgot to mention them." The
First Investigator described the two dark men who had pursued the boys and
attacked Mr Harris.

"Oh, those men!" the Chief sounded almost relieved. "Well now, they're easier to
believe in than laughing shadows and headless midgets. We're looking for that pair
ourselves after their attack on Harris. All right, Jupiter, let's go and see your Mr
Harris at once."

The Chief summoned two of his men, and with Jupiter they hastened out to the
Chief's car. They drove straight to the old house of the Vegetarian League. As they
turned into the deserted street on the edge of the town, Jupiter saw Mr Harris's car
parked in front of the house.

"He must be here," Jupiter said. "That's his car."

Mr Harris opened the front door before they had a chance to knock. Looking
straight at Jupiter, he asked anxiously, "Where are Bob and Pete? I was expecting
to find them here."

"I don't know," Jupiter said. "I thought they'd be here, too. Did you find Ted
anywhere?"

"No, I didn't. I thought I spotted his car near your salvage yard, but if it was Ted he
got away from me. I came straight home." For the first time, Mr Harris looked
curiously at Chief Reynolds.

"Oh!" Jupiter suddenly remembered, his manners. "This is Chief Reynolds, Mr


Harris. He's going to help us."

"It was good of you to come over, Chief," said Mr Harris in his usual brisk manner.
"We seem to have some problems here. When those intruders first broke up my
meeting, I thought it was just an attack by some typical anti-vegetarians. They can
be quite fanatical, you know. But from what Jupiter has told me, I'm beginning to
understand that it may be much more serious than that."

"You mean the laughing shadow and those headless prisoners?" Chief Reynolds
asked.

"Well, perhaps the boys are a bit overwrought about those matters. I understand
they don't really agree on what the laughing shadow sounded like. But it does seem

148
as if there is some plot afoot involving Miss Sandow's gold statuettes."

Chief Reynolds looked thoughtful. "The Chumash Hoard is a local legend, and it
may well exist. From what I've heard, a lot of people might risk a great deal to get
it."

"And do a great deal," Mr Harris said grimly. "But I'm worried about Bob and
Pete. According to Jupiter, they should be here."

"We'd better have a look around," Chief Reynolds decided, "in case they were here
before you returned."

Inside, Mr Harris and Jupiter searched the ground floor. Chief Reynolds and his
men examined the upper floors. When they met again outside Mr Harris's office, no
one had found a trace of Bob and Pete. Jupiter was alarmed.

"They've got to be around here somewhere!" he declared.

Mr Harris frowned. "You don't think that perhaps they saw the dark men and
followed them?"

"That would be just like the boys," Chief Reynolds acknowledged.

"But they would have reported in, sir," Jupiter said.

"Perhaps not at once, Jupiter," Mr Harris said.

"That's right," the Chief agreed. "They might not have had a chance yet. But I
don't much like the idea of them trailing after those two men like that."

Jupiter was not convinced, but he had to admit that if Bob and Pete had spotted the
two men they might well have tried to follow them and find out where they were
hiding. It was what he himself would have done.

"I think we'd better start looking for the boys," Chief Reynolds decided.

"At once!" Mr Harris agreed. "But before you go, Chief, I'd like you to take the
second amulet to your office. I don't want to keep it here."

They went into Mr Harris's office. The vegetarian strode to his safe, opened it, and
took out a small box. He carried the box to his desk, which was littered with the
remains of a hurried meal.

"Pardon the mess, I was eating a snack at my desk," he said, sweeping the debris
into his wastepaper basket, and opening the box. "There, that's what all the fuss
seems to be about."

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They crowded round and looked down at the second grinning little gold man. The
Chief examined it, shaking his head in bafflement over what importance it could
have, then passed it along to Jupiter. The First Investigator opened the secret
compartment, but found it was empty.

"No message in this one, sir," he said.

"Then it looks as if those two ruffians are after the amulet itself, wouldn't you say?"
Mr Harris commented. "I'll feel better with it in the hands of the police. At least, no
one can steal it, and we can turn our attention to tracking down the villains and
finding out what they're up to."

"Maybe Bob and Pete can tell us where to find them," Chief Reynolds said. "That
is, if we can just locate Bob and Pete. Come on, Jupiter, I think we'd better start
looking for them."

"Call me the instant you have any information and let me know if there is anything
I can do," said Mr Harris. "Tomorrow I'm going to ask young Ted Sandow some
questions." Harris's voice sounded stern. "I hope he has an explanation."

Outside on the street again, the Chief and his men hurried to their car. Jupiter
followed more slowly, his keen eyes searching the hot, sunny neighbourhood.
Suddenly, the stocky First Investigator pointed to the small alley between two old
houses across the street.

"Chief ! I see something! Tyre marks over there!" Jupiter raced across the street.
Chief Reynolds caught up with him in the narrow alleyway.

"They were here, Chief ! I recognize a patch in Bob's tyre tracks. They must have
been hiding in this alley, watching the house. Look, on the ground there!"

Where Pete had crouched, waiting, there was a small pile of stones in the shape of a
crude cone.

"Pete always piles stones like that," Jupiter said. "It's a reflex."

"Then they must have seen someone and followed them. Their bikes aren't here."

Jupiter looked all round the alley. "I don't know, sir. They should have left some
sign if they had done that. We always carry coloured chalk to leave a trail."

"They probably didn't have time. We'll send out an All-Points Bulletin on them at
once. I don't think we ought to alarm their parents yet."

"No, sir," Jupiter agreed. "Possibly they're back at the salvage yard by now."

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"I hope so, son," Chief Reynolds said. "I only wish we had more to go on. I'm sure
we'll find, the dark men eventually, but I wish I had a better idea of who that
laughing shadow could be."

"He's tall, sir. We know that. And the two men are quite short. Ted Sandow is tall."

"But you boys are familiar with Ted Sandow's voice, right? Wouldn't you know if
he was the laughing shadow?"

"We ought to." Jupiter frowned, obviously in deep concentration. "But that laugh
certainly didn't sound like anyone I know."

"The way you describe it, it doesn't really sound like a voice at all."

"That's it!" Jupiter exclaimed. "No voice at all! At least not a human kind of voice.
It reminds me of a story by Edgar Allan Poe, where no one understood the
murderer's language because the murderer turned out to be an ape. Only this was
no ape. But isn't there something ... something in Australia, I think, that has a
laugh that sounds - "

"What are you talking about, Jupiter?"

Jupiter chewed his lip in despair. "I ... I can't remember exactly but I know it has
something to do with an animal from Australia. Ted Sandow has an accent. He says
he's from England, but maybe he isn't. Maybe he's an impostor from Australia."

"Well, if you're talking about accents, what about Harris, himself?" Chief Reynolds
asked. "He sounds like a Limey, to me."

Jupiter's eyes brightened. "Chief!" he exclaimed. "Do you think Harris could be an
Australian? I don't think that is a British accent at all."

"I don't know, but I'll contact the Australian authorities right away and ask about
both of them. We can certainly provide a good description."

They drove back to police headquarters, where the Chief went to work immediately.
He sent out the All-Points Bulletin (APB) on Bob and Pete. It would alert the police
in Rocky Beach and the whole county to be on the lookout for the boys. He also
placed a call to Australia.

Jupiter hurried back to the salvage yard, but there was no one inside the hidden
trailer. Scared now, he sat and stared at the telephone. What if Bob and Pete were
prisoners? There might not be time for an APB to find them. He couldn't just sit
there waiting. If he went back to Mr Harris's house, he might still find some clue he
had missed earlier.

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He picked up the telephone to call the Rent-'n-Ride Auto Rental Company. If he
found a sign from Bob and Pete, he might want to be able to move quickly.

Chapter 15
A Villain Unmasked

FIFTEEN MINUTES later Jupiter slipped out through Green Gate One and ran to
the waiting Rolls-Royce.

"The Vegetarian League, Worthington, and fast," the First Investigator said
urgently, and gave the address.

"Instantly Master Jones."

The magnificent gold-plated vehicle glided smoothly along the streets and turned
into Las Palmas Street towards the Gothic headquarters of the Vegetarian League.
Jupiter scanned the street anxiously for any signs of his chums.

When the Rolls-Royce was a block away, Mr Harris's car came tearing down the
street towards them and passed in a cloud of dust. Jupiter started to shout to him,
but Mr Harris did not even glance at the Rolls-Royce. The vegetarian was bent
grimly over his steering wheel, his face dark and brooding.

"Was that a gentleman you know, Master Jones?" Worthington asked. "Shall I
attempt to catch him?"

"He said he was going to wait for news about Bob and Pete," Jupiter said, looking
back at the vanishing car. "But maybe something happened to change his plans.
Just drive on to the house, Worthington."

Worthington continued on, and the big car slid silently to a stop at the front door.
Jupiter was out like a shot, with Worthington striding up the path behind him. The
front door was open. Jupiter raced inside and stood listening.

"Do you hear anything, Worthington?"

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"No, Master Jones. What are we looking for?"

"Bob and Pete," the First Investigator replied. "Some sign from them, probably in
chalk, or some clue that shows they were in here."

"You feel that they may be in some difficulty?"

"I don't know," Jupiter admitted. "The Chief thinks they're off somewhere on their
own, and maybe he's right, but I'm sure they would have left some sign in that
case."

"I agree," Worthington said quietly.

"Chief Reynolds and his men searched the upper floors, but they might not have
noticed a chalked sign. You go and look upstairs, Worthington, and I'll look out in
the street again."

"Very good, Master Jones."

Jupiter covered the whole street, examining walls and fences for chalk marks. He
also looked on the ground for any marks or messages scratched in the dirt, and he
inspected the trees. He found nothing at all beyond that small conical pile of stones
he was sure had been made by Pete.

Inside the house again, he met Worthington coming down from the upper floors.
The tall chauffeur shook his head :

"Nothing that I could interpret as a sign, Master Jones."

Jupiter frowned. "Maybe the Chief and Mr Harris are right. I guess I'd better go
back to the salvage yard and wait for them ... I wonder where Mr Harris was
driving so fast?"

"Perhaps Chief Reynolds called him," Worthington suggested. "But may I point
out, we have not examined the ground floor."

"I did that first time," Jupiter said glumly.

"Possibly you overlooked some small thing. A second look will not be amiss."

They went into Mr Harris's office. Jupiter saw no marks on the walls, and
Worthington discovered nothing on the floor or in the cupboard. Jupiter looked into
Mr Harris's desk and wastepaper basket. He had turned away from the desk when
he stopped abruptly and went back to the basket.

"Worthington!" he cried. "Look at this!"

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The chauffeur hurried over, and took the piece of wax paper from his hand.

"It's simply a sandwich wrapper, Master Jones. I fail to see the significance."

"Look at those stains on it! That brownish stain, and the red stain! See?" Jupiter
pointed.

Worthington nodded. "Yes, I see them. Mustard and some blood, I should say. Not
uncommon on a sandwich wrapper." The fastidious chauffeur gingerly touched the
brown stain, and sniffed at it. "Mustard, definitely. Rather hot, too."

"But Worthington, Mr Harris is the president of the Vegetarian League!" Jupiter


cried. "Don't you see? If he was eating a sandwich with meat and mustard in it, he
must be a fraud!"

"By George, Master Jupiter. Are you certain this was Mr Harris's sandwich?"

"He said so himself," Jupiter answered. "And if he's a fake vegetarian, I'll bet the
whole League is a fake. Mr Harris started the group in Rocky Beach and he claimed
he had a big organization somewhere else. But I'll bet he doesn't have any
organization at all!"

"A serious charge, Master Jones," Worthington said severely. "What purpose could
he have?"

"Don't you see?" said Jupiter. "He knew that Miss Sandow was a vegetarian. Ted
told him so in England. I'll bet he managed to meet Ted on purpose. He probably
knew about the Chumash Hoard and wanted to find it. He used Ted and his fake
Vegetarian League to get close to Miss Sandow. It was a good way to gain entry to
the Sandow Estate."

"You mean he knew about the Hoard before he ever came here, or met young
Ted?"

"I wouldn't be at all surprised. He probably tried to make us suspicious of Ted on


purpose." Jupiter groaned. "And to think I told him all about what we had guessed.
I actually warned him."

"You had no way of knowing, Master Jones," Worthington said. "It seems he fooled
everyone."

"He sure has. Why, he may even be the laughing shadow. Maybe he's holding those
four headless prisoners himself." Suddenly Jupiter's eyes widened in dismay.
"'Worthington, We have to get to Chief Reynolds at once.'

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"Of course, Master Jones. You've thought of a plan to foil his scheme?"

"No," Jupiter said, "but I've just realized that Mr Harris played a trick on us. He
was very late getting here from the estate, and he said it was because he thought he
saw Ted near the salvage yard, but that was a lie! He must have been here long
before us - and he must have seized Bob and Pete!"

Chapter 16
The Dark Men Appear

MR HARRIS sat on the rustic table in the centre of the unpainted room, looking
thoughtfully at Bob and Pete. "This truly hurts me, boys, you see," he said.

Bob and Pete did not answer. They were seated against a wooden wall, their hands
and feet tied securely. They had little idea where they were, only that they had been
brought to some small cabin in the mountains after their capture in the Vegetarian
League house by Harris.

They realized now that Mr Harris must be connected with the laughing shadow. But
there was nothing they could do, and no one they could tell. Mr Harris and his two
assistants had pounced on them, in the corridor of the house, hustled them out to a
truck, and tied them. Then the two assistants had driven them off with their
bicycles. Mr Harris himself had apparently remained at the League house for a
while, because this was his first appearance at the cabin.

He smiled sadly at them. "Unfortunately, you boys do have a way of appearing


where you're not wanted, eh? Snooping round my house, for instance. I'm sure you
found nothing, but it pays to be safe, you know? Fortunately I had time to remove
all traces of your presence before the police arrived.

"I'm afraid I shall have to keep you as my guests for a time. Until, shall we say, I am
far from this location. Luckily, my work here is almost finished now."

Bob burst out for the first time, "You're a thief!"

"You're trying to steal the Chumash Hoard," Pete cried hotly.

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Mr Harris laughed aloud. "Yes, you are clever boys. The Chumash Hoard is
precisely what I'm after, and I shall steal it tonight."

Grinning at the bound boys, Mr Harris turned and walked from the cabin. In the
silence, Bob and Pete looked at each other helplessly. They could see the sun low
through one of the dirty windows of the cabin. Night would soon be upon them, and
they could do nothing to stop Mr Harris.

"We must be somewhere on the Sandow Estate," Pete said with his unerring sense
of direction. "I recognized some mountains when the truck stopped."

"If we could only have left a sign," Bob added, "but there wasn't any chance the
way they hustled us into that truck."

"Jupiter will find us. But if we could get loose first maybe we could send out some
signal." Pete began to strain the bonds that tied his hands behind him.

There was a laugh of amusement. Mr Harris had come back to the cabin again.

"Stout lads, eh? I truly admire your determination."

"You won't get away with this!" Pete said hotly.

Mr Harris grinned. "By now, boys, the police and your friend Jupiter are looking
high and low for those dark men who they fear have captured you. A most happy set
of circumstances for me."

"Don't think you've fooled Jupiter!" Bob declared. "You'll go to prison."

"I think not," Mr Harris said confidently. "I have planned too carefully to be
stopped now by boys and small-town policemen. Still, you have caused me certain
problems, and I would feel safer if I could persuade you to join my effort."

"We wouldn't join a man like you!" Pete declared stoutly.

"Bold words, but quite stupid. You should have made a deal, and then turned on me
when you were free. It's lucky for me that most people are so stupid. Otherwise the
Chumash Hoard would have been found long ago."

"I don't think you've really found it," Bob said.

"Wrong, my boy. I have solved Magnus Verde's little riddle, and in a few hours I
shall have the Hoard," Mr Harris declared, and his eyes narrowed as he looked at
the boys. "At that time, I may return to deal with you two."

He turned and strode to the door. As he touched the knob, he looked over his

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shoulder. "By the way, it will do you no good to free yourselves. This cabin is at the
edge of a sheer hundred-foot drop. It can be reached only by way of a narrow cut,
and I have a man on guard there. He has a clear view of the only door. There is no
way off this little plateau."

With a sarcastic laugh, Mr Harris left the cabin. This time the boys heard the lock
turn. They were alone - locked in. Pete instantly began to struggle with his bonds
again.

"Bob," Pete said, "maybe we could help each other. Can you roll over so that we're
sitting back-to-back?"

The two investigators struggled across the rough floor until they were finally seated
back-to-back. Pete began to struggle with the ropes on Bob's wrists. Sweat poured
down his face, and he gritted his teeth. He worked for what seemed like hours, then
slumped down exhausted.

"I just can't get enough grip," he said miserably.

"It's the way our hands are tied," Bob said.

Pete searched for a way. "If Mr Harris hadn't taken my knife, I could have held it
in my teeth, and - "

"Teeth!" Bob exclaimed. "Maybe we can loosen the knots with our teeth."

"It's worth a try. I'll lie on my side."

Pete lay flat with his back to Bob. The smaller of the investigators inched up to
Pete's wrists. His teeth took a strong grip on the first knot. Pete pulled against him,
and Bob began to chew at the knot. Three times they had to stop and rest. Then Bob
tried again.

"I can feel it opening!" Pete cried low. "Try with your hands now."

Back-to-back again, Bob's hands worked on Pete's ropes. Suddenly, the first knot
came loose. The second knot was easier, and moments later Pete's hands were free.
He quickly freed his legs, and then released Bob.

They immediately took stock of their situation. Pete went to the front windows,
while Bob investigated the single rear window.

"The front windows are nailed shut," Pete reported, "and I can see the guard. We
couldn't get out without being seen, even in the dark. He's got a big lantern."

Already the sun was down behind the highest peaks, and the land was turning a

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twilight purple. Darkness came early and fast in the mountains in winter.

"There's nothing back here except a few feet of ledge and then the cliff." Bob
sounded discouraged. "I guess it's hopeless to try to get out."

The two investigators returned to the table in the middle of the room.

"At least I know where we are," Pete said. "I can see the pass to the west. We're
about five miles from the big house, right in the high mountains."

"Maybe if we sent out a signal it would be seen at the house," Bob suggested. "If
Jupiter is looking for us, he'd be sure to go to the house."

"Some kind of light," Pete decided.

They began to search the cabin. There did not seem to be much hope - the mountain
cabin contained few furnishings, and Harris was a smart man. But, like many
overconfident crooks, Harris had overlooked the obvious. Bob cried out in triumph
as he unpiled debris from the lid of an old woodbin and opened the lid.

"Here's an oil lamp!" He pulled out the dusty old lamp. "It's got some kerosene in
it! We can flash out a Morse code signal by covering and uncovering it. An SOS!"

"If we can light it," Pete pointed out. "We don't have any matches."

Frantically, the boys searched the cabin again. Once more they were in luck. They
found an old book of matches tucked away in the table drawer. Bob grabbed one
and quickly lighted the lantern, while Pete got a flat piece of tin to cover the light
and flash the signal. The boys started for the rear window.

They stopped, their mouths wide open in astonishment!

A dark face was peering in at them through the window.

The window was pulled open, and the two dark men in the strange white clothes
climbed inside. They stood staring at the boys, their long knives gleaming in their
hands.

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Chapter 17
A Dead End

CHIEF REYNOLDS was at his desk when Jupiter and Worthington burst in.
Jupiter waved the tell-tale sandwich wrapper.

"Mr Harris is a fraud, sir!" Jupiter shouted. "He's trying to get the Hoard. We saw
him driving away fast from his headquarters. I think he's gone to the Sandow
Estate, and I'm sure he has Bob and Pete."

"Whoa, Jupiter. Let me see what you have." The Chief examined the stains on the
wrapper. "So he's not even a vegetarian. The League is a fraud, too. Well, that fits."

Jupiter gaped. "Fits what, Chief?"

"What I've found out," the Chief said, and his eyes twinkled. "You boys aren't the
only detectives in Rocky Beach. I have been talking to the authorities in Australia.
They know nothing about Ted Sandow, but they did know an Albert Harris. Your
hunch was right."

"What did you find out, sir?"

The Chief stood up. "I'll tell you as we go. There's no time to lose now. We haven't
found a trace of the missing dark men, but I have a feeling that when we find Mr
Harris we'll find them. I've called Mr Andrews, and we'll pick him up on our way.
Pete's dad is away, unfortunately."

"Where are we going, Chief?" Jupiter wanted to know.

"Why, the Sandow Estate. I'm certain that you're right about that, too. That's
where we'll find our villains."

"Perhaps we ought to take the Rolls-Royce, sir," Jupiter suggested. "Mr Harris
doesn't know we use it, and he might try to escape if he sees a police car."

"A good idea, Jupiter. have my men come along behind in the police car."

The chief ordered four men into the police car and instructed them to follow the
Rolls-Royce but not too closely. Then Worthington drove Jupiter and the Chief to
Bob's house. Mr Andrews hurried out and climbed in.

"What's happening, Chief?" he asked in a worried voice. "Have you located Bob
and Pete?"

"Not yet, Mr Andrews, but we will," Chief Reynolds said.

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"How did all this come about?" Mr Andrews wanted to know.

Chief Reynolds quickly summed up all that had happened to The Three
Investigators. "They've done good work, Mr Andrews. You should be proud of
them. Without them, Miss Sandow and Ted could be in grave trouble, and we
wouldn't have known until too late. The boys acted well and carefully. They had no
way of knowing about Harris. He fooled everyone."

"Just who is this Harris?" Mr Andrews asked uneasily.

"A thief and a fraud, as Jupiter and the boys have shown," the Chief replied as
Worthington drove up the winding road towards the pass in the fading twilight. "I
just talked with the police in Sydney, Australia. Harris is a wanted man down there.
He's a notorious confidence man, cat-burglar, extortionist, and much more. He's
often posed as the leader of some fake organization to fleece innocent people. He's
even wanted in Mexico, where he operated a fraudulent scheme to aid poor
Indians."

"Mexico, sir?" Jupiter said. "Was he there recently?"

"More than once, and the most recent visit was only a year or so ago. The
Australians think he was also in California for a while less than a year ago."

"That must have been when he learned of the Chumash Hoard and Miss Sandow,"
Jupiter decided.

"I suspect that he read about her brother's death in one of the local papers," Chief
Reynolds explained. "That was probably how he came to seek out Ted Sandow in
England."

They reached the top of the pass, with Worthington driving fast but with perfect
control, and raced on in the dark night to the iron gates. The big gold car had long
outdistanced the following police car. The gates were open. Worthington swung the
car through them with scarcely a slackening in the pace of the powerful machine.

The great car roared on until Worthington brought it to a gentle stop at the front
door of the big Spanish-style house. They piled out quickly, and Chief Reynolds
motioned everyone to silence. There were no lights on in the house, and no sign of
life.

"It looks like no one's here," Chief Reynolds said in disappointment

"They may have left some clue, though, as to where they went," Jupiter suggested.

"Let's take a look at least," Mr Andrews urged. "Bob and Pete may be locked up

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somewhere inside."

Chief Reynolds nodded, and signalled to his men in the police car, which had just
arrived and parked quietly some distance from the house. While the men spread out
around the house, the Chief led Jupiter, Mr Andrews and Worthington inside.

They searched all the downstairs rooms cautiously, but found nothing. Jupiter bit
his lip in chagrin. Were they too late? Had Mr Harris kidnapped everyone so he
could hold them as hostages until he got away with the Chumash Hoard? Then
Worthington spoke quietly:

"Gentlemen, I believe I hear something."

They all listened in the dark house.

Thump - thump - thump - thump!

"It's upstairs," Chief Reynolds said. "At the back!"

With the Chief leading the way, his pistol in hand, they mounted the stairs carefully
and went along the first floor corridor towards the source of the banging.

Thump - thump - thump!

"In there," Mr Andrews said, pointing to a door in the left wall.

The door was locked. Chief Reynolds motioned for them to stand back while he
hurled his bulk against the door. It cracked but did not break down. The Chief
battered it again, and it flew open. His pistol ready. The Chief led the way into the
room.

"There!" Mr Andrews cried.

Something that looked like an Egyptian mummy lay on the floor in a corner of the
dark room, thumping its legs against a wall. It was Ted Sandow trussed up and
gagged. They freed the English boy, and he cried:

"Aunt Sarah! Over there!"

The frail little woman was tied firmly to a chair with a gag in her mouth.
Worthington released her, and she stared with wide, shocked eyes at all of them.

"I ... I ... what happened?" Her eyes were dazed, confused. "I remember Mr Harris
bringing me my afternoon tea, and the next thing I knew I awakened here in this
chair! My goodness, I've never been so frightened. And poor Theodore! On the
floor!"

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The fluttering little lady hurried to Ted and clucked over him like a hen. Ted smiled
at her, then turned to Jupiter.

"After I left you in the library, Jupiter, I came back to find that both you and Mr
Harris had gone. He didn't return until late afternoon. He told me he had some
important evidence about the amulet to show me upstairs. Naturally, I came up with
him and suddenly he must have struck me on the head from behind. When I
regained consciousness I was tied up like a mummy. I've been here ever since."

"Of course!" Jupiter was beginning to understand the whole plot. "When Mr
Harris and I came back from the lodge, he must have told me that you had driven
off somewhere in order to make me suspicious. You hadn't gone out at all."

"It also gave Harris a chance to reach his office in time to abduct Bob and Pete,"
Chief Reynolds added. "Jupiter had told him that they would be there."

"Please," Jupiter groaned, "don't remind me. I told him everything, and he got us
all out of the way!"

"He must be going for the Hoard tonight," Ted said. "I feel completely responsible.
He wormed his way into my confidence to get here. All that about you boys being
thieves, and the reward, was his idea. He suggested reaching you by offering the
junk. He used me like a toy."

"Don't blame yourself, Theodore." Aunt Sarah tried to console him. "He took me
in, too. I even donated money to his League. He had such fine letters of introduction
from other vegetarians I know."

"Forged, I'm sure," Chief Reynolds said. "A tricky man."

"But we have to find him," Jupiter reminded them. "Ted, did he say anything to
you about those dark men or the headless midgets?"

"Gosh, Jupiter, not that I remember."

Jupiter frowned. "I'm convinced that those headless-looking prisoners are the key.
One of them must have stolen the amulet and thrown it over the wall with his
message. Which means that they must be Yaquali Indians. But why does Harris
have them?"

Mr Andrews burst out, "Why are we worrying about amulets and midgets? It's Bob
and Pete we have to think about now!"

"But we aren't likely to find them unless we find Harris," Chief Reynolds said.

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The adults all looked at each other helplessly. Jupiter chewed on his lip. Suddenly,
he turned to Miss Sandow:

"Ma'am, did your brother ever mention the Chumash Hoard?"

"No. Mark was so young when he had to flee, poor boy."

"What did he tell you about those two amulets?"

"Nothing, Jupiter. He gave them to me just before he left and said that they were
useless. He said he had killed his goose. I always wondered what he meant by that."

Jupiter blinked. "Why, he must have meant he had killed the goose that would have
laid his golden egg! The man he killed must have known the secret of the Hoard.
The amulets aren't clues at all. They just prove that there was a Hoard on the estate.
That man knew where it was!"

"So Mark Sandow didn't know the secret," Chief Reynolds said. "Yet Harris must,
but how?"

"He must have solved Magnus Verde's riddle," Jupiter declared. "Maybe those
dark men told him. And now we have to solve it to find him."

"In the eye of the sky where no one can find it," Chief Reynolds recited. "What
could it mean? Where do we look?"

No one answered. They all stared at each other. "If we could only find those dark
men."

Jupiter groaned, and the big house seemed to mock him with its silence.

Chapter 18
Down the Cliff

THE TWO DARK-COMPLEXIONED MEN stood menacingly in the mountain


cabin, their long knives in their hands. As Bob and Pete backed slowly towards the
wall, Pete clutched the lantern, ready to hurl it in self-defence if necessary.

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One of the men shook his head at Pete, speaking in a harsh guttural voice:

"No! You no understand. We friends. Come to help." Bob stared. "You speak
English?"

"Si, a little. I Natches. This my brother Nanika."

"If you want to help, why did you steal the statuette?" Pete demanded hotly.

"We see you find little gold man on road. We think it holds words from our little
brother Vittorio. We follow you, take gold man, but no words in him."

"We kept the message," Pete blurted out.

"So?" Natches said. "What words tell?"

Pete told them the message, and Natches began to nod in excitement. The two dark
men put their knives away.

"Is what we fear," Natches said. "Our little brother is in danger. This Harris liar,
bad man!"

"You are Yaquali Indians from Mexico, aren't you?" Bob asked. "And Harris has
your brother prisoner."

"Si, yes," Natches said. "We come to find brother. We are afraid. We no like city.
But we must find Vittorio and other boys."

"Why didn't you try to talk to us in English when you chased us?" Bob wanted to
know.

"When excited, cannot remember the English," Natches explained sadly.

"Why does Harris have your brother? What is he doing?"

In halting English, Natches told his story.

A month ago Harris had come to the Yaquali village deep in the Sierra Madre
Mountains of Mexico and offered to take four of their boys to America to perform
climbing feats at a public amusement park. It seemed to be a good opportunity for
the boys. Vittorio was one of them.

"We are poor," Natches said. "Our young boys must learn new ways. Mr Harris tell
us they will make much money, will see America."

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Harris took the boys, and the village was happy. The boys would see a new world,
and there would be money. Then, a week ago, a letter reached the village. It came
from Rocky Beach and revealed that Vittorio needed help. Somehow, the boy had
managed to get it posted.

"We leave, get old car, come here," Natches went on. "We find Mr Harris at fine
hacienda in mountain. We think we hear Vittorio cry for help. We watch, see you
find gold man. Next day we follow your big car - first to big studio, then to house
where we get little man from you. When gold man not have letter from Vittorio
inside, we look again for Mr Harris. We find him in big house. Try to make him tell
where are boys. He fights with us and calls the police to put us in jail. We scared,
run away."

"You mean Mr Harris started the fight to get you arrested?" Bob began to
understand.

"Si," Natches agreed. "So we watch more and next day see you boys come out of big
house. We chase, but you fool us. We watch again, see Harris put two boys in truck.
We follow to here, wait, climb cliff to talk with you. You tell us where Mr Harris go
now."

"We don't know," Pete said.

"What is he doing with your boys? Do you have idea?" Bob asked.

"Some bad thing," Natches said grimly. "We think he use boys for evil, then maybe
kill them. They know what he do."

Pete exclaimed. "He must be using them to get the Hoard! They're expert climbers.
And when he gets it, he sure won't want them around to tell about it."

"We've got to get out and call Chief Reynolds," Bob said.

"You wish to go out?" Natches said. "We go then."

"How? There's a guard out there, and we couldn't get near him," Pete explained.

"We go down cliff," Natches said simply.

Nanika nodded eagerly, gesturing at the rear window and pointing down - down the
sheer cliff to the jagged rocks far below.

"Down the cliff?" Pete drew back from the window.

"There is no danger with us, muchacho."

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Bob looked at Pete, then back at Natches. "We'll try it," he said. "It's the only
chance we have."

"Let's send out some signals first," Pete said, resigned to this new danger.

He and Bob carried the lantern to the window, and with the help of the flat sheet of
tin, sent out a series of SOS signals in Morse code. Then all four of them climbed
through the window, and Natches and Nanika threw thin rawhide ropes down the
face of the cliff. They wedged two thick wooden stakes into the rocks at the top and
motioned to the boys.

"We have straps on chest and shoulders," Natches instructed. "You will grasp
shoulder straps very tight, and climb on backs. That way we carry you down."

Pete clung to Natches, and Bob to Nanika. Then, without another word, the two
Yaquali dropped over the edge of the cliff. Pete's head seemed to spin as he felt
himself falling into space, and Bob clutched tightly to the straps in Nanika's back.

The two Yaquali bounced down the sheer cliff with the speed and agility of flies on a
wall. They slid down the ropes, bouncing from rock wall to crevice as they
descended swiftly and without pause. At times they swung far out into open space
while Bob and Pete clung desperately to their backs. Then the two Indians would
swing back to the cliff face at exactly the right spot to continue their unhindered
descent. They went down the cliff face in the darkness as easily as other men walk a
city street.

The boys hung tight, their eyes closed. It seemed as if the trip down would never
end. At last they realized that the Indians were on flat ground again. Cautiously
they lowered their legs and opened their eyes.

"We made it!" Bob cried in relief.

Natches grinned. "Is not so bad. That easy."

"Don't tell me about the hard ones then," Pete declared weakly. "But we'd better
hurry. Where's your car, Natches?"

"Road to left. We go for police? They will help?"

"They sure will when we tell them what we know Bob declared.

They all hurried along a trail towards the place where Natches and Nanika had
parked their old car.

Just as they reached the road, the bright lights of a truck flashed on, blinding them.

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Mr Harris stepped out of the shadows, holding a rifle "You two boys are beginning
to become tiresome. But at least you have brought me my Yaquali friends. I was just
a little worried about them running loose."

"How ... " Bob stammered, "how did you ... "

"Find you? Simple, I saw your signals and came to investigate."

"Oh, no!" Pete groaned.

Mr Harris laughed, turning to speak to his burly assistant, Sanders, who stood
behind him with another rifle. In that instant, Nanika muttered something and
leaped at Mr Harris. The fake vegetarian stepped adroitly aside, striking Nanika on
the head. The Indian fell to the ground and lay there, motionless.

"Mr Harris!" Sanders cried. "The other one!"

Harris whirled, but Natches had vanished into the night. He was nowhere to be
seen. Mr Harris glared furiously at the boys. His confident manner vanished for a
moment. Then the thief and confidence man laughed coldly.

"No matter, let him go. We'll soon be far away and, one missing Indian won't
bother us."

Sanders looked uneasy. "You sure, boss?"

"Of course I'm sure, you idiot! Go and get Carson from his post in front of the
cabin. We'll have to take these meddling fools with us. I'm tired of them bothering
me. We'll put an end to that!"

Sanders went off into the night. Nanika still lay silent on the ground, and Mr Harris
continued to glare at Bob and Pete. In sudden fear, they realized that this time they
could not get away.

Chapter 19
Into the Mountains

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IN FRONT of the big Spanish estate house, Chief Reynolds returned from the police
car. "No report on those dark men or their car. I'm sorry, Mr Andrews. But we'll
think of some way to find them."

"How?" Bob's dad said nervously. "We don't have any idea where they are. We've
found no trace of them!"

They were all out in front of the house where the moonlight turned all the shadows
into silver ghosts. Jupiter paced up and down, his round face looking like a
miniature owl deep in thought.

"Chief, we do have some idea where they are, I think," he said slowly. "First, the
Hoard must be in the mountains on the estate somewhere. Second, Mr Harris has a
car and a truck. Third, it's almost certain he plans to get the Hoard tonight. His
various ruses to get us out of the way were not designed to hold us for long, just to
delay us."

"But how does all that help us, Jupiter?" Ted said, puzzled.

"It means that he is planning to use a road, and the road is almost certainly on the
estate. It probably goes into the mountains, and isn't very far from here," Jupiter
explained eagerly. "We can rule out the road to the house, and the road to the lodge.
So what other roads are there? ... Miss Sandow can tell us."

"By golly, Jupiter, I think you're right," said Reynolds.

The Chief turned to Aunt Sarah, while Mr Andrews, Ted and Worthington all
stared out into the night towards the eastern mountains.

"What other roads are there, Miss Sandow?" Reynolds asked.

"Well," the fragile, little lady said, blinking her eyes as she thought, "I haven't been
around the estate much in recent years, but - "

Ted suddenly interrupted, "Look! Over there! A light see? It's flashing."

They all looked towards the mountains. No one breathed. They waited. Then the
faint point of light flashed again - low in the sky, just above the nearest trees

"It's an SOS!" Jupiter cried. "I bet it's Bob and Pete. They're probably being held
prisoner up there."

"About five miles away, I'd say," Chief Reynolds said "And just about where the
foothills of the high mountains begin."

"Due east, also, Chief," Worthington pointed out.

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The pinpoint of light flashed once more.

"What is out there, Miss Sandow?" Jupiter asked excitedly.

"Why, I'm not sure," Aunt Sarah said. "It's been so long. Wait now, yes, my father
had an old cabin on the east range. My goodness, I'd forgotten all about that. No one
goes out there any more."

"How do we reach it, ma'am?" asked Mr Andrews.

"Well, there is a road - rather narrow. It goes on into the high mountains. The road
runs just below the cabin. You see, it's built on a mesa on top of a cliff. It's quite
hard to reach."

"Just where Mr Harris would hold prisoners," Jupiter observed.

They all stared in the direction of the light, but it did not flash again. Though they
waited expectantly, there were no more signals.

"Something must have happened." Mr Andrews looked worried.

"Let's head for that cabin," Chief Reynolds said "There's no time to lose."

The Rolls-Royce led the way with Jupiter, Chief Reynolds, Ted and Mr Andrews in
the back seat. The police car came behind, carrying the Chief's men, except for one
who was left behind to guard Miss Sandow. They raced along the highway until they
reached the dirt side road described by Miss Sandow.

As they entered the mountain road, they turned off their lights. In the dark they had
to proceed more slowly, though the moonlight outlined everything in its ghostly
glow. Soon they were at the very bottom of the towering mountains. Both cars drew
to a stop and everyone got out.

Jupiter pointed upwards to where a small cabin was clearly visible, bathed in
moonlight and nestled on a kind of mesa.

"There it is!"

"There's no light now," Mr Andrews whispered. "We'll work our way up carefully.
It could be a trap," Chief Reynolds said.

"Hurry, Chief. Bob and Pete may be in immediate danger," Mr Andrews said
urgently.

"They may be in worse danger if we're spotted too soon," the Chief pointed out.

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"Stay back, Jupiter. Harris Is a dangerous man."

Jupiter nodded reluctantly, and stayed behind as the Chief and his men started up
the steep, narrow path that led up to the mesa. A sudden commotion to the right
made them all stop. Worthington and Mr Andrews, who had been standing near the
Rolls-Royce, were struggling with a short, powerful man.

"The dark men!" Jupiter cried.

"Bring him here, men!" Chief Reynolds commanded his policemen.

Two of the policemen joined Worthington and Mr Andrews and dragged the
struggling Natches to where the Chief and Jupiter were waiting. When the Yaquali
saw Jupiter, he stopped struggling, and an eager smile spread across his dark face.

"You Jupiter, no? I Natches. Friend. Yaquali friend. I escape."

"We'll decide if you're a friend," Chief Reynolds said ominously. "You attacked
these boys?"

"Si. Mistake. I think they amigos of bad man Harris. I am wrong, tell other boys.
They believe."

"You've seen Bob and Pete?" Mr Andrews cried. "Where are they? Tell us!"

Natches looked around in despair. "Evil one - Harris - take them. My brother
Nanika, too. Already have little brother Vittorio prisoner. I escape."

Chief Reynolds sighed. "You'd better start at the beginning and explain just what
this is all about."

"Just a minute, Chief," Jupiter interrupted. "I bet they speak Spanish ... Do you?"
he asked, turning toward Natches.

The Indian nodded eagerly.

"Then tell us in Spanish," Jupiter said. "Both Chief Reynolds and I can understand
it."

Natches started to tell his story again. But this time he could tell it much faster.
They all listened closely, expressing considerable indignation over the treacherous
Harris.

"You say he has four of your boys?" Jupiter asked. "Of course! I've been very
dumb. He's using Yaquali boys. It's the answer to Magnus Verde's riddle. And all
the time we've been saying that his words were, 'It's in the eye of the sky where no

170
one can find it'"

"Well, wasn't that his message?" Chief Reynolds asked.

"No, sir, it wasn't. His words were, 'It's in the eye of the sky where no man can find
it.' No man, you see. He meant that no man could find it, but a boy could!"

"A boy?" Chief Reynolds exclaimed.

"Exactly, sir. Indians are small, and in those days they were smaller. Magnus
Verde's band hid their Hoard where only a boy could get to it. Some cave with a
very narrow opening."

"You mean that Harris figured out the true meaning and went to the Yaquali village
to get four boys who would be small enough to make the climb and get into the
cave?"

"That's right," Jupiter said. "He knew they were expert climbers."

"That means it's up high somewhere," the Chief analysed, shaking his head. "But I
don't know why that narrow opening would stop him. He could drill the entrance
larger, or dynamite it."

"No, I don't think so," Jupiter said. "In the first place that might collapse the cave
and bury the gold forever. In the second place Harris is trying to steal the Hoard.
He couldn't risk drilling or blasting right out in the open."

Mr Andrews interrupted. "Can't we figure it out later? Right now the important
thing is to rescue the boys. Do you know where Harris took them, Natches?"

Natches pointed along the road towards the higher mountains. "That way. On the
road in truck."

"That's deep into the mountains," Chief Reynolds said. "We could look for days. If
we wait till morning we can get helicopters."

"Morning could be too late!" Mr Andrews cried.

"We can't just blunder around, Mr Andrews. That could endanger the boys' lives
more."

Jupiter had been silent during the discussion. Suddenly he turned to Natches. "Mr
Natches, can you track them?"

"Track?" Natches said. "Si, of course. I track easy." Chief Reynolds cried, "Come
on, then! I only hope we're in time."

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Natches began to trot along the road in the moonlight. The others followed in
silence.

Mr Harris stood beside Bob and Pete in a desolate canyon deep in the moonlit
mountains. Both boys had been securely tied with heavy ropes.

"Fools! I should have dealt with you at once. Well, won't be long now."

Sanders appeared quietly from the shadows.

"The Yaqualis are ready, boss."

"Good," Harris said. "That fat friend of these fools is undoubtedly raising a hue
and cry right now. It isn't wise to underestimate him. He's a clever boy. We must
work fast. Follow me, Sanders."

Bob and Pete watched the two villains fade into the silver shadows of the box-like
canyon. To their left, Nanika groaned weakly where he lay trussed hand and foot.

"What do we do now?" Pete asked.

"I hope Harris is right, and Jupe is looking for us."

"Maybe he saw our signal."

"We didn't have much time to send it," Bob said without too much hope. "And even
if he saw it he'd go to the cabin. How will they ever find us in the dark?"

"I don't know, but they'd better," Pete said. "I've got a hunch we won't be around
by daylight!"

Before Bob could answer, Harris and Sanders reappeared. The fake vegetarian
seemed pleased with himself. He nodded to Sanders, who bent down and untied
Bob.

"Up with you," Harris snapped at Bob. "Sanders, you're sure you know what to
do?"

"I know, boss."

"Good. This should take no more than a few hours with the four boys working. Be
alert, Sanders. We've almost got the Hoard."

Harris pushed Bob before him, and together they vanished into the night up the
canyon. Pete stared after them with an uneasy feeling. Why had Harris taken Bob

172
with him?

Pete had a vague idea where they were. Although the deep box canyon had no name,
it was at the base of the towering bulk of Indian Head Mountain, deep in the
mountains at the edge of the Sandow Estate. The road and the truck were more than
a mile away. How would anyone ever find them?

"Sanders?" Pete said. "Harris will leave you - "

"You be quiet," Sanders growled. "The boss knows what he's doing."

Pete lapsed into a defeated silence. The injured Nanika moved and struggled up to a
sitting position. The broad, powerful Yaquali looked around wildly. Pete tried to
smile reassuringly at Nanika, but he could say nothing. The Indian spoke no
English. If Pete was to do anything, he would have to do it alone.

But what could he do? Sanders sat only a few feet away, holding a rifle and
watching the two prisoners intently. Pete stared all around, looking desperately for
some clue that would suggest a possible course of action.

Suddenly he blinked. He must be seeing things!

Shadowy. figures seemed to be rising up all around the small canyon. He shouted:

"Here I am! Help! We're here!"

The figures all began to run towards him. Sanders jumped up, looked frantically at
the men rushing towards him, and then dropped his rifle and ran into the darkness.

"Get that man!" Chief Reynolds cried.

Moments later Jupiter, Mr Andrews and Worthington were crowding round Pete,
trying to untie the ropes. Natches ran to Nanika and quickly untied his brother.
Two of Chief Reynolds's men came back with Sanders, who was still struggling to
get away.

"Where's Mr Harris?" Jupiter asked Pete.

"He went up the canyon towards Indian Head Mountain," Pete said, "and he's got
Bob with him!"

Mr Andrews looked despairing. "He still has Bob?"

Chief Reynolds glared at the surly-looking Sanders. "Where is Harris, you? What's
he done with Bob and those Indian boys?"

173
"Why don't you just find out, cop," Sanders sneered.

"There's another man, too," Pete said. "A fellow named Carson."

"Well, they won't get away," the Chief said. "They're trapped. This is a box canyon!
It's all over."

Sanders looked scornful. "Don't think you got the boss beat yet, cop."

"He can't be far away," said Pete. "He's up the canyon, and it doesn't go in too far,
Chief."

"He can't get out any other way but through us," Jupiter pointed out.

"Right," Chief Reynolds agreed. "Okay, men, spread out and move up the canyon."

The group spread out, their guns ready, and advanced alertly up the canyon
towards Indian Head Mountain. The mountain towered pale and silvery in the
moonlight.

As the canyon gradually narrowed in the shadowy light, they continued to move
ahead. Aware that the Hoard was probably somewhere high up, they kept glancing
up towards the mountaintop as they advanced. Jupiter, in the rear with Pete and
Worthington, suddenly exclaimed as he stared up at the bulk of the mountain
against the moonlight.

"Pete! The mountain! See, it - "

He got no further. From the silver shadows of the canyon the wild, insane laugh
burst out, bouncing and echoing from the walls of the canyon.

"The laughing shadow!" Pete cried.

"Over there!" Chief Reynolds yelled. "Shine your lights!"

The police aimed their flashlights into the shadows. Mr Harris stood there, smiling.

"Well, you arrived a little too early," he said. "Unfortunate. Now I shall have to
settle for less than I wanted, eh?"

From nearby the crazy laugh rang out again, drowning out the rest of Harris's
words.

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Chapter 20
The Chumash Hoard!

"DON'T MOVE, HARRIS! " Chief Reynolds ordered. "Take him, men, and search
him. Where's the other man?"

A policeman called from the dark, "We've got him, sir!"

Harris stood smiling while he was searched. A policeman took a small sack from
him, and handed it to the Chief. The assistant, Carson, was hustled to stand beside
Harris. Chief Reynolds opened the bag, and faced the smiling criminal.

"There's gold in the bag, Harris, which means you've found the Hoard. You'd
better tell us where it is. We know all about you."

"All about me?" Harris smiled. "I doubt that. Those dirty Indians may have told
you some story, but you can't believe - "

"I've also talked to Australia," the Chief interrupted

Harris paled. "Australia? But how did you find out?"

"Jupiter, tell him ... " the Chief began, but before he could finish his sentence, a
huge bird swooped down out of the dark, flew straight to Mr Harris and perched on
his head. It was a large, shaggy bird about the size of a crow with a very big, long,
black-and-yellow beak, a ragged brownish crest, a white chest and belly, and a
ragged tail. Its body was thick, and its head seemed too big for its size.

"What is that?" Pete asked, staring at the odd bird.

Before anyone could answer, it opened its enormous beak and let out a wild, crazy
laugh that seemed to fill the whole canyon.

"The laugh!" Pete yelled. "It was a bird!"

"A kookaburra bird, to be exact," Jupiter announced, looking remarkably


unsurprised. "Known in Australia as a Laughing Jackass. It's the thing I couldn't
remember - an Australian animal with an almost human laugh."

Jupiter took a flashlight and aimed it at Mr Harris. With the bird perched on his

175
head, Harris cast a tall, humpbacked shadow with a birdlike head and beak that
jerked and moved about.

"That's our laughing shadow," Jupiter said. "Mr Harris with his pet kookaburra
on his head - and the kookaburra is found only in Australia."

Mr Harris nodded, and shrugged. "So, it was you who tripped me up, Jupiter? I
was afraid something like this might happen, and I tried to get rid of the bird.
Unfortunately, it stayed on the estate and kept crying out at awkward moments."

"Jupiter also spotted your meat sandwich, Harris," Chief Reynolds said. "You were
careless."

"Ah, that too, eh? I should have dealt more firmly with our stout friend. However,
as they say, all is not lost. I presume that you would like young Bob and the Indian
boys back safely?"

Mr Andrews cried, "What have you done with Bob?"

"Don't try anything, Harris," Chief Reynolds snapped. "You're in trouble enough."

"Too much trouble, Chief. However, I have my way out. It pays to be prepared,"
Harris said with a wicked smile. "Now, in that sack you took there is some gold. Not
nearly as much as I had hoped to have, but a fair amount. I am willing to trade for
it. I will take that gold, no more, and my freedom. You may keep Sanders and
Carson to make it look good."

"Why, you!" Sanders muttered, and lunged at his boss, but the police held him
back.

"Tut, tut, Sanders, we must all look out for ourselves, eh? I can't be greedy. I'll
trade myself and this gold for the boys and the rest of the treasure."

"No deals, Harris," Chief Reynolds declared. "We'll find the boys. You can't hurt
them now that we have you and your men."

"On the contrary, Chief," Harris said smoothly. "You see, I prepared for this
emergency. The boys are still beyond your reach unless I tell you where they are."

Chief Reynolds said, "Harris, I warn you that - "

"No!" Harris snapped, his voice harsh now. "I warn you! Unless you give me the
gold, and my freedom, you will never find those boys alive! They cannot escape, and
they cannot call for help. They have no food or water. If you let me go with that
gold, I will telephone when I am clear and tell you where they are. Otherwise, they
will die."

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"You wouldn't dare! Why, that would be murder!"

Harris smiled. "Perhaps I wouldn't dare, but you can't be sure, can you? You have
no choice!"

Harris's own laugh was low in the night. But his pet kookaburra echoed wildly from
his perch on the criminal's head, and the high laughter filled the dark canyon. Mr
Andrews looked pleadingly at Chief Reynolds. Everyone else stared at the grinning
Harris. Then Jupiter spoke up.

"No," he said quietly, "I think we do have a choice. Chief, I am sure I know where
the boys are."

Harris turned his cold eyes towards Jupiter. Chief Reynolds looked doubtful.

"Where, Jupiter?" Mr Andrews cried.

"Up there," Jupiter announced, and pointed to the black mountain towering above
them. "Magnus Verde's words were, 'It is in the eye of the sky where no man can
find it.' We know he was being tricky about saying no man, but I think he was
telling the exact truth about the eye of the sky. He didn't mean the sun or the moon
or anything like an eye. He meant a real eye. There, up on the mountain. Indian
Head Mountain!"

Everyone looked upwards. Etched against the silvery moonlit sky was a face. A
giant rock face with a nose, mouth, and two eyes.

"The left eye is deep in shadows," Jupiter went on. "I think there's a ledge up there,
and a cave. And that's where the Chumash Hoard is hidden. Harris must have been
up there, too, and when he saw our lights down here he pushed the boys inside and
sealed up the opening so they're trapped."

Harris muttered, "You think I can climb up there?"

Jupiter nodded. "With the help of the Yaquali boys, yes. The Australian police told
us you had been a cat-burglar."

"Suppose they are there, what can you do?"

"Natches and Nanika can get up there," Jupiter said. Natches nodded eagerly. "Si!
We climb easy. Mucho easy."

"Are you going to listen to a kid?" Harris demanded of the adults. "I warn you, if
you listen to him, and he's wrong, the whole deal is off ! We deal now, or never."

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The adults stood uneasily. Harris muttered an oath. everyone looked at Mr Andrews
and the two Yaquali. Mr Andrews spoke first :

"I'll trust Jupiter's hunch," he said. The two Indians nodded.

"All right," Chief Reynolds said, "Natches and Nanika can go up and look. But
what if Harris has the boys tied up? If the cave opening is so small, Natches and
Nanika may not be able to get inside."

"I don't see how Harris could have got inside to tie them," Jupiter replied. "Unless
he had one boy tie all the others, and then tied him up and pushed him inside before
sealing the cave. But I don't believe he had time to do that. However, perhaps I'd
better go up, too, just in case I might be able to get inside."

"You, Jupiter?" Chief Reynolds said, looking at the First Investigator's sturdy
frame.

"Perdone," Natches said, "I do not think Jupiter can make the climb. He is, yes, too
big?"

Jupiter flushed at this reference to his size, but he reluctantly agreed. "I guess Pete
will have to go."

"Si," Natches agreed. "Strong boy. Tall, not so heavy. He may get inside."

Pete gulped, "Yeh, I guess it's me."

Chief Reynolds herded Harris and his two glowering henchmen into a space
between boulders, where they sat sullen and silent while Pete and the two Yaquali
prepared for the climb. When they had their equipment ready, the Yaquali roped
Pete between them and started up with Nanika in the lead.

From the floor of the dark canyon, the watchers saw them swarm up the cliff face
like insects. They mounted rapidly and surely. It was obvious that without Pete the
two Yaquali could have climbed the mountain as fast as they walked a street. But
they guided the strong boy carefully.

On they went, upwards, and at last they reached the ledge in the eye of the stone
face. For a moment they paused at the shadowed ledge, and then they vanished over
the edge.

"They made it!" Chief Reynolds cried below.

"With Natches and Nanika, there was no danger, sir," Jupiter observed. "Now they
are in the eye of the sky."

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High on the ledge, Pete and the two Yaquali saw a large boulder set against the rear
wall deep inside the stone eye. On the ledge there was a small pile of gold and a long
iron bar.

"Jupe was right!" Pete cried. "This is where the gold is, and Harris used that iron
bar to lever the boulder into the cave mouth. Come on, Natches."

They rolled the boulder away using the lever. Behind the boulder there was a small,
dark hole in the cliff. It was far too small for the broad shoulders of Natches and
Nanika. Pete took a flashlight.

"Tie a rope round my foot. If I signal, pull me out."

He crawled into the dark opening. He just barely squeezed through the narrow
tunnel, forcing his way forward. Soon he sensed space ahead and a movement of air.
He started to crawl faster - but stuck fast.

Though he struggled to move ahead, he could make no headway. He was too big to
move another inch. He heard a sudden noise to his left and ahead. In panic, he
switched on his flashlight and saw a figure with a large rock in its hand ready to hit
him.

"Bob!" he cried.

"Pete!" Bob grinned. "Boy, am I glad to see you. I tried to tell the boys you'd all
come for us, but I don't think they understood." Bob laughed, a little nervously.
"You sure look funny stuck there. I barely got through myself."

Pete moved his flashlight around and saw that he was two feet short of the cave
itself. Then he shifted the light again and the beam fell on four small, dark boys who
were standing near Bob, grinning at him.

"Shine it farther back," Bob said.

Pete aimed the light at the rear of the small cave. "Wow!" he cried.

All across the rear of the cave, piled in mounds, everywhere, was a vast, shining
mass of gold and glowing jewels. The gold was of every possible shape, gleaming and
sparkling in the beam of light. The jewels were every colour of the rainbow, dazzling
and glistening in a riot of colour.

"The Chumash Hoard!" Pete cried, amazed. "We've found it!"

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Chapter 21
Alfred Hitchcock Detects a Loose End

ALFRED HITCHCOCK beamed at The Three Investigators as they sat in his office
the next afternoon.

"So, the Chumash Hoard was indeed 'In the eye of the sky where no man could find
it!' Old Magnus Verde told the exact truth, and therefore fooled everyone, for two
hundred years."

"No one thought about him telling the truth," Jupiter agreed.

"Until you boys came along!" The famous director looked pleased. "Well, your Mr
Harris and his henchmen will have much time to regret their devious ways."

"And when they get out of our jail, the Australians want them," Bob said.

"Their future is not bright," Mr Hitchcock said drily. "Did they confess all their
nefarious actions?"

"Yes, sir," Pete said. "Mr Harris was a very smart man. He heard about the legend
of the Hoard and figured out the answer to Magnus Verde's riddle. But after he
spotted Indian Head Mountain and found the cave, he couldn't get inside. He'd been
at the Yaquali village while he was in Mexico, so he went down to get some Indian
boys to climb for the gold."

Bob added, "He's admitted that he didn't want any American boys because he
planned to do away with them afterwards. He was sure that four boys from a
remote Indian village in Mexico would never be traced to him."

The famous director scowled. "A complete villain! You boys have done well to stop
his black career."

"But," Jupiter took up the story, "the little brother of Natches and Nanika
understands a little English, and he overheard Harris talking. He realized that
Harris had some crime in mind and was going to dispose of the boys later. So he
wrote a letter, and managed to toss it out of the truck. Luckily, someone found it
and posted it."

"The factor of fortune - chance!" Mr Hitchcock pointed out. "Never underestimate

180
it, my boys. It operates in all human actions. We'll never know who that unknown
person was who posted the letter, but he certainly saved those boys."

"Yes, sir, he did," Jupiter agreed.

"I wonder about one aspect of the affair," the famous director mused. "Harris
seems to have delayed a long time before making his move to steal the Hoard."

Jupiter nodded, "Yes, he did. That was because he knew that it would be best if he
could get the Hoard totally unseen. He didn't want anyone to know he had it. So he
was waiting until he could get Ted and Miss Sandow off the estate. He was all ready
to persuade them to go to a vegetarian meeting in San Francisco the very day we
found the amulet. As soon as they were gone, he was going to get the Hoard, dispose
of the boys, and escape in a private plane he had engaged. If it had worked, no one
would ever have known he had the Hoard, or that it even existed, and he would be
safe in South America."

Pete took up the story: "Only they took little Vittorio out to the cabin by himself one
afternoon and he escaped. He was lurking around Miss Sandow's house when he
spied the amulet through the library window. He stole it because he thought the gold
might be useful."

"It was useful, too," Bob broke in, "but not because of the gold. He discovered the
secret compartment and hid a message for help in it."

"Later he was caught," Pete interrupted again, "and that was the cry for help we
heard. Vittorio hoped his brothers would find his note, but we found it instead."

"And fortunate it was!" said Mr Hitchcock. "You boys solved the mystery well with
little to go on. Tell me, were those amulets clues to the Hoard?"

"No, sir," Jupiter explained, "except that they proved there really was a Hoard. Of
course, Natches wanted the first amulet because he thought it might have come from
Vittorio. I'm afraid I committed a grave error about the second amulet, and Mr
Harris led me on. Everything he told me was a lie."

"An error, young Jones?" Mr Hitchcock said, eyebrows raised.

"Yes, sir," Jupiter admitted sadly. "I assumed that Ted was guilty and the amulets
were clues. That blinded me to the truth. It also made it easy for Mr Harris to fool
us. He simply encouraged me to continue believing what I had already assumed was
true."

The famous director nodded slowly. "Yes, that is the worst error an investigator can
make - assuming something to be true before it is proven. An open mind, always,
that is the only way to escape being fooled. Now, explain one more point, young

181
man. What caused you to realize that the laughing shadow was a kookaburra bird,
and thus led you to Harris's Australian origin?"

"Well, of course, I was still fooled at the time, and thought the shadow was Ted. But
his accent reminded me that there are British-type accents that don't come from
England."

"Yes, I see that," Mr Hitchcock agreed. "But what led you to the kookaburra and
Australia in particular?"

Jupiter grinned. "It was the way no one could agree on what the shadow sounded
like when it laughed. We all heard it differently. I remembered Edgar Allan Poe's
famous story, 'The Murders in the Red Morgue,' and ... "

"Thunderation, of course! In that story no one could agree on what language the
unseen murderer had been heard to speak. None of them could recognize the speech
- because the murderer was an ape and was speaking no language at all !"

"Exactly, sir." Jupiter looked pleased with himself. "I suddenly thought that
perhaps the laugh wasn't from a person at all. That's when I remembered an
Australian animal that laughed. At first I couldn't remember exactly what animal,
but when the bird came flying out of the dark I suddenly remembered the
kookaburra bird."

Mr Hitchcock laughed. "Splendid! The Laughing jackass had the final merriment
at Mr Harris's expense. Ah, the sight of that Hoard must have been magnificent."

"It was, sir," Bob agreed, "and we've brought you a piece." He laid a dazzling gold
goblet on the desk. "With Miss Sandow's compliments, sir."

"Thank the good lady, lads. This will join my growing collection of mementoes of
your exploits. Now, what of rest of the treasure. It belongs, I suppose, to Miss
Sandow."

Pete said, "Professor Meeker is studying it. I believe the State has to determine its
final disposition. Museums are eager to have pieces for their displays."

"Miss Sandow hopes that the Indians will realize some benefit from it," Bob added.
"It would be nice if the Yaqualis could take some money back to their village."

Mr Hitchcock nodded. "So the case ends. But, my young friends, I fear it is not
complete. I detect a loose end."

"A loose end?" Pete exclaimed.

Jupiter was baffled. "I can't think what, sir?"

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"Unless I missed something in your report, E. Skinner Norris is still to be dealt
with."

The boys grinned.

"Never fear," said Jupiter. "We have plans for him."

And on that ominous note the case was concluded.

The End.
Three Investigators Mysteries - 13

The Mystery of the Crooked Cat

By
William Arden

A Word from Alfred Hitchcock

WELCOME, mystery lovers! It is my pleasure once again to introduce the trio of


lads who call themselves The Three Investigators. "We Investigate Anything" is
their motto—and so they do, whether invited to or not. That is why, presumably,
they started snooping about an accident-prone carnival, poking their noses into
other people's mysterious business, ferreting out the secret of a stuffed cat,
eavesdropping—But I am wrong to denigrate their youthful enthusiasm. They are
good lads, if a trifle over-curious. In case you are meeting them for the first time, I
should tell you that Jupiter Jones, the overweight leader of The Three Investigators,

183
is known for his remarkable brain power. Pete Crenshaw is tall and muscular and
excels at athletics. Bob Andrews, the smallest of the three, attends to research and
keeps records for the group, but has the courage of a lion when danger threatens.

All three make their home in Rocky Beach, a small municipality in California a few
miles from Hollywood, Their Headquarters is a mobile home trailer in The Jones
Salvage Yard, a super junkyard owned by Jupiter's aunt and uncle.

If The Three Investigators had stopped to think that the mysterious crooked cat was
leading them into their thirteenth case, they might have been less nosey. Bad luck
attended them throughout—but I will say no more I am sure you are anxious to
dispense with this preview and proceed to the main feature.

- ALFRED HITCHCOCK

Chapter 1
Carnival!

On an afternoon in early September, Jupiter Jones and Pete Crenshaw were busily
working in Jupiter's workshop in The Jones Salvage Yard. To be honest, Jupiter
was working while Pete watched, and it was Pete who first saw Uncle Titus Jones
staggering up to them carrying two big wooden tubs.

"Boys," Uncle Titus announced as he plunked down the two tubs in front of them,
"I have a job for you. I want these tubs painted in red, white and blue stripes!"

Pete gaped at the tubs. "Stripes on washtubs?"

"You mean right this minute, Uncle Titus?" Jupiter asked.

The stocky boy looked glumly at the array of tiny electronic parts on his workbench.

"Jupe's building a new thingumajig for The Three Investigators," Pete explained to
Uncle Titus.

"A new invention, eh?" Uncle Titus said, momentarily distracted from his
washtubs. "What is it, Pete?"

184
"Who knows? Gosh, you know Jupiter," Pete exclaimed. "I'm just the helper. Who
tells me anything?"

Jupiter, the First Investigator of the boys' junior detective firm, liked to keep his
inventions secret until he was sure that they would work. He hated to fail. He also
hated to stop one of his projects before it was finisheed.

"Couldn't we paint the tubs later, Uncle Titus?" he now asked unhappily.

"No, they must be ready for tonight. Of course, if you boys are so busy, I could ask
Hans or Konrad to paint them." Uncle Titus was referring to the big Bavarian
brothers who helped in the yard. His eyes twinkled suddenly. "But then they'd
deliver the tubs, too. That would be only fair."

Jupiter became alert. "Is there something special about who bought the tubs, Uncle
Titus?"

"I know," Pete said. "It's a patriotic laundry!"

"Or holiday boats for midgets!" Jupiter chimed in.

Uncle Titus grinned. "What would you say if I said they were seats for a lion?"

"Oh, sure," Pete said with a laugh. "Every lion needs a red, white and blue easy
chair."

Jupiter stopped laughing. A sudden light dawned in his eyes. "Of course! Turned
upside down and painted, those tubs would be perfect as seats for a lion in a circus!"

"Wow! A circus!" Pete exclaimed. "Maybe they'd show us round if we deliver the
tubs."

Uncle Titus chuckled at the effect of his news. "Well now, boys, it's not a real circus,
just a carnival. But it does have performing shows as well as rides and games. It
opened here in Rocky Beach last night. The lion trainer lost the pedestals for his
trained lion in a fire or something. When he couldn't find any pedestals in town, he
phoned us, and I thought of the tubs!"

Uncle Titus beamed happily. He always boasted that The Jones Salvage Yard had
almost everything in its piles of junk, and nothing pleased him more than to have
some seemingly useless item prove valuable to someone.

"A carnival," Jupiter pronounced, "is a most unique and fascinating organization
with ancient origins."

185
"I guess you mean it's fun, Jupe," Pete said with a groan. The Second Investigator
didn't always understand Jupiter's way of speaking. "Carson's Colossal Carnival! I
remember now. I saw it being set up on that big piece of ground on the waterfront
next to the old amusement park they closed down."

"Maybe we could go behind the scenes," Jupiter said.

"Then what are we waiting for, Jupe?" Pete cried. "I'll get the paint, you get the
spray guns."

The boys went to work with a will, and half an hour later the tubs were painted.
While they were drying, Jupiter and Pete went into their secret Headquarters to see
how much money they had to spend at the carnival.

Headquarters was an old mobile home trailer, completely hidden behind mounds of
junk in a remote corner of the yard. The boys could only enter by secret passages
through the junk. By now everyone else had forgotten the trailer was there.

When the tubs were ready, Pete cycled to the Rocky Beach Public Library to tell
Bob Andrews about the carnival. Bob, the Records and Research man of The three
Investigators, worked part-time at the library during the summer. Bob was as much
excited by the plans as Pete and Jupiter, and rushed home as soon as he was off
duty. All three boys hurried through their dinners. By seven-thirty they were on
their way, with the painted tubs balanced precariously on two of their bicycles.

While they were still some streets away, they could see the sagging towers and
crumbling old roller coaster of the abandoned amusement park next to the carnival.
The carnival itself was pitched on vacant ground beside the ocean. It wasn't yet
open. Tents and wooden booths lined both sides of two wide pathways inside a
temporary fence. Lights blazed in the early twilight, and the music of the carousel
played to entice the crowd. The empty Ferris wheel was already turning. Two
clowns cavorted along one of the paths. Everyone was warming up for the opening.

The boys located the lion trainer's tent, emblazoned with a gaudy red banner that
proclaimed: The Great Ivan and Rajah - The World's Greatest Performing Lion!!
As they entered, a tall man in a bright blue uniform and gleaming black boots
hurried towards them, his fierce moustache bristling.

"So, the tubs! Perfect! Give them to me!"

"The Jones Salvage Yard has what you want," Jupiter said, announcing Uncle
Titus's slogan for the yard.

The Great Ivan laughed. "That sounds like one of our barkers, young man."

"What's a barker, sir?" Pete asked.

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"Well, son, suppose you try to guess," The Great Ivan said.

"I'll bet Jupe knows," Bob declared.

Both Bob and Pete had learned that Jupiter usually knew a little about everything,
and the stocky leader of the trio wasn't bashful about telling what he knew.

"A barker," Jupiter now pronounced, "is a man who stands outside a circus or
carnival sideshow and tells people how exciting it is inside. You could say it was an
ancient form of advertising."

"Very good, young man," The Great Ivan said. "Sometimes we call them 'spielers'
or 'pitchmen', and sometimes they lie, but not the good ones. My barker, for
instance, doesn't tell people that Rajah is a ferocious lion, he just tells them some of
what Rajah can do. Did you ever see a lion on a trapeze?"

"Wow! Can Rajah ride on a trapeze?" Pete exclaimed.

"He can," The Great Ivan boasted. "First show in an hour, boys. Come as my
guests. Perhaps you can touch Rajah even."

"We'll be here, sir!" Bob promised eagerly. Outside, the carnival had just opened,
and the barkers were announcing the attractions to the few early arrivals. The boys
rode on the Ferris wheel and tried the carousel twice. They tried for the brass ring,
but only Pete got one. They watched the antics of one small, fat clown for a time,
then went towards the game booths where prizes could be won for dart throwing,
ring tossing and rifle shooting.

"The games must be faked, fellows," Bob observed after he had watched for a time.
"They look too easy."

"No," Jupiter explained, "it's simply that they're much more difficult than they
seem. A matter of mathematics and physics, Records. The odds - "

The rest of Jupiter's explanation was drowned out by a sudden shouting in front of
them. "You're a cheat! Give me that prize!" Ahead of them was a tall, older man in
a slouch hat. He had a thick, bushy moustache and wore dark glasses, even though it
was almost dark. He was shouting at the blond boy who operated the shooting
gallery. Suddenly he grabbed a stuffed animal from the boy's hands and ran
straight towards The Three Investigators. The blond boy shouted, "Stop him! Thief!
Guards!"

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Chapter 2
Stop Thief!

"Look out!" Pete cried.

His warning came too late. The running man, looking behind him for pursuit, ran
full tilt into Jupiter. They both fell in a tangle of arms and legs.

"Ooooooff!" Jupiter grunted.

Two carnival guards ran up as the few early visitors scattered.

"You! Stay right there!" one of the guards shouted to the moustached thief in dark
glasses.

The thief leaped up first, stuck his stolen prize under one arm, and grabbed Jupiter.
A wicked knife gleaming in his free hand.

"Don't come near me," he rasped menacingly, and awkwardly began to drag
Jupiter towards the exit from the carnival.

Bob and Pete could only watch in horror. The two carnival guards tried to circle
round behind. The thief saw them. He was momentarily distracted, and Jupiter
seized the chance to try to break loose and run. With an oath, the thief whirled back
to face Jupiter. Off balance, the stuffed animal still held awkwardly under his arm,
he stumbled and his hand holding the knife, struck Jupiter's shoulder. The knife
flew from his grasp.

In a flash the thief saw that he could not retrieve his knife in time. He released
Jupiter, pushed him sprawling towards the guards, and ran off through the exit
with the stolen prize.

Jupiter staggered up again, crying out, "After him!" The boys raced after the
fleeing thief, followed by the two carnival guards. The moustached man ran towards
the ocean and disappeared behind a jutting corner of the high wooden fence that
surrounded the abandoned amusement park. The guards caught up with the boys.

"All right, boys," a guard said. "We'll deal with him."

"It's a dead end round that corner," Pete panted. "The fence goes down to the

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water. He's trapped!"

"Stay here then," the second guard ordered the boys.

The two guards, their pistols out, went cautiously round the corner of the fence. The
boys waited. There was a long silence after the two guards had vanished Jupiter
became impatient

"Something must be wrong," the First Investigator said. "Come on, fellows."

Cautiously, Jupiter led them round the corner of the high fence. They stopped in
their tracks. The two guards stood there alone. The moustached old thief was gone!

"No one was here," one guard said.

Stunned, the boys looked round the small grassy area. The high fence was on the
right, the deep water of the ocean on the left. At the far end the fence made a sharp
angle all the way down to the ocean. A spiked iron extension of the fence reached
out over the water. There was no way out except the way they had come in!

"You boys must have made a mistake," the second guard said.

"Maybe he swam away," Bob suggested.

"No time, son. We'd have seen him in the water," the first guard said. "He must
have fooled you."

"No, I saw him run right in here," Jupiter insisted stubbornly.

Pete had been staring all round. Now the tall Second Investigator exclaimed,
"Look!"

He bent and picked up a large object from the shadows. It was the stuffed animal
the moustached man had stolen. Pete held it up triumphantly.

"He was here, all right," Pete declared.

"He must have dropped it getting out of here," Bob said. His face was puzzled as he
looked all round the small, closed-in-area. "But how did he get out?"

"There must be some way through that fence," the first guard said.

"A hole or a door," said the second guard.

"Maybe a tunnel under the fence," Pete suggested

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They all examined the fence for the entire length of the hidden area and found
nothing.

"No," Jupiter observed. "This part of the fence seems to be in good repair, and
there isn't any way under it, either."

"Then he must have had wings!" one guard declared. "That's the only way out of
here except past us as we came in."

"That fence is twelve feet high or more," the other guard said, "and there's nothing
to get hold of. No one could climb over it."

Jupiter was thoughtful as they all stared up at the fence. "If he didn't swim, or dig,
or fly, logically there is only one possibility - he went over the fence."

"That's crazy," a guard insisted.

"Gosh, First," Pete said, "how could anyone climb that fence without help? There's
nothing to stand on."

Bob said, "He couldn't have climbed it, Jupe."

"No, it wouldn't seem so," Jupiter said, "but there just isn't any other logical
explanation, so he must have. When everything else is ruled out, what is left must be
true, even if it looks impossible."

"Well, however he did it, he's gone," one guard said. "We'd better get back to our
posts. We'll take that prize back to the shooting gallery."

The guard reached his hand out for the stuffed animal Pete was still holding.
Jupiter, who was continuing to stare upward at the solid fence, now turned to the
guard.

"We'd like to return the prize, if that's all right with you," the First Investigator
said. "We were about to attempt to win a prize at the shooting gallery anyway."

"Okay," the guard agreed. "You take it back. That'll save us some time. We'll have
to report that thief to the police."

After the guards had left, while the boys were walking back to the carnival, Pete
said, "I didn't know we were going to try the shooting gallery, First."

"Perhaps we weren't," Jupiter acknowledged, "but I'm interested to know just why
that man attacked the boy at the gallery and stole this prize."

He pointed at the stuffed animal in Pete's hands, and the boys really looked at it for

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the first time. Pete's eyes almost popped in excitement as he examined the prize he
held.

"Wow! It's a beauty, isn't it?"

It was a stuffed cat almost three feet long, striped red and black. Its legs were all
twisted, and the body was crooked like a Z. Its mouth was open showing sharp,
white teeth, and one ear drooped sharply down. There was only one wild red eye,
and a jewelled red collar. It was the wildest, most crooked-looking cat they had ever
seen.

"It certainly is striking," Jupiter agreed. "But I wonder why that man wanted it so
much?"

"Maybe he collects stuffed animals," Bob suggested. "My Dad says collectors will do
anything to get what they want."

"He collects stuffed cats?" Peter scoffed. "From a carnival? That's crazy, Records.
How much could it be worth?"

"Well," Jupited considered, "it does sound foolish, but collectors are strange people
sometimes. There are rich men who buy stolen paintings even though they have to
hide them. It's what they call an obsession, and collectors with obsessions commit
desperate acts. But I don't think our thief is really a collector. More likely he's one
of those people who can't bear to lose at anything. Or perhaps he became violent
because he felt he'd won and had been cheated."

"I guess even we might get mad if we'd been cheated," Pete agreed, "but we
wouldn't get violent about it."

They reached the shooting gallery, and the blond boy behind the counter greeted
them eagerly.

"You got my cat back! Did they catch that old man?"

"He got away," Pete said, "but he dropped the cat."

Pete handed the crooked cat to the boy.

"I hope the police catch him," the boy said angrily. "He only knocked down three of
the five ducks! A real bad loser. Gosh, you fellows really chased him." The boy
grinned. "I'm Andy Carson. I work this booth. Are you fellows with it?"

Bob blinked. "Are we what, Andy?"

"He means," the always ready Jupiter explained, "are we carnival people, from

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some other carnival. No, Andy, we live in Rocky Beach. I'm Jupiter Jones, and
they're Bob Andrews and Pete Crenshaw."

"Glad to meet you, fellows," Andy said, and added proudly, "I'm with it. A full
operator, not just a punk or a roughneck."

"Huh?" Pete said.

"A 'punk'," Jupiter interpreted for the others, "is an apprentice member of the
carnival, and a 'roughneck' is a annual workman. Andy means he's just like a
proper adult performer in the carnival That's pretty unusual isn't it, Andy?"

"Well," Andy said, a little sheepishly, "my Dad owns the show. But he says I could
work any carnival now anyway. Say, would you fellows like to try winning a prize?"

"I'd like to win that crooked cat!" Pete exclaimed.

"We could make it our mascot," Bob said.

"A symbol of our work," Jupiter agreed. "Go on, Pete, try."

Andy Carson grinned. "You have to hit five targets in five shots to win the crooked
cat. It's a first prize. It's not easy, but it can be done. I've given out four cats so far."

"I'll win the fifth," Pete declared, and reached for one of the rifles chained to the
gallery counter.

Suddenly, Andy jumped at Pete, his hand out. "Wait," he cried.

Chapter 3
A Dangerous Moment

"What is it, Andy?" Peter asked, alert.

Andy grinned and put a straw hat on his head "Not so fast, young man. Your
eagerness to test your skill is admirable, yes it is, but first it is necessary to cross my
palm with silver, coin of the realm, legal currency to pay - amount of twenty-five

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cents, the fourth part of a dollar. A mere trifle for five big shots. Step up, my boy,
everybody wins. Show your steady hand and keen eye. Give the man room, please.
Five little hits wins the big prize the one-and-only amazing crooked cat!"

The boys laughed, and Pete dug into his pocket for a quarter.

"Gosh," Bob said, "do you always talk like that, Andy?"

Andy beamed. "My Dad says I've got carnival in my blood. He says I'm a natural
spieler."

"You sure are," Bob said. "Can you teach us?"

"Ah, my boy," Andy intoned, his face solemn, "it is first necessary to study long
years with the Great Lama of Nepal. At the appropriate moment, after that, some
small instruction could be made available for a modest fee. Only a selected few, of
course, can be permitted the honour."

Grinning, the boys listened as Andy spieled on in a fantastic performance of flowery


words. Andy, too, grinned as he talked, pleased with his verbal ability.

"But now," he concluded with a flourish, "stand aside, give the young nimrod room
to show his skill. Fire at will, Pete!"

Pete nodded and picked up one of the rifles. After a moment of studying the targets,
he took quick aim at the clanking procession of mechanical ducks and shot down
three in a row. Andy clapped his hands.

"Good, Pete! Careful now, only two more!"

Pete fired again, hitting a fourth duck.

"One more! Steady," Andy warned. "Easy now. Careful!"

Andy winked at Bob and Jupiter. They understood Andy's warnings and
encouragements were actually carnival tricks to make Pete more nervous with each
shot, increasing his chances of a miss. But Pete didn't fluster. He was in action. He
aimed once more, fired, and knocked down the fifth duck. "I won!" he cried.

"Bravo, Pete," Andy said, and handed the dazzling crooked cat to the Second
Investigator. "You're a good shot. That's my last crooked cat. I'll have to use a
different first prize until I get more. I think I have some moon globes."

Jupiter's eyes gleamed. "A moon globe? They only just came out, Andy. Could we
win one of those, too?"

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"Try your luck, my boy," Andy said, assuming his barker's voice again. "A steady
hand and keen eye! Five shots."

While Pete and Bob laughed, Jupiter picked up a rifle and paid Andy a quarter. He
took good aim and hit two ducks. But he missed the next three. "Let me try, Jupe,"
Bob said.

The smallest of the three boys paid Andy a quarter and aimed at a swinging gong.
He fared no better than Jupiter, hitting the gong only twice. After that, Pete tried
again, hoping to win the moon globe for Jupiter, but this time even he failed.

"A mere mischance," Andy said. "Next time a successful result is assured. One
more twenty-five cent piece!"

Pete shook his head. "I'd better quit while I'm even, I guess. At least I won the cat."

They all laughed at that, and other customers began to step up to the booth. The
carnival had become more crowded. Andy went into his full spiel while the boys
watched. Then Andy realized that he was telling the people they could win a moon
globe and he didn't have any on display.

"Jupiter, you get behind the counter and watch the booth while I go and get some
globes. Pete and Bob can help me carry some," Andy said.

"Sure, Andy," Bob agreed. "Go on, Jupe."

Jupiter needed no urging. He went behind the booth counter at once and began
trying to spiel like Andy. The growing crowd seemed to enjoy the chunky boy's
performance, and Jupiter beamed with pleasure.

Andy led Bob and Pete behind the booth where a baggage trailer stood in the
dimmer light out of the main carnival area.

"I park it close where I can watch it from the booth," Andy explained. "People are
always trying to steal from carnivals."

He unlocked the lid of the trailer and began to take out small globes that were
perfect models of the moon. He removed six globes, relocked the trailer, and turned
to hand two globes to Bob.

"Bob, you - " Andy began, and then stopped. His eyes widened as he looked past
Pete towards the next booth. His voice came low. "Fellows, don't move. Stand still."

Bob frowned. "No more carnival tricks, Andy, we - "

"No," Andy whispered, his voice tense and scared, yet steady. "Turn round slowly,

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fellows. Don't run, and don't make any sudden moves. It's Rajah!"

The boys stared at Andy, and Pete gulped. Slowly, they turned round. There was a
dim, grassy space behind the next booth, out of sight from the main alley. In that
space, not twenty feet from the boys, crouched a large, black-maned lion!

Chapter 4
Peter Shows His Courage

"Back slowly towards the booth," Andy instructed softly. "Rajah isn't a dangerous
lion, he's too well-trained, but he might become frightened and panic. In the booth
we'll be safe and there's a telephone. I can call for help."

No one else had yet seen the escaped lion where it crouched behind the next booth.
Its yellow eyes glinted as it watched the boys, and its mouth opened wide to show
enormous yellow teeth. Its black-tufted tail twitched.

"But if we go to the booth," Pete said, his voice shaky, "the lion could get out into
the main alley with the crowd, Andy."

"I know, and the lights and people could scare him," Andy agreed, "but we have to
call Ivan for help!"

Pete didn't take his eyes off the menacing lion.

"You ... you and Bob go to the booth and call Ivan," he said. "I ... I've worked with
my Dad with animals he used in his movies. It could be a lot more dangerous if we
all try to leave."

"Pete!" Bob cried, scared.

The lion growled softly at the sound of Bob's voice.

"Go on, hurry, fellows," Pete insisted in a whisper.

The tall boy hadn't moved. He stood and stared straight at the crouched lion. Bob
and Andy backed towards the booth. The lion moved a long step, its eyes watching

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Bob and Andy. It was obviously nervous and confused by being out of its cage, Pete
spoke quietly but firmly, and the lion looked at him.

"Stop, Rajah," Pete said. "Lie down, Rajah."

His voice was soft but strong, confident. The lion stopped. It looked at Pete with
wary yellow eyes. "Quiet, Rajah," Pete said. "Good, Rajah." With its tail flicking
slowly, the lion watched Pete as if it knew its name and was puzzled by hearing it
from a strange boy. Pete didn't look behind him towards Andy's booth. He watched
only the big lion. "Lie down, Rajah. Down, Rajah!" Pete's voice rose firmly on the
last command. "Down, Rajah!" The lion whipped its tail, looked round, and lay
down heavily on the grass. With its head up, it watched Pete like a big cat about to
purr.

"Good, Rajah," Pete said.

Suddenly Pete heard people behind him, and The Great Ivan strode past him
towards Rajah. The lion trainer carried only a stick and a long chain. He went
straight up to the lion and began to talk softly but firmly, just as Pete had. Moments
later he had the chain attached to a collar hidden in Rajah's great mane and was
leading the obedient lion back behind the booths towards his cage.

Pete gulped and went white. "Gosh!" he said.

Bob, Jupiter, and Andy ran up to him.

"Pete, that was great!" Andy cried.

"You were magnificent, Second!" Jupiter declared.

"No one even knew Rajah was loose. You certainly prevented a panic!"

"I was too scared even to breathe!" Bob added.

Pete blushed under their praises. Before he could answer, they all saw The Great
Ivan striding back towards them. The trainer's face was pale, and he grasped Pete's
shoulder in an iron grip of approval.

"That was very brave, young man. You showed both courage and skill," The Great
Ivan said. "Rajah is trained, and really tame. He wouldn't harm anyone. But if the
crowd had seen him loose, they could have panicked, and that would have scared
Rajah. Someone could have been hurt."

Pete grinned with embarrassment "I knew he was trained, sir, and Andy said he
wasn't dangerous. My Dad taught me a lot about handling trained wild animals."

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The Great Ivan nodded. "Your Dad taught you well. Rajah needed to hear a firm,
commanding voice. I owe you a great debt. I don't know how he got out! The cage
was open." Then the lion trainer grinned. "Now, what do you boys say to watching
Rajah and me from right beside my show cage, eh?"

"Can we, sir?" Pete exclaimed.

"You certainly can. Come to the tent in a few minutes. I have to be sure Rajah is
ready for his show."

The Great Ivan returned to his tent. The boys stayed with Andy Carson for a few
moments as the carnival boy went back to work. People crowded round the shooting
gallery now, and Andy became very busy.

The boys started for the lion tent, stopping on the way to watch the antics of the two
clowns who were out among the crowd. The small, fat clown whom they had
watched earlier had been joined by his tall, sad-faced companion. The tall clown
had a white-painted, dirty face with a thin red nose. He was dressed as a tramp,
with enormous baggy trousers tied at the bottom. The fat little clown's nose lighted
up like neon at appropriate moments.

The little clown did a series of acrobatic tricks, strutting like a bantam peacock after
each one. The tall clown watched mournfully and tried to do the same tricks, but
failed every time. His face grew sadder and sadder, and the crowd roared with
laughter at him. Finally, the fat little clown missed a handstand and sprawled flat.
The sad clown smiled at last. The boys applauded the clowns.

"A very good act," Jupiter declared. "Did you see how it all built up to the sad
clown finally smiling? People enjoy that, the sad one having a moment of victory.
When I was in the movies I worked with clowns. These are very good."

People were sometimes surprised by Jupiter's knowledge of the movies and TV.
They forgot that the First Investigator had once been a child performer under the
name of Baby Fatso. It was a name Jupiter didn't like to be reminded of now, but he
liked to display his knowledge of show business.

When the clown act was over, the boys hurried on to the lion tent. The show cage
was in the outer half of the tent in front of a canvas partition. A barred ramp came
down into the show cage from behind the partition. The two striped tubs Pete and
Jupiter had painted stood inside the show cage and a trapeze swung from the top.

Just as the boys entered the tent, The Great Ivan stepped out from behind the
canvas divider. He bowed to them and entered the show cage. He gave a signal, and
Rajah came down the barred ramp into the cage roaring like the wildest beast on
earth. He ran round the cage snarling, and clawed towards The Great Ivan. The
boys smiled. They were aware that Rajah's ferocious manner was an act the same

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as that of any trained performer. Their eyes widened with admiration as The Great
Ivan began to put Rajah through jumps, rolls, leaps, dance steps, somersaults, and
finally, a great leap to the swinging trapeze!

The audience applauded lustily.

"Wow!" Pete said. "All I did was make him lie down!"

"Isn't it great, Jupe!" Bob cried. "Jupe?"

The First Investigator was no longer with them. They finally spotted him behind the
cage where The Great Ivan was performing an encore with Rajah. Jupiter was
motioning for them to come over.

"What's up, First?" Bob wanted to know. Jupiter didn't answer, but motioned them
both through the canvas partition into the rear half of the tent. A barred trailer
stood in the empty rear section. It was, clearly, where Rajah lived when he wasn't in
the show cage. The barred ramp led from it through the partition into the show
cage. Jupiter pointed to a large padlock on the door of the trailer cage.

"The lock's been tampered with, fellows," the First Investigator said grimly.
"Someone let Rajah loose!"

Chapter 5
A Menacing Shadow

"The Great Ivan is a skilled trainer," Jupiter went on, "and he treats Rajah like a
pet. I began to wonder how anyone could have left Rajah's cage open without Ivan
noticing. So I came back here to look at the trailer cage. Look at this lock."

Jupiter held the big padlock. "See those deep scratches all around the keyhole? The
steel shines in the scratches. This lock has been picked, and not long ago!"

"Are you sure, Jupe?" Bob asked uneasily.

Jupiter nodded. "Remember that book we have at Headquarters? The one about
evidence and criminal methods? Well, those marks are exactly like pictures in that

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book of picklock marks!"

"Gosh," Pete said, "who would let a lion loose?"

As The Three Investigators thought about that, there was a burst of applause from
the show section of the tent. An iron cage clanged, and Rajah came stalking proudly
up the barred ramp into the trailer cage. The boys all stared at the big lion.

"It has to be someone crazy, First," Bob decided.

Jupiter's bright eyes were fixed on the lion in its cage. "Crazy and full of hate for
people, perhaps, Records. But not necessarily. Maybe there was a definite reason, a
motive."

"Gosh, Jupe, like what?" Pete asked.

"Well, to scare customers and harm the carnival, for one," Jupiter said. "Or to be a
hero by recapturing Rajah. Or maybe to hide some other action, to distract
everyone."

"Nothing else happened, Jupe, did it?" Pete objected.

"And nobody tried to recapture Rajah until The Great Ivan came when Andy called
him," Bob pointed out.

"I think Pete just acted too fast," Jupiter decided. "If there was some plan, Pete
stopped it by stopping Rajah."

"But, gee, First," Bob said, "if someone only wanted to hurt the carnival, that's a
risky way of doing it."

"I don't know," Jupiter mused. "Even Andy knew that Rajah wasn't really
dangerous. The whole carnival seems to know that Rajah is well-trained and easily
controlled."

"You think it was someone in the carnival?" Bob wondered.

Jupiter nodded. "Yes, I do. To get from his trailer cage to where Pete stopped him,
Rajah almost had to be led."

"Gosh, First, it could be anyone - except The Great Ivan," Pete decided. "He
wouldn't have had to pick his own lock."

"Not unless he wanted to fool people," Jupiter said. He thought a moment "It's odd
that Ivan didn't miss Rajah sooner."

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Bob and Pete said nothing more for a time. Jupiter frowned.

"The trouble is," the First Investigator said, "that we don't know enough even to
guess at who or why - yet."

"Yet?" Pete said. "You mean we're going to - "

"Investigate!" Bob broke in eagerly. "A job for The Three Investigators!"

"Yes! I think - " Jupiter began, and then stopped. Suddenly he put his finger to his
lips and nodded towards the rear wall of the tent. Bob and Pete turned to look.

A giant shadow was outlined against the tent wall. The shadow of a man who
seemed to have no clothes on! They could see massive shoulders, and the shadow of
a shaggy head that was bent close to the tent, as if listening!

"Outside, fellows," Jupiter whispered.

There was no way out of the rear of the lion tent, so they slipped through the show
section and out the front. They hurried round the corner of the tent, being as quiet
as they could be, and at the rear peered cautiously round. No one was there.

"He must have heard us," Bob whispered.

There was a heavy step behind them.

"So there you are!" a deep voice said almost in their ears. "What are you boys
doing back here?"

The boys jumped a foot, and Pete gulped as they turned and saw a big man looking
down at them from dark eyes. He carried a long sledge hammer in his hands.

"W - w - we only - " Pete stammered.

At that moment Andy Carson appeared behind the big man. The carnival boy's eyes
lighted up when he saw The Three Investigators.

"Hi, fellows," he said. "It looks like my Dad found you." Pete gulped. "Your Dad?"

"That's right, boys." The big man smiled and rested his sledge hammer on the
ground. "I've been looking for you to thank you on behalf of the whole carnival for
keeping Rajah calm. I was off helping the roughnecks, so Andy couldn't find me at
once."

Andy broke in, "My Dad wants to give you some reward. Something more from the
carnival than that crooked cat you won."

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"My cat!" Pete cried suddenly, and looked round. "I don't have it any more!"

"Cat?" Mr. Carson said, puzzled.

"One of the first prizes from my gallery, Dad," Andy explained. "Pete won it."

"Maybe it's in the lion tent, Pete," Bob suggested. But the crooked cat wasn't
anywhere in the lion tent, and they all went back to the shooting gallery. The cat
wasn't anywhere in or around the gallery, or where Pete had calmed Rajah.

"I had it just before we saw Rajah," Pete said unhappily. "I must have dropped it
and someone picked it up."

Jupiter, who had been silently fuming with impatience ever since they had started to
look for the crooked cat, now burst out, "I'm sure Andy can get you another, Pete.
Mr. Carson, when we - "

But Andy said, "Gee, I can't get Pete another cat. That was my last, remember? I
had five, and gave them all out."

"I'm sure we can find something better," Mr. Carson said.

Jupiter could contain himself no longer. He blurted out, "Is there trouble in your
carnival, Mr. Carson?"

"Trouble?" Mr. Carson repeated, his deep, dark eyes on the First Investigator.
"What makes you ask that?"

"Before you found us, sir, we observed a man watching us, or listening to us, at
Rajah's tent."

"Watching you?" Mr. Carson frowned, and then laughed. "No, you must be
mistaken. Your imagination was probably working overtime after Rajah."

"That is possible," Jupiter admitted somewhat stiffly, "but we didn't imagine what
we had discovered just before we saw that man listening. Rajah did not escape, he
was let loose!"

Mr. Carson watched them. "Come to my truck, boys."

The trucks, trailers and cars of the carnival people were parked in a field next to the
show. Mr. Carson and Andy lived in a truck with a trailer hookup on the rear.
Inside were two bunks, chairs, a desk covered with business papers, a small safe,
and a big wicker basket filled with damaged prizes - torn stuffed dogs, a dirty
stuffed cat, broken dolls.

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"I fix all the broken prizes," Andy said proudly.

Mr. Carson was serious. "Sit down, boys, and tell me." He listened intently as
Jupiter described what they had found at Rajah's cage. "I've studied lock-picking,
sir, and I recognized the marks. We're really experienced detectives."

Jupiter handed Mr. Carson the boys' card:

THE THREE INVESTIGATORS


"We Investigate Anything"
? ? ?
First Investigator Jupiter Jones
Second Investigator Peter Crenshaw
Records and Research Bob Andrews

Mr. Carson smiled. "An interesting hobby, boys, but - "

"Our work is more than a hobby, sir," Jupiter said proudly. "The Rocky Beach
Police attest to our seriousness."

He presented the second card the boys carried:

This certifies that the bearer is a Volunteer Junior Assistant Deputy co-operating
with the police force of Rocky Beach. Any assistance given him will be appreciated.
(Signed) Samuel Reynolds
Chief of Police

"I apologize, boys," Mr. Carson smiled. "The Chief's statement seems to indicate
you are real detectives. Still, you're mistaken this time."

"Jupe's never mistaken, sir," Bob declared.

"Come now, Bob. I'm sure that Jupiter is an amazing young man, but everyone can
be mistaken."

"But, Dad!" Andy broke in, "what about - "

Mr. Carson stood up. "That's enough, Andy! No more, you hear? Jupiter is
mistaken. But the boys did us a service, and here are three free passes for
everything at the carnival." He handed them to the boys. "Is that a good reward,
boys?"

"That is very generous, sir," Jupiter acknowledged.

"Oh, no!" Bob cried. "Look, the door!"

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On the drawn blind of the rear door they all saw a massive shadow with wild hair,
beard, and enormous shoulder muscles. "That's the shadow!" Pete hissed.

Mr. Carson walked quickly to the door, opened it, and then turned to the boys
smiling. A man entered, and the boys gaped at him. He was only normally tall, but
his bare shoulders bulged with muscles. He wore only black-and-gold tights, which
clung to his powerful legs like skin, and tight, gleaming leather boots. His black hair
and beard stood out wild and thick.

"This," Mr. Carson said, smiling, "is Khan, our strong man. One of your mysteries
is explained, boys. Khan, like all of us, has more than one job. He's in charge of our
security. I'd guess he saw you slipping round and decided to check on you."

"That is correct," Khan said in a deep, serious voice.

Mr. Carson nodded. "There you are then, boys. Now I have business with Khan,
and Andy must go back to his job. Go and have fun. Remember, it's all free."

"Thank you, sir," Jupiter said quietly. He motioned to Bob and Pete. Outside the
truck, Jupiter walked ahead until they were behind a trailer, out of sight of the
truck. Then he suddenly stopped, ducked down, and peered back.

"'What are you doing, Jupe?" Bob asked.

"I'm sure something is wrong in this carnival, Records" the First Investigator said.
"That Khan has something on his mind. He didn't look much like a guard when he
was listening to us. And I'm sure Andy would have told us something if his father
hadn't stopped him. Let's get closer to that window and listen."

"Wait!" Pete said quickly.

Andy Carson came out of the truck and hurried away towards his shooting gallery.
The boys slipped up to the window, Khan's deep voice was saying,

" ... now Rajah escapes. What next, Carson? Maybe we won't be paid at all."

"You'll all be paid next week. Khan," Mr. Carson said.

Khan said, "You know how superstitious carnival people are. The show is unlucky.
There will be more trouble."

"Now, Khan, listen to me. You - " There was a step inside, and the window banged
shut above the boys' heads. They heard no more and hurried away.

"Gosh, there is trouble," Pete exclaimed, "but what can we do if Mr. Carson won't

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even talk about it?"

Jupiter was thoughtful. "He won't let Andy talk, either, but we have passes, and we
can watch. Tomorrow, Bob can check the newspapers at the library for any stories
of trouble at the carnival in other towns. Tomorrow, we'll meet and see what we can
decide."

"What are you going to do, First?" Bob asked.

"I think," Jupiter said ominously, "I shall spend the rest of the night in search of
the necessary knowledge."

Chapter 6
Andy Is Amazed

Pete slept badly that night, trying to think of ways to make Mr. Carson let the boys
investigate. By morning he still had no ideas and was eager to find out if the other
Investigators had thought of something. He hurried down to breakfast and found
his father was up ahead of him.

"Gosh, you're up early, Dad," Pete said.

"A hurry call from Alfred Hitchcock," Mr. Crenshaw explained, "Some special
work on our new picture. Unfortunately, Pete, I promised your mother I'd clean out
the basement today. I'm afraid you're elected to do it for me."

Pete groaned inwardly and said, "Sure, Dad. I'll do it."

That was why Pete didn't pedal his bike up to the Jones Salvage Yard until after
lunch. In the yard he made his way to a long section of corrugated pipe that seemed
to vanish into the mounds of junk. This was Tunnel Two, the main entrance to
Headquarters. Pete crawled into the pipe and emerged up through the trap door
into the trailer. Jupiter was there.

"Have you thought of a way to get Mr. Carson to let us help?" the First Investigator
asked promptly.

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"No," Pete sighed. "I can't think of anything."

"Neither can I," Jupiter admitted glumly. "I guess we don't have a chance unless
Bob finds something to help us at the library. I've been waiting for him." Jupiter
was standing at the See All, and now he peered into the eyepiece again. The See-All
was a crude but efficient periscope Jupiter had built to remedy the one disadvantage
of Headquarters - they couldn't see out. The See-All stuck up above the junk that
hid the trailer, looking like a piece of ordinary pipe, and the boys could see most of
the salvage yard.

"There he is now!" Jupiter cried.

Moments later, Bob came up through the trap door waving a notebook and looking
excited.

"You found troubles at the carnival?" Pete exclaimed.

Bob beamed. "It took all morning, but I got it! The carnival isn't very important, so
I had to read most of the small-town newspapers."

"What did you find. Records?" Jupiter asked impatiently.

Bob opened his notebook. "Three weeks ago the carnival lost its pony ride in
Ventura. Three of the ponies died of food poisoning. Then, three days ago there was
a fire when they were just north in San Mateo. Three tents were burned; the fire
eater's tent, the lion tent and part of the shooting gallery. They were lucky to stop
it."

"The lion tent?" Pete exclaimed. "That makes trouble there twice."

"It could be coincidence," Jupiter said. "We must never jump to conclusions. But it
would be interesting to know if the pony ride was also located in the same carnival
area."

"The papers didn't say, First," Bob said.

"No," Jupiter said thoughtfully. "Both so-called accidents could have been much
worse. The carnival was lucky, unless - " Jupiter did not finish that thought. "I
assumed that those two other accidents were all you found. Records?"

"How did you know that, Jupe?" Bob asked, puzzled.

"Last night we heard Khan mention superstition," Jupiter reminded them. "After I
got home I talked to Uncle Titus and read some of his books - you remember Uncle
Titus worked in a circus. One of the oldest carnival superstitions is that accidents
happen in threes. So Rajah's escape was the third!"

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"Gosh, do they still believe that?" Pete asked.

"Carnival people tend to live apart, Second, and hold to old beliefs," Jupiter
explained. "But I did more than read carnival history last night. Uncle Titus told me
of a book that lists all circus and carnival performers. I called the reference room of
the Los Angeles library this morning. There is no listing for a strong man named
Khan!"

"Khan's a fake?" Pete exclaimed.

"It could be he hasn't performed recently," Jupiter admitted. "Or he could be from
out of the country. But there is something suspicious about Khan." His eyes
gleamed. "And I've got an idea of how to get us involved with the carnival. We
won't convince Mr. Carson right away, but I think if we get Andy here we can
convince him by following my plan."

"What plan is that, Jupe?" Pete asked.

Jupiter began to explain his plan, and after a few minutes both of the other boys
were grinning and nodding.

A short while later Pete was again watching the salvage yard through the See-All.
"Here he comes, fellows!"

When the blond carnival boy came up to the workshop outside Headquarters, Pete
was waiting for him.

"What's up, Pete?" Andy asked.

"We thought you might like to see our secret Headquarters, and how we work,"
Pete said. "Come on."

He led the carnival boy into Tunnel Two and up through the trap door into the
trailer.

"Jiminy! What a neat place!" Andy cried.

He stared wide-eyed at the microscope, telephone, periscope, walkie-talkies on the


wall, filing cabinets, metal detector, shelves of books and trophies, and all the other
equipment the boys had arranged so that Andy couldn't miss it. He looked at Bob
and Jupiter, who seemed to be hard at work. Neither of them even glanced up.
Jupiter was peering through magnifying goggles at a lock and a book. Bob was
studying something under a lighted glass screen.

Pete said in a low voice, "We know there's something wrong at your carnival, Andy.

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We're investigating the details."

"But you can't," Andy said. "You don't know."

"Science and our training will tell us what you won't, Andy," Pete declared,
sounding as pompous as Jupiter.

Suddenly Jupiter stood up. "A professional criminal released Rajah, fellows," he
announced as if unaware that Andy was in the room. "There is no doubt. The
indentations on the exterior face of the lock are proximate patterns of a type-seven
pick-lock! The purpose was certainly to cause trouble."

Andy stood and blinked at the stream of words he only half understood. Before he
could gather his wits, Bob started talking.

"It's certain, now, that three weeks ago the deaths of three ponies caused the pony
ride to be abandoned," the Records and Research man of the trio stated. "Then a
fire destroyed three tents and part of the shooting gallery. This has caused financial
loss, and Mr. Carson has been unable to pay wages."

Still acting as if he didn't know Andy was present Jupiter nodded and asked. "What
do we know about the performers?"

"The strong man, Khan," Bob announced, "has no previous record of work in
carnivals. Possibly he is an impostor."

Through this whole big act, Andy's mouth had droppped lower and lower. Now he
could contain himself no longer.

"Who told you all that?" he blurted out.

Both Bob and Jupiter turned as if amazed to find Andy in the room with them.
Jupiter looked his most innocent.

"Andy, I didn't know you were here," he said.

"Someone had to tell you all that!" Andy said hotly.

"No, Andy," Jupiter shook his head. "We're investigators, and we simply found out
Do I understand we're correct?"

Andy nodded. "All of it, even Khan. He's using a false name because he's really a
circus performer. He needed money, so he came to work for us. But carnivals are
lower than circuses, and he doesn't want anyone to know he's working for us. We
don't even know his real name, but he's a good strong man."

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"I suppose that's all possible," Jupiter acknowledged.

"But one thing is clear, Andy - someone is causing trouble at your carnival. We'd
like to help find out who, if your Dad will let us."

Andy looked at them all. "If no one told you about all that, tell me how you found
out? I don't believe in magic, no sir. How'd you do it, fellows?"

"Elementary, my dear Andy," Jupiter said, and grinned.

Bob and Pete grinned, too, as Jupiter explained what they had done to find out
about the problems of the carnival. Andy was all admiration when Jupiter finished.

"Jiminy, you fellows are good detectives! I'll bet you could find out what's
happening at the carnival. But carnival people are very proud, and my Dad doesn't
want outside help."

"He could lose the carnival soon, Andy," Jupiter said.

"I know. If we can't pay next week - " Andy stopped and his face became
determined. "All right, if Dad won't let you help, I will! Fellows, I know someone is
trying to make Dad lose the carnival because of me!"

Chapter 7
A Startling Discovery

"It's my grandmother! She hates Dad," Andy said.

The carnival boy's face became sad. "My mother died when I was little. She had an
accident. I never really knew her too well."

"We're sorry, Andy," Bob said sympathetically.

"It happened a long time ago," Andy said. "Anyway, my grandmother - Mom's
mother - never liked Dad or the carnival. She didn't want Mom to marry Dad, and
when Mom died, my grandmother blamed it on Dad and the carnival. She hates the
carnival, says it's no place for a boy. Well, after Mom died, Dad was kind of broken

208
up, and the carnival wasn't doing well. I was awful young, you know? Grandma
wanted me to live with her. She's not rich, but she's got some money, and Dad was
moving around a lot, so he let me live with Grandma."

Andy's face darkened. "When I got older, I hated living at my grandmother's. She
was nice to me, but she's scared of everything and wouldn't let me do anything! I
wanted to be with Dad in the carnival. So this year I ran off and joined Dad. Jiminy,
but Grandma was mad. She came after me, but she never did have me legally, so
when I said I wanted to stay with the carnival. Dad told her to go home!"

Jupiter broke in, "Did she threaten trouble, Andy?"

Andy nodded. "She told Dad she'd never let me be like him and get hurt like my
mother. She threatened to go to court to prove Dad couldn't take care of me. So Dad
decided to try the show out here in California. That was partly to get far away from
Grandma, and partly to try to make enough money to prove he could take care of
me. But now, with these accidents, Dad could lose the whole show!"

Jupiter was serious. "Do you really think your grandmother would go so far as to
ruin the carnival?"

"I don't know, Jupiter," Andy said slowly. "I've tried not to think about it. She was
always nice to me, even if she does hate Dad. But I can't think of anyone else."

"Still, those accidents could have hurt you, Andy," Jupiter said thoughtfully. "I
don't think she'd resort to such desperate measures. Maybe there's some enemy of
your Dad's you don't know about. Someone with a stronger reason to ruin him."

"I don't know, Jupe, but their scheme is going to work if we don't find out," Andy
said. "The whole carnival is scared about the next accident."

"The next?" Jupiter said, surprised. "But they should be feeling safer. You've had
three accidents."

Andy shook his head. "They all decided that Rajah's escape doesn't count because
no one was hurt and nothing bad happened, thanks to Pete. So they're still waiting
for the third one."

"That's dangerous," Bob pointed out "When people start expecting an accident
they get nervous, and accidents are sure to happen."

Jupiter agreed, "That's what superstition does, fellows. What people fear will
happen does happen almost all the time."

"Anyway," Pete added, "if someone's making these accidents happen, I guess there
will be more."

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"I think we can be sure of that Second," Jupiter said grimly. "One thing bothers me
a little. Rajah's escape isn't quite like the other two accidents. It's not the same
pattern. The other two accidents happened when the carnival wasn't open. No one
was there to get hurt. Only the carnival suffered. But if Pete hadn't stopped Rajah,
it could have been very dangerous to other people."

"Maybe Rajah's escape was a real accident?" Pete said.

"No, I'm convinced it wasn't," Jupiter insisted. The stocky First Investigator
frowned. "It's most baffling, fellows. When something doesn't fit a pattern, we have
to look for some other pattern that everything will fit. I think it's time for us to
return to the carnival. Can you get us in, Andy, even though it's not open?"

"Sure," Andy said. "I'll say you want to see the carnival rehearsing and getting
ready. They all know about Pete and Rajah, so they won't be surprised."

"What do we look for, First?" Pete asked.

"I don't know for sure," Jupiter admitted. "Some kind of connection linking the
three accidents, or something that looks like a new accident being planned.
Anything that looks unusual or suspicious. We'll have to be careful, so - "

They all heard it - a far-off voice calling from somewhere outside. Pete hurried to
the See-All.

"It's Aunt Matilda," he reported. "She wants Bob. Something about an


appointment."

"My dentist's appointment!" Bob groaned. "I forgot."

Jupiter frowned. The First Investigator hated to have his plans interfered with. He
sighed.

"I suppose you'd better go, Records," he said. "We'll start alone. In case we have to
leave, or follow someone, we'll take my new directional signals so you can locate us."

"The new what?" Pete exclaimed.

"Directional signal and emergency alarm," Jupiter beamed proudly. "It was what I
was working on yesterday, Second. I completed it this morning while waiting for
you two. I only had time to finish two units, so we'll take one and Bob can take the
other. It's just what we need this time. Our walkie-talkies would be too obvious. We
mustn't look as if we're watching at all."

"What does your signal do, Jupe?" Andy wanted to know.

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"First, it's a directional signal," Jupiter explained. "What they call a 'homer.' It
bleeps at a steady rate that gets louder and faster as you get nearer to it with
another signaller, and there's a dial on it that indicates direction. It's a simple
arrow-dial, showing if the signal is coming from right, left or straight ahead. Each
unit is a sender and receiver, and they're small enough to carry in a pocket.

"For emergencies the unit has a small, flashing red light that is activated without
even being touched! It works on voice command. When one of us is in trouble, all he
has to do is say the word 'help' near the unit, and the red light will flash on the other
units!"

"Jiminy," Andy said with awe. "You can do almost anything, can't you, Jupiter?"

"Well, Andy" Jupiter preened for an instant "I try to keep our investigating work
up to date. Our signal can only be picked up by our own units, and the range is
three miles."

"I'll take mine and get to the carnival as soon as I can," Bob said.

Bob went out into the salvage yard to get his bike and let Aunt Matilda know that he
was on his way to the dentist. Jupiter, Pete and Andy soon followed and rode off on
their bikes for the carnival. The sunny day was turning grey and the wind was
rising. If they hadn't been in Southern California in early September, the boys
might have expected rain.

Even without rain, the day had become gloomy and brooding as the boys rode into
the carnival lot.

"Andy," Jupiter instructed as they dismounted from their bikes, "you go to your
work so no one will become suspicious. But keep your eyes open round the shooting
gallery. Pete can watch the performers rehearsing in the field over there and I'll
wander round the booths and tents. Look for anything even a little strange or
suspicious. Is that clear?"

Andy and Pete both nodded, and the three boys began to stroll casually to their
posts among the workmen and performers.

Bob arrived at his dentist to find him busy with an emergency patient, so he had to
wait. Impatient, he read all the magazines and fumed at the delay that was keeping
him from the carnival. After he had finished all the magazines, he decided to see if
the early edition of the Rocky Beach evening newspaper had any story about the
carnival or Rajah's escape. He found no mention of the lion, but he did find a
feature story about the carnival, saying what a fine show it was and urging people to
go.

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Bob, whose Dad was a newspaperman on a large Los Angeles daily, knew at once
that the story was what newsmen call a "hand-out". The reporter hadn't gone to the
carnival at all. He had simply written the story from an information release given to
him by the carnival.

This was common practice with small newspapers that couldn't spare a reporter for
such a small story. All the newspaper was really interested in was helping the
carnival do good business and helping local businessmen sell to the customers
attracted by the carnival. Bob realized that it was lucky that no reporter had been at
the carnival last night - he might have seen Pete and Rajah or heard about the
incident. If Rajah's escape had been reported, the town authorities might have
revoked the licence of the carnival.

Suddenly Bob's attention was caught by a small advertisement:

WANTED - CROOKED CATS

Special stuffed cats needed for children's home. Must be striped red-and-black, with
crooked body, one eye, red collar. Will pay $25 for any stuffed cat fitting this
description. Call Rocky Beach 7-2222.

Bob jumped up. The description exactly fitted the crooked cat Pete had won - and
then lost last night! Bob tore out the advertisement and ran to the door of the
dentist's inner office.

"Doctor! I have to go," he cried, and before the dentist could protest, he was
running out towards his bike.

Chapter 8
Who Wants a Crooked Cat?

At the carnival, Pete had been watching for more than an hour in the grey
afternoon. Nothing unusual had happened as far as the Second Investigator could
tell. To look casual, he wandered round the field where all the performers
rehearsed.

The two clowns were practising a different routine from the one the boys had seen

212
last night. The tall, sad clown had a tiny broom and a long-handled dustpan. He
went round sweeping up rubbish, and every time he raised the dustpan the bottom
fell open, dumping out everything he had swept up. The tall clown looked gloomily
at the fallen rubbish, and the fat little clown did flips of joy and ridicule.

The fire eater worked with flaming wads on the end of his swords. As Pete watched
with wide eyes, the fire eater calmly put the flaming wads into his mouth!

Khan the strong man lifted weights and tore thick books. Pete watched him
particularly, but Khan did nothing suspicious.

The Great Ivan worked inside his show cage with Rajah, teaching the magnificent
lion a new trick on the striped tubs the boys had painted.

Two wire walkers practised their dazzling show of skill and balance on a wire
stretched between two high poles.

Pete watched it all, trying to look like a boy just interested in the feats of the
performers.

But nothing happened in the open field.

Meanwhile, Jupiter had been prowling among the booths and tents where the
roughnecks and booth operators were repairing and setting up for the night's
opening. He missed no booth nor show tent and retraced his steps many times. But
he, too, found nothing that seemed suspicious. He had stopped to watch the whirling
carousel when Andy Carson joined him. Andy had finished his work at the shooting
gallery.

"Don't you test the Ferris wheel, Andy?" Jupiter asked. He pointed to the
motionless wheel, its gondolas covered with canvas.

"It costs too much to run," Andy explained. "We start it up just before the carnival
opens and give it a trial run then."

"You have a mechanic to maintain it?"

"Sure, my Dad does that himself, Jupiter."

Jupiter was thoughtful. "It's your most important single ride. Almost the symbol of
the whole show. If - "

"Jupiter!" Andy broke in, "here comes Bob! He looks excited!" They watched as
Bob pedalled up to Pete, and both boys came up to Jupiter and Andy. Bob began to
talk before he was even off his bike.

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"Jupe! Someone wants crooked cats!"

"Cats just like the one I lost!" Pete exclaimed.

"I don't think Pete lost it at all," Bob cried, digging into his pocket for the
advertisement he had torn out of the newspaper. "I think it was stolen! Look at this,
First!"

They all crowded round Jupiter as he read the small ad. The First Investigator's
eyes became bright.

"It certainly sounds like Pete's crooked cat," he agreed. "Andy, how many of those
crooked cats did you have?"

"Five here in Rocky Beach, Jupe," Andy said. "Pete's was the last one I gave out."

Jupiter nodded. "The last one, and Pete lost it or, as Bob says, maybe it was stolen.
If it was, that was the second time the same cat was stolen - remember that
moustached old man who stole it but dropped it. Fellows, I think we're beginning to
see the pattern!"

"What pattern, First?" Bob wanted to know.

"Someone wants those crooked cats, Records," Jupiter stated firmly. "Maybe all of
them, or just one. It explains why Rajah was let loose!"

"It does, Jupe?" Pete said. "How?"

"Why was Rajah let loose, First?" Bob asked.

"To distract us, Records!" Jupiter declared. "When that old man failed to steal the
crooked cat, he must have circled back and watched the shooting gallery. He saw
Pete win the cat. While the rest of us were shooting, he went and got Rajah. When
you two and Andy went back to the trailer, he released Rajah near you to distract
Pete. Pete dropped the cat and forgot about it while we were all busy with Rajah. As
soon as we were out of the way, the old man picked it up and left with it!"

"Wow, First," Pete said, "he must have wanted that cat badly. It must be valuable
and important."

"Yes, it must be," Jupiter agreed. "Andy, was there anything special about those
crooked cats? Do you know why anyone would want one of them, or all of them?"

Andy shook his head. "I don't know why, Jupe. There's nothing special about them
that I know of." Jupiter pondered a moment while the others watched him. The
stocky First Investigator chewed his lip.

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"There are only three possibilities, fellows," he pronounced at last. "First, that
someone wants all those cats for himself, the way the ad seems to say. Some special
reason for needing cats like that. Second, that the crooked cats, taken all together,
mean something."

"You mean like all the parrots in our 'Stuttering Parrot' case, First?" Bob said
quickly.

Bob was referring to a case the boys had handled in which a group of parrots had
each been taught part of a message that helped solve a mystery.

"Precisely," Jupiter declared. "And third, there could be something on one of the
cats, or inside it, that is valuable, and that Andy didn't know about." He turned
suddenly to the carnival boy. "Andy, did the carnival go to Mexico? Or anywhere
near the border?"

"No, Jupe," Andy shook his head. "Only California."

"Why Mexico, First?" Bob asked.

"I was thinking of smugglers, Records," Jupiter explained. "Smugglers often hide
things inside articles like those crooked cats. Where did you get those cats, Andy?"

"From Chicago," Andy said. "Dad bought them straight from the prize supplier
there."

Jupiter frowned. "Well, there is something important about those cats, and we have
to find out what. One thing puzzles me, though. Why did that old man try to steal
only the last crooked cat? Andy, this is only your third day in Rocky Beach?"

"That's right. We've played only two shows. We came here overnight from San
Mateo after our last show there."

"And just when did you give out the cats?" asked Jupe.

"Four the first night here," said Andy, "and the fifth to Pete last night."

"Why did you give out four cats the first night? Isn't that a lot of first prizes?"

"We always try to have a lot of winners the first night," Andy explained. "We want
people to go home and talk about winning. It's good advertising. Actually, I let some
borderline winners take crooked cats."

"The cats were always first prize?" Jupiter asked.

215
"Oh, no. I'm always changing the first prizes. I lost some of my best prizes in the
San Mateo fire, so I made the crooked cats a first prize the first night here."

Jupiter pondered. "You keep your prizes in that trailer? How safe are they?"

"Well, the trailer is always locked. When the show isn't open, it's attached to our
trucks, and it has a burglar alarm on it - we get a lot of attempts to pilfer our stuff -
kids mostly. Someone's nearly always round our truck, and when the gallery is
open, I keep the trailer locked behind the booth where I can see it

"Then it would be very difficult to steal one of the cats from the trailer without
being seen?"

"It sure would," Andy declared. "I mean, someone could break it open easy enough,
but at night and most of the day the alarm would go off, and when the alarm's off, a
thief would be almost sure to be seen. I guess a thief could break it open and run,
but we'd know about it."

"Yes," Jupiter said slowly, and the boys could almost see the wheels turning in the
First Investigator's brain. "So you left San Mateo with five crooked cats ... You
came straight here. It would have been difficult to steal the cats between San Mateo
and here. It would have been difficult to steal the cats from your trailer at any time
without the theft being quickly discovered. You opened up here right away, and you
quickly gave away four cats as first prize. Then, last night, that old man with the
moustache and dark glasses tried to grab the last cat. He failed, and Pete got it.
Rajah got loose, and Pete lost that last cat. Now someone is advertising for cats just
like your crooked ones."

"That's how it all happened, all right," Andy agreed. "But what does it all mean,
Jupiter?"

The First Investigator's eyes took on the gleam so familiar to Bob and Pete - the
gleam that told them that Jupiter was about to hatch a theory.

"One fact stands out, Andy," the stocky leader of the Three Investigators
announced. "No attempt was made to steal any of your cats before last night, and no
attempt was made to steal them from the trailer at all. To me, that suggests two
strong probabilities."

Jupiter's eyes gleamed round at them all. "I'm convinced that the crooked cats
became valuable only within the last few days. And I'm convinced that the man who
wants those cats is a member of the carnival!"

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Chapter 9
Jupiter Has a Plan

"But Jupiter," Andy protested, "no one in the carnival looks like that old man with
the moustache."

"A simple disguise, Andy," Jupiter declared. "The moustache was thick, he wore a
hat to hide his face, and wore dark glasses when it was almost night."

"Gosh, First," Pete pointed out, "a carnival member could have just grabbed the
cats from the trailer any time."

"He's right, First. He'd just sneak up and steal the cats." Bob added.

"No, Records. The very fact that no attempt was made to break into the trailer is
what convinces me," Jupiter pronounced. "An outsider would have just broken in
and run. Even if he had known how hard it was to steal the cats, he wouldn't have
cared as long as he escaped. And he wouldn't have to worry about being
recognized."

"Well?" Bob said.

"A member of the carnival would have to disguise himself or risk being seen,"
Jupiter went on, "and he would know how hard it was to break into that trailer. He
couldn't just grab and run - he'd have been missed! And if he didn't run away, he'd
risk being seen on the lot with the cats. On top of that, fellows, stealing cats from the
trailer would reveal at once that they had some value to someone!"

"Gosh, Jupe," Pete exclaimed. "You mean that the thief didn't want anyone to
know there'd been a theft!"

"Exactly, Second," Jupiter said triumphantly. "I think he didn't want any attention
drawn to those crooked cats, because their value is somehow connected to the
carnival! I'm sure the thief is afraid someone might guess their value if they were
openly stolen, and that he would be in trouble. I don't see how any of that would
have hurt an outsider."

"Jiminy, maybe you're right," Andy said, but he still looked doubtful.

"I know I am," Jupiter stated flatly. "The fact that the thief waited until last night

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to try to steal even one cat also convinces me. Because he is a member of the
carnival, he had to be careful, and because he's a member, he could afford to wait!
He wanted to pick exactly the right moment to get the cats in a way that wouldn't
arouse suspicion. Only a member of the carnival could observe Andy and the trailer
closely enough to feel secure in waiting for a perfect chance. Only he waited too
long."

"Too long, Jupe?" Pete asked, perplexed.

"Yes, Second. You remember that Andy said the crooked cats weren't first prize
until here in Rocky Beach? Then he gave out four cats that first night. He caught
the thief by surprise. Four of the cats were gone. The thief had to move fast. He
grabbed the last cat, but lost it. That made him desperate, and he resorted to risky
tricks like releasing Rajah."

"Rajah had to be taken to where Pete would see him," Andy said eagerly. "Only
someone who knew Rajah would attempt that!"

"And someone who knew Rajah was pretty safe, as Jupe said last night," Bob
declared.

"He was desperate, fellows," Jupiter repeated, "and now he's even more desperate.
He had to place that ad in the paper to try to find the rest of the cats, either because
Pete's cat wasn't the one he wanted or because he wants them all."

Bob nodded now. "I guess you're right, First But why did you say the crooked cats
became valuable only in the last few days?"

"Because nothing happened for three weeks before that fire in San Mateo,
Records," Jupiter explained. "Unless that was a real accident, everything has
happened quickly after that. I think that fire could have been a first attempt to get
the cats. Were the crooked cats in the booth at San Mateo, Andy?"

"Some of them, I think," Andy said. "I had them for display. I wasn't giving them
out there."

"But, Jupe," said Bob. "You said the thief had been waiting for his chance. If he
tried to get the cats in San Mateo, doesn't that ruin your theory?"

"Of course not," Jupiter said, a little miffed. "I said he was waiting for a good
chance. Maybe he tried in San Mateo, failed, and lay low waiting for another
chance. Still, there could be some other reason for the fire. That's one of the things
we have to learn, fellows. We have to learn what is going on, and who wants those
crooked cats so much."

"How do we do that, First?" Pete asked eagerly.

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Jupiter thought "You will stay here, Second. Find a place from which you can see
everyone who leaves the carnival without being seen yourself."

"Gee, do I have to stay here, Jupe?" Pete complained.

"Since I'm sure the thief is a member of the carnival," Jupiter instructed, "he'll
have to leave to meet the people who answer his ad - unless he has a confederate.
From the way he's been acting I think he's alone, and you may be able to spot
something suspicious. Records, give Second your directional signal. I'll keep mine
for us."

"You're going somewhere?" Andy asked. "Can I come with you?"

"All right, Andy, but we have to hurry," Jupiter said.

Pete cried, "Where're you all going, Jupe?" His question bounced off the retreating
backs of his friends as they ran to get their bicycles. When Jupiter had a plan of
action, he rarely stopped to explain it to his fellow investigators. Pete glumly
watched them disappear out of the carnival grounds. Alone in the grey late
afternoon, he looked round for a place where he could hide and still see the main
and side exits from the carnival. His gaze fell on the high fence of the abandoned
amusement park some twenty yards outside the main gate of the carnival.

There were holes in the high fence here, and the beams of the old roller coaster
jutted up above the fence. It looked like the perfect spot to watch the carnival
without being seen. Pete glanced round, but no one seemed to be watching him.
They were all too busy. The Second Investigator strolled casually from the carnival
and across to a hole in the high old fence of the amusement park.

Checking once more to be sure he was unobserved, he slipped through the hole in
the fence. Once inside, he made his way past the rickety abandoned buildings of
other attractions of the once lively amusement park to the roller coaster. He climbed
up inside the lattice of old beams that held up the roller-coaster tracks until he
found a place from which he could see both carnival exits without being observed
himself.

He sat braced among the beams, and settled down to watch the carnival some fifty
yards away. He was uneasily aware of the silent gloom round him. Cold wind made
the old wooden structures creak and groan in the emptiness, and the fence seemed
to cut him off from the live world outside.

The ghostly roller coaster towered menacingly above him in the grey day. The fun
house between where he sat and the fence was eerie, its entrance a giant painted
mouth, wide and laughing. To the right, at the edge of the ocean, the tunnel of love
sagged with holes in its walls. A narrow channel of sluggish water lapped at its

219
entrance, where small boats had once waited to take lovers for rides.

Pete felt very alone in his perch. Then he became alert as a figure strode out of the
main entrance of the carnival. It was a man who looked round and hurried away
towards the business section of Rocky Beach. Pete stared after the retreating figure
in dismay. There had been something familiar about him, but he had been wearing
city clothes, and at fifty yards in the gloomy grey light Pete could not be sure!

Had it been Khan? Pete thought he had recognized the massive shoulders of the
strong man, and maybe the beard. But if the man had wild hair it had been hidden
under a hat, and without the black-and-gold tights Pete wasn't sure.

Soon after, while Pete was still alert and straining to see, another man emerged from
the main exit. A tall figure, once again vaguely familiar, and once again Pete wasn't
sure. Had it been The Great Ivan in his street clothes?

Pete's heart sank as he realized the truth: at fifty yards he couldn't really recognize
the carnival performers out of their costumes! He didn't know them well enough.

He became certain when two more men came out of the side exit. One was old, grey-
haired and tall. The other was bald and middle-aged. The second man might have
been the fire eater, but the first he couldn't recognize at all.

Groaning inwardly, the Second Investigator continued to watch. As more people


came out of the carnival, he realized that rehearsal times must be over. Even if he
could recognize the figures, it wouldn't mean anything. Everyone in the carnival
seemed to be taking a late-afternoon break.

Finally one really familiar face and figure slipped out of the side exit - Mr Carson
himself. Andy's father hurried away towards a small car and drove off. Pete shifted
on his perch and wondered if he should stay where he was or give up and try to find
his friends.

While he tried to decide, the old amusement park's wood creaked and groaned in
the rising wind.

Chapter 10

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The Tattooed Man

When Jupiter, Bob, and Andy rode away from the carnival, leaving Pete alone to
watch, the First Investigator led them straight to the salvage yard. While Bob and
Andy waited alongside their bicycles, Jupiter vanished into the mounds of junk
without a word to his companions.

"What's he doing now, Bob?" Andy asked.

"I don't know," Bob admitted. "When Jupiter has some big scheme, he usually
forgets to tell us what it is until we're doing it But he knows what he's doing - I
hope."

They heard banging and thudding inside the mounds of junk. Jupiter seemed to be
hurling heavy objects everywhere. At last they heard a cry of triumph, and the
stocky First Investigator soon emerged into the open. He wore a broad grin and
carried some strange, ragged object

"I knew we had one here," he exulted. "The Jones Salvage Yard has everything!"
He held up the most dilapidated stuffed cat Bob and Andy had ever seen. It was
spotted black and white; its legs were torn, one eye was missing, and the stuffing
was coming out.

"What's it for Jupiter?" Andy asked.

"Why, to answer the ad, of course," Jupiter said.

"But, Jupe," Bob objected, "that's not anything like Andy's crooked cats!"

"It will be, Records," Jupiter stated. "Come on." He hurried into Tunnel Two and
up into Headquarters, with Bob and Andy following him. He went straight to a
small workbench in a corner.

"Records, call that telephone number in the ad and find out where we have to go."

While Bob made the call, Jupiter began to work on the ragged stuffed cat. He used
quick drying, brush-on dye, needle and thread, and twisted pieces of wire to
reconstruct and repair the cat. He worked quickly and in silence, his eyes bright
with purpose. Bob hung up and joined Andy at the workbench.

"You have an address, Records?" Jupiter asked without looking up from his work.

"The number was an answering service," Bob said. "They told me to go to 47 San
Roque Way. That's only about ten blocks from here, Jupe."

"Good. We should be in plenty of time since the ad only came out in the evening

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paper. He probably used the answering service because he didn't have an address
when he placed that ad."

Half an hour later, Jupiter sat back in satisfaction and buckled a red-dyed collar
round the stuffed cat's neck.

"There! One red-and-black, one-eyed, red-collared crooked cat. The wire twists the
legs just right, I believe."

"It still doesn't look like Andy's cats," Bob decided.

"But good enough for our purposes," Jupiter declared. "Now let's go and sell a
crooked cat!"

Fifteen minutes later Bob, Andy and Jupiter crouched in a grove of palm trees not
far from 47 San Roque Way. It was a small stucco house set far back from the
street, with a faded sign on it that showed it had once been the combination home-
office of a watchmaker. It seemed deserted in the gloomy late afternoon, with no
curtains at the windows and no lights inside.

The street was not deserted. A horde of boys and girls milled around with stuffed
cats in their arms. The cats were of every possible description. The prospective
sellers were eager, but it was clear that the door of the house was locked.

"Most of those cats are all wrong," Bob pointed out. "Can't those kids read right?"

"They all hope the buyer will make an exception for them," Jupiter said. "They all
want twenty-five dollars for cats worth maybe ten dollars."

"Everyone wants something for nothing," Andy said. "All carnival people know
that."

At that moment a small blue car stopped in the alley behind the stucco house.
Someone got out and hurried round to the front of the house. He was too far away
and moved too quickly for the boys to get a real look at him. The man unlocked the
front door of the small house, and the horde of eager cat-sellers began to pour inside
after him. Andy shifted with excitement where the boys crouched hidden among the
palms.

"What do we do, Jupiter?" he asked quickly.

"First, Andy, do you recognize that blue car?" Andy peered hard towards the
distant car.

"No, Jupe, I don't think I ever saw it before. Most carnival people have bigger cars
than that to pull their trailers."

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"Very well," Jupiter nodded. "You and I will stay here and watch. One of us can
sneak round in a few minutes and examine that car. We must be careful, though,
not to be seen. I don't think the thief can be aware that anyone is after him yet.
Anyway, if I'm right about him being a carnival member, he would recognize you,
Andy."

"What do I do?" Bob asked. "As if I didn't know."

"Yes, Records," Jupiter instructed, "you will go in and try to sell our stuffed cat.
He'll refuse to buy, if my deductions are correct, but you'll see who he is and
perhaps find out just what is so valuable about the crooked cats."

"Okay, First," Bob said, and remounted his bike.

Carrying the fake crooked cat, Bob pedalled up to the long front path of the stucco
house. He rode on to the door and dismounted. Then he joined the stream of boys
and girls still pouring into the house.

Inside, he found himself in a bare living room mobbed with the eager sellers. The
only furniture was some straight chairs and a single long table. At a chair behind
the table, almost hidden by the crowd of boys and girls, the man was taking the cats
one by one and examining them.

"No, I'm sorry, boys, those three won't do at all," the man said in a hoarse voice to
two older boys. "You see, I must have only a certain kind of cat. No, that one won't
do, either. I'm sorry. My ad made it very clear that I want specific stuffed cats."

Then the man's arm reached out quickly to take a crooked cat that looked exactly
like the cat that Pete had won and then lost at the carnival. Bob stared. On the
man's left forearm was a large tattoo of a sailing ship, clear and unmistakable!

"Good, that's just what I need, son," the tattooed man said as he gave the owner
twenty-five dollars.

But Bob wasn't listening. He was thinking that if the man was a member of the
carnival, Andy should know the tattoo! He didn't see how Andy could have missed
such a mark, and if - he was looking straight into the swarthy face of the tattooed
man. The man's eyes flickered, and he pointed at Bob. "You in the red sweater. Can
I see your cat?" Bob walked up to the table, trying not to show how scared he was,
but the man only reached out and took the cat. He glanced at the fake cat, then
smiled up at Bob.

"Well, it's been repaired, but it's a good job. My kids at the home will like it. Here's
your money, son."

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Stunned, Bob took the twenty-five dollars without really knowing what was
happening. He found himself staring at the tattooed man, but, fortunately, the man
immediately returned to looking at other cats. Recovering himself, Bob backed
away from the table.

As he did, he saw the pile of stuffed cats on the floor behind the table. One was his
own, and one wasn't any more like the cat Pete had lost than his was. But the other
two were identical to Pete's prize.

The stream of kids was thinning now, and Bob hesitated. He was torn between
leaving before he attracted attention and staying to see if he could learn more about
crooked cats. He decided to risk staying a little longer.

"I need cats to match a giant cat the children's home has as a kind of mascot," the
tattooed man explained to some disappointed boys. "It was made in Germany a long
time ago. We want similar cats to give to all our kids as Christmas presents."

"Gee," a boy who had just failed said, "maybe I know who has one like you want,
mister. My friend Billy Mota won a cat at the carnival."

"Did he?" the tattooed man said. "Unfortunately, I suppose he didn't see my ad,
and I only have today."

"He lives near me, 39 Chelham Place," the boy blurted out.

"I won't have time, son," the tattooed man said.

For an instant, Bob was certain that the swarthy man's dark eyes had flickered
towards him. But he could not be sure that it hadn't been his imagination. The
crowd in the room had dwindled to a very few boys, and Bob realized that soon he
would be too obviously hanging round after selling his cat.

Quietly, as the tattooed man was eagerly buying one more cat that looked exactly
like the one Pete had lost, Bob slipped through the door. On his bike he rode back to
the grove of palms. Jupiter and Andy greeted him anxiously.

"You were in there a long time," Andy said.

"I was trying to see if I could learn what was valuable about those cats, but I
couldn't," Bob explained. "But I did see the man, Andy, he's pretty tall and
swarthy, and he's got a tattoo of a sailing ship on his left arm! Have you ever seen a
man like that at the carnival?"

"A tattooed sailing ship?" Andy frowned. "No, Bob, never. Some of the roughnecks
are tattooed, but not like that. I don't know anyone who sounds like that man."

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Jupiter was thoughtful. "He probably keeps the tattoo hidden at the carnival, and
the way he looked to you, Bob, is maybe another disguise. Andy searched his car,
but found no clues at all. We took the licence number, though."

"I have something more important, Jupe," Bob said. "He bought our cat!"

Jupiter was incredulous. "He bought it? The fake?"

Bob displayed the twenty-five dollars. "He bought five cats, all sold. Three of them
looked like Andy's cats, but ours and one other didn't. What's he doing, Jupe?"

"Did he recognize you, do you think?" Jupiter asked.

"How could he? I never saw him before."

"Unless he was that old thief last night," Jupiter pointed out. "If he did recognize
you, he might have bought wrong cats to fool us."

"You said he only got three like mine?" Andy asked.

"That's all, but some boy told him about another kid who won a cat at your
carnival. He got the address of the other kid, and so did I: Billy Mota, 39 Chelham
Place."

"Good work, Records," Jupiter said. "If he is after the carnival cats, and the three
he bought don't turn out to be what he wants, he'll have to go after that fourth cat.
We'll go to Billy Mota, too, but first we have to see what he does with the cats he
has, and if he finds - "

Andy broke in, "I think the last boy is leaving!" They watched as a solitary boy
came out of the house still carrying a blue-and-white stuffed cat The tattooed man
appeared at the front door, looked up and down the quiet street, then went back
inside. The sound of the door lock snapping shut carried to the boys.

"Come on," Jupiter whispered. The grey day was growing dark early as they
slipped up to the stucco house. At the living-room window they carefully raised their
heads to look inside.

"There he is," Bob whispered.

The swarthy tattooed man sat at the long table. On the table in front of him were
three crooked cats, all exactly like the one Pete had lost. The tattooed man was
examining each of them in turn.

"They're my crooked cats, all right" Andy whispered.

225
"Look in the corner!" Jupiter said.

On the floor behind the table were two more cats - the stuffed cats that were not like
Pete and Andy's.

Jupiter said, "He's thrown those aside! He does want only your carnival cats,
Andy!"

"Shhhhhh!" Bob warned. Jupiter's voice had risen as he realized that the tattooed
man was really after the carnival cats. In the room, the man flung down the last cat,
and stood up with a long, wicked knife gleaming in his hand.

Chapter 11
Trapped!

Unable to move, the boys peered in the window as the tattooed man stood over the
table with his long knife.

Suddenly, he began to slash at the first crooked cat with the knife. He cut into the
second cat and the third. He stared at the crooked cats, and then began to fling the
stuffing all over the table. With his hands moving frantically, he pawed over the
stuffing and the pieces of covering.

Breathing hard, the tattooed man dropped his knife and slumped down in the chair
behind the table. He looked with gloomy hatred at the hacked remains of the three
crooked cats.

Bob whispered, "He didn't find what he wants!"

"No," Jupiter agreed, "but whatever he's looking for is something inside the cats -
or one of the cats. And that means it has to be inside the last missing cat! The one
that Billy Mota has! If we hurry, we can get there before - "

"Jupiter!" Andy cried. "He's coming out!"

Inside the room the tattooed man had jumped up again. His angry eyes glanced all
round the room. Then he reached for a hat on a chair.

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"Quick, fellows, those bushes!" Jupiter muttered.

They dived for the cover of three thick hibiscus bushes and lay flat in their shadow.
The front door closed, and the tattooed man came hurrying round the house. He
didn't even glance towards them, but strode past to the back alley. He vanished
from their sight, and moments later they heard a car door open and close. The car
engine started and roared away out of the alley.

"He's gone to get that last crooked cat, First!" Bob guessed.

"Maybe we can catch up with him," Andy said.

"On bicycles?" Bob pointed out. "Chelham Place is over five miles from here, Andy,
near your carnival." The boys all looked at each other in despair.

"He'll get the last crooked cat," Bob moaned. "And we can't stop him."

"I guess we can't," Jupiter agreed. He got up from under the hibiscus bushes and
looked glumly at the small house. Then his eyes lighted up. "Or maybe we can!
Fellows, look at those wires! The house has a telephone!" Without waiting for an
answer, the First Investigator ran to the front door. It was locked.

"The windows!" Andy cried.

The carnival boy tried a living-room window. It was open! He pushed it up and the
three boys tumbled inside.

"Find the telephone," Jupiter urged. "Look everywhere!"

"There, Jupiter," Andy pointed. "On the floor in that corner." Jupiter grabbed the
receiver, lifted it to his ear, and listened. His face fell. "It's not working."

"Now what do we do?" Bob asked.

"I don't know, Records," Jupiter said glumly. "Perhaps if we rode over there as fast
as we could we'd still be in time, if - " he added lamely, "if no one was home when
the tattooed man got there."

"He'd just break in, Jupe," Bob said.

Andy said, "There must be a public telephone somewhere near here, Jupiter!"

Jupiter groaned. "Of course, I should have - "

The stocky First Investigator never finished what he was going to say. Outside the

227
house, coming slowly closer, the boys all heard soft, careful footsteps. They froze in
fright as they listened to the ominous steps. Bob crouched low and crept silently to a
front window. He looked out, ducked and hurried back.

"The tattooed man! He's coming back."

"The window," Andy whispered urgently.

"No time, fellows," Bob said, scared. "Quick, then, the other room!" Jupiter
decided, hurriedly.

They fell over each other in their haste to get to the rear room. Andy reached it first,
with Bob and Jupiter sprawling in behind him. It was a small, completely bare
room, with shutters over the window that made it pitch dark. They quickly closed
the door and stood behind it, holding their breath.

Outside in the living-room the outer door opened and closed.

There was a long silence.

Suddenly, a rasping voice laughed just outside the back room door. A low, nasty
laugh.

"So, some smart lads, eh? Well, we'll have to see that you don't get too smart for
your own good, boys."

The three boys looked at each other in dismay. There was another laugh from
outside the door.

"Thought I didn't see you at the window, did you? Well, you'll have to be a lot
smarter than you are to fool me. I saw you, all right. A fine trio of fools you are.
Didn't even hear me park up the street. Well, you'll have time to think about your
foolishness, eh?"

There was the sound of a key turning in the lock in the door of the back room, and a
heavy sliding noise as something solid dropped across the door - a metal bar.

"There, that should hold you," the hoarse voice said. "But take a warning, smart
boys. When you get out, stay away from me!"

There was no laugh this time. The boys heard footsteps going away and the
slamming of the front door. A heavy silence descended over the small house.

"The window," Jupiter said, undaunted. He felt his way in the dark to the window,
pushed it up, reached to open the outside shutters and stopped.

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"The window's barred," he cried. "This must have been a storeroom for the
watchmaker who lived here!"

"Open the shutters and yell," Bob said. They all yelled out into the grey, darkening
sky. No one came. The small house was far from the street, and the houses across
the back alley were some distance away on the next street After some minutes, Andy
sat down on the floor and noticed something in the grey light from the window that
they'd missed before. "Look! There's a back door!"

Jupe rushed over to it. The back door was double-locked and solid.

"We're stuck, fellows, and that tattooed man is sure to get the last crooked cat
now!" Andy moaned. "We're finished."

"Perhaps not!" Jupiter said suddenly. "You forgot my new signal. Pete will see the
red light, and the directional-signal will lead him to us."

The stocky First Investigator took out the tiny instrument he had built and bent
close over it.

"Help," he said into it "Help." The small instrument began to hum very low.

"It lights only on the receiving instrument," Jupiter explained.

They all watched the humming signal and wondered if Pete would see the call for
help.

Where Pete sat up in the beams of the old roller coaster, the sharp wind from the
mountains made him shiver. He could barely see the exits from the carnival in the
early dusk of the gloomy day.

None of the people he had seen leave had come back, and the carnival would open in
not much more than an hour. Where were the carnival people he had watched leave,
and where were Jupiter, Bob and Andy? Andy was supposed to be in his booth
before the carnival opened, and it wasn't like Jupiter or Bob to stay away so long
without at least trying to send a message. Pete was worried. Sometimes, Jupiter's
tendency to keep his plans secret so that he could astound them all, annoyed Pete. It
was, he knew, only the First Investigator's love of the dramatic, but it had got the
boys into tight corners before. He hated to leave his post, but he was uneasy now.

He climbed down from the roller coaster and hurried through the dilapidated
amusement park. The enormous, laughing mouth of the Fun House seemed to leer
at him as he passed it and went on to slip back through the hole in the fence.

At the carnival the Ferris wheel gondolas were being uncovered. The carousel was
already playing its gay music. Andy Carson was not at his booth. Pete chewed on his

229
lower lip. Where were they? He suspected that Jupiter had taken them to the man
who wanted to buy crooked cats, but where was that? Some sixth sense told Pete
that something was wrong.

If they came back to the carnival, they would expect to find him at his post. They
would, perhaps, want his report at once. If he left his post and went looking for
them, he could miss them, and they could return to the carnival to find him gone.
On the other hand, if they needed help, he - Pete remembered the new directional-
and-emergency signal!

He dug into his pocket and brought out the tiny instrument. He stared at it eagerly.
But it was silent. The red emergency light was dark.

Chapter 12
A Human Fly

In the locked storeroom of the small house, Andy looked up at Jupiter from the
floor.

"How far does that signal reach, Jupe?"

"Three miles," Jupiter said, and suddenly groaned again. "Of course, the carnival is
almost five miles from here! Pete won't get our signal!"

They all looked at each other.

"Someone wIll hear us yelling, fellows," Bob said, trying to make his voice
optimistic.

"Of course they will," Jupiter said firmly. "But in the meantime, we can try to find
a way out ourselves. The experts say there's no such thing as a room you can't get
out of somehow. There's always a flaw in a room. Come on, let's find it."

"But how, Jupe?" Andy asked. "We've looked."

"There's always a chance that we've missed something," Jupiter declared. "Bob,
you examine all the walls for weak spots, places where pipes go through, anything.

230
I'll check the window more closely, and Andy can recheck the doors and that
cupboard in the corner." Despite their pessimism, Andy and Bob couldn't help
being convinced by Jupiter's staunch refusal to give up. They set to work with
renewed vigour. But Andy soon decided once again that there was no way. out
through the solid doors, and Bob found no weak places in any of the walls.

"Keep trying, fellows!" Jupiter urged. "There must be some weakness in this
room."

The First Investigator continued to study the barred window, and from time to time
yelled out for help. Bob got down on his hands and knees to examine the walls at the
floor. Andy went into the single cupboard. "Jupe! Bob! Look here!"

The carnival boy held a typewritten sheet of paper he had found in the cupboard.
"It's a complete itinerary of the carnival," Andy told them. "Our whole route and
schedule in California."

"Then the tattooed man is part of the carnival" Jupiter said in triumph.

"Or at least he's following the carnival pretty closely," Bob said.

"Andy," Jupiter exclaimed, "did you recognize his voice? You didn't recognize the
tattoo, or his face, but think about his voice"

"No," Andy said slowly, "I'm sure I've never heard that voice before, Jupiter."

Jupiter thought a minute. "He could be disguising his voice, too. It had that odd
rasp."

After looking at the carnival itinerary, Bob began to rummage round in the long,
narrow cupboard that was partly filled with old boards and boxes. Suddenly he
came out with some strange clothes in his hands.

"Look at this, fellows. I found it all just dropped on the floor."

Bob held up a pair of strange, black overalls that were cut very narrow, like tights;
a black hoodlike head covering that fitted a whole head but left the face open; and a
pair of black canvas shoes with odd rubber soles that looked a little like curved
suction cups.

Jupiter frowned. "It looks like some kind of costume, Records. Perhaps a carnival
costume, but I don't recall any costume like that. Andy?"

Andy was staring at the black garments with a puzzled expression. He took them
and studied them. "Well, what is it, Andy?" Jupiter wanted to know. Andy shook
his head.

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"None of our people wears a costume like this, but - " The carnival boy hesitated,
shook his head. "I can't be sure, fellows, but I think this looks a lot like a costume
the Amazing Gabbo used to wear."

"The Amazing who?" Bob said, staring.

"Gabbo," Andy said. "When I was just a little kid, right after my Mom died but
before I went to Grandma, my Dad worked a little while with a small circus near
Chicago. The Amazing Gabbo worked in the show, too, for a few days. We never,
knew him, really, and he wasn't around long. I only remember him because he was
caught stealing from the circus and fired. I think he got into worse trouble later and
went to prison."

"Prison?" Jupiter said quickly. "Then he could be a thief! Did he look like that
tattooed man, Andy?"

"I don't know, Jupe. I guess his age is about right. But I wouldn't remember what
he looked like. I don't think Dad would, either. I mean not right away unless
someone told him to look for Gabbo. I guess we really never saw him out of his
costume."

"And this looks like his costume?" Jupiter asked

Andy nodded. "It sure does, I think. And those shoes are a special kind used by
human flies in their acts. You know, so they can climb almost any wall."

Jupiter gaped. "A human fly?"

"Sure," Andy said. "That was Gabbo's act. He - "

But Jupiter was no longer listening. "That old man who tried to grab your crooked
cat last night! He got out of that dead-end area. The only way out was to climb that
high fence. No one could climb a fence like that - excepts maybe, a trained human
fly!"

"And Gabbo would know how to handle a lion!" Andy said.

"But, fellows," Bob said, "Andy already told us he doesn't know the tattooed man."

"The tattooed man could be another disguise, Records," Jupiter pointed out. "We
must get out of here! If he gets to the fifth cat and escapes, we may never find him!
Yell, fellows!"

They began to yell at the window again. But their voices echoed without response.

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Pete coasted into the salvage yard on his bicycle. He had made his decision some half
an hour ago - he would look for the other boys.

But as he rode into the yard in the gathering dusk, all he saw was Konrad taking the
last of a load off the small truck. "Have you seen Bob or Jupiter, Konrad?" Pete
cried out to the big Bavarian helper of Uncle Titus Jones.

"I don't think I see them for a long time today, Pete," Konrad replied stolidly.
"There is something wrong?"

"I - don't know, I - "

Konrad raised a massive hand. "Wait, Pete. What is that strange noise? I think it is
close around somewhere."

The big Bavarian looked all around him, perplexed Pete listened and heard the
strange, muffled sound - a steady, low beep It seemed to come from somewhere close
to his pocket!

"The signal!" Pete cried, and dug into his pocket to pull out the tiny instrument

He stared at the flashing red light on the signaller.

"Konrad, they're in trouble!" Pete exclaimed, and he explained the signal device to
the big Bavarian.

"Come on, Pete!" Konrad roared. "We go find them!"

The big Bavarian jumped into the cab of the truck and pulled Pete in beside him.
While Konrad drove out of the salvage yard, Pete watched the direction pointer on
the small dial of Jupiter's signal device.

"Left, Konrad!" Pete instructed, and as they reached the first corner, "Left again,
yes, and now straight ahead!"

Konrad drove steadily and Pete watched the dial pointer. The direction of the signal
Pete was receiving was at an angle to the grid pattern of the streets. Since they
couldn't travel in a straight line as the crow flies, they had to zigzag their way
towards the source of the signal. Pete kept directing Konrad to turn at corners.

"Right now, Konrad! Left, and left again. Now right!"

In a series of turn like steps, the big Bavarian drove the truck closer to the source of
the signal.

"The signal's real strong now, Konrad!" Pete cried.

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They had turned into a quiet street that was deserted in the dusk. Konrad drove
more slowly, as Pete stared at both sides of the silent street. He saw nothing. He
looked at the arrow pointer on the signal dial.

"It's to the right, Konrad, and awful close!"

Konrad peered around, worried. "I see nothing, Pete."

"Wait!" Pete cried "It's behind us. The signal sound is lower." Konrad applied the
brakes with a screech and threw the truck gears into reverse. The truck backed
slowly along the quiet street. Pete pointed to a small stucco house set far back from
the roadway.

"I think it's that house, Konrad!"

Konrad had stopped the truck, and was climbing out, before Pete finished talking.

"Come on, Pete! We find them!" the big Bavarian roared, and charged across the
pavement towards the small house.

Pete raced after him and reached the front door just as Konrad began to pound on
it.

"It is locked, Pete! I hear no sounds! If - "

The Bavarian left the rest of his sentence unfinished. Pete stared at the locked door
and the dark, silent house. Konrad backed off, his face grim as he prepared to break
the door in. Pete stopped him.

"Wait, Konrad. I know how to find out if they're here," Pete said quickly. He bent
over his tiny signal device and spoke into it "Help. Help."

Instantly, like an echo, cries came from the back of the small house: "Help! Pete! At
the back!"

Pete and Konrad hurried round the house to the rear. Konrad's great hands ripped
at the back door and soon broke it open from outside. Moments later Jupiter, Bob
and Andy stood grinning at their friends.

"We saw our red light go on and knew you were near, Pete," Bob exclaimed.

"That's what I figured," Pete said. "That signal worked - "

Pete stopped as a short old man advanced angrily on them from the direction of the
street. He was waving his arms.

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"What are you doing to my house!" the old man cried "I'll have you in court for
destroying my property!"

Jupiter stepped up to the angry old man. "We're sorry we had to break your door,
sir, but a man locked us inside. We yelled, but no one heard us. A tattooed man,
very swarthy, locked us in the back room. Is he your tenant, sir?"

"Locked in? Tattooed man? What are you talking about?" the old man said. "Why
I rented the house this morning, to a very respectable man. An older man. A
salesman. He had no tattoo. Who would lock you in here? That's ridiculous. Why,
I'll report this!"

"That would be wise, sir. The police should know about this," Jupiter agreed. "I
suggest you do it at once, sir."

The old man nodded, confused, and began to walk away. Jupiter waited only for a
moment. Then he started towards the waiting truck.

"Hurry, fellows, there may still be time to get that last crooked cat! Konrad, put the
bikes on the truck and drive to 39 Chelham Place! Hurry!"

Chapter 13
A Near Miss

Konrad wheeled the truck into the tree-shaded street of big, old houses not more
than a block from the ocean. The boys saw no trace of a blue car on the street.

"I knew we'd never catch up with him, First," Bob said, dejected.

"You were locked in too long, Jupe," Pete agreed.

"There is always the chance that something will hold him up," Jupiter insisted.
"That must be number 39 up at the end of the street. And, fellows, it's dark!"

It was a three-storey white house surrounded by tall trees and flower beds. It was
dark in the early dusk, as Jupiter had said. A car was parked in the driveway, but it

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wasn't a small blue car. As Konrad drove closer, lights went on inside the house.

"Someone must have just come home?" Jupiter declared.

Konrad slowed the truck to park in front of the house. Suddenly a woman's cries
shattered the twilight:

"Thief! Stop him! Police!"

Konrad jammed on the brakes and had the truck door open before the truck had
come to a full stop.

"The tattooed man must be in there!" Pete cried.

"Hurry, fellows!" Jupiter urged.

They all leaped from the truck, but Konrad was first The big Bavarian waved them
back.

"I take good care of him, boys! Stay behind me!"

They began to run towards the house where the woman was still crying out. Then
Pete stopped and pointed up among the trees to the side of the house.

"Look!" he cried.

They all saw the shadowy figure in the dusk coming swiftly down the sheer side of
the house. As they watched, the figure swarmed down from unseen handhold to
handhold, and dropped to the ground in a pool of light from a downstairs window.
It was the swarthy, tattooed man and he carried a large black-and-red bundle.

"It's him!" Bob exclaimed. "He's got the crooked cat!"

Andy shouted, furious, "Stop, you thief!"

The man's head jerked round at Andy's shout He saw the boys and Konrad, and
whirled instantly towards the rear of the house. He disappeared among the back
garden trees. Konrad bellowed like a bull and pounded in pursuit.

"I get him, boys!" Konrad yelled But the tattooed man was faster than Konrad or
the boys, and vanished into the next street while they were still among the trees. Pete
was the first to reach the next street. He stood staring helplessly as the others panted
up. They all watched as far up the street the small blue car started and quickly
roared away out of sight. "We had him, and we lost him!" Pete moaned.

"He got my last crooked cat, too!" Andy wailed.

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"We got his licence number earlier," Bob pointed out eagerly. "The police can trace
him!"

"That would take some time, Records," Jupiter said, crest-fallen. "But possibly in
his haste he left some clue at the house! Come on, fellows, hurry!"

As they reached the big white house, a pretty woman was standing on the side steps
with a small boy behind her. Her eyes were wide with alarm, and she looked
suspiciously at the boys and Konrad. "Do you boys know that awful man?" she
demanded.

"We do, Ma'am," Jupiter declared. "He is a nefarious thief we have been
attempting to apprehend. We traced him to your house, but we came just too late."

The woman stared. "You've been trying to catch a criminal like that? Why, you're
only boys!"

Jupiter frowned in annoyance. The First Investigator had long resented the
assumption of adults that because they were "only boys," they were without
intelligence or ability, and therefore unimportant.

"It is true we are 'only boys', Ma'am," Jupiter said a little stiffly, "but I assure you
that we have much experience solving puzzles and crimes. I presume you are Mrs.
Mota?"

"Why, yes," Mrs. Mota said, startled "How on earth did you know my name?"

"We knew that man was coming here," Jupiter explained. "Unfortunately, he
delayed us. We really didn't expect to find him still here, but I gather that you have
just come home?"

"Yes," Mrs. Mota nodded. "Billy and I were out. We came home only a few minutes
ago. Billy went straight up to his room, and the next thing I knew he was calling for
help!"

The small boy, no more than ten years old, said eagerly, "He was up on the stairs to
the top floor! He jumped down when he saw me and grabbed my crooked cat!"

"Of course, you had the crooked cat with you!" Jupiter understood in a flash. "That
was why he was still here! He couldn't find the cat in the house, so he had to wait!"

"After he had Billy's cat," Mrs. Mota went on, "he started down, saw me, and ran
up to the second floor. That was when I began to call for help."

Pete said, "And he climbed out of the second-floor window and down the wall!"

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"Like a human fly!" Bob exclaimed.

"Billy," Jupiter said, "Did you find anything on that crooked cat? Or anything
inside it?"

"Nope," Billy Mota said. "I guess I never looked."

The boys all looked glumly at each other. The last crooked cat was in the hands of
the tattooed man. They stood in the dusk trying to think of what they could do next.

"He got what he wanted," Bob said. "We'll never find him."

"We could still get the licence number of his car traced," Pete said hopefully.

"That will take time, Second," Jupiter said again. "It has to be sent to Sacramento.
Perhaps we should - "

Konrad, who had been standing silently by all this time, now stepped up to Jupiter
and broke in.

"We now call the police, Jupiter."

Jupiter protested, "But, Konrad, by the time - "

Konrad shook his head. "You call the police now. Your Uncle Titus would say that,
too. This lady is robbed, her house broken in. The man is dangerous, I think. We
have lost him. It is now for the police."

Bob agreed. "We can't catch him now, Jupe."

"We'd better call Chief Reynolds, First?" Pete said.

Jupiter sighed and his shoulders dropped. "I suppose you're right. May we use your
telephone, Mrs. Mota?"

"Of course you can, boys," Mrs. Mota said. They all trooped inside, and Jupiter
called Chief Reynolds. It didn't take long. The Chief, respected anything the boys
reported. Jupiter started to hang up.

"He'll be right over here, and - " Jupiter stared at the receiver in his hands. "Andy!
Call your father at the carnival! Find out if anyone is missing!"

"Missing?" Andy frowned. "Jimmy, Jupe, I told you I never saw that man before."

"We agreed he is probably in disguise," Jupiter said. "That swarthy face could be a

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mask, and a tattoo can be hidden. Find out if everyone is at the carnival!"

"Well, all right," Andy said, dubiously, "but my Dad's awful busy just before the
show opens, and it's hard to be sure who's there or not."

"Try, Andy!" Bob urged.

Andy went to the telephone, and dialled. He listened for a time as the phone rang
and rang.

"He's not in the office, fellows," the carnival boy said. "I'll try the box office, and
see if they can find Dad."

Andy was still on the telephone when they heard police cars screech to a stop
outside. Konrad looked relieved. Chief Reynolds himself strode into the house with
some of his men. The boys quickly told the Chief their whole story.

"Good work, boys," Chief Reynolds said. "With your description and the licence
number we should be able to get him. Do you know what he is after in those crooked
cats?"

"No, sir," Bob admitted. "But it must be awful valuable, the trouble he's taking."

Pete added. "Jupe thinks maybe it's something smuggled!"

Chief Reynolds nodded. "That is a very good thought. I'll instruct my men to be
alert for a valuable item inside the cat, and send out a call for any information the
border patrol might have on a wanted smuggler."

The Chief hurried out to the rest of his men. Andy Carson was still trying to get
through to his father at the carnival. Jupiter, who was disappointed at having to call
in Chief Reynolds before the boys even knew why the cats were valuable, watched
Andy nervously.

"He would have had time to get back to the carnival by now," the First Investigator
said in dejection. "Unless, of course, he doesn't go back at all this time," he added
hopefully. "Keep trying, Andy."

Andy nodded, and dialled once more, just as Chief Reynolds came back into the
house. The Chief was walking fast, his face serious as he approached the boys.

"Boys, you may have stumbled on to something far more important than you know!
I've just had a report that a man who answers your cat-thief's description, tattoo
and all, is suspected of a daring one-man bank robbery only last week! He escaped
with over $100,000!"

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Jupiter cried quickly, "In San Mateo, sir?"

"What?" Chief Reynolds said, looking at Jupiter. "Now, how did you know that,
Jupiter?"

"The fire at the carnival, sir! It was in San Mateo. I'm convinced that the cat-thief is
a member of the carnival. He must have set off the fire by accident after the
robbery, or maybe on purpose to help him to escape!"

"You can't be sure of that, Jupiter," the Chief said.

"The coincidence would be too much, Chief," Jupiter insisted. "If you go to the
carnival, you'll - "

Andy cried out, "I've got my Dad!"

They all stopped to listen as the carnival boy spoke eagerly into the telephone, and
they waited impatiently as Andy's Dad checked who was at the carnival. Chief
Reynolds left the room again when one of his men called him. Moments later, Andy
was nodding into the telephone.

"Yes, Dad. Jiminy, I'm sorry! But is anyone missing? No, all right Yes, Dad. Right
away!"

Andy hung up. "Everyone's there, Jupiter. At least they are now - all except me!
The show's already open. I've got to get there right away. I won't even have time for
dinner."

Bob and Pete both jumped as if shot, their faces pictures of dismay. "Oh my gosh,"
Pete moaned, "we've missed our dinners!"

"We're in real trouble, Jupe," Bob echoed. Jupiter, too, paled a little. Konrad
chuckled at the thought of what Aunt Matilda would say to Jupe. The boys knew
that nothing annoyed their parents and guardians more than missing dinner, no
matter what tight spots their investigating work got them into. But Jupiter hated to
leave before Chief Reynolds could tell them something more. So the boys stood there
nervously until the Chief returned. He nodded grimly to them.

"We don't have to go to the carnival, boys," the Chief announced. "We just found
the car only four blocks from here in the highway. The crooked cat was in the car. It
had been cut open, there was nothing in it. Tyre marks on the grass show he was
either picked up by another car, or had a second car ready and waiting. Anyway,
we'll have to alert the whole state now. I'm afraid he got what he wanted and left
Rocky Beach in a hurry, boys. I guess you'd better go home. We'll get him, but it
will take time now."

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The boys nodded dejectedly. They hurried down to the truck with Konrad, more
worried now about being late than about losing the cat-thief.

Or, rather, Bob, Pete and Andy were worried. Jupiter was thinking about
something else, something interesting. His eyes were speculative, but no one noticed.

Chapter 14
Jupiter Makes Deductions

For missing their dinners, both Bob and Pete spent all next day performing chores
around their houses. They had to admit that they'd asked for it, and worked without
too much grumbling, but their minds were on the failure of the case. They couldn't
help wondering if the tattooed man had been caught. Each tried to call Jupiter more
than once, but the First Investigator wasn't at Headquarters or at his house.

At dinner, Bob gulped his food. His father smiled at him.

"Chief Reynolds reports that you and your friends almost caught a bank robber last
night," Mr. Andrews said.

"We didn't know he was a bank robber, Dad," Bob explained. "We were just
helping a carnival boy in trouble."

"It's good to help people, Bob, and I know that you boys are careful. Chief Reynolds
says you did nothing foolish or dangerous. Still, you worry me sometimes. Be sure
you keep alert and use your head, son."

"Jupiter says being prepared is half the fight."

"As usual, Jupiter is right," Mr. Andrews said dryly.

"Too bad your man escaped. Chief Reynolds says he's been reported all over the
state, but they haven't caught him."

This news did nothing to cheer Bob. As he rode to the salvage yard after dinner, he
realized that this could turn out to be the first unsolved case The Three
Investigators had ever had. He was still brooding over it when he clambered up into

241
Headquarters. Jupiter was there, bent intently over a pile of newspapers and
studying some scrawled notes.

"What are you doing, First?" Bob asked.

The First Investigator shook his head curtly to indicate that he didn't want to talk.
Miffed, Bob began to study some specimens of sea life the boys had gathered while
skin diving. Then he wandered to the See-All and began to survey the salvage yard
in the fading light of the sunny day.

"Looks like Uncle Titus has bought another load no one knows what to do with," he
announced.

Jupiter grunted. He had stopped his reading and was sitting deep in thought, his
eyes closed. Bob looked back through the See-All.

"Here comes Pete!"

This time Jupiter didn't even grunt. Soon Pete came up through the trapdoor and
stared at the silent Jupiter.

"What's Jupe doing?" he wanted to know.

"Don't ask me," Bob replied. "The Great Brain is at work."

"Why all the newspapers? Is he going to find the tattooed man by putting another
ad in the paper?"

Jupiter looked up, his eyes bright. "That won't be needed, Second. I think I know
where the tattooed man is."

"You do, Jupe?" Bob cried. "Where?"

"Where he's been all the time - here in Rocky Beach, at the carnival."

Pete groaned. "Gosh, Jupe, like Chief Reynolds said, we don't know that. Why, he's
been seen in six different places!"

"Seven, to be precise," Jupiter agreed.

"That proves he's sure not here," Bob said

"On the contrary, Records," Jupiter pronounced. "I've been studying the reports
on him in the papers. The seven people saw him in seven different places as much as
two hundred miles apart! I would venture to say that no one has seen him!"

242
Bob nodded. "I see that, Jupe. But what makes you so sure he's still in Rocky Beach,
and at the carnival?"

Jupiter jumped up and began to pace the tiny room. "I've read everything I could
find about the bank robbery. There are three items - two in the San Mateo paper
and one in a Los Angeles paper. I also took a trip to San Mateo today while you two
were paying for missing dinner."

"Why didn't you have to work?" Pete demanded hotly. "You missed dinner, too!"

"I did have to work," Jupiter said, and grinned. "But it just happened that I knew
of some very interesting junk that could be purchased in San Mateo. When I told
Uncle Titus about the junk there, he sent me to get it with Hans and Konrad."

Pete sighed. "Some people are just lucky, I guess. Nothing ever gets me out of
working around the house."

"What did you learn about the robbery, First?" Bob asked.

"Well," Jupiter said, his face eager now, "it happened on the Friday night of the
carnival fire, all right. On Fridays, the San Mateo bank is open until six o'clock, the
weekend deposits are large, and the carnival opens earlier than usual! Also, fellows,
that Friday was the carnival's last day in San Mateo! They were due to leave San
Mateo late that night, travel here, and open on Saturday night!"

"Gosh," Pete said. "Just right if a member of the carnival wanted to rob the bank
and get away fast!"

"Exactly, Second," Jupiter said. "The robber of the bank was dressed all in black,
with a close-fitting black hood and black tennis shoes."

"Gabbo's costume!" Bob exclaimed.

Jupiter nodded. "Only the robber's arms were bare. All the witnesses agreed on
that. The robber had rolled up his sleeves."

"That's how everyone noticed the tattoo," Bob realized.

"Yes, Records," Jupiter said. "The robber entered the bank at five minutes before
six. He captured a guard and went into the open vault where the money was. He
held the guard hostage until he was outside. Then he stunned the guard and ran into
an alley beside the bank. The alarm had been turned on the moment he left the
bank, and a police car arrived within minutes."

"But he got away, didn't he, Jupe?" Pete asked impatiently.

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"He got away, but they don't know how!" Jupiter said. "The police ran into that
alley within minutes after the robber. They didn't find him - and yet it was a totally
blind alley! There was no way out of that alley at all. Only three building walls with
high, locked windows. Yet the robber was gone!"

"Just like when we chased that moustached man!" Bob said. "He climbed a wall."

Pete exclaimed. "A human fly!"

"That is what I believe," Jupiter nodded. "The San Mateo police put out the alarm
and looked for the robber. They found no trace of him until they had a fortunate
piece of luck. A policeman on duty outside the carnival - a policeman who had been
told about the bank robber - went to stop a scuffle among the people waiting to get
into the carnival. In the melee a man wearing a raincoat was knocked down, and his
coat flew open. The policeman saw a tight black costume under the coat, and
glimpsed a tattoo under the sleeve of the coat!"

"Wow, that was real luck, Jupe?" Pete declared.

"Yes," the First Investigator agreed, "but many crimes are solved by such small
mischances, Second. Anyway, the man wearing the raincoat got away in the crowd.
The policeman called for help, and other police rushed over to the carnival. They
cordoned off the area, and moved in. They were sure they would find the robber,
but - "

"I know," Bob said quickly, "the fire broke out!"

"It did," Jupiter said in triumph. "That was a great danger, so the police had to
help put it out. When they had the fire out, they continued their search, but they
didn't find the robber or the money. Yet I'm certain he was there!"

"Why, Jupe?" Bob asked.

"Well, the robber had escaped. He was safe. His only problem was to get out of San
Mateo unseen. To go out in the open at the carnival would have been very foolish of
him - unless he was a member of the carnival who had planned all along to escape
from San Mateo with the carnival. I'm convinced that his whole plan was to rob the
bank, escape up the wall of that alley, then slip back into the carnival and remove
his disguise. A simple and very safe plan."

"Only he was accidentally spotted," Bob went on, "and then he had to have time to
get out of his disguise. So he started the fire to gain time and distract everyone - the
same sort of idea as letting Rajah loose later."

Pete asked, "You mean the way he looked at the bank in San Mateo, and every time
we've seen him, he's been in a disguise?"

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"I do," Jupiter stated somewhat pompously. "At the bank, and in that house where
he bought the crooked cats, his face was stained swarthy, or be had on a plastic
mask. His hair was darkened, perhaps his nose changed - and he had a false tattoo!"
Bob and Pete didn't say anything for a full minute.

Then Pete exclaimed:

"Gosh, a tattoo is something everyone remembers!"

Bob added, "They'd hardly remember anything else once they'd seen that tattoo.
We hardly did."

"And he made sure everyone saw that tattoo, which would have been foolish if it
was a real tattoo he couldn't remove," Jupiter emphasized. "I believe he is an
ordinary man, younger and not swarthy, and with no tattoo! And I am convinced he
must be the Amazing Gabbo. Only a trained carnival performer could fool Mr.
Carson."

"But there's no human fly in the show, Jupe," Pete said.

"No, he wouldn't use his real act But most carnival performers can do other acts."

"And Andy said Mr. Carson doesn't really know Gabbo," Bob pointed out.

"Exactly," Jupiter agreed. "Andy said Mr. Carson might know Gabbo if he really
looked closely for him. But Gabbo has been in prison, and quite a few years have
passed. If Gabbo kept to himself and was rarely seen out of some costume, Mr.
Carson would never recognize him. Each performer has his own private trailer or
truck. If he changed in his trailer, it would be easy to be seen mostly only in his
costume."

"The crooked cats, Jupe," Peter said. "What does he want with them? Is the money
in them?"

"No, Second," said Jupiter. "That would be totally impracticable. I would guess
that something inside one cat shows where the $100,000 is. Or is something he must
have to retrieve his loot. A small map, a key, a sign that identifies him, or a left-
luggage ticket!"

"Something he hid in a crooked cat during that fire in San Mateo in case he was
searched!" Bob decided.

"Wow," Pete cried, "that would sure explain it all."

"But," Bob wondered, "if he has what he wanted from the crooked cat, wouldn't he

245
go after his loot right away, as the Chief thinks? Would he stay around here?"

"No, I think he would stay at the carnival, Records," Jupiter stated firmly. "He is
actually safest there, if no one knows he's a member and what he really looks like.
He doesn't suspect that anyone has guessed that he's there. He must know the police
are looking for him now. And he must realize that if he left the carnival now he'd
draw attention to himself. No, his best course now is to lie low! At least until the
carnival leaves Rocky Beach, or closes."

"Well," Pete said, "if you're right, he won't do any more at the carnival. He isn't out
to wreck it."

"Yes," Jupiter pronounced, "we can safely say there will be no more accidents. And
the carnival will be open any minute now. It's time to catch our robber! We'll take
our signallers, just in case. Come on, fellows."

They crawled out through Tunnel Two, and on their bikes rode towards the
carnival. It was dusk, with the mountain wind rising strong. They parked their
bikes near the carnival and joined the early crowd of customers streaming towards
the entrance. Suddenly shouts rose ahead!

The people round them began to run towards the carnival.

"Something happened at the carnival!" Pete cried.

"It sounds like some accident!" Bob exclaimed.

Jupiter blinked as he began to run, too. "It can't be another accident! I know I'm
right!"

Chapter 15
The Robber Strikes!

They pushed through the gawking crowd and saw the carousel broken and tilted
over on to the ground. Mr. Carson was shouting orders to his crew of roughnecks.
The boys found Andy looking at the carousel in despair.

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"What happened, Andy?" Pete asked.

"We don't know, Pete," the carnival boy replied in an agitated voice. "It was
turning, ready for the first ride, when the engine started smoking, and it tilted over
and collapsed! Three horses broke, see?"

Roughnecks were working feverishly with levers to raise the carousel back on a
level. Others hammered the broken horses back together, and Mr. Carson was
trying to repair the smoking engine. He stood up to wipe his brow, and a knot of
angry performers surrounded him.

"How many more accidents do we have, Carson?" Khan said.

"Your equipment is in bad repair," The Great Ivan said. "We are all uneasy."

"The equipment is fine," Mr. Carson said. "You know that."

The tall, sad clown said, "Carousels don't break easily. It's a sign! We must close
this unlucky show!"

"It is an unlucky show!" the fire eater said. "Maybe Rajah's escape was a third
accident after all, and the next three are beginning!" All the performers murmured,
nodding their heads.

"We have to close, Mr. Carson," a wire walker said.

"After tonight," the tall clown said. "Immediately!"

"How can you go on?" Khan asked. "How can you pay us all with no carousel, and -
"

Mr. Carson stood and looked at them all helplessly. The roughneck who had been
working on the engine with him looked up and began to talk urgently to him. Mr.
Carson looked worried, but he faced the performers with a sudden smile.

"The carousel will be fixed and running within half an hour," he announced. "No
real damage but a burned-out bearing. Now, let's get on with the show!"

"There will be worse, I know it," the tall, sad clown said.

But most of the performers began to smile again. They nodded with relief and
hurried away to their tents and booths. Khan was the last to leave.

"The show is dangerous, Carson." the strong man said in a warning voice. "Too
many mistakes and accidents. You should close."

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Khan stalked away, and Mr. Carson stared after him. Then he turned to the boys
with troubled eyes. They could see that he was very worried. He had his whole
future, and Andy's future, in the carnival.

"Are they going to work, Dad?" Andy asked.

"They'll work. Carnival people are happy folk. They forget trouble quickly - as long
as we have no more accidents."

"The carousel's okay?" Andy hoped.

"Yes, Andy," Mr. Carson said, his face grim. "That's not what worries me. My
roughneck mechanic tells me that the bearing was tampered with, and the bolts
were loosened, so that when the bearing froze the bolts were sure to shear. That's
what knocked the carousel over."

"You mean it was sabotaged, Mr. Carson?" Bob exclaimed.

"Yes, I do," Mr. Carson said. "I owe you three boys an apology. It seems that
someone must be trying to ruin the carnival."

Jupiter burst out, "Perhaps not sir! I think a bank robber may be causing your
troubles!"

"Bank robber?" Mr. Carson said, staring. "You mean that robbery on our last
night in San Mateo?"

"Yes, sir!" Jupiter declared. "I think the bank robber is a member of your
carnival!"

Mr. Carson flared up. "That's ridiculous, son! The police did come, and found no
one!"

"Because he set off the fire in San Mateo, sir," Jupiter rushed on. "He set it to give
him time to get out of his disguise, and to hide something in a crooked cat! That's
why he was after the cats."

"No, Jupiter, none of our people look anything like the man the San Mateo police
wanted. No one is tattooed."

Pete blurted out, "Jupe says he was in disguise all the time except here! Even the
tattoo is a fake."

Mr. Carson looked at them all. "Well, that is possible, I suppose, but who - "

Jupiter burst in, "I think I know who he is already, sir! From his escapes, some

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clothes we found, and what Andy told us, I'm certain the robber is the Amazing
Gabbo!"

"Gabbo?" Mr. Carson said, his face taking on a strange expression as he studied the
boys.

"Yes, sir!" Jupiter continued. "Andy told us you don't really know him by sight. I
think that if you - "

"No, Jupiter," Mr. Carson stopped the First Investigator, his hand held up. "Boys,
your logic and deductions are excellent. Very impressive, really. But you see, when
the police told me of the robber's escape from that blind alley, I recalled Gabbo and
his criminal record at once. I realized that he just might hide in a carnival, and that
I wouldn't recognize him unless I knew he was around and made a point of looking
for him. So I did. I studied all of my performers - out of costume!"

Jupiter stammered, "You ... you looked, sir?"

"I did, Jupiter" Mr. Carson said in a kindly voice. None of them remotely resembles
Gabbo. Most of them are much too old, anyway. No, if the robber was part of the
carnival, it could explain the fire and Rajah's escape, but it doesn't explain the loss
of our pony ride earlier, and what possible reason would the robber have for
wrecking the carousel now?"

Jupiter was glum. "The carousel breaking is a disturbing development, sir," he


admitted lamely.

"I'm sorry, but it looks more as if someone is trying to ruin my carnival - probably
Andy's grandmother," Mr. Carson said unhappily. "I agree that the man after
those crooked cats must be the robber, but he must be an outsider and we won't see
him again, I'm sure. From what you tell me, he has what he wanted. He would have
no reason to wreck the carousel."

"Gosh," Pete said. "I guess not, Mr. Carson."

"However, I'm asking you boys to keep an eye open and see if you can find who's
causing these accidents. I have to get back to work, but you boys are free to go
anywhere in the carnival. Just be careful."

"We will, Dad," Andy promised. Mr. Carson nodded thoughtfully, smiled at the
boys, and went back to supervise the work on the carousel. The boys all looked at
each other. Jupiter bit his lower lip.

"I was absolutely sure I was right," the First Investigator insisted.

"But Mr. Carson is right, First," Bob said. "The robber wouldn't have any reason

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to wreck the carousel."

"He must be miles away by now," Andy added.

"Perhaps," Jupiter said. "But say he isn't, fellows. Say he's still here. There are two
possible motives for him to wreck the carousel. He could be trying to close the show
so that he wouldn't be noticed when he left the carnival."

"He wouldn't try that so soon, would he, Jupe?" Andy asked. "I mean, he'd wait for
things to calm down."

"I suppose he would," Jupiter agreed. "But, fellows, what if he hasn't yet found
what he's after in those crooked cats? Are you certain you had only five cats,
Andy?"

"I'm sure, Jupiter. I had five when we set up here."

"I wonder ... " Jupiter mused. "Could whatever it is he wants have fallen out of the
crooked cat? Maybe it wasn't in any of the cats. If so, it might be in your equipment
trailer. Is your trailer at the shooting gallery now, Andy?"

"Of course, Jupe. You know I keep it there so I can keep an eye on it."

"But you're not watching it now, are you?" Jupiter exclaimed. "You're here
because the carousel broke down!"

"You mean he's distracting us all again!" Pete cried.

"Why not? It worked twice before," Jupiter said. "The carousel damage is minor. If
someone was trying to shut down the carnival, wouldn't they have tried to damage it
more? Hurry, fellows, let's go to Andy's trailer!"

They walked quickly, but quietly, from the carousel to the shooting gallery. The
crowd of customers had grown now, and the boys circled cautiously through them to
the rear of the shooting gallery. The instant they rounded the back of the booth into
the dark rear area, they saw dolls, toys, and other small prizes strewn over the
ground.

"It's been broken open!" Andy whispered.

"Look!" Bob pointed.

A shadow seemed to flit from behind the trailer. The shadow of a man who ran in
the night - across the open ground behind the carnival booths and tents, through a
narrow hole in the temporary fence, and on towards the abandoned amusement
park.

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"After him!" said Jupiter.

Chapter 16
A Chase in the Night

"There," Pete said quietly, "he's going through the fence!'

"Don't let him see us," Jupiter said.

They slipped through the fence one by one and stood in the dark, silent grounds of
the old amusement park. The rickety roller coaster towered above them in the light
of the rising moon. A strong mountain wind blowing out to sea made the old timbers
creak and whine eerily.

"I don't see him," Bob said softly.

"Wait," Jupiter whispered "Listen."

Crouched in the shadow of the high fence, they all listened in the night The gay
music from the repaired carousel sounded miles away outside the fence. Nothing
moved in the darkness of the abandoned amusement park. To the left they heard the
steady lap - lap - lap of water in the tunnel of love. There were small, scurrying
sounds that could only be rats. They heard no other sounds in the ominous silence.

"He can't have gone far," Jupiter said in a low voice. "We'll split up, fellows. Pete
and I will go to the right round the roller coaster. Bob and Andy will go left."

"You think it's the robber, Jupe?" Andy asked.

"I do," Jupiter said. "I think he did fail to find what he wanted in the cats, so he
searched the trailer. If he found it in the trailer, he's going to be really dangerous
now. If you see him, just follow him. Don't try to catch him."

They all nodded, and Bob and Andy vanished to the left towards the tunnel of love
and the ocean side of the roller coaster, Jupiter and Pete moved quietly between the
sagging roller coaster and the laughing mouth of the fun house.

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The night made the abandoned rides and shows look like the landscape of the moon.
Pete and Jupiter had passed the fun house, and were continuing on round the
ghostly roller coaster, when Pete suddenly crouched down.

"Jupe! I hear something!" Pete whispered.

In the darkness under the beams of the roller coaster, and somewhere behind them
now, they heard a small sound. It came again - a soft scraping like heavy shoes on
rough wood. Then, what could only be quick footsteps running back away from
them. The heavy steps of a man.

"I see him!" Pete hissed to Jupiter. "He's going towards the fun house."

"Can you see who he is?"

"No," Pete said. "He's gone into the fun house!"

"Hurry, Pete. There might be another way out!" They hurried silently across the
moonlit open space to the gaping mouth of the fun house.

Inside, they listened. They were in a dark passage that faded into blackness ahead.
Shafts of silver moonlight through holes in the rotted roof were the only
illumination.

"He had to go straight ahead, Jupe," Pete whispered. As if to confirm Pete's


statement, they heard a sharp, creaking noise in front of them, followed instantly by
a thud and a sharp cry. Something heavy seemed to slide and bang against wood.
The creaking sound came again, with another bang - and silence.

They looked at each other uneasily, and began to move cautiously forward along the
dark, moonlit passage. Vaguely, they made out a closed door straight ahead. "Be
careful when you open - " Jupiter began.

The First Investigator got no farther in his warning about the door. With a sudden
creaking noise the floor of the passage dropped away at a steep angle. They slipped
flat on their backs, and slid wildly down the tilted floor as if on a playground slide.

There was nothing to hold on to. Flailing their arms, they slid down pell-mell until
they hit with a thud against the wall ahead.

"Oooof!" The breath was knocked out of both of them.

Untangling their arms and legs, they sat up and watched in dismay as the floor that
had tilted down so suddenly creaked and groaned and swung up again, becoming
the ceiling of the dark, narrow hole in which they sat!

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"The whole floor tilted down!" Pete exclaimed. "It must be balanced so that when
someone walks on it past the centre it drops like a see-saw."

"It's a fun house trick that still works," Jupiter realized. "The robber must have
fallen down it ahead of us, but where did he go?"

"There's only one way," Pete said.

Directly in front of them was a narrow, round opening like a pipe. There was no
other way out of the hole.

"Be careful," Jupiter whispered, "there might be a trick."

They crawled into the narrow tunnel. It was short, and they emerged into a room.
Light filtered through wide cracks in the ceiling.

Except that it wasn't the ceiling above them - it was the floor!

"Juuuuupe!" Pete's voice quavered.

They seemed to be upside down in the dim, silvery room. The floor with its chairs,
tables, and rug was above their heads. A ceiling light fixture stood straight up in
front of them, and upside-down paintings floated in front of their startled eyes.

Jupiter whispered, "Another trick, Pete. They probably used lighting effects to
make it better when they were operating."

"You're sure we're not upside down?" Pete said doubtfully.

"Of course I am," Jupiter insisted. "There's another round tunnel ahead leading
out of here. Come on."

The new tunnel was much larger. As they stepped through, it moved and rocked.
They realized that it had once been a revolving barrel. Though it no longer turned,
it was still unsteady, and they stumbled through holding on to the rocking sides.

"Listen," Jupiter warned.

Somewhere ahead was a faint noise, like someone stepping very quietly.

"There," Pete whispered, and then gasped, "Oh - !"

They were in a longer and wider room than the other. It's ceiling was badly rotted,
and bright moonlight filled it, casting deep, moving shadows. But it wasn't the
shadows that had made Pete gulp. Jupiter stared in fright.

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A strange shape moved near the wall to the right. A monstrous apparition that
looked straight at the boys. It was tall, horribly thin, with an enormous swollen head
and arms as long and thin as tentacles. Its whole weird body seemed to flow and
shift in the silver light like a giant, human snake.

"Wha ... what ... is it?" Pete stammered, moving close to Jupiter.

Jupiter gulped, "I don't know ... I ... " and then began to laugh nervously. "It's
mirrors, Pete! We're in the crazy hall of mirrors! We're seeing ourselves in twisted
mirrors!"

"Mirrors?" Pete swallowed, "then why do I hear walking?"

"I don't hear - " Jupiter began.

"Oh, no! Is that a mirror?" Pete wailed very low. Directly ahead, away from the
mirrors, a shape! - crouched in the dim moonlight as if listening, watching. A broad-
shouldered shape, bare to the waist, with wild black hair and a black beard.

"Khan!" Pete cried louder than he had intended. The strong man became alert
"Come out of there!"

Jupiter gripped Pete's arm. "He can't see us."

Khan growled. "I hear you! I've got you now!"

"That way!" Pete whispered "A door!" They slipped through the door Pete had
seen among the mirrors. They found themselves in a narrow corridor with no
ceiling. Ten feet inside it branched into two passages. Behind them, they heard a
sharp oath as Khan found the door.

"Left, Jupe, that's the way out!" Pete urged. The Second Investigator led them
racing along the passages that branched every ten feet or so, always taking the left
turn. Somewhere behind them Khan pounded along, banging into walls. The boys at
last reached a door, tore it open, and came out - into the hall of mirrors again!

"It's a maze!" Jupiter realized in dismay. "Another fun house trick. We've gone in
circles."

"Khan's coming behind us!" Pete groaned.

Jupiter chewed his lip. "There's always a key. That way got us nowhere. We'll go
the other way each turn!" They hurried back through the same door they had
started with, and this time they took each right turn when the passages branched.
For a time as they ran through the passages they heard Khan floundering behind

254
them. Then his noises faded, and they reached a double door. They tumbled through
it - and stood in the open between the side of the fun house and the entrance to the
tunnel of love. "It worked, Jupe!" Pete said.

"Yes, it did." Jupiter preened. "Now we'll find Mr. Carson, and tell him that Khan -
"

There was a sudden tearing crash of wood. As the two boys stared in fright, the
massive figure of Khan smashed through a wall of the fun house, his eyes gleaming
wildly!

Chapter 17
A Black Shape

Jupiter and Pete crouched low in the shadows, holding their breath as Khan stood
listening where he had smashed through the wall of the Fun House.

"He doesn't see us yet," Jupiter whispered, his voice shaky, "but he will soon, Pete."

"We can't get to the fence," Pete said. "He's between us and the fence. But if we
don't get out of here, he'll see - "

Jupiter whispered, "The tunnel of love! Crawl, Pete!"

The entrance to the tunnel of love was close, and they could crawl all the way to it in
the shadow cast by the towering roller coaster. Water gleamed like black lead in the
channel that vanished inside the covered building of the abandoned ride. The boys
crawled into the entrance unseen by Khan and stood up some yards inside.

"I don't hear him following," Pete said.

"He didn't see us," Jupiter agreed. "He'll look soon, and he'll stay out there. He
knows we're around, and he knows that we saw him. We'll have to find another way
out of this tunnel."

They moved carefully along the edge of the sluggish water of the channel. Deeper
inside the building the path became a narrow, wooden catwalk. It was wet and

255
slippery, intended only for emergency exit and for access to the platforms where
startling objects had once jumped up to frighten the tunnel-of-love patrons. The
platforms were empty now, and the only thing they saw as they walked was an old
rowing boat tied to the catwalk.

"Jupe! I feel some wind," Pete said. "There must be an opening up ahead."

"Near the ocean, Pete. Be careful, Khan might know - "

They both heard the noise - a sharp creak of a loose board somewhere ahead of
them!

It came again, as if someone was stepping softly between them and the opening
ahead.

"Gosh, he must have gone round to cut us off!" Pete said.

"Don't move, Pete," Jupiter warned nervously.

They stood paralyzed on the narrow catwalk. Far ahead, in a patch of the moonlight
through a hole in the roof, they saw something move.

"He's coming at us!" Pete whispered.

"Back the way we came! Hurry," Jupiter urged.

The ghostly figure ahead of them moved again, and both boys heard the
unmistakable click of a pistol being cocked! Pete touched Jupiter.

"First!" Pete hissed. "If we go back we have to cross moonlight! He'll see us for
sure! He'll shoot!"

"The boat!" Jupiter said desperately.

The old rowing boat was tied up close to them. A heavy canvas tarpaulin covered
the front end. Careful to make no sound, they slipped down into the boat and slid
under the tarpaulin. They lay motionless in the dark, even trying not to breathe.
Minutes passed.

Then they heard soft steps on the catwalk above them. There was the faint squeak of
soft rubber soles against wood, and a clink of metal against wood, as if the man's
pistol had struck against a wall. They heard nothing more. Silence.

The boat rocked on the sluggish water of the narrow channel, and scraped against
the wood of the catwalk.

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The unseen man above them moved again, softly, his rubber soles squeaking
directly over their heads for a time. The boat began to rock more, as if the unseen
man had touched it. Then the rocking became gentler, lighter, with the sound of the
man's soft shoes moving close alongside. Under the canvas the boys could only wait,
holding their breath. And after some more minutes, they no longer heard the shoes
above them. They heard nothing but the slap-slap of water against the boat "He's
gone!" Pete whispered.

Under the tarpaulin in the rocking boat, Jupiter didn't answer. Pete peered at his
companion and saw dimly that the First Investigator was staring into empty space,
his thoughts miles away.

"Pete," the stocky leader said suddenly, "we must get back to the carnival at once! I
think I've solved the puzzle!"

"You mean Khan solved it by chasing us!"

"Yes, in a way he did," Jupiter said vaguely, still thinking. "I know where to find
what that robber has been searching for!"

"You mean you don't think he has it?"

"No, I don't. I think we've all been looking in the wrong - "

The small boat gave a violent roll and lurch, and seemed to bounce wildly on the
water. Jupiter held on, and Pete sat alert under the canvas.

Pete's head was cocked, listening. "Jupe, there's something funny! This boat's
rocking too much! I don't hear it scraping against the wood any more! What's
happened? Open the canvas!"

Together, they pushed the heavy tarpaulin back and tried to stand up. Wind struck
their faces, and the boat rocked so violently they fell back. Pete stared around.

"We're out on the ocean!" he cried.

The dark shape of the abandoned amusement park was far behind them already,
and the lights of the carnival grew rapidly smaller. Jupiter looked at the boat's rope.

"It was cut, Pete! That old tunnel-of-love ride must be open to the ocean, and the
robber knew it! He towed the boat out along the catwalk and set us adrift."

"The tide's going out, and the current's strong here on an outgoing tide!" Pete said.
"We're drifting out fast."

"Then we'd better get back fast!"

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Pete shook his head. "This boat doesn't have any oars, Jupe! No motor, no sails! We
can't get back."

"We have to! We'll swim!" Jupiter cried. The stocky leader dived over the side
without another word. Pete followed, and both boys struck out for shore. But the
current was too strong.

"I can't ... do it, Pete," Jupiter gasped. Pete was the more powerful swimmer, but
even he struggled in the grip of the current. "We'll never make it! Back to the
boat!"

They swam with the current and gradually caught the drifting boat. They
clambered over the side and lay panting. Then Jupiter struggled up. "The
signaller!" he said. "Bob will see our signal!" The First Investigator took the small
instrument from his pocket and spoke urgently into it to start the signal.

Then he stared at it in dismay. "It won't work, Pete! The water ruined it!" They
began to yell for help, but their words were lost in the wind. Already they were too
far from land to be heard, and no boats moved anywhere on the dark water.

The shore lights were distant points as the boat wallowed on the surging moonlit
ocean. Water broke over the gunwales.

"Bail, Jupe," Pete ordered. "Those two cans are bailers!"

Jupiter bailed. "We must get back, Pete!"

"Not against this current!" Pete declared. "The wind is on-shore now, that'll slow
us, but without oars or sails - "

Pete stopped. He stared at Jupiter. The stocky boy had ceased bailing, his hand
suspended in mid-air as he looked straight ahead over Pete's shoulder. His hand
moved to point shakily straight ahead.

"Pete! What's that big, black - "

Pete whirled in the boat to look.

Vague in the moonlight, directly ahead of the rocking boat, an enormous black
shape seemed to rise out of the ocean and tower over them.

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Chapter 18
Marooned!

Bob and Andy had cautiously circled the opposite way round the old roller coaster
and returned to where they had started - without meeting Pete and Jupiter. Bob
looked round slowly.

"Andy, something's wrong," he said. "We should have met them, or found them
back here."

"Look!"

The carnival boy pointed to the jagged hole in the fun house wall.

"That hole's new, Bob! I'm sure."

The two boys stared all round them in the gloom of the moonlit amusement park.

Bob called, "Pete! Jupe!"

"I hear someone coming!" Andy said.

They heard running outside the amusement park, and two men came through the
hole in the fence.

"It's your Dad," Bob said to Andy.

Mr. Carson ran up. "Are you boys all right?"

"We are," Bob said, "but we can't find Pete and Jupe."

Andy said, "We chased a man from my equipment trailer and split up in here, and
now Pete and Jupiter are gone, Dad!"

Mr. Carson frowned "Then Khan was right."

The bearded strong man walked up behind Mr. Carson, his muscles and heavy
boots shining in the moonlight. He nodded to the boys.

"I saw someone searching Andy's trailer," Khan explained. "I chased him in here,
but lost him in the fun house."

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Bob asked, "You didn't see Pete or Jupe?"

"No, boys. I didn't see them."

"All right, be calm," Mr. Carson said, taking charge. "Andy, go and get a crew of
roughnecks with lights. Khan, Bob, and I will start searching the grounds in the
open."

Andy raced off, and Bob followed Mr. Carson and Khan as they began to search the
abandoned amusement park. They found no trace of Pete or Jupiter. Soon Andy
came back with the crew of roughnecks. Carrying powerful electric lanterns, they
spread out to search inside all the old buildings. Mr. Carson and Khan went with
the roughnecks, telling Bob and Andy to stay outside. Bob stood with puzzled eyes.

"Andy," he said, "Khan says he chased a man from your trailer. If he did, why
didn't we see two men?"

"I don't know, Bob. We should have, I guess."

"I don't think there were two men! I think it was Khan we chased!"

"You mean," Andy gasped, "that Khan's the robber?"

Bob nodded. "Jupiter was suspicious of him all along. You don't even know his real
name. He's been sneaking around. He's watched us. He's tried to convince your Dad
to close the show. Now I think he's caught Pete and Jupe, and he's trying to lead us
in the wrong direction! Let's find your Dad, quick!"

They hurried towards the fun house where lights flashed and bobbed through the
cracks in the rotted walls. Just as they got to the entrance, Mr. Carson came out,
mopping his brow.

"No sign yet, boys," he said, "but we'll find them."

"I don't think you will, sir!" Bob declared hotly. "I think Khan is fooling us! He's
the robber, and he knows where they are!"

"Khan?" Mr. Carson said, his face serious. "That's a grave charge, Bob. What
proof do you have?"

"I'm sure he was the only man at Andy's trailer. He was the man we chased. But he
caught Pete and Jupe, and now he's leading us away from them. I know he is, sir!"
Mr. Carson hesitated. "That's not exactly proof, Bob. And don't forget Khan is in
charge of security at the carnival. He has a right to be poking around. But it's funny
that your stories don't agree. Let's find Khan and ask him for more details."

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Mr. Carson went back into the fun house. The boys waited nervously outside. Ten
minutes passed. Bob paced in the dark. What if he was wrong? He was sure, but if
he - Mr. Carson came back walking quickly. His face was dark and grim. "Khan
isn't in the fun house any more! No one has seen him. He told some of the
roughnecks he had to go back to the carnival, but he never told me that! Come on,
boys."

They hurried through the fence and back to the carnival grounds. Khan wasn't in
his tent, or at his trailer. No one had seen him anywhere. And no one had seen Pete
and Jupe.

"I think," Mr. Carson said. "We'd better get the police."

Out on the ocean, where the giant black shape loomed high ahead of the bouncing
boat, Pete gave a cry:

"It's Anapamu Island! It's the smallest of the channel islands, and closest to shore -
less than a mile. Let's try to reach it!"

"I don't think we can miss it, Pete!" Jupiter pointed out. "We're drifting straight
for it."

The boys held on to the gunwales of their wallowing craft as the small island loomed
closer. They began to make out trees and rocks on the steep sides and a line of
breakers.

"The beach is over there," Pete pointed to the left "But there are rocks, Jupe! I
think - "

Instead of finishing what he was going to say, Pete dived over the side and came up
behind the boat. Grasping the stern of the boat and kicking, he steered it past the
rocks and into the quiet waters of the sheltered beach.

Jupiter scrambled out, and together they ran the boat up on to the sand.

"We made it," Pete gasped.

"But we're marooned!" Jupiter cried. "How do we get off this island, Pete? We
must get back to stop the robber!"

"Gosh, Jupe, it's just a small, deserted island - rocks and trees and an emergency
shelter. I don't see how we can get back until tomorrow, at least. Boats pass in the
day."

"Tomorrow could be too late," Jupiter insisted. "Come on, where's that emergency

261
shelter?"

Pete led the way to a small cabin with a smaller shed.

The cabin contained nothing but a crude wooden table, some chairs and bunks, and
a small stove and some food. The shed behind had two small boat masts, two booms,
a small rudder with a long tiller handle, and piles of rope and boards. There were
nails and tools, and that was all.

"There's no radio, Jupe," Pete said. "We're stuck until morning when we can hail a
boat, or someone looks for us."

Jupiter didn't answer. He was looking at the contents of the shed. "Pete, could we
sail back in the boat if we had a sail?"

"Maybe - if we had a mast and a rudder."

"We have a mast and a rudder now, and that tarpaulin in the boat would make a
sail!"

Pete was dubious. "Those masts are too big, Jupe, even if we had a way of stepping
one in the boat."

"Stepping? What do you mean?"

"That's a nautical term for fixing a mast into a socket or supporting frame," said
Pete. "You've got to hold the bottom of the mast in place somehow."

"Well, what about the booms? They're half as long. Could we step one of them?"

Pete pondered. "Yes, we could step it through a hole in a seat. There's a saw in the
shed, and a hatchet. We could use boards to brace the boom at the bottom of the
boat! Jupe, I think - oh, no, I forgot! We can't do it!"

"Why not?"

Pete stood glum. "The rowing boat doesn't have a keel. Not even a centreboard or
sideboards. The boat would capsize in the wind. Even if we didn't capsize, without a
keel we couldn't sail straight."

Jupiter sat down heavily. He chewed on his fingers, and stared at the useless booms
and masts in the shed. He looked at the long masts. "Pete?" he said. "Would those
masts float?"

"I guess so. You want to ride home on a mast?"

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Jupiter ignored Pete's humour. "What if we took some long boards and nailed them
to the masts. Then we nail the other ends of the boards to the gunwales of the boat,
and - "

"Outriggers!" Pete cried. "Jupe, it'll work! They won't be perfect, but we don't
have more than a mile to sail! With the wind as it is, the outriggers will hold the
boat up!"

"Hurry then, Pete! We must get back right away!"

Chapter 19
A Strange Sight

Over two hours had passed since Bob had first told his suspicions to Chief Reynolds.
So far the police had found no trace of Jupiter, Pete or the missing Khan. Chief
Reynolds paced just outside the entrance to the carnival. Inside, crowds of people
were enjoying themselves, unaware of the drama around them. Mr. Carson, Bob
and Andy waited uneasily.

"Then you think this Khan is the bank robber, Bob?" Chief Reynolds asked again.

"Yes, sir!"

"I was beginning to wonder if the robber had really fled Rocky Beach. Too many
people have claimed to have seen him, but no one actually has."

"That's just what Jupe said," Bob said.

"Jupiter is a bright lad," Chief Reynolds acknowledged.

"He thinks the robber is still after what he hid in the crooked cat," Bob said, "and I
think Khan was searching Andy's equipment trailer. That proves he's the robber!
He was looking for what he had hidden."

"Yes, that could well be, boys," the Chief said.

"Khan is a strange man. He stayed aloof from us," Mr. Carson said. "He never got

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friendly with anyone."

"Well, we'll find him," Chief Reynolds said grimly.

The police, and Mr. Carson's roughnecks, had spread out over the entire area. They
were searching the open lot, all the carnival booths and tents, and vehicles. No cars
or trucks had been reported missing. They were combing the old amusement park
again, and searching all along the edge of the ocean, and through the streets and
buildings near the carnival. After still another hour they had found no trace of the
boys or Khan.

"I'm worried," Chief Reynolds admitted at last. "They seem to have vanished into
thin air. But we won't give up. I think that that old amusement park is the key, so I
have men searching all through it again for - "

Shouts came suddenly from far off inside the amusement park.

"It's my men!" Chief Reynolds exclaimed. "They've found something! Follow me,
boys!"

The boys and Mr. Carson hurried after the Chief through the hole in the high fence.
At the edge of the dark ocean they saw a knot of policemen and roughnecks.

"Have you found them? The boys?" Chief Reynolds demanded.

"No, Chief," a policeman said, "but we found him!"

The knot opened, and two policemen pushed Khan forward. The strong man shook
them off like flies and glared.

"What the devil does this mean!" Khan demanded.

The bearded strong man's muscles gleamed in the hard yellow light of the electric
lanterns.

"Tell us what you're doing here, Khan!" Mr. Carson snapped.

"That's my business, Carson."

Bob couldn't hold himself back. "He's the robber! Make him tell what he's done to
Jupe and Pete!"

"Robber?" Khan roared. "I'm not the robber, you fools! I chased him. I told you
that."

"And what have you been doing for the last three hours while we looked for you?"

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Chief Reynolds wanted to know.

"I came back here to look for the robber on my own! I had a hunch that - "

"He's lying!" Bob cried hotly. "I'll bet even that beard is false!"

Before Khan could move, Chief Reynolds reached out and grabbed his beard. Khan
hurled the Chief off and the black beard came off in the Chief's hand! They all
stared at Khan.

"All right," Khan said, "of course it's false." The strong man went on to pull off his
sideburns and wild wig, revealing himself as a young man with close-cropped light
hair. "We all wear costumes in the carnival. What's a strong man without a black
beard?"

"But you never took off your beard and hair, Khan!" Mr. Carson said. "You were
hired wearing that beard and hair! You let us think that was your real appearance -
even when the San Mateo police questioned us all!"

Khan waved his massive hand. "You know why, Carson. I'm used to working better
shows than your two-bit carnival. I didn't want to be recognized and have my
reputation ruined."

"I don't think he's even a strong man!" Andy cried.

"Is he Gabbo, Dad?"

"No," Mr. Carson said, looking closely. "He's not Gabbo."

"But he is lying!" Bob accused hotly. Khan faced them all menacingly, his muscles
bulging.

"Am I, boy? Then - "

Khan was staring out towards the ocean. "What - ?"

"Chief, look!" a policeman cried.

Everyone looked out at the ocean. On the moonlit water was a strange sight - a
lopsided, half-collapsed out-rigger boat sailing raggedly up to the shore with Pete
and Jupiter on their feet and waving to them with broad grins.

"It's them!" Bob said.

"Pete, Jupe!" Andy shouted.

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Jupiter and Pete beached their ungainly craft and came running up to rejoin their
friends. In a matter of minutes they had told the whole story of their hours on the
ocean and the island.

"You sailed back in that?" Chief Reynolds asked.

"Pete is an excellent sailor," Jupiter replied, "and we had to get back at once! I
think I know where to find what the robber has been looking for! I don't think he's
found it yet!"

"But we have the robber, Jupe!" Bob said "It was Khan there all along, just as you
suspected."

Jupiter looked at the strong man standing surrounded by policemen and glaring
angrily at them all.

"No," Jupiter said. "Khan isn't the robber."

Khan growled, "I told them that, boy."

"He's an impostor, Jupiter," Mr. Carson said, "and he was searching Andy's
trailer. You saw him!"

"No, sir, I don't think he was," Jupiter said politely but firmly. "When Pete and I
were under the tarpaulin in that boat, I realized that there must have been two men,
and that Khan was chasing the real robber. When he heard us in the fun house, he
thought we were the robber."

"How do you deduce that, Jupiter?" Chief Reynolds asked.

"He warned us that he saw us, Chief," Jupiter said "That is how a pursuer acts, not
someone being pursued. The real robber would have wanted to remain hidden from
us!"

The chief nodded, "Well, yes, I see. But you can't - "

"Also," Jupiter went on boldly, "Khan was bare to the waist when we saw him, and
wearing only those tights. His hands were empty. He had no place to carry a pistol
or a knife, and the man who set us adrift had both a pistol and a knife!"

"The boy is smarter than any of you," Khan declared.

"Finally," Jupiter added, "in the boat we distinctly heard the sound of soft, rubber-
soled shoes on the man who cut us loose. You can all see that Khan is wearing his
heavy boots."

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Khan laughed. "I told you I was in the clear."

"Well, Mr. Khan, I wouldn't say that," Jupiter pronounced. "I believe you are an
impostor, and you are up to something you don't want known! You are in the
carnival for some devious purpose. I expect Chief Reynolds can find out if he asks
the right questions in the right place."

The First Investigator was looking at Khan with a cool smile. The strong man
glanced round, and then looked straight back at Jupiter. At last he sighed.

"I guess you are a smart boy at that," Khan said. "All right. Yes, I'm here for a
secret purpose. I'm a real strong man, but I retired a few years ago to become a
private detective. My real name is Paul Harney, and Andy's grandmother hired me
to keep an eye on Andy and the show. She honestly believes that carnival life is
wrong for Andy. She sent me to protect him and to see how dangerous the show is."

"You didn't cause our accidents?" Mr. Carson demanded.

"No, but when they began to happen I became worried. I did try to persuade you to
close the show, Carson. I snooped around because the accidents seemed to endanger
Andy, and I wanted to be sure they were just accidents."

"You were protecting Andy?" Mr. Carson said.

"Yes, Carson. That was my job," Khan replied.

Jupiter frowned. "Most commendable, Mr. Khan, or Harney, but I don't think it's
the whole truth. You were at Andy's equipment trailer because you suspected that
what the robber wanted might be in the trailer. You weren't protecting Andy!"

Khan's eyes glittered. He was silent for a moment. Then he nodded. "You're right,
son. After the police questioned us all in San Mateo, I had a hunch that the bank
robber was a member of the carnival. I'm a detective, and it would help my
reputation if I caught a bank robber by myself. So I began to investigate. After
Andy's cat was stolen, I guessed that the robber had put something in those crooked
cats. But no one in the show fits the robber's description, and by now he has what he
wanted. It wasn't in one of those cats after all."

"Jiminy," Andy said. "I guess it fell out of the cat."

Everyone else nodded glumly. All except Jupiter.

"On the contrary, fellows," the First Investigator declared. "What the robber
wanted was in a crooked cat, and I believe that it still is in a crooked cat!"

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Chapter 20
Jupiter Deduces an Answer

"But, Jupiter," Andy protested, "I only had five crooked cats, and the robber found
them all!"

"No, Andy, you had six cats," Jupiter declared triumphantly. "You had five you
gave out here, but you have a sixth crooked cat - and we all saw it!"

Pete gaped. "We did, Jupe?"

"Where, First?" Bob demanded.

"Right before our eyes the first night," Jupiter said dramatically. "So obvious we
overlooked it. You recall that first night in Andy's truck when Andy showed us his
broken - "

Andy cried, "My broken prizes! In my work-basket! There is a crooked cat. It was
burned in the San Mateo fire!"

"So it was in the shooting gallery the night of the fire," Jupiter said. "The robber
hid whatever it is in that crooked cat, but it was damaged by the fire, and Andy took
it away to repair. The robber never thought of that! But in the boat I realized that if
the robber was still trying to get Pete and me out of the way, he still didn't have
what he wanted even after searching Andy's trailer. I reasoned that there had to be
a sixth crooked cat - and then I remembered Andy's work-basket!"

"Wow," Pete exclaimed in awe. "We'd never have thought of that, First."

"I never did, and I had the cat!" Andy said.

"It looks like the robber didn't think of it, either boys," Chief Reynolds said with a
smile. "Fine work, Jupiter! I'm proud to have you as a junior assistant deputy."

Jupiter grinned proudly. "Well, sir, it was only logical once I realized - "

The First Investigator's words trailed off, and his head came up alertly. He looked
round in the dark night.

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"Chief! Someone is running away from here!"

Then they all heard it - someone running fast, back towards the amusement park
fence. The crowd of police and roughnecks all turned to look.

"Who is that running away?" Chief Reynolds demanded.

"I don't know, sir. We're all here," a policeman said.

"Some man, he was standing here I think," a roughneck said. "I didn't notice who
he was."

"Did anyone notice a stranger?" Mr. Carson asked.

Everyone shook his head. Then Bob exclaimed:

"Where's Khan!"

The strong man was nowhere to be seen!

"Quick, everyone," Jupiter suddenly cried. "Whoever it is heard all about the sixth
cat! Hurry, Chief!"

They all ran across the abandoned amusement park and through the hole in the
fence. As the last customers stared at them, they dashed through the carnival to
where the trucks and wagons stood. Andy dashed inside his trailer. He came back
out almost at once.

"The crooked cat, it's gone! He got it!"

Chief Reynolds cried, "Block all exits!"

"Search the grounds!" Mr. Carson ordered his roughnecks.

The police and roughnecks went into action.

"He's got the crooked cat," Chief Reynolds declared, "but he won't get out with it!
We're too close behind him."

"Chief?" Pete asked. "Could it be Khan?"

"Was he lying all the time, after all?" Mr. Carson wondered.

"I don't know. He's a slick talker," the Chief said.

269
"Maybe he was hired by Grandma," Andy said, "but is the bank robber, too."

"I've known detectives to go wrong," Chief Reynolds said grimly. "But if he has,
this time we'll get him. We're too close for him to have time to examine the cat and
dispose of it. He'll have to try to leave the grounds, and we know what he looks like
now."

"What if it isn't Khan, sir?" Pete asked. "We won't know who it is then, and he can
hide the cat and just wait."

"No, Pete," Chief Reynolds shook his head. "This carnival isn't that big. We'd find
the crooked cat and him. Sooner or later he must try to escape now, and we'll have
him. He can't possibly get out with that cat. Jupiter I think - " The Chief turned to
find the First Investigator. Jupiter was nowhere around!

"Jupe!" Pete called.

"Jupiter? Where are you?" Chief Reynolds shouted.

There was no answer.

"I don't remember seeing him with us at all!" Bob said.

"Not since we left the old amusement park," Mr. Carson said.

"Well, he can't be far," said Chief Reynolds.

Pete said shakily, "Unless he saw the robber and followed him!"

"Now be calm, Pete," Mr. Carson said.

They all searched through the trucks and trailers, and then returned to the carnival
grounds. After some fifteen minutes they met on one of the wide pathways near
Andy's shooting gallery. They had not found Jupiter.

"The shows are over," Mr. Carson said. "I'll ask all the performers if they've seen
Jupiter."

"The exits are all blocked, and the fence is being watched," Chief Reynolds said.
"He can't have left the grounds."

The performers were all gathered near The Great Ivan's show tent. They stood in
an uneasy group, watching the police and roughnecks still searching and guarding
the fence and exits. None of them remembered seeing Jupiter when Mr. Carson
asked them.

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"I have seen nothing," The Great Ivan said uneasily. The wire walkers and the fire
eater shook their heads. The small, fat clown danced round awkwardly, still half
performing his routine, and pointing at the tall, sad clown. The tall clown swept at
the ground with his broom and dustpan with a broken bottom.

"Maybe I saw him," the tall clown said in his slow, sad voice. "Behind the tents with
someone."

"You did?" Chief Reynolds snapped. "With whom?"

The tall clown shook his head. "I don't know."

The small clown did a ludicrous handstand that failed badly, and then began to
jump up and down beside the tall clown. Bob groaned. "The robber's got Jupe!"
Bob cried. "I know it!"

"He'll use Jupe as a hostage to get away!" Pete moaned.

"Easy, boys," Chief Reynolds said, but his face was worried. "It does change
matters. If he has Jupe, we'll have to let him go. But we'll know him, then, and we'll
get him!"

Andy said, "If he has Jupiter, why hasn't he tried to use him as a hostage yet?"

"I don't know, Andy," Chief Reynolds admitted.

The tall clown suddenly said, "Hostage, Chief? When I saw that boy, the man with
him was making towards a break in our fence that leads to the ocean!"

Chief Reynolds whirled. "What? The ocean?"

"He's trying to escape by swimming round the amusement park fence where you
don't have a guard," Mr. Carson cried.

Pete and Andy started to run towards the fence with the Chief and Mr. Carson. But
Bob didn't move. He stood staring at the dirt of the carnival pathway.

"Chief! Fellows," Bob said slowly. "Look at the dirt."

They all stopped and looked where Bob pointed. The small clown, still fooling
around, was rolling on the ground and pointing up at the tall clown.

Near him, drawn in the dirt, was a large question mark!

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Chapter 21
A Robber Unmasked!

"Our question-mark sign!" Pete cried, and stared at the small clown who was still
jumping round his tall partner. "It's Jupe!" Bob realized. "He's telling us that - "

Before anyone could say anything more, the tall clown suddenly whipped a pistol
from his floppy sleeve. He aimed the gun at them all. Without a word he began to
back away towards the main entrance, his dark eyes glittering menacingly in his
chalk-white clown's face.

"Don't move, anyone," Chief Reynolds warned. "Let him go."

Helpless, the boys, the Chief and Mr. Carson watched as the clown backed farther
and farther away. He was almost at the main exit from the carnival when a massive
figure jumped out from behind the Ferris-wheel booth. He was on the clown before
anyone knew what was happening.

It was Khan. The tall clown tried to turn his pistol on the strong man, but Khan's
hand damped on his wrist and the pistol fell to the ground. The tall clown stood
helpless in the grip of the strong man. "So, one robber caught!" Khan said in
triumph. Chief Reynolds shouted for his men, and they came running to take the
tall clown from Khan. Other policemen began to disperse the crowd of performers
and late customers. Khan grinned.

"I was just watching and waiting for the robber to make some move," the strong
man explained. "But I must admit I never suspected the clown."

The small, fat clown peeled off his mask and putty nose to reveal a smiling Jupiter.

"I always wanted to be a clown," Jupe said.

Chief Reynolds said, "You better explain all this, Jupiter. How did you know the tall
clown was the robber, and what are you doing in that costume?"

"Well," the First Investigator began, "when we began to chase that unseen man
from the amusement park, I realized that he would get the crooked cat before we
could. So instead of going with you all, I decided to go straight to the performing
tents. I reasoned that after the robber got the crooked cat from Andy's truck, he'd

272
run to where he could hide it, and himself, among a lot of people.

"I'd just reached the main show area, where there were still customers all around,
when I saw the taH clown running right at me! I could see he was hiding something
under his baggy jacket If he saw me, he'd know I had guessed what he had and who
he was! So I ducked into the first tent. That's when I got a real shock - it was the
clown tent!"

"Wow!" Pete exclaimed. "You mean you were in the tent where he would come in
for sure. First!"

Jupiter nodded. "An error of panic, I'm afraid, Second. I had to think quickly. The
tent was in two parts, like all the show tents - the rear for resting between acts and
dressing if the performer didn't dress in his own trailer. So I ran into the dressing
section. I heard him come into the show part of the tent. He was busy out there for a
few minutes. I didn't know if he'd come into the dressing section or not. I could see
he didn't dress in the tent, only he might come back any minute!"

"Jiminy, you were trapped, Jupe," Andy said.

"I was, but I saw the costumes of the small clown! He dressed in the tent, and he'd
already quit for the night and gone. So I got into his costume and mask. They fitted
me just right! I'd just finished putting on the putty nose when he came back into the
dressing section - he'd heard me, I guess. He thought I was the small clown, and he
insisted we do one more act in the main alley.

"I realized, of course, that he wanted to do another act to have a chance to escape
from the carnival with the crooked cat. The whole situation had changed for him,
you see. All along he'd been trying to get the crooked cat without anyone knowing
what he wanted. But now we all knew what he was doing, and hiding didn't matter
any more. He just wanted to escape."

Chief Reynolds nodded. "I see that, Jupiter, but when you were in the open, why
didn't you just tell us who he was?"

"I knew he had a pistol, sir," Jupiter said simply. "I was afraid if I revealed myself
he'd start shooting. I had to get your attention before he learned I wasn't the small
clown. So I drew the question mark in the dirt. Luckily, Bob saw it and you were all
alert before he realized I had accused him!"

"Not quite alert enough, he almost got away," the Chief said. "Fine work, Jupiter!
Where is that crooked cat?"

"Strapped to his leg inside the baggy pants," Jupiter said.

One of the Chiefs men searched the tall clown, and pulled out the crooked cat. He

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gave it to the Chief who quickly examined it and held up a small piece of tan
cardboard.

"A left-luggage ticket!" the Chief exclaimed. "He deposited the robbery money.
That solves one part of the case. Now let's find out just who this robber is."

"Robber?" Mr. Carson frowned "But Chief, he can't be - "

Before Mr. Carson could finish what he was saying, Chief Reynolds had the tall
clown's mask and wig off, and was wiping the make-up away. The Chief stepped
back, his face incredulous!

Out of his clown face, the tall clown was a thin, white-haired old man! At least sixty-
five years old!

"Bu - but - " The Chief stammered. "He can't be the robber!"

"I was trying to tell you," Mr. Carson said. "He's too old for the robber. He
couldn't disguise his age that well, and he could never climb walls like the robber."

"No ... he couldn't," Jupiter said slowly, dismayed.

The old clown looked at the ground. "I ... I was hired. I admit I took that crooked
cat. He said he'd pay me ten thousand dollars! He gave me the gun, but I don't even
know how to use it I'm sorry I threatened you. I was afraid."

"Who hired you?" Chief Reynolds demanded. The old clown looked round. "Him!
Khan! He hired me."

The strong man grew red. "He's lying! I told you - "

"I'm telling the truth," the old clown insisted. "Don't take my word, Chief. Take us
both to jail, and then check on Khan. I know I've got punishment coming, but Khan
hired me."

For a moment everyone stood staring at both the old clown and Khan. The clown's
arm was pointing at Khan, and Jupiter was staring hard at both the clown and
Khan. Then the First Investigator's eyes gleamed.

"One of them is lying, Chief," he said, "and I know that it's the old clown!"

Chief Reynolds demanded, "How do you know that, Jupiter?"

"The clown isn't an old man at all," Jupiter declared. "He's disguised in reverse"

"Huh?" Pete exclaimed.

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"Yes, Second," Jupiter insisted. "We're been looking for a man who disguised
himself as the swarthy tattooed man to rob the bank and fool us - for someone who
put on a disguise. But he didn't do that. No, he's been disguised all along as the old
man clown! To rob the bank, and buy the cats, he took off his disguise! Under that
old man's face is our real robber!"

The old clown began to struggle, but the police held him firmly. Chief Reynolds felt
the clown's face, pulled at the white hair, dug at the wrinkled skin.

"Jupiter! I can't get anything off his face!" he said.

"Modern disguise is very clever," Jupiter said. "Look all the way down on his
neck."

The Chief pulled down the collar of the clown costume. They all saw a faint line
round the clown's neck. Chief Reynolds dug his fingernails under it, tugged hard
upward - and the old man's whole face, hair and neck skin came off in one piece of
solid plastic!

The clown stood revealed as a swarthy, dark eyed man - just as he had looked when
he had bought the crooked cats.

"It's him, the tattooed man!" Pete cried. "Without his tattoo!"

Mr. Carson peered at the glaring robber. "And he is The Amazing Gabbo, too! He's
changed, but it's Gabbo. So, you're a bank robber now, Gabbo?"

The robber snarled, "Go to the devil, Carson! All of you! I'd have got away except
for those stupid kids!"

"Kids, Mr. Gabbo," Chief Reynolds said grimly, "but not stupid. Take him and
lock him up, men!"

As the glaring Gabbo was led away, Chief Reynolds turned to face Jupiter once
more.

"All right, Jupiter, he had us fooled to the end," the Chief said. "That disguise was
so perfect he might have escaped after all. You noticed how he wanted us to take
him to jail with Khan? If he'd had a moment alone, even in jail, he would have
stripped off that disguise, and perhaps walked away! How did you know it was a
double disguise?"

"Well, sir, his plastic face was perfect," Jupiter said proudly, "but he forgot to
disguise his hands! His hands were smooth, firm, dark and without wrinkles or age
spots - young hands, Chief."

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"By George," Chief Reynolds said, "you're right again!"

Bob and Pete both groaned aloud. "He always is, sir," Bob said in mock despair.

"Most of the time, anyway," Pete said.

Jupiter only beamed in triumph.

Chapter 22
A Report to Alfred Hitchcock

The next day, after Bob had written up the report of the case, the boys took it to
their friend and mentor Alfred Hitchcock. The famous director read it, and
immediately agreed to introduce the case for the boys once more.

"The Secret of the Crooked Cat." the great movie director intoned. "A most
intriguing title for a most satisfactory exercise in gimlet-eyed observation and skilful
deduction! You have all done well to end the nefarious career of The Amazing
Gabbo before he could do more damage, boys!"

"He turned out to be wanted in the state of Ohio for an earlier robbery, sir," Bob
said.

"That was one reason he joined the carnival in disguise," Jupiter explained. "He
heard that Mr. Carson was taking the show to California. To escape any detection,
he assumed his old man's disguise from the first. Later, he had the idea of robbing
the San Mateo bank as himself, but with the fake tattoo to distract witnesses."

"Most ingenious," Mr. Hitchcock commented thoughtfully. "I presume he then


deposited his loot in that left-luggage room, and planned to slip back into the
carnival, and simply leave town as the old clown - totally unsuspected as the
younger robber!"

"Yes, sir," Jupiter agreed. "But when he was discovered accidentally at the
carnival, he set off the fire to have time to hide the left-luggage ticket and get back
into his old man's disguise. Only he failed in his haste to count the crooked cats. He

276
didn't realize that there were six until he heard me tell Chief Reynolds what I had
deduced."

Mr. Hitchcock nodded. "He moved too carefully at first, as you deduced, Jupiter,
and became too desperate later. The typical criminal mind, not very smart after all.
I imagine he will pay for his errors in a California prison, eh?"

"And after that Ohio wants him!" Pete said. "He won't be performing his human
fly act for a long time."

"No!" Mr. Hitchcock mused, "unless there is a prison carnival! An idea that has
great merit, boys. It might teach your foolish Gabbo to use his skills more wisely."

"Perhaps you should suggest that to the prison authorities, sir," Jupiter said with a
grin.

"Me? Well, perhaps, young man," Mr. Hitchcock said hastily. "But what of young
Andy Carson's grandmother? Will she, too, mend her opinions of Mr. Carson and
carnivals?"

"She already has, sir," Bob said. "Khan, I mean Paul Harney, reported to her that
the carnival is a good life for Andy, and quite safe."

"She is at least resigned to agreeing that a boy is best with his Dad," Jupiter added.

"Mr. Harney liked being a strong man again so much," Pete said, "that he's staying
with the carnival instead of going back to being a plain detective."

"Ah, is he?" Mr. Hitchcock smiled. "I wonder if his decision may have been
influenced by the demonstration of true detective skill by you boys, eh?"

Jupiter grinned. "Well, sir, I couldn't say."

"No, it will remain Khan's secret, I expect," the famous director said. "One point,
my young friends. How did the loss of the carnival pony ride fit into the affair?"

"It was just a real accident after all," Bob explained.

"The piece that didn't fit, of course," Mr. Hitchcock nodded. "So that ends your
adventure with the carnival?"

"Well, almost," Jupiter said.

Pete blurted out, "Jupe's going to be a clown for a couple of days! Mr. Carson is
letting him take Gabbo's place for the rest of the performances in Rocky Beach."

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"Bravo, Jupiter!" Mr. Hitchcock cried. "Perhaps I shall come to see you perform."

With that, the boys trooped out of the famous director's office. Left alone, Mr.
Hitchcock smiled at the thought of Jupiter as a clown and wondered what the boys
would come up with next.

The End.
Three Investigators Mysteries - 14

The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon

By
Nick West

Introduction by Alfred Hitchcock

THIS INTRODUCTION is solely for the purpose of acquainting latecomers with


The Three Investigators. If you have met them before, you are under no obligation
to read it.

The Three Investigators are an enterprising firm of youthful detectives, amateurs


perhaps, but remarkably effective in achieving their goal, namely, solving-mysteries.

By his own admission, Jupiter Jones is the leader-in-residence and the brains of the
trio. Pete Crenshaw, the most athletic member, assists on missions that call for his
kind of contribution. Bob Andrews is in charge of Records and Research. All
together, a lively team.

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The boys reside in Rocky Beach, a small town some miles from Hollywood, close to
the Pacific Ocean. Their headquarters is a converted mobile home trailer located in
the Jones Salvage Yard, which is run by Jupiter's aunt and uncle. The trailer has a
small office, a lab, a darkroom and equipment which the boys rebuilt from junk in
the yard. It can be entered by, certain secret passages that are best negotiated by
youthful individuals.

Now that you know all that is needed, I shall remove myself from the premises so
that you may get on with the real entertainment.

- ALFRED HITCHCOCK

Chapter 1
Mysterious Beginnings

"I WONDER," Jupiter Jones said one morning, "how we would go about
attempting the biggest robbery ever seen in this area."

His two companions reacted with surprise. Bob Andrews dropped the stack of small
cards he was feeding into their old printing press. Pete Crenshaw, who was mending
an old radio, jerked and saw his screwdriver glance off in an erratic arc.

"What was that you said?" Pete asked, trying to smooth out the jagged scratch he'd
made on the wooden back of the radio.

"I said I wonder how we would go about attempting the biggest robbery ever tried
in this area," Jupiter repeated. "That is, if we were master criminals."

"While you're wondering," Pete said, "try to find out what happens to us after we
get caught. I heard somewhere that crime doesn't pay."

Bob Andrews picked up the scattered cards he had dropped. "I don't think we'd be
good at being master criminals. I can't even master putting cards into this printing
press."

"It was merely a thought," said Jupiter. "After all, we are investigators. It occurs to
me that if we could imagine a well-planned crime, we'd be ahead when it came to

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solving it. All we need to do is reverse our thinking and assume the anti-social mind
of a mastermind criminal."

Pete nodded. "That's a neat idea, Jupe. But first I've got to reverse the thinking of
the last owner of this radio. He tried to mend it himself and got the wires all twisted.
After that, I'll be willing to play mastermind games with you."

The three boys, who called themselves The Three Investigators, were in Jupiter's
workshop section of the Jones Salvage Yard. Secluded here, under a six-foot roof
extending from the junk yard's high fence, they worked on repairing junk that
Jupiter's Uncle Titus bought. They used part of the profits for pocket money and
part for such luxuries as the telephone in their secret headquarters.

Pete finished tightening a screw on the radio and held it up proudly for Jupiter's
inspection. "This job ought to be worth at least three dollars to your uncle," he said.
"Now he can sell it as a working radio instead of the piece of busted junk it was
when it came in here."

Jupiter smiled. "Uncle Titus isn't given to throwing his money about carelessly. I
suggest you try it first and see if it works."

Pete shrugged and snapped a small dial. "It works, all right," he said. "Listen."

The radio hummed, spluttered and came to life. An announcer's voice was heard,
apparently well into his news broadcast. "Authorities continue to be stumped," he
said, "over the mysterious happenings in Seaside. Within the past week, five dogs
have been reported missing. The pet owners are puzzled over the disappearance of
their animals ... Now, for news overseas, we take you to - "

"Turn it off, Pete," Jupiter said.

Pete switched the dial to off. "How about that?" he said. "Five missing dogs.
Evidently there's a mad dognapper on the loose."

"I think we've got the master criminal Jupe was talking about," Bob said, grinning.
"He's going to steal all the dogs he can and corner the market. Then, when people
are willing to meet his price, he'll unload and make a fortune."

Jupiter sat pinching his lower lip, a sign that his mental machinery was moving into
high gear. "Odd," he said finally.

"What's odd?" Bob asked. "You mean the number of dogs stolen? Five is a good
odd number, all right."

Jupiter shook his head, frowning. "No, I was referring to the dogs reported missing
within the week. Usually when pets disappear, it happens at irregular intervals,

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rather than within the short span of one week."

"Well, it must be like I said," Bob answered. "There's this master criminal loose
with this mad plan of getting control of the doggie market. Maybe he intends
knocking down the price of hamburger meat, in addition to selling the stolen dogs at
a handsome profit."

Jupiter smiled thinly. "Nice try. But it doesn't answer the question. Why five
missing dogs in one week? Another question is, why haven't we been contacted to
investigate these mysterious disappearances?"

"Perhaps they're not so mysterious," Pete said. "Sometimes dogs roam away from
home and it takes them longer to get back. That's my guess."

"I agree with Pete," Bob said. "The report didn't mention the dogs being valuable.
Just five missing dogs."

Jupiter nodded slowly and reluctantly. "Perhaps you two are right," he admitted.
"It may be just a freak coincidence, much as I dislike making such an assumption."

The other two boys smiled. It was Jupiter's habit of using long words whenever
possible, apart from his keen deductive abilities as an investigator, that endeared
him to them and made him the acknowledged leader of the three.

"I wonder," said Jupe, "how we can solve the mystery without being asked to by
any of the pet owners."

Bob and Pete looked at each other blankly. "What mystery?" Pete demanded. "I
thought we agreed it was just a freak happening, not a mystery."

"Perhaps," Jupiter said. "But we are investigators, and Seaside is south of here, not
too far away. Apparently our fame as investigators is less than we imagined. We
should do something about it."

Bob motioned to the stack of cards he had placed in the old printing press. "That's
just what I'm doing, Jupe," he said. "Printing new business cards. A fresh batch."

"A good idea, Bob," Jupiter said. "But I was thinking of something else. We will
have to be better known, so that when strange things happen, people will think
immediately of The Three Investigators of Rocky Beach, California."

Bob threw up his hands. "Well gosh, Jupe, how do you propose doing that? We
can't afford to take a TV commercial or hire sky writers."

"I know," Jupiter said. "I suggest we go immediately to Headquarters and have a
meeting to discuss ways and means of getting the name of The Three Investigators

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known to more people."

He got up immediately without waiting for an answer. Bob and Pete exchanged
looks, shrugged and followed.

"What I like about you, Jupe," Pete said, smiling, "is the democratic way you run
things. I mean, the way we always take a vote before deciding on anything."

The boys moved a piece of old iron grating hidden by the printing press, uncovering
the mouth of a large section of corrugated pipe. They crawled into it, replaced the
grating, then went forward on hands and knees about forty feet. The pipe went
underground some of the way, then ran between some nondescript iron beams. It
opened at the other end directly under the mobile trailer which the boys had
converted into Headquarters. When Jupiter's uncle, Titus Jones, found he couldn't
sell the old trailer, he had given Jupiter and his friends permission to use it.

The boys pushed a trap-door upwards and scrambled through. Then they were
inside a tiny office fitted with a desk, a few chairs, a typewriter, filing cabinet and a
telephone. Jupiter had connected a microphone and radio loudspeaker to the
telephone, which permitted the boys to listen to any phone conversation together.
The remainder of the trailer consisted of a tiny darkroom, a miniature lab and a
washroom.

Because the trailer was surrounded by piles of junk outside, it was dark inside. Pete
switched on the light over the desk.

At that moment the telephone rang.

The boys looked at one another. Hardly anyone ever phoned them.

After the second ring, Jupiter reached for it, switching on the little radio
loudspeaker.

"Jupiter Jones?" asked a woman's voice. "Alfred Hitchcock is calling."

"Wow!" Bob yelled. "Maybe he has another good case for us!" Ever since Mr
Hitchcock, the famous film director, had learned of The Three Investigators, he had
put them on several cases.

"Hello, young Jones!" It was Mr Hitchcock speaking. "Are you and your friends
busy on a case at the moment?"

"No, sir," Jupiter said. "But according to the law of averages we should find
something interesting soon."

Mr Hitchcock chuckled, "Law of averages, indeed!" he said. "If you're not busy, I

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have something for you. An old film director friend of mine can use some help."

"We'd be glad to try, Mr Hitchcock," Jupiter said. "What is your friend's


problem?"

Mr Hitchcock hesitated, as if he were trying to sum up a difficult situation in a few


words.

"It appears to be dog trouble," he said finally. "That is to say, he told me on the
telephone a little while ago that his dog is missing."

Jupiter's eyes brightened. "Would your friend happen be a resident of the town of
Seaside, Mr Hitchcock?" he asked.

There was a brief silence.

When Mr Hitchcock came on again, he sounded thunderstruck. "He does live in


Seaside, for a fact, young Jones. Now how on earth did you deduce that?"

"Merely putting a few odd occurrences together," Jupiter said.

"Remarkable," Mr Hitchcock was saying. "Quite remarkable, really. I'm pleased


that you are still alert and not permitting your organization to become stagnant
with conceit and boredom."

Jupiter grinned. "Not a chance, Mr Hitchcock. But you said that your friend
'appears' to be having dog trouble. You put stress on the word 'appears,' sir. Was
that your intention?"

"As a matter of fact," Mr Hitchcock said, "you have guessed quite accurately what I
was intending to communicate. I don't believe this is an ordinary case, at all. When
you think of it, no case that involves a dragon can be considered ordinary. Wouldn't
you agree?"

Jupiter cleared his throat, "A dragon?"

"Yes, my boy. My friend's house overlooks the ocean, and there are caves running
beneath it. The night that his dog disappeared, my friend insists he saw a rather
large dragon emerge from the ocean and enter one of the caves underneath his
dwelling."

There was a stunned silence.

"Well, what do you say, my boy? Are you and your companions willing to try to
unravel this mystery?"

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Jupiter was so excited, he started to stutter. "J - j - just give me your friend's name
and address, sir!" he said. "This sounds as if it could be our most exciting case!"

He wrote down the information Mr Hitchcock gave, promised to report all progress,
and hung up. He looked at Pete and Bob triumphantly.

"Anything about a dragon living in our times should be investigated. Don't you
agree?"

Bob nodded. Pete shrugged.

"You seem to have some reservations, Pete," Jupiter said.

"You made only one mistake," Pete said, "You told Mr Hitchcock it could be our
most exciting case."

"Well, yes, I did," Jupiter replied. "Don't you agree?"

"Not entirely," Pete said.

"What would you have said, then?"

"As long as there's a dragon in it," Pete said, "I would have said - this could be our
last case!"

Chapter 2
Horror from the Sea

THE TOWN OF SEASIDE, where Mr Hitchcock's film director friend lived, was
about twenty miles away along the Pacific Coast Highway. Hans, one of the two
Bavarian yard helpers, had a collection and delivery to make in the area after lunch.
Jupiter got permission from his Aunt Mathilda to be taken along with his friends in
the small junk yard truck.

Jupiter's aunt fed them all, and then they hurried out and piled into the front with
Hans. Jupiter gave him the address, and they were soon on the smooth Coast
Highway travelling south.

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"You've had time for a little research, Bob," Jupiter said. "What can you tell us
about dragons?"

"A dragon," Bob said, "is a mythical monster, usually represented as a large reptile
with wings and claws, breathing out fire and smoke."

"I haven't done any research," Pete interrupted. "But I think Bob left out
something important. Dragons are not friendly."

"I would have mentioned that, too," Bob said, "but Jupiter is interested only in
facts. Dragons are mythical, which means they aren't real. So if they aren't real, we
don't have to worry if they're friendly or not."

"Exactly," Jupiter said. "Dragons are creatures of the legendary past. If there ever
were any actual ones, it would seem they've all been eliminated by the due processes
of evolution."

"That's fine with me," Pete said. "So, if they've all been eliminated, how come we're
on our way down to investigate one?"

"We heard that five dogs have disappeared within the past week in the peaceful
town of Seaside," Jupiter said. "And Mr Hitchcock told us that a friend of his lost
his dog and saw a dragon near his house. Doesn't that suggest anything to you?"

"It sure does," said Pete. "It suggests I should be back in Rocky Beach surfing on
my board instead of coming along with you to catch a dragon."

"If Mr Hitchcock's friend, Henry Allen, engages our services, then it will be a
profitable adventure for The Three Investigators," Jupiter said. "Why don't you try
to look at it that way?"

"I'm trying, I'm trying," Pete said.

"Whether there is a dragon or not," Jupiter said, "something mysterious is


apparently going on. Soon we will have facts to work with. Meanwhile we'll have to
approach the matter with an open mind."

They had reached the outskirts of Seaside, and Hans slowed the truck as he
searched for the street number Jupiter had given him. They travelled slowly
another mile and then Hans stopped. "I think this is your party, Jupe," he said.

All they could see was high hedges and palm trees. If a house was there, it seemed to
be hiding.

Pete spotted the small sign on a white letterbox.

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"H. H. Allen," he read. "This must be the place."

The boys piled out. "This preliminary investigation should take approximately two
hours, Hans," Jupe said. "Can you make your collection and delivery and come
back for us then?"

"Sure thing, Jupe," the husky Bavarian said. He waved and swung his truck round
to head down a steep road that led to the centre of the town.

"Let's take a quick look round first," Jupiter said. "It may help if we're better
orientated when we speak to Mr Allen."

Houses were strung out along the high ridge overlooking the Pacific. The
neighbourhood had a lonely, deserted air. The boys walked to a piece of vacant
ground next to the film director's house and looked down.

"Looks nice and peaceful," Bob said, regarding the beach below them and the
sparkling waters.

"Neat rollers," muttered Pete, watching the surf.

"Not much, but pretty good three-footers. I guess later at night, when the tide and
breakers start coming in, would be the best time for the dragon. He'd have a lot
more cover."

Jupiter agreed. "You're right, Pete. If there is a dragon." He craned his head to
look below. "Mr Hitchcock said there were caves below. But they can't be seen from
this angle. Later, after our interview with Mr Allen, we'll go down there and look
them over."

Bob looked at the deserted beach far below them. "How do we get down?" he asked.

Pete pointed to some rickety-looking, white, weather-beaten boards. "Steps going


down, Bob. Beats scaling up and down the cliff wall."

Jupiter pointed along the ridge. "There are some other staircases, too. But I don't
see many of them. Well, I believe we have the lie of the land. Now let's hear
what Mr Allen will tell us."

He led the way back to a gate in the hedge, swung it open, and they all stepped
through. Beyond a winding path, they could see a house of faded yellow brick,
surrounded by palm trees, bushes and wild flowers. The garden had an air of
neglect as did the old house itself, perched almost on the edge of the wind-swept
cliff.

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Jupiter raised the door knocker and let it fall.

The door opened, and a small plump man stood there. He had large mournful
brown eyes, bushy eyebrows, and a fringe of white hair above his tanned and
wrinkled face.

"Come in, boys," he said, extending his hand. "I imagine you're the boys my good
friend Alfred Hitchcock said might help me. Investigators, are you?"

"Yes, sir," Jupiter said. He whipped out one of The Three Investigators' business
cards. "We've solved several cases so far."

The old man looked at the card in his gnarled fingers. It said:

THE THREE INVESTIGATORS


"We Investigate Anything"
? ? ?
First Investigator Jupiter Jones
Second Investigator Peter Crenshaw
Records and Research Bob Andrews

"The question marks," Jupiter explained, "are our symbol, our trademark. They
stand for questions unanswered, riddles unsolved, mysteries unexplained. We
attempt to solve them."

The old man nodded, as if satisfied, and put the card in his pocket. "Come into my
study, and we'll talk," he said.

He led them to a large sunny room. The boys gasped as they looked about them.
From ceiling to floor, the walls were hung with pictures almost fighting for space.
Apart from the many paintings, there were neatly framed autographed photographs
of famous film stars and other celebrities.

The large desk was covered with papers and small wooden carvings. The bookcases
were crowded, too, with strange artifacts, Pre-Columbian figurines, and small,
grotesque African figures. Some of them looked cruel and frightening.

The old man indicated three chairs for them and took the large carved chair behind
the desk. "Please sit down, boys, and I'll tell you why I called my old friend Alfred
Hitchcock. Perhaps he has already told you that I am a film director?"

"Yes," said Jupiter. "He mentioned that, sir."

The old man smiled. "Was would be a better word for it. I haven't done anything
for many years. I was a film director years before Alfred became one. And quite
famous in my own right, too. While Alfred has made the Hitchcock thriller his own

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speciality, I had mine, too. Almost in the same vein, but slightly different. Alfred
concerns himself with logical mysteries of the real world, but mine went beyond it?'

"What do you mean, sir?" Jupiter asked.

"It will explain why I couldn't go to the police or other authorities with my problem.
You see, my pictures were bizarre, of the world beyond, of nightmares and fright.
They concerned themselves with monsters, werewolves, creatures of strange and
hideous natures and violent emotions.

"In short, my speciality, boys, was the horror film!" Jupiter nodded. "Yes, I
remember your name now, sir. I've seen it at film festivals in museums."

"Good," said the old man. "So when I tell you about what I saw coming out of the
water the night my dog disappeared, you will know why I hesitated to speak about
it. With my reputation and my inability to find work for many years, it would be
only natural for stupid people to think I was merely trying to attract attention, gain
publicity.

"My work is finished. They saw to that - the powers that be. I have enough money to
live quietly. And no worries, no fears - except - "

"Except the dragon now living in the cave below you, sir?" Jupiter suggested.

Mr Allen grimaced. "Yes." He looked carefully at the boys. "I told Alfred I saw it
coming out of the sea. But I omitted one fact. You see, I heard it, too!" The room
became suddenly quiet.

"You heard the dragon," Jupiter said calmly. "Exactly what did you hear? And
where were you at that moment?"

Mr Allen drew out a large coloured handkerchief and mopped his brow. "I was
standing on the cliff outside my house looking down at the ocean when I saw it," the
old man said. "Perhaps it was an illusion."

"Perhaps," Jupiter said. "Now tell us exactly what you heard. This might be an
important lead in the mystery."

"Well, confound it," Mr Allen said. "As far as I know, there aren't any dragons
around, and there haven't been for several million years. Of course, I've done
pictures about them, using mechanical monsters. In those cases, we used some kind
of muffled roar of an engine combined with shrill whistles, blended together to
create the effect we were trying to achieve - that of frightening the audience.

"But what I heard last night wasn't anything like that at all. It was rather a high-
pitched rasping sound - almost as if it were breathing with difficulty - or coughing."

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"What about the cave under your house?" Jupiter asked. "Is it large enough to
contain a dragon, or any creature large enough to be mistaken for one?"

"Yes," the old man said. "There are a series of caves running under this ridge.
Extending north and south as well as inland. In the old days, they were used by
rum-runners, and before them by smugglers and pirates. There was a landslide
some years ago as the cliffs eroded, covering much of what was known then as
Haggity's Point. But many of the caves are still under here."

"Hmmmm," Jupiter muttered. "But this is the first time you've ever seen or heard a
dragon, and yet you've been living here for years. Is that correct?"

The old man nodded and smiled. "Once is enough. And I might not even have seen
this one if I hadn't been out looking for my dog, Red Rover."

The boys exchanged glances, smiling. One of their secret entrances into
Headquarters was called Red Gate Rover.

"I guess it's time we discussed your missing dog and the circumstances, sir. Bob,
take notes," Jupiter said.

Bob, in charge of Records and Research, took out his pad and pencil.

Mr Allen started, then smiled at this example of the business-like proficiency of The
Three Investigators.

"I've been abroad for the past two months," he said. "Even though I am no longer
actively working in films, I am still very much interested in them, and their
development. As a rule I tour Europe every year, going to most of the major film
festivals in different foreign cities. This year was no different. I went to the festivals
in Rome, Venice, Paris, London and Budapest, and also visited old friends.

"As usual, when abroad, I boarded my dog at a local kennel. I returned a week ago,
got Red Rover out - he's an Irish setter, by the way - beautiful animal. Friendly, too.

"Red Rover likes to run. As I can't keep up with him, I let him loose at night. Two
nights ago he didn't return. Although I've had him three years, I thought he'd
picked up new habits and returned to the kennel. I called and he wasn't there. I
waited for him to come back and he didn't.

"I was out looking for him - when I saw - it!"

"You didn't go down to the beach?" asked Jupe.

The old man shook his head. "No. It was an eerie sensation. I'd spent most of my life

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making pictures to shock and scare people out of their wits, and now it had
happened to me. There's no way I can describe the feelings I had. Panic, first, that
this awesome creature might have attacked and devoured my dog. Then the fear
that I might be losing my mind. To admit openly that you have seen a dragon takes
some doing, believe me!"

"You took no other steps then," pursued Jupiter, "but phoned your friend Alfred
Hitchcock."

The old man mopped his brow again. "Alfred is an old and dear friend, with much
experience in the field of mystery. I knew if anybody could help me, he was the one.
Now it will be up to you boys. The entire matter is in your hands."

"Thank you, Mr Allen," Jupiter said, "for your confidence. There have been other
incidents of missing dogs in this town. Five of them, at last report, not including
yours."

Mr Allen nodded. "I heard that on the news after my dog had disappeared. If I had
heard of it before, I might not have let Red Rover run on his own as I did."

"Have you spoken to the other dog owners?" Jupiter asked.

The old man shook his head. "No. Not yet. I didn't want to mention what I'd seen."

"Do all the people round here own dogs?"

Mr Allen smiled. "Not all. Not the man across the street, Mr Carter. Nor my next-
door neighbour on the right, Arthur Shelby. I don't know many of my neighbours. I
live a quiet life with my books and paintings. And my dog."

Jupiter stood up. "We'll be going then, Mr Allen, and I promise you a full report of
any progress we make."

Mr Allen shook hands and saw them out, thanking them again. The boys went out
through the wooden gate, and Jupiter closed it behind them.

Pete smiled as Jupiter set the hook in place. "Keeping out the dragon, Jupe?"

"I doubt very much that a mere locked gate, or even a locked door, would stop a
dragon, Pete," said Jupiter.

The Second Investigator gulped nervously. "I don't like the way you said that," he
declared. He looked up the street, and then glanced at his watch. "Where's Hans?"

"It's much too early," Jupiter said. "We still have plenty of time."

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He started to walk across the street.

Bob and Pete looked at him.

"Time for what?" Bob asked.

"To call on Mr Carter," Jupiter said. "After him, Mr Arthur Shelby. Aren't you
curious about men who live in this lonely section and don't need dogs to protect
them?"

"No, I'm not," Pete said. "As a matter of fact, I'm wondering why I haven't bought
a dog yet to protect me! A large one that's not afraid of dragons!"

Jupiter smiled and the boys followed him to the other side of the narrow street. Mr
Carter's grounds were well kept up and his house was freshly painted.

"Notice," Jupiter told his friends as they went up the path, "that the hedges are
evenly clipped and the lawn neatly mowed. His trees are pruned and his flower beds
are well tended. Mr Carter must be a neat man."

Jupiter pressed the bell. Almost immediately the front door was flung open and a
heavyset man stood there glowering down at them.

"Yes? What do you kids want?" he demanded loudly.

"I beg your pardon, sir," Jupiter said politely. "We've just visited your neighbour,
Mr Allen, across the street. His dog, Red Rover, is missing, as you may know. We
were wondering if you knew anything about its disappearance."

The man's eyes narrowed and his thick eyebrows rose, then lowered. His mouth
twisted into a snarling line.

"So Allen's lost his dog, has he? Like the others up the street, eh? Well, good
riddance to them. Good riddance and let's hope they stay lost. I hate dogs!"

His eyes blazed furiously at them, with an almost insane glint. His hands clenched
and for a moment the boys thought he was going to attack them.

Jupiter managed to keep his voice calm, and his placid-looking exterior unruffled.
"I'm sure you must have a good reason for disliking the animals, sir," he said.
"Perhaps if you could tell us what they've done - "

"What they've done?" the man echoed sarcastically. "Done what they've always
done. Barked and howled at the moon all night. Trampled my flower beds. Ripped
up my lawn. Upset my dustbins, littering the path. That enough for you?"

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"I'm sorry," Jupe said sympathetically. "We're new to the neighbourhood. It's Mr
Allen's dog we're trying to find. If it's damaged your property, I'm sure Mr Allen
would pay for it. He misses his dog terribly and I'm sure he'd do anything - "

"Do anything, would be?" the man asked. "Well, so would I. Wait here!"

He ducked inside behind the door. The boys hardly had time to exchange baffled
glances than the door was flung open again and Mr Carter was back.

He was holding a large shotgun.

"Here's what I'd do," he said, raging. "Fill him with lead! This one carries double
ought. That's the largest ammunition made for this weapon. And if I set eyes on that
dog of Allen's or any other pesky beast hereabouts on my property, here's what
they'll get."

He raised the gun threateningly.

Chapter 3
The Test of Terror

THE ANGRY MAN tightened his finger on the trigger. "I'm a good shot and I
never miss. Any more questions?"

Jupiter shook his head, trying not to look unnerved by the gun a foot from his face.
"No, sir," he said. "I'm very sorry if we have disturbed you. Good day, sir."

Mr Carter's lips tightened. "If I never see any of those pesky dogs around again,
that's when it'll be a good day. Now git!"

He thrust the muzzle outwards as he spat out the words, and the boys backed off
slowly.

"Turn round," the man said. "I don't want you spoiling my lawn!"

Jupiter looked at his two companions and shrugged. With hearts quaking, they
turned their backs on the ill-tempered man with the gun and went down the path.

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"Don't run, walk slowly," Jupiter whispered.

Bob and Pete nodded, wondering when the shotgun blast would come, trying not to
panic.

Then they all jumped at the loud sound behind them! "It's all right, fellows,"
Jupiter said. "That was just Mr Carter slamming his front door."

The boys turned, saw Jupiter was correct, and ran.

They were halfway down the street before they stopped. They looked back. Nobody
was after them. Mr Carter's door remained closed.

"Whew!" Bob muttered. "That was close!"

"A shotgun with double-ought ammunition," Pete said, testing his forehead for
sweat. "One more second and that stuff would have ripped right through us."

"Not too likely," Jupe said. "The locking bolt was in the off and therefore safe
position."

Bob and Pete glared at him. "You knew that all the time," Pete said accusingly. "No
wonder you acted so calm."

"I don't believe Mr Carter ever intended to shoot us," Jupiter said. "He was merely
acting out his anger. I happened to trigger him off by bringing up the one subject
that annoys him. Dogs!"

"I think he's got another subject now," Pete said. "People!"

Jupiter pursed his lips thoughtfully. "We'll have to be more careful the next time we
approach Mr Carter."

Pete shook his head. "No, sir. The next time you can be careful approaching Mr
Carter all you want. You won't have to worry about me, because I won't be there. I
forgot to tell you, I have a very delicate skin. It's allergic to lead."

"Me, too," Bob said. "If I'm going to be shot at, I prefer a water pistol at ten paces."

"There's a possibility," Jupiter said, "that Mr Carter is a far better actor than I
give him credit for, and had something to do with the disappearance of the dogs."

"Sounds reasonable," Bob said.

"It will be a simple matter now to compare Mr Carter's irascible response with our

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next subject's."

"What's he talking about now?" Pete asked Bob. Jupiter pointed across the street.

"There were two neighbours Mr Allen mentioned who did not own dogs. We met
the first one, Carter. Now we have a few questions to ask the other one, Arthur
Shelby."

A closed metal gate running chest high barred their way. The boys looked over it to
the large house set back on the property of Mr Arthur Shelby.

"Looks okay," Bob said. "I don't see a cannon emplacement anywhere."

Pete inched a little closer to look at the windows on the lower and upper storeys. "I
don't see anybody watching us," he said. "Maybe Mr Shelby isn't home."

Jupiter stepped forward. "It's easy to find out," he said. "All we have to do is go
through this gate, and - "

He stopped, open-mouthed. His companions gaped too. The gate had opened
without Jupiter touching it.

"How did you do that?" Pete demanded. "You developing magical powers?"

"Maybe the wind blew it open," Bob suggested.

Jupiter shook his head. He held out his arms, stopping his companions from
advancing, and stepped back. The metal gate swung shut.

Jupiter took a step closer. The gate opened.

"A very simple explanation," he said. "The gate works on an electronic seeing-eye
principle. You've all seen that at airports, supermarkets and other modem
buildings."

Pete looked at the gate sceptically. "Sure I have," he said. "Only I've never seen one
in a private house before."

"Any sign of progress and modernity is a good sign," Jupiter said cheerfully. "The
fact that Mr Shelby uses such a device on his gate shows he is not superstitious or
hidebound by convention. Just the kind of person we want to talk to, especially
about such an unlikely topic as a dragon in the neighbourhood."

He stepped through the gate and the other boys followed. Off to the side of the path,
the boys saw a large, ornate sundial set in the centre of the lawn. Ahead of them was
a large flower laden trellis. They walked under it.

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Suddenly the trellis dropped.

The boys stopped, bumping into each other. The front part of the trellis had
dropped in front of them. Behind them, the back part of the trellis hissed
downwards with a slight clanging sound, barring their retreat.

They were trapped in a huge metal cage decorated with flowers!

I hope this is only a joke," Jupiter said, licking his lips nervously. "It's like a
portcullis."

"What's a portcullis?" Pete asked in a panicky voice.

"It was usually a large, heavy iron grating suspended by chains and lowered
between grooves to bar the gateway of a castle or fortified town," Jupiter explained.

"I've seen pictures of them in old books at the library," Bob said excitedly. "It's
usually the last defence after you cross the moat of the castle."

"I don't remember crossing any moat," Pete complained fretfully.

There was a slight hissing sound, and as suddenly as it had fallen, the trellis lifted
above their heads. The boys looked at each other.

"I think Mr Arthur Shelby has a keen sense of humour," Jupiter said, relieved.
"Let's go."

He took a step forward and Pete grabbed his arm. "You're going the wrong way,
Jupe," he said. "Maybe they don't want us in this castle."

Jupiter shook his head, smiling. "First an automatic-opening gate. Then an


electronic controlled trellis. Mr Shelby seems to be unusually preoccupied with
scientific gadgets. It would be a shame not to meet him."

Jupe moved forward again and his companions followed reluctantly. He grinned as
he stepped up and pressed the doorbell.

"Yow - wh!" he yelled, and leaped back, shaking his arm. "That doorbell has an
electric charge on it! I got a shock!"

"Okay, I've had enough of this Mr Shelby's jokes," Pete said. "I vote we call off the
interview with this joker right away."

"I'm with Pete," Bob said. "I've got a funny feeling Mr Shelby is trying to tell us he
doesn't want us here."

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"I don't think so," Jupiter said. "He's testing us. He's put us through a sequence
calculated to scare us off."

As if in answer to Jupiter's reasoning, the front door clicked and swung silently
open.

"Neat," Bob said admiringly. "He's got this place bugged all around."

The boys cautiously stepped over the threshold. The interior was dark and quiet.

Jupiter cleared his throat, trying to speak with confidence. "Good day, Mr Shelby.
We are The Three Investigators, calling at the suggestion of your next-door
neighbour, Mr Allen. May we come in, sir?"

There was no answer. Then faintly they heard a slight flapping sound. It came
closer, and they heard it more distinctly. It appeared to be coming from high in the
gloomy interior of the house. Suddenly they froze. A huge, dark form was hurtling
towards them with a shrill whistling sound.

A big, black, hawklike bird, screeching fiercely, its sharp beak open, cruel talons
outstretched, and eyes blazing madly, swooped down on them!

Chapter 4
A Surprising Hand

"DUCK!" Pete yelled.

The boys flung themselves to the floor.

The screeching bird plummeted towards them, its huge talons curled menacingly.

Then it slowed to hover a foot above them. Surprisingly, it remained there.

The shrill screeching sound stopped.

Jupiter had flung his hands over his face to protect his eyes. He peeked cautiously

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between his fingers. Then he sat up, his expression changed from fear to chagrin.

"It's okay, fellows," he said. "It's not a real bird."

"What?" Pete cried.

He lifted his head unbelievingly. Bob did the same.

The dark bird hung there limply, dangling at the end of a thin copper wire. Its
yellow eyes glared at them with a dull expression.

"It's a toy," Jupiter said. He reached out and touched the bird. "Seems to be made
out of plastic and chicken wire!"

"Oh, boy!" Pete said disgustedly.

From the dark interior of the room came the sound of rasping, breathless laughter.
Lights flashed on suddenly overhead.

A tall, thin man wearing dark overalls stood there looking down at them. His hair
was short and coppery red.

"Welcome to Mystery Castle," he said in a deep and sepulchral voice.

Then he doubled over, laughing. His laughter became riddled by a spasm of


coughing.

"He's sure got a keen sense of humour," Pete muttered.

The tall, red-headed man straightened up slowly. His blue eyes were bright and
watery. "Arthur Shelby here. I'd better take my bird back before it bites you."

The boys scrambled to their feet. The man came closer, stooped and unhooked the
wires holding the motionless bird. Jupiter looked up at the ceiling and smiled

"He had it running on those narrow-gauge tracks up there," he said. "Just like
electric toy trains."

Bob and Pete looked up at the tracks stretching across the ceiling. "I like electric
trains better," Pete said. "They don't scare me."

Mr Shelby was grinning. "Fooled you, did I? Sorry. It's my hobby - making crazy
gadgets," He waved his hand to the room behind him. The boys saw a large
workshop cluttered with tools and scraps of wood and wire.

Mr Shelby set his bird down on a work table. His voice was normal now, not deep

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and mournful, merely husky. "What brings you boys here?" he asked.

Jupiter handed Mr Shelby one of their business cards. "That may explain it, sir," he
said. "We like to solve mysteries."

The red-haired man studied the card, making no comment about the question
marks. Then he returned it, smiling.

"I suppose the mysteries round here are the missing dogs, eh?"

"When we learn all the facts of the matter," Jupiter said slowly, "it may turn out to
be a single mystery. We're trying to help Mr Allen find his Irish setter. But I have a
feeling his missing dog is linked somehow with the disappearance of the others in
Seaside."

"Could be," Mr Shelby said. "I don't have much to do with my neighbours here but
I heard the report on the news. Allen's been away and I wasn't even aware he had
come back until I heard Red Rover was missing, too. I hope you find him."

"That's our job," Jupiter said. "But we can use some information. I thought talking
to some of Mr Allen's neighbours would help. We've just been across the street to
speak to Mr Carter. Do you know him?"

Shelby laughed. "Who doesn't round here? I've got the red hair but Carter has the
temper. I suppose he let you see his shotgun?"

Jupiter shrugged. "He tried to frighten us off. Fortunately, he had the safety catch
on when he threatened us. He said dogs round here have been trespassing on his
property. He made it clear he hates dogs."

Shelby grinned. "Carter hates everything and everybody."

"You scare people off in a different way," Pete said suddenly. "What's the idea of
all those tricks you've got set up round your house?"

The red-haired man glanced at Pete, amused. "I wondered when you'd get round to
me. I don't hate people so much as I hate to be bothered by them. I've worked out a
few ways to keep the pedlars and daily nuisances away. Scared you, did I?"

"You can say that again," Pete muttered.

Shelby laughed again. "My background is engineering. I'm an amateur inventor It's
fun for me to rig up these gadgets. But nobody gets hurt."

He glanced at his watch. "Now, how can I help you boys?"

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"About the missing dogs," Jupiter said, "do you have any ideas that might help
us?"

Their host shook his head. "Sorry. All I know is they've been reported missing.
You'd do better speaking to the owners."

"The only one we've spoken to is Mr Allen next door," Jupiter said. "He gave us a
clue but it's kind of hard to believe."

"Oh?" The red-haired man's bushy eyebrows flew onward. "What was that?"

Jupiter pursed his lips, frowning. "The trouble is, I don't know if I'm allowed to tell
you about it."

"Why not?" Shelby demanded.

"I think maybe Mr Allen might be embarrassed if word of it got about," Jupiter
said. "I'm sorry, Mr Shelby."

The tall man shrugged. "I guess you've got to act like a lawyer in these matters.
Protect your client's confidences. Something like that?"

Jupiter nodded. "And yet, it's odd. You live next to him. It doesn't seem likely that
he saw something mysterious round here that you didn't see."

Mr Shelby grinned. "You seem to have a pretty good vocabulary. Seems to me you
could talk a lot clearer, if you wanted to."

"You're not kidding," Pete said, impatiently. "What jupe is trying not to say is that
Mr Allen saw a dragon come out of the ocean the other night."

"You shouldn't have said that, Pete," Jupiter said. "We have to keep what our
clients tell us in confidence."

"Sorry," Pete muttered. "I guess I get too nervous just thinking about it."

"A dragon?" Mr Shelby said. "Is that what Allen claims he saw?"

Jupiter hesitated. Then he shrugged. "Well, it's out now. I guess he was afraid
people would think he was losing his mind if he talked about seeing a dragon. But
that's what he claims he saw."

Mr Shelby was shaking his head. "Impossible."

"He said he heard it, too," Bob said. "That is, when it entered the cave under his
house."

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Jupiter blew out his cheeks. "Well, I guess we just don't keep any secrets at all, Mr
Shelby. But if there really is a dragon, or something dangerous like that down there,
you ought to know about it, too. I mean, in case you go down there at times."

"Thanks for the warning," Mr Shelby said. "But I rarely go down to the beach. I'm
not much of a swimmer, you see. And as for the caves, I learned long ago not to go
into them. They're dangerous."

"What makes them dangerous?" Bob asked.

Mr Shelby smiled. "They were dangerous before there was any talk of a dragon in
them. Landslides are common here along the coast. You could be buried alive."

"I heard they were used by smugglers and rum-runners," Jupiter said.

Shelby nodded. "That was a long time ago. As for the landslides, just take a walk
along the cliff. You'll see how the earth has slipped. Sometimes a house goes down
with it."

He looked intently at the boys, his eyes shining. "I know how it is being young. I
suppose if I were your age again, and heard a wild story about a dragon, I might be
tempted to go down and take a look myself. If you do, remember, those caves are
very dangerous."

"Thanks, Mr Shelby," Jupiter said, "Then in your opinion, there's nothing to Mr


Allen's dragon?"

Shelby smiled. "What do you think?"

Jupiter threw up his hands. "Well - "

Mr Shelby laughed again.

"Well," Jupiter said, "thanks a lot for talking to us. Maybe we'll find out exactly
what he did see."

"I hope so," Mr Shelby said. "I know Allen's made a lot of horror films in his time.
Maybe he has a friend or enemy who's playing a practical joke on him."

"That's possible," Jupiter admitted.

"Sometimes people will go to extremes in a case like that. Sorry I can't help you
boys. I'll see you out now."

He led them to the door and opened it. As they filed out, he stopped Jupiter, offering

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his hand. "Good luck, son."

Jupiter took the hand extended to him. "Thank you, sir."

The door closed softly behind him.

Then he stared down openmouthed, a shiver running through him.

Mr Shelby's right hand had come off, and Jupiter was holding it in his own!

Chapter 5
Trouble Below!

"ULP!" Jupiter stared, horrified, at Mr Shelby's hand. It was flesh-coloured and


looked real. It even felt real!

It was too much for even level-headed Jupiter. He gasped and dropped it.

The other investigators heard his cry and turned.

"Yipes! What's that?" cried Pete.

"Whiskers!" Bob said, looking closer.

"It's a hand!" Jupiter found his voice. "It's Mr S - Shelby's. It c - came off when we
were shaking hands!"

"What?" Pete asked.

"It came off," Jupiter repeated dully. "I don't know how."

Loud laughter came from inside the house. It was followed by strangling, coughing
sounds.

Jupiter flushed. "My fault, guys. I forgot what a practical joker Mr Shelby is."

He picked up the hand gingerly and held it out to Bob and Pete. Pete shook his head,

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and Bob took it. "It even feels real," Bob said. "Maybe Mr Shelby wears an
artificial arm, and his hand just happened to come off accidentally when you shook
hands."

Jupiter shook his head. "You heard him laughing a moment ago. No, it's just
another one of his practical jokes. That's all. He's got a funny way of scaring
people."

"Yeah," Pete said sarcastically. "Very funny. Let's get out of here before he thinks
of something else."

Bob tossed the fake hand away. The boys turned and raced down the walk.

Avoiding Mr Shelby's portcullis, the boys zigzagged the path. They slowed down as
they approached the closed metal gate.

It swung open noiselessly, as before, and The Three Investigators hurried through.

"He's a good sport anyway," Bob said, as they ran the street. "At least he didn't
have his gate bite us on the way out."

"Keep going," Pete muttered. "I'll thank him when I'm far enough away."

Finally they slowed and came to a breathless halt.

"Now what do we do?" Bob asked. "Wait for Hans to pick us up?"

"I move that we keep running all the way back to Rocky Beach," Pete said. "What's
twenty miles when you consider how much safer it is there?"

Jupiter plucked at his lower lip. He glanced at his wrist watch. "There's still a little
time. How do you fellows feel about taking a quick look at that cave down below,
before we go home?"

Pete looked towards the cliff ridge. "You mean the one the dragon's supposed to
have gone into? I'll give you my vote in two words, Jupe. Forget it."

Jupiter nodded. "How do you feel, Bob?"

"Like Pete," Bob answered. "Besides, you heard Mr Shelby telling us how
dangerous it is. I don't know about the dragon, but I don't think I'd be any happier
under a landslide."

Jupiter was walking to the cliff edge. He put his hand on the old weatherbeaten stair
handrail that ran steeply down to the beach.

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"I suggest we take a look," he said. "Then, when we get home, we'll have a better
idea of what we're up against."

With that, he took a step down and quickly disappeared from view.

Pete looked at Bob. "How come he always outvotes us, one to two?"

Bob shrugged. "He's just more stubborn than we are. You and I are probably nicer
people."

"Yeah," Pete muttered. "A lot of good it does us. Come on. We'd better go down
after him before Mr Shelby sends a flying object after us. Or that Mr Carter across
the street decides he needs some target practice."

With that, Pete reached for the handrail and started down. Bob followed. The steps
were narrow and old, set close together, and the descent to the beach was steep. As
they ran down, Pete and Bob grabbed the rails at first. Then, as they gained
momentum and confidence, they merely reached out and slapped at them.

Jupiter couldn't help but hear the clatter behind him. He glanced back once, saw
what was happening, and grinned. It was a race to the bottom now.

Not as agile as the others, Jupe could still make an effort when he wanted to. He
increased his pace as he bounced from step to step.

He was perhaps fifteen feet from the bottom when it happened.

Suddenly, without warning, a step collapsed under his weight. His momentum
carried him downwards. The next step cracked and broke away, too. He attempted
to brake by grabbing the handrail.

It tore loose and came off in his hand. Then he was yelling and falling in space.

Immediately behind, Bob and Pete heard his warning cry too late. The entire
staircase below was collapsing like a deck of cards on end. The railing above the
section that Jupiter had clung to was their only chance. They threw themselves at it
frantically.

It tore loose, too.

Helplessly, they plunged headlong downwards. Loose boards hurled after them.

Jupiter's mind worked quickly as he fell. In the split second before he landed, he
had two nagging thoughts. Was this accident a real one?

Or was it to keep The Three Investigators from investigating the mystery of the

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dragon on the beach? That was all he had time for.

He landed with stunning force. Bodies and boards crashed about his head.

Everything went black!

Chapter 6
Trapped!

"JUPE, are you all right?"

Jupiter blinked and opened his eyes. He saw the blurred faces of Pete and Bob
looking down at him.

He grunted and sat up. There was a lot of sand on his face, and he brushed it off
carefully before replying.

"Of course I'm all right," he said finally. "Not that the effect of both of you landing
on me at once did me any good. In addition to knocking the breath out of me, you
practically buried my face in the sand!'

Pete grinned. "He's okay. He can still talk!'

"I hear him," Bob said. "As usual, he's making it seem our fault. As I recall, his
weight broke the steps and railing first. What were we supposed to do - fly over
him?"

Jupiter got to his feet slowly. He kicked at the litter of broken boards all round
them. Then he picked up a splintered piece and studied it. He stooped and picked up
another, comparing it with the first. He nodded as if satisfied.

"Your statement is correct, Bob," Jupiter said. "My weight did break the steps first.
But I'm inclined to believe that I had help. These steps appear to have been
tampered with. Enough to make them give way at the slightest pressure."

He extended the boards to his two partners.

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"If you notice, the top part is splintered sharply. See how jagged it is? The bottom
part is broken more evenly. Almost as if it had been partly sawn through before we
came down the steps."

Bob and Pete looked at the boards closely.

"Maybe you're right," Bob admitted. "But who knew we were coming down them?"

"Sure." Pete said. "It was your own idea, Jupe. If we never went down the steps, the
accident could have happened to anybody in the neighbourhood. We've only met Mr
Carter, Mr Allen and Mr Shelby, so far. There must be a lot of others who use this
staircase."

He pointed up the beach. "It's a long walk to the other one. And a longer walk to the
next one. Anybody could have come down here."

Jupiter sighed and threw the boards down. "We don't have the equipment to
examine these boards anyway, to find out if they were actually sawed or not. Maybe
I'm wrong in my deduction."

Pete and Bob stared at each other. It was a rare day when Jupiter ever admitted to a
wrong guess about anything.

Jupiter set his lips firmly. "However," he said, "we can't let ourselves be
sidetracked by the accident on the steps. Our main purpose in coming down was to
examine the beach here and the cave for evidence of the dragon. Let's get on with
it."

Without a backward glance, Jupe started walking towards the sea. "We'll look for
tracks leading from the water inland towards the cave first. What Mr Allen claimed
he saw took that direction."

Bob and Pete joined him, and the three advanced slowly over the sand. The wide
expanse of beach appeared deserted. Overhead a few seagulls, screaming raucously,
swooped about in erratic flight.

Pete pointed to one of the gulls who had just landed. "Maybe we ought to ask one of
them if he saw a dragon recently. That would save us a lot of trouble."

"Good idea," Bob said. "And if they won't talk, there's that tug with the salvage rig
about a mile out."

He pointed offshore to a clumsy-looking craft trailing its rig. "They don't look like
they're going anywhere in a hurry. Maybe they're on a dragon hunt, too."

Jupiter looked out and shook his head. "We don't have to worry about what's out

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that far. All we have to do is cover the shoreline round here."

He ran his eye from the cave in the distance towards the water. "We should see
tracks somewhere in this area. I suggest we spread out a little."

They separated and walked slowly along the beach, scrutinizing the sand closely.

"All I see is a lot of seaweed piled up," Bob said.

"Me, too," Pete said. "Plus some seashells and a lot of driftwood."

Bob shook his head finally. "No sign of any kind of tracks, Jupe. Could the tide have
washed them away?"

Jupe tugged at his lip. "Possibly here, close to the water. But there's plenty of dry
sand for tracks all the way up to the cave. Let's go up and look."

"Do we have to?" asked Pete. "What if the dragon is in the cave? What are we
supposed to do - fight it off with our bare hands?"

"I don't expect us to have to fight anything, Pete," Jupe said. "We'll approach the
cave entrance carefully. And we won't go inside unless we're certain it's safe
enough."

Pete scowled. Then he stooped and picked up a long piece of driftwood. "Well, I
don't know how much good this will do me. But I'll feel a lot safer with some kind of
club in my hands."

Bob picked up another piece of wood, part of an oar with the blade broken off.
"You have the right idea, Pete," he said. "I remember seeing pictures of St George
and the dragon. He didn't use old drift wood, either. He was smart. He had a nice
long sword."

He brandished his long oar, then glanced at Jupiter. "Don't you want some kind of
weapon, too, Jupe? We can go back for those broken railings, if you like. They've
still got some of the nails set in them. Nice long ones."

Jupiter smiled and shrugged. "I suppose it won't hurt to carry something."

With that, he reached down and picked up a long, wet plank from the debris along
the shore. He put it on his shoulder and glanced at his companions.

Bob and Pete smiled weakly. Then, with resolutely set faces and quaking hearts, the
boys walked slowly towards the dark opening in the face of the cliff.

They crossed the slight ridge near the waterline, scanning the sand each foot of the

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way. Suddenly Jupiter stopped. His eyes were bright.

"Here's something," he said softly.

Bob and Pete looked down. There were unmistakable depressions in the loose soft
sand.

"This dragon must be a new type," Bob said finally. "It looks like it's running on
wheels."

Jupiter nodded. He looked up and down the beach. "I don't see anything. But these
look like the tracks of some kind of vehicle. Maybe a beach buggy. Some times
lifeguards use a jeep or beach buggy to patrol a long area, such as this."

"Maybe," Bob said. "But if they were on patrol, these tracks would be heading
north and south - the way the beach runs. Instead, they're heading towards the
cave."

"You're right, Records," Jupiter said. He dropped to his knees and studied the
depressions.

Bob was scowling, looking back at the water. "I don't get it. If the tracks show here,
why couldn't we see them near the water?"

"A heavy running tide and high breakers would wash them away, I guess," Jupiter
said.

Pete grinned. "I guess old Mr Allen's eyes aren't too reliable. Instead of a dragon,
what he probably saw was a jeep or something."

"Possibly," Jupiter answered. "In any event, when we get to the cave we'll find out
one way or the other."

Ten yards from the cave, the tracks disappeared completely.

The boys looked at each other.

"Another mystery," Pete said.

They reached the mouth of the cave. It looked empty.

"This opening is almost big enough for a bus," Bob said. "I'll take a look inside and
see how far back it goes."

Jupiter peered inside the cave. "All right, Bob. But stay within shouting distance.
Pete and I will be with you, as soon as we check the entrance for any clues."

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Bob brandished his spearlike weapon and walked into the cave.

"What makes him so brave, all of a sudden?" Pete asked.

Jupiter smiled. "Once we saw the tracks were made by a man-made vehicle, rather
than a fantastic creature such as a dragon, I think we all got a lot braver."

He cocked his head, as if listening.

"Perhaps we can tell from the echo of Bob's voice how large the cave is." He raised
his voice. "Just checking, Bob - how are things in there?"

Pete inclined his head, too, in a listening attitude. They heard the sound together. A
heavy plopping sound.

Then they heard Bob's voice. It was thin and high-pitched. He spoke only one word
but it filled them with terror.

"Help!"

Chapter 7
A Mysterious Warning

As Jupiter and Pete stared wide-eyed into the dimly lit cave, they heard Bob cry out
again.

"Help! Help me!"

"Bob's in trouble!" Pete exclaimed. "Come on!"

Pete, the most muscular and athletic of the trio, darted into the cave. Jupiter tried to
keep up with Pete's flying feet.

"Not so fast, Pete," Jupiter said. "He's not too far away, and we have to be careful
not to - "

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He never completed his sentence. In the gloom of the cave, he suddenly ran into
something hard that knocked the wind out of him. He fell to his knees.

Then he heard Pete's voice.

"Stay back, Jupe! I've found him!"

"Where, Pete? I can't see."

Jupiter blinked. Then his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the cave. He saw Pete was
on his hands and knees in front of him.

"He's down a hole," Pete said. "I stopped just in time."

"I can't see," Jupiter said. He tried to peer around Pete's shoulder. "Bob," he
called. "Where are you?" Bob's voice was so close, he jumped.

"Down here!" Bob cried. "I fell into some kind of a pit. It seems to be dragging me
down!"

"Yipes!" Pete exclaimed. "Quicksand!"

"Impossible," Jupiter said. "Quicksand is usually found in tropical countries."

He wriggled round Pete, carefully feeling the cavern floor with his hands. "I still
can't see him. Bob, can you see us?"

"Yes," Bob said. "I'm almost directly under you."

Jupiter leaned over, extending his arm. "Just reach up and grab my hand, Bob. Pete
and I will pull you out."

They heard dull plopping sounds below.

"I c-can't!" they heard Bob say after a moment. "Whenever I try, I seem to sink
deeper!"

"Push your stick up," Pete suggested. "That broken oar you were holding. Jupe and
I could pull you out in a second."

"I can't", Bob said despairingly. "I dropped it when I fell in here."

Pete looked at his piece of driftwood and groaned. "Mine's too light to hold you."

Jupiter was wriggling cautiously round the edge of the pit. "Hang on, Bob," he said.
"I'm circling the pit to try to get some idea of its size."

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He crawled slowly away.

"Hurry!" Bob cried. "This is no time for measuring things."

"I've got to," Jupiter replied. "It's the only way I can think of to get you out."

He made his way in the darkness on his hands and knees. Bits of earth dropped into
the pit, despite his care.

"Watch it!" Bob cried out. "You're starting a landslide!"

"Sorry," Jupiter said. "It's the loose dirt round the edges."

In another moment, he had completely circled the pit and rejoined Pete. "I think we
can manage it." He called down to Bob again. "Bob, can you tell us if you are
touching bottom?" They heard thrashing sounds below. Then spluttering, spitting
noises.

"Not yet," Bob replied testily. "Maybe by the time you geniuses up there think of a
way to get me out, I will be."

"If you hold my legs, Jupe, I can reach down for him," Pete said. "We don't have
time for anything fancy."

Jupiter shook his head. "I think we can use my plank. Not for pulling him out
directly - we'd never get enough leverage on this sandy ground. But the plank is just
long enough to reach across the pit and wedge into the sides."

"Then what good is that?" Pete asked. "Bob can't reach that high."

"Yes he can, if we can place it at the right angle," Jupiter said. "I think we can
wedge it in from the opposite side."

Pete looked at the thin plank Jupiter held. He nodded, wetting his lips. "It's worth a
try. If it will hold his weight."

Jupiter leaned over the ledge. "We'll be trying to reach over your head, Bob," he
explained. "It will be up to you to see that the plank is wedged in firmly enough to
sustain your weight.

"Because if it slips," he added, "we'll not only lose the plank, but you."

"Thanks a lot," Bob answered. "Only hurry it up. I think I've sunk another couple
of inches."