بخش 04

مجموعه: مجموعه قصه های هاردی بویز / سرفصل: راز غار ها / فصل 4

بخش 04

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

The boys enjoyed the cool offshore breeze as they headed north toward Bayport along Shore Road.

After ten miles, Frank stopped for a red light at an intersection. The motor purred quietly. All at once Joe’s keen ears detected another sound.

Something was clicking on the back seat!

Joe jerked his head around. Nothing there but the metal detector. The boy reached back to turn it off. To his astonishment, the switch was already in “off” position.

“Frank!” Joe said tersely. “Quick! Pull over!”

The light had just shown green and Frank drove across the intersection and stopped on the shoulder of the road. “What-“

“Get out! Hurry!” Joe cried, opening his door and diving onto the ground. Frank did the same and Chet followed a split second later.

Boom! A thunderous roar rent the air!

For a moment the Hardys lay half-stunned. Then Joe looked up. Smoke poured from the back of the car, which was a shambles. Frank raised his head and groaned at the sight. The brothers slowly got to their feet, but Chet remained face down in the dirt. The Hardys hastened to his side.

“Wh-what happened?” Chet asked in a weak voice, turning his head slightly.

“That detector of yours was booby-trapped,” Joe said. He bent down to pick up the twisted metal, still warm from the blast.

Carefully Frank helped Chet get up. He swayed uncertainly, unable to regain his balance. “Everything’s going in circles,” he said. “Boy, I’m-I’m woozy!”

The Hardys sat him down beside the road, and flagged the first car that passed.

“Get help. We need the police and an ambulance!” Frank commanded.

“In a jiffy!” The driver sped off and the brothers placed Chet gently on a grassy spot beneath an oak tree.”Jumpin’ catfish!” Joe declared. “Our car’s a wreck, Frank. What’ll we do?”

“Have it towed back to Bayport for repairs. Hey, wait a minute!” Frank lifted the shattered trunk lid. In the carton lay the pieces of spinning wheel. These had not suffered any damage. Frank took out the carton. Chet was very quiet. He merely stared at the sky until a siren sounded in the distance. First to appear on the scene was a state trooper car with two officers. It was followed by an ambulance, its red light blinking rapidly.

The brothers quickly identified themselves to the policemen, who recognized the Hardy name immediately. The officers gave their names as Starr and Dunn.

“What happened here?” Trooper Starr asked.

“An explosion,” Frank said, pointing to the car. “Joe and I are okay, but our friend may be hurt.”

Chet was lifted to a stretcher and placed in the ambulance. “We’ll take him to Bayport Hospital,” the driver said.

Frank and Joe tried to cheer their pal. “You’ll be fine, Chet,” said Joe. “Just relax and obey the doctor’s orders.”

“We’ll see you soon,” Frank added.

Chet attempted a grin. “You sleuths will have to get along without me, I guess.”

The ambulance doors were closed, and with siren wailing, it sped north along the highway.

Trooper Dunn then radioed for a wrecker to tow the damaged car to a repair shop in Bayport. “It won’t be here for another hour,” Dunn told the boys. “No use your waiting. We’ll take you home after we hear your story.”

Frank and Joe briefed the troopers about the strange disappearance of the metal detector at the Palais Paris and the officers promised to make an investigation. They took the detector as evidence. Then, at top speed, Trooper Starr drove the boys -and their spinning wheel-to their front door.

Mr. Hardy himself came out and shook hands with the officers, old friends of his. After Starr and Dunn had driven off, the detective and his sons went into the living room. Frank took the wooden pieces from the carton and put them on the floor.

“Dad, we’ve had a terrible time,” Joe began.

“I know something about it,” Mr. Hardy said. “Mr. Morton phoned me. You’ll be glad to know that Chet is suffering only from shock and has been taken home.”

“Thank goodness!” Frank said.

“Now come up to my study, and we’ll go over this whole situation,” Mr. Hardy said.

Mrs. Hardy brought glasses of lemonade, and the three sleuths discussed every angle of the Todd-Quill case, while sipping the cool beverage.

“I’m convinced the Palais Paris is involved in some way,” Frank concluded.

“It would seem so,” Fenton Hardy agreed. “Tell me more about this Commander Wilson.”The boys took turns relating their weird experiences at the Honeycomb Caves.

“E. K. T. Wilson’s just plain loony,” Joe stated flatly.

“I wouldn’t agree with you one hundred percent,” his father said. “If Wilson is as insane as he seems, I think he would be in an institution.”

“You mean maybe he’s not crazy at all?” asked Frank. “It’s an act?”

Their father thought that this was a possibility, however remote, and advised his sons to pursue the Wilson angle with all their power.

“I’ll tell you why, boys. Your enemies are on the run!”

“You really think so?” Joe asked.

“Absolutely. They’re desperate. The booby-trapped detector proves it. When they find that you three escaped, the criminals will show their hand again. Mark my words. So be extra careful.”

Fenton Hardy went on to say there were no new developments in the radar-station case. “Things have been quiet,” he said. “Too quiet.”

“Like the calm before the storm,” Joe said.

Just then the Hardys’ doorbell chimed. The boys heard their mother answer it and exclaim, “Gertrude Hardy! I’m so glad to see you!”

Frank and Joe exchanged wry grins. “Speaking of storms,” said Frank, “Aunt Gertrude has arrived.”

The detectives broke off their conference and went down to greet the visitor. Gertrude Hardy was a tall, angular woman with a strong personality. She was most emphatically not in favor of her nephews following in the footsteps of her famous brother.

“Chasing criminals is no pastime for young boys” was one of her favorite expressions. But beneath her peppery manner, Aunt Gertrude held a warm affection for Frank and Joe, and they for her.

“Hi, Aunt Gertrude!” Joe said.

“Good to see you again,” said Frank.

Without any ado whatsoever, Aunt Gertrude pulled a hatpin from her hairbun, removed her flowered hat, set it on the sofa, and demanded, “Where’s my spinning wheel?”

“Why-why-Aunt Gertrude-“ Joe began.

“Don’t stall,” Miss Hardy said sternly. “Your mother just told me that you purchased a spinning wheel.”

“We did,” Frank said.

“Well, where is it?”

Joe feebly pointed to the spindles and other accessories lying on the floor.

“That? That’s my spinning wheel?” Aunt Gertrude gasped.CHAPTER XVII A Bold Warning

WITH the withering directness of a district attorney, Aunt Gertrude questioned her nephews about the broken spinning wheel. Mr. and Mrs. Hardy did a magnificent job of suppressing smiles as their relative relentlessly pursued her cross-examination.

“You say you broke it, Joe? How?”

“It was hanging from the ceiling and I touched it.”

“Now, Joe, refresh your memory!” Aunt Gertrude said. “A spinning wheel on the ceiling! Bosh!”

Frank sprang to his brother’s defense. “But it was only on display,” he explained. “It wasn’t for sale.”

“Sakes alive! Then why did you buy it?” Aunt Gertrude said.

“We had to,” Joe said. “There was this big husky fellow, Marcel-“

Aunt Gertrude threw up her hands. “What imaginations!” she exclaimed.

“It’s the truth, every word of it,” Frank insisted. “We can prove-“

“Oh, I believe you.” Aunt Gertrude tossed her head vigorously. “Although the whole thing is beyond me!”

Without another word, Miss Hardy scooped up the pile and marched from the room into the kitchen. In a moment her footsteps could be heard descending to the basement.

Frank and Joe looked at their parents and shrugged in embarrassment.

“Don’t worry.” Mrs. Hardy smiled. “Your Aunt Gertrude really appreciates what you boys have done.”

A telephone call to the Morton home that evening revealed Chet was progressing nicely. “His hair was singed a little in back,” Mrs. Morton told Frank. “But otherwise he’s pretty much recovered from the shock. Why don’t you and Joe come over and see him tomorrow morning?”

“Fine. We will.”

Before going to bed, the brothers went to the kitchen for a snack. Aunt Gertrude was there. Still embarrassed about the spinning wheel, Frank and Joe grinned sheepishly. But their aunt seemed to be in good spirits and handed them her personal check for fifty dollars in payment for the antique.

“Junipers!” Joe said. “That’s swell of you, considering the condition it’s in.”

Thoroughly rested after a good night’s sleep, the brothers had breakfast and made ready to visit their stout friend. Frank took a few moments to call Biff. “Sorry I can’t join you fellows today,” Biff said. “Too much work around the house. But in case of an emergency don’t hesitate to holler. And tell Chet to keep his chins up.”

Mr. Hardy had given his sons permission to use his car, but as they were about to step out of thebackdoor, their mother stopped them. “Aren’t you taking Chet some flowers?”

“Flowers?” Joe said. “Oh, Mom, of course not.”

“Well, you should take the patient something,” Mrs. Hardy persisted.

“You’re right. How about a fruit basket?” Frank suggested.

Their mother nodded approvingly. “A good idea-cater to Chet’s appetite.”

“He takes pretty good care of that himself,” Joe said. “All right, we’ll stop at the store on our way.’

The boys drove to the heart of Bayport, where they stopped at a fancy food shop. There the proprietor made up an attractive basket of fruit, covered with transparent plastic and topped by bright-red ribbon.

As they drove out of town over the country road to the Morton farmhouse, Frank and Joe discussed their next step in solving the mystery of the missing Morgan Todd.

“Dad thinks we should investigate Commander Wilson further, so we’ll do it,” said Frank. “Remember Todd’s riddle of the word Rockaway. We still have more sleuthing to do around Honey-comb Caves.”

“When do we start?” Joe asked impatiently.

“As soon as we visit Chet.” Frank turned off the road into the driveway of the Morton home and parked.

Between them, the Hardys carried the large fruit basket into the house. They were met at the front door by Mary Todd.

“Oh, how gorgeous!” she said, admiring the colorful gift.

Mrs. Morton came downstairs and greeted the boys warmly. “I think Chet can see you now,” she said, adding that Iola was out shopping.

Mary and the brothers mounted the stairs to the second floor. “I hope he’s feeling better,” Frank said.

“He’s quite comfortable,” Mary said. “That poor, brave boy!”

When they entered Chet’s room, Frank and Joe looked about, amazed. His bed was flanked by two bouquets of flowers. On the nightstand lay a half empty box of chocolates and a quart bottle of raspberry soda, four-fifths consumed.

Reclining on three fluffed pillows lay Chet, with a cherubic look on his round face.

“Hi, fellows,” he said feebly with a wave of his hand. “How’s tricks?”

“Jumpin’ catfish!” Joe exclaimed. “You got the best trick of all. How about it, Frank, let’s get ourselves blasted too?”

“It isn’t any fun,” Chet said, and with a look of pain held his hand to his forehead.

Instantly Mary Todd sprang to his side with a cool, damp cloth which she placed over his brow. “You poor dear,” she said, and Joe gulped.

Frank stifled a grin. “We’re going back to the caves,” he announced. Chet’s reaction was startling. He whipped off the compress and sat up.

“You are? Take me along, will you? That fishing was great!”“We’re not going fishing-not for fish, that is,” Frank said.

“More sleuthing? Ugh!” Chet groaned and sank back on the pillows.

“Well, now that you’re a celebrity,” Joe said joshingly, “enjoy it while you can, Chet old boy.”

This seemed to revive the chubby patient. “May I have another drink of soda, Mary?” he asked. His young nurse nimbly moved to the other side of the bed and poured a glass of the sparkling beverage.

Chet drank it and lay back again. “Yes, I guess I am a celebrity, fellows. The reporter got my personal story this morning.”

“Reporter?” Frank said quickly.

“Yes,” Mary put in, “from the Bayport Times.”

“Mary made a big hit with him,” Chet went on with a grin. “He asked a lot of questions about her, too.”

“Wait a minute,” Joe said. “What was this fellow’s name?”

“Otto Lippincott.” Mary supplied the answer.

“I never heard of anyone by that name on the Times,” Frank said.

Frank excused himself to make a phone call and hurried downstairs. He returned ten minutes later, his face flushed with excitement.

“There is no Lippincott who works for that newspaper,” he said. “Chet, you’ve been duped “ Disappointment, then indignation, crossed Chet’s face. “Do you mean that guy was a phony?” he blurted.

“Nothing else but. He came here to fish for information,” Frank replied.

Joe turned to Mary and asked, “How much did you tell this man?”

“Oh, have I done the wrong thing again?” Mary wailed.

“Well, maybe,” Frank declared. “But it’s too late to worry over spilled milk. From now on I advise both of you to keep mum on anything you know.”

Just then the front screen door slammed and

Iola’s cheerful voice floated up the stairs. “Frank, Joe. Are you here?”

Joe blushed a little. “Yes, Iola, come on up.”

Quick footsteps sounded on the stairs and Iola hurried into Chet’s room. In her hand she held a white envelope. “I found this in the mailbox,” she said. “No stamp or anything. It just says ‘Chet Morton’.”

“Another well-wisher, I suppose,” Chet said importantly, and took the envelope. He tore off one end, blew into the slit, and removed the note.

“Good grief! Listen!” He read, “ ‘Get Hardys off case or your life will be in danger.’ “ Iola gasped and clutched Mary’s hand. “Oh, this is terrible!” she cried out.

Frank frowned and bit his lip. “I didn’t want to get your family involved, Chet.”“What’ll we do?” Joe asked.

Frank’s mind worked rapidly. “We’ll get Sam Radley to stand constant guard on the house here,” he said.

“After dark tonight we’ll smuggle Mary to our house. Mother and Aunt Gertrude can stand watch over her there.”

“I’ll say!” Chet said. “I wouldn’t want to be the one to cross your Aunt Gertrude’s path.”

A telephone call to the Hardy home confirmed Frank’s protection plan, and Sam Radley, who fortunately was in town, told the boys he would report to the Morton farm.

When Mr. Hardy’s operative arrived about noon, Frank and Joe excused themselves and returned home.

Frank telephoned Bayport Police Headquarters and notified Chief Collig about the impostor and the threat Chet received. Collig promised to dispatch a squad car to patrol the area during the night and relieve Radley.

“What about Honeycomb Caves?” Joe asked after his brother had finished the call.

“We’ll tackle them tonight,” Frank said. “As soon as we have Mary safely here.”

“Shall we go in the Sleuth?”

Frank mulled over the question. Finally he shook his head. “Going by water is a good idea, Joe, but these crooks are keeping close tabs on us and would probably recognize our boat.”

“How about using Biff’s?” Joe suggested. “He says the Envoy just got a new motor job and it’s in swell shape.”

Frank phoned Biff immediately, and arranged to use his speedboat for the brothers’ sleuthing adventure.

The Hardys thanked their pal, who kept his craft in a boathouse half a mile from the Hardys’. After supper Frank and Joe packed their gear to have it in readiness. Then they drove out to Chet’s place.

“Is Mary ready to come with us?” Joe asked Iola as they stepped into the hall.

“Just about.”

The Hardys heard footsteps on the stairs and glanced up to see a slim, handsome young man descending.

He wore dungarees, work jacket, and farm hat.

“Hey!” Frank cried out. “That’s not a guy, that’s a gal!”

Mary Todd grinned in her disguise. “Iola and I thought up the idea. Like it?”

“Terrific.” Joe nodded approval. “You two have the true detective spirit.”

Chet, who appeared fully recovered, now came downstairs.

“I thought you were still shell-shocked,” said Joe with a sly look at their stout friend.

“Without a nurse I’m better already,” quipped Chet. Then he took on a serious demeanor. “Now look, fellows, be extra careful of Mary, won’t you?”

With a promise that they would, the Hardys left the Morton house and drove Mary to their own home.Aunt Gertrude and Mrs. Hardy received the girl kindly, and showed her to the second guest room.

Biff Hooper arrived minutes later and drove the brothers to his dock. In a few minutes the two sleuths and their gear were aboard the Envoy. Joe started the motor.

“I checked the running lights,” Biff said. “Everything is okay.”

The Hardys thanked him and shoved off, with Joe at the wheel. The Envoy knifed through the waters of Barmet Bay, its shore front twinkling with lights. As the boys passed the boathouse where the Sleuth was kept, Frank called out, “Throttle down, Joe. What’s that light over there?”

Joe brought the Envoy about and saw a light flickering from the window of their boathouse. “Jeepers! I don’t know!” He extinguished the running lights and crept quietly over the dark waters.

As they neared the boathouse Frank suddenly exclaimed in alarm. Smoke was seeping out from beneath the door. Their boathouse was on fire!

CHAPTER XVIII

Searchlight

THE wailing of a police siren drifted across Barmet Bay, followed by the clanging bells of a fire engine.

Now the window glass of the Hardy boathouse broke from the heat, and flames licked out, illuminating the water.

With one hand on the steering wheel, Joe reached over for the fire extinguisher clamped on the side of the Envoy. Throttle open, the craft leaped through the water until Frank called out: “Joe! Slow down.”

“Why? Our whole boathouse will burn up.”

“The fire department will take care of it.” Frank had hardly spoken before an arch of water sprayed against the building and the flames were quenched.

As Joe slackened speed and circled about, Frank explained, “This blaze could have been set for two reasons. One, to keep us from using the Sleuth, and two-“

“I get you already,” Joe said. “A diversionary action!”

“Exactly.” Frank nodded. “If our enemies are up to something tonight, they’ll want to pin us down in Bayport.”

By now the smoke, too, had abated, and firemen raised the door of the boathouse. In the glow of their lanterns, the brothers could see that the Sleuth was still afloat.

“She may not be badly damaged,” Frank said. “At any rate, we can’t stop to see now. On to Honeycomb Caves, Joe.”

Unfortunately, the Envoy did not have a ship-to-shore radio, as did the Sleuth. The brothers thereforecould not communicate with their home, but knew that Mr. Hardy would be notified of the boathouse fire soon enough.

Joe snapped on the running lights again, and the Envoy purred through the rolling waves as its pilot guided the craft expertly along the coast he knew so well.

After the Envoy passed a blinking buoy marking the entrance to Barmet Bay, the run south was nearly in a straight line. But even with smooth sailing, it was nearly two A.M. before the great cliffs loomed in shadowy silhouettes on their starboard side.

Joe throttled back, and the Envoy rocked in the waves as the young detectives discussed their next move.

“Let’s cruise past the caves as close as we can get,” Frank said. “After that, we can put in at John Donachie’s dock.”

Frank spelled his brother at the wheel, and, guiding the Envoy silently toward shore, the boys studied the Honeycomb Caves. The half-moon illuminated the shore just enough to make the dark cave openings look like the baleful eye sockets of a skull.

The craft ran parallel to the shore, and as they neared Commander Wilson’s cave house, Joe chuckled.

“I’ll bet the old boy is sawing wood right now- For Pete’s sake, Frank!”

The brothers were startled by a brilliant finger of light which suddenly shot from the cave mouth across the water.

“A giant searchlight!” declared Frank.

The bow of the Envoy nearly touched the edge of the powerful beam, and Frank turned hard on the wheel to reverse his course. The light moved away from the boat, giving its churning wake a chance to settle in the darkness unseen. Frank and Joe bent low, hoping the wave troughs would conceal the Envoy. Then the light disappeared as suddenly as it had swept the green sea.

“Junipers!” said Joe. “That was a close squeak!”

“Came right from Wilson’s cave!” Frank exclaimed. “Dad hit it on the nose. Wilson’s not nutty at all. He’s as sane as we are, and up to something sinister.”

“Do you suppose he picked us up on radar, or heard our motor?” Joe pondered as Frank made a big circle and headed for the fisherman’s dock.

“It might have been a signal,” Frank said. “And we just happened on it by luck.” “A signal for what,” Joe asked, “or to what?” “Maybe a ship lying offshore, or men waiting in a small boat Who knows?” “How can we find out?” Frank replied with determination, “Maybe Johnny Donachie can help us. If he’ll take us fishing with him tomorrow, we can lie low offshore and spy on the caves with binoculars.”

“Great idea,” Joe said approvingly. “Too bad we’ll wake him up in the middle of the night.” When the Envoy docked at Johnny’s pier, Frank and Joe got their first good look at the fisherman’s craft. It was a little more than thirty feet in length, with a cabin sticking up like an inverted cheese box.

“A pretty old tub,” said Joe as he hopped out of the Envoy and made fast “Looks sort of top-heavy,” Frank said. “But if it suits Johnny Donachie, it’s okay with me.”The brothers walked up to the dark house. Frank took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

Seconds later a yellow light blinked on and a sleepy voice sounded behind the dosed door. “Who’s there?” “Frank and Joe Hardy.”

The door opened a crack and the fisherman looked out.

“Thunderation!” he said, opening the door to admit the boys. “What brings you out at this hour?”

“We’re doing some more detective work,” Joe replied. “Did you see the light down the coast tonight?”

The fisherman said that he had noticed a glow in the night sky several times. “It’s weird. That’s why I stay away from that spooky place.”

“We have a favor to ask,” Frank said. “Will you take us fishing tomorrow?”

“Sure, don’t see why not. Hey, you boys must be tired. We have an extra room.”

“Thanks, but we can sleep in our boat,” said Frank.

By this time Mrs. Donachie had been awakened, and insisted that the Hardys stay for the rest of the night.

Secretly Frank and Joe were glad to accept and slept soundly until they were aroused for breakfast.

After they had eaten, the boys covered the Envoy with a tarpaulin, then joined Johnny on his boat, which bore the faded name Lena. The fisherman started the noisy motor, and with a clink-dunk-clink-clunk the old craft limped seaward.

At Frank’s request, Johnny headed down the coast parallel to the caves but far enough out to avoid suspicion. Frank and Joe crouched behind the gunwales, keeping their binoculars trained on shore.

A half hour elapsed. Suddenly Joe straightened. “I see some people!” he said.

“Me too. And look. Isn’t that Wilson up there?”

“Moving around like an athlete!” Joe observed.

The commander and three other men were carrying boxes into the cave mouth.

The boys’ arms ached from their steady surveillance. At last, two hours later, Wilson reappeared. He sat in front of his cave for a while, then moved off to the cavern in which the Hardys had stayed and appeared to examine it briefly before returning to his own headquarters.

“Frank, we have to get ashore and find out what’s going on,” Joe said.

“That may come sooner than we expect,” his brother replied, glancing up into the lowering sky.

The waves became a deeper green and the lacy tops were flicked off by the freshening breeze.

“Fishin’s over for the day,” Johnny told the boys. “We got to go back.”

“How about a little longer look,” Joe coaxed, seeing Wilson stride along the shore.

“These storms come up awful fast,” Johnny said. “We’d best be puttin’ back.” But the Hardys finally convinced the fisherman to remain for a short while in order to spy on Wilson. Almost immediately, the fishing boat began to lurch as the waves grew higher.”Can’t stay another second,” Johnny said. “It’s gettin’ dangerous.”

With a clink-clunk the old motor-powered Lena chugged slowly back toward the fisherman’s wharf.

“Can’t you give her more gas, Johnny?” Joe called out as the waves grew taller and the wind whistled about their ears.

“Six knots is the best she can do.”

They were halfway to their destination when a huge wave crashed upon the deck, nearly washing Joe into the sea. But the boy clung to a railing post until Frank dragged him into the safety of the cabin.

The old tub now listed badly. “We’ll never make it!” Johnny said gloomily, as the rough sea bullied the boat about and rain lashed the waves.

Just then Joe looked toward shore and exclaimed, “Frank! Is that the Envoy I see?”

Frank raised his binoculars. “It sure is. Well, what do you know? Johnny, your wife’s coming to our rescue.”

Minutes later, Mrs. Donachie came about in the Envoy. Joe threw a line to her, and, with the sea heaving about them, the woman towed Lena to shore. When both craft had been moored at the dock, they hastened inside the house, soaking wet.

Frank shook his head. “I’ve got to hand it to you, Mrs. Donachie. You certainly have a lot of courage.”

“And skill, too,” Joe said admiringly.

The woman pushed back wisps of damp hair and replied with a smile, “What do you expect from a fisherman’s wife?”

By early evening the rain had ceased and the skies were clear. After a hearty supper John Donachie pushed his chair back from the table, lighted his pipe, then said, “Now that the storm’s over, are you boys takin’ the Envoy back to Bayport?”

Joe shook his head. “Frank and I want to get closer to those caves and see what’s going on.”

“At night?” The Donachies looked fearful.

“Yes. As soon as it gets dark enough,” Frank said.

“We should be back before daybreak,” Joe added, testing his flashlight.

After many admonitions to be careful, the boys disappeared along the trail in the darkness. The climb to the top of the cliffs was arduous, but the way was clear in the moonlight.

“Here’s the ravine,” Joe said finally, and the brothers made their way down to the sandy beach. There they stopped for a moment to get their bearings.

“We’ll have to crouch low and stay as close to the cliff as possible,” Frank advised. “I’ll lead the way.”

The Hardys passed the mouth of their old cave, and crept stealthily toward Wilson’s cavern, Suddenly Frank pulled Joe back into a crevice of rock. “Good night!” he whispered. “Look out there!”

Three hundred yards offshore a small red light winked like the eye of a sea monster. But even in thegloom the boys recognized a conning tower.

“A submarine!” Joe exclaimed.

CHAPTER XIX

A Raft of Trouble

THE magnitude of the mystery they had uncovered hit Frank and Joe like a stunning blow. This was it!

Commander Wilson was a fraud, a cover-up for some sort of gang receiving supplies and men by secret submarine at the Honeycomb Caves.

Another light winked from in front of Wilson’s cave. Slowly the sub surfaced, its whaleback silhouette standing out in the darkness.

“They’ve contacted each other,” said Joe. “If we only had a boat.”

“I have an idea,” Frank said. “We’ll swim out to the sub.” He stripped down to his shorts and Joe did the same. “We might make it if Wilson doesn’t turn on the big searchlight.”

The brothers concealed their clothes behind a rock, then waded into the surf. They dived into a wave, and, with strong overhand strokes, rapidly swam toward the submarine. Silently the Hardys came up to the undersea craft, and treading water, clung to the hull.

Tensely the boys waited. A few moments later the hatch opened. Frank and Joe held their breaths as six men piled out, dragging a large rubber life raft. They flung it into the water with a plop, and stepped inside, where two of their number manned paddles.

Hearts thumping wildly, Frank and Joe pressed back against the sub, their faces barely showing above water ten feet away from the raft.

The men spoke a strange foreign language, but suddenly one said sternly in English, “Do not use the mother tongue. It is dangerous. We are now in America!”

Frank decided on a bold strategy, and nudged his brother. “Come on!”

Swiftly the boys pushed off and swam underwater to emerge silently right behind the raft. They reached up and gripped it with one hand, scissor-kicking so as not to be a drag on the rubber craft as the paddlers guided it across the waves toward shore.

The brothers glanced back, to see the conning tower of the sub disappear beneath the waves.

“Ah, there’s Wilson’s light,” came a voice from the raft.

“Yes, our calculations were correct,” said another man. “We will show these Americans!”

Finally Frank and Joe felt their toes touch bottom. When the men hopped out, the boys swam underwater away from shore, then surfaced and once more treaded water. This time their eyes fell upon a most unusual scene. In the glow of the light inside Wilson’s cave, they saw the commander greet each of the new arrivals, pumping their hands as they stepped inside.But there was something different about Wilson. His face looked younger. And … his hair was black.

“Wilson’s no old man. That was a gray wig he was wearing!” hissed Joe. “He used face makeup, too.”

“There’s no time to lose!” Frank said, and both boys swam to the beach. The only evidence of activity was the dim glow coming from the cave mouth. Now and then it faded as if those inside were milling about.

The Hardys quickly got their clothes and slipped them on. “If we only had some help,” Frank said as they inched closer to the entrance of the cave. From within came the hum of voices.

They halted and looked about in the darkness. “I think they would have posted a sentry,” Frank said.

“Do you see anybody, Joe?”

Joe flashed his light up and down the beach, but could see no one. “What now, Frank?”

“Into the cave. We’ve got to see what this is all about.”

The brothers listened, but the voices had receded. Only muffled sounds emerged from the cavern.

Clutching their flashlights, Frank and Joe slipped inside. At first the interior looked much the same as the first time they had seen it. The shotgun lay on the ledge, the code book was still in evidence, and the food supply was stashed as it had been previously.

But as the boys penetrated deeper, their mouths fell open in wonderment. To the rear of the cave was a thick electrical conduit which snaked back into the cavern. Tiptoeing forward, Frank and Joe finally came to a thick wooden partition with an iron door.

“Good night!” Joe declared. “Frank, this is set up like a hidden city.”

“I think those men might be spies, or saboteurs,” Frank whispered. “Maybe they’re connected with the trouble at the radar site.”

“But what about Quill and Todd?” Joe asked. “How do they fit into all this?”

“I don’t know yet. But we’ve found the mine that Chet discovered,” Frank said. “That metal conduit. And it makes a beeline to the Palais Paris.”

“I could just smell something phony about that whole place,” Joe declared, moving closer to the iron door. “Frank, let’s go in!”

“Okay, I’m game. But we’d better stick together.”

Joe’s hand reached for the door handle. Suddenly a voice behind them froze the boys into immobility.

“Hardys, you’re through!”

The boys wheeled about. Joe gasped. “Cadmus Quill!”

The short, bouncy college instructor leered at them. Behind him stood four henchmen.

“You’re trapped!” Cadmus Quill said.

Frank whispered to his brother and Joe nodded. As Quill and his strong-arm men advanced, the boys uttered a bloodcurdling war cry and charged like halfbacks! Joe tackled two of the men, bowling them over. They scrambled to their feet and grabbed Joe. He twisted frantically to escape their grip. Frankdoubled Quill with a blow to the solar plexus, then dashed past the other two men toward the cave mouth. They darted after him.

Frank’s plan was working! With speed born of desperation, the boy leaped toward the ledge and grabbed the shotgun. Then he aimed it overhead, close to the electrical conduit.

Frank pulled the trigger. There was a deafening blast and a shower of sparks. The lights went out and an acrid pall of smoke filled the cavern.

CHAPTER XX

Loyal Pals

THE sudden blast and blackout threw the Hardys’ assailants into confusion. The next moment, youthful shouts were heard from the entrance, and two flashlights illuminated the cave.

“Frank! Joe! What’s going on?” came Chet’s voice.

“Wow! They need help!” cried Biff.

Quill and his four thugs, seeing the reinforcements, dashed to the iron door and jerked it open. The four young sleuths raced after them, but were too late. The fugitives disappeared inside, the door clanged shut, and a bolt clicked fast. The brothers, then Biff and Chet, tried the handle to no avail.

“How did you know we were here?” Frank asked.

“Chet and I got to thinking about you two working on this case all alone,” Biff said. “So we drove down to Johnny Donachie’s. We missed you by minutes.”

“So we climbed up the cliffs and down the ravine,” Chet added.

“And made it here just in time,” Joe said. “I don’t think we could have scared them off much longer without you.”

“That isn’t all,” Biff went on. He said that before they had left Bayport, Mr. Hardy had alerted the State Police to search the Palais Paris. “Some of the cops are on their way to the caves, too.”

The boys heard scuffling sounds coming from behind the iron door.

“Sounds like somebody running,” Joe said.

“And stumbling about in the dark,” Frank added.

The brothers reasoned that the short-circuited conduit had also blacked out the area beyond Wilson’s cave.

Just then the ruckus inside was accompanied by frantic shouts. The bolt clicked, and as it did, Frank and Joe grabbed the handle and held it tightly.

“We’ve got them trapped, and we’re going to keep them that way!” Frank declared.The melee within grew in intensity. It was punctuated by a shot. Someone groaned. Then came banging on the iron door.

“Frank and Joe, if that’s you, open up!”

“Dad!” Joe exclaimed, hardly daring to believe his ears.

“Open up, boys. We’ve caught the gang.”

The brothers let go the handle, and stepped back as the door swung inward. Several great searchlights illuminated the chamber and Fenton Hardy stepped out. He was followed by six policemen, each of whom had a manacled prisoner in tow. One of the prisoners the boys recognized as E. K. T. Wilson. He glowered at them balefully.

“Great going, Dad!” Frank exclaimed. He now reported the submarine incident and had just finished when two state troopers dashed in through the beach entrance. They were officers Starr and Dunn.

“Have you got them all rounded up?” Trooper Dunn asked.

“I think so,” Fenton Hardy replied. “But there’s one man still missing-Morgan Todd. We think he’s around here somewhere.”

Upon learning of the sub, Trooper Starr switched on his portable radio transmitter and broadcast an urgent request to intercept the undersea prowler.

Revelations came so thick and fast that Frank and Joe were dazed by the hornets’ nest which they had uncovered. At Fenton Hardy’s direction, the troopers took up positions at the mouth of the cave while the rest of the party pressed deeper into the passageway behind the iron door.

The gradient was up, and as the boys marched along they could see that the tunnel was man-made. The walls and ceiling bore the marks of excavating tools, and here and there, the passage was shored with planks.

Finally Fenton Hardy led the young sleuths to a flight of concrete steps. They ascended to a metal door, opened it, and found themselves in the kitchen of the Palais Paris!

There, on the floor and manacled back to back, sat Dumont and Marcel. They glared at the Hardys with hate-filled eyes.

“They’re the ones who did this to us!” Marcel said bitterly. “If they hadn’t come snooping-“

“Shut up!” Dumont snapped. “Fool!”

“It’s okay for you, big shot,” Marcel complained. “You’ve got plenty of dough to help you. But not me!”

Police Chief Collig of Bayport and two of his men stood by with drawn pistols as three other gang members were flushed from upstairs rooms at the Palais Paris.

“I think we have them all rounded up now, Fenton,” Collig said.

“Good work. The Federal men will be here any minute.”

A sound of sirens from a distance reached their ears. They howled like banshees as they drew closer, then petered out in front of the Palais Paris. Car doors banged shut, and ten Federal agents burst into the restaurant.Dumont and Marcel were pulled to their feet, and stood in line with the rest of the prisoners as the government men entered the kitchen.

“You’ve done a splendid job for us, Fenton,” said a tall man with hair graying at the temples.

Mr. Hardy turned to his sons. “This is Special Agent Alberts,” he said, and made the introductions. Then the detective added, “Actually, my sons and their friends cracked this case. My credit is secondary.”

“Well, you all did a magnificent job,” Alberts told the four boys.

“But we still haven’t solved the mystery of the missing Morgan Todd,” Frank said.

“You found Morgan Todd all right,” Agent Alberts said, grinning at the young detectives.

“What?” they chorused.

The tale which the Federal men unfolded nearly defied imagination. The Hardys’ warning about the sub had been relayed instantly to the Navy and Coast Guard. Destroyer depth charges in the area off the caves had forced the craft to the surface.

“The Navy has caught a nice prize,” Alberts said. “And your friend Todd, who’d been imprisoned on the sub, is aboard one of our destroyers this moment, safe and sound.”

Hearing this, Joe dashed to the telephone and called the Hardy home. He spoke to his mother, who relayed the good news to Mary. He could hear

Mary’s cry of delight, and then sobbing, as she broke down and wept with joy.

A police van carried the prisoners to Bayport for further interrogation. Biff Hooper went back in the Envoy, while the Hardys, Chet, and Agent Alberts returned in a police car. It was then the boys learned the true magnitude of their case.

“Morgan Todd was the key to the whole mystery,” Mr. Hardy told them. The young instructor had, while abroad, stumbled upon bizarre information. The foreign country in which he was studying had set up a spy and saboteur center in the Honeycomb Caves. Also, they had engineers working on a project designed to nullify the effect of the new U. S. Coastal Radar Station at Telescope Hill.

“A device was to be raised out of the cave area at night,” Agent Alberts said, “and would have jammed the radar signals.”

“But where does the Palais Paris come in?” asked Frank.

“That was a front,” Mr. Hardy said. “The gang’s engineers constructed the tunnel to lead directly from the Palais Paris to the shore, and enlarge the caves.”

“And credit for that discovery goes to Chet,” Frank said, slapping the stout boy on the shoulder, “His metal detector did the trick!”

“And the U. S. Government,” the Federal agent said, “is going to reimburse you, Chet, for your detector, and also for repairs to your car, Frank and Joe.”

Alberts went on to explain that Morgan Todd, being cautious and conservative, had decided to conduct a solo investigation of the caves before turning over his information to the U. S. Government.

“I’ll bet that’s where he made a mistake,” Chet commented.”Right. Cadmus Quill, who had been brainwashed by the foreign spy ring into being a traitor, helped to kidnap Todd. But before they carried him away that night, Todd begged them to allow him to prepare the examination for his students.”

“A pretty clever fellow,” Mr. Hardy conceded, “to leave that Rockaway tip. And you boys did a grand job in discovering it.”

“Commander Wilson had me fooled,” Joe said wryly as the car neared Bayport.

“Dad had the right angle on him,” Frank said.

When the limousine pulled up in front of the Hardy house, Alberts said he would drive Chet home. They would all meet Chief Collig for a conference at Bayport Police Headquarters at ten o’clock the next morning.

It was nearly daylight when Frank and Joe fell asleep. They awakened later to learn that all of Bayport was buzzing with the excitement of the great coup the boys had pulled off.

Frank and Joe went to headquarters with Mary Todd. In Chief Collig’s office they were joined by Chet, Biff, Iola, and Callie. Then two Federal agents appeared with Morgan Todd. He and his sister flung themselves into each other’s arms in a fond embrace.

Morgan Todd shook hands vigorously with the Hardys. “I can’t thank you enough for saving my life!” he said warmly. Todd revealed that the submarine was to have taken him to a remote part of the world, where he would have been incarcerated for the rest of his life.

“We have some other interesting details, too,” Alberts said. “Commander E. K. T. Wilson was a phony, of course. In his younger days he was an actor, who defected while in the service of his country on a foreign tour of duty.”

“That nutty bit of his nearly paid off,” said Joe, “with that shooting and all.”

Frank grinned. “Good thing he overdid it somewhat, at least enough so Dad caught wise.”

Chief Collig reported that Wilson, under relentless quizzing, had admitted losing the pistol on the beach the night he had prowled about the boys’ cave. As for the stacked wood, it had been left there by picnickers months before. An expert on explosives, Wilson had been called by Dumont to booby-trap the metal detector.

When Iola Morton asked if there would be any international complications as a result of the Hardys’

victory, the agent said, “The State Department has already successfully negotiated the matter.”

It was also revealed that Pierre Dumont, the spies’ chief man in the U. S. came from a French-speaking part of the world and had applied for U. S. citizenship. Marcel had worked under him abroad and was merely a strong-arm dupe. The woman shopkeeper at the Palais Paris was found to be innocent of any wrongdoing.

“And what about the foreign caps?” Joe asked.

“A careless mistake on the saboteurs’ part,” Fenton Hardy answered.

The boys learned that the henchman who had dropped his cap at the radar site also had posed later as the newspaper reporter. The same foreigner also had set the boathouse fire.Mr. Hardy smiled proudly. “You boys were really on the ball!”

“And I’d say that the U. S. Government is in debt to all of you who worked on this case,” Agent Alberts added.

The Bayport Times had already bannerlined the Hardys’ feat, and the telephone rang with congratulatory messages all day.

That evening Mrs. Hardy was hostess at a get-together in the detectives’ home. Happy, excited voices filled the living room as Laura Hardy and Aunt Gertrude served refreshments. In the midst of the gaiety, a telegram was received by the Hardy boys. It came from Kenworthy College and stated that the fraternity had expelled Cadmus Quill. The message also contained an apology to the Hardys, and congratulations on their patriotic efforts.

Then Joe turned on the record player. Chet, usually bashful with girls, asked Mary Todd to dance, and soon the living room was a blur of motion as the young people gyrated to the latest steps.

“I guess your brother wasn’t planning to get married after all,” Chet said.

“What!”

“Oh, nothing. Just another one of Quill’s lies.”

When the music was over, Mrs. Hardy smilingly called for attention. The young folks gathered in a circle, and Aunt Gertrude emerged majestically from the kitchen, carrying a spinning wheel.

Frank and Joe gaped in surprise. “Is that the one we bought?” Joe burst out.

Aunt Gertrude pursed her lips and looked proud. “Indeed it is,” she said. “I put it all together myself. And I might add it’s a rare antique you two found I”

When the claps and cheers died down, Frank Hardy spoke up. “Then you are in favor of our detective work,” he said.

Aunt Gertrude’s answer could not be heard amid the laughter that followed, nor could the boys foresee that their next big adventure would be The Mystery of Cabin Island.

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