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CHAPTER I

Pursuit!

”. . . stolen at Dune Beach. Car is Swiftline cream sedan, believed heading south on Shore Road. Alert all cars! Repeat . . .”

The bulletin had just come over the police band on Frank Hardy’s motorcycle radio. He and his brother Joe, side by side on their dark-gray machines, were roaring northward along Shore Road to join school friends for a swim.

“Dune Beach!” Frank shouted, and the boys skidded to a halt on a sand shoulder. The car thief might pass them at any moment!

“Let’s stop him!” Joe proposed.

The boys waited, scanning a deserted fishing pier on their right. Frank was eighteen, tall and dark-haired.

Joe, a year younger, was blond. Both were excellent amateur detectives.

“Joe, do you realize this makes five car thefts in one week along Shore Road?”

The Hardys steered their motorcycles to the land side of Shore Road and faced them south, ready to move out quickly.

Several cars whizzed by, heading north. Then two police cars screamed past in the other direction.

After five more minutes had gone by, Frank frowned. “It looks as if we’re not going to nab any thieves today.”

Joe said, “Let’s hope the police are on the right track!”

But subsequent bulletins indicated another successful getaway by the car thieves. The Hardys cycled to Dune Beach to learn what they could. Here the boys found several state troopers taking down information from the elderly man whose car had been stolen.

“It was gone when I came up from the beach,” he said.

Presently the boys headed south for their swim. “I don’t understand this,” Joe remarked. “The stolen car couldn’t just vanish into thin air!”

“The police seemed just as puzzled,” Frank observed. “Unfortunately, there were no witnesses. Did you notice that the tires of two nearby cars had been punctured? The thief must have done that to avoid pursuit.”

The brothers eased their motorcycles toward a wooden rack behind Oceanside’s bathing pavilion. Joe swung off his vehicle and unstrapped his towel roll. “Maybe a good swim will sharpen our wits.”“Right,” said Frank as they headed for the bathhouse.

Being the sons of Bayport’s famous detective, Fenton Hardy, the boys were not easily deterred by initial disappointments in pursuing criminals. Although still high school students, they had helped their father on many cases and had used their sleuthing prowess in solving several mysteries. Joe, though impetuous, was quick-witted and dependable. Frank, more serious-minded, was inclined to think out a situation before taking action. They worked well together.

After the Hardys had changed into swimming trunks and Bayport High sweat shirts, they trotted across the hot white sand to the roped-off bathing area.

“Frank! Joe!” called their waiting friends.

Greetings were exchanged as Phil Cohen and Tony Prito, pals of the Hardys, bounded over from behind the lifeguard’s green chair. Phil was a quiet, intelligent boy with sandy hair. Tony, olive-complexioned and lively, owned a motorboat and had shared many adventures with the Hardys out on Barmet Bay.

“We’re sorry,” Frank apologized, “but we were delayed by a car thief.” He recounted the story.

“Another one!” Tony shook his head. “Is your dad on the case?”

Joe slipped off his sweat shirt. “No, not yet. He’s going out of town today. All the police in the area are, though. Maybe there’ll be a break in the mystery soon.”

Phil tilted his head. “If you fellows get on the job, there will be.” He grinned. “For better or worse.”

“Thanks,” said Joe, then turned and raced for the water. Frank followed.

“Whoa there!” From behind a pair of sunglasses appeared the tan, smiling face of blond Lifeguard Biff Hooper.

The Hardys greeted Biff and looked around the beach. There were not many bathers in evidence.

“Where is everybody today?” Frank asked.

“I think the car thefts are keeping folks away,” Biff answered. “It’s been like this for a week.”

“Have any of the rest of our crowd been here today?” Joe put in.

“I haven’t seen Iola all day,” Biff teased.

The others laughed, and Joe joined in. Bashful with girls, he was used to being teased about his attachment to Chet Morton’s sister.

“Say, where’s Chet?” Frank asked.

“Chet? I haven’t seen him here this week,” Biff replied. “But I did hear he’s been spending some time at the Bayport Museum.”

“It must be connected with food.” Tony grinned. Their stout friend loved to eat.

Frank and Joe went swimming. An hour later they saw Biff beckoning to them from shore. “Message for you fellows!” he shouted. They swam quickly to the beach.

Biff exclaimed, “A phone message was just brought to me! Jerry finally got his new car! He’s at BeachGrove. Why don’t you Hardys run over later and take a look at it?”

“Great!”

Jerry Gilroy, a fellow student, had long spoken of buying a handsome car for which he had been saving earnings from summer and after-school jobs.

Before leaving, Frank and Joe decided to stroll along the beach toward a black stone jetty in the distance. Suddenly they came upon a dead bat in the sand.

“Funny,” said Joe. “Wonder how that got here.”

The boys walked on to the end of the jetty and scanned the horizon. Beyond the bathing area, a black fishing boat cruised by slowly. Moments later, the Hardys recognized a smaller green-and-white boat which belonged to their friend Jack Dodd.

They waved to him. Jack seemed about to wave back when they saw him lurch forward sharply and drop below in his boat. Then he stood up and signaled frantically.

“Something’s wrong!” Joe gasped. “Look! The bow is beginning to list!”

The Hardys dived off the jetty and swam swiftly out to meet the craft as Jack headed it toward the rock promontory. In moments they had climbed into the boat.

“Frank! Joe! Quick! In there!”

Jack pointed to the small forward compartment as he maneuvered the boat closer to the jetty. Below, the Hardys found themselves standing in an inch of churning water!

“Near the left bulkhead!” Jack called down, cutting the motor.

Frank had already spotted a small, bubbling fount and covered it with his foot. Joe ripped a towel off a hook and together they stanched the leak until some wood sealer was found in the paint locker. By the time Joe and Jack were mooring the boat to the jetty, Frank had tightly plugged the leak.

“I guess I owe you fellows my boat.” Jack smiled gratefully as the three bailed most of the water out of the compartment.

Jack Dodd was a likable, dark-haired youth. He and his father, a widower and respected Bayport citizen, worked a farm on Shore Road.

“The exercise did us good-and in.” Joe laughed and jumped onto the jetty. “How did it happen, Jack?

Did you strike a rock?”

Jack shook his head worriedly. “Some other object struck my boat underneath.”

Frank’s face showed astonishment.

“It sure seemed that way. I was moving along great until I heard a scraping noise and then the gush of water. I’ve never hit any rocks around here before.”

“But who would deliberately-“ Joe was puzzled.

“You’ve got me.” Jack shrugged. “I’ve run into some cranks along the coast, but never any who seemed likely to do this sort of thing.” A gleam came into Jack’s eye. “Say, how would you fellows like to helpDad and me solve a mystery?”

“A mystery!”

“Yes,” Jack continued, brightening. “My uncle, an astronomy professor at Cheston College, is coming up from Greenville tomorrow to assist us, but we need a couple of good local detectives.” He grinned at the Hardys. “This mystery concerns a geographical puzzle that’s been puzzling our family for three centuries!”

The Hardys whistled. “You bet we’ll help!”

Jack promised to give them the details the following day. He cast off, waving good-by.

After Frank and Joe had changed into their sport clothes, they returned to the motorcycles and headed north on Shore Road, eager to see Jerry’s new car.

As they neared Beach Grove Point, they saw a boy running toward them. “It’s Jerry!” Frank exclaimed.

The Hardys screeched to a halt as their wiry, red-cheeked friend flagged them down. His hair was tousled and his eyes wide with worry.

“The car-my new car!” he gasped. “It’s just been stolen-sky-blue Cavalier hardtop! Did it pass you heading south?”

The brothers shook their heads. “Then it must have gone north,” Jerry declared.

“We’ll chase it,” Joe offered.

The Hardys gunned their motors and swept northward. Crouching low, they whipped up an incline beneath a rock overhang.

“There it is!” Frank shouted.

Several hundred yards ahead a light-blue hardtop sped around a long curve in the highway. When the car came into view again, the gap between it and the boys had widened. The Hardys accelerated and streaked ahead through an unbroken stretch of farm country.

“We’re gaining on him!” Joe yelled.

He had no sooner said this when Frank saw something that made him exclaim in dismay.

A huge, bright-red produce truck pulled out of a dirt road directly ahead, entirely blocking off the highway! It stood still.

“Joe, look out!” Frank shouted, desperately braking down from top speed.

But it was too late! Tires smoking, the motorcycles screeched into a skid off the road!

CHAPTER II

Police Tip-offSWERVING to avoid a wooden fence, the Hardys windmilled their motorcycles violently. Both boys flew off as the machines came to a stop in a cloud of dust. Dazed, Frank pulled himself up and limped over to Joe.

“You okay?” Frank asked with concern. His brother had a bruised forehead and had skinned his left arm.

Joe seemed stunned but managed a weak smile. “I just hope our cycles came out of it as lucky as we have.”

“The radio’s banged up,” Frank said.

Up ahead, the door of the produce truck slammed. A short, plump man with yellowish-white hair approached the Hardys. From his floppy straw hat, denims, and mud-stained shoes the boys concluded that he was a farmer.

“You fellers all right?” he asked. “Mighty sorry ‘bout that spill. Didn’t see you comin’. My truck horn don’t work noways. Hope you wasn’t in no hurry.”

“We were after somebody, but it’s too late to catch him now,” said Frank. “May we use your phone?”

“Ain’t got one,” the man replied.

As he drove off, the Hardys righted their motorcycles. To their relief, both machines were operable.

“We’d better get back to Beach Grove,” said Frank, and the boys chugged off.

They found that Jerry had already phoned the police. There were no noticeable footprints or other clues where he had left his car.

“I sure hate to lose that bus,” Jerry said. “Although the car was a year old, it was a good one, and an expensive model, too.”

“Was your car locked?” Joe asked their friend.

“Yes, but the thief managed to get it open.”

After the police arrived, Frank and Joe said they must leave. JeiTy thanked the boys for their efforts. “I’ll let you know what happens,” he promised.

In a short time the brothers reached the pleasant, tree-shaded Hardy home, which stood at the corner of Elm and High streets.

After dusting off their motorcycles, the boys entered the back door and tiptoed through the fragrant kitchen.

“I’m ready to put away a good meal,” Frank remarked.

Smudged, unkempt, and with a few bleeding cuts, they hoped to wash before alarming their mother or peppery Aunt Gertrude. Their father’s unmarried sister was a frequent visitor.

They had no sooner started up the stairs when Miss Hardy came from the living room and called to them.

“Supper is almost ready-“ In the moment of silence that followed, there was a disapproving gasp. “Frankand Joe! Look at yourselves! Dust and mud and dirt and-“ the tall, angular woman began.

“That supper sure smells good, Aunty!” Joe said, smiling.

“Joe Hardy, don’t you change the subject!” she continued. “A fine spectacle you are! And tracking dirt all over your mother’s vacuumed car pet-“

Suddenly Aunt Gertrude saw Joe’s skinned arm and bruised forehead. “Joe, you’re cut! And Frank-why are you limping? Oh, my goodness, what happened?”

Her nephews could not repress smiles. They soon dispelled her concern without mentioning the details of their accident on Shore Road. The brothers loved their aunt and knew that beneath her huffish way she held great affection for them.

“Well, maybe you didn’t track the carpet too badly,” she said. “But, Joe, you’d better put some antiseptic on that ugly scratch. Frank Hardy, be careful going up those steps!”

Later, the boys joined the family at dinner. Their mother was a sweet-faced, quiet woman. Mr. Hardy was tall and distinguished looking.

After hearing the details of the day’s happenings, the detective announced that he was leaving for New York on business. He left the table before dessert was served and hurried upstairs. Presently he reappeared, set a suitcase in the hall, and prepared to say good-by in the dining room.

“A big case, Dad?” Frank asked him.

“Not big enough, son.” The detective grinned. “After that last shirt was packed, I had to stand on the case to get it shut.” The pun brought pretended groans from his sons.

Their father went on, “I’ll be in New York City, perhaps for several weeks. Authorities there have asked me to work on an arms-smuggling case. The smugglers are apparently supplying American criminals with foreign-made lethal weapons.”

“Got any leads, Dad?” Joe asked.

“Not yet. The government is greatly concerned over their distribution.”

Mr. Hardy kissed his wife and sister good-by. Then Frank and Joe accompanied their father outside to wait for his taxi to the airport.

“Too bad about Jerry’s car,” the detective said.

“Chief Collig asked my help on the theft case. Unfortunately, I had already accepted the New York assignment.”

“Do you mind if we have a try at the Shore Road mystery, Dad?” Frank asked hopefully.

“It sounds like quite a challenge-even for my sons!” He smiled. “But I think the police could use any help available. Take care of yourselves and keep in touch. By the way, put my car in the garage before you go to bed. It’s in the driveway.”

“Sure thing, Dad,” said Frank.

Back at the table, the brothers discussed the day’s events with the women. “I wonder why Jerry’s stolen car was headed north,” said Frank. “The other Shore Road thieves always turned south.”Just then they heard a familiar voice from the kitchen door.

“Hi, Chet! Long time no see!” called Frank.

Stout, good-natured Chet Morton appeared, eating a piece of celery he had picked up from the kitchen table. Chet’s visits to the Hardy household at mealtimes were not a rarity.

He greeted Mrs. Hardy and Aunt Gertrude, then said, “Hi, fellows!” Chet dropped into Mr. Hardy’s vacant chair. “Sorry I couldn’t meet you fellows at the beach today, but I’ve been kind of busy with my work.”

“Your work?” Joe repeated. Work was not one of Chet’s strong assets.

He reached for an olive as Mrs. Hardy said, “How about some dinner? I’ll get you a plate.”

“Not tonight, thanks, Mrs. Hardy.”

Aunt Gertrude raised her eyebrows. Seldom did the stout boy turn down an offer of food!

Frank and Joe hid smiles behind their napkins. Finally Frank urged, “Come on, Chet, something’s in the air. It’s not like you to-“

Joe was not paying attention. He interrupted to say, “Listen! I just heard a noise from the driveway. It sounded like a door of Dad’s car being shut!”

The three boys rushed out to the back porch. “Look!” cried Joe.

A hulking figure was getting into Mr. Hardy’s sedan. Another man was already in the car.

“Stop!” Frank ordered.

Tearing down the steps, the boys ran across the lawn. The men jumped out and dashed down the driveway to the street. In an instant they were picked up by a waiting car, which roared away. The boys gave chase but to no avail. Identification was impossible because the driver had put out the lights and the license number could not be seen.

“Pretty daring thieves!” Chet commented. The boys hurried back to Mr. Hardy’s automobile. Finding no damage, Frank drove it into the garage and locked the door.

“Those guys sure had a nerve trying to steal a detective’s car,” Chet remarked as they re-entered the house. “Any special reason, do you suppose?”

“They probably didn’t know Dad’s away,” said Frank, “and thought this would handicap him if he should be working on the car thefts.”

“This may have been our first look at some of the Shore Road gang,” Frank concluded.

After reporting the attempted theft to the police, the boys went to the living room, where Chet proceeded to explain his latest project.

“I’m studying dietary survival.” He took a book from a pocket and tapped the cover. Chet brought a carrot from another pocket and bit loudly into it before tossing the book to Joe. Its title was Vegetable Survival in the Wilderness.

“Sounds interesting, Chet,” he said. “But what brought this on? You’ve always been the biggest eater inBayport High.”

“Common sense,” Chet intoned. “You see, we live in a dangerous world, never knowing where our next meal may come from. So, I figure to learn a little botany in case I’m ever marooned on a jungle island or too far from a hot-dog stand. In other words, herbivorous survival.”

“Herb-“ Frank stared.

“Plant eating, for you laymen,” Chet said, nibbling a second carrot. “I’ve decided to live on vegetables and fruits between visits to the museum and library to study.”

“And how long is this going to go on, Chester

Morton?” demanded Aunt Gertrude as she came in. “No more chocolate fudge cake-ever?”

Chet shifted in his chair and swallowed. “I haven’t worked out the-er-details yet, Miss Hardy. It depends upon my-er-further research.”

Frank grinned as his aunt shook her head in puzzlement and left the room. “Well, we sure wish you luck, Chet,” he said. “Sounds pretty austere to me.”

“I’ll make it,” Chet declared. “Tell me about your swim.”

The Hardys told their friend of all the adventures on Shore Road that afternoon, of their plans to help Jack Dodd, and of the theft of Jerry’s new car.

Chet’s eyes bugged out. “Wow! I sure feel sorry for Jerry. I hope the police catch those thieves.”

Later, as the boys were listening to a television newscast, the speaker said the police had not yet apprehended the thieves.

“Sure is a tough mystery,” Chet remarked.

Frank suggested they all look at a map of the Shore Road area. “Maybe we can figure where the cars disappear to.”

Just then the telephone rang. Joe took the call, then rushed back to the others.

That was Jack!” he exclaimed. “He sounded upset and wants us out at the farm right away!”

Suspecting a sudden development in Jack’s secret mystery, the three boys piled into Chet’s green jalopy and headed out Shore Road. As they pulled into the dirt lane to the Dodd farmhouse, they saw the rotating red lights of police cars in front of the house.

“Something has happened!” Joe exclaimed.

Officers and excited reporters were assembled near the front of the big porch, while three patrolmen stood by an empty car near the back of the house. The hum of car engines filled the night air.

After parking, the Hardys and Chet found Mr. Dodd and Jack standing next to a state trooper at the side of the building. The thin, well-dressed farmer, who had a slight mustache, looked pale and worn. Jack’s hands were clenched.

“The Hardys! And Chet!” Mr. Dodd exclaimed, forcing a smile as the boys rushed up to them.”What has happened?” Frank asked immediately.

Jack hung his head and pointed to the unoccupied automobile. “We’ve been accused of stealing that car!”

“Stealing!”

“Yes,” Mr. Dodd continued grimly. “Jack had just discovered this car on our property tonight when all these officers began to arrive-apparently having received a ‘tip-off’ over the phone that we were the Shore Road thieves.”

A husky, uniformed man, Chief Ezra Collig, approached the group and greeted the Hardys. Mr. Dodd tried to recall the whereabouts of himself and his son on the day the car was reported stolen.

Jack added, “We couldn’t have stolen the car on that day, sir. Both Dad and I were-“

At that moment his attention was diverted by an approaching officer. In his hand he carried a fishing pole.

“Is this your rod, son?” he asked.

Jack stared in surprise. “Yes, but-“

“Then what was it doing in the trunk of the stolen car?” the officer demanded.

CHAPTER III

A Pilgrim Mystery

“My fishing pole-in the stolen car!” Jack repeated in disbelief. “It’s been missing from my boat since yesterday.”

Chief Collig examined the rod, then frowned. “Personally, I’m inclined to believe you, Jack. But I’m afraid you and your father will have to come to headquarters. We particularly want to check the fingerprints on the car.”

“Fingerprints?” Joe queried.

Mr. Dodd nodded resignedly. “I’m afraid you’ll find my fingerprints inside. I got into the car, hoping to find the owner’s name in the glove compartment.”

Frank spoke in low tones to Chief Collig as flashbulbs illuminated the area. The chief assured him the Dodds could be released on bail until a hearing, but said the figure would probably be a very high one.

The Hardys promised to visit Mr.

Dodd and Jack the next morning about their release.

“We’ll contact Dad right away,” Frank told the Dodds.

Chet added, “Jack, keep your chin up!” He drove the Hardys home, where they wired their father.The following morning the brothers drove to Bayport Police Headquarters to see Mr. Dodd and Jack.

As they had feared, the bail figure was too high for the Dodds to pay it all at this time.

“Frank!” Joe exclaimed as the boys left the building. “Maybe Dad will help them out with the rest!”

Over the telephone, Fenton Hardy supported the boys’ faith in the Dodds’ innocence and promised to arrange by phone for the balance of the bail payment. Shortly after noontime the two prisoners were released.

“We can’t thank you boys and your father enough,” Mr. Dodd said as Frank was driving them back to their farm in Mr. Hardy’s car. “Having your father’s name behind us at the hearing tomorrow will mean a great deal.”

“We’re glad to do what we can.” Joe grinned.

“Have you any idea who might have wanted to frame you?” Frank asked as they headed north.

“Not really,” Jack replied. “But Dad and I have come up with one possibility.”

“His name is Ray Slagel,” Mr. Dodd explained.

“He came to the farm looking for work about a month ago. But he didn’t prove dependable, and after I had found him away from his chores several times, I had to dismiss him.”

“Did you have any trouble with him after that?” Joe asked.

“No,” Mr. Dodd answered, “but he threatened to get even with me. I can’t tell you much about his background, but we can describe him.”

“Dad,” Jack interrupted excitedly, “I think I still have that picture I took of Slagel!”

“That might give us something to go on,” Frank remarked. “Actually, we’ve got two Dodd mysteries.”

“I almost forgot!” Jack gasped, remembering his uncle’s expected visit that night.

Mr. Dodd laughed. “Frank and Joe, are you still interested?”

“Interested! the Hardys cried in unison. “We sure are!”

Frank turned the sedan off Shore Road onto the lane leading to the Dodd house. Mr. Dodd and Jack cordially invited the Hardys inside, where they all sat down in the attractive, pine-paneled living room.

Over a large flagstone fireplace hung a framed black-and-white map of the Atlantic coast. There were several early Colonial prints above the bookcases and sofa.

“We’re ready for the story,” said Frank.

“As you may know,” Mr. Dodd began, “the Dodd family, while small today, goes back several hundred years in this country.” He pointed to some faded, brown-leather volumes along a mahogany shelf. “There are records in these of centuries of Dodds-records that go back before the Revolutionary War.

Unfortunately, they tell us little about the man at the root of the Pilgrim mystery.”

Frank and Joe leaned forward.

“We do know,” the farmer continued, “that in the year 1647, one Elias Dodd embarked from Plymouth Colony in a small skiff with his wife and three children. A good seaman, with considerable knowledge ofastronomy, he went in search of a horseshoe-shaped inlet he had heard of from an Indian. Dodd hoped to establish a settlement to which other families might come later.”

“A horseshoe-shaped inlet!” Joe exclaimed.

Mr. Dodd smiled. “The inlet that is today Barmet Bay.”

“Did he reach it?” Frank asked.

Mr. Dodd stood up and paced the room. “That is the mystery we hope to solve. You see, Elias Dodd was never heard from again. But many years later, a bottle was found washed up on a shore farther south of here. In it was a note believed to have been written by Elias before he and his family perished in a sudden, violent storm.

“Deterioration of the paper had obliterated some of the words. In the message, Elias hastily described their last geographical position.”

“And you have the message here?” Frank asked.

“Only in our heads.” Jack smiled.

Mr. Dodd explained. “My brother Martin, who teaches astronomy at Cheston College in Greenville, has the original. You’ll be able to see it when you meet him this evening.”

“And you’re hoping,” Joe said, “to discover whether your ancestor perished in the Bayport area?”

“That’s right, as well as to determine the existence of the Pilgrim treasure.”

“Treasure!” Frank and Joe echoed.

Jack’s father went on, “When Elias left the colony for his journey, he brought with him a chest of jewels, many of which were very valuable. He hoped to use the less expensive ones to barter with the Indians he might encounter.”

“Because of the treasure, I assume the mystery must remain in confidence,” Frank said.

Mr. Dodd nodded. “Dishonest people mustn’t hear about it,” Jack said. “They might find the chest before we do. And there is the possibility it contains his journals which would also be valuable.”

Frank and Joe stood up as Mr. Dodd glanced at his watch. Though eager to hear details of the Pilgrim clue, they realized that Jack and his father needed a chance to obtain legal advice for their hearing the next morning on the stolen car.

Frank shook hands with the Dodds at the front door. “We look forward to meeting Martin Dodd -and seeing the old paper-tonight!”

Jack smiled, fingering a rabbit’s-foot key chain, but his face seemed to cloud with the anxieties of last night’s events. “Thanks again, fellows,” he said. “Without you, we wouldn’t even be free to work on the mystery.”

“As it is,” Mr. Dodd added, “we must solve it within the next few days!”

His mention of a deadline puzzled the Hardys. He promised to explain later that night.

Jack gave the boys a photograph of Ray Slagel. The picture revealed a burly, bald man leaning on apitchfork before the Dodd barn. He wore a work glove with a V-shaped cuff on his left hand.

The Hardys then drove out to Beach Grove where they locked the car and began combing the sand for clues to the thief of Jerry’s stolen car. Later, they heard Chet’s jalopy arrive, and he joined the brothers in the search.

“I guessed you fellows would be here,” he said. He took out a large magnifier. “Thought you could use a botanical consultant. Say, do you think the evidence against the Dodds is serious?”

“It could be,” Frank admitted, kicking into a small mound of sand. “They have no witnesses for their whereabouts the day that car was stolen, but

Mr. Dodd’s good reputation can’t be discounted.”

Chet leaned down with his magnifier at the top of a sand slope to inspect a plant. Suddenly he lost his balance, and rolled down the incline.

“Chet, are you all right?”

Their rotund friend regained his feet. Scrubbing sand out of his hair, he held up a glove. “This might be a clue!”

Frank and Joe went down to look at it.

“It’s a work glove!” Chet said, pointing to the V-shaped cuff.

At that moment the boys saw a car slow down on the road above them. They raced up the slope, but when they reached the highway, the car was already disappearing around the bend.

The boys rushed to check their cars. Neither had been tampered with.

“Wonder what he was looking for,” Joe remarked.

“Maybe the same thing that Chet found,” Frank said. “Joe, have you that picture of Slagel?”

Joe produced the photograph. Frank compared the left-handed glove Chet held and the one in the picture.

The two looked identical!

“This may be the lead we’re looking for!” Frank rejoiced as they walked to their cars.

“Do you think this could help prove the Dodds’ innocence?” Chet asked.

“It might if they can identify it as Slagel’s when we see them tonight.”

Elated by the clue, the Hardys thanked Chet and headed home. After a light supper, they told of their proposed visit to the Dodds. Aunt Gertrude was skeptical about the bail which Mr. Hardy had put up so promptly. “You’re all too trustful,” she said. “Look up this Slagel in your father’s files.”

Frank and Joe did so, and were disappointed when the files revealed no information on Slagel.

“Reckless, plain reckless, Frank and Joe Hardy,” Aunt Gertrude said. “Why, the Dodds may really be car thieves!”

“But Dad doesn’t think so, Aunty,” Joe reminded Miss Hardy.”Never you mind. You just can’t rely on men who don’t have a woman around the house to keep them straight.” Despite her words, the boys’ aunt was secretly proud of their magnanimous efforts to help the Dodds.

When the telephone rang, Joe answered the call. “It’s Chief Collig,” he whispered to Frank. Then Joe’s jaw dropped and he slowly hung up the phone. He could hardly speak.

“The chief says the Dodds may have jumped bail. They’ve disappeared in their station wagon!”

CHAPTER IV

Suspicious Visitor

PERPLEXED over the news of the Dodds, Frank and Joe immediately cycled out to the farm. It was a scene of confusion, with a crowd of spectators watching the excitement from the highway.

“There’s Chief Collig,” Frank indicated as the boys parked next to a bright-blue television van. They went over to speak to him. As they walked with him toward the house, Joe asked, “But why would the Dodds run away ?”

Collig took a deep breath and shook his head. “I only know they appear to have left hastily- and, I’m afraid, permanently. One of our patrols noticed the garage was empty and investigated. The door of the house was unlocked. All food and clothing were gone.”

The officer turned to the boys. “I’m sorry that you and your dad will suffer financially should the Dodds not appear at the hearing tomorrow.”

Frank and Joe, in their concern over the Dodds, had completely forgotten about the posted bail.

The police chief accompanied them through the farmhouse rooms. Joe, who was familiar with Jack’s room, noticed that a pup tent and sleeping bag were missing.

“I don’t understand it,” Frank said ruefully as they started down the stairs. “Jack seemed worried but not enough to-“

“I’m afraid this isn’t all,” Collig interrupted. He held out a large rabbit’s-foot charm. “Have you boys ever seen this?”

“Yes, that’s the one Jack had on his key ring,” Joe said.

“Another car was stolen at Bay Bluff during the last hour.” Collig hesitated. “This charm was found there.”

When the three returned to the noisy scene outside, the boys inquired for Jack’s uncle. He had not arrived.

Frank and Joe decided to ride out to Bay Bluff. As they reached their motorcycles, Frank said in a low voice, “Joe, I have a hunch that Jack and his father didn’t leave of their own accord.”

Joe whistled. “You mean they might have been kidnapped? But why-“The discussion was interrupted by the arrival of a short, stout man named Oscar Smuff, wearing a green tweed suit and Tyrolean hat. He appeared to be taking copious notes in a memo book.

Smuff, an aspiring detective, had long wanted to become a member of the Bayport Police Department.

The Hardys often encountered him on cases, but he was not distinguished for powers of deduction or insight. The boys greeted him and started their vehicles.

“Too bad about all that bail money,” Smuff said. “But you’re just kids-didn’t know you were backing car thieves. Got in over your heads this time. Should have asked my advice.

Joe was about to retort, but Frank signaled to him and they wished the egotistical detective good night.

Heading through a cool sea wind down the dark highway, the Hardys soon reached Bay Bluff. Near a lone police car, a young woman was wiping her eyes as an officer spoke with her. The boys parked and introduced themselves.

From the woman’s story, Frank and Joe gathered she had parked at the bend, heading south, and climbed a foot path to watch the sunset. “I did leave the key in the ignition,” she admitted, “and my car wasn’t visible from the path, but I had a complete view of Shore Road traffic in both directions. Then I saw my car moving out on the highway-but it was too late.”

“We’re sure sorry to hear that,” said Frank.

After the policeman and the woman had driven away, the Hardys looked for clues to the theft. The stolen car had been driven south toward Bayport,

Frank followed his flashlight beam across the road toward the ocean. Joe did the same. From far below came the sound of the pounding surf.

“If only Jack and Mr. Dodd had known about the glove we found!” Joe sighed. “Now, it may not be wise to publicize that we have it until we have some idea where Slagel is.”

Frank agreed. “But it might be good for us to have a talk with Dad tomorrow. If-“

Frank’s voice was drowned in a loud screeching sound as a limousine burst around the bend from the south. It swung too wide in the turn and headed straight for the boys!

Blinded by the glaring headlights, Joe slipped but sprawled safely out of the way as the big car rocked back onto the road and raced off. Frank had vanished from sight!

“Frank!” Joe cried out, rushing to the edge of the bluff. He heard a sound, and looking down, was relieved to see his brother’s hands grasping the vines of a small bush. In a moment he had pulled him up.

“Whew! Thanks!” Frank gasped. “I was standing on an awful lot of air down there! Did you get the license number of that car?”

“No,” Joe replied. “But it looked to me like a tan Carlton, two or three years old.”

After a double-check failed to turn up any clues, the brothers headed home. Mrs. Hardy and Aunt Gertrude were upset to hear of the Dodds’ disappearance. Their mother also mentioned having heard prowlers outside the house earlier in the evening.

“Again! Were they near the garage?” Joe exclaimed.

“Yes,” Aunt Gertrude replied. “I looked around out there myself but didn’t see anybody. Your father’scar was not touched.”

“Joe, the glove I” Frank started, suddenly remembering that they had left it in their crime lab over the garage.

Both boys tore out of the house and ran up to the lab. The pine-paneled room also served as a combination workshop and clubhouse. One maple bookcase, a small safe, several plaster footprint molds, and various scientific kits were arranged neatly along two walls of the lab. Hanging on another wall were assorted disguises-wigs, beards, masks, and hats.

Joe flicked on the light and opened a cabinet. The glove was gone!

Frank groaned. “Our only clue! But let’s make a duplicate of Slagel’s picture, anyway.”

They did this, then returned to the house.

“Well,” Joe said, trying to be cheerful, “the Dodds may still show up at the hearing tomorrow.”

A light came into Frank’s face. “Joe! We may have lost a clue, but I think we’ve gained something in its place.”

“‘What?”

“The fact that the glove was stolen from us proves it must be important-and probably to Slagel!”

The late news reports gave no word on the missing Dodds, but another car had been reported stolen and presumed to have been driven toward Bayport. When the announcer read its description, Joe jumped up.

“A tan Carlton! Frank, it’s the car that almost ran us down at the bluff!”

“But the driver was heading north. Still-“ Frank snapped his fingers. “I’ve got it! Tire marks prove the thieves always head south. But what’s to stop them from turning around a minute later and heading north?”

“A simple U-turn!” Joe agreed.

The following morning, just before the scheduled hearing of the Dodd case, Frank called Chief Collig and learned that the Dodds had failed to appear. Nothing had been heard from Martin Dodd, either.

“Do you suppose he was kidnapped too?” Joe asked Frank.

His brother shrugged. “If so, it may involve the Pilgrim mystery. Let’s go out to Cheston College and make some inquiries.”

Before they left, a phone call came from their father. After briefing him on the latest developments, Joe asked, “Dad, how’s your case coming?”

“I’m not at liberty to say much, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I suddenly took up the study of gases as a hobby. I wish I were free, though, to give you boys a hand.”

Late that morning Frank and Joe traveled by train to Greenville, then walked to the peaceful, shaded campus of Cheston College. At the office they learned that Martin Dodd, a bachelor, had left as expected the day before for Bayport. The boys obtained two photographs of the astronomy professor.

Both showed him to be tall and middle-aged, with a gray mustache and horn-rimmed glasses.”He may be in Bayport right now,” Frank remarked hopefully.

But when the Hardys called on Chief Collig later that afternoon they were told nothing had been heard of the mysteriously missing uncle. Without mentioning the Dodds’ Pilgrim mystery, the Hardys provided the chief with one of the professor’s photographs.

“We’ll look for him,” the officer promised.

Upon reaching home the brothers found that Mrs. Hardy and Aunt Gertrude were out. A few minutes later the boys received a visitor. Frank ushered the heavy-set, well-dressed man into the living room. He introduced himself as a Manhattan businessman.

“I must profoundly apologize for not giving my name to you boys,” he said. “I have come on a matter of a highly confidential nature.”

“My father can’t help you now. He is away,” Frank told him. “Perhaps when he returns-“

“Oh, but you misapprehend me,” the stranger protested, removing his spectacles. He smiled ingratiatingly.

“It is the services of the distinguished sons of Fenton Hardy which I am interested in acquiring-for a private case in New York City.”

The stilted language and pompous manner of the man impressed neither of the boys. Suspicious of his wish for anonymity, they informed him that they were engaged on other matters. His flattering persistence availed nothing.

“You refuse then? Most unfortunate, most unfortunate,” the man whispered. He bowed curtly at the door and left.

“There’s something fishy about him,” Joe commented. “Too bad we couldn’t get his name.”

“I did notice some things,” Frank said. “The cigarette he was smoking was a foreign make, and that gaudy tie clasp had the initials C. M. on it.”

“Maybe he wants to get us out of Bayport!” Joe suggested.

Other thoughts crossed the boys’ minds. Was the stranger connected in any way with the Shore Road thieves? Or did he know anything about the disappearance of the Dodds?

Early that evening Joe phoned Chet, and without disclosing details of the Pilgrim mystery, told him of the missing Martin Dodd. Chet agreed to come to a strategy meeting at the Hardy home the next day.

Joe had just hung up when he thought of something. “Frank! Jack’s boat! We forgot all about it! Do you think the Dodds could have gone off in that?”

“Not unless their station wagon is parked down by the boathouse. But we might find some clues there to where they could be!”

Ten minutes later Frank and Joe reached an aluminum boathouse at the Bayport waterfront. They parked their motorcycles. Faintly pink clouds lingered in the sky below a rising half-moon. Over the distant hum of cicadas, the boys’ footsteps drummed on the wooden boards of the dock.

Inside the dark, oblong structure six boats were moored. Eerie shadows seemed to ripple up the corrugated walls from the lapping water. At the end of the row, Frank saw a green-and-white boat bobbing gently.”It’s still here!” he said.

Joe, snapping a finger to his lips, grabbed his brother’s arm. He had heard a sound outside, but now only the wash of water on the hulls came to their ears. The brothers worked their way along until they stood over Jack’s boat. Holding the damp railings, the Hardys peered into its dark hold.

“Let’s have a closer look,” Frank said.

At that moment the sound of a board creaking came from inside the cabin of the boat.

“Joe! Somebody’s in there!”

Before they could investigate, the boys felt strong arms around their necks. Wet cloths were slapped over their faces!

CHAPTER V

Strategy

FRANK awoke to see blurred reflections from the water on the dark boathouse ceiling. His clothes felt damp, and he was conscious of a heavy feeling in his head.

As Joe stirred alongside him, Frank scrambled to his feet, then helped his brother to get up.

“Jack’s boat-it’s gone!” Joe said groggily. “Did you get a look at the men who attacked us?”

“No, but whoever grabbed me and clamped that cloth over my face was strong. Wonder what knocked us out?”

“Some kind of liquid gas is my guess,” Joe answered.

After informing Chief Collig of the attack upon them and the stolen Dodd boat, many unanswered questions filled the Hardys’ thoughts as they drove home. Who were the men who had gassed them and taken the Dodd boat? Could they have been

Shore Road thieves, who also had planted a stolen car at the Dodd farm? Did they know anything about the clue to the Pilgrim treasure? Above all, what had become of Jack and his father?

Frank looked worried. “We feel sure the Dodds aren’t car thieves, and what happened tonight at the boathouse makes me think more than ever that they didn’t run away.”

“You mean they were not only kidnapped, but maybe harmed?”

“That’s right,” said Frank. “Tomorrow let’s forget the car thieves and start a hunt for Slagel.”

The next morning Frank and Joe worked on their battered short-wave radio, then cycled into town.

When they reached the Bayport business district, the boys paused for a moment at the corner of Main and Larch. Frank gave Joe one half of a penciled list of hotels and rooming houses and the copy of the Slagel photograph they had made.”Righto,” said Joe. “See you in an hour at this corner.”

The boys separated, Joe taking the north end of Bayport and Frank the south. An hour later neither Hardy had yet come across a Slagel registered in any of the hotels. None of the desk clerks had recognized the photographs.

During the second hour, Joe had no success. Only five names were left on his list.

“You have any luck?” he asked Frank hopefully when they met to compare progress.

Frank wiped his brow. “Not a thing. I covered all the waterfront places and saw the registers myself.

How about you?”

“No.”

Frank read down his list. “Well, this last run ought to do it. Fingers crossed!”

But the boys’ final circuit turned up no leads. Disappointed, the brothers headed through the center of town for home.

“Slagel may still be in the area, but staying in another town,” Frank remarked.

“At any rate,” Joe declared, “I guess we’ll have some more footwork cut out for us.”

At the Dock Street traffic light Joe noticed a heavy-set, well-dressed man getting into a taxicab.

“Frank! That’s our nameless visitor from New York!”

The brown-and-white cab pulled out and headed toward the western side of town. The boys decided to follow on their motorcycles.

Moments later, the taxi wound under an overpass and came to a stop at the Bayport railroad station.

Parking nearby, the Hardys followed as the man purchased a ticket in the waiting room, then boarded a waiting New York train.

Joe heaved a sigh. “Well, we can cancel one lead-at least for the time being. Maybe he was telling the truth about living in New York City.”

Frank and Joe found Chet at their house. Presently the three boys went to the brothers’ crime lab.

Chet proudly dropped a large cylinder of paper on the table. “I thought we could use this to find the car thieves.”

“What is it?” Joe asked.

Chet rolled out a highly detailed map of Bayport and its environs. “It’s on loan from my father’s real-estate office.”

The Hardys marveled at the map’s detail, which included geographical features as well as houses and roads in the entire Shore Road area.

“This is a great help, Chet!” said Frank.

After switching on an overhead fluorescent light and locking the door and windows for security, he rejoined the boys over the map spread out on the table. The three pored over the paper for the next halfhour. Except for the sounds of Chet chewing gum, the room was silent.

Two considerations were paramount: Where were the Dodds, and where were the stolen cars being taken?

At last Frank sat back. “I have a hunch that working on the thefts is the only way we’ll ever find Jack and his father. With the Dodds missing, suspicion of future thefts would naturally fall on them.”

“Do you think their lives are in danger?” Chet asked.

“I’m afraid so,” Frank replied. “They may be prisoners within a few miles of where we are this minute.

The gang may be making a quick haul of flashy cars, and storing them at a hideout until they can be safely moved. But as long as the thefts continue, I think the Dodds will be kept prisoners.”

Since Chet was to be a part of their sleuthing team, Frank and Joe now told him about the Pilgrim mystery.

Joe paused at the window. “I feel that the treasure also would fit right into the disappearance of Jack and his father and even the uncle,” he commented. “If only we had a copy of Elias Dodd’s last message! Do you think Slagel or the car thieves found out about the treasure and kidnapped Jack and his father to keep them from looking for it?”

“It’s possible,” Frank answered.

Moments later, Mrs. Hardy interrupted briefly to give the boys four letters which had come for them in a late delivery. As Frank and Joe read them, Chet noted their grim expressions.

“Who sent the letters?” he asked.

“They’re complaints,” Frank replied. “Some townspeople aren’t happy about our backing the Dodds.”

Joe slapped the letter he was reading. “This one is from a theft victim. He even says he’ll hold us responsible if the Dodds aren’t apprehended!”

“People are really getting up in arms about these thefts,” Frank said. “We must work harder to track down the thieves.”

First, the boys reviewed recent copies of the Bayport Times for theft evidence, which proved to be scanty. Then they studied minutely the mapped roads leading to and from Shore Road.

“There are a few things that seem certain,” Frank concluded. “One, the thieves appear to be after late-model cars, and to steal most of them at night. Two, the gang can’t be a small one-their success alone would suggest that. And three, the stolen cars are most likely driven north up Shore Road.”

“If,” Chet cut in, “your U-turn theory is right.”

“Correct. The police have suspected a southerly direction so far, and therefore have been concentrating on watching Bayport. But as the papers indicate, patrols are now keeping an eye on other towns that lie off Shore Road to the north.”

Chet shrugged. “Then what could we possibly learn that the police haven’t?”

Frank drew the others’ attention to the black line which represented Shore Road on the map.

“The thief heads north. He could go straight into Northport, but he’d take a chance staying on one roadall that distance. This leaves the turnoffs which meet Shore Road from the west.”

“I follow,” Joe murmured.

“Now,” Frank continued, “police have been watching all towns at the end of the turnoffs, but there’s one place they haven’t been stationed-at the intersections themselves!”

He went on to propose a two-part plan. “With daily night watches, at the Shore Road intersections with Springer Road, Route 7, and Pembroke Road, we should find out which one the thieves are using!

Daylight hours we can spend sleuthing around the terrain off Shore Road, since the gang may have a secret hideout in the woods.”

Chet whistled. “Boy, night watches, day watches, and three mysteries rolled into one! There goes my important museum work!” He groaned loudly as Frank and Joe grinned.

“But, Chet, this will give you a chance to do some real field work for your botanical and dietary investigations,” Joe explained, slapping his heavy friend on the back. “Think of all the herbs and plants in those woods!”

Chet was weighing the idea when they heard familiar footsteps ascending the garage stairs and a sharp rap on the door.

“I’ve brought you boys some refreshments,” came the voice of Gertrude Hardy.

“Refreshments!” Chet echoed happily, opening the door. The laden tray Aunt Gertrude carried looked inviting.

Noticing the closed windows she winced. “A beautiful day like this and you three sitting in a hot, stuffy room! Frank, Joe, here are some apple pie and chocolate milk.”

“Oh boy!” Chet exclaimed.

“And for you, Chet Morton, a large glass of cooling parsnip juice. I fixed it especially for your vegetarian diet.”

“My vegetarian-“ Chet’s voice trailed off despondently at the sight of the liquid.

Muffling laughs, Frank and Joe thanked their aunt. “Your pie is-“

Suddenly there was a deafening crash. A heavy object sailed through the rear window, sending splinters of glass against Joe’s neck. Chet flew from his chair and Aunt Gertrude screamed.

In the center of the floor lay a black hand grenade!

“Run!” she cried.

But Frank knew that in a few seconds all of them might be killed! He snatched up the grenade and ran to the window with the deadly missile. Would he be able to hurl it outside in time?

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