The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава

The police dogs took up stations on either side of Nancy’s convertible and from their ferocious expressions and unfriendly barks she knew that they would not allow her to alight from the car.

“This is a fine mess,” Nancy told herself. “Now what am I going to do?”

As The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава if in answer to her question, the front door opened. A woman of about sixty, wearing attractive sports clothes, hurried toward Nancy. “Rex, be quiet!” she commanded. “Brutus! That will do for now!”

There was instant obedience. Together the dogs trotted off around the side of the house.

“I The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава’m sorry about such a reception,” the woman said. “The dogs are having their morning run.” She smiled engagingly. “You see, I am well protected.”

Nancy laughed as she stepped from the car. “They were certainly on the job. I’m Nancy Drew from River Heights. I’m staying at The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава Camp Merriweather. Are you Mrs. Pauling?”

“Yes.”

“I’d like to talk to you a few moments if I may,” Nancy said.

Mrs. Pauling’s face broke into a broad smile. “You may talk, but don’t try to sell me anything,” she warned. Before Nancy could assure her that The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава this was not her intention, the woman inquired, “Are you by any chance Carson Drew’s daughter?”

“Why, yes, I am.”

“Then you are most welcome here,” said Mrs. Pauling. “Your distinguished father took care of a case for my late husband and did a very fine The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава job. Mr. Pauling praised him many times for the work.”

“Dad’s wonderful,” Nancy said, as Mrs. Pauling led the way into the house, then through a long, wide hall and out a rear door to a beautiful patio garden. “I’m up here on vacation and happened to The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава stumble on a mystery. It may concern the old stagecoach you donated to Bridgeford. May I tell you about it?”

“Please do,” Mrs. Pauling said, as she indicated comfortable chaise lounges and chairs. “Let’s sit down here.” She stretched out on one of the lounges while her caller The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава chose a bamboo chair.

Nancy told about Mrs. Strook and her great-uncle, Abner Langstreet. By the time she had finished her story, Mrs. Pauling was leaning forward, listening intently.

“I’m certainly going to help all I can,” she remarked. “If the men who worked on the The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава old stagecoach found anything in it, they failed to tell me. But I’ll phone the carpenter and the painter at once and find out what they know.”

Mrs. Pauling arose and walked to the ground-level porch to use a wall telephone. As Nancy waited, she picked up The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава a local newspaper. There were large headlines telling the sad plight of the Francisville school children.

“Poor kids! If I could only find that clue,” Nancy thought, “it might help the situation!”

When Mrs. Pauling returned, she said that the carpenter had not come across anything unusual while restoring the old stagecoach The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава. But he admitted that he had not taken the vehicle completely apart. Something might be hidden, he thought, deep inside the cushions, behind the upholstered sides, or even between the leather lining and the wood of the compartment beneath the driver’s feet. The painter could offer no help The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава either.

Mrs. Pauling sat lost in thought for several seconds. Then she said, “Tomorrow morning I’ll have John O’Brien bring the stagecoach back here. I’ll ask the carpenter to come over. You and he can take the old stagecoach entirely apart if necessary The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава to find this clue that is going to mean so much to the town of Francisville.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful!” cried Nancy, who felt like hugging the woman. “And may I bring along my friends who are vacationing with me?”

“By all means,” Mrs. Pauling said graciously.

Nancy, eager to tell The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава Mrs. Strook and Bess and George the good news, said good-by to Mrs. Pauling, hurried through the hall, and out the front door toward her car. As she neared the convertible, a tall, muscular man in work clothes strode from among the trees in front of the The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава house. He was about fifty years of age and had a very sour expression.

“Are you Nancy Drew?” he asked, stepping directly toward her.

“Yes.”

Suddenly the stranger began to wave a finger in Nancy’s face. “I’m here to tell you,” he cried out, “that I don’t want The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава all these city folks movin’ in and ruinin’ our countryside! Water pipes, electric lights, and now a new school that’s goin’ to cost a mint o’ money to us taxpayers! I won’t have it, I tell you!”

As the irate man paused for breath, Nancy, who had The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава stepped back in dismay, said in defense, “I have nothing to do with all those things!”

“Yes you do!” the stranger shouted at the top of his voice. “You’re part o’ this whole deal! Now you keep your nose out o’ our community affairs!”

He glared belligerently The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава at Nancy. “If you don’t,” he warned, “you’re goin’ to get hurt!”

CHAPTER IV

Hard-fought Games

Too amazed to reply again, Nancy stared at the truculent stranger. As he burst into a second tirade, the two police dogs suddenly raced around the corner of the house The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава and growled.

“Good boys!” Nancy cried out.

The intruder did not wait to find out whether the dogs were friendly or not. Turning on his heel, he ran with long strides and disappeared among the trees. The dogs raced after him, giving deepthroated barks.

Nancy waited. Within three minutes The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава the dogs were back. Turning to step into her car, she saw Mrs. Pauling in the doorway. The thought occurred to Nancy that perhaps the woman might know the intruder. She asked her.

“No, I never saw him before,” Mrs. Pauling replied. “What a dreadful creature! I arrived too The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава late to hear all he was saying to you. At the end, though, it sounded like a threat.”

Nancy admitted that it was. “I think I’ll hurry down to the main road and see if I can find out who he is. He’s probably running off in The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава a car. I’ll follow him.”

The young sleuth jumped into her convertible and sped off. But when she reached the main road, there was no car in sight and no sign of the strange man.

“If he lives around here,” Nancy told herself, “shopkeepers in town probably know him The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава. I’ll go into Francisville and make some inquiries.”

As she drove along the tree-shaded main street, Nancy noted that all the buildings were old-fashioned, with the exception of a new large, brightly lighted supermarket. Seeing a quaint-looking drugstore, Nancy decided that the proprietor might The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава be a good person to interview. The drugstore owner, a short, plump, jolly person, smiled at Nancy and asked what she would like.

“First some information,” she said, returning the smile. “Then a few cosmetics.”

She described the intruder at the Pauling estate, and without revealing the warning he had The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава given her, told of his dislike for newcomers in the area. “Have you any idea who he might be?”

The druggist, Mr. Benfield, did not hesitate in his answer. “That sounds exactly like Judd Hillary. He’s a bachelor and dislikes children. Furthermore, he has no use for The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава city people and especially the ones who have moved into this community recently. He declares they’re causing too many changes in our quiet little village.”

“Would you call him a dangerous individual?” Nancy asked, chuckling.

“Oh, no, I’d just say queer—very queer.” Despite this reassurance, Nancy still felt The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава a little worried. She could not forget Judd Hillary’s glare of hate or his angry warning. She asked Mr. Benfield if there were many people in the community who felt the same as Mr. Hillary did.

“There are some. He’s sort of a self-appointed chairman of The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава the group. All of them complain about the raising of our taxes and the fact that the town will be bankrupt if we try to build a new school. It is true that we cannot afford the school, yet we badly need one. To accommodate all the The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава children this fall it will be necessary to run classes from eight in the morning until six at night, and frankly I don’t know how long our teachers are going to be able to stand this. And our money will certainly run out by spring.”

“That’s a The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава shame,” said Nancy and added with a smile, “I suppose your only solution is to have some good fairy leave a lot of money here.”

“That’s about the size of it,” Mr. Benfield agreed.

To herself Nancy said, “Oh, I hope I can be the one to bring that The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава windfall to Francisville!”

She bought a new compact, two tiny bottles of perfume for Bess and George, and some paper handkerchiefs. Then, thanking the druggist for his information, she left the shop.

Nancy drove directly to Camp Merriweather. When she reached her room, the young sleuth noticed that Bess and George The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава were seated glumly in the adjoining bedroom. Quickly she went in and asked, “What’s wrong?”

Bess heaved a tremendous sigh and George said, her words clipped and showing deep annoyance, “The sports director had drawings this morning for the tennis tournament. Bess and I decided to go into The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава the doubles. We picked two names out of the grab bag. One guess.”

“Not Ross and Audrey Monteith!” Nancy exclaimed.

“Nobody else,” George replied. “Can you imagine such luck!”

“I’m so mad I don’t even want to talk about it,” Bess spoke up. “Nancy, tell us The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава what you found out.”

She and George listened attentively to the whole story. When Nancy reached the part about Judd Hillary’s warning, both girls frowned.

“Oh, Nancy, maybe you’d better give up this mystery,” Bess said fearfully. “At first it was fun. Now it sounds positively sinister The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава.”

“Mr. Benfield, the druggist in Francisville, thinks Judd Hillary is just queer, not dangerous. I see no reason why he and I should ever meet again.”

“Why, Nancy,” said George admonishingly, “don’t you realize that Judd Hillary somehow found out about your interest in helping the town The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава of Francisville and followed you to Mrs. Pauling’s?”

Nancy looked startled. “George, believe it or not, I didn’t think of that. And you’re absolutely right. Well, I promise you both I’ll watch my step. If I forget, you two just reach out and grab me.”

She went The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава on to say that the following morning she and the cousins ought to be on хэнд to see the old stagecoach dissected. “If we find the clue, then we shan’t have to worry any more about Judd Hillary, anyway.”

The three girls had an early lunch The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава, then a little later Nancy went to play tennis with Rick Larrabee, who had pulled her name out of the grab bag, he said. She looked at him, her eyes twinkling merrily; she had not put her own name in! Realizing Nancy had guessed the truth, Rick told The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава her that he had not entered the tournament either.

“Just for that little joke I’ll beat you!” Nancy said. “Then later we’ll watch the doubles match between Bess and George and the Monteiths.”

Nancy and Rick were pretty evenly matched. He won the first game. She took the second and The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава third, he the next two. Points were hard fought, and every game went to deuce until the score was six all. Then Nancy crawled ahead and finally won eight to six.

“Congrats!” Rick said, coming to the net and shaking hands with her.

The doubles match between Bess The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава and George and the Monteiths was just about to start. A good-sized crowd had gathered to watch it, knowing that all the players were excellent. There were cheers and groans from the side lines as the match progressed. Few people at the lodge liked the Monteiths The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава and most of the onlookers were secretly hoping that they would be badly trounced.

But Ross and Audrey were skillful players. Game after game went forty all. George and Bess found themselves using every type of strategy they knew to win. Each side took a set and the third started as a The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава real battle. Then Ross and Audrey began to tighten up. This proved to be their undoing. Bess and George won the set by a score of six to two!

The хэнд clapping was loud. The special friends whom the girls had мейд at Camp Merriweather rushed The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава up to hug or congratulate the winners. Ross and Audrey Monteiths’ faces were flushed and angry. They shook hands listlessly with the winners. Finding they were receiving no attention, the two finally left the court.

As Nancy, Bess, and George walked back together toward the lodge, Nancy said, “I The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава’m terribly thrilled about the outcome and I wouldn’t want you to miss the rest of the tournament for anything. But this may mean that you won’t be able to help me solve the mystery.”

George looked at her chum accusingly. “Why, Nancy Drew, do you think The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава we’d walk out on you? The athletic director who is running this tournament will certainly understand and let us play when you don’t need us. If he won’t—why, we’ll default if necessary!”

Nancy was thrilled by her friends’ loyalty and said she hoped the The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава schedules could be arranged so the girls could go on to win the tournament.

“You asked us to be with you tomorrow morning,” George said. “And I want to be there myself when that old stagecoach is taken apart. You girls go ahead upstairs. I’m going to try to set up The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава things. See you in a few minutes.”

When she arrived upstairs, George told them, “Everything’s fine with the committee. Bess and I will play again tomorrow afternoon.”

The three girls started off early the next morning in Nancy’s convertible. Instead of going directly to The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава Mrs. Pauling’s home, Nancy decided to take a narrow lane leading to the road on which John O’Brien probably would be towing the old stagecoach, and join him. Reaching it, they waited a little while for the trucker to come along. When he did not arrive, Bess The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава suggested that probably he had been ahead of them.

“No doubt you’re right,” said Nancy. “We’d better go on.”

When they reached the estate, they found Mrs. Pauling standing in front of the house. Nancy introduced her friends, then asked if the stagecoach had arrived.

“Not yet,” Mrs. Pauling answered The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава. “And I can’t understand it. John O’Brien is usually very prompt. He’s already an hour late.”

She took her callers out to the garden patio and they sat down on the porch to chat. Half an hour went by and still the trucker The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава did not come.

Mrs. Pauling, nervous about the delay, called the office of the Bridgeford restoration project and learned that John O’Brien had left the place hours before with the old stagecoach.

“Something has happened!” Bess said nervously when she heard the report.

Just then the telephone rang The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава and Mrs. Pauling answered it. The girls could plainly hear a man’s deep voice at the other end of the wire.

“Mrs. Pauling, this is John O’Brien. I—I have bad news for you. The old stagecoach has been hijacked!”

CHAPTER V

Three Sleuths

“HIJACKED!” Nancy murmured in disbelief.

Mrs. Pauling The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава held the telephone receiver partly away from her ear, so that Nancy and her friends could hear the rest of what John O’Brien was reporting.

“I was towing the old stagecoach along a deserted road,” he said, “when two masked men jumped out from among some The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава trees and boarded the truck. They shut off the motor and dragged me to the ground. They bound and gagged me, and left me in the woods. Then the two of them unfastened the tow chain and went off with the stagecoach.”

“How terrible!” Bess said.

“After they’d gone The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава around a bend,” the trucker went on, “I heard a motor start up, so I guess the men went off in either a car or a truck and took the old stagecoach with them.

“After a while I managed to get free and drove along the road looking The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава for them, but they were gone. I stopped at the first farmhouse I came to—it’s called Brookside. That’s where I am now. Mrs. Pauling, I’m mighty sorry about the whole thing. What do you want me to do?”

“This is preposterous!” Mrs. Pauling exclaimed. “It wasn’t your The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава fault of course, John. Hold the phone a moment and I’ll let you know what to do.”

Mrs. Pauling put her хэнд over the mouthpiece and consulted the girls. She said that she did not know what to tell John, but that she supposed someone should The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава notify the police at once.

“Yes,” Nancy replied. “Why don’t you tell him to do that and please ask him to wait where he is. I’d like to dash over there and make a search of the area for clues.”

Mrs. Pauling nodded and requested the trucker The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава to do this. Then she put the phone back into its cradle and gave a great sigh. By this time Nancy, Bess, and George, eager to be off, were ready to say good-by.

When they reached the Brookside farmhouse where John O’Brien was waiting, they found two The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава state policemen already talking to him. The trucker introduced the girls, and told of their interest in the old stagecoach.

John O’Brien then went on with his story. “Both the men who grabbed me were tall fellows. One had blond hair, the other was dark. They didn The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава’t say a word, so I wouldn’t recognize their voices.”

“Did you notice anything else that would identify them?” asked Officer Gavin.

“Yes,” John replied. “The dark-haired fellow had a slantwise scar across his left wrist. And the blond man, I’d say, is either a sailor now The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава or has been one. He tied me with nautical knots.”

“You sure were lucky to get yourself untied,” remarked Officer Starr. “We’ll radio in the full report right away and then start a search for those two hijackers.”

While the state trooper was calling from his car, John O’Brien The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава told the other officer that Nancy was an amateur detective. Gavin smiled and asked if she had any theory regarding the theft of the old stagecoach.

On her guard, Nancy smiled and countered with, “I understand there are a good many people in this area who are opposed to The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава newcomers who are making changes and causing higher taxes. If this is true in Francisville, might it also be true regarding Bridgeford?”

Officer Gavin looked at Nancy searchingly. Then his eyes twinkled. “Is that a genuine guess on your part, Miss Drew, or are you keeping your real theory The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава to yourself?”

Nancy’s only answer was a laugh. When State Policeman Starr finished his report, he suggested that he and Gavin start their search.

“Do you mind if we follow you?” Nancy asked.

“Not at all,” Gavin answered. “But I suggest that you stay a The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава fair distance behind us in case we run into any trouble.”

“I understand,” Nancy replied. She climbed in. behind the wheel of her convertible as Bess and George slid in from the other side.

John O’Brien went back as far as the spot where he had been attacked. Then the officers The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава excused him and he headed for Bridgeford.

The wheel tracks of the old stagecoach were visible only as far as the place where John O’Brien had heard the motor start up. Here the troopers found crosswise marks in the dirt. Officer Gavin said they indicated that planks had The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава been set up from the road to the rear of a truck. Apparently the stagecoach had been pushed up this runway onto the larger vehicle and taken away.

The tire marks of the truck were easily traced to a hard-surface road some distance ahead. Here they turned to The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава the right, then they mingled with the tracks of other trucks and cars.

Presently Officer Starr, who was driving the policemen’s car, signaled that he was going to stop. Nancy pulled up behind him at the side of the road. He came back to speak to The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава her.

“We figure the old stagecoach was probably carried in a closed truck or van, but if it was an open vehicle, maybe someone can give us a clue. A quarter of a mile down the road there’s a new development. We’re going to inquire at each house along The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава the road for a mile to find out if anyone noticed the old stagecoach. If you girls would like to help, suppose you ask at the houses on the right side. Officer Gavin and I will take the left.”

Nancy was pleased to have the assignment and quickly The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава accepted it. When they reached the settlement, she stopped in front of the second house on the right. George ran up to inquire at the first home, Bess to the third, while Nancy took the one in the center. None of the occupants answered their doorbells.

The policemen had The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава no better luck across the street, so the two groups of inquirers moved on down the road. The same procedure followed. This time two of the residents were at home but neither of them had seen an open truck with an old stagecoach on it.

“Not a single clue,” Officer The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава Gavin said in disgust.

After the mile had been covered, each group reported failure to learn anything. The policemen thanked the girls and said they would take care of further questioning themselves.

“We’ll be in touch with Mrs. Pauling to hear what you find out,” Nancy told them The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава.

Turning her car around, the young sleuth started back in the direction from which they had come. George demanded an explanation.

“I’m positive,” said Nancy, “that those hijackers never came this far. It would be risky carrying the stagecoach for long on a public highway. I The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава want to follow a hunch of mine; that is, the two hijackers went off this main road, taking the stagecoach with them. They may even have unloaded it and dragged it into the woods.”

George was inclined to agree with Nancy and added, “Which side road are you going to pick The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава, Nancy?”

“The first one those hijackers came to after they turned into the main road.”

When Nancy reached the woods road from which they had emerged a little earlier, she once more turned the car around, then drove very slowly. The three girls watched intently for The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава a little-used side road.

They had gone scarcely a thousand feet when Bess called out that she could see a trail through a wooded area. “It’s probably a bridle path.”

Nancy had already stopped. Bess and George quickly stepped from the car and hurried into the woods The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава.

Within a few seconds George called back, “I think this is the road all right. Here are wheel tracks and footprints!”

Nancy locked the car, pocketed the key, and hurried after the cousins. The three excited sleuths almost ran along the bridle trail in their eagerness to find the The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава old stagecoach.

Suddenly Bess stopped short. “We’ve gone far enough to prove our point,” she declared. “I think we should go back and tell the state police. I certainly don’t want to meet those hijackers!”

“I can’t say that I do myself,” Nancy replied. “On the other хэнд The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава, we’re only guessing that these wheel tracks belong to the old stagecoach. I think we should have more proof. Those hijackers may have taken the old stagecoach so they can hack it apart and find the clue. I’m convinced that Mr. Langstreet’s secret has The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава leaked out somehow. If we can possibly keep the antique vehicle from being destroyed, I’d certainly like to do it.”

“I would too,” said George. “Come on!”

Bess followed reluctantly. Less than a quarter of a mile ahead, the girls found themselves at the edge of a treeless The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава cliff. Here the bridle trail veered off down the wooded slope. The girls paused and looked toward the foot of the cliff.

“There it is!” George cried exultantly.

Below them was the stolen stagecoach, intact! It was lying on one side.

“It isn’t smashed, thank goodness,” said George The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава. “All those hijackers wanted to do was to get rid of it. But why?”

Nancy did not try to answer the question. She was not sure that she agreed with George. Bess again showed fear and insisted that the three girls leave and report to the police.

“Let’s split The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава up,” Nancy suggested. “Bess, you take my car key and go back for officers Gavin and Starr. If you can’t find them, get two others. George and I will go down this hillside and see what we can find out about the stagecoach.” She handed the key to Bess The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава.

“I don’t like this arrangement,” Bess said, “but I’ll do it. And please be careful!”

“We’ll stay among the trees alongside the bridle trail just to make you happy,” George promised her cousin.

Bess went off, running at top speed. Nancy and George carefully descended The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава the wooded hillside. On the way they neither saw nor heard anyone.

“I’d certainly like to get a close look at the old stagecoach,” George whispered. “Do you think we dare?”

Nancy suggested that they wait a few minutes. Then, if they saw no sign of anyone, they The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава would go into the open and find out what they could about the overturned vehicle. Ten minutes went by. Complete silence. Nancy signaled to George that they would proceed.

Just as the two girls walked up to the old stagecoach, a man’s deep voice commanded harshly, “Stand where you The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава are!”

CHAPTER VI

Police Assistance

THEIR hearts pounding, Nancy and George stood stock-still. Though both had been startled by the command from the unseen speaker, the girls tried not to show any fear.

“Who are you?” Nancy asked her hidden opponent. The man did not reply to her question The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава. Instead, he ordered the girls to retrace their steps.

“Why?” Nancy countered, trying to stall for time until Bess could bring the police to the spot.

“Do as I say!” the stranger growled.

By this time Nancy and George had concluded that the man did not intend to reveal his whereabouts The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава and harm them. Regaining their courage, the girls decided to stay as long as possible.

“We saw this old stagecoach from the top of the cliff,” George spoke up. “We’d like to look at it.”

“You leave the old thing alone!” the stranger directed.

“We The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава’re not going to harm it,” Nancy argued. “Does it belong to you?”

All this time she had been listening intently, trying to find out where the speaker was located. As he called back, she decided the man was hiding in a huge maple tree not far away. She concentrated The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава on the spot.

“That’s none of your business,” the stranger returned. “Now get out of here!”

Nancy detected a slight movement among the leaves on one of the stout limbs. In a shaft of sunlight she saw a man’s хэнд and forearm. There was a slantwise scar The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава across the wrist!

“One of the hijackers!” Nancy thought. “His blond cohort is probably with him. I guess George and I had better leave and go to meet the police.”

Aloud she said, “Sorry to have bothered you. We’ll go now.”

George was surprised, but did not question Nancy’s The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава decision. Together the two girls scrambled up the hillside among the trees. When they were out of earshot of the man, Nancy quickly told George what she had seen.

“Hypers!” George exclaimed, using her favorite expression. “We found the hijackers! I hope they won’t leave before The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава we can have them arrested!”

The thought spurred the girls on and soon they reached the top of the cliff. They ran full speed along the bridle path toward the main road. Halfway there they met Bess and officers Gavin and Starr racing down the road. Quickly Nancy The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава told her story and the whole group rushed back, so that the troopers might capture the hijackers.

As they neared the cliff, Officer Starr said he thought it best if the girls did not go down the bridle path, since the men below might expect a second visit from The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава that direction and be warned away. “We’ll take the other side right through the forest,” he said. “And you girls, please keep in the rear.” He turned to Nancy. “Would you act as lookout? Stay near the trees at the edge of the ravine. If you see anything The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава unusual, notify us by rolling a stone in our direction.”

Nancy nodded and went to the left of the group. Halfway down the slope, she suddenly spotted the two hijackers coming from hiding. One carried a hatchet, the other a large saw. Instantly they began to hack at the old The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава stagecoach!

Seeing this, Nancy quickly sent a small stone hurtling down toward the policemen and beckoned them to come forward. “The hijackers!” she told them when they arrived, and pointed.

“The hijackers!” Nancy warned

The officers gave one look, then ran pell-mell down the hillside. The three girls joined the The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава chase. They had almost reached the foot of the slope when suddenly from somewhere in the woods came an unusual whistle. When the two hijackers heard it, they took to their heels and disappeared among the trees in the opposite direction.

Instantly the officers gave chase. Nancy did The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава not follow. Instead, she said to her friends, “Let’s try to find that whistler. He must be a pal of the hijackers.”

They could hear crashing in the undergrowth not far from them, and took off in pursuit. But presently the sounds stopped and they could see no one. Finally The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава the girls gave up.

“We’d better return and guard the old stagecoach,” Nancy said. The others nodded.

When they got back, Nancy remarked, “One thing has been proved. There are at least three people involved in the theft of the stagecoach. I wonder who the third person The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава is.”

George was staring at the ax and the saw which the hijackers had dropped in their haste to get away. “These might be good clues,” she remarked. “Fingerprints and that sort of stuff. We’d better not touch them.”

“That’s right,” Nancy agreed.

In a little while The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава the policemen returned, admitting defeat in their pursuit of the hijackers.

Officer Starr smiled. “At least we saved the stolen property,” he said, “thanks to you girls.”

“Let’s right the stagecoach and see what damage has been done to the other side,” Nancy suggested.

Five pairs The Mysterious Stagecoach 2 глава of strong arms soon set the vehicle back on its wheels. To everyone’s delight, practically no damage had been caused.


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