The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава

The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава

Mrs. Strook said she would like this. She gave Nancy a list of names to call. The third one on it, a Mrs. Grover, said she would be happy to help.

Nancy now phoned police headquarters and told her story to Sergeant Hurley. He promised to send a man The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава to Mrs. Strook’s as soon as possible. At present most of the force was investigating the explosion.

It was fully an hour before two officers arrived. They were the sergeant himself and Detective Takman.

Mrs. Strook repeated her story, then Nancy told of her suspicion as to who the The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава two thugs might have been.

“This is amazing,” Sergeant Hurley remarked. “Those hijackers have eluded the police so far.” The officer smiled at Nancy. “You wouldn’t have any idea where they are right now, would you, Miss Drew?”

“I wish I did,” she answered. “I’d like The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава to ask them a few questions myself!”

During most of this conversation, only Nancy and the officers had been in the room with Mrs. Strook. Bess and George had joined the boys outdoors. They found that Ned had traced the intruders’ footprints around the house and through a hedge to The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава the next property. Burt had gone into the kitchen for some string and had “roped” off the footprints.

“Aren’t you boys clever!” Bess praised them. “Any more clues?”

“Yes,” Dave spoke up. “I’ll show you one.”

At that moment Nancy came from the house with the The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава police officers. When the roped-off area was pointed out to them, Sergeant Hurley said, “Are all of you detectives?”

“The only real detective among us is Nancy Drew, but we all go to her training school,” Burt Eddleton spoke up with a grin.

“Well, I can see that The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава she teaches good courses,” the officer said. “Did you find out anything else, young man?”

Dave led them to a spot near the hedge. A man’s dark-brown glove lay on the ground. “Mrs. Strook said the thugs wore gloves. Perhaps this is one of them.”

From his pocket Detective Takman The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава took a paper bag and a pair of tweezers. Carefully he lifted the glove up and dropped it inside the bag. “We’ll have it tested for fingerprints at headquarters,” he said.

Nancy heard the telephone ring and went to answer it. To her amazement the The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава call was for her. It was from Mrs. Pauling, who asked if Nancy and her friends could come over to Bridgeford right away.

“You’re needed here,” she said. “It’s a good thing you told John O’Brien where you were going and I could catch you.”

“What’s The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава up?” Nancy asked.

“They’re getting ready for a historical pageant to be held in connection with the formal opening soon,” Mrs. Pauling told her. “I’m the chairman. I’ve just learned that the principals have been held up some place and can’t get here in time for The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава special pictures to be taken for a big magazine. The cameramen are waiting. How about you and your friends coming over and posing?”

“Why, certainly,” said Nancy. “We’ll be there as soon as possible.”

She went to check with Mrs. Strook to be sure the elderly The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава woman was all right. Mrs. Grover had arrived and said she would take good care of her friend.

When Nancy мейд her announcement to Bess, George, and the boys, they showed mingled feelings. Bess thought how romantic it would be. George objected to wearing “a flubby-dubby costume.” The The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава boys declared they would feel very silly. But all said that so long as Nancy had promised to do it, they would go.

Upon reaching Bridgeford, Nancy introduced the boys, then Mrs. Pauling took the group into a small white house where a governor of the state had once lived. The young The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава people were given rooms in which to dress. As the six reappeared in their costumes, a few minutes later, all burst out laughing.

“I never knew I had such skinny legs until I put on these tight-fitting trousers,” said Burt.

“And I should have curls hanging The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава down under this bonnet,” George remarked. “I must look like a lady convict of 1850 with my hair so short.”

The merriment continued as the group went outside and walked over to the old stagecoach and horses, where two cameramen waited with John O’Brien. Introductions were мейд by Mrs The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава. Pauling.

Ned, costumed as the driver, opened the door of the stagecoach for the girls to climb in. Nancy and Bess eagerly stepped up. Burt refused to follow and declared he was going to ride on top.

“I think I’ll try that too,” said George.

The others roared with laughter The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава as the tom-boyish girl tried to negotiate the climb in her long skirt. Finally, with the boys’ help, she мейд it. Dave, who was to be messenger, pulled himself up to the front seat beside Ned.

“All ready?” the photographer called out.

“Let ’er roll The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава!” Ned replied.

Cameras clicked for several pictures. Then the photographer called out, “Now I want to take some movies. O’Brien will pull the horses and stagecoach. Ned, act as if you were really driving, will you?”

The tow chain was attached and John O’Brien took his place The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава at the wheel of the truck. A moment later the outfit began to move, but unfortunately the truck had started with a jerk. The stagecoach gave a sudden lurch, jostling George and Burt.

George lost her balance and toppled over the side!

George lost her balance and toppled over The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава the side!

Burt мейд a dive for her. He managed to seize George in time to keep her from falling to the ground. George, for her part, мейд a wild grab for the railing at the top of the coach and helped pull herself up.

The commotion had reached John O The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава’Brien’s ear and he had stopped short. George, shamefaced and a little disheveled, apologized. Suddenly she realized that the movie camera was still whirring. Turning to the photographer, she cried out:

“You didn’t take my picture!”

“Of course. It looked very realistic,” he replied, grinning.

“Well The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава, don’t you dare show it to anybody!” George snapped, but she knew from the big tantalizing smile he gave her that he would not accede to her request.

The balance of the photographing took place without incident. Mrs. Pauling thanked Nancy and her friends for all their trouble, then The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава the young people said good-by and headed for Camp Merriweather.

The evening was spent catching up on home news, but by ten o’clock all declared they were weary from their day’s experiences and said good night.

When Nancy reached her room, she sat down in The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава a chair and gazed out the window, lost in thought. Her father had once told her that reviewing the various details of a case just before going to bed might bring a ready answer in the morning. Nancy often found herself instinctively doing this.

Suddenly she jumped up and began to The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава walk around the room as an idea came to her. She snapped her fingers and smiled.

“I wonder if I could possibly be right!” she thought excitedly.

CHAPTER XIX

A Midnight Attack

AT THAT moment the door between her room and the one George and Bess occupied suddenly The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава opened. “Nancy, aren’t you ever going to bed?” Bess demanded solicitously.

George followed. “Why, you’re not even undressed!”

“Don’t scold!” Nancy pleaded. “I just had an idea that I think may solve the mystery!”

As her friends watched, she dashed across the room to a bureau drawer The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава where she had left the notes written by Great-uncle Abner Langstreet. Bringing them to the desk and turning on a bright light, she stared at the sides on which the signatures appeared.

“Some of these notes have penciled markings, you notice,” she remarked.

“I see them,” said George The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава. “Just doodlings.”

“Maybe not,” Nancy murmured.

She creased one paper and laid it on top of another, so that the two drawings came together to form a horizontal staff and an arrow-shaped crosspiece at the center and to the right. Then she fitted a pointed section to the top The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава. Finally, after creasing three papers into tiny squares, Nancy slid three circles over the center section.

“You’re a genius!” Bess exclaimed. “That’s a railroad semaphore!”

“It sure is,” George agreed. “But what does it mean?”

Nancy smiled excitedly. “It’s my guess that Mr. Langstreet The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава buried his stagecoach along the railroad tracks near a semaphore.”

“It’s a marvelous deduction,” said George. “But the question is, which semaphore. We might find ourselves digging in hundreds of places.”

Before Nancy answered, she went back to the bureau drawer and this time pulled out the map The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава Mrs. Strook had given her. After studying it carefully, she said:

“I’m convinced that Great-uncle Abner buried the old stagecoach on family property which runs along the railroad. Here’s a strip and it isn’t too many feet long. Even if we don’t find the semaphore, we The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава wouldn’t have a great deal of digging to do at this spot.”

Bess’s eyes were wide open in astonishment. All sleepiness had gone out of them. “I think this is simply super, Nancy,” she said in praise. “Right after breakfast tomorrow we’ll all start out and go The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава to this place.”

“Oh, I can’t wait that long,” said the young sleuth. “It really isn’t late. If we can get the boys to go, aren’t you game to start digging tonight?”

“I’m game,” said George, but reminded Nancy that she really had The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава no right to dig on private property.

“That is a problem,” the girl detective conceded. “I know what I’ll do. I’ll call up Art Warner and see what he says.”

She hurried to the private phone booth on the first floor and called the lawyer. His wife The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава, who answered, said he was working late at the town hall. “He’s at a special meeting, but I know he’d be glad to talk to you,” Mrs. Warner assured the girl.

Nancy put in a call and a few minutes later was talking to Art Warner The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава. When she told him what she had in mind, he said he might be able to help her very easily.

“Please tell me exactly where that piece of property is,” he requested.

After Nancy had described the location, the young lawyer asked her to hold the phone a few minutes. Returning, he The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава said:

“I have good news for you. That property belongs to the town of Francisville. Taxes on it were not paid for a long time and the owner lost the piece. You have the permission of the councilmen to dig on it all you please.”

“Terrific The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава!” said Nancy excitedly. “I’ll let you know the result. Any news for me about Mr. Langstreet?”

“I’m afraid not. But regarding any marriage of his, I think no news is good news.”

Nancy said she must go now, and Art Warner wished her luck. She stepped from the booth and The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава went to a house phone at the end of the registry desk. Calling Ned’s room she asked him if he and the other boys would be willing to go out right away to do some sleuthing.

“Of course. But what’s up?” he asked.

“I can The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава’t tell you now, but I’m sure I have a good clue this time.”

Ned, who said he had not been asleep, would rouse Burt and Dave and they would all meet at Nancy’s convertible in a few minutes. Nancy put down the phone, then went to speak The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава to the night clerk. Smiling, she said, “I wonder if the lodge could do me a big favor? I’d like to borrow several garden digging tools—say six.”

The clerk grinned at her. “More sleuthing, Miss Drew?” he asked.

“Now what makes you think such a thing The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава instead of guessing that I might just want to transplant some flowers?” Nancy replied with a chuckle.

“When do you want the tools?” the clerk asked.

“Right away, if possible.”

“I’ll see that you get them. Where do you want the boy to take them?”

“To my car The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава.”

Nancy gave the license number, then said she was going to run back to her room but would return soon. When she and the other girls and the three boys met in the parking lot, the digging tools were standing up against the trunk compartment.

“You think of everything,” Ned praised The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава Nancy. “Where in the world did you get these?”

Nancy tossed her head. “From my friend the night clerk. And we’d better put them to good use because he’ll certainly be asking what I accomplished.”

Ned drove while Nancy, who was now very familiar The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава with the general area, directed him to the special piece of property along the old railroad right of way. Picsently she pointed out an overgrown, rutted lane where she thought he should turn down.

The narrow piece of property stretched a good distance from the road to where the tracks had once The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава been. The railioad embankment was still there.

The group flashed their lights around and even beamed the headlights of the car on the surrounding area. If there had ever been a semaphore at the spot, it was gone now. The boys scuffed their feet along the ground The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава and after a while Ned found part of a rusted iron pipe which stuck up alongside a stone.

“Nancy, do you think this might have been the pole that held the semaphore?” he asked.

“It might have,” she replied. “Anyway, let’s start our operations here.”

For the The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава second time within a few days, Nancy and her friends started digging for a buried stagecoach. The work went fast. The area all around the suspected semaphore pole was being spaded, pickaxed, and shoveled.

Presently Bess gave a squeal. “I’ve hit something!” she cried out.

The others crowded around The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава. Six inches below the surface they could see the corner of what appeared to be a rusted wrought-iron chest. Everyone helped to uncover the top of it.

“It is a chest!” Bess exclaimed gleefully. “Quick! Let’s open it!”

There was no lock on the chest, but The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава it took a little tugging to raise the lid.

“Bridles!” said Nancy excitedly. “One, two, three, four of them! The ones the stagecoach horses wore!”

There was nothing else inside the box, but Ned guessed that there must be other chests containing the various parts of the old stagecoach The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава. Everyone worked feverishly. In a few minutes the top of another chest of thin wrought iron was uncovered. It held the box from under the driver’s feet.

“Maybe the clue’s inside the box,” George spoke up hopefully.

Burt flung back the ancient lid. There was nothing inside The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава.

Work went on for nearly two hours. By this time twenty chests of various sizes had been found. Each contained some part of the old stagecoach and all the pieces were in a fine state of preservation.

“You were right, Nancy,” Bess spoke up, “about Great-uncle Abner Langstreet The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава disposing of his stagecoach with loving care. I suppose he мейд all these chests in his blacksmith shop and drove over here with them one at a time.”

“That’s all right,” said George, “but where’s the clue he hid in one of them?”

“Don’t be discouraged The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава,” said Nancy. “According to the notes, there are still ten chests to be found.”

The next one was unearthed by Nancy and Ned together. Quickly Ned raised the lid. Inside was one of the doors of the old stagecoach. And on top of it lay an unaddressed envelope.

“The clue!” Ned shouted The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава.

Nancy was so excited she was almost afraid to pick up the envelope and look inside it. Her heart was pounding furiously. She did take the envelope out, however, but just then noticed a sweet, sickish odor in the air. Instinctively she held her breath as she turned up The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава the flap of the envelope.

As Nancy started to look inside she suddenly noticed that her friends were acting very queerly. Bess and George seemed to fall to the ground in a faint. Burt and Dave staggered a few steps, then sank to the ground unconscious. Suddenly Nancy The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава noticed Ned let the lid of the chest drop with a loud bang. He toppled over on the ground.

All this time Nancy had been holding her breath because she did not like the sickish odor. But now she knew she must fill her lungs with air.

As she The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава did so, the young sleuth heard a noise a short distance ahead of her. Looking up, she caught a glimpse of Ross Monteith’s face. Beside him was a shadowy figure, its arm stretched toward Nancy. On the wrist was a scar!

The хэнд reached for the envelope. At that The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава moment Nancy blacked out and slumped to the ground.

CHAPTER XX

Honorary Citizen

IT WAS daylight by the time Nancy and her friends recovered consciousness. One by one they became fully aware of their surroundings.

“What happened to us?” Bess asked groggily.

“I think,” said Nancy, “that our enemy put The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава us to sleep with some sleeping gas he sprayed around.”

“And the envelope!” George cried out. “Where is it?”

Nancy’s listeners were stunned when she told them about Ross Monteith being there and the man with the scar on the back of his wrist having grabbed the envelope.

“The The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава clue was in your grasp and they got it away!” Bess said woefully.

Ned arose and came to Nancy’s side. “I feel mighty bad about this,” he said. “I was just plain dumb not to think of our setting a guard. We laid ourselves wide open The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава to an attack with all our lights turned on.”

“Please don’t blame yourself,” Nancy said. By this time she felt that her mind was clicking almost normally again. “You know, it’s just possible that those men did not get the clue after all.”

“Whatever do you The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава mean?” George asked.

Nancy reminded the others that there had been no name or anything else written on the envelope. “I admit I was getting pretty groggy at the time I was holding it, but the envelope didn’t feel to me as though there was anything inside.”

“You mean,” said The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава George, “that the real clue may be in one of the nine boxes we haven’t uncovered yet?”

“That’s right,” Nancy answered. “But while we’re looking, I think we should do what Ned suggested—set a guard. If there was nothing in that envelope we found, then The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава those thieves will be back here to get the real one.”

“More than that,” said Ned, “I think the police should be notified. I’ll drive to town and tell them while you continue the digging.” He grinned. “And I’ll bring you all some breakfast.”

Nancy suggested The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава that Ned also bring Art Warner, and told him where he could find the young lawyer.

The digging started again. Each chest was freed from the earth and quickly opened. The searchers looked for the elusive clue among the pieces of the stagecoach. Seven boxes had been opened and The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава the eighth had just been raised when Ned Nickerson returned. With him were Art Warner, Sergeant Hurley, and Detective Takman.

“You’re just in time to see the next to the last box opened,” Nancy told them.

Everybody crowded around and Burt raised the lid. Inside the hand-wrought iron The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава chest was the center seat of the old stagecoach. Nancy’s quick eyes noted a small spot in the upholstery which looked as if it had been cut deliberately. Quickly she explored inside with her fingers.

“I feel something!” she cried out, and a moment later pulled an envelope from The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава its hiding place. Smoothing it out, she read:

TO THE CITIZENS OF FRANCISVILLE

“This is the real clue!” she exulted. Then she turned to Art Warner. “As a resident of that town, will you please open this and see what’s inside?”

As everyone stood around in awe, the The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава young lawyer carefully opened the envelope with his penknife and pulled out a letter. As he read it aloud, looks of delight spread over the faces of his audience.

The letter was signed by Abner Langstreet and said that at the time the cornerstone of the town The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава hall of Francisville was laid in the year 1851, Langstreet had been the person to put on the last bit of mortar to seal it. When no one was looking, he had slipped something inside the cornerstone box which he figured in years to come might be of great value to The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава the town. He directed that when an emergency should arise, the cornerstone be opened and his gift used.

“How amazing!” Bess spoke up, as Art Warner stopped reading. “What’s in the cornerstone?”

“The letter doesn’t tell,” the young lawyer replied. “But I should say that the time The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава of emergency has arisen in Francisville. What do you all think?”

Everyone agreed with him and could hardly wait for the town fathers to open the cornerstone, so they might all see what the secret was.

“I’ll arrange to have it done very soon, and we’ll have The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава a little celebration,” Art Warner told the others.

George remarked, “And Mr. Langstreet’s stagecoach belongs to the town too.”

“Yes,” said Nancy, then told the police officers and Art Warner that Mrs. Pauling had agreed to defray the expenses for having it fixed up.

Bess spoke up. “The The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава old stagecoach should be put on display in Francisville—for a time at least, even if it’s moved to Bridgeford later.”

“What is to become of the stagecoach right now?” George asked. “We can’t leave it here.”

Art Warner had a suggestion. He said he had a radiotelephone The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава in his car and would get in touch with John O’Brien. “I’ll ask him to come and take these pieces to Mr. Jennings the carpenter.”

Sergeant Hurley said that he and Detective Takman would stay there and guard the old stagecoach until John O’Brien arrived, then The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава follow him to the carpenter’s shop.

“And now let’s have a celebration breakfast,” said Ned. From the car he pulled out ham and egg sandwiches, thermos bottles of orange juice, and steaming cocoa.

When the orange juice was poured into paper cups, Ned raised his cup. “Here The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава’s to Nancy Drew, best girl detective in the world!”

“She’s certainly amazing,” Sergeant Hurley said.

Nancy thanked Ned for the toast, then said, smiling, “Sergeant Hurley, the whole story can’t be told until you round up the suspects in the case.”

“The captain was expecting some arrests The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава at any moment when Takman and I left,” the officer replied. “Why don’t you ride into Francisville and stop at headquarters?”

“We’ll do that,” said Nancy.

The young people went directly there, while Art Warner said he would get in touch with the mayor and other officials The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава to see about having the cornerstone opened very soon.

“Oh, I hope it will happen while I’m still at the lodge!” said Nancy.

The others waved good-by to the lawyer and walked into headquarters. Police Captain Dougherty was busy on the telephone. They waited for him The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава to finish, then Nancy introduced herself and the rest of the group. She told him about the finding of the old stagecoach and the clue in it which might mean a great deal to the town of Francisville.

“You’re just in time to hear some big news,” he The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава said. “My men are bringing in five prisoners. Mr. and Mrs. Monteith were finally located at a farm on the outskirts of the next town. Staying with them were the two thugs we’ve been trying to locate.”

“And who’s the fifth person?” Nancy asked.

“Judd The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава Hillary. He’ll have a lot of explaining to do.”

The group arrived in a little while. Nancy and her friends were allowed to stay and listen to their confessions. Everyone of them glared darkly at the girl as if she had been personally responsible for their downfall. Ross The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава Monteith’s real name was found to be Frank Templer.

It was Judd Hillary who put the story together. He had a phobia against any changes in Francisville and the housing developments in particular, because his grandfather had told him valuable ore mines were under those very areas. Hillary had The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава told this to the Monteiths and instantly Ross wanted to explore. It was his idea and Hillary’s to try frightening people away.

The explosions had served a double purpose: one was to scare people into moving, the other to open any veins of ore. The actual dynamiting job The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава had been given to the two thugs who proved to be amateurs at it and had nearly caused fatal accidents.

“Did you send Nancy to the deserted farmhouse at the time of the second explosion, hoping she would be injured?” George asked Ross Monteith belligerently.

Audrey spoke up vindictively. “Of course The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава not. He just wanted to keep her in one spot while he was busy with his friends getting the dynamite ready for the explosion. But I wish to goodness something had happened!”

“That will be enough,” said the police captain sternly. “I will take your testimony later.”

The officer The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава went on to say that before the hous. ing developments had been put up, every kind of test had been given to determine if there were any valuable mineral in that area. None had been found.

“I never heard that,” Judd Hillary spoke up. “Why didn’t somebody tell The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава me?”

No one bothered to answer the man, but the captain said he had just had an FBI report on Ross Monteith, who used many aliases. Actually he was a confidence man who went with his wife to summer hotels looking for unwary victims.

“Monteith’s work here The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава was of a rather different kind, after he met Hillary and learned about the supposed ore,” the officer added. “I daresay he had you hoodwinked, Hillary.”

“I’ll say he did, the skunk!” Judd Hillary burst out. “And he’s the one who told me to get rid The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава of Nancy Drew!”

“Let’s hear your story, Monteith,” the captain ordered.

The confidence man, beaten, said he had a Geiger counter in his cane and had been using it to try finding the valuable ore. “The only time it ever worked was right up at Camp Merriweather, but the The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава clicking was caused by a big stone somebody rolled out of the garden into the woods there. It has traces of uranium in it, I think.”

As the story of the Monteiths went on, Nancy and the others learned that the couple had overheard Nancy tell the other girls that The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава Mrs. Strook had sent for her to solve a mystery. Ross and Audrey had followed them and eavesdropped. Hearing about the clue in the old stagecoach, they thought there might be a fortune hidden in it and were determined to obtain it before Nancy could. They were responsible The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава for the hiring of the thugs, one an ex-seaman, to hijack Mrs. Pauling’s stagecoach to search it, and to ransack the Strook home and tie up its owner.

Nancy asked if Ross had found anything in the envelope after using the sleeping gas. He admitted he The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава had not. After a few more formalities, the prisoners were led away to be put in cells.

Bess gazed after them compassionately. “Oh, why can’t people be honest?” she murmured.

As Nancy and her friends were leaving police headquarters, Art Warner walked in. “I have news for you,” he The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава said, smiling excitedly. “The cornerstone will be opened at four o’clock this afternoon. You’ll be there of course. Do you think Mrs. Strook will be well enough to come?”

“I’m sure nothing could keep her away,” Nancy replied. “We’ll drive right to her The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава house and tell her.”

Before leaving, the young sleuth told about the capture of the Monteiths and the others, and gave him a sketchy account of their confessions.

“So all the mysteries are solved except what’s in that cornerstone,” Art Warner said. “Four o’clock can’t come soon enough for The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава me.”

Nancy and her friends were very prompt for the ceremony. They had stopped for Mrs. Strook, who wore a very pretty pale-blue dress and matching hat. The Zuckers had been notified and were there to add their compliments.

Marjory whispered happily to Nancy, “My husband has The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава secured a nice outdoor job with Camp Merriweather. They’re going to build a new addition to the lodge.”

“Oh, I’m so glad to hear that!” said Nancy.

At the edge of the crowd she could see John O’Brien and waved him to come forward. “You had a The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава big хэнд in solving this mystery,” she whispered to him, and he grinned. Mrs. Pauling, too, was present and congratulated Nancy warmly.

At last the mayor stepped forward. He gave the assembled audience a short resumé of Abner Langstreet’s life, then read the letter.

“I wish he The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава’d get busy and open that cornerstone,” George whispered impatiently to Nancy and Bess.

Finally the moment for which they had been waiting arrived. A workman chipped out the masonry around the large stone on which were the words:

ERECTED A.D. 1851

After the use of a The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава crowbar, and much tugging, he and two other workmen lifted the cornerstone out and set it on the ground. Behind it was a small metal box. The mayor pulled this out, and as a hush fell over the crowd, he raised the lid and took out an envelope.

“This says,” he The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава told the waiting group, “ ‘To Francisville from Abner Langstreet.’ ”

No one spoke as the mayor opened the envelope and put his хэнд inside. When it came out he was holding five blocks of four stamps each.

Mrs. Strook, standing close by, gave a gasp. “Why, these are Benjamin Franklin The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава stamps of 1851 with the gum still on them! They’re worth a fortune!” she exclaimed. “One stamp like these will bring $7,500. That would mean each block can be sold for at least thirty thousand dollars!”

A cry of astonishment went up from the crowd. Then Art Warner spoke up. “Why The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава, they would bring enough money, when added to what Francisville can raise, to build a fine new school for our town!”

“That’s right,” the mayor agreed, and the other officials bobbed their heads. None of them could believe the town’s good fortune.

There were tears in The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава Mrs. Strook’s eyes. “Bless my Great-uncle Abner!” she said. “There were times when I doubted his story. But Nancy Drew, here, never lost faith. All the credit for solving the mystery goes to her.”

The town officials were loud in their praise of the young sleuth The Mysterious Stagecoach 7 глава and her friends. As Nancy smiled she put an arm around Mrs. Strook. “This is the person who started the whole thing,” she said. “She should have the credit.”


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