Authors: Bertrand R. Brinley,Charles Geer
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Science Clubs, #Action & Adventure
"The vault's been pretty well cleaned out," one of them said.
"No telling how much they got away with!"
that don't beat all!" said Billy Dahr.
then I remembered that I hadn't told Henry and Jeff what had happened. When I
switched on the radio, Jeff had been trying to reach me and he sounded like a
"Where on earth have you been for the last fifteen minutes? And what are
you doing way out there west of town?"
"I'm not way out west of town," I said, "I'm right here in the
alley back of the bank."
"Well what's going on? We're getting beeps from the radiosonde way out on
White Fork Road. It's been moving west for the last ten minutes."
"That's Dinky and Freddy," I said. "I think they've been
"Kidnapped? Cut the comedy, Charlie. What's going on?"
"Honest, Jeff!" And I told him about the big man grabbing Dinky and
Freddy, and about the car backing up into the alley.
Chief Putney there?" Jeff asked. I told him he was. "Tell him we've
got a fix on where that transmitter is. And if it's still on Dinky's belt, and
Dinky's been kidnapped, then we know where the bank robbers are."
climbed down into Jamieson's basement and collared Chief Putney and told him
what Henry had told me. At first he didn't seem to understand.
"Why don't you kids mind your own business and stop interfering!" he
growled. "You ought to be home in bed anyway." But then Billy Dahr
reminded him that if it hadn't been for me running to the police station they
wouldn't even have known the bank had been robbed.
guess you're right, Billy," said the Chief. "But I never saw such a
nosy bunch of kids in all my life. Some day I'm going to find out how they
always seem to be around when things go wrong."
"Henry says if you'll send the squad car up to Jeff Crocker's barn he can
tell them where the transmitter signals are coming from. Then you can put it
out on the police net."
"OK, OK!" said Chief Putney, clapping one hand to his forehead.
"Maybe your friend Henry would like to run the whole operation."
"We're just trying to help out," I told him.
Putney got on the radio and sent a squad car from the county sheriff's office
to Jeff Crocker's barn. Then he alerted the state Highway Patrol and asked them
to set up roadblocks in a wide circle around Mammoth Falls.
"What about the FBI?" I asked him. "This is a kidnap case."
go lie down someplace, Charlie!" the Chief groaned. "I don't want to
have to arrest myself for childbeating."
wasn't long before a squad car from the sheriff's office pulled into the alley
with its beacon light flashing and its siren screaming. An officer stuck his
head out of the window.
"Just got a call from the control car," he said. "They say that
car isn't moving west any more. It's stopped somewhere up in the hills west of
Strawberry Lake. How on earth can they tell where that car is?"
"Magic!" said Chief Putney. "I just caught one of the
"Who? That kid over there?"
"Yeah! Put him in your car so we know where he is. If you get a chance,
have someone phone his parents so they know he's all right. Let's get
Chief's car screamed off into the darkness, heading toward the White Fork Road.
My head snapped back against the cushion of the rear seat of the sheriff's car
as we took off after it. Two of Chief Putney's men stayed behind to guard the
and Freddy, meanwhile, found themselves being bound and gagged and thrust
through the door of a log cabin in the hills overlooking Strawberry Lake. They
had both been blindfolded back in the alley, so they didn't know where they had
been taken or what for. But they knew the car had been climbing a winding road
for some time, and Dinky could smell the odor of gun oil and kerosene. He
guessed they might be in one of the small hunting lodges that dotted the area around
the old zinc mine and the limestone quarry. The two men who pushed them through
the door followed inside and tied them securely to the end posts of a double
bunk against one wall of the cabin. As the door was closing behind them, Dinky
drove one elbow into Freddy's ribs.
"Ouch!" yelped Freddy.
"I'm glad they didn't steal my transistor radio," said Dinky, in a
"What's that about a radio?" said the big, hulking man, kicking open
the door again.
"It's just an old radio," said Dinky. "It belongs to my little
seen something on the back of that kid's belt when we pushed him through the
door," said the other man.
think we'll just take it," said the big man. "It might come in handy."
"Please don't take it! My sister doesn't know I have it," cried
Dinky, squirming to press his back against the bunk post.
"Now ain't that just too bad!" said the gruff voice of the big man,
as he whipped Dinky's belt from his trousers. "Maybe that'll teach ya to
mind your own business after this."
man thrust the transmitter into one of the money bags taken from the bank
vault, and the two slipped out the door, slamming it closed behind them.
"You some kind of a nut?" asked Freddy, in a terse whisper. "Now
nobody will ever find us."
"They might find the money, though. And the robbers too," Dinky
heard the car start again outside. It passed right behind the cabin, went a
short distance, and then the sound of the engine stopped.
"Maybe they're out of gas," said Freddy.
don't think so," said Dinky. "Listen a minute."
they heard the sound of branches breaking, followed by a tremendous crash, more
branches breaking, and the clanking and ringing sound of metal striking stone.
"Holy mackerel! They must have driven over a cliff!" cried Freddy.
"Shut up!" warned Dinky, digging him again in the ribs. "They'll
be back here again. All they did was shove the car down the side of the
"What for? Are they nuts, or somethin'?"
"Don't you ever watch TV?" sneered Dinky. "Robbers always get
rid of the getaway car. That's the one the police would be looking for."
"What are they gonna do? Walk?"
"No! They probably have another car stashed away in the woods
and Freddy waited breathlessly for further sounds from outside the cabin, but
the minutes ticked past and not a sound broke the stillness of the woods.
of the telltale transmitter could be heard clearly
by Henry and Jeff back in the Crockers' barn, as it swung to and fro in the
canvas bag carried by one of the bank robbers. It was moving so slowly now that
the directional finders could barely detect its progress. Henry showed the
sheriffs deputies at the barn the spot on the map where he thought the beeps
were coming from. They seemed to be moving toward the old abandoned zinc mine.
"Maybe they figure on hiding out in the mine until the heat's off,"
they do, they've got a surprise coming!" said one of the deputies, and he
went out to his car to get Chief Putney on the radio.
time, Dinky had managed to wriggle free from the ropes that bound him to the
bunk post. Very quietly, he started to untie Freddy.
"How'd you do it?" asked Freddy, in a whisper. "My wrists are so
stiff I can't move 'em."
"It's a cinch!" said Dinky. "When somebody ties you up, just
tense all your muscles and keep 'em as tight as you can. When you relax, the
ropes are loose and you can get out, if you're good."
"Where'd you learn that?"
read it in a book about Houdini!"
"About who did what?"
"About Houdini. That's a man's name."
"Oh! One o' them East Indians, huh?"
"No! He was just a plain old American and a real cool magician."
"OK! Whatta we do now?" asked Freddy.
"Well, we don't have any radio, and it's too far to walk back to town, so
we're gonna start a great big bonfire outside and let people know where we
"What about the robbers?" asked Freddy. "Won't they see the fire
and come back and clobber us?"
don't think so," said Dinky. "They gotta keep making tracks and clear
out of here. They don't have time to come back now."
"How we gonna start a fire? We don't have any matches."
"I've got a knife," said Dinky. "That's all we need."
"OK, Mac! Make with the knife!" said Freddy. "Is this some more
of your Houdini stuff?"
"No," Dinky said offhandedly. "This is a good old American
really is a whiz with a knife. In no time at all he had cut a good springy bow
from a small birch branch and stripped a long piece of bark from a root to make
a thong for it. Then he whittled a small hole in a flat piece of wood he found
in the cabin and carved out a blunt-ended drill about the size of a tent peg
from a piece of pine. He had Freddy strip some dry shreds of tinder from the
inside of the bark on an old log lying in back of the cabin, and he was ready
to start a fire.
"C'mon, magician, let's make with the heat!" said Freddy, jumping up
and down. "I'm cold." For all his blubber, Freddy gets cold quicker
than anybody else in our gang. And his teeth were chattering now, from sitting
on the cold cabin floor.
knelt on the ground with one foot on the flat board and twisted the thong of
the bow around the pine drill. Then he inserted the blunt end of the drill in
the little hole he'd made in the board and started to rotate it rapidly back
and forth, making long, sawing motions with the bow, like a bass fiddle player.
Freddy watched in amazement as the end of the drill got hot and began to smoke.
Pretty soon he could smell the odor of burning pine. Then, suddenly, Dinky
sprang to his feet and popped a hot spark from the board into a handful of the
dry tinder. He started dancing around in a circle with it, waving it in the
wind and blowing on it. The smoke from the tinder got thicker and thicker, and
then it suddenly burst into flame.
"Ouch!" Dinky yelped, as the flaming tinder burnt his hand.
dropped the burning mass into a pile of dry leaves, and he and Freddy sprinkled
wood shavings and twigs on it until they had a good blaze going. Then they
built a crib of larger logs around the fire and soon had a raging inferno that
threw a column of flame thirty feet into the air.
could see the light from the fire all the way back to Mammoth Falls. The
sheriff's deputy outside Jeff Crocker's barn saw it and called Chief Putney's
car on the radio.
"Looks like a big fire up in the hills right where you're heading. Can you
"Negative!" Chief Putney called back. "We're in the woods. Can't
"The kid inside says it might be one of those hunting lodges up there.
Better check it out. He says he's still getting radio signals pretty steady
from around the old zinc mine."
then the car I was riding in shot around a sharp bend in the road, and out of
the corner of my eye I caught a flash of light from among the trees over on the
next ridge of hills. I pounded the driver on the shoulder and shouted to him to
"We're on the wrong road," I told him. "I just saw a flash of
light through the trees, and it came from those hills on the other side of the
driver slammed on his brakes. "How do we get there?"
back to the wooden bridge," I told him. "There's an old logging road
that goes up to that ridge." The deputy called Chief Putney on the radio
while we backed around in a clearing. Soon we were climbing through the trees
up the slopes of the other ridge, with the chief's car following us. The
sheriff's deputy was really gunning it up the twisting, deeply rutted road, and
I was tossing around in the back seat like a sack of potatoes, trying to find
something to hold on to.
chief's voice came over the radio. "Don't run your siren! And dim your
lights when we get near the top," he said. "If the men we're looking
for are up there, we want to surprise them."