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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesBoy Scouts In The Canal Zone - Chapter III. HOW THE TRICK WAS TURNED
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Boy Scouts In The Canal Zone - Chapter III. HOW THE TRICK WAS TURNED Post by :joespcservices Category :Long Stories Author :G. Harvey Ralphson Date :April 2012 Read :470

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Boy Scouts In The Canal Zone - Chapter III. HOW THE TRICK WAS TURNED

CHAPTER III. HOW THE TRICK WAS TURNED

Leaving the boys in the luxurious clubroom of the Black Bear Patrol, and promising to keep them posted as to the situation by 'phone, Lieutenant Gordon and Ned Nestor hastened in the direction of the Shaw residence, only three blocks away. A surprise awaited them at the Shaw door.

When they mounted the marble steps to the front portal they were astonished to see Jimmie McGraw standing in the shadow of a column, waiting for them with a grin on his face. He pushed the electric button for admittance as soon as they reached his side.

"What are you doing here?" demanded the lieutenant, trying hard to appear angry with the boy.

"Why, I just come over to tell Frank--"

"Never mind that now," said the lieutenant, interrupting. "If this is the way you obey orders you can't go to the Canal Zone with me."

"Well, you see," Jimmie began, in a contrite tone, "I thought of something, after you left, that I wanted to say to Frank, and I knew he'd have asked for me if he'd 'a' thought of it, so I just run over."

"What was it you wanted to say to Frank?" asked the lieutenant, with a smile in Ned's direction. The persistence of the boy pleased him, to say the least.

Just then the door was opened, saving Jimmie the exertion of manufacturing a smooth tale to tell the lieutenant, and the three entered the great hall of the fine residence, where they found Frank awaiting them.

"I was afraid you'd both left the clubroom and couldn't be found," he cried, as he took his friends by the hand. "Come right up to my room, and I'll show you just how the thieves got the emerald necklace."

"Perhaps we ought to see your father first," Lieutenant Gordon suggested, thinking of something much more important, to him at least, than the bauble.

"Father is with Doctor Benson just now," was the reply.

"Was he seriously injured?" asked Nestor, anxiously.

"Not a bit of it," was the reply. "They just sneaked up behind him and stuffed a big handkerchief soaked with chloroform into his face. The drug knocked him out for a short time, but he is all right now. He told me to show you my room as soon as you came, and then to take you to him."

"Who else is in the house?" asked Nestor.

"No one but Doctor Benson and the servants," was the reply.

"Then the police have not been called?"

"No, indeed. I asked father to wait until you two came. I don't take much stock in the cheap plain clothes men they send about on robbery cases. But come on up to my room, and I'll show you what a sucker I am."

"If I had said that," Jimmie put in, "you'd 'a' handed me one."

"So Jimmie is on the case too," laughed Frank. "Well, son, there's money in it for the man who restores my emerald necklace, which I'm sure to get back, in the end. Why, that necklace has been stolen about a thousand times, and has always been restored to the rightful owner. Once it was found in the heart of Africa, in the kinky hair of a native. There's blood on it, too, for men have been killed trying to steal it, and trying to prevent its being stolen. It's the most valuable necklace in the world."

The boy mounted the staircase as he spoke, leading the others to his room, which was at the front of the house on the second floor, directly over the apartment used by his father as a library, or study. The suite occupied by the boy was elegantly furnished, the only thing which marred the tasty arrangement of the place being a steel safe which stood between the two front windows of the sitting room.

"There," said Frank, closing the door of the room behind the little party, "they got the necklace out of that safe."

"How did they open it?" asked the lieutenant, and Jimmie laughed.

"Frank never closed a door in his life," the boy said.

"Was the safe open?" asked Lieutenant Gordon.

"Yes," was the reply, "it was open. I had just been there to get some money when I heard a scrap going on in the corridor and rushed out, leaving the door open, like a sucker. The necklace was taken while I was gone."

"Anything else taken?" asked Ned.

"Not a thing. Oh, I guess the thief got a couple of dollars there was in the cash drawer, but nothing else was disturbed."

"How long was he in the room?" asked the lieutenant.

"Oh, perhaps fifteen minutes. What I mean is that it must have been about that length of time before I came back here. You see, when I got out into the hall, Pedro, that's one of Dad's pet servants, was scrapping with two pirate-looking fellows at the head of the stairs. One of them had him by the throat when I came up."

"And they both got away?" asked the lieutenant.

"Yes, they both got away. They turned and ran down stairs when I came up and bolted out of the front door, just as if some one stood there holding it open for them."

"Was the night-lock on?"

"Certainly; it always is at night."

"Couldn't anybody open it from the inside, whether familiar with the house or not?" asked Ned.

"No; for the night-bolt is controlled by an electric button, which you have to push before it can be moved from the inside, so no one not familiar with the house could have opened it."

Nestor glanced at the lieutenant with a question in his eyes, and the officer nodded. There was little doubt in the mind of either that the crime had been planned by some one thoroughly conversant with the premises. It was at least certain that exit had been made easy for the thieves.

"You spent this fifteen minutes, after the flight of the thieves by way of the front door, in your father's room, I take it?" asked Ned.

"Yes; when the thieves ducked out of the front door I found a maid fainting in the corridor running along back of the parlor to Dad's room, the place where he does his work while in the house. She flopped over when I spoke to her and pointed to Dad's room. There I found him lying on the couch, drugged with chloroform."

"They placed him on the couch, did they?"

"Oh, no, sir, the thieves didn't take that trouble. Pedro was there before I entered the room, and it was he that did that. He had 'phoned for the doctor, too, before I got into the room."

"He was chasing the thieves?" asked Ned.

"Why, yes. He was just ahead of me at the front door."

"Then how did he get back and do so much before you reached the study?"

"I opened the front door and looked out for a couple of minutes," was the reply. "I was rattled, of course, and don't know how long I stood there, but I remember seeing two men running down the street. If I had known then that they had my emerald necklace, I'd have chased them and roared until the police came up and stopped them."

"Then you came right in?"

"Yes; right to the corridor where I found the maid lying on the floor."

"And you remained with your father until the doctor came, and then went back to your room? It was then that you discovered the loss of the emerald necklace?"

"Yes, I missed it when I came back."

"You saw only two intruders?" asked Ned.

"There were only two."

"And these two ran down the staircase just ahead of you?"

"Yes; they went down in about one leap."

"Now, was the necklace in the safe when you went to it?"

"I am certain that it was."

"You saw it there?"

"I saw the case in which it was enclosed."

"And the case was gone when you returned?"

"Yes; oh, the necklace was taken from the safe during my absence, all right."

"Yet the two men were ahead of you, and went out of the street door before you reached the lower landing?"

Frank's face showed that the idea presented by Nestor was new to him. He had never considered that feature of the case. In fact, he had been so excited that he had not thought logically of the circumstances surrounding the theft.

"Well," he said, "I reckon I need a hired man to do my thinking for me. Why didn't that idea get into my thick head before?"

"Are you still certain that the necklace was in the safe when you left the room?" asked Ned, with a smile.

"Yes; I am dead sure of that. Why," he added, "there must have been a man that I did not see. Wonder why he didn't give me a clip on the head."

"Someone will come here an' steal you, some day," grinned Jimmie.

"I don't doubt it," replied Frank. "Now, where do you think the other man was?" he asked, turning to Ned.

Ned arose and went into the sleeping room, from which opened a bathroom and a large closet. There was a door opening into the sleeping room from the corridor, the apartment being of the same length, east and west, as the sitting room. The closet opened from the sleeping room, and also from the bathroom.

"What do you find here?" asked Frank, following him into the closet and through into the bathroom.

"The third man might have been hiding in here," Ned replied. "When were you in this bathroom last?" he added, looking carefully about the place.

"Not since early in the afternoon."

"The suite was unoccupied all the afternoon?"

"Yes; I am rarely here in the afternoon."

"What time did you come up here after dinner?"

"It was probably eight o'clock, for Dad was telling a rather interesting story at table, and we sat a long time. Mother is away on a visit to the Pacific coast."

"And your father went to his room then?"

"Yes; he said he had some work to do."

"His room, also, was unoccupied all the afternoon?"

"Yes; it must have been."

"Who is usually about the lower part of the house during the afternoon?"

"No one when mother is away."

"Do you know whether anything was taken from your father's room?"

"Why, I haven't heard that feature of the case discussed. We can soon find out by asking him."

"Gee!" cried Jimmie. "What would they want to go an' dope him for if there wasn't something in his room they wanted?"

"That is a very pertinent question," Lieutenant Gordon remarked. "It certainly seems that the thieves came here for something besides the emerald necklace."

"Meaning the papers?" asked Ned, with a laugh.

"Meaning the papers, of course," was the reply. "I am still of the opinion that the theft of the necklace was only incidental."

"It begins to look that way to me," observed Frank. "As Jimmie says, what would they attack father for unless they wanted to search his room?"

"You know about the papers?" asked the lieutenant.

"Yes, indeed. They constituted the subject of the interesting story Dad was telling me at table to-night."

"Did he tell you what they contained?" asked Ned.

"He did not. He told me only what they dealt with."

"He believes there is a plot against the completion of the Panama canal?"

"Oh, yes; he is quite certain of it."

"Did he mention the parties he suspected?"

"He refused to do so. I can't understand why he should refuse. Can you?"

"I think I can appreciate his position," replied Ned.

"Great Scott!" cried Frank. "Do you think the agents of the men we are to grapple with in the Canal Zone have been in this house to-night? If so, it looks like they were looking us up, instead of our being after them."

"Where is this man Pedro?" asked Ned, not answering the question.

"He was in the study when I left, a few moments ago."

"Then we will go down there. I want to ask him a few questions."

At the foot of the staircase, they heard the telephone ringing, and Frank went into the closet. When he came out again he seemed excited and unnerved.

"I guess there's something more than the necklace at stake to-night," he said, "for Dad's rooms in the newspaper building have been ransacked. I guess we won't have to go down to Gatun to lock horns with the men who are in this plot against Uncle Sam. If the Gatun dam was in New York, they might have blown it up to-night, for all that has been done to thwart them."

"Well, we've just got to work on the case," grinned Jimmie.

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