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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 15. A Night Alarm
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The Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 15. A Night Alarm Post by :Riverbraid Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :1629

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The Outdoor Girls At Ocean View, Or The Box That Was Found In The Sand - Chapter 15. A Night Alarm

CHAPTER XV. A NIGHT ALARM

The diamonds were wrapped again in their protective covering of tissue paper. The girls could hardly take their eyes off them as Mr. Nelson put them in his pocketbook.

"Oh, it doesn't seem--real," sighed Betty, with a long breath.

"No, it _is like some fairy story," agreed Mollie. "And to think the box has been in the house two or three days, and we never knew what a treasure it contained."

"Because of that secret compartment," suggested Amy. "Wasn't it just wonderful?"

That same false bottom of the tin box was interesting the boys more, just then, than were the diamonds themselves. Will, Allen, Roy and Henry gathered around the queer jewel casket.

"There, it's shut!" exclaimed Will, as a click proclaimed that he had pushed the two folding leaves of sheet iron back into place.

"You'd never know but that that was the real bottom," said Roy.

"Let's see if we can open it again," proposed Allen.

The boys tried, pushing here and there. But the bottom did not fly up as it had done for Betty.

"Say, what magical charm, or 'Open Sesame,' did you use on this?" asked Allen, after vainly trying. "We can't make it work, Bet."

"I don't know," she answered. "I just simply jabbed it with the ruler, that's all."

"Well, then, please 'jab' again," pleaded Will.

Obligingly Betty took the piece of wood, and began poking about in the bottom of the tin box. For some time she was as unsuccessful as the boys had been.

"I don't believe I can do it again," she said, puckering her forehead in an attempt to remember. "Let's see, I sat _this way, and I held it _that way."

"Did you have your fingers crossed?" asked Roy, laughing.

"What had that to do with it?" demanded Betty. But before Roy could answer she uttered a cry, for, as she was moving the ruler about on the bottom of the box, there was that sudden click and spring again, and the false bottom sprang out of the way, disclosing the place where the diamonds had been.

"How did you do it Betty?" asked Allen, and then it was seen that the ruler had pressed on a tiny plate in the corner of the box, a plate so well hidden that only the most careful scrutiny revealed it.

Once it was seen, however, the trick was easy to work. The cover was snapped into place again, and as soon as the ruler, or for that matter, the tip of one's finger, pressed on the little plate, the hiding place was disclosed.

The boys and girls "played" the trick over and over again, until it was an easy matter to do it.

"This is more fun than the cipher," said Allen, taking a copy of it from his pocket.

"Going to have another go at it?" asked Will.

"Yes. It might be a clue to the owner of the diamonds."

"That's so," agreed the other. "I would like to know to whom they belong."

"I suppose diamonds are smuggled once in a while; aren't they?" asked Allen.

"Indeed they are," Will answered. "That's what Uncle Sam has to guard against more than anything else. They are so easy to hide, and it doesn't take many of them to represent a whole lot of money. But then the government has the system down pretty fine, and it isn't often that anything gets away. You see as soon as any purchase of stones on the other side is made, word is sent to the officials here--that is, any purchase of any large amount, such as this."

"Then you don't think those diamonds were smuggled?" asked Allen.

"Not for a minute!" declared Will. "They're the proceeds of some robbery, all right. I'm sure of that. Smugglers don't work the game that way--bury the stuff in the sand. It's a robbery!"

"Well, perhaps you're right," assented Allen, as he bent over the cipher.

"I'll have another go at that with you," said Will, as he looked over his copy.

But the further efforts of the boys, and the girls, too, to decipher the code, were unavailing. The queer paper held fast to its mystery, if indeed mystery it concealed. It did not give it up as had the box with the secret bottom.

The day when the diamonds were discovered was an exciting one, and the excitement had not calmed down when evening came. Mr. Nelson had taken charge of the precious stones, and it had been decided not to say anything about them, even to the servants in the house.

"And I don't believe I'd take one to the village jeweler," was the opinion of Betty's father. "As a matter of fact, I don't believe he would be any better judge of the stones than I am, and he certainly would talk about them."

"That's right," Mollie agreed. "The folks here want to know what you had for breakfast and what you're going to eat for luncheon and dinner. I suppose they can't help it."

"No, the natives haven't much to do," affirmed Betty, "except to talk about the summer cottagers. But we'll keep quiet about the diamonds, at least down here."

"If the natives only knew what we know!" exclaimed Grace. "Think of having dug up buried treasure from the sand!"

"Poor Old Tin-Back would be heartbroken if he ever heard of it," said Amy, gently. "All his life he has dreamed of finding treasure, or ambergris or something, and here we come along and take it right from under his eyes."

"Poor old man," sighed Betty. "He is a dear, and so honest. He brought some crabs to-day, hard ones, for the shedders aren't around yet. And he was so careful to have every one alive. He held them up for me to see them wiggle."

"I can't bear them!" exclaimed Grace, making a wry face.

"You mean uncooked," observed Mollie. "I notice you take your share when the salad is passed."

"Oh, well, that's different," Grace returned.

"What are you going to do with the diamonds?" asked Betty of her father, when they were gathered around the sitting room table, after supper.

"I haven't fully decided," he said. "I want to make some inquiries in Boston, first, as to whether or not there has been a robbery."

"That's what I'll do, too," said Will.

"When are you going to Boston?" asked his sister. "First I heard about that."

"I'm going up in the morning," her brother answered. "I received word to report at the office. There's something that needs my attention. Ahem! Uncle Sam can't get along without me, it seems."

"Nothing like patting yourself on the back," Grace said.

"Just for that you sha'n't have any of--these!" and Will drew from his pocket a box that unmistakably held candy.

"Oh, Will. I didn't mean it!" Grace cried. "Of course you're of value to the government. What are they--those new bitter-sweets?"

"That's for you to ask, and Amy to know," said Will, as he passed Amy the confections.

"Oh, thank you!" she said, blushing furiously.

"Amy Blackford. What I know about you!" mocked Mollie.

"Oh, I'm going to share them, of course."

"Oh, of course!" chanted Grace. "How nice."

"Well, it will keep her still for a while, at least," sighed Will.

"Whom do you mean?" demanded Mollie, catching him by the ear.

"Ouch! Let go! I meant my sister--of course. A fellow wouldn't dare talk that way about anyone but his sister," confessed Will.

Merrily they discussed the finding of the diamonds, and what disposition might be made of them. The strange actions of the men in the boat, too, came in for a share of attention. The girls were quite sure the men had hidden the box in the sand, though whether or not they knew of the valuable contents was a question.

"Well, they'll look in vain for it now," declared Betty. "We have it," and she glanced at the now empty receptacle.

"Better put it away," suggested her father. "If the servants see it they may ask awkward questions."

"I'll keep it in my room," said Betty.

"And I'll have another go at this cipher to-morrow," Allen said. "I have a new idea for solving it."

"I thought you were going to take us girls out in the boat to-morrow," objected Mollie.

"So I am. But I can be working on this between times."

"Sorry I can't be with you," Will said.

"Then you are really going to run up to Boston?" asked Mr. Nelson.

"Yes, sir, I have to go, if I want to keep this new position."

"Well, I'd advise you to do so, then. Go up with me on the express in the morning."

"Thank you, I will."

"And if you hear anything about the diamonds, don't wait to come back and tell us, write--no, telegraph!" urged Betty.

"It wouldn't be wise to wire," her father objected. "There is no great rush. I will make some inquiries myself."

"And where will you leave the diamonds, meanwhile?"

"Down here, of course. I'm not going to carry them around with me--too valuable," and Mr. Nelson patted his pocket.

"I'll take the box to my room, and lock it in my trunk," Betty said.

The evening wore on. It was one of beautiful moonlight, and the party of young people went out on the beach to have a marshmallow roast over a drift-wood fire.

"The sea sparkles--just like diamonds," said Mollie, as they turned to go back to the cottage, when the little frolic had ended.

"Hush!" cautioned Betty. "Some one might hear you," and she looked out over the bay as though she might catch a glimpse of the rough men in the boat.

"You have diamonds on the brain," chided Grace.

The cottage became quiet. Only dim night lights burned. Betty had taken to her room the queer box, which had given up part of its secret. Her father had the diamonds with him.

It was Grace who gave the alarm. Awakening at she knew not what hour, and feeling the need of a drink of water, she donned a dressing gown and found her slippers. As she went through the hall to the bathroom, she saw a dark figure, unmistakably that of a man, gliding down the corridor. Under his arm was the black box, and in one hand was held a tissue paper packet.

"The diamonds!" screamed Grace, her voice shrilling out in the night. "Burglars are after the diamonds!"

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