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Title: Voice from the Cave
Author: Wirt, Mildred A. (Mildred Augustine), 1905-2002
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Voice from the Cave" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

                             from the Cave

                            MILDRED A. WIRT

                              _Author of_
                       TRAILER STORIES FOR GIRLS


                        CUPPLES AND LEON COMPANY
                                NEW YORK

                             _PENNY PARKER_
                            MYSTERY STORIES

              _Large 12 mo.       Cloth       Illustrated_

                         TALE OF THE WITCH DOLL
                        THE VANISHING HOUSEBOAT
                        DANGER AT THE DRAWBRIDGE
                         BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR
                       CLUE OF THE SILKEN LADDER
                            THE SECRET PACT
                       THE CLOCK STRIKES THIRTEEN
                            THE WISHING WELL
                         SABOTEURS ON THE RIVER
                         GHOST BEYOND THE GATE
                       HOOFBEATS ON THE TURNPIKE
                          VOICE FROM THE CAVE
                       GUILT OF THE BRASS THIEVES
                           SIGNAL IN THE DARK
                            WHISPERING WALLS
                              SWAMP ISLAND
                          THE CRY AT MIDNIGHT

                COPYRIGHT, 1944, BY CUPPLES AND LEON CO.

                          Voice from the Cave

                          PRINTED IN U. S. A.


  CHAPTER                                                            PAGE
  1 AN UNINVITED GUEST                                                _1_
  2 STORMY WEATHER                                                   _10_
  3 A JADE GREEN CHARM                                               _19_
  4 NO CAMPING ALLOWED                                               _27_
  5 OVER THE AIR                                                     _37_
  6 BREAKFAST BLUES                                                  _42_
  7 THE BEARDED STRANGER                                             _49_
  8 KEEPER OF THE LIGHT                                              _57_
  9 A SURPRISE FROM THE SKY                                          _66_
  10 HELP FROM MR. EMORY                                             _74_
  11 A MAN OF MYSTERY                                                _83_
  12 CAUGHT BY THE TIDE                                              _93_
  13 A HIDDEN PACKAGE                                                _98_
  14 VOICE FROM THE CAVE                                            _106_
  15 AFTERGLOW                                                      _114_
  16 SUSPICION                                                      _122_
  17 VISITORS NOT PERMITTED                                         _130_
  18 INSIDE THE LIGHTHOUSE                                          _139_
  19 A LOCKED DOOR                                                  _146_
  20 NYMPHS OF THE SEA                                              _154_
  21 THE CARDBOARD BOX                                              _161_
  22 UNFINISHED BUSINESS                                            _170_
  23 NIGHT ADVENTURE                                                _178_
  24 OUT OF THE SEA                                                 _187_
  25 A SCOOP FOR UNCLE SAM                                          _198_

                          _AN UNINVITED GUEST_

"Mrs. Weems, what can be delaying Dad? He promised faithfully to be home
by three o'clock and it's nearly five now. Unless we start soon we'll
never get to Sunset Beach tonight."

Penny Parker, in blue slacks and a slightly mussed polo shirt, gazed
disconsolately at the over-loaded automobile standing on the gravel
driveway of the Parker home. Aided by Mrs. Weems, the family housekeeper,
she had spent hours packing the sedan with luggage and camping equipment.
Though the task long had been finished, Mr. Parker failed to arrive.

"Your father is a very busy man," Mrs. Weems responded to the girl's
question. "No doubt he's been held up at the office."

"Then why doesn't he telephone? It's driving me crazy to wait and

Penny's freckled little face twisted into a grimace of worry. For weeks
she and her father, editor-owner of the _Riverview Star_, had planned a
vacation camping trip to the nearby seashore resort, Sunset Beach. Twice
the excursion had been postponed. Penny, who knew well her father's habit
of changing his mind, was fearful that even now something would cause
another vexing delay.

"I'm going to call the _Star_ office this minute!" she declared, starting
for the house.

Mrs. Weems busied herself gathering up loose odds and ends that had blown
about the yard. She was cramming waste paper into a box when Penny banged
out the door, her eyes tragic.

"I couldn't reach Dad!" she announced. "He left the office more than an
hour ago."

"Then he should have been home before this," Mrs. Weems agreed.

"Something's happened. Maybe he's been run down by a car--"

"Now Penny, stop such wild talk," the housekeeper interrupted sternly.
"You know better."

"But Dad was struck by an automobile last winter. What else could delay

"A dozen things," Mrs. Weems replied. "Probably a business engagement."

"In that case, wouldn't he have telephoned me?"

"Perhaps not. Now do stop fretting, Penny. Your father will be here
before long."

"He'd better be," Penny said darkly.

Sitting down on the stone step by the door, she scuffed the toe of her
tennis shoe back and forth in the gravel. Mrs. Weems who had cared for
the girl ever since the death of Mrs. Parker, gazed at her sternly.

"Now do stop grieving!" she chided. "That's no way to act just because
you're impatient and disappointed."

"But I've been disappointed three times now," Penny complained. "We
planned on starting early and having a picnic lunch on the road. Dad
promised faithfully--"

A car drove up to the curb at the front of the house. Penny sprang
hopefully to her feet. However, it was not her father who had arrived.
Instead, her chum, Louise Sidell, alighted and came running across the

"Oh, I'm glad I'm not too late to say goodbye to you, Penny!" she cried.
"How soon are you starting?"

"I'd like to know the answer to that one myself. Dad hasn't put in an
appearance. He was due here at three o'clock."

"Why, I saw him about twenty minutes ago," Louise replied, turning to
inspect the over-loaded sedan. "My, how did you accumulate so much

Penny ignored the question to ask one of her own. "Where did you see Dad,

"Why, riding in a car." Louise's dark eyes sparkled mischievously as she
added: "With a beautiful brunette too."

"You're joking."

"I am not. Your father was riding with Mrs. Deline. She's a widow, you
know, and has lived in Riverview less than a month."

Mrs. Weems, who had overheard the conversation, came over to the steps.

"Mrs. Deline, did you say?" she inquired, slightly disturbed. "I've heard
of her."

"And so have I!" declared Penny with biting emphasis. "Why, that woman
would make the Merry Widow look like a dead number! She'd better not try
to sink her hooks into Dad!"

"Penelope!" the housekeeper reproved sternly.

"Well, you know what everyone says--"

"Please don't repeat idle gossip," Mrs. Weems requested. "I'm sure Mrs.
Deline is a very fine woman."

"She's the slickest serpent that ever free-wheeled into Riverview!" Penny
said heatedly. "I saw her in action last week-end at the Country Club.
Why, she simply went out of her way to cultivate any man who had an
income of more than twenty-five thousand a year."

"Penny, your father is a sensible man," the housekeeper reproved.
"Unfortunately, it's a quality I'm afraid you didn't inherit."

Louise, unhappy to have stirred up such a hornet's nest, said hastily:
"Maybe it wasn't Mrs. Deline I saw. The car went by so fast."

"Oh, I'm not worried. Dad can handle a bigger package of dynamite than
Mrs. Deline. It just makes me irritated because he doesn't get here."

Tossing her head, Penny crossed to the loaded automobile where she
switched on the radio. She tuned it carelessly. After a moment a blurred
voice blared forth:

"Attention Comrades!"

Penny turned quickly to glance at the dial, for she realized that she did
not have the local station WZAM.

"Attention Comrades!" the announcer commanded again. "This is the Voice
from the Cave."

There followed a strange jibberish of words which were in no language
that Penny ever before had heard.

"Mrs. Weems! Louise!" she called excitedly. "I think I've tuned in an
outlaw short wave station! Just listen!"

Louise and the housekeeper hastened over to the car. Penny tried
desperately to tune the station in more clearly. Instead she lost it

"Did you hear what that announcer said?" she asked eagerly. "Most of it I
couldn't understand. I'm sure it was in code!"

"Code!" Mrs. Weems exclaimed in amazement.

"I'm sure I didn't have one of the regular stations! It must have been a
short wave broadcast beamed at a particular group of persons. The
announcer began: 'Attention Comrades!'"

"Can't you tune in again?" Louise demanded.

Penny twisted the dial without success. She was still trying when a taxi
cab drew up at the front door.

"There's your father now!" Louise declared.

"And see who's with him!" Penny added, craning her neck. "It _is_ Mrs.

Mrs. Weems, decidedly flustered, hurriedly removed her apron. In an
undertone she warned Penny to be polite to the unexpected visitor.

Mr. Parker, a tall, lean man with hair only touched by gray, stepped from
the taxi. The woman he assisted was attractively slender, and dressed in
an expensive tailored suit. Her face was cold and serene, but so striking
that it commanded instant interest. Penny's spirits sagged as she
observed that the widow came equipped with luggage.

"Now what?" she muttered.

Mr. Parker escorted Mrs. Deline across the yard, introducing her first to
Mrs. Weems and then to the girls.

"Mrs. Deline is riding with us to Sunset Beach," he explained to Penny.
"She intended to go by train but failed to get a reservation."

"Coaches are so unbearable," Mrs. Deline said in an affected drawl. "It
was so nice of Mr. Parker to invite me to share your car."

"I'm afraid it may not be so pleasant for you," Penny replied. She tried
to speak cordially but the words came in stiff little jerks. "There's not
much room."

"Nonsense!" said Mr. Parker. "Mrs. Deline will ride up front. Penny,
you'll have to battle it out with the luggage."

By the time Mrs. Deline's suitcase and hat boxes were stowed away, there
was indeed little room left in the rear seat for a passenger. Penny's
face was very long. For weeks she had planned on a vacation trip with her
father, and now all her plans had been shattered.

"Will you be staying long at Sunset Beach?" she asked the widow politely.

"Probably a week," Mrs. Deline replied. "I've engaged a suite at the
Crystal Inn. I'm sure I couldn't endure a camping trip. Mosquitoes--hard
beds--cooking over a camp fire--it all seems rather difficult to me."

"Oh, it will be fun to camp!"

"I'm not so certain of it myself." Mr. Parker assisted the widow into the
front seat. "Penny, why don't we ditch this camp stuff and try a hotel

"No!" answered Penny fiercely.

"It would be a far more sensible arrangement."

"But I don't want to be sensible," Penny argued. "We've planned on this
trip for weeks, Dad."

"Oh, all right, if that's the way you feel about it," he gave in
willingly enough. "Only I never did care much for the rough and tumble
life myself. Are we ready to start?"

"Just a minute," Penny requested. "I have to get my pocketbook from the

She went indoors, her face as dark as a summer rain cloud. Mrs. Weems and
Louise followed her in, corraling her in the kitchen.

"Now Penny, just a word of advice," the housekeeper cautioned. "Mrs.
Deline seems like a very nice woman. I trust that you'll be pleasant to

"I don't see why Dad had to invite her! It's ruined everything!"

"Aren't you being selfish?"

"Maybe I am," said Penny. "But why should I be crammed back with the pots
and pans and luggage while she sits up front with Dad?"

"Mrs. Deline is your guest."

"She's Dad's guest," Penny corrected. "Furthermore, I suspect she invited

"Whatever you think, I hope you'll keep your thoughts to yourself," Mrs.
Weems said severely. "I'm really ashamed of you."

The deep scowl disappeared from Penny's face and she laughed. Wrapping
her arms about the housekeeper's ample waist she squeezed until it hurt.

"I know I'm a spoiled brat," she admitted. "But don't worry. I'll pretend
to like Mrs. Deline if it kills me."

"That's much better, Penny. At any rate, you'll not be troubled with her
company long. You'll reach Sunset Beach by nightfall."

Penny made no reply. She turned to say goodbye to Louise.

"Wish you were going along," she said wistfully. "A vacation won't seem
fun without you."

A staccato toot of the auto horn reminded Penny that her father and Mrs.
Deline were waiting. Hurriedly she gathered up her purse.

"Have a nice time," Louise said, kissing her goodbye. "And don't let Mrs.
Deline get in your hair."

Penny turned to make certain that Mrs. Weems was beyond hearing.

"Don't worry about that, Lou," she whispered. "Mrs. Deline's already in
my hair. What I'm really worried about is keeping her from building a
nest in it!"

                            _STORMY WEATHER_

For an hour the Parker car had rolled smoothly along the paved road
enroute to Sunset Beach. In the back seat, firmly wedged between boxes
and suitcases, Penny squirmed and suffered.

"How much farther, Dad?" she inquired, interrupting an animated
conversation he was having with Mrs. Deline.

"Oh, about fifty miles," Mr. Parker tossed over his shoulder. "We can't
make much time at thirty-five an hour."

"How about lunch somewhere along the road?"

"Well, should we take the time?" the publisher asked. He turned toward
his companion. "What do you think, Mrs. Deline?"

"Picnics always seemed stupid to me," she replied in a bored manner.
"Perhaps we'll find a nice tea house along the way."

"But Mrs. Weems prepared such a good lunch," Penny argued. "I thought--"

"We can use the food after we make camp," Mr. Parker decided briskly. "A
warm meal will be much better."

Penny subsided into hurt silence. Since the party had left Riverview she
felt that she had been pushed far into the background. Mrs. Deline had
made no attempt to talk to her. On the other hand, the widow fairly
hypnotized Mr. Parker with her dazzling smile and conversation.

"Dad," Penny began, determined to get in a word, "just before you came
home this afternoon, something queer happened."

"That so?" he inquired carelessly.

"Yes, I turned on the radio, and a station I'd never heard before came
in. The announcer said: 'Attention Comrades, this is the Voice from the

"Sounds like a juvenile radio serial."

"Oh, but it wasn't, Dad! I'm sure it was an outlaw station. Then the
announcer spoke very rapidly in a language I'd never heard before. It
really sounded like code."

"Sure you didn't imagine it? You know you do get ideas, Penny. Especially
when you're on the prowl for a mystery to solve."

"Aren't children quaint?" Mrs. Deline laughed.

Penny's lips tightened, but by great effort of will she kept silent. A
child indeed! She knew now that Mrs. Deline disliked her and that they
had launched an undeclared war.

"I heard the broadcast all right," she said. "For that matter, so did
Mrs. Weems and Louise. But probably it's of no consequence."

The subject was dropped. It was stuffy in the closed car and Penny
presently rolled down a window. Immediately Mrs. Deline protested that
the wind was blowing her hair helter-skelter. At a stern glance from her
father, Penny closed the window again, leaving only a tiny crack for air.

"All the way, please," requested Mrs. Deline.

"Penny, you're being very, very difficult," Mr. Parker added.

Penny rolled the window shut, but her blue eyes cast off little sparks of
fire. As a rule, she was a very pleasant person, not in the least
spoiled. In Riverview where she had lived for fifteen happy, eventful
years, her friends were beyond count. Penny liked people and nearly
everyone liked her. But for some reason, she and Mrs. Deline had taken an
instant dislike to each other.

"Maybe I'm jealous," Penny thought ruefully. "I shouldn't be, but Dad's
all I have."

Between Mr. Parker and his daughter there existed a deep bond of
affection. Penny's mother was dead and the noted publisher had devoted
himself to filling the great void in the girl's life. He had given her
companionship and taught her to think straight. Knowing that she was
dependable, he allowed her more freedom than most girls her age were

Penny adored her father and seemingly had inherited his love of newspaper
work. Upon various occasions she had helped him at the _Riverview Star_,
writing and obtaining some of the paper's most spectacular front page
stories. Only the past winter, following her father's severe illness, she
had acted as editor of the _Star_, managing the paper entirely herself.

"And now Dad and Mrs. Deline treat me as if I were a child!" she
reflected resentfully.

Though very much upset, Penny kept her thoughts to herself. Curling up
with her head on a pile of blankets, she pretended to sleep.

The car went over a hard bump. Penny bounced and opened her eyes. She was
surprised to see that it had grown quite dark. The automobile was moving
in a wide curve between long rows of pine trees.

"What time is it?" she asked, pressing her face to the window.

"Not so late," replied her father. "We're running into a rain storm. Just
our luck."

Dark clouds had entirely blotted out the late afternoon sun. Even as Mr.
Parker spoke, several big raindrops splashed against the windshield.

Soon the rain came down in such a thick sheet that the road ahead was
obscured. Stopping suddenly for a crossroads traffic light, the car went
into a slight skid. Mrs. Deline screamed in terror, and clutched Mr.
Parker's arm.

"Oh, can't we stop somewhere?" she pleaded. "I'm so afraid we'll have an

"Yes, we'll stop," Mr. Parker agreed. "The storm is certainly getting

A short distance ahead the party glimpsed a group of buildings. One was a
filling station and beside it stood a small three-story hotel and tea

"Doesn't look too bad," Mr. Parker commented, pulling up close to the
door. "We'll have dinner and by that time the storm may be over."

While Penny and Mrs. Deline went into the tea room, the publisher took
the car next door to the filling station to have the tank refueled. He
rejoined them soon, shaking the raindrops from his coat.

"It's coming down harder than ever," he reported. "And we still have a
long drive ahead of us."

"Do you think we'll reach our camp site tonight, Dad?" Penny inquired

"We'll be lucky to get to Sunset Beach. As for making camp, that's out of
the question."

"Maybe it will stop raining soon," Penny ventured hopefully.

Mr. Parker ordered dinner for the party and an hour was consumed in
dining. The rain, however, showed no signs of slackening.

"We could go on--" Mr. Parker said thoughtfully. "Of course, the roads
are slippery."

"Oh, please let's not venture out in this," Mrs. Deline pleaded before
Penny could speak. "I know I am being silly, but I'm so afraid of an
accident. Once I was in a car that overturned and I've never forgotten

"There's no great hurry," Mr. Parker replied. "If we can't reach Sunset
Beach tonight, I suppose we could stay here."

Mrs. Deline did not comment upon the suggestion, but from the way she
smiled, Penny was sure that the idea appealed to her. Taking her father
aside, the girl urged him to try to drive on to Sunset Beach that night.

"Our vacation is so short, Dad. Even now we'll lose almost a day in
setting up camp."

"We'll certainly push on if we can," he promised. "This storm complicates

For two hours the rain fell steadily. With the prospects anything but
improved, Mr. Parker made inquiry as to lodging for the night. From the
hotel keeper he learned that rooms already were at a premium.

"We'll have to make up our minds soon," he reported to Penny and Mrs.
Deline. "If we wait much longer we'll probably find ourselves sleeping in
the lobby."

"Then let's stay," the widow urged. "Please engage a room and a bath for
me. Preferably one at the rear of the building away from the highway."

"I'm afraid you'll have no choice," Mr. Parker told her regretfully.
"We'll have to take what we can get."

The publisher consulted with the hotel clerk, and returned to report that
only two rooms remained available.

"You and Penny will have to share one together," he explained. "I hope
you won't mind."

It was evident by the expression of Mrs. Deline's face that she minded a
great deal. However, she consented to the arrangement and the luggage was
taken upstairs. The door closed behind the bellboy. For the first time
Penny and Mrs. Deline were left alone.

"Such a cheap, dirty hotel!" the widow exclaimed petulantly. "And I do
hate to share a room with anyone."

Penny busied herself unpacking her over-night bag. Crossing to the
window, she raised it half way.

"Do put that down!" Mrs. Deline ordered. "I detest air blowing directly
on me."

Penny lowered the window.

Mrs. Deline smoked a cigarette, carelessly allowing the ashes to fall on
the bed. Getting up, she moved nervously about the room.

"This place is so small it seems like a prison," she complained. "Why do
you sit there and stare at me?"

"I didn't realize I was staring," Penny apologized. "If you'll excuse me,
I'll go to bed."

Undressing quickly, she crawled beneath the covers. Mrs. Deline smoked
still another cigarette and then began to prepare for bed. As she removed
the jacket of her suit, Penny noticed that the woman wore a beautiful
jade elephant pin.

"Why, what an attractive ornament!" she exclaimed. "Is it a locket or
just a pin?"

"I bought it in China," the widow answered without replying to the

"In China! Have you been there?"

"Of course!" Mrs. Deline gave Penny an amused glance. Without removing
the pin or offering to show it to the girl, she completed her
preparations for bed.

Just at that moment there came a light tap on the door.

"Oh, Penny!" Mr. Parker called.

"Yes, Dad, what is it?" Penny leaped out of bed.

"I'm worried about the car keys," he called through the transom. "You
didn't by chance see them after we left the dining room?"

"Why, yes," Penny reassured him. "You left them lying on the table. I
picked them up and forgot to tell you. They're here on the dresser. I'll
hand them out."

"No, never mind. Keep them. I was just afraid they were lost. Goodnight."

Mrs. Deline glanced curiously at the key ring on the dresser. She
remarked that she had not seen Penny pick it up.

"You were talking to Dad at the time," the girl replied.

Leaving the keys on the dresser, she leaped into bed again and settled
herself for a comfortable sleep. Mrs. Deline presently turned out the
light and took the other bed. For a time Penny was annoyed by voices from
the hallway, then all became quiet. She slept.

Much later Penny awoke. She stirred and rolled over. The rain had ceased
and moonlight was flooding into the room. A beam fell directly across
Mrs. Deline's bed, revealing a mass of crumpled sheets and covers.

Penny stared, scarcely believing her eyes. The bed was empty.

                          _A JADE GREEN CHARM_

Sitting up in bed, Penny gazed about the room. Mrs. Deline was not there
and her clothes were gone from the chair where they had been placed
earlier that night.

"Queer," mused the girl.

Jumping out of bed, she darted to the door. Though it had been carefully
locked a few hours before, the latch now was off.

Thoroughly puzzled, Penny switched on a light and glanced carefully
about. Mrs. Deline's suitcase remained in the closet, but coat and hat
were missing. And then Penny made an even more disturbing discovery. The
car keys were gone from the dresser!

"Why, I know I put those keys on the bureau just before I went to bed!"
she told herself in dismay. "Now I wonder if that woman--" Ashamed of her
thoughts, she muttered: "Guess I _am_ a suspicious brat!"

Deeply mystified, she moved quickly to the window overlooking the parking
lot and filling station. It was reassuring to see the Parker automobile
standing where her father had left it earlier that night. But as she
stood staring down into the dark, deserted yard, she was startled to
observe a shadowy figure rounding a corner of the hotel.

"Mrs. Deline!" she recognized the woman.

Penny waited only long enough to see that the widow was walking straight
toward the Parker sedan.

"She intends to steal it!" thought the girl. "Why else would she take the

Snatching dress and coat from a chair, Penny scrambled into them without
taking time to remove her pajamas. She tucked up the unsightly legs of
the garment and put on her shoes. Thus clad she ran downstairs through
the semi-dark lobby to the side exit of the hotel.

As she reached the outside door, she heard the blast of an automobile

"That's our car!" Penny thought, recognizing the sound of the running
motor. "She'll get away before I can stop her!"

The engine, evidently cold, sputtered a moment, then died.

Hopeful that she might still get there in time, Penny raced across the
parking lot. Reaching the car just as it started to move backwards, she
jerked open the door.

"Mrs. Deline!" she cried.

Startled, the woman released the clutch so suddenly that the motor died

"Where are you taking our car?" Penny demanded, sliding into the seat
beside the widow.

The girl's unexpected arrival seemed to completely unnerve Mrs. Deline.
She lost composure, but only for an instant. Lighting a cigarette, she
gazed at Penny with cold disdain.

"I had intended to go for a little ride," she replied. "Any objections?"

The question placed Penny on the defensive. "You shouldn't have taken the
car without asking Dad," she said stiffly. "We barely have enough
gasoline to reach Sunset Beach."

"Oh, I had no thought of going far. I'll just drive a few miles and come

"At this time of night? It must be nearly two o'clock."

"I always enjoy night driving. Particularly if I am nervous and unable to
sleep. Now run back to bed like a good child."

Penny did not like the widow's tone of voice. She liked it less that Mrs.
Deline ignored her hint that the car was not to be used. More than ever
she was convinced that the woman had intended to steal the automobile.

"I'm sorry," she said firmly. "I must ask you not to take the car without
Dad's permission."

"Well!" Mrs. Deline exclaimed indignantly. "You expect me to rap on your
father's door at this time of night to ask if I may use the car!"

"I don't see why you need to use the car at all."

"Oh, you don't?" Mrs. Deline's tone was scornful. "Well, let me tell you
this! I've already given you as much of an explanation as I intend to! I
need the car."

"I thought you said you only intended to go for a little drive--to quiet
your nerves," Penny reminded her.

"That's what I meant." Mrs. Deline tossed her cigarette through the open
window and stepped on the car starter. "I intend to go too."

Penny, equally determined, switched off the ignition.

"Why, how dare you!" Mrs. Deline turned furiously upon the girl. "In all
my life I never met such a spoiled child."

"I don't mean to be rude, but I can't allow you to take the car."

Mrs. Deline swung open the door on Penny's side of the seat. She reached
as if to push the girl out of the car.

Just then a man stepped from one of the hotel garages. Obviously he had
been listening to the conversation, for he deliberately approached the

"Anything wrong here?" he inquired.

Penny recognized one of the night hotel clerks. She began to tell him of
the disagreement between herself and Mrs. Deline.

"This child doesn't know what she's talking about!" the widow declared
irritably. "Mr. Parker doesn't mind if I use the car."

"Then please ask him!" Penny challenged.

"Why not allow me to do it for you," the hotel clerk offered. "Wait here
and I'll call Mr. Parker. He can settle the entire matter."

"No, don't bother him," Mrs. Deline decided suddenly. "I've changed my
mind anyhow. After such a commotion I wouldn't enjoy a ride."

"In any case, I'd prefer to call Mr. Parker," said the hotel man.

"Do," urged Penny in deep satisfaction. "We'll wait here."

"I'm going back to bed," Mrs. Deline announced, getting out of the car.

She followed the hotel clerk into the building. Left in possession of the
car, Penny reparked it and locked the doors. Then, feeling a trifle
uneasy, she sauntered into the hotel.

The lobby was deserted. Penny climbed the stairs, and in the hallway
leading to her room, met her father and the hotel clerk. Summoned from
bed, Mr. Parker garbed in dressing gown and slippers, looked more annoyed
than alarmed.

"Penny, what is this I hear?" he inquired. "I can't get the straight of
the story."

Penny drew a deep breath. "Well, it was this way, Dad. I awakened and
discovered that Mrs. Deline had disappeared with the car keys."

"Mrs. Deline!"

"Yes, I think she meant to steal the car. But she explained that she only
intended to borrow it for a night ride."

"Anything wrong about that?"

Penny regarded her father in blank amazement.

"Why, Dad, would you borrow another person's car without asking?"

"No, but Mrs. Deline probably didn't stop to consider the matter. No
doubt she was too thoughtful to awaken you."

"Thoughtful, my left eye! Dad, I'm sure Mrs. Deline meant to steal the
car. Either that or she had a very important appointment--a meeting with
someone she wasn't willing to tell us about."

"Nonsense!" Mr. Parker exclaimed impatiently. "Penny, you made a serious
mistake in refusing to allow Mrs. Deline to use the car. She is our guest
and I'm afraid you were rude."

"But Dad--"

"You must apologize to her at once."

Penny did not answer for a moment. She bent to tie her flapping shoe
strings and took her time at the task. When she straightened, she said

"All right, Dad. If you say so, I'll apologize. But I don't think I was

"We'll not discuss it now, Penny. Suppose you turn the car keys over to
me and go to your room."

Penny gave up the keys and without another word went down the hall. Tears
stung her eyes, but she brushed them away. She knew she had been
unpleasant to Mrs. Deline. Nevertheless, she felt that her father had not
been entirely just in his attitude.

Entering the bedroom, she hesitated before turning on the light. Mrs.
Deline had undressed and was in bed. She ignored the girl.

"I--I guess I made a bad mistake," Penny began awkwardly. "I shouldn't
have been so rude."

Mrs. Deline rolled over in bed. Her dark eyes flashed and she made no
effort to hide her dislike.

"So you admit it?" she asked. "Well, we will forget the matter. Do not
speak of it to me again."

In silence Penny undressed and hung up her coat and dress. As she
prepared to snap out the light, she noticed that Mrs. Deline still wore
the jade elephant charm about her neck.

"Aren't you afraid you'll break the chain?" she asked before she thought.
"You forgot to take it off."

Mrs. Deline raised herself on an elbow, fairly glaring at Penny.

"Will you kindly worry about your own affairs?" she asked insolently.
"I've had about all I can take from you in one night."

"But I didn't mean anything personal."

"Good night!" said Mrs. Deline with emphasis.

Penny turned out the light and crept into her own bed. She felt beaten
and hurt. It was easy to understand why Mrs. Deline disliked her, but her
own attitude was bewildering.

"I distrusted the woman the instant I met her," she reflected. "Perhaps I
had no reason for it at first. Now I'm not so sure."

Penny rolled over to face the window. Moonlight was flooding into the
room. In the diffused light the girl could see Mrs. Deline plainly. The
woman had propped herself up in bed and was fingering the jade green
elephant charm which hung on its slender chain. Though Penny could not be
certain, she thought the lid of the figure lay open and that Mrs. Deline
quickly snapped it shut.

"Good night, Mrs. Deline," she ventured, still trying to make amends.

The widow did not answer. Instead she turned her back and pretended to

                          _NO CAMPING ALLOWED_

Breakfast the next morning was a trying ordeal for Penny. Over the coffee
cups Mr. Parker apologized to Mrs. Deline for what he termed his
daughter's "inexcusable behavior."

The widow responded graciously, quite in contrast to her attitude of the
previous night. Without saying much, she conveyed the impression that
Penny had been completely in the wrong, and was in fact, a spoiled child
who must be humored.

The journey on to Sunset Beach was equally unpleasant. Mr. Parker and
Mrs. Deline seemed so absorbed in animated conversation, that they
scarcely spoke or noticed Penny. Wedged between the luggage and the
camping equipment, she indulged in self pity.

"At least we'll get rid of Mrs. Deline when we reach Sunset Beach," she
cheered herself.

Presently the car rounded a wide curve in the road, and Penny caught her
first glimpse of the seashore. Big waves were rolling in, washing an
endless stretch of white sand.

"Oh, isn't it beautiful!" she exclaimed, brightening. "I wish we were
camping right on the beach instead of in the State Forest."

"I fear the authorities wouldn't permit that," Mr. Parker laughed. "By
the way, Penny, is your heart really set on this camping trip?"

Penny gave him a quick look. "Yes, it is, Dad," she said briefly. "Why do
you ask?"

"Well, I was thinking that we'd be a lot more comfortable at one of the
big hotels. We'd be right on the beach and--"

"Oh, I was just talking when I said I'd like to camp on the beach," Penny
cut in. "I'd like the State Forest much better."

"Then we'll go there just as we planned," Mr. Parker said, sighing. "But
you know I never was cut out for a rough and tumble life, Penny. I'm far
from sure I'll make a good camper."

The car rolled on along the ocean road, presently entering the little
village of Sunset Beach. Normally a tourist center, the town now was
practically deserted, and the Parkers had chosen it because it was within
easy driving distance of Riverview. Nearly all of the fine hotels along
the water front were closed. However, the Crystal Inn remained in
operation, and it was there that Mrs. Deline had engaged a suite.

The car swung into the driveway and halted in front of the hotel. An
attendant did not come immediately so Mr. Parker himself unloaded the
widow's luggage. Mrs. Deline gave him a dazzling smile as she bade him

"Oh, we'll not say goodbye just yet," Mr. Parker corrected. "Penny and I
will camp only a short distance away. We'll run down to the beach often."

"Do," urged Mrs. Deline. "I have no friends here and I'll be happy to see

Mr. Parker carried the widow's luggage into the hotel. While he was
absent, Penny moved up to the front seat. She tuned in a radio program,
listening to it with growing impatience. Finally her father sauntered out
of the hotel.

"I nearly gave you up," Penny remarked pointedly.

Mr. Parker slid behind the steering wheel and started the car. When they
were driving along the ocean front road he said quietly:

"Penny, I can't imagine what has come over you lately. You're not in the
least like the little girl who was my pal and companion. Why have you
been so unkind to Mrs. Deline?"

"I just don't like her," Penny said flatly. "Furthermore, I distrust

"You've acted very stupid and silly."

"I'm sorry if you're ashamed of me," Penny replied glaring at her own
reflection in the car mirror. "At any rate, I saved the car for you."

"That accusation was ridiculous, Penny. Mrs. Deline is a wealthy woman
who could buy herself a dozen cars in ordinary times. She merely gave in
to a sudden whim."

"Just what do you know about Mrs. Deline, Dad?"

"Not a great deal," Mr. Parker admitted. "I met her at the club. She
served as a special War correspondent in China, I believe. She has
traveled all over the world and speaks a half dozen languages."

"I never heard of her until she came to Riverview," Penny said with a
sniff. "Nor did I ever see any of her writing in print. If you ask me,
she's a phony."

"Let's not discuss the subject further," Mr. Parker replied, losing
patience. "When you're older, I hope you'll learn to be more gracious and

Penny subsided into hurt silence. In all her life she could recall only a
few occasions when her father had spoken so sternly to her. Close to
tears, she studied the tumbling surface of the ocean with concentrated

In silence the Parkers drove through the village, stopping at a filling
station to inquire the way to Rhett State Forest. Supplies were purchased
at one of the stores, and by that time it was noon. At Mr. Parker's
suggestion they stopped at a roadside inn for lunch. After that they
drove on a half mile beyond the outskirts of Sunset Beach, past a tall
lighthouse to the end of the pavement.

"We follow a dirt road for a quarter of a mile to Bradley Knoll," Mr.
Parker said, consulting directions he had jotted down on an envelope.

"A mud road, you mean," Penny corrected, peering ahead at the narrow,
twisting highway. "It really rained here last night."

The car had no chains. Not without misgiving, Mr. Parker drove off the
pavement onto the slippery road. The car wallowed about and at times
skidded dangerously.

"Once we reach the State park we'll have gravel roads," Penny said,
studying a map.

"_If_ we get there," Mr. Parker corrected.

Barely had he spoken than the car went out of control. It took a long
skid, turned crosswise in the road, and then the rear wheels slipped into
a deep ditch. Opening the car door, Penny saw that the car was bogged
down to the hub caps.

Mr. Parker tried without success to pull out of the ditch. Alighting, he
inspected the rear wheels which had spun deeper and deeper into the mud.

"Not a chance to get out of here without help," he said crossly. "I'll
have to find someone to give us a hand."

Farther down the road stood a weatherbeaten farmhouse. Penny offered to
go there to summon help, but her father insisted upon doing it himself.
He presently returned with a farmer and a small tractor. After
considerable difficulty the car was pulled out of the ditch.

"How much do I owe you?" Mr. Parker asked the man.

"Ten dollars."

The amount seemed far too high for the service rendered, but Mr. Parker
paid it without comment. His shoes were caked with mud, and so were the
trouser legs of his suit. Only by an effort of will did he keep his
temper under control.

"Figurin' on camping in the Rhett Forest?" the farmer asked Mr. Parker.

"That's right. Is it much farther?"

"Only a little piece down the road. You'll strike gravel at the next
corner. You can make it if you're careful. I don't calculate you'll have
much fun camping in the Park though."

"Why not?" asked Penny.

"We've had a lot o' rain lately. The mosquitoes are bitin' something
fierce. And the ground's mighty damp."

"We have a floor to our tent," Penny said optimistically. "I think
camping will be fun. I've always wanted to try it."

The farmer started the tractor. "Then don't let me discourage you," he
shrugged. "So long."

Mr. Parker rejoined Penny in the car. "Why not call this whole thing
off?" he suggested. "We could go to the hotel and--"

"No, Dad! You promised me!"

"All right, Penny, if that's the way you feel, but I know we're asking
for punishment."

By careful driving the Parkers reached the gravel road without mishap. At
the entrance to the Rhett Park area they were stopped by a pleasant,
middle-aged forest ranger who took down the license number of the car.

"Be careful about your camp fire," he instructed. "Only last week several
acres of timber were destroyed at Alton. We're not certain whether it was
started by a camper or was a case of sabotage. In any case, one can't be
too careful."

"We will be," promised Mr. Parker.

"Camp only in the designated sites," the ranger added. "I'll be around
later on to see how you're getting along."

Once beyond the gateway arch, Penny's sagging spirits began to revive.
The road curled lazily between dense masses of timber fringed by artistic
old-fashioned rail fences. Numerous signs pointed to trails that invited

"Oh, Dad, it's really nice here!" she cried. "We'll have a wonderful

Presently the car came to an open space with picnic tables. There was a
picturesque spot beside a rocky brook which looked just right for a camp

"Let's pitch our tent here!" pleaded Penny. "You set it up while I cook

Mr. Parker unloaded the car and went to work with a will hammering the
metal stakes of the umbrella tent. Penny busied herself sorting pots and
pans and trying to get the gasoline stove started. Despite her best
efforts she could not induce it to burn.

In the meantime, Mr. Parker was having his own set of troubles. Three of
the tent stakes were missing. Twice he put up the umbrella framework,
only to have the entire structure collapse upon his head.

"Penny, come here and help me!" he called. "I've had about enough of

Penny ran to her father's rescue, pulling the canvas from his head and
shoulders. By working together they finally got the tent set up. Another
half hour was required to put up the cots and make them.

"Well, that job is done," Mr. Parker sighed, collapsing on one of the
beds. "Such a life!"

"Dad, I hate to bother you," Penny apologized, "but I can't start the
stove. Do you mind looking at it?"

Grumbling a bit, Mr. Parker went to tinker with the stove. Three-quarters
of an hour slipped away before he succeeded in coaxing a bright flame.

"All this work has given me a big appetite for supper," he announced.
"What are we having, Penny?"


"Sounds fine."

"I forgot the salt though," Penny confessed, slapping the meat into a
frying pan.

The burner was too hot. While Penny had her back turned and was opening a
can of beans, the steaks began to scorch. Mr. Parker tried to rescue
them. In his haste he seized the hot skillet handle and burned his hands.

"Oh, Dad, I'm so sorry!" Penny sympathized. "I guess the steaks are
practically ruined too."

"Anything else to eat?" the publisher asked, nursing his blistered hand.


"Beans!" Mr. Parker repeated with bitter emphasis. "Oh, well--dish them

Penny was serving the food on tin plates when a car drove up and stopped.
A ranger climbed out and walked over to the tent.

"What's the idea, camping here?" he demanded. "Can't you read signs?"

"We didn't see any sign," said Penny.

The ranger pointed to one in plain sight tacked on the trunk of a tree.
It read:

"Restricted Area. No Camping Permitted."

"You can't stay here," the ranger added. "You'll have to move on."

Penny and her father gazed at each other in despair. After all the work
they had done, it didn't seem as though they could break camp.

"Any objections if we stay here until morning?" Mr. Parker requested.
"We've had a pretty hard time of it getting established."

The ranger looked sympathetic but unmoved.

"Sorry," he said curtly. "Regulations are regulations. You may finish
your supper if you like, then you must move on. The regular camp site is
a quarter of a mile farther up the road."

                             _OVER THE AIR_

The ranger's order so discouraged Penny and her father that they lost all
zest for supper. Too weary for conversation, they tore up the beds,
repacked the dishes, and pulled the tent stakes.

"I've not worked so hard in years," Mr. Parker sighed. "What a mistake to
call this a vacation!"

"Perhaps it won't be so hard once we get settled," Penny said hopefully.
"After all, we've had more than our share of bad luck."

Bad luck, however, continued to follow the campers. In the gathering
darkness, Penny and her father had trouble finding the specified camp
ground. It was impossible to drive a car into the cleared space, so they
were forced to carry all of the heavy luggage and equipment from the
automobile to the camp site.

By that time it was quite dark. Mr. Parker misplaced one of the tent
stakes and could not find it without a lengthy search. As he finally
drove it in, he hammered his thumb instead of the metal pin.

"Drat it all! I've had enough of this!" he muttered irritably. "Penny,
why not give it up--"

"Oh, no, Dad!" Penny cut in quickly. "Once we get the tent up again,
we'll be all right. Here, I'll hold the flashlight so you can see

Finally the tent was successfully staked down, though Mr. Parker
temporarily abandoned the idea of putting up the front porch. Penny set
up the cots again and made the beds.

"Hope you packed plenty of woolen blankets," Mr. Parker commented,
shivering. "It will be cold tonight."

Penny admitted that she had brought only two thin ones for each bed. "I
didn't suppose it could get so cold on a summer night," she confessed

Worn by his strenuous labors, Mr. Parker climbed into the closed car to
smoke a cigar. Penny, finding the dark tent lonesome, soon joined him
there. She switched on the car radio, tuning in an orchestra. Presently
it went off the air so she dialed another station. A strange jargon of
words which could not be understood, accosted her ears.

"Hold that, Penny!" exclaimed Mr. Parker.

"What station can it be?" Penny speculated, peering at the luminous dial.
"It sounds like a short wave broadcast. Must be a station off its wave

She and her father listened intently to the speaker who had a resonant,
baritone voice. Not a word of the broadcast could they understand.
Obviously a message was being sent in code.

"Dad, that sounds like the same station I heard yesterday!" Penny broke
in. "Where can it be located?"

"I'd like to know myself."

Penny glanced quickly at her father. His remark, she thought, had
definite significance. Before she could question him, the strange jargon
ceased. The deep baritone voice concluded in plain, slightly accented
English: "This is the Voice from the Cave, signing off until tomorrow
night. Stand by, Comrades!"

"That was no regular station," Penny declared, puzzled. "But what was

Mr. Parker reached over to turn off the panel switch. "It was an outlaw
station," he said quietly. "The authorities have been after it for

"How did you learn about it?"

"Through various channels. Most outlaw radio stations can be traced quite
easily by the use of modern radio-detecting devices. The enemy agent who
operates this station is a particularly elusive fellow. Just when the
police are sure they have him, he moves to another locality."

Penny was silent a moment and then she said:

"You seem to know quite a bit about this mysterious Voice, Dad."

"Naturally I've been interested in the case. If the police catch the
fellow it will make a good story for the _Star_."

"Where is the station thought to be located, Dad?"

"Oh, it moves nightly. The fellow obviously has a portable broadcasting

"But isn't the general locality known?"

Mr. Parker smiled as he knocked ashes from his cigar.

"Authorities seem to think that it may be somewhere near here. Sunset
Beach has countless caves, you know."

"Really?" The information excited Penny. "You never told me that before,
Dad. And I suspect that you're keeping a lot of other secrets from me

"Sunset Beach's caves are no secret. They're part of the tourist

"All the same you never mentioned them, Dad. I thought it was odd that
you chose this place for a vacation. Now I'm beginning to catch on."

Mr. Parker pretended not to understand.

"Isn't it true that you came here to do a bit of investigation work?"
Penny pursued the subject relentlessly.

"Now don't try to pin me down," Mr. Parker laughed. "Suppose we just say
we came here for a vacation."

Penny eyed her father quizzically. From the way he sidestepped her
questions she was certain that he had more than a casual interest in the
outlaw radio station.

"Dad, will you let me help you?" she pleaded eagerly.

"Help me?" Mr. Parker joked. "Why, you seem to think that I'm a
Government investigator in disguise!"

"You don't deny that you came here largely because of your interest in
that station?"

"Well, I may be a tiny bit interested. But don't jump to conclusions,
young lady! It doesn't necessarily follow that I have set out to track
down any enemy agent single handed." Mr. Parker brought the discussion to
an end by opening the car door. "I'm dead tired, Penny. If you'll excuse
me, I'll turn in."

After her father had gone to the tent, Penny remained for a while in the
car. Soberly she stared at the stars and thought over what she had

"I don't care what Dad says," she reflected, "he came here to find that
radio station! But maybe, just maybe, I'll beat him to it!"

                           _BREAKFAST BLUES_

Penny awoke next morning to find the tent cold and damp. She rolled over
on the hard cot and moaned with pain. Every muscle in her battered body
felt as if it had been twisted into a knot.

Swinging her feet to the canvas floor, she pulled away the curtain to
peer at her father's cot. It was empty.

"Guess I've overslept," she thought. "Hope Dad's started breakfast."

Penny dressed quickly, cringing as she pulled on damp shirt and shorts.
Dew lay heavy upon the tent and the grass outside was saturated. She
walked gingerly as she picked her way toward the parked car.

Mr. Parker had set up a portable table nearby and was tinkering with the
gasoline stove. He was unshaven and looked very much out of sorts.

"Hi, Dad!" Penny greeted him with as much cheer as she could muster.
"What are we having for breakfast?"

"Nothing, so far as I can see! This stove is on strike again. I've tried
for half an hour to get it started."

Penny climbed into the car to use the mirror. The sight of her face
horrified her. One cheek was blotched with ugly red mosquito bites, there
were dark circles under her eyes, and her hair hung in strings.

"If anyone ever gets me on another camping trip I'll be surprised!" Mr.
Parker exclaimed. He slammed the stove down on the table. "I'm through
monkeying with this contrary beast!"

"Oh, Dad, such a temper," Penny chided, giggling despite her own

"Suppose you suggest how we're to eat."

"Well, there's cold breakfast food with canned milk." Penny burrowed deep
in a box of supplies stored in the car. "Two soft bananas. No coffee, I'm

"Wonderful!" Mr. Parker said grimly. "Well, bring on the bird food."

Penny set the table and dished up the dry breakfast cereal.

"At least we have beautiful scenery," she remarked as she sat down to the
dismal repast with her father. "Just look at those grand old trees."

"The place is all right. It's camping that has me tied in a knot. Now at
the Crystal Inn we could be comfortable--right on the beach too."

"No," Penny said, though not very firmly. "We'll like it here after we
get adjusted."

"Need any supplies today?" Mr. Parker asked abruptly.

"Yes, we'll have to have fresh meat and milk. I forgot salt too and

"I'll drive down to Sunset Beach and get the things. May as well take the
stove along too and try to have it repaired."

"That might be a good idea," Penny admitted, though with reluctance.
"Don't be gone long, will you? I thought we might explore some of the

"Oh, there's plenty of time for that."

Mr. Parker was noticeably cheerful as he stowed the portable stove in the
car and drove away. Not without misgiving Penny watched him go. She
remained somewhat troubled as she washed the breakfast dishes at the
brook and struggled with the beds. The camping trip hadn't worked out as
she had hoped and expected. So far it had been all work and no fun.

"Dad was up to something when he skipped out of here so fast," she mused.
"Wonder why he doesn't come back?"

The sun rose high above the trees, drying the grass and tent. Penny went
for a short hike in the woods. She returned to find that her father still
had not returned.

Just then a car rattled up the twisting road. Recognizing the same ranger
who had caused so much trouble the previous night, Penny prepared herself
for further blows. However, the government man was all smiles as he
pulled up not far from the umbrella tent.

"Just dropped by to see if you're getting along all right," he greeted
her in a friendly way. "Everything Okay?"

"I wouldn't venture such a rash statement as that," Penny answered, her
face downcast.

Because the ranger, whose name was Bill Atkins, seemed to have a genuine
interest, she found herself telling him all about her troubles.

"Why, you've not had a decent meal since you came here!" he exclaimed,
climbing out of the car. "Maybe I can help you."

"Can you wave a magic wand and produce hot food?"

"We'll see," laughed the ranger. "Gasoline stoves are more bother than
they're worth in my opinion."

As Penny watched in amazed admiration he built a good fire which soon
made a bed of glowing cherry red coals.

"How about a nice pan of fish fried to a crisp brown?" the ranger tempted
her. "I caught a string of them this morning. Beauties!"

From the car he brought a basket of fat trout, already dressed and ready
for cooking. Without asking Penny for anything, he wrapped them in corn
meal, salted each fish and let it sizzle in hot butter.

"Do you always travel with your car equipped like a kitchen cabinet?"
Penny joked. Crouching beside the fire, she barely could take her eyes
from the food.

"Not always," the ranger laughed. "I've been on an overnight trip.
Usually have the fixings of a meal with me though."

While the fish slowly sizzled, Bill put on a pot of coffee and fried
potatoes. He accomplished everything with such ease that Penny could only
watch dumbfounded.

"Guess you and your father considered me an old crab last night," he
remarked. "Sometimes we hate to enforce the rules, but we have to treat
everyone alike. If we allowed folks to camp wherever they pleased the
danger of forest fire would be greatly increased."

"You're right, of course. Have you had any fires this season?"

"Not here." Deftly the ranger dished up the potatoes and crisply browned
fish. "Plenty of them farther South. Not all caused by carelessness of
campers either."

Penny was quick to seize upon the remark. "Sabotage?" she questioned.

"That's what we think," the ranger nodded. He poured two cups of
steaming, black coffee. "Fact is, enemy agents have made quite a few
attempts to set fire to our forests. Nearly always they're caught, but
that doesn't mean we dare let up our vigilance."

Penny ate every morsel of the food, praising the ranger highly for his
cooking ability.

"I wish Dad could have had some of this fish," she added. "He went down
to Sunset Beach for supplies and for some reason hasn't returned."

"I'll have to be on the road myself," the ranger declared, getting up
from the ground. "I'm due in town at twelve o'clock and it's nearly that

"You're driving to Sunset Beach?"

"Yes, want to ride along?"

Penny debated briefly. "Wait until I get my coat," she requested. "It's
lonesome here alone. Anyway, I want to learn what's keeping Dad."

The park road had dried considerably, but even so the car skidded from
side to side until it reached the paved highway. At Sunset Beach, the
ranger dropped Penny off at the postoffice. Rather at a loss to know what
to do with herself, she wandered about the half-deserted streets in
search of her father. He was not at any of the stores, nor did inquiry
reveal his whereabouts.

"Perhaps he's sunning himself on the beach," she thought.

A boardwalk led over the dunes to the water front. The tide was at ebb,
revealing a long, wide stretch of white sand strewn with shells and
seaweed. Penny paused to gaze meditatively upon the wind-swept sea. For a
time she watched the waves break and spill their foam on the sandy shore.
Then she walked slowly on toward the imposing Crystal Inn.

Approaching the private beach area, Penny met only a few persons, mostly
soldiers on furlough with their girls. There were no bathers for a sharp,
cool wind blew off the water.

"Sunset Beach is nice," thought Penny, "but it's lonesome."

At the Crystal Inn there was more activity. Tennis courts were in use and
so was the swimming pool. Penny circled the well-kept grounds, not
intending to enter the building. However, as she drew near, her attention
was drawn to the flagstone terrace overlooking the formal garden. Though
it was set with tables there were not many diners.

Suddenly Penny stopped short, scarcely believing her eyes. At one of the
tables near the stone railing sat her father with Mrs. Deline.

                         _THE BEARDED STRANGER_

Penny's first thought upon seeing her father and Mrs. Deline was to steal
quietly away. Then amazement and injury gave way to a feeling of
indignation. Perhaps her father had a perfect right to lunch with Mrs.
Deline, but it was inconsiderate of him to so completely forget his own

"I might just as well be an orphan!" Penny sighed. "Well, we'll see!"

Stiffly she marched across the lawn to the railed-in hotel veranda. Her
father saw her coming. His look of surprise changed to one of guarded

"Come up and have lunch with us," he invited. "The food here is quite an
improvement on what we've been having at camp."

Penny could find no outside entranceway to the terrace. To Mrs. Deline's
horror and her father's amusement, she climbed over the stone railing.

"Dad," Penny began, ignoring the widow except for a curt nod, "I was just
about ready to get out a search warrant for you."

Mr. Parker drew another chair to the table for his daughter. Her hair was
none too well combed, she wore no stockings, and the coat did not
entirely cover her camp costume. By contrast Mrs. Deline was perfectly
turned out in tailored tweed suit with a smart little hat of feathers.
Though the woman said nothing, her gaze was scornful as she appraised

"What shall I order for you?" Mr. Parker asked, signaling a waiter.

"Nothing, thank you." Penny was coldly polite. "I had a very fine lunch
at camp, thanks to one of the rangers."

"I'm sorry I didn't get back," Mr. Parker apologized. "It took a long
while to have the stove repaired. Then I met Mrs. Deline and--"

"Oh, I understand," Penny broke in. "The point is, when, if ever, are you
coming back to camp?"

"Why, right now I suppose. We've finished our luncheon."

The waiter had come to the table. Mr. Parker asked for the bill, paid it,
and arose. As he bade Mrs. Deline goodbye, he remarked that he probably
would see her again soon.

Walking to the hotel parking lot where Mr. Parker had left the car,
neither he nor Penny had much to say. Not until they were driving through
the village was the subject of Mrs. Deline mentioned.

"I don't see why you can't be a bit nicer to her," Mr. Parker commented.
"You scarcely spoke a word to her."

"Did she say anything to me?"

"Well, I don't recall."

"I've treated Mrs. Deline just as well as she treats me!" Penny defended
herself. "I'll admit I don't like her."

"And you show it too."

"Maybe I do, but she has no business taking so much of your time."

"So that's where the shoe pinches," chuckled Mr. Parker. "My little girl
is jealous."

"The very idea!"

"Mrs. Deline is brilliant--a highly educated woman and I enjoy talking to
her," Mr. Parker said thoughtfully. "I assure you it's no more serious
than that."

Penny moved close to her father and squeezed his arm.

"We've been pals for such a long while," she said wistfully. "If anything
ever should come between us--"

"Penny, you're positively morbid!" her father interrupted. "Of course
nothing ever will come between us! Now let's talk of more cheerful

"Such as?"

"I've been thinking, Penny. You need a friend, someone to pal around

"You're the only friend I need, Dad."

"I mean someone your own age, Penny. Why not send for Louise Sidell? I'll
gladly pay her train fare."

"It would be fun having Lou here."

"Then it's settled. We'll send a wire now." Mr. Parker turned the car
around and drove to the local telegraph office.

Before Penny could change her mind, the message was sent. Not until long
after she and her father had returned to the park did it occur to her
that unwittingly she might have fashioned her own undoing. Though camping
would be far more interesting with Louise to share her experiences, it
also would give her father added opportunity to see Mrs. Deline.

"Maybe he didn't think of that angle," Penny reflected uneasily. "I'll
keep it to myself."

The following day Mr. Parker spent the entire day in camp. With the
gasoline stove in working order, hot meals were prepared though not
without endless effort. There were dishes to wash, beds to make, and by
the time the tasks were done, neither Penny nor her father had any energy
left for hiking.

The second day was much easier. However, with more free time, Mr. Parker
became increasingly restless. He missed his morning paper and was
dissatisfied with the skimpy news reports that came in over the radio.
Penny was not surprised when he mentioned that he would walk down to
Sunset Beach.

"Mind if I go with you?" Penny asked quickly.

"Of course not," her father answered. "Why should I?"

At Sunset Beach a call at the local telegraph office disclosed a message
for Penny which had been held for lack of an address. The wire was from
Louise and read:


"Thursday!" Penny cried, offering the telegram to her father. "That's
tomorrow! My, will I be glad to see Lou! This place has been like a
morgue without her."

"I imagine the town will brighten up quite a bit within the next few
days," Mr. Parker said, a twinkle in his eye. "In fact, Louise may not be
the only new arrival."

"Is someone else coming to see us?"

Mr. Parker would not answer her many questions. "Wait and see," he

Since arriving at Sunset Beach Penny had been eager to visit the
lighthouse located on Crag Point. Noticing that the tide was low, she
suggested to her father that they go there together.

"Too long a walk," he complained. "You run along by yourself. I'll sun
myself on the beach."

Leaving her father, Penny started off alone. The sun was warm and there
were a number of bathers splashing about in the surf. A long row of
picturesque cottages lined the water front. They thinned out as she went
farther up the beach, and presently there were no habitations, only
desolate, wind-blown sand.

Midway to the lighthouse, Penny met a man of early middle age who carried
fishing rod and creel. He stared at her, hesitated, then paused to speak.

"I notice you're going toward Crag Point," he remarked pleasantly. "Are
you a stranger to this locality?"

Penny admitted that she was.

"Then perhaps you haven't been told that the Point is a dangerous place
to be at high tide."

"No, I hadn't heard."

"The Point is very nearly covered at that time," the stranger explained.
"There's no danger at the present moment, of course."

"How long will I have here?"

"Oh, several hours," the stranger replied. "There's no cause for alarm if
you just keep watch of the tide."

Penny thanked the stranger and walked on toward the lighthouse. The
structure rose to a height of seventy-five feet above the beach and was
reached by means of a narrow little iron stairway.

No one was about the premises as Penny approached. However, as she
started up the iron steps, a door far above her head opened. A burly,
stout man whose face was browned by wind and sun, peered down at her.

"You can't come up here!" he shouted. "No visitors are allowed!"

"Oh," Penny murmured, retreating a step. "I didn't know. I only wanted to
see the tower."

"No visitors," the keeper of the light repeated. "War regulations."

The rule seemed a reasonable one, but after such a long hike, Penny was
disappointed. Walking back to the main section of the beach, she looked
about for her father. He had disappeared.

"I'll bet a cookie he's at the Crystal Inn!" she thought indignantly.

But Penny could not find her father there nor at any other place along
the water front. After an hour's search she decided that he must have
returned to camp. Returning there, she approached the tent, noticing that
the flap was closed, though not buttoned as she had left it.

"Dad must be here," she thought.

Drawing nearer she could see movement within the tent as someone brushed
against the canvas walls.

"Oh, Dad!" she called.

There was no answer. But the next instant a man in rough garments and
straw hat rushed out of the tent. Penny never before had set eyes upon
him. She was so astonished that she gained only a fleeting impression of
the bearded stranger. Seeing her, he thrust some object beneath his coat
and fled into the woods.

                         _KEEPER OF THE LIGHT_

Recovering from astonishment, Penny darted to the tent and jerked open
the flap. The beds had been torn apart. Her purse, hidden beneath the
pillow, was gone. Suitcases lay open on the canvas floor.

"That man was a thief!" she thought angrily.

Too late, she tried to determine which direction he had taken. She could
hear no sound of crackling leaves or running feet.

"He's lying low," she told herself. "No use chasing him. I never could
find him among the trees."

Thoroughly incensed, she went back to the disordered tent. A preliminary
check revealed that besides the pocketbook, a pair of her father's shoes
and a sweater had been taken.

"Lucky I didn't have much money in my purse," Penny congratulated
herself. "It was a good leather pocketbook though, and I hate to lose

Going outside, she discovered other losses. The supply of groceries had
been ransacked. Bread was gone, several oranges and a tin of cold meat.

"That fellow was hungry," Penny reflected. "Probably some shiftless
person who isn't willing to work for a living."

Entering the tent again, she busied herself making the beds and repacking
the suitcases. As she finished the task, she heard footsteps outside.
Fearful that the thief had returned, she jerked open the canvas flap. It
was her father who had arrived.

"Oh, Dad, I'm glad you're back!" she exclaimed, rushing out to meet him.
"We've been robbed!"


Penny told him how she had frightened away the bearded stranger.

"That's bad," Mr. Parker said, frowning. "I didn't suppose there was
another camper within miles of us."

"This man didn't look like a camper, Dad. He wore dirty, mussed clothing
and a beard of at least a week's growth."

"How old a fellow?"

"Why, he looked young to me. And he ran like a young person."

"We'll report it to the ranger," Mr. Parker said, entering the tent to
check over his belongings. "Probably never will get any of our things
back though."

"The ranger may know who the fellow is, Dad."

"That's possible," Mr. Parker admitted. "Penny, I'm glad Louise is coming
tomorrow. I certainly don't like the idea of your remaining here in camp

"Then why don't you stay with me?" Penny countered instantly.

"Well, I'm planning on being rather busy."

"With Mrs. Deline."

"Penny, you're impossible!"

"Weren't you with her today? I looked everywhere for you."

"Mrs. Deline and I did go for a little walk. No harm in that, is there?"

"It all depends upon your viewpoint," Penny said loftily. "Personally, I
consider her about as harmless as a Grade A rattler!"

"Penny, enough of such talk!"

"Okay," she returned grimly, "but never say I didn't warn you."

"I was about to tell you," Mr. Parker resumed, "that I expect to be busy
the next few days helping local authorities trace that outlaw radio
station we heard on the air."


"In fact, Army experts are being sent here to aid in the work. My days
will be pretty well tied up."

"I'm sorry, Dad," Penny said contritely. "Naturally I thought--"

"I'm afraid your trouble is that you don't stop to think," Mr. Parker
lectured. "Please, will you forget Mrs. Deline?"

"I promise not to bother you about her again, Dad."

"Good!" Mr. Parker awkwardly patted his daughter's hand. "I realize
you've had an unpleasant time of it so far, Penny. But things should pick
up after Louise arrives."

"And that other surprise you hinted about?"

"Oh, you'll have to wait and see," Mr. Parker smiled. "However, I promise
you that what's coming really will prove a pleasant surprise."

Though Penny kept up a running fire of questions, her father would tell
her no more. From a few hints he dropped, she gathered that he was
expecting a visitor within a day or so. That rather disappointed her, for
with the exception of Louise, she could think of no one she particularly
wanted to see at Sunset Beach.

Later that day when a forest ranger stopped at camp for a few minutes,
Mr. Parker reported the theft of food and clothing to him.

"So the thief was a young man with a beard?" the ranger pondered. "Don't
know of anyone in the area answering such a description. We'll certainly
be on the watch for him."

Penny and her father expected to hear no more from the matter. Toward
sundown, however, the same ranger returned to camp, bringing the missing
pocketbook. It was stripped of money but still contained a compact and
various toilet articles.

"Where did you find the purse?" Penny inquired eagerly.

"On the Beech Trail not far from here."

"Then it was dropped on purpose?"

"Apparently it was. I followed the trail for a quarter of mile, then lost
the fellow when he took to the brook."

"Rather a smart fellow to think of that," commented Mr. Parker
thoughtfully. "Perhaps he wasn't an ordinary snatch-thief after all."

The ranger offered no comment. As he turned to go, he did assure Penny
again that every effort would be made to capture the culprit.

"If the fellow still is in the park we'll get him," he declared. "Don't
you worry about that."

With the coming of dusk a penetrating chill settled over the camp. Even
the hot supper of steak and potatoes that Penny prepared failed to
sufficiently warm the two tenters. They did the dishes and then, not
wishing to go to bed, sought the enclosed car for heat.

"It's starting to rain," Mr. Parker observed as a few drops splashed
against the windshield. "Looks as if we're in for another siege of it."

"And Louise is due tomorrow," Penny sighed. "Unless the weather improves
I'd not blame her one bit if she turns right around and starts back to

The rain came down steadily with a promise of continuing throughout the
night. Mr. Parker read a day-old newspaper by the light in the car,
grumbling because the news was so old. Presently he switched on the
radio, trying without success to tune in the outlaw station which had
been heard previously at the same hour.

"No luck," he commented. "Reception must be poor tonight, or the station
has changed to another time. Probably it's shifted to a different
locality too."

"Dad, isn't it true that the operator of that secret station is an enemy
agent?" Penny asked curiously.

"It's a possibility."

"Why not tell me all about it?"

"Nothing to tell yet, Penny. Confidentially I'll admit I came here hoping
to help State authorities find the station. So far I've accomplished

"What clues have you gained?"

"Now Penny, don't quiz me," Mr. Parker laughed. "I'll tell you everything
as soon as I'm free to do so."

"In the meantime, maybe I'll find out for myself!" Penny hinted. Abruptly
swinging open the car door, she bolted through the rain to the tent.

Breakfast the next morning was a more cheerful meal than had been
expected. During the night the rain had ceased and a hot morning sun soon
dried out the drenched canvas. Mr. Parker prepared coffee, eggs and
bacon, an unbelievable example of perfect cooking.

"Dad, I didn't think you had it in you!" Penny praised as she sat down on
a camp stool beside him. "Maybe you'll develop into a real camper after

"Not if I have anything to say about it." Grinning, Mr. Parker dropped
two plump fried eggs on his daughter's plate and took the remaining four
for himself. "This life could be worse though."

"Dad, what time shall we start for the airport?"

Mr. Parker poured himself a cup of coffee and then answered: "Afraid I
won't be able to go with you, Penny."

"But Dad! Louise will be expecting you."

"It's not me she wants to see," Mr. Parker corrected. "I have an
important engagement I can't break."

Penny glanced quickly up. She was tempted to ask her father if he
intended to see Mrs. Deline. Recalling that she had made her father a
promise, she wisely withheld comment. Instead she asked if she might use
the car.

"By all means," he consented. "Just go easy on the gasoline."

Breakfast over, dishes were dispatched and the camp put in order. By
eleven o'clock Penny and her father were in Sunset Beach.

"Drop me anywhere," Mr. Parker instructed vaguely.

Leaving her father on a street corner, Penny drove slowly toward the
airport a mile and a quarter away. There was little travel on the winding
highway which curled along the beach. A government jeep whizzed past and
two soldiers shouted and waved. Penny waved back.

There was no need to hurry for Louise's plane was not yet due. Penny took
her time and enjoyed the ocean scenery. The tide was coming in and gulls
free-wheeled over the waves, dipping down at intervals in search of food.

Gazing along the deserted beach, Penny was startled to see a familiar
feminine figure hastening toward the lighthouse on Crag Point. The woman
wore a white scarf that half obscured her face, yet the girl easily
recognized her.

"Mrs. Deline!" she thought, idling the car. "She's certainly going to the
lighthouse! I wonder if that gruff old keeper will drive her away as he
did me?"

Curious to learn what would happen, the girl drew up at the side of the
road. Mrs. Deline was too far away to observe the automobile. Intent only
upon her own affairs, she walked swiftly along the beach until she
reached the base of the lighthouse.

"Now to see the fun!" chuckled Penny.

The keeper had appeared on the platform and was gazing down upon the
visitor. He called something to the woman that Penny could not hear. But
to her amazement, Mrs. Deline started up the iron stairway.

Penny waited expectantly. She was certain that the keeper of the light
would order Mrs. Deline away. Instead, he greeted her with a hearty
handshake as if they were old friends. They entered the lighthouse tower
room together, and the heavy door closed behind them.

                       _A SURPRISE FROM THE SKY_

"Well, if that isn't strange!" Penny muttered. "I wasn't permitted to set
foot inside the lighthouse, but in goes Mrs. Deline without a single
question asked!"

Her curiosity aroused, the girl decided to wait and watch. Twenty minutes
elapsed. During that time Mrs. Deline did not reappear. Penny grew tired
of her vigil.

"Mrs. Deline evidently intends to stay there a long while," she thought
as she drove on. "For all I know, she and the lighthouse keeper may be
old friends. They did greet each other as if they were acquainted."

At the airport Penny parked on the crowded lot. She dropped into the
lunch room for a sandwich and then wandered out on the cement runway. The
noon passenger plane presently was announced through the loudspeaker
system. A moment later Penny glimpsed the big silver twin-motor transport
gliding down over the tree tops. As it taxied up to unload passengers,
she held her breath. Knowing that there had been several last-minute
cancellation of tickets, she was afraid that Louise might not be aboard.

But as the door of the big transport swung back, her chum was the second
passenger to alight. Fresh and trim in a yellow wool suit, she flung
herself into Penny's arms.

"Have a nice trip, Lou?"

"Oh, heavenly! Only it didn't last long enough. We were here almost
before I knew we'd started. I nearly lost my ticket to an Army Major

"I was afraid you might not get here," Penny laughed, picking up Louise's
light over-night case. "What happened to the Major?"

"Oh, at the last minute he changed his mind, so the company decided I
could have my ticket back. And here I am! How's camping?"

"Not much fun so far," Penny confessed truthfully. "But I can feel things
starting to pick up."

"We'll have a wonderful time together."

"You just bet we will!" Penny declared with emphasis. "Had anything to

"Oh, yes, lunch was served on the plane."

"Then we may as well start for camp. I have oodles to tell you, Lou."

Midway to the parking lot, Louise paused, calling attention to a Flying
Fortress that was coming in against the wind.

"Let's watch it land," she pleaded. "Did you ever see such a beautiful

The huge Fortress came in fast for a perfect landing. Crew members began
to tumble out through the door. One of the young men in captain's uniform
evidently was a passenger for he carried a suitcase.

"Lou!" Penny grasped her chum's arm. "That flier looks like Jerry

"Oh, it couldn't be!"

"All the same, I think it is!"

Penny was so excited that she barely could control her voice. Jerry
Livingston was one of her very best friends, a former reporter on the
_Riverview Star_. In the days before he had joined the Army Air Force,
she and Jerry had shared many an exciting adventure. However, since he
had gone away there had been only a few letters and those brief
communications had contained no real news.

"It _is_ Jerry!" Penny cried an instant later. "Oh, Lou, this must have
been the surprise that Dad knew about! How could he keep it from me?"

Breaking away from her chum, Penny darted across the runway. As she
called Jerry's name, the young man turned toward her. His handsome,
wind-tanned face became a brilliant smile. A dozen long strides carried
him to her side.

"Penny!" he cried. He didn't hesitate. He just swept her into his arms
and kissed her.

"Sorry, Penny," Jerry apologized, his eyes twinkling. "Guess I shouldn't
have done that. But when you've not seen your one and only girl for going
on a year--"

"Your which?" Penny stammered, too confused to blush.

"You are my one and only, you know," Jerry grinned. "Always were for that
matter. Even in the days when we tracked down news stories together."

Louise came hurrying up. Jerry turned to greet her and the conversation
became less personal. But from the way Louise smiled, Penny knew she had
seen the kiss and would demand lengthy explanations later on.

"Jerry!" she cried, noticing the decorations on his trim uniform.
"They've given you the Distinguished Flying Cross! And the Purple Heart!
You didn't write a word about that."

"Nothing to write."

Indignantly, the girls pried the story from Jerry. He had piloted a
Flying Fortress in a highly successful raid over the Romanian oil fields.
To reach its target, the Fortress had flown through flaming refineries,
so low to the ground that fire actually had leaped up through the bomb
bay of the plane. Swarms of enemy fighter ships had been fought off.
Jerry's plane was one of the few to get back to its base safely.

"I was luckier than some of the other fellows," Jerry said modestly.
"That was all. Now they've sent me home to rest up for a while."

"Oh, that's marvelous!" Penny said, guiding him toward the waiting car.
"You can spend all of your spare time with us!"

Jerry grinned down at her. "I'd like nothing better. But I'm not exactly
on furlough."

"I thought you just said--"

"I'm doing a special mission here at Sunset Beach for the Army."

"Anything you dare tell about?"

Jerry helped the girls into the car, stowed the suitcases away, and then
slid in beside Penny.

"I can't tell you very much," he replied quietly. "But I can give you a
general idea of why I'm here. There's a certain outlaw radio station that
has been causing the government considerable annoyance. I've been sent
here to try to trace its location."

"And that's why Dad's here too!" Penny cried. "So you two schemers
intended to join forces all along! A pity no one could let me know!"

"I didn't want your father to tell you, because until the last minute I
wasn't sure I was coming," Jerry explained. "The radio station assignment
is only part of the reason why I'm here."

"What's the other?" Penny asked as she started the car.

"I'm on the lookout for an escaped German flier. The fellow escaped from
a Canadian prison camp and was traced to this locality."

"And you're supposed to be taking a rest from flying!"

"This assignment will be a vacation."

"I'd call it anything but one," Penny said indignantly. Her face suddenly
became grave. "Jerry!"


"What does that escaped prisoner look like?"

"Oh, I can't describe him. I have a photograph in my brief case. Why do
you ask?"

"Maybe I've seen him."

"Where?" Jerry could not hide a smile.

"Why at our camp in the woods!" Excitedly Penny told of the bearded
stranger who had robbed the Parker stores of food and clothing. Her
description of the man was so vague that Jerry could make little of it.

"I'm afraid your thief isn't the man we're after," he said kindly. "After
I get to a hotel and open my luggage, I'll show you his picture."

"And will you let me help you trail him?"

"Oh, sure," Jerry answered, only half meaning it. "By the way, drive me
to the Crystal Inn. I have a reservation there."

Penny's face fell.

"Anything wrong with the place?" Jerry inquired, observing her change of

Penny shook her head. "The place is all right. It's the people who stay
there. Jerry--"


"Are you susceptible to brunettes?"

"Never noticed it."

"You'll likely meet a Mrs. Deline at the hotel," Penny warned. "Don't
have a thing to do with her."

"Why should I?" Jerry was amused.

"She's already made a jelly fish of Dad," Penny went on. "Jerry, stop
grinning! This is serious."

"Sorry, I didn't know I was smiling."

"I need your help, Jerry. The truth is, I'm terribly worried about Dad."

"If I know your father, there's no need to worry about him."

"But you don't understand this Mrs. Deline," Penny said desperately.
"She's a very clever, scheming woman. Jerry, will you promise to help me
try to save Dad from her clutches?"

Jerry managed to keep his face straight. "I'll do my best," he promised.

Penny drew a deep sigh. "Oh, I'm so glad you're here," she murmured
gratefully. "With you fighting on my side, the war's as good as won!"

                         _HELP FROM MR. EMORY_

With Jerry at Sunset Beach, the vacation already promised to take on a
rosy hue. Penny was so thrilled to be with her friends again that she
paid scant heed to her driving. Several times, enroute to the Crystal
Inn, Louise had to warn her to steer more carefully.

"Oh, Jerry, now that you're here the fun will start!" Penny declared
happily. "You've no idea how dull things have been without you."

"And that goes double," Jerry said with emphasis. "How's your father?"

"Oh, fine!" Penny laughed. "Camping has made him cross though. By the
way, did he know you were coming?"

"Yes, I sent him a wire."

"I thought so! Dad's been keeping it from me. Why all the secrecy, I

"Well, my trip here isn't exactly a pleasure jaunt. And if I have luck,
I'll be gone again in a few days."

"I certainly hope you have no luck then," Penny said with a laugh.

The car drew up at the Crystal Inn and Jerry unloaded his suitcase. He
was taller, Penny thought, or at least more filled out. The trim uniform
set off his broad shoulders. As he bent to pick up his luggage, a group
of women on the hotel veranda turned to stare at him.

"I'll check in and clean up a bit," Jerry said. "Then where can I meet
you girls?"

"Oh, we'll be somewhere on the beach," Penny replied carelessly. "Do
hurry, Jerry. We have a million things to talk over."

The girls parked the car not far from the hotel. As they walked along,
scuffing their shoes in the loose sand, they saw Mrs. Deline coming
toward them from the direction of Crag Point.

"She's evidently been at the lighthouse all this time!" Penny commented
in an undertone. "Now how did she get in there for a visit when I

Mrs. Deline saw that she would meet the girls. Frowning, she glanced
quickly toward the boardwalk as if seeking an avenue of escape. However,
she could not avoid meeting them without appearing to do so deliberately.

"How do you do," she greeted Penny coldly.

Penny paused to introduce Louise. Mrs. Deline acknowledged the girl with
an indifferent nod. Somewhat confused, Louise nervously twisted a silver
ring she wore. It slipped from her finger and fell into the loose sand.

"Oh, how awkward of me!" she exclaimed, and stooped to retrieve it.

The ring buried itself deeper in the sand.

"You'll lose it entirely if you're not careful!" Penny warned. "Here, let
me help you."

Getting down on their knees, the girls sifted the sand with their hands.
Mrs. Deline seemed amused by their difficulties and did not offer to

"Well, I must be getting on to the hotel," she said casually. "I took a
long walk this afternoon and I'm tired."

"To the lighthouse?" Penny commented, before she stopped to think.

Mrs. Deline glanced at her sharply. "No, not to the lighthouse," she
replied in a tone meant to put the girl in her place. "I shouldn't think
of walking that far."

"But I thought I saw you there."

"You saw me?" Mrs. Deline laughed. "Well, my dear, you certainly were
mistaken. I walked to the 12th Street bridge. No farther."

Penny started to reply, then thought better of it. There was no point in
arguing with Mrs. Deline. However, she was certain she had seen the widow
at the lighthouse. Why the woman should deny it she could not imagine.

After Mrs. Deline had gone, Penny and Louise searched in vain for the
missing ring. They knew it could not be many inches away, yet it kept
eluding them.

"Oh, I can't afford to lose the ring!" Louise wailed.

"How valuable is it?"

"It's not worth much from a money standpoint. I drew it as a prize in a
piece of wedding cake and I've always kept it as a good luck piece."

"We'll find it," Penny said confidently. "That is, if the tide doesn't
catch us first."

Just as she spoke, a wave came rippling up the beach. It broke only a few
feet away, showering the girls with spray and wetting their shoes.

"If the tide flows over this spot, I never will find the ring," Louise
cried in vexation. "Such wretched luck!"

"Having trouble?" inquired a deep masculine voice.

Penny and Louise raised their heads. Unnoticed by them, a stranger had
approached. The man wore a wet bathing suit plastered with sand. He had
on glasses and a moment elapsed before Penny recognized him as the same
fisherman who had warned her about the tide at Crag Point.

"I'm George Emory," he introduced himself. "Have you lost something?"

"My ring," Louise explained.

The man helped the girls search for the missing trinket. By now waves
were creeping higher and higher on the beach. A particularly big one sent
Penny and Louise scurrying for safety.

"It's no use looking any longer for the ring," Louise gave up. "Perhaps I
can find it after the tide turns."

"By then it will be washed away," replied Mr. Emory. "Ah! What's this?"

He stooped to pick a shiny object from the sand.

"It's my ring!" Louise cried in delight. "Oh, thank you for finding it!"

The three retreated to higher ground. As Penny and Louise were about to
start for the hotel, Mr. Emory suggested that they might like to share a
picnic lunch with him. Neither of the girls was hungry, but to offend the
man after he had found Louise's ring was unthinkable. Accordingly, they
accompanied him to one of the gaily painted wooden umbrellas along the
beach. Beneath its shade Mr. Emory spread a paper tablecloth and produced
ample supplies of sandwiches, fruit and lemonade.

"Were you expecting to eat all this food yourself?" Penny asked in

"No, I was hoping to find a companion who would share it," replied Mr.
Emory. "The truth is, I'm a pretty lonely old fellow."

Penny and Louise stole a quick look at the stranger. By no stretch of the
imagination could they call him old. Judging from appearances, he was not
yet forty years old.

"My wife died a few years ago," Mr. Emory explained sadly. "Since then
I've been like a ship without a rudder. I have plenty of money, but I
don't get much enjoyment out of life. I go wherever it suits my fancy,
stay until I weary of it, then move on."

"Oh, I see," Penny murmured with a show of sympathy.

She felt ashamed of herself that the story did not move her more deeply.
Mr. Emory evidently was a lonely fellow, deserving of companionship. Yet
for some reason, he failed to interest her.

"Have you been at Sunset Beach long?" she inquired politely.

"Oh, about a month. I know every nook and cranny along the shore."

"You do?" Penny asked, and her interest revived. "Are there many caves
near Sunset Beach?"

"Plenty of them, though none very close. There are several near the
lighthouse, back among the rocks. Crystal Cave probably is the most
interesting. Then there are half a dozen scattered on up the shore.
Interested in caves?"

"Oh, in a general way," Penny replied carelessly.

"Penny is interested in anything that suggests mystery," Louise
volunteered with a grin.


"Lou's joking," Penny said quickly. She gave her chum a hard look which
was not lost upon Mr. Emory.

"Why, Penny!" Louise refused to be silenced. "Only a few minutes ago you
were telling me about a radio broadcast said to come from a cave!"

"That was just my idea," Penny said, confused. She jumped hastily to her
feet. "We really should be going, Lou."

"Oh, don't hurry away." Mr. Emory offered Louise another sandwich.
"Speaking of mysterious radio stations, I've heard of one that is said to
be located in a cave somewhere along these shores. Fact is, I've searched
for it."

"You have?" Penny asked, sinking back into the sand. "Any luck?"

"None. But I did manage to kill quite a few afternoons. I take it that
your father came to Sunset Beach to help the authorities search for the
station. Right?"

"Why, whatever made you think that?" Penny asked, instantly on guard. "Do
you know my father?"

"I regret I haven't the honor. I chanced to overhear a conversation at
the hotel."

"Oh," Penny murmured. She was certain that the information could have
leaked out in only one way. Her father had told Mrs. Deline, who in turn
had spread the news about the hotel.

"I trust I'm not inquiring into secrets," Mr. Emory went on cheerfully.
"Fact of the matter is, I might be able to help your father."

"I'm sure Dad will want to talk with you."

"I'll look forward to meeting your father. Think you can arrange it?"

"Why, I suppose so," Penny said, though with no great enthusiasm. Again
she experienced a queer, uneasy feeling. She did not entirely trust Mr.

The man smiled and seemed to relax. As the girls arose to leave he tried
once more to detain them.

"See that old fellow down the beach?" he inquired, pointing to an aged
man who was picking up objects from the sand with a sharp-pointed stick.

"Yes, what about him?" Penny asked, turning to stare. "Just an ordinary
beachcomber, isn't he?"

"I'd not call Old Jake Skagway ordinary," Mr. Emory corrected. "If you're
really interested in solving the radio station mystery, I'd advise you to
keep watch of that rascal."

"But why him?" Penny asked.

"I can't explain," Mr. Emory said with finality. "It's just a tip. Take
it or leave it."

Yawning, he stretched himself full length on the sand and turned his back
to the girls.

                           _A MAN OF MYSTERY_

The following day when Penny told her father of Mr. Emory's desire to
meet him, Mr. Parker showed little interest.

"I've no time to waste getting acquainted with strangers," he said. "Why
is the man so eager to know me?"

"He thinks he may be able to help you locate that hidden radio station."

Mr. Parker's annoyance visibly increased. "Penny," he said severely,
"you've evidently been talking out of turn."

"I didn't mean to let him know why you're at Sunset Beach, Dad. It sort
of slipped out."

Louise, who was washing the breakfast dishes, spoke quickly.

"It was my fault," she insisted. "Penny tried to stop me, but I gave the
information before I thought."

"Well, it doesn't matter," Mr. Parker assured her kindly. "I came here
mostly for a vacation. If I should be lucky enough to dig up a few facts
about the radio station, well and good. If not, no harm will have been

"You sent for Jerry to help you?" Penny inquired curiously.

Mr. Parker shook his head. "No, I knew he was coming, but I didn't send
for him. If I had, I'm afraid the Army wouldn't have been obliging enough
to have filled my order."

Penny helped Louise put away the camp dishes and pick up loose papers. It
was only eight-thirty but already most of the work had been done. With
Louise to help, camping no longer was a burden. Even Mr. Parker seemed to
have moments of enjoying the outdoor life.

"Anyone riding to Sunset Beach with me?" he inquired cheerfully. "I have
a date with Jerry this morning."

Penny and Louise both wanted to go. They washed at the brook, changed
into becoming "town" dresses, and soon were ready.

At the Crystal Inn, Jerry was not to be found. A clerk explained that the
young man had left the hotel a half hour earlier but was expected to
return soon.

"He probably went somewhere for breakfast or a walk," Mr. Parker
remarked, sinking into a comfortable chair. "I'll wait for him."

Penny and Louise loitered in the lobby. Presently Mrs. Deline came from
the dining room and Mr. Parker politely arose to greet her. The widow
took a chair beside him and they began to chat in an animated way.

"Let's get away from here!" Penny muttered to Louise. "I don't like the

The girls went outside into the warm sunshine. Because the Parker
automobile was at the curb they climbed into it and sat watching the sea.

"Why do you dislike Mrs. Deline so intensely?" Louise presently asked her

"Because she's aiming to be my stepmother, that's why!"

"Oh, Penny!" Louise laughed outright. "I'm sure you have a mistaken idea
about the entire situation. Your father isn't serious in liking her."

"Then he's certainly developed remarkable talents for acting," Penny
retorted with a sniff. "I wish we'd never come to Sunset Beach."

"You'd be willing to forego the mystery?"

"Who cares about a radio station?" Penny asked crossly. "Dad won't tell
me anything about the case, and probably Jerry won't either. It seems to
be one of those affairs for the experts only."

"If I know you, Penny, you'll manage to get in on the affair," Louise
said, her eyes twinkling.

Penny turned on the ignition and started the car. "I'm just not
interested," she announced flatly. "Mrs. Deline has taken all the fun out
of me. Want to go for a ride?"


"Oh, just up the beach."

"Isn't it dangerous to drive on the sand?"

"Everyone does it at low tide. The sand is hard and firm along this
stretch of beach."

Louise offered no further objection, so Penny drove slowly away from the
hotel. The car rode on silken tires, making only a soft swishing sound as
it rolled smoothly over the sand.

"Oh, this is fun!" Louise cried in delight.

"We might drive to the lighthouse," Penny proposed, steering to avoid two
bathers who crossed in front of the car.

Following the curve of the beach, the girls kept on until the sand became
so soft that they were afraid to drive farther. The lighthouse was close
by. Penny, curious to learn what sort of reception the keeper would
accord her on the second visit, proposed to Louise that they call there.

"If he let Mrs. Deline visit the tower why can't we?" she argued. "Come
along, let's try to get in!"

Abandoning the car on the beach, they waded through the dunes, climbed a
fence, and ultimately reached the base of the tower. No one seemed to be
in evidence. Penny started boldly up the iron steps. However, before she
had gone very far, the keeper, Jim McCoy, came out on the platform.

"Didn't I tell you no visitors are allowed here?" he called down angrily.

"I saw a lady come here yesterday!" Penny returned.

"You must have dreamed it," retorted the lighthouse keeper. "No visitors
allowed. Don't make me tell you again!"

Penny retreated, decidedly crushed.

"You asked for it, kitten," Louise teased as they walked toward the car.
"I don't blame the keeper for not wanting visitors."

"Mrs. Deline was there," Penny insisted stubbornly. "Why should he deny

Half way to the car, the girls paused to pick up a few large shells lying
in the deep sand. The task became an absorbing one. Before they realized
it, the sun was high overhead and their faces were being burned by the
direct rays.

"Let's go," Louise urged. "The tide turned a long while ago. We should be
returning to the hotel."

"Okay," Penny agreed. She stooped to pick up another shell. As she
straightened, she observed an old man in ragged clothing coming down the

"Lou," she said in a low tone, "there's that same man Mr. Emory was
telling us about!"

"The beachcomber?" Louise turned to stare.

"Yes, and he's coming this way. Perhaps it might be worth while to watch

"He's not seen us yet."

Penny glanced about for a hiding place. The only one that offered was a
huge sand dune. Pulling Louise along with her, she crouched down out of

In a moment the old beachcomber came along. He was whistling and seemed
to have not a care in the world. His face, viewed at close range, was
weather-beaten, his hair uncombed, and his clothing had not been washed
in many a day.

"What's so mysterious about him?" Louise whispered. "Why did Mr. Emory
say he'd bear watching?"

"Maybe he's not really a beachcomber," Penny returned, low. "He may be an
Enemy Agent in disguise."

"You have Enemy Agents on the brain!" Louise chuckled. "Likewise,
man-snatching widows."

The beachcomber passed within a few feet of the girls. He crossed the
courtyard of the lighthouse and was seen to take a trail which led amid
the rocks.

"Lou, perhaps he's going to one of the caves!" Penny cried. "You know Mr.
Emory said this locality is honeycombed with them."

"Let him go," Louise answered indifferently. "It's lunch time and I'm

"Your appetite will have to wait. I'm going to follow that man!"

"Oh, Penny."

"But this may be important."

"And it may be just another of your so-called bright ideas," Louise
retorted. "Well, lead on, and let's get it over with."

The beachcomber already had disappeared amid the mass of piled-up rock
farther back from shore. Penny had marked the locality well with her eye.
She was able to lead Louise to the place where he had vanished.

"See, there's a well-worn trail," she indicated triumphantly. "He must
have taken it."

They followed the path, and a moment later caught a fleeting glimpse of
the beachcomber. At times the trail was so narrow that the girls barely
could squeeze between the rocks. Wind whistled around the cliffs,
whipping hair and blowing skirts.

Unexpectedly, Penny, who was in the lead, came to the low entranceway of
a cave.

"He must have gone in there!" she declared excitedly. "Listen!"

From deep within the cave the girls could hear a strange sound.

"Rushing water!" Louise said in awe. "The Cave must have a waterfall or
an underground river."

"We'll soon know." Penny started into the cave only to have Louise clutch
at her hand.

"Don't be silly, Penny. We have no flashlight."

"But we can't let that beachcomber get away. We want to learn what he

"I can bear up without knowing."

"Well, I can't," Penny announced with equal firmness.

"But it may be dangerous. Let's go back to the hotel and get Jerry or
your father."

Penny hesitated, then shook her head. "You stay here if you like, Lou,"
she replied. "I'm going inside."

Before her chum could detain her, she stooped low and crawled into the
narrow, dark tunnel.

                          _CAUGHT BY THE TIDE_

Unwilling to be left behind, Louise followed her chum into the dark
cavern. Once she and Penny were well beyond the yawning mouth of the
cave, they could not see a foot ahead of them. Guided by the sound of
rushing water, they groped their way along a damp wall.

"This is awful!" Louise whispered nervously. "Let's turn back."

Penny might have yielded to her chum's coaxing but at that moment the
tunnel broadened out and became lighter. Directly ahead a series of steps
led down to a lower room of the cave.

"This place must be safe enough or steps wouldn't have been built here,"
she whispered. "Don't be nervous, Lou. We may discover something

Louise muttered that they were more likely to break their necks. However,
she cautiously followed Penny down the rock-hewn steps. Half way down,
they both paused. From below came a weird sound.

"What was that?" Louise whispered.

"It sounded for all the world like the note of a pipe organ!" Penny
observed. "There it is again--a different tone this time."

Noiselessly the girls moved on down the steps. Ahead of them they now
could see a moving light which undoubtedly was a flash lantern carried by
the beachcomber. Drawing closer, they saw the man himself. In the great
cavern his shadow appeared grotesque and huge.

"What is he doing?" Louise whispered in awe.

The man was unaware that he had been followed. He stood in the center of
the great chamber, gazing with wrapt expression at the stalagmites which
rose in strange formations from the cave floor. The girls could hear him
muttering to himself. At the risk of being seen they moved closer.

"Music! Music!" the old man mumbled. "Talk about your pipe organs! They
ain't in it with _this_!"

He held a long stick in his hand and with it began to explore the row of
stalagmites, striking them one by one, at first with a slow tempo and
then faster and faster. The weird sounds echoed and reached through the
galleries of the cavern.

"Pretty!" the old man prattled. "It's the music o' Heaven. There ain't no
music to equal it."

Again the beachcomber struck the stalagmites, listening raptly while the
sounds died slowly away.

"Come on, Penny," Louise urged, tugging at her hand. "Let's get out of
here. That old goof has lost his buttons."

Decidedly crestfallen, Penny permitted herself to be pulled along the
passage and up the steps. As the girls groped their way to the cave's
mouth, they still could hear the weird echoing tones.

"That was a good joke on you!" Louise teased. "You thought you were going
to find a hidden radio station!"

"Well, we did find a cave," Penny said defensively.

"We didn't exactly discover it," Louise amended. "This must be Crystal
Cave. Seemingly that old beachcomber regards it as his own personal

"Mr. Emory certainly gave us a wrong steer. A mysterious character, my

"You'll admit that the old fellow is interesting," Louise laughed.
"However, I doubt he'll warrant much attention from the FBI."

"All right, laugh," Penny retorted grimly. "You think my detective
efforts are a joke anyway."

"No, I don't, Penny. But I will say I doubt you'll have success tracing a
hidden radio station. After all, it's a problem that has the State
authorities baffled. Not to mention Uncle Sam's Army."

The girls stepped from the cave out into the brilliant sunshine. Gazing
toward the sea, they were amazed to see how high the tide had risen.
Giant waves were washing very close to the Parker automobile left on the

"Ye fishes!" Penny exclaimed in horror. "I forgot all about the car!"

"And the tide's coming in fast!"

"The Point will be cut off in a few more minutes!" Penny added, recalling
Mr. Emory's warning. "We'll have to travel, and travel fast!"

Scrambling down from the rocks, the girls plunged through the dunes to
the beach. A wind was blowing and the sea had an angry look.

"If just one wave strikes the car, the wheels will sink in the sand, and
then we'll be in it!" Penny cried.

With increasing alarm she noted that sand was damp within a foot of the
rear wheels. And as she jerked open the car door, a greedy wave nipped
again at the rubber.

"We'll soon be out of here," Louise said encouragingly.

Penny stepped on the starter and to her relief the motor caught
instantly. In great haste she turned the car around, circling away from
the inrushing sea.

"Careful!" Louise warned. "The sand is dreadfully soft this far up

Too late Penny realized the same thing. She could feel the car starting
to bog down. The motor began to labor. Then the car stalled completely.

"We're stuck!" she gasped.

Both girls sprang out to look at the wheels. Their spirits sank. On one
side, front and rear tires were bogged deep in sand.

"Start the engine again!" Louise urged desperately. "I'll try to push."

Penny obeyed, but her chum's puny strength made not the slightest
impression upon the car. It could not be moved a foot. The spinning
wheels only drove deeper and deeper into the sand.

"What shall we do?" Louise asked helplessly. She turned to stare at the
incoming sea. Each wave was breaking a little closer to the car.

"This place will be under in another twenty minutes," Penny calculated.
"Even if the car isn't washed away, the salt water will ruin it. How did
we ever get into such a mess?"

"Just by being careless. If only we weren't so far from the hotel!"

"I'll run to the lighthouse," Penny decided desperately. "Maybe the
keeper will help us."

Both girls were badly frightened, not for their own safety, but because
they feared that the car would be damaged beyond repair. Once the waves
began to strike it, it would sink deeper and deeper into the sand. Salt
water would corrode all of the bright chromium.

"We've no time to waste!" Penny cried, darting away.

The girls plunged through the sand drifts to the lighthouse. Evidently
the keeper already had observed their plight, for he was standing on the
upper platform peering down into the courtyard.

"Our car is stuck in the sand!" Penny shouted. "Can you help us get it

"No, I can't," the keeper answered gruffly. "You should have watched the

"There's no one else to help us," Penny pleaded. "Just a little push--"

"I'm forbidden to leave my post."

"Then will you telephone to the Inn? Or to a garage?"

"I could 'phone but it wouldn't do any good," the keeper said
reluctantly. "Your car will be under water before a tow-car could get

Exasperated by the man's unwillingness to help, Louise and Penny ran back
to the car. Already waves were lapping against the rear wheels. The
situation seemed hopeless.

"Shall I try to push again?" Louise asked.

"It wouldn't do any good. We're not strong enough." In desperation,
Penny's gaze wandered down the deserted shore. Suddenly she saw a lone
fisherman who was wading through the surf. She recognized him as George

"He'll help us!" she cried confidently.

The girls shouted Mr. Emory's name. Apparently he heard, for he turned
his head quickly. Their plight, they thought, must be instantly evident,
but Mr. Emory did not seem to comprehend. He waved his hand as if in
friendly greeting, and then, reeling in his fish line, turned and walked
away from them.

                           _A HIDDEN PACKAGE_

"Why, Mr. Emory doesn't understand!" Penny cried, aghast. "Can't he see
that we're stuck here with the tide rolling in?"

The girls shouted again and again. If the man heard, he gave no sign.

"I don't believe he wanted to help us!" Penny declared furiously.
"Probably he's afraid he'll over-strain himself pushing!"

Unwilling to give up without a last try, she sprang into the car and once
more started the engine. It roared and labored but could not pull the
vehicle. Sick with despair, Penny allowed the motor to idle. She slumped
behind the steering wheel, only to straighten suddenly as she thought she
heard her name called.

Louise too heard the cry for she turned quickly toward the main road some
yards back from the beach. A young man in uniform was running across the
dunes toward the girls.

"It's Jerry!" Penny cried jubilantly. "He'll help us!"

"He will if he can," Louise corrected. "The tide's coming in so fast now.
I doubt anyone can get us out of here now."

Jerry did not waste time asking questions. Taking in the situation at a
glance, he instructed Penny to remain at the wheel. With the motor
racing, he and Louise pushed with all their strength. At first the rear
wheels kept spinning in the sand. A great wave slapped the rear end of
the car, spraying Louise from head to foot.

"It's no use!" she gasped. "We can't do it."

"Yes, we can!" Jerry insisted. "Try once more, Louise."

Again they pushed and this time the car actually moved a few feet before
it bogged down. Encouraged, Jerry and Louise tried harder than before.
The wheels suddenly struck firm sand, dug in, and the car began to creep
forward. Penny kept it moving until she was sure the footing beneath the
tires was solid. Then she pulled up so that Jerry and Louise might leap

"Drive as fast as you can for the hotel!" Jerry instructed crisply.
"We'll be lucky to make it."

Where an hour before the roadway along the beach had been wide and ample,
there now was only a fringe of white sand. To avoid the incoming waves,
Penny had to drive dangerously close to the dunes. And midway to the
hotel, they came to a flooded stretch of beach.

"We'll have to risk it," Jerry advised as Penny hesitated to drive on.

The water was not deep but the sand was wet and treacherous. Choosing a
moment between breakers, Penny braved it, and to her intense relief the
car rolled through without sinking down.

"It's clear sailing now," Jerry said as a wider strip of beach opened
before them. "We're well beyond the Point."

Mr. Emory was walking along the shore and as the car went past, he waved
his hand in a friendly way. Penny did not bother to return the salute,
pretending she did not see him.

"I'm sure he knew we were in trouble and didn't want to help," she told
Jerry. "The more I see of that man the less I like him."

"Who is he anyhow?"

"Just a vacationer. He got Lou and me all excited yesterday with his talk
about that hidden radio station."

"How do you mean?" Jerry asked with interest.

Penny repeated the conversation, and mentioned how Mr. Emory had
suggested that the old beachcomber was a mysterious character that would
bear watching.

"Not old Jake Skagway?" Jerry asked, amused.

"I believe that was his name."

"Jake's the only beachcomber I know hereabouts. He makes his living
picking up things on the beach and selling them. Folks say he buries some
of his loot in the caves."

"How do you know so much about him, Jerry?"

"Oh, I used to run down to Sunset Beach real often years ago. I know this
locality like a book. Guess that's why the Army sent me here to do a
little scouting around."

Penny waited expectantly, but Jerry offered no more information as to the
reason for his visit to Sunset Beach.

"Probably Lou and I were taken in by Jake Skagway," she admitted after a
moment. "If we hadn't followed him into the cave, we certainly wouldn't
have involved ourselves in such difficulties."

Upon reaching the Crystal Inn a few minutes later, the girls searched for
Mr. Parker. He was nowhere to be found. After waiting for a time, they
left the car with Jerry and hiked to the forest camp. There the early
afternoon was devoted to camp tasks. When Mr. Parker still did not come,
Penny proposed that they return to Sunset Beach for a plunge in the surf.

"Too cold," Louise shivered.

"Well, let's go down to Sunset Beach anyhow," Penny urged. "I get
restless just sitting here in camp."

"You know you want to see Jerry again," Louise teased. "'Fess up."

"All right, I do want to see him," Penny admitted unabashed. "Jerry's my
very best friend. I've not been with him in months and I suppose in a few
days he'll be shot off to goodness-knows-where."

"He's not told you very much about why he came here."

"No," Penny said briefly. The subject was a sore one with her. She felt
that both her father and Jerry were keeping secrets.

The tide was still high when the girls reached the beach, but the flow
was outward. Sprawling in the warm sand, they watched the gulls.

"Wonder what became of Jerry and Dad?" Penny speculated. "They're
probably together somewhere."

"Or with Mrs. Deline," Louise suggested wickedly.

She was sorry that she had spoken for Penny's face immediately became as
black as a thundercloud.

"Sorry," Louise apologized. "I was only joking."

Penny continued to scowl for at that moment she glimpsed Mrs. Deline
walking rapidly down the beach. The widow came from the direction of the
lighthouse and was alone. To avoid the incoming waves she waded ankle
deep through the great sand ridges along the drift fence.

"That's queer," Penny muttered, sitting up.

"What is?"

"Why, Mrs. Deline apparently has been at the lighthouse again. What's she
doing now?"

The widow had paused. Carefully she gazed up and down the deserted shore,
but she did not see Penny and Louise who were hidden from view by a sand
dune. However, by raising up slightly, they could see her plainly.

Mrs. Deline carried a package of considerable size under her arm.
Seemingly satisfied that no one was at hand to observe her actions, she
moved swiftly to one of the sand dunes near the drift fence. As the girls
watched in amazement, she dug a deep hole and buried the package. Her
work completed, she carefully brushed sand over the spot and obliterated
her own footprints one by one.

"What was the idea of that?" Louise asked in bewilderment.

"That's what I want to know!" Penny muttered. "We'll wait until she
leaves and then find out the contents of that package!"

But Mrs. Deline did not immediately go away. Instead she sat down in the
sand close by. The girls could not see very well but they thought she was
writing something on the skirt of her white suit.

"Why is she doing that?" Louise asked in bewilderment.

"I'll bet a cookie she's writing down the location of what she hid in the
sand dune!" Penny speculated. "That's so she can find it again!"

"But why write it on her skirt? And why should she hide anything here on
the beach?"

"Because she's a spy!" Penny declared triumphantly. "I've been suspicious
of her from the first!"

"Yes, you have, darling," agreed Louise. "But would a spy necessarily
hide a package? If Mrs. Deline had information to communicate wouldn't
she send it to her superiors? Besides, Sunset Beach isn't even an
important manufacturing town."

"That's true. But I've heard Dad say that the Coast Guards watch this
place closely. Because of its isolation and jagged coastline it's
considered a likely spot for surprise night landings by the Enemy."

"Only this morning you thought old Jake Skagway was a rascal," Louise
chuckled. "You don't catch me falling for your theories this time."

"Then you have no interest in that hidden package?"

"Of course I have! I merely don't agree that Mrs. Deline is a spy."

"Quiet!" Penny warned. "Here she comes!"

Mrs. Deline had arisen from the sand and came rapidly down the beach. She
did not see the girls until she was very close to them. Involuntarily,
she paused, and looked somewhat disconcerted. Recovering, she spoke

"Hello," Penny responded, her gaze on the woman's white flannel skirt. It
bore not a single tell-tale mark.

Mrs. Deline went on down the beach.

"You see," Louise whispered when the woman was beyond hearing, "she
didn't write anything on her dress."

"But we saw her do it!"

"We only thought we did."

"Maybe she wrote it in invisible ink."

"Oh, Penny, you certainly have an imagination," Louise sighed.

"I suppose I imagined about the package too?"

"No, she really did bury something in the sand."

"Then what are we waiting for?" Penny demanded, leaping to her feet.
"Let's dig it up, and then maybe we'll have the answer to a few of our

                         _VOICE FROM THE CAVE_

From a distance Penny and Louise had marked well the spot where Mrs.
Deline had buried the package. But as they approached the drift fence all
of the dunes seemed strikingly similar in appearance. They could not
agree as to the exact mound which contained the hidden package.

"It was buried in this one, I think," Penny said, starting to dig. "Mrs.
Deline certainly did a good job of covering her tracks."

"You're wasting time working on that dune," Louise insisted. "I'll get
busy over here and turn up the package in nothing flat."

Selecting a mound of sand several feet from Penny, she began to dig with
a will. The mysterious package proved elusive. Scarcely had the girls
started work than a few raindrops splattered down.

"Oh, it's going to storm!" Louise exclaimed, turning startled eyes toward
the dark sea.

The rain came down faster and faster. Faced with a choice of abandoning
the search or being drenched, the girls decided to make a dash for the

As they darted up the steps at the Crystal Inn, they were surprised to
see Mrs. Deline sitting on the veranda. A spyglass lay in her lap.
Whether she had been watching the sea or their own antics they had no way
of knowing.

"Have you seen my father, Mrs. Deline?" Penny asked, shaking the
raindrops from her flying hair.

"Indeed, I don't keep track of his whereabouts," Mrs. Deline replied
coldly. "By the way, did you find what you were searching for in the

The question caught Penny off guard. She stammered a few words which only
caused the widow to smile in a knowing, amused way.

"I don't mind telling you what I buried in the sand," she resumed. "It
may save you a little trouble. The package contained nothing but fish

"Fish bones!"

"Yes, I had just visited my friend, Jim McCoy, at the lighthouse. It's
most difficult to bury anything there because of so many rocks. He asked
me to dispose of the scraps for him."

"Oh," Penny murmured, completely deflated.

"I've been watching you girls through the spyglass," Mrs. Deline went on.
"It really was amusing."

"I can imagine," Penny agreed grimly. "Oh, well, I'm glad to provide a
little amusement for this dead place."

She and Louise retreated until they were screened from the widow by a
potted palm.

"I guess she scored on you that time, Penny," Louise commented. "So we
wasted our strength digging for garbage!"

"You needn't rub it in."

"But it's all so silly. Why don't we try to like Mrs. Deline, Penny?"

"I'll leave that job up to you. Furthermore, how do I know she was
telling the truth? Maybe she just handed us that story so we wouldn't go
on digging in the dunes!"

"That's so!" Louise acknowledged. "Mrs. Deline isn't the type to be doing
gracious little jobs for anyone."

"If Jim McCoy asked her to bury a package of garbage, she would have
disposed of it long before she did," Penny reasoned. "Instead, she walked
quite a distance down shore. Then she seemed to select a particular dune,
as if by pre-arrangement."

"You think she may have hidden something there expecting another person
to pick it up?"

"That's my theory, Lou. Oh, I wish this rain would let up."

Restlessly Penny walked to a window. The rain showed signs of slackening.
And as she watched, a taxi drew up in front of the hotel. Jerry
Livingston leaped out.

"Wait for me!" he instructed the driver. "I'll be right back."

Penny and Louise managed to block Jerry's path as he came hurrying into
the hotel.

"Hello, girls," he greeted them offhanded. "Want to go for a drive into
the country?"

"We certainly do," Penny accepted for both. "What's our destination?"

"Tell you on the way," Jerry answered.

He disappeared into an elevator, but was back in the lobby within a few
minutes. Taking Penny and Louise each by an elbow, he escorted them to
the waiting cab.

"In a way, this is a secret trip," he said after he had given directions
to the driver. "Ever see a radio monitoring truck?"

"Never even heard of one," Penny replied. "What is it?"

"Well, we have a truck equipped so that our instruments pick up the
direction from which any short wave broadcast is sent. It's not generally
known that the Army's at work here, so whatever you girls see you must
keep under your sunbonnets."

The taxi sped along the country road, following a route that was
unfamiliar to the girls. By the time it drew up several miles from Sunset
Beach the rain had ceased.

"Tumble out," Jerry said, opening the cab door. "This is the end of the

He went ahead, breaking a hole in the tall hedge at one side of the road.
Eagerly the girls followed him through the gap. In a clearing just beyond
a clump of saplings stood what appeared to be an ordinary covered Army

An enlisted man came toward Jerry and the girls, saluting smartly.

"Are you picking up any signals?" Jerry asked him.

"Nothing yet, sir. The weather hasn't been very favorable."

"You've had your equipment set up here two days now?"

"Right, sir."

"It's not likely we'll get anything today or tonight," Jerry replied.
"Oh, well, we'll have to have patience. Sooner or later the station will
go on the air again, and then we'll learn its location."

Louise and Penny were curious to learn more about the monitoring truck.
Jerry took them inside, introduced them to the officers, and showed them
the radio apparatus.

"Our truck is equipped with rotating antennae," he explained. "Whenever
the unknown station starts to broadcast we'll be able to swing our loops
toward the signals. Then we chart the signals and where the lines
intercept, the station is located."

"As you explain it, Jerry, finding any radio station is a simple matter."

"It is, providing the station doesn't move in the meantime.
Unfortunately, Mr. Voice from the Cave is an elusive fellow."

"You have no idea who the man may be?"

"No, he's known to FBI agents only as B4 which is a code number."

"What is the purpose behind the broadcasts?" Louise inquired. "Enemy

"We know that the station is enemy owned and operated," Jerry replied.
"So far that's about all we do know, for we've been unable to break the
code. We suspect that persons connected with the station may be aiding
German prisoners to escape from the country."

"Prisoners originally held in Canada?" Penny inquired.

"Yes, they've been aided by a ring of very clever spies."

Penny was silent as she thought over the information. There were many
questions she longed to ask.

"Jerry--" she began, but just then there came an interruption.

In the Army truck an officer had adjusted his earphones. His attitude as
he listened was one of tense expectancy.

"Picking up any signals?" Jerry demanded.

The other man nodded. "Something's coming in! Yes, it's our friend, the
Voice. In just a minute we should know exactly where the station is

Jerry and the girls remained in the truck, eagerly awaiting a report from
the efficient men who manned the radio direction finders.

"Okay, we've got it charted!" came the terse announcement a moment later.

"Where's the station located?" Jerry demanded eagerly. "Let's see the

It was thrust into his hand. Jerry stared at the intercepting lines and
then at a map of the district.

"Why, the station seems to be located along the shore!" he exclaimed.
"Apparently in one of the caves--Crystal Cave I'd judge."

"That's the cave where Louise and I were!" Penny exclaimed. "But we saw
no shortwave radio apparatus. Only crazy old Skagway who was playing a
tune on the stalagmites."

"All the same, direction finders don't lie. The broadcast came from
Crystal Cave! But that doesn't mean the station will be there fifteen
minutes from now."

"What's to be done?" Penny asked. "Can't the Voice be caught before he
has a chance to move his portable outfit?"

"A message already has been sent to Headquarters. Army men should be on
their way to the cave now."

"Jerry, we're not far from Crystal Cave ourselves!" Penny exclaimed, her
eyes dancing with excitement. "Can't we go there too?"

"We can and will!" Jerry laughed. "But if we expect to catch our friend,
the Voice, there's no time to lose. Come along, girls, if you're
traveling with me."


Penny sprawled on the grass beside the dying embers of the camp fire.
Listlessly, and with very bad aim, she hurled acorns at a brown squirrel
chattering overhead.

"You've been in a bad mood ever since we got back from Crystal Cave,"
Louise observed, coming out of the tent. "But why take it out on that
poor creature?"

Penny raised herself on an elbow. She scowled and did not reply.

Louise moved over to the fire, seating herself on a log beside her chum.

"Oh, brace up," she said, slipping an arm about Penny's shoulders. "In
all my life I've never seen you act so discouraged."

"I feel lower than the worms. Nothing's gone right since we came to
Sunset Beach."

"On the contrary, I can't see that anything has gone so very wrong."

"Wasn't our trip to the Crystal Cave a bust?" Penny demanded.

"Well, it wasn't a success."

Louise smiled wryly at the recollection. With Jerry and the Army men, she
and Penny had spent the afternoon searching various caves along the water
front. Not a trace had been found of the mysterious radio station which
so plagued local authorities. The search had been a long and exhausting
one. In the end, though the others kept on, she and Penny had been
compelled to give up.

"My feet hurt yet from scrambling over the rocks," Penny declared. "I
suppose Jerry and those Army officers will keep searching half the

"And I'll warrant they never do find the station," Louise contributed.
"This is one mystery I wish you had never stumbled into, Penny."

"I'm beginning to feel the same way, Lou. This is supposed to be a
vacation. I'd like to see Dad and Jerry once in awhile."

"So that's what's bothering you!"

"Well, you know Jerry will be here only a few days at most," Penny said
defensively. "I've barely had a chance to say 'hello' to him. Dad's
always down at the hotel too."

"What you crave seems to be male companionship."

Penny tossed a stick of wood on the fire, making the sparks fly. "I could
do with a little," she admitted. "Life is too dull here."

"Dull?" Louise gazed at her chum suspiciously.

"It's no use being surrounded by mystery if one can't get into the thick
of it. So far all the adventure has by-passed us."

"We might stir up a little excitement by looking for that package Mrs.
Deline buried in the sand."

"Not today," Penny said with a sigh. "Too tired. Besides, I told Jerry
about it and he wasn't much impressed."

"So that's the reason for your gloom," Louise remarked wisely. "As a
detective you don't rate."

"Something like that. Jerry met Mrs. Deline at the hotel today and he
thought her a very charming lady."

"Oh!" Louise laughed. "No wonder you're all smashed to bits!"

Penny got up from the grass and began preparations for supper. She peeled
a pan of potatoes and opened a can of corn.

"We need a bucket of water from the spring," she said suggestively. "Want
to help me carry it?"

"I will," Louise agreed without enthusiasm.

The trail led up a steep path to a rocky ledge from which cool spring
water gushed out of a steel pipe. Penny drank deeply and then hung her
tin bucket over the outlet to fill.

"It's starting to get dark," she observed, noticing how shadowy the woods
had grown. "I hope Dad returns to camp soon."

"Someone's coming now," Louise remarked as her keen ears detected the
sound of footsteps on the trail below.

"Probably one of the rangers."

Penny unhooked the water bucket from the pipe, and the girls started down
the trail, carrying it between them. Emerging from among the trees, they
glimpsed a figure below them. A woman in a dark cloak who carried a
picnic hamper, was walking rapidly up the winding trail.

Penny stopped so suddenly that she spilled water on her sandals.

"Lou, that's Mrs. Deline!" she whispered.

"What of it, pet? She's evidently going on a picnic."

"At this time of day? And alone?"

"Well, that part of it does seem a bit odd."

Penny pulled her chum into the bushes beside the path. Crouching low
beside their water bucket, they allowed the woman to pass. Looking
neither to the right nor left, she hastened on up the trail.

"She seems to be in a big hurry," Penny commented, coming out of hiding.
"Now where do you suppose she's going?"

"Probably to the cabin. One of your ranger friends told me about a rustic
place farther up the trail. It was built especially for the enjoyment of
the public."

"But why would Mrs. Deline go there alone?"

"Maybe she intends to meet someone."

"Lou, that's probably what she is going to do!" Penny exclaimed. "Let's
follow her and find out."

"What about supper?"

"Who cares for food?" Penny demanded. "If Dad comes home he can rustle a
little for himself. It's more important that we follow Mrs. Deline."

"Okay," Louise agreed, "only I'm in no mood to walk very far. Remember,
we've had one wild chase today."

Leaving the water bucket behind the bushes, the girls set out in pursuit
of Mrs. Deline. Not without admiration they acknowledged that the widow
was a better trail climber than they. Though the hamper she carried
evidently was heavy, she fairly skimmed up the rough trail. Penny and
Louise fell farther and farther behind.

"She's heading for the cabin all right," Penny puffed. "Of course she
intends to meet someone. Otherwise, she'd have had her picnic on the
beach or some place closer to the hotel."

A clearing opened up through a gap in the trees. Mrs. Deline paused as
she came within view of the rustic log cabin and gazed carefully about.
The girls saw her look at her wrist watch.

"She has an appointment with someone," Penny declared.

Mrs. Deline walked to the door of the cabin and tested it to make certain
that it was unlocked. She did not go inside. Instead, she set down the
hamper and gazed slowly about the clearing. Louise and Penny, at the
fringe of woods, saw her start as she looked directly toward them.

"She's seen us!" Louise gasped.

"We'll have to go out and meet her," Penny decided instantly. "Let's
pretend we just happened to be coming this way. But we'll stick around
and see who she's meeting."

Mrs. Deline stiffened visibly as the girls sauntered out of the woods
toward her.

"Well, this is a surprise meeting you," she said in a tone none too
friendly. "Is your camp located near here?"

"Down the trail a short distance," Penny replied, thoroughly enjoying the
widow's discomfiture. "Having a picnic?"

"Why, yes. I love the outdoors and thought I'd take a hike this

"It's rather late for a picnic," Penny said pointedly.

"It took me longer to get here than I expected."

In an effort to discourage her young annoyers, Mrs. Deline pushed open
the door of the cabin. Before she could pick up the hamper, Penny seized

"Let me," she said quickly. "My how heavy! All this food for one person?"

"Certainly," Mrs. Deline answered. "Who else?"

Penny set the hamper on the table. Deliberately she raised the lid. The
basket was filled with food, enough for a dozen persons, and in the
bottom she saw a folded wool blanket. Beneath the blanket were several
bulky garments which she took to be men's clothing. Before she could see
plainly, Mrs. Deline jerked the lid of the hamper into place.

"Please!" she said with emphasis.

"I was only trying to be helpful," Penny said, pretending to look
injured. "Don't you want Lou and me to dust off the table and spread out
the picnic things?"

"I do not. If you'll excuse me for saying so, I came on this picnic to be
alone. I enjoy solitude."

"But it's getting dark," Penny argued. "We wouldn't think of deserting
you. The cabin has no light."

"I don't mind the dark. Anyway, I brought candles. I really prefer to be

Thus dismissed, Louise started to leave. Penny lingered, trying to think
of some excuse. Just then, from somewhere in the woods, she heard a
shrill whistle unlike any bird call.

"What was that?" she asked alertly.

"I heard nothing," said Mrs. Deline.

Nevertheless, a moment later the woman sauntered to an open cabin window.
Deliberately she turned her back to the girls, trying to block their
view. Quickly she raised and lowered her handkerchief.

The movement was deftly executed, but swift though it was, Penny saw and
understood. Mrs. Deline had signaled to an unseen person beyond the
fringe of trees!


Penny moved swiftly to the open cabin door, gazing toward the darkening
woods. No one was visible amid the shadows. Yet she was certain that Mrs.
Deline had signaled to someone lurking among the trees.

The widow had turned from the window to unfasten the lid of the picnic

"Since you girls are here you may as well stay and share my supper," she
said without warmth. "There's enough food for all."

Louise's chin tilted proudly. The invitation was grudgingly given, and
she meant to decline. Penny forestalled her by saying:

"How nice of you, Mrs. Deline! Of course we'll be delighted to remain."

Mrs. Deline made no reply, though obviously she had not expected an
acceptance. Irritably she laid out the picnic dishes--sandwiches, a
salad, cake, cookies, and fruit--all carefully prepared and cooked at the
hotel kitchen.

"You certainly did bring plenty of food for one person," Penny commented,
helping herself to a chicken sandwich. "Isn't that clothing in the bottom
of the basket?"

"Only a blanket." Mrs. Deline closed the lid firmly. "I thought I might
need it if I should sit on the damp ground."

Hungry as bears, Penny and Louise did not try to curb their healthy,
young appetites. Mrs. Deline, on the other hand, scarcely nibbled at the
food. Several times she arose and paced nervously to the window.

"It's growing dark and I should return to the hotel," she said the
instant the girls had finished eating. "I'll not bother to repack the
lunch basket."

"Oh, we'll help you pick up everything," Penny offered.

"Please don't bother. I'll merely pay the hotel for the basket."

Penny was convinced that Mrs. Deline deliberately intended to leave the
hamper behind. Despite the deep inroads she and Louise had made,
considerable food remained. It occurred to her that the widow hoped to
leave what remained so that the person hiding in the woods might come to
the cabin for it after the party had gone.

"I can't be bothered with a heavy basket," Mrs. Deline said impatiently.
"We'll just leave it on the table."

"Oh, the rangers wouldn't like to have us leave food here," Penny
protested. "It will only take a minute to clean up everything."

Disregarding Mrs. Deline's order, she began to repack the remains of the

"But I don't wish to carry the basket all the way to the hotel!"

"Louise and I will help you."

Tossing her head, Mrs. Deline walked out of the cabin, allowing the door
to slam behind her. Louise and Penny finished packing the lunch and
hastened down the trail in pursuit.

"Maybe we shouldn't cross her so," Louise whispered uneasily. "I think
she intended to meet someone here!"

"I'm sure of it," agreed Penny. "We spiked her little plan. I have an
idea who she intended to meet too!"


Penny could not answer, for by this time she and Louise were practically
at Mrs. Deline's heels. The widow was walking as fast as she could.

"You'll have to keep the basket," she told the girls irritably. "I'm sure
I'll never carry it back to the hotel."

All the way to the Parker camp Mrs. Deline ignored Penny and Louise. And
as they bade her goodbye, she barely responded.

"Can't we drive you down to the hotel in the car?" Penny offered, feeling
slightly ashamed of her actions.

"Thank you, no," the widow answered icily. "You've done quite enough for
one day." She vanished down the darkening road.

After Mrs. Deline was beyond view, the girls retraced their way to the
spring for the water bucket. As they approached, they thought for a
moment that they heard retreating footsteps. The realization that they
were alone in the woods, made them a bit nervous. Hurriedly they
recovered the bucket and carried it to camp.

"Now tell me what you think, Penny!" Louise commanded when they were
inside the tent.

"Why, it's clear as crystal." Penny struck a match to the wick of the
gasoline lantern and hung it on a hook of the tent pole. "Mrs. Deline
went to the cabin intending to meet someone. She carried extra food, a
blanket, and if I'm not mistaken, clothing for a man."

"You thought she signaled from the window?"

"I'm sure she did, Lou. She warned the person, whoever he was, not to
approach. She hoped by leaving the basket behind to get it into his hands
after we'd gone."

"You thwarted her in that."

"We did together," Penny chuckled. Her face suddenly became sober.


"It just occurred to me! Maybe the man she intended to meet was the same
fellow who stole food from our camp."

"That's possible. But why should Mrs. Deline be interested in a common

"How do we know that fellow was a tramp?" Penny speculated. "Jerry told
us about a young soldier that had escaped from a Canadian prison camp.
Mrs. Deline may be trying to help him by supplying food and heavy

"As usual, Penny, aren't you leaping to hasty conclusions?"

"Maybe I am, but everything fits in beautifully. I've thought from the
first that Mrs. Deline was nothing less than a spy or an international

"You've aired that theory before," Louise said, stretching out on the
cot. "Wonder when your father will get here?"

"I wish he would come," Penny replied, glancing anxiously toward the
road. "At least I have one consolation."

"What's that?"

"I know he's not with Mrs. Deline. Oh, Lou, think how horrible it would
be to have a spy for a stepmother!"

"It would be something different anyhow," Louise chuckled. "Want to
listen to the radio awhile?"

"Okay," Penny agreed, "maybe we can tune in that outlaw station. It's
about time for the regular nightly broadcast."

Closing themselves into the car, the girls tried without success to get
the outlaw shortwave station. Tuning instead to a dance orchestra, they
discussed the day's happenings and made elaborate plans for the morrow.

"I'm really going to work," Penny announced grimly. "No Mrs. Deline ever
will outwit me! Our first job must be to find that package she buried in
the sand."

"And what of the person hiding in the woods?"

"The rangers ought to take over that part." Penny peered out through the
car window at the dark woods which hemmed in the camp. "Somehow," she
admitted, "I don't like the idea of being here at night. I'm not exactly
afraid, but--"

"Listen!" Louise ordered sharply, "Someone's coming!"

Penny snapped off the radio. Tensely, the girls watched the road. The
next instant they relaxed, for it was Mr. Parker who trudged wearily up
the slope. Seeing Penny and Louise in the car, he came over to apologize
for being so late.

"I've been with Jerry for the past two hours," he explained. "Time went
faster than I realized."

"Any news?" Penny asked eagerly.

"Not about the radio station if that's what you mean. The fellow got away
with his portable outfit slick as a whistle."

"The authorities have no idea who the man is, Dad?"

"Not the slightest. So far they've not been able to break the code he
uses either. But in time they'll get him."

Having gleaned what information they could from Mr. Parker, the girls
related their own adventure. As they fully expected, he made light of the
episode at the cabin.

"Why should Mrs. Deline expect to meet anyone there?" he argued. "Penny,
I'm afraid you don't understand her and misinterpret her actions."

"I don't understand her, that's certain."

"As to a man loitering about the camp," Mr. Parker resumed, "I've been
worried about that ever since food was stolen. As I must be gone so much
of the time, why wouldn't it be better for us to move to the hotel?"

Penny stiffened for an argument, and then suddenly changed her mind.

"All right, Dad," she astonished him by saying, "as far as I'm concerned,
we can move tomorrow. I've had enough of the lonesome life."

"Why, that's fine!" Mr. Parker said heartily. "Splendid!"

After he had moved on, to sit for awhile by the dying embers of the fire,
Louise remarked to Penny that explanations were in order.

"How come you're ready to desert the rough and rugged life?" she
demanded. "At first you were dead set against moving into the hotel."

Penny carefully raised the car window so that her father would not

"I believe in fighting the Enemy on his own territory," she explained
elaborately. "Mrs. Deline will bear watching. I intend to devote all my
waking hours to the cause."

"So Jerry has nothing to do with it?"


"You wouldn't want to move to the hotel so you'd see more of him?"

"What an idea!" Penny scoffed. "Whoever thought of such a thing!"

"You did or I'm no mind reader."

"Well, it may have crossed my mind," Penny acknowledged with a giggle.
"In fact, I can see quite a few advantages to hotel life. With luck we'll
yet make something of this vacation!"

                        _VISITORS NOT PERMITTED_

Penny stood before the mirror in the hotel room and struggled to coax a
little curl into her damp hair. She and Louise had spent two hours
splashing in the surf that morning. The salt water had tightened their
skins and produced discouraging results with their tresses.

"This place does have it over a forest camp," Penny said, gazing about
the comfortably furnished room she shared with Louise. Her father's room
was three doors down the hall. "A shower bath, no meals to cook, no
dishes to wash, and the sea at one's elbow."

"I like it better," replied Louise. She had curled up kitten fashion on
the bed and was making deep inroads into a box of chocolates. "So far
though, we've not done much fancy sleuthing."

"We've only been here a few hours. Where do you suppose Mrs. Deline keeps

"In her room no doubt. Why do you worry about her so much, Penny?"

Penny twisted a few ringlets over her finger and abandoned the project as
hopeless. "Lou, you know all the prize answers without asking me," she
said. "I've told you a dozen times why I distrust that woman."

"Doesn't it all simmer down to one thing? You're jealous as a green-eyed

"Maybe I do dislike her," Penny grinned. "On second thought, I'm sure of
it! But facts are facts and have nothing to do with my personal feelings.
In the first place, didn't she get Dad to bring her with us to Sunset

"But what does that prove? She has no car of her own and the trains are
so crowded."

"I think she knew that Dad was coming here to try to dig up a story about
the outlaw radio station," Penny went on, unruffled. "She's probably
pumped him of information."

"Your father knows how to look after himself."

"That's what _he_ thinks!" Penny muttered. "I wouldn't place any wagers
on it myself. Why, he's been as blind as a bat."

"I'm afraid you see enough for two or three people," Louise chuckled.

"I told you, didn't I, how that vampire tried to steal our car while we
were on our way here?"

"Two or three times, darling."

"Well, it would bear repeating. I think she intended to meet someone that
night--perhaps the same person who was hiding in the woods!"

Louise, methodically eating chocolates, mulled over the possibility.

"Jerry told us that an escaped flier from a Canadian prison camp may be
hiding somewhere near here," Penny resumed, wandering to the window.
"Perhaps Mrs. Deline is trying to help him!"

"You have a new theory every minute," Louise yawned. "Why not think up
one and stick to it?"

Penny did not answer for at that moment she observed Jerry Livingston
leaving the veranda of the hotel.

"Come on, Lou!" she cried, jerking her chum off the bed. "I want to see
Jerry before he escapes!"

"Talk about Mrs. Deline pursuing your defenseless father!" Louise
protested as she was pulled down the hall to the elevator. "Her tactics
at least are more subtle than yours!"

"This is different," Penny retorted shamelessly. "Jerry and I are old

Swinging through the revolving doors of the hotel, the girls raced after
Jerry. Breathless from running, they finally overtook him far down the

"Why, hello," he greeted them with a broad smile. "I hear you've moved
into the hotel."

"Lock, stock and barrel," Penny laughed. "We want to be in the thick of
things. Any news about the radio station?"

"Nothing I can report, I'm on my way now to Intercept Headquarters."

"Did you see Dad this morning?"

"Only for a few minutes. He's doing a little special work for me."

"At least I'm glad it's for you and not Mrs. Deline," Penny said stiffly.
"Jerry, there are some things you should know about that woman."

"Suppose you unburden your heart," Jerry invited, seating himself on a
sand dune. "I have about ten minutes to listen."

"Don't encourage her," sighed Louise. "She's slightly cracked on the
subject, you know."

"Nevertheless, Penny has ideas at times," Jerry paid her tribute.

Talking like a whirlwind, Penny delved deeply into the subject of Mrs.
Deline. She repeated how the widow had buried a package in the sand, but
it was not until the episode of the cabin was described that Jerry really
seemed interested.

"Penny, at first I didn't take your Mrs. Deline talk very seriously," he
admitted. "Perhaps you have something after all!"

"I'm sure of it, Jerry!"

"Have you reported to the park rangers?"

"Dad may have seen them, I'm not sure. We left camp in a big rush."

"Then I'll take care of that, Penny. We'll have the park searched again
and try to find that fellow!"

"Then you do believe he's the escaped flier!" Penny exclaimed.

"Probably not," was Jerry's discouraging reply. "Nevertheless, we can't
afford to overlook any possibility."

"What about the package in the sand?"

"You remember where it was buried?"


"I'll not have time to go with you now," Jerry said, looking at his wrist

"Louise and I haven't much to do this morning. We'll be glad to search."

"Go ahead," Jerry urged. "If you fail then I can take over. The important
thing is not to tip off your hand. Don't let anyone suspect what you're

Penny and Louise nodded soberly. They felt rather important to have been
assigned a definite task.

"Report to me as soon as you find that package," Jerry urged as he
started on. "It may contain something of vital importance. It may not.
We'll withhold judgment until we have the facts."

Left to themselves, the girls lost not a moment in hastening to the
section of beach where Mrs. Deline had been seen to bury the package.

"Now just where was it?" Penny asked, gazing about the deserted dunes.
"What became of our marker?"

"We left a stick to show the exact spot."

"Not a sign of it now. What wretched luck!"

Though the girls knew the general locality where the package had been
buried, all of the dunes looked discouragingly alike. Not a footprint
remained to guide them.

"I'll bet a cent Mrs. Deline came back here and removed that stick!"
Penny declared. "Maybe she dug up the package too!"

"Anyone could have taken the stick. Why do you think she did it?"

"Because she watched us digging for the package. Well, let's look for it

With none too much enthusiasm, the girls set to work. The tide was much
lower than upon their last visit and the shoreline did not look the same.
Nor could they agree within forty feet of the right place to dig.

"You try one dune, and I'll work on another," Penny offered as a

An hour of unavailing work found the pair too discouraged to keep on

"If this is the right place, Mrs. Deline or someone has removed the
package," Penny declared, sinking back on her heels.

"We may as well give up," Louise added wearily.

Penny slid down the dune and emptied sand from her shoes.

"There should be an easy way to beat Mrs. Deline at her own little game,"
she remarked thoughtfully. "For instance, why does she always wear that
jade green charm?"

"Because she likes it I'd imagine."

"But wouldn't you think she'd take it off at night?"

"Perhaps she does, Penny."

"Not the night I was with her. I distinctly gained the impression that
there was something about it she was afraid I'd see."

"A message contained inside?"

"That's been my theory from the first, Lou. Now if only we could lay our
hands on the charm--"

"Finding the package would be a lot easier. We can't waylay the woman and
take the jade elephant by force. Or can we?"

"No," Penny agreed reluctantly, "I don't think Dad would like that. And
there's always the possibility I might be wrong."

"The probability, you mean," corrected Louise.

Penny retied her shoes and glanced toward the hotel. Far up the beach she
saw Mrs. Deline, and the widow was walking slowly toward the sand dunes.

"Duck!" Penny ordered, rolling over one of the high ridges. "We don't
want her to see us here. She'll suspect what we've been up to."

Louise crouched behind the dune with her chum, though she complained that
she felt silly doing it. Apparently, Mrs. Deline had not seen the girls.
She came steadily on.

Drawing close, she peered directly at the dune where the girls had taken
refuge. For a second they feared that she had seen them. But she passed
on without another glance.

"It looks to me as though she's on her way to the lighthouse again,"
Penny remarked after Mrs. Deline was far down the beach. "Wonder why she
goes there so often?"

"I thought visitors weren't allowed."

"According to the rules they're not."

From behind the dune, the girls kept watch of the widow. Presently they
saw her climb the steps of the lighthouse and disappear into the

"Well, that settles it!" Penny exclaimed indignantly.

"Settles what?" Louise straightened up, brushing sand from her skirt.

"If Mrs. Deline can get into that lighthouse, so can I. We'll make an
issue of it!"

"Not today," said Louise dubiously.

"Right now!" Penny corrected, starting down the beach. "That lighthouse
is government property, and as citizens we have certain rights. Let's
assert them and see what happens!"

                        _INSIDE THE LIGHTHOUSE_

Unchallenged, Penny and Louise reached the base of the lighthouse. But as
they slowly climbed the iron stairs, their courage fast slipped away.

"What will we say to the keeper?" Louise faltered. "I've even forgotten
his name."

"I haven't," said Penny. "It's Jim McCoy. If Mrs. Deline is allowed
inside the tower, shouldn't we have the same privileges?"

"She's a personal friend."

"That should make no difference," Penny argued. "This is government

"Let's not do it," Louise pleaded, holding back.

Having proceeded so far. Penny was in no mood to retreat. Quickly, lest
she too lose her courage, she rapped hard on the tower door.

Minutes elapsed. Then the heavy oak door swung back and Jim McCoy, the
burly keeper, peered out at the girls. His bushy brows drew together in
an angry scowl.

"You here again!" he exclaimed.

"Yes," said Penny, making the word crisp and firm.

"I'll have to report you if you keep pestering me," the keeper scolded.
"How many times have I told you no visitors are allowed?"

"But you don't treat everyone the same!" Penny remonstrated. "Mrs. Deline
just came here."

"Mrs. Deline? Who's she?"

"Why, a woman who stays at the hotel. She came through this door not five
minutes ago!"

"You must have imagined it. I've had no visitors."

Penny's silence said more plainly than words that she did not believe the

"So you think I'm lying, eh?" he demanded unpleasantly. "Okay, come in
and see for yourselves. I'm breaking a rule to invite you into the tower,
but maybe then you'll be satisfied and quite bothering me. We have work
to do here, you know."

The keeper stepped aside so that the girls might enter.

"My living quarters," he said curtly. "You see, I have no visitors."

Decidedly ill at ease, the girls gazed about the little circular room.
The walls were lined with built-in cupboards. Nearly all of the furniture
had been made with a view to conserving space. As Mr. McCoy had said,
there were no visitors--no evidence that Mrs. Deline ever had been there.

"Are you satisfied?" the keeper demanded unpleasantly.

"But we were sure Mrs. Deline came here," Penny stammered.

"There's been no one today except early this morning when a government
inspector paid me a visit."

Penny did not believe the man but she deemed it wise to appear to do so.

"I'm sorry," she apologized. "I guess we have made nuisances of

"That's all right," the keeper said in a less unfriendly tone. "Kids are
kids. Now that you're here, look around a bit."

"Oh, thank you," Louise replied gratefully. "I've always wanted to see
the inside of a lighthouse."

"I have some work to do," Mr. McCoy announced. "The light's not been
operating right and I'm trying to get the mechanism adjusted. I'll be

He went out, allowing the door to slam hard.

The girls surveyed their surroundings with keen interest. On a table near
the window there was a shortwave radio. A circular couch occupied another
curving corner of the room.

"What became of Mrs. Deline?" Penny whispered. "She certainly came here."

"Of course she did! We saw her plain as day!"

"She must be somewhere in the tower. Probably there's a room above this

Penny tiptoed to the door and tried to open it. To her surprise and
chagrin, it would not budge.

"My Great Aunt!" she whispered. "We're locked in!"

"Maybe the door's just stuck." Louise strode across the room to help
Penny. Both of them tried without success to open it.

"Let's shout and pound!" Louise suggested.

"No, wait! I think we've been locked in here on purpose."

"Oh, Penny!"

"Now don't get nervous. The keeper's no fool. He'll have to let us out."

"But why would he lock us in?"

"Because he's provoked at us for one reason, Lou. Another, something's
going on here that he doesn't want us to know about. He and Mrs. Deline
may be having a tête-à-tête in the room above."

"Then let's listen. Maybe we can overhear their conversation."

Penny nodded and fell silent. Though the girls listened for a long while,
no sound reached their ears.

"This is a nice situation!" Louise fumed. "I think the door locked
itself. We ought to shout for help."

"Goose, a door doesn't lock itself."

"This one might have a trick catch."

"It was Mr. Jim McCoy who accomplished the trick," Penny said. "Listen!
Someone's coming now."

Plainly the girls could hear footsteps on the iron balcony outside the
door. A moment later they were able to distinguish a murmur of men's
voices. The footsteps moved on and a moment later they heard a door close

"Another visitor!" Penny announced. "Did you hear what was said, Lou?"

"Couldn't make out a word."

"Nor could I. But that voice sounded familiar. I'm sure I've heard it

"I had the same feeling, Penny."

The girls listened intently, hoping to overhear conversation on the floor
above. However, the walls of the lighthouse were so thick that not a word
reached them. Now and then they thought they heard Mrs. Deline's high
pitched voice.

"Louise, it's just come to me!" Penny whispered a moment later. "I
believe Mr. McCoy's visitor may be George Emory!"

"The voice did sound a little like his. But why would he come here?"

"Maybe we've under-rated George Emory. Why, all this time he may have
been trying to get information from us."

"He did ask us quite a few questions, particularly about your father."

"And he seemed to know a lot about that outlaw radio station, Lou. Maybe
he tried to throw us off the track by suggesting that we watch old Jake

"We certainly fell for it, Penny."

"We did, if you assume that George Emory is upstairs having a conference
with Mrs. Deline and the lighthouse keeper. But we're not sure."

"No, we're not, Penny. One easily can be mistaken in voices."

Determined to hear more, Penny cautiously climbed up on the radio table,
so that her head and ear were close to the ceiling.

"Can you make out anything?" Louise whispered.

Penny shook her head in disgust. After a few minutes she dropped lightly
down from the table.

"Walls are too thick," she announced. "I could hear three voices though.
Two were men and the other, a woman."

"Then Mrs. Deline must be here. The keeper lied about that part."

Presently the girls heard footsteps again on the iron stairway. They
moved to the window, hoping to see whomever was descending from the room
above. However, the little round aperture was so situated that it gave a
view of only one side of the Point. They could not see the stairway nor
the stretch of beach leading to the hotel.

"We're certainly learning a lot!" Louise said crossly. "I've had enough
of this. Let's shout for help."

"All right," Penny agreed. "We may as well find out whether or not we're

Crossing to the heavy oak door, she pounded hard on the panels. Almost at
once the girls heard someone coming.

"Don't let on what we suspect," Penny warned her companion.

The next moment the door swung open to admit the keeper of the light.

                            _A LOCKED DOOR_

"I was gone a little longer than I meant to be," Jim McCoy apologized as
he came into the room. "Did I keep you waiting?"

"We probably wouldn't have waited if you hadn't locked the door!" Louise
said sharply.

The keeper's eyebrows lifted and he looked slightly amused. "Locked in?"
he echoed.

"Yes, we couldn't get the door open."

"Oh, it sticks sometimes. Been intending to fix it for several days. If
you had pushed hard it would have opened."

"We certainly pushed hard enough," Penny said dryly. She was more than
ever certain that the lighthouse keeper had unlocked the door only a
moment before entering. Clearly, he had meant to prevent Louise and her
from seeing and hearing what went on in the room above.

"Come along," the keeper invited. "I'll show you the tower."

"No thank you," Penny replied coldly. "We've spent so much time here that
we'll have to be getting back to the hotel."

"As you like." The keeper shrugged, and looked relieved by the decision.

Jim McCoy stepped away from the door, and the girls hastened down the
iron stairway. No one was in sight on the beach. Whoever had visited the
lighthouse during the time they were imprisoned, had disappeared.

When they were well down the beach, Louise and Penny slackened their
pace. Glancing back they saw that the keeper of the light still stood on
the tiny iron balcony watching them.

"That man gives me the creeps," Louise remarked. "Did you believe what he
said about the door sticking?"

"I did not," Penny returned with emphasis. "I think he locked us in on
purpose, probably because he was expecting visitors and didn't want us to
see too much."

"As it turned out we didn't learn a thing."

"We have no proof of anything," Penny admitted slowly. "Nevertheless,
we're pretty sure Mrs. Deline visited the tower."

"George Emory too."

"That part is pure guess," Penny said, "so we don't dare consider it too
seriously. Did you ever see Mrs. Deline with George Emory?"

"Why, no. But then, we've not been at the hotel long."

"Let's find Jerry or Dad," Penny said abruptly. "We ought to report to

Returning to the hotel, the girls looked in vain for Mr. Parker. The
publisher was not in his room nor anywhere in the lobby. Jerry apparently
had not returned from Intercept Headquarters.

"There's Mrs. Deline," Louise whispered, jerking her head toward a
high-backed chair not far from the elevator.

The widow was reading a newspaper. If she saw the girls she paid no
attention to them.

"Let's talk to her and see what we can learn," Louise suggested.

Penny had another thought. "No," she vetoed the suggestion. "Mrs. Deline
would be more likely to learn things from us. That woman is clever."

Just then Mrs. Deline arose, picked up her purse, and went out the front
door of the hotel. On their way to the elevator. Penny and Louise noticed
that the woman carelessly had left a handkerchief and her room key lying
on the chair.

"I'll turn them in at the desk," Louise said, picking up the articles.

"Wait, Lou!"

Louise glanced at her chum in surprise.

"I have an idea!" Penny revealed, lowering her voice. "Are you game to
try something risky?"

"Well, I don't know."

"This chance is tailor-made for us!" Penny went on. "Mrs. Deline simply
handed her room key over to us. Let's use our opportunity."

"Enter her room?" Louise asked, shocked.

"Why not? FBI agents think nothing of examining the belongings of a
suspected person."

"But we're not FBI agents, Penny. I don't want to do it without asking

"By that time it will be too late. It's now or never."

"Mrs. Deline might catch us in the act."

"That's a chance we'll have to take." Penny, in possession of the room
key, walked to the front door of the hotel. She was reassured to see that
Mrs. Deline had seated herself on a bench some distance from the veranda.

"The coast's clear," Penny reported, coming back to Louise. "What do you

"Well, I suppose so," Louise consented nervously.

An elevator shot the girls up to the fourth floor. To locate Mrs.
Deline's room required but a moment, and the halls fortunately were
deserted. Penny fitted the key into the lock and pushed open the door.

"We'll have to work fast," she said, closing it behind them again.

The room was in perfect order. Only a few toilet articles had been set
out on the dresser. Mrs. Deline's suitcase was only half unpacked.

"It looks to me as if the widow is holding herself ready to fly at a
moment's notice," Penny commented. "Otherwise, why didn't she unpack

"What do you expect to find here?" Louise asked nervously. "Let's get it
over with fast, Penny."

"Start with the bureau drawers," Penny instructed. "Search for any
papers, letters or the sort. I'll go through the suitcase."

Carefully the girls began examining Mrs. Deline's personal belongings.
Almost at once Louise reported that the bureau contained nothing of
interest. Penny, however, had more luck. She came upon a pearl-handled
revolver buried beneath a pile of silk underclothing.

"Jeepers!" she whispered, touching the weapon gingerly. "Now will you
believe me when I say that the widow isn't the sweet little girl she'd
have us believe!"

Louise's eyes had opened wide at sight of the revolver.

"And here's that white suit she wore!" Penny cried, lifting out a folded
garment from the suitcase. "Look, Lou!"

From the skirt of the suit had been cut a neat, square hole.

"Well, of all things!" Louise exclaimed. "What's the meaning of that?"

"Mrs. Deline wrote something on the skirt--don't you remember? Probably
she used a pen with invisible ink."

"But why on her skirt, Penny?"

"She'd just been to the lighthouse. Perhaps she learned something there
and she wanted to write it down before she forgot. Possibly she didn't
have any paper. Then when she got back here, she either destroyed the
message, or sent it to someone."

"Well, I don't know," Louise said doubtfully. "It's all so fantastic. I
wouldn't believe a bit of it except for this revolver. Having it doesn't
look so good."

"And don't forget the green elephant charm," Penny reminded her. "I wish
we could find it here."

"Not a chance. Mrs. Deline always wears it around her neck. She had it on
today. I noticed."

Time fast was elapsing and the girls were worried lest someone discover
them in the room. Hastily they replaced everything as they had found it,
and relocking the door, stepped out into the hall.

"What's our next move?" Louise asked as they buzzed for a down-going

"To tell Jerry and Dad, of course. But before that, there's one thing I
wish we could do, Lou. It would give everything we have to report a more
substantial basis."

"What's that, Penny?"

"Why don't we get our hands on the jade green elephant? I've a hunch that
it contains something important--perhaps evidence that would crack the
case wide open."

"And just how do you propose that we acquire the charm?" Louise asked
sarcastically. "Are we to waylay Mrs. Deline and take it by force?"

"Afraid that wouldn't do."

"There's no other way to get it. Mrs. Deline wears that charm as if it
were her skin. I've never seen her without it."

The elevator was coming down so Penny spoke hurriedly.

"There is a way," she said softly, "if only it will work. Think we could
get Mrs. Deline to go bathing in the surf with us?"

"And ruin that lovely hair-do? Don't be silly."

"All the same, it's worth trying," Penny urged. "Let's go to our room now
and get our bathing suits."

"I don't see any point in it."

"You will," Penny laughed, entering the elevator. "If my little plan
works we'll have keen sport and maybe do our country a good turn!"

                          _NYMPHS OF THE SEA_

"How you expect to get Mrs. Deline to go swimming with us is beyond me!"
Louise opined as she and Penny left the hotel, their bathing suits
swinging over their arms. "It's none too warm today. She dislikes us both
intensely. Furthermore, she never swims."

"Any other reasons?" Penny asked cheerfully.

"That should be enough."

"Just wait and watch," Penny chuckled. "I just hope she doesn't suspect
we've been prowling in her room. If she got wise to that she'd report us
to the hotel management."

Before leaving the hotel the girls had taken care to drop the room key in
the chair where Mrs. Deline had left it. They were confident that no one
had seen them take the key or enter the room.

The widow remained as the girls last had seen her. She was sitting on a
bench facing the sea, her gaze fixed on the deep blue line of the
horizon. As the girls passed beside her, she looked up, frowning

"We're on our way to the bath house," said Penny, her tone implying that
the matter was one of great importance.

"Really?" Mrs. Deline's voice barely was polite.

"Wouldn't you like to come with us?" Louise invited cordially.

The invitation took Mrs. Deline by surprise. "No, thank you," she
declined. "I can't swim."

"We'll teach you," offered Penny.

"You're too kind. I don't care for the water. I particularly detest cold

"The air is warming up," Penny tried to encourage her. "Why not try it
with us?"

"Nothing could induce me."

Louise nodded grimly, as much as to say that she had known how it would
be. Penny would not give up. She decided to adopt drastic measures.

"No, I didn't suppose you would go into the water," she said. "You're
probably afraid you'll get salt water on that lovely skin of yours, or
muss up your hair."

"Oh!" gasped Mrs. Deline. "The very idea!"

"Isn't that the reason?" Penny pursued ruthlessly. "You have to protect
your beauty?"

"No, it's not the reason!" Mrs. Deline snapped. "If I had a bathing suit,
I'd show you!"

"You can use mine," Penny said promptly. "Louise has an extra one she'll
let me have."

Mrs. Deline looked trapped and angry. She sprang to her feet.

"All right, I'll go swimming!" she announced. "If I catch pneumonia I
suppose you'll be satisfied!"

"Oh, you'll love the water once you're in," Penny said sweetly. "The bath
house is this way."

Mrs. Deline spent so long getting into the borrowed suit that the girls
began to fear she had outwitted them. But just as they were ready to give
up, the woman came out of the dressing room. Penny's suit was a size too
small for her so that she looked as if she had been poured into it. Her
legs were skinny, her hips bulged. She still wore the elephant charm.

"Don't I wish Dad could see her now!" Penny muttered. "What a

Ignoring the girls, Mrs. Deline walked stiffly toward the surf. A wave
rolled in, wetting her to the knees. Mrs. Deline shrieked and backed

"It's freezing!" she complained.

"You have to get wet all at once," Penny instructed kindly. "This way."

She seized Mrs. Deline's hand and pulled her toward the deeper water.

"Let me go!" Mrs. Deline protested, trying to shake free. "Stop it!"

Penny held fast to her hand. A big roller broke over their heads. Mrs.
Deline sputtered and choked and struggled.

"Oh, this is dreadful!" she whimpered.

"You have to watch for the waves and jump just as they strike you," Penny
laughed. "Now!"

She leaped, but the widow mistimed the roller. It struck her a resounding
whack on her shoulders and head.

"Oh! Oh!" she moaned.

"Here comes another!" warned Louise. "A big one too!"

Mrs. Deline broke away from Penny. She started to run for shore. The big
roller overtook her, sweeping her from her feet.

This was the opportunity that Penny awaited. Pretending that she too had
lost her balance, she allowed the tide to carry her straight into Mrs.
Deline. For an instant they both were beneath the surface of the water.

Penny worked fast. Clutching Mrs. Deline as if in terror, she yanked hard
at the slender chain that held the green elephant charm. It snapped and
the jade piece came off into her hands. Deftly she thrust the charm into
the front of her bathing suit. Then she popped up above the water,
winking at Louise.

Mrs. Deline scrambled to her feet, clutching at the broken chain.

"See what you've done!" she accused Penny. "You pulled it apart. My
beautiful charm has fallen into the water!"

"Let me help you look for it," Louise offered, darting forward.

As the pair were groping about on the sandy floor, another wave rolled
in. Penny neglected to warn Mrs. Deline. It struck her from behind,
toppling her over on her face. Her cap slipped awry and she swallowed
salt water.

"Oh, I can't stand any more of this!" she spluttered. "It was cruel of
you to get me to come into the surf! Now I've lost my charm, and it was
all your fault, Penny Parker."

"I'll buy you another ornament," the girl offered. Seeing Mrs. Deline's
distress she felt a bit ashamed of herself.

"Another ornament!" the widow mocked. "I don't want another! I want the
one I've lost. It's of vital importance to me to keep it."

Mrs. Deline made another futile search for the charm.

"It's been washed away," she cried. "I'll never find it now!"

Glaring furiously at Penny, she turned and fled to the bath house.

"Did she really lose the charm?" Louise demanded the moment the girls
were alone. "Or did you get it, Penny?"

Penny answered by producing the green elephant charm from the front of
her bathing suit where she had hidden it.

"Easy as taking candy from a babe," she chuckled. "My, but was she
hopping mad!"

"You may not be laughing if your father hears about this," Louise warned.
"He's apt to look at matters from a different angle than we do."

Penny skipped through the shallow water and sat down on the beach well
beyond the reach of the waves. Louise flopped beside her. Eagerly they
examined the jade green trinket.

"Looks like any ordinary charm to me," Louise remarked. "No special

"It should open," Penny said. "The first night when Mrs. Deline and I
shared a room, I was sure I saw her close it."

Louise turned the charm over and pried at it with a hairpin.

"It does have a back lid!" she exclaimed excitedly. "Penny, I think it's
going to open!"

"I'll say magic words while you work," Penny laughed. "Furthermore, I'll
keep watch of the bath house. We don't want Mrs. Deline to pop out here
and see us."

Louise pried again at the lid of the charm. It gave suddenly.

Inside the tiny cavity was a folded piece of paper. While Louise stared
in delighted awe, Penny gained possession. With nervous haste she
unfolded the paper. She gazed at it a moment and her face fell.

"Why, I can't make anything of the writing!" she declared in
disappointment. "The words don't make sense."

"Just a mess of letters," Louise agreed, peering over her shoulder.

The girls were decidedly let-down for they had gone to much trouble and
risk to obtain the jade ornament. But Penny's disappointment did not last
long. As she stared at the paper, its significance dawned upon her.

"Why, this is important, Lou!" she cried. "Maybe we've stumbled into
something big!"

"How do you mean?"

"Don't you see?" Penny demanded triumphantly. "The letters, of this
message must comprise a secret code! If only we can break it down we may
learn all we need to know about Mrs. Deline and her strange friends!"

                          _THE CARDBOARD BOX_

While Penny and Louise were puzzling over the strange writing found
inside the jade charm, Mrs. Deline appeared in the doorway of the bath
house. Barely in time to escape detection, the girls hid the tiny
elephant and the paper in the sand.

Mrs. Deline crossed the beach to speak to the girls. Her hair was damp
and stringy, her face pinched and blue from cold.

"Here's your suit!" she snapped, slapping the wet garment into the sand
at Penny's feet. "I hope you enjoyed the swim! I'm sure I didn't."

Turning her back, the widow marched to the hotel.

The moment Mrs. Deline had disappeared into the white brick building,
Penny dug the jade elephant and paper from the sand.

"Let's get dressed," she urged Louise. "We've no time to waste."

So thrilled were the girls over what they had accomplished that they
could talk of nothing else. Penny felt that by obtaining the jade
elephant she had proven her case.

"You thought I was only jealous of Mrs. Deline," she told Louise
triumphantly as they dressed in adjoining booths. "Now what do you say?"

"That you're a genius!" Louise praised. "Mrs. Deline certainly is mixed
up in some shady business."

Once dressed, the girls wrapped the jade elephant in a handkerchief and
carried it to the hotel. Jerry was nowhere to be found, and a bellboy
told Penny that her father had gone for a walk.

"Perhaps we can work the message out ourselves," Penny suggested
hopefully. "Let's try."

In their hotel room, the girls spent an hour attempting to decipher the
strange jargon of letters appearing on the paper. At the end of that
time. Penny tossed aside her pencil in disgust.

"This is a job for an expert," she declared. "I certainly don't classify
as one."

The telephone jingled. Penny answered it and was delighted to hear
Jerry's familiar voice. He was down in the lobby and had been told that
the girls wished to see him.

"We certainly do!" Penny answered gaily. "Hold everything! We'll be with
you in a jiffy."

The elevator being entirely too slow, the girls raced down the stairs.
Breathlessly they started to tell Jerry what they had learned.

"Not here!" he said quickly. "Let's go outside where we won't be

Once out in the open with no one close by, Jerry lent an attentive ear to
Penny's tale of their afternoon adventure. He did not have much to say in
return, but he studied the jade green elephant and the paper with deep

"You don't think it's anything?" Penny asked in disappointment.

"On the contrary, it may be something of very great importance," he
returned soberly. "I'll take this to Headquarters. We have an expert on
codes who should be able to break it in a short while."

The girls hoped that Jerry would invite them to accompany him, but he did
not do so. Instead he said:

"Penny, you were telling me that Mrs. Deline had buried a package in the
sand. Any luck in finding it?"

"Not a bit."

"You don't think that she went back there and dug it up herself?"

"We didn't see any footprints."

"How did you mark the place?"

"By a stick that someone removed."

"Not a very reliable way to take observations," Jerry remarked. "Ever try
the clock system?"

The girls looked blank.

"For example," Jerry illustrated, "imagine that the landscape is like the
face of a clock. Now what do you see on the hour of two?"

"I don't get it," Louise complained.

"Oh, I do!" laughed Penny. "A big tree!"

"That's right," agreed Jerry. "And at the hour of six?"

"Why, a signboard!" chuckled Penny. "At the hour of seven there's a big
sand dune!"

"If you picture things in your mind as if they're on the face of a clock
it's much easier to remember and keep them in proper proportion. Now,
using that same system can you recall anything more about the place where
Mrs. Deline buried the package?"

"Not very much," Penny admitted. "I didn't take notations at the time."

"Speaking of signboards, I remember one," Louise said thoughtfully. "It
was a long distance back from the beach, slightly to the right. A
cigarette advertisement."

"That's right!" agreed Penny.

"Perhaps that will help some," Jerry said. "We'll have to find the

"Then you believe Mrs. Deline is an Enemy Agent?" Penny asked eagerly.

"I've thought so for quite a while now," Jerry admitted. "I didn't say it
for fear of building up your hopes. Anyhow, we've got to work quietly in
this business."

"Poor Dad," Penny murmured, "I'm afraid it will break him up to learn the
truth. Do you say I should tell him right away, Jerry?"

"Why not?" Jerry demanded, his eyes amused. "Your father may have a few
things to break to you too, Penny."

"Meaning what?"

"I'll let your father do his own talking," Jerry said, getting up from
the hotel bench. "Have to go now."

"Wait!" Penny pleaded. "You've not told us anything. Do you think Mrs.
Deline has been aiding that flier who escaped from a Canadian prison

Jerry deliberately let the question pass. "Listen!" he said urgently. "I
may not see you girls again until after dinner. Want to help me tonight?"

"Doing what?" Penny asked.

"I want you to lead me to the place where Mrs. Deline buried that

"We'll do our best."

"Then if I don't see you earlier, meet me here at nine o'clock. It should
be dark by that time."

"We'll be here," Penny promised, her eyes glowing.

At dinner that night the girls told Mr. Parker of their appointment to
meet Jerry. Penny would have explained about the package, but before she
could do so, Mrs. Deline joined the group. Mr. Parker immediately invited
her to dine with them. To the annoyance of Penny and Louise she accepted
with alacrity.

The girls fully expected that Mrs. Deline would make some reference to
the incident of the afternoon. Instead she avoided the subject, talking
of her experiences in China and the Orient. Despite their prejudice,
Penny and Louise were compelled in all honesty to acknowledge to
themselves that the widow was a brilliant, entertaining

Over the coffee cups Mrs. Deline spoke casually of a play which was
showing at the local theatre. Before Penny could say a word, Mr. Parker
had suggested that he buy tickets for the night's performance.

"I'd love to go," Mrs. Deline accepted instantly.

"Good!" Mr. Parker, approved. "I'll get four tickets."

"Two," Penny corrected grimly. "Louise and I already have an

"That's so," Mr. Parker recalled belatedly.

Mrs. Deline looked so pleased that Penny was sorely tempted to abandon
the meeting with Jerry. Only the realization that the task ahead was
vitally important, kept her silent.

At eight o'clock Mr. Parker and Mrs. Deline left the hotel for the
theatre. With an hour to kill, Penny and Louise were very restless. They
read the evening paper and watched the clock.

"Here's an interesting news item," Penny remarked, indicating a brief
story on an inner page of the paper. "It says an enemy submarine was
sighted not many miles from here--just off the coast."

"Did they get it?" Louise inquired absently.

"I guess not. The story doesn't say, except that the air patrol dropped

"Wonder what a single sub was doing so close here?" Louise speculated.
"Oh, well, we've nothing to fear."

A clock chimed the hour of nine. On the first stroke, the girls arose and
hastened to keep their appointment with Jerry. The night was closing in
dark. Along the shore no lights were showing for the dim-out was rigidly
enforced at Sunset Beach.

"Where's Jerry?" Penny asked as they reached the bench where they had
promised to meet him. "Hope he didn't forget."

Ten minutes elapsed. Penny was examining the luminous dial of her wrist
watch when someone came striding down the gravel path.

"Hello," Jerry greeted the girls. "Sorry to have kept you waiting. All
set for adventure?"

"Lead on!" Penny laughed.

Taking each of them by an elbow, Jerry guided the girls down the deserted
beach. Twice they passed guards who merely stared and allowed them to
pass unchallenged.

"Any news about that code?" Penny questioned as they walked along.

"It's a tough one to break," Jerry replied briefly. "Experts have been
trying to take it apart ever since I left you girls this afternoon."

"Then it really is something?" Penny asked, scarcely daring to hope.

"It certainly is," Jerry replied heartily. "We're pretty sure now that
Mrs. Deline is mixed up in a bad business. But we can't act until we know

"This will be a horrible shock to Dad," Penny remarked. "He's at the
theatre with Mrs. Deline now."

"At least she's out of the way, so there's no chance she'll see us at
work," Jerry commented. "Think you can find the place to dig?"

Penny had marked it well in her mind, but at night everything looked
different. After some uncertainty, the girls agreed upon the dune where
the package had been buried.

"With the tide low we'll have plenty of time," Jerry said. "Well, let's
go! Was the package buried deep?"

"Not more than a foot," Penny supplied.

"Then if it's here, we'll find it. Let's block this area off and cover it

For an hour the trio toiled. Twice one of the beach guards passed by and
Penny was surprised that he paid no heed to what they were doing.

"Orders!" Jerry chuckled. "You didn't think we could come out here and
prowl around without questions being asked? The guard was tipped off.
He'll help us by whistling if anyone comes this way."

Louise, who had been industriously digging, gave a low cry.

"Find something?" Jerry demanded.

"I'm not sure. I think so."

The next instant Louise lifted a small package from its sand tomb. Before
Jerry could warn her, she had torn apart the pasteboard cover.

"Why, it contains pencils!" she exclaimed in disgust. "Pencils!"

Jerry leaped to her side. One glance and he took the box from her.

"Those objects may look like pencils," he drawled. "But take it from me,
they're a bit more deadly."

Penny had moved close. She and Louise stared in awe at the collection.

"Bombs," Jerry explained briefly. "One of these little pencils contains
enough explosive to blow us all to Kingdom Come!"

                         _UNFINISHED BUSINESS_

The cardboard box contained in addition to the pencil bombs a shiny knife
and several grooved, pear-shaped objects.

"What are those?" Louise asked curiously. "They look like hand grenades."

"That's what they are," said Jerry, lifting one from the box. "It's a
mighty useful weapon for close fighting. A strong man can throw a grenade
twenty-five to thirty-five yards and it does damage over a large area."

Penny gingerly inspected one of the grenades.

"It won't bite you," Jerry laughed. "Nor will it explode in your hand.
When you're ready to throw a grenade you hold it with the lever under
your fingers. Just before you toss it, pull the pin."

"Isn't it apt to explode while you're holding it?" Penny asked dubiously.

"Not while the lever is held. When the grenade leaves the hand, the lever
flies off. Then the fuse ignites and in about seven seconds you have your

"Nice little gadgets," Penny said. She replaced the grenade in its box
and ran a finger over the sharp edge of the steel-bladed knife.

"Mrs. Deline evidently planted these weapons here for someone else to
use," Jerry remarked. "We'll put them back just as they were."

"Put them back!" Penny echoed. "Why, Jerry, wouldn't that be playing
right into their hands? Shouldn't we destroy these things?"

"No, it's much wiser to have the place watched."

Light dawned upon Penny. "Oh, I see!" she exclaimed. "In that way you
hope to learn Mrs. Deline's accomplices!"


Jerry replaced everything in the box which he carefully buried in the
sand. Then he obliterated all freshly made footmarks.

"It may be necessary to watch this place for days," he said thoughtfully.

"And what of Mrs. Deline?" Penny asked. "Will she be allowed complete

"That's for my superiors to decide. It seems to me, though, that more is
to be gained by allowing her to remain at liberty than by arresting her."

"I'm all for jail myself," said Penny.

"Just be patient," Jerry smiled. "And whatever you do, don't drop a hint
to Mrs. Deline of what we suspect."

"She knows I dislike her."

"That's all right, but don't let her guess that you consider her guilty
of anything more serious than making a play for your father."

"What about Dad? Shouldn't I warn him?"

"Let me take care of that part," Jerry smiled.

"All right," Penny agreed reluctantly. "Just be sure that you don't muff
it. Remember, you're playing with my future!"

Jerry finished smoothing out the footprints in the sand and then escorted
the girls to the hotel.

"I must report to Headquarters without delay," he said, pausing at the
hotel entrance. "Don't worry about the package. We'll have the place
watched every minute."

After Jerry had gone, Penny and Louise entered the hotel.

"Is my father here yet?" Penny asked the desk clerk.

"No, Miss. And there's a message for him. As soon as he comes in he's to
call Major Gregg."

Penny repeated the name thoughtfully. "That's a new one on me," she
remarked. "Dad seems to have friends I know nothing about."

"Oh, the Major comes to the hotel frequently," the clerk returned,
smiling. "He and your father are well acquainted."

As the girls crossed the lobby to a drinking fountain, Louise said

"I'm afraid you've lost track of your father lately, Penny. You've been
so upset about Mrs. Deline that you've scarcely noticed anything or
anyone else."

"Dad's been holding out on me, that's evident. Wonder what he's to call
Major Gregg about?"

"Why not wait up and see?"

"Not a bad idea," Penny approved instantly. "He and Mrs. Deline should be
getting in anytime now."

"I'm not waiting up," announced Louise with a sleepy yawn. "In fact, I'm
on my way to bed this minute."

To prove her words she started for the elevator. Penny debated whether or
not to follow and finally decided to remain in the lobby.

An hour elapsed. Penny was half asleep by the time Mrs. Deline and Mr.
Parker entered the hotel together. They were chatting animatedly and
would not have seen her had she not scrambled from the wing chair.

Seeing Penny, Mrs. Deline quickly bade Mr. Parker good night and vanished
into an elevator.

"You shouldn't have waited up," Mr. Parker chided his daughter. "Why,
it's nearly midnight."

"There's an important message for you, Dad. You're to call Major Gregg."

Mr. Parker looked disconcerted. "How long ago did that call come, Penny?"

"About an hour ago. Or that's when I learned of it."

Mr. Parker went quickly to a telephone booth and was gone for some time.
When he returned his face was animated.

"Good news?" Penny asked eagerly.

"Not exactly," Mr. Parker replied, sliding into a chair beside her and
dropping his voice. "A message from Interceptor Headquarters. Monitoring
machines have traced the outlaw radio station again. The broadcast
finished about an hour ago."

"And where was the station located this time, Dad?"

"Seemingly at or near the lighthouse."

"The lighthouse!" Penny exclaimed. She was so startled that her voice
rose to a high pitch, attracting the attention of a passing bellboy.

"Not so loud, Penny," her father warned. "The strange thing was that the
broadcast seemed to come from a cave, the same as before, although the
monitoring machines charted it as being close to the lighthouse."

"The only one I know about near the Point is Crystal Cave," Penny said
thoughtfully. "Dad, maybe the broadcast did come from the lighthouse!"

"That's government property. Penny, and the man in charge is beyond
suspicion. Furthermore, the deep, echo effect couldn't come from anywhere
except a cave."

"Unless it were a sound effect, Dad."

"What's that?" Mr. Parker asked, startled. "I don't get you, Penny."

"I mean, maybe the cave set-up is just a sound effect and nothing more.
Only the other night I heard one in a radio play and it sounded as if the
actors really were in a cave. Isn't it done by an echo chamber or
something of the sort?"

"That would be possible," Mr. Parker agreed. "At Interceptor Headquarters
it was assumed that a mistake had been made in charting the location of
the station."

"Then the lighthouse hasn't been investigated?"

"Not to my knowledge."

"Well, it should be!" Penny exclaimed. "Louise and I were there today and
we saw--"

"Yes?" Mr. Parker questioned as she suddenly broke off.

"We saw a lot that didn't look right," Penny finished, deciding not to
bring Mrs. Deline's name into the discussion. "Mr. McCoy had visitors and
while they were there he kept us locked up."

"My word! Why didn't you report to the police?"

"Well, we weren't entirely sure," Penny said lamely. "The door just
closed and locked, and Mr. McCoy let on that it had a trick latch. Then
he released us, but not until after the visitors had gone."

"Did you see the persons?"

"No, we only heard their voices. We weren't able to overhear any of the

Without explaining what he intended to do, Mr. Parker again closed
himself into a telephone booth. Not until he returned did he tell Penny
that he had called Interceptor Headquarters and that Army men had been
sent to the lighthouse to make a thorough check-up.

"Now it's late," he said briskly, "and you're overdue for bed, Penny.
Better fly up."

"Aren't you coming?"

"Not just now. I have a little unfinished business."

Penny hesitated, unwilling to go to bed when she sensed adventure in the
offing. As she groped in her mind for an excuse to remain, the doors at
the front entrance to the hotel began to spin. Jerry came hurrying into
the lobby. Seeing Penny and her father he made a straight line for them.

"The code's been broken!" he announced, addressing Penny.

"What did they learn, Jerry?" she asked eagerly.

"It's just as you thought, Penny." Jerry dropped his bombshell. "Mrs.
Deline definitely is an Enemy Agent. Apparently she was sent to Sunset
Beach to aid that escaped prisoner I told you about!"

                           _NIGHT ADVENTURE_

As Jerry made the startling announcement, Penny glanced anxiously at her
father. In the excitement of the moment she had not thought how much of a
shock it might be to him to learn that Mrs. Deline was an agent employed
by a foreign country. To her astonishment, he looked neither surprised
nor dismayed.

"So you have the proof, Jerry!" Mr. Parker exclaimed. "That's fine! But
what's all this about a code? How did you stumble onto it?"

"No time for details now," Jerry answered tersely. "Penny turned the
trick--she and Louise saw Mrs. Deline bury a package in the sand."

"And Mrs. Deline brought that package from the lighthouse," Penny
interposed eagerly. "Mr. McCoy must have given it to her."

"What's the plan of action?" Mr. Parker demanded. "Army men already have
gone to the lighthouse to search that place thoroughly."

"Our job is to keep watch of the dune where the package was buried.
Naturally we have no way of knowing what time anyone will show up there.
It may be an all night wait."

"I'll be with you in a minute," Mr. Parker declared. "Just as soon as I
get an overcoat."

He started toward the elevator, then came back to the group.

"What about Mrs. Deline?" he asked. "She's here in the hotel. Went to her
room only a few minutes ago."

"She'll be placed under arrest," Jerry said. "Better call her on the
telephone and get her down here. Don't let her suspect that you think
anything is wrong."

Mr. Parker vanished into the nearest telephone booth.

"I can't understand it," Penny murmured to Jerry. "I was sure Dad was
head over heels in love with Mrs. Deline. Why, it didn't even seem to
ruffle him when he learned the truth about her."

Jerry grinned. "Maybe," he drawled, "that was because he knew all the

Penny was dumbfounded. "You mean--" she stammered, "You mean that Dad's
been acting a part? Pretending to admire Mrs. Deline while actually he

"Something like that. You see, your Dad became interested in the outlaw
radio station and the men who operate it. By making inquiries before he
left Riverview, he obtained information that made him think Mrs. Deline
might be involved in some way. He knew she never had been in China but
spent many years in Japan. He learned also that instead of being a
newspaper correspondent, she had carried on secret work for various

"Dad knew all that! And he never let on to me!"

"He couldn't very well, Penny. If you had guessed the truth, you'd have
given it away by your manner--no matter how much you tried to act

"What a little nit-wit I've been!"

"You have not," Jerry denied warmly. "Anyone else would have acted the
same. Without knowing it, you helped your father a lot. You turned up
evidence he never could have obtained alone."

"Where do you fit into the picture, Jerry? Did Dad send for you?"

"You don't send for anyone in the Army," Jerry explained, grinning. "By
pure luck I was assigned here on a special mission. Your father learned I
was coming, so we united forces."

"Then you've both known from the first about Mrs. Deline?"

"We've had a dark brown suspicion, Penny. But no proof until tonight."

Penny drew a deep breath. Before she could ask another question, her
father came hurrying down the hotel corridor.

"Mrs. Deline's not in her room!" he reported. "She doesn't answer."

"She went upstairs only a few minutes ago," Penny recalled.

"Yes, she did, but she's not there now."

"Maybe she's asleep," Jerry said, "and failed to hear the 'phone. We'll
have to check."

Without explaining why the matter was urgent, Mr. Parker arranged with
the desk clerk to have one of the hotel maids go to Mrs. Deline's room.
While the trio waited in the upstairs corridor, the woman rapped several
times on the bedroom door, and failing to get a response, unlocked it
with her master key.

"Mrs. Deline!" she called, softly at first, then in a louder voice.

There was no answer.

The maid then snapped on the light. "Why, there's no one here!" she
cried. "The bed's not been slept in!"

"That's what I was afraid of," muttered Mr. Parker.

With Jerry and Penny, he entered the bedroom. Everything was in perfect
order. However, Mrs. Deline's suitcase was gone and all her belongings
had been removed from the closet.

"She's skipped without paying her room rent!" the maid exclaimed. "I'll
call the manager!"

Penny was peering into the waste paper basket beside the desk.

"Look!" she drew the attention of her father and Jerry. "Burned letters
and papers!"

Digging into the basket, she brought up several charred sheets of paper.
They were unreadable and crumpled in her hand.

"This was a bad break for us--Mrs. Deline getting away!" Jerry exclaimed
in disgust. "Evidently her work at Sunset Beach is finished. She's moving
on to another pasture."

"But she can't be far away," Penny reasoned. "After all, we know when she
came to her room."

"There still may be a chance to nab her," Mr. Parker said. "We'll notify
the police to guard all the roads and the airport. I'll report to Major
Gregg too."

Without awaiting the arrival of the hotel manager, the trio hastened to
the lobby. There Jerry and Mr. Parker made several telephone calls.

"Now let's be on our way up the beach," Jerry urged anxiously. "We've
killed too much time as it is."

Penny half expected that her father would refuse permission for her to go
along. To her delight he merely said:

"I suppose there's no keeping you here, Penny. Well, come with us. I
guess you've earned the right by your good work."

It was a dark night, warm but misty. No lights were showing outside the
hotel, though far up the beach the powerful lighthouse beacon cut swathes
across the black sea.

"What's the plan?" Mr. Parker asked Jerry.

"The entire coast for fifty miles is being watched. I thought just on a
chance we might keep vigil at the place where Mrs. Deline buried the
package of explosives. Someone may show up there. On the other hand,
Penny tipped off the fact that she knew where the bundle was buried."

"Mrs. Deline watched Louise and me through a spy glass," Penny recalled
ruefully. "She knew we didn't find the package though."

"That's our assignment anyhow," Jerry said. "To keep watch of that
particular place until relieved by Army men."

The Parker car was on the hotel lot close by. Getting it, the trio took
the beach road but stopped some distance from the lighthouse. Not wishing
the car to attract the attention of any passer-by, it was left parked on
a private driveway. Jerry, Penny and her father then crossed the dunes
afoot and proceeded up the beach until they came to their station.

"Think this is the place?" Penny asked skeptically.

"I know it is," Jerry replied. "Remember what I told you about taking
observations? Let's see if the package is still here?"

He began digging in one of the dunes. Almost at once he came upon the box
of explosives.

"Exactly as we left it," he reported, replacing the sand. "No one's been

"I doubt anyone will come," Mr. Parker commented. "Probably afraid."

High overhead and out of sight, Penny heard the drone of planes on
coastal patrol. She stared up into the dark sky and then toward the sea.
The tide was coming in and long rolling waves washed the beach, dashed
themselves on the shoreline and retreated.

"We'll have to get down out of sight," Jerry warned. "Mustn't be seen
from the road or the ocean either one."

"How about this spot?" Mr. Parker suggested, pointing to a hollow between
two giant dunes.

The place seemed exactly right, so the trio flattened themselves on the
sand. Jerry looked at the luminous dial of his watch.

"One fifteen," he announced. "No sign of activity."

"And no sign of any soldiers," Mr. Parker added. "I hope that whoever is
to take over here shows up before long."

"I don't," Penny said, snuggling close between her father and Jerry. "I'm
having fun!"

"If anything should develop, it's apt to be serious business," Jerry
warned. "I'm inclined to think that we tipped our hand and nothing will

An hour elapsed. During that time there was no sound save the roar of the
restless sea. The warm sand made a comfortable couch, and despite her
best intentions, Penny caught herself dozing. She had all she could do to
keep awake.

"What time is it now?" she presently asked.

"Two thirty-five," Jerry answered. "It doesn't look as if there's to be
any activity, but then the night's young."

"The night may be, but I'm not," Mr. Parker grumbled, shifting into a
more comfortable position. "Wonder when our relief is to show up?"

"Must be some mix up on orders. We're probably stuck here for the night."

"In that case, Penny should return to the hotel."

"Oh, no. Dad! Anyway, if I left now I might attract the attention of
anyone watching this place."

"You thought that one up!" her father chuckled. "Except for ourselves,
there's no person within a quarter of a mile of this place."

"You're wrong about that," murmured Jerry, stiffening to alert attention.

"What's up, Jerry?" Mr. Parker said quickly. "You act as if you were
seeing things!"

"I am, Chief! Look to the right--between us and the lighthouse!"

Mr. Parker and Penny gazed intently in the direction indicated.

"Can't see a thing," Mr. Parker whispered. "Your eyes must be tricking
you, Jerry."

"Wait just a minute."

Even as Jerry spoke, a shadowy figure emerged from the mists. The man
came swiftly down the beach, making no sound as he walked. When he was
very close, the revolving beacon of the lighthouse singled him out for a
fleeting instant. Brief as was the moment of illumination, Penny
recognized the man.

"George Emory!" she whispered tensely. "What's he doing here?"

                            _OUT OF THE SEA_

The answer to Penny's whispered question soon became obvious. George
Emory looked carefully about the windswept beach. The three tense
watchers thought that he might approach the dune where they lay hidden,
but he did not.

Instead, the man paused while several yards away and gazed toward the
sea. A moment he stood thus, silhouetted against the sky. Then using a
glowing flashlight, he began making wide sweeps with his arm.

"A signal!" Jerry whispered. "He's trying to attract the attention of a
boat out at sea!"

"Shall we go for him?" asked Mr. Parker.

"Wait!" Jerry advised. "He's not the only one we're after. We're stalking
bigger game."

At intervals for the next fifteen minutes, George Emory repeated the
flashlight signals. Then he turned off the light and waited.

Anxiously, Jerry, Penny and Mr. Parker kept their faces turned to the
sea. They sensed that the hour of action was at hand, and it worried them
that Army men had failed to arrive.

"Look, Dad!" Penny suddenly whispered. She had glimpsed far from shore a
long shadowy object which easily could be a boat. No lights were showing
nor had she heard any sound.

"I don't see a thing," Mr. Parker whispered back. "Yes! Now I do! Jove!
It looks like a submarine that's surfaced. I can make out the conning

"But why would it dare come here?" Penny speculated. "Won't it be
detected by the patrol planes?"

"Tonight's a bad night," Jerry pointed out. "Besides, the shore is so
indented at this point of coast that perfect protection is almost
impossible. They're sending a boat, that's sure!"

A small craft had been launched from the wave-washed deck of the
submarine. Manned by two men who rowed with muffled oars, it slowly
approached the shore. When it was very close the watchers behind the sand
dune saw by its grotesque sausage shape that it was a large, rubber boat.
Like a gray ghost it slid over the water.

Mr. Parker gripped Penny's hand in an encouraging squeeze.

"Wish you were safe at the hotel," he whispered. "I was a fool to let you

Penny's heart pounded but she shook her head vigorously. Not for anything
would she have missed the adventure. However, she was cool headed enough
to realize that the situation was not shaping up well for her father and

There were two men visible in the rubber boat, unquestionably armed. Then
George Emory must be reckoned with and the arrival of others might be
expected at any moment. Jerry carried a revolver but her father had no
weapon. Already it was too late for any member of the trio to safely go
for help.

"That sub may intend to land Secret Agents here," Jerry speculated. "But
from the code message we deciphered, it's more likely they plan to take
aboard one or more passengers."

"Perhaps that escaped flier," Penny supplied.

"He's a valuable man to them. Well worth the risk they're taking to try
to rescue him."

"If passengers are to go aboard, where are they?" Penny whispered.
"There's no one here but George Emory."

"We must wait and watch. We'll soon see enough or I miss my guess."

The rubber boat had reached the surf and was being churned by the waves.
Two men in full military uniform, leaped out and guided the boat to the
beach. George Emory waded out to meet them. Shaking the hand of each, he
spoke rapidly in German. Though Mr. Parker understood the language, he
was unable to catch a word.

Tensely, the trio waited and watched. At any moment they feared that the
men from the submarine might seek the cache of explosives hidden not far
away. Soberly Jerry and Mr. Parker considered trying to reach the box in
the sand. To do so they must cross an open, unprotected span of beach
with every likelihood of being seen.

"Let's wait and see what happens," Mr. Parker advised. "We shouldn't risk
calling attention to ourselves."

George Emory and his two companions obviously were awaiting someone.
Nervously they paced the beach. Several times Mr. Emory looked at his
watch. Then from far down the road came the sound of a car traveling at
high speed. Tires screamed in protest as the auto came to a sudden halt
on the paved road back from the beach.

"That's why they've waited!" Jerry whispered.

Barely a minute elapsed before two figures were seen coming swiftly from
the direction of the road. A man and a woman crawled through the bushes,
under the fence, and walked hurriedly across deep sand to the beach.

"Mrs. Deline!" Penny identified the woman. "The man with her is the same
fellow who stole food from our camp!"

"I'd know his face from photographs I've seen," contributed Jerry. "He's
Oscar Kleinbrock, escaped German prisoner. The man I was sent here to

Mrs. Deline and her companion reached the group of men who awaited them.

"You are five minutes late," George Emory reproved.

"Can we help it?" Mrs. Deline snapped. "We're lucky to be here at all. Do
you know that the road is being watched?"

"By whom?"

"Army men. We were nearly stopped but were able to turn off into the
thicket and wait."

"Then there's no time to waste in talk," George Emory said curtly.
Turning, he spoke to the German flier in his own language.

"He's telling him to get aboard the rubber boat," Mr. Parker interpreted
tensely. "Now they're saying goodbye to Emory and Mrs. Deline."

"Somehow we must hold them all here!" Jerry whispered grimly.

"It's two against five. And they're armed."

Mr. Parker and Jerry looked at each other, fully realizing how slim was
their chance of success. They were not thinking of themselves but of
Penny and what could happen to her if they failed. Mr. Parker touched her

"Penny," he whispered. "Slip away in the darkness and make a dash for the
hotel. Jerry and I will try to hold them until help comes. Just keep low
as you run or those fiends may take a pot-shot at you." Penny would not
desert her father and Jerry. Stubbornly, she shook her head.

"We want to know that you are safe," Jerry urged. "Please go while you
still have a chance. You can help us most by bringing help."

Penny's determination to remain, weakened. Yet reason told her she never
could reach the hotel and return with help in time to do any good. It
dawned upon her that Jerry was only saying what he did to get her safely

"If only we had the box of explosives!" she whispered. "With it we might
have a chance against those men!"

"It's too late to dig up the box now," said Jerry. "We probably couldn't
find it without a light. And the noise we'd make--"

"Let me try," Penny interrupted.

"All right, see if you can get your hands on the box," her father agreed
suddenly. "Slip back of the dune, and then circle. Don't try to cross the
beach. Be careful! Remember the least sound will bring a hail of

Penny nodded and slipped away into the darkness, crawling on hands and
knees. Barely had she left the shelter of the big sand dune than she
heard two shots fired in quick succession.

"Those came from Jerry's revolver!" she thought. "Oh, it was a trick to
get me safely away! Now he and Dad are in for fireworks!"

Raising her head above the protecting sand dune, Penny saw why Jerry had
fired. The rubber boat was being launched. To delay the attack would mean
that the entire party might escape.

"They'll all get away!" Penny thought in dismay. "How can Jerry and Dad
hold them single handed?"

George Emory returned Jerry's fire with deadly aim. The bullets bit into
the dune, throwing up little geysers of sand.

"Launch the boat!" he shouted savagely to the men from the submarine.
"Get away while you can! Be quick!"

Jerry and Mr. Parker were determined that the party should not escape. As
the men sought to launch the rubber boat, they made a concerted rush for
the German flier who was to be taken aboard the waiting submarine. Caught
by surprise, he went down beneath their blows.

Fearful of hitting his own man, George Emory dared not fire again.
Instead, he and the crewmen of the submarine fell upon Jerry and Mr.
Parker. In the melee, one person could not be distinguished from another.

"Fools! Fools!" cried Mrs. Deline as she watched the fierce, uneven
struggle. "There is no time to be lost!"

Jerry and Mr. Parker were putting up the fight of their lives, but they
were no match for four able bodied, trained men. Penny, desperate with
anxiety, saw that the struggle could end only in one way--disaster for
Jerry and her father.

"If I had that box of explosives maybe I could help them!" flashed
through her mind.

Rolling over a dune, she ran to the place near the fence where she
thought the cache was buried. Frantically she clawed and dug at the sand.
She could not find the box.

"It must be here!" she told herself desperately. "Or was it hidden in the
next dune?"

She tried another place slightly to the right. As she dug, she heard a
sound behind her. Turning swiftly, she saw Mrs. Deline starting across
the beach toward her.

"Oh, no, you don't!" the woman shouted.

Penny's hand encountered something hard and firm. The box of explosives!
Digging wildly, she lifted it from the bed of sand and sprang to her
feet. Her fingers closed upon one of the hand grenades.

"Get back!" she ordered Mrs. Deline, balancing herself as if to throw.

The woman stopped short, then retreated a few steps. But only for a
moment was she frightened.

"Why, you infant, you couldn't throw a grenade!" she jeered. "You don't
know how. Besides, you haven't the nerve!"

"Get back!" Penny ordered again. "I warn you."

Mrs. Deline laughed scornfully and came on.

Even the thought of throwing a hand grenade terrified Penny. She knew
that she could not deliberately harm Mrs. Deline or even the men who were
mercilessly beating her father and Jerry. Yet she had to do something.

"Maybe I can destroy the rubber boat!" she thought. "It's far enough away
so that no one should be hurt by the explosion."

Whirling away from Mrs. Deline, Penny faced the sea. Fixing her eyes on
her target, the rubber boat at the water's edge, she hurled the grenade.

"Idiot!" cried Mrs. Deline, flinging herself flat on the sand to protect
her face from flying fragments.

Penny did likewise. The grenade dropped with a thud on the sand beside
the rubber boat. Her aim had been perfect. But there was no explosion.
Belatedly, Penny realized that she had forgotten to pull the safety pin.

Mrs. Deline kept her face buried beneath her arms and did not yet know
what had happened. Sick with the knowledge that she had failed, Penny was
desperate. Her father and Jerry were being cruelly beaten by their
opponents. In another minute they would be overpowered and the Germans
would escape to the waiting submarine.

"I can't let them get away!" Penny whispered. "I must do something!"

Remembering the pencil bombs, she groped in the cardboard box for them.
They were not there. Instead, her fingers closed upon the sharp bladed

"I'll slash the rubber boat!" she thought. "I'll try to make a hole in

Before Mrs. Deline realized what the girl was about, Penny darted down
the beach. The men from the submarine did not see her. Reaching the
rubber boat, she leaped into it. Working with desperate haste, she jabbed
the knife through the bottom. The material was tough and it took all of
her strength to make a long jagged gash. Water seeped in, slowly at
first, then faster.

"I've done it!" Penny thought jubilantly. "I've done it!"

Her triumph was fleeting. The next instant the girl was struck a hard
stunning blow from behind. As she collapsed in a limp little heap on the
sand, she dimly saw the cruel, angry face of Mrs. Deline. Then all went
black and she knew no more.

                        _A SCOOP FOR UNCLE SAM_

Penny opened her eyes and wondered where she was. For a moment she could
remember nothing of what had transpired. Gradually, she realized that she
was lying down, her head pillowed in someone's lap. She seemed to be in a
fast-moving motor boat for she could hear the wash of waves against the
craft. In panic she decided that she must be a prisoner enroute to the
German submarine. She struggled to sit up.

"Easy there, partner," said a soothing voice.

Penny twisted sideways to look at the speaker. "Jerry!" she whispered.

"You're all right," he said, pressing her gently back. "We'll get you to
a doctor in a few minutes."

"A doctor, my eye!" Penny protested with spirit.

"That was a nasty blow Mrs. Deline gave you on the head," contributed
another voice.

Penny turned again and saw her father. His shirt was half torn off and
there was a long gash on his cheek.

"Dad, you're hurt!"

"Nothing but a few scratches, Penny. Jerry took worse punishment than I
did. But you should see the other fellows!"

"What happened?" Penny asked. "Where am I anyhow?"

"In a patrol boat bound for the hotel."

"But what happened on the beach? The last I remember was when I tried to
slash the rubber boat."

"You not only tried, you did!" chuckled Jerry. "Mrs. Deline struck you on
the head with something--maybe a rock--and you went down for the count.
About that time, some of the Army boys arrived. Mrs. Deline and her crowd
tried to make a get-away, but the boat couldn't be launched."

"Then what happened?" Penny demanded as Jerry paused for breath.

"The two members of the sub crew tried to swim. They were picked up by a
patrol boat that had been drawn to the locality by the gun fire."

"And Mrs. Deline?"

"She and her pal Emory, together with the escaped flier, struck off
across the sand dunes."

"They didn't get away?"

"Not on your life. They reached the road and there found a nice reception
awaiting them! Right now the three are lodged at Headquarters."

Penny took a deep breath. Her head was throbbing but she scarcely felt
the pain.

"What about Jim McCoy at the lighthouse?" she inquired.

"He was taken into custody earlier in the evening. A portable
broadcasting outfit was found on the premises."

"Then Mr. McCoy really was the man responsible for those mysterious
broadcasts--the Voice from the Cave?"

"No doubt he had helpers," Mr. Parker contributed. "We expect to track
down most of the ring now that the leaders have been captured. At any
rate, we've put an end to the broadcasts. Your other theory was right
too, Penny."

"What theory, Dad?"

"That the cave effect was produced by an echo chamber."

"Then no broadcast ever originated in a cave?"

"Probably not. We know McCoy shifted locations frequently. Tonight was
the first time he ever dared broadcast from the lighthouse."

"And what of the old beachcomber, Jake Skagway?"

"Just a beachcomber," Jerry answered. "He had no connection with Emory or
Mrs. Deline."

Penny lay perfectly still for a few minutes, gazing up at the dark sky. A
few stars pricked the black canopy above her, and now and then a quarter
moon peeped from behind a cloud screen.

"How did I get aboard this boat?" she presently inquired.

"Another patrol boat came by," Jerry explained. "In fact, after all the
fireworks, just about everyone in Sunset Beach arrived on the scene. We
wanted to get you to a doctor so we took the first transportation that

"Almost there now too," added Mr. Parker.

Penny sat up. The shore was dark but she could dimly see the dark Crystal
Inn hotel.

"I don't need a doctor," she laughed. "I'm feeling better every minute.
My, won't Louise be green with envy when she learns what she missed!"

"I'd say she was lucky," Mr. Parker corrected. "Penny, you don't seem to
realize what a narrow escape we all had."

"That's right," added Jerry, "those men were desperate, and they'd have
stopped at nothing. I guess we owe our lives to you, Penny."

Penny loved the praise. Nevertheless, she replied with a show of modesty:

"Oh, I didn't do a thing, Jerry. As a matter of record, I nearly messed
up the show. When I threw that hand grenade I forgot to pull the safety

"I'm glad you did," chuckled Jerry. "If it had exploded, we might not be
here now."

Penny sat very still, thinking over what had happened. Events were a bit
hazy in her mind and many questions remained unanswered.

"The submarine?" she asked after a moment.

"Sunk," Jerry replied. "One of our patrol planes scored a direct hit."

"I guess that brings me up to date," Penny sighed, "There's only one
thing that bothers me."

"What's that?" inquired her father.

"Did you know who Mrs. Deline was when you invited her to come with us to
Sunset Beach?"

"No, but I had a healthy suspicion that she might be working against our
country, Penny. I first met Mrs. Deline at the Club. However, she was
rather transparent in making a play for my attention. In checking up I
discovered that she never had been in China and never had written a
newspaper story in her life. When she practically invited herself to ride
with us to Sunset Beach, I thought I'd try to find out more about her
little game."

"I acted so silly about everything," Penny acknowledged, deeply ashamed.
"I'm sorry, Dad."

"You needn't be, Penny. At times you were rude to Mrs. Deline which was
wrong. But your actions served a good purpose by keeping the woman so
diverted that she never was on her guard."

Shore was very close. As the powerful engines of the motor boat became
muted, Penny said wistfully:

"Now that your work is done here, Jerry, I suppose you'll be winging off
to some far corner of the country."

"Not for a few days at least," he reassured her. "I'm expecting a
furlough and I'll spend it right here at Sunset Beach. We'll cram those
days full of fun, Penny. We'll swim and golf and dance. We'll make every
minute count."

The boat grated gently against the dock and a sailor leaped out to make
the craft fast. Mr. Parker and Jerry helped Penny ashore. Though she
tried to stand steady upon her feet, the boards rocked beneath her.

"Hook on," invited Jerry, offering an arm.

Mr. Parker supported her on the other side, and thus they walked slowly
toward the hotel.

"The Three Musketeers!" chuckled the editor. "'One for all, and all for

"We do make a trio," agreed Penny. "Tonight it seems just as it did when
we were together in Riverview working on a big news story. There's one
difference though."

"What's that?" asked Jerry.

"Tonight we were actors in a little drama that should be page one on any
newspaper. Yet neither of you news hawks so much as spoke of trying to
get a scoop for the _Riverview Star_."

"Good reason," rumbled Mr. Parker. "The story of what happened tonight
may never be published."

"I understand, Dad. If the news were printed now it might give valuable
information to the enemy."

Penny paused to catch her breath. With Jerry and her father still
supporting her, she turned to face the restless sea. The patrol boat had
slipped away into the darkness. Far up shore, unmindful that her
faithless master had gone, the bright beacon from the lighthouse swept
the water at regular intervals. Nothing seemed changed.

"Curtain going down on one of the best adventures of my life," Penny said
softly. "Who cares that the _Riverview Star_ missed the story? Why, this
was an A-1 scoop for Uncle Sam!"

                          Transcriber's Notes

--Replaced the list of books in the series by the complete list, as in
  the final book, "The Cry at Midnight".

--Silently corrected a handful of palpable typos.

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