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Title: The Puzzle in the Pond - Judy Bolton Series, #34
Author: Sutton, Margaret
Language: English
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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.

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               _The Famous_ JUDY BOLTON _Mystery Stories_
                           By MARGARET SUTTON

                          THE VANISHING SHADOW
                           THE HAUNTED ATTIC
                          THE INVISIBLE CHIMES
                          SEVEN STRANGE CLUES
                            THE GHOST PARADE
                           THE YELLOW PHANTOM
                            THE MYSTIC BALL
                       THE VOICE IN THE SUITCASE
                        THE MYSTERIOUS HALF CAT
                     THE RIDDLE OF THE DOUBLE RING
                          THE UNFINISHED HOUSE
                          THE MIDNIGHT VISITOR
                        THE NAME ON THE BRACELET
                    THE CLUE IN THE PATCHWORK QUILT
                         THE MARK ON THE MIRROR
                    THE SECRET OF THE BARRED WINDOW
                           THE RAINBOW RIDDLE
                          THE LIVING PORTRAIT
                     THE SECRET OF THE MUSICAL TREE
                       THE WARNING ON THE WINDOW
                     THE CLUE OF THE STONE LANTERN
                        THE SPIRIT OF FOG ISLAND
                          THE BLACK CAT’S CLUE
                          THE FORBIDDEN CHEST
                            THE HAUNTED ROAD
                     THE CLUE IN THE RUINED CASTLE
                      THE TRAIL OF THE GREEN DOLL
                          THE HAUNTED FOUNTAIN
                      THE CLUE OF THE BROKEN WING
                           THE PHANTOM FRIEND
                  THE DISCOVERY AT THE DRAGON’S MOUTH
                        THE WHISPERED WATCHWORD
                            THE SECRET QUEST
                         THE PUZZLE IN THE POND

[Illustration: _Reaching in, Judy’s fingers closed on a small, round
object._]

                        _A Judy Bolton Mystery_



                               THE PUZZLE
                              IN THE POND


                                   By
                           _Margaret Sutton_


                            Grosset & Dunlap
                         PUBLISHERS    NEW YORK


                     © GROSSET & DUNLAP, INC. 1963
                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
                PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


                           _To the Students_
                       Past, Present _and_ Future
                    _In My Creative Writing Classes_



                                Contents


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
  I A Stolen Typewriter                                                1
  II Help for Holly                                                    9
  III A Rude Shopkeeper                                               15
  IV A Mysterious Truck                                               23
  V Another Green Car                                                 31
  VI The Woods Road                                                   37
  VII At the Beaver Dam                                               43
  VIII An Impossible Discovery                                        50
  IX More Puzzles                                                     58
  X “My Name Is Danny”                                                66
  XI A Born Crusader                                                  72
  XII At the Library                                                  79
  XIII What the Pictures Revealed                                     86
  XIV Together                                                        93
  XV A Band of Gold                                                  100
  XVI Danny’s Confession                                             107
  XVII Fire!                                                         114
  XVIII Questions and Answers                                        121
  XIX Homes for the Homeless                                         125
  XX Was It All a Mistake?                                           132
  XXI The Key to a Mystery                                           138
  XXII Promised                                                      144
  XXIII Identified                                                   150
  XXIV Discovered                                                    157
  XXV An Everlasting Thing                                           164



                         The Puzzle in the Pond



                               CHAPTER I
                          A Stolen Typewriter


“Here’s something Miss Pringle can use!”

Judy ran her fingers over the tiny, embossed Reward of Merit card as if
she couldn’t bear to part with it even for the short time it would be on
exhibit at the Roulsville library.

“Mrs. Wheatley is still Miss Pringle to you, isn’t she?” asked Peter
Dobbs, smiling at his young wife as she knelt beside the open drawer of
the old chest where her grandmother’s keepsakes were stored.

“I do think of her as Miss Pringle,” confessed Judy, “and she probably
thinks of me as that noisy Judy Bolton. Prim Miss Pringle is what I used
to call her. She left everything in such perfect order, it’s hard for me
to believe she and Bob Wheatley lived in our house for two whole months.
We won’t ever rent it again, will we, Peter?”

“You’re not asking me to promise we won’t, are you?” he countered. “You
know how I feel about promises.”

“You’re right, too,” declared Judy, reaching into the drawer for another
one of Grandmother Smeed’s treasured keepsakes. “Here’s a sewing card
worked in cross-stitch. It says: ‘Promise Little. Do Much.’ Do you think
it would do for the September exhibit?”

“I should think so,” Peter replied thoughtfully. “A maxim like that
would do for any time of the year. Does the library plan to exhibit a
few of these things each month?”

“Yes, but just for the school year. Miss Pringle—I mean Mrs. Wheatley
says she wants me to arrange them in that little glass case near the
library door. These reward-of-merit cards used to be given out at school
when Grandma was a little girl. The other card was a sewing lesson.
‘Promise little. Do much,’” Judy repeated, “but how much can a person do
in a day? Maybe I won’t try to sort all these treasures this morning.”

“You’ve made a good start. I wish I could stay and help you. I always
liked treasure hunting,” Peter confessed, “but Uncle Sam expects me to
hunt criminals today. We’ll be using an official car, so I’ll leave the
Beetle for you to transport your exhibit to the library if you do get it
ready. ’Bye, Angel. See you at six.”

“You hope,” Judy added as he bent to kiss her.

Peter’s time was not his own. Working out of the Resident FBI Agency in
the Farringdon Post Office, he might be sent anywhere in the territory.
His assignment now was to round up the Joe Mott gang. Judy knew that
much, although his work was confidential. It was also dangerous. Each
time he left the house she breathed a little prayer for his safe return.

“Take care,” was what she usually said, but in her heart the words
meant, “Take care of our future. Let all our dreams for our married life
in this house come true.”

The house had been willed to Judy by her grandmother, and it was so
sturdy and well built that she felt sure it would stand there on the
slope overlooking Dry Brook as long as the hills themselves.

Peter had left the stair door open, and soon Judy heard Blackberry
padding up to keep her company. He looked around, the way cats will, and
then came into the storeroom to see what Judy was doing.

“Hi, Blackberry! You can’t play with these things,” she told him as she
continued sorting and arranging the cards that were to be exhibited at
the library. The theme for September would be school. She found a few
Hallowe’en things and a Columbus Day card which she put aside for
October. There were turkeys and prayers of Thanksgiving for November, a
pile of Christmas things for December, and a stack of old calendars for
January. The stack grew higher and higher.

“I do believe Grandma saved a calendar for every year. This is
wonderful,” Judy said to herself. “I’ll find some recent calendars and
complete the collection. It will be just perfect for the January
exhibit.”

The library was new, and the built-in exhibit cases were still empty.
Nearly all the buildings in Roulsville were new since the flood that had
swept the valley and started Judy on the trail of her first mystery. Her
own home had been swept away, and her father, Dr. Bolton, had been
obliged to move to Farringdon where he still lived and practiced. Only
her grandmother’s house, two miles above the broken dam, had stayed the
same.

“Maybe that’s why I love it,” she thought.

And yet she and Peter had made changes. It was a rambling old farmhouse
too big for just the two of them so only the downstairs rooms had been
changed. Up here in the attic nothing had been disturbed except by
Blackberry as he played with the spools in Judy’s sewing room or
searched for mice in the other two rooms where her grandmother’s
keepsakes were stored. She liked having him for company as she worked.
Attics and black cats seemed to go together.

Judy smiled at this thought. She was so absorbed in what she was doing
that at first she didn’t hear the front doorbell ringing downstairs. It
rang again more insistently, and she gathered Blackberry in her arms and
hurried down the two flights of stairs. It wouldn’t do to leave the cat
alone among the things she had collected for the exhibit.

“I can’t trust you,” she told him, “even if you are a famous cat.”

Blackberry wore a life-saving medal on his collar, and just recently he
had worked for the government, or so Judy insisted, ridding the Capitol
Building of mice. But when she opened the door he fled through it to
prowl around outside like any ordinary cat.

The cat startled Holly Potter, Judy’s sixteen-year-old neighbor, who had
rung the bell. Obviously she had been running at break-neck speed along
the shortcut from her house to Judy’s.

“What took you so long? I thought you’d never answer the bell. Quick!”
she urged breathlessly. “Maybe we can still head off that green car!
There’s a thief in it. He stole my typewriter!”

“Your typewriter?” gasped Judy.

“Yes, the one you gave me for my birthday. Remember when we traded
birthdays so mine wouldn’t come on Christmas? I loved that typewriter,
and now—”

“We’ll try and get it back,” Judy reassured her. “Come on, Holly!”

They were off down the road in the Beetle before Holly had finished
telling Judy which way the green car went. “Try Farringdon,” she
suggested. “You could see it from the top of the hill if it went toward
Farringdon, couldn’t you?”

“That would depend on how fast he was going, I should think, but we’ll
try it,” Judy promised.

[Illustration: _“Quick!” Holly urged breathlessly._]

She turned left at the main road and sped up the long slope out of Dry
Brook Hollow. At the top of the hill the world seemed to end but,
instead of driving on into the sky the way it looked as if she might,
Judy drove down again with miles and miles of winding road ahead of her.
There wasn’t a green car in sight.

“I’m afraid we’ve lost him,” Judy began.

“But I’m sure he went this way,” Holly insisted. “I would have seen him
myself if he’d turned toward Roulsville. You know how our road angles
off in that direction. Well, I thought if I raced along the shortcut and
we took your road maybe we could head him off if he turned toward
Farringdon. I _have_ to get my typewriter back. Can’t you drive a little
faster?”

“Not without turning the car over. We’ll pick up speed on the straight
road. Then, if we can’t find him, we’ll report the stolen typewriter
when we get to Farringdon. Did he take anything else?” Judy asked.

“No, just the typewriter.”

“That’s strange.” Judy couldn’t quite picture a thief running into
Holly’s house, grabbing her typewriter, and not touching anything else.
She had a rare old paperweight and a brand-new tape recorder in the
first-floor room she called her study. Either of these things would have
been worth more than her typewriter, to say nothing of the valuables
stored in what she had once called her forbidden chest.

“There was nothing strange about it,” declared Holly. “He would have
taken more if I hadn’t surprised him and called Ruth. She was busy with
the baby and didn’t pay any attention. Doris had just left in her car—”

“That’s it!” Judy interrupted. “The thief probably saw your sister Doris
leaving and figured you were all out.”

“Well, we weren’t. I was there, and I saw him run out of the house
toward a green car. Please drive faster, Judy! I have to get my
typewriter back.”

And suddenly, like rain from a clear blue sky, Holly burst into tears.
She was crying over more important things than a stolen typewriter, Judy
knew. It wasn’t easy living with a married sister whose whole interest
centered on her own husband and baby. Holly’s other sister was on her
way to a teaching job at some private school in Maine. The girls’ uncle
had died while Judy and Peter were in Washington. Holly said she had
never felt more lost and alone.

“First it was my parents and then Uncle David. It’s always this way,”
she sobbed. “I told my sisters I wouldn’t dare love them. It’s bad luck
for me to love anybody. Even the _things_ I love have to be taken.”

“We’ll find your typewriter,” Judy resolved as she drove on toward
Farringdon as fast as safety allowed.



                               CHAPTER II
                             Help for Holly


Farringdon was a much larger town than Roulsville. Actually, it was a
small city and the county seat of a hilly county in northern
Pennsylvania. The courthouse, tall and imposing with its clock tower,
stood at the corner of Main and Grove streets. Just opposite was the
office of the _Farringdon Daily Herald_ where Judy’s brother Horace
worked as a reporter. Farther up Grove Street was Dr. Bolton’s combined
home and office.

“Which way shall we turn?” Judy asked when they came to the corner.

Holly shook her head. “I guess it doesn’t matter. Maybe my typewriter
wasn’t stolen after all.”

“_What?_” Judy was so surprised that she nearly hit the curb as they
turned the corner. “If we aren’t following a typewriter thief, then what
are we doing in Farringdon?”

“We are—I mean we were following that green car, and I think my
typewriter is in it. It’s just that I—I mean I haven’t told you
everything.”

“I should say you haven’t,” Judy agreed. “Maybe Horace would help us for
the sake of the story.”

“I’d be glad to have his help,” declared Holly almost too
enthusiastically. “There he is now, walking down Grove Street. Oh dear!
Is that Honey with him?”

“It usually is,” replied Judy. “They’re practically engaged, you know.”

“No, I didn’t know. Good things happen to everyone but me,” was Holly’s
doleful comment. “I’ll probably be an old maid and live all alone
without even a cat for company.”

“That’s up to you, isn’t it?” Judy hailed her brother. He and Peter’s
sister came over to the side of the car.

“Holly thinks her typewriter was stolen,” Judy explained. “On top of all
the other trouble she’s had, this was just too much. Have you seen a
green car?”

“Several of them,” replied Horace. “They’re quite common, or haven’t you
noticed? Come to think of it, a green car did roar up Main Street about
ten minutes ago. The driver was a boy of about sixteen. Dark hair,
striped T-shirt—”

“He’s the one,” Holly interrupted. “Do you think we can still overtake
him?”

“We can try,” replied Judy, “but I’m not making any rash promises.
Didn’t you just tell me you’re not sure he is the thief? You didn’t
actually see him take your typewriter, did you?”

“No, but I did see him running toward that green car, and when I turned
around my desk top was empty. Ruth said maybe Doris took it. You know
the way sisters are, always borrowing things without asking. But I don’t
believe it. Doris knows I need my typewriter. Please drive on, Judy,”
Holly pleaded. “We can’t let that boy get away with it.”

“I’m afraid he did get away with it,” Horace told her. “If he did take
your typewriter, he must be half-way to Ulysses with it by now.”

“That’s the town where we turned off when we visited the Jewell
sisters,” Honey put in, “on our secret quest, didn’t we, Judy?”

“I heard about that. You two girls have all the fun,” Holly complained.

“Fun!” Judy echoed, remembering how frightened she and Honey had been.
“If that’s fun—” She shivered, and her voice trailed off into thoughts
of their latest mystery.

“We were drenched to the skin and that criminal, Joe Mott, was after us.
I’m glad he’s back in prison. I can’t understand it, though,” Honey
continued in a puzzled voice. “Aldin Launt, that artist who works at the
Dean Studios, was never picked up. He works right near me, and every
time he passes my desk I get the shivers. I thought Peter was going to
arrest him.”

“So did I,” agreed Judy, “but maybe he’s being watched in the hope he
will lead the FBI to the rest of the gang. Peter’s work is so secret
that half the time he can’t even discuss it with me.”

“Please don’t discuss it now,” implored Holly. “If we’re going to follow
that green car—”

“You’ll never catch him,” Horace predicted, “and how would you get your
typewriter back if you did? A couple of girls couldn’t handle a thief,
especially if he’s got a gun on him. I don’t suppose you can make a
federal case out of it, but couldn’t you report it to the local police?
I’ll call them right now if you say the word.”

“What do you think, Judy?” Holly asked.

“I’d do it if I were you, Holly,” she advised.

“Okay, then,” Horace said with a satisfied gleam in his eyes. “Just give
me all the details. Then we’ll relax and let the police handle it. Honey
and I were on our way to lunch. How about joining us?”

Judy looked up at the courthouse clock. “Oh dear! The morning’s gone. I
didn’t think it was lunchtime already. I am hungry. Aren’t you, Holly?”

The younger girl insisted that she couldn’t eat a thing, but once they
were inside the restaurant she changed her mind. “I guess I could eat a
hamburger,” she conceded.

While Horace went to telephone, the three girls ordered lunch. Holly was
still jumpy. She kept tossing her mane of thick brown hair like a
restless colt. She wore it perfectly straight in a long pony tail.
Judy’s red curls were cut a little shorter than usual, but Honey had let
her lovely honey-colored hair grow long to please Horace. Today she wore
it loose about her shoulders.

The three girls were very different in appearance, but they had one
thing in common. All three of them adored Judy’s brother, Horace Bolton.
He was a shy-appearing young man. To look at him, no one would suspect
that he had once startled the town of Roulsville out of its complacency
by racing through the streets on Judy’s ginger colt and crying out, “The
dam is breaking! Run for the hills.”

Thinking back, Judy realized that since Horace had become a hero, he had
changed. There wasn’t a note of timidity in his voice as he talked with
the police officer who later came in and quietly seated himself at their
table. It was Holly who was frightened. “I—I didn’t think they’d send a
policeman,” were her first words. “I can’t be sure of anything. Maybe
it’s all a big mistake.”

“We’ll take that chance,” the officer replied, smiling as he wrote out
his report.

“Tell you what, Judy,” Horace suggested as they were leaving the
restaurant. “Why don’t you and Holly drive on a ways? Maybe you’ll see
that green car parked somewhere along the road. I’ll finish up a little
job I’m doing and tell Mr. Lee this looks like a story. He’ll give me
the afternoon off to follow it up.”

“What about you, Honey? Do you have to go back to work?” asked Judy.

“Oh, I guess Mr. Dean would give me the afternoon off if I asked him. I
can’t do any work with all that hammering going on anyway. Where shall
we meet you?” Honey asked.

“At the beaver dam!” exclaimed Judy, suddenly enthusiastic. “Remember,
Honey? Violetta said she’d show it to us. I have my camera in the car.
Maybe we could take pictures of the beavers.”

“It’s a date! Violetta is the younger of the two Jewell sisters,” Honey
explained to Holly, “though neither of them is young. They’re such
dears! They live in one of the oldest houses in this section of
Pennsylvania. It’s like stepping back in time just to visit them.”

“I’ll ask them if they have anything for the library exhibit. I have the
job of choosing the displays for those new cases in the Roulsville
library,” Judy explained. “All right, Horace, we’ll see you and Honey at
the beaver dam.”



                              CHAPTER III
                           A Rude Shopkeeper


“I hope the beaver dam holds better than that one just above
Roulsville,” Holly commented as they started off again. “We have to pass
it on the way to school. I remember how it was last term. The boys and
girls in the school bus quiet down fast if they happen to glance out the
window and see those big pieces of broken concrete. A lot of them lost
their homes when that dam broke, just the way you did, Judy. Did you go
back afterwards to see if anything could be saved?”

“We went back too late, I guess. We didn’t find much of anything.
There’s always some looting after a big disaster like that. People are
too interested in making sure all their loved ones are safe to worry
about their possessions.” Judy paused. She had been younger than Holly
was now when the Bolton family’s home in Roulsville had been swept away
in the flood, but it still hurt to think about it.

“Dad had to treat a lot of people for shock,” she continued as they
drove past the Post Office, where Peter’s office was, and entered the
outskirts of Farringdon. “Our house was turned over and one wall smashed
in. I guess the furniture just floated away.”

“It would have to float somewhere, wouldn’t it?” Holly questioned.

“I suppose it would, but we never found it. Grandma wanted us to take
some of her things,” Judy remembered, “but we thought it would be better
to leave her house the way it was and buy everything new. Of course we
couldn’t replace the beautiful fruitwood bench Dad had in his reception
room or the lady table. That was a lovely period piece that had been in
the Bolton family for generations.”

“What period?” asked Holly, who was something of an expert on antique
furniture. She once had lived with a cousin who collected antique
glassware.

“Empire, I believe.”

“Empire furniture is valuable. Usually it’s pretty solid, too. Why did
you call it the lady table?” Holly wanted to know.

“That’s the name I gave it when I was a little girl. There were ladies
carved on the legs. They held the marble table top on their heads. They
had such quiet, patient faces.”

Now Judy was thinking back in spite of herself.

It had been exciting, furnishing the so-called Haunted House in
Farringdon and exposing its “ghosts.” New furniture had been bought, and
a few good antiques had been discovered in out-of-the-way shops. Dr.
Bolton’s massive oak desk was one such piece. Judy’s dresser with the
secret drawer was another. Buying it all by herself had been a real
adventure. Only gradually had she come to realize their loss.

Judy’s thoughts broke off as she suddenly stopped the car. They had been
driving through a small town to the north of Farringdon. A dingy row of
gray houses lined the road. Some of their porches had been sheared off
in order to widen the highway, and some had been made into shops. Judy
had noticed one of the signs:

                               H. SAMMIS
                Antiques, Used Furniture Bought and Sold

“And there’s a green car in the driveway!” exclaimed Holly. “Oh, Judy!
Luck is with us after all. That boy may be inside right now trying to
sell my typewriter!”

“Maybe it’s still in the car. Let’s have a look,” Judy suggested.

She parked the Beetle right behind the green car, blocking the driveway.
No one seemed to be around so Judy and Holly carefully examined the
interior.

“Empty! He’s probably trying to sell it. Come on inside,” Holly urged,
pulling Judy along with her.

“Don’t be in such a hurry. He can’t get out while we’re parked there,
and I want to take down his license number! There!” Judy announced when
she had it. “Now we’ll go in like any other customers and pretend we
want to buy something.”

“A typewriter!” agreed Holly. “We’ll just ask. Then, if we see mine,
we’ll call the police.”

Judy shook her head. She didn’t think it would be that easy, but she was
willing to go along with Holly just for the adventure. “If we don’t find
your typewriter,” she told her, “we may find some old cards for my
collection. Anyway, it will do no harm to go in and look around.”

“Look at all the lovely old glassware in the windows,” Holly pointed out
as they walked around to the front of the shop. “There’s a blue glass
hen just like the one Cousin Cleo has in her collection. And look at
those chalkware lambs and that beautiful luster cream pitcher!”

Inside the shop it was hard to move around because of all the old
furniture crowded into every inch of floor space. Judy had to move a
chair to reach the cream pitcher Holly had admired. Before she could
touch it, a voice barked at her.

“Careful there! You’ll have to pay for anything you break.”

“I have no intention of breaking anything,” replied Judy. “I just wanted
to see that luster cream pitcher.”

“That’s eighty dollars!”

“Oh dear! I guess I don’t want it then. We really came in to look at
typewriters. You do sell typewriters, don’t you?” Judy asked, looking
around the shop to see if the driver of the green car had come in.

“New ones,” Holly added. Her typewriter was almost new.

“You came to the wrong place for a new typewriter. We sell anything and
everything so long as it’s old.” The shopkeeper, a stout, balding man,
looked at the two girls as if he considered them slightly stupid.

“I meant—almost new,” Holly stammered.

“Are you Mr. Sammis? Will you let us see what you have, please?” Judy
asked.

He showed them a row of ancient typewriters in the back of the shop.
They were all of the same make, and all were equally old and dusty.

“There aren’t any others?” Holly’s voice held disappointment.

“No, that’s all we have.”

His tone of voice plainly told the girls he wished they’d go, but Judy
wasn’t ready to leave until she had done a little more exploring.

“I’m collecting old cards and calendars for a library exhibit,” she
explained. “Do you have anything I can use?”

“In the box over there. But don’t be all day looking them over. Your
car’s parked right in front of mine.”

Mr. Sammis had just seen it through the window.

“Oh, is that your car?” Judy asked innocently. “We saw a boy driving it
this morning.”

“Impossible!” he snorted. “It’s been parked right where it is all day.”

Judy and Holly looked at each other. They could have made a mistake.
Green cars were common, just as Horace had said. The typewriter wasn’t
in the shop, and neither was the boy who had been seen driving a green
car. Voices came from the upper floor, but they were indistinct. Then,
suddenly, something was dropped with a loud thud. Holly jumped.

“My wife,” Mr. Sammis explained. “She’s always dropping things. Did you
find anything you want?”

“Not yet,” Judy replied. She and Holly had been looking through the box
of old cards. Near the bottom Judy found a little booklet marked _School
Souvenir_.

“Here’s something for the September exhibit,” she said as she opened it.

“But that’s for the close of school,” Holly objected, reading over her
shoulder. The illuminated verse read:

  Oh! Swift the time has fled away
    As fleeting as the rose
  Since school began its opening day
    Till now its day of close.

The verse was followed by the name of the teacher and pupils in some
long-ago country school. Hugh Sammis was one of the names.

“Is this for sale?” Judy asked, sure he wouldn’t want to part with it.

He laughed, an unpleasant sort of laugh as if he were making fun of her.
“It’s junk. I was going to throw it out. You can have it for a quarter.”

“I’ll take it then,” Judy decided. “It’s for the beginning of school,
too,” she pointed out as she and Holly made their way back to the front
of the shop.

“Careful there!” Mr. Sammis warned again.

It was his own elbow that knocked over the little table with the claw
feet, but he looked at Judy as if she had done it. One foot with a claw
clutching a glass ball fell to the floor. He picked it up and waved it
in Judy’s face.

“Now see what you’ve done,” he charged unreasonably. “I told you you’d
have to pay for anything you broke. Young people nowadays are all alike.
Careless, blundering fools, the lot of them. Come in here for junk and
break up my best furniture! This table is fragile—”

“I can see it is,” Judy interrupted. “The claw fell off because the
table leg was already broken. I can see where it’s been glued. The top
is warped, too. It looks as if it had been left out in the rain.”

“What if it was? Where else could I leave it when the roadmakers took
half my house? I won’t charge you much for it. Only fifteen dollars.”

“Fifteen dollars! What are you talking about, Mr. Sammis? I’ll never pay
for a table I didn’t break,” Judy declared with indignation.

“You won’t, eh? We’ll see about that. You’re Dr. Bolton’s daughter,
aren’t you? I’ll just send him a bill for twenty dollars,” the
shopkeeper announced with a satisfied chuckle. “Then, if he won’t pay
his bill, I won’t pay mine.”

“But that isn’t fair!” Judy cried, her gray eyes blazing.

“No? Then I’ll make it twenty-five.”

“Let’s go before he puts the price any higher,” Holly urged, pulling at
Judy’s arm.



                               CHAPTER IV
                           A Mysterious Truck


“Please, Judy, come on,” Holly begged again as Judy stopped to examine
more of the used furniture piled near the front of the shop. The warped
and broken table had aroused her curiosity. It seemed as if she had seen
it somewhere before, but she couldn’t remember where.

“Somebody had furniture with claw feet like that,” she mused.

An old rocker looked familiar, too. It was in good condition. She was
tempted to ask the price and then thought better of it. Mr. Sammis was
sure to overcharge her. Then, too, there was always the danger that he
might break something else and blame her for it.

“It isn’t fair,” she repeated, more to herself than to Holly, as they
left the shop.

A builder’s truck bearing New York license plates drove up just as Judy
and Holly got into the Beetle. The driver, a husky man with a tanned
face and very light blue eyes, leaned out and called to them.

“Move your car out of there!” he said. “I’ve got heavy stuff in here.
Have to park as close to the shop as possible.”

“We’re on our way out,” Judy told him, “but you’ll have to back up a
little to give us room.”

“You’ve got room enough.”

He refused to move the huge panel truck. The name John Beer was lettered
on the panel with the words Carpenter and Contractor below it. To Judy
the truck seemed the size of a moving van. She couldn’t see what was in
it but supposed he was hauling building supplies.

“Watch out that side and tell me if I’m backing too close,” she directed
Holly.

“It’s pretty close.”

Judy was afraid of bumping up against the shop on the other side. One
bump would be enough to spill that whole window full of glassware. Then
she _would_ have a bill! But she finally made it.

“We cleared it!” she exclaimed. “Now if anybody knocks over the shop it
will be John Beer, not us.”

“He and Hugh Sammis are two of a kind. There! He’s opening the door of
the shop. He looks angry. Let’s wait and see what happens,” Holly
suggested.

Judy laughed. “I thought you were the one who wanted to leave—Just
listen to them!” she exclaimed.

Mr. Sammis was waving his arms and shouting, “You get out of here with
that stuff! How can I buy any more when my shop is crowded already? Take
it to some junk dealer.”

“But Sam,” the other protested in an equally loud tone of voice, “this
is good furniture. I’ve sanded and refinished everything—”

“Well, you can’t move it in here!”

“He may be an old meanie,” Holly commented, “but Mr. Sammis is right. He
certainly doesn’t have room for any more furniture.”

“Not unless he has an addition built on his shop. He could certainly use
it,” Judy said with a last glance at the sheared-off house as they drove
away.

Holly agreed. “He probably makes most of his money charging people for
things they don’t break.”

“He may make money that way, but he won’t make friends,” declared Judy.
“Do you think he really intends to send Dad a bill for twenty dollars?”

“He’s so mean he might do it. How did he know your name, Judy?”

“Oh, my picture’s been in the paper,” Judy replied airily. Then her face
sobered. “He must be one of Dad’s patients. Dad can’t choose them, you
know. He just goes where he’s needed and hopes the people will pay.”

Holly shook her head. “Mr. Sammis won’t.”

“I hope he doesn’t owe very much. Maybe he just came to the office.”
Judy went on exploring possibilities. “He could have seen my picture
there. You know how fathers are, always keeping family pictures around.”

“I know,” Holly agreed, now more interested in the passing scenery than
in the unpleasant shopkeeper. She noticed a little stream at the lower
side of the road and asked, “Is that the Allegheny River?”

“I guess so,” Judy replied. “It’s getting smaller, isn’t it? The head is
just beyond our lot in Gold.”

“Your lot in Gold?”

“Gold is the name of a town,” Judy explained, laughing. “The lot was
given to my father in payment of a bill. I used to think it was a gold
mine and would make us rich some day. But doctors like Dad never get
rich. Some people can’t pay him, and others won’t.”

Judy’s eyes narrowed as she thought again of Mr. Sammis. They drove on
for a little while in silence.

“Is this it?” Holly asked suddenly.

Judy, startled out of her thoughts, did not reply until after they had
passed the little town.

“Oh, you mean Gold? I think so. If it was you won’t see any more houses
for a while,” Judy told her as the car began its long climb to a lonely
plateau. “We’ll be on top of the world in a minute.”

“Oh, Judy! We _are_ on top of the world,” exclaimed Holly. “Isn’t this a
marvelous view?”

“It certainly is. Three big rivers flow in three directions from this
plateau. That’s why it’s called the watershed.”

“I don’t see any water,” Holly observed. “There’s nothing but miles and
miles of wooded hills, one after the other.”

“The rivers are off there somewhere. I can’t see them either, but I know
this is the watershed. The sky shed water on us the last time we drove
through here,” Judy remembered. “We thought we’d never make it to the
Jewell place.”

“It’s beautiful today.” Holly was really enjoying the ride. She seemed
to have forgotten her disappointment at not finding her typewriter. Now,
as they crossed the watershed, she said she was looking forward to
visiting the beaver dam.

“Do you think the Jewell sisters will go with us?” she asked.

“They may. If they don’t, I’m sure we can find it. They said it was down
the old road that passes their house. The bridge is out, and the road
isn’t used any more,” Judy added.

“Then how will we get across?”

“There’s a footbridge. Honey and I crossed on a plank that floated away
as soon as we were on the other side. The river was high then.”

“What river?” Holly asked. “You said the Allegheny heads back there.”

She waved her hand toward the wilderness behind them. Ahead were more
wooded hills with only now and then a farmhouse and barn with a little
cleared land. It was a narrow road with very little traffic going in
either direction.

“That’s right,” Judy agreed. “We’ve passed the head of the Allegheny.
The other two rivers are the Genessee and some remote branch of the
Susquehanna, I think.”

Judy knew where the road to the Jewell place turned off just beyond the
next town. They were nearly there when Holly startled her by crying out,
“Move over, Judy! That big panel truck is trying to pass!”

“But that’s dangerous on this hill!”

Judy could see the truck in the rear-view mirror. It was the same one
that had stopped at the used-furniture shop. Maybe she ought to move
over and let it pass.

“We’ll be turning off soon, anyway,” she decided, giving John Beer and
his truck plenty of room. “He seems to be in a hurry, doesn’t he?”

“Too much of a hurry,” Holly agreed. “He didn’t have time to unload his
truck or do any work. I guess Mr. Sammis won the argument, and he’s
taking everything back.”

“Back where?” Judy wondered as the truck sped down the long hill and out
of sight.



                               CHAPTER V
                           Another Green Car


At the next crossroads Judy came to the gas station where she and Honey
had stopped to ask directions when they first visited the Jewell
sisters.

“You knew Honey picked up their suitcase by mistake, didn’t you?” she
asked Holly. “My, what a complicated mystery that was! We didn’t know
exactly what we were looking for, and so we called it a secret quest.”

“This time we know,” Holly declared. “We’re looking for beavers, and
Horace and Honey are meeting us at the beaver dam. Maybe Peter could
come, too.”

“That would be nice. I’ll telephone him and leave a message,” Judy
decided.

She stopped at the gas station, telephoned the resident agency of the
FBI in the Farringdon Post Office, and left what she thought was a clear
message. After she and Holly were on their way again she wasn’t so sure.

“I told him we’d be at the beaver dam. But will he know where that is?”
Judy wondered.

“Do we know?” Holly questioned.

“No,” Judy admitted. “I’m depending on the Jewell sisters to direct us.
Horace knows that, but I forgot to tell Peter. Suppose there’s more than
one beaver dam!”

“That _will_ cause complications, won’t it?” agreed Holly. “But that’s
you, Judy. If you don’t have enough puzzles to solve, you make a few
more. Peter knows that. Anyway, a G-man should be able to find a beaver
dam.”

“He may enjoy looking for it. I know I will. If we’re lucky we may catch
the beavers at work. I’m going to try and get some pictures of them.
With a flashbulb it shouldn’t be difficult. You can’t depend on sunlight
in the woods.”

“It may be gone by the time we get there. I saw a clock as we drove
through that last town,” Holly began. “It’s almost four—”

“Is it?” asked Judy, glancing at her own watch to confirm the time.
“Then we won’t have much time to visit. I did want to tell the Jewell
sisters about the library exhibit. Their road turns off at the top of
this hill.”

Soon they turned off the pavement. The dirt road was in better condition
than it had been when Judy first drove along it. A week of dry, sunny
weather had helped. Ruts and mud puddles had dried up. Houses looked
more easily accessible than they had on that other ride. There were two
or three farmhouses set far back from the road and then a long stretch
of wilderness before they came to the Jewell place.

“Is this it?” Holly asked as soon as the big house with its square
cupola came in view. “It looks—haunted.”

“I thought so too, when I first saw it, and so did Honey,” Judy
admitted, “but I don’t believe the Jewell sisters are entertaining any
ghosts today.”

“They’re entertaining somebody!” Holly exclaimed as they came nearer.
“There’s a green car parked right in front of the house.”

Judy laughed. “I’m afraid you’re seeing green cars everywhere today.”

“Well, look for yourself.”

Holly sounded a little hurt because Judy hadn’t believed her. Judy
looked, blinked, and looked again.

“Maybe I’m seeing green cars, too. How would it get there?” she asked in
bewilderment. “This road ends at the creek. I know, because Honey and I
had to cross on a plank that tipped and nearly spilled us into the
water. The creek was high then.”

“Maybe it’s gone down. The car got over there some way,” Holly insisted.

“I know,” Judy agreed, mystified.

She remembered the gorge with the creek at the bottom. The banks were
too steep for any car to drive through the water. Before they came to
the footbridge that spanned the creek, Judy pointed out the place where
the Beetle had sunk into the mud.

“It’s dry now, and the creek isn’t half as high as it was, but I still
don’t see how a car could get across it. I don’t see any tire marks,
either.”

“Would they show on this dry ground?” Holly asked when they were out of
the Beetle.

Judy had parked the car at the end of the road. It did end. There was no
doubt of that. It ended at the barn where the Jewell sisters kept their
car. Holly peeked in to make sure it was there.

“Thank goodness!” she exclaimed. “It isn’t green. You didn’t tell me
they had a car. Do they drive?”

“I don’t know,” replied Judy. “They had a man to drive it for them, but
Dorcas said she was going to learn. I don’t know how they get anywhere
if she didn’t.”

“Maybe on broomsticks,” Holly suggested.

“They are sort of weird,” Judy agreed, “but they’re quite nice old
ladies, really. We’ll ask them whose car that is. Well, here we are. We
have to cross on the plank. You aren’t afraid, are you?”

Holly laughed. “I guess if two old ladies can make it, I can. It does
feel shaky, though,” she admitted as she started across the narrow
footbridge.

“Don’t worry,” Judy told her. “I’m right behind you. If you slip I’ll
catch you. There! You’re over. That wasn’t hard, was it?”

Holly didn’t answer. She was staring at the house. There were three
women busy with something on the porch. At first Judy couldn’t see what
they were doing but, as they came nearer, she could see that they were
sorting apples. Violetta was just helping her visitor lift a full basket
into the green car when she looked up and saw the girls approaching.

“Good afternoon, Judy!” she called cheerily. “You and Honey are just in
time to sample some of our sweet apples.”

“She called me Honey,” Holly whispered. “I’m not. I’m Holly.”

“She’ll soon discover that,” Judy replied cheerfully.

Violetta was coming down the path to meet them. “You picked a good time
to come,” she told Judy. “We’ve been out in the orchard picking apples
all day. An old friend of ours drove over here this morning—”

“How did she get over?” Judy asked curiously. “There isn’t any bridge
across the creek.”

“There’s another way—” Violetta stopped and looked at Holly in surprise.

“But you’re not Honey. Your hair is darker. And where’s your cat, Judy?
You promised to bring him the next time you came to visit.”

“I’m sorry I’m not a cat,” Holly said, not meaning to be funny.

They all laughed as the joke was repeated to the other two women, and
there were introductions all around. Judy explained that she and Holly
had come to see the beaver dam and that they expected Horace and Honey
to meet them there. “I didn’t bring Blackberry this time,” she ended,
“because when I left the house I didn’t know I’d be coming here.”

“He’s such a good cat,” Violetta said, with a crooning sound in her
voice. She had become very fond of Judy’s pet.

“I keep telling Violetta we should have a cat of our own,” Dorcas put
in. “Don’t you agree, Meta?”

“Don’t I agree with what?” the third woman asked in a faraway voice.
“I’m afraid I wasn’t listening. I was thinking of the Beetle and
wondering if I would have any trouble driving it back.”

“Back where?” Holly asked.

Judy said nothing. By now she was completely bewildered. Was the
stranger talking about the green car or her own?



                               CHAPTER VI
                             The Woods Road


Judy’s unasked question was soon answered. The owner of the green car
proved to be the matron of a nearby orphanage. She had been introduced
as Miss Hanley, but Judy was soon calling her Meta just as the Jewell
sisters did.

“I took the woods road,” she said, smiling at the girls. “It hasn’t been
used for several years but, with the weather so dry, I felt sure I could
make it. I had to stop the car a couple of times to remove trees the
beavers had gnawed down, but the Beetle finally plowed through.”

“The Beetle?” Judy questioned, still a little bewildered. “That’s what
we call our car.”

Miss Hanley laughed. She looked younger and prettier when she was
laughing and talking. Holly probably would call her middle-aged. Holly
considered anybody over thirty middle-aged. Judy guessed Meta Hanley was
about thirty-five. She said she had noticed Judy’s car as it came down
the hill.

“It’s black, isn’t it?” she asked. “I guess that makes two Beetles, a
black one and a green one. Danny named mine. He has names for
everything.”

Danny, she told them, was one of the many orphans she mothered.

“They’ll love these apples,” she told the Jewell sisters. “We have a few
apple trees, but the apples aren’t ripe yet. The older children help on
the farm,” she explained to Judy and Holly. “We raise nearly everything
we eat. You should see the family I have at table.”

“I wish we could see them,” Judy told her. “Are visitors allowed at the
orphanage?”

“Of course. The children love visitors. They do react differently to
them,” she admitted. “Those who want to be adopted put on their best
manners. The others run and hide.”

“That’s strange,” Judy said. “Don’t they all want to be adopted?”

“Meta is so good to them,” Violetta put in, “that quite a few of them
hope to stay where they are.”

“They can’t, of course,” Dorcas added. “The orphanage is too crowded. If
Violetta and I were younger we might consider adopting one of them
ourselves.”

“I wish we could help,” Judy said.

“Perhaps you can. We’ve been helping,” Violetta told her. “We’ve been
giving Meta a day off now and then. We go to church now that Dorcas is
driving, and the women in our church take turns at the orphanage.”

“It’s awfully kind of them,” Meta Hanley said. “Mrs. Alberts is there
today. I must be getting back to relieve her. Would you girls like to
ride along with me as far as the beaver dam?” she asked. “It is a lonely
road, and it does bring back memories.”

“Cherish them,” Dorcas advised in her abrupt way. “Some day memories
will be all you have.”

What did Dorcas mean? The remark hurt, Judy could see that. Meta was
silent for a moment. Then she said, “Well, I better be going. Perhaps
you girls would rather walk, though it’s quite a hike to the beaver
dam.”

“Then we’ll come with you,” Judy decided.

“Where _is_ the road?” Holly asked.

A faint path was pointed out. It crossed the open field, and then came a
small break in the trees where it entered the woods. The beaver dam was
about a mile farther along.

“I’ll drop you off there, but I’m afraid you’ll have to walk back.
Walking is good for the constitution,” the matron declared. “I often
take the orphans on hikes. They know the country around here as well as
I do. Take Danny, for instance. He’s only ten, but he can tell you more
about the beavers than I can. He comes down to the pond and sits for
hours just watching them. The late afternoon is the best time to see
them.”

Judy glanced at her watch. “It _is_ late afternoon, much later than I
thought. I hoped Horace or Honey or even Peter would be here by now. But
if anyone stops and asks, you’ll direct them to the woods road, won’t
you?” she asked the Jewell sisters.

“Of course we will. Stop in and have a bite of supper with us on your
way back,” Dorcas invited them.

“All of us?” asked Judy. “I’m afraid that would be an imposition. We’ll
stop next time.”

“We’ll be back,” Holly promised. “Judy has been asked to get together a
few things for an exhibit at the library. You may have some old cards or
calendars—”

“We have plenty of things. Violetta and I were wondering what to do with
them. Would you like old Christmas cards, Judy?”

“I’d love them.”

“Then you shall have them,” both sisters assured her in almost the same
breath.

“They’re perfect dears, aren’t they?” Holly asked a little later as she
and Judy and the matron of the orphanage were bumping along on the woods
road in the green Beetle.

“Well, not perfect. Dorcas is a little too abrupt and Violetta a little
too timid. I don’t want to be like them,” declared Meta. “I don’t want
to grow old with nothing but memories to cherish. They aren’t enough. Of
course,” she added after her car had bumped over a rough place where a
tree had fallen, “the Jewell sisters have each other.”

“Don’t you have anyone?” asked Judy with quick sympathy.

“I have the orphans. I’m an orphan myself,” she confided, “so I guess I
really feel for them. Once I thought I would marry and have a family of
my own. We were going to live in a big house on the other side of the
hill. This road takes me right past it.” She sighed. “The windows are
boarded up now, and the yard is overgrown with weeds.”

“Do we pass it?” asked Holly.

“No,” she replied. “It’s beyond the beaver dam. This road joins another
road that crosses the state line into New York.”

“That isn’t the road we took in our Beetle, is it?” questioned Judy.

“No, it crosses that, too. The orphanage is down in the valley near the
crossroads. I hope you do visit us some time.”

“We will,” Judy and Holly promised.

The green car hurtled over more bumps in the little-used road and then
stopped. They must be near the beaver dam. To their left, down a slope
thick with ferns, Judy could hear water running.

“Well, here we are.” Meta opened the door on her side of the car. “I’ll
walk a little way with you,” she offered. “Otherwise you may lose time
looking for the pond. It’s near the head of this stream.”

“Does the stream have a name?” Judy asked as she and Holly stepped out
on the needle-covered ground. Overhead were dark fir trees that made the
woods seem lonely and full of whispers as the wind moaned through their
branches.

“George always called it Jewell creek,” Meta Hanley said. “He used to
meet me here and we’d talk and plan what we’d do with the house after we
were married. Then, on the day he’d promised to give me my ring, he
never came. Jewell creek,” she repeated, looking at her ringless finger.
“That isn’t its real name, of course, but the water sparkles like
jewels, and it does run past the Jewell place. Actually it’s one of the
forks of the Genessee. The Cowanesque heads the other side of this
hill.”

Judy took Holly’s arm, her camera in her free hand. They were near the
beaver dam, so near that Judy could see a mass of piled-up saplings
cemented together with mud.

“The pond’s just beyond that obstruction. I’ll leave you here. Wait
quietly on the bank. Keep yourselves hidden in the ferns, and don’t make
a sound,” Meta directed the two girls, “and you may catch a glimpse of
the beavers swimming in their pond.”

But Judy, on sudden impulse, had caught a glimpse of something else and
snapped a picture.



                              CHAPTER VII
                           At the Beaver Dam


“What did you do that for?” Holly asked, puzzled. “There wasn’t anything
there.”

“I thought there was, but maybe you’re right,” Judy admitted. “I do
things on impulse. Afterwards I wonder myself why I do them. Did it seem
to you that Meta Hanley left us rather abruptly?”

“Yes, she did,” Holly acknowledged. “Maybe telling us that sad story
made her feel bad. It just proves what I said before. It’s bad luck to
love anybody.”

“For her or for you?” Judy questioned, hoping to disprove her theory.

“For _anybody_. If you haven’t found it out yet, you will,” Holly
prophesied, clinging grimly to her gloomy philosophy. “She had an
appointment, but nobody came. It makes me wonder if Horace and Honey
will keep their appointment here at the beaver dam.”

“Don’t be silly. Of course they will. Horace intends to convince his
editor that the beavers will make a good story. Peter may come, too, if
he gets the message I left for him. I hope he does,” declared Judy.
“There are so many things I want to ask him.”

“What sort of things?” questioned Holly.

“Oh, about rivers and stuff,” Judy replied airily, still not sure enough
of what she had seen to report it. “Things could drift down with the
current, you know. I mean, if the Cowanesque heads the other side of
this hill it must flow past several houses including that one the matron
of the orphanage was talking about. Probably it’s one of the forks of
the Susquehanna, and I think this creek must be another.”

“But she said it was near the head of the Genessee,” Holly objected.
“And you told me yourself that we could see three great river valleys
from that watershed we crossed.”

“It was beautiful!” Judy remembered. “We could see hills and valleys for
miles and miles.”

“I like open places like that,” declared Holly. “Here in the woods you
get the feeling that someone is hiding and watching you.”

“Beavers, no doubt. We’re the ones who should be hiding and watching
them,” Judy reminded her. “We shouldn’t be talking, either. We were told
not to make a sound.”

“That’s right,” Holly agreed, lowering her voice to a whisper.

Not another word was said as they broke their way through the underbrush
until they came to a fairly large tree that had been gnawed down by the
beavers. The stump was right at the edge of the pond. Judy ran her hand
over it to make sure it was flat enough for her camera. It surprised her
to discover what experts the beavers were. Their dam was solidly
constructed of mud, brushwood, and poles. But there were other things in
it, too. Things that puzzled Judy more and more as she and Holly watched
and waited. There was no sound of falling trees as the beavers worked.
Holly asked why.

“Beavers are smart,” Judy whispered back. “They only work at night.
We’ll have to wait here until after dark if we want to see them
working.”

“Do we have to?” Holly asked, shivering a little at the thought of being
in the woods after dark.

“It will be all right,” Judy comforted her. “Horace and Honey will be
here by then. I can get sharper pictures with my flashbulb after dark.
There will be no other light to interfere.”

“But going back in the dark will be terrible. We’ll get lost,” Holly
interrupted.

“Oh, no, we won’t,” Judy reassured her. “I have my flashlight here in my
shoulder bag.”

The shoulder bag was no longer on her shoulder. It was propped behind
the stump. In it Judy had stored a number of useful things including the
sweet apples the Jewell sisters had given them. Holly decided to eat her
apple right away.

“I’m hungry,” she declared, taking a big bite.

Judy was surprised that the sound of anyone eating an apple could be so
loud. When Holly had finished it she tossed the apple core in the pond.
It hit the surface of the water with a loud plop.

“I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t scare the beavers,” Holly said.

“Sh! We weren’t going to talk,” Judy reminded her.

After that there was utter silence broken only by an occasional bird
twittering and the sighing of the wind in the trees. Now and then a
small _plop_ could be heard as something disappeared in the water.

“I don’t see anything, do you?” Holly whispered after what seemed an
eternity of crouching among the ferns and waiting.

“Just ripples.”

Judy suspected that the beavers, swimming under water, made the ripples
that kept appearing and disappearing on the surface of the pond. They
looked exactly like the ripples that had appeared when Holly threw in
the apple core. But nothing had fallen in so it must be something coming
up from underneath the water. Judy had her camera ready, hoping one of
the beavers would pop out and pose for a picture.

“I don’t believe there are any beavers in there,” Holly said at last.

Judy was beginning to agree with her. It was growing so dark she could
no longer see the ripples, but she could still hear the _plops_. Once
she thought she saw a beaver’s head and snapped a picture, but she
couldn’t be sure she had photographed anything except an empty pond.

“Let’s go,” Holly urged when it was quite dark. “Peter didn’t get your
message, and I told you Horace and Honey wouldn’t keep their
appointment.”

“You told me a lot of things,” Judy retorted. “I changed my plans for
the whole day because of what you told me, but I’m still hoping to prove
you’re wrong about some things.”

“You mean about love? I hope you do.” Holly shivered suddenly. “Let’s go
home,” she said. “These ferns are positively creepy. Snakes may be
hiding in them.”

“It’s not very likely,” Judy told her.

“Well, there’s something,” Holly insisted. “Did you hear that twig
snap?”

“Yes, I heard it,” Judy admitted. “I couldn’t see what it was, but I
snapped a picture. It sounded near the pond. There it is again, farther
back in the woods. It could be Horace and Honey coming—”

“So late?”

Judy turned on her flashlight in order to see the face of her watch. “It
is late, isn’t it?” she agreed. “Maybe they aren’t coming after all.”

Now she was worried. Horace didn’t make appointments and break them. He
was a fast driver, but not a reckless one. Just as she was imagining her
brother’s coffee-colored convertible in an accident a light appeared,
flooding the dark woods with the sudden brilliance of a searchlight.

“It’s a car!” Holly exclaimed. “It’s coming along the woods road. Horace
didn’t know—”

“Holly, _look_!” Judy interrupted.

The light, moving nearer, had picked up a strange sight. There by the
pond were three beavers startled into immobility. One of them was
perched atop a mound of sticks, grass, and moss that protruded into the
water. The other two were on the ground. One was digging with his little
front paws, and the other was dragging something toward the dam. Judy
reached for her camera, but before she could snap them the beavers were
gone, leaving nothing but widening ripples in the water.

“We saw them!” Holly cried excitedly, jumping up from the ferns and
hugging Judy. “I’m glad you made me wait. We saw the beavers, and that’s
Horace and Honey in the car. Now he can take us home.”

“Wait, Holly!” The light from the oncoming car had picked out something
else. The piece of wood the beaver had dropped didn’t look like a pole.
It looked more like a chair rung. And in the dam, worked in among the
brush and the mud, was the most unbelievable thing of all. Judy stood
transfixed, staring at it.

“What is it?” asked Holly. “Why are you staring at the beaver dam? You
look as if you had seen a ghost.”

“It _is_ a ghost,” declared Judy, “or about the nearest thing to it.
That’s our table leg. I’d know it anywhere.”

“Your table leg?” Holly repeated, not understanding.

“I told you about it,” Judy reminded her as the light revealed the
patient face she remembered so well, just below the surface of the
water. “It’s a leg of the lady table. It was washed away in the
Roulsville flood, and the beavers found it and used it to build their
dam.”



                              CHAPTER VIII
                        An Impossible Discovery


“Horace! Honey! Come over here. I want to show you something.”

They were out of the car now, coming as fast as they could in answer to
Judy’s call. When they were near enough to be heard, Horace asked, “Did
you see the beavers?” and Honey answered excitedly, “Yes! We saw them
just as plain as plain. Their funny, humped backs and broad, flat
tails—”

“Did you see what they were carrying?” Judy interrupted.

Honey looked at Horace. “Did you?”

“A stick, wasn’t it?”

“I don’t think so,” Judy answered. “I think it was a chair rung. And
Horace, I saw something else.”

“It was a face in the pond,” Holly put in. “A lady’s face.”

“Oh!” gasped Honey.

“It wasn’t what you’re thinking,” Judy told her, “but it was every bit
as uncanny. I could hardly believe it myself. Horace, look!”

She turned to show him what she had discovered in the beaver dam, but
the headlights of the car were no longer shining on it.

“It’s gone!” gasped Holly. “Judy, it _was_ a ghost!”

“No, it was there. I’m sure of it,” Judy declared. “It was the leg of
that lady table Dad used to have in his reception room.”

“In Roulsville?” Horace questioned.

“Yes, before the flood. I think it must have washed down here some way.
The beavers do use pieces of furniture in their dam building. I thought
so when I first saw it, and now I’m sure of it. Horace, that _was_ the
lady table,” Judy insisted. “That face I remember so well was looking
right at me. It was weird and a little bit frightening, but I’m sure of
what I saw.”

“Well, I’m not,” declared Horace. “It’s the most impossible thing I ever
heard of. Furniture couldn’t wash _upstream_ all the way from
Roulsville. This is a different stream, anyway. I believe it flows into
the Genessee.”

“Meta Hanley said it did,” Holly put in.

“Who’s Meta Hanley?” asked Honey.

“The matron of an orphanage—”

“The one where we stopped,” Horace interrupted. “We missed the turn and
stopped there for directions. A woman was just driving up in a green
car.”

“She didn’t have your typewriter, Holly,” Honey added. “She had her car
loaded with apples for the orphans.”

“That was Miss Hanley all right.”

“She calls her car the Beetle, too. Did she tell you she’d brought us
here?” asked Judy.

“Yes, she directed us to the woods road. She said it would be quicker
and that it would save you that long walk through the woods after dark.”

“But Horace, what about our Beetle?” Judy wanted to know. “We’ll have to
leave it parked where it is all night if we go back with you.”

“Why not?” Judy’s brother asked. “It wouldn’t be the first time. You’ll
be coming back here to investigate what you saw and, unless I miss my
guess, you’ll find you’re all wrong about any of our furniture from
Roulsville being built into that beaver dam. We gave it up as lost six
years ago.”

“Maybe you and Dad and Mother did, but I didn’t,” Judy retorted. “I
never give up—”

“Boy, she’s right there,” Horace interrupted with a meaning look in
Honey’s direction. “You and I both know it. Once Judy latches onto a
mystery she never gives up until she has all the answers.”

“Please, Judy,” begged Holly, “don’t try to find all the answers
tonight. If that was your lady table it will still be there in the
morning. It won’t look so spooky by daylight.”

“It will to me,” declared Judy. “I’ll never forget that face in the
pond. Couldn’t you turn your car so the light will shine on it again,
Horace?”

“Nope,” he replied stubbornly. “The car’s turned in the direction of
home, and that’s where we’re heading.”

“Good!” Holly said. “I’ve had enough of hiding in those creepy ferns and
watching beavers. Besides, I’m starved. Judy and I haven’t had anything
to eat since lunch.”

“We’ve had a couple of apples,” Judy reminded her. “The Jewell sisters
gave them to us. They gave Miss Hanley all those apples she had in her
car, and they’ve been taking turns helping out at the orphanage,” she
told Horace. “Did you and Honey see any of the orphans?”

“Just their faces looking out the orphanage windows,” he answered, “but
we were asked to keep watch for one of them, a boy about ten who likes
to visit the beavers.”

“That’s Danny,” Judy said. “Miss Hanley told us about him.”

“I hope he’s back,” declared Horace. “That lady who was minding the
children said he’d been missing since early morning. She seemed quite
worried.”

“We can watch for him on the way home, can’t we? Come on, Judy,” urged
Holly. “You can come back here tomorrow and find your lady or whatever
that was in the pond.”

Honey shivered. “I agree with Holly. Let’s go, Horace. It’s too dark to
look for anything tonight.”

“Right,” he agreed, “but I’ll be back here first thing in the morning.
What about you, Sis?”

“I’ll be with you. I wish Peter could come, too. Did you hear from him
at all?” Judy asked.

Horace said he hadn’t heard but he felt sure Peter had received Judy’s
message. “He’s probably out tailing suspects,” he added. “He is assigned
to help round up the Joe Mott gang, isn’t he?”

“He doesn’t discuss his assignments,” Judy answered. Her brother was
altogether too curious. He knew Peter’s work was confidential. She could
understand Horace’s interest, though. His face was no longer swollen
from the beating he had received from the Joe Mott gang, but there was
still a small scar over his eyebrow. He had interrupted a robbery and
probably was lucky that Joe Mott’s boys had given him no more than a
beating. Joe was in prison, but some unknown gang leader apparently was
taking his place. Peter had promised Horace the story as soon as it
broke, but the investigation had to be conducted in secret.

“Are you coming, Judy?” Holly asked when Judy still stood there beside
the stump where she had placed her camera.

“I thought we might wait just a little longer for Peter,” she protested.
“He won’t know about the woods road. He’ll be walking over from the
Jewell place and he’ll have his searchlight with him—”

“I get it,” Horace interrupted. “You intend to ask Peter to help you
investigate this impossible discovery of yours. If the beavers have
stolen furniture and transported it across state lines he might make a
federal case out of it.”

“Don’t joke, Horace,” Judy scolded him. But she couldn’t help laughing.

All the way home Horace, Honey, and even Holly treated her discovery as
a joke. Peter wouldn’t. She knew that. She could tell him not only what
she had seen, but how she felt. That was one of the wonderful things
about Peter. When Judy talked, he really listened.

“Are we going to stop for something to eat?” Holly asked presently.

“Hamburgers in Farringdon,” Judy suggested, “but let’s make it fast. I
want to get home.”

“I was going to ask you over to the apartment—” Honey began.

“Some other time. Your grandparents will be sleeping. It’s so late even
the hamburger places will be closed if we don’t hurry,” Horace told her.

“You’re right. It is late,” Judy agreed a few minutes later as Horace
drove into Farringdon. She could see the illuminated face of the
courthouse clock. The hands pointed to eleven. An hour more and it would
be midnight. Surely Peter would be waiting for her at home.

“Maybe I ought to call the Jewell sisters,” Judy suggested when they
were in the restaurant in Farringdon, having their late snack. “I could
telephone from here and find out if Peter came by there. I did tell him
to meet us at the beaver dam.”

“He wouldn’t expect to find us there so late,” Horace objected.

“Do the Jewell sisters have a telephone?” Honey asked. “They didn’t have
one when we were there before.”

“They’ve made a lot of changes, but I guess it would disturb them if we
called them so late. They’d be sleeping, and the phone would scare them
half out of their wits, that is,” Judy amended, “if they do have a phone
now.”

“Want to ride along with me to Dry Brook Hollow?” Horace asked Honey as
they were leaving the restaurant.

Honey shook her head. “Not tonight, Horace. Take me home, please. I have
to be at work tomorrow, remember? And those designs I’m doing take
concentration. I can’t let myself fall asleep over them.”

Holly watched as Horace gave Honey a quick good-night kiss at the door
of the apartment building where she lived with her grandparents. “Let’s
move into the front seat,” she suggested to Judy. A little later,
cuddled in between Judy and Horace, she almost purred with contentment.

“Another complication,” thought Judy. “Holly thinks she’s in love with
Horace when he and Honey are practically engaged.” Aloud she said, “It’s
too bad Honey didn’t come with us. You’ll be driving back alone.”

“That’s all right,” Horace agreed cheerfully, “I like my own company,
especially when I have a lot to think about. I may have made a joke of
it, Sis, but I’m just as puzzled as you are. If that is your lady back
there in the pond, how did the beavers get hold of her, and where is the
rest of the table?”



                               CHAPTER IX
                              More Puzzles


Judy was trying to think of an answer to her brother’s question when she
noticed the headlights of another car just over the hilltop. It was the
last hill before they came down into Dry Brook Hollow.

“It’s the Beetle!” she exclaimed as it slowed down and came to a
standstill close by Horace’s car. Judy was surprised to see Blackberry
in his usual place next to the back window. Peter was driving.

Judy was out of Horace’s car in a flash.

“Here I am, Peter! Were you looking for me?” she asked, running toward
him.

“That,” declared Peter, “is the understatement of the year. I
practically searched the whole woods.”

“I’m sorry we didn’t wait. Were you all alone?” Judy asked anxiously.

“Not at first,” Peter replied. “There were two of us in the official
car, but the other agent left as soon as I spotted the Beetle. He didn’t
think I’d have any trouble finding you, but he was wrong. I was about to
wake the Jewell sisters and question them when I discovered that woods
road and decided we’d missed each other and Horace had driven you home.”

“So you drove all the way back only to find nobody there,” Judy
anticipated.

“Nobody but a hungry cat. Red had been there, as usual, to take care of
the barn chores, but he forgot Blackberry. He jumped in the car and went
along to help me hunt,” Peter continued. “We were on our way back to the
beaver dam.”

“Were you there before? Did you see the beavers?” Holly questioned from
Horace’s car.

Peter said he hadn’t been looking for beavers. He was looking for Judy.

“I’ll take Holly home,” Horace volunteered. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Sis,
unless you’ve changed your mind about going back to visit your lady.”

“I haven’t. Want to come with us, Holly?” Judy asked.

“I wish I could,” she replied, “but I promised Ruth I’d baby sit while
she does some shopping in Roulsville. She’ll take your films if you want
her to. There’s a place right next to the library where you get fast
service. I’ll look for old calendars and cards among Uncle David’s
things if you want me to.”

“I do. I’d be glad to have anything you can find. Day after tomorrow you
can help me arrange the exhibit. Will the films be ready by then?” Judy
wondered.

Holly felt sure they would. “I can’t wait to hear what you and Horace
find out about that lady. Maybe she won’t look so spooky in the
daytime.”

“More likely she won’t be there at all,” Horace said as they drove away.

“What was all this about a spooky lady?” Peter asked curiously, as he
turned the Beetle around.

Judy told him. It sounded still more unbelievable in the telling. As
soon as they reached the house Peter brought out a map to show her how
impossible it was for any of the furniture that had been washed away in
the Roulsville flood to be carried anywhere near the beaver dam.

“You see how these rivers flow. Dry Brook empties into Roulsville Run,
really the first fork of the Sinnamehoning—”

“But the Sinnamehoning has a lot of forks,” Judy protested, studying the
map.

“True,” Peter admitted, “but none of them are anywhere near the beaver
dam. Anything washed down by the flood would have ended up south of
Roulsville, not away to the north. Are you quite sure of what you saw?”

“It certainly looked like the leg of our lady table,” declared Judy,
“but I won’t be really sure until I see it by daylight. Horace wouldn’t
believe me, either, but he did agree to go back there with me tomorrow.
I wish you could come with us, Peter. There’s an orphanage just over the
hill, and if that boy is still missing—”

“What boy?” asked Peter. “You didn’t tell me anything about a missing
boy.”

“His name is Danny. That’s all I know. We were asked to watch for him on
our way home.”

“I’ll check and see if he returned. Unofficially, of course. I’ll be in
the neighborhood.”

“So will I,” declared Judy.

Peter advised her to wait until another day when he could go with her,
but she promised to be careful.

“I won’t fall in the pond, if that’s what you’re afraid of,” she told
him. “I’ll just walk out there on the beaver dam and make sure of what I
saw.”

Finally Peter was persuaded. In the morning he drove Judy to Farringdon.
She was in the Post Office looking at the faces of the men wanted by the
FBI when Horace walked in and greeted her.

“I thought I’d find you here,” he remarked dryly. “See anyone you know?”

“Of course not,” Judy replied with a laugh. “It’s Peter’s job to hunt
for these men, not mine.”

“But you would like to help him find them, wouldn’t you, Sis?”

“Well, that depends.” Judy studied the row of faces for a moment,
memorizing every feature. Then she pointed to one of three who were
wanted for flight to avoid prosecution. “He doesn’t look like a
criminal, does he?” she asked.

“None of them do,” declared Horace. “They make it their business not to
look like criminals. They don’t want to be caught.”

“They will be.” Judy had boundless faith in Peter and his associates.
“The FBI will find them. Look at that artist who works with Honey. He
doesn’t know it, but he’s being watched every minute in the hope that he
will try and communicate with others of his gang who are still at large.
He will, too. Peter says there’s a pattern of behavior most criminals
follow. He wasn’t sure we ought to go back to the beaver dam.”

“Why on earth not?” Horace asked in bewilderment.

“He says it may be dangerous. That furniture wasn’t carried all the way
from Roulsville by beavers,” declared Judy. “There was some looting
after the flood, and I think that’s how the lady table came to be
there.”

“I don’t get it,” Horace said.

“Neither do I,” Judy admitted, “but Peter wants you to check with him
before you print anything. I may have some pictures for you, too.”

“I doubt it,” Horace answered. “You were too late to snap those beavers
we saw.”

“But I had my camera focused on the pond, and I did snap quite a few
pictures in the dark. Holly is taking the film to Roulsville today.
Tomorrow we’ll see what kind of pictures I took,” Judy promised as she
followed her brother out to the street where his coffee-colored
convertible was waiting.

A ride in Horace’s car was always exciting. He had the top down so that
they seemed to be racing the wind. In almost no time they were passing
the sheared-off house where Mr. Sammis bought and sold antiques.

“Some of the furniture in his shop had been left out in the rain,” Judy
remembered. “Anyway, he claimed it had, but I’m beginning to wonder. He
had a green car in his driveway, but he said it had been parked there
all day and, Horace, he accused me of breaking a table that he knocked
over himself.”

“Pleasant sort, wasn’t he? Naturally, you didn’t find Holly’s
typewriter?”

“No, but that doesn’t prove it wasn’t hidden away somewhere. The shop
was so crowded he wouldn’t accept anything more. We left him quarreling
with a man named John Beer. Anyway, that was the name lettered on his
truck,” Judy finished.

The conversation turned to rivers as they crossed the watershed. Judy
was convinced, by now, that the lady table couldn’t have been carried
this far north by the flood. She shivered when she thought of that
patient face in the water. Would it still be there, or had she only
imagined she saw a face?

“Well, here we are,” Horace announced.

Judy had been so absorbed in her own thoughts that she hadn’t noticed
the orphanage as they passed it. They had come to the end of the road.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, looking about her in surprise. There was the house
with the boarded-up windows, just as Meta Hanley had described it.

[Illustration: _Horace fell headlong into the pond!_]

“These trees sort of block our way,” Horace remarked as the car squeezed
through a narrow space between two evergreens that rained prickly
needles. More trees were missed by inches. They reached the beaver dam
in a surprisingly short time. Judy was out of the car first.

“Now you’ll see,” she called over her shoulder. “Right here is where we
saw the beavers last night, and there!” She pointed, and Horace whistled
in surprise.

“Whew-ee!” he breathed. “She’s there all right, and she is the same
lady. That beaver dam looks solid. I think, if we go out there together,
we can pull her out of the water. You hold me, and I’ll pull.”

“I promised Peter I wouldn’t—” Judy started to object. But Horace was
already walking out on the beaver dam.

“We’ve got to do it, Sis. We can’t leave the poor damsel in distress.
Just hold me so I won’t fall in.”

There was no stopping him, Judy thought, but he could wait until she had
brushed the needles out of her hair.

“Wait!”

Judy turned her head in surprise. She hadn’t spoken. At first she
couldn’t tell where the voice came from.

“Don’t touch that lady!” the voice warned again.

It sounded as if the trees themselves were warning Horace. He was so
startled that he lost his balance and fell headlong into the pond.



                               CHAPTER X
                           “My Name Is Danny”


“Horace! Horace! What happened?” cried Judy as her brother’s head
appeared above the surface of the water. “Who was that talking? Are you
all right?”

“If you call being half drowned in a muddy pond all right, I guess I
am,” he replied, answering her last question first. The others weren’t
so easy to answer.

“I—I’m sorry,” she faltered, not knowing what else to say.

“You should be,” he spluttered. “When did you learn how to throw your
voice?”

“I didn’t. That wasn’t—”

“Who was it then?” he interrupted.

“I don’t know. It sounded like a small boy.”

“A wood sprite, no doubt. Don’t think up any more fairy stories. Just
get me the car blanket before I catch my death—”

Judy burst out laughing. She couldn’t help it. When Horace was out on
the bank draped in the car blanket he looked even funnier. But someone
else was laughing, too! Judy whirled around just as a small figure let
himself down from one of the trees.

“You!” she exclaimed, grabbing the “wood sprite” by the arm before he
could elude her again. “It was you who called to my brother and made him
fall. Who are you, anyway?”

“My name is Danny,” he replied in the same voice that had startled them
from the tree.

Judy and Horace looked at each other as much as to say, “We might have
known it.” What they really said was, “What are you doing here?”

“Watching the beavers,” he replied. “I always watch the beavers. I had
to stop you from taking that lady stick. You’d bust up the whole dam.”

“That lady stick,” Horace said sternly, “is a leg off our table. I’d
like to know where the beavers got it.”

“They dragged it here. They drag lots of stuff here and build their dam
real solid. I’m not going to let anyone bust it up,” declared Danny.

“What are you, a watchman for the beavers?” asked Judy. “The people at
the orphanage were worried about you. Have you been watching the beavers
all night?”

“Sort of,” he replied, hanging his head.

His face was so dirty Judy could hardly tell what sort of complexion he
had, but his eyes were blue. His hair, like her own, was full of the
prickly stuff the evergreens shed. She looked from him to Horace wrapped
in his blanket and trying to sound fierce as he scolded the boy. He kept
his eyes to the ground most of the time, not answering Horace’s
questions.

“It’s no use,” Judy told her brother. “We may as well take him home.”

“No,” the boy protested, “not to the orphanage. Home’s over there.” He
waved a grubby hand in the direction of the boarded-up house. “We used
to live there when my mother was alive, and my father said we’d go back
and live there again. He p-promised.”

“Where is your father?” Judy asked gently. She had supposed both the
boy’s parents were dead.

“I d-don’t know.” Danny gulped. “He went away and left me at the
orphanage, but he said he’d come back. He promised me he’d come back
before the summer was over so I have to be at the house waiting for
him.”

“You’ve got it all wrong,” Horace told him. “You have to be at the
orphanage waiting for him because that’s where he left you, and that’s
where we’re taking you right now.”

Danny gave in at last. He was willing to ride back to the orphanage with
Judy and Horace if they would promise not to touch the lady in the
beaver dam. Horace hesitated.

“We may as well promise. Danny is right,” declared Judy. “It might break
up the dam if we removed it, and what good is the table leg, anyway,
without the table?”

At the orphans’ home, a square brick building that looked more like an
institution than a home, Horace waited in the car while Judy went in
with Danny.

“We found him at the beaver dam. He was there all night,” she explained
to the worried matron. “He said he had to watch the beavers.”

“But we were there looking for him,” Meta Hanley protested. “I called
the police, and they searched all around with flashlights. I can’t
understand it, but thank you, anyway. You don’t know how you worried
us,” she added, turning to Danny. “I called the FBI this morning.”

“But I wasn’t kidnapped,” the boy protested.

“I couldn’t be sure. I didn’t know what to think. I know you like to
watch the beavers, but you never did anything like this before. I still
can’t understand why you stayed out all night.”

“I had to,” Danny insisted.

“But why?”

“I’m sorry. I can’t tell you. I hope—the FBI, they’ll ask a lot of
questions.”

“And you don’t want to answer them? Is that it, Danny?”

The matron’s voice was gentle. Her love for this boy, no matter what he
did, was apparent.

“I’ll tell them everything is all right now. Just leave it to me,” Judy
began. “If I see their car on the way here I’ll stop it and tell them—”

“Will you _know_ an FBI car?” the matron asked anxiously.

Judy smiled. “Yes, I’ll know it.”

She didn’t say that her husband might be one of the agents in it.
Usually they worked in pairs and rode in an official car equipped with a
two-way radio.

Looking back, as she left the orphanage, Judy could see a group of
children who had stopped their play to watch her. She called out a brief
greeting and hurried on. A strange feeling had taken possession of her.
She felt she had cheated Peter out of an interesting assignment. Was
that his official car pulling up to the side of the road? It was. He and
another agent stepped out.

“Oh, Peter! I’ve gone and done it again,” she told him penitently. “We
just brought Danny home.”

“That’s great!” he exclaimed. “Where was he all night?”

“At the beaver dam.”

Judy would have said more, but the other agent broke in with, “We’d
better question him, anyway,” and Peter agreed.

“I hope he tells you more than he did us,” Judy called after them as
they started up the walk toward the orphanage.

Afterwards she wondered why Peter hadn’t asked her about the lady table
leg. Neither of the two agents had questioned Horace. It was probably
just as well. He was in a hurry to get home and let her drive while he
sat and shivered.

“Peter can have those beavers for all I care. One dip in their pond was
enough for me,” he complained from within the folds of his blanket.

“It’s a funny thing,” Judy told him, “but the matron says the police
helped her look for Danny at the beaver dam. I told Peter he was there
all night, but maybe he wasn’t.”

“His answer, as I remember it, was ‘sort of,’” Horace reported.

“If that house weren’t all boarded up I’d think he stayed there. He says
he used to live there, and Miss Hanley says she knew the man who lived
there years ago. Could it be Danny’s father?” Judy wondered. “Could that
be why she’s so fond of Danny?”

“Sounds reasonable,” Horace commented.

But, to Judy, it was more than reasonable, it was romantic. She looked
forward to discussing it with Peter. He had a way with small boys.
Perhaps Danny would confide in him. Judy wondered about Danny’s mother.
Why had his father deserted Meta Hanley to marry her? And where was he
now?

Judy was still puzzling over these questions when she and Horace arrived
in Farringdon. She drove straight to the Bolton home on Grove Street.
They had gone back to the beaver dam, she told her mother, and Horace
had accidentally fallen in the pond. Nothing was said about the leg of
the lady table.

After a hot lunch, with Mrs. Bolton hovering over both of them, Judy
left for her home in Dry Brook Hollow, and Horace returned to the
newspaper office.

“There’s a story there,” he insisted as they parted. “That boy wasn’t
telling us everything he knew.”



                               CHAPTER XI
                            A Born Crusader


Judy agreed with her brother. Instead of solving everything, their trip
had only deepened the mystery. It was hard for her to concentrate on
other things such as the library exhibit. At home, as she sorted the
school cards and mementos for September, she pondered over everything
that had happened that day and the day before.

First there had been the stolen typewriter. What happened to it and
whether or not it really had been stolen remained a mystery. The green
car Horace had seen racing through Farringdon wasn’t much of a clue
since he hadn’t noticed the license number. He did seem to recollect a
couple of sixes in it, but he couldn’t be sure.

“Meta Hanley’s car was green, and her license number started with two
sixes,” thought Judy.

It was ridiculous to suppose that Miss Hanley or one of her orphans had
stolen Holly’s typewriter. And yet Judy had seen Horace making a note of
her license number. He made notes of everything. Even before he became a
reporter he had always kept a notebook for his own amusement.

“I ought to keep a notebook or a diary or _something_,” Judy told
herself.

She did jot things down on little pieces of paper. An old sales slip had
been used to record the license number of that other green car parked
alongside Hugh Sammis’ used-furniture shop. Remembering how unfair he
had been, Judy decided to call up her father and ask about him. It was
Mrs. Bolton who answered the telephone.

“Mother,” Judy asked over the wire, “does Dad have a patient named Hugh
Sammis?”

“The used-furniture dealer? His wife is your father’s patient,” Mrs.
Bolton said. “She fell on the ice last winter and broke her hip.”

“Does she still use crutches?” asked Judy, thinking of the noises she
had heard upstairs in the shop.

“I believe she does. It takes time for bones to knit.”

“Does he owe Dad money?”

“Yes, but your father is willing to wait.”

Judy sighed. “Poor Dad! He always is. If he doesn’t get paid at all I’m
afraid it will be my fault. I should have told you about this when we
were there, Mother. Mr. Sammis accused me of breaking a table. He says
he won’t pay Dad until I give him twenty dollars. I objected because he
really broke the table himself. Then he went up to twenty-five.”

“That’s like him.” Mrs. Bolton’s voice was bitter. “I don’t think he
intends to pay, anyway. That was just an excuse.”

“Will you tell Dad?”

“Do you think we should?” Judy’s mother asked. “He has so many worries.
Probably he’ll just cross off what Mr. Sammis owes as a bad debt. If he
hadn’t found that excuse he would have found some other.”

“But that isn’t fair!”

“Judy girl,” her mother said gently, “when you’ve lived as long as I
have you will realize that a great many things in this world aren’t
fair. You can’t right all the wrongs.”

“I know, Motherkins, but I can try to right a few of them, can’t I?”
Judy asked.

Mrs. Bolton gave up. Judy was a born crusader, she said, but there was
pride in her voice. She wouldn’t have had it any other way.

They talked for a few more minutes, and then Judy went back to the work
of sorting and arranging the things she had collected. Blackberry
insisted on helping. There was a faded ribbon dangling from the souvenir
booklet she had picked up in Hugh Sammis’ shop. Ribbons always tempted
him.

“Stop it, Blackberry!” Judy chided him. “You’re not a kitten any more.
Books are to read, not to play with.”

Blackberry turned one of the pages with his paw, and Judy began to
laugh. He acted just as if he had understood her. She was still laughing
when Peter came in at six o’clock.

“Look at Blackberry!” she pointed out. “He thinks he can read that old
souvenir booklet I bought for the library exhibit.”

“So he does,” chuckled Peter. “It must be quite a story if a cat can
read it. _Of Mice and Men_—”

“It isn’t a story,” Judy interrupted, laughing. “It’s just a list of
names.”

“I see it is.”

Peter read the list and then began questioning Judy. She had wanted to
tell him about Hugh Sammis and his queer, sheared-off house. Now she
found herself coming to some odd conclusions.

“Peter,” she asked as she hurried to prepare dinner, “do you think he
could have been one of the men who did the looting in Roulsville after
the flood?”

“Hugh Sammis? I don’t think so,” Peter replied soberly. “He didn’t live
in this part of the country then. That house belonged to a family by the
name of Truitt.”

“Donna Truitt’s family?”

“I think so. They weren’t as well off then as they are now. Sammis moved
in and set up his shop right after the road was widened.”

“Then he was lying!”

Peter looked interested.

“About what?”

“About some furniture that was warped as if it had been in the water. He
said—”

Judy paused, trying to remember exactly what the used-furniture dealer
had said. He certainly had led her to believe that his house had been
sheared in half to make room for the road. But if he had purchased the
shop just recently, that couldn’t be true.

“What he said about the furniture couldn’t be true, either,” Judy
concluded after telling Peter as much of the conversation as she could
remember. “And if it wasn’t left out in the rain it could be furniture
damaged in the flood six years ago, couldn’t it?”

“I suppose it could,” Peter admitted.

Judy wanted to ask him about the lady table, but she waited until
evening, hoping he would mention it first. Meantime she told him
everything that had happened up to the time Danny appeared and warned
Horace not to break up the dam.

“You see, Peter,” she ended her story, “Danny was afraid if Horace
pulled out that table leg—”

“What table leg?” Peter questioned just as if she hadn’t told him
anything.

“The one from our table. You know, with the four ladies holding up the
marble top. One of them was in the water. Didn’t you see her?”

“You said you weren’t really sure—”

“Now I am,” she interrupted excitedly. “Horace and I both saw her this
morning. Ask him if you don’t believe me, Peter.”

“I believe you, Angel,” he said. “Now I think I understand why Danny had
to watch the beaver dam. The table leg must have been removed after you
and Horace took him back to the orphanage, and before we got there. We
looked, and I’m certain there was no table leg built into that dam. The
water had broken through in one place, and we could see plenty of
ripples. The beavers were probably working to repair the damage. I told
Hank Lawton—”

“The other agent?”

“Yes, he’s new to the territory. Unmarried and willing to date young
ladies who will talk.”

“Peter, you don’t mean Honey?”

“No,” he replied mysteriously, “we have another young lady in mind.
Donna Truitt, to be specific. Naturally, she won’t know she’s being of
any help. It will take time to put together all the pieces of this
puzzle, but you’ve supplied quite a few. Have you read the names in this
souvenir booklet?”

“I read Hugh Sammis’ name. He was a boy then.”

“So was Joe Mott.”

“The gangster!” Judy exclaimed, snatching the booklet away from
Blackberry.

The name, Arthur Joseph Mott, had escaped her notice. Apparently he had
dropped the Arthur. But if he and Hugh Sammis had gone to school
together they certainly knew each other.

“They were first grade pupils then,” Peter reminded her. “Do you know
where all your first grade classmates are?”

“Not half of them,” Judy replied, shaking her head. “I thought not.
Well, if Sammis isn’t involved in anything dishonest,” Peter remarked,
“he should be willing to answer a few questions.”



                              CHAPTER XII
                             At the Library


The next morning, Judy was at Holly’s door soon after Peter left with
Hank Lawton in the official FBI car. The library exhibit was ready, and
she hoped her pictures would be ready, too.

“Want to come with me to Roulsville?” she asked Holly the minute the
door was opened. Ruth, as usual, was busy with the baby. He was walking
now, and making noises that sounded like words.

“Do I!” the younger girl exclaimed. “But wait, I have some more stuff
for the exhibit. May I help arrange it in the glass case?”

“Of course. Bring your sweater. It’s a little chilly this morning,” Judy
said, “and tell your sister you’re off for the day.”

“You deserve to be after staying home with Bobby all day yesterday.
Don’t forget your letter,” Ruth advised as Holly hurried off.

“It’s to my other sister. The letter, I mean,” Holly explained. “I asked
about my typewriter. I know Doris didn’t take it, but I felt better
asking. It’s funny, but I feel closer to my sisters when they’re away
and I just write letters. That’s the way it was for so many years.”

“I know.” Holly and her sisters had been separated after their parents
died, each living with a different relative. It would take time for them
to become fully acquainted with each other. “You don’t feel closer to me
when I’m away, do you?” Judy asked to change the subject into more
cheerful channels.

Holly giggled. “Of course not. I feel closer to you when I’m helping you
solve a mystery. Did you find out about that thing you saw in the pond?”

They were walking along the shortcut between her house and Judy’s. A
chill was in the air. Judy shivered.

“You mean the lady table leg? What about it?”

“That’s what I’m asking _you_. But I can see you didn’t find out very
much,” Holly concluded.

“No, I’m afraid I didn’t,” admitted Judy, “but Peter intends to question
Hugh Sammis today. He may find out a great deal. He went with another
agent in an official car and left the Beetle for me. Put your things in
it, and I’ll get mine. Then, on the way to Roulsville, I’ll tell you all
about it.”

First she told Holly about the lady table leg and how it had vanished by
the time Peter got to the dam. “It’s a funny thing,” she continued, “but
Horace and I both saw it. He was going to pull it out of the water, and
then Danny warned him not to touch it.”

“Who’s Danny?” Holly asked. “Do I know him?”

“You’ve heard about him,” Judy reminded her. “He’s the orphan Meta
Hanley told us about. Remember?”

“Now I do,” Holly answered. “She said he liked to watch the beavers. Was
he there at the beaver dam?”

“He certainly was. When we first heard him Horace thought I was throwing
my voice. Imagine! Then he jumped down from a tree where he was hiding
and told us who he was. Horace called him a wood sprite. He’s such a
strange little boy.”

“Everything you’ve told me so far is pretty strange,” agreed Holly. “Did
you take him back to the orphanage?”

“Under protest. He wanted to stay and play watchman for the beavers.”

Holly laughed. Then she saw that Judy was serious and asked, “Why would
he want to do that?”

“He had a reason,” Judy replied, “because someone must have removed that
table leg minutes after we left. When Peter looked for it he found a
broken place in the beaver dam and no lady—”

“It was an apparition,” declared Holly. “I don’t believe it was there in
the first place. Horace is right. It couldn’t have washed down from the
Roulsville flood.”

“But Horace saw it, too,” Judy objected.

“Are you sure?” Holly was not convinced. “Imagination plays strange
tricks on people.”

Judy knew that. Often, passing the broken dam in the valley above
Roulsville, she seemed to see the devastated town as she saw it right
after the flood. Today a mist hung over the valley. It was raining by
the time they reached Roulsville. Judy spread a newspaper over the box
containing the things for the exhibit and, together, she and Holly
dashed through the rain into the library.

Maud Wheatley, the librarian who had rented Judy’s house earlier in the
summer, looked a little startled. Then she saw it wasn’t noisy children
rushing into the library, and her expression changed.

“Oh, it’s you, Judy, and your friend, Holly Potter. Put the things right
down here on the table,” she directed. “The case is empty. You may
arrange them any way you wish.”

Holly was a real help with her artistic ideas. The souvenir booklet and
the old textbooks were arranged toward the back of the case with the
smaller Reward of Merit cards scattered in front. Judy had brought a
ball of yarn and a long needle to go with the sewing cards, and Holly
had contributed her great grandmother’s sampler in its antique frame.

“It will be safe here, won’t it?” she asked anxiously when they were
ready to leave.

“Perfectly safe. The case will be locked. This is a beautiful exhibit,”
the librarian declared. “I knew those treasures in your attic would make
a fine display, Judy, but this is even better than I expected. It amazes
me that a young girl like you should be so interested in family
keepsakes.”

“It may be because we lost so many family keepsakes in the flood.
Everything went except what few things we had stored at Grandma’s,” Judy
told her. “Your home was washed away, too, wasn’t it?”

“Only the porch. It’s still known as the Pringle house,” she replied,
“although no Pringles live there any more. When we went back after the
flood the rooms were empty of everything valuable. I remember how bare
the mantel looked without the old pine clock and the chalkware lambs—”

“The chalkware lambs?” Judy questioned.

“Yes, do you remember them?”

“I don’t think I ever visited your family when you lived in that house,”
Judy admitted, “but I did see some chalkware lambs in a shop up in North
Farringdon.”

“They’re not uncommon. Whoever looted the house left us nothing but a
few chairs, a bare table, and a kitchen stove. And the piano, but that
was water-soaked and ruined. We sold the house and rented a furnished
apartment in New York. My brother was married that year, so there was
just Mother and me. She died soon afterwards. Losing everything was just
too much for her,” the librarian finished.

“You never found out who did all that looting, did you?” Judy asked.

She knew the answer. It seemed to distress Mrs. Wheatley to talk about
her former home. Like many of the people who used to live in Roulsville,
she had moved away only to come back.

“We’re buying one of the new houses and gradually furnishing it with
antiques,” she confided. “Bob can’t understand why I want them, but I
guess I treasure old things for the same reason you do, Judy. Thank you
for sharing your treasures with the children who come to the library.
You, too, Holly. The sampler is yours, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it belonged to my great grandmother, Felicity Kane. Judy helped me
find out who she was. I can help her with the October exhibit, too,”
Holly offered. “There’s a map of the world among my uncle’s things. It’s
the way people imagined it in the time of Columbus with pictures of sea
monsters near what they thought was the edge of the world.”

“Lovely! Lovely!” Mrs. Wheatley exclaimed. “We’ve come a long way since
then, haven’t we?”

“Full circle,” Holly said. “Then we were afraid of sea monsters. Now
it’s each other.”

When the girls were outside the library Judy asked, “Why did you say
we’re afraid of each other?”

“Because we are,” Holly answered. “I don’t mean you and me, of course.
We’re friends. But you know yourself there are people who live by
stealing and cheating and misrepresenting what they have to sell. Take
that Mr. Sammis with his chalkware lambs. Where do you think he got
them?”

“I’ve been wondering about that,” Judy admitted.

“Do you think some of that stuff in his shop could have been loot from
the Roulsville flood?”

“Possibly. Though I should think he would have sold it all by now,” Judy
added, “unless he waited for fear of being caught.”

“Maybe he’s waiting to sell my typewriter, too. Oh, Judy! Wouldn’t it be
wonderful if you and I could discover what he’s up to?” Holly exclaimed,
fairly skipping in her excitement.

They were on their way to pick up the films. It had stopped raining, but
there was still a chill in the air. Summer was ending as it had begun,
with Judy on the trail of another mystery. Would the pictures she had
taken help solve it, or would they add more pieces to the puzzle? Judy
knew the answer the moment she opened the yellow envelope that said,
“Here are your color prints.”

“Holly!” she exclaimed, nearly dropping the pictures as she held them
out for her friend to see. “I thought I was photographing beavers in the
dark, but look what I took!”



                              CHAPTER XIII
                       What the Pictures Revealed


“What is it?” asked Holly, taking the pictures from Judy’s hand and
flipping through them. “I see you didn’t snap any beavers, just the dam
and those creepy ferns and a few ripples—but what’s this?”

“You tell me what it is,” Judy replied in a bewildered voice as Holly
stared at the last picture in the folder.

It had been taken in the dark. Judy had expected some surprises, but not
anything like this. Neither she nor Holly had the faintest notion that
they were being watched by anything but beavers. They hadn’t yet seen
the table leg and yet, somehow, Judy had photographed the lady’s head so
that it looked as if it had a shadowy body.

“But it’s a man’s body,” Holly objected, studying the picture more
closely.

“I know. The first thing I saw was that lady’s face and it—it sort of
startled me,” Judy confessed, “but now I think I can explain it.”

“You can?”

Holly seemed to think the picture was beyond explanation, and no wonder!
But, peering toward the camera, was another face that Judy instantly
recognized.

“That’s Danny there in the ferns,” she pointed out. “He and that—that
man—”

“You mean that apparition?”

“No, it must be a man, but his face is behind that lady face as if he
were wearing a mask. I started to say that he and Danny must have been
there all the time I was trying to photograph beavers in the dark.
Remember the noises we heard?”

Holly shivered. “I remember. Now I’m twice as scared. You can see the
beaver dam right through the beavers. They don’t seem real.”

“Danny was real enough,” Judy insisted. “I told you he had a reason for
watching the beaver dam, and this picture proves it. I must have taken
another picture on top of it to create this curious effect of the lady’s
face, but at least it will prove to Peter that the lady table leg was
there.”

Holly turned the picture sideways. “I see what you mean, but it’s still
spooky. You have a reputation for explaining ghosts, Judy, but this is
the first time you ever took a picture of one. Danny must have known the
man was there.”

“I’m sure he did,” Judy agreed. “When Horace and I questioned him he
said he had to watch the beavers, but afterwards he claimed he was
waiting for his father.”

“His father?” gasped Holly. “I thought he was an orphan.”

“So did I,” Judy admitted. “Now I don’t know what to think. This ghost
in the picture may be the man Meta Hanley was going to marry.”

“George?”

“She did say his name was George, didn’t she? They were going to live in
that house with the boarded-up windows,” Judy remembered, “and that’s
where Danny said he used to live before his mother died. Afterwards, he
claims, his father closed up the house and left him at the orphanage.”

“But that’s fantastic!” Holly exclaimed. “Did he know Meta Hanley was
the matron?”

“I think he must have known it,” Judy replied thoughtfully as she put
the folder of pictures in her pocketbook. “I want to show them to Peter
before anyone else sees them,” she explained to Holly as they headed for
home.

On the way they talked of the old romance and what might have happened.
But it was all supposition. They weren’t sure of anything. They weren’t
even sure Danny’s father was still alive.

“People don’t always tell children the truth about such things,” Judy
commented gravely.

“Sometimes it’s better—”

“Not to tell the truth? I don’t think so,” Judy declared. “Some things
are hard to face, but it’s better to face them. I remember when the
Roulsville dam broke. Grandma fainted when she heard it. But I ran all
the way to Roulsville to find out what really happened. I had to know.
And it wasn’t half as bad as it could have been. We lost our homes, but
we had each other, and now it begins to look as if we might recover a
few of our belongings as well.”

“It does, doesn’t it?” agreed Holly. “I’d be so happy for you, Judy. It
was just the other way around with me. We kept our precious old things
but lost the people.”

“You have your sisters,” Judy reminded her.

“Yes, and I’m an aunt.” Holly smiled at the thought. “Bobby’s a lot of
fun when I have him all to myself. He was pretending clothespins were
people the other day and putting them to sleep under a blanket. I’m
baby-sitting again tomorrow. What will you be doing?”

“Housework, I suppose. I’ve let it go.”

The prospect of spending a whole day cleaning house did not appeal to
Judy. She brought out the vacuum cleaner as soon as Holly left and
started on the living room. Blackberry glared at her through the window.
He had been shut outside all the time Judy and Holly were arranging the
library exhibit, and now his heartless mistress was making the house
horrible with noise. The telephone rang, and Judy shut off the vacuum
cleaner to answer it.

“Where have you been all day?” Horace’s voice came over the wire. “I
have news—”

“You always have,” Judy interrupted teasingly.

“But this is important. The police traced the license number of that
green car, and they’re sure it’s Meta Hanley’s car we saw racing through
Farringdon right after Holly’s typewriter was stolen.”

“It couldn’t have been,” Judy protested. “Her car was parked in front of
the Jewell sisters’ house all day while they were picking apples.”

“Where’s the orchard?” Horace wanted to know.

Judy couldn’t remember seeing any orchard. Perhaps it was just over the
hill. Could the thief have borrowed Meta Hanley’s car and returned it
before the three women had finished picking apples? Horace thought it
was quite likely. He asked how the pictures came out.

“You’ll have to see them to believe it,” Judy told him, “but Peter gets
the first look. ’Bye, Horace.”

Judy put away the vacuum cleaner and started cooking dinner. The lamb
pot pie was ready just as Peter arrived home.

Blackberry came in with him. Both of them looked hungry. Judy greeted
Peter and handed him the pictures.

“See what you think of them,” was all she said.

Dinner was eaten in comparative silence. Judy was bursting with
curiosity, but she wanted Peter to be the first to comment on the
amazing picture she had taken.

“The crust,” he finally said, taking another helping of the lamb pie,
“makes it difficult for me to tell exactly what I’m eating.”

“And what does that mean?” asked Judy.

“Well, it’s the same way with that picture you took. With one face on
top of the other, it’s hard to tell just who was at the beaver dam.”

“Danny was, and that is the lady table leg. I told you it was there, but
that other face is hidden. I’m sorry,” Judy said.

“No need to be. Whoever it is,” declared Peter, “it answers a question
that has been in my mind ever since we talked with Danny. He wasn’t
alone at the beaver dam all night. Someone was with him.”

“Do you think he’ll tell you who it was?”

“He may. I’ll question him later,” Peter decided. “First I’d like to
find out if anything more has been taken from the beaver dam. I’m
convinced he was watching it for fear someone would break it up.”

“I agree with you,” declared Judy, “but in the picture Danny is watching
the man, not the beaver dam. See the way he’s crouched among the ferns.
The man, whoever he is, may not have known he was there. I thought at
first it might be his father, but it was _after_ this picture was taken
that he said he had to wait for his father, wasn’t it? He wouldn’t have
said that if they had already met each other.”

“True,” Peter acknowledged. “Tell you what I’ll do, Angel. I’ll take
this picture to the office tomorrow and have it blown up and separated.
Then we’ll take a little ride out to the beaver dam—”

“You and me?” exclaimed Judy, delighted.

“I certainly wouldn’t take any other girl,” Peter replied to tease her.
“Old Blackberry can come along, too. He looks as if you’d hurt his
feelings.”

Judy giggled. “I used the vacuum cleaner.”

“Good! Then you won’t have any housework to do tomorrow, and we can get
an early start. Bring that camera of yours along,” Peter added, his blue
eyes twinkling. “Maybe this time you can photograph beavers instead of
ghosts.”



                              CHAPTER XIV
                                Together


Judy and Peter set out early the next morning to take the “ghost
picture,” as they both called it, to Farringdon and leave it for the
experts to figure out. Judy kept the original print. New prints would be
made from the film. They would be flashed on a screen both before and
after being separated. Peter would see them, but Judy knew she would not
be included in the secret work of identifying the unknown man. It was
enough to be included in Peter’s plans for the day.

“Officially, we’re supposed to question Danny. We’ll stop at the
orphanage first and then drive on to the beaver dam.” Peter began making
plans. “Meantime the experts will be unscrambling that picture—”

“And I’ll be taking a few more,” Judy broke in. “This time I intend to
see what I’m taking.”

It was a bright, sunny day. The ride out of Dry Brook Hollow over the
hills and down again into Farringdon was pleasant and uneventful. The
little city hadn’t changed the way Roulsville had. There was a new high
school because the old one had burned, and a new post office simply
because it was needed. The library was the same red brick building Judy
had learned to love when she went to the old high school in Farringdon.
It didn’t have any glass cases for displays—just rows and rows of books.
Judy stopped in to browse among them while Peter took the film of the
“ghost picture” to the FBI Resident Agency across the street.

“Hi, Judy! This is like old times,” someone greeted her as she walked
between the rows of books.

It was Lois Farringdon-Pett but, instead of being with Lorraine as she
always used to be, her new friend Donna Truitt was with her.

“We’re looking for decorating ideas,” Lois confided. “Donna’s family’s
bought one of those Victorian houses on Grove Street, and it has to be
furnished with period pieces.”

“Oh, we have things, but not the _right_ things,” Donna put in. “We’ve
moved around too much. My father’s business keeps him on the move, but
he says this time we’re in Farringdon to stay.”

“You lived here before, didn’t you?” Judy questioned. “Where Mr. Sammis’
antique shop is now?”

She knew the answer. But Donna wouldn’t admit that she had ever lived in
the poorer section of North Farringdon or that Mr. Sammis had bought
what used to be the Truitt house.

“We lived in Ulysses before we moved here,” she insisted. “Of course, I
know the shop you mean. I stopped there to look at some of his
antiques.”

“He has some nice things,” Judy admitted, “but his shop is so crowded
it’s hard to find them. Some of his furniture has been broken and then
mended, and some of it is warped. I don’t think any of it would be right
for one of those Grove Street houses.”

“He has other stuff, Judy,” Lois told her. “That shop you visited isn’t
his only place of business.”

“Do you know where his other shops are?” Judy questioned.

Lois shook her head. Donna claimed not to know either, but, from the way
she pulled Lois away, Judy felt she was avoiding further questions. When
Judy was in the car again she mentioned it to Peter.

“Donna Truitt won’t avoid the questions Hank Lawson asks her on their
date tonight,” declared Peter. “He’s going to question Sammis, too. It’s
better if he doesn’t suspect you have any interest in anything he has to
sell, or in any of his other shops. We’ll find them without arousing his
suspicions.”

Judy understood what Peter meant. They passed the sheared-off house
without slowing down, Judy in the front seat beside Peter and Blackberry
in his usual place next to the back window. The cat seemed to be
enjoying the scenery as, one after another, the small towns along the
way were reached and passed.

At the watershed Peter stopped long enough to point out the far-off
river valleys that lost themselves among the blue hills.

“Back there,” he said, indicating a wooded slope beyond the little town
named Gold, “is the head of the Allegheny. If we took that road to the
right we’d cross a branch of the Susquehanna, and just ahead, before we
get to the orphanage, is a bridge over the Genessee. Confusing, isn’t
it?”

“Wonderful is the word,” declared Judy. “I mean that three great river
systems originate within a few miles of each other right here in our own
Pennsylvania hills.”

She knew that the furniture the beavers had built into their dam
couldn’t have floated upstream and been transported overland by beavers.
People must have transported it before the beavers found it.

“But where was it all this time?” Judy wondered.

“We’ll find out,” Peter promised after talking over Judy’s theory. “It
must have been stored or dumped somewhere near the beaver dam.”

“Maybe Danny will know,” Judy suggested.

“What Danny knows and what he’s willing to tell are two different
stories,” declared Peter. “He may be playing detective himself. On the
other hand, he may be trying to protect someone—”

“His father?” Judy questioned. “At first I thought that might be his
father in the picture.”

“It might be.” Peter planned to question Danny about it, but when they
stopped at the orphanage they were told that the boy was off again on
one of his expeditions.

“He never tells me where he’s going, but he knows that I know he always
goes to the beaver dam,” the matron confided.

“Are you sure?” asked Judy. “If he used to live in that house with the
boarded-up windows he might go there.”

Meta Hanley shook her head. “I don’t think so. The house is locked.
Danny told me himself that he wished he could get in. All the Andersons’
things are stored there. George Anderson is supposed to return and make
a home for Danny, but he never comes.”

“Do you know why?” asked Peter.

“He’s working. Danny showed me a letter from him,” one of the orphans
spoke up. There were always little groups of them standing around,
listening.

“It had a Canadian stamp on it,” another orphan volunteered.

“Yes,” the matron agreed. “Danny’s father is working in Canada. He
writes to him regularly, but Danny never shows me the letters. A
ten-year-old has a right to some privacy. His mother, as you know, is
dead.”

“We know.” Judy agreed with Meta Hanley about Danny’s right to privacy,
and yet she felt sure the matron must be curious.

“You’ll have to ask Danny,” was all she could say.

Judy couldn’t help wondering how Miss Hanley really felt about Danny’s
father. Afterwards, in the car, Judy and Peter talked over the old
romance. Could something unexpected have happened to prevent George
Anderson from keeping his appointment at the beaver dam?

“Meta told me she expected him to bring her wedding ring. He never
brought it,” declared Judy, “and only a few months afterwards she read
in the paper that he was married to the girl who became Danny’s mother.
They lived in the house she had thought would be hers. There it is!” she
broke off to exclaim as the house with the boarded-up windows came in
sight. “Doesn’t it look lonely?”

Peter stopped the car. “Lonely, perhaps, but not deserted. You can see
where a truck has been driven into the garage just recently. For all I
know, it’s still there.”

“Let’s explore the place and find out!” Judy said eagerly.

Blackberry seemed eager to do some exploring, too. Before Judy could
stop him, the cat was out of the car and off in the direction of the
mysterious house. In a moment, he had disappeared.

“Here, kitty! Kitty! Kitty!” Peter called, but the cat did not reappear.

“He never comes unless he thinks you have food,” Judy reminded him.
“Cats aren’t like dogs. They’re independent and adventurous, and I don’t
blame Blackberry one bit. I wouldn’t come, either, if you called me away
from a mystery, and I think he’s found one inside that house. How do you
suppose he got in?”

“Let’s find out,” Peter suggested.

Judy followed him around to the back of the house where a sagging porch
seemed to have been partly destroyed by beavers. Now she could hear
Blackberry inside the house. Or was that Blackberry? If it was, he was
playing with something that made a rolling sound along the floor.

“Maybe he’s found a spool. You’ll never get him out of there if he’s
found something to play with,” Peter predicted.

“He had to get in there some way. If we can find an opening—”

Judy stopped with her sentence half finished because, in almost the same
moment, she and Peter had found it. The back door was locked, but there
beside it was a small hole gnawed by beavers. It was large enough for a
cat or a beaver to squeeze through, but not for a person.

“It’s large enough for a table leg, too!” Judy exclaimed, bending to
measure the space with her hand. “Peter, _this_ must be where the
beavers found all that furniture they built into their dam, but what’s
this?”

Reaching in a little farther, Judy’s fingers closed over the small,
round object Blackberry had been rolling on the floor.



                               CHAPTER XV
                             A Band of Gold


“What is it?” asked Peter as Judy held the object in her closed hand.

She smiled at him. “You’ll have to guess, but I’ll give you a hint. It’s
something I don’t need. I already have one, and I love it dearly. You
gave it to me.”

“I gave you Blackberry.”

“I know. This is the thing he was rolling around in there.”

“A spool of thread?”

“Oh, no! This is something much more exciting. I know a song about it.
We have it on an old record.”

And Judy began to sing:

  “Love’s not a sudden romance
  Or the kiss that follows a dance.
  Love is forever, an everlasting thing.
  Love is....”

“A golden ring.” Peter finished the line as Judy opened her hand.

There it was—a plain band of gold. It was not engraved on the outside as
Judy’s ring was. She had once told Peter that the leaves engraved on her
wedding ring looked like little _y’s_. “They all stand for _you_,” she
had whispered after he had placed the ring on her finger.

This ring, Judy soon discovered, had never been placed on anyone’s
finger. The engraving on the inside told the story.

“Peter! There are some initials there!” Judy exclaimed, noticing them
first. “Can you see what they are?”

He held the ring in a better light.

“‘G. A. to M. H.,’” he read.

“But that’s George Anderson to Meta Hanley!” Judy exclaimed. “He did buy
her the ring. He really did intend to marry her. But then I guess he met
this other girl, and love didn’t turn out to be such an everlasting
thing for him. Meta ought to know about the ring, though. Shall we take
it to her?”

“Not so fast, Angel. That ring isn’t all we’ve discovered,” declared
Peter. “Don’t you think, before we deliver the ring, we ought to find
out what else is in this house and how it came to be here?”

“You mean—Oh dear!” Judy interrupted herself, knowing too well what
Peter meant. “You mean Danny’s father may have been hiding all that loot
from the Roulsville flood in his boarded-up house. If the beavers hadn’t
broken in—Oh dear!” Judy said again. “I almost wish they hadn’t. It
spoils that beautiful romance I was dreaming up for Meta Hanley. She
won’t want to marry a thief. She won’t even want this ring.”

“She may. If she really loved him she may want to marry him, anyway, and
Danny does need a mother—”

“But his father will be in jail!”

Peter laughed. “We have to find him before we can put him there, or
marry him off, either. I think Danny knew the beavers were hauling stuff
away from the house where he used to live.”

“Oh dear! Then he knew his father stole it?”

“Are all those _oh dears_ for Danny? I feel sorry for the boy myself,”
Peter admitted. “But perhaps his father allowed the stuff to be stored
in his house without knowing it was stolen.”

“I doubt it. He can’t be much good,” declared Judy. “He did leave his
boy at the orphanage.”

“Angel,” Peter replied in that calm voice he used when he was begging
Judy to be reasonable, “you can’t blame him for that, can you? He may
have known Meta Hanley was the matron and that she would be a second
mother to Danny. He must be in these woods somewhere.”

They had been walking toward the beaver dam while they were talking.
Judy glanced back along the road they had taken.

“Blackberry isn’t coming,” she observed. “I thought surely he’d follow
us if we started walking.”

“He’s still exploring that house. We’ll stop and call him again on our
way back to the car,” Peter promised. “Meanwhile we may surprise the
beavers and get a few good pictures.”

Judy had her camera with her, but she had lost interest in the beavers.
“We won’t find them gnawing down trees,” she said. “They find it easier
to haul broken pieces of furniture through that hole they gnawed in the
house. If Danny knows the furniture is there,” she went on thoughtfully,
“then I’m sure he must know it’s stolen. Probably it’s being sold,
little by little, by unscrupulous men like Mr. Sammis. It’s funny,
though, Sammis did tell that truck driver to take the furniture back.”

“What furniture?” asked Peter, suddenly interested.

“Oh, didn’t I tell you? I’m not sure it was furniture, but just as we
were leaving that second-hand shop a truck drove up. It had the name
JOHN BEER lettered on it.”

“Did you see the license plates?”

“Yes, they were New York plates,” Judy replied. “John Beer was trying to
sell Sammis some furniture. I thought at first it might be display cases
or something he’d made, because it said on the truck that he was a
carpenter. But now I remember hearing him say, ‘This is good furniture.
I’ve sanded and refinished everything—’”

“And the truck came from New York State?”

“It must have.” Judy began to see the importance of what she had just
told Peter. If stolen goods had been transported across state lines it
would be his duty, not only to report it, but to act upon his report.

“I’ll drive to the nearest telephone and be right back,” he promised.
“You wait for me at the beaver dam. If you see Danny maybe you can get
him to talk. Keep this picture and show it to him.”

“The ‘ghost picture’!” Judy exclaimed as Peter handed it to her. “What
do you want me to do, scare him to death?”

Peter laughed. “It may give him a jolt. But you can explain the lady’s
face—”

“A lot easier than I can explain some other things,” Judy finished.

She didn’t think of the woods as being lonely until Peter was gone. The
beaver dam, robbed of its lady, was nothing but a mass of mud and
sticks. Ripples on the surface of the pond told her the beavers were
there. They hadn’t dragged out any more furniture to repair their dam.
They had moved a stone. Or had someone moved it for them?

Suddenly Judy became uneasy. She had been keeping perfectly still with
her camera focused on the pond. Now she whirled around with it as
something moved in the bushes behind her.

“It’s only a beaver,” she said to herself, relief flooding over her. She
had imagined the man in the “ghost picture” stealing stealthily through
the woods. But that was silly. Peter wouldn’t have left her if there had
been any danger. Without moving from where she stood, she began to take
pictures.

Soon two more beavers appeared carrying poles. A crash in the woods off
to her right told her that another sapling had fallen. If beavers worked
only at night, these animals were breaking the rules. Judy watched them
for half an hour and then, as suddenly as they had appeared, the beavers
vanished. Something had startled them. Was it Blackberry?

“Here, kitty! Kitty! Kitty!” Judy began to call.

“Quiet!” a voice hissed from the tree overhead.

Judy looked up to see Danny looking more like a wood sprite than ever in
his green jacket. His eyes pierced through her as if they were accusing
her of invading his private world.

“I was only calling my cat,” she started to explain.

“He won’t come.” Danny declared.

“Why not?” Judy wanted to know.

“Because I trapped him. That’s why. I’ll trap anything or anybody who
goes in that house without my father’s permission,” declared Danny. “I
plugged up the hole and trapped him. That’s what I did.”

“That’s cruel!” cried Judy. “He’s only a cat. I’m going right back there
this minute and let him out.”

“No, you’re not!” Danny sprang down from the tree and seized her arm,
but not before she found the “ghost picture” and held it before his
face. She didn’t care if she did give him a jolt. All her sympathy on
him had been wasted.

“He’s a vicious little monster,” she thought. “He deserves to be
frightened.”

She was not prepared for the quick change of expression or the sudden
loosening of his grasp on her arm. He snatched the picture and held it
in a patch of sunlight.

“You got him!” he exclaimed. “Or is it a her? You got that man I was
following, and he has a lady’s face.”

“Don’t you recognize the face?” Judy asked quietly.

“It’s the face that was on that lady stick. Somebody did steal it,” the
boy charged. “If you and your brother hadn’t taken me back to the
orphanage I could have watched the beaver dam. Then it wouldn’t have
been broken.”

“I’m sorry about that,” Judy said, meaning it. “You know my brother
didn’t take it.”

“Then who did?” Danny retorted.

“Don’t you know?”

The boy shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe it was that guy in the picture.
I’m going to tell my father—”

“Look closely, Danny,” Judy interrupted. “I took one picture on top of
another. Isn’t that your father in the second picture?”



                              CHAPTER XVI
                           Danny’s Confession


“My father?” Danny repeated with a dazed expression on his face. “You
mean that man I’ve been following is my father?”

“I’m asking _you_,” Judy said, torn between sympathy and anger. Her arm
was beginning to turn black and blue where the boy had held it. “You
must know who was with you that night you stayed at the beaver dam. Or
didn’t you stay there?”

“Not all the time,” Danny confessed. “Some of the time I was watching
the house. That man has a key. He goes in and out whenever he pleases,
but if he _is_ my father it’s all right, isn’t it?”

What could Judy say? It was all wrong whoever the man was. Danny seemed
to sense it.

“But my father would come and see me,” he objected to his own reasoning.
“And how can he send me letters from Canada if he’s right here?”

“Are all his letters from Canada?” asked Judy.

Danny had started walking back toward the house that used to be his
home. Judy followed him. He walked a little way before he answered. “All
but the last one. That was just a note. It didn’t have any stamp on it.”

“How could it go through the mail without a stamp?” Judy wondered.

Danny looked back at her. “Are you following me just to ask questions?”
he demanded.

“I’m going to let my cat out. You said you shut him in the house. But I
would like an answer to my question.”

“About the letter, you mean? I guess it could have been inside another
letter, couldn’t it? Maybe my father wrote to tell Ma he was coming. We
always call the matron Ma,” Danny explained. “All the orphans do except
the new ones. Some of them won’t talk at all.”

“I guess they’re afraid—”

“Sure,” Danny interrupted. “I was, too. I was only four years old when
my mother died and my father took me away in his car. He only took me as
far as the orphanage. Then he said, ‘Get out!’ in a sort of funny voice.
‘Go on up to the door,’ he told me. So I did. By the time Ma opened it
my father was gone.”

“And that was the last time you saw him?” Judy asked in surprise.

Danny nodded. He and Judy were walking together now. Through the trees,
they could see the house with the boarded-up windows.

“The windows weren’t like that when we lived there,” Danny went on
talking. “You could see out, and people on the outside could see in. It
will be like that again when my father comes home. I don’t remember him
very well, but I do know he promised to come back when I was ten. He
keeps reminding me of it in his letters. He said by then he’d have a lot
of money—”

“He didn’t say where he’d get it, did he?” Judy interrupted to ask.

Danny’s eyes blazed at her. “He’d work for it, of course. Where else
would he get it?”

Judy was getting in deeper and deeper. She wished Peter would come back.
He would know what questions to ask and how to answer those that the boy
fired at her.

“He said,” Danny continued, eager to talk about it now, “that he’d work
hard and save money and when I was ten years old we’d go back to the old
house, and everything would be the way it was when Mother was alive. But
it isn’t! The things in the house are all different.”

“How do you know that?” asked Judy. “I mean, how can you tell when you
can’t get in?”

“Because those things the beavers dragged out aren’t our things. Anyway,
I don’t _think_ they are. You said that lady stick was a leg from your
table.”

“I thought it was,” Judy replied quietly.

“But you aren’t sure?”

“Oh, Danny! I don’t know. I’m just as puzzled as you are,” Judy told
him. “Can’t we be friends? Can’t we work out this puzzle together?”

“Not if it’s going to get my father in trouble.”

He stopped abruptly. Peter was coming toward them.

“Somebody shut Blackberry in the house,” he began. “I unplugged the hole
but I couldn’t coax him out. Who do you suppose could have done a thing
like that?”

Judy looked at Danny expecting him to answer, but he had his head down.
He seemed to be very much interested in tying the lace on one of his
sneakers.

“I don’t suppose it matters. Old Blackberry wasn’t complaining. I think
he’s found a mouse or two in there to keep him busy until we come back
for him. Come on, everybody,” Peter urged as he hurried them toward the
car. “The important thing right now is lunch.”

“Lunch?” Danny questioned as if he had never heard the word.

“Yes, aren’t you hungry?”

“I’m starved,” the boy admitted. “Where will we eat?”

Peter smiled. “I guess the Beverly’s the nearest place unless you want
to go back to the orphanage.”

“They eat at twelve. The dining room closes at one. It’s after that,
isn’t it?” Danny asked.

Peter consulted his watch. “Way after. It’s nearly two. Shall we go?”

The Beverly turned out to be an old mansion made over into an inn. It
was quiet in the daytime, but Judy could see that it must be quite a gay
place at night. There was a dance floor and a platform for an orchestra
as well as separate dining rooms for private parties.

“This _is_ a surprise!” she exclaimed as they entered through the lobby
and stood looking into the dining room. “I never expected to find a
place like this way out here in the country.”

“It isn’t so far out in the country as you may think,” Peter told her.
“This road follows the Genessee River north to Wellsville and on to
Rochester. It crosses Route 17, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to
find a sign at the crossroads directing tourists here. Like it?”

“Love it,” Judy replied. “We’ll have to come here some evening when the
place is more lively.”

Danny bounced on one of two sofas opposite each other. “Golly! You could
sleep on this,” he exclaimed. “What’s all this furniture for?”

“For people to sit on, of course,” Judy replied, laughing.

“You mean when they’re waiting for other people?”

“Yes, or when they want to rest. It’s sort of a living room for people
who stay overnight here. Hotels always have lobbies—”

“Would my father stay overnight here if he came to see me?” Danny
interrupted, as they followed the waiter to a table.

“He might.”

Judy and Peter looked at each other. Neither of them wanted to say
anything against Danny’s father. Finally, just as they were finishing
lunch, Danny produced the note his father had written.

“Here it is,” he said, fishing a crumpled piece of paper out of his
pocket. “See what it says! ‘_I am keeping my promise. I think I have
money enough to start a good business. We’ll operate from our own home.
I’ll take you back there to live with me very soon...._’”

“It’s typewritten!” Judy exclaimed. She couldn’t help thinking of
Holly’s stolen typewriter.

“Danny,” Peter asked, his voice grave, “have you any idea what this
business is?”

The boy shook his head. He seemed as confused as they were. “I hope it’s
farming, but it doesn’t sound much like it. Whatever it is, he wants me
to help him.”

“Have you helped him, Danny?”

“No-oo,” was the reply to Peter’s question. Danny sounded a little
uncertain. He couldn’t be the boy who ran off with Holly’s typewriter.
Horace had judged that boy to be about sixteen or seventeen. Judy
thought of the matron’s car. Could it have been “borrowed” by Danny’s
father that day Miss Hanley and the Jewell sisters were picking apples?
Certainly someone had taken it and then returned it.

“Are you sure you haven’t seen your father since he left this note?”
Peter continued his questioning.

“Maybe I have. Maybe he was the man I was trailing,” Danny admitted. “I
thought that man had no right to go in our house, and so I spied on him.
I didn’t speak to him. I didn’t say one word.”

“Did he know you were there?”

“I don’t think so. I heard him muttering something about the beavers. It
wasn’t a very nice thing to say. I don’t think my father would talk like
that. He—”

If Danny finished answering Peter’s question, Judy failed to hear what
he said. The sentence was suddenly drowned out by the shrill sound of a
siren that grew increasingly louder. Danny rushed to the window with
Judy following him. Peter joined them as soon as he had paid for their
lunch.

“It’s fire engines!” Danny shouted above the noise outside. “They must
be coming from Wellsville. Let’s watch and see which way they turn.”



                              CHAPTER XVII
                                 Fire!


Watching the fire engines from the porch, it was easy to see which way
they were going. The Beverly Inn overlooked the valley beyond the
crossroads. Here and there a house and a piece of cleared land broke the
green carpet of trees that covered the hills in every direction.

It was a quiet scene except for the red fire engines streaking past,
their sirens screaming. Judy had expected them to turn to the west
toward Ulysses. The straight road ahead would take them to the house
with the boarded-up windows. To Judy’s surprise and momentary relief,
they took the road to the east.

“It can’t be too bad. There aren’t any towns in that direction, are
there?” she asked.

“Not for quite a distance,” Peter began. “It may be some country place—”

“Not ours?” Danny wailed.

Thinking he meant his old home, Judy started to reassure him. But first
she knew she must reassure herself. She liked excitement, but not the
excitement of fires. Memories rushed back—her old school burning, the
crackling flames when a fire was deliberately set to halt the rebuilding
of Roulsville.

“We’ll find out where it is,” Peter promised. “Come on, Judy. We have to
go that way to take Danny back to the orphanage. We may as well see
what’s burning.”

“Could it be a forest fire?” Judy questioned when they were in the car.

“It could be. I hope it isn’t. We’ve had too much dry weather lately.
Whatever it is,” Peter declared, “the firemen will have to work fast to
keep it from becoming a forest fire.”

“What’s that funny cloud?” Danny asked, peering out of the car window.

Peter slowed down to let more fire engines pass and then followed them.
Now Judy could see the cloud Danny had mentioned. But was it a cloud?
White wisps of smoke curled into the sky like scrawny ghosts.

“That must be where the fire is,” she began. “Right there in the valley
beyond the trees—”

“But that’s where the orphanage is!” Danny objected.

Judy gasped. She didn’t want to believe the orphanage was burning. The
thought of all those children losing the one home they had was too much.
Other thoughts, still more terrifying, quickly followed. Peter, not
having any word of reassurance, drove on in silence. Suddenly Danny
screamed.

“I can see it now. It is the orphanage! We have to get Ma out of there.
She’ll go in after the babies and never come out!”

“Oh, Danny! Don’t say that,” cried Judy. “The firemen will make sure
that Ma and all the children are safe, won’t they, Peter?”

“They’ll do their best,” he replied, heading straight for the burning
building, “but they can use all the help we can give them.”

Judy agreed. As soon as Peter stopped the car she sprang out and started
toward the orphanage. The windows glowed with a weird red light. The
whole interior must be ablaze. Oh, Judy hoped all the children were out!
Her one thought was to find Meta Hanley and tell her Danny was safe.

“Where’s the matron?” she asked a group of frightened orphans who were
huddled together watching the firemen as they worked to keep the fire
from spreading to the woods. They had been too late to save the
building. Tongues of flame leaped through the upper windows and suddenly
burst through the roof.

“It’s going to burn to the ground!” one small girl wailed. “Then where
will we live?”

“I don’t know. Miss?” The group turned to Judy without answering the
child’s question. “What’ll we do if the firemen can’t save anything? All
our clothes are in there. We were in the dining room when it happened.
Ma wouldn’t let us go back upstairs.”

“It’s a good thing she wouldn’t,” an older boy put in. “We’re all safe,
but where will we live?”

“They’ll find you a place,” Judy replied hopefully.

“That’s right,” the orphans agreed. “Ma will think of something.”

“Where is she?” Judy asked.

“Over there!” The oldest orphan pointed. “She’s trying to keep that man
from going back into the building. He helped carry the babies out. Why
do you think he wants to go back?”

“I’ll find out,” Judy promised.

Suddenly the wind changed, and a dense cloud of smoke swirled downward
from the burning orphanage. When it cleared Judy found, to her dismay,
that she had lost sight of the matron and the man who had helped rescue
the babies. She glanced back at Peter and saw that he was busy keeping
people away from the fire. He didn’t seem to be paying any attention to
her.

“Peter!” she called above the crackling and roaring of the fire. “I’m
afraid there’s a man in there. He was trying to go back. Leave Danny
there and help me find him.”

“We’ll find him, miss,” one of the firemen reassured her. “That is, if
he’s in there.”

He started toward the orphanage. Judy hesitated a moment. Peter hadn’t
heard her call. Should she follow the fireman? The smoke was so dense
she could hardly see which way he had gone.

Suddenly she was startled by someone brushing past her. At the same
moment she saw the matron. Two firemen were with her. Judy and the man
who was trying to pass her were jerked back just in time. A heavy beam
crashed in what would have been their path.

“See what would have happened if we’d let you go in there!” Meta Hanley
pointed out. “Oh! There goes the roof!”

“Keep away!” the firemen warned as the flames roared upward, shooting
sparks in every direction.

It was surprising how quickly people gathered to watch the fire. The
crowd surged back, Judy along with them. Shaken by her narrow escape,
she was glad to follow the advice of the firemen. Only the man resisted.
It took all three firemen to hold him. The one who had gone ahead of
Judy returned from another direction.

“Let me go!” the man shouted. “There’s a boy in there. He’ll burn to
death if I don’t get him out.”

“You’re wrong, sir,” the fireman insisted. “There isn’t a living soul in
that building. I counted heads, and everyone is out here.”

“Everyone except my son! Where is he?” the distraught father demanded.
“Why are you trying to deceive me?”

“_I_ wouldn’t deceive you, George,” Meta Hanley replied quietly. She
spoke as if continuing an earlier conversation. “I told you he didn’t
come home for lunch. He went over to the beaver dam early this morning.”

[Illustration: _A heavy beam crashed in Judy’s path._]

“He may have come back! He may have gone inside! Danny! Danny!” the man
shouted.

Judy stepped up to him. She had heard enough. “Your son is too far away
to hear you, Mr. Anderson, but he’s safe,” she said, sure now that the
man really was Danny’s father. “The fireman is right. All the children
are accounted for. Your son is with my husband. Wait here, and I’ll
bring him over.”

Judy hurried off to where Peter and Danny stood.

“What happened to you?” Peter demanded. He had not seen her follow the
fireman toward the burning building, but he could tell, from her sooty
face, that she had been too near the fire.

“I was going to try to keep a man from going back in. Peter, it was
Danny’s father,” she rushed on, “and he wants to see Danny right away.”

“Well, I don’t want to see _him_, not if he’s a thief,” Danny spoke up
unexpectedly. “I’m going to stay with Ma. No house at all is better than
a house with stolen furniture in it. And if he cares so much about me,
why didn’t he come to see me instead of sneaking around looking for the
stuff the beavers stole?”

“That’s a good question, Danny,” Peter told him seriously.

“Well, if it’s such a good question, why aren’t we over there finding
out the answers?” Judy urged. “Come on!”



                             CHAPTER XVIII
                         Questions and Answers


“No,” Danny said, pulling back. “I don’t want to. If he’s the man I’ve
been following around, I don’t like him.”

“Danny, give him a chance,” Judy pleaded. “Maybe he can explain
everything.”

“Not if he’s the man in the ghost picture. I know what _he_ was up to. I
heard him swearing and muttering to himself when his back was turned.
I’d rather not see his face.”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to see him.” Peter was firm at first, but at the
heartsick look Danny gave him, he relented. “Very well,” he agreed with
a meaning glance at Judy, “we’ll tell him you’re all right. He had
reason to be worried. For all he knew, you could have been trapped
upstairs when the boys started the fire.”

“How do you know it was started by boys?” Judy asked.

“Well, I’m not sure,” Peter replied, “but Danny’s two friends over there
admitted that they were playing rocket with matches just before they
came down for lunch. It’s a dangerous game, and they won’t ever play it
again. This fire has taught them a lesson they won’t soon forget.”

“It’s taught me a lesson, too,” Danny put in. “I shouldn’t have gone off
by myself all the time. I should have taken my friends with me. Next
time I will.”

He smiled at the two shamefaced boys Peter had been questioning. They
didn’t smile back. They were too close to tears.

“It’s all right, fellows,” Danny told them. “Ma will see that we have
another place to live.”

The barn had been saved, and the fire had not spread to the woods.
Firemen were still busy wetting down the brick skeleton of what used to
be the orphanage when the Jewell sisters drove up in an ancient car.
Dorcas was at the wheel.

“We’ll take six boys home with us, these three and these three younger
ones,” she began in the commanding voice she often used when speaking to
her sister. “Tell Meta, will you, Judy?”

“Poor Meta!” Violetta put in. “She has so much on her mind, we won’t
wait to ask. She’s sure to appreciate anything we can do to help. We saw
the smoke from our house and came right over. All the children are safe?
Thank heaven!”

“All right, boys, get in the back seat,” Dorcas ordered, and the six
children scrambled in.

“Good-bye! Tell Ma where we went!” they shouted from the car, as Dorcas
started off with a jerk.

Judy turned to Peter, laughing. “My, that was fast! I didn’t want Danny
to leave until he’d seen his father. But they do have a big house with
all those unused bedrooms upstairs and that wonderful telescope in the
cupola. The boys may not want to leave.”

“They may not have to,” Peter replied. “The Jewell sisters could keep a
couple of them. Foster homes may be the answer to this emergency.”

“Yes,” Judy agreed. “Of course, they are a little old—”

“The orphans?”

Judy laughed. “You know I mean the Jewell sisters, but they do seem to
be getting younger since we solved their problems, don’t they?”

“One less haunted house,” agreed Peter. “Between us we’ve dehaunted
quite a few.”

“And yet there is an air of mystery about all those houses—theirs, ours,
and especially the house in Farringdon. I keep thinking how pleased Dad
would be to have some of the furniture we thought we lost in the
Roulsville flood. Even the table leg would be a souvenir of our old
home,” Judy finished wistfully.

“We’ll find it,” Peter promised. “Your picture proves it was there in
the beaver dam, and it couldn’t have walked away by itself.”

Judy shivered at the thought.

“There is something lifelike about it.”

“There certainly is,” agreed Peter. “It’s a puzzle all right, but right
now we have a more urgent problem.”

“I know. Homes for the homeless. What about our house?” asked Judy. “We
have a lot of room. We could take in Miss Hanley and quite a number of
small children—” She broke off as she caught sight of the matron and the
man Judy supposed she had photographed behind the lady’s face. They were
standing together with quite a crowd around them.

“I dread telling him Danny went off with the Jewell sisters,” Judy said.
“He’s calmed down, but he still looks worried. No matter what he’s done,
I feel sorry for him. A father has a right to see his son.”

“He’ll want an explanation. I won’t question him just yet,” Peter
decided. “This isn’t the right time or place. Of course there is a lot
still to be explained.”

“The lady table leg, for instance?”

“Yes, and whatever it was that Danny overheard. If his father _is_ that
man in the ghost picture—”

“Do you mean there’s a chance he isn’t?” Judy interrupted excitedly.
“Oh, I hope none of the things we suspect are true!”



                              CHAPTER XIX
                         Homes for the Homeless


“I won’t think of Danny’s father as a thief,” Judy resolved to herself.

With this resolution in her mind, she found it easier to pass on the
suggestion she had made to Peter. She didn’t look at Danny’s father, but
spoke directly to Meta Hanley.

“The Jewell sisters took six of the boys home with them. We’ll help,
too. We’ll do anything we can, and I’m sure Holly will, too. We have
lots of room in our house, but not quite enough beds,” Judy admitted,
looking around at the many orphans wandering about.

Soon she discovered that she and Peter were not the only ones to
volunteer their homes to shelter the children. Hearing that the Jewell
sisters had taken some of the boys, several more women pressed forward.

“We have room for two.”

“We’ll take one of the little tots. We have a crib upstairs. I suppose
you’ll need clothing—”

“We’ll take care of that,” another woman put in. “Our church was
planning a rummage sale. We’ve collected a lot of children’s clothing.
It’s all yours for the asking.”

Miss Hanley thanked all those who were willing to help and told them she
would be glad to have them keep the children overnight. She didn’t know
what would be decided after that, but she said she hoped she could keep
her family together.

“They are my family, you know,” she explained to the people gathered
around her. “Some of them have been with me for years and treat each
other like brothers and sisters. I hope a way will be found so they
don’t have to be apart for more than a night or two. I don’t like to see
them separated—”

“Where’s my son?” Danny’s father broke in.

He had been expecting Judy to return with Danny. The moment he saw that
the boy wasn’t with her he started firing questions at her.

“Where’s Danny? What have you done with him? I don’t know who you—”

“Wait, George!” Meta Hanley interrupted. “Judy, didn’t you just tell me
the Jewell sisters had taken six boys home with them? Was Danny one of
them?”

“Yes, but—”

Judy was not allowed to finish.

“They had no right!” stormed the boy’s father. “A couple of blundering
old ladies drive over and kidnap six of your boys, Meta, and you stand
there and let them.”

“It was a kindness!” she retorted, angry now. “The children have to have
a place to sleep.”

“A kindness? Taking my boy away when I haven’t seen him for six long
years?” George Anderson spoke in such a loud voice that some of the
women who had offered help backed away. “That’s no kindness! That’s
kidnapping!”

“Hold on a minute!” Peter stopped him, “before you make any more
charges. Your son wasn’t kidnapped by the Jewell sisters. And I suspect
you had plenty of opportunity to see him before the fire. He’s been
trailing you around for days. I’m afraid, after what he saw and heard,
he doesn’t want to meet you.”

“That’s a lie!” Danny’s father charged. “He couldn’t have been trailing
me around for days. I only got in from Canada this morning. I was on my
way to the old house. I was going to open it up and make a home for
Danny. Then I saw the fire—”

“You mean you haven’t been over there to that house with the boarded-up
windows?” Judy interrupted in surprise.

“No, and I haven’t seen Danny. He couldn’t have been trailing me.”

“Well, he was trailing somebody who had a key to the house,” Peter
insisted. “We found your son at the beaver dam, and he told us all about
it. He’d missed his lunch at the orphanage, and so we stopped at the
Beverly—”

“Where you and I used to go for dinner, George,” Meta Hanley put in.

“I know where it is,” George Anderson snapped. “I thought _you_ had
forgotten. Maybe they’ll make room for these children. Or maybe I will.
It’s time I kept my promise and took Danny home.”

“You aren’t very good at keeping promises, are you, George?” Miss Hanley
said quietly.

“What about you?” he retorted. “You speak of the Beverly as if it were
just any restaurant and not—You’re the one who didn’t keep your promise.
I had the ring—”

“This one?” Peter questioned, showing him the ring Blackberry had been
rolling on the floor in the boarded-up house.

“Let me see that!” George Anderson demanded.

After scrutinizing it with a puzzled look on his face, he hurled back
another question.

“Where did you find this ring?”

“Our cat found it,” Judy spoke up. “He rolled it out of a hole the
beavers had gnawed in your house. We left him still in there, and we’d
like to drive over there with you and get him out—”

“We’ll get him out all right!”

Judy didn’t like the way Danny’s father said that. He glared at her a
moment, reminding her of Danny. “I trapped him,” the boy had said in
evident satisfaction. Was there a streak of cruelty in both of them?

“The ring is yours, isn’t it?” Peter asked quietly.

“It is,” he replied, “but I can’t believe a cat found it. I put it away
with my other valuables. It’s the wedding ring I bought for Meta—”

“George! You did buy it?” she gasped.

“Of course I bought it. You were with me when I picked it out. I had to
wait for it to be engraved, didn’t I?” Puzzlement was rapidly taking the
place of anger on the man’s face. “But what is it, Meta? Why are you
suddenly so pale?”

“I can’t believe it, that’s all. If you bought the ring, why didn’t you
meet me the way you said you would?”

“I was there,” he retorted. “Where were you?”

“Oh dear! I was there, too. I waited and waited.” She paused, passing
her hand across her forehead as if the gesture might clear her confused
thoughts. “It’s been such a terrible day with the fire and all these
poor children left homeless. I don’t understand how such things happen,”
she admitted. “I’m not even sure they _are_ happening. Things do get
mixed up like this in dreams. First a nightmare with people screaming at
each other and running into burning buildings and then an impossible
ending—”

“But Meta, you aren’t dreaming. This impossible ending is real.” George
Anderson’s voice was husky. “You’ve been the mother my boy needed. I
knew you would be when I left him at the orphanage. But now he’s old
enough to need a father, too.”

He sounded sincere, but Judy couldn’t help thinking, “You need him, too,
to help you with your business.” She couldn’t forget the note.

“What has happened?” Danny’s father was asking. “Why has he turned
against me?”

Meta sighed. “I can’t explain that, George, but Peter Dobbs is with the
FBI. I called them the other night when Danny didn’t come home. He was
at the beaver dam. Beaver dam,” she repeated as if trying the sound of
the word. “I was so sure you said you’d meet me at the beaver dam. It
was our old meeting place. Remember?”

“_I_ remember,” he replied, looking more bewildered by the minute, “but
how would Danny know about it? You didn’t tell him, did you?”

She shook her head. “I never said a word. Naturally I knew he was your
boy, but I loved him for himself. I trusted him, too. When he said he
was going over to watch the beavers, I believed him.”

“But why would he spend the night there?”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to ask him that question, George,” Meta replied
quietly. “I’ve never spoken a word against you. If you’re worthy of your
son’s love I’m sure you can win it back—”

“Yours, too?” he asked.

Meta turned away then. Her face was so white that Judy knew she must be
near collapse. A neighbor suggested that she lie down for a little while
in her house, but Meta protested.

“What will happen to the children?”

“We’ll see that they have places to stay for the night.” Judy turned to
Danny’s father. “Did you mean it when you offered your house?”

“I never meant anything more sincerely in my whole life,” he declared,
and Judy wouldn’t have doubted him if she hadn’t caught Peter looking as
if he didn’t know what to believe. Was George Anderson a generous father
offering his own home to the homeless children, or was this a trick?



                               CHAPTER XX
                         Was It All a Mistake?


“Peter,” asked Judy when they were in their own car following the
lighter car driven by Danny’s father, “do you think it was all a
mistake? I mean about the meeting place?”

“‘Beaver dam’ and ‘Beverly’ don’t sound much alike,” Peter replied. “But
it does look as if one of them waited in one place and one in another.
It’s this business of his that worries me. Well, here we are.”

Danny’s father was out of his car first. He parked it under a tree and
waited for Judy and Peter a little impatiently.

“You see,” he pointed out, indicating the boarded-up windows and the
unkept yard, “the house is just as I expected to find it. There’s plenty
to do. It’s been closed for six years, but with the kids to help, it
shouldn’t take us long to put it in shape.”

“Six years, did you say? That would be about the time of the Roulsville
flood, wouldn’t it?” questioned Peter.

“About,” George Anderson replied without a change of expression. “It was
right after the flood, as I recollect it. I lost my wife a short time
before.”

He went on talking about his wife as they walked toward the house. She
used to live in Roulsville and when he said her maiden name was Mary
Turner, Judy thought she remembered her.

“She used to help Miss Pringle in the library, didn’t she? I must have
been about eight years old when I got my first library card. A girl
named Mary made it out. I remember how nicely she printed my name.”

“That was Mary all right.”

He spoke tenderly as if he had really loved her. But he claimed he loved
Meta, too. Judy supposed it was possible to love two people at the same
time although she couldn’t imagine herself being really in love with
anyone but Peter. Still, before their marriage, she hadn’t been so sure.
She tried to listen sympathetically but all the time there was that
doubt in her mind.

“Sure I planned to marry Meta, but when she didn’t keep our date and
managed to be out every time I telephoned, what could I think? I turned
to Mary for sympathy, and it soon ripened into love. It often happens,”
Danny’s father declared. “We had some good years together. Now, after
six more years, I’m back home again, and trying to pick up the pieces.”

It was an unfortunate sentence. Just then Judy noticed the pieces, not
of a shattered romance, but pieces of broken furniture. They were
scattered here and there about the yard.

“Beavers,” Peter commented. “You can see their trails through the tall
grass.”

“They didn’t get any of that stuff from my house. It is a mess, though,”
George Anderson admitted. “But the boys can help me clean up the yard.”

His step was almost jaunty as he walked up on the front porch and
inserted his key in the lock of the front door. It opened so easily that
he gave a start backwards.

“That’s odd!” he exclaimed. “I thought the lock would be rusty after all
these years.”

Was this an act, or did he really think the house had been closed that
long? He went in first and just stood there sniffing the strong scent of
varnish and glue that filled all the rooms. Judy was the first to speak.

“It’s dark in here,” she observed. “Those boarded-up windows keep out
the daylight, but we can use my flash—”

“We won’t need it,” Peter said, flicking on the light switch and
flooding the rooms with light. The dazed owner of the house stood
blinking in their bright glare.

“Wh-what’s going on here?” he finally managed to stutter.

“I was about to ask you the same question,” replied Peter. “Danny showed
me your note. Is this the business you mentioned?”

“You mean my boy thinks—” He broke off there, apparently too stunned to
finish the sentence.

Judy was a little stunned herself. The house was not a home at all. It
was a shop, complete with carpenter’s bench and sanding tools. To the
left, as she came in, she noticed a small office. And there on the desk,
in plain sight, sat a typewriter exactly like the one she had given
Holly.

“Is this—your typewriter?” she asked when she could find her voice.

George Anderson glared at her. “You knew this stuff was here, didn’t
you? I’ve read about you, always snooping around in empty houses and
giving that brother of yours ghost stories for the Farringdon paper.
You’re Dr. Bolton’s daughter, aren’t you?”

Judy nodded. She couldn’t speak because she had seen what was in the
corner. Either she was dreaming or one of her ghost stories was about to
come true. For there, on top of a neat pile of chair rungs and old
rockers, was a familiar face. In fact, there were three of them. Only
one leg from the lady table was missing.

“Look!” Judy finally exclaimed, pointing to the pile. “They’re like new,
and yet I know they must be the other three legs from our table.”

“They’ve been refinished. The fourth leg must be around here somewhere,”
declared Peter.

The marble table top was there. It was leaning against the wall waiting
for the whole table to be assembled. Judy went over and touched it to
make sure it was real.

“Now I’m like Meta Hanley. I think I’m dreaming,” she said.

“This stuff is solid enough!” Danny’s father picked up one of the table
legs. “But how in thunder did it get in my house?” he demanded. “And
what are all these tools doing on the shelves where Mary used to keep
her books?”

“We’ll find out,” Peter promised. “We’ll find your wife’s books, too.
Were they rare books?”

“They were old books, if that’s what you mean. She had quite a
collection.”

“Peter?” Judy touched his arm. “There’s a collection of rare books in
the Roulsville library. Mrs. Wheatley bought them just recently. She
could tell you the name of the book dealer.”

“Books aren’t all that’s missing,” Danny’s father observed as he walked
through the rooms. “There’s enough furniture in here to fill a
warehouse, but very little of it is mine. We’ll go upstairs later. Right
now let’s see what’s in the kitchen.”

He opened the door but could not enter. The way was blocked by piles of
furniture, most of it broken and warped.

“What’s all this?” he questioned, pushing tables and chairs out of his
way to make a path and growing more furious by the minute. “Someone has
turned my house into a shop for rebuilding old furniture. Most of this
stuff looks as if it had been through a flood!”

“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” Peter replied evenly.

“And you’re accusing me of stealing it?”

“I didn’t say that. I did have an idea we might find something like this
in your house,” Peter admitted. “One of those carved table legs in the
other room was stolen by beavers—”

“Now I’ve heard everything!” George Anderson exploded. “Next thing
you’ll be telling me beavers walked off with my wife’s books because
they were a little short of reading matter. You said there was a cat in
this house, too, didn’t you? Did the cat turn on the electricity?”

“No, but he was here,” Judy began, smiling in spite of herself. She had
almost forgotten poor Blackberry in the excitement, but he was sure to
be around somewhere. “Your son trapped him,” she started to explain to
Danny’s father, but he wouldn’t let her finish.

“Well, I’m no cat, and you can’t trap me,” he broke in furiously as he
started toward the door.



                              CHAPTER XXI
                          The Key to a Mystery


The door George Anderson chose for his hasty exit was the door to the
kitchen. Peter made no move to stop him. Neither did Judy. He was
stopped by what he saw when he flung open the door.

There, glittering in the bright sunlight that streamed in through the
doorway, was an overturned tobacco jar spilling old jewelry, tie clasps,
gold cuff links, and other trinkets. Nothing of any great value appeared
to be in the collection, but it did tell the story of the ring
Blackberry had found.

“You see,” Judy pointed out, “my cat did tip over this tobacco jar and
roll the ring out to us. Peter, we’d better find him.”

“He’s disappeared before,” Peter reminded her as they searched the
house, upstairs and down. “He always comes back. We may find him waiting
for us in the car. I left the windows open.”

“You two are really fond of that cat, aren’t you?” Danny’s father asked,
calming down now that he had seen the evidence. “What I can’t figure out
is how he got inside my house in the first place.”

“We told you. He crawled in through this hole.” Judy pointed out a
jagged opening near the kitchen door. “You can see it was gnawed by
beavers. They really did haul away some of this stuff to build their
dam. Your son watched them do it. But, apparently, someone else was
watching, too.”

“You’re not accusing me again, are you?” He was still on the defensive,
but Judy and Peter soon convinced him they were not accusing him of
anything.

“We’re just trying to find out the truth. You can help us, Mr. Anderson,
if you will,” declared Peter. “You know where this furniture came from,
don’t you?”

“I don’t _know_,” he replied with emphasis, “but I suspect it’s loot
from the Roulsville flood. Somebody stored it here six years ago and set
up a shop to refinish and resell it more recently, I suppose. But it was
done without my knowledge, and I won’t take the blame for it!”

“You won’t have to, but we are asking you to help us find out who did
it,” Peter told him. “My wife took a picture of him when Danny was
trailing him. Danny thinks—”

“Danny thinks I’m the thief, doesn’t he?” his father interrupted.
“That’s why he refused to see me?”

“He’ll know who the thief is tomorrow when I show him this picture blown
up and separated from the one of the table leg. Do you see what
happened?”

“I’m afraid I don’t see,” George Anderson admitted after taking a long
look at the picture Peter handed him. “What is this? A joke of some
kind?”

Judy laughed. “You might call it that, but the joke was on me. I took
one picture on top of another. It does create a weird effect.” She
pointed out the lady’s face on the man’s body. “You see, that’s the same
face that you saw carved on those three table legs in the other room.
One is missing. It must have been stored here in the kitchen when the
beavers found it.”

“This seems to be where all the unfinished furniture is stored,” Peter
observed as he gestured toward the stack of chairs that had blocked the
doorway.

“Of course,” agreed Judy. “The beavers couldn’t get in the other room
with the door closed, could they? I mean unless they gnawed their way
in. That must be where this old furniture is taken to be sanded and
varnished and made to look like new. We’ll have our whole table, just
the way it was before the flood, as soon as we find the other table
leg.”

“You mean the one the beavers stole?” Danny’s father asked, beginning to
understand.

“Right,” agreed Peter. “Your house wasn’t broken into except by
beavers—”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I mean,” Peter pointed out, “that whoever entered this house had a key.
Danny saw him using it.”

“But I was the only one with a key,” George Anderson protested.

“Think! Didn’t you give a key to someone?”

“Only to the carpenter who boarded up the windows, and he sent it right
back as soon as the work was finished.”

“He would have had time to order a duplicate—”

“That’s it!” Judy broke in excitedly. “Was the carpenter’s name John
Beer?”

Immediately Judy regretted having asked the question. It was like poking
at a hornet’s nest.

“John Beer is an honest carpenter,” Danny’s father exclaimed. “He
wouldn’t do a thing like that. Get out, both of you, before you make any
more accusations. I’ll call the police myself and have this stolen stuff
hauled out of here, and then I’ll get my boy back from those meddling
old ladies, and furthermore,” he added, glaring at Judy, “if I find that
cat of yours prowling around in my house I’ll wring its neck!”

“You wouldn’t be so cruel! Come on, Peter,” Judy urged. When they were
outside, she added, “I shouldn’t have mentioned John Beer. It was just a
guess—”

“And a pretty good one,” Peter said. “He probably did have refinished
furniture in his truck and then, when Sammis refused to buy it, he took
it somewhere else and sold it. If that’s John Beer in the picture—”

“I don’t think it is,” Judy interrupted. “The man with the lady’s face
is tall and thin like—like Danny’s father. You don’t think he will find
Blackberry, do you?”

“Not before we do—I hope. Even if he does, I doubt that he’ll carry out
his threat. He’s angry and confused now, but when he has time to think
this over he may come to the same conclusion we did. That key he gave
John Beer may turn out to be the key to the whole puzzle. Better call
Blackberry once more before we leave,” Peter advised when they had
reached the car. “We can’t wait long, though. I have a report to turn
in. George Anderson may not know it, but his life may be in danger if we
don’t get some of our men there fast.”

“You mean the thieves—”

“That’s right,” Peter agreed before Judy could finish the alarming
thought. “If they return and find him there they’ll do anything to save
their illegal business. It wasn’t his. I’m convinced of that.”

Judy began calling Blackberry. She walked a little way along the woods
road calling and searching. The sun was low in the western sky. It
looked like a bright ball of fire as she glimpsed it through the trees.
Soon it would be dark.

With a shiver of apprehension she turned back. She had called and
called, but it was no use.

“We’ve almost lost him so many times. Now I’m afraid we’ve really lost
him,” she lamented as Peter started the car and they drove off without
Blackberry.

When they reached the first telephone Peter called in his report and
learned that George Anderson had summoned the police just as he had
threatened.

“He won’t carry out his other threat, though.” Peter seemed convinced of
this. Judy wished she could be as sure of Blackberry’s safety as he was.

As they passed the burned orphanage, they saw a few people still
standing about. The ruins of the building still smoked, and one fire
engine had not gone back to its firehouse. But there were no orphans to
be seen.

“I wonder where they are. We were going to take some of them home with
us,” Judy reminded Peter.

“We will if any more homes are needed. I’ll let you off here. You can
find out from your father. That looks like his car parked in the next
driveway,” Peter observed.

“It is!” Judy exclaimed. “Dad must be inside that neighbor’s house with
Meta Hanley. Oh, I hope she’s all right. I’ll stay and see if I can do
anything to help. I know you’ll be busy.”

“Will I!” Peter agreed as a police car screamed to a stop beside him and
one of the officers took Judy’s place. Peter gave her a quick kiss and
promised not to forget Blackberry. Then he turned to the officer.

“You men are fast,” Judy heard him say as he sped off, following the
police car back to the house with the boarded-up windows.



                              CHAPTER XXII
                                Promised


In the neighbor’s house Judy did find her father. Only his eyes showed
surprise at seeing her.

“How’s Meta?” she asked in a whisper. “You did come to see her, didn’t
you?”

He nodded. “She’s sleeping. She’ll be all right when she wakes up.”

“And the orphans? Are any of them here?”

He opened the door to an adjoining room. Four babies, all under two
years old, romped on a quilt spread on the floor.

“It will make a hard bed, but it was the best we could do unless you
want to take them home. There’s an older child helping Mrs. Alberts in
the kitchen.”

“Of course I’ll take them—all five of them,” declared Judy in her
impulsive way. “Holly will help me take care of them. Her sister’s baby
has outgrown his crib, and I can put two more in the old trundle bed
stored in the attic, and two in the big spare bed—”

“Now wait a minute,” Dr. Bolton stopped her. “Your mother and I have
room for a baby or two in our house.”

Judy laughed. “There won’t be enough babies to go around!” she said.

On her way home in her father’s car Judy had her hands full. She was so
busy with the babies that there was no time to wonder what had become of
Blackberry. Two of her small charges slept, and two of them cried. The
older child wouldn’t talk. She just sat in a far corner of the car
holding her baby brother and looking frightened. She wouldn’t even tell
Judy her name.

“I forgot it,” she confessed at last. “You can just call me Sister.”

“I’d better go inside and prepare your mother for a shock,” Dr. Bolton
said when they reached Farringdon. “She isn’t expecting company for
dinner. You’ll help her with the babies, won’t you, Judy girl?”

“I’ll help too,” Sister spoke up. She wanted to give her baby brother
his bottle and explained his formula very carefully to Judy.

Mrs. Bolton made the children welcome, as Judy had known she would, and
Horace was there eager to hear more about the orphanage fire. Now Judy
could give him the latest news.

“Two boys started it by accident. Peter questioned them, but he won’t
want his name mentioned. Neither will I. You see,” Judy explained,
“we’re working on something else. I’m not sure, but I think we’ve found
Holly’s typewriter in that house with the boarded-up windows. And you’ll
never guess what else was there!”

“What was it? How did you get in? Is that where the beavers got all that
stuff they used to build their dam? You didn’t find any more of those
lady table legs, did you?”

Horace was asking questions too fast for Judy to answer, but she did her
best. When she told him they’d found the whole lady table refinished and
looking like new, he was really surprised.

“Only one leg is missing. It must be the one that was in the beaver dam.
I’m sorry now that you didn’t take it,” declared Judy. “It must have
been stolen right after you and I left to take Danny back to the
orphanage. It was his father who let us into the house. He said the
orphans could stay there, but that was before he saw all that loot from
the Roulsville flood.”

“It was his own house. He must have known the stuff was there.”

“No, Horace, I don’t think he did. Danny knew it, though. He watched the
beavers drag some of that stolen furniture out of the house and build it
into their dam. Then, when he saw a man open the door with a key, it was
easy for him to believe his father might be the thief.”

“That sounds logical,” Horace commented when Judy stopped to spoon
cereal into the mouth of one of the babies. “What do you think?”

“Well, six years ago, Mr. Anderson gave a key to the carpenter he hired
to board up the windows. I guessed the carpenter’s name was John Beer.
You know he was doing business with Sammis, or trying to. It all hangs
together, but Danny’s father can’t see it. He chased us out and called
the police the minute I mentioned John Beer’s name. Peter went back
there with them, and that’s all I can tell you until I see him,” Judy
finished.

All the time she had been talking she had been busy feeding the baby.
Its mouth opened and closed as if it were a hungry baby robin. Sister
fed her own baby brother, holding the bottle so carefully that he drank
every drop. The other two babies already were sleeping.

“What about that picture you took?” Horace questioned when they finally
sat down to a late dinner. “You told me over the telephone that I’d have
to see it to believe it.”

“Well, here it is,” Judy said, handing him the print. “Peter’s having
the film blown up and separated—”

“Holy cow!” Horace interrupted. “I’ve seen the picture, but I still
don’t believe it. The beaver dam shows right through this man’s body. Or
is it a man? He has a lady’s face. Did our lady table leg come to life
and decapitate him?”

“It must have,” Judy giggled. “Seriously,” she added, “it didn’t come to
life, and it didn’t walk away, either. We’ll find it when we find the
man in the picture.”

“I could write up a whale of a story with a mystery angle,” Horace
began, but Judy stopped him.

“Just wait, and you’ll have your story. We’re not sure of anything, but
there may be something released for publication when Peter gets home. It
may be late but I want to be there—”

“With all these babies?” Horace questioned.

Two of them had slept right through dinner. These were the two that had
been crying in the car.

“They were just tired, poor dears,” Mrs. Bolton sympathized. “I have
milk and cereal ready for them when they wake up. Just leave them here,
Judy girl. You’ll have enough to do, taking care of the other three
children.”

“I will take care of Little Brother,” Sister spoke up. “They won’t take
him away from me, will they?”

“I’ll see that they don’t,” Judy promised. “You’re both going to stay
with me.”

Horace offered to take them in his car. He wanted to stop and ask Honey
to go along for the ride.

“She’ll be a help with the babies,” he began, but Judy objected.

“You may as well know it, Horace,” she told him, “Holly is jealous of
you and Honey. She has a crush on you herself. If Honey is with us,
Holly may not want to lend me Bobby’s outgrown crib, and this baby I’m
holding is so lively she’ll need it.”

“So that’s it!” Horace was teasing again as they started off. “Suppose
Holly isn’t in the mood for baby-sitting? You’ll really be in a jam
then.”

Judy couldn’t see her brother’s face from the back seat of his car where
she was minding the three children. But she knew he must be smiling.

“We’ll take all three of them to my house,” she decided, ignoring his
teasing. “Then you can drive over and borrow the crib and see if Holly
is free to come and help me.”

“Right,” agreed Horace as he turned in the long driveway that led to the
house Judy had inherited from her grandmother.

“This used to be a farm,” Judy explained to Sister as the little girl
gazed about her in wide-eyed wonder. “I still have a horse and a cow and
a few chickens—”

“And a pussycat?”

“And a pussycat,” Judy agreed quickly. “He isn’t here right now. He’s
probably off hunting somewhere in the woods.”



                             CHAPTER XXIII
                               Identified


“Where’s Blackberry?” Judy asked, the moment Peter came home.

She had been nodding in the big chair, waiting up for him. “You didn’t
find him, did you?”

“No,” he replied, “but I did make peace with George Anderson so he won’t
hurt Blackberry if he finds him.”

“That’s a relief,” Judy said. She yawned and stretched. “Those babies
made a wreck out of me,” she declared. “I thought they’d never go to
sleep. And they aren’t the only ones! There are two more babies with
Mother. Let’s go sit in the kitchen, and we can talk over coffee.” Peter
was always hungry so Judy cut him a piece of pie to go with the coffee.
“I’m saving a piece for Horace,” she said. “He’ll be here early in the
morning. Too early, probably,” she added with a yawn. “He wants to print
that ghost picture in the paper before the man is identified, and make a
mystery of it.”

[Illustration: _Judy stared at first one and then the other._]

“He’s too late. The mystery is solved,” announced Peter. “I have the
separations with me. You won’t know the man—”

“But I do!” Judy exclaimed, seizing the pictures and staring at first
one and then the other. The lady table leg was in the water just the way
she had first seen it. The picture was almost too clear. It made her
shiver just to look at it. The man’s face, in the other print, was
equally clear.

“You know this man?” Peter inquired in a puzzled voice. “Where on
earth—”

“Oh, I don’t really know him,” Judy interrupted. “His picture is in the
Post Office, isn’t it? Horace and I were looking at it the other day,
and I remember saying he didn’t look like a criminal. I’m so glad you
found him!”

“He isn’t found, just identified,” Peter said. “He’s one of Joe Mott’s
boys, of course. They’ve robbed everything from banks to flooded towns
and set up all sorts of fronts for their illegal business.”

“Fronts?” Judy questioned. “Do you mean places like that sheared-off
house? That hadn’t any front.”

Peter laughed. “I see what you mean, but it was a front just the same.
Sammis will talk. He knew what was going on and wanted to frighten you
away before you found out, but I’m afraid he overdid it. Actually that
sheared-off house is still owned by Mr. Truitt. It’s one of a chain of
second-hand stores. Our agent, Hank Lawson, found out that much from
Donna Truitt herself. They had a good time on their date this evening.”

Judy wasn’t sure just what Peter meant. She had been too busy with the
babies to think much about what was happening anywhere else. And now she
was too tired to care.

“You must be tired, too,” she told him as she cleared away the coffee
cups. “It’s been a long day. That orphanage fire alone was enough to
make Meta Hanley collapse from exhaustion.”

“That wasn’t what did it. Don’t you remember?” asked Peter. “It was when
she realized it was all a mistake and George Anderson still loved her.”

“Or was it when she thought he was a thief? I’m glad he isn’t, and I
don’t blame him for being angry. You said you made peace with him. I’m
glad of that, too,” Judy said with another yawn. “You can tell me all
about the real thieves in the morning.”

“With Horace here? Not on your life,” declared Peter. “This is
confidential. I wouldn’t have told you as much as I did if you hadn’t
helped me uncover the man’s identity. We’re hoping he returns to the
shop he set up in George Anderson’s house where our men will be waiting
to nab him.”

“You say he set up the shop?” asked Judy, still puzzled. “Didn’t John
Beer have anything to do with it?”

“Yes, but it looks as if he was only an employee of the Joe Mott
syndicate. We’ll pick him up for questioning when he comes to work
tomorrow.”

“But Peter, that’s what you said about Aldin Launt, and you never picked
him up.”

“We will,” he predicted. “We were hoping he would help us trap the
others, but now that house with the boarded-up windows is all the trap
we need.”

“Does that mean we can’t go back there and look for Blackberry? Oh dear!
I couldn’t go anyway with all these babies in the house,” Judy
remembered. And suddenly, partly because she was overtired and partly
because she felt she hadn’t been much of a help after all, she began to
cry.

“Don’t worry, Angel, Blackberry will turn up.” Peter was trying to
comfort her and only making matters worse with his sympathy.

Blackberry wasn’t the only reason for her tears, Judy insisted. And yet,
somehow, her cat’s latest disappearance and the responsibility of three
children all at once made her feel as if the sky had fallen on her
shoulders.

Twice, during what was left of the night, the babies cried and Judy had
to get up and attend to their needs. She was sound asleep, and the whole
house was quiet and peaceful, when Holly arrived in the morning.

“I’m here!” she announced, ringing the doorbell and shattering the
quiet. Still half asleep, Judy put on a housecoat and went downstairs to
let her in.

“Ruth says you found my typewriter. I’m so grateful to you, Judy!” Holly
exclaimed as she bounced into the living room. “I’m here to baby sit for
those orphans when you drive over to get it. I may as well get in
practice. Some day I intend to get married and raise a whole houseful of
children.”

“You do? That’s a switch,” declared Judy, blinking in the sudden
sunshine that streamed through the open door. “What’s happened to you? I
thought you were going to be a grief-stricken old maid without even a
cat for company. You said it was unlucky to love—”

“Oh, but that was before I met Roger! We had a fabulous time last
night,” Holly declared. “I hardly knew the girl who gave the party. Ruth
made me go, and am I ever thankful! Lois was there with some boy I’ve
never seen before, and Donna Truitt had this handsome stranger off in a
corner. They talked and talked.”

“So I heard.” Judy didn’t say the stranger was an FBI agent. She just
listened as Holly went on and on about Roger.

“His family just moved here, and he’s going to high school in
Roulsville. I can’t wait for school to begin. I told him all about the
library exhibit, and he wants to see it. Naturally, I have to go with
him to explain everything. Oh, by the way, you won’t forget to stop for
those old Christmas cards the Jewell sisters promised us, will you?”

“The Jewell sisters!” Judy exclaimed. “Why didn’t I think of it before?
Maybe Blackberry went over to call on the Jewell sisters! Violetta is
fond of him. We’ll drive over and—”

She stopped there. The doorbell was ringing again.

“You answer it,” Judy told Holly, almost pushing her toward the door.
“I’m still in my housecoat. If it’s Horace, tell him I’ll be ready in a
minute.”



                              CHAPTER XXIV
                               Discovered


“Is it morning already?” Peter called drowsily from upstairs. “I thought
I heard the doorbell. Who are all those people talking?”

“All those people,” Judy said, laughing, as she ran up the stairs, “are
Horace and Honey. They just came. Holly is here, too. She’s going to
baby sit for me so Horace can drive me over to the Jewell sisters’
place. Blackberry may be there. I just thought, if I were a cat—”

“That’s what I call really putting yourself in somebody else’s place.”
Peter laughed. “Blackberry is as good as found. You’ll see Danny, of
course. You might tell him his father is innocent.”

“I will,” Judy said eagerly.

“I won’t have time for breakfast,” Peter continued. “I may grab a bite
with Hank Lawson later. We’re due at the Anderson house in less than an
hour. We’ll be there all day if you need us. George Anderson may be
visiting his son later on. I’m depending on you to prepare Danny for the
visit.”

“I’ll prepare him. How much can I tell Horace?” asked Judy. She was
afraid she had already told her brother too much, but Peter didn’t think
so.

“We’ll need his help when all this stolen stuff is hauled to the police
station or wherever we decide to hold it until the owners come to claim
it. We’re only waiting to nab Earle Haley—”

“Who’s he?” Judy interrupted to ask.

“The man in the ghost picture. You photographed the unknown gang leader
who took Joe Mott’s place. We think Earle Haley is his real name. He may
be Arnold Earle. Whatever he calls himself, he’s known to the Joe Mott
syndicate as the Earl, and I’m afraid he won’t be an easy man to catch.”

“But you have the trap all set for him?”

“That’s right. You see, Judy, why it’s so important that you don’t come
near that house with the boarded-up windows. We’ll take the boards down
as soon as it’s safe. Tell Horace not to take the woods road when he
drives you over to the Jewell place. Go the old way. Horace can leave
his car across the creek. Is Honey going with you?”

“I haven’t asked her, but it is Saturday. She isn’t working so I guess
she could—”

“Won’t that make your friend downstairs a little jealous?”

“Holly? Oh, Peter! She’s met a high school boy named Roger, and she’s
crazy about him. She’s acting like herself for the first time since her
uncle died. She’s no longer brooding over the way her sister treats her.
It was Ruth who suggested the party. I almost wish I’d been there
myself,” Judy finished.

“Donna wouldn’t have talked if you’d been there.”

“I know. I was too tired to enjoy a party, anyway. When this is all over
we’ll have one of our own. I think I’ll invite Donna,” Judy decided.
“She’s going to need friends. Poor girl! I wouldn’t be in her place for
a million dollars.”

Peter laughed. “I guess her father made a million. But I wouldn’t be in
his place, either. We’re picking him up with all the rest of Joe Mott’s
boys. It’s going to be a busy day.”

Judy felt rested and ready for it. When she went downstairs again Holly
was telling Honey all about Roger, and Horace was standing there,
ignored by both of them and obviously enjoying it.

“Well, Honey,” he said finally, “can you tear yourself away, or don’t
you want to go calling on the Jewell sisters?”

“Not today. I think I’ll stay here and help Holly with the babies. I
hear one of them crying now!” And Honey flew upstairs.

“Will wonders never cease! Well, come on, Sis,” Horace said to Judy.

“I’m ready,” Judy declared. She gave Peter a quick kiss, and he was off.
Hank Lawson had just driven up in the official car. Horace followed in
his coffee-colored convertible with Judy beside him.

“What about breakfast?” he asked as they passed through Farringdon.

“Have you had yours?”

Horace said he had eaten a bite at home. “Mother was too busy with the
babies to fix much—”

“No matter,” Judy told him. “The Jewell sisters will spread out a feast
for us the moment we enter the house. I know them. We’ll probably have
home-made biscuits or doughnuts.”

She was right. She and Horace were invited to the table minutes after
they arrived. Danny and his friends were already eating and apparently
enjoying their breakfast. They had emptied the heaping platter of
scrambled eggs, but there was corn bread and fresh apple sauce.

And there was Blackberry under the table eating the crumbs as the
children let them fall!

“Shall I scramble some more eggs for you? The hens are laying plenty,”
Violetta began.

But the corn bread, fresh from the oven, looked so good that Judy told
her not to bother. “I’m so glad you found Blackberry,” she added,
picking up her cat and hugging him. “I guess he didn’t even know he was
lost.”

“He came up to the door and yowled to come in just like the gentleman he
is,” Dorcas informed her. “I thought you’d sent him to us when you took
those babies home. Meta called up and told us. She’s coming over this
afternoon.”

“She said she was afraid she’d been a little hard on Danny’s father,”
Violetta added. “It seems it was all a mistake. I’ll be glad to see her.
She hasn’t been here since that thief borrowed her car. It wasn’t
Danny’s father. The poor boy was so upset thinking it was—”

“Oh, we know it wasn’t. We’re not sure who it was,” Judy admitted, “but
we’re certain who it _wasn’t_. Danny, your poor father was as surprised
as we were to find your house full of stolen furniture. Here’s a picture
of the man you were following. His name is Earle Haley—”

“The Earl? Gosh, he’s dangerous!” one of the other boys interrupted,
looking at Danny with admiration. “I’d never dare follow him. He’s
wanted by the FBI. His picture’s in the Post Office—”

“It is? Maybe he was the one who stole Ma’s car and then brought it
back,” Danny suggested.

Horace shook his head. “It was a boy about sixteen. I saw him.”

“So did Holly. He stole her typewriter. She wants me to bring it back,”
Judy remembered, “but I’m afraid I can’t do it yet. Peter wants
everybody to stay away from your house, Danny, until the boards are off
the windows. He’s hoping the thieves will be trapped there.”

“With my father in the house? They can’t do that!” Danny cried, jumping
up from the table. “I’m going over there this minute and tell him I’m
sorry for the way I treated him.”

“Wait, Danny, you can’t go over there until the boards are off the
windows!”

Judy found herself talking to the air. Danny was already gone.

“You boys stay here and don’t let Judy’s cat out. We’ll be back for
him,” Horace called over his shoulder as he started after Danny. Judy
was already running along the woods road, a half-eaten piece of corn
bread in her hand.

“Don’t go there, Danny! Please don’t go there!” she called. “You’ll only
get your father into more trouble. Wait and he’ll come for you.”

“I’ll wait,” Danny called back. “I’ll be right where I always am—at the
beaver dam.”

“We’ll be there, too, won’t we, Horace?” asked Judy. “We’ll find out
what this is all about or die trying.”

“We may die all right,” agreed her brother. “It was never as safe as we
thought it was with the Earl and his boys hanging around. He’s armed and
dangerous.”

“So is Peter,” Judy said, glad for once of the gun she had often wished
he didn’t have to carry. He wouldn’t use it, she knew, unless the
criminals made it necessary. Was that one of them now, in the woods just
ahead?

Danny stopped short. He had seen a boy running toward them at the same
time Judy called Horace’s attention to him with a quick, terrified
gesture. All three of them stood frozen. The boy was wearing a striped
T-shirt, and in his hand was something that looked amazingly like the
missing leg from the lady table.

“It is!” Judy whispered, seeing the quiet face turn toward her almost as
if it were alive. “What’s he going to do?”

She hadn’t long to wonder. They had reached the beaver dam. There were
the familiar ripples that told Judy the beavers were on the way to their
dome-shaped lodge of brush and sticks. The entrance, for safety’s sake,
was under water.

“Watch!” Horace whispered, his hand in front of Judy to hold her back.

The boy stood near the beaver lodge for a moment as if undecided. Then
he raised the table leg and hurled it into the pond.



                              CHAPTER XXV
                          An Everlasting Thing


There was no holding Judy back after that. She seized the boy by the
tail of his T-shirt while Danny turned on him.

“I know you, Buck Lester,” he announced. “You ran away from the
orphanage two years ago. What’d you come back for and where’d you find
that lady stick?”

The boy seemed frightened by the question.

“What’s it to you, Danny?” he asked, not looking at Judy or Horace.
“I’ve got a job, and I have to do what my boss tells me.”

“Did your boss tell you to throw that thing in the water?” Judy asked.
“It’s a valuable table leg. Don’t you know the whole table’s over there
in that house?” Judy waved her hand toward the house with the boarded-up
windows.

“That’s my house. My father’s there,” Danny began, but a voice stopped
him.

“No, son, I’m right here,” Mr. Anderson said, coming through the trees.
“I can’t take you home until the police have hauled all that stolen
stuff back to Roulsville where the owners can claim it. But we can go
and see Ma, as you call her in your letters. How would you like it if
she became your real mother and we were a family again?”

Danny hesitated a moment. Then he said, without emotion, “I’d like it
fine.”

They looked at each other then, and the years they had been separated
seemed to evaporate like the morning mist over the pond. With his arm
around his son, George Anderson turned to Judy.

“I guess I owe you an apology,” he began, but she interrupted.

“No, Mr. Anderson. I owe you one. I should have known those thieves had
taken over your house without your permission. Did they come back?”

“They certainly did. I was warned to keep out of the way, but there
wasn’t any shooting. Your husband and the other FBI agent got there just
in time to relieve the Earl, as he calls himself, of his gun. Without it
he was nothing.”

“He’s my boss,” the runaway boy spoke up defiantly.

“_Was_,” Horace said. “He won’t be any more. Why don’t you give me the
whole story? How did you get mixed up in this racket? You’re the boy who
took that green car the other day and came back with a typewriter,
aren’t you?”

“Yeah, the boss wanted one in a hurry. He had some letters to write.”

“And so he told you to go out and steal one?”

“Yeah, that was my job. If he told me to get anything I went out and got
it. I didn’t ask questions. He’d cased that house and spotted some other
stuff he wanted, too, but I didn’t have time to pick it up. The boss
understood. He ain’t a bad guy.”

“Boy, you have a lot to learn,” Horace commented, shaking his head.

It was Danny who retrieved the lady stick, as he called it. He went into
the pond after it before anyone could stop him and came out dripping
wet.

“See, it isn’t hurt much,” he announced, presenting it to Judy. “The
lady’s got a couple of tooth marks in her cheek, and the end where the
leg screws into the table is chewed a little, but we can fix that, can’t
we, Dad?”

“I’m not much good at fixing damaged furniture,” his father confessed.
“The business I had in mind was raising chickens. As soon as we get you
dried out we’ll start making plans. How about it, son? Would you like to
go into partnership with me?”

“I’ll have to ask Ma,” Danny protested. “Let’s go and find her.”

“She won’t be hard to find. The Jewell sisters are expecting her for
tea. I think raising chickens is a wonderful idea,” declared Judy. “Oh!
Here comes Peter.”

Peter had seen Judy from the house where the boards had already been
removed from one window. “It’s safe to come in now,” he told her, “but
I’m glad you weren’t here an hour ago when the Earl drove up. He saw us
and started to run, but we nabbed him and disarmed him. Meantime the boy
in the car with him ran off—”

“But not very far,” Horace interrupted, emerging from the woods with
Buck Lester in tow. “We caught him throwing this in the beaver pond.”

Peter stared at the object they were carrying between them as if he
couldn’t believe his eyes. Then he turned to the boy. “The FBI can use
all the information you can give us,” he began.

“You’re too late, G-man. I already gave it to this newspaper guy,” Buck
informed him. “He’s going to put my picture in the paper—”

“You’re wrong there,” Horace stopped him. “When you grow up a bit you
won’t want that kind of publicity. How old are you?”

“Fifteen,” he replied, “not that it’s any of your business.”

Peter looked him over appraisingly. “That’s good. I think we can still
make something of this boy.”

Danny and his father walked on ahead, going home at last. The others
came more slowly, taking turns carrying the lady table leg. It was badly
in need of refinishing and yet, somehow, when it was placed beside the
other three table legs, Judy liked it best.

“I think I’ll leave that tooth mark in the lady’s face,” she decided.
“It gives her more character. The other three faces are too quiet and
patient, but this one looks as if she’d _lived_. Do you think Dad will
mind?”

“Mind!” exclaimed Horace. “He’ll be delighted.”

Before another week had passed, a great many pieces that belonged to Dr.
Bolton were found. Among them was his fruitwood bench, but that was
located in one of the exclusive shops in Mr. Truitt’s chain. The shop
was over the state line in Wellsville.

Donna Truitt and Hank Lawson, the FBI agent she had dated, were both
invited to Judy’s party. The house was still filled with babies as Judy
and Peter had agreed to keep them until Mr. and Mrs. George Anderson
returned from their honeymoon.

It would be a strange honeymoon, the crowd at the party agreed, as they
had taken Danny with them on a cruise to some romantic island and would
return to turn their house into another orphans’ home, complete with
chicken farm.

“Danny will find plenty of wild things to watch, but I don’t think he’ll
see any beavers on a tropical island,” Peter commented as he handed
around Judy’s beaver pictures. Some of them had appeared in the
_Farringdon Daily Herald_ to illustrate Horace’s news stories. The
picture of the man with the lady’s face had caused a real sensation.

“The mistakes you make are better than the things some people do on
purpose,” declared Holly, whose interest in writing had waned only to
flare up again when her typewriter was returned. Now she was writing
notes to Roger and tearing them up before he saw them.

Judy met Roger for the first time that evening. She could see why Holly
was attracted to him. He had brought his banjo to the party and knew all
the song hits.

“Come on, everybody,” he said. “Sing along with Roger. Have you got the
beat?”

Judy thought of the honeymooners, then back to her own wedding day as
they sang:

  “Love’s not a sudden romance
  Or the kiss that follows a dance.
  Love is forever, an everlasting thing.
  Love is a golden ring.”

After the first chorus, the song went on and on, verse after verse. But
Judy was no longer thinking back. She was thinking ahead to her next
mystery, although she had not yet found THE HIDDEN CLUE among the few
things that had been saved from the orphanage fire. Tonight she was glad
to forget the fire and enjoy her party, but something was wrong.

“I haven’t set enough places,” she observed as her friends gathered
around the party table. “There are five places for Donna and Lois and
the others on that side. Horace and Honey are to sit here, Holly and
Roger here, but where is my place?”

“Right beside mine,” declared Peter, coming up behind her with an extra
place setting. “Move over, everybody! Judy was so busy setting places
for everyone else that she forgot her own.”

“Just another little mistake,” Judy explained cheerfully as she began to
cut the cake.



                          Transcriber’s Notes


--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
  HTML version reproduces the font form of the printed book.)





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