Authors: Donald J. Sobol
Encyclopedia said, “The uncle wrote
on the safe because it's the longest example of a certain type of word. Every time he uses the safe,
reminds him of the combination.”
Chief Brown knitted his brows thoughtfully. “Why didn't he simply write down the combination and keep it in his wallet or in a drawer?”
“Because it might fall out of his wallet,” Encyclopedia said. “If he hid it somewhere, he might forget where.”
“Leroy!” cried Mrs. Brown. “What is the combination to the safe?”
“Tell us,” said Chief Brown, “before John gets married tomorrow! He wants to use his grandmother's ring so badly!”
Softly he said, “The combination to the safe isâ”
for the solution to The Case of the Sleeveless Lock.)
esides helping his father solve mysteries, Encyclopedia helped the children of the neighborhood.
When school let out for the summer, he opened his own detective agency in the garage. Every morning after breakfast he hung out his sign:
Brown Detective Agency
13 Rover Avenue
No case too small
25Â¢ a day plus expenses
The first customer Tuesday was Muriel Rivers. Her hobby was Native American customs and crafts. Her favorite tribes were the Creek and the Susquehanna.
“I want to hire you,” she said, and handed Encyclopedia twenty-five cents. “Bugs Meany cheated me.”
Bugs Meany was the leader of a gang of tough older boys. They called themselves the Tigers. They should have called themselves the Pots and Pans. They were always cooking up trouble.
Encyclopedia stayed busy keeping Bugs from bullying the little kids of the neighborhood.
“How did Bugs cheat you?” Encyclopedia inquired.
“He took my totem pole,” Muriel said.
She explained. About eight o'clock the night before, she had been returning home with a little totem pole she had bought at the Museum of Natural History gift shop. Bugs had stopped her. He said he'd trade her a how-to booklet on smoke signals for the totem pole.
“Like an airhead, I agreed,” Muriel said. “Bugs took my totem pole and promised to leave the booklet at my door. What he left was a booklet on smoking a pipe.”
“Did you try to get back the totem pole?” the detective asked.
“Sure, but Bugs did all the talking,” Muriel replied. “He told me to read the booklet and buy a peace pipe. He said I had to start small. Then he told me to get lost.”
“Let's go see Bugs,” Encyclopedia said.
“Include me out,” Muriel said. “Bugs said if I came around again he'd shove me into a mustard jar. I'll stay right here, even if I have to force myself.”
“Don't be afraid,” Encyclopedia said. “Bugs's belch is worse than his bite. Thinking gives him a headache.”
Muriel shrugged. “Okay, I'll go along, but I wish I had a survival kit.”
The Tigers' clubhouse was an empty toolshed behind Mr. Sweeney's auto body shop. Bugs was outside with Monk Walsh, one of his Tigers.
“Man oh man!” Bugs growled upon seeing Encyclopedia and Muriel. “Look what came out of the rain forest!”
Encyclopedia was used to Bugs's greetings. “You know Muriel Rivers, I believe,” he said calmly.
“Yeah,” Bugs answered. “Not a bad kid if looks and brains don't count.”
“Did you promise to give her a booklet on smoke signals in return for her totem pole?” Encyclopedia asked.
Bugs raised his nose. “It's true that I'm a master at sending smoke signals. I say this humbly. But totem pole? Booklet? Why, the girl has drunk too many milk shakes.”
“Is that so?” Muriel cried. “Where were you last night around eight?”
Bugs blinked. “UhÂ â¦Â me and Monk were in South Park making smoke signals.”
Muriel snorted. “Liar!”
“We'll show you where we were,” Monk shot back.
They all biked to the park's picnic grounds, a grassy area with tables, benches, and barbecue grills.
On the east side of the grounds was a lake. On the west side was a little forest of oak trees. On the other two sides were a parking area and a baseball field.
Bugs walked up to a grill. It had ashes in it.
“We used this very grill last night to practice sending smoke signals,” he said. “Us Tigers respect the land. We don't build fires on the ground like lawbreakers.”
Encyclopedia was thinking over what he knew about smoke signals. Native Americans had used them mostly as warnings. A sudden puff told of strangers on the plain below. Quick puffs meant the strangers were well armed. If smoke was allowed to rise steadily, it meant the tribe had to gather its warriors for battle.
Bugs said, “We came here last night because there was no wind and no one was around. We don't like to bother anyone or be bothered.”
“No one was around,” Encyclopedia said, “because the picnic area is closed on weekdays after sundown.”
“We forgot it was Monday. Is that a crime?” Bugs said.
“How come you didn't get caught?” Muriel asked. “The police patrol to make sure no one is up to mischief. They use searchlights.”
Bugs grinned. “We saw a searchlight. It scared us, I'll admit. We ran.”
“The searchlights are on the police cars,” Muriel said.
The news rocked Bugs back on his heels and made Monk's ears wiggle.
“Tell me you outran a police car!” Muriel challenged.
Bugs steadied himself. “The searchlight we saw turned out to be the full moon shining through the oak forest over there.”
a full moon last night,” Muriel murmured to Encyclopedia. “Bugs has all the answers, even though he's lying through his teeth. It's his word against mine.”
“Not quite,” Encyclopedia said.
for the solution to The Case of the Smoke Signals.)
he mind of Bugs Meany burned with a mighty longingâto get even with Encyclopedia Brown.
Bugs hated being outsmarted all the time. He longed to leave the detective with plenty to give the tooth fairy.
But Bugs never used muscle. Whenever he felt like it, he remembered Sally Kimball. She was Encyclopedia's junior partner in the detective agency.
Sally was more than the prettiest girl in the fifth grade and the best athlete. She had done what no little kid had believed possible.
Flattened Bugs Meany.
Whenever they fought, Bugs hit the ground as if he were proving the law of gravity.
“Bugs won't rest till he gets back at us,” Sally warned. “He's trouble.”
Encyclopedia sighed. “Bugs is his own worst enemy.”
“Not while I'm alive,” Sally snapped.
The detectives were walking to Bugs's house. The Tigers' leader had invited them over that morning.
“Let's let bygones be bygones,” he had purred. “I've got an electric drill for you. Call it a peace offering. Stop by my house at noon, okay? Meet me inside the garage.”
The garage was open when the detectives reached it at noon. They went inside. Bugs wasn't there.
“I don't like this,” Sally said. “Bugs is pulling one of his dirty tricks. Why would he want to give us an electric drill?”
“I don't know,” Encyclopedia said. “But we agreed to see what he's up to. He may really want to be friends.”
“Maybe you're right,” Sally sighed. “There's the electric drill in the wheelbarrow.”
She had just picked it up when Bugs charged through the door from the kitchen. He whistled between his fingers.
Mr. McCann, who lived next door, came into the garage on the run. He halted and stared at the electric drill in Sally's hands. “So
the ones,” he gasped in disbelief.
“Caught red-handed!” roared Bugs. “Detectives, my foot! All that goody-good act is nothing but a cover for a life of crime!”
“What's going on?” Sally demanded.
“A lot of tools have been stolen from garages in the neighborhood lately,” Mr. McCann replied.
“The robbers always choose a house where the garage door has been left open,” Bugs said.
“Bugs told me that two hours ago he had a power failure and couldn't close the electric garage door,” Mr. McCann said. “His folks are away, and so he asked me come over if he whistled for help.”
“Look at them! Caught like rats in a trap!” Bugs sang, dancing with glee. “This is the happiest day of my lifeâexcept the day I was born.”
“I'm going to call your parents,” Mr. McCann told the detectives, and returned to his house.
Encyclopedia walked to a metal box on the wall. Inside were the circuit breakers that turned on or off the flow of electricity throughout the house.
“Number six is off,” he said. “What rooms does it control?”
“The garage and the kitchen,” Bugs said. “If there's a problem in any line, the proper switch turns it off.”
“Or you can turn it off yourself,” Encyclopedia added.
He pushed the number six switch on.
“Funny you didn't close the garage door by hand,” he said. “All you have to do is jerk the unlocking chain up there to break the connection.”
Bugs smiled slyly. “I never got the hang of circuit breakers or electric garage doors.”
“Mind if I check the kitchen?” Encyclopedia asked.
Bugs sneered. “Be my guest.”
In the kitchen the detective flipped a wall switch. The light above the breakfast table went on.
On the table stood a can of soda. Beside it on a paper plate was the thickest sandwich Encyclopedia had ever seen. Between two pieces of white toast were layers of ham, salami, liverwurst, cheese, lettuce, and tomato.