Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos Nose (3 page)

BOOK: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos Nose
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“I'd just finished making my lunch,” Bugs said, “when I heard you in the garage.”

“You
framed
us,” Sally accused him. “Tell Mr. McCann the truth or you'll be sorry.”

“Ask a Tiger to tell a lie? I ought to give you this,” Bugs said, raising a fist.

“What's in it?” Sally asked.

Bugs came to a fast boil. “I've always gone easy on you, you smart skirt. Now it's fight time for real!”

“So fight,” Sally said, and stuck out her chin.

Bugs flew into a rage. He forgot whom he was up against and lunged wildly, trying to get in the first punch.

Sally ducked. “Sock-a-doodle-do,” she cooed, and fired a one-two to the chops.

Suddenly Bugs was not feeling like himself. He walked around like a dumb squirrel trying to remember where he'd hidden the acorns.

Sally fed him a stiff left.

Bugs landed on his back. After a few gurgles and twitches, he lifted his head and looked around goofy-eyed.

“Whose buffalo was that?” he moaned.

Sally rubbed her knuckles. “Encyclopedia, we still have to
prove
that Bugs tried to frame us.”

“No we don't,” Encyclopedia said. “Bugs proved it for us.”

What Was the Proof?

(Turn to
this page
for the solution to The Case of the Peace Offering.)

The Case of the Masked Man

S
unday morning the detectives heard strange noises as they walked past Professor Irvin's house.

Sally stopped. “Someone is in trouble.”

“Maybe it's just a pooch beating its tail on the floor,” Encyclopedia offered hopefully.

“That's thumping,” Sally said. “This is stamping. We'd better check it out.”

Encyclopedia wished Sally were a little less fond of checking things out. Professor Irvin, who taught American history at State University, was a smart man. He could take care of himself.

Sally walked to the front door. It was unlocked.

She poked her head in. “Is anyone home?”

The stamping grew faster and louder.

The detectives stepped inside.

“Professor Irvin?” Sally called. “Are you all right?”

The stamping grew even faster and louder.

Sally pointed to a closed door. “It's coming from in there.”

She pushed the door open a crack, and then all the way.

Encyclopedia looked into a room walled with bookshelves. A woman sat in a chair in front of a desk. She was bound and gagged.

The detectives quickly freed her.

“Call the police!” she wailed. “Professor Irvin has been kidnapped!”

Encyclopedia sped to the telephone on the desk and made the call.

“The police will be here in a few minutes,” he reported.

The woman had risen to her feet. She stretched her limbs and rubbed the soreness from her wrists.

“Every time I heard someone passing the house, I stamped on the floor,” she said. “Thank heaven you children caught on. My legs were about to give out.”

“Who are you, ma'am?” Encyclopedia asked politely.

“Mrs. Witten. I'm Professor Irvin's secretary.” She pulled out a small handkerchief, wiped her eyes, blew her nose, and told them what had happened.

Half an hour ago she'd been making coffee in the kitchen when a masked gunman entered through the back door. He marched her to the den. Professor Irvin was at his desk.

“As the masked man was tying me up,” she said, “he noticed Professor Irvin writing on a sheet of paper. The professor explained that he was only making notes for a speech.”

“What then?” Sally asked.

“The masked man grabbed the sheet of paper,” Mrs. Witten said. “He read it, threw it into the wastebasket, and tied the professor's hands behind his back.”

She paused to blow her nose again.

“The horrible creature,” she continued, “told me that the ransom for Professor Irvin would be half a million dollars. The money must be ready by tomorrow, when he'll phone with instructions. He took the professor away at gunpoint!”

“Half a million dollars!” Sally gasped. “Who can raise that much so quickly?”

“Professor Irvin's family,” Mrs. Witten said. “They have a lot of money.”

Encyclopedia went to the wastebasket and removed its contents—a shoe ad and a sheet of paper.

On the sheet was written a list of names: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Jackson, and Grant.

“Did you notice anything special about the kidnapper?” Encyclopedia inquired.

“His voice,” Mrs. Witten replied. “I've heard it before, but I can't remember where.”

Encyclopedia passed the sheet to Sally.

“The names of five Presidents,” she murmured. “How could the professor do it? Mrs. Witten was being tied to a chair right in front of him, and he calmly made notes for a speech!”

“I don't believe the names are notes for a speech,” Encyclopedia said. “I think they are a code that tells who the kidnapper is. The professor must have recognized him despite the mask.”

Sally stared at the list. “All these Presidents held office during a war, or fought in one, didn't they?”

“All except Jefferson,” Encyclopedia corrected.

To Mrs. Witten he said, “Would you know the kidnapper if you had a name to go with his voice?”

“I'm sure I would,” she answered.

“Is it Jefferson?” Sally suggested eagerly.

“I'm sorry,” Mrs. Witten said. “I'm afraid not.”

Sally wrinkled her nose. “The names must be notes for a speech after all.”

“No,” Encyclopedia declared. “Professor Irvin wouldn't dare write down the kidnapper's name for him to see. My guess is that the professor invented a code on the spot.”

Encyclopedia closed his eyes. He was thinking his hardest.

After a while he opened his eyes. “Got it!” he exclaimed. “The code should have
six
names! The kidnapper must have grabbed the sheet before Professor Irvin had time to write the sixth name.”

“What is the sixth name, young man?” Mrs. Witten said.

“Franklin.”

“Encyclopedia!” cried Sally. “Is Franklin the kidnapper's name? Is it?”

“No,” said Encyclopedia. “The kidnapper's name is the name that Professor Irvin had time to write down, but purposely didn't.”

What Was the Kidnapper's Name?

(Turn to
this page
for the solution to The Case of the Masked Man.)

The Case of the Organ-Grinder

E
ncyclopedia and Sally nearly tripped over Tony Gerosa in the Sunland Shopping Center.

Tony was on his hands and knees. He was staring into a tin cup held by a toy monkey dressed in a cute suit. The monkey stood atop a hand organ.

“What's wrong, Tony?” Sally asked.

Tony made a noise like a stepped-on chicken. Then he stammered, “K-Kome sid stole my coins.”

“How's that?” Encyclopedia said.

“Some kid, I mean,” Tony said, and tried again. “Some kid stole my coins.”

He explained. The hand organ belonged to his grandfather, a retired organ-grinder. Tony had borrowed it to raise money for his club's flag football team.

“We need flags and a football,” he said.

“What are you doing on the floor?” asked Encyclopedia.

Tony tapped the water fountain by his shoulder.

“A minute ago I went for a drink,” he said. “I can't bend over with the organ on my stomach. So I set it on the floor. A boy ran off with all the money in the cup—nearly five dollars!”

“Gosh, business was good,” Sally said.

“I get a lot of coins from people who pay me to stop playing,” Tony admitted.

“What did the thief look like?” Encyclopedia asked.

Tony became excited all over again. “He wore a tight wee-shirt. I mean, a white T-shirt.”

He couldn't get the next words out.

“Take your time,” Sally said.

She leaned forward and put her ear close to his lips.

Tony whispered with difficulty.

“The thief might still be nearby,” Encyclopedia said hopefully.

“If I were he, I'd get as far away as I could,” Sally declared. “He probably headed straight home.”

“Uh-uh,” Encyclopedia disagreed. “He has Tony's money. He'll want to spend it.”

“I'll hire you to find him, but I can't go with you,” Tony said. “I've got money to raise.”

He strapped on the hand organ and turned the crank. Out spilled “Pop Goes the Weasel.”

“Nowadays a lot of hand organs use tape-recorded music, but not Grandpa's,” Tony said proudly. “It can play six tunes.”

A woman dropped a coin into the cup. Tony pressed a button on the organ. The toy monkey tipped its hat.

“Grandpa worked with a real monkey till people complained it was cruel,” Tony said.

He stopped cranking for a moment.

“I wish I could be more help,” he apologized. “But that boy was into my cup and gone so fast!”

“We'll find him,” Encyclopedia promised.

“The T-shirt is a really good clue,” Sally said.

As they moved off, Encyclopedia asked Sally, “What was on the T-shirt?”

“Tony said the words
POLAR BEARS
were written across the chest,” Sally answered.

The detectives began searching the shopping center for a boy who wore a white T-shirt with the words
POLAR BEARS.

Suddenly Sally squeezed Encyclopedia's arm.

“Over there,” she murmured.

A boy in a white T-shirt stood in front of a toy store. He turned around, and Sally groaned with disappointment.

Written on his T-shirt was
BE DIFFERENT—ACT NORMAL
.

White T-shirts were everywhere, but not always with a boy inside and never with
POLAR BEARS
outside.

In a sporting goods store the detectives came up behind a boy in a white T-shirt carrying a small brown paper bag.

BOOK: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos Nose
7.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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