Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos Nose (6 page)

BOOK: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos Nose
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“Where is your snake now, Spike?” Sally put in quickly.

Spike pointed with his thumb over his shoulder. “At home.”

He led them down the block to his house. In a small, open shed in the backyard there was a large glass tank.

Encyclopedia saw a boa constrictor, a Burmese python, and a family of harmless grass snakes.

He did not see Spike's black-and-yellow snake.

“My folks love all sorts of reptiles,” Spike said. “They gave me Kid Tiger for a pet.”

Suddenly he gasped. “Kid Tiger! He's gone!”

“You said a mouthful,” Barry declared. “That snake is in the grass somewhere. He's sleeping off his big meal.”

“You stole Kid Tiger so he couldn't beat your two Jurassic junk heaps tomorrow,” Spike growled.

“Snakes don't race against lizards,” Sally pointed out.

“Right,” Barry said. “There are prizes for the winning snake, lizard, and turtle. But a grand prize goes to the kid whose racer is judged the best overall. Spike couldn't stand the idea of Erasmus or Erastus being the big winner.”

“I'm giving you fair warning,” Spike said. “Return Kid Tiger, or you better be a fast healer.”

The two boys fell to jawing again. Sally pulled Encyclopedia aside.

“Either one could be trying to keep the other from winning best overall,” she said. “Barry could have hidden Kid Tiger and Erasmus and Erastus, with the idea of ‘finding' the lizards just before the races and the snake just afterward. Spike could have hidden Kid Tiger after slipping him into the cage to eat Erasmus and Erastus.”

Encyclopedia stared silently at the empty cage.

“Good grief, say something!” Sally exclaimed. “Who is lying? You know, don't you?”

“Yes, and I'm sorry to have taken so long with it,” Encyclopedia apologized. “The liar is—”

Who Lied?

(Turn to
this page
for the solution to The Case of the Racing Reptiles.)

The Case of the Unknown Thief

S
torm clouds hung in the night sky as Encyclopedia and Sally left the movie theater.

“We have plenty of time to catch the number six bus home,” Sally said.

The detectives headed toward the bus stop on Main Street. They had walked half a block when the storm broke.

“Rubin's Fine Jewelers will still be open,” Encyclopedia shouted. “We can duck in there and take a later bus. Mr. Rubin is a friend of Dad's.”

The detectives ran through the rain. They were soaked when they reached the jewelry store.

Six customers were inside. Mr. Rubin was at the cash register in the rear. Two men, their backs to the detectives, stood at the counter in front of him.

One of the men wore a gray suit and carried a wooden
cane with an ivory handle. The other wore a brown suit and had an umbrella.

Outside, the storm grew worse. Suddenly the lights dimmed.

“Oh, no, the power is going!” a woman gasped.

A moment later the lights in the store and on the street went out.

Everyone talked at once.

“I can't see a thing.”

“Sarah, where are you?”

“Over here. Where are you?”

“It's like a bats' cave in here.”

“No, like the Tunnel of Love.”

Laughter.

Someone bumped Encyclopedia. He heard the door open and close. He could not see who left.

Presently the rain let up. The power, however, remained out. Encyclopedia heard the shop door opening and closing as customers left in the darkness.

After a few minutes more the lights came back on. The store was empty except for the detectives, Mr. Rubin, and the customer in the brown suit.

On the counter near the two men lay a wallet.

“Yours, Mr. Bower?” Mr. Rubin asked the man in the brown suit.

“No,” Mr. Bower replied. “There was a man in a gray suit standing beside me before the blackout. It's probably his.”

“I remember him,” Mr. Rubin said. “He wanted to know if I could fix a watch while he waited. He put a watch on the counter and took out his wallet. I was busy with you, and I didn't really look at him.”

“Neither did I,” said Mr. Bower.

Encyclopedia and Sally moved nearer. Mr. Rubin greeted them and picked up the wallet.

“No pictures, no driver's license, no credit cards,” he muttered.

“What about money?” Mr. Bower said. “You better count it while I'm here. The owner might say he had more money in his wallet than there is.”

Mr. Rubin nodded. He removed the bills one by one.

First he took out three one-dollar bills kept flat in the wallet. Next he took out two five-dollar bills. They were folded in half crosswise so that they were about three inches long. A ten-dollar bill was folded in thirds crosswise, making it about two inches long.

At the bottom of the wallet was a twenty-dollar bill. It was folded in half lengthwise.

“Forty-three dollars,” Mr. Rubin said. “Wait … there is something else.”

He dug out a small white strip of paper and studied it. Then he laid it on the counter for Mr. Bower and the detectives to read.

The slip was a cash register receipt dated a week ago. It was for $12.80 from Top Hardware Store down the street.

All at once Mr. Bower gasped. “Where is my watch?”

“Right here,” Mr. Rubin said. “I hid it shortly after the lights went out.”

He reached under the counter. “Good heavens!”

“What's the matter?” Mr. Bower asked.

Mr. Rubin had turned pale. “This is a woman's watch!”

Mr. Bower grabbed the watch. “That crook! He swapped watches when the lights went out. You can buy a better watch than this one at a drugstore.”

Encyclopedia spoke quietly. “May I ask one question, Mr. Rubin?”

“Why … of course. Go ahead.”

“While the man in the gray suit stood at the counter, did you mention how much Mr. Bower's watch was worth?”

“I may have,” Mr. Rubin answered uncertainly. “It's such a fine, beautiful watch. Anyone can see that.”

Mr. Bower picked up the receipt. “I'm going to take this to Top Hardware. Somebody may remember the sale.”

“The sale was made last week,” Sally said. “Who will remember a person who bought anything that long ago?”

“If I'd only taken the time to look at him,” Mr. Rubin muttered.

“Don't worry,” Encyclopedia said. “The thief probably lives close by, and he must do most of his shopping around here. So he isn't a stranger to the storekeepers. He won't be hard to find.”

Mr. Rubin and Mr. Bower looked at the detective in amazement.

“How do you know so much about him?” Mr. Rubin demanded.

“Did you see who he was before the lights went out?” Mr. Bower asked.

“No,” Encyclopedia answered, “but after the lights came back on, I saw the clue.”

What Was the Clue?

(Turn to
this page
for the solution to The Case of the Unknown Thief.)

Solutions

SOLUTION TO

The Case of the Sleeveless Lock

The uncle had written sleeveless on his safe to help his poor memory.

Sleeveless
was what he was always seeking: the longest example of something.

Sleeveless
is the longest example of a pyramid word. A pyramid word has letters in rising order.

Sleeveless
has one v, two l's, three s's, and four e's.

Taking the number of times each letter appears in
sleeveless
and keeping them in the same order,
s-l-e-v
, allowed the uncle—and Encyclopedia—to come up with the combination: 3, 2, 4, 1.

SOLUTION TO
The Case of the Smoke Signals

Muriel gave Bugs a problem. She asked how he had outrun a searchlight mounted on a police car.

Bugs had to come up with a fast answer. So he said he'd been mistaken. The searchlight he'd seen turned out to be the full moon shining behind the oak trees.

Impossible!

It was early in the evening, eight o'clock. So the moon would be rising. But the moon, like the sun and stars, rises in the
east
and sets in the west.

The oaks grew on the
west
side of the picnic grounds.

Bugs wasn't in the park at all that night.

Caught in his own mouthtrap, Bugs returned Muriel's totem pole. She gave back his pipe booklet.

SOLUTION TO
The Case of the Peace Offering

Bugs used the thefts in garages around the neighborhood to frame Encyclopedia and Sally.

He opened his garage door. Then he got Mr. McCann to act as a witness by asking him to watch for thieves.

Bugs told Mr. McCann that the power had failed two hours ago, so the electric garage door could not be closed.

Bugs, of course, turned off the electricity himself. Encyclopedia spotted the proof in Bugs's lunch. The sandwich was made with white toast.

BOOK: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablos Nose
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