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Authors: Franklin W. Dixon

Mystery Map (5 page)

BOOK: Mystery Map
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“So you'll help us?” Chet asked.

Biff grinned. “Sure. Come on, boy,” he told the puppy. “Let's go!”

Soon they were all back in the woods. Frank led the way to the little clearing where they'd lost the trail.

“See if he can sniff around and pick up any kind of trail,” Joe told Biff.

Iola was patting the bloodhound puppy. “I think you should call him Nosy,” she said. “He definitely likes to follow his nose.”

“Nosy?” Chet wrinkled his own nose. “That's a dumb name.”

“Over here, boy.” Biff pulled Nosy—or Chuck—or whatever-his-name-was—over to the spot Frank had pointed out. “Find that treasure!”

Nosy-Chuck-Whoever barked, seeming just as excited about the search as the rest of them. Maybe
too
excited. He raced around in circles, sniffing at anything and everything. When a squirrel rustled
in the underbrush, he leaped at it so fast that he almost pulled Biff down.

“Settle down, boy!” Joe exclaimed. “Otherwise we'll have to name you Hyperdog!”

Biff laughed. “That's a pretty good name for him.”

“Keep trying to get him to find the trail,” Frank urged. “Maybe he just needs a minute to settle down.”

Biff kept trying. But it was no use. The puppy was just too active. Every time he put his head down to sniff something, another scent captured
his attention. He ended up mostly running around in circles.

Finally Frank sighed. His great idea wasn't turning out to be so great after all. “Maybe we can find a grown-up bloodhound somewhere,” he said. “Do you know of any, Biff?”

Before Biff could answer, Chet let out a cry. He was poking around near the edges of the clearing.

“What is it?” Phil asked him.

Chet looked excited. “I just spotted some tracks over here,” he said. “They're leading away in the direction the trail was going. Do you think whoever made the map might've left them?”

The others raced over. Sure enough, several human footprints led out to the far side of the clearing.

“Whoa!” Joe said. “Good work, Chet.”

Iola looked surprised. “I can't believe your tracking stuff actually worked,” she told her brother.

At that moment the puppy let out a loud, happy bark. He jumped ahead so fast that Biff lost hold of the leash.

“Hey, come back!” Biff cried, rushing after the puppy.

But the puppy stopped just a few steps beyond the clearing. He wagged his tail and jumped up on someone standing in the woods. It was Adam Ackerman!

8
A New Lead

What are you doing lurking out there?” Joe demanded, rushing over and grabbing the puppy's leash.

Adam sneered at him. “It's a free country. I can stand wherever I want.”

“Were you spying on us?” Frank asked.

“So what if I was?” Adam looked around as the others caught up. “It's not like you were doing anything interesting.”

Joe and Frank traded a worried look. How much had Adam heard?

At least he won't dare try to grab the map or anything like that,
Joe thought.
Adam might be a big bully, but he's not stupid enough to face down six other kids at once.

Still, Joe knew it wasn't going to be easy to continue their search as long as Adam was hanging around. How were they going to get rid of him?

“Go away,” Iola told Adam with a frown.

Adam folded his arms over his chest and leaned back against a tree. “Who's going to make me?” he taunted. “You and your loser brother?”

“Hey, watch it,” Biff said. He took a step forward. He was even bigger than Adam.

That made Adam shut up. But it didn't make him leave.

Suddenly Joe had an idea. He leaned closer to Frank. “Just play along,” he whispered.

Frank looked confused. But he nodded.

Then Joe grabbed the puppy's leash off the ground. “Whatever, Adam,” he said loudly. “Just don't get in our way, okay? This dog is a tracking
machine, so it's not like you have any chance of finding the treasure before us.”

“Treasure?” Adam stood up straight. “So that's what you nerds have been doing out here?”

“It's ours, okay?” Joe exclaimed. “So don't even bother to follow us because you're not getting any of it!”

With that, he turned and raced off into the woods. He was careful to go in the opposite direction of the real trail. The puppy ran along with him, letting out an excited bark.

“That's right, boy!” Joe yelled. “Follow your nose to the treasure!”

Then he sneaked a peek over his shoulder. Biff had followed a few steps, looking confused. But Frank was whispering something in his ear.

Adam was the only one running after Joe. “It's a free country!” he shouted. “I can go anywhere I want, and you guys can't stop me.”

Joe didn't answer. He just ran faster. “Find the treasure, boy!” he called out.

After that he and the puppy led Adam on a twisting trail through the woods. Luckily, Adam didn't seem to notice that the others weren't following.

Finally they reached a clearing behind a row of houses. Someone had made a big trash dump there. The middle of the clearing was piled high with cardboard boxes, spoiled food, old mattresses, and all kinds of other junk.

“Is this it, boy? Right here under this pile?” Joe said loudly, giving the puppy a pat. “Good work!”

Then he looked back at Adam. This was going to be the tricky part.…

Joe pasted a nervous expression on his face. “Oh,” he said. “I guess you're the only one who kept up, huh?” He peered over Adam's shoulder, pretending to look for the others.

Adam grinned. “Yeah,” he said, pushing past Joe. “And you know what they say. Finders keepers! Now scram and let me find my treasure!”

Adam clenched his fists and made a threatening face. Joe backed away, pretending to be scared. “O-okay,” he said. “But only until my friends get here! Then you'd better watch out!”

Adam smirked. “They'll have to hurry if they want to stop me from finding the treasure.”

He hurried over to the trash pile. Kicking aside an aluminum can, he started to dig through the pile.

Joe wished he could stay and watch. It would be pretty funny to see mean Adam Ackerman covered in garbage. But he had more important things to do.

Giving a tug on the puppy's leash, he headed back into the woods.

••••

By the time Joe and the puppy made their way back to the others, Chet had tracked the footsteps another twenty yards down the trail.

“Hurry up!” Iola called when she spotted Joe. “I think we're getting warmer!”

Chet pointed to another footprint. “This way!” he cried.

For the next few minutes the trail was clear. Joe felt his heart pounding with excitement as he clutched the puppy's leash. They were going to find the treasure!

But then the trail crossed a gravel path. On the far side was an open, grassy meadow with just a few gnarled old trees in it. And no matter how hard Chet looked, he couldn't find any more footprints.

“Man!” Phil said with a frown. “I thought we had it.”

Frank sighed. “Me too.”

Joe's shoulders slumped. Could it be true? Had they really reached another dead end?

Then he felt the puppy tug on the leash. With a bark, the young bloodhound jumped forward. He put his nose to the ground and sniffed. Then he sniffed again. Then he let out a deeper, louder bark and took off toward one of the gnarled trees.

“I think he's got a scent!” Biff said, hurrying after him.

“Probably just another stupid squirrel,” Iola grumbled. But she followed the puppy too. So did the others.

The puppy reached the tree. He started dancing around it, howling happily.

“Do you think the treasure's buried under this tree?” Chet asked.

Joe had another idea. He'd just spotted a knot in the trunk. Stepping forward, he reached inside.

“Hey! There's something in here!” he cried.

He pulled out a plastic shopping bag. When he looked inside, he gasped. It was full of cash!

“We're rich!” he yelled.

9
Cash Back

We did it!” Iola cried gleefully. “We found the treasure!”

“Your puppy's awesome, Biff!” Chet exclaimed, grabbing the little bloodhound and giving him a hug.

“Yeah, he's a real detective,” Joe agreed. “Hey! That gives me a great idea. You should call him Sherlock! You know, like the famous detective Sherlock Holmes.”

Iola laughed. “That's cute! My dad loves those books.”

“Sherlock, huh?” Biff grinned and bent down to ruffle the puppy's fur. “What do you think? Huh, Sherlock?”

The puppy barked. Everyone laughed.

“I think he likes it,” Phil said. He was counting
the money from the bag. “Wow, there's a ton of cash in here! Oh, and some gum and candy and stuff too.”

“Cool,” Chet said eagerly. “How much will we each get if we divide the money six ways?”

Frank gulped. He was starting to feel uneasy about this. “Wait a minute,” he said, reaching for the bag of cash. “It looks like this bag is from the KwikSnak. You know, the convenience store on Third Street.”

BOOK: Mystery Map
13.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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