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Authors: Franklin W. Dixon

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BOOK: The Bicycle Thief
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Joe added his name to the list. “Cool,” he said. “Is there anything else we should write down?”

Frank thought for a moment. He shook his head and jumped to his feet. “Nope! Let's get started.”

“Right,” said Joe. “But first I'm going to lock my bike up to a tree, now that we have your bag. I'd hate to lose both our bikes in one day!”

 5     

All Bark, No Bike

L
et's talk to Mr. Mack first,” said Frank.

“But Adam's our best suspect,” said Joe.

“Yeah, but Mr. Mack was the first person I saw. And we don't have any proof that Adam took my bike. Maybe Mr. Mack saw something. You know Dad says to get all the evidence first. And to start with the people who are going to be the most helpful. Besides, we don't know where Adam is.”

“We don't know where Mr. Mack is either,” said Joe.

“But it's easy to find him. Just follow the whistle!”

Mr. Mack was always whistling. He was a great whistler, and he could do just about any song he'd ever heard. Lucy liked to bark along with his whistling. They would be easy to find in the park.

Frank and Joe started off in the direction Frank had last seen Mr. Mack headed—running after Lucy toward the big lawn. The big lawn was at the center of Bayport Park. It was where people went to sit on picnic blankets and play Frisbee. There was a pond at the center, where dogs liked to drink. Sometimes they even swam in it.

“Running around and taking stuff is thirsty work,” said Frank. “I bet Lucy was heading toward the pond.”

Sure enough, Lucy was paddling around in the pond when the boys showed up. Mr. Mack was sitting on one of the benches, reading his paper.

“Hi, boys!” said Mr. Mack. “How's that arm, Frank?”

“Not bad,” said Frank.

“That's good. Sorry I couldn't stop to help you earlier. She's been crazy today.” He pointed toward Lucy, who was happily paddling back and forth in the water.

“It's okay. But maybe you can help us out now!” said Frank. He explained what had happened to his bike. He showed Mr. Mack the picture he had drawn of it.

“Oh no!” said Mr. Mack. “That's terrible. Who do you think took it?”

Frank looked at Joe. Joe looked at Frank. They both looked at Lucy. Neither wanted to be the one to say it.

“Well, sir . . . we thought maybe—,” Frank started.

“Remember that time when Lucy took Jason
Prime's mitt?” Joe asked. Jason was the star player on the Bayport Bandits. Lucy had taken his mitt and buried it right before a big game.

“You don't think . . . Lucy?” said Mr. Mack. “I don't know, boys. A bike would be an awful heavy thing for her to drag around. But she has been off leash all day.”

“Do you know where she's been hiding things?” asked Frank. Lucy always hid the stuff she stole somewhere in the woods.

“There's one way to find out.” Mr. Mack pulled a chew toy shaped like a bumblebee out of his bag. “This is one of her favorite things to hide.”

He threw the chew toy into the air. Lucy came racing out of the water and grabbed the toy before it hit the ground. Then she was off and running.

“Chase after her, boys! I'll do my best to keep up,” yelled Mr. Mack. He didn't need to tell Frank and Joe twice.

Lucy raced through the big lawn. She was fast, but Frank and Joe were two of the best runners at Bayport Elementary School. Their father always told them that a good detective counted on his brain the most—but his legs were a close second!

If it had been a regular race, Frank and Joe would have been able to keep up with Lucy. But Lucy zigged and zagged. She ran through picnics
and volleyball games. Frank and Joe had to run their hardest just to keep up with her.

“Sorry!” yelled Frank as he ran through a family's barbecue.

“Coming through!” yelled Joe as he interrupted a game of catch.

Slowly Mr. Mack's whistling faded into the background. When Frank looked back, he couldn't even see him anymore. If they lost Lucy now, they'd have to wait until she came back and start all over again!

Lucy loved taking stuff. But she also loved being chased! If it were possible for a dog to smile, Lucy would have had a huge smile across her face.

Finally, after running around the big lawn three times, Lucy ran into the woods.

“Careful!” yelled Frank. “We don't want to lose her now.”

“Right!” yelled Joe. “And I'm going to try not to lose an eye, either.”

It was hard to see Lucy through the trees. But they could still hear her running. Then, suddenly, the sound stopped. It was replaced by the sound of digging.

“She's burying the toy,” said Joe. “But where is she?”

The boys looked around. There was no sign of Lucy. Then they saw dirt flying up into the air.

“There!” yelled Frank.

The boys ran over. She was sitting at the bottom of a deep hole, happily kicking dirt around. The hole was filled with things. Aside from Lucy's favorite toy, there were three tennis balls, two dolls, a book, two pairs of glasses, an empty backpack, and dozens of sticks.

But there was no sign of Frank's bike.

“Darn,” said Frank. He hadn't really thought
Lucy had stolen his bike, but he'd gotten his hopes up anyway.

“Sorry, Frank,” said Mr. Mack, who had just caught up with them. “So that's where my glasses went!” He began to pick all the important things out of the hole.

“It's okay,” said Frank. “I'm glad she wasn't the one who took it.”

“But,” said Joe, “maybe she can help us find out who did take it?”

“We'd be happy to help you boys any way we can. But how?” asked Mr. Mack.

“Well, she's good at finding where she hid all of this stuff,” said Joe. “So maybe she can track whoever took Frank's bike.”

“Good idea!” said Frank.

Together Frank, Joe, Mr. Mack, and Lucy all headed back to the last place Frank had seen his bike.

“Okay, Lucy,” said Frank. “I need you to find my bike. Can you do that, girl?”

Lucy whined and sniffed all around where the bike had been. She laid her ears flat against her skull. She put her nose low to the ground. Slowly she started walking away. Frank and Joe followed her down the path. Halfway through the park, she suddenly turned off the path, onto the dirt.

“Look,” said Frank. He pointed to the ground. Lucy was following a set of footprints—and a bike track!

Lucy followed the tracks across the big lawn. But when they came to the road that ran through the center of the park, she lost them. The ground was drier here, and the tracks disappeared. They searched up and down, but neither the boys nor Lucy could find the trail again. They walked back to where they'd last seen the footprints. Frank kneeled down and drew them in his notebook.

“I'm sorry to get your hopes up, boys,” said Mr. Mack when he caught up with them.

“It's okay, Mr. Mack,” said Frank. “Lucy helped us more than you might guess. I think I know whose footprints these are!”

 6      

So Close and Yet So Far

I
'll bet you anything those footprints belong to Adam Ackerman,” said Frank.

“They're definitely the right size,” said Joe. “But how can you be sure?”

“Look at the tracks,” said Frank. “See how the left footprints are all deeper than the right ones? They were made by someone who couldn't step as hard on one side as the other. When Mrs. Ackerman took me to the ranger station, she told Adam to stay behind because he'd hurt his foot!”

“Let's find him!” said Joe.

That turned out to be easier said than done. Bayport Park was large, and Adam could have been anywhere. He might have even left the park already!

The boys decided to start their search where Lucy had lost the trail. They left the road behind and walked deeper into the park. Mr. Mack and Lucy followed behind them until Lucy grabbed a Frisbee and took off running.

“You boys keep going,” said Mr. Mack. “We'll catch up.”

The boys walked a little farther by themselves.

“Do you hear that?” said Joe.

“It sounds like little kids crying—and Adam Ackerman yelling,” said Frank.

“Yup. Come on!”

They followed the sounds to the kids' playground. Adam was sitting on one of the swings,
while two younger kids were sitting on the ground, crying.

“But it was our turn!” yelled one of them.

“Well, it's my turn now!” said Adam. “So beat it!”

The kids ran away, still crying.

“Very nice,” said Joe. “Picking on little kids.”

“Hi, Joe. Hi, Frank,” said Adam. He looked very happy about something. And Frank was pretty sure he knew what it was.

“Okay, Adam, where is it?” said Frank.

“I have no idea where your bike is,” said Adam. He pumped his legs and started to swing. The smile on his face grew bigger, until he swung too hard and made his foot throb.

Serves him right,
Frank thought.

“If you don't know where my bike is,” said Frank, “then how did you know that was what I was going to ask you about?”

“Lucky guess,” Adam said.

“We'll see about that!” said Frank. Right as Adam was at the top of his swing, Frank darted forward and grabbed his right shoe.

“Give that back!” yelled Adam.

“I will. In just one second,” Frank said.

Joe took out the notebook, and Frank held the shoe up to the drawing he had made. It was a perfect match!

“I thought so!” said Frank. “You took my bike, and I want it back!”

BOOK: The Bicycle Thief
7.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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