The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge

BOOK: The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge
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Table of Contents
FRANK and Joe Hardy are determined to bring to justice the vicious criminals who kidnapped their detective father while he was investigating sabotage of a road-building project in the Kentucky wilderness.
After Mr. Hardy's amazing escape, the boys pick up a clue—the word “Felix” mumbled by their sick father in his delirium. When they discover that the dossier of a notorious ex-convict has been stolen from Mr. Hardy's files, the two young sleuths are doubly spurred to action.
The trail leads them to New York City but ends abruptly in a cemetery! Stunned, Frank and Joe come upon another clue—a spiral symbol. Aided by their pals, the boys take jobs on the highway construction crew in Kentucky to try to track down the kidnappers and the nefarious saboteurs. But who among the crew is friend and who is foe?
In a desperate maneuver that almost costs them their lives, the Hardys bring to a spine-tingling close one of the most action-packed and suspenseful mysteries they have ever solved.
The huge bear lunged from the cave
1994,1966 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
Published by Grosset & Dunlap, Inc., a member of The Putnam & Grosset
Group, New York. Published simultaneously in Canada. S.A.
is a registered trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
GROSSET & DUNLAP is a trademark of Grosset & Dunlap, Inc.
eISBN : 978-1-101-07658-3
2008 Printing

Bad News
“CHECKMATE!” said Frank Hardy as he glanced across the chessboard at his brother Joe.
“Okay. You've got me.” Joe frowned at his trapped king. “I can't keep my mind on the game, waiting for that call and wondering how Dad is.”
Dark-haired Frank, eighteen, and blond Joe, a year younger, sat in their laboratory next to a short-wave set. The room, filled with the latest scientific and detecting apparatus, was located over the garage behind the Hardy home in Bayport. Suddenly a metallic voice filled the lab. Both boys became tense.
“Radley calling Frank and Joe! Do you read me?”
“Roger,” replied Joe. “Where are you, Sam?”
miles from Bayport. We ran into a storm which slowed us down. Jack Wayne is preparing to land. Incidentally, boys, we've been tailed all the way from Kentucky! The other plane keeps just far enough away so we can't identify it.”
Frank pushed closer to the microphone. “How's Dad?”
No change.”
have an ambulance waiting,” said Frank.
“Roger. Over and out.”
Immediately Frank phoned Dr. Bates, the family physician, who had already been notified that Fenton Hardy was gravely ill. The doctor promised to arrange for the ambulance to meet the plane.
The brothers then hastened downstairs and entered the house by the rear door. The boys' mother and their aunt, Gertrude Hardy, were waiting anxiously in the living room.
“Dad's arriving shortly,” Joe announced. “Come on. We'll all drive to the airport.”
The four Hardys hurried to the family car and Frank took the wheel. For a while they rode in silence, oblivious of the pleasant air, reflecting on the near tragedy which had overtaken Fenton Hardy.
Once a famous detective on the New York City police force, Mr. Hardy now had his own successful investigating practice. He had often been assisted on cases by his sons, who had gained renown for their talent as amateur sleuths. Sam Radley was Mr. Hardy's able assistant, and Jack Wayne was his private pilot and close friend.
Laura Hardy spoke up. “I had a strong feeling this case would prove unusually dangerous when Fenton agreed to accept it.”
Mr. Hardy's assignment had been to investigate suspected sabotage on part of a road being built by the Prito Construction Company in the Kentucky wilderness. Mr. Prito was the father of one of the Hardy brothers' best friends, Tony.
A bridge on which the Prito's crew were working had collapsed. The county inspector was accusing the firm of having used faulty material, although this had been ruled out by tests. However, Mr. Prito had discovered that bolts had been removed from supporting steel girders. Inquiries among the workers had shed no light on the identity of the saboteurs.
The detective had flown to Kentucky in his personal plane, piloted by Jack Wayne. But the day after
his arrival
Mr. Hardy had mysteriously disappeared. Sam Radley had been summoned to help on the case and was to have met his boss for a briefing at the construction site that same day.
When Mr. Hardy did not appear, Sam had gone to the neighboring small town of Boonton, sure that the investigator would soon return. But Fenton Hardy was gone for almost a week.
His family recalled vividly Sam's account of the detective finally stumbling into Boonton, his hands manacled behind his back, gravely ill and delirious. The small local hospital had diagnosed pneumonia, but with baffling complications, and urged that he be returned home immediately.
Sam had reported, too, that no clue had been found to explain who had held Mr. Hardy prisoner, or where. Also, his brief case was missing.
As Frank swung into the parking area of the airport, Joe leaned excitedly out the window.
“There's Dad's plane. Jack's bringing her in!”
Minutes later the family stood near the ambulance, waiting alongside the apron. The four watched the blue-and-white, single-engine plane glide to a landing and taxi up to the ambulance.
Two white-coated attendants hopped out and joined Frank and Joe as they rushed to the craft. The cabin door opened. Sam Radley poked his head out. “Your dad's already on a stretcher,” he told the boys.
They leaped aboard. Both gasped at first view of their father. A rugged man, Fenton Hardy's face normally had a healthy glow. Today he looked pale and drawn, and his eyes were closed. Gently the brothers and Sam lowered the stretcher to the attendants.
Laura Hardy wept softly as her husband was carried toward the ambulance, and Aunt Gertrude tried hard to hold back her own tears.
Joe bent over the stretcher. “Dad, can you hear me?” Mr. Hardy's eyelids fluttered. His lips moved feebly, but no intelligible words came out.
“Still delirious,” said Radley. “He's been mumbling like this on and off. I couldn't catch a thing.”
“If only we could get a few words,” Frank said. “They might give us a clue to the fiends who did this to Dad.”
The stretcher was placed in the ambulance. The Hardys and Sam looked back to the plane. Jack Wayne, somber-faced, peered out of the cockpit and waved. Then the pilot taxied the craft to its hangar.
It was decided that Frank and Mrs. Hardy would accompany the patient, while Aunt Gertrude, Joe, and Sam would go in the car. Soon the ambulance was speeding toward Bayport.
Joe, at the wheel of the Hardy car, asked Radley, “I didn't notice any plane landing before we left the airfield. You have any idea who was tailing you?”
“No. The guy was dever—kept a safe distance all the way.”
Joe looked troubled. He was thinking hard. “Sam, I have an idea,” he said. “I'll stop home for our tape recorder. We can set it up by Dad's bed in the hospital, just in case he says something understandable when we're not there. We need a due desperately.”
“It's worth a try. Maybe we'll get some answers to vital questions in this mystery. For instance, who masterminded your father's kidnapping? Where was he held? And how did he get back to Boonton, handcuffed and sick the way he was? Somebody must have brought him there, but why?”
“We'll get to the bottom of this!” Joe vowed. He turned off the highway and headed for the Hardy residence on Elm and High streets.
Aunt Gertrude, usually critical of her nephews' detective work, for once agreed.
“Oh, I'd like to get hold of those—those terrible creatures myself!” she declared vehemently. “But please, Joe, you and Frank be very careful. We don't want you in the hospital, too.”
“By the way,” Sam asked as they pulled into the driveway, “have you heard from my wife?”
“Yes,” Joe answered. “She phoned yesterday, asking about you. She's fine.”
Sam and his wife lived in an apartment near the center of town, about half a mile from the Hardys.
Joe hurried to get the tape recorder. He tested it and put on a new tape. He and Sam were about to leave when a taxi screeched to a stop in front of the house. To their amazement, Frank leaped out and rushed inside.
“Hey, what happened?” Joe greeted him.
“A clue, our first one!” his brother announced. He reached into a pocket, pulled out an envelope, and held it open to reveal a white, gritty substance.
“Where'd you find this?” Joe asked quickly.
“In the cuffs of Dad's trousers. Come on. We'll examine this stuff right away.”
The boys and Sam ran up the stairway to the garage lab. First the Hardys studied the white grains under a microscope. “Looks like tiny bits of rock,” Frank observed.
“This could be limestone,” Joe said. “Let's run a chemical test.”
As Sam looked on, Frank shook the particles into a flask while Joe filled a beaker with clear limewater, then connected the two containers with glass tubing. Frank next picked up a bottle of dilute hydrochloric acid and poured it onto the grains. Bubbles appeared in the beaker and the limewater turned cloudy, then clear again.
“Limestone it is!” Joe exclaimed. “Sam, do you know of any limestone quarries around where you and Dad were in Kentucky?”
BOOK: The Mystery of the Spiral Bridge
11.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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