A figure in hiding



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what's this?"

Frank bent down, and his hand darted toward something that lay on the ground by the sidewalk. It was a thick roll of bills, held securely by a rubber band.

'' Money!'' exclaimed Joe.

"Grafton's five hundred dollars!"

"Are you sure?"

Frank flipped off the elastic and examined a few of the bills. They were marked. He counted the money in the roll, which came to five hundred dollars.

"It must have fallen from Graf ton's pocket while we were fighting. Aren't we lucky?" he added.

A Journey by Air 119

"Yes. But do you realize what it means? If Dad has Graf ton arrested and the man hasn't the marked money on him, then Dad's whole case will blow up. It will make him look foolish. Why, Grafton might even have the law on him for false arrest!" cried Joe in excitement. "We must tell Dad about this before he steps into a lot of trouble."

"Golly! I didn't think of that. We'd better hustle down to the Bayport Hotel as fast as we can and warn him.''

"We're off!"

Frank stuffed the money into his pocket, and the two boys dashed down the street. At the oorner they caught a bus. They were almost beside themselves with impatience as the conveyance stopped at corner after corner on its way. Their discovery of the money was an extraordinary piece of good luck, for they realized that a serious situation might develop should Fenton Hardy go ahead with his plans for Graf ton's arrest in the absence of the only evidence that could convict the bogus doctor.

The bus finally came to a stop in front of the hotel. Frank and Joe scrambled off and dashed across the pavement. In the lobby the former spied his father standing by the elevator. He was just about to get into it when Frank called out:

"Dad!"

120 A Figure in Hiding

The detective turned around, but stepped back from the lift when he saw his sons.

"What's the trouble?" he asked.

"Grafton hasn't the money!" panted Frank as they hurried up. "Look! We found it. Every cent. It must have fallen out of his pocket when we were trying to stop him from leaving Zatta's house."

He thrust the thick roll of bills into his father's hand. An expression of keen disappointment swept over Fenton Hardy's face when he saw the money.

"It's a lucky thing that you reached me when you did. I was just going up to accuse Grafton, and then I'd have been in a bad fix. It looks as if our whole plan has fallen to pieces."

"There must be something we can do," added Joe, unwilling to be defeated.

The detective thought for a moment, then said:

"Grafton is meeting Sinder and Lemuel in the room you kept watch over the other evening. Go upstairs and listen to the meeting if you can."

Glad to be of help, Frank and Joe stepped into the elevator and were promptly whisked aloft to the floor where they had spied on Sinder and Lemuel the night of the Eialto hold-up. The task their father had given them was more difficult this time because they did

A Journey by Air 121

not care to risk being caught eavesdropping iij the hotel corridor. Joe, however, stood at onu end of the hall while Frank tiptoed cautiously toward the door of the room in which the scoundrels were staying.

"Well, I'm going out to Doeville right away," he heard Doctor Graf ton say. "Make hay while the sun shines-that's my motto."

"Doeville?" said Sinder's voice. "That's the Lunberry case, isn't it?"

"Yes. An old woman wants the doc to fix up her eyes so she'll have the sight of a sixteen-year-old girl," laughed Lemuel.

"Old Mrs. Lunberry has promised to raise two hundred bucks for that job, don't forget," Graf ton declared. "I'm not going to pass up that kind of easy money. Well, I'm on my way now and I'll call in and see you fellows as soon as I get back."

Grafton stepped to the door so quickly that Joe was caught by surprise. He swerved aside and looked around him wildly for some way of escape. Seeing the door of a nearby room half open, he dodged quickly into it. He was just in time, for a moment later the wily doctor strode into the corridor.

Had the room been occupied, Joe would have had some explaining to do. Fortunately it was deserted at the moment. He heard Grafton walk past and hoped that Frank would be able

122 A Figure in Hiding

to escape before the bogus physician should see him. In a little while he heard the clash of the elevator door and the low hum as it descended.

Joe slipped out of the room and hurried down the corridor. The door of a linen closet near the lift stood open. Inside someone was bending over a great heap of sheets and pillowcases. The figure glanced up cautiously, and grinned. It was Frank.

"That was pretty close," said the lad as he stepped out of the cupboard. "I just ducked in here in the nick of time or he surely would have seen me."

"And we must get out of here pretty quick," said Joe, ringing for the elevator.

"What's up?"

"Plenty. Graf ton's on his way to perform another of those fake operations and collect some more money."

When Fenton Hardy heard that the doctor was on his way to Doeville to perpetrate an additional swindle he said determinedly, "We'll have to protect this Lunberry woman if we can. Unfortunately I have an important engagement in half an hour. Maybe you boys can handle it. Get out to Doeville in time to warn this Mrs. Lunberry before Graf ton arrives there."

"We'll have to travel fast," said Frank doubtfully. "We haven't much time."

A Journey by Air 123

"Grab a taxi and get out to the airport," said his father. "In the meantime I'll do some phoning so a plane will be ready for you. You should get out to Doeville at least fifteen or twenty minutes before Graf ton!"

CHAPTER XV

THE BED NOTEBOOK

doeville was a small town about fifty miles from Bayport by road. The aerial route, however, was considerably less. When the Hardy boys reached the airport on the outskirts of the city they found that Mr. Hardy's telephone message had preceded them and that a small plane was already warming up in readiness for the short flight.

''Climb in, boys!" invited the pilot. "I'll have you in Doeville before you can find time to catch your breaths."

Frank and Joe settled into their seats, a mechanic gave the propeller a twirl, and the motor roared. The plane started trundling across the level field, gained speed, then slipped away from the ground. It soared higher rapidly, banked, circled, and then struck out to the north.

Airplanes were no strangers to the Hardy boys, yet they never failed to be thrilled by a flight. Far below and behind them they could see the city of Bayport and the blue waters of the bay where boats flitted over the surface like

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The Red Notebook 125

so many swans. Far to the east lay the misty Atlantic; beneath them was the winding Willow River, with fields and farms looking like a gigantic checkerboard in green and yellow.

The plane drummed along smoothly at an increasing rate of speed. It seemed only a matter of a few minutes before the nose of the machine dipped and it began to descend. Lower and lower it swooped in great circles, pointing toward a flat field on the outskirts of a little town. The earth seemed to rush up swiftly to meet them. Then the aircraft straightened out, skimmed above the field, settled down with a bump and a lurch, rushed across the ground, and slowly came to a stop.

"Here you are, boys," grinned the pilot. "Your dad said I was to wait for you. Will you be gone long?"

" I don't think so," returned Frank. '' We '11 be back as soon as we can.''

A car was standing in the road beside the field. A man climbed the fence and came over to them.

"I got a phone message from Bayport to meet this plane,'' he said. " I 'm to drive you fellows into Doeville.''

"Fine," said Frank. "That's service. Dad certainly knows how to smooth the way for us."

"Do you know where a Mrs. Lunberry lives 1'' asked Joe.

J.26 A Figure in Hiding

The driver nodded. "I'll have you there in five minutes," he said.

He kept his word. The boys alighted in front of a modest little cottage in the heart of the town. Their knock was answered by Mrs. Lunberry, an old lady wearing dark spectacles, to whom the Hardys explained their errand.

"Are you expecting a man named Doctor Graf ton today?" asked Frank.

The lady in question smiled. "Indeed I am. He's going to operate on one of my eyes. I can't see out of the right one. Luckily I heard of this wonderful man and he has promised to help me."

"Mrs. Lunberry," said Frank, "we're sorry to have to disappoint you, but we have come here to warn you against this doctor. He can't aid you. He's a fake.''

"I don't believe you," snapped the old woman.

'' But it's true. All he wants is your money. He can't help your eye."

"What right have you to say that he can't?" demanded the old lady. "He has performed some wonderful cures. If that's all you have come to tell me you might as well clear out of here right now."

"But Mrs. Lunberry, we've gone to a lot of trouble to reach here and warn you against this man," objected Joe. "'We're trying to

The Red Notebook 127

keep you from spending your money foolishly. Doctor Graf ton is a crook."

"Don't you come here calling him a crook!" exclaimed the woman. "I won't have it. He is going to save my eyesight and nobody can say a word against him while I 'm around. Now you two boys get out of here." She stamped her foot.

"He can't cure you!" insisted Frank.

"He will!" declared Mrs. Lunberry, and slammed the door.

The boys were crestfallen. ''That's what we get for helping," said Frank morosely as they went down the walk. "She believes what she wants to believe."

"All that trip for nothing. I'll bet Graf ton would laugh if he knew.''

They got into the car and told the driver to park halfway up the block. There they waited, watching Mrs. Lunberry's house. In about fifteen minutes they were rewarded when a big car swung around the corner and pulled up at the curb. Grafton, his instrument case in his hand, alighted, strode up the walk, and disappeared into the Lunberry house.

"We may as well wait. If he doesn't cure her and should take her money just the same she may feel different about him after a while. Maybe Dad will be able to use her as a witness,'' Frank suggested.

128 A Figure in Hiding

Half an hour later the man emerged from the Lunberry house. As soon as he had driven away the boys went back and knocked at the door. The woman, a bandage over her right eye, scowled when she saw them.

"Well, what do you want now?" she demanded ungraciously.

"Was the operation successful, Mrs. Lunberry?" asked Frank.

"Of course it was," snapped the woman. "There was a growth over my eye as big as a twenty-five cent piece. He took it off. Look here.''

She held out her hand and on her palm they saw a thin white scrap of membrane or transparent skin.

"See!" continued the old lady triumphantly. "That's why my right eye was bad. He took that away and now everything will be all right again. It was worth every cent of the two hundred dollars it cost me. And you boys had the nerve to come here and say mean things about Doctor Graf ton behind his back."

"Can you see out of the eye now?" asked Joe.

"Not now I can't. It's too soon after the operation. But my right eye will be as good as ever in a week from now, the doctor tells me."

In triumph the old lady closed the door on

The Bed Notebook 129

them. Joe was puzzled as the boys retraced their steps to the car.

"Golly, maybe Graf ton does know something about eye surgery after all," he said.

"Don't tell me he fooled you too," returned Prank. "That's an old trick."

"But the scrap of membrane-----"

"It's taken from the inside of an eggshell. G-rafton had it in his hand all the time. After pretending to perform the operation he showed it to Mrs. Lunberry and said he removed it from her eye. Naturally she thinks her trouble is over. He has told her to keep the eye bandaged for a week. When she takes off the gauze she will find that she has been fooled, but Graf-ton will be far away by that time.''

When they arrived at Bayport they found a message awaiting them at the airport to the effect that Fenton Hardy had been called out of town unexpectedly.

"Take a room at the hotel, as you did previously," ran their father's written instructions, "and keep close watch on the gang. It would be a big help if you could get a list of their victims.''

"That's easier said than done," remarked Joe. '' Those fellows don't leave much evidence in writing."

The boys went back to the Bayport Hotel, where they made discreet inquiries of the clerk

130 A Figure in Hiding

regarding a room adjacent to the one occupied by Sinder and Lemuel. To their disappointment they learned that both adjoining rooms already were engaged. The clerk, however, realized that something was on foot because he winked confidentially and said in a low voice:

"How about their friend on the second floor? The doctor? Maybe you'd like to have a room next to his."

'' Can you fix it up ?" they asked eagerly.

"Easily." He took a key from the rack and slid it across the desk. "Doctor Graf ton is out just now so you'll have a good chance of getting settled before he returns."

The boys went up to the room on the second floor. They would gain just as much, they thought, by watching the fake doctor as they would by keeping check on Sinder and Lemuel, perhaps more.

An hour elapsed before Grafton entered his room. The Hardy boys were watching at the door of the connecting room, and saw that the bogus physician was accompanied by Sinder and Lemuel. The three were quarreling bitterly.

"You can't get away with a trick like that!" they heard Sinder say. "Spotty and I do our share of the work and we expect to get paid our share of the money.''

"But I lost it, I tell you," declared Grafton.

The Eed Notebook 131

"Lost it!" sneered Lemuel. "You pocketed it. You 're holding out on us, that's what you 're doing. People don't lose five hundred dollars so easily.''

"I didn't know I had lost it until just a few minutes ago," Graf ton insisted. "I got paid two hundred dollars by that woman at Doeville, and here it is. The five hundred I received from Zatta is gone.''

"I'll bet it hasn't gone very far," Sinder growled.

"I don't want any of your slurs!" shouted Graf ton. "If you insinuate that I stole that money I'll wash my hands of the pair of you and go on alone.''

"You'll be the loser," replied Lemuel. "How much money will you make without someone to dig up cases for you? " He drew a small red notebook from his pocket and waved it in front of Graf ton's face. "That little list is worth thousands of dollars to us. It contains the names and addresses of the people who want eye treatments from you and are willing to pay for them. Rip and I have done a lot of hard work to persuade them. Until we give you their names you won't know where to go. So play fair with us, Graf ton, or we'll get ourselves a new eye doctor.''

He put the notebook back into his pocket.

"Boys," said Graf ton in a gentler tone, "I

132 A Figure in Hiding

assure you that I am playing fair with you. 1 have never taken a dollar that hasn't been honestly split up among the three of us."

"'We'll take your word for it," grunted Rip Sinder.

CHAPTEB XVI

A CRASH

"We must get that notebook!"

It was late that night. The Hardy boys had telephoned home to inform their mother that they would probably remain at the hotel until morning. Now, from the room adjacent to their own came the sound of loud snores. Sinder and Lemuel, who had been asked by Grafton to stay in his quarters all night, were fast asleep. The fake doctor had departed.

"Yes," repeated Joe. "We must get that notebook."

'' We could prevent a lot of people from being swindled if we could lay our hands on that list of names and addresses," said Frank. "But how are we going to do it?"

Joe went to the window, opened it, and looked out.

"I've been thinking," he said, "that it might not be very difficult to get into the next room. Come and take a look.''

Frank joined him, and Joe pointed out a ledge

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134 A Figure in Hiding

that ran along the side of the building immediately beneath their own window.

"If I could work my way along that edge," he suggested, "it would bring me to the window of the next room. Then I could crawl inside, take the notebook out of the desk, and leave by the door. It wouldn 't take me five minutes.''

Frank did not like the idea, however.

'' If you should ever slip from that height you would surely break your neck."

'' I won't slip,'' replied Joe confidently. " I 'm going to try to reach it."

Before Frank could raise any further objections Joe had flung one leg over the sill and crawled out. Carefully he lowered himself onto the ledge, which was narrow, but he was able to hold onto the window sill. The difficult part now would be to negotiate the brief distance between one window sill and the next.

With bated breath Frank watched his brother work his way slowly and cautiously along the ledge. When he got beyond the window sill, Joe kept his hands pressed flat against the brick wall for support.

"Be careful," breathed Frank anxiously.

Inch by inch Joe edged his way along, until finally he was almost within reach of the other window sill. His hand groped for it.

He clutched it, but the concrete was old and weatherbeaten. The edge broke in his grasp.

A Crash 135

The boy lurched, made another frantic grab, missed his hold, and lost his balance. He teetered precariously on the ledge, then suddenly toppled backwards.

Frank uttered a shout of horror as Joe tumbled into the darkness. There was a loud crash and the shatter of broken glass. A glass canopy extended over the restaurant entrance to the hotel, one floor below. Upon this Joe had fallen.

Had it not been there he would have shot straight down to the pavement beneath. As it was, he lay sprawled across one of the supports for a moment, then tumbled over and fell to the pavement in a heap of glass fragments.

The terrific crash aroused the entire hotel. There was a roar of excited voices from the lobby. Lights began to flash in several rooms. Somebody opened a window on an upper floor and looked out. Frank, utterly aghast, was relieved to see Joe crawl to his feet.

A moment later, before anyone had time to emerge from the hotel, the younger Hardy had darted into the dark shadows. Fortunately he had not been stunned by his fall. Had that been the case he would have been identified by the hotel officials who promptly rushed out to investigate the affair. Then the Hardy boys would have found themselves involved in a great deal of embarrassing explanation.

Although Joe was badly cut by broken glass

136 A Figure in Hiding

he was able to get to his feet and stumble around to an alley beside the hotel just in the nick of time. There he found an open door, ran inside, saw a stairway before him, and hastily ascended to the next floor. Less than two minutes after the crash he was back in his own room.

The lad was bleeding profusely from a cut across his cheek, a nasty gash below the right knee, as well as from a number of smaller wounds. The next half hour Frank was so busy tearing up pillow cases and bandaging his brother that he paid but little attention to the uproar the breaking of the canopy had created in the hotel.

"I certainly made a mess of that attempt," muttered Joe.

"Lucky you weren't killed. I hope the hotel people don't come up here asking a lot of awkward questions," said Frank. "I'm glad Sinder and Lemuel didn't find out. And we can reimburse the owners for the damage after the affair of Doctor Graf ton is settled."

The management did not bother them, and eventually the uproar died down. Then the Hardy boys went to bed.

In the morning Frank called the office and asked for a newspaper. On the front page of the Bayport daily there was a full account of the mysterious affair at the hotel under the caption:

A Crash 137

HOTEL THIEF ESCAPES AFTER FALL FROM LEDGE

The authorities had jumped to the conclusion that a prowler, seeking to rob hotel guests, had been responsible. The account went on to say that Chief Collig and Detective Smuff had investigated the affair and were following up clues that would soon result in the arrest of the culprit.

'' Whew!'' exclaimed Frank. ««If Collig ever finds out we'll be in trouble up to our necks."

There was no sound from the next room. The Hardy boys decided that they had better check out before any of the clues upon which Collig and Smuff were working should lead to their room. Joe stayed out of sight while Frank went down to the desk.

The hotel clerk grinned. "Well, did the big crash wake you up last night?"

"I was scared out of my wits," said Frank truthfully.

"The thief certainly frightened those men you are interested in clear out of the hotel."

'' Is that so ? " said Frank alertly.

"Sure. They checked out early this morning."

Frank turned away thoughtfully. Sinder and Spotty Lemuel had evidently become frightened by the public attention that had been turned on

138 A Figure in Hiding

the hotel and had promptly decamped. The problem of tracing the activities of the gang was now greater than ever.

The Hardy boys had a difficult time at breakfast that morning in their own home parrying the inquisitive remarks of Aunt Gertrude, who had read all about the'' hotel thief'' in the newspaper. She had a definite idea that her nephews were concerned in some way and became very peevish when they declined to volunteer any information. Immediately after they had eaten the boys escaped from the house.

"Do you know what I think we'd better do?" said Frank. "I'd like to go back to that farmhouse up the river beyond Brockton.''

"The place where Eip Sinder came looking for Virginia? Why?"

"Because I have a notion that his daughter is hiding there. Sinder wasn't satisfied with what the farm woman told him. He '11 be back.''

"It won't do any harm to make sure. We seem to be at sort of a standstill here. Let's go."

On their way to the boat-house they met Chet Morton, who begged for permission to go along.

"After all," pleaded the stout lad, "I hung around that hotel in Boston on your account, even if you didn't know anything about it. Have a heart and let me in on the fun.''

"It isn't likely that there'll be any fun,'-

A Crash 139

returned Frank. "We're just going on a trip up the river. You're mighty welcome to come along, though, Chet."

When they reached the farm above Brockton late that morning the boys moored the
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