The Mystery of the Shrinking House ================================== William Ar den ============= Table of Contents ----------------- A Few Words from Alfred Hi tchcock - Chapter

1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 - Chapter 7 - Chapter 8 - Chapter 9 - Chapter 10 - Chapter 11 - Chapter 12 - Cha pter 13 - Chapter 14 - Chapter 15 - Chapter 16 - Chapter 17 - Chapter 18 - Chapt er 19 - Chapter 20 - Chapter 21 - Chapter 22 - Chapter 23 A Few Words from Alfre d Hitchcock --------------------------------When I first met the trio of lads wh o call themselves The Three Investigators, I foolishly promised to introduce the ir most interesting cases. Little did I realize how prolific the lads would be! As you will see, I did my best to avoid introducing this case--but the boys foil ed me. So I will do my duty, and proceed with yet another introduction to The Th ree Investigators. The members of this intrepid junior detective firm are Jupite r Jones, Pete Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews. All three reside in the town of Rocky B each, California, a few miles from Hollywood. Jupiter is the brains of the firm. Pete provides the brawn. And Bob, the most studious of the three, is in charge of research. Together the three lads are a formidable team. They have outwitted the cleverest of crooks and survived the most terrifying situations. In their ne west case they are asked to track down the missing possessions of a dead artist. A simple enough assignment--but one that leads them into strange byways of myst ery and intrigue. Now you know enough to begin reading the story . . . if you da re.

Alfred Hitchcock 1 A Figure in Black ----------------'Uncle Titus!' Jupiter Jone s cried. 'Look over there!' The truck from The Jones Salvage Yard had just stopp ed in the driveway of the old house in Remuda Canyon on the outskirts of Rocky B each. Jupiter and his friend Pete Crenshaw were sitting in the truck cab with Un cle Titus Jones. 'What?' Uncle Titus said, startled. 'Look where, Jupiter?' 'The re! On the side of the house!' Jupiter pointed into the twilight. A black shape seemed to hang halfway up the side of the big old frame house in the canyon. 'I don't see a thing, Jupiter Jones,' Uncle Titus said. 'Gosh,' Pete said, 'neither do I, Jupe.' Jupiter stared. The figure in black was gone. One minute it had be en on the side of the house, then it had disappeared into thin air! Or had it be en there at all? 'I'm sure I saw someone!' Jupiter said. 'Someone all in black o n the side of the house!' Uncle Titus looked dubiously at the big frame house. T he canyon walls cast strange, eerie shadows on the isolated house and the small cottage near it. All seemed quiet and peaceful. 'You probably saw a shadow, Jupe ,' said Uncle Titus. 'Canyon shadows sure play funny tricks,' Pete agreed. 'No,' Jupiter insisted, 'I saw someone all in black, and I think he went into the hou se through a window!' Uncle Titus hesitated. He knew that his stocky nephew had a great deal of imagination, and he hated to raise a false alarm. But he also kn ew that Jupiter was usually right. 'All right, come on then,' Uncle Titus said. 'We'd better tell Professor Carswell what you saw.' The two boys followed Uncle Titus up an overgrown walk to the front door of the big house. It was an old hou se from the last century, with wooden towers, many peaks and gables, columns hol ding up the porch, and a massive front door. The man who answered their knocking was tall and thin, with very deep shadowed eyes. He wore a rumpled tweed jacket even in July, and carried

a thick book in some foreign language. 'Professor Carswell?' Uncle Titus asked. The Professor smiled. 'You must be Mr Jones from the salvage yard. Come in. What I have to sell--' Uncle Titus interrupted, 'I don't mean to alarm you, Professo r, but my nephew here insists that he saw a figure all in black climbing up the side of your house a moment ago.' 'Someone climbing up this house?' The Professo r blinked at the boys and Uncle Titus. 'You must be mistaken.' 'No, sir,' Jupite r said urgently, 'I'm certain of what I saw. Do you have anything valuable a bur glar would want?' 'I'm afraid not, young man. Absolutely nothing,' Professor Car swell said. 'Still, if you say you saw something, I'm sure you did. Only I can't imagine . . . ah! Of course! You must have seen my son up to one of his games. He has a black cowboy outfit, and try as I may I can't seem to convince Hal that doors are better entrances than windows.' Professor Carswell smiled again, and Uncle Titus nodded. 'Of course, that's it. I know how boys are, yessir,' the own er of the salvage yard said. 'How old is your son, sir?' Jupiter asked. 'A littl e younger than you, I guess, but taller. As tall as your friend there.' The Prof essor nodded to Pete. 'The person I saw was much bigger,' Jupiter said firmly. ' Ah?' Professor Carswell looked sceptically at Jupiter. 'Very well, young man. We 'll see if your burglar is in the house.' The Professor led them through the dow nstairs rooms of the big old house. Many of the rooms were empty and closed off. 'A professor of languages can't really afford a house like this these days,' th e Professor said sadly. 'My ancestors were wealthy ship captains who brought goo ds here from the East. They built this house. Now only myself and my son remain. A cousin left the place to us a year ago. We closed off most of the rooms in th is house, and rented out the old caretaker's cottage to make ends meet.' They fo und nothing in the downstairs rooms, and went upstairs. Most of the rooms upstai rs were also empty, and they saw no sign of an intruder. Jupiter studied all the rooms. 'There's not much to steal,' he admitted. 'You sound disappointed,' said the Professor. 'Jupe likes mysteries,' Pete said. 'Only there sure isn't any bu rglar around here.'

'Professor Carswell's son isn't in the house, either,' Jupiter pointed out thoug htfully. 'I know I saw someone. You called Uncle Titus to sell some items to the salvage yard. Is there something valuable among them?' 'I wish there were,' Pro fessor Carswell said. 'But they're only what poor old Mr Cameron had when he die d a month ago in our cottage. The contents of two suitcases, and some of his ama teur paintings. Old Cameron was something of a recluse. He owned little, and cou ldn't even pay his rent the last few months. I hope to recover a few dollars by selling his meagre possessions to your uncle.' 'Recluses sometimes have hidden v aluables,' Jupiter said. Professor Carswell smiled. 'You sound like a detective. ' 'We are detectives!' Pete blurted out. 'Show him, Jupe!' Jupiter produced a bu siness card, on which was printed: THE THREE INVESTIGATORS 'We Investigate Anything' ??? First Investigator Jupiter Jones Second Investigator Peter Crenshaw Records and Research Bob Andrews 'Well, well, very impressive,' Professor Carswell said. 'I'm quite sorry there i s nothing here to investigate, boys. It must have been the canyon shadows you sa w.' The Professor had hardly stopped speaking when they heard a cry: 'Help! Help !' They all froze. Professor Carswell listened, and suddenly turned pale. 'Help! ' The cry came from outside. 'Dad!' 'That's my son, Hal!' Professor Carswell exc laimed. 'Come on!' The Professor ran down the stairs and out the door with the b oys and Uncle Titus right behind him. In the canyon twilight the cry came again-from the small cottage off to their left.

Jupiter was nowhere in the co ttage. Hal?' 'I didn't see any--' Once again they all froze as a cry broke the twilight outside the cottage. Dad. ' Together Professor Carswell. and the overweight Jupiter puffing in th e rear. with Uncle Titus and Pete close behind him.' Hal explained. There was someone all in black--an d masked. Pete and Uncle Titus followed t he Professor into it. . 'Dad!' a voice cried. but deep enough to inju re someone.' Pete looked all around the bedroom. Breathlessly they ran under the patched porch awning of the cottage and burst into a small living-room. . 'No. 'I'm okay. 'You say that would-be burglar ran out the back? Did he hav e a weapon. A thin boy lay on the floor half under the bureau.' Professor Carswell said. and a large bureau that ha d been knocked over.'Help!' 2 Jupiter is Right--and Wrong! --------------------------------Professor Carswell raced across the lawn of the big house towards the small cottage. 'Follow me.' Pete gulped. Professo r Carswell hurried to him. 'so I came in to look. Pete and Uncle Titus heaved the heavy bureau off Hal Carswell.' the boy said. They saw a narrow bed. a chair. 'Aggghhhhhhhhhhhh!' Professor Carswell whirled . Where could he be?' Professor Carswel l turned to his son. The room was sparsely furnished--and empty! 'Har old!' Professor Carswell called out in alarm. he pushed the bureau over on me and ran out the back wa y!' 'Jupe was right!' Pete exclaimed. not going in! Jupe . The boy stood up and brushed himself off. 'He did see a man in black--but the man mu st have been coming out of your house. 'Help!' The voice came from the tiny bedroom of the cottage. and in the small living-room. 'Jupiter Jones!' Uncle Titus called out. 'I heard a noise in here . 'That sounds as if it came from the gorge at the back! Maybe someone fell in!' 'Is it a deep gorge?' Uncle Titus asked nervously.' . 'Gosh. When I yelled. Dad. 'I just can't get out. 'He was rig ht behind us when we ran out of the house.

A car door slammed up ahead. A dark stain was on some rocks be low and to the right. the rear lights of the car were vanishing towards the town. !' They all crouched in the shado ws of the gorge. Jupiter was unable to get a good look at the man before he vanished into t he thick brush and trees. which loop ed back along the side of the Carswell property before turning in the direction of Rocky Beach. Pete was still staring at the blood on the roc ks at the bottom of the gorge when he heard someone coming. He saw the black-garbed figure running from behind the cottage towards the brushwood at the rear of the property. By the time Jupiter reached the road. He hesitated for only a second. J upiter slid down. steep-sided gully about t en feet deep. It was wet. and gulped. 'Everyone . They stopped abruptly at the edge of a narrow. 'Blood. 'Down.The tall Professor quickly led them behind the cottage. curving away out of sight in both direct ions. and a car engine started. When Pete and the others had rushed into the cott age earlier. and then a loud thud and groaning cry. A little way ahead the gorge came out into the main canyon road. . Jupiter began to run. where they crashed throu gh the thick brushwood and the trees in the lengthening shadows of the outlying canyon. Jupiter had been far behind. . Peter!' he said. Jupiter came around the curve in the gully. ready to leap on the intruder. Jupiter followed the trail cautiously. 'Look!' Pete said. The man was dragging his left leg. Panting. It ran across the canyon. too. Jupiter s lipped through the dense brushwood to the edge of a narrow gorge. In the shadowe d gloom at the bottom of the steep little gully. A trail of blood led off to the right. Its bottom was strewn with heavy rocks and eroded trees. The man was sure to escape if Jupiter took the time to warn the others in the cottage.' the Second Investigator said. Uncle Titus heard it . There was no sign of Jupiter or anyone else. The stocky First Investigator realized that no one else had seen the fleeing intrude r. The gulley was the perfect place for an ambush if the intruder knew he was being fo llowed. the stout First Investigator reached the dens e underbrush--just as he heard the cry ahead. the sound of something sliding and falling. The four of them scrambled down the steep sides to stand o ver the darkened rocks. Pete touched the stain. There was a crashing. and at the bottom of the gorge he found blood on some rocks. then turned and pursued the running fi gure. the black figure staggered up a nd limped off along the gorge to the right. .

revealing twenty painting s.' 'Jupiter Jones!' Uncle Titus exploded. But Uncle Titus was always convinced th at a buyer would turn up. They were all pictures of the cottage and grounds. and I need the money. Well. the cottage was s een from very close-up. 'He just got sick. and he always used his silver when he ate.' Professor Carswell shook his head. while in others it was so far away that all you could se e was the striped porch awning with its patches. The doctor came and wanted to move him to a hospital. His wife. frequently complai ned about the outlandish items he found. I just followed to try to see his face. Professor Carswell switched on the lights and took two old leather suitcases fro m the bedroom cupboard. but Mr Ca meron died first.' Uncle Titus said. Usually he was right. 'What happened?' 'I chased the intruder. ties and pairs of socks. See?' The Prof essor took a canvas covering off a pile in the corner. There was nothing at all that looked really valuable. There are wealthy people in these big canyon houses. 'You're selling all of this?' as ked Titus Jones.'Jupe!' Pete cried. All I can imagine is that he made a mistake. a small statue of Venus. 'Yes. a grey flannel suit. and the paintings. and several shirts.' Professor Carswell said. so I wrote to that address. but he was delirious with fever. Jupiter's Aunt Mathilda.' Hal Carswell said. Hal?' he asked. a pair of large binoculars. knives and spoons. 'You should know better tha n to try to capture a thief by yourself!' 'I didn't try to capture him. His eyes gleamed as he looked around at the suitcases. He . p erhaps we should get to business. and he must have simply picked the wrong house.' While Uncle Titus and the Prof essor discussed the price. the silver cutlery. Mr Jones?' They all went back to the cottage.' Professor Carswell said. 'I tried to help him. 'But I could see he was well educated. 'What happened to Mr Cameron. At night he painted all the time. but it was dark. whatever. In the other were so me paints. In some. and never wore anything but a sweat shirt and a pair of old trousers. Babbled about canva ses and zigzags. Jupiter looked at the meagre possessions of Joshua Ca meron with disappointment. Uncle Ti tus. No one has come. 'They're not bad. The old man died owing me rent. 'I can't understand what he wanted here. 'but I lost him. There was nothing Uncle Titus enjoyed more than buying thing s to sell in his junkyard.' Jupiter said. 'He sometimes got money from Europe. a stuffed owl. 'Old Joshua acted rough. but I've had n o answer. a nd a box of silver forks. Yet in the seven months he was here. and he had a car. all he did was sit out on the lawn in our canvas chair and sketch. In one were clothes--an old-fashioned dress suit.

' Jupiter nodded glumly. 'there sure isn't much in his stuff t hat a thief would want. yellow Mercedes drive into the yard and stop in front of the office.' Bob added. 'Good. She wore a white silk dress and a simple diamond brooch. Both boys gaped after th e elegant little man. They l oaded Joshua Cameron's things on to the salvage yard truck and started home alon g the winding canyon road. A mistake. young man. ma'a m.' the stocky First Invest igator said thoughtfully.was just old and sick. Come on.' The boys hurried towards the office. 3 A Client Arrives ---------------One afternoon a week later. I guess.' 'Well. 'I wish to speak w ith a Mr Titus Jones. Jupiter and th e third member of The Three Investigators. For a moment he stopped and looked towards the b oys.' Jupiter told the queenly woman. He wore a white summer suit with a blue silk shirt.' 'Besides. 'Indeed? Can one so young assume charge?' 'I think so. and sighed. elegant man got out of the dazzling c ar. She stared down at the boys with regal eyes. the rear door opened and a tal l lady with blue-grey hair stepped out.' Jupiter said. 'we don't get many custo mers . and s omething glittered in his hand. It was Bob who first saw the long.' The lady smiled. His grey hair seemed to shine in the late afternoon sun like silver. Then he stalked abruptly into the junkyard office. Jupe. ma'am. 'I guess we'll never know for sure what that man wante d. 'I like confide nce. Jupiter f rowned. 'I forgot! We're supposed to be watching the office for Uncle Titus.' Pete said. 'I suppose not. But both boys were wro ng. A small. As the truck passed the mouth of the gorge. Is he here?' 'My uncle left me in charge of the yard. Just as they reached the yellow Mercedes. Bob Andrews. Then Jupiter suddenly gulped. were working in the salv age yard.' Jupiter said firmly. 'Thieves don't usually pick a house by mistake. He carried a slim black cane.' Pete said. grinning at her.

'but my maiden name is Cameron.' 'We'll get them. the Bavarian brothers who worked in the yard. Still. Mr Marechal. of course.' The boys took the purchase book and w ent out into the junkyard.' the tall lady said.' the imperious lady said. sir?' Jupiter asked eagerly. A paltry sum we will gladly double to have the possessions returned to us.' the man added. ' Bob declared.' As the boys followed the elegant lady into the office. we were not very close. We caught the first jet to America. I am poo r Joshua's younger sister. 'You just wait. about the twenty paintings. My estate manager.' The lady laughed.' . p ay a suitable price to reimburse you for your trouble. 'They have only sentimental value. 'The Countess is Joshua Cameron's sister. Joshua was eccentric. alas. silver-haired man stepped quickly away from Uncle Titus's desk. Fifteen minutes later.' 'Is there something valu able among them. 'Armand. anyway. t he small. Profes sor Carswell had already sold Joshua's things to you for back rent. 'But yo u found nothing else? Not even his paintings?' 'That is peculiar. I fear. Jupiter looked for the suitcases. 'we were in Africa until a few days ago. but.' Jupiter said sadly. and the bino culars.' Mr Marechal said.after five o'clock. 'I'm sorry. and a recluse. Countess. Bob exclaimed. 'I like honesty. is already in your office. The Countess wishes to retrieve the possessions of the late Mr Joshua Cameron sold to you by Professor Carswell.' Jupiter ackno wledged. 'We seem to have sold every thing except the clothes. boys. and seemed to have been moved. 'it seems t hat these boys are in charge here. the statue of Venus. too. yes. 'We don't sell many paintings.' said the Countess with a smile. and since I am t wenty years younger. Bob tried to locate the stuffed owl. and only just received Professor Carswell's letter telling of Joshua's tragic death.' 'You see. it grieves me that he died a lone in a strange place. I suggest we join him. 'Then I shall state our business. They saw wh at had glittered in his hand outside--his cane had a large silver head. and th e silver. And you do have a customer now. We will. 'Are you really a countess?' 'My late husband was a count .' 'The clothes you may keep.' 'So?' The man bowed to the boys. but they're all gone. the clothes. Jupite r noticed that the record book of purchases made for the junkyard was on the des k.' Mr Marechal said. They both asked Hans and Konrad. the boys returned to t he office dejected.

' Jupiter drew himself up to seem as imposing as he could. (Signed) Sam uel Reynolds Chief of Police The Countess smiled. Here are our cards. T hey appear quite intelligent. the Countess must return to Europe. are inve stigators. perhaps we could look for them. After that. 'We keep a record of what we buy. Jupiter shook his head. people might be more willing to return Joshua's things to boys. boys. 'V ery well.' The Countess and Mr Marechal went to their Mercedes and drove off. Besides. and from whom. Konrad one of o ur helpers. ma'am. Bob exclaimed: 'Jupe. I don't think any of us will remember the customers. As soon as the yellow car had gone. Pete. speak up. . and know what to look for. thinks he sold all the paintings to one man. Jupiter's eyes brightened. Any assistance given him will be appreciated. but we don't keep a record of our customers. 'If what. S o many people come here and buy just one thing.' Mr Marechal interrupted. The boys know the area. and we all sell. 'We ar e strangers here. I would like to have our family heirloo ms and poor Joshua's last paintings. with our friend. 'Come. 'We can be reached at the Cliff House Mo tel up the coast. The Countess frowned. sir. We will be there a week. and nodded to the boys.' 'We'll find the things.' she said .' Jupiter hesitated. Countess. boys. It happens that Bob and I. 'Well. but he can't remember w ho. young man. 'Quite impressive. Armand. boys.' Mr Marechal said. and their green card that stated: This certifies that the bearer is a Volunteer Junior Assistant Deputy co-operating with the police force of Rocky Beach.' 'This is very unfortun ate. Mr Marechal. 'Good. perhaps you are right.'Where?' Mr Marechal asked. but-' 'My pardon. 'Can't you locate the things somehow?' Mr Marecha l said. Why not let them try?' The Countess considered. 'If you wish to hire us. . i f .' both boys said at once. Good luck. how do we--' .' The stout leader of The Three Investigators pres ented their business card.' the Countess said. are experienced.

The Countess could make trouble i f she doesn't get them back!' 'Tell me. 'Has the Countess been here?' 'She just left. ?' Hal thought for a minute. too!' said Bob. Now someone is watching the Co untess and Mr Marechal. 'That's a relief! The Countess and Mr Marechal came to our house early this afternoon.' 'So?' 'Few people pa rk there unless they are coming here--and we haven't had any customers in the la st half hour except the Countess and Mr Marechal. But what's this all about?' 'We ju st saw a blue car follow the Countess away from here. 'That's curious . 'Did you give her back Mr Cameron's possessions?' 'We've sold most of them.' sa id Jupe. a boy on a bicycle rode into the junkyard.' . . the Countess got real angry and s aid we should have waited for an answer to our letter.' 'You think that blue car is f ollowing--' Before Bob could finish. 'Guys!' Hal Carswell cri ed as he saw them. 'You mean someone is spying on her?' 'Apparently so. dark-haired son of Professor Carswell. Hal. Maybe we shouldn't have sold the things. 'When the Countess and Mr Marechal were at your house. Mr Marechal calmed her do wn and said we couldn't have known old Joshua had a sister.The Records and Research man of the trio stopped in mid-sentence. old Joshua Cameron's possessions are invo lved. did you happen to notice a blue coup anywhere nea r?' 'A blue coup . 'But I think we can get them back. He looked thoughtful. We don't get much traffic on the road--it's a dead end and usually only the neighbours drive by. Hal. .' Bob said. 'First an intruder breaks into your cottage. I remember noticing i t because it was unfamiliar. It must have been parked out on the street. fellows.' said Jupiter.' said Jupiter. But I know Dad's wor ried. There's something mysterious about it all. Jupiter was st aring at a small blue coup that drove past the driveway opening in the salvage ya rd fence and vanished down the street after the yellow Mercedes.' said Jupe. When Dad t old them we'd sold Mr Cameron's things to you. Hal. 'What is?' asked Bob. It was the slim. In both cases. 'Yes! There was one! A blue c ar went out the canyon road right after the Countess left.' 'Whew!' said Hal. 'That blue car started up just after the Mercedes left.

First we have to worry about getting back old Joshua's things from whoever bought them. and Jupe and Bob we re off duty until after dinner. the boys surfaced into a litt le room crowded with equipment--a desk. 'I don't know yet.' Jupiter said . 'Don't you know who bought them?' 'We have no idea. Why?' Jupiter explained that Hal would call his friends and give each a list of the i tems that were wanted. 'I think I know. every kid in Rocky Beach will be looking for the things.' 'Whoever bought them?' repeated Hal. 'Then. Bob. He mentally added up the thousa nds of people who could be reached. 'How. filing cabinets. 'What? Gosh. maybe five good ones.' 'Adults just think it's ghosts at work.' 'Yes.'Do you think old Joshua did have something valuable?' Bob asked. 'But.' 'Wow!' Hal said. damaged house trailer now hidden by pi les of junk at one side of the salvage yard.' he demanded again. Maybe kids as far as Los Angeles or Oxnard. With Hal. a large corrugated pipe that led under the surrounding junk to a trap door in the trailer's floor. Ope ning off the office room were a small lab and a darkroom. Uncle Titus drove into the junkyard. but quickly returned to the problem at hand. and Pete would do the same. Hal?' Jupiter asked.' Hal said. 'But there aren't any ghosts!' 'Some scientists are no longer sure of that. ghosts have nothing to d o with our hookup system. Each friend would call five other friends. 'You could contact the whole world!' . startle d. a private phone . 'We'll use a Ghost-to-Ghost Hookup!' 4 Jupiter's Mistake ---------------------'Ghost-to-Ghost. l aughing. who in turn wo uld call five more. and various devices that Jupiter had invented for the Investigators' work. Moments later. 'can yo u find Mr Cameron's things if you don't even know who bought them?' 'How many fr iends do you have. Jupiter.' Hal said. actually. Hal admired the set up . and so on. Crawling through the pipe. 'In a f ew hours. The main entrance to it was Tunnel Two. 'how can you ever find them?' Bob said.' Jupiter said. they slipped off to the secret headqua rters of The Three Investigators--an old.' Bob added. Records.' Jupiter said blandly. chairs.

'but by having the kids telephon e. and Jupiter called Pete to tell him what they were doing.' Jupiter said. 'neither do I.' Jupiter prided himself on his planning and fores ight. The boys looked at each othe r uneasily.' Jupiter decided. but if we could solve the lan guage problem.' Jupiter pointed out.'Well. and Dad is taking me to Los Angeles tonight. but by ten o'clock something seemed wrong.' mused Jupe. we'll not waste their time. Jupiter bit his lip. Bob finally went and opened the trap door. 'I've been trying to re member. of course. but I don't remember giving them our phon e number. we'll pay back the purchase price of old Joshua's things. and we won't be flooded by kids coming here. 'Gosh. w hat we'll pay. 'we haven't tried the world. every boy and girl in Ro cky Beach was out looking for Joshua Cameron's belongings. Jupe. And. and Pete looked uncomf ortable. The Three Investigators were gathered in Headquarters waiting for results o f the Ghost-to-Ghost Hookup. 'Let's say that anyone who brings in a correct item will have his choice of anything i n the junkyard priced at one dollar or less. guys. They watched the telephone expectantly.' 'Gosh. By eight o'clock that evening.' Bob echoed. J upiter reddened as he looked at the message he had written down the night before to pass along the Ghost-to-Ghost Hookup.' 'Er.' reminded Bob.' They composed the message listing the it ems. Our message will list the items we want. 'There will be a lot of wrong items. . The telephone in Headquarters h ad not rung once! Jupiter's confidence had begun to fade. 'The kids we call can start looking after dinner when most people are at home. Then the three bo ys went home for dinner.' Pete said slowly. 'Someone should have called by now. We told the kids to call here. We'll also specify that the kids should call us first and describe what they've found. That way we can screen out the th ings that obviously weren't Mr Cameron's. it would probably work. By nine the next morn ing. 'Hmmm.' 'Not before morning. 'Kids are all over the junkyard outside looking for you!' 'Outside?' Jupiter quavered . 'But we told them . 'I have to go home for dinner.' There was a s udden knocking at the trap door up from Tunnel Two. Hal Carswell climbed up i nto the room. . and where to bring them.' 'We'll have to offer a reward. Jupe!' 'Phone number?' Hal said.' 'How soon will it get results?' Hal aske d. why are you in here?' the Professor's son said. .

the mob of kids hesitated and stared at him. Jupe?' 'I .' Pete urged. . 'what can we give them all for a small reward. In a second. Hal shouted a stream of some strange language and waved his arms commandingly. There were hundreds of them.' Jupiter said. I guess I forgot to put it in. . Suddenly. 'I guess we better go out . Bob cried. and some climbed high on the mounds of junk. Hurry!' 'Give . Some came on foot. 'Oh no!' Pete groaned. and ever since fans had mobbed him in his acting days. .'I . Above the onrushing stampede of kids. . like ants.' Jupiter stamm ered. holding up the objects they had found for the Ghost-to-Ghos t. . 'they're still coming in!' Jupiter only stared. 'Hold your hats!' . Maybe they . . More rode in on bicycles and on scooters. 'I'm afraid we have to. Jupiter took a deep breath. 'I do not know what you wan t!' Hans was shouting. Hal Carswell stood up on a petrol drum. 'We run for it!' Pete yelled.' Jupiter stuttered. the whole horde of kids poured towards The Three Investigators and Hal. Jupiter turned pale. Jupe had hated crowds. 'There! That must be them!' one boy shouted. There were even teenagers on motorcycles and in wildly painted cars. 'I only saw those two bi g helpers of yours. ' They emerged into a scene of wild chaos. They swarmed aro und Hans and Konrad. 'They had kids all around them.' 'Swell. I . He had once been a child film star n amed Baby Fatso. 'Gosh. Confused and stunned. ' Pete said.' Hal sa id. 'What do we do.' Pete said. 'Well . there's a barrel of old political campaign badges. Boys and girls milled everyw here through the junkyard. . . . .' 'I don't think I want to go out. Suddenly. . 'Quick.' 'Is Uncle Titus out there?' Pete asked Hal Carswell. They were shouting and running.' Hal said. . 'We did not ask for you to come!' Konrad was protesting. . some of the kids saw Jupiter and the boys. Jupe. I . .

' Bob said. Okay. 'but the lady who has it wouldn't sell it back. hurried to form the lines. 'You go and see if you can get the statue. Last line for p aintings! No pushing. and stopped. After an hour the junkyard was alm ost empty again--and the boys had the stuffed owl.' Jupiter said approvingly to Pete. 'All right!' Pete shouted. one of the boys quickly in spected each item as the kids filed past. He was scowling nastily at Jupiter. the binocular s. 'A valuable old political badge for everyone! No on e else will have the same ones! If you want one. we didn't get any of the paintings!' 'I'm afraid someone from o ut of town may have--' Jupiter began. Skinner Norris gla red at Jupiter.' The two Investigators hurried off. One of us will stand at the head of each line and inspect what you've brought. A tall. now form the lines!' The kids. 'Gosh . even the teenagers. The nasty youth hated the trio of . I gave the girl h er full reward anyway. 'A girl gave me the address of where the statue of Venus is. each with some item to sell to the boys . both suitcases.' Pete said. Records. Each person with a wrong item was sent to Hans for his political button for trying. And Pete. he stopped them. 'T hank Hal. skinny youth not much older than the t rio of investigators got out of the car. it worked great. and the silverware. 'What are you doing here?' E. They realized it was the quickest way to end the chaos.' Hal Carswell said as he looked at what they had rec overed. He stared at a shiny car that had just come into the junkyard. Jones?' the skinny boy said. 'Except. Fourth line for silver knives and forks.' At each line.Pete strode out to the wild mob of kids. 'One of us will have to examine two lines . 'Ski nny Norris!' Jupiter exclaimed. form in five lines facing us! F irst line on the left for suitcases! Next line for stuffed owls and statues. Second. and Hans better give out the badges.' 'Good. and he was carrying a painting! 5 Trouble from an Old Enemy -----------------------'Would this be one of the paintings you want. everyone gets a turn. Thi rd line for binoculars. 'Good work. Jupiter.' Jupiter said. you call Mr Marechal and the Countess at The Cliff H ouse Motel and tell them what we have.

I don't think I'll sell it now. 'Wha t do you mean by that?' 'I know you didn't buy it from us. he was beaming. Skinny had driven out of the junkyard. boys! I congratulate you. it is one of the right paintings! I thought it was.' Pete said.' Skinn y said. 'What was Skinny d oing here?' 'He had one of Joshua's paintings!' Hal said.investigators.' Jupiter said. Skinny had a driver's licence. Before the boys could stop him. an d she won't sell it back. and out of jealousy had been trying to wreck anything they did ev er since he first met them. That.' Jupiter added. But when Mr Marechal arrived to claim the five items they had fo und. Where did you get it?' 'That's my business. 'The lady still won't sell the statue. Bob returned from trying to buy the statue of Venus. 'But he suddenly would n't sell it. 'Just tell me if this is one of the paintings you're aft er. and went quickly back to his car. I 'm not exactly sure. Skinny. 'You are fine detectives.' Jupiter and Hal both recognized the painting as one of old Joshua Cameron's last works. an d the loss of the painting. 'Maybe you stole it!' Hal declared. It made him feel superior to The Three Investigators.' Jupiter explained what had happened with Skinny and t he one painting they had found. Skinny paled. and then his eyes narrowed. has it. 'and Mr Marechal is coming over now.' Bob said.' Skinny said. .' 'No. Hal was about to say something when Jupiter spoke quickly: 'Well. Skinny. Although not much older than they were.' 'Yes. 'Gosh. 'Never you mind. 'So. 'I did not!' Skinny said hotly. at 22 Rojas Street. curbed their elation over the success of the Ghost-t o-Ghost Hookup.' 'But w e didn't get the statue.' Skinny snarled.' While the boys waited for Mr Marechal. 'A Mrs Leary.' Bob reported. Pete ran up from the office.' Hal pointed out. 'We have to know you can sell it.' Jupit er admitted. 'We'll buy it.

'And I shall await your equal success on the paintings.' 'Why.' Pete said. sir!' all three Inves tigators said at once.' 'Then I am sure you boys will find a way to secure that painting. After lunch. plus the purchase prices.' 'Who could it be in that blue car?' Pete wondered. 'Fellows. them sure that not su re.' Jupiter wrote out a receipt for Mr Marechal wh ile the other boys put the retrieved possessions in the back of the Mercedes. Is that satisfactory?' 'Yes. Jupiter sat at the desk looking t houghtful. 'Good.' 'Maybe he just wants more money. sir.' Mr Marechal sai d. and snickered. I think he simply wanted us to identify it for him. 'What painting?' Skinny asked . I've got to go to my new job. Records.'Well. 'I do not think Skinny ever i ntended to sell us that painting. Second. 'As for this Norris boy. That makes fifte en dollars for your services. he lives here in Rocky Beach? A well-known family.' Jupiter said into his desk unit.' Pete agreed. 'That's Skinny.' Jupiter did as Pe te suggested. Wi th a small bow.' Bob sug gested. 'They've got a big house on the beach.' Mr Marechal said. 'But we must try to find those twenty paintings for Mr Marechal. 'I'm are. The Three Investigators met again in Headquarters. we'll pay twice what we sold t he painting for. Moments later. 'Let's try calling him. boys. Mr Marechal returned to his car swinging his silver-headed cane. eh? Even one of Joshua 's last works would please the Countess. I have the address. I shall speak with Mrs Leary myself. Skinny Morris's voice filled the room. 'Now I shall pay you a three-dollar reward for each item.' 'Skinny. P erhaps whoever is in blue coup . an d the way to do it is through Skinny.' the First Investigator said. and Hal went home to report the morning's success to his dad. Fatso. 'Stop pestering m e. and switched on the loudspeaker attachment he had built for the te lephone. 'I don't know. y ou say?' 'Yes.' Mr Marechal smiled. . Or possibly he is wo rking for someone else who isn't just what old Joshua's paintings looked like. at least not yet. Possibly because he does know where the others and he wanted to be sure they were all genuine before he brought to sell to us.' Jupit er admitted. Jupe?' Bob asked.

'And she's got a man with her. Second?' Jupiter asked. We could spread out on our bikes around his house. there you are!' Aunt Mathilda said as the boys a ppeared from behind piles of junk. Second. 'He said he had a job--maybe he got the painting there. 'He has a car. and if that doesn't work. Skinny!' 'You dumb-bells must be dreaming. Thou gh what anyone wants with twenty paintings of the . and maybe one of us could stay close enough to follow the homing signal to where he goes!' 'Well. 'I have never seen him befo re.' 'We can use our homing device on his car!' Bob said.' The dist ant sound of a voice made Jupiter stop speaking. Aunt Mathilda. 'We can watch hi m. Uncle Titus would let Hans or Konrad drive us in the small van if we knew where to go. 'This is Mr De Groot. 'It's your Aunt Mathilda. 'Don't sweet-talk me. This was a crude but efficient periscope Jupiter had bu ilt to allow the boys to see out into the junkyard.'Why. . 'Shadow him. We'll try to talk to him once more at his house. flat case!' Jupiter looked into the See-All. 'Where do you rascals get to out in that junk ? No one can ever find you when we want you!' 'I'm sorry. but we don't. The Three Investigators stared at each other.' Pete exploded.' Jupiter sighed.' Pete stated. 'you know what pointing.' They hurried out through Tunnel Two.' J upiter considered. and--Jupe! He's carrying a big.' Pete said. fellows. in a dark suit and hat.' Skinny said. . Sk inny had hung up. His parents wouldn't let him work too f ar away. Says he's an art dealer from Holland. 'I guess it's certainly worth a try. Pete peered into the eye-pie ce. There was a click.' his aunt said briskly. We don't have any idea where Skinny got that painting. First. She l ooks pretty mad!' 'What man. and the buzz of the dialling tone. P ete went to the See-All. 'It's the kind of case you car ry paintings in! Come on. We on ly have bikes. Someone was calling his name. Kind of short and heavy. Jupiter Jones.' Jupite r said. He wants to ask you about those twenty paintings your Uncle and you bought out in Remuda Canyon last week. 6 The L imping Man --------------'Well. we'll use the .

Every one was different. leaving the boys with Mr De Groot. 'I hope you are not lying to me. Bob and Pete blinked at Jup iter. Jupiter's voice was innocent.' 'It is not the subject that matters.' Jupiter said sadly.' 'All I know is what I like. 'and I didn't like those paintings.' 'None?' De Groot angrily paced a few steps in the yard. Jupiter bro ke in: 'But it was the wrong painting. 'I will pa y well for them. da rk eyes. As Bob started to explain about Skinny. but not one looked like a real house to me.' he said. 'This Norris you speak of. he is a tall.' Bob said. Now I am here to buy those twenty paintings.' 'Skinny Norris brought one painting. no matter how sudden or strange.' De Groot said.' Bob acknowledged. heavy Dutchman. 'I find he is dead. I'm afraid. Mr De Groot. . and beyond him towards t he entrance to the junkyard. and glared at the boys.same house. .' De Groot said bluntly. .' Jupiter said loftily. Then I hear from boys at my motel that a Three Investigators wish to locate twenty of his paintings! I learn that The Three Investigators ar e at The Jones Salvage Yard. They had learned not to question what their stout leader did. De Groot stared at them.' the sho rt. Mr De Groot. 'It is the skill. 'No. I don't know. You ha ve them?' Pete shook his head. sir. Aunt Mathilda stalked off to the office.' De Groot snapped.' Aunt Mathilda said. but his voice was s uspicious. 'We really don't know Skinny Norris very well. Not even where he lives. but they did not say anything. madame. The art dealer had fierce. sir. and scowled at Jupiter. ' but . 'Is his family wealthy? Do they have an art collection? Are they buyers of art?' 'I think they have a s mall art collection. 'I do not lie.' 'It was not a Joshua Camero n?' 'I'm afraid it wasn't. 'I have ways. thin boy?' 'How did you know that?' Pete exclaimed. heavy stranger said in a rough voice. s ir. 'I come from Amsterdam to meet Joshua Cameron.' 'Then you cannot help me?' De Groot watched them all. perhaps not.' Jupiter stared at the short. sir. 'None of them were brought back.

'You didn't tell him much.' said Jupe. Then we'll meet at S kinny's house. fello ws. we'll go on ahead with the homing transmitter. Records. First?' 'I saw his ca r outside the yard. Bob asked. The whole street was thick with palms and hibisc us bushes.' De Groot said. An alley ran between the houses dire ctly across the street from it. and I think we had better get to Skinny aga in pretty fast!' 'Let's go!' Pete said. 'And I told him about Skinny a nd the painting.' Jupiter thought. he drove away. 'That was the first thing I notice d when he began to pace a few minutes ago. fellows. sir. blue coup ! As they watched. 'Then in case the paintings are returned here.' Outside the junkyard the art dealer w as getting into a small.' Bob groaned.' 'It won't!' Bob said. I will pay you well. and De Groot turned a nd walked off towards the entrance gate of the junkyard. 'and that Skinny's painting was old Joshua Cameron's. De Groot had a slight limp! 'Jupe!' Bob cried. you will call me at The Dunes Mo tel.' Jupiter said. 'It's the car that's been following the Countess!' Pete cried. 'All right. yes? Remember. and you can bring the receiver later if your errand won't take long. 'Good. 'What was another reason. still watching them. 'and I don't think what you said mattered.' 'That was one reason. As if he hurt his leg recently. 'Look.' said Bob. across th e . Bob and Pete both stare d after the art dealer.' Jupiter said.' Jupiter agreed.' The boys nodded. 'I' ve got to run an errand for my mother.' Jupiter said consolin gly.' Skinny Norris's house was a big redwood house on a small street of beach houses.'I wish we could. I think Mr De Groot knew somethi ng about Skinny before he came here. It was right on the beach. 'Yes. Bob. yes. Pete and Jupiter stopped their bikes behind a big hibiscus.' Pete sai d. Maybe from a fall into a gorge!' 'He could be that intruder we chased a week ago!' Bob said. 'I can't go now. 'That's why you didn't want to tell him about Skinny. 'He has a --' 'Yes. he has a limp.

Skinny laughed. The stout First Investigator suddenly stopped. shading his eyes. Skinny. it was a good place for Jupite r to hide. Pete and Jupiter rode their bikes away unt il they were out of sight of the house. 'I'll sneak up on Skinny's car from the beach and plant the homer on it. A small creek came down to the beach between Skin ny's house and the next house. 'You watch the front and sid e doors of the house. 'Something's odd.' Jupiter decided. 'I don't k now. A window on the first fl oor opened. Pete looked. 'It's just a telephone man. where they crouched.' Pete promised. ' Yah-yah! You don't know anything. and the only entrance to the garage.' Jupiter said. 'Yes. They walked their bikes up the path to the front door. Skinny. and the garage. and Skinny leaned out. First?' Pete said. whistle a warni ng. and sneak up close to the garage without being seen. hidden.street and some distance down from the Norris house. 'and I'll watch for Bob. If Skinny comes out.' Pete said. Jupiter nodded. 'We'll talk to him first. S kinny's sports car was parked there. but I can't put my finger on it. . . 'Go fly a kite. He walked awkwardly. From there they could see t he front and side entrances to the house.' 'I'll keep my eyes open.' Pete agreed. Pete settled behind the hib iscus to watch Skinny's house. empty street. and looked down the quiet. He frowned. Get out of here before I call the police on yo u for trespassing!' Looking dejected.' 'Okay. Pete. Only .' 'Only what. His cap was low on his forehead. I guess so.' Jupiter said. as if thrown off balance b y the heavy tool kit he carried. A man in a uniform was tu rning into the narrow path on the far side of Skinny's house.' Jupiter turned to slip away towards the beach.' Jupiter said slowly. Crenshaw!' 'We know you have the painting. 'Someone's nea r Skinny's house!' he whispered urgently. taking a breath. .' Pete called up. Jupiter watched the telephone man disappear behind Skinny's house. and slipped away towards the beach. Then they walked the bikes back to the t hick hibiscus. 'What do you so-called detectives want now?' 'We just want to buy that painting. Dry now in summer.

Jupiter started to creep along the creek bed. He saw that the telephone repairman had circled Skinny's house and was now on the garage si de. Only a foot away. Jupiter checked the tiny homer transmitter. by an arrow on a dial. the dark eyes glared at Jupiter--the eyes or the Dutch art dealer. the direction the signal came from. A hand clamped over his mouth. from the direction of the beach. and glared menacingly. .' When his panting had subsided. De Groot! The Dutchman held a wicked-looking knife. Bob looked up and down the empty street. he raised his head carefully above the cre ek bank. It was hard work for the overweight boy. Jupiter had made t he instrument himself in his workshop. All the boys had to do was plant the transmitter on a car. working on the wires where they entered the house. Pete and Jupiter's bikes behind a hibiscus! B ut where were the two investigators? In dismay. He was bent over. Pete was captured! 7 Prisoners! ---------Bob saw the two bikes as he rode up towards Skinny's house. Suddenl y Jupiter realized what had seemed odd to him about the telephone man---there ha d been no telephone van out on the street! Whoever heard of a telephone man with out his van? The repairman was an imposter! Yet he was working on the telephone wires. 'Pete! Help!' Pete ran across the quiet str eet and turned behind the house. He was puffing when he reached the place that he judged was right behind the 'telephone man. Pete. had seen no sign of Skin ny or of Jupiter. The receiving instru ment picked up the signal and also showed. Maybe tapping Skinny's phone? Forgetting about putting the homer on Skinn y's car. The transmitter sent out a tiny beep-beep signal that got louder and faster as you got nearer to it. 'Ulllppp!' Jupiter found himself looking straight into the face of the fake telephone man. and stopped. crouched behind the hibiscus. 'Pete!' The voice came from behind the house directly across the street from Pe te. and with their receiver they could follow the car from far enough away to remai n unseen. Bob still had not arrived with the homer receiving instrument.Skinny was nowhere in sight. Jupiter began to crawl along the dry creek bed to a spot where he could spy on the fake telephone man. Another hand twi sted his arm. which c ontained a magnet that would hold the device on Skinny's car.

turned right with a squeal of tyres. Jupiter and Pete had not placed the homer on Skinny's car. He pursued the beeps left towards the n orthern outskirts of Rocky Beach. and twice he picked up the beeps again as the coup was forced to stop for something like traffic lights. he heard a car start in the alley acr oss from Skinny's house. they did not start agai n. But now some ten minutes h ad passed. Twice he lost the beeps when the blue coup pull ed too far away. His deep eyes glittered angrily. You did not even know where he . Mentally. He pulled out the homing receiver . De Groot pulled the boys out one at a time and hurried them into the end row of chalets in a sm all motel. Just before the car had left the alley across from Skinn y's house. which was already out of sight. and the beeps were loud and rapid-but slowing and diminishing. and the blue coup had stopped or slowed only twice. You were not interested in his painting. even if he did know that De Groot had captured th em. He followed the beeps of the homer. Bo und with telephone cord and gagged. But the third time he lost the beeps. 'So! This Skinny Norris did not bring to you the right p ainting. The dark-eyed art dealer had not said a single word since he had caug ht Jupiter. De Groot sat the boys side by side on a couch . Bob guessed at once what had happened. took out his evil-looking knife. In despair. The art dealer's car! What had De Groot been doing? Beep-beep-beep-beep! Bob heard the sudden beeping from his pocket.As he brought his bike abruptly to a halt. no more. Another ten minutes. and the b lue coup turned off the road and parked. They had it with them! And they were in the blue coup of the art dealer. and raced away along the street. Inside the motel room. Bob stopped for nothing. Bob stared after the bl ue coup . Pete and Jupiter lay squeezed into the boot of De Groot's blue coup . ungagged them. A blue coup came tearing out of the alley. not even for t he traffic lights. and sat facing them. searching the main road along the coast. The boot was flung open. De Groot! Frantically Bob rode his bike after the blue coup . Bob pedalled on. Jupiter kicked himself for not recognizing that the repairman's aw kward gait was actually De Groot's limp. Jupiter had managed to turn on the homer. looking up and down the empty side streets as Rocky Beach thinned into open country. and reached the main coast road. The arrow was pointing right up the street. Both boys thought they had heard the squeak of bicycle brakes out on the street. There was no way t hat Bob could follow them now.

'We've found everything except the paintings. 'We're finding them for the Countess. Someone was at Carswell's before the Countess arrived. Bob rode his bike onwards along the coast road in an ag ony of indecision. 'Uhhh . De Groot studied the boys fier cely. boy!' De Groot snapped. and stood up.' Pete said. eh? Some last words?' 'We don't know of any.' Jupiter said. . 'But perhaps you know too much. eh? And you two think it was me. What have they told you?' 'That they want to recover the Countess's family heir looms. The art dealer studied them. Why?' The boys were silent. They belong to h er!' 'Ah. 'So? You will not reveal what made you suspect me? And you do not know of any message sent by old Joshua? You have talked with Professor Carswell and his son. 'Bah! I think you are st upid boys who do not know what you are doing!' He glared at the boys. what chance did he have of finding the blue coup ? But i f he stopped to call Chief Reynolds. and he looked at Pete. ' is that you've been following the Countess everywhere. he could lose any trail his friends tried t o leave. You must know more. 'You wer e about to say that you know I was at Carswell's house?' Pete swallowed. we know you were at Professor Carswell's house the first day the Countess and Mr Marechal arrived. 'No. Perhaps old Jo shua gave them a spoken message. eh? You are working with the Countess and Armand Marechal.' 'You lie ag ain. What are Marechal's plans? What are they actually looki ng for? What message did Joshua Cameron send them?' 'What we know.' Pete said.' Jupiter said politely. Alone. eh? Liars! You want to steal old Joshua's paintings for yourselves!' 'We do not!' Pete said hotly. si r. and you were at Professor Carswell's house over a week ago trying to--' Jupiter broke in quickly. eh?' De Groot held his long knife and watche d the boys malevolently. 'Why do you think Joshua Cameron sent a message to the Countess? She wasn't close to--' 'Do not try to fool me.lived. that is it. Someone myster ious. The Sec ond Investigator realized that Jupiter did not want De Groot to know that they s uspected him of being the mysterious intruder a week ago at Remuda Canyon. a little lamely.

. eh ? You are a nuisance. and looked for the blue car. 'It seems I must postpone tending to you two. Then. No.' 'Good work. Bob stood there grinning at them. I know him. 'Now let's go!' 'But what about Skinny?' Pete objected. ?' 'You are annoying me!' De Groot growled. Master Norris. holding his wicked knife. 'What would you say to working for me instead of the Countess?' ' We already have a client. How did . . Norris? . The road north of town was now lined with mot els. De Groo t had been limping around the room. and his eyes suddenly lighted.So he rode on as fast as he could. I will come to the office. 'Foolish boy! Well. and removed the gags. I'd almost given up when I picked up the sig nal again. untied their bonds. boy.' Jupiter said stiffly. . The boy you hardly kno w. He listened for the beep of the homer. . for some ten minut es. is here to see me!' Pete groaned. the boys stared at the opening door. Hold him there!' As De Groot hung up. Records. confound it! You are in my way. 'Is there something valuable in Joshua Cameron's . . . Then the smallest of the trio hurried to them. his grin was triumphant. . 'Boy!' Pete exc laimed. ?' 'I followed the homer. 'I trust no one. 'I knew Skinny was up to som ething!' 'You can't trust Skinny Norris. Pete and Jupiter struggled in their bonds. . He did not seem to be able to make up his mind. 'Yes?' he said. I still didn't know where you were--until I remembered the name of De Groot's motel: The Dunes. bah!' Jupiter gulped. He gagged the boys again. Yes. I just kept on riding. . but it was no use.' Jupiter said. 'Are we glad to see you. Mr De Groot. They sank back on the couch--just as the back door opened again! Helpless. watching the boys. . .' Jupiter said. He stared at th e instrument as if it were a snake. ' What? A boy? . 'He's in the motel office right . and left the unit the ba ck way. but the n I lost it. 'What must I do with you.' De Groot snapped. do not send him here . he backed to the ph one and picked up the receiver. I cannot le t you--' The ringing of the telephone made the art dealer whirl.

Before they went to bed. Bob hurried straight to the reference se ction. First thing tomorrow.' 'But by now he k nows. a man in a truck stopped to give them and the bike a lift into Roc ky Beach. He isn't even here.' Jupiter said admiringly.' Jupiter said. he'll find another car so on. 'There is something very strange about it all. 'We'll try again in the morning. They retrieved the other two bikes. and rode home just in time for the ir dinners. 'What do you mean--we?' M inutes later. De Groot is so eag er. Hurry!' They had pedalled less than twenty yards when they heard a cry of rage behind them. He began to run after them. De Groot seems to t hink there is something important that old Joshua Cameron would have left a mess age about. Records. they met once more in Headquarters.' Bob said. but he limped. De Groot was in front of the room they had jus t left. I suggest we pedal fast.' Bob laughed. .' Jupiter decided 'Me anwhile. 'Skinny isn't sellin g anything.' 'No. He worked part-time at the library and the librarian. That was me on the telephone. probably selling De Groot the paintings. 'We have to hide. Jupiter was serious. and even on the overloaded bi ke they pulled away. The coast was clear.' Pete puffed and groaned. De Groot turned and ran back towards the motel. 8 A Sudden Suspicion ----------------In the library the next morning. he didn't notice my voice wasn't the motel receptionist's. and Bob can ri de on the handlebars. 'He'll get his car!' Jupiter said. They ran across the motel grounds to Bob's bike. 'However. Miss Bennett. 'Out the front. Al most all the big. We must talk to the Countess and Mr Marechal. 'He's the strongest. we don't. 'Pete can ped al.' Jupiter decided. quick!' They hurried to the front door.' 'Fine thinking. I'll ride on the back.' But there was no answe r to their telephone call. He found the art reference shelves--and stared. 'I pulled the ignition wires from his car. Bob you will research old Joshua at the library. and held up a handful of coloured wires. I think we must learn more about Joshua heavy art volumes were gone! Miss Bennet looked up as Bob came out from the shelves. smile d at him as he walked by her.

and Bob saw his face--Professor Carswell! Bob ducked back quickly. Jupiter frowned. too. His mind raced. 'Bu t you found absolutely nothing about Joshua Cameron in all those reference books ?' Jupiter said slowly.' Bob said. 'That would explain that mysterious intruder the first day. First. He's been here since we open ed. thank you.' The moment he was out of Miss Bennett's sight. Robert?' 'Miss Bennett.' Pete said. At least.'Is something wrong.' 'Just the way that De Groot is doing! ' Pete said.' Bob suggested. and settled down to r esearch old Joshua Cameron. He looked in cautiously. Jupiter pondered the news of Professor Carswell and Bob's research.' 'It's possible he might be li sted elsewhere. Professor Carswell was studying all the art books! Excited. Bo b hurried to the small reading room. . Bob had decided that Jupiter would want him to do his research first. 'All the art books!' 'Gosh. 'Professor Carswell was studying th e same books?' 'He sure was.' Jupiter nodded.' Bob said quickly.' Jupiter decided. 'And two of the books list every artist in the world. the person took another book off the pile. and someone hidden behind them. and yesterday. 'I'll just look up someth ing else until he's finished. Perhaps he wanted to get whatever is valuable before anyone came to claim o ld Joshua's things. 'Why is he so interested in art?' The three boys were in their hidden tra iler in the junkyard. and Bob had just arrived with his report. But the Professor sold them to Uncle Titus. 'But that would still make him very obscure. and that intrude r is still trying to find whatever it is. 'Not a word. where are all the art reference boo ks?' 'A man has them all in the small reading room. 'Maybe there's something els e valuable that old Joshua had.' Bob said. 'Maybe it's not the paintings he really wants. they say they do. Do you want one in particular? I could ask him if he has finished with it.' 'No. Bob made himself sit quietly where he could watch the door to the smal l reading room. But by the time P rofessor Carswell came out of the small room. As he watched. It was well after lunch. They could always locate the Professor. and that the Countess and Mr Marechal don't know about. He saw the high pi le of art books. He wondered if he should follow the Professor. So h e collected all the books Professor Carswell had returned.' 'Then why would De Groot want his paintings so much?' Pete wondered.

Still. Old Joshua lived here alone and no one ever came to see him. 'He tried to teach me to paint. Hal said. I don't know why my Dad would study art books. but I can't even draw. his voice puzzled. But now that he's dead. but that no one knew it! He laughed when he said that. 'Gosh. Hal said the old man was delirious. 'We haven't found the paintings yet. and babbling. he was a simple amateur. In the living-roo m of the big. 'Didn't Jos hua ever show or sell his work?' 'No.'Then what makes Professor Carswell so interested in art books all of a sudden?' Bob wanted to know. 'if someone else doesn't get the m before we do. Jupiter.' Jupiter said. 'Ah. guys. 'Did old Joshua talk much about his paintings?' J upiter asked. I would like to have his last paintings. everyone is interested in him.' the elegant l ady said. Perhaps he was trying to give a message. I remember he did say something funny once.' Hal Carswell said. no. 'A man nam ed De Groot. and Professor Carswell knows something we don't. 'You recall that De Groot was i nterested in a message. 'I think.' 'We will. I don't know why. any last words of old Joshua's. Still at work? You have indeed done well so far. and find them.' 'It sure doesn't make much sense.' Pete declared. Professor Carswell leaned on the mantelpiece facing Mr Marechal and the Countess. it certainly doesn't seem to. Jupiter scratched his nose.' Jupiter said. 'Not much. our y oung detectives. guys.' Hal said. 'I don't understand wha t's going on. The Countess smiled when she saw the boys. ma'am. Perhaps there was a mess age. maybe they've discov ered something!' Pete said. The Countess and Mr Mare chal are inside the house now talking to Dad again. old house. He said he was the most e xpensive painter in the world. 'that we will take a ride out to Remuda Canyon. who calls himself an art dealer. I hope you will continue searching. 'No. and added.' Jupiter agreed. .' 'Gosh.' 'Someone else?' Mr Marechal said.' Jupiter said.' Jupiter decided.' Jupiter said. 'Let's find out.' 'And something the Countess doesn't!' Bob said.' The four boys were on the shaded front lawn of t he big house in Remuda Canyon.

that is terrible! You boys must be careful. . He w as most insistent on trying to talk. 'There was an intruder here. . Could he have been trying to tell you something? Leave a message for someone?' 'It's quite possible.' 'I see. Marechal. 'I wondered about all this sudden interest in old Joshua. looking at Mr Marechal. . Which leaves me at a loss to explain the interest--or the mysterious intruder w ho came here earlier. Something about zig zag and wrong and canvas. master .' Jupiter admitted. but he kept babbling words like: Tell them. You told us that Joshua was delir ious and mumbling crazy words before he died. 'Are you aware of something we are not.' Everyone looked at Professor Carswell. I was simply as puzzled as the Countess says she is. my paintings . Jupiter.' the Countess said. and told of the boys' narrow escape. and he wants Joshua's paintings. . 'But I have no idea wh at he had on his mind. 'No. . . Carswell?' the silver-haired manager d emanded. Hal ?' Hal nodded sadly. my canvas . zig . tell them . before Mr Marechal and I arrived? Someone who tried to steal some of Joshua's things. Hal was with him more at the end than I was. 'De Groot seemed to think that old J oshua must have left some message for someone. . wrong to zigzag . Professor Carswell has been studying art books in the library. perhaps?' 'A week before you came. . .' Bob explained . What could the man really want?' 'I don't know yet. canvas . . The same words. 'Why. and something abo ut masters. . . 'This De Groot. The Countess was horrified. .' Pr ofessor Carswell said. Even Jupiter looked . . I cannot under stand such an interest in my brother.' the Professor said. His words made no sense to me at all. Countess. Profes sor? You mean. He did say the word paintings a lot. Hal watched his dad uneasily.' Mr Marechal said. sort of like that.' Jupiter said. zig when zag . But I found nothing. Mr Marechal glowered . 'but De Groot isn't the only one interested in pain tings. .'He's been following you. 'I can't remember exactly. tell 'em . .' 'He sure does!' Pete agreed.' They all lo oked at each other as if one of them might know what old Joshua's ramblings mean t. 'and we don't really know what he wanted. . wrong. . . . But none of them did. perhaps.' The Countess started. Over and over. Do you recall much. 'He seems to have s ome great interest in Joshua we don't understand. 'Professor Carswell and Hal.' The First Investigat or related De Groot's actions. so I went to the library to see if he was known elsewhere. wrong way .

they heard someone coming outside. As they passed the mouth of the s mall gorge.' Mr Marechal said. 'We'll hide and watch!' They watched from the bedroom .' the Countess said. startled. 'I don't know what message yet. Jupe?' Bob asked. Follo w me. 'What are we doing. Pete and Bob followed. 'Did Joshua keep a ll his possessions in the cottage?' 'I believe he did. The Inv estigators stepped out. yes. 'So you know what old Joshua hid.' 'What did you take from u nder the floor!' Pete demanded. you came back to search the c ottage! You think old Joshua hid something?' . 'I'm afraid it was delirium. 'I can't make anything of that. I still think Skinny Norris knows wh o has the paintings. hiding something in his hand. lifted up a loose board. All at once. old-fashioned key.' 'Be careful. 'Hey. 'Take? Why. 9 A Black Hole ----------'Wow!' Hal gulped. Hal!' Jupiter accused. they made their way along the gorge and into the cot tage the back way. and reached down under the floor. Startled. they got on their bikes and rode off. out of sight of the house. 'I'm convinced that old Joshua was trying to leave some message with those babbling words. guys. trying to decide where to search first. ' Quick!' Jupiter whispered.' Hal showed them a large. He stared at them. Outside. The boy jumped up. 'No. 'I'm quite worried about you. You will call us if there is any problem?' The boys said they would. The boy hurried to a corner of the living-room.' The First Investigator nodded. so if he hid anything it should still be there.blank. For a moment they stared around the silent cottage. 'Well. 'You fellows sure scared me.' the Countess sig hed. confu sed. Jupiter suddenly turned left into the gul ly. But the old m an never left the cottage. just this. and saw Hal Carswell come into the cottage.' 'Professor?' Jupiter said.' Leaving their bikes. Jupiter. we'd better go.' Jupiter declared. boys.

' Pete said. 'the walls must be three feet thick!' 'That's how t hey built with adobe. you look in that bedroom. He said he didn't like prints. and got rid of it.' Jupiter decided . the boys saw that the adobe was almost completely empty. The few windows were set in deep embrasures and shuttere d from outside. built of the local sun-dried clay brick called adobe. you see w hat you can find in the kitchen.' 'Maybe we'd all better go. 'It was built by the original Sp anish owners of the canyon. Jupiter looked at the thick frame with a thoughtful expression. I suddenly remembered something. Hal?' Bob asked. he called it. In it was a low house with a wooden roof and shuttered windows.' 'What did you remember. but no finished paintings. 'I wonder why old Joshua left this frame empty?' he asked. 'Gosh. and you guys gone home. 'Just an imitation painting. There was one ornate gold fram e. 'That old Joshua used to store his paintings in the adobe back in the canyon. Inside.' Jupiter and Hal found unused canvases and cans of li nseed oil and thinner. then.' Hal unlocked the doo r. I' d search the adobe by myself. 'So do I!' Hal said eage rly. 'After you left. and Bob.'We consider that a possibility.' Jupiter acknowledged. was silent and remote. 'He had someone else's painting in it when he first came here. Pete.' 'And that's the key to the adobe?' Jupiter asked. In the afternoon sun. It's empty--my dad keeps it locked because it's of historical int erest and he doesn't want vandals damaging it. Hal led the trio of investigators along the gorge away f rom the road. you know? A print. Dad's still talking to th e Countess and Mr Marechal. Hal and I wi ll examine this main room. so I came over here alone. so it has to be built thick to carry the weight. The only heat's a fireplace.' Jupiter informed them. The old cabin. Hal nod ded. Beyond the small main room.' Hal said. After a while Hal struck off to the left into the bru shwood. 'I figured that with Dad and the others talking. The wooden flo or was thick with dust and dirt. 'Adobe doesn't have the strength o f normal brick. and there's no bathroom.' . 'At least a hundred and fifty years ago. and it was cool. A dim light filtered through the cracks in the shutters. which was made of thick hand-hewn planks. But I gave old Joshua the key whe n he first came here. The other boys followed. with wrought-iron bands and hinges. The gully wound past the Carswell house and then curved rather sha rply back into the canyon. there was a smaller bedroom and a kitchen.' Hal explained. breaking through the thick. tangled growth unti l they reached a small clearing of hard-baked clay.

'Acorns and pine nuts. Hal. and they were locked into the bedroom. 'If there's anything hidden in th at kitchen. studying its joins and pressing on all the zigzag ridges.' The two boys exami ned the ornate frame. Pete felt the mattress where Bob indicated. Jupiter shook his head.' 'We can't see much out here. . 'It's the storehouse of a ground squirrel or field mouse. almost round little objects like stones. 'Hey! Hey out there!' 'Open the door! We're in here!' Bob shouted. 'What is it? ' Hal said perplexed.' Jupiter said excitedly. 'Look at the design on the frame. They laughed until the tears came do wn their faces. ?' There was a rasping sound as the bolt s hot home outside. it's in the walls. 'There's something inside this mattress. They were laughing so hard that they did not notice the bedroom door swinging closed until it shut tight with a heavy thud! Pete stopped laughin g and stared at the door. They s aw a cache of small. 'We're locked in!' Hal cried.' Jupiter pointed out. 'I can't see where anything could be hidden. The boys crowded around to look inside. Bob stoo d over a battered old mattress that lay in a corner. it's all zigzags! You think he was talking about this frame when he babb led about zigzags?' 'It's thick enough to hide something in. and then they began to laugh.' Bob said. Pete came from the kitchen. Its cover had diagonal stri pes. Pete b egan to pound on the heavy door.' Jupiter said in chagrin. either. 'In here!' In the tiny bedroom.' Hal said. . dark.' The boys all stared at the lit tle cache of nuts. 'Gosh. 'Hey!' . Maybe jewe ls!' 'Cut it open.' the First Investigator said. Pete took out his pocket kni fe and cut open the old mattress. 'What . The difference between jewels a nd nuts was so great that it was hilarious. ' 'Why. 'Fellows!' Bob called from the bedroom.'But not the frame. there sure is! Like a bag full of stones. Second.

Hours had passe d. 'I wonder why they built one.' groaned Hal. 'You come out here a lot.' 'No. 'Of cours e. Hal?' Pete asked. Whoever it was moved slowly.' Jupiter whispered.' said Jupiter. utterly discouraged. He'll find u s. and the walls w ere too thick to dig through with Pete's pocket knife. 'There might be a w ay out. The outside door closed. 'My dad'll miss me soon. 'I guess not. The boys all thought about that in silence. People don't ha ve basements much in California.' Pete said. 'If on ly we could get down to the basement under here. and the boys heard it loc k. The noisy search went on a few more minutes. The boys had shouted themselves hoarse.' Jupiter said with a sigh.' Hal said uneasily.' He thought a moment and suddenly sat up excitedly. Hal said. listening again to the hollow sound. there's a lot of other places I'd go first. But when the Ame ricans . They had found a hollow s pot under the floor where the basement was. But all we've got is my pocket knife. 'Oh no. they don't. 'No. The tall Second Investigator listened to the hollow sound. Anyway. 'We're really trapped in here. banging linseed oil and thinne r cans. of course! They didn't build cellars under these old adobes. 'It looks to me like we're going to be late for a lot more than dinner. 'I left the key in the lock!' They began to yell and po und on the walls again. The boys sat on the old mattress. 'I never knew there was a cellar under the adobe. Out in the main r oom someone was moving around. smashing the canvases and the one frame. The others stopped shouting and banging.' he said. Then all was silent. Faint beams of moonlight came throu gh the cracks in the heavy shutter on the single bedroom window. but no way down.' 'Then it could be a l ong wait for your dad.' Hal got up and stamped along the wall beside Pete. 'We're already late for dinner.' 'We're going to be in trouble at home.' Bob said.' Bob said gloomily.' Pete groane d. The door and window were locked tight. It was dark outside. The adobe was too far from the big ho use for them to be heard.'Wait!' Jupiter said. 'It's a search. Pe te got up and stamped on the floor next to a wall cupboard that was built out fr om one corner. tapping the walls an d floor. 'Especially no t in an old adobe.

fellows!' Bob lowered himself into the hole. 'It's a dirt tunnel. It was a narrow cupboard with a heavy layer of dust and dirt on the floor.' Jupiter said. revealing a narrow black hole. Bob and Pete brushed away the grime. . 'Can anyone see the bottom?' Bob asked nervously. Pete and Hal peered down i nto the black hole. but .and Spanish people were enemies. held on to the edge for a moment--and dropped down into the blackness. It s eemed hours. 'Okay--someone go f irst!' 'If only we hadn't left our torches on the bikes. . back under the .' Hal said. Wait a minute.' The three boys up in the cupboard heard movement below. 'No. A voice rose out of the blackness. 'Bob?' Pete called. Pete took out his p ocket knife and probed in the cracks between the floor boards.' 'If you fellows think I'm jumping down a hole when I can't see the bottom. they often built escape tunnels! I think there' s a passage under there!' Jupiter studied the little room. The blac k hole gaped up at them. 'you're crazy! I'll stay here. but it was only minutes before Bob spoke again. 'This section mov es!' Pete cried.' His eyes fi xed on the cupboard door. fellows!' Pet e got to the cupboard first. h ere goes. but I can feel the wal ls.' 'Whoever locked us in might come back. and the trap door swung up. 'We didn't really examine that cupboard. It was Bob who finally stepped up to the hole. Bob and Pete grabbed the ring. fellows. The boys s tared down. and a trap door with a rusted iron ring in the centre. 'I would think there would be a way down to an escape passage from every room. I can't see anything. no!' Pete moaned. Under it was d irt. Bob and Pete lifted up a whole section of floor. 'I t's just all black.' the smallest boy said.' Jupiter said. 'The tunnel only go es about six feet one way. all right.' Pete declared. 10 -A Chase in the Night -------------------Jupiter. 'Oh. 'Well. 'Geronimo.

'but th e air seems it seemed harde r to put his foot down. Each of the boys sensed the others shivering. fellows?' Pete moved ahea d a little faster. For a few . Another twenty steps. 'Pete. . I've lost my sense of direction.' the leader of the Investigators said at last.' Pete said hastily.' Hal said.' Pete was uneasy. too. And I don't think we should risk waiting for the one who locked us in to come back. Each of you hold on to the belt of the person in front. and they stood out in the open night. that's the end of The Three Investigators--and Hal. There was a small turn in the passage--and they all saw it ah ead. But we're not getting anywhere just sittin g in this room. seems clear. . 'Bob? How is the air down there? Can you feel any movement of air?' 'No movement. let's go. 'If it caves in. but I can't budge it. Jupe comes second. and dropp ed from sight. the four boys moved cautiously on. 'did I feel something moving? ' They all froze. This time he might . Pete f eeling his way at each step. taking charge. but it was too dark in the passage. then Hal.' They went slowly along the pitch black passage. 'How do we know where it goes. The other way. Each time Pete took a step. 'Air?' Bob said. At the bottom of the narrow t unnel they all tried to see each other.' Jupiter said. the dark and silence deep in t he earth weighing them down. so we don't lose anyone.' Bob said. Jupe?' 'We coul d get lost. It w as also cold. and finally Jupiter. Okay. Hal went next. and they had to crou ch as they inched along.' 'You just convinced me. 'But I'm not sure. The Second Investigator lowered himself into the black hole. all right.' Up in the cupboard Jupiter hesitated. He looked d own into the black hole. Where did it lead? 'This tunnel might be very dangerous . and Bob at th e rear.' Pete said.' Pete announced after a time. A patch of lighter darkness! 'It's an opening!' Pete cried. Jupiter bit his lip. He called down. going away from the hous e. They spoke less and less. There's another trap door at the end. our friend locked the front door. 'I'll lead. 'It seems to be going straight. 'Is the air moving. The passage had a low ceiling.' In complete darkness . Besides . 'We'd better move.

'De Groot. 'He's chas ing us!' 'He locked us in the old adobe!' Hal exclaimed. the art dealer pursued.' . . Pet e redoubled his speed--and ran full tilt into a man! Hands grabbed him but Pete broke away. . . ending in a crash and a heavy thud! 'What th e . A sharp cry not ten yards away. 'There are the bikes!' Pete cried. De Groot.' 'Agghhhh!' A cry echoed through the moonlig ht. They ran faster in the night. !' They ran towards the far end of the gorge where th ey had left their bikes. 'I don't see anyone behind you now.' Bob said. When they looked back at the mouth of the small tunnel. boys.' Jupiter announced. guys!' The man tried to intercept the other boys. 'Run. 'Watch out!' Pete cried. stumbling in the r ocky gully. The moonlight seemed as bright as d ay after the tunnel. Behind them. They were safe--out of the adobe. The steep s ides of the gorge reached above them. like a ghost in the moonlight. 'Who's here ?' a rough voice said. and o ut of the terrible blackness of the passage.' Pete panted. The boys ran. ?' Pete quavered.moments they just grinned at each other. 'We found a secret tunn el. you . they saw that it was completely hidden by an overhang of the bank and a thick growth of trailing plants in front of it. 'Hal! It's me!' 'Dad!' Professor Carswell st ood in the moonlight beside the boys' bikes. 'we'll go back and . . He limped towards them . his suit covered with dust and debris as if he had fallen into the gorge. . who dodged around him. 'Stop. 'Now. 'or we'd still be there!' The Professor peered back up the gorge. looking around. A form loomed up before them in the night. 'So! You kids!' The boys saw the fierce face of the so-ca lled art dealer. undaunted.' Hal said. . 'We're in the gorge.

too. f ellows. 'Then he must have come back to get us.' Jupiter said. 'You look like some one died!' Pete said.' Pete started to explain. sir. His eyes seem ed to be seeing something very far away.' Professor Carswell said. 'Had to mow the lawn. and found the bikes. found us gone. He stopped. that could be true. dropping into a chair. Jupiter and Bob sat slumped around the desk. he searched t he adobe. and we heard him in time to run.' Bob said glumly. Pete w as supposed to have mowed the lawn after dinner.' 'Gosh. and tried to catch us again. and to ld about what had happened in the old adobe. they all received scoldings for missing dinner. 'I guess we'll just have to stay confused.' Jupiter nodded slowly.' Hal said. 'You didn't do anything wrong. With us. and his father told him to do i t first thing in the morning.' 'Sure it was.' Pete said. 'He called a few minutes ago. 'He was there. But he fell into the gorge.' 'And someone just searche d the cottage again.' Jupiter moaned. and Jupiter looked ill. t oo. you could all have been in serious danger. I admit. He's going to send a small bonus.' Professor Carswell said. Bob was totally dejected. Aunt Mathilda muttered that the devil found work for idle hands.' 'If I hadn't been looking for Hal. But w hat's wrong.' Bob said sadly. 'After he trapped us. 'I expect it was this De Groot. but the stout leader of the trio said nothing for a time.The gorge was silent in the moonlight. guys?' 'Mr Marechal just fired us. Dad. Jupiter sighed. He didn't think we could do much more anywa y. This coul d be getting too serious for boys!' 11 -Jupiter Makes Some Deductions ---------------------------When The Three Investigators returned home that evening. He must have had the same idea we did. 'No. 'Our first failure!' 'With so much that is still confusing. So when Pete finally scrambled up into Headquarter s the next day. 'We ll. I don't mean that. Pete . But I don't like this De Groot being around. Mr Marechal said that the situation was becoming too dangerous and the police should be called in. he found that he was the last to arrive. Professor Carswell told him what happened last ni ght at the adobe. but she was fortunately distracted from assigning ex tra chores to Jupiter by the start of her favourite television programme.

'T hen let us assume that Joshua's last words are correct as reported. He said that Joshua's babbled word s were more like: Tell them . . that possibly more than one person knows this. The Professor could have known there was something valuable a ll along. Third. than was suspected. 'Hal. 'According to the Professor. . . reports in greater detail. that old Joshua m ust have had something more valuable. . Jupe. . my canvas . wrong. zig when zag .' Jupiter read. fourth. canvas. . 'First. wrong way . First. zigzag. A mystery. Over and over like that. But what's the right way?' . . or confused. 'Perhaps not.' 'What d eductions?' Pete said. wrong to zigzag . or he could have guessed it when that intruder broke in that first day . Records! And by pr oving to him that we are the ones to solve the puzzle!' Pete shook his head.' 'Then we must convince him to allow us to continue .' 'But we do! We have Joshua Cameron's last words. 'The Three Investigators do not leave a case until it is co mpleted!' 'How do we convince him to let us go on?' Bob asked.' Jupiter said. Bob.' 'You think Hal and his dad are lying?' Bob exclaimed.' Pete objected. . and our deductions. wrong. But Mr Marechal might get mad if we keep nosing around. or at least important. tell 'em . 'We kn ow that Joshua didn't pay his rent the last months. Joshua used the words paintings. . And. .' said Pete. Maybe Mr Marechal is right. . 'Now all we have to do is solve the riddle of Joshua Cameron's last words--provided we've been told the true words.watched him. Second. who was with the old man more. . and the Professor actually a dvanced him money. my paintings . and zig when zag and wrong way sound as if Joshua was giving directions. and masters. that old Joshua's last delirious words were meant as a message!' The round-faced leader of the tea m sat back. Jupiter leaned across the desk.' Pete scratched his head. at least in general. 'Tell t hem sounds like a message. that the missing twenty paintings are somehow part of the secret. . . master . 'We know the Professor needs money.' Jupiter declared. 'I don't know. 'Don't turn in your badge yet. . We don't have much to go ahead on . 'I've got a hunch J upiter isn't going to stay fired. .' Jupiter said. 'By showing him t hat there is more to this affair than he realizes.' Jupiter took out a sheet of pa per and put it on the table. Some way is wrong. I have writt en them down as Hal and the Professor told them.' 'I don't think Hal would lie.

Jupe?' Bob asked. something suddenly seemed wrong. My canvas. Only.' Jupiter said lamely.' Pete suggested.' 'De Groot seems to think Joshua's paintings are good. but then Joshua's last words wouldn't be a message. 'Maybe that's it! Maybe Joshua Camero n really was a good painter. are a painter's way of referring to his paintings.' Jupiter pointed out.' Jupiter stopped. Jupe?' Bob asked.' Ju piter said.' the First Investigator said slowly. Bob cried. A great painter. it was by itself without the word way. 'A gang of crooks. would n't.' Pete said. 'while Bob's idea that Joshua's paintings are really valuable. and tell 'em the second time.' 'What do es that mean. 'that part seems missing.' P ete said. 'Mr Marechal is only the Countess's estate manager. 'I'm sure there is a message. too.' Jupiter admitted. say tell him? Unless he wanted to leave a message for more than one person. 'and there's another difference. Hal reports the words tell them the first time . but eccentric. 'Would Joshua lump them together as them? Wouldn't he give the mess age just for his sister. you notice that the secon d time Hal used the word wrong.'Yes.' 'We all say tell 'em when we mean tell them. 'I suppose that's all it is. 'Old Joshua kept to himself and never left the cottage--almost as if he were scared. 'Master and my paintings could mean that Joshua thought his paintings were mast erpieces--even though he was only an amateur.' Pete guess ed. so he wouldn't show or sell his work! Maybe De Groot thinks he could sell Joshua's paintings for a whole lot of money!' 'That could be. and just canvas. Bob studied the words. 'I don't really know. and one thing bothe rs me--why did Joshua say to tell them? Who is them?' 'The Countess and Mr Marec hal.' Jupit er analysed. maybe? Or smugglers?' Jupiter sa id. 'Whil e I was talking about last night at the adobe. At the . a worried expression on his face. and say tell her? Or if it's for someone else. 'What is it. De Groot wouldn't have smashed everything in the adobe if he was hunting fo r twenty paintings. Maybe he was hiding out!' 'And De Groot is one of the gang. Maybe for a gang?' 'A gang?' Pete gaped.' Jupiter agreed. or for something smuggled into the country!' 'That w ould explain De Groot's search of the adobe when he locked us in last night. 'looking for some loot. 'I'm not sure.

. 'Anyway. Come. I'll get a porter . Once out of sight of the des k. Jupiter sounded for all the world like some English lord. but I can't put my finger on it. I think we now have enough deductions to go to Mr Marechal and try t o get him to let us continue. Pete and Jupiter parked their bikes and walked into the glittering main entrance hall. but the assistant at the reception desk had not. boys?' the man said.' Jupiter sai d. 'I expect we shall manage.' Pete said.back of my mind I feel I'm missing a fact. and when he spoke his voice had a rich English accent! 'Announce us to the Countess. The man hesitated uncerta inly. Jupiter dropped his act and laughed. 'Mr Marec hal is in cottage ten. and may be what De Groot wants. 'if you will be so kind as to inform me of Armand's room numb er. 'We still want to find those paintings.' 'What do I do?' Bob demanded. severe-looking man seated at the reception desk watched them suspiciously . 'You'll go and try again to talk to Skinny Norris. Pete became nervous.' 12 -Failure! -------The Cliff House Motel was an elegant resort establishment on the Pacific Ocean a mile south of Rocky Beach.' Jupiter said grandly. 'Perhaps not.' Still looking down his nose. my good man . Pete.' Jupit er explained.' 'I can't think of anything wrong last night.' the desk clerk said. Learn where he got that one painting. Records. Jupiter paraded majestically through the hall and out the side do or into the beautiful grounds of the elegant motel. but J upiter was not easily intimidated.' 'I shouldn't bother. and Mr Peter Crenshaw.' Jupiter said. You may also inform Monsieur Marech al we are here.' Pete could barely keep from laughing. 'May I ask your business here. 'On second thoug ht.' Jupiter said. A tall. At least. we shall present ourselves personally.' 'Er. my good man. Pete and I will go. . He had seen Jupe's act be fore.' . 'Cottage ten is to the left by that sign . The stout boy drew himself up as tall as poss ible. 'Jupi ter Jones the Fourth. looking down his nose at the clerk. I'm not ruling out y our idea that they may be good after all. Peter.

who turned quickly to stare towards the boys. Skinny had to go th at way! Jupiter began to run directly towards the pool. 'we just discovered Skinny Norris breaking into your cottage! Pete is pursuing him now. Employees in expensive places are easily int imidated. the snooper went to Mr Marech al's door and tried to force it open. Single cottages.' Pete said. The y could hear the motel guests swimming and laughing in the motel pool and conver sing on the cocktail terrace. 'Jupe!' Pete burst out. . racing among the palms and hibiscus. 'Here is cottage nine. and saw that Skin ny would have to circle back on the far side of the pool if he was to escape thr ough the front of the motel. as well as rows of less expensive rooms.' Too l oud. Then. like a surprised scarecrow. and stopped just before he would have ru n right into the man. sir. Pete's voice startled the snooper. With Pete cutting off his rear. peering inside! As they watched. Pete went after the lanky youth. He analysed the situation. as the boys started towards h im. Someone was standing at a windo w of cottage ten. He reached the cocktail terrace. If Pete can--' . 'At least a punc h in the nose!' 'I hardly think so. were scattered throughout the secluded grounds. and completely failed to see Mr Marechal until the small. 'which means that cottage ten will be next around this palm tree. 'It's .' Jupiter panted. 'Is this your detective method? To trample me?' 'Sir. 'Awwkk!' Jupiter cried. Jupiter realized that he himself had no chance of catching Skinny by direct pursuit. Their enemy's mouth dropped op en for a moment. 'After him. Second!' Jupiter cried. 'Skinny Norris!' Jupiter finished for Pete. Skinny whirled and dashed off through the heavy vegetation of the motel grou nds.' Jupiter observed. They followed a narrow path through evergreen shrubs.'That act is going to get us into trouble some day. and puffed out on to the green concrete to pass the pool itself. He was watching across the pool for a glimpse of Skinny or Pete. silver-haired estate manager was directly i n front of him. They have to be very careful not to offend anyone who might be importa nt. and I was attempting to intercept him!' 'That boy who had one of Joshua Cam eron's paintings?' 'Yes.' The boys came round the palm tree--and stopped.' Jupiter said. 'Jupiter! What the devil are you doing?' Mr Marechal thund ered. .

eh? I presume you had some reason?' 'Let us stay on the case. Mr Marechal. that perhaps old Joshua was a good painter after all. and a police matter.' Mr Marechal mused. But what would young Norris want with them? A stuffed owl? Silverware? Binoculars? What earthly . boys. 'I'm sorry. looking at the Countess. and has hidden some valuable loot or some smuggled treasure!' 'Gang?' the estate manager said. 'We think there are two poss ible explanations. . Or. 'Joshua could have been a dupe. He was looking at the terrace. Mr Marechal.' Mr Marechal broke off .' 'Unfor tunate. bo ys?' Mr Marechal quickly explained about Skinny Norris. If so. but . 'we can help--!' 'Absolutely out of the ques tion! I'm sorry. and he doesn't sound a pleasant man. sir. The Countess was worried. sir. 'Old Joshua was eccentric.' Slowly. and De Groot knows this. This time they had really failed! 13 . 'J oshua Cameron's possessions?' 'Yes. and that old Joshua's last words were a message. that someone knew this. 'Are you in trouble. Pete came walking dejectedly around the pool from the direction of the main entrance. First. Good-bye. and waved the boys to se ats. boys.' the Countess said slowly. boys.' Pete said. She is concerned in this. .' 'Bu t.' Pete blurted out. . The y followed Mr Marechal to her. and he explained how they had concluded that Joshua Cameron had had something v aluable. 'He got away. .' The boys saw the Countess at a table on the terrace.' Mr Marechal frowned.At that moment. sir?' Jupiter asked. 'But you didn't come here to chase young Norris. second . You may have hit on s omething. that Joshua was secretly part of a gang. 'You mean criminals? T he Countess's brother? Preposterous.' Jupiter protested. ' this man De Groot does appear to want something. sir. Pete and Jupiter got up and left the t errace.' Jupiter hurried on. sir. 'I think the Countess wants us to join her. 'What on earth was he doing at my cottage?' 'Are t he things we recovered for the Countess in your cottage. it is more dangerous than ever.' 'We've made some deductions.' 'Hmmmm. boys!' 'Still. and his paintings would be worth a lot.' Jupiter said. that the missing paintings were involved someho w. 'We've--' 'We'd like you to.

ma'am!' both boys exclaimed at once. 'If I permit you to continue working for me. . and her regal face became sad. 'But you've shown me that you're intelligent and know what you're doing. and smiled. secretive man.' the Countess said. What had they done now? The door man directed them into a small side room. Pete swallowed.' 'You mean we can stay on the case!' Pete cried. you'll promise to be careful?' 'We sure will!' Pete declared.' the Counte ss said. 'I recall that your card says the Chief of Police belie ves in you. 'Good. . 'Follow me. .' Jupiter stammered.' 'We are. . shrugged. and he had some strange friends. and meekly followed the doorman back into the hall. I . 'I had to see you before you left. He never seemed to have a home. They were so despondent t hat they did not notice the doorman coming after them. sir. 'You seem to have done fine work up until now. I did not know my brother well. 'Mr Marechal has changed hi s mind. 'I must know if your deductions have any truth. then. . but even so .' the Countess went on.' The Countess sighed. He was an odd.' 'Speak up.' she said. As I told you. ma'am?' Jupiter asked. I want to know the truth about my poor . . he felt a restraining hand on his arm.-A Sudden Attack --------------Jupiter and Pete walked slowly through the elegan t motel hallway and out the front door to their bikes. 'No. As Jupe began to mount hi s bike. They saw the severe-looking man at the reception desk watching them. 'Are you two the investigators?' the doorman demanded. and I think you will find the truth for me. and I think you are more responsible than Mr Marechal imagines. Hurry up!' The bo ys looked at each other. I never knew what he really did all those years. and closed the door behind them. The C ountess sat alone inside the room. and he's probably right. and messenger boys staring at them from every exit.' Jupiter said.' 'He might only have been a dupe for crooks. 'Better that than a real criminal. 'We . 'I hated to see you so disappointed after you'd worked so hard for us. boys! Are you or are n't you?' 'Ye--yes.

'I thought he looked scared. Ex cited to be still on the case. but be careful. Records?' Jupit er said. with a separate studio.' 'Is that important. 'When he came home. When you know more. 'Very well.' Bob remembered. Jupiter. 'He's been working as an assistant to Mr Maxwell James!' Pete was puzzl ed. 'But you feel Joshua hid it somewhere.' 'Countess?' Jupiter said. Bob?' Pete asked.' 'The famous artist!' Jupiter exclaim ed. . re turn and report to me. Records.' Bob declared. it's great we're still on the case!' 'You saw Skinny at his house. 'And you have some news about him?' 'I sure do. G osh. and he does l ive right here in Rocky Beach!' 'In a big mansion. and that hi s last words were a message to someone? To say where it was?' 'I'm sure of it. Whatever do yo u think this valuable something could be? If there is something. fellows!' Bob announced the moment his two partners entered .' Jupiter said eagerly. they hurried out to their bikes. he just ran into his house and stayed there. 'Maxwell James? Is that supposed . 'So that's where Skin ny drove up from in such a wild hurry. But I'd managed to have a talk with the Morrises' gardener before that. an d told Bob all about what had happened at The Cliff House. and I found out where S kinny is working. 'It sure is a coincidence that we're looking for paintings. 'So have we!' Pete said. 'His paintings are known all over the world. Records? ' Jupiter asked. did you?' 'Nothing. w hoever he is.' Jupiter admitted. 'We're back on the case. his eyes shining.' Jupiter crowed.' The regal lady smiled at the boys and dismissed them. As Pete and Jupi ter scrambled up from Tunnel Two into once and for all. . Especially of this De Groot. and Skin ny is working . Don't make me regret allowing you to go on.' Bob said. 'Where.' 'We don't know that yet. they found Bob waiting for t hem. 'You didn't find anything i n what we already recovered for you. 'I've got news.

and sta y low!' They moved cautiously through the tangled shrubbery.' They parked their bikes ju st outside the high iron gates to the estate of Mr Maxwell James. 'Careful. I think we must pay a visit to Mr Maxwell James. Stand still!' A voice spoke sharply from behind the boys. castle-like house above the trees on the heavily w ooded grounds. They went through the big gates. and started up a narrow. they looked at the green eyes that stared savagely at them. as they watched.' Pete moaned. 'So! I've caught you.' Pete decided. Even. 'What was that?' Bob whispered. a nd he held a gleaming spear with a narrow blade at least three feet long! Lookin g for somewhere to escape. 'Someone needs help!' Bob cried. agonized scream. The iron gates were open. 'I don't want to kn ow. a loud.' They whirled to see a big. guys. fellows. A scream like a w oman or child in great pain. have I? Don't try to get away. 'Run!' 'NO!' Pete command ed.' 'Too much coincidence. 'Let's go!' The agonized scream came again. 'I guess we just walk in. With a sudden snarl. They could see the stone towers of a large.' Jupiter said. The man's eyes were angry. bear-like man with a red beard and thick red hair.for a famous painter. chilling scream echoed through the grounds. A huge spotted cat crouched in the clearing! Speechless. 'A leopard!' Jupiter said. 'After lun ch. 'Come on. the boys turned back towards the enormous cat. The chilling scream sounded again--directly in front of them! Jupiter parted some thick leaves. the leopard leaped straight at the boys! 14 -The Haunted Painting s --------------------- . Al l at once. Somewhere to the l eft. winding path through jungle-like vegetation.' Jupiter said. 'Don't run. and they looked through the bushes at a small clearing. and no one seemed to be around in the a fternoon sun. the tawny cat opened its fanged mouth--and gave the high.

'Mr Maxwell James!' 'And you're painting the leopard. it slunk away into the small clearing and crouched there. But now-' 'Norris? That young scamp! Now I'm sure you three are up to no good! March int o my house.' said Jupe. Jupit er seized the chance. Gl umly. sir. 'How . staring at them with its green eyes. 'You didn't think anyone would let an African leopard roam loose in Rocky Beach. It's a most unusua l spear. 'I a m painting many African themes. For example.' Pete said hotly. ?' Bob began. his hand struck the invisible wall. .' 'The Chief knows you?' Mr James hesitated. That whole clearing is inside a glass cage!' 'Of course it i s. 'The leopard's in a big glass cage. savage spear straight at the b oys. sir?' 'How else could I study the animal's movements. I shall call the police!' The artist levelled the menacing spear. 'Now. sits. 'You're the artist!' Jupiter re alized. . Mr James herded them int o a book-lined study. what have you three trespassers been doing in my studio!' 'We haven't been in your studio. 'If you would examine our cards.' Bob guessed. the way it walks.The savage leopard hurled through the air at the boys--and seemed to strike an i nvisible wall! It fell back to the ground. castle-like house. 'If you're calling the police. 'We're detectives. the boys marched into the big. Pete reached out through the leaves in front of t hem. 'Why do you have it in that glass cage. with a very long. We're so close to the glas s. thin blade.' Jupiter said. the play of its muscles. Mr J ames. 'ask fo r Chief Reynolds. screams?' the bearded man said. sir. did you?' 'I . 'and we're not trespassers!' 'Then what are you doing sneaking around on my land?' Jupiter said. but it has other uses!' And Mr James aimed the long. We came here to talk to you about your assistant.' . Skinny Norris. Only a foot away. it would help.' the red-bearded man said behind them. Made for lion hunting. this spear here. Bob asked. . He knows us. A Masai spear. his voice shaking. I guess we weren't thinking. . we can't see it. 'Glass!' the Second I nvestigator said. Bruised.

Alfred informs me t hat you are honest boys. .' Mr James said grudgingly. 'My studio is some distance from this house. 'What? How do you know there's a mystery in my studio?' 'You accused us of doing something in your studio. I see. I have some cards of theirs. 'So something has happened there. the film director. O ther objects were out of place. 'Alfred?' Mr James glared. if I value my peaceful life. and considered the boys. you are detectives. 'Alfred? Max James.' Mr James stated. too.' Mr James said. here . 'So he said. An d you said you might need imagination. Hmmmm.' The artist hung up. 'Now you have made a mistake! I will call my good friend Alfred. are they?. I have in my house a trio of young trespassers! They . 'Are the `haunted' paintings lik e the one painting that . boys.' the First Investigator said. those ar e their names. yes. and quite clever. He asked for Mr Hitchcock.' 'Would it have anything to do with a stolen painting?' 'How the devil did you know that? Not stolen. What? Yes.' 'That is clever deduction. Very well.' Mr James lean ed his Masai spear in a corner. if you sti ll don't believe us!' Pete said.' Jupiter said. But that has nothing to do with my mys tery. he also says that involvemen t with you three is to be avoided at all costs. 'So. I arrived to work--and found that paintings had moved during the night. . . Perhaps I need imagina tions. and that you tend to have somewhat wild imaginations. I fired the culprit. so whatever has happened must be a myster y. Nothing missing.' 'To solve the mystery in your studio. sir?' Jupiter asked. to expose you!' The artist picked u p the telephone and dialled. 'Call Alfred Hitchcock.The stocky leader of the boys took out their cards and gave them to the artist. 'However. To put it bluntly. No spear seems needed. . They are. 'I can think of no other explanatio n. . Mr James read them with a scowl. How did you know? . but taken without perm ission and returned. Good-bye. 'This does appear to be the Chief's signature. yes . . . I seem to have acquired some haunted paintings!' 'Haunted paintings?' Bob and Pete exclaimed. The last two mor nings. 'Mr Hitchcock has helped us greatly. .' Jupiter sa id primly. after all. and no chaos--just a few t hings where I didn't leave them. Alfred.

sir!' Pete said. The windows. There were no hollow places in the floor or in any of the walls . Jupiter turned first t o inspect the hinges of the iron door. ' There's only the one door. which opened inward. Pe te. the Countess and Mr Marechal. Jupiter. 'M aybe earthquakes made the things move.' Mr James said. equip ped with racks for everything. my boy. and De Groot. an electric cord dangled from it down to a socket near the floor. door. It was a large studio.' 'Then I think I can explain what has been happening. burglar-proof 'It is guaranteed to take an expert an hour to pick that lock. and untouched. yes! They are all ones I bought from a junky ard. The floor itself was solid stone. Light poured in through two casement windows and a big skylight.' . As they went in.' Inside. We get little ones all the time. At night.' Mr James observed. solid. The skylight did not open at all. fortress-like room.' Jupiter said. The studio was with heavily barred window s and a massive iron Jupiter paused to study the modern. A simple. sir?' 'Why.' 'No. past also a stone building. 'So I think that someone has been entering your studio to examine the paintings!' 'I see. 'Would you boys care to inspect the studio?' 'Yes. out of the big stone house and acr oss the the leopard in its glass cage. 'The paintings weren't just moved.' Mr James said. with no base ment underneath. and to ld about Joshua Cameron. 'There is only one problem. They were on the inside. lock on the iron door.' Mr James said. 'and there are no marks on it anyway. They followed Mr James overgrown estate. A small exhaust fan was built high into the rear wall. 'Gosh. 'Absolutely no way to get in or ou t. with no way in or out except through the single door.' Mr James declared. were solidly barred on the out side.' Mr James said.' Pete said. they were in the wrong sl ots in their racks. there is no way in or out o f my studio! At night. it is a completely locked room!' 15 -The Boys Set a Trap ------------------'A locked room?' Bob cried. 'And I lock that every night.was taken and returned. There was no fireplace or stove.

none of them very original. 'Then. I'm always looking for used canvases. you said. Last week I your unc le's junkyard for the first time. amazingly so. 'Because I art ists do dropped by that there twenty. 'They change. and use for my own work. You must have `feeling. on the odd chance might be some old paintings in stock. all twenty paintings were spread around the studio. 'No.' Pete explained. It takes more than the finest skill to make a g reat artist. the world may have lost a fine painter. Jupiter saw the edges of two of Joshua Camero n's last paintings. 'Alas. Jupiter. these paintings show very good technique. He pointed to a large rack filled wi th completed paintings.' A few minutes later. Mr James?' Jupiter said. It's indeed odd that he was totally unknown. 'But I doubt it.' Jupiter said. boys. Mr James nodded.' 'His work could have been gr eat?' Jupiter asked.' 'He never showed or sold his work. 'But. Cameron was an extremely expert paint er. could someone have thought these paintings we re valuable.' something that makes your work di fferent from anyone else's work. that's my work.' Mr James indicated a smaller rac k that held mostly blank canvases. and I found these 'You'll paint over them?' Bob said. sir. 'Why do you have them in that rack for unused canvases.' Mr James nodd ed. 'Of cour se. Thes e paintings have been done twenty different ways. Mr Cameron imitated the work . 'The canvases I b ought from the junkyard are over in that rack. and I never heard of Joshua Cameron. and wanted to buy them?' 'Perhaps. yes. Joshua Cameron doesn't seem to have had.' the artist said.' 'You mean most a rtists paint the same all the time?' Bob asked. as a matter of fact.'These racks here. You notice how each of these paintings looks ve ry different? As if each one were done by a different artist? Most artists have a style of their own. 'An eccentric. 'I mean. 'May we see all the paintings.' `style. but not much. Mr James?' Jupiter questioned.' Mr James looked thoughtfully at the paintings. 'you don't think they're very good? They're not worth anything?' 'Not to me.' bought them to paint over. Mr James?' he asked. Most that. leaning on the walls and racks. Help me out with them.' Mr James said.

' Pete said aft er a time. 'and that's why someone has been in here moving them at night. 'There is no such thing as a locked room in which things move by themselves. There were no frames. The paint ings were now lined up so that the largest close-up of the cottage was first. smiling. 'the wa y they're painted. But what could that mean?' 'So now you have t he mystery of the shrinking house. 'Neither do I. the canvas chair--all stay the same size in each painting. Jupiter shook his head firmly.' The boys studied the pain tings. and found a number on each on e--painted right on the picture in a corner.' said Jupiter at last.' The Firs t Investigator sat down on a long.' Mr James said.' said Jupe. 'to go with my haunt ed paintings!' 'I know there's something important about these paintings. 'There sure isn't anything hidden in them. an d the view from farthest away was last. 'You know. 'Fellows! They seem to be numbered! This is number one. just the canvases stretched on wood. Jupiter. In the end. Mr James sat on a couch.' Pete decided. the rocks. They moved them until they were in order. But the h ouse gets smaller until about all you can see in the last one is that porch awni ng. sir?' Jupiter asked. Then Jupiter bent down close to one. Jupe!' said Bob. rug-covered bench. Then they stood back and looked at them again.' 'How are we going to do that?' Pete asked.' Jupiter agreed. In each one. 'we might find out w hy the paintings are important.' Mr James said. the cottage looks like its shrinking.' Bob agreed.' The boys hurriedly inspected the paintings again. Bob and Pete each took armchairs. and .of other artists instead of expressing a distinctive style of his own. . and looked all around the studio. 'and no messages I can see. Jupiter. staring at the paintings.' 'May we examine them. No knowle dgeable buyer of art would think these paintings were valuable. The trees in the front. . 'If we could catch the person who has been breaking in here.' 'No. . 'I don't get any message.' 'No one can get in here.' Jupit er said. So did Mr James. 'It does look like the house is shrinking i nstead of just being farther away. 'Go right ahead.' 'You're right. th ey found nothing. the cottage in Remuda Canyon seemed to stare back.

I want to know how things got moved in a locked studio. 'One o f us must hide in this cupboard and see if anyone gets in the studio tonight!' ' All right. It was lined with shelves filled with cans. When all seemed safe. carefully looking and listening for signs of the my sterious intruder.' Pete groaned aloud. sir. Pete watched it grow dark outside the two barred windows. and had solid stone walls. Maxwell James came noisily down the path from the main house.' Mr James assured him. Then he strode noisily back to the house to wait for dark. Just before sunset. I'm certain you would be watched. Jupiter. 'Sure. 'But I don't think I want to be in here when I find out!' ' We'll be outside. Outside. The arti st checked that Pete was in the cupboard.' Jupiter decided.' 'Gee. . Pete . An intruder wo uld never come in unless he was sure you had locked up and gone.' Jupiter said. and other eq uipment. Then all three boys went home. and Jupe and Pete made arrangements to stay with Mr James overnight. He w as cramped in a sitting position. An hour passed. brushes.' Jupiter said. T hey hid outside for a while.' Bob sai d. when he would join Jupiter. Pete darted into the studio and slipped into the cupboard. I'll hide in the cupboard. I'll think of something I have to do somewhere else tonight!' 'We must know what's been happening.' Mr James said. he could see both windows a nd half the room. 'There's only one way. straightened up a few things in the st udio. the two sneaked back into Mr James's estate and silently made their way through the shadowed jungle to the studio. 'Just wait. 16 -A Locked Room ------------Through the crack in t he cupboard door. and locked the windows. he clanged the iron door shut behin d him and locked it. Jupiter took up a position in a clump of bushes from which he could watch the entrance to the studio.' 'And I. as Jupe had planned. but did not want to move for fear of making a noise. 'No. Jupiter outlined the plan for the evening. 'I have to work for my dad tonight. After dinner. Pete. Going outside. too. With the door ajar a few inches.Jupiter got up from the rug-covered bench and opened the door to the studio's si ngle cupboard.' Pete shivered. You hav e to lock the door and go away. fellows. 'must be outsi de to observe.

and now he cautiously opened one and tried to eat without making a sound. Pe te could not fight off sleep. Something seemed to be making his head fe el light. Pete battled sleep. It. twisting painting appeared near the odd figure again. The third time he came awake. Twice he forced himself out of a momentary doze. and the heady fumes. and that made him ne rvous. He had brought som e sandwiches. something. and small nig ht creatures rustled in the underbrush. By ten o'clock they had seen nothing. He fought. where the painting vanished into thin air! The ghostly figure hovered near the window for what seemed like hours. moved out in the studio. A thin shape floating in a moon lit glow. How long. The studio r emained dark and silent. Their fumes were filling the cupboard. hot and shut in. A few insects chirred. Nothing happened. An eerie figure that seemed to pick up a painting and float with it to a barred window. he did not know. sending waves of sleep over him. the silence. at least. After a while the tall Second Investigator was hungry. But when he c ame slowly awake again--it was in the studio! Something! Pete shook his head to clear it. Because of the heat. Another hour passed. Was he awake? Or was he still asleep? His mind seemed to swim in a thi ck haze. Jupiter shifted his weight restlessly an d sighed. from a longer doze. he realized what was making his head feel so light--fumes! T he cupboard was full of cans of paint and thinner and solvents.Nothing happened. He dozed. but his eyes kept closing. Nothing had happened at all--nothing out of the way. The leopar d paced and growled in its dark glass cage. A shimmering. and took another p ainting to the . Moonlight filtered through the heavy foliage of the trees. he felt his eyes grow heavy. casting weird shadows. Jupiter and Mr James crouched behind thick bushes and watched the locked door. The shape floated back with it to the rack. Pete wondered if Jupiter and Mr James were alert outside. Pete desperately tried to wa ke up enough to do something. Cramped in the cupboard. His legs were going to sleep. No one moved in the jungle-like grounds of Mr James's e state. The cupboard grew hot and stuffy.

'Get h im out. 'Help!' The cry was faint--inside the studio! 'Quick. Flinging it open. Pete tried to stand.barred window. Pete tried to cry out. 'The ghost did it!' Pete s hivered. and sat down on the rug-covered bench as if he needed the support of so mething solid. Jupiter. At last the artist inserted the key and unlocked the door. they helped Pete up.' Together. like a ghost!' 'Look!' Jupiter cried. But I saw it! Something weird. and Jupiter and Mr James had to walk him back and forth until circu lation returned. The Second Investigator's legs were asleep. Pete still sat there on the floor. 'Wo w. but he seemed in a daze.' said Jupiter. The studio was empty. . I can't accept a ghost that just happens to be interested in Joshua Came ron's paintings. 'Thunderation! The solvent and thinner fumes!' Mr James muttered. 'Lights. Jupiter! There on the wall near the door!' Jupiter found the switch an d turned on the lights. His eyes were open. 'Someone was in here. His legs would not move! The hazy figure flo ated back towards him. 'I just couldn't stay awake.' Pete said. Then he described how the ghost had floated back and forth with t he paintings. Mr James fumbl ed with his key and missed the lock the first time. Pete's head cleared rapidly in the fresh air of the studio. They leaped up and ran towards the iron door. he rushed into the dark studio. On the studio floor near the rear window lay on e of Joshua Cameron's paintings! The window was open. Mr James and Jupiter ran to the cu pboard. Jupiter!' Mr Jam es said. 'but it wasn't any ghost. all right. Jupiter and Mr James heard the muf fled cry.' 'I know I saw a ghost!' said Pete stubbornly. They heard no more sounds from inside as they reached the door. The studio was still dark .

Who could get through that?' 'Someone who is very s mall or very thin. and was now annoyed with himself for failing to investigate more thoro ughly earlier in the day. The once slac k electrical cord now ran tautly from the socket up to the opening--and out. 'There!' he exclaimed. his expression changed to one of puzzlement. 'I think I know the answer. Mr James. 'I should have known there'd be a logical explanation. 'I know where our `ghost' is!' 'Where?' Pete cried. Jupiter glanced at Pete--and then stared! ' What is it. 'Your fan wasn't bolted in securely. He looked carefully around the studio. Jup iter walked over to the cord and tugged gently on it. I never thought to ch eck the fan bolts. obviously. Then. 'Look down. Suddenly hi s eyes gleamed. he cam e in another way. 'Up there!' Pete and Mr James looked wher e Jupe was pointing. 'That hole is bar ely more than a foot square. Jupe. He scowled up at the fan opening.' 'Ergo. Second. I don't see how anyone had time to climb back up through that hole and escape unseen. There.' 'Neither did I. Mr James shook his head in amazeme nt.' Jup iter said. 'You're sitting on him!' . 'Our `ghost' pulled it out and simply let it dangle outside by its cord while he climbed in.' answered Jupe.' admitted Jupe ruefully.' agreed Pete. almost to himself.' said Jupe. high on the back wall. gradually.' Jupiter sa id quietly.' said Jupe.' Mr James looked around and shrugged. a small square hole gaped open to the night. You saw someone here and just assumed he was a ghost. there's certainly no one h ere now!' 'Yeah.' sai d Jupe triumphantly. Jupe hated to make mistakes. You were half asleep and dazed by those solvent fumes. and we didn't see anyone approach the studio door. 'No one but a ghost could have slipped between thos e window bars. A scraping sound came from the other side of the wall. Jupe?' Pete asked nervously. 'Well.' 'But Jupe!' protested Pete.'Now. 'There's only one problem.' 'Then how did he g et in here?' asked Mr James. let's be logical. where the built-in exhaust fa n was supposed to be. 'We answered Pete's call very quickly--in a matter of second s.

and what did he want with them?' 'I'm not tel ling you anything!' 'Was it De Groot. out there?' Pete asked. This is breaking and entering.Pete leaped up as if stung. I knew the intruder had to be i n the chest!' 'A logical deduction. eh? Why?' 'You shouldn't have fired me. 'Skinny Norris!' Pete cried. You to ok what did not belong to you. heavy. and turned to Skinny Norris. 'So.' Skinny jeered. 'I brought it back. without asking. 17 -The Lost Masterpiece ------------------Skinny Norris sat pale and dejected in the corner of the studio. Then the rug rose slowly in the air and fell back as the 'bench' was revealed to be a long chest with a lid that swung up.' 'That was not the point. you c an come out of that chest now!' There was a silence. . and I realized that it wasn't a bench. my dad'll kill me! I didn't mean . the art dealer.' Skinny said defiantly. and then getting them back.' Mr James thundered. 'You were passing them out the window to someone. And.' Skinny said. We'll see what the police think about it. young man. This is not `borrowing' a painting. 'No. Jupiter's voice was loud as he spoke: 'All right. 'How did you know he was in the chest?' Maxwell James asked Jupiter. 'We'll see. since there was no place else to hide here. 'A corner of t he chest showed. He stared back at the long. eh?' 'P-p-police?' Skinny stammered. Pete s tood guard over him. as I'd assumed earlier.' said Jupe. 'He disarranged the rug when he climbed in. 'Who were you passing them to. it's not enough that you were fired for taking a painting without permissi on? You come back and break into my studio. a serious crime. rug-covered bench he had been sitting on. 'I don't know anyone named De Groot.' Mr James said. The boys and Mr James blinked at the scared figure that emerged from the chest. 'You refuse to co-operate?' Mr James said ominously. 'What have y ou been doing in this studio these last nights? What is your concern with Joshua Cameron's paintings?' 'Wouldn't you all like to know.' Jupiter sa id.

'Someone's at the . Mr James rubbed at the wet corner of th e canvas.' 'Well. the iron door clanged shut as Skinny escaped.' Jupiter bent down to study the one painting lying on the floor near the windo w. Either he'll give me a satisfactory explanation--or I'll report him to the police. The artist touched the canvas.' A muffled voice rasped. 'He's gone!' Pete cried. perhaps someone wanted to see if there was another painting hid den under Joshua Cameron's picture. 'Why.' Jupiter groaned. t hen retouched it to hide what he'd done.' Mr James said. I can't .' Mr James said. boys. we found out that Skinny was the intruder. 'Jupe!' Pe te cried. Mr James!' Jupiter was peering very closely at a corner of t he painting. boys. 'If the paintings form some kind of message.' Mr James said. . 'We can find Skinny again. . 'Do not move. a code. 'Don't move. Mr James came over to him. 'So is Skinny. any of you! I have a gun! Remain where you are.' It was Pete who caught a glimpse of the face at the rear window. Unless he's been switchi ng the paintings! Stealing the real ones and passing back substitutes!' 'No. 'that painting on the floor is one of the real ones. No doubt of it . What could that man out there want with old Joshua's paintings?' 'Skinny passed them out the window one at a time. 'but we don't know who o r why. So it's not the paintings themselves he wants. Norris. it is wet! Someone's tampered with it. 'This corner of the painting appears to be wet!' the First Investigator said.' .' said Jupe. He removed a layer of paint in the corner. 'Well. . hurry!' Neither Jupiter nor Pet e recognized the muffled voice. They heard the m an at the window run away in the night. an d we know he's in league with someone else. 'but the man passed th em back. He shook his head hopelessly. retouched it!' 'Why wo uld anyone retouch them?' Pete wondered. 'Wet?' Mr James echoed.. 'He might sho ot. .' Behind them. .' Pete observed. 'Just when we had him!' 'Never mind.

'We called you bec ause we have an idea about all that's been going on. may we use the telephone? I have to make a call. Pete. 'What's up. a print. We think we know what is so valuable that everyone wants it. sir. Hal scratched his head. 'Come on back to Mr James's studio. Hal?' Jupit er asked.' 'Gold frame?' Professor Carswell repeated. Dad. Jupe?' Hal wanted to know. and he was going to get rid of it. 'Something under old Joshua's paintin g? Mr James.' 'Not yet. 'Well. sir?' Jupiter said quickly. 'Hal. The artist's eyes were very excite d.' 'You recognize that painting. and the people were red!' 'What!' Mr James cried.' Professor Carswell said. Hal?' Hal looked at the picture in the book.' Jupiter sai d. 'Are you sure the painting looked like that. 'Wait!' Mr James said. He opened on e and flipped the pages. 'Have you told the Countes s yet? She'll be most pleased. Old Joshua said it was an imitation. 'There! Is this the painting you saw.' Hal explained.' Jupiter said. the horses were blue.' 'It was when Mr Cameron first came to the cottage. Hal.' 'Can you describe it. Hal and his dad saw them as soon as they entered. . They all did. some horses. Hal?' 'Sure I am. the palm trees were yellow. and Mr James were standing out in f ront of the main house when Professor Carswell and Hal drove up. it was a mountain. 'I don't recall see ing a painting in a gold frame. 'I sort of saw it by accident one day.' the First Investigator said. Inside the studio. 'You've found them all!' Hal cried . boys. do you remember that gold frame in the adobe? You said there was a pain ting in it once. All those craz y colours. we do.Jupiter looked as if he had seen a vision. It's still not too late!' A half an hour later. Only the mountain was purple. Jupe introduced Mr James to the Carswells.' 'We do?' Pete said. Pete and Jupiter had taken all of Joshua Cameron's paintings out of the rack again. 'Yes. what lo oked like palm trees. The frame was empty in the adobe. Jupiter. and some almost naked people in front of a grass hut. and went to rummage among many large books on a shelf. 'This is fine work. I never sa w it again.

He carefully rubbed off a small spot on a cottage painting. Jupiter.' The bearded artist got some solvent. much more. he retouched the spot and went on to another picture. 'Tomorrow. 'I was so sure.' Mr James said. Only'--Mr James had an odd look on his face--'this painting was privately owned. Mr James.' Mr James said. we'll find Skinny and make him . 'It's too la te to take you home now. 'but there must be some other answer. Jupiter. The Fortunard was destroyed. When he found nothi ng underneath. 'but one that ha d supposedly been destroyed might be worth much.' Professor Carswell said. . 'I guess you're wrong.' 'I suppose Hal and I had better take them. 'Exactly!' 'Then what you saw was a print of a very famous painting by a great French painter named Francois Fortunard. and some other equipment. 'We'll return them to the Countess tomorrow.' Mr James said. 'You boys might as well sleep here. a soft cloth.' Mr Ja mes added grimly. staring at the twenty paintings by the old man.' Jupiter bit his lip.' The boys helped load the twenty paintings into Professor Carswell's car. 'How can you look under the cottage pa intings without damaging whatever may be underneath?' 'It's tricky. And perhaps Skinny Norris can tell us more. They hated Francois Fortunard's work. sir. A masterpiec e.' Jupiter said.' Jupiter said. Maybe you can think of some other explanation for why t hose paintings seem valuable. and that is why someone wants his paintings--and thin ks something is underneath one of them!' 'The Fortunard under one of those!' Mr James cried. 'I think it was never destr oyed. you really think . and Joshua Cameron had it!' 'Wow!' Pete exclaimed. and the Professor and Hal drove home. 'He used the word master in his delirious babbling. but one that no longer exists. ?' 'I'm certain old Joshua had something very valuable that he hid s omewhere.' admitted Mr James. Jupiter. It wa s a terrible tragedy for art. . 'Then let's look!' 'Wait a minute!' said Professor Carswell.' Mr James said. sir! These paintings have to be the key to something very valuable!' 'Perhaps. It was destroyed by the Nazis when they occupied France during World War II. 'There's nothing hidden under any of these painting s. 'But I have studied restoration techniques and know how to do this safel y. and I didn't know any prints had been made.'It sure is!' Hal declared. and she will reimburse you. I t hink he meant masterpiece. A half an h our later he stood up sadly. The paintings are just what they seem to be. boys.' 'I d on't think any prints were made. then. 'How much would it be w orth?' 'Any Fortunard would be worth a fortune.

So only Pete drove with Mr James to Skinny Norris's house. 'I don't see Skinny's car. and I know that Peter and Jupiter drive him wild.' 'I'm afraid your son is simply jea lous.' Mrs Norri s began.' Pete observed. 'I . madam.' The artist told Mrs Norris how he had fired Skinny for taking a pa inting without permission. may we speak to him?' 'He's not home. . . It was Mrs Norris who answered thei r ring. Skinny's mother's face fell as she saw them. Peter Crenshaw! Whenever Skinner becomes involved with you and your rid iculous friend Jupiter Jones. and then she looked angrily at Pete. something seems to happen to him! What have you do ne now?' 'The boys have done nothing. . Mr James. 'My name is Maxwell James. Skinner does seem to have poor judgment at times.' Mr James said bluntly. . and if unfortunate things happen to your son when he is in volved with Pete and Jupiter. or someone who knew where he was. Skinny's mother suddenly looked miserable. Jupiter had to go hom e to man the office of the junkyard while Uncle Titus went off with Hans and Kon rad on a sudden buying trip. Mr James. I don't know where Skinner is. it is a serious matter I wish to talk to him about . 'Now.' 18 -A Disappearance! ---------------In the morning. 'Have you been doing something to Skinner.' the artist said. he didn't come home at all last night! ' 'He's been out all night?' Pete exclaimed.' Mr James said. I'm sorry. 'It is rather the opposite. . 'Yes. 'Skinner didn't tell me th at. His father has already .' the artist said.' 'The artist Ski nner was working for? Why did you fire him so unfairly?' 'Did your son say I fir ed him unfairly?' Mr James said. 'Perhaps his parent s can tell us where he Mr James. 'It seems that young Skinner is given to lying even to you. 'I thought . . I suspect the fault lies with Skinner!' 'Just who are you?' Mrs Norris snapped. He . I thought it was Skinner. Mrs Norris looked unhappy.' Mrs Norris said. Mr James. her eyes sc ared now.' 'Wh ere is he then? I assure you. Mrs Norris. 'When you rang.

' Jupiter said. A man in a blue car has been loitering around here. I'm so afrai d that Skinner has been kidnapped!' Bob showed up at the junkyard just as Uncle Titus returned from his buying trip. There is something about his paintings that should tell us where the masterpiece is!' 'But what. and canvas must mean that his own paintings are a key to the message. 'It was destroyed by the Nazis. and he probably has simply hidden somewhere to avoid bei ng caught. If a fortune is involved. 'I'm afraid Skinny got into some trouble with me last night. and Joshua pretended it was a print. and the fact that old Joshua kept saying my paintings. Skinner was seen talkin g to the man. Jupiter was now free for a while. 'Now. When he got sick. I have no idea what Skin ner meant. Something that ought to be different than it is. Mr James. Then Joshua hid the painting so no one else would see it. 'Then Joshua didn't have the valuable Fortunard ?' Bob said sadly. anything coul d have happened to Skinner!' 'I wouldn't worry.' 'No. 'I'm sure that ma ster means masterpiece. He was as disappointed as the other boys had been when he learned that nothing had been f ound under the twenty paintings. so Hal and his dad wouldn 't know what he was really saying.gone to the police.' 'You m ean something done the wrong way?' Bob asked. Mrs Norris. 'You and Pete look ed at those paintings pretty closely. but I'm terribly worried now. he used it alone. and that he said something was the key to a fortune. Bob listened eagerly. I'm convinced he was trying to say ma sterpiece. 'Whe n he used the word master in his babbling. Records.' Jupiter took out the sheet of paper with Jos hua Cameron's last words on it. Hal stumbled on it. and hid it.' Skinny's mother said. 'but all I can remember is that he was working for some ma n. and the t wo boys retired to Headquarters to puzzle over their case.' Mr James said.' Skinny's mother said.' 'I hope so.' . A disguised message. zig when zag a nd wrong way could be directions.' 'Mrs Norris. Joshua had a print. he tried to leav e a message telling where it was. I think I scared him by mentioning the police. and spread it on the table. and we discovered that our telephone has been tapped.' Jupiter said stubbornly. 'Maybe something that zigs when it ought to zag? Looks wrong?' 'Exactly. 'did Skinny tell you anything abo ut what he's been doing after he got fired by Mr James?' 'I've tried to think. the second time Joshua used the word wrong. I b elieve Joshua did have the Fortunard. m y canvas.' Pete asked. 'but I can't help worry ing. Maybe it's telling us to lo ok for something wrong. Maybe it's not a direction. Jupiter quickly relat ed the events of the night at Mr James's studio. However. Jupe?' Bob stared at the words on the paper.

' Jupiter said slowly. but I'm not optimistic.' Jup iter admitted. so his work isn't good---and an art dealer shoul d know that. But. you'd think he would omit the cottage entirely in the last painting. Why did he laugh. 'Maybe he was trying to tell us to get the cottage out of the picture.' 'I thought of that. 'Meanwhile. while leaving ever ything else in the pictures the same size?' Bob thought. 'something else puzzles me a lot.' 'But Mr James also said Joshua had no style of his own. and wants it!' 'You think it's De Groot old Joshua tried to leave a message for?' Bob wondered.' Bo b agreed. but that no one knew it? Hal said Joshua laughed after saying that. Bo b. what is he. and what did he mean?' 'May be Joshua meant that his paintings are expensive because they're a key to the va luable masterpiece by Fortunard. 'I admit I'm stumped at the moment. too. then. 'but I'm convinced that De Groot knows that Joshua had the famous Fortunard.' Jupiter went on. 'but it sounds to me as if Joshua was speaking more generally--as if his own paintings w ere expensive but unknown. you think he will. . Jupe?' 'Do you remember Hal telling us that old Joshua once said that h e was the most expensive painter in the world.' Jupiter replied.' 'Gosh. . First?' 'Perhaps. Jupe? A gang member?' 'I'm not sure. and De Groot seems to think the paintings are good.Jupiter shook his head unhappily. then. Jupe? Maybe it's hidden under th e cottage?' 'Well . .' 'I sure wouldn't. I want to take a closer look at those paintings after Pete and Mr Jame s get back from talking to Skinny Norris. I think De Groot is fooling us. I doubt that whoever hired Skinny would tell him much. Maybe Skinny will tell them the answer anyway.' 'How about in o ne of the trees? In something that stays the same in all the pictures? Maybe if we look. Why did old Joshua paint the houses smaller and smaller. Records.' 'Well. 'That's possible.' 'What 's that. Mr James said Joshua was technically very goo d. we'll find just one thing that's always the same!' 'That could be. I don't think De Groot is an art de aler at all!' 'Gosh. But we sti ll have a clue to work with--the way the cottage seems to shrink in those painti ngs.

'Fellows. 'But if we can solve the riddle of the last words and the paintings.' Jupiter said. 'That must have been what De Groot was doing the day we saw him.' Jupiter said. Records. Skinny's job was to pass those paintings out the studio window to whoever he was working for.' 'Yes. or who he was working with?' 'No. The day he caught us. . 'Mr Norris was already with th e police about Skinny being missing.' 'Yes. Someone named De Groot.' They both heard the scramblin g down in Tunnel Two. Pete told the others that Mr James had gone to the police to re port the incident at his studio the night before. 'He sure can get into trouble.' Pete added. Pete?' Jupiter asked quickly.' Pete said.' Bob said. too. and Skinny talking t o the man in it. fellows! His mother thinks maybe he's been kidnapped!' 'Kidnapped!' Bob cr ied. we have to solve the message of old Joshua's paintings quickly! Let' s go to Remuda Canyon!' 19 -Trapped! -------As the boys hiked out to Professor C arswell's house. 'Except that Skinny was working for some man. The trap door opened and Pete climbed up. 'The Norrises don't know.' Jupiter agreed. 'Mrs Norris says their telephon e was tapped.' 'You think De Groot has solved the message?' Bob asked. 'Skinny's disappe ared. 'Does Mrs N orris know what Skinny was doing.' Jupiter said. Jupe. 'By whom. The tall Second Investigator was grim and serious as he looked at his friends. . Bu t Skinny's mother says she saw the blue coup hanging around. 'They'll be looking for De Gro ot's blue coup . First. I think we'll find De Groot faster.' 'De Groot!' Bob said fiercely. and Skinny said that someth ing was the key to a fortune!' Jupiter thought hard.'Could be. First. Tha t proves that those paintings really are the key to everything! And his kidnappi ng could mean only one thing--that Skinny knows too much. . I'll bet!' 'Poor Skinny. 'I think . and someone wants to k eep him silent.' Pete added. 'and if we want to get him out of trouble.

Let's go to the cottage. Th en something banged inside the garage. 'Someone was out here again this morning!' Hal cried when he reached the investi gators.' Hal explained.' called Hal. they gather ed outside the garage. He was agitated. Pete ran up to the main door of the garage and tried to tug it open. They were in our house. 'Yes. He ran off towards the gorge again. the boys saw H al standing on the porch of the cottage. ' Jupiter said.' 'Were the twenty paintings in the cottag e?' Jupiter asked. It did not budge. It was an odd sound. That's why he's probably holding Skinn y. 'Over near the garage. 'Dad drove over t o their motel to talk to the Countess in person.' 'Did you see anyone around this mor ning?' Jupiter asked. but it was a man. 'There certainly aren't any signs of him. Just a gli mpse.' Bob added. 'Maybe h e dropped something. 'Someone's in there!' Bob exclaimed. 'No. They all looked at each other. 'To keep Skinny from talking to anyone before he gets the mast erpiece. .' The strange noise reached them thinly in the late morning sun. 'Not even any footprints.' Jupiter said. We tried to call the Countess an d Mr Marechal this morning.' 'Let's look around the garage. and that's when we f ound the cottage ransacked. They found nothing. They all went to the garage behind the big hous e and spread out to search the ground. 'No. like the strangled groaning of some s mall animal. Dejected. fellows?' Hal stammered. The strangled noise was faint and yet close.' Hal said. to tell her that we had the pai ntings but that someone is still searching.' Pete said. It sounded as if someone were t rying to talk with his face pressed against the ground. 'Shhhh!' Jupiter said soft ly.' Bob said. 'C'mon.'I think he must be at least close to it. 'He tore up the whole cottage. 'It's the garage!' Pete cried. we did. . but they were out. 'Wh-What is it. I want to see . we can get in the side .' When they arrived at the big frame house in the canyon. 'That door is stuck shut. Hal ran to meet them. An indistinct mumble.

'We never lock that door unl ess we're going to be away a long time. I'm sorry I've been trying to make trouble for you. Skinny?' Pete demanded. 'Hey!' he exclaimed.' 'Lucky for you!' Pete exclaimed. 'Jupe? What are you thi nking about?' The stout leader of the trio was still staring at Skinny as if he saw something amazing on the youth's face. 'Everyone falls in once. 'Where have you been all night?' Bob demanded. He knew that Skinny was sca red and shaken now. He stared in puzzlement at the small side door. 'What happened. 'Early this morning . except for some tools and old timber that were scattered around. Bursting inside the garage. Grunting sounds came from him as lie tried to talk through the gag. He shivered. found the right key. which was secured by a padlock. 'Gosh. 'after I got away from you guys. Skinny Norris sat up.' muttered Pete. 'It's Sk inny!' Bob said.' Jupiter stared at th e tall youth. His face was pale and his eyes were scared. yes. and hastily unlocked the side doo r.' He darted around the corner of the garage and stopped in surprise. When we got here. The garage seemed emp ty.' he said slowly. Bob said. You can't see it in the dark unless you know it's there. 'Well. But then I heard your voices. Hal?' asked Bob.' The Professor's son t ook out a small key ring. .' Skinny said shakily. so I tr ied to yell. Now how did . His voice seemed to tremble when he f inally spoke: . the boys looked all around. Something m oved in a corner! Someone was lying tied and gagged on the floor. I was afraid to make a ny noise--he might have still been around. They untied the youth.door.' 'I'll bet. we came out here. He rubbed at h is wrists where the ropes had cut into him. 'What's the matter. h e tied me up out at the back somewhere! I almost fell into that gorge. tell us what happened to you!' said Jupe i mpatiently. I've been here ever since. He laughed at me and said everyo ne fell into the gorge once before they knew it was there.' Skinny said n ervously. but had little faith that the youth would be grateful once t he scare had been forgotten. his eyes rolli ng. 'Skinny. . 'I never thought I'd be glad to see you three. he locked me in this garage.

'We're in he re!' There was no answer. and through those knotholes!' Pete and Bob each peere d out one side of the big front garage door. For a long minute nothing moved out there in the sun. frowning. Mr Marechal walk ed closer. 'De Groot's out th ere. Mr Marechal turned and scanned the u ndergrowth. sir. then trotted quickly out of si ght into the thick brushwood behind the garage. 'Mr Marechal!' Pete called out. 'We know what you're after!' Bob added hotly. Get us out. Then the boys heard someone coming.' The Dutch man turned sharply to look towards the big house. 'Is De Groot alone. 'He locked us in here. 'Quick!' Jupiter said urgently. boys?' 'Yes. 'Look out through thos e cracks around the doors. . They were lock ed in the darkness of the windowless garage! 'Hey!' Hal called out. Now be quiet! I . The short. . be careful!' The silver-haired estate manager stared at the garage.'Skinny. De Groot scowled towards the garage. 'You're all safer in there. . . Hal looked through a crack around the side door frame.' The side door slammed closed with a loud bang th at made the boys jump in alarm.' Pete called. As the boys watched. 'Skinny Norris is in here with us!' . 'You let us out of here. who was it that . De Groo t!' Hal shouted. he looked all a round as if searching for something or someone. sir!' Hal cried. They heard the padlock snap shut. 'It's De Groot!' Pete whispered. 'I see someone!' Hal hissed. 'He wen t into the brush at the back!' Bob shouted. The Three Investigators joined him at the side door and peeked out i nto the late morning sun. Jupiter found a knothole in the rea r wall. heavy Dutc hman stood staring at the garage. and Mr Marechal came i nto sight outside the garage.

W e're trying to find it on the floor. 'But I've got the key to the side door. 'I lost it. Then the little manager began to run back towards the brushwo od. He'll fool you all if he can!' The silver-haired little man tried the si de door. boys. In the sun. and Hal crawled over the dark concrete floor. bent to slide it under the side door--and bumped hard i nto Jupiter. boys?' 'I dropped the key!' Hal answered. Bob.' 'Hurry. Jupiter said suddenly. He disappeared into the brush. fellows!' They saw De Gro ot suddenly reappear at the edge of the brush. his scared eyes almost luminous in the dark garage.' The other boys all ran to peer o ut--all except Skinny. I don't tru st him. 'Shut up.' Hal explained. The boys heard a car stopping in the driveway to Professor Carswell's house. 'He must have seen De Groot!' Hal said. 'Neither can I. Pete. no!' Pete cried. Hal lost his balance and fell over. who still sat in the corner. Look on the floor!' Mr Marechal called out. Hal took t he key off his key ring. Skinny!' hissed Jupe. 'It's dark in here. and run off in the same direction as Mr Marechal. I'll slide i t out. headed straight for the gorge. The dark Dutchman had a gun! 20 -A Criminal Unmasked ------------------ . 'The key!' Hal cried. 'I see. 'Where could it be?' Hal moaned. 'I can't find it. 'I hear a car coming. 'Look.' Bob said. 'It's padlocked out here. 'Oh.'Norris?' Mr Marechal said.' Mr Marechal urged from outs ide. 'What happened. Watch that Norris closely.' Pete groaned. fellows. Mr Marechal look ed towards the front.' 'Hey. feeling on the floor. There was a sharp metallic soun d. sir. Skinny still sat i n his corner. Jupiter!' began Skinny. What about the main garage door?' 'It's stuck shut. boys. Jupiter had no t moved since he had bumped into Hal.

'Why did you . Professor Carswell whirled about. ?' 'You were standing on the key all the time?' Pete said.' 'He 's been working with De Groot. the boys watched through the cracks and knotholes of the garage wall s.Helplessly. and we didn 't lose the key. 'You see. ma ybe De Groot wouldn't have dared come out of hiding. Jupiter tu rned to Skinny Norris in the corner. 'Dad! 'Hal shouted. an d we couldn't find it. . 'Jupe!' Bob said. 'And that De Groot?' Jupiter suddenly said in an od d voice. 'Mr Marechal would have let us out. The Professor unlocked the side door with his own key. too.' the Countess said. 'You're quite safe now. and if Mr Marechal had let us out. 'If we hadn't lost the key.' 'Now De Groot's after him with a gun!' Pete cr ied. and came into the garage. Dad! We're locked in!' Professor Carswell and the Countess hurried to the garage. we don't. Professor Carswell and the Countess came into view from the direction of the house. De Groot and Mr Marechal had both disappeared. . I don't know where or why. A few seconds later.' The stocky leader of the Investigators moved his foot. mystified. He told me nothing about leaving. boys?' Professor Carswell said. He bent and picked up the key he had been standing on the whole time! Everyone stared a t him as he held up the key to the garage. Skinny. 'How in heaven did you get locked in.' Jupiter said. 'You didn't know Mr Marechal would be here.' Professor Carswell said. Mr Marechal hasn't been at our motel since yesterday evening. The boys crowded around Hal's dad and the Countess. as I just informed Profess or Carswell. . 'Hal? Where are you?' 'In the ga rage. Hal said. Who you've been working for. but Hal dropped the key. He wa s gone all night. 'We don't have to help Mr Marechal. You can tel l us who kidnapped you and locked you up here. I am surprised. We have to help Mr Marechal !' 'No. Countess? You're surprised? ' 'Yes. 'The Countess says that she saw De Groot's blue coup at her motel early last night.' Pete explained. 'That De Groot locked us in. of course!' Hal said. Now De Groot's chasing Mr Marechal with a gun!' 'Armand w as here?' the Countess said.

'I told you none of you knew what was goin g on. We were safer locked away from Marechal. 'Key to what?' 'To w here old Joshua hid a lost masterpiece by Francois Fortunard. 'Gosh. he knew the pai ntings were the key. I should have realized what you meant then. me. He ran off to avoid talk ing to us.' said Jupiter. 'I don't suppose.' sai d Jupe.'No. Jupiter?' 'I am. that Mr Marechal ever wen t to talk to the woman who bought Joshua's statue of Venus and wouldn't sell it back?' 'Not that I know of. di d he?' 'No. he hasn't.' 'See. amazed. I was mad at Mr James for firing. Marechal sa id he was going to call the police when he fired us.' Skinny said.' 'But . 'Skinny's story proves that Marechal is a dang erous character. Jupiter ignored him and continued.' 'You were working for Mr M arechal all along?' Bob said.' Pete shuddered. But he didn't call them. Countess. 'M arechal wasn't going to let us out of the garage. you're not so smart after all. 'Are you sure of this.' 'Key.' the Countess said.' the Countess agreed. 'And now we know why Skinny was at your motel yesterday morning. Jupiter. Countess. And once you know that. He hired me to pass Mr James's paintings out that st udio window so he could see if anything was hidden under the old man's paintings . the police have not yet appeared in this case. 'He was always more interested in the missing paintings than in your fam ily heirlooms. But we misinterpreted his actions and thought he was trying to break in and then flee. And once he heard Hal repeat Joshua's last words. 'The police would have jeopardised his plans.' Professor Carswell objected. 'You're right. For instance. Countess. 'He was merely looking for Marechal. 'Yes. Jupiter. 'how would Marechal have . Jupiter. ' Jupiter went on. It was Mr Marechal. Skinny licked his lips nervously. a lot of puzzling details start to make sense. A suppos edly destroyed painting that Mr James says would be worth a large fortune. Mr Marechal sure f ooled me. He didn't fire us because of the danger. He wanted to get us out of his way! He had Skinny.' replied the Countess. fellows. 'Of course not.' Jupiter acknowledged. so I helped.' 'And me. Jupiter?' The Countess frowned. with some of his old nasty sneer returning now that he was s afe. so he didn't want us around. 'I thought not.' Jupiter nodded firmly. He was probably plann ing to tie us all up with Skinny! Or worse! That's why I stepped on the key.' jeered Skinny. He came to me that day after I'd brought Mr James's painting to your junkyard. I suppose he never did.' said Jupiter.

' Prof essor Carswell said. Countess. Each one done in its diff erent style. an d searched it so frantically. Somet hing criminal involving the lost Fortunard masterpiece. and number twenty all the way to the right. Surely she would know more about her own brother than Marechal could have.' T hey all stared at the twenty paintings of the cottage. and each one with everything the same size except the cottage itsel f. 'P artner in what? Some criminal endeavour. Yo u see. sir. I'm not sure yet exactly what they were up to. when Uncle Titus bought Joshua's things from you.' 'No. then. We must solve the riddle of where the m asterpiece is hidden before Marechal or De Groot does. where the twenty painting s were lined up around the walls. Jupiter. you mean?' 'I think so.' added Bob.' 'How would he have known what Joshua h ad?' the Countess demanded. 'I want to see the paintings again. The other boys and the Countess went into the living-room. 'We must call the police to apprehend Armand. before he c ame with the Countess.' Jupiter said. Tell Marech al! Because Marechal was old Joshua's partner!' 'Partner?' the Countess said. 'He's involved somehow. I made some other deductions while we were locked in the garage. too. 'He always knew. 'Number one is on the left.' Jup iter said firmly. blinked in confusion. . Jupiter!' the Countess said. It was Marechal ! He knew about the masterpiece all the time. 'Skinny. Countess.known that old Joshua had the masterpiece? The Countess doesn't know.' 'We'll come along. And De Groot wasn't the mysterious intruder that v ery first day. he was n't really saying either. The Countess. before he can do more!' 'And don't forget that De Groot could still be around. He came here secretly. Professor Carswell and Skinny disappeared down the hall to call the police. 'I set them up in order. who had never seen them before. I am now quite sure that it wasn't De Groot who shut us up in the adobe two days ago. He was actually saying tell M.' Jupe s aid. 'I am afraid that Marechal has been deceiving the Countess. but I'm sure it was something nefarious.' Hal pointed out.' 'I'll go and call the police at once. You see? M. to try to get it. you come with me.' 'I am shocked. 'You recal l Hal told us that old Joshua babbled about tell them and tell 'em? Well. or the police could be to o late!' 21 -A Zig for a Zag --------------Everyone hurried into the big house.

' the stocky leader of the trio said. 'I mean. mystified. and qui ckly took the piece of paper with Joshua Cameron's last words on it from his poc ket. 'And that leaves just one word of Joshua's that we haven't accounted f or yet!' They were all silent.. 'So far.' 'Focusing?' Jupiter said slowly. Only Hal had an idea. or position.' the elegant lady said. Hal wasn't sure. you know?' he said. 'Sort of fixing our attention on the cottage. Can anyone see something?' They all peered at the row of pa intings. But what does that tell us. They all looked. 'That means tell Marechal. Telling us that the only important part of the paintings is the cottage itself. Such as a tree. Everything except the cottage with its gaily striped. One by one.' Jupiter mused.' he read.' he read. He studied the paper. they shook their heads. 'The house is so small in the last painting that almost all we can focus on . He blinked rapidly at the series of paintings. 'it looks like the house is shrinking! Quite a rem arkable effect. Zig when zag and wrong way mean. Jupe?' 'Look at the twenty paintings!' Jupiter said. Joshua's message adds up to this: Tell Marechal that the key to the masterpiece is in my paintings. 'Or just canvas. his eyes bright with excitement. My paintings and master mean that the clue to the hiding-place of the masterpiece is in his twenty paintings. I'm sure.' Jupiter's eyes suddenly began to widen. 'My canvas. 'Well. I think.' 'But what do es it tell us. or telescope. staring at the paintings of the shrinking house. that we are to find something that is wrong--that s hould zig.' Bob said. 'I see what Hal means. in something that zigs when it should zag!' He looked at them all in triumph. Amazing. but nothing remained e xactly the same in shape. as if we were focusing down through some kind of instrument on to the house. 'Tell M. Then Pete leaned over and looked at th e paper with the words on it. patched awning remained the same size. colour. 'Bob suggested that perhaps something in all the pictures remains exactly the s ame. 'It seems that Joshua wa s a very skilled painter. really!' 'Yes. Jupe?' Pete demanded. but that zags instead!' Jupiter put down the paper. 'It's sort of like a microscope.'Why. 'On the house! On the shrinking cottage itself!' Jupiter urged. I expect that such an effect isn't easy.

Under the patch. and carefully cut the heavy stitching that held the awning patch in place. Pete dropped it down to Jupiter.' Jupiter finished. 'A striped awning!' Hal said. men!' Jupiter said. you found it! Where was it? ' The boys quickly explained Jupiter's solution. ma 'am . the yellow palm trees. The patch came off in one large piece. Pete cut the four small stitches that held t he plain-looking . 'It must be worth a king's ransom. 'Who would have thought to . gently. Pete and Bob c arried it gingerly inside the cottage. 'B ring it down and turn it over!' Jupiter said. . 'With patches on it. The Countess was right behind them. Pete climbed down and turned over the plain piece of canvas. 'How on earth did my poor brother get it?' 'Well. Pete climbed up.' Bob said with awe. took out his pocket knife. and . . . Professor Carswell came in with Skinny. Jupiter looked up at a large patch that was just about the size of old Joshua Cameron's paintings--a canvas patch that had been put on with the awning stripes going the wrong way! Pete and Hal brought a ladde r from the garage.' the elegant lady said. It came off. and the red people. 'The police ar e on their way. . 'And one of the patches has the stripes going the wrong way!' 'Stripes that zig. The gorgeous co lours seemed to glow in the sunlight. 'when they are supposed to zag!' 'To the cottage.' 'The porch awning!' Bob cried.' Jupiter began. revealing a perfectly undamaged area of the original awning. who absent-mindedly rolled it up while he stared up at the awning. They had the lost ma sterpiece of Francois Fortunard! 'Bring it inside. or at least only an area of damaged awning. Carefully. Jupiter!' the Profe ssor said.' Pete said. They all gaped at the dazzling sight.' Jupiter said. there was another patch of plain canvas. They looked at the great purple mountain. 'Fine work. . bo ys. . The boys all ran out of the house and across the lawn to the cottage. 'There wasn't any need for a patch here at all. The Countess touched the painting almost reverently as the boys laid it on a table. I spoke to Chief Reynolds. 'A canvas awning!' Pete exclaimed. fellows. where there should have be en nothing. the blue horses.

look under a patch in an old awning full of patches? A perfect hiding-place--wat erproof, safe, and close to old Joshua all the time, eh? However, I suggest you roll it up now, and handle it carefully. It could be easily damaged now that it' s out in the open.' As the others watched, Bob and Pete carefully rolled the mas terpiece for safe keeping and gave it to Jupiter. Skinny looked on sourly. 'Well , Countess,' Professor Carswell said, smiling, 'unless it turns out to be stolen , I suppose it belongs to you. A fortune!' 'Stolen?' the Countess said. 'You thi nk Joshua stole it?' 'No,' Jupiter said. 'I don't think it is stolen, but--' A l ong shadow suddenly filled the small living-room. A thin shadow with a gun! A vo ice chuckled: 'But now I will steal it!' Mr Marechal stood in the doorway with a n ugly pistol aimed at them all. The Countess glared at the silver-haired man. ' You're a despicable thief! You won't get away with this!' 'Yes, I will,' Mr Mare chal smiled nastily. 'Don't try to stop me, my dear Countess. I won't hesitate t o use this pistol!' The little man looked greedily at the rolled canvas in Jupit er's hand. 'I congratulate you, Jupiter. You beat me to the solution of old Josh ua's puzzle. Luckily, I have been watching you closely. Now . . .' Mr Marechal c ocked his head. They all heard the distant sirens coming towards the canyon, Mr Marechal waved his pistol. 'No more talk! Give it to me. Quickly!' Jupiter hesit ated, clutching the canvas. 'I warn you!' Mr Marechal cried, aiming the pistol. 'Give it to him, Jupiter,' Professor Carswell said. 'Hurry!' Mr Marechal snarled . Jupiter gulped, and held out the rolled canvas. Mr Marechal grabbed it, waved his gun in warning, and ran out the door. As soon as he was gone, they all rushe d to the windows. 'Stop him!' the Countess cried. 'No,' Professor Carswell said, 'it's too dangerous. Let him go.' In despair, they watched Mr Marechal run acro ss the lawn and disappear behind some shrubbery along the road. A moment later t he yellow Mercedes raced away down the canyon. The sirens of the police came clo ser. 'The police will stop him!' Professor Carswell said.

'No.' Jupiter shook his head. 'They're looking for a blue coup , not a yellow Merc edes.' As usual, Jupiter was right. When the police arrived a minute later, the yellow Mercedes was not with them. 22 -Jupiter Reveals the Truth -----------------------They all rushed out of the cottage to meet Chief Reynolds and his men. Professor Carswell quickly explained all that had happened. The Chief was upset. 'Why, we passed that yellow Mercedes,' the Chief exclaimed. 'You must go after Marechal at once!' the Countess insisted. 'He's a criminal! He'll escape with th e masterpiece!' 'No, he won't,' Jupiter said, and grinned at them all. 'Luckily, you used your sirens, Chief Reynolds. They scared him so much, he never even lo oked at the canvas he grabbed from me.' Jupiter held up a second rolled canvas! 'This is the lost Fortunard,' the First Investigator said with a triumphant laug h. 'Marechal is escaping with nothing but a roll of awning canvas! I switched th em on him!' Jupiter unrolled the canvas he held, and revealed the dazzling maste rpiece. For a moment, everyone blinked at Jupiter and the magnificent painting. Then they all began to laugh. Chief Reynolds patted Jupiter on the back. 'Very g ood, Jupiter,' the Chief beamed. 'Marechal should have been more careful in deal ing with you. He didn't realize your resourcefulness as we do, eh?' The Chief la ughed, and told one of his men to radio in an alert for the yellow Mercedes. 'We beat him, Jupe!' Bob and Pete exclaimed together. 'Not yet, fellows,' Jupiter p ointed out. 'We have saved the lost Fortunard from him, but he must still be app rehended.' 'We'll get him easily now, Jupiter,' Chief Reynolds said confidently. 'If he had the painting, capturing him would be complicated. He might threaten to destroy the painting, or we might accidentally damage it. But now he won't ge t far--not with a roll of awning canvas!' 'There is still that De Groot to find, ' Professor Carswell remembered. 'They are probably partners in this affair.' 'S ure they are,' Pete agreed. 'We better still keep an eye on that masterpiece!'

'Well,' the Countess said, smiling at the boys, 'you young men have certainly pr oven yourselves to me. I do not think De Groot will get my masterpiece now. I in tend to see that you boys are handsomely rewarded.' Bob and Pete blushed with pl easure at the elegant lady's praise. But Jupiter seemed to be thinking about som ething. The First Investigator was staring at the masterpiece. 'Chief?' Professo r Carswell said. 'Just whom does the painting belong to now? It would seem to be the Countess's, unless old Joshua stole it from somewhere. He did seem to think he had to hide it.' 'I'm sure my poor brother didn't steal it. Poor Joshua was quite eccentric, but he wasn't a thief.' 'No,' Jupiter said suddenly, 'I don't t hink the painting was stolen from anyone.' 'Then I plan to present it to some fi ne museum,' the Countess said. 'Such a work of genius belongs to all the world.' 'We'll have to investigate it, of course,' Chief Reynolds said. 'We'll hold it until then. But if Jupiter is right, and it isn't stolen, I'm sure any museum wi ll be grateful to you, Countess. Now--' 'Look!' the Countess suddenly cried out. 'At the garage back there! It's De Groot!' They all whirled. There was no one a t the garage. 'I saw him! De Groot!' the Countess insisted. 'He was at the corne r of the garage with a pistol! He ran back when I called out!' 'He won't get awa y!' Chief Reynolds said grimly. 'My men and I will go left around the house. Pro fessor, you and the boys go to the right. If you see De Groot, try to drive him towards us. Take young Norris with you--I'll deal with him later. Countess, you watch the masterpiece.' The boys followed the Professor towards the garage. Skin ny Norris went reluctantly, as if afraid of De Groot. But they saw no trace of t he Dutchman. At the far side of the garage, they met Chief Reynolds and his men. 'Any sign of him?' the Chief asked. 'No,' Professor Carswell said. 'What could he hope to do with you and your men around?' 'I don't know,' the Chief said. 'It 's easy to hide around here. I think we--' 'Chief!' Jupiter exclaimed all at onc e. 'We'd better go back to the cottage! Quickly!' 'What, Jupiter?' Chief Reynold s said. 'Why?' 'Hurry, sir!'

Jupiter led them all back to the front of the big house. It was Bob who saw the figures running in the driveway. 'Look! It's De Groot!' 'And the Countess!' Hal pointed. 'De Groot's chasing her!' 'She's got the painting!' Pete said. 'De Groo t fooled us,' Professor Carswell cried. 'He circled around to steal the painting , and the Countess ran with it! She's trying to reach my car!' The police had th eir guns out. The Countess had almost reached Professor Carswell's car, with De Groot close behind her. Chief Reynolds fired a warning shot into the air. De Gro ot and the Countess stopped. The police, Professor Carswell, and the boys ran up to the pair. 'Now we've got you, De Groot!' Bob crowed. 'Thank goodness!' the C ountess said. 'He tried to grab the masterpiece, so I ran with it! Arrest him, C hief!' 'Yes,' Chief Reynolds said. 'You're under arrest, Mr De Groot. You have t he right--' 'No,' Jupiter said. 'Not De Groot. Arrest the Countess!' For a momen t, they were all struck dumb. 'That is a poor joke, Jupiter,' the Countess said. Jupiter shook his head, 'It's not a joke, Countess. You were trying to escape w ith the painting. You knew that if the painting was investigated, you would neve r get it. In fact, you might even go to prison! De Groot was trying to stop you! ' 'Nonsense,' the elegant lady said. 'It's my painting!' 'Yes, it is,' Jupiter a greed. 'Because it was Joshua's, and Joshua really had two partners--Marechal an d you.' 'So?' the dark-eyed De Groot said. 'You know, do you? It seems I made a mistake. I should have worked with you boys instead of trying to keep you out. I underestimated you.' 'Jupiter, what are you talking about?' Chief Reynolds dema nded. 'Who is De Groot?' 'I presume he is some kind of Dutch policeman,' Jupiter said. 'He has been pursuing Marechal and the Countess.' De Groot nodded. 'The b oy is quite right, Chief. I am a private detective from Amsterdam. I have been a fter Joshua Cameron and his confederates for many years. I knew of his masterpie ce, and when I heard he had died here in Rocky Beach, I hurried here to prevent Marechal or the Countess from getting it.'

A masterpiece of forgery!' 23 -Alfred Hitchcock Misses a Clue ----------------------------'Confound it!' Alfred Hitchcock said over the teleph one. This is one of Jupiter's most bril liant cases. it doesn't exist--it was destroyed by the Nazis. ' 'But.' 'Thunderation!' There was another icy silence. . that Jupiter Jones is more intelligent than I?' 'Oh no. 'You remember that old Joshua once to ld Hal that he was the most expensive painter in the world. Jupe?' Pete cried. sir. bring your report to my office. Bob Andrews. youn g man? You are a most intelligent detective. er. if . 'You could be a fine detective. 'His own l ast masterpiece. When we defeated him. and pursued her. 'Are you suggesting. I shall read it. . as Mr James said. a great painter. sir.' Jupiter said. 'No.' 'But . . sir. a fake.' 'Exactly.' Jupiter smiled grimly. he was!' 'Ah. . He was a master painter--of forgeries! The valuable Fortunard is a complete forgery. 'Jupiter!' Bob exclaimed. 'Th at old Joshua Cameron was.' 'Joshua did. Chief. but that no one knew it? Well. You'll learn a lot!' The great director was ominously silent. 'We all can see . But De Groot really was wat ching. it isn't stol en. . I mean . . she tried to escape with it to Professor Carswell's car. 'Very well. indeed. 'In fact. . and I will introduce . 'Just read our report. Bob Andrews.' De Groot said in admiration. 'De Groot just said that he came here because he k new old Joshua had a masterpiece. the Countess tried to get the painting by pretending to see De Groot and making us chase him.'They were both Joshua's partners in crime. Alone.' 'Know what. 'Must I spend nay existence introducing juvenile investigators?' Bob pleade d into the phone. . I'm sure.' Jupiter said.' Chief Reynolds said.' Chief Reynolds began. and that is why Marechal and the Countess wanted it--so that they could sell it to some victim.' Jupiter continued.' De Groot said. 'So you know it all. 'Mr Marechal tri ed to double-cross the Countess.' Bob said hastily. 'Now she will go to prison!' 'Then the Fortunard is actually stolen?' the Chief said.

Pete and Jupiter sat in M r Hitchcock's office.this case again--on one condition. So he painted twenty numbered pictures of a shrinking house. 'and he and the Countess are telling everything about each other! They made a fortune for years. sir. Therefore he tapped their phone. 'I will now exhibit my own dedu ctions. Marechal was released a week before the Countess. Bob.' 'Those were my conclusions. Marechal contacted him. He intended to double-cross the Count ess by getting the forged masterpiece first.' Jupiter nodded. I presume that he did not dare to write to them about it. Being in prison. they could not act on Professor Carswell's letter relat ing Joshua's death until their release. sir?' Bob asked uneasily. to keep it from prying eyes such as young Hal's. But he failed to locate it. he betrayed hi s secret to others by babbling a message to Marechal before his death.' Jupiter agreed. Then. using the same evidence that the insufferable Jupiter had!' Bob gulped. After Skinny appea red with the one painting. Old Joshua's last words confirmed that they were the k ey--though Marechal never quite understood the whole message. 'De Groot learned of Joshua 's death. and followed the pair here. 'Th at there is one deduction I am unable to make. So--' 'Stop!' Mr Hitchcock cried. having been fired. 'Old Joshua had hidden his masterpiece of forgery. Mr Hitchcoc k beamed confidently. he assumed that the con man would try to sell the master forgery to the Norrises. Then he had to devise some means of le tting his confederates know where the masterpiece was. selling old Joshua's forged paintings to dupes in Europe. A year ago they were sent to jail for a short time. Old Joshua escaped the police and fled to America with his las t masterpiece. As soon as he realized Marechal was intere sted in Skinny Norris. fo olishly fell in with the plot to pass the paintings out the window of Mr James's studio so that . Skinny.' 'Then present yourselves at my office tomorrow!' The next day. and so returned to Europe to recover and rejoined the Cou ntess. he knew they would lead h im to the master forgery. hoping that he could f ollow Marechal's progress and catch him in the act.' 'What is that.' Pete said. 'As soon as Marechal learned of the existence of the paintings. 'I guess that's okay. ironically. how simple it would be if only we could look at people and know what they were! Has Mr Marecha l been apprehended as yet?' 'Yes. 'So. sir. in case anything happened to him. injured his leg in the gorge. The director looked up from the Investigators' report and smiled at them smugly. while the suav e Mr Marechal and the elegant Countess prove to be criminals! Ah. the rough Mr De Groot is a detective. and came to Rocky Beach at once.

' 'But. As far as you knew. in so many styles. De Groot has gone back to Amsterdam. Then Skinny was caught in the studio. 'Finding the masterpiece was excellent reasoning.' answered Jupiter. and remain totally unknown? A master forger!' 'That's just how I figured it out. and will certainly go to jail here for it. Obviously she had run into him before.' Bob said. The man was not at all satisfied when the Countess and Marechal went to jail for onl y a year . and since he had done nothing after all except try to scare you away from Marechal. 'That is how I reasoned. was a we althy former victim of the forgery gang who wanted them broken up for good.' Mr Hitchcock declared.' the fam ous director beamed. when you were in the garage. the Countess had never met him while she was in Rocky Beach. When he chased the Countess at the finish. and Marechal had to abduct him to save himself. sir. The Countess is not involved in that charge. Who could paint s o well. and it was he who locked you in the adobe. Since De Groot had been following Marechal from the beginning. 'A natural conclusion. I presume that De Groot's limp. 'and. 'I guess so. of course. and was trying to grab the fake For tunard!' Jupiter sighed. Plus Mr James telling you that old Joshu a was a fine painter who had imitated twenty different styles. but the police are holding her in custody until the Eu ropean officials decide what to do about her--put her in jail for her past crime s. yes. just as I did. I am relieved of an intr oduction!' Bob was glum.' 'Excellent.' Jupiter said. 'he's had it for years. Then. too. old Joshua's hint to Hal about being expensive but no one knowing it. 'Which ends the case. since I have understood all. it was probable that he was some sort of police man. is some old injury?' 'Yes.Marechal could examine them. 'But Marechal continued to search as well. His client. Luckily. m ust have been a confederate of old Joshua's. you know. you deduced that old Joshua and Marechal were art forgers. 'Then may I inquire as to the ultimate fate of the principal characters in this case?' 'Well. 'how did Jupe guess that old Joshua was a forger at all. 'Marechal has already been charged with abducti ng Skinny Norris. had locked you all in the garage for your saf ety! Incidentally.' Mr Hitchcock said. that is quite clear. but you have explained that in your report. it became clear that she. sir.' 'Marechal thought the forgery might be under one o f the paintings. probably. of course. you gu essed Marechal was a villain in time to prevent his capturing all of you--if not doing worse! De Groot. Mr Hitchcock?' 'Why. There was.' Mr Hitchcock nodded . sir.' Pete said eagerly . You becam e suspicious of the Countess when she claimed to have seen Mr De Groot by the ga rage.' Jupiter agreed. Peter. What you did not know at that point was the Countess's role. which led you astray. if erroneo us. Jupiter.

'Mr James has them back n ow. 'And w hat will be the disposition of the forged masterpiece?' 'Technically.' Bob said. and he couldn't have been the myst erious intruder of the first day. . 'He might never have talked if Jupe hadn't guessed!' Mr Hitchcock studied t he boys' report.' 'Skinny said . Mr Hi tchcock. 'Now. laug hing. flipping pages. 'I think there's one deduction you haven't explain ed--how Jupe knew.' 'Yes. 'Of course! De Groot woul dn't have fallen if he had known the gorge was there! That meant that De Groot c ouldn't have locked you in the adobe earlier.' The directo r glared at the report. and if--' 'Er. what did Sk inny say that told you De Groot was innocent. A collector of forgeries has already offered a large sum. then glared at the boys. I am busy. She has given it to Professor Carswe ll in payment of Joshua's debts. and Marechal was the crook?' Jupit er grinned. 'De Groot fell into the gorge that night at the adobe. While we were in the garage. she doesn't want it. Once you realized that. Mr Hitchcock groaned. 'Well. confound it.' Mr Hitchcock nodded. 'Aha!' he exclaimed. despite his limp.!' 'No!' said Jupiter. It will bring much more than that. then the intruder almost had to be Mr Marechal! Thunderation. before he knew it was there. 'Jupiter knew Marechal was guilty when he realized that Tell them meant tell M. when De Groot locked us in the garage and looked guilty. . With the money. . it does be long to the Countess. Since she can' t do business with it. Skinny said something that let me know Marechal was the one. 'The police won't charge him.' Pete said suddenly.' Jupiter sa id.' 'Wh at? Why .' Mr Hitchcock said. but you've done it!' .' Bob pointed out quic kly. yes! Go on! Tell me!' said Mr Hitchcock impatiently.' 'Good. Professor Carswell and Hal will restore their fine old house and the adobe. He should be happy now. as usual. that it was really Mr Marechal who was guilty? That was the real turning point.' 'Skinny had been too scared to tell us yet. he said .and Joshua Cameron escaped.' said Jupe.' 'And what of Skinny Norris?' 'Skinny was just stupid.' Jupiter said simply. but his parents have sent him back to school f or the summer. . 'Skinny said that his abductor had laughingly observed that everyone fell into the gorge once. 'That came later. . . 'But it's worthless to her now.' 'People are already t rying to buy old Joshua's twenty paintings.

. sir. the master forger of a rt.' Jupiter said with a smile. and laughed. sir!' Bob exclaimed. 'W e really appreciate it. producing a painting from the floor. I thought something seemed wrong that night at the adobe. 'Monstrous! But I have failed.' 'Somet imes. and I must introduce this case!' 'Thank you. 'we have ask ed Mr James to let you have one of the paintings of the shrinking house. M r Hitchcock looked at the painting by old Joshua Cameron. 'And. 'you young schemers are as dev ious as your villains! Be off!' The boys hastily left the office. Behind them. I mis sed a clue.'All along.' Mr Hitchcock said as he took the painting.' added Jup e smugly. Mr Hitchcoc k.' Pete enthused. The great director groaned again. as a consolation.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful