A short while later, Fenton Hardy entered the living room, looking more like
the tall, distinguished detective who appeared in the many framed photos in
his den, shaking hands with leading New York political figures.
"Well, boys," began Mr. Hardy, "I think we'd better make some plans."
At that moment Iola, who also looked much recovered, came in.
"Well, I'll be going now Feh -- Mr. Hardy," she said, still a little groggy.
"Do you have the, er, you know," she asked, rubbing her fingers together in
what the Hardy boys took to be a secret sign.
"Oh, why, yes, Iola," said Mr. Hardy quickly. He took out his wallet and
handed her several large bills. "Here's that 'counterfeit' money. Thanks
for taking it to the FBI for me."
"Right, Mr. Hardy," replied Iola. "Any time I can help you with any inside
work, just give me a call."
"See you, fellows," she added, waving to Frank and Joe.
"Sure thing, Iola," replied Frank.
After Iola left, Joe let out a low whistle. "Boy," he exclaimed, "counter-
feit money, too! What next?"
"I wish I could tell you more," declared Mr. Hardy, "but I'm a little in the
dark myself. This whole thing is very hush-hush. I don't need to tell you,"
he added in a confidential tone, "not to mention this to anyone at all,
including Aunt Gertrude. You know how she worries."
"You bet, Dad," chorused the Hardy boys.
"Now our next step --" began Mr. Hardy.
"I know," interrupted Joe excitedly. "We've got to find the assailant who
attacked you and Iola and tried to steal the Zig-Zag Papers!"
"Of course," agreed Mr. Hardy.
"What did he look like, Dad?" asked Frank.
"Well, it happened very fast," Mr. Hardy explained.
"Was he dark like Frank, or fair like me?" queried Joe.
"Oh, dark," said Mr. Hardy, looking at Frank.
"As tall as I am, or shorter like Joe?" inquired Frank.
"Shorter than Joe," responded Mr. Hardy, examining the younger Hardy boy
with his sharp investigator's eye.
"How old was he?" asked Joe excitedly.
"Older than both of you, but very impetuous," replied the detective. "I'd
say somewhere between thirty and forty."
"Any scars, or marks, or a limp, or a beard, or an accent?" queried Frank.
"A long scar on his left cheek, a birthmark the size of a dollar on his chin,
a pronounced limp in his left leg, a thin handlebar moustache, and a heavy
Mexican accent," said his father, amazing his sons as always with his keen
powers of observation.
"How about clothes, Dad?" Joe put in.
"Well, what you'd expect, a sombrero, a sarape, and wooden shoes, continued
Mr. Hardy, looking across the room at the Navajo throw rug that gave the
Hardy living room a feeling of warmth and his memory a jolt as he remembered
its key role in _The_Mystery_of_the_Navajo_Throw_Rug_.
"Where do you think we should start looking first?" wondered Joe. "He
shouldn't be too hard to spot, but he doesn't sound like anyone from around
Mr. Hardy reached into his pocket and brought out three books of matches.
"This might help you," he said. "He dropped these when he left."
The Hardys quickly examined the important clues. One was from the Burger
Chef on Hillcrest Drive, one was from the Prentiss House in Bridgeport,
and one was from "21" in New York. "Say, Dad," said Joe, "this is really
swell. All we have to do is stake out these places and wait. He's bound to
show up sooner or later!"
"Good thinking, lads," congratulated Mr. Hardy.
Just then, Aunt Gertrude came in from the kitchen, and Mr. Hardy gave each
of the boys a short look which they correctly interpreted as a signal to
change the subject.
"Well, Gerty," said Mr. Hardy jovially, "what's for supper?"
"Say, we'd better be going," exclaimed Frank. "We've got a lot of, uh,
work to do."
"Right," agreed Joe, and the boys exited quickly from the room, although
not quickly enough to escape an affectionate pat on the behind from Aunt
"Don't forget, boys," she called, as Frank and Joe headed upstairs, "we've
got to check those rectal temperatures tonight."
As soon as they entered their room, Frank went to the telephone. "I'll give
Tony Prito a call and see if he can help us with the stakeout," he announced.
Tony was a classmate at Bayport High whose father owned the Prito Construction
Company, Angelo's Wharfside Restaurant, and a bowling alley. Mr. Prito and
Mr. Hardy were good friends and often were involved in the business deals
"Hello, Tony?" said Frank, when his call went through. "We're on a big case,
and we wondered if you'd like to lend us a hand. Oh, she did. Yes, I hope
she's okay? That's good. Thanks Tony. Bye." Frank replaced the phone in
the cradle, wondering what role it would play in _Chums_in_the_Dark_.
"Tony's sister ate a bad oyster, and he's sitting up with her," explained
"That's too bad," said Joe. "Look, I'll call Phil Cohen." Phil was another
of the Hardy's chums from Bayport High. His father was an accountant who did
a lot of work for Mr. Hardy.
"Hi, Phil," said Joe. "Listen, this is Joe Hardy. We're onto something big,
but I can't talk on the phone. Can you stop over? Oh, that's too bad. Sure.
Okay, better luck next time. Bye."
"What's up?" inquired Frank.
"I think someone better look into those oysters," declared Joe.
"Say," cried Frank, looking at his watch, "if we want to do any staking out
at all tonight, we'd better get going!"
"You're right," admitted Joe, "but which place do we stake out?" Frank
examined the matchbooks their father had given them and wondered why their
latest episode wasn't called _The_Mystery_of_the_Three_Matchbooks_ instead
of _Chums_in_the_Dark_. "I vote for the Burger Chef," he suggested finally.
"I don't think lowlife like this Mexican would be welcome at a swell place like
the Prentiss House, and, well, "21" is in New York City."
"That sounds good to me," exclaimed Joe. "Let's go."
Fifteen minutes later, the boys were on their motorcycles, headed for the
Bayport Burger Chef. Suddenly Joe called out to Frank. "Look, Frank, over
there!" he shouted. Frank turned to see what Joe was pointing at. There,
silhouetted against the sky, was the largest hamburger he had ever seen!
- * -
"Sex between a man and a woman can be a wonderful thing if one
is between the right man and the right woman." - Woody Allen
It should happen like four times a chapter, or like every third sentence
of dialogue, to have the proper fingernails-on-blackboard effect.