Hardy Boys 06: The Shore Road Mystery: The Shore Road Mystery | Chapter 24 of 27 - Part: 1 of 3

Author: Franklin W. Dixon | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 4403 Views | Add a Review

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CHAPTER XVIII

Prisoner Rescue

FRANK and Joe crouched in the trunk, poised to defend themselves. At that moment there came a call from a distance, then the scrape of the key being withdrawn.

“We’d better go,” said one of the men.

After their footsteps had faded, all was silent.

“Let’s get out of here before they come back!” Frank whispered.

Raising the lid, the brothers climbed out and found themselves in darkness. They stood on the beach.

“This is where that black fishing boat docks!” Joe whispered. “It’s anchored out in the cove now!”

As the boys watched it, Frank said, “We cased this inlet from the Sleuth and didn’t see anything suspicious.”

The brothers crouched behind upjutting rocks and beamed their lights upward. There was a short gully from the beach to the grassy slope.

“Look!” Frank hissed.

Pegged into the soil near the foot of the slope was the end of a long stretch of thick netting.

“It must go to the top!” he said. “That’s how they get the stolen cars down! The net would give the cars traction. Slagel’s Army hitch probably taught him this type of operation.”

Frank reasoned that the bumpy part of the boys’ trunk ride had been through Birnham’s unplanted field to its far end. “To cover tire tracks of stolen cars pronto,” he added, “the thieves had Birnham use his tractor and disk harrow over the ground. That explains his night farming. Next, the thieves crossed Shore Road for the descent and Birnham brushed away any tire tracks across the road.”

Joe nodded. “The same truck must transport cars at night to Kitcher’s before shipping them south of here—probably to New York. But that junk we saw put onto the barge puzzles me.”

“Perhaps,” Frank suggested, “Kitcher was moving it to make room for Slagel’s booty.”

“Let’s find out where those men who brought us here went!” Joe urged.

Hugging the cliff base, the brothers proceeded in darkness along the beach. Presently they came to the mouth of a tunnel covered with hanging rockweed.

“No wonder we didn’t know about this place,” Joe whispered.

The boys noticed a strange odor of explosive powder and several dead bats.

“Dynamite!” said Frank. “It was probably what killed the bats we’ve found—one of them managed to fly as far as Oceanside Beach, the other died when it reached the Dodd farm. Slagel’s gang must have enlarged this place to be used as headquarters.”

A large rock just beyond the entrance apparently stood ready to be rolled into position as extra concealment for the mouth of the tunnel.

The boys, their eyes still on the launch, moved farther along the base of the sheer rock cliff hunting for additional evidence. Joe’s eyes suddenly narrowed as he saw some mossy vegetation near a cluster of rocky projections. Wading out, he halted and covering the beam of his flash with his hands, held the light directly over the moss.

He was about to nudge Frank when they heard a motor start. Joe put out his light. The black fishing boat, a lighted lamp in the stern, began to move to the dock.

“Quick! Behind these rocks!” Frank urged his brother.

The boys crouched as the boat glided in. After the craft was moored, two men jumped from it and walked toward the tunnel entrance. One was the belligerent fisherman. The other, in a black skin-diving suit, they recognized as the man who had attacked them in the Sleuth, When the two disappeared through the rockweed, the Hardys followed them up the passageway.

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