HARDYS INN DANGER by Ann
CHAPTER TWENTY NINE
With the water at low tide, we got our boat, the Sleuth, and headed toward the caves below the cliff. We had all agreed with Callie that the first two lines of instruction on the map seemed to be pointing to caves below the cliff at low tide.
Treasure is yours – follow this riff.
Choose a time without waves.
“I think I figured out the next clue,” Joe said.
I glanced over from operating the Sleuth and saw him following the words with his finger while Iola held the map. Callie’s brown eyes were focused on the paper until she looked over at me and smiled. I gave her a big grin back.
“What is it?” Iola asked Joe.
My brother read, “Can you figure out this riddle, it’s where the sun shines least.” He then looked up at each of us. “I have a theory that all the words we’re looking for might rhyme with the last word of each line. That would make it the cave in the middle there on the east side.”
“Sounds good,” Iola stated.
Callie and I agreed and I steered the boat to a safe spot to land. It was dark out now, but with the light from the moon, we could see pretty good. We didn’t want to use our phone lights or flashlights unless we had to.
Climbing up to the cave was tricky, but before long we were standing inside. Now we used our lights. I looked at the map again, trying to decipher the pictures. It was a pretty good-sized cave that went back far into the cliff. The ground was damp from high tide a short while ago. This seemed to be the right location.
Next clue was as follows:
It’s not through the floor
Enter, but it’s not in sight
The four of us thoroughly searched around the huge cavern, including all the numerous alcoves, until Joe and Iola made a discovery.
“Here’s a door back here!” Joe called excitedly.
Callie and I hurried over to check out the door that blended in very well, making it almost invisible to pick out. We took pictures as we had been doing then set to work on getting the door open. It took a lot longer than we’d hoped and a couple of times I thought we would need to go get some other tools besides a Swiss Army knife.
“Cool!” exclaimed Joe when we got the door unlocked and opened.
We cautiously entered the passageway. Surprisingly the air seemed okay. There had to be other openings, just not ones as accessible. So according to the clue, the treasure wouldn’t be in sight, plus as Joe figured out, the word would rhyme with an additional clue. Maybe ‘right’? We focused on the right side of the passageway wall.
“I think this drawing might indicate ‘5’?” Callie suggested. “It’s not very clear.”
Going on that theory, we tried five steps, five feet, inches, yards, until….we found it meant five indentations. How did we know that? Well, there wasn’t a giant X marking the spot, but our fingers checked out the area and once the correct section was pushed, a small panel opened.
“This is beyond swell,” Joe muttered as we looked inside.
The cleverly hidden cache of gold coins, yes, I said gold coins, were in a box sitting there in the small alcove. Lots of pictures were taken.
Joe was looking down the passageway we hadn’t checked out yet. “Let’s see where this goes.”
“I guess we could leave this a little longer,” I said, putting everything back the way it was.
“It probably comes out somewhere inside the inn,” Iola said while glancing at the ceiling.
“Probably so,” I agreed. “Let’s see exactly where.”
We were all in agreement so we took off. After walking for several minutes, we noticed the floor began to incline. Right after that we got to stone steps.
Shining the light upward, we saw them stretch for quite a ways.
“Let’s do this,” Joe stated.
I looked over at him and grinned. So we started off. It took some time but we climbed until the steps became a flat passageway again. Then we came to what looked like a sealed up wall. We listened, but didn’t hear anything.
I had just decided that we should head back, not knowing who might be there. It was my elbow that accidentally hit the hidden release button, causing a hidden panel to slide open. We almost froze for a moment, except that our protective instincts to the girls made us get them out of sight from the now open panel.
No one appeared though. Joe cautiously peered into the dark room. Our eyes were already adjusted to the lack of light. It appeared to be a storage room with stuff all around the place.
“You girls stay in the passageway, okay?” I requested as Joe stepped into the room. My instincts to protect my brother were also active.
We looked around the room, quickly getting pictures. It seemed to be a mini-museum or something. Expensive looking items were on display throughout the room. We were heading back over to the hidden passageway when the door near us started to open. Even as it did, the secret panel abruptly closed. It must have been connected to the door or just automatically shut after a certain amount of time.
Joe and and I got ready to fight because there wasn’t a good place to hide. We were very thankful the girls were safer, that helped us a lot, having that assurance. It could be temporary, so we had to do everything we could to keep them safe.
We were on either side of the door as it opened. Instantly we sprang at the person. If he hadn’t had a bunch of armed goons with him, we wouldn’t have been captured.
“So, it’s you two,” Bruce Notting snarled. “How nice of you to visit.”
We prayed Notting didn’t know about the secret panel and passageway.
“We thought it would be fun,” Joe commented.
“What are you doing here?”
“Checking out your ugly displays.” Joe swept his hand around.
“You’re too ignorant to recognize great artifacts.”
“I’m smart enough to recognize tacky when I see it. Look at some of this stuff. You didn’t think counterfeit at any time, really?”
While Joe kept him talking, I tried to think of a way out of this mess. I surreptitiously called Dad’s phone so he could hear. Then I glanced around at the stuff cluttering the room. A plan was forming.
“You’re starting to annoy me,” Bruce Notting practically hollered at Joe. I guess Joe’s critique wasn’t appreciated. Maybe questioning the authenticity hit a nerve.
Joe shrugged and told him, “You annoyed me pretty much right away.”
“You, the quiet one, what have you got to say?” Bruce demanded.
“My brother’s right. I agree with everything he’s said to you.” I smiled.
“Make up your mind,” Joe told him.
“You’ve just made a very powerful man angry, boys.”
“You just gave wide-awake Americans more reason to fight.” Joe didn’t look at all afraid, just ready to fight the bad guys.
At a signal from Bruce Notting, thugs grabbed each of us. “Take him up to the new roof and drop him over the cliff. I’ll tell the authorities he was snooping around and fell,” he said, pointing to Joe. Then he turned to me. “You can either try to save your brother or try to stop me from calling my cousin in DC, who’s a politician. She’s waiting for the go ahead with a plan to force the signing of a bill that will put more money and power into ours and our friends’ hands. After all, we’re better at deciding what to do with those things.”
Then he gave the obligatory evil dude laugh.