(#26) The Clue of the Leaning Chimney

(#26) The Clue of the Leaning Chimney by Carolyn Keene Read Free Book Online

Book: (#26) The Clue of the Leaning Chimney by Carolyn Keene Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carolyn Keene
why was her copy of the symbols so important to him?
    Suddenly Nancy thought she knew. She ran to the side of the house, fully expecting to see the same identifying footprints she had spotted at Hunter’s Bridge; prints she believed were Manning’s. But she was disappointed. These marks were short and wide.
    When she told Bess and George the idea she had had about the footprints, George was inclined to think the thief was some pal of Manning’s.
    “He’s probably one of those men in the woods,” she added.
    “And has been told to trail you, Nancy,” Bess said fearfully.
    “Hypers!” said George. “This puts such a damper on everything.”
    The other girls murmured in agreement. The Townsends insisted upon hearing about the case. Nancy told what she deemed necessary, then Mr. Townsend went to telephone the police. Two officers arrived, made a routine check indoors and out, then queried Nancy.
    After they had gone, a thought suddenly flashed through Nancy’s mind. She went to the desk and picked up the small blotter she had used to dry the ink on her notation of the Chinese characters. They were clearly reproduced in reverse.
    “I’ll take this home and compare the symbols with those on the paper there,” she decided.
    Nancy slipped the blotter into her bag and turned back to speak to Mr. Townsend. “Where did you buy the vase?”
    “Why, let me see,” he replied, reaching into his inside coat pocket. “I think I have the name of the shop right here in my wallet. Yes, here it is. Sen-yung’s Oriental Gift Shop, Madison Avenue, New York.”
    Nancy made a mental note of the name.
    Mr. Drew arrived shortly to take the girls home. Upon hearing of the theft, and the possibility that Nancy had been spied upon, he was glad he had escorted the girls to the party and back. Nancy, Bess, and George thanked their hostess for the lovely party, then left.
    When the Drews reached home, they sat down for a few minutes to discuss the strange turn of events. Nancy took the blotter from her bag and handed it to her father. Then she went to her room to get a hand mirror and the sheet of paper containing the Chinese symbols found in Manning’s room. Holding the blotter up to the mirror, she saw at a glance that the writing was the same as one set of characters on the sheet. It read:
    “Made for the hall of fragrant virtue.”
    Nancy was thrilled at the new clue. But she was still puzzled over the thief’s motive for stealing her copy of the symbols.
    In the morning Nancy telephoned the Townsends to say again how lovely the birthday party had been, and to ask if there was any news of the thief.
    “Not a speck,” Helen replied. “Say, Nancy, maybe you could find the thief for us.”
    “If I get any clues, I’ll let you know,” Nancy promised, and hung up.
    Since she could think of no way at the moment to trace the thief, Nancy decided to concentrate on finding the China clay pit. She went to the River Heights Public Library to scan books on local geology. But after poring over several volumes and maps, Nancy had found nothing.
    She closed the books with a sigh and put them back on the shelf. Miss Carter, the librarian, had noticed Nancy’s disappointed expression.
    “Couldn’t you find what you’re looking for?” she inquired pleasantly.
    Nancy shook her head and told the librarian the nature of her quest.
    “Why don’t you ask Miles Monroe?” Miss Carter suggested. “He’s a retired professor of geology. If anyone knows of a clay deposit, he should. I’ll give you his address.”
    “Thank you,” Nancy said, smiling. “I’ll go to see him at once.”
    The geologist lived in a small apartment. She pushed the buzzer under Miles Monroe’s name card and in a moment a small peephole flew open. An eye stared at Nancy.
    “If you’re selling something,” boomed a voice, “I don’t want any of it!”
    Nancy stifled a laugh. “I’m not a saleswoman. I came to see you about a geology problem!”
    The eye stared

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