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ND Mistery Stories #64: Captive Witness - Chapter 12
Nancy Drew Mistery Stories #64: Captive Witness
Despite the risk, Nancy decided she had to carry out the mission by herself. She thanked Ned, and with the promise to be up bright and early for breakfast, she parted from him and returned to her room to repair some of the damage to her mud-spattered clothes.
After a hot bath and a hasty manicure, she dressed in a simple navy-blue skirt and white blouse with a powder-blue cardigan.
Gutterman arrived promptly at nine. Burger, of course, was with him, driving a rather battered and old-looking automobile.
"I must apologize for the homely nature of my car, Miss Drew," Herr Gutterman said, "but it seems that magnificent ones attract strange people who borrow and dump them in unlikely places."
Nancy felt her jaw tighten, but she refrained from answering.
"But let bygones be bygones, at least for now," Gutterman said. He smiled thinly. "Would you be so kind as to sit in the back seat with me while Mr. Burger drives? For security reasons, of course."
Nancy nodded. "Do you want to blindfold me, too?"
Gutterman clapped his hands together in an expression of rapture. "How wonderful to do business with a professional! Of course, we must keep the location of this film a secret. Ja?"
"Ja!" Nancy declared.
Gutterman tied a large, clean white handkerchief around her head. "And now, Miss Drew, I'm sure you are going to try memorizing the sequence of every turn we make. I advise you to save your energy. You'll only get terribly frustrated."
Despite the warning, Nancy tried to note all turns and stops, but the constant twisting made the route nearly impossible to follow.
When the car came to a final halt, Gutterman helped her out and escorted her up a flight of twelve very low steps, leading her through a heavy door that squeaked badly on its hinges. Once inside, they turned right down a short hall and right again through a door that Gutterman closed and locked.
He sat Nancy in a chair and removed her blindfold. They were in a dimly lit room with a film projector behind her and a blank white screen in front of her. Without a word of explanation, Gutterman hit the projection switch, turned off the lights and for one hour, Nancy watched the first part of Kurt Kessler's film, Captive Witness.
What passed across the screen was a documentary film of life inside Kessler's homeland. Leading intellectuals, most of them with their backs to the camera, spoke against cruelty and oppression. There were segments showing beatings on the street by police and other unpleasant scenes that created a harrowing image for the oppressed countries of Eastern Europe.
When the reel finished, Gutterman flicked off the switch and turned on the lights. "There is one more piece of film," he said, "but it's a waste of my time to keep watching this drivel. Have you seen enough?"
Nancy, who was greatly moved by what she had seen, looked scornfully at the man. "Yes, thank you. Besides, I'll see the whole thing at the festival."
Gutterman laughed raucously. "You have a delicious sense of humor, Miss Drew. Also a ridiculous sense of honor that actually led you to believe no harm would befall you tonight."
Nancy flashed her eyes. "What?"
"Now, don't get so upset. No harm will come to you tonight, but what astonishes me is that you actually did trust me. Nine times out of ten you would have been wrong."
"Can we get to the point?"
"Oh, by all means. Let's start with my proposition."
"Excuse me," Nancy said. "Let's start with mine. The fact is that none of your people know where the children are. You're bluffing."
A glimmer of annoyance crossed Gutterman's face. He waggled one thick forefinger at Nancy. "Don't get cute with me, Miss Drew. We not only know where they are but who kidnapped them from us as well as the precise date and time they will try to escape."
"We will be there to intercept all of them, unless, of course, you are reasonable." Gutterman rubbed his hands together and walked away a few paces, glancing back at Nancy dramatically. "All we want is the arch traitor, Kurt Kessler! The man who turned on his own country and who now desires to show this treacherous film about his own people! It's a lie—all of it!"
Nancy flared up. "Kurt Kessler happens to be one of the most respected film directors in the entire world. I'm sure he must be telling the truth, and if he isn't, then why doesn't your government refute him with facts and logic instead of punishing helpless children?"
A small smile played around Gutterman's lips. "Did you say my government? Miss Drew, I have no ideology. I am a patriot who pledges allegiance to whoever pays me the most. If, after you give me Kurt Kessler, your country wishes to buy my services, I might even steal him back for you!"
"I don't think we'd ever sink that low!" Nancy replied scathingly.
Gutterman waved his hand, carelessly dismissing the insult. "You can't hurt my feelings, Miss Drew. I abandoned them years ago. Now, what have you decided? Will you persuade Kessler to appear at the border crossing and give himself up? As I said, you can have the children and even this silly film, because they will make him renounce it. He will say the Americans made him do it."
Nancy tried to conceal her revulsion, knowing that the success of her mission relied partly on Gutterman.
"You mean," she said, her voice trembling with outrage, "that you will torture him until he denies everything he believes in? Haven't you done enough to him already? You made him spend nine years in labor camps and four years under house arrest, and what about all the other years when his work was confiscated or destroyed?"
"I've no time for your nonsense," Gutterman said, replacing her blindfold. "I want you to contact Kessler. Let him make his own decision. You have until noon tomorrow."
In a dazzling series of twists and turns, the young detective was returned to the hotel. She immediately went to a pay phone and called her father, relating Gutterman's offer. Mr. Drew put her on hold while he contacted Kessler and then came back to Nancy with the answer.
"Of course," Carson Drew said, his voice crackling with anger, "I knew what Kurt would say. He's a hero, and heroes automatically do things like this. You tell your contact that Mr. Kessler will fly to Vienna tomorrow. He will do as they request on a guarantee there will be no tricks, Nancy."
As her father finished speaking, tears flowed down Nancy's cheeks, and she had a hard time keeping her voice from breaking. "Okay, Dad. No tricks, and tell Mr. Kessler we all love him."
Nancy went to her room, changed out of her clothes into a nightgown and stared dazedly in a mirror as she brushed her hair. The sorrow over Kessler's probable fate, however, soon replaced itself with anger.
"Wait a minute," Nancy murmured out loud. "If only I could retrace the route to the building where Captive Witness was stored!"
She knew she couldn't possibly recall the twisting, winding way but there were other things that came to mind. The sounds, for example. She had heard trains coupling and uncoupling and there had been the shriek of a train whistle. From somewhere, too, had come the music of a merry-go-round. Where in all Vienna would that be? She had less than two days to find out!
For several moments, too, the young detective thought of the ten children in hiding. How much longer would they remain safe from the other side?
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