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ND Mistery Stories #64: Captive Witness - Chapter 5

Nancy Drew Mistery Stories #64: Captive Witness


An Unpleasant Invitation

"Nancy Drew! What are you doing standing in a dark phone booth at this hour of the night?" The threatening, tall figure peered into the booth, and much to Nancy's relief, she realized it was Dr. Bagley.
     "That's a good question." The young sleuth sighed. "I was talking to my dad back in River Heights. Then I thought I heard a tap on the line. But he reminded me that our house has special equipment to prevent tapping at his end, so it must've been on mine.
     "But look." She pointed up at the line running from the booth. "I don't see any taps. And anyway, right after that, the line went dead, the light switched off, and I heard a crash on top of the booth."
     The professor peered up. "It was just the branch scraping across that broke the light wire. I don't see any phone lines so they're probably all underground, which rules out a wiretap. I think you're just a little edgy about everything that's happened."
     Nancy bit her lip, concentrating hard. "You're right," she acknowledged, "but what were you doing walking out here alone?"
     "I was going to use the telephone."
     "Why didn't you use one in the hotel?"
     "Well, there were too many people waiting."
     "And did the desk clerk call you over and tell you to use the pay phone down the street?"
     "Yes. Did he tell you, too?"
     "Uh-huh. Isn't that odd?"
     The professor thought for a moment. "Yes, it is. But not as odd as the question of why they would tap a pay phone when they could so easily tap the phone in the hotel."
     "You've got me. I'm dizzy thinking about it, Professor. Let's say it was all my imagination and we can both go to bed early and get some sleep."
     The professor escorted Nancy back to the hotel. When she opened the door to her room, she found Bess and George both sound asleep. Very quietly, so as not to wake them, she got out her pajamas and toilet articles and prepared for bed. But when she lay down, she couldn't go to sleep right away. The tangled events of the day kept marching through her mind. She hadn't bothered to unpack because she knew that first thing in the morning she had to make plans to leave the tour and drive to Vienna. Then she could try to locate Kurt Kessler's missing film before the Wednesday deadline.
     On the other hand, she thought, I feel bad about leaving Dr. Bagley when the tour is being harassed and he still hasn't figured out how to get those poor kids across the border.
     Tossing and turning, the girl detective finally drifted off to sleep, exhausted by the events of the day.
     The next morning, she was awakened by Bess's exuberant bubbling about Salzburg. "Nancy, are you still asleep? Listen, I don't want to miss anything! The cathedral. The puppet shows. The palace. The concerts. And Mozart's home. Oh, I couldn't miss that!"
     "I agree," Nancy moaned sleepily. "If you did, our little bus driver would probably drive us all the way to Vienna screaming out another lecture about his hero."
     "Right," Bess agreed. "Now, when are you two getting up? It's eight o'clock already."
     "Eight o'clock?" came an agonized cry from under a pillow hiding George's head. "In the morning? Oh, no! Nancy, do something. Stop her. She's killing us."
     But Nancy, struggling to a sitting position, yawned and shook her head. "You can stay in bed, George, but I've got to get up."
     "Great," Bess said. "Where do you want to go first, Nancy?"
     "Vienna?" the cousins chorused as George emerged out of the covers. "What do you mean Vienna?" she asked. "We're not due there until— when?"
     "Sunday," Bess put in.
     "And this is only Friday," George said.
     "I know, I know," their friend said, heading for the bathroom. "Do you mind if I take my shower first? I really have to rush."
     "Oh, no, you don't." Bess laughed, barring the bathroom door. "Not until you tell us about this Vienna stuff."
     "Nancy Drew," George said slowly, pointing a forefinger at the young detective, "are you going off to solve another mystery and leave us alone on this tour?"
     "Well . . ." Nancy said.
     "That's it," George said. "I knew it. And I suppose you can't talk about it."
     "Only a little bit. Somebody stole a film from the festival that opens in Vienna Wednesday and I'm trying to find it. There. No secrets. Okay?"
     "Humph," Bess said. "And all those huddles— you and the professor and—and handsome, young Eric. What were they all about?"
     Nancy raised her nose in the air, pretending total bewilderment. "I'm sure I don't know what you may be referring to," she said with a theatrical swirl of her robe, and disappeared into the bathroom to the echoes of her friends' laughter.
     After breakfast, Nancy began phoning car rental agencies and to her chagrin, found that there wasn't a single car available.
     She came back and joined her friends in the restaurant. "No luck," she said. "This is really awful. I don't know how I'm going to get to Vienna unless I take a bus."
     "Would that be so terrible?" George asked.
     "No. It's just that when I arrive in Vienna I'll probably need a car to get around."
     "You could not get on a bus," came a booming voice they all recognized. It was Herr Gutterman struggling up out of the depths of an armchair that had concealed even his massive bulk. He waddled over to their table and, making an elaborate, somewhat comic bow, he said good morning.
     "May I sit down with you lovely ladies?" he asked, and then pulled out a chair before anyone could reply. "Ah, I thank you. Now, Miss Drew, you must not think of taking a bus to Vienna. You have no idea how crowded they are at this time. Probably you would have to stand, and who wants to stand when they are on their vacation, ja?"
     Nancy smiled sweetly. "I don't think I have much choice."
     "Ah, but you do, beautiful lady! I myself will see that you get to Vienna in the perfect safety and comfort of my own automobile driven by my own chauffeur."
     At this point, Ned Nickerson strode into the dining room. The sound of the boorish Herr Gutterman offering Nancy a ride to Vienna made him almost trip and spill the cup of coffee he was carrying.
     Continuing to smile sweetly at Herr Gutterman and looking over his shoulder directly at Ned, Nancy said, "Herr Gutterman, that is extremely nice of you. I accept your offer if we can leave within the next hour or two."
     Both Bess and George had to struggle hard not to say something, and Nancy felt George's foot nudge her own under the table.
     "Excellent, excellent," Herr Gutterman bellowed as he heaved himself to his feet. "I will make arrangements immediately and we shall leave—at noon?"
     "That would be wonderful," Nancy said. "Thank you so very much."
     Rubbing his hands with pleasure, Herr Cutterman left the hotel while Ned rushed over and sank down in the vacated seat.
     "Nancy," he said, his eyes filled with disbelief, "you are going to accept a ride to Vienna with that man?"
     "Yes," Nancy replied, her eyes twinkling. "What's so upsetting about that?"
     Ned began to feel hot under the collar. "You and that two-ton creep?" he asked again, his voice rising. "Wait a minute. Let's back up. Why are you going to Vienna today? Another detective assignment?"
     Nancy nodded.
     "In the middle of our tour? Oh, now, Nancy." Then he remembered his original objection. "And you're going with Gutterman?"
     Nancy couldn't contain her laughter any longer and she doubled up.
     "What's so funny?" Ned cried, genuinely upset.
     "Nothing, nothing." She giggled. "And don't get all strung out. Here's the joke on Herr Gutterman. I want you to go with me to Vienna! Just imagine Gutterman's face when he sees both you and me waiting for him! You will come, won't you?"

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