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ND Mistery Stories #64: Captive Witness - Chapter 9
Nancy Drew Mistery Stories #64: Captive Witness
The Alpine Prison
Nancy quickly recovered and concealed her fright from Gutterman by flattering him. "Herr Gutterman," she said, "I don't know what line of business you are in, but I know you are much too cultured and urbane a gentleman to let an innocent person be injured. Why can't Ned be brought in here? You could tie him up. You don't have to hurt him."
Gutterman smiled. "You are a very clever girl, Nancy Drew. You know how to get your way. But this time, things will go better for you if we talk first. Besides, I'm sure Mr. Nickerson can last at least fifteen minutes. Now then, why are you mixed up in this ridiculous attempt to kidnap ten little children from Eastern Europe?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, Herr Gutterman; I'm not mixed up in anything."
"Your whole tour group is under suspicion," Gutterman continued. "Every one of you. But you most of all, because it would make sense for them to hire you for this job. If worse comes to worst, the charming Nancy Drew might charm the children across the border and charm the guards and charm everyone else."
Nancy continued to look calm but inside she was broiling. By the time this long-winded man finished asking three or four questions, Ned would be in real trouble, unable to breathe.
Her eyes, which had been trained on Gutterman's, now followed his hand down as he stubbed out his newly lit cigarette. It was then that she saw the car keys, lying on the table within easy reach. Fearing she would lose her courage if she hesitated, she took a deep breath and went into action.
Herr Burger had just put some iced coffee on the table in front of her and had gone back into the kitchen. With one swoop, Nancy grabbed the keys, flung her iced coffee into Herr Gutterman's face, and made a run for the door.
Gutterman was already on his feet and in pursuit. But then fate intervened as Herr Burger, hearing the glass shatter, rushed into the room, straight into the arms of Herr Gutterman. As they teetered, grunted, and crashed to the floor together, Nancy grabbed the timber and raced out the door. She had just enough time to slip the bar into place before she heard Gutterman smash against the solid oak, screaming.
To her relief, Ned was not only alive but yelling, trying to indicate that it was getting stuffy in his airless compartment.
She slammed the door and turned on the intercom. "Hang on, Ned, I'm looking for the ignition switch," she said.
Nancy began running her finger rapidly over the whole confusing array of switches and buttons. Finally, she found the starter, inserted the key, and pumped the accelerator. Nothing happened.
"Maybe it's flooded," Ned suggested.
"Oh," Nancy said in exasperation, "why does everyone always say that when you can't start a car?"
"Because that's generally what's wrong."
From the hut, Nancy could now hear noises which sounded like wild beasts fighting to claw and push their way out of captivity.
She laughed in spite of herself. "Apparently they don't like being locked up."
"I'll say," Ned shouted. "Look at that." As they watched the sturdy oak door, they saw a fist suddenly push right through it, shattering a plank completely. "Did you see that?" Ned asked. "And he's just warming up! Nancy, let's get out of here!"
"I'm trying." Again, the girl detective pressed on the gas pedal and turned the key. Then a thought struck her. Some custom cars had a double ignition. One would have to be unlocked before the other one could work.
"Uh-oh," Ned said. "Look who's coming."
Nancy glanced up to see the enraged face of Herr Gutterman and the narrow, ratlike face of Herr Burger peering through the shattered door as Gutterman reached out to remove the timber blocking their exit.
"Nancy, what are we going to do? Listen, let me out!"
"That would be crazy!" Nancy cried. "No, I'll lock all the windows and doors. Then, at least, they can't get in."
The girl detective managed to hit the lock switches just in time.
Gutterman promptly threw a tantrum, pounding his fists, and finally his head, on the side of the car.
"You might as well give up," Nancy called. "You can't get in. Eventually, I'll get this started and when I do, it'll be bye-bye, Herr Gutterman."
Suddenly, Gutterman looked up. His hair was in disarray. His eyes were wild and red-rimmed. His tie was hanging down and his shirt was disheveled. But he let fly a cry of triumph.
"Aha," he shouted. "I'm not beaten yet." He darted in front of the car and lay down directly in its path. "Now try to get away!" he exclaimed. "You'll kill me, if you do, and you're too much of a lady to do that, aren't you, Miss Drew? Yes, I know you are. Your moral code wouldn't allow you to do something that might result in death or even bodily injury to another person, even to save your own life.
"That is why my kind wins and your kind loses these little battles, Miss Drew." Gutterman continued his lecture as his partner stared at him, unbelieving.
"Have you lost your mind?" Burger cried. "You will be killed, you maniac."
Nancy heard Gutterman, though neither she nor Ned could see him. "Not crazy," he bellowed. "You'll see."
But Herr Gutterman didn't know about the girl detective's superb driving skills and quick reflexes. While Gutterman was raving, Nancy found the second ignition. It was hidden behind a false cigarette lighter. She turned it quickly and then, quietly, slipped the key into the ignition itself.
"Ned," she whispered. "I've got it. Hold on, I'm going to start the car and back up like a rocket, then swing to the right."
"Got it," Ned replied softly. "Let's do it! I need air!"
In one swift and easy motion, Nancy started the engine, slammed the car into reverse, and went spinning back a dozen feet as soft pine needles slipped and churned under the wheels.
Suddenly, the car slid downward as if on ice. "It's the pine needles!" Ned shouted. "Quick, put it into first gear and the four-wheel drive will pull us out."
Smoothly, Nancy reversed the gears. The car shot forward and made a wide circle to the right, leaving the stricken Gutterman and Burger wailing in loud, shrill voices.
Out on the highway, Nancy pressed the big car to just under the speed limit and headed back for Vienna. From the back seat, she could hear Ned's voice. "Oh, that was tremendous! Tremendous! Let's go back and do it again, now that I can breathe. I want to see the looks on their faces."
"Once was enough." Nancy laughed as she pulled to the side of the road, unlocked the door switches, and made room for Ned in the front seat.
"Boy," Ned said, settling down, "it feels good to be out of the old cell, doesn't it? Well, anyway, now our worries are over. "
"I don't know about that," Nancy said.
"Sure they are," Ned insisted.
"We've got a nice car, we're headed for Vienna, we know that the people who are threatening the professor and the tour are really a bunch of muscleheads. They're not too smart, even if they do have beautiful cars and instant hotel reservations.
"By the way, why are they threatening the professor, and why are you going to Vienna? Do you realize I'm just stringing along with you, good old faithful Ned, and I don't even know what I'm getting myself into?"
"And I owe it to you to tell you," Nancy replied. As briefly as possible, she filled him in on the details of both the rescue effort involving the ten children and the mystery of the stolen film.
"Well, you'll figure everything out, Nancy. You always do. I have faith in you. If you need any heavy muscle work done, just call on your obedient slave."
"Thanks," Nancy said. "But right now, we're in trouble."
"What kind of trouble?"
"Well, just for starters, how about car theft?"
"Car theft? Those guys kidnapped us."
"Sure. But do we have any witnesses? Gutterman and Burger can claim they were nice enough to give us a ride and we took their car."
"But why would they want to draw attention to themselves?"
Nancy pondered the idea. "I suppose you're right, but even so, I don't want to be found with this car. I think we'll have to run the risk of leaving it someplace inconvenient."
"Gee, I hate to give up this beautiful buggy. Why don't we take our chances and explain it to the police if we have to? We'd be telling the truth."
Nancy shook her head. "We can't take any chances on this mission," she replied. "So this is where we get off."
"In the middle of nowhere? In the Austrian Alps?"
"Trust me," Nancy said.
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