The Ghost of Wolfpen Ridge (Chapter 5)
The Gangs Meeting
The third night, as the three girls lay outside, Callie said, “If we could just find the place where the thieves are, we could set a Police-trap and catch 'em if they came back.”
“Say, Cal, you might just have given me a great idea!” Carrie said.
Her sister looked at her quizzically. “Whats that?” She asked.
“There aren't but a few motels and apartments in town,” Carrie replied. “And if we could look for someone under the name Jones, maybe we could set up a trap!”
“But what if he has an alias name?” Callie asked.
“You've given me another great idea, Callie!” Carrie exclaimed. “We could check the police station and see if if he has any criminal records! And if he does or doesn't, we're still going to check all the motels and apartments and see if he's staying in any of them.”
"Not a bad idea,” Sally commented, nodding.
“We'll do it first thing after breakfast tomorrow,” Carrie said.
Right after breakfast the following day, the girls walked into town. They walked straight to the Police station. They knew the Police Chief, Ben Walker because they had met him when they had asked if they might borrow one to arrest a couple of criminals.
“Hi, Chief Walker,” Sally said, grinning.
“Hello,” he said, smiling and shaking each girls hands. “You think you can catch the criminals this time?” He asked, chuckling.
“That's not why we came. We thought perhaps you have a criminal record for someone under the name Allen Jones?” Sally asked.
“I'll have to check. One moment.” He called in a man and asked him to check for the criminal files for Allen Jones.
A few minutes later, he came back.
“He does have a criminal record,” he said. “He was arrested ten years ago for the theft of several million dollars, which has yet to be recovered, and for a kidnapping, both kidnapping and robber took place about eleven years ago. He was released from prison a three months ago.”
Sally's and Carrie's eyes widened as they exchanged glances.
“Do you know of any alias name he uses?” Carrie asked.
“No,” the man said. “He hasn't been wanted for any crimes since he was released. He may have committed crimes since, and though people have suspected him many times of different thefts and the like, there's no evidence against him, so unless and until there is, we can't arrest him.”
Sally nodded, thanked them for their trouble, and the three walked out.
“Well, how do you like that!” Sally exclaimed. “He does have criminal records!”
“Too bad we don't know if he has any alias's,” Callie complained. “And he probably does, and we have no idea in the world what they might be.”
“Sure,” Carrie said, nodding. “Too bad we don't know any of his friends names, also. Then we could look for their names, too.”
“You know,” Sally said. “Before we left home, we should have checked the phone book to see how many apartments and motels there are, and to find the addresses of them. Lets go home and divide them up.”
“There's eleven motels, hotels, motels and apartments altogether,” Sally said presently, as she shut the phone book. “Carrie and I'll have the extra two, Callie. We'll each meet at Jerry's in fifteen minutes. Do you both have watches?”
Callie and Carrie held up their left wrists to show that they did. “Good. Whoever hasn't finished their places by then, will go off again and in ten minutes we'll meet at Jerry's again. If you still haven't finished," Sally sighed in a mock-dramtic like way and grinned. "We'll talk about what at later Jerry's. Now, Callie, bring me three pieces of paper and a pencil, will you?”
Callie ran off to get them, and soon returned. Sally wrote Callie's name on one, Carrie's on another, and hers on the last. Then she wrote down the addresses in which each girl was supposed to go to under her name. Sally handed Callie and Carrie's theirs, then they walked off towards town. As Sally went her own way, she thought,
“What if he does have an alias? Then all this time used for nothing, when we could have used it on other things in the mystery? I certainly hope we find him.”
The three girls met at Jerry's fifteen minutes later, but neither of their searches had produced any new information, but each girl still had a few places to go. Sally still had two, and it was on her second that she walked into the first motel she'd been in since the beginning of their search. She inquired at the desk if a man by the name Allen Jones was staying there. The man behind the desk looked at her through his spectacles and said,
“I'll have to see. Give me a moment. I'll see.” He looked through a few papers. “Aha!” He said after only a moment. “Allen Jones, was his name, you say?”
“Yes, sir,” Sally replied, and excited look on her face.
“He checked out only this morning. You missed by just about an hour,” the man stated.
Sally looked crestfallen.
“Was he a friend of yours?” He asked.
Sally shook her head and said, “Did he leave any forwarding address?”
The clerk shook his head.
“I'm sorry I couldn't be of much help,” he said.
Sally thanked him, and then walked down to Jerry's General store. Callie and
Carrie were both there already. They exchanged greetings, and then Sally had asked if they had learned anything, although she knew very well that there wasn't much the could have learned. Then Carrie asked her she had any
“I should say I did,” Sally replied. “Mr. Jones checked out just this morning!”
“Wha—?” Callie began, but Carrie broke in, “Well, then maybe the gang hadn't left after all!” She said. “Maybe even Mr. Jones is still staying in this state, or town, even, and he checked out because... Because...”
Carrie could think of no reasonable answer as to why he had checked out, so Callie said, “Because he thought someone was on his trail!”
“Perhaps so.” Carrie looked doubtful. “But Chief Walker did say that no one had proof against him.”
Just then Sally snapped her fingers. “Why don't we all go down to the motel that Mr. Jones was staying in?” She asked.
Carrie and her sister looked puzzled.
“Why would we want to do that?” Callie asked.
“If we could just get permission to search Mr. Jones room...” Sally replied.
“Then maybe we could find a clue to where he's staying now!” Callie finished, her face aglow, showing her excitement.
“My thoughts exactly,” Sally said.
“Then what are we waiting for?” Carrie exclaimed. “Lets go!”
“You wanna search Jones' room?” The motel clerk asked. “Whatever for?”
“Um, we wanted to see if we couldn't find something to show where he's going now,” Sally said.
“Why, certainly! It was strange though. He picked the only room that had a
fireplace, and used the fire more than once. All the other rooms have heaters. Quite a strange time of year to use a fire, if you ask me. Quite a strange time,” The man commented, shaking his head.
He lead the way down the hall. It was on the first of four floors in the motel, and was the last door to the left. He walked with them, bade them good luck, then went back to his job.
“I doubt if we'll find anything,” Callie said. “He said he wanted the room with the fireplace. Probably to burn anything he didn't want the police to find.”
Sally walked over to the fireplace, knowing fully well why Allen Jones had wanted the room with the fireplace.
Carrie shrugged. “Probably, but—”
“Hey!” Sally interrupted, rushing up to her two cousins.
In her left hand she held four pieces of shriveled up paper with burns on them that looked like the four of them might have made one whole piece of paper.
“For Pete's sake!” Callie exclaimed. “Where did you find that?”
“I found it in the fireplace!” Sally said excitedly. “I think we might can make out the words later. As for now, lets look for more clues in the fireplace.” Sally stuffed the paper in her skirt pocket hurried back to the fireplace, her cousins close on her heels. After a while the search seemed to prove fruitless, and Carrie said, “I think we should give up. It seems useless.”
Callie nodded vigorously, agreeing with her sister. But Sally wasn't ready to give up just yet.
“Nothing doing,” she said. “You two can look around the room. Look in the closet, dresser drawers. Everywhere.”
After a while of searching, though, and finding nothing more, even Sally was ready to give up. The three walked back to the room where the desk clerk sat, thanked him, and left.
Back home, Sally was sitting at a desk in the girls bedroom, while her cousins stood behind. She had the four torn papers on her desk, a pencil, and a blank piece of white paper. Finally Sally pieced the papers together where they fit.
“It looks like a code of some sort,” Callie remarked.
Sally nodded, and looked back down at the note.
It read: 1LL5N,
M55T M5 1N4 T85 R5ST O6 T85 2OYS 1T 25AR-31V5 T89S TU5S41Y 1T 6OUR-T89RTY S81RP
“It says 'T85' and '1T' twice,” Sally observed. “And then PM might just be a time.”
Four-and-a-half hours later, the three girls were still staring at the strange code, completely baffled. Callie groaned.
“How will we ever solve that code!”
But Sally wasn't paying attention. She was writing the alphabet down on the blank piece of paper.
“Allen, meet me at...” She said.
“How do you figure that?” Carrie asked.
“I wrote the alphabet down, see?” Sally asked.
Callie and Carrie nodded, and Sally continued, “I figured that E is the fifth letter in the alphabet. The first letter is M, then 5, 5, T. Which would mean “Meet”. As for M5, that would be “Me.” And 'Allen' was easy. I haven't finished yet, but so far, I believe I have it down.”
By the time Sally had finished the code, it was nearly supper time. When
Sally glanced at the clock, she realized how hungry she was. She and her cousins hadn't eaten lunch, so intent were they in solving the code.
“What does the note say?” Callie asked, peering over Sally's shoulder. “Allen,” Sally began, and the three girls exchanged glances.
“Meet me and the rest of the boys at bear-cave this Tuesday at four-thirty P.M Sharp.
“Ike must be the gang leader,” Sally said. “I wonder what and where bear-cave is? Shall we look for it on a map?”
Carrie pulled a detailed map of Union County, Georgia out a drawer and spread it over the bed.
“Aha!” Sally said after several minutes of silence. “I've found it!” She pointed to a place on the map which said, “Bear-Cave.”
“It must be a cave where the gang is having a meeting. Maybe even their new hideout!” Callie said.
“If we can just get Mom to let us go out, then we'll follow the map, and listen in on the meeting outside of the cave,” Carrie said.
“But what if the cave has more than one room, and they're not in the mouth of the cave?” Callie asked.
“Then we'll find the room they're in, not let them see us of course, and wait outside of it,” Sally answered.
“Four-thirty this Tuesday. Ike,” Carrie read the last few words in the note. “I wonder why whoever Ike is didn't just write the whole code in numbers, instead of some in letters and the rest in numbers?” Callie asked.
“Well, take the letter O for instance. It's the fifteenth letter in the alphabet,” Sally explained. “So, if Ike had written '156', instead 'O6'. Then to Allen, when he had the code solved, it would have looked like 'AEF' which isn't a word. So Ike, instead of doing the two digit letters as numbers, wrote them as they were, letters, so as not to confuse Allen.”
“But he could have put a dash between the fifteen and six,” Callie reasoned.
“True,” Sally admitted. “I hadn't thought of that. But still, Ike might not have thought of it either.”
The three went down to ask Aunt Leah, without telling her directly where they were going. She gave her consent, and as the three away, Sally said, “Oh, thank you, Aunty!”
The next day, which was Saturday, the three girls had nothing to do in the mystery, so they merely sat around talking and reading. Sunday they went to church. It seemed an eternity to the three cousins before Tuesday finally came.
“And we've still got to wait until four-thirty,” Callie said glumly.
Sally went over to a desk-top computer and looked up bear-cave and about how many miles away it was.
“The place is only three miles away,” Sally said presently. “We could ride our bikes and be there in twenty minutes or better. I say we leave around four-o'clock.”
Sally's cousins were in agreement with this, and it didn't seem very long until it was four. Callie reminded her mother that they were going out. “Goodbye, mother,” Callie said, giving her mother a hug before leaving the room.
“'Bye now, Aunty!” Sally called.
“Goodbye!” Aunt Leah called back to Sally as she dashed out the door after her two cousins.
The girls arrived ten minutes to four-thirty, and waited in some bushes nearby. Not five minutes later there the sound of a car motor. Then a car door slamming, and into view walked Kyle, Ike, Horace, and another man.
“Kyle,” Ike said. “You stand by the road and wait for the others. Nick,
Horace, you come with me.”
“I'll bet that's Ike,” Callie whispered, referring to the man who had given out the orders. “And now we know the others names.”
Sally put her finger to her lips and peered out. She could see Kyle sitting on the edge of the road. Only a few minutes later a little black car drove up, stopped, and out jumped three men. They could clearly tell one was Allen. Kyle walked over to them.
“Hi, Allen,” he said.
“Where's Ike?” One man asked.
“In there,” Kyle replied, nodding his head toward the cave mouth.
The three men trooped inside. Sally waited awhile, then, signaling her cousins to follow, she crept toward the cave. She couldn't hear any voices, so she guessed they were further back in the cave. Flattening herself against the wall, she peered in. No one there. Keeping as low as she could, she went in. The three went further back, until they came to a dead end. Sally looked puzzled.
“Where did they go?” She whispered.
Her only answer was shrugs from her cousins, but of course she hadn't expected anything more. She put her ear close to the cave wall. She could hear the faint murmur of voices.
“They've gone in there,” she hissed.
“But how are we supposed to get in?” Carrie asked.
“We don't want to. We must to find out a way where we can understand what they're saying,” Sally said.
At that moment there was the sound of footsteps coming from the other side of the wall. The three leaped into a corner, hearts pounding. No one came out. Sally had just made up her mind to find a place she could hear them better, when the wall opened up. “Just as I thought,” Sally said to herself. “A hidden room.”
Kyle came out, then walked back in a moment later. Sally put her ear to the wall again, and this time she could hear the voices clearly, as though the gang had come closer to the wall.
“What do you say we should do about it, Nick?” Came from Ike.
There was no reply, as if the man was shrugging. Just then, Ike exclaimed, “I've got it! We should kidnap Callie. She's the one who thinks your part of the gang, right, Allen?”
“Um-hm,” was the reply.
Callie and her cousin glanced at each other from the corners of their eyes. “Well, if we kidnapped her, she couldn't convince the other two Allen's in on it.”
There were murmurs of agreement, and finally Ike said,
“We'll be going back there tonight, as you all know. Horace, I've changed my mind. Your not doing the stealing. Aaron will.”
Horace breathed a sigh of relief, and a groaning came from inside, obviously from Aaron.
“I want you to play ghost while they're inside, Horace. I think that would be safer in case any of them kids are watching. It'll keep 'em distracted. As for you, Oliver, you've got the kidnapping."
“M—me?” Oliver asked, his voice quavering.
“Yes, you!” Ike snapped.
“So they aren't gone for good,” Sally thought.
Pulling her cousins outside and into the bushes, she whispered, “I have a feeling the reason they haven't been back lately because they wanted us to get tired of waiting for them outside and then stop it. And now they're coming back to rob your parents. And,” she clapped a hand over her mouth to stifle a laugh. “Kidnap Callie.”
Callie grinned. “Guess we'll have to sleep outside again,” she said, with a mock-annoyed sigh.
“We'll have to get police over again, too. Once they see we're no where in the house, they'll look right outside. I think that was all we needed to know. Lets go home.”
But Callie didn't want to.
“They might say something else,” she said. “Besides, what if they finished and came out just in time to see us? Then would we be in a mess!” Although reluctant to, Sally agreed, and the three crept warily back into the cave. They once again put their ears to the wall. The voices had ceased. Footsteps sounded, and once again, the wall opened up. The girls had already jumped back into the shadows when Kyle poked his head out looked right then left, then went back in.
“Coast is clear,” they heard him say.
“Alright. Lets go,” Ike replied.
Sally gasped and gritted her teeth. Should they make a dash for cave mouth and from there to the bushes, or just trust their luck and stay where they were? "We're going to have to make a run for it," she said barely above a whisper, through still tightly clenched teeth. So the three girls ran as fast as the could outside and into the bushes. It was only a minute later that the seven men appeared. They hopped into the two convertibles and sped off.
The girls breathed sighs of relief.
"Holy mackerel!" Carrie said, practically slumping to the ground.
Callie's face was pale. "That was close," she said, smiling wanly.
"Too close for comfort."
They waited a few minutes, then rode their bikes home.