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The Mystery on the Mississippi

The Mystery on the Mississippi

Titel: The Mystery on the Mississippi
Autoren: Julie Campbell
his face.
    “That bozo from New Orleans.” Dan’s face was red. “Maybe he did give us a good steer about the river, but why do you suppose he nearly wrecked us on the way into the city?”
    Mart leaned forward to gaze at Dan. “Boy, are you slow to burn! Why didn’t you say anything about that before?”
    “I’ve just been doing a little thinking. It wasn’t just happenstance, either, that took him to the Jefferson Memorial. I don’t like the whole business.”
    Jim laughed. “Do you want to join the Belden-Wheeler Detective Agency, Dan? Didn’t you ever have anyone try to crowd you out of a traffic lane before?”
    “Sure. But why does he keep popping up all the time?”
    “It’s my guess we’ve seen the last of him,” Jim said. “You forget that he was checking out of the motel when we checked in. That means he won’t be around Vacation Inn, at least.”
    “He wasn’t checking out,” Trixie interrupted. “When I found out about his name, he was just changing to another room. He said it was too noisy by the pool. The clerk told me that because he wanted to know if I thought it would be too noisy for us.”
    “ Now you tell us,” Jim said patiently. “Say, Trixie, how about, from now on, our minding our own business and letting the Frenchman from New Orleans mind his?”
    Dan still looked puzzled. “Then you don’t think,
    Jim, that he followed us to Jefferson Memorial?”
    “For cat’s sake, no. The man there told us he wanted to see if he could buy an old steamboat, didn’t he?”
    Dan’s face colored. “Yeah, he did. I forgot about that, I guess. Count me out of your detective agency, Trixie.”
    “No, sirree! We need your help, Honey and I do. What would we have done without you when those jewel thieves kidnapped me in New York? You just keep on helping, Dan. Maybe Jim and Brian and Mart think there’s nothing mysterious about Mr. Pierre Lontard, but I’m going to keep my eyes open, just the same.”
    “You do that, Trix,” Jim told her. “In the meantime, I’ll keep my eyes on this traffic. Did you ever see anything like it?”
    “It’s all going back and forth to those airplane factories.” Trixie’s face was very thoughtful. “That Lontard man will need a lot of watching, Honey.” Honey, wedged in between Jim and Brian in the front seat, nodded emphatically. “I’ll help you all I can. You know that. Only, honestly, Trixie, I can’t see anything very suspicious yet.”
    “You didn’t look very closely at those odd papers in that briefcase, then, if you didn’t see anything that was suspicious.”
    “I didn’t. Neither did you. You didn’t have any more idea of what you were looking at than I did. You don’t know what those papers in your purse are all about, either. I still think he may have been sketching and writing for his children.”
    “Dig out the papers, Trix,” Dan suggested. “Let me have a good look at them.”
    “They’re covered with figures. Scraggly lines, too, on the graph paper. Here they are, Dan. There are some words there that look Spanish. Honey, you know Spanish.”
    Dan smoothed out the crumpled papers. “Hmmmm... Spanish words. Sure, Honey knows some Spanish. Remember how she translated parts of that Mexican fortune-teller’s prophecy?”
    “Indeed I do remember!” Trixie took the papers from Dan. “Here they are, Honey. What are these words?”
    “Move over a little, Brian,” Honey said. “I can’t see well. The writing is small and foreign-looking. Gosh, Trixie, it doesn’t really look like Spanish. Yes, I guess it is. It’s a kind of dialect, though, not the kind of Spanish I learned at boarding school.”
    “Can’t you even recognize a word?” Dan asked impatiently.
    “Give her time!” Brian said. “Keep your shirt on, Dan. How about it, Honey? See anything you know?”
    “There’s dinero. That means money. And... let me see... it says here estépuntual... .”
    “Now we’re getting someplace,” Trixie said excitedly. “What does estépuntual mean?”
    “Be on time.”
    “There you are! What more could you ask?” Trixie clapped her hands delightedly. “Those scraggly lines are copies of plans. They mean something aeronautical, as sure as you’re born. And ‘money’ and ‘be on time’—That couldn’t mean anything but that he stole the plans, and he’s going to get money for them, and he wants the money when it was promised!”
    “Whoa! Back up a little!” Jim advised. He slowed the car

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