Chapter 2 – The Purdy Place
The boys chums, Chet Morton and Biff Hooper, meet them at the house and they set off on their hike and picnic. The Hardys suggest following the Shore Road towards the Purdy house for their hike and their chums agree.
On the way, they are nearly run over by a “heavy touring car” with “the curtains up”. After leaping off the road, they watch as the car speeds towards town. They are shaken and angry as they proceed towards the Purdy house.
At this point, the book helpfully gives us the back story on the Hardy boys. We learn that their father is a former New York police detective who branched out on his own and moved to the small town of Bayport. The boys hope to follow in his footsteps by becoming detectives themselves. Though they are only in high school, they have helped on many cases already.
The boys reach the Purdy estate which is surrounded by high stone walls. They are curious when they find the gate open and go inside. They are met by a motorcycling policeman who had been chasing the car that nearly ran them over. He says he suspects the car contained river thieves. They tell him of their encounter with the car and he leaves, saying he doesn’t care if they poke around the estate.
Frank finds a fresh footprint on the path to the front door and scratches on the rusted lock that look like a key was used. Joe seems to blame the caretaker, but Frank is suspicious.
Chet Morton is obviously mostly there for comic relief. He is described as “a plump, cheerful boy, good-natured and always ready to agree to any plan.” The other boys poke fun at his love of food, but he insists that a growing boy needs food. He also suggests looking for apples when they reach the Purdy estate.
Biff seems to be nondescript at this point with little nuance to his character.
It is odd that the cop doesn’t care if four high school boys he’s never met before poke around a private, walled estate whose gate happened to be open.
This chapter contains a paragraph that actually mentions other books in the series by name! Synergy!