Chapter 14 – While The Clock Ticks
When the clerk is called back in, the story comes out. Sid Balpert has dreams of being a detective himself. He also wants a promotion at the bank from Mr. Dalrymple. Hearing of the mystery and threats to Dalrymple, he made a plan to investigate the Purdy place. He figured if he cracked the case he may well receive that promotion at the bank. He says that upon entering the house he heard the scream and quickly gave up his detective work (which is basically the same storyline Chet experienced). Balpert ran back to his boat and fled, figuring his pursuers were the fiends from inside the house. With that all cleared up, Balpert is dismissed and Dalrymple is satisfied. The Hardys, however, still can’t figure out what the screams are all about.
On their way home, they stop for lunch at a diner since they know arriving home late will mean no lunch from Aunt Gertrude. While waiting for their sandwiches, they hear men in the next booth getting ready to leave and one says to the others “It will happen while the clock ticks.” That’s the phrase from the threatening notes! The Hardys pay for the meal they didn’t get and race out to follow the men in their car. After losing them for a moment, they see a car on the road and pull up next to it only to find a family of six. The wrong car!
Abashed, they head for home. On the way they drive past Hurd Applegate’s house and see him mowing his lawn. Applegate flags them down and once again laments the loss of his stamps. He then asks the boys if they would take on HIS case and try to find his stolen stamps. The boys agree. Now they have two cases on their plates!
When they arrive home, they tell their aunt of the new case they’ve agreed to take. She expresses doubt that they will be able to solve it. When they ask for lunch, she predictably refuses them because they came home late. So they head to the garage and set about repairing Joe’s motorcycle. When Joe goes inside to get a tool, he finds that Aunt Gertrude has indeed prepared lemonade, sandwiches and chocolate cake slices for them. Yes, it seems that while Aunt Gertrude is abrasive she care for her nephews all the same.
So who are these two guys that the Hardys stumble upon in the diner? Are they related to the case or is this just another bunny trail?