Chapter 16 – The Death Yell
The Hardys are bound and gagged in the bottom of a boat being driven upstream by a pair of thieves when Joe actually works his gag free and yells for help. The police boat is still nearby and hears the call. The thieves gag Joe and turn up their speed trying to get away. Soon the police fire some warning shots and the men realize the gig is up. They give themselves up and the Hardy boys are freed. The police take the men into custody and immediately recognize them as “Indian Tom” [eye roll] and Zeke Peters, men long suspected of crime but never caught. They take the boys home and tell them to come to the station in the morning to give statements and find out what happens to the thieves.
As the boys arrive home very late and disheveled from their ordeal, they encounter Aunt Gertrude who is livid about their late night activities. Then she sees their ruined clothes and hits a new level of incredulity. The boys finally make it to bed and wonder what they will learn at the police station in the morning.
When they do get to the station, they are met by a very smug Detective Smuff. He informs them that he has solved the case and that they were lucky that his men saved them and tied up the caper all on their own. He tells them that “Indian Tom” and Zeke Peters were river thieves. They had been using the Purdy Place to stash their loot, unaware that the house had been bought by Mr. Dalrymple. The boys press him about the scream that sent the men running, but Smuff says that it was “Indian Tom” who screamed. It was their way of trying to scare off anyone who may discover their hideout.
The boys are angry that Smuff has taken full credit when they are the ones who flushed the thieves out. Plus, if the thieves didn’t know Dalrymple owned the house, then they were not responsible for the threatening notes. The case is still not solved.
So it turns out that river thieves do figure into this mystery somehow, but there is clearly more going on. And it doesn’t get much more dated than referring to a screaming crook as “Indian Tom”. Yikes.