Chapter 19 – The Fatal Hour
The Hardy boys are in a very bad situation. Tied to chairs and gagged as a madman approaches them. This chapter is all about the fiend’s monologue and the exposition it provides.
The man has emerged from a secret door built into the grandfather clock that leads to a recessed room beyond. The Hardys watch as two henchmen emerge carrying a box that they are told is a bomb. One of the men is Dalrymple’s double that they saw on the street earlier. As the two men work on this bomb, the elderly madman begins to explain his dastardly plan.
It turns out this madman is an inventor and he invented this bomb setup that will be wired to the grandfather clock. At the appointed hour, the clock will trigger the bomb and destroy the house. All because Dalrymple, the banker, wouldn’t loan this man $500 to complete a revolutionary invention. The madman tells them that he had already borrowed $3000 from the banker, but needed $500 more to finish his work. Dalrymple refused, saying the man had nothing to show for the $3000 so he would get no more. The madman subsequently got very sick and forgot his lucrative idea and has now lost out on a fortune. This plot is his revenge against Dalrymple.
The boys realize that Dalrymple is not yet in the man’s clutches, but the plan is to lure him to the house soon. They must escape and fast. It is now almost 2am and the bomb will be wired to go off at 3am. As the boys watch helplessly, the madman begins to slosh gasoline and gunpowder around them. The man tells them that they have an hour to live and then they and Dalrymple will die! The he sets about to summon his quarry to the rigged house.
So the plot is finally revealed and things look pretty bad now. How are the Hardy boys going to get out of this one?