Chapter 24 – The Homecoming
Some days later, Mr. and Mrs. Hardy return from their vacation in the woods. Their cab driver mentions that their sons have stirred up some excitement while they were gone and solved a mystery. When the couple arrives home, they find the boys on the porch with Aunt Gertrude and a stranger. Aunt Gertrude quickly launches into a litany of criticisms of the boys’ behavior, saying they should have just asked her to help and things would have gone much smoother. Mr. Hardy asks to be introduced to the stranger, who is of course Mr. Dalrymple.
After they have freshened up, Mr. and Mrs. Hardy are treated to the whole story by Frank (with many interruptions from Aunt Gertrude). Mr. Hardy is pleased with the success his boys have had and glad that they were none the worse for wear from their ordeal. They tell him that Applegate gave them $50 for each returned stamp and Mr. Dalrymple paid them $200 for solving the case. We don’t know how many stamps were recovered, but it seems like they made more from that case than from the rich banker’s case! Dalrymple tells the Hardys that Wandy did indeed pass away and that he was by his bedside to receive an apology from the poor old man.
Mrs. Hardy says she’s glad she didn’t know of these risks her sons were taking while she was enjoying her vacation. Frank insists that they were not risks, but fun!
So Aunt Gertrude gets the last line in the book. I just have such a hard time believing that young boys get so much enjoyment out of this shrill, annoying character that she must be so heavily featured.
Dated dialogue: The taxi-driver they engaged to drive them from the depot grinned as he touched his cap.
Strange line: “Stuff and nonsense! They bungled it from start to finish.” – Aunt Gertrude
Last line: “Except,” added Aunt Gertrude pointedly, “when the bomb was at your feet and the clock ticked.”
Next book tease: In their next case, “Footprints Under the Window,” she [Aunt Gertrude] was to play an amusing part. [Oh goody! More Aunt Gertrude!]
As I said in the beginning, I remember this to be the scariest Hardy Boys book in the series. Sure enough, there is a lot of talk of death and peril throughout. There are threats of death to Mr. Dalrymple, the boys often remark that maybe someone has been killed or that they might find a dead body and the specter of Amos Wandy is certainly scary. And, in fact, the villain comes to his senses in the end, he still dies. Yes, for a young boy there are plenty of thrills and chills in this book.
Ironically, in the midst of writing this series, my two young sons expressed a desire to have a chapter book read to them. So my wife and I decided to read this book to them. Now, they are age 3 and 5, so a bit young for the story, but the plunged right in and loved the book. They easily tracked with the twists and turns and remembered the motivations of each and every supporting character. The only problem was that my 5-year old did have one night of nightmares that he insisted were due to the scary story. We opted not to read it before bed after that.
So there you have it. A classic Hardy Boys book. If you have young kids, especially boys, I’d encourage you to pick up a book from the series and get them hooked. They are great adventure and mystery stories that are also wholesome throwbacks to a bygone era. They contain plenty of good vocabulary words that you won’t find in YA books these days. And they depict brothers who always get along with each other, work together and respect and honor their parents too. Steer clear of more recently re-booted Hardy Boys books and look for the originals, they are clearly the best. Oh, and they aren’t just for young people. I found it very enjoyable to re-read as an adult.