The windows had old green blinds hanging

Well, when you have a mysterious sealed envelope in your hand, which
you’ve just found under some pine needles at the base of a tree out in
the middle of a forest, and when you’re playing a game about finding
buried treasure, all of a sudden you sort of wake up and realize that
your game has come to life and that you’re in for an honest-to-goodness
mystery that will be a thousand times more interesting and exciting
than the imaginary game you’ve been playing.

We decided to keep our new names, though, which we did, although we had
an argument about it first. I was still Robinson Crusoe, and Dragonfly
was my Man Friday. Circus and Poetry wanted us to call them the
cannibals, but Dragonfly wouldn’t. “I don’t want to have to worry about
being eaten up every minute. You’ve got to turn into goats right away.
Besides, one cannibal’s already been shot and is supposed to be dead.”

“You’d make a good goat yourself,” Circus said to me,–“a _Billy_ goat,
’cause your name’s Bill.”

But it wasn’t any time to argue, when there was a mysterious envelope
right in the middle of our huddle where we were on the ground at the
base of the tree where Circus had found it, so Poetry said, “All right,
I’ll be the goat, if you let me open the envelope.”

“And I’ll be the other goat,” Circus said, “if you’ll let me read it.”

“Let _me_ read it,” Dragonfly said to me. “Goats can’t read anyway.”

“You can’t either,” I said. “You’re a black man that doesn’t know
anything about civilization and you don’t know how to read.”

So it was I who got to open the soiled brownish envelope, which I
did with excited fingers, and then we all let out four disappointed
groans, for would you believe it? there wasn’t a single thing written
on the folded white paper on the inside–not one single thing. It was
only a piece of typewriter paper.

Well that was that. We all sank down on the ground in different
directions and felt like the bottom had dropped out of our new mystery
world. I looked at Friday and he at me, and the fat goat started
chewing his cud, while our acrobatic goat rolled over on his back,
pulled his knees up to his chin, and groaned, then he rolled over on
his side and, my Man Friday lying right there right then, got _his_
side rolled onto, which started a scuffle, making my Man Friday angry.
All of a sudden he remembered something about the story of Robinson
Crusoe. He grunted and said, while he twisted and tried to get out from
under the goat, “Listen, you–when Robinson Crusoe and his Man Friday
got hungry, they killed and ate one of the goats, and if you don’t
behave yourself like a good goat, we’ll–”

But Circus was as mischievous as anything and said, while he rolled
himself back toward Dragonfly again and laid his head on his side,
“Isn’t your name Friday?”

Dragonfly grunted and said, “Sure,” and Circus answered, “All right.
I’m sleepy, and there’s nothing better than taking a nap on Friday,”
which he pretended to do, shutting his eyes and started in snoring as
loud as he could, which sounded like a goat with the asthma.

That reminded Poetry of something funny he’d read somewhere, and it
was about two fleas who were supposed to have lived on the island
with Robinson Crusoe and his Man Friday. Both of these fleas had been
chewing away on Crusoe and were getting tired of him and wanted a
change, so pretty soon one of them called to the other and said, “So
long, kid, I’ll be seeing you on Friday.”

I just barely giggled at Poetry’s story ’cause my mind was working hard
on the new mystery, thinking about the blank piece of paper and why
it was blank, and why was the envelope sealed, and who had dropped it
here, and when, and why?

So I stood up and walked like Robinson Crusoe might have walked, in a
little circle around the tree, looking up at the limb where Circus had
been perched, and then at the ground, and at Poetry, my fat goat, who
right then unscrambled himself from the rest of the inhabitants of our
imaginary island, and followed me around, sniffling at my hand, like a
hungry goat that wanted to eat the letter I had.

Abruptly Poetry stopped and said to me, “Sh!” which means to keep
still, which I did, and he said, “Look, here’s a sign of some kind.”

I looked, but didn’t see anything except a small twig about four or
five feet tall that was broken off, and had been left with the top
hanging.

My Man Friday and the acrobatic goat were still scuffling under the
tree, and didn’t seem interested in what we were doing. “What kind of a
sign?” I asked Poetry, knowing that he was one of our gang who was more
interested in woodcraft than most of the gang and was always looking
for signs and trails and things.

“See here,” he said to me, “this is a little birch twig, and somebody’s
broken it part way off and left it hanging.”

“What of it?” I said, remembering that back home at Sugar Creek I’d
done that myself to a chokecherry twig or a willow, and it hadn’t meant
a thing.

“But look which way the top points!” Poetry said mysteriously. “That
means it’s a signal on a trail. It means for us to go in the direction
the top of the broken twig points, and after awhile we’ll find another
broken twig, and whichever way it points we’re to go that way.”

Say, did my disappointed mind ever come to quick life! Although I still
doubted it might mean anything. Right away, we called the other goat
and my Man Friday and let them in on our secret, and we all swished
along, pretending to be scouts, going straight in the direction the
broken twig pointed, all of us looking for another twig farther on.

We walked about twenty yards through the dense growth before we found
another broken twig hanging, but sure enough we did find one, and this
time it was a broken oak twig, and was bent in the opposite direction
we’d come from, which meant the trail went straight on. Then we did get
excited, ’cause we _knew_ we were on somebody’s trail.

My Man Friday was awful dumb for one who was supposed to be used to
outdoor life, though, ’cause he wanted to finish breaking off the top
of the oak twig and also cut off the bottom and make a stick out of it
to carry, and to take home with us back to Sugar Creek when we finished
our vacation. “For a souvenir,” he whined complainingly, when we
wouldn’t let him and made him fold up his pocket knife and put it back
into his pocket again.

“That’s the sign post on our trail,” Poetry explained. “We have to
leave it there so we can follow the trail back to where we started
from, or might get lost,” which I thought was good sense and said so.

We scurried along, getting more and more interested and excited as
we found one broken twig after another. Sometimes they were pointing
straight ahead, and sometimes at an angle. Once we found a twig
broken clear off and lying flat on the ground, at a right angle from
the direction we’d been traveling, so we turned in the direction it
pointed, and hurried along.

Once when Poetry was studying very carefully the direction a new broken
twig was pointing, he gasped and said, “Hey, Gang! Look!”

We scrambled to him like a flock of little fluffy chickens making a
dive toward a mother hen when she clucks for them to hurry to her and
eat a bug or a fat worm or something.

“See here,” Poetry said, “–here’s where our trail branches off in two
directions–one to the right and the other to the left.” And sure
enough, he was right, for only a few feet apart were two broken twigs,
one an oak, and the other a chokecherry, the chokecherry pointing to
the right and the oak to the left.

“Which way do we go for the buried treasure?” Poetry asked me, and I
didn’t know what to answer.

Then Poetry let out a gasp and said, “Hey, this one pointing to the
right looks like it’s fresher than the other. We certainly are getting
the breaks.”

We all studied the two broken twigs, and I knew that Poetry was right.
The one pointing to the right looked a lot fresher break than the
one pointing to the left. Why, it might even have been made today! I
thought. And for some reason, not being able to tell for sure just how
long it had been since somebody had been right here making the trail, I
got a very peculiar and half-scared feeling all up and down my spine.

“I wish Big Jim was here,” my Man Friday said. I wished the same
thing, but instead of saying it, I said bravely, “Who wants Big J–”
and stopped like I had been shot at and hit, as I heard a sound from
somewhere that was like a high-pitched trembling woman’s voice calling
for help. It also sounded a little bit like a screech owl’s voice that
wails along Sugar Creek at night back home.

“’Tsa loon,” Circus said, and was crazy enough to let out a long, loud
wail that trembled and sounded more like a loon than a loon’s wail does.

I looked at my Man Friday and at my fat goat to see what they thought
it was. Right away before I could read their thoughts, there was
another trembling high-pitched voice which answered Circus. The second
I heard it, I thought it _didn’t_ sound like a loon but like an actual
person calling and crying and terribly scared.

You can’t hear a thing like that out in the middle of the Chippewa
Forest where there are Indians and different kinds of wild animals
and not feel like I felt, which was almost half scared to death for a
minute, although I knew there weren’t any bears or lions, but maybe
only deer and polecats and coons and possums and maybe mink.

“It’s NOT a loon,” I whispered huskily, and felt my knees get weak and
I wanted to plop down on the ground and rest. I also wanted to run.

Then the call came again not more than a hundred feet ahead of us, and
as quick as I had been scared, I wasn’t again, for this time it did
sound exactly like a loon.

In a jiffy we all felt better and said so to each other. The newest
broken twig right beside us was pointing in the direction the sound
came from, so we decided there was probably a lake right close by which
is where loons nearly always are–out on some lake somewhere swimming
along like ducks, and diving and also screaming bloody murder to their
mates.

We all swished along, being very careful to look at the broken twigs
so we’d remember what they looked like when we got ready to come back,
which we planned we’d do after awhile.

My fat goat and I were walking together ahead of my Man Friday and my
acrobatic goat. We dodged out way around fallen tree trunks and old
stumps and around wild rose bushes and also wild raspberry patches and
chokecherries, and still there wasn’t any lake anywhere.

It certainly was a queer feeling we had though, as we dodged along,
talking about our mystery and wondering where we were going, and how
soon we would get there.

“’Tsfunny how come Circus found that envelope back there with only a
blank piece of white paper in it,” I said. “Do you s’pose the kidnapper
dropped it when he left the little Ostberg girl there?”

“I suppose–why sure, he did,” Poetry said.

“How come the police didn’t find it there then, when they searched the
place last week for clues. If it’d been there then, wouldn’t they have
found it?” I asked those two questions as fast as I could ’cause that
envelope in my pocket seemed like it was hot and would burn a hole in
my shirt any minute.

Poetry’s fat forehead frowned. He was as struck as I was, over the
mystery.

All our minds were as blank as the blank letter and not a one of us
could think of anything that would make it make sense, so we went on,
following our trail of broken twigs. It was fun what we were doing, and
we didn’t feel very scared ’cause we knew the kidnapper was in jail. In
fact, we were all thrilled with the most interesting excitement we’d
had in a long time, ’cause for some reason we were sure we might find
something terribly interesting at the end of the trail–if we ever came
to it–not knowing that we’d not only find something very interesting
but would bump into an experience even more exciting and thrilling than
the ones we’d already had on our camping trip–and one that was just as
dangerous.

Right that second we came to a hill. I looked ahead and spied a wide
expanse of pretty blue water down below us. Between us and the lake,
on the hillside, was a log cabin with a chimney running up and down
the side next to us, and a big log door. We all had seen it at once I
guess, ’cause we all stopped and dropped down behind some underbrush or
something and most of us said, “Sh!” at the same time.

We lay there for what seemed like a terribly long time before any of us
did anything except listen to ourselves breathe. I was also listening
to my heart beat. But not a one of us was as scared as we would have
been if we hadn’t known that the kidnapper was all nicely locked up in
jail and nobody needed to be afraid of him at all. I guess I never had
such a wonderful feeling in my life for a long time as I did right that
minute, ’cause I realized we’d followed the trail like real scouts and
we’d actually run onto the kidnapper’s hideout, and we might find the
ransom money. Boy oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

Why all we’d have to do would be to go up to that crazy old-fashioned
looking old house, push open a door or climb in through a window and
look around until we found it, I thought. It was certainly the craziest
looking weathered old house, and it looked like nobody had lived in
it for years and years. The windows had old green blinds hanging at
crooked angles, some of the stones had fallen off the top of the
chimney, and the doorstep was broken down and looked rotten. I could
tell from where I was that there hadn’t been anybody going into that
door for a long time on account of there was a spider web spun from the
doorpost next to the old white knob, to one of the up-and-down logs in
the middle of the door.

“Let’s go in and investigate.”

“Let’s n-n-n-n-not,” my Man Friday said, and I scowled at him and said
fiercely, “Slave, we’re going in!”

Even though there was a spider web across the door, which meant that
nobody had gone in or out of the door for a long time, still that
didn’t mean there might not be anybody inside, ’cause there might be
another door on the side next to the lake.

Poetry and I made my Man Friday and the acrobatic goat stay where they
were while we circled the cabin, looking for any other door and any
signs of anybody living there. The only door we found was one that
led from the cabin out onto a screened front porch, but the porch was
closed-in with no doors going outside, on account of there was a big
ravine just below the front of the house and between it and the lake.
So we knew that if anybody wanted to go in and out of the house he
would have to use the one and only door or else go through a window.

We circled back to Dragonfly and Circus, where we all lay down on some
tall grass behind a row of shrubbery, which somebody years ago had
set out there, when maybe a family of people had lived there. It had
probably been someone’s summer cabin, I thought–somebody who lived in
St. Paul or Minneapolis, or somewhere, and had built the cabin up here.
I noticed that there was a cement pavement running all around the back
side of the cabin, which was set up against the almost cliff-like hill.
Also there was a very long stone stairway beginning about twenty feet
from the old spider-web-covered door and running around the edge of the
ravine, making a sort of semi-circle down to the lake to where there
was a very old dock, which the waves of the lake in stormy weather, or
else the ice in the winter, had broken down, and nobody had fixed it.

We waited in our hiding place for maybe about ten minutes, listening
and watching before we decided nobody was inside, and before we decided
to look in the windows and later go inside, ourselves. We didn’t think
about it being trespassing, on account of there was an old abandoned
house back at Sugar Creek which our gang always went into anytime we
wanted to, and nobody thought anything about it, because that old cabin
back home belonged to a very old long-whiskered old man whom everybody
knows as Old Man Paddler, and anything that belonged to him seemed to
belong to us, too, he being a very special friend of anybody who was
lucky enough to be a boy.

Anyway, we, all of us, were pretty soon peeking in through the windows,
trying to see what we could see, but it was pretty dark inside, so we
knew if we wanted to see more we had to find some way to get in.

Right that second I decided to see if my Man Friday was my Man Friday
or not, so I said, “O.K., Friday, go up and knock at that door.”

Say, Dragonfly got the scaredest look on his face. As you maybe know,
if you’ve read some of the other Sugar Creek Gang stories, Dragonfly’s
mother believed in ghosts, and good luck happening to you if you find
a four-leaf clover or a horseshoe, so Dragonfly believed it too, most
boys believing and doing what their parents believe and do.

Dragonfly not only had a scared look on his face but also a stubborn
one, when he said, “I _won’t_!”

He refused to budge an inch, and so in a very fierce voice I commanded
Poetry and Circus, “O.K., cannibals, eat him up!”

“They’re NOT cannibals!” Dragonfly whined. “They’re goats, and goats
only eat tin cans and shirts and ivies and things like that!”

“What’s the difference?” the fat goat said, and started head-first for
Dragonfly.

But we couldn’t afford to waste any time that way, so Poetry, being
maybe the bravest one of us, went up to the door, while we held our
breath, I knowing that there wasn’t anybody inside but wondering if
there was, and if there was, who was it, and was he dangerous, and
what would happen if there was a fierce man in there or something.

First Poetry brushed away the spider web, then he knocked on the door.

Nobody answered the knock so he knocked again and called, “Hello!
Anybody home?”

He waited and so did we, but there wasn’t any answer, so he turned
the knob, twisting it this way and that, and the door didn’t open. He
turned around to us and said, “It’s locked.”

Well, I had it in the back of my mind that the ransom money might be
in that cabin and that we ought to go in and look, as I told you,
not thinking that it was trespassing on somebody’s property to go in
without permission.

We found a window on one side of the cabin right next to the hill,
which on that side of the house was kinda like a cliff, and that
window, when we tried it, was unlocked.

“You go in through the window and unlock the door from the inside and
let us in,” I said to my acrobatic goat, and he said, “It’s private
property.”

Right that second I felt a drop of rain on my face and that’s what
saved the day and made it all right for us to go inside. We all must
have been so interested in following the trail of broken twigs and in
our game of Robinson Crusoe that we hadn’t noticed the lowering sky and
the big thunderheads that had been creeping up, for only about a few
jiffies after that first drop of rain splashed onto my freckled face,
there was a rumble of thunder, then another, and right away it started
to rain.

We could have ducked under some trees for protection, but it was that
kind of rain that sometimes comes when it seems like the sky has burst
open and water just drives down in blinding sheets, which it started to
do.

“It’s raining pitchforks and nigger babies!” Circus yelled above the
roar of the wind in the trees. He quick shoved up the window and
scrambled in, with all of us scrambling in after him and slamming the
window down behind us.

The rain was coming down so hard that it made a terrible roaring noise
on the shingled roof, reminding me of storms just like that back at
Sugar Creek when I was in the haymow of our barn. If there was anything
I liked to hear better than almost anything else, it was rain on a
shingled roof. Sometimes when I was in the upstairs of our house, I
would open the attic door on purpose just to hear the friendly noise
the rain made.

It was pretty dark inside the old cabin on account of the walls were
stained with a dark stain of some kind, maybe to protect the wood,
like some north woods cabins are. It was also dark on account of
the sky outside was almost black with terribly heavy rain clouds. I
noticed that the window we’d climbed in was the kitchen window and
that there was a table with an oil cloth, with a few soiled dishes on
one side next to the wall. Also there was a white enameled sink and an
old-fashioned pitcher pump like the one we have outdoors at our house
at Sugar Creek.

The main room where the fireplace was, was in the center of the cabin
and was so dark you could hardly see anything clearly, but I did see
two big colored pictures on the back wall of the porch at the front. I
hurried out there, just to get a look at the storm, storms being one of
the most interesting sights in the world, and they make a boy feel very
queer inside, like maybe he isn’t very important and also make him feel
like he needs the One Who made the world in the first place, to sort of
look after him, which is the way I felt right that minute.

I noticed that there was a sheer drop of maybe fifteen feet right
straight down into the ravine and remembered that if anybody wanted to
get out of the cabin by a door, he’d have to use the only one there was
which was the one that had been locked when Poetry had tried the knob.

On the front porch where I was, were two or three whiskey bottles, I
noticed, and one with the stopper still in it, was half full, standing
on a two-by-four ledge running across the front.

I could see better out here, although the terribly dark clouds in the
sky, and also the big pine trees all around with their branches shading
the cabin, made it almost dark even on the porch, but I did see two big
colored pictures on the back wall of the porch advertising whiskey,
and with important looking people drinking or getting ready to. Circus
was standing with me right then, and I looked at him out of the corner
of my eye, remembering how his pop used to be a drunkard before he
had become a Christian, but had been saved just by repenting of his
sins and trusting the Lord Jesus to save him. Say, Circus was looking
fiercely at those pictures, and I noticed he had his fists doubled up,
like he wished he could sock somebody or something terribly hard. I was
glad right that minute that Little Tom Till wasn’t there, on account of
his daddy was still a drunkard and a mean man.

I left Circus standing looking fiercely at those whiskey pictures, and
looked out at the lake which was one of the prettiest sights I ever
saw, with the waves being whipped into big white caps, and blowing and
making a noise which, mixed up with the noise on our roof, was very
pretty to my ears.

We didn’t even bother to look around inside the cabin for a
while–anyway, I didn’t. Away out on the farther side of the lake there
was a patch of sunlight and the water was all different shades of green
and yellow. Right away there was a terrific roar, as a blinding flash
of lightning lit up the whole porch, and then it _did_ rain, and the
wind blew harder and whipped the canvas curtains on the porch; and the
pine trees between us and the lake acted like they were going to bend
and break. Six white birch trees that grew in a cluster down beside the
old outdoor stone stairway that led in the semi-circle from the cabin
down to the broken-down dock, swayed and twisted and acted like they
were going wild and might be broken off and blown away any minute.

“Hey! _Look!_” Poetry said. “There are little moving mountains out
there on the lake!”

I looked, and sure enough that was what it did look like. The wind had
changed its direction and was blowing parallel with the shore, instead
of toward it, and other high waves were trying to go at right angles to
the ones that were coming toward the shore. It was a terribly pretty
sight.

All of a sudden while I was standing there, and feeling a little bit
scared on account of the noise and the wind and the rain, I got to
thinking about my folks back home, and was lonesome as well as scared;
and also I was thinking that my parents had taught me that all the
wonderful and terrible things in nature had been made and were being
taken care of by the same God that had made growing boys, and that He
loved everybody and was kind and had loved people so much that He had
sent His only Son into this very pretty world, to die for all of us and
to save us from our sins. My parents believed that, and had taught it
to me; and nearly every time I thought about God, it was with a kind of
friendly feeling in my heart, knowing that He loved not only all the
millions of people in the world but also me–all by myself–red-haired,
fiery-tempered, freckle-faced Bill Collins, who was always getting into
trouble, or a fight, or doing something impulsive and needing somebody
to help me to get _out_ of trouble. Without knowing I was thinking
outloud, I did what I sometimes do when I’m all by myself and have that
very friendly feeling toward God. I said, “Thank You, dear Saviour, for
dying for me…. You’re an awful wonderful God to make such a pretty
storm.”

I didn’t know Dragonfly was standing there beside me, until he spoke
up all of a sudden and said, “You oughtn’t to swear like that. It’s
wrong to swear,” which all the gang knew it was, and none of us did it,
Little Jim especially not being able to stand to even hear it without
getting a hurt heart.

“I didn’t swear,” I said to Dragonfly. “I was just talking to God.”

“You _what_?”

“I was just telling Him it was an awful pretty storm.”

“You mean–you mean you aren’t afraid to talk to Him?”

Imagine that little guy saying that! But then, he hadn’t been a
Christian very long and didn’t seem to understand that praying and
talking to God are the same thing, and everybody ought to do it, and if
your sins have been washed away, then there isn’t anything to be afraid
of.

I was aroused from what I’d been thinking, by my acrobatic goat calling
to us from back in the cabin saying, “Hey, Gang! Aren’t we going to
explore this old shell and see if we can find the ransom money?”

That sort of brought me back from where for a few minutes my mind had
been.

I took another quick look at the little moving mountains on the lake
and pretty soon we were all inside where Circus had been all the time
looking around to see what he could find. But it was too dark to see
anything very clearly, and we didn’t have any flashlight. I looked on a
high mantel above the fireplace to see if there was any kerosene lamp,
but there wasn’t. There wasn’t any furniture in the main room except
a table, three small chairs and one great big old-fashioned Morris
chair like one my pop always sat in at home in our living room. It had
a fierce-looking tiger head with a wide-open mouth on the end of each
arm, which gave me an eery feeling when I saw them, which I did right
away, when Circus lit one of the matches he had with him.

“Here’s a candle, out here on the kitchen table,” Dragonfly said, and
brought it in to where we were. It certainly was the darkest cabin on
the inside I ever saw. The walls were almost black, and the stone arch
at the top of the fireplace was black with smoke where the fireplace
had probably smoked when it had a fire in it. There was only about an
inch of the candle left.

Circus lit it while Poetry held it, and we followed Poetry all around
wherever he went. The noise of the storm and the dark cabin made it
seem like we were having a strange adventure in the middle of the night.

There were spider webs on nearly everything, and dust on the floor,
and it looked like nobody had lived here for an awful long time, maybe
years and years. Besides the front porch there were just the three
rooms–the kitchen with the sink and pitcher pump, the main room with
the fireplace and a smallish bedroom which had a curtain hanging
between it and the main room. In the bedroom was a rollaway bed all
folded up and rolled against a wall.

Even though the broken twig trail had led us here, still we couldn’t
find a thing that looked like anything the ransom money might have been
hidden in.

So since the rain was still pouring down, we decided to call a meeting
and talk things over. We pulled the three stiff-backed chairs up to the
table in the center of the main room, and also the big chair, which I
turned sidewise, and I sat on one of the wooden arms. Poetry set the
short flickering candle in a saucer in the center of the table, and
I, being supposed to be the leader, called the meeting to order, just
like Big Jim does when the gang is all present. It felt good to be
the leader, even though I knew I wasn’t–and Poetry would have made a
better one.

We talked all at once, and also one at a time part of the time, and not
one of us had any good ideas as to what to do, except when the storm
was over to follow our trail of broken twigs back to where the girl had
been found and from there to the road and back to camp.

I looked at Poetry’s fat face and at Dragonfly’s large eyes and his
crooked nose and at Circus’s monkey-looking face, and we all looked at
each other.

All of a sudden Poetry’s forehead puckered and he lifted his head and
sniffed two or three times like he was smelling something strange, and
said, “You guys smell anything funny, like–kinda like a dead chicken
or something?”

I sniffed a couple of times, and we all did, and as plain as the nose
on my face I _did_ smell something–something _dead_. I’d smell that
smell many a time back along Sugar Creek when there was a dead rabbit
or something that the buzzards were circling around up in the sky, or
had swooped down on it and were eating it.

Dragonfly’s dragonfly-like eyes looked startled, and I knew that if I
could have seen mine in a mirror, they’d have looked just as startled.

“It smells like a dead possum carcass that didn’t get buried,” Circus
said, he especially knowing what they smell like on account of his pop
catches many possums and sells the fur. Sometimes on a hunting trip
when he catches a possum, he skins it before going on, and leaves the
carcass in the woods or in a field.

It was probably a dead animal of some kind, we decided, and went right
on with our meeting, talking over everything from the beginning up to
where we were right that minute–the kidnapping, the found girl, the
police which had come that night and the plaster-of-Paris cast they’d
made of the kidnapper’s tire tracks, and the kidnapper himself which
we’d caught in the Indian cemetery, which you know all about maybe, if
you’ve read the other stories called “Sugar Creek Gang Goes North” and
“Adventure in an Indian Cemetery”….

“Yes,” Poetry said, “but what about the envelope with the blank piece
of typewriter paper in it?”

There wasn’t any sense in talking about that again, ’cause we’d already
decided it had maybe been left there by the kidnapper who had planned
to write a note on it and had gotten scared, and left it, planning to
come back later, maybe, or something. Anyway, anything we’d said about
it didn’t make sense, so why bring it up again? I thought.

“That’s OUT,” I said. “I’m keeping it for a souvenir.” I had it in my
shirt pocket and for fun pulled it out and opened it and turned it over
and over in my hands to show them that it was as white as a Sugar
Creek pasture field after a heavy snowfall.

But say, all of a sudden as I spread it out, Poetry let out an excited
gasp, and exclaimed, “Hey! Look! There’s something written on it!”

I could hardly believe my eyes, but there it was as plain as day,
something that looked like writing–scratches and longish straight and
crooked lines, and down at the bottom a crazy drawing of some kind.