ANDY RECEIVES A SHOCK.
“Then it was Jules who set fire to our shed!” exclaimed the boy, astounded.
“None other, you may be sure,” replied Chief Waller, nodding his head.
“And made off on my wheel?” continued Frank, beginning to grasp the truth.
“That’s just what he did,” went on the official. “Found he couldn’t steal your aeroplane and was bound to lay his hands on something belonging to the Birds that would carry him out of danger. Glad you came, Frank. I’ll just call up all the surrounding towns and ask if a bicyclist has been seen there. I hope you can describe the wheel so they might know it.”
“Yes, I even know the number. Besides, I’ve got my address scratched on the under-part of the frame. But whatever do you suppose Jules wanted to set our hangar on fire for?” Frank asked.
“Huh!” replied the chief; “don’t know, unless it was a spirit of revenge. Some of these French rascals have the same nature as the Corsican or the Sicilian and hug the idea of revenge to their hearts.”
“Revenge!” Frank cried. “But when did we ever injure them? Oh, yes, I forgot! We chased them off at the time they tried to steal our aeroplane, and they even neglected to take those two suit cases of jewelry with them, so the stolen property was recovered.”
“Yes,” the chief went on, “and that wasn’t all, either. Remember that it was you Bird boys who discovered that they were hiding in the old shack deep in the forest. You saw them near there when you were sailing over that region in your airship and reported to me. And so we surrounded the cabin and nabbed our game. It may be they learned who gave them away, and Jules, on finding himself at large, made up his mind to get even before running off.”
Turning to the phone on his desk the chief now started to call up several of the neighboring towns. Some were only six or eight miles away, while others might be double that and more.
Frank knew where the road ran that passed the Whympers place and when finally the police head got Shelby he pricked up his ears. Immediately he saw Chief Waller show signs of sudden interest. A smile crept over his face as though he were hearing news that pleased him. Then he engaged in a hurried conversation with the police official at the other end of the wire, after which he turned to Frank.
“I think I’ve located your wheel, Frank,” he observed.
“Over at Shelby, you mean?” queried the other.
The chief nodded in the affirmative.
“Yes, over at Shelby,” he said. “It seems that early this morning a wagon belonging to a countryman coming in to market was stopped by something lying on the road. Getting down, the farmer found that it was a man, badly injured, as if he had taken a header from a wheel. And, indeed, a bicycle was found close by, with some parts of it damaged, as if it had been run at full speed against a rock, sending the rider ten feet away, where he landed on his head and was knocked out.”