“Those were made by our own fellows,” said Nick, inspecting the ground, half interested. “Can’t you see they were made by scout shoes? Do you think a boy scout stole the car? Here are some others, too, S.N.’s, and Safety First’s, I suppose.”
“Why should they step outside the big door?” Norton asked. “These are fresh footprints, all of them. After they got through, they’d go out through the small door wouldn’t they? This print, and this one, and this one,” he said, holding a match, “were made by scout shoes—to-night, not an hour ago.”
“All the fellows except us two are in camp,” said Nick.
“All right,” Fido Norton shot back, “they might all be at the North Pole, but these prints were made by scout shoes to-night. That’s what I’m telling you.”
“All right,” said Nick with a tolerant sneer in his voice, “the car was stolen by a boy scout, probably a tenderfoot. Maybe it was stolen by a girl scout—”
“No, they’re scout shoe prints,” said Norton, ignoring his friend’s sarcasm, “and they’re not an hour old, not a half hour, that’s what I think.”
“Well, actions speak louder than footprints,” said Nick; “what are we going to do, that’s the question?”
“Whatever you say,” said Norton cheerfully.
“Well then I say let’s send up a signal,” said Nick hurriedly, “the fellows at camp will see it and everybody else for miles around will see it. Every telegraph operator along the railroad can read it. Forget about scouts stealing cars and do what I tell you. Hustle up to the police station and tell them about it so they can’t say we didn’t report it, then meet me at the town hall.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to use the old search-light if it will work. It hasn’t been used since the night of the armistice when they lighted up the flag with it. Climb in through the broken window on the side and come up into the cupola. Don’t tell Chief Bungelheimer or he’ll say it was his idea. My father’s on the town committee, it’s all right, hustle now, get the police department off your hands and maybe we can do something—no telling. Remember, the side window, the one that’s broken. And look out for the ladder, it’s rotten. Hurry up, beat it!”
Fido Norton hurried to the police station in back of Ezra Corbett’s store and aroused Officer Dopeson who was at the desk waiting for out-of-town speeders to be brought in. In a kind of waking dream the officer heard an excited voice shout, “Mr. Ned Garrison’s car is stolen from the shed down by the lake.”
When Officer Dopeson was fully aware of this noisy intrusion, the intruder had disappeared. He lost no time, however, in setting the usual machinery in motion. By a continuous series of movements of the receiver rack on the telephone he aroused Miss Dolly Bobbitt, the night operator, from the depths of the novel she was reading, and notified the Police Department in East Ketchem across the lake to be on watch for the car. The police department over there said that he would be glad to do that. The police departments of Conner’s Junction and Rocky Hollow were also notified.