“I don’t understand how this could have happened,” he said, puzzled.
“I do,” Nancy said. “Your phone must be tapped. Do you remember where you were when you called my father on various occasions?”
Mr. Gonzales frowned. “The first call I made from home. The second one too—no, wait a minute. I made that one from the club. Yesterday I phoned from home again.”
Nancy nodded. “That proves my theory,” she said and told him about all that had happened, including the kidnapping attempt.
The man turned pale. “This means that not only am I in great danger, but you are, too!” he said. “I never would have asked you to come here if I had known!”
“Mr. Gonzales,” Nancy said, “I think you have more to worry about than I do. I have two friends with me, and a boy is helping us. We’ll be all right. But you would probably be better off if you left this club as little as possible while we’re working on the case.”
Mr. Gonzales nodded. “I see your point, and I’ll do as you say.”
Nancy changed the subject. “You told my father that you were suspicious of your business partners. Who are they, and exactly what worries you?”
“There are three partners in the Crocodile Ecology Company,” Mr. Gonzales said. “Hal Gimler, George Sacco, and me. Recently, the two active partners were evasive when I asked them about certain matters. I had a feeling they were dodging my questions about what’s going on. I found out they made trips to Mexico numerous times, and I know we have no dealings with that country. I had the feeling that they were trying to deceive me.”
“That’s when you called Dad the first time?” Nancy asked.
“Right. When they realized I suspected them, they asked me to sell my interest in the company to them; and at one point I felt that would be the best thing to do. That was when I called your father the second time and canceled your reservations.”
“But then you changed your mind?”
“Yes, because it turned out that I was not getting any cooperation at all from my partners. I’m glad you’re here, but I don’t like the idea of exposing you to danger.”
“We’re used to that,” Nancy said dryly. “Tell me, have you ever seen a submarine or a periscope near Crocodile Island?”
“No. Why do you ask?”
Nancy told him how she and her friends had spotted a periscope, which had disappeared before they could get a closer look.
Mr. Gonzales frowned. “The company could be shipping out crocodiles and not listing the sales. A submarine would be a splendid way of concealing the transaction.” He went on to say that some older reptiles had disappeared, and when he had inquired about them, his partners had merely said they had escaped.
“I don’t see how they could have, with the fencing there is all around the island,” Nancy commented.
“That’s true,” her companion agreed.
“How much of all this did you tell the other Miss Boonton?” Nancy asked.
“I mentioned that I was suspicious of Hal Gimler and George Sacco because I couldn’t get straight answers out of them. Then you arrived and she took off.”
“You didn’t mention the phone calls to my father?”
“Only the first one.”
By this time Mr. Gonzales and Nancy had finished eating. They left the table and walked to the entrance. The clerk at the desk called a taxi for Nancy. While waiting for it to arrive, she told Mr. Gonzales how couch she had enjoyed talking with him.
“Now I’ll work harder to solve your mystery.”
“You’ve made a very good start,” he said, patting her on one shoulder. “From here on I’ll make calls only from the club or a public phone booth.”
Nancy rode off to the Cosgrove home. When she arrived, the couple was alone with Bess.
“George and Danny went out in the borrowed boat,” Bess said. “I thought they’d be back by now.”
“They may have hit low tide,” Mr. Cosgrove said. “Nancy, tell us how your luncheon date was. Did you get to the club all right?”
“I did, only someone else got there before me,” Nancy said, and gave full details about the impostor.