“No thanks,” she replied. “I’ll stick to real mysteries, like the secret of Crocodile Island.”
When Danny saw the outline of the key, he shut down the engine and turned off his lights again. The young people settled down to wait for The Whisper to arrive, passing the time by telling Danny about various adventures they had had in the past. However, hours dragged by and nothing happened. Finally Danny suggested that they go home.
“My parents will be worried if we don’t show up soon,” he said. “And I really don’t think The Whisper is coming back here tonight.”
Everyone agreed, and Bess suggested that they report the incident to the police the following morning, Nancy reminded her that the authorities would not investigate without proof of their accusation.
“Right now we don’t know if a crime has been committed. We’re just assuming that something illegal is going on and we’re angry at the skipper of The Whisper, because he chased us away from Crocodile Island. But that’s not enough for the police.”
When the young people reached home, the Cosgroves were relieved. “We were worried about you,” Danny’s mother said. “What happened?”
The girls reported the strange events, then Mrs. Cosgrove said, “A man called here, asking for Anne Boonton. I didn’t know whether it was Mr. Gonzales or not, so I told him he had the wrong number.”
“Good idea,” Nancy said. “How did he react?”
“He just hung up and didn’t call again.”
For nearly an hour, Nancy, her friends, and the Cosgroves discussed what might have been in the box and where The Whisper had taken it.
Finally Mrs. Cosgrove said, “If the people on Crocodile Island were shipping something out illegally, the box would have been hauled up to the freighter, not the other way around. It appears as if Gimler and Sacco were receiving something illegal. But then, why didn’t The Whisper take it back to the island?”
“That’s a good question,” Nancy said and gave a frustrated sigh. “Anyway, I’d like to go back in the morning. Perhaps we can pick up a due to the puzzle.”
Danny offered to accompany her, but said they would have to wait until noon for the right tide.
Mrs. Cosgrove spoke up. “In the meantime, why don’t you girls visit Mrs. Easton again? I spoke to her tonight and she invited you—said you can come any time tomorrow. Their Indian animal trainer will be there all day and will be glad to show you his tricks. He’s a Seminole from the Miccosukee tribe and his name is Joe Hanze.”
“That sounds great,” Bess said. “I’d much rather go there than to Crocodile Island!”
The others laughed and the following morning Danny and the, girls borrowed Mrs. Cosgrove’s car and set out for the zoo.
When they arrived, Nancy rang the front doorbell. Mrs. Easton greeted them and talked for a while, then she said, “I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching Joe with the animals. He’s very entertaining and well informed. Just drive around to the back of the house. You’ll see his cottage. Tell him I sent you.”
The girls thanked the friendly woman and went to the Indian’s place. Joe Hanze was a pleasant man who spoke English fluently. His bronzed face was handsome and his body muscular and lithe. Nancy guessed that he was about fifty years old.
Joe said he would be happy to show off his tricks. On the way to the turtle pen, he asked the girls if they knew anything about the background of the Seminoles.
“No,” Nancy told him. “I’d love to hear some of their history.”
Joe said that the original Seminoles had come from Canada. The reason why they trekked south was not known.
“Maybe it was the weather,” he surmised. “In any case, some of them got as far as Florida and intermarried with other Indians who were already here. My great-grandfather came from Canada, He was a fine hunter and earned a good living on the way by trapping wild animals and selling their hides.”
“Where do your people live?” Bess asked.
“Up in the Everglades. Life there is rather primitive, so I decided to come here when I was a young man and get some education. I liked it so much that I stayed. Whenever I want to see my folks, I just get in a car and drive to the Everglades.”