Colombo shook his head. “You’ve all been mighty kind, and I’ll never forget it. If I can ever do you a favor, just let me know.”
Nancy asked him where he would stay.
“At the YMCA,” he said. “I have relatives here, but Mr. Gimler knows about them. If I go there, he’ll track me down and try to force me to return to Crocodile Island by threats, and make up some story.”
“That’s true,” Nancy said. “Well, I hope your legs will heal properly. Perhaps you should see a doctor.”
Colombo smiled. “I think you ladies did a fine job. I’ll be well in no time.” He stepped onto the dock with Danny’s help, then turned around. “I don’t even know your names,” he said.
Nancy hesitated, but Danny spoke up quickly. “I’m Danny Cosgrove, and these are the Boonton girls, Anne, Elizabeth, and Jackie.”
“Thank you,” Colombo said. “I really appreciate your help.”
Danny pushed off. “I hope you girls don’t mind what I told him,” he said. “But he can find out from anyone around here who owns the Pirate.”
“That was perfectly all right,” Nancy said. “Besides, I think we can trust him.”
On the way home the young people discussed what the phrase “they want five hundred” could have meant.
“If not crocodiles, what else?” George asked.
“The thing that bothers me most,” Bess said, “is that Mr. Gimler might have known Colombo was on the skiff. If so, he may make trouble. We’d better not go back to Crocodile Island.”
“We’ve got to, Bess,” said Nancy. “We’re just beginning to get some good clues!”
When they reached the Cosgrove home, Danny’s mother was waiting for them. After greeting each one, she said, “I have a message for you, Nancy.”
“Yes? What is it?”
“Mr. Gonzales called. He has some valuable information to give you.”
“Did he give any hint as to what it was?” Nancy asked.
Mrs. Cosgrove shook her head. “He said that you would receive a letter in the morning.”
Nancy wanted to phone Mr. Gonzales at once, but realized that she should not let her curiosity get the better of her and possibly embarrass him.
Later in the evening, the group settled down to watch television, but the young detective had trouble concentrating on the show. Instead, her thoughts focused on what Colombo had told them about Crocodile Island.
Presently the phone rang. Mrs. Cosgrove answered, then handed the receiver to Nancy. “It’s for you.”
“Hello?” Nancy said.
“You’re not Anne Boonton!” a man said gruffly. “You’re Nancy Drew. We know all about you. If you and your friends don’t leave Florida at once, you’ll never get home again!”
“Who are you?” Nancy asked the man on the phone.
There was no reply, only a click in her ear.
Nancy’s friends looked at her questioningly. “Who was it?” George asked.
“One of our enemies, I’m afraid. He told us to leave Florida, or we might never see our homes again!”
“Oh, dear!” Bess wailed. “Now they know where we’re staying.”
“So what?” George said. “This isn’t the first time Nancy has been threatened over the phone by her adversaries!”
Danny tried to break the tension. “Bess, will you stop worrying? After all, you have me to protect you!”
Bess laughed, and after a while the mysterious call was forgotten.
Next morning Nancy watched eagerly for the mailman. When he came up the street, she ran from the house to meet him. He smiled at her and asked, “Is a Miss Anne Boonton staying here?”
“Yes,” Nancy replied. “Do you have a letter for her?”
“Indeed I do,” the man replied. “And a lot of others. You want to take them?”
“I’ll be glad to,” Nancy said, and he handed her the bundle.
She thanked him, then hurried into the house and quickly scanned the stack. The one addressed to Anne Boonton was near the bottom. Nancy opened the envelope. The letter read:
I had a phone call from Hal Gimler today. He told me that one of our employees, Colombo Banks, has run away. He suspects that the workman escaped in a skiff with three girls and a boy in it.