Nancy Drew #55. Mystery of Crocodile Island. Carolyn Keene

“Come here!” Nancy called out and grabbed the child’s hand. Together they struggled to the beach, where they were met by a frantic woman.

“Tessie!” she scolded, “You were told not to wade over there!”

The little girl cried. “I didn’t mean to, but all of a sudden I couldn’t keep from going that way,” she sobbed.

“Are you her mother?” Nancy inquired.

“No. I’m Mrs. Turnbull. I’m in charge of a group of children who attend my day camp. I brought them here to swim, but it’s hard to watch all of them at once.”

“I understand,” Nancy said.

“Thank you for going in after Tessie,” Mrs. Turnbull continued. “When I saw her, it was too late for me to help.”

Now the other children ran to them. The woman opened her purse and offered Nancy a bill as a reward for saving Tessie’s life.

“Thank you,” Nancy said, “but I couldn’t possibly accept any money.”

Tessie had stopped crying. She took Mrs. Turnbull by the hand, and said, “I know how we can reward her. Give her the map.”

Mrs. Turnbull smiled. “Tessie, we have no right to give the map away. We should turn it over to the authorities. But I will show it to this young lady. By the way, what is your name?”

Nancy introduced herself and her friends, who had joined the group, by their Boonton name, not wishing to be identified. The woman fished in her handbag and brought out a faded piece of paper. She unfolded it.

“I don’t know whether this is authentic or not,” she said. “We found it back in the woods. Somebody must have dropped it yesterday or today.”

Nancy, Bess, and George studied the map. Not only was the paper old, but the printing on it was quite faded. Mrs. Turnbull explained that she and the children suspected that someone had been hunting for a treasure, perhaps buried long ago by pirates.

“The person must have lost it. The map does seem to indicate a buried treasure,” she said. “Perhaps it’s here on Florida Key.”

The girls were intrigued by the story, and Nancy looked closely at the map. On it were directional lines pointing north, east, south, and west. There were also a number of intersecting lines converging at one spot.

“This must be the place where the treasure was hidden,” Nancy remarked.

“True,” Mrs. Turnbull said. “But how would one go about trying to figure out where it is?”

“We have to find a point of reference,” Nancy said. “But what?” She puckered her brows and tried to figure out the strange map. Suddenly the girl detective had an idea.

“You see this line running directly into the water? It could be the coral breakwater!”

“You’re right!” Mrs. Turnbull agreed. “Let’s draw a continuing line from it through the sand and then bisect it just as it was on the map.”

Tessie jumped up and down in excitement. “Let’s hurry up and dig!” she exclaimed. “I brought my sand shovel. I’ll get it.”

She ran off and soon returned with a toy shovel. Nancy, Bess, and George were amused at the thought of digging for hidden pirate treasure with this implement.

The bald bather had walked up, curious to see what was going on. When he realized that they were planning to dig with the toy shovel, he said, “I have a spade in my trunk and would be glad to lend it to you.”

He hurried to his parked car and returned a few minutes later with the spade. He handed it to Bess and looked at her with an admiring smile. It made her blush.

“Thank you,” she said and pushed the spade into the sand. She worked for a while. Then, when the hole was about a foot deep, she handed the spade to Nancy.

“Your turn,” she declared.

While the day-camp children, Mrs. Turnbull, and the bald-headed man watched, Nancy continued to dig. When her arms got tired, she looked at George.

“You’re next if I don’t hit something,” she said, and shoved the spade down once more. There was a slight clang of metal against metal. Nancy exclaimed, “I hit something hard!”

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Categories: Keene, Carolyn