Quickly she went to Bess’s door and started to work with, her makeshift tools. Bess heard the noise. “Nancy? George?” she called.
“Shhh!” Nancy whispered. “I’m trying to get you out.”
Within minutes she had released the lock and entered the room.
“You’re a doll, Nancy Drew,” Bess cried out, hugging her friend in relief. “Have you any idea where we are? This is a pretty grand-looking place. I can’t imagine that the kind of people who live here would imprison us in their own house!”
“I can’t either,” Nancy replied. “I have a strong hunch that our captors borrowed this place. By the way, I saw those people leave. But they could come back any minute. Let’s work on George’s door!”
The girls quickly went to their friend’s room and again Nancy inserted her nail file into the lock. There was no sound from inside the room. Had something happened to George? Finally the bolt snapped and Bess pushed the door open. The room was empty!
“George!” Nancy called out softly. There was no reply.
“Oh, dear,” Bess said. “Maybe those people took her out of here!”
“I doubt it,” Nancy reasoned. “We would have heard the commotion. Besides, we spoke to her just a few minutes ago.” She walked to the window, and a big grin spread over her face.
“Bess, come here!” she said, pointing to a large maple tree directly in front of her. A long branch extended almost to the window. Climbing down the last two feet of the trunk was George!
“Hi!” Nancy called softly.
George looked up and chuckled. “I’m an escapee!”
Nancy smiled as Bess reached her side and heaved a sigh of relief. George continued her descent. “Bess, do you want to come down the way I did? Or use the stairs? And how did you two get loose?” she queried.
Bess made a face, then smiled. “Nancy h a great lock picker.”
“Shh!” Nancy warned. “We don’t know for sure that everyone’s gone. Somebody could have been left to guard us!”
“So what do we do next?” Bess asked.
“I think you and I can risk tiptoeing through the house,” Nancy replied, “Quick! Grab your bag. I’ll get George’s and mine. We’ll meet her outside.”
She motioned to the girl below to wait for them and the two quickly got their luggage. They hurried down the stairs, trying to move as noiselessly as possible. They opened the front door and slipped outside. George was waiting for them.
“I don’t think we should take the road,” Nancy said. “The kidnappers could come back. Let’s walk through the backyard and see if we can get help at one of those houses in the distance.”
The girls had not gone far when they realized that the ground beyond the garden was marshy. The mud ruined their shoes and spattered their dresses, but the three friends hurried on until they were out of range of the house.
Bess stopped and put down her bag, “My arm is killing me,” she said. “Can’t we rest a minute?”
Nancy looked back. The house behind them seemed deserted. “I guess we’re safe enough,” she decided, so she and George dropped their heavy suitcases.
“Boy, what an experience!” George said. “Our kidnappers must have overheard Mr. Gonzales’s call to your father, Nancy, when he asked for help.”
Nancy nodded. “And the second call, when Mr. Gonzales canceled our reservations must have been made from another phone,” she said thoughtfully, “otherwise they wouldn’t have sent Steven to the airport to get us.”
“Who do you think our kidnappers are?” Bess asked.
“They must be connected with the Crocodile Ecology Company,” Nancy replied.
“I wonder if they own that house.” George said.
“I doubt it. They wouldn’t be foolish enough to imprison us in their own home. If we got away, it would be too easy to trace them.”
Bess giggled. “They were foolish to leave us alone.”
“I think we should hurry on,” George said. “If they come back and find we’re gone, they’re bound to look for us.”
The girls picked up their bags and trudged through the swamp until they reached the house they had seen ahead of them. As they went up to the front porch, Bess looked down at her dress and shoes. “We’re absolute sights,” she said. “What will the people think when they see us?”