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."It sounds like nonsense, but let's have a look."After several minutes he removed the glass and shook his head."I can only saythat I think this is the same box I worked on.The lock mechanism is the same.But I was in too much of a hurry to inspect the box carefully.Still, Icouldn't testify under oath that this is it."The phone rang and Sam excused himself to answer it."Satisfied now?" Sandy asked Ken.UNEXPECTED CALLER 63Before Ken could answer, Sam was calling him."This is for you, Ken," he said.Ken was smiling when he came back from taking the call."It was Pop," heexplained."Dad phoned and gave him the information from the Motor VehicleBureau." He handed Sam Morris a scrap of paper with a name and a New York Cityaddress written on it."This is the man you were asking us about-the one wholeft without the change from his twenty-dollar bill."Sam's eyes widened."How did you learn who he was?"The boys explained, and Sam shook his head in admiration."Such a smart idea.Now I can send Mr.Barrack his money.""Maybe you ought to write him first and make sure it's the right person,"Sandy said."Maybe the man you want was just sitting in a car that belongs tosomebody else."Sam looked worried."Do you think that's likely?""I'll tell you what, Sam." Ken spoke up."We're going to be in New YorkPage 25 ABC Amber Palm Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcpalm.htmltomorrow and we'll check on it for you.Dad's apartment is right near thisaddress.It won't be any trouble.Then you can be sure you're sending themoney to the right man."Sam had to be persuaded.He insisted the boys had already gone to enoughtrouble, by learning the name and address."If he has a phone we'll just call him up," Ken pointed out."And even if hedoesn't it will only take a few minutes to run over there.""Well, if you're sure-" Sam said finally."Fine," Ken interrupted."We'll let you know what64 THE MYSTERY OF THE IRON BOXwe find out.And thanks for checking the box for us."Sandy waited until they were outside the store and then he spoke."I don'tsuppose you have any ulterior motive in offering to get in touch with-what'shis name?-with this Barrack fellow?"Ken grinned."You have a low suspicious mind.""It's not nearly as suspicious as yours," Sandy retorted."You have no reasonto believe that box is valuable.And Sam didn't exactly support your idea ofthe thing having been switched-""He didn't say he was sure it was the same box," Ken interrupted."And I stillthink it's possible that Dad brought home a valuable antique, and thatsomebody stole it and left in its place a worthless modern copy- the one we'vegot now.But don't worry.I've thought of a way to check up on that theory.We'll take the box in to Felix Lausch at the Metropolitan Museum and ask hisadvice.""That's an idea." Sandy's eye lit up at the thought of the art expert who wasRichard Holt's friend and who would, both boys knew, give them any aid hecould."If Lausch says this is an old box, but not worth very much, then we'llwrite the whole thing off as a bad dream.Right?""Fair enough," Ken agreed.Before they left for New York, some time before noon, they wrote a note to Momand left it on the kitchen table."We're borrowing your new jewel box so we can show it to Mr.Lausch," it read."Hope you won't mind.We'll take good care of it."Sandy stared at the note dubiously as they departed.UNEXPECTED CALLER 65"She'll mind, all right," he said."Mom likes to own antiques, and she evenbrags about 'em once in a while.But she'll think we're crazy to take one allthe way to New York to show to an expert." He shrugged."Well, come on.ButI'm going to tell her it was all your idea, when she starts lighting into us."By two o'clock that afternoon they were climbing the stairs to the Holtapartment on Seventieth Street.There was a scrawl in Ken's father'shandwriting propped against the phone."Call me at Global when you get in," itread.Ken dialed the number and talked briefly to his father, completingarrangements for meeting him later on."We're eating at Dominick's," he reported to Sandy."And Dad says he's alreadycalled Dominick and warned him, so we ought to be prepared for somethingspecial."Sandy beamed."Swell.That sounds like spaghetti.How long have we got to workup an appetite?""Until six thirty.""I could do it in half that time," Sandy said.Ken ignored him.He was leafing through the New York telephone book."Barnes.Barotti.and here's a Barrack, Charles.But no Amos Barrack.Guessour friend with the broken watch crystal doesn't have a telephone.""Maybe it's unlisted-like your dad's," Sandy suggested."I tell you what.Callinformation and ask her if there's any phone at all at his address.If it's anapartment house there might be one in the lobby.""That's a good idea.Then we could at least leave a message for him." Kentwirled the dial, made his re-Page 26 ABC Amber Palm Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcpalm.html66 THE MYSTERY OF THE IRON BOXquest, and a moment later was scribbling down the number he had been given."Only one phone at that address, listed under the name of Marie Mallory," hereported, as he began to dial again."I'll try it."The ringing was answered shortly by a woman who spoke so loudly that Ken hadto jerk the receiver away from his ear to avoid being deafened."Is there a Mr.Barrack there?" he asked."A Mr.Amos Barrack.I'd like tospeak to him if it's possible.""He's not here now," the woman bellowed."He works.He'll be home tonight, Iguess.He's got a room here.I'm the landlady.Any message?""My name is Holt," Ken answered."I'm calling Mr.Barrack about something heleft in Brentwood the other day.That's right.Brentwood.Would you tellhim that, please, and ask him to call me this evening?""Sure.I'll tell him.What time?""Eh-let's see." Ken calculated quickly."I won't be here until after eleveno'clock.""All right.I'll tell him," she repeated.Ken gave her his father's number and then hung up, holding his hand to hislong-suffering ear."She said-""I heard her," Sandy assured him."And now let's go see Lausch and get thatoff our minds, so I can start concentrating on spaghetti."Felix Lausch declared that he was delighted to see them.He inquired for hisfriend, Richard Holt, insisted upon showing them one or two of hisdepartment's.newest acquisitions, and then took them into his private officeand settled them comfortably.UNEXPECTED CALLER 67"Now," he said, leaning back in his chair, "what can I do for you? You're notinvolved in another one of those investigations you two seem to get into, areyou?"Ken grinned."Sandy says we're not.But I'm wondering if you could tell usanything about this box?" He unwrapped it and put it on Lausch's desk.The round-faced little man bent forward to look at it."Just what did you wantto know?" he asked."This is not in my line, you understand-even though itdoes look Italian to me.But Italian paintings are a big enough field for oneman.I am an amateur in all other aspects of Italian art.""We'd like to know if it's really an antique," Ken explained, "and if it'svaluable.We'd also like to know if there's any reason to think it might havebeen stolen recently-from some European collection, that is.Probably inItaly."Lausch's stubby finger traced the scrollwork on the lid of the box."I couldmake a guess at the answers to your first two questions, but that's all itwould be.I think you would rather have the opinion of an expert." He pickedup his phone and asked for a number."Sin-telli is a dealer in Italianantiques," he explained."He should be able to help.As for your lastquestion, I can only say I've seen no notice of the theft of any such box asthis."He waited an instant and then he was saying, "Sin-telli?.Lausch here.Tony, I've got a question for you-three questions, in fact.I've got whatappears to be an old Italian box-.What?.No, a small box.Iron,with a lead lining [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]