The Angry Dog
WITH the instinct of a detective who dared not miss a clue, Nancy deliberately moved closer to the bench on which the Topham girls were seated.
"If there should be another will, I'm afraid we'd be out of luck." The words, in Ado’s nasal voice, came clearly to Nancy.
Isabel's reply was in so low a tone that the young sleuth could just manage to catch the words, "Well, I, for one, don't believe Josiah Crowley ever made a later will." She gave a low laugh. "Mother watched him like a hawk."
"Or thought she did," Isabel retorted. "The old man got out of her clutches several times, don't forget."
"Yes, and what's worse, I'm sure Nancy Drew thinks he made a later will. That's why she's taking such an interest in those Hoover girls. I actually saw them go into Mr. Drew's office yesterday and it wasn't to deliver eggs! If Nancy gets her father interested, he might dig up another will. Oh, how I hate that interfering girl!"
At this Nancy could barely refrain from laughing. So the Tophams were concerned about the existence of a second will. With bated breath she listened further.
"You're such a worry wart, Ada. You can trust Dad and Mother to take care of things, no matter what happens," Isabel commented dryly. "They won't let that pile of money get away from us. It's ours by right, anyhow."
"You've got something there," Ada conceded. "We should have old Josiah's money after supporting and putting up with him for three years. That was pretty clever of Mother, never accepting any board money from Josiah Crowley!"
The conversation ended as Isabel and Ada arose from the bench and walked away. Nancy waited until they were out of sight, then emerged from her hiding place. Seating herself on the bench vacated by the Topham sisters, Nancy mulled over the remarks she had just overheard.
"There's no doubt in my mind now that if there is a later will, the Tophams haven't destroyed it. How thrilling! But where can it be?"
Nancy realized that to find it was a real challenge. "And I'd better hurry up before the Tophams stumble on it!"
For another ten minutes Nancy sat lost in thought, sifting all the facts she had gleaned so far.
"There must be some clue I've overlooked," she told herself. Suddenly, with a cry of delight, she sprang to her feet. "Why didn't I think of that before? The Hoover girls and the Turners aren't the only ones who should have figured in this will. There are other relatives of Mr. Crowley who have filed a claim. I wonder who they are. If I could only talk with them, I might pick up a due!"
Immediately Nancy set off for her father's office. He was engaged in an important conference when she arrived, and she had to wait ten minutes before being admitted to the inner office.
"Now what?" Mr. Drew asked, smiling, as she burst in upon him. "Have you solved the mystery or is your purse in need of a little change?"
Nancy's cheeks were flushed and her eyes danced with excitement. "Don't tease me," she protested. "I need some information!"
"At your service, Nancy."
The young sleuth poured out the story of the Topham sisters' conversation in the park, and told him of her own conclusions. Mr. Drew listened with interest until she had finished.
"Excellent deducting," he praised his daughter. "I'm afraid, though, I can't help you obtain the relatives' names. I don't know any of them."
Nancy looked disappointed. "Oh dear!" she sighed. "And I'm so anxious to find out right away. If I delay even a single day the Tophams may locate that other will—and destroy it."
The next instant her face brightened. "I know! I'll drive out and see the Turner sisters. They might be able to tell me who the other relatives are." Nancy arose and headed for the door.
"Just a minute," said the lawyer. "I wonder if you realize just what you are getting into, Nancy?"
"What do you mean?"
"Only this. Detective work isn't always the safest occupation in which to engage. I happen to know that Richard Topham is an unpleasant man when crossed. If you do find out anything which may frustrate him, the entire Topham family could make things extremely difficult for you."
"I'm not afraid of them, Dad."
"Good!" Mr. Drew exclaimed. "I was hoping you would say that. I'm glad you have the courage of your convictions, but I didn't want you to march off into battle without a knowledge of what you might be up against."
"Yes. The Tophams won't give up the fortune without a bitter struggle. However, if they attempt to make serious trouble, I promise to deal with them myself."
"And if I do find the will?"
"I'll take the matter into court."
"Oh. thank you! There's no one like you in all the world."
After leaving her father's office, Nancy went directly home to get her car. When she told Hannah Gruen her plans, the housekeeper warned, "Don't become too deeply involved in this matter, dear. In your zeal to help other people, you may forget to be on your guard."
"I promise to be as careful as a pussycat walking up a slippery roof," Nancy assured the housekeeper with a grin, and left the house.
Quickly backing her car from the garage, she set off in the direction of the Turner home. The miles seemed to melt away as Nancy's thoughts raced from one idea to another. Before the young sleuth knew it she had reached the house.
"Hi, Judy!" she called to the little girl, who was playing in the yard with a midget badminton set.
The child looked very cunning in a pink play suit. The hand-embroidered Teddy bears on it were surely the work of her loving aunts.
"Hi, Nancy! I'm glad you came. Now I'll have somebody to play with," Judy said, running up to the visitor.
Obligingly Nancy took a racket and batted the feathered shuttlecock toward the child. "Hit the birdie," she called.
Judy missed but picked up the shuttlecock and whammed it nicely across the net. Nancy hit it back and this time the little girl caught the birdie on her racket and sent it over.