Read (#15) The Haunted Bridge Online

Authors: Carolyn Keene

(#15) The Haunted Bridge (2 page)

“I may not be here that long,” Nancy replied.

Bartescue looked disappointed. “I’ve played golf courses all over the world,” he boasted. “Once I played the Prince of Wales.”

“And did you defeat him?” Nancy asked, trying to hide a smile.

“Well, yes, I did,” Bartescue admitted. “But only by a couple of strokes. Oh, I’ve often played with royalty.”

By this time Nancy had reached her ball. When she was about to hit it, Bartescue stepped closer. His movement distracted her as she took her backswing. As a result, she dubbed the shot.

“Too bad, too bad,” he muttered sympathetically. “You pulled in your elbow just as you struck the ball. Here, let me show you.”

He took the club from the girl’s hand, and to the annoyance of the trio insisted upon giving a demonstration of what he considered to be Nancy’s fault. Without commenting on his criticism, Nancy walked to her ball and, in her usual good form, hit a beautiful shot down the middle of the fairway.

“That’s fine.” Bartescue nodded. “You’ll make a par five on this hole, the way the pros do.”

Determined to play her best, Nancy approached the eighteenth green. Her ball was only five feet from the cup. Intensely annoyed because Bartescue was still offering advice, she stepped up to putt. The ball rolled in a straight line toward the cup and came to a stop at the very edge of it.

“Oh, Nancy! What a shame!” Bess wailed.

Immediately Bartescue jumped up and down on the ground. The vibration caused the ball to drop into the cup.

“There, Nancy! You made a par five.”

“That wasn’t fair, Mr. Bartescue,” she said severely. “I’ll add an extra putt which gives me a six.”

“But why? You didn’t strike the ball.”

The girls smiled coldly. Murmuring a few polite phrases, they left the man staring blankly after them and walked to the hotel.

“Of all the conceited people!” Bess exclaimed when they were beyond Bartescue’s range of hearing. “I’ll bet he never came within a mile of royalty, to say nothing of defeating the Prince of Wales by a couple of strokes!”

“And he made you miss your shot, Nancy,” George stated irritably.

“You’ll surely qualify, anyway,” Bess said as she studied the scorecards. “George has an eighty-five. My score is a disgraceful ninety, but, Nancy, you have a brilliant seventy-five!”

“I wonder what became of my caddy,” Nancy said. “I forgot to pay Chris. Also I wanted to question him about the haunted bridge.”

“I suppose you’ll want to inspect it,” Bess said. “Well, if there’s anything spooky about it, count me out when you investigate it.”

“Do you think there’s something to what Chris said?” George put in.

Nancy shrugged and replied, “I’m going to talk to him and find out more about the mystery of the haunted bridge!”

Before the girls had a chance to search for Chris, Bartescue approached them in the hotel lobby.

“Oh, I wonder if you’d like to attend—”

“Not just now,” Nancy said quickly. “I must find my caddy.”

“I’ll go with you—” the man began, but Nancy pretended not to hear him and excused herself.

She retraced her steps to the eighteenth green. Though several caddies were lingering nearby, hers was not among them. She questioned another boy about him.

“Chris is just starting out with a twosome,” he said. “You might catch him at the first tee.”

Nancy thanked the boy and hastened to the starting point, which was hidden from her view by a wing of the Deer Mountain Hotel. Two men had just teed off. As she approached them she observed Chris starting down the fairway behind the players.

“Oh, Chris, just a minute,” Nancy hailed him. “I forgot to pay you,” she added with a smile, taking some money from her pocket. “I want to ask you about that haunted bridge.”

“I can’t stop to talk now,” the boy replied.

“I understand. But will you meet me near the caddy house after you’ve finished work?” Nancy requested. “About five o’clock?”

“I’ll be there,” Chris promised.

He hurried off, and Nancy slowly made her way back to the hotel lobby where she found Bess and George talking to Martin Bartescue. He was telling them about the many prominent persons with whom he was acquainted.

“I believe I’ll turn my scorecard in to the tournament chairman now,” Nancy remarked to the girls. “If one of you will attest it—”

“Here, allow me,” interrupted Bartescue. Before Nancy could prevent him, he had taken the scorecard.

As he signed his name, Nancy noted a rather curious thing. It seemed to her that he formed each letter with painful precision. Why? Was he trying to disguise his handwriting?

CHAPTER II

Unlucky Fall

 

 

 

 

NANCY took her scorecard from Martin Bartescue and walked on with Bess and George. Knowing the card had to be signed by someone accompanying her throughout the game, she asked George to attest the score. Then Nancy gave the card to the tournament chairman who was in his office busily chalking up the results of the day’s matches.

“A fine score, Miss Drew,” he praised her.

“Do you think she will qualify for the tournament?” Bess asked the man eagerly.

“She certainly will unless better scores come in tomorrow,” he replied with a smile. “However, the competition is very keen this year. Some of the best women golfers in the state are entering the tournament.”

“I’ll feel very fortunate if I so much as qualify,” Nancy replied. “I understand there’s to be a tournament for men, too.”

“Yes, I have entered it,” said a voice behind the girls. They glanced around to find Bartescue standing there. “So far my score is the lowest turned in,” he added.

“That’s great,” Nancy murmured indifferently, hurrying away with her friends.

As the girls took the elevator to their rooms on the fourth floor, Bess and George teased Nancy about her new admirer.

“You’re stuck with him,” George prophesied.

“I dislike his type and you both know it,” Nancy replied. “But one thing about him did capture my interest.”

Bess giggled. “What was that? His ultramodern clothes?”

“Oh, Bess, of course not,” Nancy said. “I was interested in the way he signed my scorecard. Did you notice how unnaturally he wrote his signature, as if he were trying to disguise his usual style of writing?”

“Why, no,” George admitted in surprise. “You seem to observe everything, Nancy.”

“I guess that’s why she has solved so many baffling mysteries.” Bess sighed. “Nancy knows how to make use of her eyes and we don’t.”

“Dad trained me to be observant,” Nancy said.

As the girls started down the hall toward their rooms, she thought proudly of her father, Carson Drew, whose fame as a criminal lawyer was nationwide. Through helping him, Nancy herself had achieved distinction. She was now a well-known amateur detective with a long list of successful mystery cases to her credit, the most recent one The Whispering Statue.

Nancy’s father was very proud of her too. Mrs. Drew had died when Nancy was only three years old. Since then their home had been managed by lovable Hannah Gruen, an excellent housekeeper.

Thinking of the woman who had cared for her like a mother, Nancy smiled. “Can you imagine what Hannah would say if she knew I was starting another mystery?”

“She’d say, ‘Now, Nancy, promise you’ll be carefull”’ Bess replied with a grin.

Laughing, the three entered the cousins’ big, comfortably furnished bedroom.

“Speaking of the mystery,” said George, “did you learn anything about the haunted bridge?”

“Not yet,” Nancy answered, glancing at her wrist watch. “But I’m to meet Chris at five.”

Nancy found him waiting for her at the caddy house. He made no comment as she led him to a bench at the rear of the hotel.

“Please tell me everything you know about that bridge,” she urged him. “Why do you say it’s haunted?”

“Because it is,” the boy insisted. “All the caddies will tell you the same. Sometimes you can see the ghost walking over it.”

“At night?”

“Daytime, too. It waves its arms slowly back and forth. And sometimes the ghost screams as if it’s in pain.”

“Have you actually seen and heard this yourself ?”

“Sure. That’s why I know better than to go into that woods.”

“You mean you’ve never been up close to the ghost?” Nancy inquired, smiling.

The boy frowned and said, “You couldn’t hire any of the guys to go near the place.”

“Chris, are the bridge and surrounding property owned by the hotel?” Nancy asked.

Before Chris could reply, the caddy master appeared to inform the boy he was wanted immediately in the caddy house.

“I’ll have to go now,” Chris told Nancy.

“Thank you for telling me about the ghost,” she said. “And by the way, if I qualify, would you like to caddy for me in the tournament?”

“Sure. But I won’t promise to look for any balls in the woods.”

Nancy leisurely walked back to the hotel. As she went through the lobby a sudden thought occurred to her. After giving a brief explanation, she asked the desk clerk if she might look at the registration cards of recent guests.

“Certainly, Miss Drew. Glad to be of help at any time.”

Nancy flicked through the file until she came to the name Martin Bartescue and studied the man’s handwriting.

“It’s not a bit like his signature on my scorecard,” she reflected.

Nancy was so absorbed in looking at it that she failed to observe the man himself. He had come up directly behind her. Pausing, he regarded her intently for a moment, then dodged into a telephone booth. Nancy, unaware of his presence, went upstairs.

Bess and George were dressing for dinner. They were not too occupied, though, to bombard Nancy with questions concerning the haunted bridge.

“I didn’t learn much more except that the ghost walks across the bridge, not only at night, but also in the daytime.”

Bess gave a nervous giggle. “I’ll never let my ball go into that woods, even if I have to take ten iron shots on the fairway.”

Nancy and George laughed. Then Nancy said, “Here’s a new mystery. Bartescue uses at least two different styles of handwriting.” She told about the registration cards.

“And probably several aliases,” George commented with a look of disgust. “Anyway, hereafter I’m going to call him Barty.”

“Barty the Barge-In!” Bess said.

That evening Mr. Drew had dinner with the girls. Nancy noticed that her tall, handsome father seemed a bit preoccupied.

“Isn’t your case progressing well, Dad?” she asked.

“Not so far,” he replied. “I’ll probably need your help soon, Nancy.”

“I’ll be ready.”

After dinner Mr. Drew told the girls that he must leave the hotel for a few hours.

“We’ll manage to amuse ourselves,” Bess said, chuckling.

The hotel orchestra was an excellent one. The girls met many attractive young men who were vacationing at Deer Mountain. Nancy, Bess, and George were never at a loss for partners. Bartescue was persistent and danced with Nancy several times. Though he was an excellent dancer, Nancy did not enjoy being with him.

At the end of one number he firmly steered her toward the terrace. She was annoyed, but told herself, “This might be a chance to find out more about the man.”

He launched into a story of his adventures in England. But at the first opportunity Nancy led him on to the subject that was uppermost in her mind.

“Obviously golf is one of your main interests, Mr. Bartescue. Do you also have other interests?”

“Oh, yes,” he replied. “I enjoy tennis—But what are some of yours?”

“Well, for one thing, graphology intrigues me. Some people profess to be able to tell a person’s character by means of his handwriting.”

In the semidarkness she did not notice her companion regard her shrewdly as he answered, “What an interesting story could be built up around mine! The way I write varies with my moods. Today your charm had me so baffled I could hardly sign my name at all. I doubt that I would even recognize it on your scorecard.”

Nancy glanced quickly at the man but his face was a mask. Unexpectedly he began to move closer.

“Nancy, you are very attractive. In all my life, I’ve never met anyone that I—”

Nancy took a step backward. She did not realize that she had been standing near the edge of the terrace. Suddenly her heels were no longer on solid cement and she felt herself falling. She gave a cry of alarm. Before Bartescue could extend a hand to save her she toppled into a flower bed!

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. “Are you hurt?” he asked anxiously, springing down to assist her.

Nancy slowly rose from the ground, trying to brush the dirt from her long dress.

“I think I’ve sprained my hand,” she admitted.

“Shall I call a doctor?” Bartescue asked.

“No, no. I’ll be all right. Just leave me here.”

Nancy’s outcry had brought several dancers running from the hotel ballroom. The situation was intensely embarrassing to her. She did not wish to explain that her fall from the terrace had been caused by trying to avoid Bartescue’s unwelcome attentions.

“Let me see your hand,” Bartescue urged. “I don’t believe the sprain is a bad one.”

Nancy ignored him. Walking away swiftly, she went directly to her room. The pain in her left hand was not so intense now, but the fingers were becoming stiff.

“I’ll never be able to play in the tournament,” she thought miserably.

While Nancy was in the bathroom running cold water on her hand, Bess and George came hurrying into the room.

“Oh, Nancy,” Bess wailed, “we just heard about your accident. Barty said you weren’t hurt, but you are!”

“Let me see the injury, Nancy,” George demanded.

“There’s nothing to see. The skin isn’t even broken. But my hand still hurts!”

“You must go to a doctor,” George urged.

At that moment Carson Drew returned to the hotel and came straight to his daughter’s room. Upon hearing about the injury, he too became concerned, particularly when Nancy admitted that her back had been twisted slightly.

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