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Authors: 1924- Donald J. Sobol,Lillian Brandi

Tags: #Detective and mystery stories

Encyclopedia Brown and the case of the midnight visitor

BOOK: Encyclopedia Brown and the case of the midnight visitor
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This book made available by the Internet Archive.

For Lenore and Jerry Gundersheimer


and The Case of the Midnight Visitor

Tlie Case off the Mkfail^t Hsitor

Now there are some people in the United States who had never heard of Idaville. But they were not policemen.

Every policeman from Maine to California knew about Idaville. Anyone who broke the law there was caught. Not a crook escaped.

How could that be? What was the secret?

No one ever guessed.

Idaville looked like many other seaside towns its size. It had lovely beaches, three movie theaters, and four banks. It had churches, a synagogue, and two delicatessens.

And on Rover Avenue it had a certain red brick house.

In the house lived Idaville's secret weapon against crime—ten-year-old Encyclopedia Brown.

Encyclopedia's father was chief of police. Because no one got away with breaking the law, the people of Idaville thought he was the bravest and smartest police chief in the world.

True, Chief Brown was brave. And he was smart enough to know what to do with a case Ixe could not solve.

He took it home to dinner.

Over soup, he told his son the facts. Encyclopedia usually figured out the answer before dessert.

Chief Brown hated keeping the help he got from his only child a secret. He wanted Encyclopedia's sneakers hung in the Crime Fighters' Hall of Fame.

But what good would it do to suggest it?

Who would take him seriously? Who would believe that the mastermind behind Idaville's spotless police record was a fifth grader?

So Chief Brown said nothing.

Encyclopedia never mentioned the help he gave his father. He didn't want to seem different from other boys.

There was nothing he could do about his nickname, however.

Only his parents and teachers called him by his real name, Leroy. Everyone else called him Encyclopedia.

An encyclopedia is a book or set of books filled with facts from A to Z. So was Encyclopedia's head. He had read so many books his pals swore his ears were turning into bookends.

Monday evening Chief Brown sipped his soup slowly. Encyclopedia and his mother knew what that meant. He had his mind on a case.

Finally, Mrs. Brown said, "Why don*t you tell Leroy about it, dear?"

Chief Brown sighed. "I don't know ... this is an awfully tough case," he said. "It has me beaten."

"Leroy has never failed you. Tell him," urged Mrs. Brown.

"Very well," said Chief Brown. "C. T. Butler was kidnapped from his home last night."

Mrs. Brown gasped. Encyclopedia let out a low whistle.

C. T. Butler was a millionaire. He owned a string of pizza parlors in three states and a big house by the ocean.

"Today at noon, Mrs. Butler received a phone call," said Chief Brown. "A man's voice said that her husband was unharmed, but he was being held for half a million dollars' ransom. The caller told Mrs. Butler to remain home tomorrow, at which time she would be told by phone where to leave the money."

'*You hope to capture the kidnappers before they are paid the ransom, Dad?" said Encyclopedia.

''We must," replied Chief Brown grimly. "Kidnappers want money. Once they get it, there is no telling what they might do to their victim."

''Poor Mr. Butler!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown. "Well, at least you have until tomorrow to find him."

"That's too little time," said Chief Brown.

"Somebody must have heard or seen something,'' said Encyclopedia.

'*Mrs. Butler was of some help," said Chief Brown. "From what she told me, it's possible to fit together a few pieces."

He took a spoonful of soup. Then he related all that the police had been able to learn about the kidnapping.

''Last night, Mr. and Mrs. Butler were in bed watching a late movie on television. A little after midnight, the front doorbell rang.

''Mr. Butler went downstairs to see who it was. Mrs. Butler turned off the television and listened. She heard him talking to someone—she thinks a man. She couldn't make out the words, but the tone was friendly.

"Then she heard the sounds of the door closing and footsteps going into the den. Mr. Butler and his visitor lowered their voices. She could scarcely hear them at all.

"She went to sleep. She was awakened by the closing of the front door and then went back to sleep.

"When she awoke this morning, Mr. Butler wasn't in the house. The front door was closed but unlocked."

''Wasn't Mrs. Butler worried?" asked Mrs. Brown.

''No," answered Chief Brown. "She thought her husband had dressed quietly so he wouldn't wake her and had gone to the office. He sometimes forgets to lock the front door behind him. She didn't report him missing until she got the phone call from the kidnapper."

"Wasn't she worried when he didn't return to bed after the visitor left?" said Mrs. Brown.

Chief Brown shook his head. "Mr. Butler often gets up at night to work in his den. She thought he had simply remained downstairs to go over some business."

"You don't have much to work with, dear," said Mrs. Brown.

"We know that whoever came to the door wasn't a stranger," said Chief Brown. "Mr. Butler never would have let a stranger into his house late at night. I think this is what happened.

"The visitor spoke with Mr. Butler in the den. Then he opened the window and made Mr. Butler climb into the back yard, where other men were waiting. They

forced Mr. Butler into a car on the dark street and drove away. The visitor left by the front door."

''Wasn't that dangerous?" said Mrs. Brown. "Someone might have seen him under the night light."

"He was probably afraid that he'd been seen entering the house. So he had to be seen leaving. He was prepared to say that Mr. Butler was still in the house when he left. But no one saw him enter or leave."

"Then you really have no clues," said Mrs. Brown glumly.

"Only a calendar," replied Chief Brown.

He got up from the table and returned with his briefcase. He took out a calendar. On it was handwritten in pencil, "7891011."

"Mrs. Butler had been in the den last night with her husband just before they went upstairs to the bedroom," said Chief Brown. "She said nothing was different on his desk this morning but the writing on the calendar. That is, this number."

Chief Brown passed the calendar to Encyclopedia. "Make anything out of it, son?" he inquired.

'My only clue is a calendar/' said Chief Brown.

Encyclopedia studied the number and the calendar. He closed his eyes. He always closed his eyes when he did his hardest thinking.

... 7891011 ...

"Does Mr. Butler have any enemies?" asked Mrs. Brown.

"Every wealthy man has enemies," said Chief Brown. "He is known to have argued with Arthur Jason, John McNear, and Matt Short. There are probably a dozen others."

"I argue with my closest friends," objected Mrs. Brown, "and I haven't been kidnapped."

Encyclopedia opened his eyes. He asked his one question. He seldom needed more than one question to break a case that his father brought home to dinner.

"Was there any paper on Mr. Butler's desk?"

"Just a small pad by the telephone," said Chief Brown. "But it was blank."

"Is that a clue, Leroy?" said Mrs. Brown anxiously.

"Yes," said Encyclopedia. "When the visitor went to open the window, Mr. But-

ler seized the moment to write this number on the calendar."

"What does it mean?" asked Mrs. Brown.

**It tells us the visitor's name," said Encyclopedia. *'The rest should be easy, right, Dad?"


(Turn to page 103 for the solution to The Case of the Midnight Visitor.)

UieCaseof Bndden Penny

Encyclopedia wanted to help the children of the neighborhood. So when school let out for the summer, he opened his own detective agency in the garage. Every morning he hung out his sign:

^ - 13 Rover Avenue'"

Uwjv Brown, presideKt Mo case too small ,

^plus expenses ^^^

On Tuesday, business was slow all morning till Elmo Thomas came in. Elmo was Idaville's junior yo-yo champion.

''Mothers/' he grumbled. "They don't understand kids."

^'That's no way to talk," protested Encyclopedia.

"If my mother understood me, I wouldn't have got kicked in the rear and had my best yo-yo stolen. I'd be worth a lot of money, besides."

"All that is your mother's fault?"

"Well, not really," admitted Elmo. "She just doesn't understand what it takes to be a yo-yo champ. You can't sit back. You have to keep your hand and eye sharp to stay in the big time. You follow me?"

"Keep talking, and maybe I'll catch up," said Encyclopedia.

"Last week I broke a lamp in the living room doing a loop-the-loop," said Elmo. "This morning I was in the kitchen practicing round-the-corner when Mom tripped over the string. Her breakfast went flying."

"She said something to you," guessed Encyclopedia.

'*And how. She told me I'd have to practice outdoors. That was mean. It's daylight outdoors."

"You noticed?" said Encyclopedia, blinking.

*'I'd planned to work today in the basement with my number-one yo-yo. It glows in the dark," said Elmo. ''But I made the best of things. I went outside and put a blanket over my head."

Encyclopedia could scarcely wait to hear what was coming next.

"I was getting pretty good under the blanket," said Elmo. "No fancy stuff like three-leaf-clover or man-on-the-flying-trapeze. Just lots of fast zzizz thwopl —till Bugs Meany kicked my backside."

"Oh, boy," said Encyclopedia. "Bugs shows up wherever there is trouble."

Bugs Meany was the leader of a gang of tough older boys. They called themselves the Tigers. They should have called themselves the Taffee Twisters. They were always pulling something crooked.

"After Bugs kicked me, he yanked off the blanket and begged my pardon," recalled Elmo. "He said he thought I was an

''Bugs Meany kicked my backside while I was practicing my glow-in-the-dark yo-yo" said Elmo.

Arab. He took my yo-yo and put it in his pocket and asked me my name.

" 'Elmo Thomas/ I said.

'*Bugs laughed. 'Go buy yourself a last name,' he said, and flipped me a penny."

''He bought your best yo-yo for one cent?" exclaimed Encyclopedia. "No wonder you're sore."

BOOK: Encyclopedia Brown and the case of the midnight visitor
4.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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