The White Shoe Irregular:
It was fun while it lasted.

The First Two Pages of a Hardy Boys Book

Marilyn Nelson

Frank Hardy ran his hand through his thick, dark hair and sighed.

"What's the matter?" queried his younger brother Joe, who was fair and slim, but otherwise looked like a younger version of Frank.

"It's this case Dad is working on," said Frank. "Something seems fishy about the whole thing."

"I know what you mean," rejoined Joe. "I mean, a client showing up at eleven o'clock last night, and then Dad leaving for New York early this morning, without a word to us — it's just not like him." Fenton Hardy, the boys' father, was a well-known detective. He was often being called away to investigate crimes, but last night's circumstances had been quite unusual.

"Well," began Frank, "he…"

The doorbell rang, and Frank stopped speaking as Joe moved to open it.

"Well, you two sure look glum!" said a cheery voice. It was the boys' friend Chet Morton.

"Hi, Chet," smiled Joe. "Come on in!"

"I was hoping there would be some more of that fantastic lemon pie Aunt Gertrude made last night," said Chet. Frank and Joe smiled at each other. Chet was a stocky fellow, and they sometimes suspected that he only came over for Aunt Gertrude's cooking.

"Now boys," said Aunt Gertrude, bustling out from the kitchen, "you know dinner's going to be ready in a few minutes, and you can't be spoiling your appetites with pie."

"Oh boy!" Chet burst out, "Dinner?"

"Yes, you may stay to dinner," said Aunt Gertrude. "Now go wash your hands."

Over a delicious meal of mashed potatoes, meatloaf, and corn, the boys discussed Mr. Hardy's mysterious client. "I wonder what could have been so urgent?" wondered Joe.

"I don't know," replied Frank, "but I've got a hunch it was related to Tiny McCory."

"Tiny McCory?" exclaimed Joe. "You think so?"

"Who's that?" asked Chet, between bites of potatoes.

"If you'll stop eating long enough to listen, I'll tell you," quipped Frank. "Tiny McCory is a powerful man in organized crime. He hates Dad because of Dad's role in arresting some of his buddies last month. They say that Tiny never forgets an offense against him. And no one has ever been able to find out where his hideout is."

"That sounds like an almost supernatural guy to have as an enemy!" blurted Chet.

"Yeah," said Joe, "and we've had our fill of supernatural enemies for awhile!" Everyone laughed. In their last case, "The Curse of Blue Gill Swamp," the Hardy Boys had run up against international jewel thieves who had been using a swamp as their hideout. When the thieves had noticed the Hardy Boys on their trail, they had tried to scare them away using an ancient Indian Legend about a haunted swamp!

"Well, I think all this crime fighting is nonsense," said Aunt Gertrude. "Why can't you boys just stay at home and lead normal lives for a while?"

"Oh, we'd like to, Aunt Gertrude," said Frank. "Believe us, we'd like to. But strange happenings just seem to…follow us around."

Suddenly, they were stunned by the sound of glass splintering in the hallway!

Frank leapt to his feet and rushed towards the sound. Joe was right on his heels. "Be careful, boys!" called Aunt Gertrude anxiously. When Frank reached the hallway, there was a rock lying in a pile of broken glass. The front window was broken. Joe ran to it and looked out.

"Whoever it was, they're long gone by now," he said ruefully. "Look." He pointed to the long, black skid marks on the road in front of the house.

"We'd better look for clues," said Frank, leaning out the window and looking down into the flowerbed.

"Hey," cried Joe. "Footprints!"

There, in the flowerbed, were several small footprints, like those of a child. Frank and Joe looked at each other in amazement.

"Tiny McCory!" they chorused.