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Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #55

Mystery of Crocodile Island

Carolyn Keene


CHAPTER I: A Risky Adventure



CHAPTER IV: Crocodile Farm


CHAPTER VI: The Impostor

CHAPTER VII: Sea Detectives

CHAPTER VIII: Indian Tricks

CHAPTER IX: Hurricane Legend

CHAPTER X: The Runaway's Clues

CHAPTER XI: An Identification

CHAPTER XII: Child in Danger

CHAPTER XIII: Doubloons!

CHAPTER XIV: Periscope Pursuit

CHAPTER XV: Jungle Attack

CHAPTER XVI: Exciting Phone Call

CHAPTER XVII: Deadly Golf Ball


CHAPTER XIX: Triple Sleuthing

CHAPTER XX: Submarine Prisoners

CHAPTER IA Risky Adventure

Nancy Drew and her friend Bess Marvin were seated in the Drew living room, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Nancy's father.

"I wish your dad would hurry and get here," Bess said impatiently. "Nancy, have you any idea what the trip he wants us to take is all about?"

The attractive eighteen-year-old strawberry blond shook her head. "I know the place, but not the mystery we're to solve."

"Where is the place?" Bess asked.

"Florida. Dad didn't tell me what part, though."

Bess giggled. "Any part will be all right with me, as long as there's warm weather and swimming."

Nancy smiled. "Probably all of us will be glad to swim. At this time of year it can get pretty hot down there."

A ring at the front door interrupted her. Nancy hurried to answer it. The visitor was Bess's cousin George Fayne. George was a vivacious dark-haired girl with a winning smile and a great appetite for adventure. She and Bess had helped Nancy with many mysteries.

"Hi, George!" Nancy greeted her Mend. "Come in."

When the two walked into the living room, Bess pointed to a shoe box George carried. "What's in there?" she inquired.

George's eyes twinkled. She took off the lid, which had several small holes punched in it. "You can see," she said, "but don't touch."

In the box lay a twelve inch baby crocodile. Since it did not move, the girls assumed it was asleep. George held up the box and tapped the underside. At once the crocodile began to wiggle! It opened its jaws wide and swished its tail.

Bess screamed. "Put the lid on and get that thing out of here!" she demanded.

George laughed. "It's not real! Nancy, your dad asked me to stop at the River Heights Trick Shop and buy a rubber crocodile. He didn't explain why."

She replaced the lid and set the box on the table. "The clerk in the store said if you tickle the trick crocodile, it will wiggle. It's meant to scare people, but it can't possibly hurt you."

Bess looked doubtful, and George went on, "If this reptile were real, the government would take it and fine me twenty thousand dollars."

"What!" Bess cried out. "That's incredible."

"Or I could spend five years in jail for possessing it without government permission."

"But why?" Bess asked.

"Because crocodiles are a vanishing species," Nancy put in. "There used to be plenty of them in this country, but now there are only a few left in Florida."

Bess's eyes opened wide. "Do you think your father is going to send us to the part where there are crocodiles?"

Nancy was looking out the window. "We'll soon know," she replied. "He's driving in now."

Carson Drew, a leading attorney in River Heights, parked his car in the garage, then came into the house by way of the kitchen. When he reached the living room, he kissed Nancy and greeted the other two girls.

"Don't keep us in suspense any longer," Nancy pleaded. "Are we going to crocodile land?"

Her tall, handsome father sat down on the couch. "In a way, yes. This is the story. An old college friend of mine named Roger Gonzales lives in Key Biscayne outside of Miami. Biscayne Bay is full of small islands, which are called keys. Most of them are inhabited, but some of the smaller ones are like jungles and nobody lives on them. Some twenty miles from Key Biscayne there's a key that has been nicknamed Crocodile Island. A group of men operate a crocodile farm on it. They breed these reptiles to sell to zoos or other places where sightseers can view them."

As Mr. Drew paused, Bess spoke, with fright in her voice. "And you're going to ask us to go to this alligator farm?"

Mr. Drew smiled. "Crocodile farm, Bess. There's a difference."

"There is?"

"Yes. The American alligator has a much broader snout than the crocodile, and is less vicious and active. The two reptiles are about equal in size and can grow up to twelve feet in length, but the croc weighs about a third less than the 'gator."

Bess shivered. "I don't want to meet either one."

George laughed. To tease Bess, she said, "Mr. Drew, tell us some more scary things about crocodiles."

Bess groaned.

"They like to live in large bodies of shallow salty water," Mr. Drew continued, "preferably in sluggish rivers, open swamps, and marshes that are brackish. They raise their heads when you go near them and—"

"Oh, stop!" Bess begged.

Mr. Drew grinned. "But I'm not finished. In this country crocs were formerly found around the southernmost tip of Florida, but because so many people went to live on Key Biscayne, the crocs moved into the Everglades. They have webbed feet and can walk on soft ground."

"How fast can they run?" George asked.

"Very fast. Like horses!"

"Forget it!" Bess declared. "I'm staying home. Who wants to be eaten?"

"American crocodiles occasionally do attack animals and people," Mr. Drew admitted. "A croc can twist a large animal to pieces by seizing one part of it, then turning rapidly in the water."

George grimaced. "I think I agree with Bess!"

"Don't worry," Mr. Drew said. "You probably won't meet any wild crocs. What I'm talking about is a farm where they're bred in captivity. There's a mystery connected with the place that I hope you girls can solve."

"What kind of mystery?" George asked.

"I'll tell you in a minute." Mr. Drew looked at the shoe box, "I see you did the errand, George, Thank you very much. I thought you girls might want to study a rubber crocodile to get acquainted with its looks."

He rose and walked over to the table and removed the lid. George suggested that he lift the box and tap the bottom. He did, and once more the baby crocodile wiggled its tail and opened and closed its jaws.

"This is certainly a good imitation," Mr. Drew remarked. He sat down again and went on with his story. "Mr. Gonzales has stock in the crocodile farm, which is called Crocodile Ecology Company. He doesn't live or work there, however. He's a silent partner, so to speak.

"Recently he has become suspicious that the business arrangements on the island are not what they should be, and that his partners are up to something dishonest."

Nancy asked, "And this Mr. Gonzales has requested that we investigate Crocodile Island?"

"That's right," her father replied. "However, he doesn't want his partners to know it, so you girls are not to visit his home or his office, or even phone him. Roger Gonzales is afraid his partners are spying on him, and in some way may find out he's starting an investigation."

Mr. Drew told the girls they should pretend to be just tourists. "I'd even suggest that while you're there you act like silly young girls, so that the Crocodile Ecology people won't catch on. The last thing you want them to know is that you all have high detective IQ's,"



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