'Well,' said the tramp. 'There was meself, hiding under a bush near the workroom, not doing no harm to nobody - just taking a rest, like.'

'Quite,' said the Inspector.

'Then I saw that fellow who got the sack that mom-ing,' said the tramp. 'Peeks, his name was. He was hiding in the bushes, along with some one else I couldn't see. But by the voice I reckoned it was a girl. Well, I see him going into the house and out again, through a window.'

'Ah,' said the Inspector.

'Then I see an old fellow,' said the tramp. 'I heard him having a quarrel with Mr. Hick that day - name of Smellie, wasn't it? Yes. Well, he came walking down the drive, quiet-like, and he slipped into the house by a door, just before Peeks came out again.'

'Go on,' said the Inspector. 'Did you see any one else?'

'Yes, I did,' said the tramp. 'I see Mr. Hick himself! '

Every one listened breathlessly. 'I was lying under that there bush,' said the tramp, 'thinking that there was a lot of people in the garden that evening, when I heard some one squeezing through the gap in the hedge, not far from me. I looked through the sprays of the bush and I saw it was Mr. Hick himself. He stood there in that ditch for a long time, and then he went to a big clump of blackberries and fished up a tin out of the middle where it was hidden.'

Fatty gave a little whistle. It was extraordinary to hear the tramp relating the whole story that they had so carefully pieced together. That tin must have contained petrol!

'Then Mr. Hick went to the little cottage nearby, stayed there a while, came out and locked the door, and hid in the ditch again,' said the tramp. 'I lay under my bush as still as a mouse. After a time, when it was really dark, I heard Mr. Hick getting out of the ditch and going down

the lane towards the railway. Then I saw a light in the cottage and I guessed it was on fire, and I went off mighty quick. I didn't want to be found there and accused of firing it.'

'Thank you,' said the Inspector. 'Was there any one else at all that you saw ? '

'Not a soul,' said the tramp.

'A very pretty plot,' said the Inspector. 'Mr. Hick wants money. He manages to pick a quarrel with a good many people that day, so that if by chance the insurance company suspect foul play, there are many people who have reason to fire his cottage out of spite. He gets his chauffeur to take him to the station in the afternoon., to catch the train to town. He must have got out at the next station, and walked back over the fields to his garden, where he hid until he fired the cottage. Then he walked back to the railway, waited at the place where the London train always halts for a minute, and gets into an empty carriage, unseen in the darkness. He arrives at Peterswood Station, is met by his chauffeur and driven home, to be told that his workroom is on fire. Very pretty indeed.'

'And now, I think, we must ask Mr. Hick a few questions,' said the plain-clothes man.

'That is so,' agreed the Inspector. He turned to the children. 'We will let you know what happens,' he said. 'And, if I may say so, I am very proud to have met the Five Find-Outers - and Dog. I trust that we shall work together on other mysteries in the future. I should be extremely grateful for your help - and I am sure Mr. Goon feels the same as I do.'

Mr. Goon didn't at all, but he could do nothing but nod and try to smile. He was angry to think that the five 'pests' had actually solved the mystery before he had, and that the Inspector was praising them.

'Good-day, Goon,' said the Inspector pleasantly, walking out to his car.

'Good-day, Inspector Jenks,' said poor Clear-Orf.

'Can I give you children a lift?' inquired the Inspector. 'Am I going your way?'

He was, for he was going to Mr. Hick with the plain-clothes man. The children piled into the big car, bursting with importance, and hoping that every one in the village would see them riding with their friend, the great Inspector!

'I suppose you couldn't possibly put in a word for us with our parents, could you?' asked Pip. 'You see, Mr. Goon complained so bitterly of us. If you spoke well of us, it would be a great help.'

'It would be a pleasure,' beamed the Inspector, starting up his powerful car. 'I'll call in after I've interviewed Mr. Hick.'

He kept his word. He called on Pip's mother later in the day, and very much impressed her with his admiration for the Find-Outers.

'They are very smart children,' he said. 'I am sure you will agree with me. I am proud to know them.'

The children crowded round him eagerly. 'What about Mr. Hick? What did he say?'

'I questioned him closely, and let him know that we knew everything and had got his shoes too,' said the Inspector. 'He denied it at first, but when asked to explain how it was that he heard those aeroplanes coming over here at the time when he vowed he was in London, he broke down and confessed everything. So I am afraid Mr. Hick will have to leave His comfortable house and spend some considerable time with the police! He is even now on his way, and poor Mrs. Minns is in a most excited state.'

'I expect Lily will be glad that Horace isn't suspected any more,' said Daisy. 'And we'd better go and tell Mr. Smellie all about it too, so that he will forgive us for getting into his house and taking his shoe. Will Mr. Goon give him back his shoe. Inspector Jenks?'

'It has already been done,' said the big man. 'Well, I must be going. I hope I shall see you again some day, You did very well indeed with your dues and your list of Suspects.'

'There was only one clue that wasn't any good,' said

Larry, pulling out his match-box with the bit of grey flannel in. 'We never found any Suspect with a grey flannel coat, and a tiny bit torn out of it'

'Well, if you don't mind my saying so, I have an idea that I can explain that clue,' said the big Inspector, looking wise.

'Oh, do tell us,' said Bets.

The Inspector pulled Larry to him, swung him round, and showed the others a tiny tear in his grey flannel jacket, just by the arm-pit at the back.

'That's where your bit of grey cloth came from!' he said, with a deep chuckle. 'You all got through that gap in the hedge when you went to find footprints, didn't you? And Larry must have caught himself a bit on a prickle - and the boy behind him spotted the bit of grey rag on the twig and thought it was a clue! Good thing you didn't see that Larry's coat was torn, or you might have written him down as a Suspect too!'

The children laughed. 'However was it that nobody noticed Larry's coat was a bit torn?' said Bets, astonished. 'Well - to think of all the things we found out -and we didn't find that out!'

'Good-bye,' said the Inspector, getting into his car. 'Thanks for your help. It's a very satisfactory ending, as I'm sure you will agree with me!'

'Rather!' said every one. 'Good-bye! It was a bit of luck meeting you!'

The car roared off up the lane. The children turned back into the garden.

'What an exciting week we've had,' said Daisy. 'I suppose now the Find-Outers must come to an end, because we've solved the mystery!'

'No,' said Fatty. 'We'll still be the Five Find-Outers and Dog, because you simply never know when another mystery will come along for us to solve. We'll just wait till it comes.'

They are waiting - and one will come there's no doubt about that.

But, of course, that will be quite another story!

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