Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Lessons in Larceny" by Anonymous/Unknown

Lessons in Larceny
Anonymous/Unknown

Jerry Burns rose from the caddy bench at the Greenway Golf Club and walked slowly toward the roadster. His nose was deep in Hershey's Elementary Chemistry.

"Come on, kid, hurry up!" Al Salvo shouted from the car.

"Sorry, Mr. Salvo. I've got a high school chemistry exam coming up."

Salvo was a slight man. He left the car and approached Jerry.

"Don't you want to caddy for me?" Salvo asked impatiently. "I'm here to play golf, not to worry about you."

"Yes, sir," said Jerry. He shoved Hershey's Chemistry into his shirt and took the two golf bags from Salvo's hands.

Three others of the party approached. Jerry knew Dina Cross, Salvo's secretary, but the other two were strangers. Salvo's expression changed as they drew near. He smiled, looking as if trying hard to be a charming host.

"Let Betty and Ben tee off first," said Salvo.

Dina Cross flashed a smile at Betty. "Go ahead, dear," she said laughing.

Betty swung the driver gracefully, but she blushed as she watched the ball bounce off the fairway and into the rough.

Al Salvo laughed. "Let's all help find the ball."

Jerry was poking about the dry leaves and could not help overhearing Betty.

"Isn't Mr. Salvo nice, Ben?" she asked. "I'm sure glad I work for him and Miss Cross, for now he'll promote your invention. Did you bring the formula?"

"Right here," Ben replied.

There was a gentle breeze blowing from off where Salvo and Dina Cross were searching. As Jerry worked his way through the leaves in their direction, their conversation came to him.

"It will take all night to get around the course the way they play," he heard Dina say. "You've got to think of a way to get the formula sooner. He might change his mind."

"Yeah, and gasoline made from sawdust will make millions for us, baby. I'll suggest dinner at the clubhouse."

Jerry stood uncertainly, wondering what to do. He had never before faced this sort of problem. Then Salvo called Ben and Betty Lake.

As he came out of the thicket, Jerry saw an envelope on the ground. He opened it. On the paper inside were typed chemical symbols. Jerry followed to the clubhouse.

Salvo and his guests were in the dining room when Jerry came out of the clubhouse office. He went toward the table.

"I found this," said Jerry. "Out on the course. I thought maybe it was yours."

As Salvo snatched the envelope, Ben Lake's jaw dropped.

"The formula!" he gasped. Betty turned pale.

"Oh, Ben, you lost it!" Turning to Jerry, she smiled. "I hope sometime we can do you a favor."

Jerry grinned, waited awkwardly for a moment.

"Could Mr. Lake help me with my chemistry?" he asked.

"Come home with us," Ben Lake said. "Sure I'll help you, Jerry."

In Ben Lake's cellar laboratory Jerry Burns was not listening to Ben Lake. He heard only the steps outside the door and held his breath.

Salvo was with Dina Cross. Ben Lake smiled a friendly greeting, but it froze on his lips as he saw the small pistol in Salvo's hand.

"Never mind the formula, Lake," Salvo sneered. "Just fork over a sample of the synthetic gasoline."

Ben Lake's surprise was genuine. "What do you mean?"

Jerry grasped a bottle from the bench and heaved it. Dina Cross screamed and Salvo's gun went off, but the shot went wild as the glass crashed in his face. Betty ran down the cellar stairs and Salvo swung on her. Jerry made a flying tackle.

"Call the cops!" he shouted. Jerry picked up Salvo's gun.

When it was over, Ben Lake and his sister listened in wide-eyed wonder as Jerry told Ben of Salvo's plot to rob the formula.

"But he had the formula!" Ben exclaimed. "I don't see why he came here!"

Jerry chuckled, drew a paper from his pocket. "No. I've got it," he said. "All I gave Salvo was a mess of symbols out of my chemistry book. I copied them off on the clubhouse typewriter."

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