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Nancy expected to die in a rain of lead within seconds. She was startled to hear not the explosion of gunfire but a cacophony of bloodcurdling female shouting. The gangsters instinctively turned away to meet the new threat, which turned out to be two young women in flimsy, ill-fitting nightwear and grotesquely misapplied makeup rushing in through an opposite door bearing long pushbrooms. Nancy instantly recognized the bizarre figures as her chums, Bess and George.

    "Sweep em' out! We're sweeping up crime!" shouted Bess.

    "Sweeep! Sweeeeep!" crooned George, whose level of pixilation foreclosed the articulation of statements more complex than a single drawn out syllable.

    Bess pushed her broom against the feet of a surprised Harry A. and attempted to push him towards the nearest dustbin.

    "We'll sweep you away Mr. Kingpin of crime!"

    Harry did not move. Bess repeated her pushing motion.

    "Come on, move along, Moriarty," intoned Bess. "It's down, down, down the Reichenbach Falls with the likes of you, my hearty!"

    "Falls! Falls! Falls! Falls!" chirped George as she added her broom to the task, poking the crime lord in the groin. Harry A. turned livid. He raised his arm and would have struck George had not Bess parried the blow with the handle of her broom.

    "Friar Tuck and his staff to the rescue!" exulted a triumphant Bess.

    Suddenly a rope appeared next to George and sliding down from the skylight was Ned Nickerson! Nancy's friends were now all gathered in the middle of the room. They might have fancied themselves rescuers, but they were themselves quite vulnerable, surrounded as they were by hardened and armed criminals, who were both frightened of being cornered and capable of heartless murder. While Nancy appreciated the loyal feelings that had drawn her chums to attempt her deliverance, she wished that they had not come and feared for all their lives.

    "Do not fire!" commanded Ned. "Do not harm these girls in any way! I am armed with a bomb and can destroy you all!" He held up a dark object that looked suspiciously like a grenade. "If you shoot them or me and the pressure of my finger falls away from the trigger on this device, you will all be blown to smithereens!"

    Nancy knew her Ned and instantly divined that his "bomb" was a colossal bluff. The gang, however, seemed undecided whether to call it or not. She knew that this collective paralysis could not last long. The crafty criminals would soon be able to read the non-psychopathic anxiety written all over Ned's non-poker face. If only the police would arrive! How much time did they need?

    "Move away from the girls!" shouted Ned as he postured flamboyantly with his "device."

    How long could this go on? Nancy wondered. Had the authorities spotted the flare? She was beginning to wonder if something else had gone amiss with her father's plan.

    At that moment the police stormed in through four entrances at once bearing rifles and machine guns at the ready. Two shots whistled over the heads of all assembled.

    "Put down your weapons and surrender," called out a portly plain-clothes detective who appeared to be commander of the operation.

    Four dozen weapons clattered to the floor and the gangsters, afraid for their lives, raised their hands in submission. A band of police officers shepherded the now-cowed mobsters into a corner of the room. A new posse then rushed in, consisting of doctors, nurses, and an emergency-response squad from the fire department, who attended to the wounded. Nancy spotted her friend Cherry Ames taking the pulse of a victim.

    Nancy felt a gentle touch on her right arm. Turning around, she saw her father, who looked about as spent as she felt.

    "I'm sorry, Nancy," he whispered contritely. "Had I known of Don's plot against you, I never would have allowed you to attend the meeting."

    "It's all right, Dad," reassured Nancy. "We all did the best we could, and it worked out in the end."

    The quick-eyed sleuth spotted some ugly red marks on Carson Drew's extended hand.

    "But what happened to you? How did you get so badly injured?" she demanded.

    "I was tied up. When I protested against the removal of the boxes Harry A. got suspicious. My trial would have been next. I had to get free to cut off the lights. Both of our lives depended on it. After I untied myself I had to fight with a guard to get at the light controls. That is when you saw the flickering. And I wasn't a moment too soon with the lights. I am afraid that my hands and wrists are a little worse for the wear after my successful struggle to work them free and after my little scrap."

    "Nancy fired the pistol before the lights went out, Sir." This was Ned speaking. The wounded had been borne away to the hospital and Ned was now at liberty to make sure that Nancy was all right. "She offered her life to save those children."

    Carson looked at his daughter with heightened admiration.

    "What a good little soldier!"

    "Had the lights not gone off when they did, I would have tossed in a gas bomb," claimed Ned. "But I don't know what the consequences of that might have been. Nancy could easily have been injured by inhaling the gas and trampled to death in the ensuing confusion. But it was a risk I was prepared to take. Otherwise she would not have stood a chance."

    "Don't cut that Johnny-come-lately any slack." Bess had arrived at Nancy's side with her broom. Until that moment she had been trying to assist the police in their "sweep-up." George was standing beside Bess, beaming a more than usually imbecilic grin. Bess went on. "Ned knows that he was far too late to be of much use. Besides Georgie and I already had the situation under total control. Didn't we honey chile?"

    "Ah yes, oh feeerless leeeeder," chimed George.

    The cousins both embraced Nancy at once, their impatient and uncontrolled energy almost squeezing the breath out of her.

    Nancy extricated herself gently.

    "You are all my rescuers-Dad, Ned, Bess, and George," she announced with heartfelt gratitude. "I'm the richest girl in town!"

    Out of the corner of her eye Nancy noticed the last few members of the slaver gang being herded out one of the exits under armed guard. She spotted Don Henderson and Harry A. glaring at her. Henderson mouthed the word, "traitor." The lips of the crime boss did not move, but the hardness in his eyes told her everything she needed to know. Harry had many connections amongst allied criminal gangs still at large. Despite all the efforts she and her father had made, Nancy was still marked for death.

    Nancy could feel her father's worried gaze following hers.

    "We will have to lie low for a while," he said quietly.

    "And you had better get started right now," instructed Bess. "I saw a couple of feds in that slew of cops. When they are finished questioning the prostitution gang and rounding up their victims they will be back looking for you and me-and they will be asking tough questions about pixie dust that will be plenty hard for us to answer!"

    Nancy was amazed at Bess's new coherence.

    "You don't understand the drug like I do," Bess answered. "In an hour or so I'll be a real mess."

    "We had better get you two out of here instantly," concluded Carson. "Just in case, I have a private plane ready and waiting for Nancy's next disappearance. Bess will have to go along with us."

    "What about meeee?" demanded George.

    "I'm sorry, George," answered the lawyer, "but you will have to stay. You are not in trouble-well, not too much-and we will need you to hold the fort in River Heights. There are many victims to visit and if we can't produce at least one of you two cousins your families will get more than concerned. It will also be your job to keep the line of communication open between Nancy and Bess and everyone at home. So you see we need you here."

    Ned also looked stricken.

    "I'm sorry, Ned," offered the elder Drew. "Be patient. You are badly needed here, too."

    Ned gave Nancy a hug and a partly chaste kiss.

    "Goodbye, Nancy."

    "Goodbye, Ned. And don't worry, I can be patient too."

    The lawyer whisked away the two soon-to-be fugitives. Ned stood rooted to the spot, staring at the empty doorway through which they had disappeared. Had she not been pixilated, George would have been similarly tranfixed. As it was, she wandered over to talk to her friends Cherry and the other nurses.

    "Cherry, pleease take me right away to Shaady Rest," implored George. "I know what will haaappen when the effect of the druuug that I am on wears oooff. It wiill be uglee. I knoow. I've seeen it haaappen. Pleease help meee."


    Cherry put her arm around George and led her away.

    Ned stared at the latest departure disconsolately. Then, after a moment, he followed them out the door. As he left the scene of Nancy's greatest trial he resolved to use his much-maligned sleuthing skills to search for Nancy. After attending to the sick and wounded, as he had been instructed, he would look throughout the wide world, to locate the place her protective lawyer father secreted her. However long it takes Nancy, Ned vowed, I will find you and join you in your new life!