Page:Betty Gordon in Washington.djvu/143

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133
WHAT HALE HAD TO TELL

he'd pay more attention to his store," giggled Betty.

"I'll wait here," said Bobby hastily, as Betty moved toward the rear of the store. "I'd probably say the wrong thing anyway. Let me see, I'll be reading this fat brown book. They all look alike to me, but this may be thrilling in spots."

Betty approached the motionless old man, whose lean brown forefinger traced the curious black characters in the book before him so slowly that it did not seem to budge at all.

"I beg your pardon?" she said tentatively.

No response.

"I want to ask you—" Betty began again, a a little breathlessly. "I want to ask you about a boy named Bob Henderson."

"Name's Hale," said the old man, without looking up and speaking in a cracked, hoarse voice. "Lockwood Hale, dealer in new and secondhand books. Just look around on the tables and you'll likely come across what you want. I'll wrap it for you when you find it. Just now I'm busy."

Betty looked desperately at Bobby, who was listening over the top of her book, and stifled a desire to laugh.

"I don't want a book," she insisted gently. "I want to ask you a question. About Bob Henderson. You know you were interested in the rec-