Willie bent over and picked up a shiny piece of metal. "Looks like part of a key chain," he reported to Grace, who was peering intently over Willie's shoulder. "I don't think it's a key chain, though. It has a strange design. It seems to be moving!"
In fact, the there was something very unusual about this small round object! It was about two inches across and appeared to be made of gold. In the center was a picture of a funny-looking gray bird with pink and purple tail feathers. Behind this odd bird there was a map of the world that was moving and spinning, just like a globe. Neither Willie nor Grace could figure out how it worked.
"I never saw anything like this!" exclaimed Grace. "What makes the picture move?"
"Beats me," Willie replied. "Maybe we should take it to my aunt's store. Maybe Aunt Betty can figure out what it is- she knows all about old stuff. It looks foreign to me- I've never seen a bird like that in California! Maybe if we can identify the bird, we can find out where those men who were messing around with the radio tower came from. Come on, Flop. Let's go back down the hill."
Willie put the strange object in his pocket, and the trio began to hike down Bean Mountain. The sun was hot, and Flop no longer chased every rabbit and butterfly. Finally, they came to Mrs. Parker's ranch. They had left their bikes there. They were hoping Mrs. Parker had some lemonade for them, and she didn't disappoint them! She had two big icy glasses of lemonade for the humans, and a bowl of cold water for Flop.
"Did ya have a nice walk?" she asked? "I was kinda wurried 'bout you guys. I saw some strangers goin' up the trail about ten minutes behind you kids. Two men with backpacks. Did ya see'em? I prayed that you wouldn't run into any trouble up there."
"Thanks for your prayers, Mrs. Parker," replied Grace. "Yes, we did see those men, but they didn't see us. They were doing something to the radio tower up there."
"K-BEAN's tower? Who'd want to mess with that old thing?" asked Mrs. Parker. "Half the time, that station ain't even on the air! Lately I've been having a hard time gettin' my favorite program, "Springs of Hope." I didn't hear it today, either."
"Mrs. Parker, have you ever seen those two strangers before?" asked Willie.
"Why, yep, I reckon I have, Willie. I've seen 'em goin' up the trail a coupla times. It was always morning time when I saw 'em."
Grace spoke up. "The days you saw the strangers- were these the same days you couldn't get "Springs of Hope" on your radio?"
"Well, I don't remember," pondered the elderly lady. "I just can't recall. Do you think there's a connection?"
"We don't know for sure. Would you mind keeping an eye out and letting us know if you see the men on the same days you can't get "Springs of Hope?" asked Willie.
"Workin' on another mystery, are ya?" she chuckled. "OK, kids, I'll keep a look-out for ya. If I see anything, I'll give ya a call. I've gotta go feed the cows now. See you kids later!"
"Thanks for the lemonade! And the prayers!" the kids shouted as they coasted down the steep slope with Flop galloping behind.
They peddled their bikes into Beantown. They stopped in front of Aunt Betty's antique book shop. Willie instructed Flop to lie down on the sidewalk, and they entered the cool, dark shop. Grumpus the cat was asleep on a stack of dusty paperbacks. Grace scritched Grumpus' ears.
Aunt Betty was standing behind the counter, looking at an old leather-bound Bible. "Hi kids! What's up?" she inquired.
"Hi, Aunt Betty. We found something strange. We wonder if you can tell us what it is," said Willie as he pulled the object out of his pocket. "Here! Take a look!"
Aunt Betty adjusted her glasses and took the object into her hand. An odd expression crossed her face. "Let me shine some more light on this thing... Oh my goodness, what on earth can this thing be?"
NEXT WEEK: Aunt Betty is Baffled!