With some effort Osgood finally discovered the alarm box. Surprisingly, the alarm itself was a simple bell: he thought for a moment, then drew out a sheet of paper and scribbled furiously on it. He folded the paper several times and wedged it between the bell and clapper. The alarm fell quiet.
To his surprise, Osgood found that Meatball was waiting for him in the hall. "Your mother is better, I hope?"
Meatball nodded. "Yep," he said, "she is completely tip-top now. She is absolutely aces. But I am here to tell you that Noodles wants you outside again right away, on account of there has been a problem." They hurried out the back door.
"I am just beyond myself, Mister Finnegan," said Noodles. "But when I get into the vault, what do I find but that somebody has already been there and has stolen everything, which I am sure means that your property is also gone, there being nothing left in the vault at all, as I see myself in the very moment that I go in." He shook his head. "I am sorry to say it, but there is a lot of people in this world who would not hesitate to steal." They all paused to reflect on their shameful times. "Meatball and me will stay here and close things up while you get back on your ship and skedaddle." He raised a hand and shook his head, as though Osgood had protested. "It is the least that we can do, to protect your reputation in case of something should go wrong."
Osgood was crestfallen. Where was the Orb? With the vacuum barrier disarmed, Noodles and Meatball led him back to his airship and untied its mooring lines. They waved him upward, but Osgood simply hadn't the heart to go on. They began to wave more excitedly. Well, thought Osgood, at least I have the friendship of my companions. Best not to dwell on what couldn't be mended. He took to the air, to the obvious relief of his two friends, and sailed off... to any place, or no place. He no longer had a goal to pursu