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Authors: Kathryn Kenny

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BOOK: The Mystery of the Emeralds
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“Quiet!” Brian warned. “Here come Mr. Carver and the Sellerses.”

“Act as if nothing has happened,” Trixie whispered, “until we know what’s going on.”

The Sellerses were ready to depart, and it took but a few minutes for good-bys to be said. After the great door closed behind them, Mr. Carver turned to Trixie. “Now, young lady,” he said, almost boyishly Trixie thought, “won’t you and your friends join me in my study? I must hear about your interest in Rosewood Hall,” and, leading them past the solarium, he went into a smaller, comfortably furnished room which had not been a part of the tour.

“This is my real hideaway.” He smiled, motioning them to be seated. Then again addressing Trixie, he said, “Tell me, do your friends know about Rosewood Hall, too?”

“Oh, yes,” she replied eagerly. “As a matter of fact, we work together. We call ourselves the Bob-Whites.”

“What do you mean by ‘work together’?” Edgar Carver asked a bit apprehensively.

“That
does
make it sound as though we were some kind of gang, doesn’t it, sir?” Jim answered with a smile. “But I assure you we’re not.”

“We call our club the Bob-Whites, and it’s Trixie here who gets us involved in all sorts of situations,” Honey said. “She seems to attract mysteries like a magnet attracts nails.”

“A mystery, eh?” Mr. Carver said. “Well, let’s not waste any more time. Trixie, suppose you start from the
beginning and tell me about the letter you mentioned earlier.”

With a glance at the others as though for reassurance, Trixie took from her handbag the ancient missive she had found in the attic and handed it to Edgar Carver.

When he had finished reading it, he looked up at Trixie, perplexity shadowing his face. She didn’t wait for him to put his question into words, but began to tell him the story of her discovery of the letter.

“You see, Moms and I were cleaning our attic a few days before we came down here. We live in a house that must be even older than this one, and while I was trying to open a sticky drawer, I lost my balance and fell back against the wall.”

“She broke a couple of boards to smithereens!” Mart said. “But trust our Trixie to turn an accident into a mystery!”

“Well, it
did
turn out that way,” Trixie continued with a smile. “Back of the broken board was a little room that no one knew anything about, and in there I found some old clothes from Civil War days, and a canteen and stuff. When I was taking them out, this letter dropped out of one of the pockets.”

“How strange that it should literally have come to light after all these years,” Mr. Carver mused. “But how did you track down Julie Sunderland?” he asked.

“Luck was with us,” Trixie continued. “Honey and I looked up the last name in the phone book and found there was one Sunderland listed in Croton, and when we investigated we found it was Miss Julie.”

“She’s terribly old, but a perfect darling,” Honey said. “She didn’t remember too much that was helpful, but she did lend us some diaries her father had kept, and they gave us the clue that Rosewood Hall was in Cliveden.”

“We might not have been able to go any further,” Trixie said, “except that Di’s father just happened to be coming to Williamsburg for a convention, and Di sort of—”

“Sort of sold him on the idea of taking all the Bob-Whites with him?” Mr. Carver asked with a smile.

“You’ve penetrated our plot,” Mart said. “Yes, that’s what happened, and the fact that Di’s birthday was coming up helped, too. Mr. and Mrs. Lynch gave her the trip for a present.”

Mr. Carver was silent for some time, apparently lost in thought. Then with a slight shake of his head he said, “Well, what you have told me begins to answer some of the questions I have long asked myself. Ever since I was a little boy I’ve heard rumors about a charmed necklace, or, you might say, a cursed necklace.” He glanced down at his paralyzed legs. “Not that I’ve
taken too much stock in the story, mind you, but in my condition it does make one think, doesn’t it?”

He paused, then he went on, speaking slowly and thoughtfully.

“My great-grandfather, Jonathan Carver,” he said, “built Green Trees, and his dearest friend, Charles Fields, built Rosewood Hall. They were known as the Twin Houses until the Civil War when most of Rosewood was burned.”

“Then there haven’t been any Fieldses living there for many years, have there?” Trixie asked.

“No. Lee Fields, who brought Ruth Sunderland there as a bride, was killed in the war, and Ruth”—he sighed—“died soon after the birth of their only child, a daughter.”

Mr. Carver’s voice trailed off and, seemingly unaware of the Bob-Whites, he gazed abstractedly out of the window. Trixie glanced around the little circle. Even the irrepressible Mart for once in his life was silent. Then, taking a long breath, Trixie said softly, “Ruth’s baby, Mr. Carver, whatever became of her?”

A gentle smile touched his face. “Ruth’s baby was my mother, Trixie.”

“Then you and Miss Julie are related,” Trixie said, her eyes shining.

“Yes, she would be my mother’s cousin,” Mr. Carver replied slowly.

“And what happened to Rosewood?” Trixie asked gently.

“It was willed to my father, and after the war the one wing that remained standing was occupied by a succession of poor folks who couldn’t afford anything better.”

“I think I met one of them yesterday,” Trixie said, “a Miss Lizzie James, and she said if we saw you, to say hello for her.”

“Poor old Lizzie.” Mr. Carver sighed. “Life hasn’t been too kind to her. I try to give her what business I can, but her stock is limited, to say the least, and I don’t get to the store very often.”

Trixie had been waiting to ask about the red-faced man they had encountered the day before at Rosewood Hall. At her question a scowl came over Mr. Carver’s face and he pounded the arm of his chair with his fist as he said angrily, “That character! I was forced to sell Rosewood Hall about two years ago because I could no longer pay the taxes. It’s been years since I’ve even been able to keep up the grounds. The place was on the market for months, but no one was interested until this man Jenkins came along. He wanted to buy it because the stables and some of the outbuildings were still standing
and he had some notion of starting a horse farm. I regret the day I ever met the man. From all accounts he’s no good at all!”

“Does he run the place all by himself?” Trixie asked, hoping to find out if Neil was working there.

“He’s the boss,” Mr. Carver said, “but I’ve seen other men, or boys, exercising the horses. I really don’t know what the setup is. The less I see of Jenkins the better.”

Silence fell on the little group, and Trixie, looking at her watch, noted that it was twenty minutes past three.

“Time we should be leaving,” she commented. “I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that we can’t go on with the search for the necklace, Mr. Carver, but with old Jenkins owning Rosewood, it looks pretty hopeless, doesn’t it?”

“No,” Mr. Carver replied thoughtfully, “not necessarily.”

“Why, we can’t even try to find the directions Ruth mentioned,” Trixie pointed out.

“I think perhaps you can,” Mr. Carver said, a smile beginning to light up his face. “You see, when I divided the two properties and sold Rosewood, I made sure the old family burying ground was on
my
side of the line!”

Chapter 9
At the Cemetery

“Oh!” Trixie, jumping to her feet, impulsively took one of Mr. Carver’s hands in hers. “Then you don’t mind? We can go on with the hunt?”

“Of course you may, my dear,” he answered, “although I confess I feel somewhat the same way Miss Julie did. All this happened such a long time ago. But I can see you’re not one to be easily discouraged.”

“I wouldn’t say Trixie is
never
discouraged,” Mart broke in. “But she bounces back like a new tennis ball. When do you think we might get started, sir?”

“You seem to have considerable bounce, too,” Mr. Carver said, sensing Mart’s enthusiasm. “I want you Bob-Whites to feel free to come to Green Trees whenever you like. I’ll help you all I can, but you must realize that my contribution must of necessity be somewhat limited. It’s a bit difficult for me to get around anywhere except here in the house.”

“Don’t you worry about that, Mr. Carver,” Trixie assured him. “Just tell us where the cemetery is, and we’ll come back tomorrow and see if we can find any clues.”

Edgar Carver wheeled himself over to a French door which looked out on a wide expanse of lawn to a clump of trees in the distance.

“Beyond those cryptomeria trees, close to the fence between Green Trees and Rosewood Hall, you’ll find it,” he said, pointing out the stately tall evergreens.

“What kind of trees?” Mart asked. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard that name before.”

“Cryptomeria,” Mr. Carver repeated. “I’ve often wondered if they were called that because they are frequently planted in cemeteries where there are crypts.”

“It could be,” Mart said with interest. “I’ll look it up when I get home.”

“Now, when you get here tomorrow, I shall have the key to the vault for you,” Mr. Carver continued. “The door hasn’t been opened since my father’s funeral many, many years ago, so it may give you some trouble.”

“We’ll stop in town and get a can of penetrating oil,” Brian said. “That’s sure to work.”

“What in the world is penetrating oil?” Honey asked.

“It’s a special kind of oil for loosening up metal parts that have got stuck or rusted,” Brian explained. “I couldn’t get along without it, working on parts for my old car.”

“How is it different from just plain old oil?” Di asked.

“I know the answer to that one,” Mart broke in eagerly. “Penetrating oil has a different molecular structure, so it can get into microscopic openings in the metal where ordinary oil won’t go.”

“I can see Brian is the practical member of your team, and it looks as though Mart were the scientist.” Mr. Carver laughed. “Am I right?”

“Well, actually, Brian is going to be a doctor,” Honey said proudly, “but when he isn’t reading medical books, he’s usually working on his old jalopy. He can do anything with a motor.”

“And there’s no telling what Mart will turn out to be,” Brian said, giving his brother a poke in the ribs. “He
says
he wants to be a farmer, but the way he throws big words around, we’re sure he’ll be a famous author. Then the next minute we’re convinced his future lies with the circus. He’s a real clown!”

“And
my
guess is, he’ll end up running a restaurant.” Trixie giggled. “He loves food better than anything in the world!”

Edgar Carver saw the little group to the door and suggested that when they returned the next day they come directly around to his study. “I’ll be there or in my studio,” he added, “and it will save me going all the way
to the front of the house if you use the side door.”

It was only after the Bob-Whites were in the station wagon and had started back to Williamsburg that Trixie brought up the subject of Neil. It had been bothering her all afternoon, but she had pushed it to the back of her mind during the visit with Edgar Carver.

“Now I’m sure,” she began. “It
was
Neil I saw that day at the filling station, and he wasn’t going to Texas. He was coming right here to Cliveden!”

“But how would he have known anything about Rosewood Hall or the necklace?” Di asked innocently. “Didn’t you say you told Miss Julie to keep it a secret?”

“Oh, Di, I wish I were as trusting as you are,” Trixie said. “Of
course
we pledged her to secrecy, but remember, she’s ninety years old. Besides, she adores Neil, and if he got wind of anything we told her, you can bet he’d wheedle the whole story out of her.”

“And who knows,” Honey added, “maybe after we left, more details came back to the old lady, and she told Neil things she didn’t even remember when we were there.”

“That’s a possibility,” Trixie said thoughtfully, “but one thing’s certain. Neil can’t possibly know where the necklace is hidden because we have the diaries and
he’s
never laid eyes on them.”

“But now we’ll have to be extra careful that he doesn’t find out anything more,” Jim said. “Maybe we should have warned Mr. Carver about him.”

“I thought of that,” Trixie said, “but I didn’t want to upset him until we knew more about what’s up.”

“Where do you suppose that Jenkins character fits into the picture?” Brian queried.

“I don’t think he fits into
any
picture,” Mart replied. “I think he’s been a misfit from birth, a real misanthrope, I’d say.”

“Well, you
would
say something like that.” Trixie laughed. “Come on, now, in plain English what does misan-something-or-other mean?”

“It’s the opposite of philanthropist,” Mart answered loftily. “It’s someone who hates everybody.”

“From that brilliant explanation, I judge a philanthropist is someone who loves everybody,” Di said.

“Go to the head of the class,” Mart teased, but Di was obviously pleased at his compliment.

“Well, to get back to Jenkins,” Trixie continued, “I certainly sense something sinister about him.”

BOOK: The Mystery of the Emeralds
9.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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