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Authors: Kathryn Kenny

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BOOK: The Mystery of the Emeralds
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She read through several more pages, and then her eye caught sight of the two names she had been watching for:
Plan to leave tomorrow for home. Ruth and Helen spent the afternoon looking through the old family burying ground while Lee and I visited the neighboring plantation
.

Trixie’s heart was in a turmoil! She started to wake Honey and tell her about the discovery, but she decided to wait until morning. Honey looked too comfortable to be disturbed. By the time the clock struck eleven, Trixie was finally asleep.

Mrs. Belden had left early the next morning with her husband and Bobby for a day in town. The girls were making toast and hot chocolate for their breakfast and talking about Trixie’s discovery of the night before, when Mart and Brian burst in, wet and disheveled.

“Honey, you’re a sight for my inflamed optics,” Mart cried. “Now I can hope for a piece of toast that isn’t charred
à la
Trixie, and while you’re on your feet, you might scramble me an egg or two or three,” he added as he patted Honey on the head and ran up to change his clothes.

“What happened to you two?” Trixie asked Brian. “An early morning swim with all your clothes on?”

“Don’t tell me you didn’t hear the thunderstorm around six this morning,” he answered. “We had just got up and were building a fire when it hit us. By the time we got everything under cover in the pup tent, we were soaked, so we called it a day, packed up, and came home. See you in a jiffy and you’d better make that scrambled-egg order a double!”

“Those boys! Are they always hungry?” Honey asked good-naturedly as she got the eggs out of the refrigerator and broke them cleanly into a bowl. Honey loved to cook but didn’t often have a chance at the Manor House. “Here, Trix, you fry some bacon.”

“After that crack of Mart’s, I’m not so sure I want to cook anything,” Trixie said with a chuckle, “but I guess I can’t get out of it that easily. Okay, here goes! But don’t blame me if it burns,” she added as she put several slices of bacon into the iron frying pan.

With Honey to keep an eye on things, the breakfast turned out very well. While they were eating, Trixie told the boys about their expedition the previous day and what they had found in the diaries.

“Whew! The plot thickens!” Mart whispered, pulling an imaginary cloak around his shoulders. “What’s the next move, Trixie, dear?”

“The next move is to talk with all the Bob-Whites and see if someone is bright enough to figure out a way for us to get to Virginia,” Trixie said. “My brain is incapable of producing one sensible suggestion at the moment.”

“If the Queen only had a muffler, I might drive you down,” Brian offered.

“The Queen not only doesn’t have a muffler, but the last time I visited Her Excellency, she didn’t even have a back seat!” Trixie teased. “Thanks for the offer, but I think we’ll have to come up with a better plan than that.”

“Let’s all meet at the club right after lunch. Maybe
by then someone will have had a cerebral tempest,” Mart said.

“Sounds as though you’d been reading some of my medical books,” Brian, who planned to become a doctor, quipped. “What the dear lad is trying to say is ‘brainstorm.’ ”

“Just for
that
you can do the dishes,” Trixie flung at Mart. “Honey, will you call Di and Jim about the meeting?” she asked. “I’ve just got to weed the asparagus bed for Moms before she gets back. I promised to do it when I first got home.” And she dashed out to the garden.

It was such a lovely day that the Bob-Whites decided to have their meeting outside the clubhouse under a nearby weeping willow tree. Its graceful branches, reaching almost to the ground, made a kind of natural, outdoor living-room. Di was late, and while they were waiting for her, Jim amused them by feeding his pet catbird, Cheerio. Jim was a great lover of nature and had a special talent for winning the confidence of wild creatures. When Trixie commented on this, Jim laughed and said, “It doesn’t take any talent to tame a catbird. They practically force their friendship on you. Cheerio followed me all the way from the house.”

As though to prove what Jim had said, the gray
bird gave a loud meow, perched on Jim’s shoulder, and took a piece of dried doughnut from his lips.

Di soon joined them, and although she said she’d run all the way to the clubhouse, she looked as fresh and cool as always.

How does she always manage to look so unruffled?
Trixie thought as she involuntarily tucked in her own blouse and pulled up her socks.
I’m always such a frump!
She glanced at Jim who must have been reading her thoughts, for he gave her a warm smile. Her confidence restored, she pounded an imaginary gavel on the ground to bring the meeting to order.

She and Honey brought everyone up-to-date on the latest developments. Then it was Di who asked the first question. “Where is Cliveden, Trix? Is it anywhere near Williamsburg?”

“I’m not sure, but we can look it up,” Trixie answered. “I brought a gasoline company road map, just in case we needed it.” She jumped up and, bringing the map from the basket of her bicycle, spread it on the ground.

“There’s Cliveden, and—yes, there’s Williamsburg, not very far away. Why, Di? Do you know anyone there?” Honey asked hopefully.

“No,” Di answered in her usual slow way, “but it
just happens that Daddy and Mummy are going to Williamsburg tomorrow on a trip. There’s some sort of convention down there. They wanted me to go along, as a matter of fact, because they thought it would be good for me to see Washington and Williamsburg, but I got out of it. I’d much rather stay here with you all.”

Oh, no!
Trixie thought.
If only I were in her shoes, I’d go in a flash
. Aloud she said, “Oh, Di, couldn’t you change your mind? Maybe you could find out
something
about Rosewood Hall.” As soon as she had said it she realized that she had sounded patronizing. She hadn’t meant to, although Di never had been as quick to help solve a mystery as Honey. “Would you, Di?” she asked as sincerely as she could.

“I’ll do whatever I can, Trix, but you know, I may have an even better idea.” The color rose in her cheeks and her lovely violet eyes were bright with excitement. “Why don’t I get Daddy and Mummy to take us all with them?”

“All the Bob-Whites?” Jim asked in amazement. “Something tells me your father wouldn’t like the idea of that many on such a long trip.”

“And besides,” Brian continued, “we just got back from one vacation, and I’m not at all sure my parents would let us go off again. I know Dan won’t be able
to get any time off. What do you think, Trixie?”

Trixie had been unusually silent during the discussion. “I don’t know,” she answered, “but Mr. Lynch is a darling and if Di thinks he might let us go, maybe he will. And if we act really enthusiastic and let our parents see what an educational advantage it would be—who knows? Maybe they’ll say yes.”

“You’ll have to admit that they’ve been wonderful about letting us go off on trips to Arizona, Iowa, Cobbett’s Island, and all,” Mart said. “When could you ask your father, Di?” he added, and the excitement in his voice as he said it made Trixie realize that Mart was rapidly getting into the spirit of the adventure. She could count on him from now on.

“Well, he’s home now helping Mummy get ready. That’s why I was late getting here. I was putting things in the back of the car,” Di answered. “I could find out right away, I guess.”

“Take my bike,” Trixie offered, “and for goodness’ sake, don’t worry if he says it’s not a good idea. We’ll understand and work out the problem some other way.”

The Bob-Whites echoed Trixie’s words as Di sped off toward home promising to phone Honey’s house as soon as she had talked with her parents. The meeting broke up almost immediately. Trixie and her brothers
walked back to the Manor House with Honey and Jim to await the news.

“Let’s take a swim while we’re waiting,” Honey suggested. “There’s an extension phone in the bathhouse.”

“Good idea, Honey,” Brian said. “It’ll make the time go faster. I think all the Beldens have bathing suits down there. We never bother to take them home,” he said with a laugh.

Honey, who was a beautiful swimmer, made a perfect swan dive into the shimmering water, and she was quickly followed by Jim and Brian. Mart emerged from the bathhouse last, wearing a faded old suit which was much too big for him. Holding his nose, he made a clownish jump into the water. Trixie, alone, didn’t go in. She hovered around the bathhouse, waiting for the phone to ring.

“Come on, Trix,” Jim urged her. “You can’t make it ring any sooner by standing there. If you’re not in by the time I count ten, I’ll come out and throw you in!”

A half-hour passed and everyone was beginning to get a little edgy when the phone finally rang. Trixie got to it first, but she held the receiver away from her ear so the others could also hear what Di had to say.

“It’s okay!” Di cried. “Daddy and Mummy talked it over. That’s what took so long, but I think we’ve finally got all the details worked out. Daddy wants this trip to
be his treat, because my birthday is next week. We’re going to take both cars so we won’t be so crowded,” she went on breathlessly. “Oh, Trixie, I’ve never been so excited in my life!”

“You think
you’re
excited!” Trixie laughed. “You should see us. Mart just collapsed into a deck chair so hard he broke the legs, and the rest of us are absolutely bursting.”

“Ask her when they plan to leave,” Honey interrupted, “and don’t forget we still have to get permission to go along.”

“Sometime tomorrow morning,” Di said in answer to Trixie’s question. “We’ll be gone five or six days. Now hurry and find out if you all can go. I’ll simply die if you can’t!”

“Now you sound like me, Di,” Trixie laughed. “I’m the one who’s always ‘dying’!” She promised to phone as soon as she had any news and told Di that Honey was already on her way up to her house to talk with Miss Trask. “Her parents are still in South America, you know,” Trixie added.

Mr. and Mrs. Belden were unloading groceries and packages from the station wagon when Trixie and her brothers reached home. Trixie could scarcely contain herself until the purchases had been put away. Then, as her father sat down in the kitchen rocker and her mother started to put on her big white apron preparatory to getting dinner, Trixie broached the question of the trip. By previous arrangement, Mart and Brian had gone out to feed the chickens. They knew that if any of them could get permission for the trip, it would be Trixie.

“Trixie, you look just like a kettle that’s about to blow its lid off,” her father said. “Out with it. What’s simmering in that pretty little head of yours?”

“Oh, the most wonderful thing!” Trixie began. “Mr. and Mrs. Lynch have asked the Bob-Whites to go with them on a trip to Washington and then on to Williamsburg. Isn’t that exciting?”

“It’s very exciting, but I don’t quite see—” Mrs. Belden began.

“It won’t cost anything, because Mr. Lynch is giving the trip to Di for her birthday,” Trixie said, anticipating one of the objections to the proposal.

“It isn’t just the expense,” her father said, “but you and the boys have certain responsibilities around here, you know. It isn’t fair for your mother to have to take over all the chores, is it?”

“I know it’s not,” Trixie conceded. “I guess I shouldn’t have even asked, but it did sound like a good idea at the time.”

“Now, Dad,” Mrs. Belden said, “I can manage for another week. Bobby has finally learned the difference between a weed and a carrot top, and if you’ll take over the chickens for those few days, I don’t see why we wouldn’t get along just fine.”

“Oh, Moms, you’re the
most!
” Trixie cried, giving her a hug. “You
will
see to the chickens, won’t you, Dad, and maybe wash a dish or two?” she begged.

“Yes, princess. I guess you knew right from the first we’d say yes, didn’t you?” her father chuckled.

“Well, I was
pretty
sure, and Mart and Brian and I will work extra hard when we get back, believe me!” And she dashed out to the barn, slamming the porch door as she went, to give her brothers the good news.

Chapter 6
Wonderful Washington

Needless to say, there was quite a scramble that evening as everyone got ready for the departure the next day. Suitcases, only recently put away, were hauled out. Phones were ringing in all three houses to discuss what clothes should be taken, what time they were actually going to leave, and where they would be staying.

“The first night we’ll be at a motel in Washington,” Di told Trixie, “and it has a pool, so be sure you all bring bathing suits. When we get to Williamsburg we’ll stay at one of the cottages near the Inn. Daddy made reservations this morning.”

“That sounds absolutely super!” Trixie exclaimed and then added, almost in a whisper, “And did you stop to think that with two cars we’ll be able to explore to our hearts’ content?”

“I know. Daddy said that while he and Mummy were at the meetings, either Brian or Jim could drive us around. He says since they took the driver’s education course in school they handle a car better than he can. Now I’ve got to run. See you tomorrow at nine.”

BOOK: The Mystery of the Emeralds
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