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Authors: Kathryn Kenny

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BOOK: The Mystery of the Emeralds
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It was a little after that hour when the Lynches drove down the Belden driveway. They had stopped first to pick up Honey and Jim, who were riding with Mrs. Lynch and Di in the convertible.

“Put your gear in the back and hop in,” Mr. Lynch called out. “We’ll change the seating arrangements as we go along, so everyone will have a chance to ride in Mother’s new convertible. Isn’t it a beauty? You don’t mind starting out in the station wagon, do you, Trixie?”

“I’d start out in an ox cart,” Trixie laughed, “just so we get there. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your taking us, Mr. Lynch.” Then to herself she added,
If we do find the emeralds, he’ll really know how important the trip is
.

Bags were quickly stowed and with much shouting of good-bys and waving of hands they were away.

“What kind of convention is it you’re going to, sir?” Brian asked as they drove out of town.

“Well, in the last couple of years I’ve become very interested in historic restorations,” Mr. Lynch replied. “I’ve seen what the Rockefellers have done to restore Washington Irving’s home and the old Van Cortlandt Manor house right here in Westchester. So I joined the County Historical Society. They’re meeting with several similar organizations to swap notes on what’s being
done in various parts of the East. It should be an interesting get-together.”

“Our class visited Sunnyside last year,” Trixie said. “I could just imagine Washington Irving in his cozy study writing about Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman. I think it’s wonderful to save places like that!”

“It surely is,” Mr. Lynch agreed. “More and more individuals and societies are coming to recognize the need to keep historical landmarks from being torn down in the name of what some people call ‘progress.’ ”

The hours seemed to speed by as Mr. Lynch talked and answered their questions, and it was soon lunchtime. By now they were on the turnpike from New York to Washington and were making very good time. They stopped at a restaurant along the way and looked to see if by any chance Mrs. Lynch had chosen the same place to eat, but there was no sign of her car in the parking lot.

“I told her not to try to follow us, but just plan to meet at the motel tonight,” Mr. Lynch remarked as they went in and were ushered to a large table near a window.

Mart, realizing that he was Mr. Lynch’s guest, followed Trixie’s lead and ordered a single hamburger and a glass of milk.

“Come now, you two,” Mr. Lynch chuckled. “I know
you can eat more than that, Mart. You have something of a reputation to maintain. Order up, now, whatever you want, and hang the expense!”

Mr. Lynch is just as gay and jolly as he was before he got rich and moved into the big house with servants and everything
, Trixie thought to herself.
I’ll bet he likes getting away from all that formality for a few days
.

Mart waited until Trixie had changed her order to a double hamburger and a chocolate malt, and then said, “I’ll have the same—and an order of French fries, please.”

“That’s more like it,” Mr. Lynch said with a smile. “Now, how about you, Brian?”

Brian, who was beginning to feel that hamburgers and hot dogs might be a little unsophisticated, ordered barbecued beef on a soft bun, and cole slaw.

“Why, Brian!” Trixie exclaimed. “Are you breaking the family tradition?”

“Not exactly. I just decided to be a little experimental on this trip,” Brian answered suavely. “Who knows? I might discover a new taste sensation.”

“If you find anything to top a hamburger, I’ll eat my T-shirt with relish!” Mart said.

“If not with relish, maybe with catsup!” Trixie quipped.

While they were waiting for their food, Trixie looked out of the window to the service area of the restaurant. She was thinking what a dull job it must be to pump gas all day, when she noticed a rather dilapidated horse van drive up. A boy carrying a canvas bucket jumped out of the right-hand side of the truck. As he walked to the nearby garage to use the water spigot, Trixie felt there was something familiar about him. When he took off his cap to wipe his forehead, she knew immediately whom he reminded her of. Neil! But how could that be? She started to say something about it to the others, but realized she was the only one who had seen Neil that day at Miss Julie’s. Anyway, it was probably only a resemblance. She reminded herself that Neil had said he was going to stay in Croton all summer. Still, he did have that craze for horses.

Trixie kept her eyes glued to the scene outside. The boy took the bucket of water to the van and held it while the horse inside drank his fill. The driver, a thin-faced, rather sour-looking individual, leaned out of the cab and motioned impatiently for him to hurry. He was answered by a brusque shake of the head as the boy patted the horse and let him finish drinking. From the little pantomime, Trixie drew some definite conclusions about the characters of the two people involved. The whole thing
gave her an uneasy feeling, for although she kept telling herself that it was probably just a matter of strong physical likeness, she still wasn’t really sure the boy wasn’t Neil.

After they arrived at the motel late that afternoon and were unpacking the station wagon, Mrs. Lynch drove up with the others.

“Well, you made good time, Mother,” Mr. Lynch called out cheerily. “I didn’t expect you for another hour, at least. You didn’t break any speed laws, did you?”

“No, we didn’t get a single ticket.” She laughed. “The secret is that I let Jim take the wheel just south of New York, and you’re right. He is a superb driver.”

Mr. Lynch had reserved three rooms, one for himself and his wife, one for the boys, and the third for Trixie, Honey, and Di. Trixie gasped as she went into their room. She had never seen such a luxurious motel in her life. The furnishings were modern in style. Quilted turquoise bedspreads harmonized perfectly with the draperies and the thick rug. Attractive lamps, pictures, and comfortable chairs gave the room a hospitable air. A sliding glass door looked out on a porch from which they had easy access to the swimming pool.

“Why don’t you all take a swim while Mother and I rest up a bit?” Mr. Lynch suggested. “Then we can go next door for dinner.”

“That sounds great!” Mart cried. “Come on, gang. Last one in is a monkey!”

After a refreshing swim, they were relaxing by the side of the pool when Trixie told them about the horse van at the restaurant.

“Oh, it couldn’t have been Neil,” Honey said. “How could he have gotten a job on a truck, living way back off the main road at Miss Julie’s?”

“Well, you know our Trixie,” Mart gibed. “She can’t let a day go by without something mysterious happening. Incidentally, even if it
was
, I mean,
were
Neil what’s-his-name, what’s that got to do with the emeralds?”

“Oh, nothing, I suppose,” Trixie said. “It’s just one of those peculiar things that always bothers me. They don’t seem important at the time, and yet …” Trixie’s voice trailed off into silence.

“Well, that’s all too vague to make me lose any sleep,” Mart drawled, stretching out full length on the warm tiles.

“You don’t have to lose any precious shut-eye,” Brian told him in a slightly acid tone. “All that we ask is that when you
are
awake you make an attempt to keep
your eyes open. You
might
pick up some information that would be helpful.”

Mart took this dig in silence, but Di jumped to his defense.

“Oh, don’t be hard on Mart. He may talk a lot, but you know he’s come up with some good ideas in the past. Hasn’t he, Trix?”

“He sure has,” Trixie replied warmly, not wanting any quarrels to spoil the trip, “and I’m willing to bet he will again.”

“Just so we’ll all know what to look for,” Di continued, “why don’t you describe that old horse van in detail, Trixie?”

At first everyone laughed at Di’s naive suggestion. It seemed so unlikely that they’d ever see the truck again, but Trixie had second thoughts about it.

“Don’t be so sure we won’t bump into that pair again sometime,” she said. “Stranger things have happened. Well, the van was dirty green and large enough for two horses, but there was only one in it today, a black one. At least its head was black and it had a white star on its face. The left taillight of the truck was broken, and on the side of the van was the word
STABLE
in big white letters. Another word had been painted out with black paint.”

“Wow! How’s that for a photographic memory?” Jim exclaimed. “How do you do it, Trix?”

“I’ll let you in on the secret of my enormous success as a detective.” She laughed. She felt the color rising in her cheeks at Jim’s praise. “It’s kind of a game. You see, I look at some new thing, a room, a person, or a scene like the van at the gas pump. Then after a few seconds I close my eyes and see how much I can remember of what I’ve seen. Then I check to see how accurate I’ve been. At first I’d leave out a lot of details, but the more I practiced the better I got. Now a quick glance at something is all I need.”

“That sounds like fun,” Honey said enthusiastically. “Let’s all start practicing. Why didn’t you ever tell us about it before, Trixie?”

“Oh, I thought it was a little silly, I guess, but I’ve found I really
see
things now, and not just
look
at them,” she answered.

Their discussion was broken up when they heard Mrs. Lynch call out that it was time to get dressed. It was such a hot night that the girls decided to wear light blouses and skirts. Everyone took a long time over the delicious dinner. The restaurant was air-conditioned and the soft music and excellent service made it a pleasant hour. As they came out it was beginning to grow dark.
Trixie, turning to Mr. Lynch, asked him if they could go for a walk along the mall which was quite near the motel.

“I’ve eaten so much I need exercise,” she laughed, “and besides, I’d love to see the Lincoln Memorial while I’m here in Washington.”

“That will take us past the Washington Monument, too,” Jim said after Mr. Lynch had urged them to look around the neighborhood.

Although the Bob-Whites had seen many pictures of the capital city, none of them had actually been there, so the experience was a new one for them all. It was a beautiful evening, the three-quarter moon shining in a cloudless sky and a soft breeze from the Potomac River beginning to cool the air. No one said anything as they approached the awesome figure of Lincoln. They were silent, too, as they read the inscription on the wall behind the great stone chair:
IN THIS TEMPLE AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN IS ENSHRINED FOREVER
.

Walking out through the tall columns that supported the roof, Trixie said, “Just think, the Civil War hadn’t even begun when Ruth and her husband went to Virginia.”

“And since then we’ve been involved in one war after another,” Brian added. “I wonder where it will end?”

“Well, I hope it ends in peace for the whole world!” Mart said with unusual seriousness. Then, looking toward the White House which they were approaching, he continued, “I’d sure hate to be President of the United States. It must be the hardest job in the world.”

“I don’t think you have to worry about
that,
” Trixie said, giving her brother a good-natured pat on the shoulder. “At least not for quite a while.” The walk back to the motel ended on a lighter note.

They spent the next day sight-seeing. The boys wanted especially to see the airplanes at the Smithsonian Institution, so in the morning they took leave of the girls, who were going to the National Gallery of Art. They had decided the evening before while talking with Mr. Lynch that it would be a mistake to try to visit too many places in the one day they had in the city. Everyone agreed, however, that the newly decorated White House was a must, so they arranged to meet after lunch and all go there together.

Trixie had somehow imagined they would be able to stroll through the White House in much the same way that her class had done at Washington Irving’s restored home, but she found this tour quite different. Later, when told that over half a million people had already visited the White House that year, Trixie understood why there was little time to linger in any one room. In the Lincoln Bedroom, however, she could not resist hanging back for a longer look. Jim, who had been in the forefront of the group to catch every word the guide had to say, came back to where she was solemnly gazing at an intricately carved rosewood table which Mrs. Lincoln had bought.

“Why so glum, Trixie?” he asked. “Are you getting tired?”

“Oh, no! I’m fine!” she answered, her face brightening. “I was only thinking about Rosewood Hall. Do you suppose we’ll find it’s one of the lucky places that someone has loved enough to preserve like this?”

“I hope so, but we may not even find it, you know,” Jim replied. “As Mr. Lynch said, many beautiful old homes were either burned during the war or fell into ruins afterward.”

“I’ll simply
die
if we don’t find
something
left at Rosewood,” Trixie said.

For answer Jim patted her shoulder and they hurried on to join the others in the next room.

BOOK: The Mystery of the Emeralds
12.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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