Short Blurbs

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Kate and Mary's Dark and Stormy Night Challenge
Jixemitri Circle Writing Challenge #7
13.April.03, 66 words

Trixie Belden, a sturdy young girl of fourteen with unruly sandy blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and a generous nature who loved to solve mysteries, entered Lytell's small general store and promptly decided that she did not want to know why the owner was in the back room making excited noises that sounded to her untrained ears like a bleating-sheep caught in the throes of passion.

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Looking for Peace
Jelly Baby's Drabble Challenge (Link currently unavailable)*
Jixemitri Circle Writing Challenge #11
11.July.03, 100 words

Who were these people in her home? What did they want? Would they help her?

That one with the sandy blonde curls, she seems okay.

The honey haired girl is nervous.

The girl with the pretty violet eyes seems thoughtful. Will she figure it out?

They've gone. Will they come back? Will they piece the clues together?

Two of them return.

No! Don't tell him!

But it's okay--the schoolgirl shamus has figured it out and saved the day.

"You can rest now, Sarah."

"I know, Trixie. Thank you." Sarah Sligo sighed and entered the light, finally finding peace.

* As Jenni's page is unavailable to explain about the drabble challenge, I will add that a drabble is a very short work of fiction that is exactly 100 words long.

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Chapter 48
Misty's Second Annual Blogathon Challenge  (Link currently unavailable)*
Jixemitri Circle Writing Challenge #10
27.July.03, 530

The assembled group stood, shocked, as they tried to comprehend what had just happened.

Jim was staring at the floor where Trixie lay. In his shocked state it took him a moment to absorb what he was looking at. Trixie lay on the ground, her sandy curls askew, and blood was everywhere. But it wasn't Trixie's blood.

Laura had collapsed to the ground just after Trixie, and blood was pouring out of a wound in her shoulder.

But who? How? Jim's dazed mind tried to grasp at answers. His green eyes strayed to the open doorway and the figure who stood there.

"You!" Jim cried, and the rest of the Bob-Whites and everyone else turned to look at the doorway. "But how..."

"How did I know Laura, as Ima, was plotting to steal the necklace and take you away to be her Boy Toy?" The figure answered as he strode across the room and knealt to check Laura's pulse. He wanted to bring this one in alive.

Jim nodded dumbly. "Yeah, how'd you know?" he repeated.

Sherlock Holmes looked up at him. "Elementary, my dear Watson."

"But you're..." Honey tried to articulate her thoughts, but she was too dumbfounded.

Sherlock Holmes looked at her. "A literary character who lived quite a while ago and by all rights should be dead - if I ever existed at all?"

Honey nodded, unsure of what to say.

"Why yes, that's true, I am. And I must say, in my day we never had crop circles, or Men in Black, or aliens from the planet Voltron, and government conspiracies and all that!" Holmes shook his head sadly. "No, we had genuine mysteries about hounds and purloined letters - intriguing cases, I tell you!" Holmes got a faraway look in his eyes as he remembered some of his cases.

Practical Brian spoke up. "But if you don't exist, how are you here?"

Holmes broke out of his his reverie and looked at the group. "Yes, yes, a good question, young fellow. A very good question, indeed. You see, you created this Scavenger Hunt to showcase modern mystery authors and that's all well and good. But look what happened - they weren't mystery writers at all, but spies and Laura Ramsey." This last bit was uttered with sheer distaste. Just the name Laura Ramsey made everybody else shudder. Laura Ramsey! UGH!

"Anyway," Holmes was saying. "So, I decided that what was needed in this scavenger hunt was the most classic mystery character of them all, and here I am. This is, of course, not my real identity, and I am afraid that I cannot tell you my real identity."

Holmes looked down at the bleeding figure of Laura Ramsey. "Well, I must take this one to a hospital and then interrogate her. Cheers!"

Trixie awoke as Holmes lifted Laura Ramsey and carried her from the room.

Trixie looked at Jim, confusion lingering in her bright blue eyes. "Was that...?"

Jim nodded. "Yes, Trixie, that was Sherlock Holmes."

Trixie seemed to accept this shocking piece of news calmly. "Well, he's taken care of Laura Ramsey. What do you say we wrap up the rest of this mystery?"

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Chapter 3:30 pm
Misty's Third Annual Blogathon Challenge  (Link currently unavailable)*
Jixemitri Circle Writing Challenge #14
6.August.05, 615 words

Ben Riker sped along in his sporty, lemon yellow convertible, the wind whipping through his longish blond hair. The music on the radio was lively and the blue sky and sun shining overhead made Ben feel like there wasn’t anything on earth that he couldn’t do.

Which was why he was here now. It was time to take some action. Long overdue action.

His thoughts drifted to that day at camp so long ago. There he was swimming in the waterhole when he noticed his cousin and her friend.

Her friend with the sandy blonde curls, dazzling blue eyes—like a clear, summer lake—and that firecracker spirit. He had fallen in love with Trixie Belden at that very moment. He just hadn’t realized it.

Even when he had visited his cousin the very next Thanksgiving and had hung around with pretty Di Lynch, he just couldn’t keep his mind off of Trixie. He had pretended to tease her because the churning feelings he felt in her presence confused him terribly. And then learning that her “yen for Ben” had been a ruse was a crushing blow to his ego—and his heart.

Realizing that maybe he might, *gulp*, like Trixie—that way—he spent quite some time doing some serious soul searching. And that’s when her laughter about her “yen for Ben” had gotten to him. Crushed by the rejection of the girl he secretly thought of as his “sunshine girl,” he had fallen in with the wrong crowd at school. As a result, he had been sent to live at Manor House. He had teased Trixie cruelly, but in the end, after seeing the effect that she had on boys like Nick Roberts and Jim Frayne, he had come to his senses and admitted to himself what he had been afraid to admit before: that he didn’t just like Trixie. He loved her. He was mad over heels in love with her and had been since that first time in the swimming hole at camp.

He had worked hard to become a better person for Trixie. And now it was time. Time to be with the woman he loved.

As he turned his yellow convertible into the driveway and parked, he suddenly saw a tall, somewhat German-looking man skulking along the outside of the white frame farmhouse where Trixie lived. As he took a closer look, he thought he recognized the man as Di Lynch’s butler.

Suddenly, his attention was drawn to the edge of the property where Jim, Dan, and a girl who could only be described as a “skanky ho” had just appeared. Ben’s heart sank. Jim and Dan were his most serious rivals for Trixie’s affections. But maybe, just maybe, they were more interested in the skanky ho they were with and Trixie would be free and clear.

Ben stood and watched as Di Lynch’s butler slipped behind a bush before he could be seen by Jim and Dan.

“That’s weird,” Ben muttered to himself.

Out loud he called, “Jim! Dan!”

Jim, Dan, and the skanky ho looked toward him. Suddenly, appearing to take advantage of Jim and Dan’s momentary lapse of attention, the girl stomped on Jim’s foot, wrenched herself free of the two boys and began running toward the farmhouse screaming, “Clay!!!! Clay!!!! Watch out!!!”

Ben stood, stunned, for a moment, but then suddenly his brain kicked into overdrive. Something was obviously going on inside that house. Trixie! His beloved Trixie was in there!!! Ben broke into a run toward the house, reaching the kitchen door just ahead of the hysterical, skanky ho. He yanked open the door.

And found himself staring into the barrel of a gun.

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Chapter 7:00 pm
Misty's Third Annual Blogathon Challenge  (Link currently unavailable)*
Jixemitri Circle Writing Challenge #14
6.August.05, 499 words

Peter Kimball’s blond hair blew in the wind as he drove his cherry red convertible through the Hudson River Valley. The song on the radio and the blue skies and yellow sun above made him feel lighthearted.

He was finally going to do it. Finally.

He knew he had been in love with the spitfire blonde since he first saw her step foot on Cobbett’s Island. He had been so impressed with her that he let her handle his beloved sailboat in an important race. He had admired her as she followed the clues in an old letter and discovered hidden treasure. And when she wanted to turn it over to the rightful owner instead of selfishly keeping it to herself, well, he knew at that moment that he had found the woman of his dreams.

And now he was going to visit Crabapple Farm and tell her.

He pulled his cherry red convertible up behind a lemon yellow one and wondered if he was too late. If some other lovestruck male had got there ahead of him and declared his undying love. On a day like today, anything was possible. With no time to waste, he galloped up to the kitchen door and without a thought, he opened the door and yelled, “Trixie, I love you!”

He wanted to surprise Trixie, but the sight in front of him left him surprised.

* * *

Madeleine’s super secret spy phone rang just as she heard someone yell her married name. “Mad Dog,” she barked into the phone, ignoring whoever it was shouting. If they weren’t using code names at a time like this, they weren’t important.

“We had a problem at Crabapple Farm,” a cultured male voice returned.

“Jeeves?” Madeleine said, using the prim and proper Lynch butler’s super secret spy code name.

“Yes, madame,” he said. “Your, umm, indiscretion showed up at Crabapple Farm, with a skanky ho, I might add, and took about 26 different people hostage. We’ve got main players, secondary players, barely mentioned players, the whole works.”

Maddie sighed and closed her eyes. Paying off Mike had obviously been a mistake, seeing as how her indiscretion had found his way to Sleepyside anyway. Her eyes suddenly flew open. “Is Honey in there? Has Clay taken her hostage?”

“No, madam, but Jim is in there.”

“Is he okay?” Mad Dog said, panicked. She truly did love her adopted son, even if he did remind her of Matthew.

“He’s fine, madame. Our super secret S.W.A.T. team of WonderDutchWoman, Moonshiner, CrotchetyOldShopkeeper, OxfordShoes, and Brom took care of your mess,” Harrison explained, using all of the super secret spy code names.

“Thank goodness,” Maddie said with a heartfelt sigh of relief.

“But you’ve got another problem, madame,” Harrison said. Maddie could have sworn she heard a certain amount of gloating in his prim and proper voice.

“I do?” she said, but the line had gone dead.

Just then, Matt appeared next to her car. “Mrs. Wheeler!” he shouted again.

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Chapter 26
Jixemitri 2006 Spook-a-thon Blogathon
Full story
28.October.06, 677 words

Honey looked up at Brian as they went from room to room in the creepy mansion. "We have to find them."

"I know, Honey," he said as he squeezed her hand reassuringly. "We will."

Honey smiled up at him, grateful that he was her rock when she knew he was just as worried about his sister and his best friend as she was worried about her brother and her best friend.

Unfortunately, the two other rooms on that floor were locked, and no one answered their knocks. Honey tried to be optimistic, thinking that Trixie and Jim would answer if they were in there.

Unless they can’t. The thought, unbidden, jumped into her brain, and she willed her thoughts in a more positive direction.

At the end of the hall, Brian looked at her. "Up or down?" he asked, as they looked at the two staircases before them.

The group had explored the cellar and found evidence of someone living down there, but no one had thought to go to the floor above their rooms and investigate what was up there. Although Honey couldn’t imagine Trixie just wandering away when they were researching information on the Internet, she could imagine her impetuous friend wanting to explore an as-yet-unexplored place in the old house. And Jim would most definitely want to accompany her.

"Up," she said. The two climbed the staircase, the boards protesting under their weight until they reached the top, where a door stood in front of them.

Brian and Honey looked at each and took deep breaths, as Brian reached out and grasped the old-fashioned knob. It creaked and groaned as he turned it, and Honey couldn’t help but compare the sound to some dissatisfied spirit, protesting from the great beyond.

For the ten thousandth time that weekend, she shivered. If she had known how truly like the Addams Family mansion this place would turn out to be, she would have turned around without ever entering it and gone back to Sleepyside. And now her best friend and her brother were missing, and some eerie and disturbing tragedy seemed connected to them somehow.

These thoughts aren’t going to help find Trixie and Jim, she scolded herself as she followed Brian into the attic of the Heckler Mansion.

At first, everything appeared to be normal. The attic was filled with items one would expect to find in an attic, boxes and trunks, old Christmas decorations, a pile of dusty old blankets and sheets that looked as though they would disintegrate if Honey so much as sneezed in their direction, and other odds and ends.

"It doesn’t look like they’re here," Brian said, gazing around the small space.

Honey agreed. "I guess not. Maybe we should go downstairs and search." But just as they were about to turn and go back toward the door, an icy breeze tore through the room. The frightened couple looked toward a small octagonal window that was the only window up there. It was clearly sealed shut and could not be the source of the strange wind, which had now died down to nothing.

"Did we just imagine that?" Honey whispered.

"I’d like to think so," Brian answered. "Let’s get out of here."

Honey had never heard a lovelier suggestion and started toward the door. However, before she reached it, a small movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention, and she turned to look.

An intricate, stand-alone mirror, surrounded by an ornately carved oak frame, stood in the corner. Honey would never be able to explain why she didn’t just follow Brian down the stairs like any sensible and sane person would.

Instead, she found herself drawn to the mirror, almost as if in a trance. She felt as though something was compelling her to cross the room and stare into the mirror. At first, she saw nothing but her reflection, but as she stared into the glass, it started to shimmer and change.

And the most amazing scene began to unfold in front of her disbelieving eyes…

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Chapter 28
Jixemitri 2006 Spook-a-thon Blogathon
Full story
28.October.06, 684 words

The mysterious looking flower began to grow and change in front of their eyes. The deep, almost-black purple began to lighten and brighten until it was blood red in color. The odd bat shape changed into the careful folds of a rose. And then blood began to drip from the petals onto the ground.

As the group stood, transfixed, a pool of blood gathered on the ground underneath the plant.

"Elisabeth," Jim said. "That is my Elisabeth’s blood. I’ll never forget the blood that poured out of her when I found her laying beneath that window, her body bent in a most peculiar way. It was horrifying. Horrifying!" He shouted.

Brian and Honey exchanged glances and then rushed over to the distraught young man.

"Why? Why, Elisabeth?" he continued to yell, seemingly completely unaware of his friends gathered around him, trying to calm him down.

"I loved you so much. Wasn’t I good enough? What did I do that you felt the need to do this to yourself? And our baby…why did you take our baby with you?"

Jim knelt in front of the bush and wept so violently that Trixie, Elisabeth, Brian, Dan, and Honey were truly terrified.

"Jim," Trixie said, trying to get him to stand. "Jim!"

Jim stopped weeping long enough to stare at her. "What a vulgar shortening of my given name. It is James, I thank you to remember."

"James, let’s go inside," Trixie insisted, still trying to pull him up by the arm. "You’ll feel better inside."

"I will only feel better once my darling Elisabeth is returned to me. My Elisabeth and our unborn child." Great, heaving sobs wracked his body once again, and he buried his face in his hands.

Trixie looked frantically at the others gathered around. "Dan, Honey, go get Miss Trask! Brian, please help me with this." She looked around. "And where are Mart and Di?"

"Dan was with them when we split up," Brian said. "They were supposed to all check outside, but we ran into Dan inside the house. When he gets back, we’ll have to ask him. But we have to get Jim calmed down."

"Well, I wouldn’t call him Jim again until we’re sure it’s Jim and not James," Trixie said. "I wonder why he entered the trance this time without me. Usually, it occurs to both of us at the same time."

"There’s no time to worry about that now," Brian said, kneeling down next to the hysterical young man.

"Elisabeth didn’t kill herself," Brian found himself saying, unsure as to why that had slipped out of his mouth.

Jim looked up at him, the brown eyes that really freaked Brian out lit with hope. "She didn’t?"

Brian shook his head. "No. It was just a dream. Now come inside with us."

"Will Elisabeth be there?" Jim—or James—asked eagerly.

Brian shook his head. "No. She had something that she needed to attend to in Manhattan." Brian had no idea where these lies were coming from, but they kept spilling out from his lips.

"Manhattan? But why? She’s never had any business in Manhattan before. I’ve always taken care of everything for her. And that’s a day’s journey from here. Why would she go? What did she need to do?"

"It’s a long story," Brian said. "Come inside, and I’ll tell you," he coaxed, assisting Jim to his feet.

Trixie looked toward the red, bleeding rose. It had turned back into the black bat flower and the pool of blood had vanished.

Jim, Elisabeth, Trixie, and Brian had toward the Heckler Mansion, Trixie speaking in undertones to her brother.

"Where did all of that come from?" she asked.

"I don’t know. I felt as though the words were pouring out, and I couldn’t stop myself," Brian explained. "It worked, didn’t it? He’s calm and following us to the house, isn’t he?"

"Yeah, but what happens when he realizes that Elisabeth did die, and she’s not in Manhattan taking care of some mysterious business?"

Brian did not answer. He did not have an answer to that troubling question.

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Chapter 3
Ninth Jixanny Blogathon
8.March.09, 841 words

Dan took another long drink from the extra large Coke that sat beside him in the car’s cup holder. He shook his head to stay awake, hoping that the caffeine and sugar would kick in soon. He hadn’t been planning on coming back to Sleepyside so early this morning, but after Mart’s anxious call at the ungodly hour of five a.m., he had gotten up and immediately gotten on the road.

Dan had not heard his friend sound so worried in a while. Not since last summer, when the girls—all three of them—had been on the trail of a suspect and had managed to get themselves trapped in an abandoned house that was slated for demolition. Fortunately, Honey had had the cell phone that her father had given her for emergencies and was able to reach Mart. Mart had frantically called Dan, and the two of them had raced to the old house on Telegraph Road, barely arriving in time to stop the excavator before the demolition started.

So, here he was again, rushing toward Sleepyside in response to an alarmed—and alarming—call from Mart, but this time, it wasn’t to help the girls. It was to help Brian.

"Dude," Dan said out loud, as much to keep himself awake as because he couldn’t believe that older, responsible, mature Brian Belden had gotten himself into a…situation. Mart had been sketchy about the details—presumably, he didn’t know much himself—but he had made it very clear that Brian was in trouble. And that he needed their help.

Since his sophomore year, Brian had been volunteering at a hospital near his university in preparation for med school. Apparently, he had stumbled on some disturbing information about one of the staff doctors at the hospital, and that had started a chain of events that Mart had been unclear about. As a matter of fact, Mart hadn’t even been sure what information Brian had discovered. All he knew was that Brian was rendezvousing in theaters, receiving notes and keys from strangers.

According to Mart, the note had simply said, "1545 Journeys End Road, Croton-on-Hudson. Your life depends on it."

Dan gave an involuntary shiver. "Your life depends on it," was ominous enough, but the name of the street, Journeys End, also sounded so…final.

Dan stepped on the gas pedal a little harder and sped on toward Sleepyside.

Meanwhile…

Mart paced back and forth in the meeting room of the Bob-White clubhouse. He had arrived in Sleepyside so late—or early, depending on your point of view—that he hadn’t had the heart to wake up the entire household at Crabapple Farm—and answer all of the questions that were sure to follow a middle-of-the-night arrival. Trixie would be the hardest to fool. His almost-twin had the uncanny knack of knowing exactly what was going on in his mind. She would certainly pick up on his worry and have the entire story out of him—what little he knew, anyway—within minutes, and he and Brian had agreed that they did not want their intrepid, mystery-loving sister involved in this…business.

Mart had thought of heading to the all-night coffee shop in White Plains, but he had ultimately decided that he’d rather pass the time in comforting familiarity than in an impersonal diner. As he paced back and forth, the blond thought once again about his older brother’s stubbornness.

Brian had one last shift as a volunteer at the hospital that day, and then he would be heading back to Sleepyside. He had given the key, the note, and a hasty explanation to Mart and had asked him to investigate the address in Croton as long as he was heading back to Sleepyside that morning. Mart had planned to spend the day with Di, up until the point that she needed to start getting ready for the prom, but now he would be spending it with Dan in Croton, hoping to find…something.

Mart looked down at the key that he held in a tight grip and sighed. He had pleaded with his brother to call in and skip his volunteer shift. After all, if the trouble started at the hospital, who was to say that Brian was safe there? Wouldn’t he be at risk being at the "scene of the crime", so to speak? Wouldn’t he be safer in Sleepyside?

But Mart’s pleas had fallen on deaf ears. Brian had been working at the hospital for almost three years. This was his last day there, and he didn’t want to miss that. He did not want to miss saying good-bye to all of the doctors, nurses, and hospital techs that he had grown close to during his tenure at the medical center. He didn’t want to let down those who were counting on him to be there. He didn’t want to leave on a bad note. He was quite resolute that he would not miss his last day at the hospital.

Mart just hoped that it wasn’t his brother’s last day on earth.

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Chapter 7
Ninth Jixanny Blogathon
9.March.09, 923 words

We travel back in time to when Jim started trailing Mart and Dan…

“Do you think they can see us?” Trixie asked for the umpteenth time.

Jim sighed and gripped the steering wheel a little tighter.  He adored Trixie, he really did, but sometimes one needed the patience of a saint to be able to handle her exuberance.  Jim knew his limitations, and he was no saint.  Still, he would never show his special girl any irritation.  “I don’t know, Trixie.  I didn’t take Trailing Suspects 101 at college.”

Okay, maybe he would let it show a little.

Trixie snorted.  “Well, of course not!” she declared, leaning forward eagerly in her seat and peering at Dan’s car ahead.  “You’re an education major.  Honey and I will be taking that course!”

Jim smiled, and his hands relaxed on the steering wheel as he did so.  This was why he adored this woman.  Even when she was stretching his considerable patience, Trixie could always make him smile.

As they drove down Spring Valley Road, passed Teatown Lake, and then turned left on Blinn Road, Honey spoke up for the first time.

“I wonder where they’re going,” she commented as she stared curiously out of the window.  “We’re kind of in the middle of nowhere out here.  These roads don’t lead anywhere, and there’s nothing out here but big estates.”

When Trixie turned to stare at her curiously, Honey explained.  “Not long after we moved into the Manor House, Daddy took me all around the area.  There were several estates that he loved, and most of them were out here.  Either they weren’t for sale, or they didn’t quite measure up to the Manor House.”  She looked at Jim and Trixie affectionately.  “I’m glad.  I can’t imagine what would have happened if Daddy hadn’t bought the Manor House and moved us to Glen Road.  I never would have met you two!”

Trixie and Jim returned Honey’s warm smile.  “I think we would have met,” Trixie said.  “I think the three of us were destined to meet, no matter what.”

Jim nodded his agreement.  “Trixie’s absolutely right,” he said, his tone brooking no doubt as he turned the steering wheel to the right.  Mart and Dan had just turned onto a street called Journeys End Road.

“Jim!” Trixie said, turning her attention from Honey’s sentimentality back to the task at hand.  “You’re too close!  Out here, they’re sure to notice you!”

Jim sighed.  “Exactly.  Out here, they’re going to notice us no matter what I do.  It’s not like we’re on a busy highway.  We’re on winding two-lane roads in the middle of nowhere that scream money.  I could be on their bumper or two hundred yards back.  It doesn’t matter.”

Not being able to think of an argument, Trixie crossed her arms and threw herself back on the seat in a decidedly childish manner.

Jim hid his grin and then said, “I have a plan.”

Trixie relaxed her arms and turned to him excitedly, her face alighting in a grin.  “Really?  What?”

“I’m hoping that the make, model, and color of my car are common enough that they won’t know it’s us,” Jim said, his lips twitching.  “Or, if that doesn’t work, maybe he’ll think I’m the Jell-O Fairy in cherry flavor.  I do have red hair, you know.”

In response, Trixie crossed her arms again and threw herself back into her seat.  From the backseat, Honey grinned and met Jim’s eyes in the rearview mirror.

Meanwhile, back at the Lynch estate…

Diana sat on the front terrace of her grand house and looked at her watch…again.  It wasn’t like Mart to be so late.  Finally, when a half-hour had passed since the time he had promised her that he would arrive, she went inside to call him.

A call to the Beldens indicated that Mart had arrived home very early that morning just in time to be picked up by Dan, who had not been expected in Sleepyside until later.  Trixie had headed up to the Manor House to spend the morning with Jim, who had just arrived home from college, and Honey.  A call to the Manor House revealed that Jim had indeed arrived home, and Honey, Trixie, and Jim had gone on a morning ride.  Celia, who loved to gossip on the Manor House goings-on, had also revealed that the trio had headed down the path to Crabapple Farm, only to reappear a few minutes later and jump into Jim’s car and go speeding off.

Despite opinions to the contrary, Di was not stupid.  She could see the writing on the wall.  Mart hadn’t called her?  Dan had come back to Sleepyside early that morning when on a normal day he would still be sleeping?  Trixie, Jim, and Honey had headed to Crabapple Farm only to suddenly reappear at the Manor House and go speeding off?

Clearly, a mystery was afoot.  In days gone by, Di might have felt left out and thrown a babyish tantrum.  But that Di had learned a thing or two.  That Di was loooooong gone.

The new Di took action.  She stalked to her father’s study and picked up the phone.  She had memorized the number to Honey’s emergency cell phone just in case.  With determination, she punched in a series of numbers and waited for her friend to answer.

After the familiar but startled voice uttered a greeting, Di said, “Honey, I know that the five of you are up to something, and I want in.  Now.”

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Chapter 1
Twelfth Jixanny Blogathon
8.March.12, 1,693 words

It was the perfect day to explore an attic. While the early March winds blustered and howled outside, Trixie and the rest of the Bob-Whites were cozy and warm inside. The club was currently sponsoring a charity “FUNdraiser” for Habitat for Humanity, and Mrs. Vanderpoel had promised to donate some of the treasures contained within the magic of her attic. The seven members had gotten up early that Saturday morning to finish their chores before heading over to Mrs. Vanderpoel’s by late morning.  After dropping off Bobby and both sets of Lynch twins at old Brom’s, the Bob-Whites had fortified themselves with windmill cookies before climbing the steps to explore the boxes and chests and nooks and crannies of the attic.

Trixie, in all of her fourteen-year-old exuberance, had immediately set to work exploring one of the older chests, while Honey and Di were drawn to the chests that held old-fashioned dresses and Sunday hats that would make the Queen of England proud.  The two giggled as they happily tried on the grandiose hats and held up the dresses against their trim, teenage figures. Mart and Jim were examining some antique furniture to determine how difficult it would be to refinish the pieces, and Brian had buried himself in a pile of old tomes that looked almost as serious as he did. Dan had trailed the rest of the group, and when he had reached the top of the stairs, he had hesitated instead of diving right in like the others.  The last time that he had been in this attic had not been a happy time for him.  Members of his gang had been lurking around, and he had been forced to take drastic action that night—an action that had caused a lot of pain.  The dark-haired young man shook his head to clear his gloomy thoughts.  All had ended well that time, and there was no reason to feel so melancholy now!

“Is my esteemed colleague going to wax poetic while the remainder of the industrious clan known as the Bob-Whites of the Glen laboriously prepare articles for the venerable charity known as Habitat for Humanity?”  That, of course, was wordy Mart Belden, Trixie’s “almost twin.”

Dan’s lips spread into a slow gin, and he refused to rise to his friend’s bait.  “Just looking around and deciding where my considerable talents may be best used.”

Mart snorted.  “Take your ‘considerable talents’ over to that corner over there,” he said, gesturing toward the area in question.  “That old sea chest looks interesting.”

Dan gave Mart a mock salute and headed over to explore the old relic from a Vanderpoel ancestor’s maritime career.  For the next hour there was good-natured banter as the close-knit group teased each other, and there were quite a few discussions about the worthiness of certain items.  The pile of items that the seven friends had deemed interesting enough for further examination continued to grow in one corner of the attic, waiting for them to consult with Mrs. Vanderpoel about.

It was just as Mart was beginning to make rumblings about lunch when Trixie lifted up a sheet that covered an assortment of old items.  There were kerosene lamps mixed in with several cars of an antique toy train that were in turn near a stack of old vinyl albums next to an old phonograph.  A mountain of old yearbooks provided the base on which several candles sat.  But the most intriguing item, the one that held Trixie’s interest, was the item sitting on top of the carefully stacked menagerie of discarded treasures.

It was an ornate mantel clock that had the shape of a cathedral. It was made of mahogany, and three intricately carved spires adorned the sides and top. The clock face was white with almost a silver sheen. The twelve black Roman numerals that decorated the face were in sharp contrast to their background.  The detail of the carvings that embellished the base and sides of the timepiece fascinated Trixie.  She carefully, almost reverently, took the clock from its perch to examine it further. Something about the clock called to her.  It was not something that she understood, but she felt it deep within.  After a meticulous examination that took several minutes, she said in a distracted voice, “Di, can you come here a minute?”

“Sure, Trix,” Di answered as she hurried over to where her friend stood, her gaze fixed on the object in her hands.

“Do you recognize this?  Like what time period it might have come from?  Or country?” Trixie asked, gently transferring the clock to her friend.  If anyone would know about the origins of the clock, it was Di, who could tell the difference between art deco and art moderne and had saved the day in the past with her ability to tell replica versus real period furniture.

Diana’s face displayed a mixture of fascination and deep concentration as she inspected the timepiece.  As she carefully turned it over several times, the other five Bob-Whites had gathered around the two friends.

“Wow,” Honey breathed.  “That’s amazing looking.”

“Can you tell anything about it, Di?” Mart asked, his impatience known to be almost as great as Trixie’s.

The brunette beauty slowly shook her head.  “No, I can’t really identify it.  It’s beautiful craftsmanship, though.”

“Let’s go ask Mrs. Vanderpoel about it,” Trixie said excitedly.

Mart quickly agreed.  “We can attack the picnic lunch that we brought while we’re at it.”

Trixie rolled her eyes, and the eldest Belden commented wryly, “Nothing dims your appetite.”

The middle Belden brother tried to act wounded, but among the teasing that followed his reaction, even he had to good-naturedly admit that Brian spoke the truth.

The group agreed to adjourn to the main floor, where they would ask their kindly old friend about the clock and refuel for the afternoon of work ahead.  Trixie took the clock back from Di, and the group headed noisily down the stairs.  As they all burst into the kitchen of the modest home, Mrs. Vanderpoel looked up from the copper pot that she was cleaning and smiled affectionately.

“It warms my heart to have this old house filled with the sound of young people.  I do miss Tad and Spider,” she said, referring to the Webster brothers, who had used to live with her until Spider got a job as a policeman in nearby White Plains.  “Have you found some treasures in the attic?”  As she asked, Trixie came forward, and Mrs. Vanderpoel’s eyes lit on the ornate item that the curly-haired blonde carried.

“That clock!” Mrs. Vanderpoel exclaimed.  “It certainly is a mystery, that old thing.”

At the word “mystery,” Trixie’s eyes widened, and Mart was heard to groan audibly.  Trixie shot him a dirty look, but Mrs. Vanderpoel continued to speak about the clock, so the almost twins were not able to commence with one of their infamous bickering sessions.

“I’ve never been able to find out the origins of that clock.  It was passed down from my husband’s side of the family, and bless his heart, he wasn’t the best at keeping up with the Vanderpoel family history.  Everything I learned about the Vanderpoels, I learned from my husband’s mother—who, of course, married into the family herself,” she said with a chuckle.

“No one in the family knew about the clock?” Trixie persisted.  “Not even your mother-in-law?”

The roly-poly Dutch woman shook her head ruefully.  “I’m afraid not, Trixie.”  She reached out to run a gentle finger along the smooth grain of the timepiece.

The intrepid detective looked down at the clock, feeling the stirrings of that familiar sense of adventure that she loved.  “Maybe there’s a clue inside the mechanism case here on the back,” she said.

“I’m afraid not,” Mrs. Vanderpoel said.  “I’ve looked in there myself.”

Honey reached for the clock.  “May I, Trixie?  I have an idea.”  At Trixie’s nod, Honey took the clock and began moving her fingers underneath the bottom of the timepiece.  “If my hunch is right…” she started to say, but she was interrupted by a clicking sound, and then a compartment opened on the back of the clock.

“Honey!” Trixie fairly shouted.  “How’d you do that?  How’d you know?”

Honey smiled.  “I just thought of the secret compartment in the jewelry box that my great-great grandmother gave me and thought maybe…” Her voice trailed off.

“You’re a genius,” Trixie stated.  “Is there anything inside the compartment?”

At her question, Jim reached out to tug on his favorite curl.  “You’re bound and determined to find a mystery, even if we are in the middle of a fundraiser!”  He smiled to show that he was just teasing her, and Trixie grinned back.

“You know me so well, James,” she joked back.

Honey peered into the compartment.  With a look of triumph that could rival one of Trixie’s, she pulled out a yellowed piece of parchment.  It was folded and so old that Honey was afraid that it would fall apart in her hands.

Jim, standing next to Trixie, had to smile.  His schoolgirl shamus was actually vibrating with excitement at Honey’s find, and for once she seemed speechless as she watched Honey’s slim fingers delicately unfold the parchment, taking great care not to rip the fragile paper.

When she finally had it open, Honey reported in her sweet voice, “They’re coordinates, it looks like.  And maybe a name? A.B. Lambert.”  She held out the paper so that the rest of the Bob-Whites could see the faded spidery writing:

41° 9′ 55″ N, 73° 51′ 24″ W
A.B. Lambert

“Lambert!” Mrs. Vanderpoel exclaimed.  “There’s Lamberts way back in the Vanderpoel family tree.”

Dan spoke up.  “Well, gang, it looks like Trixie’s found us another mystery.”

Jim agreed.  “It’ll be fun tracking down what the coordinates mean and who this A.B. Lambert character was.”

“I bet he was a pirate!” Trixie said excitedly, causing Mart to snort. The blonde stuck her tongue out at him, but not even Mart’s teasing could dampen her spirits.  Trixie Belden could feel it in her bones.  The Bob-Whites were going to have an adventure-filled day!

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Chapter 8
Twelfth Jixanny Blogathon
12.March.12, 819 words

Trixie ran to get the matching clocks while Jim gave a summary of what they had found at the old Lambert House, including Anna Phillips’ offer to donate items to the fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity. When Trixie returned with the clocks, she thrust the one from Lambert House toward Honey.

“Can you do your magic again, Honey?” she asked her friend.  “Maybe there’s another clue in this one.”

Honey reached out for the clock, and within the blink of an eye, she had sprung the secret compartment.  She reached inside and pulled out a flattened silver disk with strange markings on either side.  She turned it over a few times and then handed it to Trixie.

Trixie observed, “It looks like an old coin.”

Mart asked to see the coin, and his sister handed it to him.  “It reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of old doubloons.”

Trixie’s blue eyes sparkled.  “I told you pirates were involved!”

Brian said, “Just because there’s what might be an old doubloon in the clock, it doesn’t mean that pirates are involved in this mystery, Trixie.”

Jim smiled and winked at Trixie before turning to her oldest brother.  “I don’t know, Brian,” he said.  “Where there’s doubloons, there’s often pirates.”  Trixie grinned up at the tall redhead gratefully.

The group decided to split up into three teams.  Trixie and Jim would head to the Sleepyside Library to research the doubloon coin that they had found.  Honey and Di would visit the Sleepyside Museum to see if they could find out any information about the Belden-Lambert connection. Brian, Mart, and Dan would continue to work on the Habit for Humanity fundraiser.  The Bob-Whites decided to meet at their clubhouse in one hour.  After thanking Mrs. Vanderpoel for her hospitality and help with the fundraiser, the Bob-Whites departed the quaint little yellow brick home, ready to complete their various missions.

One hour later…

True to their word, the seven members of the club were assembled in the clubhouse exactly one hour later.  After Mart good-naturedly “complained” about all of the “menfolk” work that he had completed while the others were “gallivanting” about town, the rest of the Bob-Whites laughed and then immediately got down to business.

The two co-presidents reported that they had found a picture that matched the coin exactly.  Jim explained that it was a Portuguese two reale doubloon, minted sometime between 1651 and 1773.

“So, once we figured out its exact origin,” Trixie continued, “we researched how it might have gotten here.  Everyone knows the stories about Captain Kidd burying treasure here in New York, but we couldn’t find anything to substantiate that he may have been in possession of coins such as these.  When his treasure on Gardiner’s Island was dug up, it contained gold dust, silver bars, pieces of eight, and precious stones.”

“But,” Jim said, taking up the story, “we did find that a Captain Joseph Bradish, who was considered a much fiercer pirate than Captain Kidd, also haunted the shores of New York, and the treasure associated with him is Spanish and Portuguese.”

“That sounds promising,” Dan commented.

“There’s more!” Trixie said, her eyes shining.  “Bradish visited New York several times, reportedly to see a lady that he had fallen in love with and secretly married.  Rumors were that he gave a substantial portion of his treasure to this woman, who eventually bore him a son.  That son also had a son, who would have been Bradish’s grandson.  When that grandson died, he had no reported relatives.”

“What’s the significance of that?” Mart wanted to know.

Trixie, full of excitement, burst out with, “Because he died when his ship from America to Europe, called the Annabelle Lee, sank.  We were able to confirm through historical records that that’s the same ship that Bernard was supposed to be sailing on!”

There was a collective gasp from the group, followed by excited babbling.

“Do you think he’s the mysterious stranger who bought the ticket from Bernard, Trixie?” Di asked.

Trixie nodded her head so vigorously that it looked like her sandy curls might actually fall off.  “I do because there’s more!” she exclaimed.  “According to the history we found, John Bradish—that was the pirate’s grandson’s name—had owed a marker when he boarded the ship, so it was reported that his estate went to a New Yorker who was not a family member.  It fits!  I don’t see how it could be anything else!”

Once again, excited chatter among the Bob-Whites met her statement.  “So, maybe the part about the treasure is not an embellishment, like Mrs. Vanderpoel suggested,” Mart exclaimed, almost as excited as Trixie.

“It certainly sounds like it,” Brian said.  He grinned at his sister.  “You were right about the pirates after all, sis.”

Honey chimed in with, “This is so exciting!  But wait until you hear what we found out at the Sleepyside Museum!”

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Chapter 2
Spookathon 2012
27.October.12, 1,361 words

“It’s…wow,” Di said as she looked around.

Jim and Trixie entered the house, their arms still linked, in time to hear Di’s comment. They both looked around, echoing her comment in their minds. Dan dropped his arm from Trixie’s and moved around in a circle, taking in his surroundings.

“It’s very…” Honey began, trying to think of something appropriate and tactful to say. Her words trailed off as she struggled to find the right words. She looked up at her new husband, clearly as a loss.

Different?” Brian supplied on cue, his supposed statement sounding more like a question, however. He gripped Honey’s hand tightly as he looked around.

“I like it.” This statement was uttered simultaneously by two Bob-Whites—Trixie and Dan, to be exact—and everyone grinned at each other. Everyone knew that Trixie and Jim were soulmates, natch, but everyone also knew that Trixie and Dan shared some weird tastes.

“Of course, you would,” Mart muttered. No one was clear as to whether he was speaking to his almost-twin or his best friend.

Trixie being Trixie, however, took the bait, assuming the comment was directed at her. “You have to admit it’s attention grabbing. And that’s a good thing.”

Dan grinned. “Yeah, Mart, look at the wainscoting. It’s exquisite.”

Dan didn’t lie. The wainscoting was exquisite. The entry hall was one of the areas of the building that seemed to reach into the sky. The ceiling was at least two stories above and painted black. The stained mahogany wainscoting that reached from the floor to a point about six feet above was carved with intricate detail. Above the wainscoting, the walls were painted in secondary colors—the wall to the right was a vivid purple, the wall to the left was a vivid leaf green, and the wall ahead was a bright orange. Most of the orange wall was obscured by a staircase that hugged the right wall and led to the second floor.

Somehow, the wood detail of the wainscoting provided a shocking and yet balanced counterpoint to the colorful paint scheme. Each of the walls—the left and right walls much longer than the wall ahead so that their colors were more powerful—held an open entryway to another portion of the house. Each of these doorways was surrounded by molding that was as intricately carved as the wainscoting, but instead of letting the natural woodgrain show through, each was painted a primary color. To the right, complementing the purple wall, was yellow molding. To the left, complementing the green, was red molding. Ahead, the doorway was encased in blue molding, further setting off the already-shocking orange color.

The floor below their feet added to the drama. It was made of hardwood and painted white. As Di took in this detail and noted the black of the ceiling, she murmured to herself, “Balanced opposites.”

Two items in the hall, however, were not balanced opposites. The plush rug that sat in front of the entry door was a shocking fuchsia. None of the colors in the room could be considered its opposite in the color wheel. Second, the staircase was…awkward. The rest of the room was so bold, bright, and modern. The staircase looked like it was something out of central casting. “Spooky staircase for horror movie—check!”

Although the paint on the walls, molding, floor, and ceiling looked as fresh as if they had been painted yesterday, and the patina on the wainscoting was gleaming, the stairs looked neglected. There was nothing special about the detailing. The banister was plain, with no intricate carving to match the wainscoting or molding. In addition to the plain design, the finish was lackluster. There was no shine, no glossy patina. It looked careworn, like no one had bothered to polish it for decades. The treads and the balusters were the same. Like the banister, they were clearly made of some “second-rate” wood, perhaps pine or poplar. Even the newel post was plain, topped with a mere sphere instead of some intricately carved piece fit for a scepter.

All in all, the aged structure just did not fit with the boldness of the rest of the entry hall, and yet, in its own way, it was just as compelling.

Trixie was just about to suggest that the group divide into three to explore the three avenues open to them when the staircase became even more compelling.

A transparent figure appeared at the top of the stairs. As the Bob-Whites stared in a combination of fascination and horror, the shadowy form raised a hand, its bony finger pointing at them.

You’ve been warned,” the terrible figure croaked.

And then vanished.

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Review of the Trixie Belden Series
BarnesandNoble.com
Amazon.com
1.July.03

A wonderful role model for young girls
I still remember the day I first picked up a Trixie Belden book (it was 23 years ago and I was almost 9) and I have been hooked ever since. Trixie is so easy to relate to - she isn't perfect, she loses her temper, she has to deal with three brothers, and she has lots of chores - but she has a heart of gold, a wonderful generous spirit, and a determinedness that is inspirational. This series contains not only wonderful adventures appealing to kids, but teaches the true meaning of friendship and generosity. And the author even manages to work in educational facts and vocabulary skills in a completely painless way! I recommend this series for every child between the ages of 8 and 14!

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