Jane Darcy Mini-Novel – Chapter I!

When Jane Darcy, an inquisitive young sleuth who delighted in anything mystery related, was invited to spend the summer at her good friend Margaret’s home, in Pinecrest Maine; she could hardly refuse.

After weeks of planning, packing, and finally travelling; Jane arrived at the train station right on schedule and spotted her friend, Margaret, standing next to her father’s sedan.

“Jane, it’s been months since we last saw you.  How is everything back home?”

Margaret asked, as Jane brushed by the front of the sedan to place her bags in the back of the car.

“It’s good to see you,” she replied, “Everything is swell, if not a little dull; I’m in desperate need of a mystery to solve!”

Jane took in a deep breath of the fresh pine air, before sliding into the passenger seat.  Maine was a beautiful place in May; and Jane wished she were staying more than just a few months over the summer.

They talked and gossiped about the things they had done since they were last together; but on the road to Margaret’s family home by the lake, Jane couldn’t help but notice her friend’s troubled, worried expression.

“Has anything happened, Margaret?” Jane asked, sensing her friend’s alarm, “You look upset.”

Margaret shrugged and gave a slight smile.

“It’s nothing, really.  Just a few strange events, that’s all.”

“It’s not like you to worry, Margaret,” Jane replied in a skeptical voice.

“There have been a lot of suspicious things happening these last few months,” Margaret began, as she rolled the car to a stop at the side of the road.  “Several women at the salon my aunt owns, mentioned odd pieces of expensive jewelry going missing.  And just this last week, Aunt Casey had her jewelry disappear; box and all, right out of her bedroom.”

The sound of these bizarre happenings piqued Jane’s interest, and she wanted to know more.  Jane Darcy was a natural detective; and could leave no stone unturned, or mystery unsolved when presented to her.

“The whole jewelry box?  Was she missing anything else?” Jane inquired excitedly.

“No, except there was something else; old George Baker told my aunt yesterday that Zack’s Guard Dog was stolen!”

Zack was the head of security at the local museum, and Trooper was the watchdog on duty there.  There was no mistake; Jane had put both feet into a mystery; and it was up to her to solve it!

“I bet we could find out more if we talked to Zack directly,” said Jane, “How about we drop by the museum and pay him a visit, on the way to your home?”

Margaret thought this wasn’t a bad idea after all, and steered the car back onto the road.  As Margaret brought the sedan to a stop in a parking place across from the museum, she switched off the ignition when Jane said:

“I’d better go in alone; I don’t want to intimidate him with too many people and questions.  Keep your eyes peeled Margaret, and let me know if anything or anyone leaves the museum, or acts strangely while I’m gone.”

“Just like old times!”

Margaret laughed; she liked the idea of being the lookout and spying any unusual happenings or persons.

When Jane entered the museum, she couldn’t help but feel a little on-edge; without Trooper, no doubt the place felt more lonesome, if not a little deserted.  Then again; it wasn’t tourist season yet, and all of Pinecrest felt generally sleepy, and quiet.

Having visited the museum multiple times in her youth from the trips spent with Margaret in summer camp; she knew the place well, and went directly for the back room to find Zack.

When she entered, Zack lit up instantly, and with a sheepish smile he greeted her.

“Well Jane, we haven’t seen you around these parts in quite some time!” he said, rising up from his desk, where he had been reading through a few documents.  “What brings you to our neck of the woods?”

Jane looked around the back room; she didn’t see any other security guard on duty, and the whole place felt dustier than she remembered it being.  At first, Zack was eager to talk about the new shipment of ancient artifacts that was coming to the museum, but his face soon became gloomy when Jane asked about Trooper.

“Trooper was a vital part of the security team here at the museum,” Zack explained, “He’s friendly to most strangers, but when he’s on duty; he has a keen sense of smell and sharp vision to alert us of the slightest sound or disturbance.  Now that Trooper is gone, we’ll have to train a new watch dog.”

After asking a few more questions, Jane also discovered that a new watch dog won’t be arriving to train there until a week from today, and the new shipment of archaeological findings will be delivered at the museum’s warehouse on Wednesday.  This clearly had Zack worried, and somewhat concerned for the safety of the artifacts.

“We’re understaffed at the moment,” Zack added, “We sure could use some extra help around here, and Trooper was handier than any two or three security guards.  Just the other night, Trooper sniffed out and chased after a shadowy figure that was lurking about the museum grounds.  Completely invisible to the naked eye, but Trooper knew they were there.”

“Did you get a good look at the shadow?” Jane asked quizzically.

“All I could make out was the general size, they were about your height and completely camouflaged.  They showed up at around two in the morning, and it certainly gave me the creeps.  I thought it might have been a phantom at first.”

This odd character left Jane puzzled, and after thanking Zack for his help and insight, she left the museum and went back for Margaret’s sedan.

At first, the automobile wasn’t in view; so Jane decided to look around just one more time before scouting out her friend.  Just as she turned the corner of the old brick building, something caught her attention; a paper.

A small, rather unimportant piece of paper, but it wasn’t something to be ignored.  It was shredded, and shredded quickly by the way it had been crinkled on the edge.  She looked around, and spotted another one under a bench, and then another stuck to the side of the trashcan.

One by one she picked up the scattered pieces and stuffed them carefully into her purse, before she caught sight of her chum’s glinting car.

“Jane!  Over here!” she called.

Jane hastened over to see her, and she noticed her friend had strategically parked behind a few bushes and trees to conceal the sedan.

“Did you see anything?” Jane asked her when she got to her friend’s rolled down window.

“Not a soul, just a bunch of flies.  Any luck?”

Jane nodded her head enthusiastically,

“Yes, actually; Zack told me some very interesting things, and I’ve got I think our first clue to work off of!  Let’s get to your house, and I’ll show you what I’ve found.”

Margaret wasn’t one to wait around, and took several short-cuts so they could arrive at her house quickly.  Once they were inside, Jane took out the pieces of paper and laid them on the rustic kitchen table.

Can you help Jane and Margaret fit together the pieces of the crinkled up paper?  Could it be a clue, or someone’s old tattered trash?

Only you can be the judge!  Pick up your magnifying glass and dive into the mystery to find out!