Jane Darcy and her chum Margaret Sullivan felt they were on the right track. Sadie was certainly a shady character, and with luck, they’ll spot something that will lead them to their next clue come twilight.
They headed back for Margaret’s home to unpack Jane’s belongings, and ponder over the mystery they had begun to unravel. Did Sadie know where Trooper was? Could Zack be telling the truth, or was he also behind Trooper’s disappearance? And what of that strange newspaper clipping, of the jewelry store robbery?
Back at Margaret’s home, Mrs. Sullivan served a fresh, hot meal of New England clam chowder and buttermilk biscuits. Jane, Margaret and Mr. Sullivan all asked for a second helping, which was cheerfully given; resulting in a very satisfied and jolly bunch.
After dinner, Jane sat for a time about the living room, jotting down notes of the unusual things she had uncovered that day; when she turned to Mr. Sullivan who was sitting in an armchair, reading a book.
“Can you recall any robberies taking place lately, at say a jewelry store?” she asked.
Mr. Sullivan thought somberly for a moment,
“No, no I don’t remember reading anything about that; except… yes, there was a strange case, a couple years back in Salem, a man burgled a jewelry store like you mentioned. But nothing came of it, they caught the man and he went to jail.”
“For how long, do you know?” Jane asked inquisitively,
“Can’t quite remember, there wasn’t much said about it in the papers. Are you thinking about burgling a jewelry store, Jane?” he teased.
“Not this summer, my hands are going to be full with all the plans I have to fish, and enjoy the lake! But, you haven’t by any chance seen anything odd lately, have you?”
“There was one thing,” Mr. Sullivan began, putting down his book, “I could have sworn I saw a stray dog sniffing through our backyard a few nights back. Someone whistled to them from the dark, and the dog trotted off into the woods. I shined the flashlight around the backyard, but didn’t find anything besides this old wallet.”
He got up from the armchair, and rifled through the top drawer of the nearby desk; producing a tattered, worn wallet.
“There’s nothing in it, but the whole ordeal put me on edge. Take my advice, if you’re out after dark, be careful and watch your back. There’s something fishy going on, and I don’t want you getting mixed up in anything dangerous.”
Jane took the wallet and noticed there were initials carved into the leather near the edge; the first letter was questionable, but the second letter clearly read H.
“Don’t worry about me, Mr. Sullivan; I’m as watchful as a cat! Do you mind if I borrow this for a while?”
Mr. Sullivan shrugged,
“You can keep it if you want, it’s nothing to me.”
Jane took the wallet and placed it in her purse for later examination. After a short explanation to Margaret’s parents, a gathering up of a few necessities and supplies; she and Margaret pulled out of the driveway once more and drove back to Candlewood Street.
The sun had just set, and the dimly lit street looked ominous, and foreboding. Margaret switched off the lights as they drew nearer to Sadie’s house; and within seconds of rolling the sedan to a stop; Jane touched Margaret on the shoulder and pointed to the front door of the old house.
“Look,” she whispered “We’re just in time; it looks like miss suspicious is leaving her house!”
They watched in the shadows of the dark sedan, peering out through the windshield as Sadie nervously dropped her keys in the dirt beneath the covered overhang sheltering her Ford Cabriolet, and bent down to frantically search the ground.
“She looks rattled,” Margaret added,
“I’ll say!” Jane agreed.
Sadie, after a minute or two of panicked searching, finally stood up with key in hand and unlocked the old Ford door. Wasting no time; she pulled the car out in reverse and swerved onto the street; without her lights on!
Margaret started up the sedan and followed the car in the darkness down the winding, dirt road; leaving her lights off as well in hopes of not being discovered.
“She’s turning right,” Jane said, focusing on the ever-growing blackness before them, relying on the subtle rays of moonlight to glint off of the matte surface of the car.
The road was narrow, the trees felt like they were closing in; and the girls could barely keep the car in sight; when suddenly Jane yelled,
“Stop the car!”
Margaret slammed her foot on the breaks and the sedan jerked to a standstill.
“There was something in the road! You almost hit it!” Jane said, “Could you see what it was?”
“I didn’t see anything,” Margaret shook her head, “but I think we lost Sadie; there’s no way we can catch up with her now. This darkness conceals everything, and driving without our lights on is too risky.”
Jane sighed and dropped her arms to her sides, after she had been clutching her purse in her hands to the point of turning her knuckles white.
“I guess it was nothing. I think we lost her a block back, actually. Why don’t we return to Sadie’s house, and take a look around while she’s gone?”
“Genius!” Margaret perked up with a grin, “She for sure won’t be home for a little bit, and if nothing else, we can take pictures of the rooms and anything unusual. Let’s go!”
The girls sped back to the house, parked down the street so as not to be noticed; and hastened up to the driveway.
“Someone needs to be the look-out,” Jane whispered,
“I’ll stay Jane, you’re a natural when it comes to finding clues.”
“Alright, and if you see her driving back; just knock on the front window and hunker down in the bushes.”
“Aye, aye Captain!” Margaret saluted her friend, “Hop to it, detective!”
Jane Darcy, after trying the front doorknob, discovered it was unlocked; and ventured within.
…To be continued, next week on Sunday, May 23rd! Jane Darcy needs your help to solve the hair-raising mystery surrounding Pinecrest; keep your magnifying glass handy, and don’t miss the next exciting chapter!