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The Mystery at Saratoga

The Mystery at Saratoga

Titel: The Mystery at Saratoga
Autoren: Julie Campbell
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“Regan’s Disappeared!” • 1

    TRIXIE, PLEASE COME meet me at the clubhouse right away,” Honey Wheeler said urgently.
    Even over the telephone, Trixie Belden could tell that her best friend was upset. Honey’s voice sounded choked, as if she were struggling to hold back tears.
    “What is it, Honey? What’s happened?” Trixie demanded.
    “Oh, Trixie,” Honey wailed, the tears that she’d been holding back finally spilling over, “Regan’s disappeared!”
    “What!” Trixie gasped. “When? Why?...”
    “Just meet me at the clubhouse right away, please,” Honey begged. “I’ll tell you everything I know about it when you get there.”
    In her haste, Trixie all but threw the receiver back onto its cradle. Calling out, “I’m going to the clubhouse, Moms,” she dashed out the door into the hot August sunlight.
    Trixie ran along the pathway that led from Crabapple Farm, where she lived with her parents and her brothers. Although she was running practically at full speed, she knew that the pounding of her heart was not altogether due to her exertion.
    “Regan’s disappeared!” Honey had said. With those two words, the peacefulness of the summer was shattered. Bill Regan—known simply as “Regan” to everyone in Sleepyside-on-the-Hudson— had been hired to take care of the Wheelers’ horses long before the Wheelers moved to the Manor House.
    When the Wheelers bought the big mansion just west of the old farmhouse where Trixie lived, one of Trixie’s fondest dreams—to have a best friend her own age living nearby—had come true.
    Then, when she discovered that the Wheelers also had a full-time groom and a full-fledged stable at the Manor House, Trixie felt as if she must be the luckiest girl on earth.
    To top it all off, the Wheelers had adopted Jim Frayne, an orphan whom Honey and Trixie had befriended when he ran away from his cruel stepfather, a mean and greedy man named Jonesy.
    Jim, Honey, Trixie, and Trixie’s two older brothers, Mart and Brian, had all become the best of friends. Together, they had formed a semisecret club called the Bob-Whites of the Glen, in order to organize special events to help worthy causes. The clubhouse to which Trixie was hurrying through the heat of the late afternoon belonged to the Bob-Whites. It had originally been a gatehouse for the Manor House, back before the days of the automobile. The Bob-Whites had discovered it overgrown with weeds and had restored it with hard work and loving care.
    It's all been “perfectly perfect ,” as Honey would say , Trixie thought, half-smiling in spite of herself at her best friend’s favorite expression. I've been so happy since Honey and Jim have been at the Manor House, and I know Honey feels the same way. Honey had been .frail and timid, frightened of her own shadow, when she moved to Sleepyside. But the time she’d spent with “tomboy Trixie” had changed all that. This summer, she was brown as a berry and just as ready for mischief as was her sandy-haired, freckle-faced friend. Having Jim for a brother, after being an only child all her life, had helped, too.
    But now.... “Regan’s disappeared!” Honey’s voice echoed in Trixie’s mind. If Regan were really gone forever, one of the Bob-Whites’ chief pleasures was gone, too: Mr. Wheeler frequently said that he wouldn’t keep the horses if he didn’t have someone as knowledgeable and dependable as Regan to take care of them.
    More than that, Regan was a good and loyal friend to all the Bob-Whites, always willing to listen to their problems and help them out in any way he could. Trixie, in particular, had good reason to be grateful to Regan. Her six-year-old brother, Bobby, was a favorite of the young groom’s, and Regan liked to take over the babysitting chores that were among Trixie’s usual tasks in the Belden household, leaving Trixie free for the activities the Bob-Whites enjoyed together.
    Remembering the sight of Bobby riding “horseback” on Regan’s broad shoulders, Trixie felt tears welling in her eyes as she reached the clubhouse.
    Pausing before she opened the door, Trixie took a deep breath and swallowed hard. Honey had sounded so upset over the telephone. It wouldn’t do for Trixie to walk into the clubhouse in tears, upsetting her even more.
    Opening the clubhouse door, Trixie almost lost her composure once again when she saw Honey sitting at the big table in the center of the room, her face in her hands, while Dan Mangan stood
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