The Mystery of the Emeralds
“Rabbit!Rabbit!” • 1
TRXIE BELDEN awoke slowly, to the sound of a summer rain beating against her window. She half opened her eyes, stretched her arms above her head, and then, catching sight of a large sign tied to the foot of her bed, yelled out, “Rabbit! Rabbit!” She bounced out of bed and ran out of her room and down the hall.
“I’ve finally done it!” she cried as she dashed into the large bedroom shared by two of her three brothers.
The oldest, Brian, responded by drawing the covers tightly over his head and turning thumpily toward the wall, but Mart, her almost-twin, sat up excitedly and demanded to know what she had done to cause all this rumpus at eight o’clock in the morning— enough rumpus, in fact, to wake up Bobby, who at this moment appeared in the doorway.
Trixie’s blue eyes were sparkling as she picked up er youngest brother and twirled him round and round, and then, plunking herself down on Brian’s bed, she said, “Well, ever since I was Bobby’s age I’ve been trying to remember to say ‘Rbbit! Rabbit!’ and make a wish, just before going to sleep on the last night of the month. If you say it again in the morning, before you’ve said, any other word, your wish comes true.” Trixie laughed. “But when I’d remember to say the magic words at night, I’d always say something else before I went to sleep or forget them in the morning or something. This time I put up a sign to remind me. Gleeps! I hope that doesn’t spoil the charm!”
“I must say you’re the luckiest of girls,” Mart said in his most sarcastic voice, extending his hand to congratulate his sister. “And what stupendous thing did you wish for, Trix? That you’d pass English next year?”
Brian, unable to sleep through all this talk, rolled over, poked his head out from under the covers, and said, “I bet I know what she wished for—another mystery. You know she’s never happy unless she has some puzzle or other cooking.”
Trixie’s face sobered, and in a characteristic gesture she pushed back the short, sandy curls from her forehead. “As a matter of fact, I did sort of wish for some excitement.” She sighed. “After Cobbett’s Island, Sleepyside seems—well, a little pallid.”
“Wow! Look who’s getting sophisticated,” jeered Mart. “Watch out, old girl, or you’ll die of ennui.”
He loved to use long or unusual words.
“What’s ennui,’ Trixie? Is it sumpin’ like measles or chicken pox?” Bobby asked, his eyes wide as he scrambled up onto the bed beside his sister. “I don’t want Trixie to die,” he cried. “She’s the only sister I got.”
“Of course she’s not going to die,” Brian assured him softly. “‘Ennui’ is just a fancy way of saying you’re tired of doing the same old thing all the time.”
The tears dried magically, a smile broke over Bobby’s face, and he said, “Oh! That’s what I get every morning when I have to eat my cereal!”
The call of “Breakfast, children,” interrupted their laughter, and they dashed downstairs in their pajamas to the large, friendly kitchen, where Mrs. Belden was frying bacon and eggs on the old-fashioned stove.
Their father, who worked in the Sleepyside bank, put aside his paper as they came in and, looking over the top of his glasses, greeted each of them. Trixie planted a quick kiss on top of his head as she went past him to her place at the table.
The Beldens lived in a comfortable old white farmhouse, a few miles outside the Hudson River town of Sleepyside. It was called Crabapple Farm and had been in the Belden family for six generations. Although larger and grander houses had been built around the ancient homestead over the years, they loved Crabapple Farm with its orchards and gardens. Mrs. Belden never found it a chore to care for and harvest the fruits and vegetables the place yielded, and in the fall, her pantry shelves were loaded with preserves, pickles, and jellies. Even though the boys sometimes grumbled about having to take care of the chickens, they freely admitted that the Belden eggs were the biggest and best they had ever seen. Trixie, who hated housework, sometimes complained, too, about having to help with the dishes or the dusting, but once when her mother, pretending to be serious, suggested that they sell the house and move to an apartment, where the housekeeping might be a little easier, Trixie nearly exploded. It was a long time before she was again heard to say, “Do I
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