Authors: Carolyn Keene
against the rail of the ferryboat, shading her eyes as she gazed at the dark smudge on the horizon she knew was Block Island. When Hannah Gruen, the Drews' gray-haired housekeeper, came to her side, Nancy turned with a smile. “Isn't it great, Hannah? Two whole weeks of vacation!”
“It's about time, too,” Hannah replied, her hazel eyes twinkling. “You work too hard on your detective cases. You deserve a rest.”
“I'm so glad you came with me,” Nancy said, giving Hannah a hug. “We'll have a terrific time.”
Hannah nodded, then peeked back toward the mainland. The ferry had just cleared the Point Judith breakwater, leaving the little fishing town of Galilee behind. “I wish your father could have
come with us. He needs a vacation, too. Do you think he'll manage all right on his own?”
Nancy laughed. “You left enough food in the refrigerator to feed not only him, but the judge and jury, too. Besides, he's so involved in his trial he probably won't notice we're gone.”
To take Hannah's mind off her worries, Nancy pulled out a map of Block Island from her purse. “Can you believe how small the island is?”
Hannah put on the reading glasses that hung from a chain around her neck. “Why, it's only seven miles long.”
“And only about three and a half across at the widest point. This huge bay called Great Salt Pond on the west side almost cuts it in half.”
Hannah studied the map. “I'd say the island's shaped something like a pork chop.”
Nancy chuckled. “Our cottage is in Old Harbor, the only town on the east coast. But there are lots of things to see all over the island. Aunt Eloise said we should rent mopeds to get around easier.”
“Me? On a moped?” Hannah half-cried.
“It's easy,” Nancy replied. “I'll teach you.”
“We'll see.” Hannah shivered slightly and pulled her blue cotton cardigan closed across her chest. “This wind is rather strong. Let's go inside.”
“I'll join you in a moment,” Nancy said. She was enjoying the salt air and the sparkling blue sea.
As Hannah made her way across the crowded deck, Nancy looked around. Other passengers were happily chatting on this sunny Sunday morning in August.
Beside her, a pretty girl of about twelve leaned eagerly over the rail, her long dark hair blowing in the breeze. She saw Nancy looking at her and smiled.
“I love watching the waves,” the girl confided. “We don't have an ocean in Library, Pennsylvania.”
“We don't have one in River Heights, Illinois, either,” Nancy admitted, introducing herself.
“I'm Ashley Hanna,” the girl said. “My family and I come to the island every summer. My uncle runs a marina in Great Salt Pond. I get to help him on the docks and stuff. It's great.”
Just then a woman's voice called out, “Ashley!” and the girl turned to leave. “I've got to go,” she said over her shoulder. “Maybe I'll see you around.”
Nancy decided to find Hannah in the enclosed part of the ferry. Once inside, she looked around for her friend.
She smiled when she spotted Hannah headed for a white-haired woman sitting under one of the big windows. The woman had pieces of patchwork quilting spread over her lap. Hannah was an enthusiastic quilter, and the Drew home was full of her handiwork.
Nancy came up to the two women just as
Hannah was saying, “I couldn't help noticing your quilting. That's the Double Wedding Ring design, isn't it?”
The older woman raised her head. Her face was softly lined and her brown eyes were lively. “Why, yes, it is. Do you quilt, too?”
Hannah nodded. “I brought my Sunshine and Shadows pattern with me.” She opened her tote bag and took out one of the gaily colored quilt squares.
“Oh, how lovely,” the lady said, smoothing the fabric with gentle fingers. “I'm Sarah Windsor, and I own the Crazy for Crafts shop on Block. I'm making this for my daughter. She's getting married in the fall, so I had to make the Double Wedding Ring for her.”
Hannah introduced herself and Nancy, then sat down next to Sarah. Nancy knew Hannah would be happily involved for the rest of the trip, so she excused herself, saying she wanted to explore.
Out on deck she slowly made her way toward the stern where she could peer down on the ferry's lower level, full of cars and trucks parked bumper to bumper, and bikes and luggage squeezed in on the sides. Then she climbed the steps to the top deck and found a spot at the railing. For a while, she leaned into the warm breeze and watched the sailboats skim across the water. Then she noticed the tall, slender girl with honey-blond hair standing next to her. She wore
a T-shirt that said, Have You Hugged a Bug Lately?
The girl turned to Nancy. “Have you been to Block before?” she asked amiably.
Nancy smiled into her warm blue eyes. “No, but I'm really looking forward to it.”
“Are you traveling alone?” the girl asked.
“I'm with a friend,” Nancy answered. “Is this your first visit to Block, too?”
The girl shook her head. “No, I've been working there all summer with the Nature Conservancy. I'm in graduate school, working on my thesis.”
“What are you studying?” Nancy asked.
The girl made a face. “Promise you won't say âicky' or âyuck'?”
“Promise,” Nancy said, her curiosity aroused.
“I'm studying an extremely rare insect, the American burying beetle. It used to be found in thirty-two states, but now it's almost extinct. There are only a few hundred left in the world and Block Island has one of the two surviving colonies.”
“Really?” Nancy said, intrigued. “Why is the beetle so rare?”
The girl frowned. “That's what we're trying to pin down. We think it's partly because of pesticides.”
“So the work you're doing might save the beetles from extinction?” Nancy asked.
so.” After a moment the girl's frown
faded and she held out her hand to Nancy. “I'm Barb Sommers. It's nice to meet someone who isn't grossed out by bugs.”
“I'm Nancy Drew.” She shook Barb's hand. “I think the beetles sound fascinating. What do they look like?”
Barb's face lit up. “They're beautiful! Would you like to see for yourself? I'm going over to the Lewis-Dickens farm this afternoonâit's a nature preserve where the main colony is found. You could come with me if you'd like.”
“I'd love to,” Nancy said.
“Where are you staying?”
Nancy gave her the address of the cottage.
“We're just around the corner from you! My roommate and I share the second floor of a house.” She told Nancy how to find it. “How did you hear about Block? Are you from around here?”
“No, River Heights, near Chicago,” Nancy said. “We flew out yesterday and stayed with my aunt in New York, then drove up to Rhode Island this morning. My aunt Eloise had rented the cottage, but a big work assignment came up so she called and offered it to us.”
“You'll love Block,” Barb said. “I'll introduce you to the crowd I hang out with. Some of the guys are native Islanders.”
“I'd like to meet them,” Nancy said, her thoughts already turning to her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson. She missed him and wished he'd been
able to come with her, but Ned had already made plans for a canoe trip when Nancy's aunt had called a few days ago. Fortunately, her best friends, Bess Marvin and George Fayne, planned to join her and Hannah at the end of the week.
“The gang usually hangs out at a place called the Spotted Dog,” Barb continued. For the next hour she talked about beetles, her friends, and the island itself. By the time the ferry docked, Nancy felt as if she knew Block well.
When Nancy and Hannah arrived on the pier, they were met by the agent who'd rented the cottage to Nancy's aunt Eloise. Nancy waved goodbye to Barb as the man ushered them into the backseat of his jeep, then drove a short distance through streets filled with people, bicycles, mopeds, and cars. Their cottage turned out to be a charming Victorian with white gingerbread trim and rosebushes, set on a hill above the town. The rooms were bright with cheerful yellow curtains and comfortable furniture. Hannah was pleased with the spotless kitchen and Nancy loved the porch overlooking the town and ocean beyond.
As soon as they unpacked, they walked down the hill to a sandwich shop for a late lunch. Afterward, Hannah returned to the cottage for a nap and Nancy set out for Barb's. The small saltbox with red shutters proved easy to find. Nancy climbed up the outside wooden staircase to the second floor apartment and knocked on
the door. It was opened by a pretty, dark-haired girl in a waitress uniform.
“Hi, I'm Angelina Cassetti,” she said in a soft voice. “You must be Nancy. Barb will be ready in a sec. Come on in.”
Nancy stepped into a large room with gleaming oak floors. Futons and oversize pillows in soft hues took the place of furniture, and glossy green plants hung in the windows. A low table, like those Nancy had seen in Japanese restaurants, was placed opposite a tiny kitchenette.
“What a nice place,” Nancy said.
“Thank you.” Angelina scrutinized everything as if seeing it through a stranger's eyes. “The landlady reduced our rent after we refinished the floor and painted. And Barb has a friend whose father owns an import-export store so we got everything at a discount. I have to save most of what I make as a waitress for college expenses, and Barb's grant isn't very largeâ”
“So we put hard work together with Angie's decorating genius and ended up with this,” Barb interrupted, coming out of the bedroom.
“Well, it looks great,” Nancy said, smiling at Angie. “You're really talented.”
“Oh, wellÂ .Â .Â .” Angie blushed.
“Let's get going,” Barb said, grabbing a knapsack. “I can't wait to see how my bugs made out while I was off-island. Angie's letting you borrow her moped and helmet.”
“Thanks, Angie,” Nancy said.
“No problem. I can walk. The place I workâthe Bell Buoyâis just down the hill from here.” Angie glanced at her watch. “Whoops, I'm late. Say hello to the little guys for me.”
In ten minutes Nancy was sitting on Angie's moped, following Barb along the hilly, winding roads toward the southwest corner of the island. The sea breeze caressed her face and lifted her strawberry blond hair off her shoulders. From somewhere nearby she caught sweet whiffs of honeysuckle. Soon Barb slowed down and turned into a side lane. A short while later they stopped at the edge of a field.
“See that rock wall over there?” Barb slung her knapsack on her back and pointed. “The Conservancy set up a trap line along it and I'm going to check it. The beetles are mainly nocturnal, so I can't
we'll see one.”
Nancy followed Barb across the grassy field. “Why are they called burying beetles?”
“Because they bury their food, then lay eggs in a nest and feed the babies from the food they've stored. They're one of few insects that care for their young once they hatchâthe way birds do.”
As they walked, Nancy noticed wild blackberry and bayberry bushes skirting the field. In the distance she could just make out the dark blue Atlantic Ocean.
They reached the rock wall and Barb stooped
down. “Here we are.” She removed a flat piece of wood propped up by a stick that formed a miniature roof over a hole in the ground.
Nancy knelt beside her. A large glass jar was buried up to its neck in the soil. Inside, on the bottom, was a small baby-food jar with a screen covering the opening. She caught a whiff of a strong odor and pulled back. “Wheee-oouu.”
“That's the bait in the little jar.” Barb grinned. “The beetles think it smells delicious. They're drawn to it and fall into the large jar. They can't climb back up the smooth sides, so they're caught for the night. In the morning we count them and let them go. Someone's done the morning count already, but once in a while we get a stray.”
They moved on to the next trap and Barb let out a whoop when she looked inside. “You're in luck, Nancy! This little guy is out past his bedtime!” Barb reached into the jar, carefully removed the insect, and held it out on her open palm.
The beetle was about two inches long and glossy black, with brilliant orange spots. It waved its feelers as if to test the air, then flew off with a loud whirring noise.
“Wow,” Nancy said. “I feel privileged.”
Barb nodded. “I know what you mean. You've just seen one of the world's endangered species.”
Nancy watched as Barb checked the rest of the trap line. When she was finished, Barb said,
“Let's walk back by a different route. There's a great view from the top of that hill over there.”
They headed up to another stone wall. On the far side of it was a dirt drive that led to a pond bordered by a clump of pine trees. Nancy was startled by what she thought was a pheasant in the tangled underbrush. Trying to get a better look, she crept closer. The bird flew off, and it was then she noticed something odd about the ground where the bird had been hiding behind the bushes. The earth was slightly mounded, and the grass on top of it was dry and brown, dead looking.
“Barb,” Nancy called. “There's something strange here.”
Barb hurried over and surveyed the mound that covered an area almost seven feet long and four feet wide. “I hope no one has been digging here for beetles,” she said, pulling a collapsible shovel from her knapsack and snapping it open.
She removed several shovelfuls of dirt, then gasped and stepped back. Something was buried there. Something an ugly gray color.
Nancy took the shovel from her and scooped away more earth.
“No! Stop!” Barb cried, grabbing Nancy's arm.
“We have to see what it is,” Nancy said grimly, though she had already guessed. Lifting a final shovelful of soil, Nancy no longer had any doubts.
A human hand lay exposed in the dirt.
ARB STARED IN HORROR.
“It's a body.Â .Â .Â .”
“We'd better call the police,” Nancy said.
“There's a ph-phone at the convenience store down theÂ .Â .Â .” Barb began to point, then dropped her arm and silently stared at Nancy.
“It's okay.” Nancy led Barb away from the makeshift grave. “Take a deep breath.Â .Â .Â . Good, now let it out.” Trying to calm Barb distracted Nancy from the nausea that was rising from her stomach. Color slowly returned to Barb's face.
“I'll go call the police. Are you coming?”
“I'd better stay here.” Nancy kept her eyes averted from the grisly sight.
“I'll be back as soon as I can,” Barb cried, racing across the field toward the mopeds.
While she waited, Nancy searched the immediate area. She and Barb had left a trail of flattened
meadow grass, but there was no other sign of intrusion. She walked to the dirt driveway. As she passed the shallow pond, the glint of something metallic in the water caught her eye. The object was a few feet from shore, mostly covered with duckweed. She was tempted to find a stick and drag it out, but knew that if it turned out to be related to the case she should leave it for the police.
Soon she heard the wail of an approaching siren and minutes later a police cruiser sped toward her. A young, sandy-haired officer stopped the car and stepped out. “Are you Miss Drew?” he asked. “Can you show me what you found?”
“It's behind those bushes,” Nancy said, leading the way. Just as they reached the grave site more police cars arrived. Nancy moved out of the way while they photographed and put tape up around the potential crime scene. Soon, Barb returned, followed by a doctor, who was there to certify the death.
Nancy put an arm around Barb to steady her as the officers began to remove the rest of the soil covering the body. When the head was revealed, Nancy heard shocked exclamations. She and Barb were standing too far away to see into the grave very well.
Next the young officer came over to question them, flipping his notebook open in an attempt to appear official and calm. Still, Nancy noticed
that his hands shook and his freckles stood out in sharp contrast to his ashen face.
Before he could begin his questions Barb burst out, “Who is it?”
The officer hesitated, glanced back at the corpse, then said, “It's not official until the body is formally identified.”
“It's someone we know, isn't it?” Barb pressed.
“Well, it looks like Tom Haines.” The officer cleared his throat, then swallowed hard.
“Tom Haines?” Barb whispered. “It can't be!”
Before Nancy could stop her, Barb ran to the grave site. She stared at the body for a moment, then spun around and stumbled away, sobbing.
Nancy led Barb over to the stone wall and helped her to sit. It was some minutes before Barb was able to speak.
“It's just soâunreal,” she said, shuddering.
“He was a friend of yours?” Nancy asked.
“Yes, he's one of our gang. I even dated him a few times.Â .Â .Â .” She burst into tears again.
The young officer waited at a distance until Barb was calm enough to talk, then identified himself as Sgt. Jim Hathaway. He started by writing down their names. Nancy answered most of his questions, describing how they'd found the body.
When the sergeant finished and snapped his notebook shut, Nancy said, “I noticed something you might want to check out. There's a metal object in the pond.”
He seemed skeptical, but he agreed to check it out. Nancy led him and Barb to the edge of the water. After a brief search, she found it and pointed it out.
Squinting into the glare off the water, he said, “It looks like a hammer. You didn't touch it, did you?”
“No. I knew it could turn out to be important,” Nancy said.
“That was smart. Most people would have fished it out right away.”
“Well, I've had some detective experience,” Nancy said. “I know not to disturb evidence.”
“Detective experience?” Hathaway raised an eyebrow. “A pretty girl like you?”
Nancy told him about a few of the cases she'd solved. She could see that he was impressed.
Barb, too, acted respectful, saying, “If you're a detective, maybe you could find out how Tomâ”
“I'm sure Sergeant Hathaway and the others can handle the investigation,” Nancy replied.
“Why don't you call me Jim?” Hathaway said. “After all, we're colleagues in a way, and it seems that you have more experience than I do when it comes to murder. Probably more than the senior officers on the force. A murder has never happened on Block, not in my memory.”
think it's murder?” Nancy asked.
“What else could it be?” Jim said. “Tom was only twenty-four, a big guy, healthy as a horse.”
“You knew him well?” Nancy asked.
“It's a small island, especially once the tourists leave. Only about eight hundred of us live here year-round. Tom and I grew up together, but he was several years ahead of me in school. He was something of a troublemaker, to be honest.”
“That's not fair!” Barb said. “He had a rough life, but I know a lot of guys like him where I come from, in South Boston. And how can you talk about him that way? He's dead!” Barb burst into tears and ran toward the mopeds.
“Let her go,” Jim told Nancy. “She needs time. But she's making a mistake, trying to defend Tom. The guy was bad news.”
“What do you mean?” Nancy asked.
“He was always trying to make a buck, and he didn't care how he got it. His junior year in high school, he ran a gambling ring. It only lasted until he was caught with a marked deck of cards, but that was just peanuts compared to what I heard he did later. And I
he was into something big this summer.”
“What?” Nancy asked.
“I'm not sure, but it definitely wasn't honest,” Jim said. “He was flashing a lot of money around, talking about buying his own boat, and he hadn't worked in almost two months. Even a used boat costs plenty these days, so he must have had something big going.”
A police lieutenant came over to them. Jim introduced Nancy, then showed him the hammer.
They dragged it from the pond with a long stick and dropped it into a plastic evidence bag.
“The chief wants you to head back to the station,” the lieutenant said. “Get this ready to send off to the lab, then start on your report.”
“Yes, sir,” Jim said as he strode away. He turned to Nancy. “Thanks for your help, Miss Drew.”
“Nancy, please,” she said.
He smiled for the first time, a boyish grin. “Could you come down to headquarters in a little while? I'll type up the statements for you and Barb to sign.”
“Sure,” Nancy said. “We'll meet you there.”
Barb was waiting for her by the mopeds, her eyes puffy and red from weeping. When Nancy told her about Jim's request, Barb nodded, then mounted her bike and silently led the way back to the main road, turning north toward Great Salt Pond.
They stopped for a soda at the convenience store where Barb had phoned the police. This seemed to calm down Barb. Then they rode to the police station, which was located minutes from the center of Old Harbor.
As Nancy and Barb walked in, they were greeted by the dispatcher in her small office to the right of the door. “You can wait for Sergeant Hathaway in there,” the woman told them, pointing to the main room. The phone rang and she snatched it up. “No, I can't comment about a
murder,” she told the caller, annoyed. “The chief will be making an official statement later today.” She hung up and the phone rang again. Shaking her head, she repeated the same thing to the next caller.
Several people were sitting in the main room, and through an open door, Nancy could see into the garage where the patrol cars were parked.
“Do you know anything about the murder?” a short, bald man with a notebook asked Nancy.
“No,” she replied.
The man hurried over to a young couple who had just come in and questioned them eagerly. More and more people arrived. Nancy was relieved when Jim appeared and led them into a small office crowded with three desks. Barb had remained very quiet the whole time. After Jim typed her statement into the computer, she signed the printout, checked to be sure Nancy knew the way home, then quickly left.
By the time Nancy had signed her own statement, the small police station was abuzz with excitement. At least a dozen people milled around, exchanging rumors about the murder.
“Can I buy you a cup of coffee?” Jim offered, glancing at his watch. “I'm due for a short break.”
“I'd love it,” Nancy answered.
He was leading her to the door when a tall, distinguished man with iron gray hair called out,
“Sergeant Hathaway, could I see you for a moment?”
They stopped and turned around. “Certainly, Congressman,” Jim said with respect. “What can I do for you?”
The man strode toward them, followed by a very blond, very handsome young man. “What in blazes is going on here?” the older man asked with an accent that sounded vaguely Western. “We came to file a complaint against trespassers on our property and found this place busy as a barn at milking time.”
Jim lowered his voice. “A body was found earlier this afternoon, sir. In fact, this young lady was one of the people who reported it. Nancy Drew, this is State Congressman Walt Winchester and his son, Scott. The Winchesters are building a house on the island.”
“It's nice to meet you.” Nancy held out her hand, noticing the congressman's red- and white-checked shirt and cowboy boots. His son wore deck shoes, jeans, and a blue polo shirt that matched the blue of his eyes. Not even the bruise on his cheek could spoil his incredible good looks, but his expression was tense, remote, and a little superior, Nancy thought.
“Pleased to meet you, ma'am,” Winchester drawled. “A body, you said? Someone died?”
“Yes, sir. We believe it was one of our peopleâan Islander, that is. The next of kin is here now to
make the identification.” Jim nodded at a closed door behind the congressman.
“What happened? Another of those blasted moped accidents?” Winchester sounded irritated. “It's a wonder people aren't killed every day, the way the tourists drive.”
“It wasn't an accident, sir. At least it doesn't appear that way, but I can't say more right now.”
The congressman gave Jim a sharp glance. He reminded Nancy of an eagleâimposing, dignified, and ever watchful. “What's all this mystery?”
Jim cleared his throat. “It's just that we've barely begun our investigation and we're not able to discuss it yet. We'll be making an announcement as soon as the body has been officially identified by the victim's aunt.”
“I see.” Winchester nodded. “Thank you, Sergeant.” He and his son walked away.
“Winchester is a very important person in New York politics,” Jim told Nancy. “In fact, the rumor is he's about to be nominated as a judge on the state supreme court.”
“It's interesting,” Nancy said. “He sounds more like a Westerner than someone from New York.”
“I understand that he moved up from Texas after his wife died some years ago. Apparently he lost a big election and blamed the other candidate for causing her heart attack. Claimed he waged a dirty campaign.”
Nancy saw the door that Jim had indicated earlier was now opening. Others noticed it, too, and a hush fell over the room as the crowd waited for the next of kin to emerge.
A burly police officer appeared, supporting a small, plump, white-haired woman. The woman took a step forward, her face so white it resembled marble. Then her legs dissolved under her as she started to collapse in a faint.
“I know her!” Nancy whispered, her blue eyes widening. “That's Hannah's friendâthe quilter, Sarah Windsor!”
HE OFFICER CAUGHT
as she was falling. Jim ran over to help him put her into a chair, announcing in a loud voice, “That's it, folks. Please clear the room.”
Nancy was about to help when the doctor she'd seen at the grave site appeared and bent over the older woman.
Jim returned to Nancy's side. “I'm sure she'll be fine once we get her home. But would you mind taking a rain check on that cup of coffee?”
“Sure. I should be getting back anyway. Maybe I'll see you tomorrow,” she said, turning away.
Outside the station, Nancy collected Angie's moped, then slowly rode it into town. She left the moped in Angie's garage, along with a note of thanks, and walked on to the cottage.
Hannah was in the kitchen mixing a pitcher of
iced tea when Nancy arrived. “I walked down to the grocery store, but I only bought a few things. I thought we could eat out tonightâ” Noticing Nancy's expression, she interrupted herself. “What's the matter?”
Nancy told her about the death of Sarah's nephew.
“I've got to go to her. Can you call a cab?” Hannah untied her apron. “Sarah lives off Corn Neck Road. Oh, poor dear, I know she was worried about him. She told me all about him, how he'd lost his parents and everything. She said he'd been gone since Friday night.”
“Did she report him missing to the police?” Nancy asked, looking up taxicabs in the phone book.
“No. According to Sarah, he was a moody boy. He stayed with her, but he'd often go off for days at a time without a word.”
Nancy wasn't surprised that Hannah knew so much about Tom, although she'd only met his aunt that morning. Total strangers often opened up to Hannah, sensing they could tell her anything. Nancy dialed the cab company and minutes later Hannah was off to comfort her new friend.
After that, Nancy called Barb. “I'm okay, Nancy, but I went over to talk to D. J. Divott and I'm really worried about him. He's awfully upset about Tom's death. They've been best friends since they were little kids.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Thanks, but not now.” Barb sighed. “I'd planned to take you to the Spotted Dog tonight.Â .Â .Â .”
“Don't worry about it,” Nancy said.
“Wait, I have an idea for tomorrow,” Barb said. “I always swim two miles when I finish work. Why don't you come to the beach with me tomorrow afternoon? We can lie in the sun and pretend this Â .Â .Â . murder never happened.”
“Good idea.” Nancy arranged to pick Barb up at her apartment the next day and hung up, then sank into a rocking chair on the porch.
Hannah returned at six and reported that Sarah's living room was full of friends who had come over to keep her company. She and Nancy decided to fix a simple supper of soup and sandwiches. A game of gin helped keep Nancy's mind off the murder during the evening, but as she fell asleep that night, she couldn't forget the image of Tom Haines's body buried in that lonely spot.
â¢Â â¢Â â¢
Right after breakfast Nancy and Hannah walked into town to the moped rental shop. Nancy rented a blue moped and was surprised when Hannah chose a bright red one. The shop owner suggested they practice in the large parking lot before going out on the road.
They donned their helmets and Nancy showed Hannah how to turn on the motor. She pointed
to the right handlebar grip. “Think of that as your gas pedal. Turn it toward you, gently, like this, to give it a little gas.”
Hannah twisted the grip and the motor roared. She jumped at the sound and let go of the handle. The engine automatically slowed.
“Not too much,” Nancy said. Hannah tried again and the engine rose to a purr. “That's it. The levers on the handlebars are the brakes. When you want to slow down, release the gas and squeeze them.”
“It seems easy,” Hannah exclaimed. “It's just like riding a bike, without pumping.”
Nancy smiled. “Right. Now start off slowly. Just give it the tiniest bit of gas.”
Hannah took a deep breath. “Okay, here I go!” She puttered at two miles an hour around the lot, making a wide circle that arced back toward Nancy. “This isn't so hard!” she called. “It's
than a bike!”
Nancy watched her make another wide turn. Suddenly the motor revved and Hannah shot back up the lot.
“Hit the brakes, Hannah!” Nancy shouted.
Hannah slowed only to make the turn around the row of parked cars. The bike tilted as she leaned into the curve. Then she raced back toward Nancy and skidded to a halt in front of her.
“I think I've got the hang of it,” Hannah said, grinning.
“You scared me to death!” Nancy said, her heart still pounding.
“Don't worry about me, dear. I watch the road races on television all the time.” Hannah patted Nancy's shoulder.
“Um, right, but control is important,” Nancy reminded her. “Once we get out in trafficÂ .Â .Â .”
“I'll be fine,” Hannah said calmly. “Shall we hit the road?”
Nancy watched in amazement as Hannah negotiated her way through the busy downtown streets. It seemed as if she'd been riding all her life. Shaking her head in disbelief, Nancy wondered what other surprises Hannah had in store for her during the vacation.
At Hannah's insistence, they rode across the island to the Captain's Catch for lunch. Only a few tables were occupied in the dining room, but the deck overlooking Great Salt Pond was packed. Nancy and Hannah decided to wait for an outdoor table.
As she stood near the reservation stand, Nancy glanced around the restaurant, noticing the heavy tables, comfortable chairs, and dark wood paneling hung with pictures of old sailing ships. Nancy spotted the New York congressman, Walt Winchester, alone at a corner table. Just then a man in a business suit carrying a battered briefcase entered the restaurant and strode over to Winchester.
A few minutes later the hostess led Nancy and
Hannah to the deck. As they passed near Winchester, who was studying a typewritten sheet of paper, the man stood up, said goodbye, and began to walk away.
Nancy noticed he'd left his briefcase on the floor. “Sir,” she called, but he didn't turn back. Nancy spoke to the congressman. “Your friend forgot his briefcase.”
Winchester's face flashed annoyance, which vanished as soon as he recognized Nancy. “Why, Miss Drew, how nice to see you again.” He stood and gave Nancy a courtly nod of his head, then glanced at the briefcase. “He didn't forget it. I'm afraid it's full of importantâbut tediousâdocuments for me to study. I can't escape from work, even when Congress is in recess.”
Nancy smiled sympathetically. “May I introduce my friend, Hannah Gruen? Hannah, this is Congressman Walt Winchester.”
“I'm pleased to meet you,” he said, grinning. “In fact, it's a real privilege to meet such an attractive lady.”
Hannah's cheeks grew pink. “It's nice to meet you, too, Congressman.”
He glanced at his watch. “I'm afraid you'll have to excuse me. Have to fly back to Albany for a conference with the governor. My pilot is waiting at the airport.”
“You have your own plane?” Hannah asked.
“Sure do,” he replied affably as he pulled some bills out of his wallet and tossed them on the
table. “Perhaps you might like to join me for a ride sometime, Ms. Gruen. We could hop over to Newport for lunch, or would you prefer Nantucket?”
“Well, either would be lovely, I'm sure,” Hannah said graciously.
“Good, I look forward to it.” With that, he picked up the briefcase and nodded to Nancy. “I must be off. Goodbye, ladies.”
Nancy led a smiling Hannah to their table. When the waitress handed her a menu, Hannah read through it. “Heavens, look what they're charging for lobster salad!”
Nancy studied the face she had known since childhood, suddenly seeing Hannah in a new light. Her skin was unlined and the color of peaches and cream, her gray hair soft, her figure trim. No wonder a man like Walt Winchester would find her attractive.
Hannah leaned toward Nancy. “He's quite a charmer, isn't he?”
Nancy grinned. “Yes, he is. I understand he may be appointed a judge on the New York State Supreme Court.”
“Really?” Hannah glanced at the menu. After a minute she said, “You know, I think I'll have that lobster salad.”
After a leisurely lunch, the two of them separated. Hannah proudly rode her moped back to the cottage, and Nancy decided to stop by the police station before picking up Barb to go to the
beach. She found Jim in his office, typing up a report.
“Hi,” she said. “Got time to buy a girl a cup of coffee?”
The sergeant looked up from the computer screen. “Hi, Nancy. Gosh, I wish I could but we're swamped. How about a cup of the local brew instead?” He indicated the coffeemaker in the corner.
“Sure. I won't keep you. I just wondered how the case is going.”
“Before we sent the hammer to the lab on the mainland for analysis, we noticed initials scratched into the handle. They led us to a suspect.” He poured a cup of coffee and handed it to her. “He's being questioned right now.”
Nancy was surprised. “That's fast work. Does that mean you think the hammer is the murder weapon?”
“The preliminary autopsy showed bruises on the face and head, but the cause of death was a sharp blow to the back of the skull. It will take a while to determine if the wound could have been caused by the hammer, but it seems likely.”
“Bruises,” Nancy said, thinking out loud. “Sounds like he must have been in a fight before he was killed.”
“That's what we figure.”
“Who is your suspect?” she asked.
Jim frowned. “Another Islander. They both fell for the same girl, and twice before this they
tried to settle it with their fists. It's too badâthey used to be friends.”
“Hathaway,” a police officer called from the main room. “The chief wants you.”
“On my way,” Jim answered. “I've got to run, Nancy.”
“See you later. And congratulations on solving the case so quickly.”
Jim grinned and hurried away.
As Nancy rode her moped to Barb's apartment she felt a sense of relief that the case had apparently been solved so soon. Jim sounded confident that the lab would find evidence that the hammer was the murder weapon. She was ready to relax and enjoy her vacation, without the complication of a murder.
She was wearing a new bikini under her shorts and T-shirt, and had a towel and her tote bag stuffed in the moped's basket. She was anticipating a brisk swim followed by a lazy afternoon on the sand.
At the apartment Angie opened the door. “Hi,” she said. “Barb should be here any minute. Come on in.”
Nancy and Angie chatted while waiting for Barb. Nancy found out that the two had met at college in Boston, where Angie was majoring in art. Her father owned a pizza restaurant, a popular hangout for college students, and Angie worked there part-time, as did all her brothers
and sisters. With her experience as a waitress, it had been easy to find a summer job on Block.
Without warning the door burst open and Barb charged in, furious. “You'll never believe what's just happened!”
“What?” Nancy asked, standing up.
“Do you know what the police have done now?”
“Why don't you tell us,” Angie said calmly. She seemed to be used to Barb's outbursts.
“They picked up D. J. Divott. They think he murdered Tom!” Barb shouted.
“D.J.? Tom's best friend?” Angie said, clearly surprised.
“D.J. didn't do it, I know he didn't! They're arresting an innocent man!
And it's all my fault!”