Table of Contents
Suddenly a panel in the wall slid open
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Copyright © 1989, 1961, 1930 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
Published by Grosset & Dunlap, Inc., a member of The Putnam &
Grosset Group, New York. Published simultaneously in Canada. .S.A.
NANCY DREW MYSTERY STORIES® is a registered trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
GROSSET & DUNLAP is a trademark of Grosset & Dunlap, Inc.
eISBN : 978-1-440-67367-2
Mysterious Canoe Mishap
“NANCY Drew! How did you and Helen paddle that canoe up here so fast from River Heights?” cried Doris Drake in astonishment.
Nancy, an attractive titian blond, grinned up at her friend. Doris was weeding a flower garden at her home along the riverbank. “How do you know when we left home?” Nancy’s blue eyes twinkled.
“My friend Phyl told me on the phone just half an hour ago that she’d talked with you, Nancy, at the Elite Drug Store in River Heights.”
Nancy looked surprised. “She couldn’t have. Helen and I were on our way here at that time.”
Slender, pretty Helen Corning, three years older than Nancy, frowned. “You must have a double, Nancy. Better watch out!”
“I can’t understand it,” Nancy murmured. “You say Phyl
to her and she didn’t say it was a mistake?”
“That’s right, Nancy,” said Doris. “But Phyl was wrong, of course. After all, she doesn’t know you terribly well. Say, where are you and Helen going?”
“To visit overnight with Emily Willoughby and her aunt at Lilac Inn. They’re family friends. Emily and her fiancé—we’ve never met him—have bought the inn, and Em tells me, plan to run it full time.”
Helen added, “Nancy and I are to be Emily’s bridesmaids. We’ll talk over wedding plans.”
“How wonderful!” Doris exclaimed.
Nancy and Helen said good-by and paddled off upstream. The Angus River, a tributary of the Muskoka, was banked on either side with dense shrubbery, willow trees, and wild flowers.
“We’re almost to Benton,” Nancy said. “The old inn should be just beyond the next bend.”
The next second something rammed the canoe violently. The impact capsized the craft, hurling Nancy and Helen into the chilly May water!
Fortunately, the girls were excellent swimmers. Each instinctively grasped her buoyant, waterproof canvas traveling bag, bobbing nearby, and swam to a grassy bank.
“Whew!” said Nancy, as she dropped her bag to the ground. “Are you all right, Helen?”
Her friend nodded, shivering in her bedraggled shirt and slacks, despite the warm sun. “What made us capsize?”
The impact capsized the canoe
Nancy shrugged. She kicked off her moccasins and plunged into the water again to find out, and to retrieve the canoe. It was drifting upside down a short distance away.
After righting the canoe, Nancy towed it to where they had overturned. She ducked her head beneath the unruffled surface, but saw nothing unusual in the twenty-foot-deep water.
“That’s strange,” she thought. “Maybe we hit a floating log.” But this explanation did not fully satisfy her. A drifting log probably would be still in sight, and there was none.
Nancy pushed the canoe toward shore. Helen grabbed the stern, and pulled the canoe far enough up the bank so the girls could examine it. To their relief, it was undamaged.
“Did you see that man with the crew cut in the rowboat?” Helen asked,
Helen pointed to a small, high dock fifty feet downstream. She said that while Nancy was swimming, the man had climbed from the water into a rowboat, glanced their way, then gone in the opposite direction.
“He didn’t even try to help us!” Helen said indignantly. “Do you think maybe
upset our canoe?”
“I don’t see how he could have.” Nancy smiled. “But he has upset
The girls stepped back into the canoe and pad-died off. As they rounded the next bend, Helen cried, “There’s the Lilac Inn dock!”
When the canoe came abreast of the dock, Nancy secured it to a post. The girls hopped out and started up the path that led to the inn. On both sides of the path were groves of lilac trees which displayed a profusion of blooms, from creamy white to deep purple.
As the girls gazed in delight, a voice called, “Nancy! Helen! I’m so glad to see you. But what, ever happened?”
“Emily! Pretend I’m hugging you,” Nancy said with a laugh, and explained their accident.
Emily Willoughby, a dainty young woman, had chestnut-colored hair, set off to advantage by her white linen dress.
Beside her stood a handsome, well-built man with wavy, black hair. Nancy and Helen assumed the young man was her fiancé, Dick Farnham, but Emily introduced him as John McBride, an old friend of Dick’s.
“John is going to be Dick’s best man,” Emily explained.
John smiled cordially. “Dick and I were boyhood friends in California, and roommates at college. I’m an Army sergeant on a month’s leave.” He looked at the new arrivals with twinkling eyes. “Emily will tell you why I’m here. And I’m sure glad I am.”
“Now don’t go making up to my friends, John,” Emily teased. “Helen is engaged to Jim Archer, who has a position with an oil company overseas, and Nancy—well, she’s mighty busy these days.”
The visitors laughed, as Emily added, “You girls change into dry clothes at once.”
John carried their bags, as Emily led the way along a shrubbed path which opened onto the spacious lawn surrounding Lilac Inn. Helen and Nancy looked with admiration at the historic hotel, erected in Revolutionary times.
“Here are the new guest cottages,” Emily said, as they reached a group of twelve trim white units. “And this one is where you’ll stay.”
She unlocked the door of the second cottage and the friends stepped inside. John set down the bags. “See you girls later,” he said.
As Helen admired the attractive colonial-style bedroom, Nancy noticed a look of anxiety in Emily’s eyes. But the next instant it vanished.
Nancy and Helen listened with great interest while their friend said that she and Dick were enlarging the inn. “John has been a big help with our projects. Dick is in New York working on publicity for us.”
“I’m sure Lilac Inn will be a bang-up success,” Nancy told her.
“Oh, I hope so,” Emily said. For a fleeting moment Nancy again detected a worried look in the young woman’s eyes. Why?
Emily went on, “You’re almost the first guests in our cottage section—John was first. He’s staying near you. The official opening of the inn won’t be until July first. That is, if we can complete everything by then,” she added dubiously.
“If your aunt is here, Em, I’d love to see her,” Nancy said.
“Aunt Hazel’s been looking forward to seeing you. I’ll tell her you’ve arrived. Come over to the inn after you’ve unpacked.”
Nancy and Helen changed into pastel cotton dresses, put away the few belongings they had brought, then headed for the inn. As they walked across the lawn, they passed gardeners who were pruning trees and cultivating flower beds edged with pansies.
“It’s perfectly beautiful here,” Helen remarked.
The girls went to the front of the inn, a two-story clapboard building with a one-level wing on either side. All around it were lilac trees and other flowering bushes. Nancy and Helen mounted the wide steps and entered the center hall. Its paneled walls, old staircase, and beautiful cut-glass chandelier made them feel as though they had stepped back into an earlier century.
The reservation desk was in an alcove off the hallway. John McBride was just putting a letter into the outgoing mail slot.
“Hi!” He grinned. “Ready for a tour of inspection ? Delighted to escort you.”
“We accept.” Helen smiled. “After Nancy and I say hello to Emily’s Aunt Hazel.”