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Authors: Carolyn G. Keene

The Mystery of the 99 Steps

BOOK: The Mystery of the 99 Steps
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Table of Contents
 
 
THE MYSTERY OF THE 99 STEPS
NANCY DREW’S search for a flight of 99 steps to solve the mystery of a friend’s weird dream takes her to France. But before she leaves the United States, an unknown person calling himself Monsieur Neuf warns the young sleuth not to pursue her mission.
With her friends Bess and George, Nancy arrives in Paris to join her father who is working on another case: to find out what, or who, is frightening wealthy financier Monsieur Leblanc into selling large amounts of securities.
Startling discoveries convince the young detective that Mr. Drew’s case and her own mystery are linked by the 99 steps, and that a mysterious Arab has a strong hold over Leblanc. Is it blackmail? she wonders.
Nancy’s quest for further clues leads to the romantic chateau country in the Loire Valley, where a web of danger closes in tightly around the three girls. How Nancy unearths the exciting mystery of the 99 steps will hold the reader spellbound with suspense.
Suddenly Nancy spotted the mysterious Arab
Copyright © 1994, 1966 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 : 978-1-101-07744-3
2008 Printing

http://us.penguingroup.com

CHAPTER I
The Strange Dream
 
 
 
“How exciting, Nancy! Your dad really wants Bess and me to go to France with you?” Nancy’s tomboy friend exclaimed over the telephone.
“Yes, George, to help us solve a couple of mysteries. How about you girls having dinner with me tonight and I’ll tell you the details.”
“Give me a hint,” George begged. “I can hardly wait!”
Nancy Drew laughed. “My case involves a weird dream.”
“A dream!” George exclaimed. “Hypers! And what’s your dad’s case about?”
“Too confidential for the phone,” Nancy replied. “Be here at five so we can talk it over before dinner. I’ll call Bess.”
Bess Marvin and George Fayne were cousins. Like Nancy, they were eighteen, and had been friends of the attractive, titian-haired girl detective for a long time. They arrived promptly. Blond Bess’s warm smile revealed two dimples. George, with close-cropped dark hair, was slim and athletic—the exact opposite of her slightly plump cousin.
“We both have permission to go to France, Nancy,” said Bess, “but please,
please
don’t get me into any scary situations the way you have in your other mysteries.”
Nancy grinned and put an arm affectionately around Bess. “I can’t promise, but—”
“Of course you can’t,” George interrupted. “Besides, that’s what makes solving mysteries so exciting. Now tell us all about everything.”
The three girls went into the living room, where a cheerful blaze crackled in the fireplace. This was an unseasonably cool June day. Bess and George seated themselves in comfortable chairs, but Nancy remained standing, her back to the fire. Her blue eyes glistened excitedly.
“Begin!” George urged. “From your expression I’d say we shouldn’t waste a minute getting these mysteries solved.”
“How’d you guess?” said Nancy. “Dad has already gone to Paris on his case. We’re to meet him at a hotel there and after a couple of days in Paris we girls will go for a visit to a large chateau in the country.”
Bess’s face glowed. “A real chateau! Divine!”
“Not only that,” Nancy went on, smiling, “we’re having dinner guests tonight—they live in the chateau.”
“We’ll be staying with them?” Bess asked.
“No, they’re visiting in the States for a few weeks and staying right in this house. You girls and I will be exchange guests.”
George chuckled. “Will I be in exchange for a boy?”
Laughingly Nancy replied, “They’re girls—Marie and Monique Bardot.” She explained that arrangements had been made between her father and an aunt of the Bardot sisters. Carson Drew was a prominent attorney, who often was called upon to handle difficult cases. Frequently his daughter helped him.
“The girls’ aunt, who is a few years older than their mother,” Nancy continued, “lives here in River Heights. Marie and Monique are with her right now. But her apartment is too small to accommodate overnight guests. Mrs. Blair is the person with one of the mysteries—mine. She asked me to solve it.”
Nancy went to stand by the fire. “You both know Mrs. Josette Blair, don’t you?”
“Of course!” said Bess. “She’s that lovely woman who lives in the apartment house near us. Don’t tell me she’s having more trouble and so soon after her husband and son were killed in that car accident. Now she has a sprained ankle! Poor Mrs. Blair,” Bess added sympathetically.
“This is another kind of trouble,” Nancy told the cousins. “It’s weird. Every night Mrs. Blair has a horrible nightmare and wakes up with her heart pounding. In her dream she’s blindfolded and is about to fall down a long flight of stairs, with someone whispering, ‘99 steps.’ ”
“How horrible!” Bess murmured.
“But,” put in practical George, “at least it’s only a dream. What’s the mystery?”
“The mystery of the 99 steps,” Nancy answered. “You see, Mrs. Blair lived in various places in France as a small child, and actually had this frightening experience, but she can’t remember where or anything else about it. For years she did not think of what happened but recently had the dream again. Then something occurred that has really frightened her.”
“What was it?” George asked.
Nancy said that Mrs. Blair had received a letter from Paris, written in French. “Unfortunately, in a moment of panic she destroyed the message. There was only one sentence in it. ‘Tell no one about the 99 steps. Monsieur Neuf’!”
“Mr. Nine, eh?” Bess murmured, and Nancy nodded.
“It’s our job,” she continued, “to find Monsieur Neuf and where the 99 steps are, and—well, solve the mystery so poor Mrs. Blair can sleep peacefully again.”
As Nancy stooped to poke the fire and put on another log, Bess groaned. “I can see danger ahead with this mysterious Mr. Nine.”
Suddenly the three girls were startled by a loud whirring noise. “A helicopter!” George cried out. “It’s awfully close!”
The girls listened tensely, knowing it was against a River Heights ordinance for any aircraft to fly so low over the residential area. Was the pilot in trouble?
An instant later a strong downdraft of air burst from the chimney. It sent sparks, soot, and ashes over Nancy and into the room.
“Oh, Nancy!” Bess screamed.
She rushed forward with George to help Nancy. They patted out the sparks in her hair and on her sweater. Then George trampled some burning fragments on the carpet.
The scream had brought Mrs. Hannah Gruen, the Drews’ housekeeper, running from the kitchen. She was a kind, pleasant-faced woman who had helped to rear Nancy since the sudden death of Mrs. Drew when the girl was three years old.
Hannah exclaimed, “What happened? Oh, my goodness!” she added, seeing Nancy covered with soot and ashes.
“That helicopter!” George exclaimed. “I’ll bet it caused this mess!”
While Bess told Mrs. Gruen about the chimney episode and Nancy went upstairs to bathe, George dashed outdoors. She could see the helicopter in the distance, apparently getting ready to land at the River Heights airport.
“That pilot ought to be reported!” George thought angrily.
When Nancy came downstairs, George mentioned this and Nancy agreed. “I’ll drive out to the airport tomorrow morning to see about it.”
“In the meantime, Detective Drew,” put in Bess, “tell us more about your mystery. For instance, how did Mr. Nine find out where Mrs. Blair is?”
“I suppose from her relatives in France. We’ll ask Marie and Monique when they come. Maybe they can give us some other clues, too.”
At that moment a taxi drove up and two attractive, dark-haired girls alighted. Each carried a large and a small suitcase. Nancy went to the door to meet them.
“You are Nancy Drew?” asked the taller of the pair, smiling. She had a musical voice with a delightful accent.
Nancy smiled.
“Oui.
And you are Marie,
n’est-
ce
pas?”
She turned to the shorter girl. “Hello, Monique. Please come in, and welcome!”
As soon as the Bardots were in the hall, Nancy introduced Bess, George, and Mrs. Gruen. Then the visitors’ bags were carried upstairs.
“What a charming house!” exclaimed Monique when all the girls were seated in the living room. “You are very kind to invite us, Nancy. We do not want to be any trouble. Mrs. Gruen must give us something to do.”
BOOK: The Mystery of the 99 Steps
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