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The Merriweather Girls and the Mystery of the Queen's Fan   By:

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[Transcriber's note: Extensive research found no evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

The Merriweather Girls











Made in U. S. A.



I Private Property II The Picnic III The Merriweather Manor IV The Queen's Fan V Across the Hudson VI The Rescue VII Lady Betty's Adventure VIII The Thorn in the Flesh IX Shirley's Shop X Willing Helpers XI The First Customer XII A Merry Christmas XIII Bet's Party XIV The Lost Fan XV Under Suspicion XVI Hermit's Hut XVII On Guard XVIII Colonel Baxter Returns XIX The Reward

The Mystery of the Queen's Fan



The broad Hudson shimmered gaily in the sunshine of late summer, tiny rippling splashes of white dotted its surface and some of the joy of the day was reflected in the faces of the three girls who sat on the hillside far above the river bank, each intent on her own thoughts.

For a long time no one had spoken. Bet Baxter was watching a seagull rising, wheeling, soaring and settling again on the water, her blue eyes glowing as she followed the long sweeping lines of its flight and the tilt of its wings.

Joy Evans watched the gull with a different feeling. The thrill of its motion set every nerve in her body tingling with a desire to dance and skip or shout or laugh, while the quiet Shirley Williams did not see it at this moment; she was gazing into the finder of her camera as she pointed it toward the distant view of the Palisades.

The girls were often to be found here under the big elm tree. It was their favorite spot in all that wide expanse of lawn and woodland that made up the Merriweather Estate, the home of Colonel Baxter. And here it was that they always brought their picnic feast, and today the basket reposed near by filled with surprises that Auntie Gibbs, the Baxter housekeeper loved to prepare for Bet and her friends.

These girls had the run of the grounds, for Uncle Nat, the old gardener was as indulgent with this motherless girl as her easy going father. What Bet wanted, she usually got, for no one could quite resist the charm of her smile, least of all her two chums, Shirley Williams and Joy Evans.

They made a lovely picture as they sat there with the sunlight pouring down upon them. Bet's golden hair was rumpled by the wind but then Bet's hair was mostly rumpled for one reason or another. Her face was flushed, her eyes bright just because she was happy and enjoyed life.

Shirley's head was bent over her camera. She was the serious one of the group. Shirley could enter into the good times as well as the others, but her smile came less quickly. And there were days, like the present, when her face would wrinkle with a frown as she tried to work out some problem in photography. Picture taking was her hobby, and when the other girls skipped and danced about, Shirley would often trudge along burdened with a camera and tripod.

Joy was all sunshine. It was just as impossible for her to keep still as it would be for a dancing sunbeam to become motionless. Now, as she watched the gull, she suddenly jumped to her feet, and poising on tiptoe, swayed her slender body in rhythm with the flight of the gull.

Abruptly, a rustling sound, the breaking of a twig, disturbed the quiet and Bet sat erect with a gasp of surprise. She caught Joy by the arm. "S sh! Keep quiet!"

For a tall girl, slightly older than the three, had appeared on top of the stone wall that enclosed the estate and with a quick jump had straddled it. Whipping off her cap she twirled it around her head. "Whoopee!" she shouted, and her curly black locks bobbed in the breeze. Then beating her cap against the wall at her side she cried: "Go it Powder! Let's race! Faster! Faster! Good old pony!"

Bet and her friends might have laughed at this strange sight if the play had continued a moment longer, but in the next second the girl had thrown herself flat on the wall and had burst into tears... Continue reading book >>

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