The little cottage, which had been the gatehouse of the manor in the days of carriages and sleighs, was so covered with wisteria vines they could hardly see it. But Bobby’s sharp blue eyes caught a glimpse of the door, and before Trixie could stop him, he raced down to yank it open.
“Wait, Bobby,” she yelled, “don’t go in until we–”
But he had already darted over the threshold. And then he screamed. Trixie, her heart in her mouth, dashed across the remaining stretch of lawn. What could have happened? What on earth could have been inside the old abandoned cottage to make Bobby scream?
Then she saw to her relief that he had merely tripped on the rotting door sill and lay sprawling in the semidarkness of the interior.
“Honestly,” Trixie moaned to Honey, “if there’s anything in the whole of Westchester County to trip over, Bobby trips over it.”
Together, they helped the little boy to his feet and carried him out to the bright light. Blood was trickling from his right knee. Trixie was used to Bobby’s accidents, but she knew that the sight of blood sometimes made Honey feel faint.
“It’s nothing,” she said quickly as she tied her clean handkerchief around the cut. “Bobby is always covered with bandages, anyway. He must have fallen on a pebble in the dirt floor.”
“I wanna go home,” Bobby was wailing.
“Of course you do,” Honey cried sympathetically. “But let’s ask Regan to look at your knee, first. He knows all about first aid, you know.”
“I want Regan,” Bobby said promptly through his tears. “I love
Regan. He’ll give me a ride on Lady.”
“That’s right,” Trixie said. “If
you don’t cry when he puts iodine on your cut. Do you want to ride pickaback on my shoulders, or can you walk?”
Bobby tossed his silky curls. “I never yell when people put iodine on me.” He started off up the grassy slope toward the stable, first hopping, then limping, and finally, when he caught sight of Regan, he broke into a run.
The tall, broad-shouldered groom scooped the boy into his arms and gently removed Trixie’s improvised bandage.
“First aid me, Regan,” Bobby ordered. “First aid me. Take me up to your room on top of the g’rage and first aid me.”
“That I will,” Regan said, grinning. “You didn’t cut yourself on a rusty nail, did you?”
“We don’t know what he fell on,” Trixie replied and turned to Honey. “I guess we’d better go back and look inside the cottage with flashlights to make sure. If it was a rusty nail that cut him, Bobby should have a booster tetanus shot. Puncture wounds, you know.”
Honey nodded. “There’re a couple of flashlights in the tack room. All right if we borrow them, Regan?”
“Natch,” the pleasant-faced groom said as he strode toward the garage with Bobby. “The kid probably cut himself on a harmless pebble, but you girls had better make sure. Meanwhile, I’ll wash the knee and paint it with iodine.”
Five minutes later the girls stood at the entrance to the old cottage. “He must have fallen right about here,” Trixie said, pointing with the beam of her flashlight. “He’s got short legs, so when he tripped on the sill–” She stopped. Something glittered in the beam of her torch. “A piece of glass,” she said moving cautiously inside.
Honey followed her, and then they saw that the glittering object was imbedded in the dirt floor. Trixie pried it loose with a twig.
“Oh, golly,” she gasped. “It looks just like the stone in the ring Jim gave me. You remember, Honey, his great-aunt’s solitaire which we found up at the mansion before it burned. Dad put it in our safety deposit box at the bank until I’m older. But this couldn’t be a diamond.”
She led the way outside and handed the stone to Honey. Honey examined it carefully. The facets glittered brilliantly in the bright sunlight. After a moment, Honey said in an awed tone of voice, “But it is
a diamond, Trixie! I’m sure! How on earth did it get inside this old, tumbledown cottage?”
Excerpted from The Gatehouse Mystery by Julie Campbell. Copyright © 2003 by Random House, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Listening Library (Audio), a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.