Summer's a good time for Trixie.
The girls were wearing shorts and tops so that they could take a dip in the lake whenever they wanted to, without bothering to change into swimsuits.There's swimming! And horses! Oh, and diamonds.
One diamond, actually, found by Trixie and Honey (of course) in the floor of the cottage at the edge of the Manor House grounds.
Honey, having learned how to tell real gems from paste (what else would a millionaire's daughter do?), is ready to hand the diamond over to the police immediately. But the ever-persuasive Trixie has other plans.
"Oh, no, please," Trixie begged. "Let's not tell anybody about it for a little while. Let's try to solve the mystery of how it got in the cottage ourselves."And why doesn't Trixie want the police involved?
"The cottage would be positively crawling with detectives who'd find all the clues before we had a chance."Because this is when Trixie discovers her true calling: she's going to be a detective. And Honey too, just as soon as they get through with pesky things like chores and school and older brothers who like to make fun of them.
Yes, brothers. Aside from the detective thing, Brian and Mart Belden's first appearance is what makes The Gatehouse Mystery the first real book in the series. (There's also the fact that I had this one long before I acquired the first two, but I'm sticking with my thesis.)
"The one on the left with the funny-looking crew cut is Mart. The other odd-looking creature is Brian. I hate them both at the moment."Trixie hates her brothers (at the moment) for the same reason I love them: they provide some much-needed perspective and tranquility, and aren't given to making assumptions like "The reason why the crooks didn't come back for it when they found out it wasn't with all the rest of the loot is that they got killed off in a gang war or something."
You love them too, don't you?
By the way, the Wheelers are rich. Just in case you'd forgotten.
In book #3, that means Honey gets stuck with lines like this:
"Regan's been complaining that, what with having to drive servants back and forth and having such trouble with car repairs, we need a chauffeur. I really think I'm going to have to speak to Daddy about it."And this one:
"Don't feel so bad. Daddy has plenty of money. He can keep us out of jail... If the police come around asking for diamonds, Mother will give them one of hers."Oh, and we're treated to a description of casual dining a la Wheeler:
But on Thursdays, the cook's night off, the meal was a much more simple affair. Celia served the first course, and then she and Miss Trask brought in platters of cold cuts and big bowls of salad. Everyone helped himself, and the dessert was usually fruit and crackers with several kinds of cheese. Grown-ups were served coffee in fragile little cups.(Is it just me, or does anyone else think Maureen O'Hara would be just right as Mrs. Wheeler?)
A few other miscellaneous bits of interest:
- The Gatehouse Mystery was my introduction to Diamond Jim Brady (the Belden siblings are familiar enough with the name that they can use it as a subtle reference to the gem in question) and the art of forging signatures. The actual forgery instructions weren't so useful, because carbon paper was no longer a household staple by the time I met the book (and it was no longer the case that "anyone can rent a typewriter"), but I still liked knowing how to do it.
- For everyone keeping count, this is now the second time we've seen "bracelets" for handcuffs, this time courtesy of Jim.