Nancy Drew #31. The Ringmaster’s Secret. Carolyn Keene

Nancy Drew #31. The Ringmaster’s Secret. Carolyn Keene

Nancy Drew #31. The Ringmaster’s Secret. Carolyn Keene


The Golden Charms

“Oh, Nancy, I worry so about your doing that trick riding,” remarked Hannah Gruen, looking fondly at the slender, attractive girl in jodhpurs and tight-fitting coat.

Eighteen-year-old Nancy Drew was about to leave the house for a morning riding lesson. She had paused to look at the mail on the front-hall table.

“Who knows, Hannah, the trick riding may come in handy some day when I have a mystery to solve,” she replied to the Drews’ housekeeper. Putting an arm affectionately about plump Mrs. Gruen, who had acted as mother to her since Mrs. Drew’s death many years before, Nancy added with a smile:

“If you’re worrying about my safety, I haven’t had a spill in months. Señor Roberto is too good a teach— Why, look!” she interrupted herself. “Here’s a letter and the mystery package from New York!”

“What do you mean, Nancy?”

“Didn’t I tell you, Hannah? Aunt Eloise sent a card saying she was mailing me a gift that has an unusual story.”

Nancy opened the letter from her aunt and began to read part of it aloud:

“—and the shopkeeper, who purchased it while on a buying trip in Europe, said it had been presented to a woman circus performer by a queen who loved horses. For some unknown reason the performer had to sell it but would not reveal her true identity. According to the story, however, she needs help badly—”

As Nancy paused, Hannah Gruen remarked with a sigh, “And I suppose that you’re going to try to find this circus performer and help her out of her troubles. That’s what you always do. Well, open the box and let’s see what the mysterious gift is.”

Nancy unwrapped several layers of tissue paper before she came to Aunt Eloise’s present. Then, holding up an exquisite gold bracelet, she exclaimed:

“Look at all those darling little horse charms on it! One, two, three, four, five of them! Oh, oh, a sixth one is missing.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Hannah. “The bracelet’s beautiful enough without the other horse.”

“Yes, it’s perfectly lovely.”

Nancy slipped the dainty bracelet over her wrist and held up her arm to look at the effect. The tiny horses gleamed in the light and seemed almost alive, they were so perfectly wrought. Each displayed a different gait, and all were gracefully poised.

“I wonder which gait the sixth horse had.” Nancy mused.

“There are only five, aren’t there?” Mrs. Gruen asked.

“Yes. It’s possible the missing figure wasn’t a horse at all,” Nancy said.

Turning the bracelet around and around, Nancy continued to admire it and to scrutinize the piece of jewelry thoroughly for any sign of a clue to the original owner—the person who now, according to the story, needed help. There were no initials on the bracelet, and the simple scroll design on the wristlet did not seem to indicate that the engraving contained the answer to the secret.

“Do you suppose the circus performer was a European?” Nancy asked, “or an American who was acting over there?”

“Now, Nancy,” said Mrs. Gruen, “you know I wouldn’t have the least idea.”

The girl’s blue eyes suddenly sparkled and she snapped her fingers. “I can start sleuthing right away by asking Señor Roberto some questions. You know, he used to be with Sims’ Circus.”

“Yes, and I wish he’d never left it and opened that riding academy here in River Heights,” Hannah declared. “Then you wouldn’t have learned how to ride without a saddle and jump onto a moving horse and—”

Nancy laughed. “It’s fun. And by the way, did you know Sims’ Circus is coming to town tomorrow?”

“You bet it is,” said a young voice from the back of the hall.

The others turned to see six-year-old Teddy Brown, a neighbor, who had come in the back way. The red-haired, freckle-faced boy was grinning broadly.

“And don’t forget, Nancy,” he went on, “you promised to take me to see the circus men put up the tents and everything.”

“That’s right, Teddy. We’ll leave your house at five o’clock tomorrow morning.” Nancy tweaked his nose affectionately. “That’s very early. Sure you’ll be up?”

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Categories: Keene, Carolyn