The Mystery of the Missing Man
was a lot of excitement in 'Snowhite Cottage', the
residence of the Hudson family. The three kids, Moira 14, Gerald
12 & Darla 10 were going away to their aunt's place for the
summer holidays. Aunt Valerie and Uncle Bert lived in the next town.
They had a house
on a hilltop near the beach. It was a small town and behind 'Russet
Villa', aunt Valerie's home was miles of open ground with
dense trees, here and there. Every summer, the three kids visited
their aunt and uncle and had a fabulous time with their cousins,
Violet 13 and Justin 11.
"We are ready
dad", shouted Darla running to her father who was loading the
station wagon with the childrens' luggage. "Well, get into
the wagon sweetie, I'll call the others". Darla sat inside
while her dad went in to get the rest of the gang.
"Give my love
to my sister and remember me to Bert darling", called Susan.
"Are you sure you don't want to join us dear", questioned
David, her loving husband. "I'm going to be very busy helping
Mrs. Brown finished baking biscuits and cakes for the fete at church.
Make my excuses to Val for me."
See you tomorrow then," called her husband starting up the
car. "Do be careful at night and lock all doors and windows."
"I will. Please don't worry and have a safe journey. Bye children.
Be good and don't give your aunt any trouble", called Susan,
waving to the kids. "Bye mom, take care, love you," chorused
the three as the car moved forward smoothly.
David returned home
next day. The children were thrilled to meet their cousins, Susan.
I wonder what adventures they are going to have over at Russet Villa",
said David. "They will find something too good to be true,
I'm sure," laughed Susan.
Aunt Valerie had
made a lot of goodies for her sister's children, ranging from Darla's
favourite chocolate cake to Moira's Mushroom and cheese rolls. "Where
are my cream rolls and chocken quiche?" asked Gerald. "I
have made those too son, come and wash your hands and have your
high tea before settling in," called aunt Val before etering
the kitchen to get hot chocolate for the kids.
Next morning, while
the children were still in bed, a stranger visited Russet Villa.
He had come to this town about a month back and since then, strange
things were taking place at his rented cottage. Uncle Bert made
the stranger comfortable in one of the easy chairs on the front
verandah and said, "First and foremost, what is your name sir
and do you live alone at your house?"
"I am called
Fred and yes, I do live alone. I came to this seaside retreat to
recuperate from a long illness. I wanted some peace and quiet, that
is why I rented this little place so that I would not be disturbed.
The opposite has happened since I came. This is the reason why I
have come to you for help. Your home was the only one I could find
nearby and so I have come looking for some answers," said Fred.
Till then, all five
kids and aunt Val had joined the two men and were all seated agog
with curiosity. "What seems to be the problem sir?" asked
Gerald, making a serious face. "Well, since I came to live
in this house, I have lost most of my expensive belongings, though
I have not seen anyone entering or leaving my house. My wallet has
not been touched, but, my expensive gold watch, my mother's diamond
ring and a few more trinkets beloning to my aunt, have disappeared.
I am very worried that if I lose my wallet and important papers,
I will not be able to pay the rent of my abode and as yet, I don't
want to go back to my native place."
about informing the police?" asked Bert. "I don't want
to get involved with the police and spoil the rest of my stay here
sir. That is why, I am still looking for the missing items on my
own, but, as yet I have not found a clue," replied Fred. "Did
you notice any of the windows or door knobs broken?" asked
Bert. "Surprisingly, all doors and windows are intact when
I return after my daily purchases of grocery.", replied Fred.
The stranger had tea and savouries and left shortly with a promise
from the members of the 'Russet Villa' to help find the valuables.
The children went
to the den and thought about Fred's predicament. "I wonder
who the thief is?" mumbled Violet. "It is most surprising
that Fred has not noticed anyone visiting his home," mused
Moira. "Maybe the thieves come along while he is sleeping at
night," added her brother. "Well, I think we should put
our heads together and try to help Fred," said Darla. "That's
true. Let's go over to his place tomorrow and take a look,"
spoke up Gerald.
The children were
invited to a birthday party for lunch the next day. They decided
to visit Fred the day after.
On Monday, the five
cousins went to Fred's house, but, it was locked from outside. The
children returned home and got busy playing in the garden. Next
day, again the same thing was repeated. "I wonder what happened
to Fred. He has disappeared," said Justin. A week passed without
a sign of Fred anywhere. The children forgot about him and enjoyed
It was a fortnight
later that Uncle Bert made a plan to visit the town of 'Stones and
Pebbles', situated around 15 miles from their own township. This
cute town had modern shopping malls, movie theatres and restaurants.
All 7 of them reached the township and hit the first mall they saw.
Aunt Val got gifts for all her guests and something for her sister
Later, they grabbed
a quick lunch at the enchanting restaurant called 'Little Stars'
and then took in a movie. It was when they were walking towards
their car, that Darla suddenly shouted, "Look Moira, there's
Fred." The group turned and saw Fred walking on the opposite
side of the road with a group of ugly, burly men, all laughing loudly.
Just then, they entered a small passage and disappeared from sight.
David said, "Look, I want to get the bottom of this mystery.
All of you except Gerald go and wait in the car. Come Gerald, we
will find Fred."
They tiptoed towards
the deserted passage. At the end of it, sounds of laughter and merrymaking
was coming. As they neared the area, they heard one of the thugs
speak, "Hey! Fred, these are good items you have brought but
we need more." "I will be getting you both, valuables
as well as five kids to sell pretty soon. I'm returning to my rented
place tomorrow and will visit my neighbour David. Your goods will
be delivered within a week," laughed Fred. "So your sob
story of losing your valuables was believed," smiled the short
one in the group.
"Oh yes, they
believed my story," added Fred. "Well, I hope you have
a plan," said one of the trio. "Yes, I have a masterplan.
I am going to ask them to eat this toffee after which they will
become unconscious. Before that, all the kids will be sitting in
my car believing that I was taking them to get help from the local
police. They are sure to fall into my trap. I will drive them here
and you can hand them over to Jake. I will choose a day when David
and his wife are out shopping and the kids are alone. I will ask
the kids to get ready to go with me and while they are changing,
I will go to the master bedroom and take all the cash and valuables."
"Good, that is a real plan. Alright, we will meet when the
kids are here."
Gerald and David
walked towards their car and returned home. The others found out
about Fred's plan and decided to catch him red handed. They informed
the police to be ready and waiting.
Sure enough, after
a few days, Fred came to Russet Villa and asked for David. "Oh
Fred, where were you all these days?" giggled Darla. "I
had to go out of town for some business. Now that I am back, I want
to find the thief. Is David home?"
"Dad and mom
are out shopping," said Gerald. "Will you kids come to
the police station to lodge a complaint about my missing valuables?"
questioned Fred. The kids agreed and sat in his car. "Here
are some toffees for you children," smiled Fred, giving them
a toffee each. The kids pretended to eat the toffee and acted unconscious.
He had driven his car only some distance when Constable Geremy stopped
his car and nabbed the master crook Fred.
Police files revealed
that Fred used to visit small townships, gained confidence of the
people living their and took off with valuables as well as children,
whom he sold for a lot of cash.
Moira, Gerald and
Darla returned home in a month's time and were praised by their
parents for their bravery.
The kids remembered
their adventure for a long time and waited began their wait for
in the Series
Mystery at the Fun-Fair
Mystery at the Circus
Mystery on the Paradise
Story Teller: Amita
enjoys writing stories and poems, especially for kids. She has
strong editing and translation skills. [email protected]