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Justin, Moira, Gerald, Darla & Violet's Adventure Series


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The Mystery of the Missing Man

There 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."

"Oh! alright. 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."

"Well, what 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 themselves.

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 and brother-in-law.

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 another mystery.

Also in the Series

The Mystery at the Fun-Fair

The Mystery at the Circus

The Mystery on the Paradise

Contributing Story Teller:  Amita enjoys writing stories and poems, especially for kids. She has strong editing and translation skills. [email protected]

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