Have a Marlis Day!

Back to Bailey’s Chase

Those Bailey girls again!

When Grey Bailey moved from California last year to live with her cousin, Sparky, and her family, the girls were astonished to discover they suddenly had super powers. Now that the girls are older, their secret abilities have grown with them.

No longer afraid and unsure of themselves and their mysterious powers, Sparky and Grey have chosen to use their magic freely to fight injustice, solve crimes, save lives, and unlock ancient secrets of the universe.

Follow these spunky sixth-graders as they travel boldly into an awesome world that would shock even the smartest person in the town of Bailey’s Chase.



The Cat Burglar

“I’m so bored,” Sparky said with a groan. She spread her arms wide and flopped onto the bed.

Grey put her art supplies into the desk drawer and watched her cousin kick both feet into the air as if riding an upside-down bicycle. She could sketch landscape scenes or read mysteries and never get bored. However, Sparky, a high-energy kid, liked to be on the move.

“Only boring people get bored,” Grey said with a smile and gave Sparky a playful poke in the ribs. “Come on–let’s go find something to do.”

Sparky grinned good-naturedly, tumbled off the bed, and followed Grey.

The girls headed down to Mom’s beauty shop in the front of their home. Sometimes they sat in the shop and listened to the women talk. Sometimes they looked at the ladies’ fashion and hairstyle magazines. Once in a while, Mom suggested an interesting way to spend a summer day. Sparky and Grey loved it when she told them how she spent her days as a child, although they really couldn’t imagine her being a child. Dad either. It was just too weird.

On this particular day, Mrs. Thornbottom, a rather round lady with bluish-gray hair complained loudly, “You better believe it, my friends, nothing is safe anymore. You wouldn’t think you’d have to lock your doors just to walk to the post office or have coffee with a neighbor three doors down the street.” She paused for a deep breath, while the other two customers in the shop stopped turning the pages of their magazines and listened.

Sparky and Grey settled into the two hair-dryer chairs. Mom didn’t mind if they listened, but she preferred for them not to talk, and they were never to interrupt her customers.

Mabel Brownstone, a tall red-haired woman who worked at the hospital, spoke up. “You mean someone actually came into your house while you were gone and stole something?”

“Oh, yes indeed,” Mrs. Thornbottom said. “A regular cat-burglar.”

“You mean he stole your cat?” Sparky asked, totally shocked by the news. Tiny sparks bounced around her blonde ponytail like they always did when she got excited, but of course, no one noticed except Grey.

Mom gave a quick glance reminding her not to jump into adult conversations. After all, she always told them, customers didn’t come to the beauty shop to converse with kids.

But Mrs. Thornbottom didn’t seem to mind. “Oh no, honey,” she said quickly, “that just means he was a petty thief, stealing small things. In and out quickly, just like a cat.”

Sparky smiled at her, glad she had honored her question, even though she had broken a beauty shop rule. She wanted to ask more about it, but bit her lip for restraint.

The woman continued with her story. “Day before yesterday, I was having coffee with my cousin, Rose–she lives just down the street. We have coffee together a couple of times a week and have for years. During the thirty minutes or so when I was gone, someone slipped into my house and ransacked my jewelry box. He stole my pearls and best earrings–the emerald ones Harold gave me for our anniversary. Of course, he thinks I just misplaced them, but I know it was a burglar.”

The listening ladies made tsk-tsk sounds of sympathy and shook their heads in disgust. Grey’s eyes, that changed colors with her moods, darkened two shades. Sparky wondered if Grey was as surprised as she was, by a crime in their quiet neighborhood. Then she remembered Grey came from California only a year ago, and decided they probably had crime there all the time. Yes, after thinking about it for a moment, Sparky felt certain Californians probably got robbed on a regular basis. However, she found crime in her own neighborhood very unsettling.

“As if my jewelry wasn’t enough,” Mrs. Thornbottom went on, “he got into my kitchen drawer and took all of my loose change and my best calculator.”

“Nothing else was bothered?” one of the ladies asked.

“Not that I can find. I imagine he was afraid I’d come back and catch him, since I had left the television and the lights on.” She tugged at the cape around her shoulders with a menacing look and said, “Humph! I wish I had caught him. I’d have taken a broom to his backside, that’s for sure. That’s for darn sure.”

“Oh dear,” Miss Mabel said in a motherly tone, “I don’t think you should ever confront a burglar. You could get hurt. Better to just call the police.”

Everyone nodded in agreement.

“Well, I called them and little good it did me. I’ll never see my things again,” she said with a pout, sounding very sad. “And I loved those earrings so.”

Miss Willis, a pretty, young pharmacist who worked at the corner drugstore and had been listening carefully said, “A retired couple had a digital camera stolen from their home over on Third Street about a week ago. I heard it happened in broad daylight. They went out for lunch and left their home unlocked.”

“Third Street,” exclaimed Mom. “Why, that’s only two streets over. It was probably the same thief.”

“The Cat Burglar,” said Sparky, then quickly clapped her hand over her mouth.

“Well, they’d better not tell Harold about their missing camera,” Mrs. Thornbottom said with a huff. “He’d say they just misplaced it.”

Mom said, “I suppose we should all start locking our doors, but it’s hard when you have family coming in and out all day, like I do.” She glanced at the girls.

Sparky thought it would be fun to catch a burglar in the act and maybe rope him and tie him up like they do in the movies. Grey somberly recorded all the information.

Sparky couldn’t imagine her house being locked except when they were all in bed at night or when the family went on a vacation. It would be a real pain, she thought, to have to lock and unlock the door every time she and Grey ran in and out during the day. She knew a cat burglar would have to be very quick to rob them without being seen. The older kids all had jobs or were away at college, popping in only occasionally, but Dad came home from the store almost every day for lunch. And Mom’s beauty shop had to always be open to customers. Sparky felt safe living in such a busy house.

Grey nudged Sparky and whispered, “Come on.”

Sparky followed Grey out of the shop and into the yard.

“This is just like the Nancy Drew mystery I’ve been reading,” Grey said. “We can investigate and search for clues just like she does.”

“Yeah,” Sparky said excitedly, “a real mystery in our own neighborhood–let’s do it!”

They scanned the yard for Newt, their closest neighbor. Being twelve now, a year older than the girls, Newt considered himself to be a future world-famous scientist.

“He’s probably working on his tadpole project,” Grey said. “Whistle for him.”

Sparky put two fingers to her lips and whistled long and loud.

Newt’s head appeared in the doorway of the garage he used as a workshop. He lived with his dad in the apartment over the garage, which was really an old carriage house. Preparing for his life as a scientist, Newt ran continual scientific investigations. “Good morning, ladies. What can I do for you?”

The girls liked Newt even if he did appear a bit strange, being so preoccupied with science. Lately, he had little time for them.

“Did you know there’s a cat burglar in the neighborhood?” Sparky asked. “And he’s not stealing cats!”

“Tell me more.” He took off his safari hat and straightened his glasses.

“Well, he’s stolen stuff from two homes that we know of,” Sparky replied.

Grey added, “He burglarized the Thornbottom home on this very street two days ago and another house over on Third Street last week.”

“How do you know it’s a he? Maybe it’s a burglarette!” Newt laughed at his newly-created word.

“Just a guess,” Sparky said.

“Actually, I think most burglars are male,” Grey added, “but it doesn’t matter. We’d like to solve the mystery.”

“B&E?” Newt asked. Since the girls didn’t answer quickly, he explained, “It’s police code for Breaking and Entering. Did he break a window or jimmy a door?”

“No,” Grey said. “He went into houses that weren’t locked–in broad daylight.”

“Hmm.” Newt ran his fingers through his spiky red hair. “Probably someone who lives not far from here. I bet he stalked his victims.”

“Want to help us try to catch him?” Sparky asked.

Grey stared at Sparky and wondered what new adventure lay in store for them. Since being orphaned and coming to live with relatives, all sorts of strange events had come her way. Not that she objected, but it was all just so different from the quiet, orderly life she had lived before moving to Bailey’s Chase, this town named for her famous ancestor.

“Naw,” Newt said, “but I wish you luck. I’m really too busy with my metamorphism project.”

“It’s okay,” Grey said. “We can handle it.”

The girls watched Newt return to his workshop. Without mentioning it, they both knew they could call upon their newly-found powers to help them if needed. They couldn’t explain any of it to Newt, so it was probably better to work alone.

Newt turned as he reached the door of the garage and said, “The burglar probably watched his victims and became familiar with their daily routines. That way, when they left home, he could predict how long they’d be gone.” Even when Newt couldn’t help, he usually offered great advice.

“Yeah,” Sparky said, pretending she had already thought about that. “Then he knew when it would be safe to slip in and steal some stuff.”

“Hmm. Daily routines,” Grey mumbled and smoothed her dark curls.

“Can we use the magic?” Sparky’s eyes grew wide in excitement.

Grey thought about it. “Yes, I think so. It’s for a good cause, isn’t it?”

“An absolute good cause: Protecting our neighbors.”

“Let’s make a plan to watch the neighborhood.”

“Yeah, we’ll be a neighborhood watch team and take a Bite out of Crime like that dog on television says.”

“Come on,” Grey said. “Let’s get my binoculars.”

Soon the girls settled into their tree house, prepared to watch for the cat burglar. “This will be our spy post,” Sparky said as Grey handed her the binoculars. Carefully, she slipped the cord around her neck and adjusted them to her eyes. “Did you really use these to watch operas in California?”

“Yes, we all used them. It made the operas more interesting to see the performers up close. We saw some magnificent shows.” Grey’s eyes took on a dreamy look and Sparky knew she was not part of that moment. She waited for Grey to turn her attention back to their spy mission.

After fifteen minutes or so, Sparky put the binoculars down, frustrated the project wasn’t moving fast enough. “How are we going to do this? We can’t sit up here all the time and watch the houses!”

“Sparky, we need to think like the burglar.”

“Like…think what kind of stuff we want to steal?”

“No, like decide which people might go out next and leave their house open.”

“How can we do that?”

“Let’s talk to the neighbors. We need to get a time frame of their activities.”

“Cool. Like on the detective shows Dad watches. They always talk to the neighbors.”

Grey found a notepad and made a sketch of the immediate neighborhood. Sparky wrote names on the houses.

“A good start,” Grey said. “We’ve got a list of our closest neighbors. Let’s start with the Snippets.”

“Okay, but I don’t think they ever go anywhere. They’re so old.”

“Just the same, we’re checking them. Old people collect things. They’ve probably got loads of stuff in their house that a burglar would love to get his hands on.” Grey started down the ladder.

Within a few minutes the girls rang the doorbell of the house next door. Mrs. Snippet answered on the third ring. She put a wrinkled hand to her mouth and giggled when she saw the girls. “Well, what a nice surprise.” Then she looked over her shoulder and called, “Winston, it’s the little girls from next door.” Her voice sounded weak and shaky and matched her frail body perfectly.

“Hello, Mrs. Snippet,” the girls chorused politely.

“Can you come in? I have cookies.” With that, she clutched her cane tightly and led the girls into the kitchen.

Mr. Snippet sat at the table having either a late breakfast or an early lunch. He smiled and spoke to the girls. His thin gray hair, neatly combed over his almost-bald head, made the pink skin look freshly sunburned.

“Are you girls selling cookies?” he asked.

“No, we came to warn you about a cat burglar in the neighborhood,” Grey said.

“Well, you can be sure he won’t bother us,” Mr. Snippet said in a loud voice so his wife could hear. “We don’t even own a cat!” Both of the Snippets chuckled at his joke.

“That’s exactly what I thought,” Sparky said with a laugh.

Mrs. Snippet insisted that the girls sit down and have a glass of milk and a ginger snap while they talked. They discovered the Snippets didn’t drive anymore and never left the house without locking it.

“Our daughter, Judith, takes us to town every Wednesday for lunch and to get our groceries,” Mrs. Snippet said, cleaning her silver-rimmed glasses with a dishtowel. “We always lock our house, even though most of our neighbors don’t. You know, we moved here from the city when we retired. I guess we just got into the habit. At our age it’s very hard to break a habit.” She smiled at her husband, who nodded in agreement.

Mr. Snippet added, “The church van picks us up on Sundays and every now and then we go on an outing with the Senior Bailey Chasers, but we always lock up.”

“And of course, your mom does my hair on Friday afternoons, but Mr. Snippet is home, so we’d be pretty hard to burglarize.” Mrs. Snippet replaced her glasses with a look adults have when they are very sure of themselves.

The girls thanked the Snippets for the refreshments and left. Sparky wondered why both Mr. and Mrs. Snipppet wore sweaters, since their house was so warm. She decided old people must be cold all the time. Grey thought the Snippets seemed lonely and decided she and Sparky should visit them more often.

The next house belonged to Mr. Crumb, a retired principal, and his wife, Sophie.

It didn’t take the girls long to discover the Crumbs were good candidates for a burglar. They never locked their doors, even at night, and often ran errands during the day. After all, it was a small town, they claimed, and very safe.

Mr. Crumb said, “Thanks for the warning, girls, but I’m not worried. I have Snoop, my watchdog, plus I have good insurance.” He laughed and dismissed the girls, just exactly, Grey thought, as if they were being sent from his office at school.

Sparky patted Snoop on the head as they passed him on the front steps. She wondered how that old basset hound could scare anyone.

The two houses across the street were empty since the owners were at work and the children at daycare. Being good detectives, the girls tested the doors and found them all locked. Even the windows were secure. Sparky and Grey crossed those houses off their list. This completed their check of the immediate neighborhood.

Back in the tree house, the girls settled onto the soft rug Mom gave them when she bought a new one for her bedroom. The older brothers had built the tree house several years ago, and the girls enjoyed using it for their secret meeting place. It was fun bringing lunch up the ladder and eating under the shady treetop. They kept their comic books in an old wooden crate along with rope, a compass, a stopwatch, a notebook, some pencils, and several bottles of water.

Sometimes they pretended to be Nancy Drew and acted out one of her cases, taking turns being the girl detective and reading favorite lines aloud. But this was different. This was real and scary. The girls loved having a real mystery to solve in their own neighborhood.

Although they had promised the Gypsy woman, Rupa, to never use their powers for play, the girls enjoyed using them under certain circumstances. And they always wore the protective charms she gave them, just in case.

“So, how can we use our power to watch the neighborhood?” asked Sparky, anxious to get started.

“I’m not sure, but I truly believe the Crumbs are the best candidates in our immediate neighborhood for a burglary,” Grey said. “It’s all about motive and opportunity. Let’s watch their house and keep track of them for a few days. It’s probably about time for our cat burglar to strike again.”

“How can you know that?” Sparky asked. She wondered how Grey ever got so much information inside her head.

“I read a lot. Crime becomes like an addiction. Once criminals get away with a crime, they keep repeating it until they get caught.”

“That’s dumb,” Sparky said, stretching out on the soft rug. “If they’d stop after the first time, they might not get caught. Then they could enjoy the stuff they stole.”

“Right. But they don’t see it like that. It gives them a thrill to do it and not get caught. And they like the thrill part, I guess.”

“I’d be too scared of getting put in jail to feel a thrill.” Sparky feared being thrown into jail, sleeping on a bare bunk, and living on bread and water. She planned to do everything she could to keep from getting sent to jail.

“Me too. Plus, it’s just wrong.” Grey had a very developed sense of right and wrong. She glanced at Sparky, who nodded in agreement.

“You know he’s going to do it again,” Grey added. Her eyes took on a faraway look. “He’ll get braver and move farther away from his house. They always do.”

“So he’s probably just waiting for a good chance to strike,” Sparky said.

“Right. He could strike at any time. He’s probably been casing the neighborhood for a good while.”

It gave Sparky a creepy feeling to imagine a burglar watching her and her family, studying their daily routines, and deciding which door or window would be the best one to use.

“From here,” Grey continued, “we have a pretty good view of the Crumbs’ back yard. I would say most burglars choose the back door.”

“Yep, I would use the back door if I were a burglar.” Sparky took a deep breath, squinted, and tried to look mysterious. “And I’d wear black and be very sneaky. I’d definitely wear plastic gloves, so there’d be no fingerprints. I’d carry a bag over my shoulder and only steal small expensive stuff like watches and jewelry and iPods and BlackBerries.”

Grey stared at her with a shocked expression.

“What?” Sparky asked defensively.

“Well, it sounds like you’ve thought about it a lot.”

“Of course, I’d never do it, but that’s the way Nancy Drew thinks, you know. She puts herself right into the bad characters too, and figures out what they’re planning.”

“I guess you’re right,” Grey conceded, “but you almost act like you’d like to be a burglar.”

“Nope, not me. I’d be too afraid of getting tossed in the slammer.”

“Plus, it’s just plain wrong,” Grey repeated.

“Right. Just plain wrong,” Sparky confirmed. She knew the difference between right and wrong. After all, hadn’t she spent all those years in Sunday school?

The girls settled in to watch and wait. Two baloney sandwiches and two apples later, the girls gave up the watch. They biked around the neighborhood but didn’t see any suspicious activity. Later, they played a game of Clue at the picnic table in the backyard, for practice.

That evening they biked to the video store and rented Rear Window, an old movie about a man who witnessed a crime by watching his neighborhood from his apartment. Grey thought it would put them in the proper detective mood. Sparky liked the movie a lot even though Grey, who had seen it before, ruined it by reminding her to watch for all the clues along the way.

Nothing happened that day or the next day or the next day. But on the day after that, the girls happened to hear Mom rescheduling a hair appointment with Mrs. Crumb. It seemed she forgot this was the day of the retired principals’ dinner at the country club.

The girls glanced at each other as the same thought bounced through their minds: The Crumbs would be gone during mid-day, and they wouldn’t be locking their doors! They wondered if the cat burglar knew.

“Will there be an article about the dinner in the newspaper?” Grey asked.

“I’m sure there will be,” Mom said.

Sparky found the day’s newspaper and sure enough, right there in the social news, was an announcement about the retired principals’ dinner. A perfect time for the cat burglar to strike, the girls decided.

The dinner started at noon, so the girls climbed up to their tree house post at eleven-thirty. A few minutes later, Mr. and Mrs. Crumb backed their car from the garage and drove away. In silence, the two young detectives watched and waited.

Suddenly Grey said excitedly, “Sparky! Check this out!” She handed her the binoculars.

Sparky fitted the binoculars against her face and watched the Crumbs’ back door. Then a strange and magical thing happened! The binoculars, in some mysterious way, allowed her to see around corners! She gasped in disbelief.

“Awesome,” she said while experimenting with different angles. “I can see all around the house! Even the windows on the other side!”

She lowered them and her voice trilled with excitement. “It’s the magic helping us, isn’t it?”

Grey smiled. “Somehow, it seems to know when we need it.”

The girls stared at each other, remembering how hard they had to focus when they first discovered their secret power. But lately, the special gift seemed to kick in just as they needed it–sometimes even without words or holding hands. It was an astounding thing.

With trembling hands the girls took turns with the binoculars. It still amazed them to be able to do things they could never have done before they lived together. Before the two halves of Granny Bailey’s special gift were united.

“It’s got to mean something, Grey. It must be telling us this is the day!”

“Just keep watching; we’ll catch him.” Grey spoke with confidence.

In quiet wonder and astonishment they watched all sides of the Crumbs’ home, even through the garage and into the alley on the far side of the property. They saw a striped cat stretch lazily on the front steps. They watched the old basset hound scratch a flea, grunt, and flop onto his side.

“Wow! This is so cool,” Sparky said with a giggle.

“Absolutely unbelievable,” Grey answered.

At 12:15 a slim figure moved through the hedge surrounding the Crumbs’ backyard. The girls watched nervously as he slipped quietly to the back door. He wore a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes, a dark T-shirt, and jeans. The girls didn’t recognize the tall, slim white man about to commit a crime. Checking both ways to make sure no one saw him, the burglar opened the back door and slipped quietly into the Crumbs’ house.

“It’s him,” Grey whispered as her eyes changed from royal blue to navy. “He’s inside the house now.”

“I’m on it,” Sparky answered. She reached into the pocket of her shorts and pulled out Mom’s cell phone, which she had borrowed from the kitchen. She quickly called 911 and reported a burglary in progress.

“Not a B&E,” she said. “He entered through an unlocked door.”

The 911 operator, a bit leery of dealing with girls, asked to speak to an adult. It didn’t take the girls long to burst into the house and find Mom, who was busy making sandwiches for lunch.

Both excitedly explained what they had witnessed.

Sparky held the cell phone up. “And we already called 911, but they want to talk to you.”

“I wondered where my phone went,” Mom said, as she pulled her eyebrows into a slight frown. Although she wasn’t convinced a crime had been committed, she spoke to the operator and relayed the information about the recent neighborhood burglaries.

“If the police come right away, they’ll catch him in the act,” Grey said while Sparky nervously bounced up and down on her toes.

When the girls returned to their tree house post, they saw the man leaving through the backyard. He was about to get away! They had to do something.

“Let’s follow him–quick,” Sparky said, turning and bounding down the tree ladder. Grey followed her to their bikes, and they took off like two shooting stars for the Crumbs’ home.

As they rounded the corner, they saw the same man walking casually down the street toward the park. To their surprise, he wasn’t carrying anything. They had expected him to be wearing a half-mask and slinking along with a sack thrown over his shoulder.

Keeping a safe distance, the girls followed the man until he turned into the lane of a house two blocks from their home. They noted the address on the front of the house and then pedaled home as fast as they could.

A police car sat in front of their house. Mom and Dad stood at the curb talking to a policeman.

“Sheesh,” Sparky said in disgust. She jumped off her bike, allowing it to fall flat in the street. She pointed a finger at the policeman. “You’re too late.”

“Sparky,” Dad warned. “Mind your manners.” He glared at her for a moment, then he went on. “This is Officer Owens. He just checked out the Crumbs’ house and no one was there.”

“Of course, he’s not there,” Sparky said, waving her arms in excitement. “Cat burglars don’t hang around forever, you know. If they did, they’d just as well check themselves into the local jail.” Sparky caught her breath, then went on, “We saw him leave and followed him home.”

Mom’s eyes widened and she clasped her hand to her mouth at the thought of the girls doing such a daring and dangerous thing as following a criminal home.

“He lives at 915 Oak Street,” Grey added. “He’s there right now.”

“Yeah, with the loot,” Sparky said exuberantly, sparks radiating from her head.

Mom and Dad and the policeman looked bewildered while the girls explained. They told how they knew the Crumbs were gone and shared how they had watched the man slip into their back door. Of course, they left out the part about the amazing binoculars.

“If you go to his house right now, I’m sure you’ll find the items stolen from this neighborhood,” Grey said.

“Can we go with you?” Sparky asked. She imagined bursting into the man’s house, screaming, “Don’t move! It’s the police!” while the man sat wide-eyed with his hands deep into a pile of stolen treasure heaped on the kitchen table.

Officer Owens said calmly, “We can’t look for evidence until we determine that a crime has actually been committed. As soon as the Crumbs come home, I’ll question them and determine if a burglary actually occurred. Then we’ll take it from there. I have to follow police procedure, you know.”

“We’re sure there was a burglary,” Grey said with confidence.

“Oh, you never can tell,” the policeman said casually. “Maybe it was a relative or a kid who does lawn work for them. Maybe they told him to go on in and pick up his check, or something like that.” He tucked his thumbs into his belt and leaned against his car, ready to wait.

“Well, he sure looked sneaky,” Sparky said, not accepting Officer Owens’s idea at all.

Although Sparky and Grey were a bit disappointed not to be taken along on a surprise raid of the man’s house, they still shivered with excitement at having a hand in the whole affair. They hung around Officer Owens and asked lots of questions about crime. It made the time pass more quickly.

Sparky asked, “Did you ever shoot anybody?” and her dad sent her a serious look that told her to be quiet. He quickly changed the subject to the wonderful charity programs the local police chapter helped with, like Shop with a Cop, where needy kids get to shop with a policeman for a Christmas present.

Sparky shot Grey a look telling her she thought Officer Owens ought to quit talking and start doing a little police work. However, she didn’t want her dad to threaten to give her the old-what-for, so she stood quietly and tried to be polite. It was extremely hard for her to do, since she tingled with excitement from head to toe about catching the cat burglar. Sparky hated how adults always made kids stand around and wait and promised herself to remember that when she was grown-up.

Finally, the Crumbs returned from their dinner and the policeman questioned them. With shocked expressions, they hurried up their steps and immediately checked through their home for signs of a burglary.

Sure enough, the Crumbs had been robbed while they were gone. Mr. Crumb’s gold watch, given to him at his retirement party, and his wife’s pearls were missing. A crime had definitely been committed. Sparky and Grey cheered and high-fived each other at the news. Now, they thought, maybe adults would pay more attention to kids.

After the police officer obtained a search warrant, the missing items were found at 915 Oak Street, just like the girls had predicted. In addition to the Crumbs’ jewelry, the police found evidence of many other break-ins including Mrs. Thornbottom’s jewelry.

Sammy Oliver, a nineteen-year-old with a drug problem, was taken into custody and charged with the crimes. Mom and Dad insisted the girls’ names be kept out of the story in case the burglar might hold a grudge against them.

However, Mrs. Thornbottom knew the girls had helped and baked a chocolate cake in their honor. She was happy to have her jewelry and best calculator back and even happier to prove her husband wrong.

As Sparky and Grey shoveled bites of chocolate cake into their mouths, they thought Rupa, the Gypsy woman, would be proud of them. And maybe Granny Bailey too.

Hi! I'm Marlis.

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