Read The Witch Tree Symbol Online

Authors: Carolyn G. Keene

The Witch Tree Symbol

Table of Contents
 
 
THE WITCH TREE SYMBOL
When a neighbor asks Nancy Drew to accompany her to an old uninhabited mansion, a new mystery opens up, and danger lurks on the second floor. Nancy finds a witch tree symbol that leads her to Pennsylvania Dutch country in pursuit of a cunning and ruthless thief.
The friendly welcome the young detective and her friends Bess and George receive from the Amish people soon changes to hostility when it is rumored that Nancy is a witch! Superstition helps her adversary in his attempt to get her off his trail, but Nancy does not give up. Persistently she uncovers one clue after another.
Nancy’s intelligence and sleuthing ability finally lead to the fascinating solution of this puzzling case.
The bull lowered his head to make another attack!
Copyright C 1975, 1955 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
Published by Grosset & Dunlap, Inc., a member of The Putnam &
Grosset Group, New York. Published simultaneously in Canada. S.A.
NANCY DREW MYSTERY STORIES® is a registered trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
GROSSET & DUNLAP is a trademark of Grosset & Dunlap, Inc.
eISBN : 978-1-101-07734-4
2008 Printing

http://us.penguingroup.com

CHAPTER I
A Mysterious Intruder
 
 
 
“I wouldn’t go into that spooky old house alone for anything,” declared the plump, nervous woman who sat beside Nancy Drew in her convertible.
Nancy, a slender, attractive girl of eighteen, smiled as she turned the car into the winding, tree-shaded drive of the Follett mansion. “Why, Mrs. Tenney,” she said, “your great-aunt lived here alone for many years and was safe.”
“She was just lucky not to have had burglars,” Mrs. Tenney replied. “Aunt Sara was so absent-minded that most of the time she didn’t know what was going on. But one thing she did keep track of was the beautiful antique furniture in her library. She never used the room, but wouldn’t part with any of its contents.”
As Nancy parked the car in front of the faded green Victorian house, she remarked, “Everything looks peaceful. Shall we go in?”
Mrs. Tenney gazed askance at the closed draperies, then said, “I suppose we must. After all, that’s why I asked you to come. Oh, Nancy, wait until you see the furniture. Especially the two matching cherry tables George Washington once used. They’re priceless. And to think that I’ve inherited half of everything in this house!”
Nancy and her companion alighted. Mrs. Tenney unlocked the front door. Snapping on a light, she led the way to a large hall, on each side of which were arched entrances to various rooms. Nancy followed her to an archway on the right that lead to the library. Mrs. Tenney stopped abruptly and gasped.
“What’s the matter?” Nancy asked.
“They’re gone! All the valuable antiques!” the woman cried out. Frantically she hurried into the library, paused, and pointed. “There’s where a fine old sofa stood. At each end was one of the tables I told you about.”
Mrs. Tenney wept. Then, as a sudden thought struck her, she stopped and said, “Well, he won’t get away with this!”
The blond-haired, blue-eyed girl waited for the woman to explain her statement. Nancy had met Mrs. Tenney only a short time ago and felt it would be presumptuous to question her at the moment. The woman had recently moved into Nancy’s neighborhood. Having heard that the young detective was courageous and level-headed, she had asked Nancy to accompany her to the dreary Follett mansion. She did not want to be alone in the house while she took inventory of the furnishings recently willed to her.
“My second cousin!” she burst out. “Alpha Zinn! He came here and took the best pieces before I had a chance to decide on what I wanted!”
Nancy ventured a question. “Was Mr. Zinn bequeathed the other half of the contents of this house?”
“Yes. We have never been friends. I don’t trust him. He’s an antique dealer and a sharp trader.”
Nancy did not feel that these were valid reasons for the woman’s accusations, especially when half the furniture belonged to Zinn, anyway. “Perhaps it was someone else,” the detective suggested. “Let’s look for a clue to the burglar.”
Even though all the furniture had been moved out of the library, there were bookcases that had been built into the walls, radiator covers, and wastebaskets standing about. A few books remained on the shelves, but other than that there was little evidence of anything else having been left behind.
Nancy began searching carefully. In a comer of the library she picked up a small, crumpled piece of paper. Drawn on it in colored crayon was a white-rimmed circle with a red center in which was a black star. Printed underneath the circle were the words: WITCH TRFF SYMBOL.
“How very strange!” Nancy thought, as she showed it to Mrs. Tenney. “Do you know what this is?” she asked.
The woman gave the drawing one glance, then said, “Of course. It’s a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign. Well, I guess that’s all the proof we need,” she stated flatly. “Alpha Zinn lives in that part of Pennsylvania. I just know he was here and took every stick of good furniture. Not only his, but mine!”
Nancy had to admit that under the circumstances Mr. Zinn was a logical suspect, but she was not convinced of his guilt. “What does ‘witch tree symbol’ mean?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” Mrs. Tenney replied. “But what difference does that make when I know Alpha is guilty?”
Although Nancy felt sure that the hex sign might be the clue to solving the mystery she did not say so. Whether Mrs. Tenney’s cousin or someone else were the real culprit, he very likely had come from the area where quaint hex designs, originated in the days of witchcraft, are sometimes painted on barns. Nancy questioned Mrs. Tenney further about the hex sign. But the woman could throw no light on the strange symbol’s significance.
“Do you know what this is!” Nancy asked.
“When were you in this house last?” Nancy asked.
“About a week ago. I came here with one of the executors,” Mrs. Tenney explained. “He gave me a key and said I might come back any time I wished.”
Mrs. Tenney went on to say that the executor had left and she had stayed behind to inspect some of the furnishings upstairs. But she had begun to feel uneasy alone in the old mansion and had decided to leave.
“Are you sure you locked the front door?” Nancy asked.
Mrs. Tenney thought for a few moments. She frowned and then said, “I’m sure that man locked the door after us.”
“What man?” Nancy inquired. “I thought you said the executor had already left.”
“Oh, it wasn’t the executor,” Mrs. Tenney answered quickly. “It was the antique dealer.”
Nancy sighed. The woman certainly was giving a confused account of things! But she patiently urged Mrs. Tenney to tell the whole story.
“Well, this is the way it happened that day,” the woman confided. “I was just going to lock the door when a nice-looking man drove up. He said that he had heard about Mrs. Follett’s collection. He was interested in buying any articles that her heirs did not want, so I took him into the library for a quick look. When we came out I gave him the key to lock the door.”
“I see,” Nancy said, thinking how easy it would have been for the man to pretend to lock it. “Please go on.”
“The man said he had read about Aunt Sara’s antiques in a newspaper. He was in River Heights on business and decided to drive over here to look at the pieces.”
“Then he wasn’t a local dealer,” Nancy commented thoughtfully. “Where did this man come from?”
“I don’t know.” Mrs. Tenney shrugged. “But he was staying at a hotel in town.”
Nancy pondered this information for a full minute. Then she said there was a good possibility this man might be the furniture thief and should be investigated at once.
“At which hotel was he staying?” she asked.

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