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The Case of the Missing Money


It was the first day of business for Nicky Parks, Private Detective. His little sister Nan jumped up and down excitedly. "I'm going to be a detective too!"

"Don't be silly, you're only six years old. You're too young to be a detective."

Nan burst into tears. "You never let me do anything!"

"Oh, all right," Nicky said grudgingly. "You can be my assistant." So Nan helped him print a sign, "NICKY PARKS, DETECTIVE. Nan Parks, Assistant." They hung it up in the front window and waited for their first client.

A few minutes later their mother came home from the store. "I see we have a detective in the house," she smiled, nodding at the Sign in the window. "I have a case for you. I'm missing a tablespoon."

"Fine," said Nicky. "Our fee will be ten cents plus expenses. Now where did you see the spoon last?" He carefully wrote down all the information in a notepad. Then he went into the kitchen to investigate the scene of the crime.

"See, Nan," he started to say, when he turned around and discovered that his sister wasn't there. Then the back door flew open, and Nan burst in, waving the missing tablespoon.

"Where did you find it?" Nicky asked, amazed.

"In the backyard. I was digging with it yesterday."

So the two detectives presented the missing spoon to their mother. "The case is solved," Nicky proclaimed, as he collected their fee. Then he and Nan went out to see if any of the neighbors had mysteries to be solved.

That morning they found old Mrs. Garrity's keys, and discovered who had tracked mud all over Mrs. Warren's clean kitchen floor. "Will you take some apples for a fee?" Warren asked.

On the way home for lunch, the two detectives munched on the fee for their last case. "Hey!" Nan yelled suddenly. "My tooth came out! The tooth fairy will give me a dime for it tonight!" She skipped happily the rest of the way.

"Mommy, my tooth came out!" Nan called as she raced into the house.

Mrs. Parks came out of the kitchen. Her face was pale and her eyes looked as though she had been crying. Through the open door, Nicky spotted his father sitting at the kitchen table.

"Hey, Dad," he said, "how come you're home? You usually eat lunch at the bank."

Mr. Parks put his head in his hands. "Some money was missing from my drawer this morning," he said. "The Sheriff says only I could have taken it."

The rest of the day was an anxious time for the Parks family. Mr. Parks went back to the bank for more questions. He came home late. He had not been arrested yet. "But," said the Sheriff, "don't try leaving town."

Nicky had a theory. "Someone must have broken into the bank at night and taken the money. But how could they have gotten into a locked drawer?"

At midnight that night, Nan was wakened suddenly. Nicky was shaking her. "Wh -- what?" she murmured sleepily.

"Shh," Nicky cautioned. "Get dressed fast. We're going to stake out the bank and wait for the robber. Maybe he'll come back again. I've got Dad's keys."

Nan reached under her pillow. "The tooth fairy didn't come yet," she said.

"Forget about that," Nicky growled. "Hurry up!"

Nan dressed as fast as she could. At the last minute she reached under her pillow to get her tooth. Clutching it tightly, she followed her brother out the door and down the street to the bank.

The young detectives slipped quietly into the bank and hid in the corner near the vault. Nan quickly fell asleep. Nicky stared out into the darkness, determined to stay awake watching for the robber.

"What's this?" said a gruff voice. Nicky opened his eyes with a start. Sunlight was streaming in through the window. And towering over him was the angry figure of the Sheriff.

Suddenly Nan started to cry. "My tooth is gone!" she sobbed. "Now I won't get a dime from the tooth fairy!"

"Something else is gone, too," said the Sheriff. "There's some more money missing from the drawer."

"But nobody was here!" Nicky exclaimed. "Could I look at the drawer, Sir?"

He jumped up and looked into the drawer. In the back, behind a stack of bills, was something white -- Nan's tooth! Nicky looked more closely. Nan peeked over his shoulder.

"What are those brown things?" she asked. "They look like little brown beans."

Nicky felt in the back of the drawer with his fingers. Sure enough, there was a crack there. He looked behind the teller's cage. He stooped quickly and picked up another of the brown pellets. Nicky and Nan soon found more of them. They formed a trail leading across the floor to a small hole in the corner of the wall.

"I'll bet your robber is right behind this wall, Sir," he told the Sheriff. And when they pried up the board, they found the thief -- a mother rat, crouching with eight tiny babies, cuddled in a nest of shredded money.





©1973, 2013 The Silversteins