“Let’s open it!” eight-year-old Nancy Drew said as the deliveryman plunked a big brown box on the porch.
Hannah Gruen, the Drews’ house keeper, signed for the mysterious package. It was addressed to “The Drew Family.”
“Hurry up,” George Fayne said, helping Nancy remove the tape.
Bess Marvin knelt beside her cousin George. She watched as Nancy pulled off the lid of the box.
The three best friends looked inside and frowned. “Lemons?” they all said at once.
George sat back on her heels. “I thought it was going to be something good.”
“Why would someone send us all these lemons?” Nancy asked Hannah.
“Well, my little sourpuss,” Hannah teased, “they’re from your father’s friend Frank Wilson, who lives in California. Here’s a note saying they come from the lemon trees in his backyard. I guess he didn’t know what to do with all of them.” Hannah looked down at the lemons. “I can make a few pies, but I don’t know what to do with the rest, either.”
“We could make lemonade,” Nancy said.
Bess licked her lips. “That sounds yummy.”
“Yeah,” George agreed. “It’s really hot today. Hey, I know,” she said after a moment. “We can set up a lemonade stand in the park. It’ll be fun!”
That night Nancy’s father gave Nancy permission to use the lemons Hannah didn’t need. The next morning Bess and George came over to Nancy’s house early to make the lemonade and a small sign for their stand.
“Phew.” Bess brushed her blond bangs away from her face after they’d been working for a while. “I didn’t think making lemonade would be such hard work.”
“We must have squeezed a zillion lemons,” George said, “and we only have a little bit of juice.” She looked at the pitcher. “I wonder what it tastes like.”
“I’ll bet it’s really sour,” Nancy said, puckering her lips. “We haven’t added the water or sugar yet.”
“I want to try it anyway.” George poured herself a small cup. She drank some of the juice and grinned at Bess. “I kind of like it.”
Bess grabbed another lemon and cut it in half to squeeze. “That figures.”
After the girls had finished making the lemonade, they piled everything they needed for the stand into Nancy’s old red wagon — a small card table and a pink tablecloth, the juicer and extra sugar, paper cups and a big green pitcher.
“Don’t forget the lemons,” George said, carefully putting the box on top of everything else.
Then Nancy’s puppy, Chocolate Chip, raced out of the garage. She was holding her leash in her mouth and wagging her shiny brown tail.
“Come on, Chip.” Nancy snapped on her dog’s leash. “You can help us sell lemonade.”
The girls and Chip walked along, pulling the wagon behind them. It was a hot summer morning, perfect for selling lemonade. But when they reached the park, they got a horrible surprise.
Brenda Carlton and Alison Wegman were headed their way. And it looked as if they were going to set up a lemonade stand, too. Even worse, Alison was carrying a much bigger sign than theirs. It said Fresh Squeezed Lemonade and had bright yellow lemons and butterfly stickers all around the edges.
“This stinks,” Bess grumbled as Nancy and George picked a spot near the water fountain and opened up the folding table.
Then Brenda and Alison marched over. “Copycats!” Brenda said in a loud, nasty voice.
“We are not!” Bess shouted.
“Are, too!” Alison shouted back. “We were here first!”
“Were not,” George said.
Brenda gave Nancy a long, hard look. “Why don’t you go somewhere else?” she said.
“We can sell lemonade here, too, if we want.” Nancy turned away from her and put the final touches on the stand.
“Who cares about them anyway?” Brenda said to Alison. “We have a much better stand, and better lemonade, too.”
“That’s what you think,” George said. Nancy turned around. “I bet we’ll sell tons more than you do.”
“No way,” Alison huffed.
“Yes way,” Bess said back.
“Oh, yeah? Let’s have a contest,” Brenda said. “We’ll sell each cup for twenty-five cents. Whoever sells the most lemonade by tomorrow at five o’clock wins.”
“And the loser has to do anything the winner says,” Nancy added.
“Good idea.” Brenda laughed. “We’ll probably make you all eat bugs when we win!”
“Or maybe something even worse,” Alison said.
“Why don’t you both make like a tree and leave!” George yelled.
With that, Alison and Brenda went back to their stand, and Nancy, Bess, and George sat down on the ground to wait for their first customer.
“Hey, girls.” Bobby Alden came over to their stand with a big smile. “I have to buy some lemonade from my favorite ice-cream nuts.” Bobby was fourteen and worked part-time with his grand father, Sid Alden, at the Double Dip. It was Nancy’s favorite ice-cream shop.
Soon Nancy, Bess, and George were pouring lemonade for a long line of people.
Rebecca Ramirez stopped by and bought some. She said it tasted great.
Mike Minelli, David Berger, and Jason Hutchings each bought a glass after their baseball game. Then the rest of their team came over. When things slowed down, George started to call people over to their table.
“Want to buy some more lemonade, Bobby?” George asked when Bobby Alden passed their stand again. This time his hair was wet from swimming in the lake.
“Gotta get to work,” he said, rushing away.
Then Nancy saw Ned Nickerson. He was walking three big dogs that were barking and pulling him in all different directions.
“Want a cup of our lemonade?” George called out.
“Sure,” Ned said, dragging the dogs over to the stand.
Nancy carefully poured a cup. Bess giggled as Ned’s dogs stuck their noses in the box and began pulling lemons out with their teeth.
“Look! Your dogs think our lemons are toys,” Bess said, trying to take the lemons away. But the harder she tried, the harder the dogs tugged. One dog chomped on a lemon and squirted juice all over Bess’s T-shirt.
“Yechh!” Bess shouted.
“Hey, we need those,” George scolded the dogs, pulling the box away from them. But the dogs followed the box and stuck their faces into it again. George sighed and looked at Ned. “Why do you have so many dogs, anyway?”
Ned tried to wrestle a lemon away from a golden retriever. “I’m walking dogs for the summer. People pay me to do it,” he said, finally getting the lemon out of the dog’s mouth. He tossed it on the ground.
The golden retriever grabbed another lemon and put his front paws on the table.
“Down,” Ned said. But the dog didn’t budge.
Nancy giggled. “It looks like the dogs are walking you.“
“They know who’s boss,” Ned insisted, pulling the retriever down from the table. Then the three dogs bolted toward the lake, dragging Ned with them.
“Sure they do,” George called after him.
The three girls couldn’t stop laughing.
But then Chip broke loose from the table and ran after Ned and his dogs.
“Come back!” Nancy shouted. She tried to catch up, but her puppy was too fast. Then Ned’s dogs got away from him and started running after Chip.
“Help!” Bess screamed as the big dogs raced toward Nancy’s puppy.
Then the three dogs’ leashes got snarled around a big oak tree.
“Quick! Get them!” Ned yelled, but he was too late.
The dogs got loose again and chased Chip over to the lake. Nancy almost caught Chip just as her puppy jumped into the water. The three other dogs followed.
Ned waded in and grabbed his dogs’ leashes. His pants were sopping wet.
“Your pooch is a real pest!” Ned yelled. He pulled his dogs out of the lake and stomped off with them.
“Boy, Ned’s pretty mad,” George said when she and Bess caught up with Nancy and Chip. The chocolate Labrador retriever had wandered out of the lake and stopped to drink water from a puddle.
“I know.” Nancy scooped up her panting puppy. “You are a very naughty doggy!” she scolded Chocolate Chip.
Nancy carried Chip back to the lemonade stand and tied her leash to the table leg. She watched Chip sniff the squished lemon Ned had thrown on the ground earlier.
That was when Nancy noticed something.
“Oh, no!” she cried. “We’re going to have to eat bugs!”