“You have to help me!” Nancy Drew cried. “I just can’t decide who to do my report on.”
Nancy was walking home from school with Bess Marvin and George Fayne. They were going to Nancy’s house after school. Bess and George were cousins. They were Nancy’s best friends.
“You’d better think quickly,” Bess said. “We have to tell Mrs. Reynolds our topics tomorrow.”
The girls were in the same third-grade class at Carl Sandburg Elementary School in River Heights. Their teacher, Mrs. Reynolds, had given them a social studies assignment. Each student had to do an oral report on some one from their state of Illinois.
Nancy thought it would be fun to do a report on someone from her own state. But she couldn’t decide whom to pick.
“Why don’t you choose someone famous, like I did?” Bess said. “I’m doing my report on Abraham Lincoln. He was the sixteenth president of the United States. And he was from Illinois.”
“I picked Carl Sandburg,” George said. “He’s pretty famous here at Carl Sandburg Elementary School.”
“Very funny!” Nancy laughed at George’s joke.
“How about Mary Todd?” Bess asked. “She was Abraham Lincoln’s wife.”
“That’s a good idea,” Nancy said. “But I’d like to do my report on someone different. Someone nobody knows.”
Bess laughed. “How are you going to find someone nobody knows?”
“I mean someone who wasn’t famous,” Nancy answered. “Maybe Hannah can think of someone,” she said as they walked up to her house.
Hannah Gruen was the Drews’ housekeeper.
“Hello, girls,” Hannah called. “The workers are almost finished for today.”
Just then two men in overalls carried a kitchen cabinet out the back door.
“Nancy!” Bess said. “You’re not moving, are you?”
“No, we’re not moving,” Nancy answered with a laugh. “I forgot to tell you we’re getting a new kitchen floor and new cabinets, though. We’re also getting the kitchen painted. It’s going to be a mess for a while.”
Nancy, Bess, and George walked into the kitchen. Nancy looked at the wall where the old cabinets had been. In stead of a white plaster wall, it was now brick.
“Wow!” Nancy exclaimed. “Did the workers put in that brick wall, Hannah?”
“No,” Hannah said. “The brick wall was there first. When the workers took down the cabinets, they took off the old plaster, too,” she explained. “Underneath, we discovered the brick wall.”
Nancy ran her hand over the wall. She could feel that one of the bricks was sticking out. When she touched it, it moved a tiny bit.
“Look at this,” she called to Bess and George. Nancy pulled on the brick. The brick slid out.
“I’ll bet there’s something in there,” George said.
Nancy took a flashlight from a drawer and shone it in the hole. “There is something in there,” she said. “It’s red.”
“Don’t put your hand in there!” Bess cried. “You’ll get all dirty.”
Nancy smiled at her friend. “Don’t worry, Bess. I’ll wash my hands later.” She reached in again and felt around. “I’ve got it,” she said. She pulled out the red object and held it up.
“It’s a book,” George said. “What’s the title?”
Nancy held out the book for Bess and George to see. On the front were gold letters that said, “My Diary.”
“It looks old,” George said.
The diary was made of red leather and had a rusty latch on it. Nancy pushed on the latch until it sprang open. Then she turned to the first page.
“Listen to this,” Nancy said. She read from the first page: “‘This diary belongs to Amelia Barton, 1943.'”
“That’s more than fifty years ago!” George said.
“Amelia Barton left this diary here fifty years ago?” Bess said.
“I guess so,” Nancy said. “That also means that Amelia Barton lived in this house.”