Nancy felt her face turn red. Was Hannah really accusing her of stealing food?
“We didn’t take them,” Nancy protested. Her voice almost squeaked.
Hannah said, “Well, someone took them. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it was that puppy of yours.”
“No,” Nancy said firmly. “She was with us the whole time.”
“But she escaped once and hid under the steps,” Bess said. “Remember?”
“See?” Hannah said. “She probably pushed the door open and ate those muffins and the paper cups, too!”
“No!” Nancy cried again.
“You have to watch puppies every minute,” Hannah scolded gently. “Now she’ll probably be sick. I should have told you — chocolate isn’t good for dogs. Not even for chocolate Labs.” Hannah hurried back into the house.
Nancy smiled slightly at Hannah’s joke. But she still felt upset. First Hannah had accused Nancy and her friends of stealing. Then she’d accused Nancy’s new dog!
“We have to find out who took Hannah’s muffins,” Nancy said.
“A mystery!” Bess exclaimed. “Super!”
“Come on,” Nancy said. “Let’s go look for clues.”
Nancy clipped a new red leash to the puppy’s new red collar. Then she and the puppy hurried down the driveway toward the kitchen door. George and Bess followed. Suddenly Nancy stopped at the screen door.
“What? What’s wrong? Are more muffins missing?” Bess asked.
“No,” Nancy said. She pointed. “But look. There’s a clue.”
Nancy handed the puppy’s leash to Bess. Then she bent down to take a closer look. Something was caught on the edge of the screen door.
“What is it?” George asked, crowding in closer to see.
“It’s a piece of a shoelace,” Nancy said. She pulled the clue from the door frame and held it up.
The piece of shoelace had black and white stripes. It was dirty and tattered and about six inches long.
“Hmmm,” Nancy said. “It might be from the thief’s shoe.”
“How do you know?” Bess asked.
“Because I don’t have any shoes with laces like that. Neither does Hannah. And neither does Daddy,” Nancy said.
“How about Kenny? Maybe it’s from his shoe,” George said. “Maybe he took the muffins.”
“Maybe,” Nancy said. “But I don’t think so. Remember? He told us he’s allergic to chocolate. So I don’t think he took the muffins.”
Nancy looked around the kitchen quickly. But there were no more clues. Then she hurried outside.
“Let’s look for crumbs,” Nancy said. “Maybe whoever took the muffins ate them as they ran away. Maybe they left a trail — like Hansel and Gretel.”
“You’re so smart,” Bess said, admiringly. “No wonder you’re a great detective.”
Nancy grinned and headed down the driveway. She loved looking for clues and solving mysteries.
“Hey — here’s a crumb!” Nancy cried, pointing at the sidewalk.
“Where?” Bess asked. Holding the puppy’s leash, she ran down the driveway to see.
Just then the puppy pulled hard on the leash. She broke free from Bess and ran to Nancy. Instantly, the puppy sniffed the ground and licked the crumb.
“She ate the clue!” George cried.
“Bees, you have to hold on to her,” Nancy scolded.
But it was too late. The puppy darted between Nancy’s legs and scampered away!
Copyright© 1996 by Simon & Schuster Inc.