The Stolen Unicorn – First Chapter

Chapter 1

I have a secret,” Alison Wegman told Nancy Drew during recess. Alison put her arm around her best friend, Brenda Carlton.

“And you’re not allowed to know,” Brenda said to Nancy. She twisted her dark hair around her finger and gave Nancy a mean smile.

“That’s not fair,” George Fayne said. She was Nancy’s best friend. “I told you about my in-line skates before I showed them to the class.”

“Okay. I’ll give you a hint,” Alison said. “It’s silver and white, and it’ll be the best show-and-tell you’ve ever seen.”

Nancy rolled her eyes and looked at George. Alison was such a show-off.

It was show-and-tell week for the girls’ third-grade class. Everyone had to bring in something from home to talk about in front of the group. Nancy wished they could have show-and-tell every week. It happened only four times a year.

“Hey, there’s Bess with the new girl.” George pointed across the schoolyard. “What’s her name?”

Nancy waved to the two girls. “Mari Cheng.”

Bess Marvin waved back as she and Mari headed toward the group. She was George’s cousin and Nancy’s other best friend. Bess was also Mari’s “school buddy” for the week. That meant she was helping Mari get used to the way things were done at Carl Sandburg Elementary School.

“Mari seems pretty nice,” Alison said. “My mom and I met her at the toy store last Saturday. I found out that Mari was going to be in our class before anybody else did. I wonder what she has for show-and-tell.”

“Who cares?” Brenda sneered. “She thinks she’s too good for the rest of the class and won’t talk to anybody.”

Nancy crossed her arms. “Just because Mari’s quiet doesn’t mean she’s stuck-up. Maybe she’s shy.”

“Give Mari a chance,” George added. “After all, she’s only been in Ms. Spencer’s class since Monday.”

Nancy’s blue eyes twinkled. “You mean Mrs. Reynolds, not Ms. Spencer.”

“Whoops.” George put her hand oven her mouth and laughed. “I keep forgetting our teacher is married now.”

“Hi, guys!” Bess said when she and Mari reached the girls. “What’s up?”

“Oh, nothing.” Brenda looked at Mari and giggled. “We were just talking.”

Nancy glared at Brenda. Then she turned to the new girl. “Hi, Mari.”

“Hi,” Mari said softly. She looked down at her shoes. Her shiny, black hair covered her face.

“So, Mari, what did you bring in for show-and-tell?” Alison asked. “Your row is up next.”

Mari shrugged. “I — I brought . . . um . . . it’s kind of . . .”

“She doesn’t want to tell us,” Brenda snapped.

“It isn’t really a big thing.” Mari s voice was so low, Nancy had to lean in closer to hear her. “It’s — “

“You don’t have to tell us if you don’t want to,” Alison broke in. “I’m keeping my show-and-tell a secret, too.”

“Let me guess, Alison,” Bess said. “Are you showing your new Flower Fairy perfume?”

“No” Alison said. “Even though I am the only one in class who has it. My surprise is even better.” She turned to Mari. “Have you heard of Flower Fairy?”

Mari shook her head.

“I’m wearing it night now.” Alison stuck out her arm. “Here, smell my wrist.”

Mari was just leaning over to sniff Alison’s wrist when Mike Minelli and Jason Hutchings came crashing into the group. The boys were in the middle of a game of tag and knocked Mari right to the ground.

“Hey, watch where you’re going!” George shouted to the boys.

Nancy helped Mari back to her feet.

“Sorry,” Jason said. He was laughing so hand, Nancy didn’t think he sounded sorry.

“I forgot to tell you about Mike and Jason,” Bess told Mari. “They’re always starting trouble and playing dumb tricks.”

“Our tricks aren’t dumb,” Mike said. “The people we play tricks on are dumb.”

“That’s right,” Jason said. “We’re smart! We always have something up our sleeves. Don’t we Mike?”

“Yup!'” Mike grinned. “So you’d better watch out, Mari!”

Mari’s eyes grew wide. “What do you mean?”

“You’ll find out,”‘ Mike said. Then he tagged Jason. “You’re it!” he yelled, running away.

Jason chased after him.

Later that afternoon Bess showed the class her fancy gold locket for show-and-tell. It was a gift from her aunt.

The day before, Nancy had shown a beautiful picture of her mother, who had died when Nancy was three years old. It was Nancy’s favorite photograph.

Now it was Mari’s turn. She walked slowly up the aisle holding a pink duffel bag. Her face was as red as a tomato.

Show-and-tell must be really hard for someone as shy as Mari, Nancy thought. I’ll clap extra loud when she’s done.

Mari put her bag on top of Julia Santos’s desk, in the front of the room. Julia peeked inside Mari’s bag.

“Awesome,” Julia said.

One by one, Mari began taking seven beautiful toy horses out from her bag. “I love horses,”” she said. “My room is full of them. I have horse books, horse posters, horse videos — everything.”

Nancy noticed that Mari seemed to like talking about something she loved.

“These horses are all different breeds and in all kinds of poses,” Mari said, putting the last one on Julia’s desk. Then she took something else out of her bag.

“This is my newest one. It isn’t exactly a horse, but it’s my favorite.” Mari held up a beautiful white unicorn. “She’s called Silvermane. The silver tail and mane are made from real horsehair that I can brush with a special comb. She has her own stand, too.”

Nancy had to smile when she saw Alison’s mouth drop open at the sight of the unicorn. Even Brenda looked impressed.

“I can’t believe it, ” Julia said out loud. “I’ve wanted Silvermane ever since I saw her in the mall.” She reached out to touch the shiny horn on the unicorn’s head.

“No!” Mari snatched it away. “I’m only going to pass around the other horses. Silvermane is too special.'”

“Sorry.” Julia sank in her chair.

As Mari passed around the horses, Jason raised his hand.

“What do the horses do?” he asked Mari. “Do they walk? Do they fly?”

“Well, no,” Mari said. “You have to use your imagination.”

Jason pretended to yawn. “Borrrring!” Mike jumped out of his seat. “But they do fly! See?” He tossed two toy horses in the air. “Bombs away!”

Jason threw a toy Arabian horse at Mike. “Attack!” he cried.

Mike laughed and flung an Appaloosa across the room. “It’s a bird. . . . It’s a plane. . . . It’s Superhorse!”

“Stop!”‘ Mari cried out.

Mrs. Reynolds leaped from her seat. “Mike and Jason, pick up those horses! The two of you are staying after school.”

Mike and Jason each picked up a horse from the floor. Brenda and Alison found two others. They all put the horses back inside the duffel bag on Julia’s desk.

“Now apologize,” Mrs. Reynolds said, frowning at the boys.

“Sorry, Mari,” the boys muttered.

“That was a fine presentation, Mari,” Mrs. Reynolds said as Mari lugged her bag back to her seat. “All right, everyone. It’s time for us to pack up and go home.”‘

As the class gathered their things, Nancy walked over to Mari. “Great show-and-tell,” she said. “Your horses are really cool.”

But Mari wasn’t listening. She was searching through her duffel bag.

“What’s wrong, Mari?” Nancy asked.

“It’s Silvermane!”‘ Mari cried out. “She’s gone!”

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