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It all started one day when Hollie and I were over at her house. It was just like any other regular summer day. We were bored out of our minds with nothing to do, just sitting in the kitchen drinking lemonade and eating chocolate cookies. Then came Hollie’s mom. “Hollie, Sydney, you ought to come see what I found in the attic!” She called from the dining room. Hollie and I exchanged glances, and hurried to Mrs. Turner. “Wow,” I breathed, looking at the dusty old trunk. “It looks like it’s three hundred years old.” Mrs. Turner smiled. “A hundred and fifty, actually. This trunk belonged to our ancestor, Elizabeth Greene. She lived during the Civil War. Elizabeth was single her whole life, and no one is quite sure what she did during her lifetime. At one point, she disappeared for eight years, without a trace. She never told anyone where she went or what she did. I’m hoping maybe this trunk will shed some light on the subject.” Hollie and I looked at each other. Her eyes were sparkling with excitement. “Cool! Hey mom, do you think we can look through the trunk a little?” Mrs. Turner smiled. “Sure, go ahead. I’m going to get my geraniums planted in the front yard so you two just have fun.” At that point, we had no idea what we would find. I was thinking maybe a history puzzle, where we’d fit everything together and find out about Elizabeth Greene’s mysterious life, but it didn’t turn out to be small like that. What Hollie and I discovered would get us into a lot of trouble.
As we sat on the back porch digging through Elizabeth’s trunk, Hollie pulled out a pair of trousers. “Whoa,” I exclaimed. “What was Elizabeth doing with pants in her trunk?” Hollie shrugged. “I don’t know. That’s weird.” I nodded, reaching for two picture frames. “Hey, look at these old photos.” I held them up for Hollie to see. The first picture was of a young man with a crew cut. The second was of a woman whose features were strikingly similar. She wore a hat, so it was impossible to see the details of her hair style. “I’m guessing that’s Elizabeth.” I pointed at the picture of the woman. “But who is the man? Did Elizabeth have a twin brother or something?” “It could be. I’ll ask my mom,” Hollie replied, flipping her straight brown hair behind her back. “She’s been looking at that ancestry website, so she ought to be able to find out about Elizabeth’s brother . . . if she had one.” “Okay,” I agreed. “Hey, look, an old journal. Maybe it was Elizabeth’s.” Actually, when I opened the journal, the name on the inside was Margaret Smith Greene. “That must be Elizabeth’s mother,” I said, showing the book to Hollie. “Yeah, probably so. Maybe she knew a thing or two about Elizabeth’s secret life,” Hollie suggested. I leaned back and flipped through the journal. It was full of beautiful cursive writing. As I neared the end of the book, something fluttered into my lap. It was an old envelope with the name “Isabelle” scrawled across the front. It was not sealed, so I reached in and pulled out an old, crumbly piece of paper. Dear Isabelle, I read, It is so tragic the way Elizabeth --“Sydney, do you want to take a break and get some lemonade? I think there are still some cookies left, too,” Hollie said, setting down a coat she’d been looking at. “Yeah, sure,” I replied. I set the journal down and followed Hollie into the kitchen. Looking back, it would’ve been better if we’d stopped there.
After we took a quick break, Hollie and I started back toward the porch. However, as I began to reach for the doorknob, a knock sounded from the front door. “Coming,” Hollie called, hurrying toward the front of the house. She opened the door to see two familiar faces. “Hey Quinn, Liam,” I smiled. Quinn and Liam were fraternal twins with dark brown hair and eyes. They reminded me of Elizabeth and her “twin” in how alike they looked in spite of their gender differences. “Hi, Sydney,” Quinn smiled as she walked into the house with a flowing movement. Quinn always looked like she was walking on air. I guess that came from being such an accomplished ballet dancer, even at the age of fourteen. Liam stopped and looked around the entry way. “Hi, Hollie, Sydney,” he greeted. “Our mother sent us to bring you your mail. It got mixed up in ours. Again.” He smiled. Hollie smiled back as she took the envelopes from Liam. “Thanks. You guys can stay a while, if you want. My mom made lemonade and chocolate cookies for Sydney and I, and I know there’s more than we can eat or drink, even with Sydney’s appetite.” I blushed slightly. It wasn’t my fault I had really quick metabolism and was hungry all the time—yet never gained an ounce. Liam flashed a grin at me. “Don’t worry about it, Sydney. I happen to be a big eater, too,” he said, with just a trace of his former British accent. I smiled back at him and trailed behind everyone as Hollie led the way into the kitchen. As I nibbled on my fifth cookie of the day, I wanted nothing more than to finish reading that letter.
“Bye, guys,” Hollie called as Quinn and Liam walked home. “Okay, Hollie. Let’s get back to that trunk,” I said, leaning against the back door. Suddenly—“Ow!” I exclaimed as the door flew open, shoving me forward. “Oh, Sydney! I’m so sorry!” Mrs. Turner cried. “Are you okay?” I straightened up. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little startled.” Mrs. Turner nodded absently. “Mm hm.” “Mom, is something wrong?” Hollie asked. Mrs. Turner looked directly at her daughter. “Your aunt Dana is in the hospital in Missouri. She was in a head-on vehicle collision . . . if your dad weren’t in Japan right now I’d leave you at home. But for right now, we are both going to Missouri for a day or two. I want you to get a suitcase ready while I take Sydney home.” I held back a sigh. There went my chance to read that letter.
The next morning, after I showered and poured a bowl of cereal, my mom walked into the kitchen with a fat envelope. “Sydney, this was on the front porch. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s got your name on it.” She set the envelope down in front of me. Sure enough, the name Sydney was scrawled across it. In Hollie’s handwriting. I tore open the envelope. Inside was a sheet of purple paper. On the paper was written:
Sydney: By the time you read this my mom and I will probably have been in Missouri for at least a few hours. I figure that you’re pretty eager to keep looking through the trunk, so I asked my mom if you could keep digging while we’re gone—we should be home by Friday evening—and she said yes. I’ve enclosed a key to the house (we moved the trunk into the sunroom before we left last night). I put the letter you were reading on top of the trunk. So have fun with your endeavors to journey into the past! Love, Hollie P.S. Oh, shoot. I guess I forgot to tell you—I might have kinda told Quinn she could help you look through the trunk . . . I know you two don’t get along particularly well but it would be kind of creepy alone in my house, right? Anyway . . . see you soon. I sighed. Hollie was absolutely right: Quinn and I were not good friends, or really even friends for that matter. Once again, Hollie and her impulsive nature were causing trouble for me. “Sydney, after breakfast, can you run over to the convenience store real fast? We’re out of dog food and that isn’t making Bailey happy.” My mom requested. Upon hearing her name, Bailey, my golden retriever, stood up and started begging at my mom’s side. “No, you don’t, silly.” Mom pushed the dog away as she dropped a piece of bacon into the frying pan. My jaw dropped. “You’re making bacon? And you let me eat breakfast?!” She smiled. “Honey, you would’ve been asking for more food in half an hour anyway.” Mom turned to look at the stairs as my younger sister Liesel clomped down them. “Oh good, you’re up. Lee, can you mix me up some dough for drop biscuits please?” I raised an eyebrow as I rinsed my cereal bowl out and clipped Bailey’s leash on. “Come on girl, you and I are going for a walk to get you some food.”
Quinn and I ducked around the back of the Turners’ house so as not to attract attention. “So who is this lady you’re trying to find out about?” Quinn asked. “Elizabeth something or other?” I glanced back at her as I inserted the key into the lock. “Elizabeth Greene. She’s Hollie’s ancestor who lived during the Civil War. She disappeared for eight years at one point, and nobody knows where she went or what she did.” Quinn nodded slowly and thoughtfully as I opened the door and slipped the key back into my pocket. “So you’re trying to figure out where she went during those eight years?” I nodded, wondering if I should add to that statement and tell her my hunch about the whole thing. Quinn looked at me, smiling knowingly. “I know what you’re thinking: Elizabeth was a spy during the Civil war! But didn’t it only last four years? So what did she do the other four years?” I gave her a look that clearly said, cut it out with the questions! but quickly erased it from my face. “Um, I really don’t know. That’s what I’m hoping to find out.” “Okay.” She shrugged. I clenched my teeth. That British accent was beginning to grate on my nerves. At least Liam didn’t show it off like his sister seemed to. “Come on, Quinn. The sunroom is this way.” In the sunroom, as Hollie had said, sat the trunk with the yellowed envelope atop it. As I pushed the lid up, the envelope fell to the floor unnoticed. Quinn pulled out the trousers from the trunk. “Hmm. Interesting.” Next she pulled a coat out. “This is strange.” “It really is. And look at those pictures.” I pointed inside the trunk at the two pictures from yesterday. “When you and Liam showed up at Hollie’s door yesterday, those are the first thing I thought of.” She smiled. “Yes, Liam and I do resemble each other greatly, and as do Elizabeth and her brother. It is her brother?” “I think so,” I replied. “Oh, the letter!” I scrambled around to the back of the trunk. “Here it is.” I picked up the envelope and looked at the familiar writing, Isabelle, on the front and reached inside. Then I gasped. The letter had been removed from the envelope. It was gone.
My second thought was, maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe it’s still here. But what soon happened denied that. Quinn continued flipping through Margaret’s journal as I pulled the coat into my lap. I felt something hard in the pocket. Frowning, I reached inside. Nothing seemed to be in there, so maybe it was sewn into the bottom of it or something. I set the jacket aside and reached for the folded trousers. Lifting the trousers up, I grabbed for something that had been folded up in them. It was another journal, smaller than Margaret’s. And the name inside was Elizabeth’s. The front of the journal had a key pasted to the page along with the words key to my trunk. I plucked the key from its place and turned it over. Suddenly mine and Quinn’s heads snapped up. “What was that?” She whispered, eyes wide. It was some kind of squeaking sound, like the ones that came from the lose floorboards outside of the sunroom. “Oh, my,” I whispered. “Quick, Quinn. Get all the stuff back in the trunk, pronto. We’re not alone.” As we began piling things back inside, I purposely set the coat and journal to the side, holding the key pressed tightly in my hand. “Who’s there?” I called tentatively. A figure dressed in black whose features I couldn’t make out stepped into the doorway. “Well, now that you know I’m here I may as well not try to hide. Hand over what you found, dearies, and nobody gets hurt.” Quinn trembled, eyes widened. I slowly backed into the trunk, pretending to stumble as I pushed it around so the keyhole would face the back door located in the back of the sunroom. A smirk seemed to emanate from the Cat, as I’d begun to call the person (I wasn’t sure if they were a burglar or not). “Trying to use the poor dilapidated old trunk as a bodyguard?” I shook my head and pushed back the dumb smile trying to make its way to my face. Trying to look scared I pretended to stumble over the trunk, scooping up the jacket and journal on the floor, clutching the jacket to my chest with a frightened expression. I whispered something under my breath to Quinn. “Oh, I see what you’re doing,” the Cat said, crossing their arms. “Don’t think I’m dumb, dearie. Just hand over the evidence and I’ll even let you go your own way without bringing you back to the headquarters. I dropped my arms to my sides in submission. “Okay.” I shuffled closer to the trunk. “HERE!” I screamed. Quinn lunged for the back door as I fumbled to insert the key in the lock, and, with a mighty shove, sent the trunk sliding to the doorway. “Ow!” The Cat tripped and slipped forward over the trunk. Her hat fell off, but all I caught before Quinn and I raced out the door was a head full of red curly hair.
Quinn and I raced down the street toward my house. As we reached the familiar driveway I realized with a pang of fear that our van was gone—mom had taken the younger kids with her for Bailey’s vet checkup, leaving me with my cell at Hollie’s house. Of course she couldn’t have known something like this would happen. “Umm, the guest house!” I cried. In the backyard was a small apartment-like house for guests to stay in when we didn’t have enough room in the big house. There was a key hidden in a potted plant, so Quinn and I would be able to hide in there until my family got home. I snatched the key up and unlocked the door, ushering Quinn inside. Quinn rubbed her arms, seeming to have the chills. “What exactly happened back there?” She inquired. I walked toward the living room of the guest house. “I don’t know, but I have a feeling that Elizabeth did something during those eight years . . . something nobody wants us to find out about.” Quinn’s face darkened. “And now the two of us are caught up in this.”
The next morning as soon as I had eaten, I dashed to Hollie’s house to see if she was home. Mrs. Turner’s car sat in the driveway, so I knocked on the front door. “Hi, Sydney!” Hollie exclaimed as she opened the door. “Did you and Quinn discover anything?” My eyebrows lifted. “You mean you didn’t realize . . . ?” Hollie frowned at me. “What? I didn’t realize what?"
Chapter 8 I blinked. How could Hollie not have seen—? “Uh, Hollie, you didn’t, by chance, notice that the trunk was locked, and the envelope that letter was in was empty . . . no? Nothing like that?” Hollie looked disturbed. “Sydney, did something happen yesterday that I should know about?” My eyebrows shot up. “I should say so!” Hollie looked back into the house, and then stepped outside, closing the front door. “Let’s walk to your house. Mom’s a little agitated after that trip—my aunt isn’t doing very well.” I nodded, and we started toward my house. “See, yesterday when Quinn and I were looking, I discovered that the letter had been removed from its envelope . . .” I proceeded to explain the details of our “adventure” the day before, including the run in with the Cat and the dash to the guest house. Hollie looked appalled. “Oh, my gosh! Sydney, that’s crazy! I’m so sorry that happened . . . but I remember specifically making a point to set the letter on top of the trunk, inside the envelope.” She stopped walking and turned to me with wide eyes. “Sydney, there must be some secret behind Elizabeth’s disappearance—a secret that somebody doesn’t want us to find out.” I nodded and shivered. I felt bad for getting Quinn involved in this—she didn’t seem to be able to handle excitement too well, whereas Hollie was quite daring and I was sure she would be fine if we encountered more . . . encounters. “Hollie, do you still want to continue looking?” “Definitely!” She replied quickly. “Of course. The Cat doesn’t scare me.” “Well you didn’t meet her,” I reminded my friend as we turned the corner toward my house. “And Hollie?” We stopped again and looked at each other seriously. “If we continue, promise me we won’t include Quinn? She seems too . . . weak-natured to be caught up in this with us.” Hollie lifted her eyebrows. “Unless she wants to.” I frowned. “Okay. Unless she wants to.
Chapter 9 April 10, 1865 Mary opened the door against the unrelenting April showers. “John!” She shouted above the wind, knowing that having the same name, both men would respond. “Ma’am?” Replied the mustachioed one on the right. “Mother?” The other responded; this one with longer hair slicked back, also sporting a mustache. “The rest of your cronies are here. I suggest you come inside before I throw them out.” John Surratt frowned. “Mother.” Mary raised an eyebrow. “It’s my boarding house, not yours and not his.” Her voice threatened as she motioned to the other John. John Surratt looked questioningly at his friend, starting into the boarding house. The two Johns made their way to the room in the very back of the boarding house, where their ‘cronies’ awaited. “All right, my cronies, are you prepared to take on the biggest challenge we have ever faced?” John Booth inquired. Suddenly, a rock hurtled through the window, smashing the glass. Out of sheer impulse, everyone in the room was on the ground right away. “What was that?” John shouted. A face appeared in the window. “It was your worst nightmare.”
Re: .:From the Journal of Elizabeth Greene:. ~A story about what happens when two girls discover something lost to history~ Brought to you by the author of Reach for the Stars AND The Time Keepers
I love it! It seems that it will have a very interesting plot unfold! I love how your stories are mystery but, wrapped in something that I can't put my finger on. I can't wait for the next chapter and you can definitely put me on the notification list!
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