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Authors: Lois Gladys Leppard

Mandie Collection, The: 4 (10 page)

BOOK: Mandie Collection, The: 4
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“If Mr. Rushton’s maid can’t get it clean,” Mandie sighed, “I’ll just throw it away. And I might as well forget about the mystery surrounding it.”

“That’s right, dear,” Mrs. Taft said.

Just then a maid came with food for Snowball.

“Feed your kitten, Mandie,” Mrs. Taft said, “and then you girls get into bed immediately.”

The girls did get right into bed, but they lay awake a long time, discussing the return of Mandie’s bag.

“Maybe someone tried to play a joke on you by taking the bag and then bringing it right back,” Celia suggested.

“Well, if that’s true, it sounds like a crazy joke to me,” Mandie said. “Maybe Jonathan will have some ideas tomorrow.”

CHAPTER EIGHT

ANOTHER MYSTERY

Mandie and Celia were still asleep the next morning when the maid came in and opened the draperies. The bright sunlight woke them. They quickly sat up in bed. Snowball stretched, yawned, and jumped down to the floor.

The maid stood beside their bed in her uniform with a starched white apron and cap. She pointed to the tray on the table nearby and smiled. “Breakfast I have brought,” she told them.

“Oh, thank you,” both girls replied. They jumped out of bed and went to see what was on the tray.

“Two trays,” the woman explained. “One for the lady.” She pointed toward the parlor. “And one for the
signorinas.

She walked toward the door, told the girls good-bye, and left.

“I’m starving for some reason,” Mandie declared. She pulled up a chair and after returning thanks, she began eating a roll.

Celia poured coffee into the two cups provided and joined her. “I’ll get fat from all this traveling,” she said, buttering a roll from the covered dish. “It makes me so hungry.”

Snowball came to beg. Mandie put a saucer on the floor with a piece of a roll that had bits of ham baked into it.

“I need to catch up on my journal,” Mandie told Celia. “You know, I haven’t written in it for days.”

“It didn’t do any good to buy the bags to carry them in because we don’t take them with us,” Celia said, sipping the strong, hot coffee.

“It’s just too much trouble to carry a book around all the time,” Mandie decided. “We’ll have to remember to write in them when we get the chance. Maybe we could do it now, before Grandmother asks us to get dressed.”

“Good idea,” Celia said.

The girls quickly finished their food and sat on the bed with their journals opened in their laps.

Mandie thought for a moment and then began hastily writing in her book. Celia did likewise. And by the time Mrs. Taft came to tell them to get ready, both girls had managed to enter the events for each day up to the present.

Mandie closed her journal and placed it back in the mesh bag. She hurried over to her small trunk in the corner, raised the lid and put the book inside, then pushed the lock shut.

Celia frowned. “Mandie, why are you locking up your journal?”

Mandie smiled as she took a dress from the wardrobe. “Well, because I wrote some of my innermost thoughts in that book, and I don’t want anybody else reading it.”

“I never thought of that. I guess I’d better lock mine up, too.” Celia walked over to her own trunk and locked her journal inside. “However, I don’t know who would want to read our journals.”

Celia started to select a dress for the day, and suddenly turned to Mandie and asked, “Mandie, where are the keys to our trunks? I don’t have them.”

“Neither do I,” Mandie said matter-of-factly. “Grandmother has all the keys to everything, remember?”

“I hope she has these,” Celia replied.

The girls dressed hurriedly, and Mandie put the red harness on Snowball and attached the leash. He fought it as usual and rolled over and over trying to get it off.

Mandie tried to straighten out the leash. “Snowball, either you wear the harness or you stay here,” she told him. “I’ll lock you up in the bathroom again.”

Snowball immediately flipped over onto his feet and meowed loudly as he looked up at his mistress.

“Now that’s better,” Mandie said. She stood up with the end of the leash in her hand.

The white kitten began purring and rubbing around her ankles. The girls went into the parlor and sat down.

“You know, Mandie, he’s a smart kitten,” Celia remarked. “I think he knows what you’re saying.”

“He probably knows the different tones of my voice, whether I’m scolding or playing,” Mandie said. She sat down again and Celia joined her. “He ought to by this time. You know I brought him from Charley Gap right after I lost my father. He was just a tiny kitten.”

Mrs. Taft opened her bedroom door and walked across the parlor to the girls. “Amanda, would you please see if you can get the hook fastened on this necklace?” she asked. “And Celia, please knock on the senator’s door and tell him we’re ready.”

Celia went across the hall. Mrs. Taft turned and sat on the settee so Mandie could reach the hook.

“Grandmother, isn’t this the same necklace you wore to Mr. Rushton’s tea, the one I had to unfasten for you before?” Mandie asked.

“Why, yes, dear, it is,” Mrs. Taft agreed.

Stepping back, Mandie admired the ruby-encrusted necklace around her grandmother’s neck. “Grandmother, is that a real ruby?” she asked.

“Of course, dear.” Mrs. Taft stood and smiled at the senator and Jonathan, who had come in with Celia just in time to hear their conversation.

As Mrs. Taft greeted the senator, Mandie and Celia exchanged glances.

Mandie whispered to her friend, “It sure looks like that ruby that was stolen from the catacombs.” She laughed softly. “Of course, I know it’s not.”

Jonathan apparently overheard her remark. “Sure,” he teased, “your grandmother stole the ruby and had it made into a necklace that fast!”

“Oh, Jonathan, I know it’s not the same one,” Mandie said sharply. “I said it
looks
the same!”

Senator Morton opened the door to the hall. “Ready?” he asked.

“We are now,” Mrs. Taft replied. “Come on, dears,” she urged the young people.

As they rode down in the lift, Senator Morton suggested, “If it is agreeable with all of you, we thought we’d visit the Fountain of Trevi this morning and the Sistine Chapel this afternoon.”

Everyone agreed.

As the
Fontana de Trevi
*
came within sight, the girls gasped in wonder at the huge body of water and the front of the magnificent building behind it. The carriage stopped to let them out.

Mandie and Celia rushed to the rim to look down into the fountain. Water spouted from every statue and stone decoration around it.

As Senator Morton came up behind her, Mandie turned to him. “How old is this?” she asked.

“I believe it was built about 1735,” he replied.

“Then it’s not really old compared with other landmarks we’ve seen,” Mandie said. The breeze from all the rushing water stirred a strand of hair from under her bonnet.

Jonathan reminded her, “But don’t forget the old saying that if you want to return to Rome someday, you should throw a coin into the water and make a wish. Then you’ll probably come back.”

Mandie and Celia hastily dug into their bags for coins. Mandie put Snowball down on his leash as she tried to find a coin. She didn’t have one, only bills. Looking up at Jonathan in disappointment, she said, “I don’t have a coin. Could I throw paper money in there?”

“Paper money wouldn’t go to the bottom,” Jonathan told her.

Senator Morton held out a handful of coins. “Here, take these.”

Mandie hesitated. “But if I throw
your
coins in, you will be the one to come back.” She laughed. “I have to have my own coins.” She thought a moment. “I know. You take this paper bill for a coin.” She offered him a lire note.

“If you insist,” the senator said, smiling. He accepted the paper money and deposited several coins in Mandie’s hand.

“Thank you,” Mandie said. Turning back to the edge of the fountain, she spoke thoughtfully, “Now I have to think of a wish.” She gazed silently into the pool of water.

“You have to turn around and throw it over your shoulder like this,” Jonathan told her, tossing his coin into the water.

The girls watched. Mandie silently made her wish and threw all her coins into the water.

“Mandie, you only have to throw in one coin,” Jonathan said.

“I made a wish for each coin, so I had to throw them all in,” Mandie said with a shrug and a smile. “Anyway, I don’t really believe all this.”

“I never thought about doing that,” Jonathan said, tossing all his coins into the fountain.

Celia studied the coins in her hand. “There are so many things I’d like to wish for, I don’t know exactly which ones to pick,” she said. “I suppose the best one would be to wish to come back to Rome, and—”

Jonathan interrupted. “You aren’t supposed to tell what your wish is.”

Celia looked crestfallen. She quickly threw all the coins into the fountain. “I’ll just wish for several things besides that,” she said.

As Mandie stood there between her two friends, she said, “I hope someday the three of us will be able to come back to Rome together. I’ve had such a wonderful time.”

“Me, too,” Celia agreed.

“You never can tell,” Jonathan said lightly. He reached to stick his hand in the water spouting out of a nearby statue.

Mrs. Taft rose from where she was sitting on a nearby bench and came to speak to the young people. “This area has a lot of shops. I thought maybe y’all might want to look around to see if there is something you’d like to buy,” she told them.

“And there are sidewalk cafes where we can get something to eat later,” the senator added.

“Oh, yes, Grandmother,” Mandie said. “I have some money that Celia gave me, and I want to buy something special with it.”

“Celia gave you money?” her grandmother asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” Mandie replied. “When I lost my bag. Now that I got the bag back, I have that money too.”

“But, Celia,” Mrs. Taft said, “that wasn’t necessary. I am holding money that belongs to Mandie.”

“I know, Mrs. Taft,” Celia said, dropping her gaze. “I just wanted to give Mandie something.”

“I’ll buy something for Celia, too, Grandmother,” Mandie said.

Senator Morton, hearing their conversation, spoke to Jonathan, “If you want to do any shopping, I can settle up with your father later.”

“Thank you, sir, but you’ve already paid for my new clothes,”

Jonathan said. “That was the most important to me. And I still have some money left over from yesterday.”

The group moved away from the fountain, and as they strolled along, they found dozens of vendors’ stalls, displaying everything imaginable. The local craftspeople were selling handmade articles of silk and lace, leather goods, ceramics, and articles made of tortoise-shell and raffia.

Mandie’s eyes grew wide as she stopped in front of a collection of cameo brooches. “Look, Celia!” she told her friend. “Would you like one of these?”

Celia looked at the rows and rows of jewelry. “I think the cameos are the prettiest and the most practical,” she decided, opening her bag. “I’ll buy one.”

“No!” Mandie said quickly, drawing money from her bag. “I saw them first, and I’m going to buy one for you and one for me.”

Celia looked at her friend. “All right, but I’m going to buy something for you, too.”

The owner of the stall did not speak English, but between Senator Morton and Jonathan, they finally figured out how much money the man wanted.


Signorina
.” The man smiled and handed Mandie the two brooches.
“Grazie
. Thank you.”

“Thank
you
,” Mandie replied, smiling up at the big Italian man. She turned to Celia and gave her one of the brooches.

“Why don’t we wear them now?” Celia said, fastening hers to the neck of her dress.

“Good idea,” Mandie agreed.

“Thank you, Mandie,” Celia said. “I’ll always treasure this. I’ll show it to my grandchildren one day and tell them all about you.”

Mandie smiled. “I’ll always keep mine, too,” she said.

“Now it’s my turn to buy you something,” Celia told her as they followed the adults through the market.

Jonathan tagged along behind them, showing little interest.

“Oh, look at the beautiful combs!” Mandie exclaimed as they passed another stall.

Mrs. Taft heard Mandie and turned around. “What about one for your mother, Amanda?”

“The very thing! One of those tortoiseshell combs with the diamonds in it,” Mandie replied, looking at the colorful array.

“They couldn’t possibly be real diamonds, dear, but they are beautiful,” her grandmother explained. “I think your mother would like one of those.”

Mandie and Celia both bought combs for their mothers. Then Mandie found tiepins and got one for her Uncle John.

“Mandie, how would you like one of these?” Celia asked as she caught sight of a table full of brightly colored scarves.

“Oh, yes, Celia, that would be nice,” Mandie said. They stopped in front of the display. “I’d like a red one.”

Celia bought two red scarves alike, one for Mandie and one for herself. “We’re going to be twins—the same brooches and the same scarves,” Celia said, laughing. She handed the scarf to Mandie. “You don’t have to wear it today. It’s too warm. Just put it in your bag.”

“Thank you, Celia,” Mandie said. “I really like it. It’s something I’ll always use and keep.” She tucked the silk scarf into her bag.

When it was time for the midday meal, they stopped at a sidewalk cafe and had a light snack. Whenever they ate outdoors, Mandie enjoyed watching the people as they passed by.

When they were finished, Mrs. Taft decided they should go on to the Sistine Chapel.

As they rode in the carriage, Senator Morton explained what they were about to see. “The Sistine Chapel was built in 1470,” he told them. “The paintings in it were begun in 1481, or thereabouts, and were done by various well-known artists.”

“How do you know all the dates, Senator Morton?” Celia asked.

“Oh, I just read about the Sistine Chapel this morning before we left,” he admitted. He continued his explanation: “The paintings, or frescoes, as they are called, represent the life of Moses from the Old Testament on one wall and the life of Christ from the New Testament on the opposite wall.”

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