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The Green Gables Detectives

While visiting the famous farmhouse known as Green Gables, Liz Austen and her friends are swept up in baffling events that lead them from an ancient cemetery to a haunted church, and then to a heart-stopping showdown in a deserted lighthouse as fog swirls across Prince Edward Island.  Be prepared for eerie events and unbearable suspense as you join the Green Gables Detectives for a thrilling adventure.

"Suspense, an authentic setting and good writing."

                                                       Calgary Herald


Chapter 1


I stood by the tombstone, alone in the night.


         Stars blinked through the trees around me.  It had taken enormous courage to enter the cemetery but now I couldn’t move.  The tombstones were old, leaning crookedly, some shaped into crosses.  Reaching out I touched cold marble, then gasped when a dark shape ran swiftly past and disappeared into the woods behind me.


         “Relax,” I whispered to myself.  “It was only a farm cat.  There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
         Except the night, the graveyard, and spirits that prowl.


         Managing a smile at my foolishness, I listened to the distant pounding of waves along the seashore, then moved further into the cemetery.  But again I stopped.  The wind moaned in my ears as I stared at the dark tombstones, and a shiver went down my spine.


         Then a hand touched me.


         With a scream, I whirled around.  Looking solemnly at me was a Japanese girl I’d met briefly an hour before.  “So, sorry,” she whispered.  “Please forgive such a scare.”


         I tried to smile.  “Seen anything of our quarry?”




         “Our quarry - you know, that woman.”


         “Ah, yes.”  The girl stepped closer and I could see the excitement in her eyes.  She was about my age and colouring but really beautiful, with a perfect complexion  and thick black hair.  “Perhaps she hides near grave of famous Maud.”


         “That’s my theory, too.  Trouble is, I’m too scared to go find out by myself.”


         “We try together.  In this way we are strong, yes?”


         “I guess so,”  I said, glancing around the cemetery.  It was true I felt slightly braver now that I had company, but I still counted slowly to 10 for good luck.  And as we started walking up the slope past the tombstones, I had to fight a terrible urge to look over my shoulder for lurking ghosts.  But somehow I kept my eyes straight ahead until the girl touched my arm.


         “Did you see?  In shadows, light reflected from spectacles.”


         “You must be half cat,”  I whispered, “I can’t see anything except . . .”  Then my heart skipped a beat as just then I saw it too: a quick glimpse of twin circles of glass.  Then nothing, just the darkness of shrubs beside a thick slab of marble.  “She’s hiding by that grave,” I said in excitement.  “We’ve done it!  We’re the first to find Marilla!”


         All my fears evaporated as we rushed towards the grave and a figure stepped out of hiding.             “Congratulations,” she said, shaking our hands, “you’re good detectives.”


         “This girl get the credit,” I said.  “She spotted your glasses.”


         “Well done.  What’s your name?”


         “Makiko Tanaka,” the girl replied, smiling shyly.


         “I’m Liz Austen,” I said.  “So far I love your Mystery Weekend!”


         The woman smiled briefly.  She looked about fifty, quite heavy,  with greying hair pulled back in a severe bun.  The old-fashioned spectacles did nothing for her face and she really didn’t suit her gingham dress with its high collar, but of course she was pretending to be Marilla Cuthbert, one of the famous characters in Anne of Green Gables.


         “What happens now?” I asked.


         “I’ll call the others to gather here, then explain.”


         Cupping her mouth, Marilla released a powerful bellow: “Everyone report to the graveyard!”  As a couple of voices answered from the woods I looked at the tombstone where she’d been hiding.  In the pale light of the stars I made out the name  of Lucy Maud Montgomery and again I felt the shiver of pleasure I’d experienced several days ago when I arrived on Prince Edward Island and first visited the grave of the woman who’d written the wonderful 'Anne books.'


         Several dark figures emerged from the woods and started up the slope: a man with a meaty face and thick moustache, a couple of teenagers, an old man using a silver-headed cane, a woman with red hair and another wearing sandals, and some people who were such typical tourists that one even carried a camera even though it was night-time.  As they approached, a fat man was puffing from the strain and a woman with a sour mouth was shaking her head.


         “I didn’t expect this!  You should have warned us there’d be walking involved.”


         “And scares,” the red-head said.  “Searching the woods for your hiding place was a terrifying experience.”


         “I can’t apologize,” Marilla replied.  “Mystery weekends are supposed to be scary.”  She adjusted her glasses, then looked at us all.  “It was just an hour ago that I gave you those clues at Green Gables.  Liz and Makiko found my hiding place but more puzzles lie ahead for everyone.  If you would just . . .”


         But at this moment she was interrupted by a man who’d arrived without warning.  Marilla was clearly shocked when he reached her side and she first saw him.  A hand flew to her mouth and I heard a gasp.  As she struggled for words, the man smiled weakly.


         “Sorry I’m late.  Have I missed all the excitement?  I was obviously given the wrong starting time.”


         “Excuses!” Marilla shook her head angrily.  “You always were a great one for excuses.”  Turning away from him, she took a deep breath.  “Now where was I?”


         “More challenges,” said the young woman in sandals.  “Something about a Captain?”


         “Oh yes.”  Again Marilla paused for a deeper breath.  “From the time she was a young girl, Maud dreamed of being a writer.  When she was fifteen her first poem was published.”  Taking a cigarette lighter from her pocket, she held it up as a signal.  We followed her eyes towards the woods and, a few seconds later, saw two men emerge carrying lanterns and dressed as ancient seamen.  “Maud’s poem was about these men and what actually happened to them near this place.  One is Captain Le Force, ‘tall and dark and stern,’ as she described him, and the other is the murderous mate, ‘with vicious, brutal face.’”


         The men stood facing each other.  Then, by the lanterns’ flickering light, I caught sight of the pistols they were carrying.  A nerve throbbed in my throat.


         “The men have come ashore from their ship, known as a privateer.  They’ve quarreled about sharing their booty, and are about to settle the matter with a duel.”

         An eerie look came over Marilla’s face as she began to recite the poem:

               A look of craven fear was stamped
               Upon the mate’s low, brutal face,
               Mingled with sinister cunning, as
               Before the tent he took his place.

               The captain, calm, composed and firm,
               Betrayed no trace of doubt or fear;
               His face still wore its cool contempt,
               His lips , their cold, sardonic sneer.
               “Twelve paces off, I’ll stand,” he said,
               And, with his pistol in his hand,
               He lightly turned upon his heel
               And calmly walked toward his stand.

         As Marilla spoke, the Captain and the Mate began to act out exactly what she was saying.  Then, with the Captain’s back turned, the mate raised his pistol and shot him!  Stunned, I watched the Captain fall in a crumpled heap.


         “That can’t have happened!”


         “My dear girl,” Marilla replied, “it did happen, just as you saw.  Men are treacherous creatures.”
         “But we must do something!  We’ve got to help the Captain.”


         “Very well, help him.”


         With Makiko at my side, I raced down the slope past the tombstones.  The mate, who had walked forward to stand over the Captain’s body, looked towards us.  Then he scrambled over a fence and disappeared into the woods.


         Reaching the Captain, I knelt beside him.  There was no blood,  and his breathing was regular, but I was totally captured by the moment.  As the others came closer I turned and said, “We’ve got to capture that creep!”


         “Impossible,” one teenager said.  “He could be hiding anywhere.”


         “I agree,” said the fat man.  “I’ve read Maud’s poem, and she says the mate escaped.  We can’t change history.”


         The woman wearing the sandals shook her head.  “You’re wrong.  We have a civic duty to help.  I say we go into the woods, sticking close together for safety, and search for the mate.”  She looked at Marilla.  “What do you think?”


         For a moment she hesitated, then nodded.  “It’s a good plan.”


         “Then let’s go!”  Standing up, the young woman pointed at a white gate. “We can get into the woods through there.”


         I started forward, then noticed the old man was having trouble with his silver-headed cane, which kept sinking in the soft ground.  “May I help you, sir?”


         “Thank you.”  With a shy smile he took my arm.  “Perhaps I shouldn’t have signed up for such a strenuous event, but I love the Green Gables books.  So far the Mystery Weekend is quite thrilling, wouldn’t you say?”


         “Absolutely.”  I managed a grin but inwardly I was choked because his heavy body made him walk so slowly.  If we kept moving like a couple of snails through molasses we’d never have a chance of finding the mate.


         But fortunately the others were waiting by the gate for us, and for the woman in sandals.


         “One of them fell off,” she said with a laugh.  “I should have worn something more practical.”  Then she looked over my shoulder and her eyes widened.


         “Oh no!  Look what’s happened!”

         Turning, I stared in disbelief at the Captain’s body.  Jutting from his back was a dagger.

    How Will Liz Catch The Killer?  The Answer Is In The Green Gables Detectives. 

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THE GREEN GABLES DETECTIVES. Copyright 2012 by Eric Hamilton Wilson
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