A Quarter Moon on a Sunday Afternoon

 

Honey paused in her pacing up and down the Manor House verandah just long enough to impatiently fling her hair back from her shoulders.  Where can they be? she fretted.

 

It was a glorious Indian summer day, and the perfect weather seemed to underline the first dose of happiness Honey had allowed herself since she had heard that Brian was hospitalized due to some kind of poisoning.  Now, Trixie had assured her that Brian was back to his old self again.  She was delighted to hear the news, but she was still reserving final judgment until she got to see and talk with him herself.

 

At least he didn’t seem to mind Trixie and me tagging along with him to Killifish Point today, Honey thought as she finally heard the familiar sound of the jalopy wheezing and groaning its way up the Manor House driveway.  She ran down the steps two at a time, and by the time Brian stopped the jalopy in front of her, she had the back door open and was greeting her friends enthusiastically.

 

“Hi, Honey!” Trixie eagerly returned her greeting.  She turned in her seat to face her friend.  “All ready?”

 

Honey just nodded, pleased to note that the beautiful weather seemed to have infected Trixie with the same happy excitement she herself felt.

 

“Hey, Honey.”  Brian turned around to greet Honey with a smile, his tone cheerful and affable. 

 

Honey’s return smile was somewhat tentative as she carefully studied Brian’s familiar handsome face until he turned around to start steering the car down the driveway.  “Hey, Brian.  How are you feeling?”

 

“As right as rain,” he reassured her, his voice as steady and calm as it always had been until his recent illness.  Brian’s eyes sought Honey’s in the rearview mirror as he added, “Dr. Ferris had me resting so much over the past few days that I can barely remember what it was like being sick now.”

 

Honey found Brian’s reassuring smile and warm brown eyes an impossible combination to resist.  She smiled happily.  He really did seem better.

 

Trixie twisted around in her seat to face her friend.  “And the best part,” she said, pausing briefly for emphasis, “is that he wants to be a doctor again!”

 

“Oh, Trixie.”  Brian seemed a little embarrassed by the attention but grinned good-naturedly at his sister.

 

The best part, Honey corrected under her breath, is that he’s well again.  Out loud, she merely commented, “That’s wonderful!”  She sighed contentedly, letting the others know how happy she was to hear the good news. 

 

“Isn’t it?”  Trixie nodded her head, sending her tousled curls bouncing back and forth.  She leaned forward and turned up the radio.  “I love this song!”  She began singing along, and Honey and Brian joined in.

 

“You-ou.  You make my dreams come true.”

 

Honey sat back in her seat, allowing the words of the song and the contentment she was feeling to wash over her like the fresh, light mist of spring rain.

 

“We just have to pick up Loyola,” Trixie said, switching the radio off when the song was over, “and then we’ll be on our way to the river.” 

 

Loyola.  Honey’s smile stayed in place, but suddenly, the gladness that had been shining in her hazel eyes dimmed, and the day didn’t seem quite as glorious as it had a minute before.

 “Rolling on the river,” Brian sang in a deep bass, oblivious to Honey’s sudden change of mood.

 

“It’s a nice day to be working by the river,” Honey said, careful to keep her voice cheerful.  “Isn’t it?”

 

“Yes, it is,” Brian agreed as he pulled the jalopy up in front of Loyola’s apartment building.  “A sensational day!”  He turned off the engine and reached for the door handle.  “I trust you girls will have enough to talk about ‘til I get back,” he said, a teasing glint in his brown eyes.  “You usually do.”  Without waiting for an answer, he shut the door and disappeared inside the unassuming but tidy triple-decker where Loyola’s apartment was located. 

 

Trixie shook her head.  “Brothers!” she ranted good-naturedly.  “And he’s supposed to be my nice brother, too!”  She turned around again to face Honey, and her eyes fell on the library book lying on the back seat.  “You’re going to read at the river?” she asked incredulously.  “Today?”

 

“I might,” Honey answered, running her slim fingers along the cover of her book.  She rarely used the library since her father collected books and had an extensive collection, but this wasn’t one he kept in his library, and it was special to her.  “I like to read,” she defended herself.  “Is there anything wrong with that?”

 

“Well, no,” Trixie replied.  “There’d be nothing wrong with it if we were going to the library or were stuck inside on a rainy day or…or…if we were going on a shopping trip.”

 

“A shopping trip?”  Honey raised her eyebrows skeptically.

 

“Sure!”  Trixie answered with a grin.  “Then you, and probably Di, would be doing the shopping, and I’d be bored stiff, and then I wouldn’t mind sitting and reading a book for a while.”

 

Honey merely shook her head at her friend’s response.

 

Trixie ignored her.  “But today…” she continued,  “…today is one of the most beautiful days of the year.”  She raised her arms as if taking in the entire sun-dappled, colored-leaved afternoon.  “And we have the chance to explore all around the intriguing Hudson River.  Why waste all that reading?”

 

“Not to mention an intriguing mystery or two you’d like to explore,” Honey said pointedly.

 

“Well, I can’t help it if we just happen to run into Thea Van Loon or see a few sharks, can I?”

 

Honey snorted inelegantly.  “I’m well aware of your definition of ‘just happened to run into,’” she informed her friend dryly.  “Thea will be lucky if she’s not plowed into the river this time in your excitement.”

 

“Ha…ha,” Trixie groused.  “Besides, I’m not all that interested in either sharks or Thea Van Loon today.”

 

“Oh, yes,” Honey said, resisting the impulse to roll her eyes just in time.  “I forgot about the mysterious fish cave.” 

 

Trixie narrowed her eyes at the sarcasm in her friend’s tone.  “If you don’t want to come exploring with me, Honey, just say so.”

 

“It’s not that I don’t want to,” Honey began.  When Trixie threw her a disbelieving sidelong glance, she continued quickly, “Sometimes I just want to enjoy a gorgeous fall afternoon by the river, without climbing cliffs and playing detective.”  She repressed a sigh, wondering why she even bothered trying to convince her friend; Trixie always managed to talk her into going along, anyway.  This time, her friend surprised her, though.

 

Trixie’s blue eyes reflected her unhappiness, but she swallowed hard and said, “I guess I can understand that.”  She paused.  “What about the Belden-Wheeler detective agency, though?” she asked tentatively, almost as though she was afraid to hear Honey’s answer.

 

“The Belden-Wheeler detective agency will happen one day,” Honey insisted firmly, “but I’m sure even Sherlock Holmes needed a day off once in a while.”

 

“Well, maybe Watson did, anyway,” Trixie conceded.

 

Honey’s laughter bubbled up at her friend’s statement.  “It’s elementary, dear,” she said with a grin. “A rested detective is a good detective.”

 

Trixie groaned at Honey’s attempt at humor. “Well, while Wheeler rests, Belden will persevere,” she told her friend.

 

Honey appreciated that Trixie was putting a good face on it, although she knew her friend was disappointed.  She hoped she hadn’t hurt Trixie’s feelings.  Taking a deep breath, she turned to her best friend. “I’ll explore the fish cave if you want, Trix,” she offered loyally.

 

Trixie’s blue eyes studied Honey’s hazel ones for a long moment before she replied.  “Naw,” she finally responded.  “You go ahead and read your book.  I’ll tell you all about whatever I find.”

 

“I’ll be your backup in case there’s any trouble,” Honey suggested.  “You know what to do if you need me.”

 

Trixie grinned, and then put her fingers to her mouth and enthusiastically demonstrated the club’s whistle, which was ear-splitting in the small confines of the jalopy.

 

Honey put her fingers over her ears.  “Yeah, that,” she said with a roll of her eyes.

 

Trixie giggled.  “Sorry, Honey,” she said with a sheepish smile.  “I guess I got a little carried away.”

 

“I guess!” Honey responded with an answering giggle.  She was relieved that she and Trixie were laughing and smiling at each other again.  She hated when they had disagreements.

 

“I know you’d never forget the Bob-White whistle, anyway,” Trixie said warmly, leading Honey to believe that her friend’s thoughts were running along similar lines to her own.

 

Honey gave a vehement shake of her head, sending her golden-brown hair tilting from side to side.  “Not after it’s gotten us out of trouble so many times.”

 

The two girls were silent for a moment or two, each apparently lost in her own thoughts of the scrapes they had gotten into in Sleepyside, Iowa, and St. Louis, and how the club whistle had helped them out of the tricky and sometimes dangerous situations they had encountered in those places.

 

“Here are Brian and Loyola…finally!”  Trixie broke the silence, glancing out the window at her older brother and his diminutive lab partner.

 

Honey turned to follow her friend’s gaze.  Brian was carrying a large picnic basket and had on a soft brown chamois shirt over his well worn t-shirt and jeans.   His dark, wavy hair was slightly disheveled from the wind, and as he laughed at something Loyola

said, his handsome face broke out into a wide grin.

 

Honey felt her heart skip a beat, and her eyes never left Brian’s form as he and Loyola made their way down the walkway

 

“Don’t you think so, Honey?”  Trixie’s voice brought Honey back from her…meanderings.

 

Honey reluctantly dragged her gaze back to her best friend, reddening a little as she realized she had no idea what Trixie had just said to her.   “Um…what was that, Trixie?”

 

“Didn’t you hear anything I just said?” Trixie asked impatiently.  Noticing her friend’s blush, she gave her a knowing smile.  “Had your mind on other things?” she teased. 

 

“Something like that,” Honey said, shooting Trixie a pleading look as Brian and Loyola got into the car.  Please don’t say anything, she prayed, knowing only too well how impulsive her friend could be.

 

Trixie flashed Honey a wicked grin, but she must have heard her silent request, as she dropped the subject, instead greeting Loyola as she slid into the back seat next to Honey. 

 

Honey breathed a sigh of relief, and she managed a polite smile as she turned to say hello to the small, dark girl next to her.  Her efforts didn’t seem to improve her attitude much, though.

 

If Loyola weren’t here today, I’d probably be sitting in the front seat between Trixie and Brian like I was the other day, she thought.  In fact, if Loyola weren’t here, she added before she could stop herself, this day would be just about perfectly perfect.

 

Honey clapped a hand over her mouth as she realized how horribly catty she sounded.  At least no one can hear me, she thought, but if they ever guessed...  With renewed determination, she turned to Loyola and politely asked about the project she and Brian were working on.  Apparently not noticing anything amiss about Honey’s manner, Loyola chatted away with her in her usual quiet, sincere way.

 

It’s not Loyola’s fault that I’m jealous, Honey tried to convince herself, and it won’t kill me to be nice to her.  As Brian restarted the jalopy, though, she couldn’t help thinking, It’s only five minutes to the river from here, but why do I have the feeling that this drive is going to seem endless?

 

 

 

After establishing a central meeting place, Brian and Loyola set off on their way down the shore, collecting and labeling specimens. Honey turned to her friend, but Trixie mumbled something about taking a walk and strode toward the cliffs. Honey stared after her for a minute, watching her friend pull a pair of gloves out of her pocket and put them on before purposefully making her way up the boulders she had ascended to the cliff the other day.     

 

Honey shook her head, an affectionate smile on her face.  She wasn’t at all surprised at her friend’s behavior; in fact, Trixie’s behavior was typical of her enthusiastic approach to mystery solving. 

 

Honey felt a twinge of regret as she picked her way along a path that wound closer to the river.  She knew she hadn’t been very supportive of Trixie’s detective abilities lately.  It was just that Trixie could be so irritatingly persistent sometimes.  Once she got an idea in her head, she just wouldn’t give up on it.

 

I know that’s a lot of what makes her such a good detective, Honey conceded to herself, but sometimes it’s just plain embarrassing.  She thought of the way Trixie had made a pest of herself whenever Thea Van Loon was around and was just as glad that there was no sign of the eccentric children’s book author today. Feeling a sudden pang of disloyalty, Honey wondered if she should just make her way up the cliff after Trixie.  After all, even though she disagreed with her friend’s interest in Thea Van Loon, she could have supported Trixie’s investigation of the fish cave.

 

All the Bob-Whites have been a little tough on Trixie lately, she thought guiltily.  I didn’t show any interest in exploring when we were here the other day, and I made her leave early because I had to go help at Mother’s party.  

 

I also didn’t have to appear quite so skeptical when Trixie insisted she spotted a shark in the Hudson, she thought with a grimace.  She hadn’t meant to make fun of her friend, and she knew that Jim and the other Bob-Whites hadn’t either.  It just seemed so…so…unbelievable…

 

Honey glanced out at the calm waters of the river, scanning it for a sign of anything unusual, but the only things that stood out at all on this glorious October afternoon were the billowy sails of a small boat against the azure sky.  Honey idly watched two small boys pilot their boat, the Quarter Moon, through the waters of the Hudson.  It seems like everything’s full of color today, she mused to herself: the sparkles of sunlight on the river, the red of the boat, the clouds, the myriad of colored leaves, the snowy sails, and the skies. 

 

Honey made her way to a grassy spot near the bank and let out a contented sigh as she settled herself on the blanket of soft green grass, warmed by the Indian summer sunshine.  If Trixie really saw a shark, Honey thought, there’s certainly no sign of it today.  In fact, she couldn’t imagine anything less likely to appear in the river. 

 

Guiltily pushing aside a thought of how ludicrous it seemed, Honey opened her book on her lap, determined to give her best friend the benefit of the doubt.  If Trixie thought she saw a shark, she mused to herself, there must have been a reason for it.  After all, how many times had Trixie’s instincts proved right in the girls’ mystery-solving, much to the amazement of the other Bob-Whites?  And come to think of it, I don’t know why everyone’s always so amazed, either, Honey told herself reproachfully.  It’s happened enough times that we should all trust her judgment unquestioningly by now.

 

When Trixie comes back, she promised herself, I’ll find out all about the fish cave and even ask her for more details about the shark she saw.  And whatever her next detectiving step is, she thought loyally, I’ll be right there by her side for it.  We’re a team, she told herself firmly.  There’s Poirot and Hastings, Holmes and Watson, and Belden and Wheeler.   You just can’t have one of any of those duos without the other.

 

That resolved, Honey bent her head once again to her book, but found that she was still unable to concentrate.  She gazed down the path that ran along the bank of the river, craning her neck to see if she could catch a glimpse of Brian and Loyola.

 

There was no sign of either of them.  Probably found their own little secluded spot, Honey grumbled to herself.  Unbidden and definitely unwanted, images of Brian and Loyola in various embraces popped into her mind.  Honey closed her book with a resounding bang, trying to banish the unpleasant visions. 

 

But what if they’re real?  Honey asked herself, torturing herself with these thoughts not for the first time in the past few weeks.  Are they really using all this time to collect and label specimens, or are they spending some of that time engrossed in more…enjoyable pastimes?

 

It’s really a lot of time to spend working on a science project, she ruminated. But then, Brian and Loyola did both seem pretty serious about their project.  

 

And I don’t think they’ve even gone out together, she thought in an effort to convince herself that their relationship was purely platonic.  Surely Brian would be gentleman enough to take Loyola out on a date if he liked her that way, and not just make out with her by the river.

 

But she does make him his favorite lunch, the annoying little voice in Honey’s head argued back.  Would she really do that if Brian were merely her lab partner?

 

And Loyola’s very attractive in a petite, dark, studious kind of way, she thought.   Maybe Brian really likes that type.  Honey grimaced, thinking of how far she was from that type.  I’m so tall and skinny, with not much shape at all, she lamented, and Loyola’s Brian’s age, she mused further.  Why would he go out with a little baby fourteen-year-old when he can have someone more mature?

 

A few months ago, Honey had convinced herself that Brian had feelings for her.  After all, he had asked her to the spring dance.  And even last week, he had confided in her about how he felt about becoming about being a doctor when she had sat happily squeezed between him and Trixie in the front seat of the jalopy.   He seemed to take my concerns seriously, she told herself, but then, he may just care about me in a little sister – close friend – fellow Bob-White kind of a way.

 

Honey gazed unseeingly out at the river, disgusted with the green-eyed monster that had popped up inside of her so often lately.  She remembered times in the past when Trixie had been jealous of Dot Murray and then again of Laura Ramsey.  Honey had found it hard to understand the way Trixie had acted, but now she completely identified with her friend’s feelings. 

 

And Di probably hasn’t ever even had any cause to be jealous, she thought.  She’s so beautiful that she could have any guy she wanted, and Mart obviously worships the ground she walks on.

 

Honey’s thoughts were interrupted when she thought she heard someone faintly calling her name, “Hon-eeeey.”  She looked around but couldn’t see anyone.  Am I hearing things now? she wondered with a frown, but then she heard it again, a little louder this time. 

 

“Hon-eeeey!  Help!” 

 

It’s not a ghost, she told herself firmly.  And cursing herself for being so fanciful, she scanned the riverbanks on both sides but couldn’t see anyone.  “HO-NEY!”   This time, she was sure it was Trixie’s voice, and then, as if to further dispel any doubts Honey might have, the sound of the Bob-White whistle cut through the air, disturbing the peacefulness of the lazy fall day.

 

Honey stood up quickly and turning around in the direction of the call, she saw Trixie up on the cliff’s top, standing next to a white-bearded stranger.  As soon as Honey looked at her, Trixie began to jump up and down and wave frantically toward the river.

 

“Out there,” Trixie yelled, cupping her hands to increase her volume.  “The boat!”

 

Honey finally turned toward the river to face the capsized Quarter Moon and its young passengers struggling in the water.  Can they even swim?  Honey wondered.  Without stopping to even try to answer her own question, she ran to the edge of the bank, kicked of her shoes and dove into the water.

 

As soon as Honey hit the water, the coldness gripped her whole body like a vise, chilling her to the bone.  Determined to ignore it, she swam strongly toward the two boys, fighting the cold wetness with each stroke. 

 

When she had almost reached the boys, she hesitated for a split second, wondering how in the world she was going to be able to help both of them to shore.  Just as she had decided to swim toward the older boy, who was closer to her, she heard a loud splash behind her.  Honey allowed herself a quick backwards glance as she advanced toward the older boy.

 

Brian!  She just had time to think before she dived underwater, not quite surfacing in front of the older boy.  Grabbing his legs underwater, she carefully turned him away from her, so she could ease him into a cross-chest carry.  He fought her all the way, splashing and sputtering and yelling about his boat getting away.  It took every inch of persuasion Honey could muster to get him to relax enough so that she could start towing him to shore.   

 

And judging by the splashes and yelps she was hearing, the younger boy wasn’t making it any easier for Brian, either.  The little one weighed a lot less, though, and by the time Honey had reached the shore, Brian was hauling the youngster almost effortlessly out of the water. 

 

Trixie was running back and forth along the bank, fretting like a nervous mother hen.   “They’re going to make it!” she exclaimed excitedly when she caught sight of them.  “Loyola, can you give them a hand?  I’ll be back in a second with some dry things for Honey and Brian.  Oh, woe, poor Brian…” Without waiting for a reply, Trixie whirled around and raced toward the jalopy.   

 

Honey and Brian managed to get themselves and the boys onto shore, and all four of them collapsed on the rocks, catching their breaths.  After a few minutes, Honey glanced worriedly over at Brian.  How would the swim in the freezing water affect him when he was just recovering from poisoning?

 

Brian’s lips were blue and his teeth were chattering, but he wasn’t concerned about himself.  He was sitting on a rock, with his arm around the younger boy’s shoulders.  “Now, Carl,” he said gently. 

 

How in the world does he already know the boy’s name?  Honey wondered.

 

“You really should wear a life jacket when you go sailing,” Brian continued. “That river current is a lot stronger than you are.”

 

Carl nodded and stared down at his bare feet.  “I…I was eating a sandwich,” he mumbled.  “It went overboard…”

 

“Brian, take off your shirt,” Trixie interrupted breathlessly as she arrived back at the bank. 

 

Brian wordlessly obeyed his younger sister, and Honey allowed her eyes to wander over his strong chest, with its tufts of just-enough black hair in all the right places.

 

“Here,” Trixie continued.  “Dry yourself off with this towel and put on your sweatshirt.”

 

When Brian spoiled Honey’s fun by pulling his sweatshirt on, she managed to tear her eyes away long enough to concentrate on wringing out her golden-brown hair.  I must look like a mess, she grumbled to herself.

 

She glanced up as she heard Brian’s voice in back of her.  “I’m not the only wet one around here,” he said, smiling at Honey in a way that made her feel like melting on the spot. “It’s a good thing it’s such a warm day, or Honey’d get pneumonia waiting for you to get around to her.”

 

Trixie hurried over to her wet friend, putting a towel around Honey’s shoulders and giving her a hug at the same time.  “Oh, Honey, I’m a real dunce.  How are you?”  She turned toward the boys.  “And you boys, are you all right?”

 

The older boy, Ken, who appeared to be about eleven, nodded gratefully.  “I feel kind of dumb,” he began.

 

“Well, it wasn’t exactly a stroke of genius to try to eat and control the boat at the same time,” Brian said.  “What happened, anyway?”

 

“We were coming down from Haverstraw Bay,” said Ken.  “That’s where we live.  And I guess I just wasn’t letting enough air out of the sails.  Then the boat tipped over.  That happens sometimes, you know,” he finished defensively.

 

Brian stopped shivering long enough to lean forward and examine the boys.  “First of all,” he said, “you should have had life jackets on the boat, and you should have been wearing them.  Second, if you capsize, hang on to the boat.  Don’t let it get out of your reach if you can help it!  Can you remember that?”

 

“That’s what we were trying to do,” complained Carl, “but you dragged us away!”

 

“Our dad is going to kill us,” Ken muttered.

 

“That’s my third point,” said Brian sternly.  “If people are trying to rescue you, don’t resist them.  A boat can always be replaced, but human beings can’t.  I saw you from shore, and you were already way out of reach of the boat by the time Honey and I jumped in.  You should have trusted us.  It’s a lucky thing all four of us didn’t drown.”

 

The two freckled towheads were silent.

 

“And fourth,” Brian went on, “I think you boys are due for some sailing lessons.  You don’t seem to know much about slacking off, which is one of the basic maneuvers in sailing.”

 

Brian launched into a detailed lecture on proper sailing techniques, completely commanding the boys’ attention.  Trixie and Honey also gazed at him, full of admiration.  Loyola had disappeared in the direction of the car. 

 

Brian is going to make a first-rate doctor someday, Honey thought proudly, and he’d make a great pediatricianHe certainly has those kids wrapped around his finger. Honey glanced at her best friend, and the two girls exchanged a smile. Honey could tell that Trixie was thinking along the same lines as she was.

 

A few minutes later, though, Trixie jumped up, energetically gesturing toward a small houseboat cruising toward them around a bend in the cliff.  Across its side, The Kruller II was spelled out in bold black letters.  Directly behind the houseboat, attached to it with a rope, was the Quarter Moon, right side up and as cute as ever.

 

“Hurray!” Carl yelled.  He and Ken scampered down to the water’s edge. 

 

Brian sighed but looked pleased.  “Let’s hope they know more what they’re doing this time,” he said to Trixie and Honey.

 

The houseboat drifted in closer to shore.  Suddenly, a white-bearded figure appeared at the bow.  It was the same man who had been standing next to Trixie on the cliff.

 

Trixie gasped.  “So that’s where Bunker disappeared to!” she murmured.  To the others she said, “That’s Bunker, the man I was talking to up on the cliff.  He’s a…well, I guess he must be what he said he is…a commercial fisherman.” 

 

Bunker? Honey and Brian exchanged glances, wondering who the man was and how Trixie had met him.  Oh, well, Honey thought with a wry smile.  I’m sure we’ll find out all about him soon enough.

 

Bunker waved when he caught sight of Trixie. “Bet you think I’m pretty dim-witted, little lady,” he shouted.  “By the time I caught onto what you were saying about those two boys and their boat, there wasn’t time for me to explain that I was going to fetch my boat and see if I could help them.” 

 

“Little lady?”  Brian muttered out of the side of his moth to Honey, a grin hovering on his lips.  Honey giggled and hoped Mart never got a hold of that title.

 

Trixie reddened.  “That’s what he calls me,” she said.  “And don’t you dare pick up the habit, Brian Belden!”  To Bunker, she yelled, “You’re not dim-witted at all -- you’re a hero!”

 

“Come on, boys,” Bunker was saying.  He maneuvered the catboat so that it was barely a few feet from the shore.  Then he threw the boys a couple of flotation cushions. 

 

For some reason, Honey was reminded of the time she had helped save Sally Darnell by tossing the little girl the end of her shirt and having her float on her back.  I’m glad I didn’t have to take off my shirt this time, she thought, her cheeks turning pink at the thought.   

 

Ken and Carl slipped into the water and started to wade out.

 

“Are you sure you’re all right?” Brian called anxiously. 

 

The boys waved vigorously at the Bob-Whites and shouted their thanks. “Maybe my dad will send you a reward!” Ken yelled.

 

“I won’t hold my breath,” Brian remarked dryly to the girls.

 

“By the time they get home,” said Trixie, “they’ll probably have the story switched around so that they were the ones who rescued us.”

 

“Seemed to me you were the one giving the orders, not doing the rescuing,” Honey teased her friend.

 

“Jeepers, it’s a good thing someone was paying attention – what with your nose buried in a book, and Brian’s buried in specimens!” Trixie turned back to smile at Bunker.  “Why Kruller?” she called.

 

“Eh?”

 

“Why did you name your boat the Kruller, instead of the Bunker or something?” 

 

Bunker was near enough by this time for them to see his saddened expression.  “Lawrence Krull was my fishing partner – and my best friend, too,” he answered.  “I named it after him.  Krull went down with our first boat right here in the Hudson about two years ago,” Bunker went on.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Trixie said.

 

Bunker shrugged.  “He left me everything he owned.  Sort of a joke, I guess!  What little there was, I used to buy this houseboat.”  The boys, who were climbing aboard their catboat, diverted Bunker’s attention.  “Now, little fellows, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to tow your boat for a bit, just to make sure you get off to a head start.”

 

He and the boys waved good-bye again, and in another minute, they were out of the Bob-Whites’ hearing.

 

Trixie squeezed Brian’s arm.  “You sounded so…so professional when you were talking to those kids, Brian.”

 

“Well, it’s plain they’re not used to following anyone’s advice,” said Brian.

 

“I think what you told them definitely made an impression,” Honey said.  “You have a way of letting people know you really care.  I’ll bet your future patients are going to follow your instructions right down to the letter.”

 

“If you can read his handwriting,” Trixie teased.  “Aren’t doctors supposed to have terrible handwriting?”

 

Honey’s forehead furrowed into a frown. Brian’s handwriting is very neat and careful, she thought indignantly.  Didn’t Trixie remember the map he had drawn them when they were going to Martin’s Marsh?  Honey was just about to speak up to remind her friend of this, when Trixie seemed to notice Brian’s uncomfortable expression. 

“How are you feeling?”  Trixie asked solicitously.  “Boy -- wait ‘til Dr. Ferris hears how you’re taking care of yourself!”

 

“I’ll just be happy if he finds out what poisoned me in the first place,” Brian said.  “Actually, I feel pretty good, sitting here in the sun.  How about you, Honey?”

 

Brian turned to Honey and gave her a smile and a playful wink.   I’m feeling great, Honey thought. 

 

“I’m starving, though,” Brian continued. “There’s nothing like a good, brisk swim to stimulate your appetite!”

 

“I was ravenous before we even got in the water,” Honey admitted. 

 

“Well, what are you waiting for?” came a voice from behind them.  “Dig in!”

 

The Bob-Whites spun around with shouts of glee. 

 

“Loyola, you shouldn’t have!”

 

“You should have!”

 

“We’re so glad you did!”

 

A red-checked tablecloth was spread out on the ground in a sunny, inviting spot.  Somehow, Loyola had quietly set out a picnic feast.  There were containers of fresh lemonade, thick turkey and lettuce sandwiches, a bag full or pears and oranges, and a large plastic bowl of Loyola’s specialty – Waldorf salad.

 

The three Bob-Whites needed no further urging.  Within seconds, they had made themselves comfortable on the grass with Loyola and were happily munching sandwiches.

 

Honey sipped her lemonade and looked around her with contentment.  She felt tired, but the sun had warmed her up, and the food tasted wonderful.  The setting for the picnic was very pretty, with the autumn trees, the chalky cliffs, and the blue-green of the river surrounding them.  The best part of it all, though, was the people she was sharing it with.  There was her best friend, eager to tell them all about the fish cave and Bunker.  And there was Brian, completely well, and so handsome, with his damp and wavy dark hair, his soaking wet jeans, and his caring brown eyes. 

 

Honey even felt benevolent toward Loyola.  The girl seemed so happy that they were enjoying their picnic, and, after all, Brian had winked at her, not Loyola.  Honey knew that she would always feel a little uncomfortable around Loyola and continue to wonder about the relationship between her and Brian, but right now she was able to convince herself that Loyola was merely Brian’s lab partner. 

 

“What a perfect day for a picnic,” Honey  Honey sighed happily, smiling at her friends and waving her sandwich in her enthusiasm.   “Perfectly perfect!”

 

 

THE END

 

 

 

Many thanks to Susan and Vikki for editing, and to Vivian and Mary N. for giving me a home on the Web.  Hugs!

 

Of course, quite a bit of this was plagiarized from The Hudson River Mystery (sorry Aleta!).  I don’t have permission to use any of it, but I’m not making anything out of it, either. So that should count for something, right? *g*

 

Background courtesy of Holidazed.