Monday, September 24, 2012

#1: The Secret of the Old Clock: original text

Here it is, number one, numero uno, the beginning of the Nancy Drew legend. I thoroughly enjoyed both versions but I must say, the original introduction to our favorite sleuth is much more engrossing than the revised. So, onwards!
The story starts with Nancy and her father discussing a possible missing will of Josiah Crowley. They believe something is afoot, because Josiah left all his money to the Tophams, a family who took care of him for three years until he died. The Tophams were nasty to him, and it was thought that they only tolerated him for his money. But Carson and Nancy (and more than a few others) can't believe he didn't provide for other friends and relatives.

Later, Carson puts Nancy in charge of delivering super-important legal documents to a judge in town. The judge invites Nancy to "luncheon" (used as a verb) with him and his wife. I luncheon, you luncheon, he she, it luncheons... :). Nancy takes a scenic route home, but misjudges the weather and ends up stuck in pouring rain. She sees a barn by the road and drives into it. There, she is invited into the house by a girl about her age. Inside, Nancy meets the girl's sister. Grace and Allie Hoover are really trying to make do with what they have: a flock of egg laying hens, a vegetable garden and the occasional dressmaking order for Grace. Then Nancy comments on a beautiful picture hanging on the wall and--guess what--Allie says that "'Uncle Josiah" gave it to them, and that she is confused why he didn't provide for them when he died. Josiah wasn't really their uncle, but apparently cared for them very much and promised that he would help them out. Oh, and Uncle Josiah is Josiah Crowley. Surprise, surprise.

Nancy goes shopping to clear her mind of the case, and she happens to see Isabel and Ada Thopham. When Nancy was in school, they were very disliked, especially when they tried to blame Nancy for misbehavior in school at one time. Nothing has changed; the girls are still very spiteful. Ada accidentally breaks a vase and blames it on the "salesgirl". The manager is about to exonerate Ada from blame when Nancy steps in and is Hero of the Day. Later, Nancy is strolling in the park when she overhears the girls confidently assuming that there is no other will.

Nancy finds other relatives and friends of Josiah Crowely, all of whom state that Josiah had promised them part of his estate. One of them is Abigail Rowen, an elderly lady, whom Nancy finds fallen on the floor of her house with a sprained ankle. Abigail, so Nancy buys "almost ten dollars worth of groceries". Ah, inflation, how I've missed you. After a few senile moments, Abigail tells Nancy that Josiah said a notebook was hidden in a clock, with information about the missing will in it.

Long story short, Nancy finds out that the clock belongs to the Tophams, and that it is at the Tophams' summer cottage. Nancy finds and enters the cottage, discovers that there are robbers at there, gets locked up, frees herself, scolds the Jeff Tucker, the drunken "negro" caretaker, and outsmarts the police in finding the robbers. Everyone gets Josiah's money--except for the Tophams, who have lost much of their own money in risky stockbuying.
  • Nancy walks to a department store: "The walk was a long one, but [Nancy] took it at a brisk pace. Nancy naturally was athletic, and as she swung along more than one passerby turned to look after her in admiration." Just in case you forgot how perfect Nancy is.
  • Nancy's roadster's tire gets a puncture, and Nancy replaces it herself. It may not seem as incredible today, but in the 1930's, when this book was written, it was probably almost shocking for a woman to do this "man's work". Let alone traipsing all over the counrty in the first place, without a male escort.
  • Jeff Tucker is yet another dim-witted, unrefined "colored" man. He's also drunk silly when Nancy finds the Topham cottage being ransacked. To add to all this, he reveals that (to him) it wasn't his fault: "Dat white man...drives up in white see-dan. He drives up and sees how lonesome and useless I feels, so he says, 'Jeff, hop in, I know a place where.' Course I locked up dis heah house and de bahn and seen dat everything was safe". He later admits that he let the "white man" get him drunk. There is much more dialogue from Jeff Tucker, basically in the same vein. Head, meet desk.
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