The Secret of Trail House Lodge

By Madge Hanes Gressley All Rights Reserved ©

Mystery / Children

Blurb

An old deserted lodge, an unsolved bank robbery, and a mummified body all lead to a string of mysteries that junior, super-sleuth Sophie Collins and her friends stumble on when they discover hidden passages and secret rooms while exploring the old Trail House Lodge.

Chapter 1

Grayson inhaled deeply, squared his shoulders, and gently tapped on Sophie’s bedroom door.

“School day. Time to get up, Miss Sophie. The bus will be here in ninety minutes. Remember, you still have homework to finish—and—brush your teeth.” He waited several seconds for her usual muffled grunt before going back downstairs.

The last six months since the murder of Councilman Hustus Morsey, and the discovery at the reading of the will, that Sophie was Hustus’s lost granddaughter and sole heir to his estate, things at Morsey Manor had been in total chaos as far as Grayson was concerned. He had been Mister Hustus’s gentleman’s gentleman for over twenty years, and in all that time, he had never had to deal with a ‘child.’ Mister Hustus’s only son Colin, had already gone to college by the time he began his employment with Mister Hustus.

Out of frustration, Grayson would often grumble about ‘the child’ to Millie, the cook and housekeeper for Morsey Manor. Millie would just smile and shake her head saying, “Oh, don’t be such a stuffed shirt, Grayson. Just give the girl some time, she’ll settle in. It’s only been a few months since she discovered she was Mister Hustus’s granddaughter. How would you feel if you had been on your own, answerin’ to nobody, and then thrown into a situation where you had everyone tellin’ you what to do? You’d find the shoe a bit too tight, too.”

Grayson would just stare at Millie. She just does not understand he would think. He knew just what a handful Miss Sophie could be, to say the least. She definitely had a mind of her own, and it did not make any difference how much he pleaded or cajoled, Sophie did precisely as she wanted—good or bad.

Millie, who did not have the pleasure of being with Sophie twenty-four seven like he did, tended to overlook all her antics, chuckling and shaking her head. The child needed structure and discipline if she was going to take her place in society as the granddaughter of Hustus Morsey. He would not let her become fuel for the town’s gossipmongers. He owed it to Mister Hustus and made a solemn promise—come hell or high water, he would see that she would be brought up as a proper lady!

Sophie stretched, yawned, and grunted at Grayson’s attempt to get her up for school.

Yuck! School!

She wrinkled her pixie nose in disgust as she slid off the side of the bed, her small feet hitting the floor with a soft thud. It was bad enough when she had been back in Trenton where nobody wanted to be friends with her—but here—everybody wanted to be friends with her. She knew exactly what the stuck-up little twits in their tight little cliques wanted, and it wasn’t to be her friend. They just wanted to be able to say they were friends with Council Morsey’s granddaughter, heiress to the Morsey Estate.

No-thank-you!

She stuck out her tongue at her reflection in the bathroom mirror and pulled the toothpaste and brush out of the holder that Millie had bought for her. Loading the brush up with toothpaste, she began brushing, something she had neglected to do when she had been on the road. Old man Johnson, who had been named her official guardian by the court since they could find no other living relatives, had set up an appointment with the dentist to have her teeth checked.

Only one cavity! How lucky can you get? She gave herself a toothy grin as she examined her toothpaste-covered teeth in the mirror; a ring of toothpaste circled her mouth.

Old man Johnson had told Grayson to be sure that she brushed her teeth twice a day and Grayson had bugged her every day since to make sure she did.

“Eeesh, Grayson get a life,” she’d told him.

“Miss Sophie, Mister Johnson taxed me with making sure you brushed your teeth twice a day, and that is what I intend to do, whether you like it or not,” he had told her, looking down his straight nose at her.

Sophie could barely keep from laughing at Grayson’s stern expression. “Oh, give it a rest, Grayson,” she’d said, smiling as she ran past him out the door.

Unfortunately, Sophie could see Grayson wasn’t going to let up on the teeth brushing issue, so she decided to let it go and just brush. The thought of being toothless at fifteen did not appeal to her.

There’s lots of other stuff I can annoy Grayson with she had gleefully thought.

Popping in the kitchen, Sophie danced over and gave Millie a big hug.

“Mornin’ Millie. Ummm, that smells awesome!” she said, pulling out the kitchen table chair, flipping her jean-clad leg over the back before sitting down.

“Girl, when are you gonna start acting like a lady instead of a tomboy?” Millie laughed, placing a plate of steaming sausage and eggs in front of Sophie. “And, it wouldn’t hurt to wear a dress once in a while, too.”

“Oh, I don’t know—maybe next year?” Sophie replied as she dove into the food on her plate. She didn’t want to be a lady, and she certainly had no intention of wearing a dress. She had suffered through her grandfather’s funeral in a dress, and that had been enough. “And I hate dresses,” she said with a mouthful of eggs.

Being a lady has too many rules, and it’s definitely no fun. Just what’s wrong with tee shirts and jeans anyway, she thought taking a big swig of orange juice to wash the eggs down?

Millie just shook her head and turned back to the stove.

She’ll come around one of these days. I just hope it’s before Grayson blows a gasket, Millie thought shaking her head.

Grabbing her books, Sophie bounded out the front door her blonde curls bouncing as she ran. Luckily, she reached the end of the drive, just as the bus pulled up.

Whew, that was close. Old Grayson would have had kittens if he’d had to drive me again today. Sophie smiled to herself as she made her way down the bus aisle looking for an open seat.

Spying Tyler Blakemore’s sandy hair just above the seats in the next-to-the-last row she waved. Coming closer, she could see Tyler’s lanky body sprawled across the whole seat. He smiled, his blue eyes sparkling and sat up as she approached.

“Here. Saved ya a spot,” he said. “Didn’t think you’d wanna sit with ‘miss priss, Jessica.’” A wide grin spread across Tyler’s sun-freckled face, as he patted the seat beside him. Sophie was the last stop on the school bus’s route before heading to school. Jessica was the stop just before Sophie’s, so usually, the only seat available was next to Jessica because nobody wanted to sit with Jessica if they could help it.

“Thanks. How’d you know?” Sophie laughed, glancing around to see if Jessica had heard Tyler. Not that she cared, but she knew Jessica could be very vindictive if crossed, and Sophie didn’t want Tyler getting in her crosshairs.

Oooh, our lucky day! Old Jess ain’t here today, she thought as she slid into the seat beside Tyler. Placing her book bag on the floor, she grinned at Tyler. “Thanks.”
“Wanna go explorin’ after school?” Tyler asked. “Tommy said he and his cousin Matt, found this really neat old abandoned building. It’s a little ways off Trail House Road. You know, up by the old winery.” He motioned with his thumb toward the back of the bus indicating the direction of the old winery.
“Sounds exciting, but old man Johnson and his missus are coming over for dinner tonight, and I gotta help Millie get stuff ready. How ’bout tomorrow? It’s Saturday, and we can take the whole day to explore.” “Ok. Sounds like a plan.” Tyler and Sophie high-fived as the bus pulled up in front of the school.
“I’ll let Beth know if you will tell Tommy,” she yelled as they parted company heading for their respective classes.
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