The Scarlet Slipper Mystery
two-carat diamond.
    Henri got a tube of green pigment and squeezed some of it onto a palette. Then he slowly rolled one of the stones around in the paint. When it was completely covered, the artist secreted the mass among the leaves of one of the trees on the canvas. It melted into the background as if it had always been there!
    “Why, that’s wonderful,” Bess said.
    Next Henri imbedded several stones into the dancer’s frilly tutu. Finally the young man concealed a stone in the toe of one of the scarlet slippers.
    “Remarkable,” said Helene. “No one would detect this strange addition to my portrait. Nancy, what does this mean?”
    “It’s my hunch that a smuggler brought jewels into the United States this way. It is more clever than hiding them in the frame because that would show up in an x-ray, while this method wouldn’t. It looks as though Henri’s paintings were ordered for the purpose of smuggling. You use the impasto technique, Henri, and that’s just what was needed for hiding the jewels.”
    Henri examined every speck of the old pigment for anything that might still be in it but found nothing.
    “Have you any idea about the identity of the smuggler?” Helene asked Nancy.
    “Yes,” the girl detective answered. “It would explain why Mr. Judson, who isn’t an artist, carries a palette knife. As I told my father, I strongly suspect he’s really Raoul Amien. What I don’t know is how Amien got the painting from Renee and whether Renee is involved in the smuggling.”
    “If the police want Renee,” said George, “he probably is involved. Well, where does the trail take us now?”
    To everyone’s complete astonishment, Nancy laughed and said, “Into the lake. I’m so warm I can’t resist a swim. Does anybody want to join me?”
    “In these clothes?” Bess exclaimed.
    Nancy announced that during the summer she always carried a bathing suit in the trunk of the convertible and right now she had two with her. Helene had an extra one, so the whole group spent an enjoyable half hour swimming in Cedar Lake.
    Later, when Nancy was driving home with Bess and George, she remarked, “Maybe all twelve paintings were used by smugglers. Since the one with the scarlet slippers was sold to a dancing school in this part of the country, some of the others may have been, too. Let’s check!”
    The girls decided to meet at the Drew home in the morning and take turns telephoning ballet-dancing schools in the state. By the time the cousins arrived, Nancy had a list of fifty. They divided the work and began telephoning.
    About halfway through the names George, who was at the telephone, smiled broadly and bobbed her head at the other girls. Into the mouthpiece she said, “Thank you very much. We’ll be over to look at it.” She replaced the telephone, then said to Nancy and Bess, “One of the pictures is in Harwich. It was sold to the dance studio by a red-haired man.”
    “Oh, that’s marvelous!” said Nancy.
    “But Harwich!” Bess exclaimed. “That’s almost two hundred miles from River Heights.”
    “What’s two hundred miles?” Nancy asked. “We’ll pack overnight bags and make a real trip out of it—that is, if we can leave our own school that long.”
    Bess offered to forego the trip and take Nancy’s class that afternoon, but the others insisted that she go with them. Finally she arranged with the dancing instructor at a private school in town to conduct the classes.
    Late in the morning the girls started out. They had the top down, took turns at the wheel, and enjoyed the bright-blue sky and delightful countryside along the way.
    But Nancy did not completely forget the errand on which they had embarked. “I’ve been thinking a lot about the stolen ballet slippers that belonged to Helene’s mother,” she remarked. “They must have some special significance.”
    “Maybe something was hidden in them, too,” Bess suggested.
    “Possibly. But it’s strange that neither Helene nor

Similar Books

Freaks Under Fire

Maree Anderson


Sandra Brown

Promise Me Tomorrow

Candace Camp

She Sins at Midnight

Whitney Dineen

Blaze of Glory

Jeff Struecker, Alton Gansky

Precious Time

Erica James