The Mystery of the Blue Dolphins
A Clarissa and Paw Mini Mystery
Copyright © 2014 Sandra Baublitz
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States
Cover Design by Jessicaecovers, Fiverr.com
Book Design by Sandra Baublitz
No part of this book shall be copied, stored, or reproduced in any form without written permission of the author except for short excerpts for reviews. Any other copying is a violation of the author’s copyright.
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, businesses, and people are the imagination of the author and fictitious. Any resemblance to actual people (living or dead), places, or names/businesses is purely coincidental.
Please visit my website: www.sandrabaublitz.com
The bright sunshine highlighting the orange and red of the fall leaves seemed to lessen my melancholy mood. I was driving through upstate New York to visit my cousin, Lucinda. My name is Clarissa Montgomery Hayes, freelance writer, mystery lover, and dog owner. The dog in question is Paudius Pernivius – Paw, for short, due to his love of digging in the wrong places at the worst times. Anyway, Paw and I were on our way to cheer up Cousin Lucinda who recently lost her uncle, Josh. They had been very close and his sudden death two months ago from a heart attack had left her in a state of depression. As I was pulling in front of Lucinda’s old Victorian home, she came out to greet me. Dressed in a yellow plaid jumper with silver locket she was smiling, but her eyes betrayed her sadness. Lucinda was always the beautiful one with auburn hair and clear blue eyes. My blonde hair and hazel eyes were no match and Lucinda had the grace of a swan. Paw jumped out of the car, licked Luce’s face, and headed to investigate the garden for chipmunks and other such “enemies”.
“How are you?” I asked Lucinda as we embraced.
“Fine.” She said and quickly changed the subject. “You’re looking well. How was your trip?”
“Everything went well on the trip.”
“Paw looks adorable as ever. I see he has already found the garden.”
I turned to see Paw trotting up the path to the garden. “I better get him. Paw loves to dig and I wouldn’t want to upset Aunt Mavis. I know she prizes her garden.”
As we entered the garden, I saw the furry brown tail of my very large Saint Bernard waving in the air as he dug furiously in a bed of mums.
“Paw, get out of there!” I yelled as I ran towards him. He gave me one of his “I am innocent” looks and backed away. He had dug up a rather well used meat bone, but what caught my eye was a corner of shiny plastic. It turned out to be a plastic garbage bag with a brand new red dress inside.
“This is an odd thing to bury in the garden.”
“Yes, I’ve no idea who put it there. I’ll take it in the house; perhaps, Aunt Mavis will know.” Lucinda said as she took the dress and headed for the house.
Entering the house I was transported back in time. Aunt Mavis and Uncle Josh were avid antiques collectors; this was evident in every room in the house. Uncle Josh had always loved antiques and had had a thorough knowledge of pre-1920’s culture.
We were greeted at the door by Aunt Mavis. She was a tall, agile woman in her mid-fifties with graying hair and dark brown eyes. I never liked her very much; the set of her chin and the hardness of her eyes always gave me the feeling that she looked down on her niece and friends. I am usually a good judge of character, but in the two years I had known Aunt Mavis, she had been kind and caring.
“Aunt, have you ever seen this dress before?” Lucinda asked.
“Why it’s brand new. No, I’ve never seen it before. That was so sweet of you to bring Lucinda a gift, Clarissa.” Mavis smiled.
“I didn’t, Aunt Mavis. I have a confession to make. Paw dug it up out of your garden. He dug up some of your lovely mums too.” She scowled at this. I hurried on, “Don’t worry. I will replant them and replace any damaged ones.”
Aunt Mavis looked displeased, especially when she looked down at Paw who had just stepped into the house. He had dirty paws from digging in the garden.
“Sorry, I said. I will take him back outside and wash him off. Lucinda, do you have a hose I could use?” Lucinda began to nod, but Mavis interrupted.
“Don’t be silly. Take him to the laundry room and wash him. And don’t worry about the mums. I will replant them. I love to get out and work in the garden.”
I took Paw to the laundry room and began washing him. Of course, I got as wet as he did. Lucinda came in with towels and laughed at us. Just then Paw shook himself and sprayed everything and both of us with water. It took a while but we got him dry and the room cleaned up.
Lucinda showed me up to my room; overrun with antiques (which I’m not fond of) but with a down comforter on the bed and a window seat (the redeeming qualities), the room had a lived in, homey atmosphere. After getting settled I had dinner with the family which consisted of Lucinda, Aunt Mavis, Cousin Frederick, neighbor Gladys, and Father Henry, the local clergyman. Gossiping Gladys conversed with everyone and knew who was doing what. She was nosy and outspoken where Mavis was refined and demure. However, they had been close friends ever since Mavis moved here two years ago. Frederick, Lucinda’s cousin, was a boorish lout with no sense of self-discipline. He hung around living off Aunt Mavis and doing nothing. Then there was Father Henry. A young man, forty, by church standards, he was always invited to dinner either by Gladys or Aunt Mavis. Since both were high in the church committees, it was deemed necessary to invite Father Henry to everything. And last but not least, there was Nellie Gatewell, the live-in housekeeper.
She was in her late sixties- kind, gentle, and above all loyal.
Following dinner, I went straight to bed. It had been a long day. But as such things go I was too restless to sleep. So I sat up and read a while. There was no need for a light because the moon was full. Suddenly I heard a scraping noise and looked over in time to see something pushed under my door. With lightning speed Paw was upon the “something” in question. I went over but first looked out the door; no one was in sight. Paw sadly relinquished his treasure — a single a piece of folded notepaper. I opened it and was shocked at the message – “UNCLE JOSH WAS MURDERED”. The rest of the night was spent in restless sleep as I tried to figure out what it meant and who could have sent the note. It had to be someone in the house, but any of the dinner guests could have slipped the note under my door as I had retired early. By the morning as I woke with sunshine on my face, I was nowhere closer to an answer.
At breakfast Lucinda informed me that Aunt Mavis knew nothing more about the red dress than we did. To be honest, I had completely forgotten it. I must admit I was tempted to show the note to Luce but decided against it. I didn’t want to upset her. However, I was determined to find out if the note was true.
“Luce,” I said to Lucinda, “I didn’t know Uncle Josh was in poor health.”
The pain on her face told me she didn’t want to talk about it, but because we were close she answered:
“He wasn’t as far as we knew. It was all quite sudden.”
“Had he been doing anything particular the day he died? What was he doing? I mean was he overworking himself.”
“No. He spent most of the day in the library. Also, that was the day he bought the new collar for Paw that he sent you, now that I think about it.”
I remembered the collar quite well. In fact, Paw was still wearing it. It was the only collar he’d never been able to strip off. The day it arrived I put it on Paw and he loved the collar. It was a dark blue nylon with an attached nylon bag holding a sandstone; the manufacturer guaranteed it would last. Somehow Paw knew the collar was from Josh; I could see it in his eyes.
Lucinda had departed hoping to avoid more painful questions. Besides, she had work to do for the local children’s daycare center. It was run by the church. I decided to spend some time at the library myself. Only I was going to look up Josh’s death. To my surprise there was very little in the newspapers. The obituary read “death by sudden heart attack” and there were no further write-ups. Very strange for a man who had been popular in a small community. However, one name from the obit column caught my attention – Harry Turnapple. He was listed as pallbearer, but more importantly, he and Josh had been best friends since kindergarten. A quick look in the current phone book gave me an address and I went in search of Harry.
Harry lived in a small white house on the edge of town. An avid gardener, he had a beautiful bed of begonias and, even at sixty, the energy of a twenty year old. As I pulled into the drive, Harry was sitting on his front porch, a golden retriever at his side. I had got out of the car and made it halfway to the porch when Harry gruffly reprimanded me.
“Ya got a dog in that thar car of yourn. Let ‘im out afore he roasts ta death.”
Quickly I returned to the car, opening the door for Paw. He was delighted to get out and greet another dog. Now I love Paw and would never want to harm him. I know very well leaving him in the car is wrong, but I wasn’t sure how he would react to the golden retriever. Usually he is good with other dogs, but I didn’t want to break up a fight. Upon his release, Paw greeted the golden retriever as only a dog can. They seemed to be fine with each other.
While the dogs got acquainted I went on the porch to talk to Harry. To my relief, he was quite happy that the dogs liked each other.
“Sylvie been needin’ some visitors. Don’t ya worry none she’n been taken care of. What ‘n you wanna see me for? Better not be from the census place!”
I assured him I was not from the census bureau and explained that Josh McFarlane had been my uncle.
“Josh, he was an good ol’ pal. We were friends afore we’s coulda count an’ writ.”
“Yes, I know he valued your friendship. Tell me, Harry, did you know Josh was in bad health?”
“Nah. That man was healthy as a horse. If’ n you ask me somebody caught ‘im snoopin’ and dun ‘im in.”
“Snooping? I don’t understand.”
“Well, ya see,” Harry started to explain as he settled himself in his chair, “Josh was convinced that all them thar jule theivens were dun by the same fellar and he ‘twas aimin’ to find out who.”
“I don’t remember hearing about any jewel heists. When did this happen?”
“Aw, good while aready. Ya can go lookin’ it up in the newspapers or if’n ya wanta ya can go askin’ ol’ Pete at his’n jule store. He’s one of ta fellars that‘n got robbed.”
I thanked Harry for his help and remembered to tell him how I loved his begonias. Paw was reluctant to leave Sylvie but eventually climbed into the car. I decided to leave the library for another day, but Pete’s jewelry store was on my way home to Lucinda’s. Pete’s store was in the center of town. It had some nice pieces of jewelry, including some rather expensive ones. Pete’s assistant said that he wasn’t in but did know a little about the robberies. Apparently, it had happened as far back as two and a half years ago. He didn’t know exactly what happened, but there was something about a woman in a red dress. Could it be the same dress I found? Unlikely, but if so perhaps how had it gotten buried there.
There was no need to ask if Josh had been there to ask questions. The assistant would hardly remember and if Josh was investigating the robberies it would stand to reason he would ask at the store. As these thoughts were forming in my mind, I ran into Father Henry. He was passing by the jewelry store as I was coming out. I hadn’t noticed it before, but he was a very handsome man. He stood six foot tall, had jet black hair, and piercing blue eyes. No wonder Aunt Mavis, Gladys, and the rest of the women in town attended church so much. Paw, on the other hand, gave a low growl. He, obviously, didn’t share the same feelings for the clergyman as the women did. Father Henry and I exchanged pleasantries and I returned home.
Dinner was enjoyable but only Lucinda and I were there to eat. We caught up on old times, I told her about visiting Harry, and she showed me pictures of her daycare children. As I left the dining room to go to bed, I passed Aunt Mavis. She seemed to be staring into space but greeted me warmly upon noticing me. Apparently, she thought more highly of me than I did of her.
That night I had the strangest dream. I was walking through town when a wolf started to chase me. I could see its gray and white fur and sharp pointed teeth. Around its neck dangled something shiny. Suddenly, Paw was there to protect me and the wolf went running into the church.
In the morning, I woke up with the feeling that I should know something. I couldn’t remember, though, so I dressed and went to breakfast. After breakfast I decided to walk to the library. To my delight, of the newspaper articles on the jewel robberies one held a very concise account. It read as follows:
The Daily Squirer – May 10th
Of the robberies to date by the gang dubbed “The Jewel Fiends” all have followed a similar format. In each case a very beautiful woman, early twenties, wearing a red dress has entered the store. While she has the store owner distracted her accomplices walk in, tie up the store clerk, and steal the most valuable jewels. As of this date none of the jewels, including a pair of sapphire clip-on earrings known as the Blue Dolphins, have been recovered. However, the last robbery proved tragic. Of the three accomplices, one was shot dead – a man in mid-thirties, tall, well built – identified as Hans Seliman – antiques dealer.
A later article read:
Regarding the rash of jewel heists, some of the jewelry was recovered by way of the black market. The valuable Blue Dolphins, several antique bracelets, a genuine eighteenth century silver locket, and a rare Victorian emerald pin have yet to be recovered.
Those words struck me like a knife. Could I have been misguided all along? Is it possible? On my way home I made a quick stop at the hardware store to pick up a new leash for Paw. He could be rough on leashes with all his weight and energy pulling on them.
No one appeared to be home as I walked in the front door. On the table in the hall, a package with my name on it sat amongst the rest of the mail. I picked it up and went to my room. In my room I looked over the package; it was covered with standard brown paper and had no return address. I opened the package to discover a box of Claudette’s chocolates. These were my favorite candies when I was a child. However, I had not eaten chocolate for some months because of doctor’s orders. The next thing I knew Paw jumped up, knocked the chocolates out of my hands, grabbed the box, and dumped it in the trash can. He was clearly telling me not to eat the candy. Paw knows he can’t have chocolate, but I’d never seen him throw something in the trash. Oddly, as I went to retrieve them, he growled and pushed me away. That’s when I became truly suspicious that something was wrong with the chocolates.
I reexamined the wrapper but could not find any return address. That is when I realized that the chocolates hadn’t been mailed. There was no postage stamped on the package. Now how did it get in with the mail?
I decided to take the chocolates and the wrapper to the local police. Hopefully, they would take my concerns seriously. The sergeant at the front desk listened carefully. He took the chocolates and the wrapper and wrote up a report. They would be sent off to a lab for testing. The only problem was that it could takes weeks at the earliest for the test results to come back. He advised me to be careful and report any further incidents. Sighing, I left the police station.
It wasn’t that they didn’t want to help. They were just too busy. Now I had time to worry if I was in any kind of danger. After all, Paw could have just be trying to keep me from eating chocolate. As I stood thinking, I glanced across the street and did a double take. Hiram, an old friend of mine, stood photographing something on the sidewalk. I crossed the street to talk to him.
“Hiram, is that you?” I waved at him.
He jerked his head up. Smiling, he laughed, “Clarissa, my love, how are you? Come see what I have found.” He gestured to a small dot on the sidewalk. It turned out to be a ladybug.
“A ladybug. How lovely. I didn’t know you were into photography. I thought you were all about science.”
“That is Camille’s doing.” Camille was Hiram’s girlfriend and a friend of mine as well. “She says I spend too much time in the lab. She’s tired of hearing about chemical reactions and Bunsen burners. So she “suggested”, emphasis on the suggested, that I get a hobby. So here I am taking photos of bugs.” He laughed again good-naturedly. “What are you doing here?”
“I am visiting a cousin of mine. How about you?”
“A chemist’s conference. Camille hates them so I here by myself. Hey, how about we have dinner tonight and catch up?”
“That sounds great! There is a restaurant on Goode Street called the Rusty Wren. How about we meet there at 6 PM?” I smiled.
“I’ll see you then.” As we had talked, his ladybug had flew away. Shrugging, he gave me a little wave and went back to looking for photographic ideas.
Paw was stretched out on the bed when I returned to Lucinda’s. I told him about seeing Hiram. He immediately sat up. Hiram was one of his favorite people. Maybe because he and Hiram both loved bacon sandwiches and Hiram would share his with Paw.
I decided to take a bath. I pondered what could be in those chocolates while I was soaking in the tub. Truthfully, I was glad to eat out tonight. Those candies showing up here was a little too close for comfort. Just then I realized how stupid I was. Hiram was a chemist. He probably could have tested those candies and gotten quick results. I wish I had known Hiram was in town before I took the chocolates to the police. Who knew how long it would take the police to get the chocolates tested?
I finished my bath and went to get dressed. That’s when I noticed Paw bat a round object from under the bed. Curious, I picked it up. Paw looked at me expectantly. It was a chocolate candy like the ones I took to the police. I must have missed one when I gathered them out of the trash.
“Paw you are brilliant.” I hugged him. “I’ll take this tonight and ask Hiram to test it.”
The Rusty Wren was a charming little restaurant that served seafood from the local fishermen. Hiram was waiting for me at a table. After quick hellos, we both ordered the seafood special – seafood chowder and steamed veggies. While we waited for our food, I told Hiram about the chocolates.
“This is serious, Clarissa. You could be in danger.” Hiram shook his head.
“I know, Hiram. That’s why I went to the police, but I hate waiting to find out if those candies are poisoned. Do you have your equipment with you? Could you test this one?” I pulled out the chocolate I had placed in a tissue.
“Of course, Clarissa. I always have equipment. Even better, the conference provided lab space for us to use. We’ll go over there right after dinner and test it.”
We chatted about old times through our meal then paid and went over to the conference lab. I didn’t know much about chemistry so I sat back and let Hiram work. It took a few hours, but then Hiram turned to me with a serious expression.
“Cyanide. The chocolate was laced with it.”
I paled even though I had suspected something was wrong. “Hiram, will the police listen to you? Will they believe your results?”
“Yes, they should. Besides, I am friends with Dr. Evans. He is in charge of the lab that the police use. You want to take this to them I assume?” He looked at me.
“Yes, the sooner the better.” He nodded, turned around, and went to the phone to call Dr. Evans.
We met Dr. Evans at the police station. He arranged with the sergeant to test some of the chocolates the police had. The sergeant accompanied us to the lab. A few more hours and it was determined all the chocolates had been laced with cyanide. That is when the sergeant began to listen to me and a plan I had formulated. The sergeant agreed to speak with the one person I felt could answer a few of his questions then we planned the trap.
All the people I suspected were called by an anonymous person (one of the police officers) and told if they wanted the Blue Dolphins to meet the caller at the mill at midnight. That night Sergeant Blackwell, five officers, myself, and Paw waited at the mill. Before long our suspect arrived — Father Henry. Sergeant Blackwell hardly had time to say anything before the lookout yelled that someone else was coming. I wasn’t surprised. Nor was I surprised when it turned out to be Aunt Mavis. However, there was one more person to show up. The third in the whole operation of robbery and murder. I had hoped to be wrong, but I wasn‘t. The final member showed up – LUCINDA. Sergeant Blackwell was dumbfounded so I kindly took the initiative and explained.
“You see it all started four years ago. Aunt Mavis and Father Henry, who are brother and sister by the way, met up with Hans Seliman. They decided to form an association and begin robbing jewelry stores. However, they needed a point person. That’s where Lucinda comes in. She knew Hans through their antiques connection. Anyway, the robberies were successful until the last one when Hans was killed. After that they had to lie low. Lucinda came home, followed by Aunt Mavis who married Josh and a year later Father Henry came here. All was fine until Josh found the Blue Dolphins and the red dress and became suspicious. He told Lucinda what he knew figuring she had been an unwilling pawn. He didn’t count on the fact that she was madly in love with Henry. So Josh hid the Blue Dolphins and red dress to protect Lucinda. Probably he even confronted Mavis and Henry threatening to expose the truth. That was when he was poisoned just as I would have been poisoned with the chocolates if it weren’t for Paw. Nellie Gatewell, the live-in housekeeper, tried to warn me when I first arrived. She was the one who left the note under my door. She had suspicions all along about what had happened to Josh, but was too scared to go to the police.”
“How did you know it was me?” Lucinda asked incredulously.
“Two things caught my attention. The first was the silver locket which didn’t mean anything until I read the newspaper article stating an eighteenth century silver locket was missing. Secondly, few people knew I loved Claudette’s chocolates and even fewer knew I no longer ate chocolates. You knew I loved those candies but didn’t know I couldn’t eat them. But tell me how could you let them poison Uncle Josh?”
“They didn’t poison him. I did!” She said vehemently, “I wasn’t going to let some old fool destroy the one man I loved.”
Sergeant Blackwell spoke up “So where are these Blue Dolphins?”
“Right where Josh safely left them.” I said as I reached down to Paw. “I checked at the hardware store; this collar has no attachment. Josh made one to store the earrings.” As I said this I opened the pouch and out slid two sparkling sapphire earrings.
“Ok boys take ‘em away.” The sergeant turned to me saying, “Thank you and thanks to Paw.” Paw thanked him back by licking his face.
Thank you for reading. The next mini mystery in the series is The Disappearance of Aunt Carol.
Excerpt from The Disappearance of Aunt Carol – A Clarissa and Paw Mini Mystery – Vol. 2
The rain pelted the windshield as though it had a personal vengeance against the world. I was in the front passenger seat trying to distinguish our location through barely visible road signs. Jacqueline was driving slowly. Unusual since her usual motto was fast and faster. We were supposed to be on a fun-filled sunny vacation to a relative’s beach cottage. So far though it hadn’t been fun nor relaxing.
The problems started before we even got in the car. Shelbee, having packed enough luggage for all our lifetimes combined, refused to share the back with Paw. On the other hand, Paw had claimed the front passenger seat and refused to budge. He was fantasizing as if he were sole navigator on a dangerous exploration. After I promised Shelbee Paw would behave and bribed Paw with a doggy bone, we started our trip.
Now after three hours, one flat tire, two roadblocks, and a half hour wait, we were stuck. Visibility was zero and everyone was tense. That’s when Paw decided to honor us with his wonderful voice of woofs. Apparently he had seen something.
“Oh, drat. He must have saw a cat!” I sighed.
Anyway, as I turned to look I saw a large sign. It read: “Welcome to Happyville. Pop. 957.”
“Yes! Finally we’re here.” I gave Paw a hug. Perhaps it was coincidence, but I believe my St. Bernard is not only highly intelligent but also a little psychic.
“Well, it’s about time. I’ll be glad to get outta this car.” Jac sighed, brushing her black hair out of her eyes. Jac is her nickname. Her full name is Jacqueline Marie Weldon. She’s a blue-eyed, 5’6” health nut who loves tofu.
Shelb laughed saying, “I can’t wait to eat. It’s been at least two hours since we stopped.” Katrina Shelbee Van Vight even gave Paw a hug. She hated the name Katrina so we called her Shelb. With her bright red hair, green eyes, and slim figure, she could easily be a model.
By the way, my name is Clarissa Montgomery Hayes. I’m the short one of the group at 5’2”. With my blonde hair and hazel eyes, I look sweet, but once people get to know me they find out how strong-willed I can be. Jac and Shelb are my two closest friends. We all needed a break from work and when Jac’s Aunt Carol offered the beach house we jumped at the chance. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to take Paw. But Carol said it would be fine; she loved dogs. Paudius Pernivious — Paw, for short — went everywhere with me. He was a great companion and a good watchdog. Good meaning he was more likely to slobber you than growl at you.
Stepping from the car, I heard the waves of the ocean crashing. The water, choppy and foamy, seemed to dance an insane waltz with the beach. Paw, who delighted in trouble, started for the sand. I called to him but got no response. Fortunately, I caught up with him quickly.
Finally, after grabbing Paw’s collar in one hand and dragging a suitcase in the other, I reached the house. It was a small cottage appearing to have been built many years ago. The house had been painted a creamy white with a slate blue roof. Paint had chipped away from years of weathered abuse.
“Where’s the key?” Shelbee yelled. “I’m drenched.”
“Aunt Carol said she’d leave it open.” Jac exclaimed. But the door was locked and wouldn’t budge.
[+ The Disappearance of Aunt Carol+]
Please see the next page for more books in the series and how to connect with the author.
About the Author
Sandra Baublitz is a lover of all animals. She has always loved dogs and cats. The Clarissa and Paw series originally began as a contest entry. Paw’s creation was influenced by the Beethoven movies and the author’s desire to own a Saint Bernard. The author never got the opportunity to own a St. Bernard and her current cats will not allow a new edition. Ms. Baublitz expresses her love of the breed by continuing to write the Clarissa and Paw mystery stories. She hopes her readers enjoy reading them as much as she enjoys writing them.
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Other books in the Clarissa and Paw Mini Mysteries Series:
[+ The Disappearance of Aunt Carol+]
[+ The Body in Mrs. Carstairs’ Shed+]
[+ The Mystery of the Missing Bear+]
[+ The Mystery of the Missing Actor+]
Clarissa Montgomery Hayes and her Saint Bernard, Paw, have gone to visit Clarissa's cousin, Lucinda. Lucinda's Uncle Josh has recently died. No one suspects foul play until Clarissa finds a note under her door stating that Uncle Josh was murdered. Deciding to investigate, Clarissa and Paw soon find out that Uncle Josh was involved in his own investigation: A rash of local jewel thefts, including the rare Blue Dolphins diamonds. Could his investigation have caused Josh's death? Clarissa suspects it. Thanks to Paw, a murder attempt on Clarissa fails. Will the killer try again before Clarissa and Paw solve Uncle Josh's death? This is a 4000 word short story/mini mystery.