S: Isabelle and the Case of the Missing Horse
BC: Merry Christmas 2010!
FC: Isabelle and the Case of the Missing Horse | by Aunt Cathy
1: Merry Christmas! Love, Aunt Cathy | 2010
2: This is Isabelle. You may know her as the oldest of the Laughlin children. What you may not know about her is that she is also an amateur detective.
3: So far, the only mysteries Isabelle has solved have been little ones. She helped her brother, Christian, find his missing Sheriff Woody doll once. But he had only left it in the Sunday School room at church. Isabelle is always on the lookout for a REAL mystery to solve.
4: One summer, Isabelle's parents let her go out west to visit her aunt and uncle. They had a big ranch in Colorado.
5: Isabelle's favorite horse at the ranch was named Sparkler. The horse had run very fast after seeing a sparkler on the 4th of July. Sparkler belonged to a college student named Judy who worked at the ranch during the summer.
6: One bright morning, Isabelle got dressed, ate breakfast, and headed right out to the pasture to watch Judy train Sparkler. But when she got | there, the pasture was empty! Sparkler was missing! "Oh Isabelle," Judy cried. "Can you help me find her? I was going to sell her at the end of the summer to pay for college. Now I don't know what I'll do." Isabelle agreed to investigate the mystery of the missing horse. THIS was her real mystery to solve! She was very excited, but sad for Judy.
7: Isabelle got ready to go look for clues. She put together a kit of things that might be useful along the way. | Isabelle's mystery kit | rope | hay | magnifying glass | notebook & pen
8: Armed with her mystery kit, Isabelle set out to search for clues that might help her find the missing horse. First, she went to find Mitch, the ranch foreman. | She asked Mitch if he'd seen anyone near Sparkler's stable that morning. "Well," Mitch said slowly. "I do believe that there were some young'uns a'playing around her gate today. Believe it was the Fisher boys."
9: Isabelle made a note in her notebook about the Fisher boys, then went to find them. | Bobby and Jake Fisher? Were hanging around the stable this morning. Ask them about it. | Why would they want to steal Sparkler?? | It didn't take her long to locate Bobby and Jake Fisher. They were hanging out near the stables, throwing pebbles at the horses.
10: "Hey! Stop that!" Isabelle yelled. Bobby and Jake spun around quickly, but when they saw her they relaxed. "Why SHOULD we?" asked Jake with a sly grin on his face. "I don't see anyone around here that can make us." Isabelle looked Jake in the eye and answered, "I might not be able to stop you, but if I call for Mitch you'll be in BIG trouble. You know you're not supposed to mess with the horses." Jake's smile disappeared and he looked down sullenly. Isabelle continued, "I won't tell Mitch if you'll answer some questions for me." "Okay I guess." responded Bobby quickly, causing Jake to glare at him.
11: "Okay Bobby. Why were you hanging around Sparkler's stable this morning?" asked Isabelle. "She went missing after you were there. Did you let her out or something?" "No way!" said Bobby. Jake jumped in with, "We didn't do nuthin'! We were just messin' around with that ol' horse. Ricky came along and yelled at us though, so we ran away until he left. By the time we came back to the stable Judy was standin' there yellin' about her stupid horse." "Are you sure Sparkler was in her stable when you left?" asked Isabelle. They boys answered yes, so she walked away. Making another note in her book, she went off to find Ricky. | Why was Ricky in the stable so early? Would he have taken Sparkler?
12: Isabelle found Ricky in the stableyard re-shoeing one of the horses. "Hey Ricky!" she called out. "Hi Isabelle," he answered, not looking up.
13: "Ricky, were you in the stable earlier than usual this morning?" asked Isabelle. "No," said Ricky. "Really?" Isabelle answered. "The Fisher boys said you chased them away from Sparkler's stable. You know, just before she disappeared." Ricky sighed, let go of the horse's hoof, and sat down wearily in the dust. "Okay, you're right," he admitted. "I WAS here early today. But it wasn't to steal Sparkler! She's a great horse and I could use the money from selling her, but I would never do that to Judy. In fact, I came in early to... to do something nice for her." "If you're telling the truth, then can you tell me if you saw anyone else near Sparkler?" asked Isabelle. "No one out of the ordinary," said Ricky. "It was really quiet around here except for those pesky Fisher kids."
14: Isabelle left Ricky in the stableyard and made a few more notes in her notebook. | Ricky says there wasn't anyone different around the stable this morning. The thief must be someone who would usually be in the stable! | As she headed back into the stable, Isabelle heard a noise behind her and turned to see the Fisher boys lying in the hay.
15: "Did you find the thief yet, 'Nancy Drew'?" Jake called out. "I bet you never find him." Isabelle ignored him and moved on into the stable, then suddenly turned back around. "Did you say HIM, Jake? Sounds like you know who the thief is! If you don't want me to tell Judy and Mitch that you're my chief suspect, you'd better tell me what you know!" "We don't know nuthin'," said Jake angrily. "Wait," said Bobby. "I don't want to get in trouble. Dad said if I get caught messing with the horses one more time, I won't be allowed to ride my pony for a week." He stood up, brushed off the hay, and then whispered into Isabelle's ear.
16: Isabelle FINALLY knew who had taken Sparkler! Now she just needed to prove it. No one would ever believe the Fisher boys without evidence.
17: Isabelle went back to the house and worked on her plan. That afternoon, two of her sisters arrived for their visit at the ranch. Isabelle was | very happy to see them! They would be a big help with her plan. Once it got dark that evening, she and the girls headed out across the stableyard. They walked about a mile before finally reaching the old Albertson gold mine. It had caved in years ago, and no one ever went there. It was the perfect hide-out for a horse thief! The three girls crept quietly up to the entrance. | Check out Albertson mine!
18: Once at the opening of the old mine, Isabelle placed one of her sisters on each side of the doorway. "You know what to do!" she reminded them. Then she crept silently into the dark mine, her dimmed flashlight leaving a soft trail to follow in the blackness. Just when she started to think she was on the wrong trail, she heard a soft whinny nearby. It was Sparkler! He was tied with a rope to an old beam, a rusty lantern lighting the cave where he stood. Isabelle took the hay out of her pocket and held it toward the horse. Sparkler ate it, nuzzling Isabelle's hand. Isabelle took the rope out of her pocket and looped it over Sparkler's neck. She removed the rope that tied the horse to the old beam, slightly tearing the edges so it it would look like the horse had chewed it through. Then she led the horse back down the path to the opening of the mine.
19: When they reached the entrance, Isabelle whispered, "Okay Sparkler - make some noise!" She tickled the horse under her chin, causing her to whinny and kick the dust with her hoof. Down the tunnel in the darkness, Isabelle heard footsteps, then a cry of surprise as the man saw that the horse was gone. As the footsteps got closer, Isabelle left Sparkler in the doorway and went out into the grass. Suddenly Sparkler started to run! The man came out the door chasing her, only to be blinded by a sudden flash of light. He stumbled in the grass and fell heavily to the ground.
20: Isabelle hurried over to where the man lay facedown, his cowboy hat hiding his face. The girls looked down at him and Isabelle tapped the hat away with her foot. It was Mitch, the ranch foreman! He startled them by suddenly getting to his feet... but thankfully at that moment Judy and Ricky came running down the path. "Isabelle! We got your note. What happened?" Isabelle pointed to Mitch and explained that he was the thief. She handed Judy the Polaroid her sisters had taken of Mitch leaving the cave chasing Sparkler. She also told Judy and Ricky that the Fisher boys had seen Mitch take the horse out of her stable that morning. Ricky tied Mitch's hands behind him.
21: The next day, Judy and Ricky stopped over to thank Isabelle again. They told her that Mitch had been stealing and selling horses at nearby ranches for a long time. The police were very happy to find out who the horse thief was. While they were talking, Isabelle remembered that there was one thing she still wasn't sure about. "Ricky, what was the nice thing you were going to do for Judy yesterday? Why were you at the stables so early?" Ricky smiled broadly and took Judy's hand. "I was getting the engagement ring that I hid in the barn!" he said. "I was planning to propose to Judy yesterday. When Sparkler went missing, I decided to wait. But I asked her this morning, and she said yes!" Isabelle was very happy for Judy and Ricky, and thought the engagement ring was just beautiful. And the best part was, she'd finally solved a real mystery! She hoped she'd find another one soon. The End.