The Mystery of the Disappearing Crystal

By Robyn Clarke

October 2011

   

Chapter 1: The News

 

       One day as Robyn Clarke rode to the Reece Center to go horseback riding, she hoped she would have fun. She didn’t know just how fun and exciting it would turn out to be.

          When she and her mom pulled up the gravel drive and the corral came into view, Robyn saw an unusual scene: Ms. Denise and Ms. Heather were both at the horses’ stalls, not inside the ring with the students. The students were just riding along the rail.

          As soon as Robyn’s car had stopped and her door was open, Ms. Denise and Ms. Heather appeared.

          “What’s up?” asked Robyn in a concerned tone of voice.

          Ms. Denise, who was tall and had a ‘farmer’s tan’ replied, “You might as well know. Crystal is missing.”

          Before I go any farther, let me explain a few things. First of all, the Reece Center is a place where children and adults with disabilities can go for equestrian therapy. Next, Crystal was the first horse Robyn had ever ridden at the Reece Center. Also, Ms. Heather, (the other teacher) was tall, and a good teacher.

          Anyway, back to the story. When Robyn heard that, she gasped. “Crystal is missing? Was she stolen?”

          “We think she was,” answered Ms. Heather. “You know Lydia?”

          Robyn did. Lydia had been Robyn’s side walker a couple of times. She nodded.

          “Well,” Ms. Heather continued, “last night Lydia was here feeding the horses, and when she came here today Crystal was gone!”

          Robyn didn’t say anything, but in the back of her mind she thought, So, Lydia would be an ideal suspect. She could be lying. She could easily have fed the horses and then took Crystal to some place where she couldn’t be found.

          “You know the horse Jenna rode when she rode competitively?” asked Ms. Denise.

          Of course Robyn did. Jenna had told her about that horse once. His name was Eanut (a.k.a. Forget-me-Not). She nodded.

          “Well, he arrived last night,” continued Ms. Denise. “Jenna volunteered to search the trails with him.”

          “I’ll go, too,” Robyn said immediately. After all, Crystal had been her horse.

          “But Jenna will be with her, right?” Robyn’s mom piped up.

          Ms. Heather nodded. “Come on, I’ll help you mount Legado,” she added.

          Robyn’s mom helped her walk up to the mounting ramp where Legado was waiting.

          “Jenna!” yelled Ms. Heather. (She was a champion yeller.) She motioned for Jenna to come over to the mounting ramp. Jenna did so immediately.

          “Jenna,” said Ms. Heather, “Robyn has offered to help you search for Crystal.”

          “Okay,” agreed Jenna enthusiastically.

          Jenna was a tall, skinny girl in her teens. She had red hair that came a little past her shoulders.

          After Robyn mounted, (with some help from Ms. Heather and Jenna) Ms. Heather remarked casually, “You know, I think you can ride without a leader and side walker now. By the way,” she added, “you can stay out here as long as you need to. Your mom can go home or whatever and you can call her when you’re ready to go home.”
          “Alright, I know our home phone number and her cell number,” replied Robyn with delight. She turned to Jenna. “Let’s go!” she cried.


Chapter Two: A Chase

 

“So, where should we start first?” inquired Robyn as they started walking on the trail by the stalls.

          “Let’s go hit the race track first and then we’ll turn right and go along that trail,” Jenna replied.

          Just as they turned onto the race track, Robyn happened to glance behind them. What she saw frightened her. “Uh, Jenna?” said Robyn in a nervous voice.

          Jenna turned to look at her. “Yes?”

          Robyn whispered, “Look behind you. We’re being followed.”

          Jenna obeyed. When the person behind them saw her look at him (or her) the person bolted at them at full speed. Then Jenna noticed that the person was on horseback. “Run!” she shouted at Robyn and both their horses started running as fast as they could go.

          “Where do we go?” Robyn asked in a voice only Jenna could hear.

          “The arena! Turn right up here. We know the trails, he doesn’t!”

          They both turned their horses sharply to the right, then to the left. Then, since they were going straight, they made their horses go even faster.


Chapter 3: The Decision

 

       They ran a little longer, and then the path to the arena appeared in front of them.

          When they skidded to a stop at the stalls, both Ms. Heather and Ms. Denise jogged over to them.

          “You found her already?” asked Ms. Denise.

          Robyn shook her head. “No!” she cried. “We were being chased!”

          What?” exclaimed Ms. Denise and Ms. Heather in amazement.

          Jenna looked behind her. “They’re gone now, but there was someone on horseback chasing us.”

          “Wait a minute!” exclaimed Robyn suddenly. “I just thought of something. Two things, really. That person was on horseback! He could have been riding Crystal! Another thing: that must mean Crystal’s still here somewhere!”

          “Why do you think that?” asked Jenna, puzzled.

          “Because,” explained Robyn, “why else would he be so anxious for us to get out of there?”

          “You’re right! Let’s go back out there!” Jenna said excitedly.

          “I don’t want you two going out there if it’s not safe,” said Ms. Denise.

          “We’ll be fine. Besides, we’ll go back there a different way. We’ll go back there through the Alamo,” said Jenna. (The Alamo was the building where the old horse stalls were. The Christmas parties were held there.)

          “Besides,” Robyn put in, with a wink at Jenna, “we know the trails, he doesn’t.”

          So it was decided: Robyn and Jenna could go out to look for Crystal, but they had to go out through the Alamo. It would be too risky if they went out the way they had the first time. The thief could have been watching them and know which way they would go.

          “But there are trail markers the whole way. Say we get caught by the same person and they start chasing us again. If they’re smart, they’ll know that we’re following the trail markers,” Robyn pointed out logically.

          “Well, if they find out, stop following the markers,” Ms. Heather replied. “And let’s just hope they don’t figure out that there are markers,” she added, chuckling.

 

Chapter 4: Another Search

      

       They decided to go through the old horse barn (a.k.a. The Alamo).

          They turned left when they came to the woods.

          “So, who do you think stole Crystal?” asked Jenna.

          “Well,” Robyn admitted, “I think maybe Lydia was involved.”

          Jenna turned in the saddle and stared at Robyn. “Why do you think Lydia was involved?”

          “Because she was the last person who was around Crystal. She could have easily fed Crystal and then took her away, then, when she was questioned, she may have pretended she knew nothing about it.” Robyn shrugged. “But that’s just a theory.”

          “That makes sense,” Jenna admitted.

          “Wait! We need to go back to the ring!” said Robyn excitedly.

          “Why?” demanded Jenna, confused. “Lydia won’t admit she took Crystal, if she did.”

          “We’re not going to accuse Lydia. But we may find a valuable clue!” Robyn turned her horse back toward the arena. “Let’s go!”


Chapter 5: A Hunch

 

     When they came trotting into the main part of the land, Ms. Heather cried, “You were chased again?”

          “No, no,” Robyn answered quickly.

          “She thought of some valuable clue,” Jenna explained. “I don’t even know what it is.”

          Ms. Heather raised her eyebrows. “Oh? What is it?”

          “Well, if you’re going to steal a horse, you would have a trailer attached to your vehicle. So, since you’d be driving on gravel, your trailer would have left tracks,” Robyn replied.

          “Yeah. So what?” asked Jenna. “What does that prove?”

          Robyn shrugged. “To me it’s the evidence we need to prove Crystal was stolen. We also know how the thieves made their getaway.”

          “So,” said Jenna, comprehension flowing over her freckled face, “if we do find tracks, we can call the police and tell them to be on the lookout for a car with a trailer attached!”

          “We aren’t calling the police yet. First we have to find evidence to prove someone guilty,” Robyn told her. “We can’t just call the police and say, Oh, so and so took a horse. We have to have evidence against that person.”

          “Before we worry about calling the police, let’s see if Robyn’s hunch is correct,” Ms. Heather said.

          “Ok,” said Jenna, “but where would we look for tracks?”

          “By the stable. There’d be no point in looking by the entrance since so many people have come and gone. It’d be like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Ms. Heather replied.

          Robyn nodded in agreement.

          Both girls dismounted their horses. They walked over to where Crystal’s stable was and got down on their knees. Sure enough, two heavy tire marks were right by the door.

          “When this person came, he must have parked the trailer right here, got out, got into Crystal’s stall somehow, unlatched the door from the inside, got Crystal out, put her in the trailer, and left,” Robyn concluded.

          “If he did that, the horses would have neighed like crazy,” said Ms. Heather. “They neigh when I get here.”

          “If that’s the case, then the neighbor would have heard them,” Robyn remarked. “I vote we go ask the neighbor if he heard or saw anything unusual last night. That’d give us a really big clue.”


Chapter 6: Questioning

 

       So Robyn (with some help from Jenna) walked over to the neighbor’s house to ask them if they had noticed anything suspicious the night before.

          Jenna softly knocked on the door. A second later, a young woman with long black hair answered the door.

          “Hello,” she said pleasantly. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

          “Hi,” said Robyn. “My name is Robyn and this is my friend, Jenna. We were wondering if you noticed anything unusual last night. One of the horses at the Reece Center was stolen and we were wondering if you could help us.”

          The woman nodded. “I see,” she said. Then she beckoned toward the door. “Please, come in.”

          Jenna and Robyn followed the lady into her living room.

          “My name is Monique,” she said. “In answer to your question, yes, my husband and I did hear and see some strange things last night.” The three of them sat down. “Last night at one in the morning we saw a large truck with a trailer go into the Center. Then we heard a bunch of neighing. My husband, Rob, went outside to see what was going on. He came back inside about five minutes later and said that the truck never left. We didn’t hear anything else.”

She looked right at the girls. “I’m willing to bet whoever was driving that truck is your thief, girls. Does that help you?”

          “Oh, yes,” Robyn replied. “Very much so. Thank you.”

          Monique smiled. “You’re welcome. If there’s anything I can do for you, just let me know.”

          “Thanks,” Jenna replied. “We will.”

          Then the girls walked off.


Chapter 7: Suspects

 

       As they walked back to the arena, they talked about possible suspects.

          “Here are my three possible suspects: Lydia, Monique, and her husband,” Robyn said.

          “Monique and her husband?” Jenna asked. “Why?”

          “Because don’t you think it’s a little weird that Monique said she and her husband heard the exact same things we suspected?” asked Robyn. “I mean, think about it, we thought the thief might have used a trailer, Monique said she saw a trailer. And, when she said that her husband went outside see what was going on, he could have really been making sure that Crystal was stolen. Or, Monique could have been making it all up, to cover up what she and her husband did.”

          “Wait a minute, Robyn. That woman was nice enough to help us, and you’re thinking she did it?” Jenna asked, shaking her head.

          Robyn shrugged. “When you’re trying to solve a mystery, you have to consider all of the possible suspects, because if you don’t, the very person you don’t think did it was behind it all.”

          Jenna sighed. “I suppose you’re right.”


Chapter 8: Found!

 

       Just as they reached the Center, Robyn stopped dead in her tracks. “Wait,” she said. “I think I know where Crystal is!” She looked at Jenna. “But,” she said, “we’ll have to go on foot.”

          “Where?” cried Jenna. “Where is she?”

          Robyn shook her head. “I can’t tell you. Somebody might be listening. Just follow me.”

          They walked out by the small field by the Alamo.

          They crept through the woods for a while, and then turned left, where the old yellow shed that had a red roof was. Then, they went along the side and peeked into the door. Sure enough, there was Crystal.

          “Shhh,” Robyn whispered to Jenna. “We have to get back to the arena fast and tell Ms. Heather and Ms. Denise.”

          Jenna didn’t say anything, just nodded, and they quickly left that patch of woods before they heard the footsteps.

          When they heard them, they just looked at each other and bolted toward the ring.

          But, just like before, when they got to the arena and looked behind themselves, whoever was following them had vanished.

          “Ms. Heather! Ms. Denise! We found Crystal!” they cried.

          “What? Where?” they asked.

          Robyn told them, and she said, “Now let’s set a trap. I know exactly when they’re going to come. We just have to call the police and wait.”

 

Chapter 9: The Trap

 

       So, that night, as soon as it got dark, Robyn, Jenna, Ms. Heather, and Ms. Denise along with two police officers, Officer Moore and Captain Smith, laid in the woods in wait for the thief.

          “I hope we-” Robyn began, but Jenna clapped her hand over Robyn’s mouth.

          Just then, footsteps were heard, and then they saw the beam of a flash light.

          “Shhh, come here Crystal, come here you good girl,” a voice crooned.

          “Hold it, right there,” commanded Officer Moore. “Put your hands in the air!”

          When Captain Smith shone his flash light over the figure, he found there was not one person, but two, and they were both in black clothing with black masks along with boots. The only thing you could see of them was their eyes. Robyn and Jenna bravely walked up to the two figures and yanked their masks off. One person was Monique, the other, they decided, was her husband.

          “So, Monique, you and your husband made another robbery attempt,” said Captain Smith.

          “Wait a minute,” said Ms. Denise. “You know her?”

          Both Captain Smith and Officer Moore nodded. “These two are wanted criminals,” Captain Smith replied.

          “And we would’ve gotten away with it, too, but you meddling kids got in our way!” Monique said, glaring at Robyn and Jenna.

          “But why?” Jenna asked. “Why did you take Crystal?”

          “Because,” Monique’s husband growled, “my brother used to own Crystal, and he wanted her back. We knew you wouldn’t give her back,” he continued, looking at Ms. Denise, “and the only other way to get her was to steal her!”

          “Alright, Rob, that’s enough,” Captain Smith said. He turned to Officer Moore. “Escort these two to the squad car, please.”

          He turned to Robyn and Jenna. “Thank you,” he said, “for helping us catch these two robbers!”