Trixie Belden® is the registered trademark of Random House. This story is not for profit.
This story is based on the
events that occur in #39 The Mystery of the Galloping Ghost. Some
facts have been changed to fit in with my universe, but most of it is the same.
Passages from the book have been used without permission and not all the events
from the book have been included. My apologies to the people who have not
read #39 for ruining the mystery and not including all the details, but this is
really Honey and Pat's story and I wanted you to get to know him a little
Honey stared absently out the window at yet another
lake as the rented car made its way towards Maple Lake at the hands of Bill
Regan. Trixie sat beside her, also staring out the window at the scenery.
Both girls were silent at the request of Regan, who hated driving but they also
had other things on their mind.
Honey rested her head against the cool glass and
thought back to the conversation she had had with Brian a few weeks ago.
"It's such a great opportunity for Jim and I,"
Brian cried enthusiastically. "Freshman rarely get offered vacation
employment and you know how much I need the money."
"That's great Brian," Honey tried to match his
enthusiasm but knew she was failing miserably. "So you won't be home at
all over the summer break?"
"We may be able to make it home for the occasional
weekend," Brian told her. "I know you're disappointed and I'm sorry I'm
not going to be able to spend the summer with you, but we'll never get this
"It's a wonderful opportunity for you," Honey
mumbled. "I'm so proud of you. We'll have other summers together, it
will be okay."
"I knew you'd understand," Brian cried in relief.
"That's my Honey girl!"
Honey gritted her teeth to stop the tears that
threatened to fall again. Trixie, too, had been disappointed that Jim
wasn't coming home for the summer holidays, but her relationship with Jim was
still intangible and she couldn't understand how keenly Honey felt the
It's almost like he didn't want to be with me,
Honey thought miserably. He didn't sound that disappointed that we
couldn't be together.
Mart and Dan had gotten summer jobs as well as camp
counselors upstate. It was the last year they would be working as
counselors. In the fall, they would be seniors and they both needed the
money to put towards their college funds.
Even Di was away; gone on another trip with her
parents and twin brothers and sisters. Honey and Trixie had been faced
with their first lonely summer that held no hint of excitement and had jumped at
the chance to fly with Regan in the Wheeler's company plane to Minnesota.
"Are we almost there?" Trixie asked, breaking into
Regan straightened his shoulders and, with an effort,
relaxed his grip on the steering wheel. "We must be getting pretty close,"
he said, sounding eager for the car trip to end.
Honey looked down at the instruction the Murrows had
sent. "There's our exit!"
Regan sighed with relief and turned off the highway
onto a two-lane blacktop road line with towering maple trees. "This must
be so pretty in the fall, when the leaves change," Trixie said.
"Oh, yes. We'll have to come back to see!" Honey
said with a forced laugh.
came to a sign that said FAIRHAVEN RANCH, and they turned onto a long gravel
It was another
quarter of a mile before they came to a clearing that held the house, the
stable, and the corral, as well as the many other outbuildings that occupy a
horse ranch. Regan parked the car at the edge of the clearing, where it would
be out of the way — and out of his thoughts for the next two weeks.
A dog had
begun barking as soon as the car stopped. Now it came toward them, a large
golden retriever, barking and wagging its tail at the same time.
Behind the dog
came a tall, slender man who looked around fifty. His face was tanned under his
straw cowboy hat, and his neck was burned red under the open collar of his blue
workshirt. "That dog's bite is a lot worse than his bark," the man teased. "You
girls don't have to worry, though. Not enough meat on your skinny little bones
for him to bother with." He winked at the girls, and held out a large, calloused
hand to Regan. "I'm Bill Murrow," he said.
introduced himself and the girls. In response to their host's inquiry about the
trip, Regan could only say, "I'd rather have come on horseback."
gave the red-haired young man a knowing look. "You like your horses one at time,
under a saddle, instead of a hundred at a time under a hood, right? Same here.
Come on up to the house. I’ll give you a cup of my wife’s strong coffee. It’ll
make you so nervous, you'll forget all about the drive!"
already giggling, looked at Honey, who rolled her eyes. They followed Bill
Murrow and Regan into the house where they met Bill's wife.
Murrow was just as calm and low-key as her husband was high-spirited. She
quickly took charge of getting settled in. For the girls, there was a small but
comfortable twin-bedded room that had belonged to her daughter, now grown and
married. To Regan, she said, "You have a choice of the guest room here, or the
living quarters above the stable, which you'd share with Pat."
quickly—and predictably opted for the room above the stable, Honey asked, "Is
Pat your hired hand?"
replied. "He's slave labor."
Mrs Murrow exclaimed in a scandalized tone. Turning to the girls, she said,
"He's our son. And if he's a slave, it's to his passion for horses. Why, the
day he turned sixteen, he announced that he was moving into the apartment he'd
fixed up over the stable. Since then, I can’t even drag him into the house,
except for meals.” As if suddenly remembering the subject of meals, Charlene
began bustling about the kitchen.
and Bill left for the stable, and Trixie and Honey went to their room to unpack.
"That Bill is certainly a character, isn't he?" Trixie said in a low voice.
a smile coming to her face as she remembered his antics. "Mrs Murrow is, too, in
her own way. She pretends to be shocked by Bill, but I think she's just playing
"I can hardly
wait to see what Pat is like," Trixie said.
attached to his horses, he probably looks like one – buck teeth, bulging brown
eyes, and one lock of hair hanging down over his forehead."
description of a horselike human made Trixie picture a humanlike horse seated at
the Murrows' big kitchen table. She began to giggle. In a moment, Honey had
caught the giggling fit, and both girls were lying on their beds, holding their
"Oh, how are
we going to face Pat Murrow now?" Trixie wailed.
As soon as
they calmed down, they went to the kitchen and offered to help Mrs Murrow
prepare supper. She put them to work peeling carrots and washing celery, slicing
homemade bread, and setting the table. An hour went by quickly and wonderful
aromas filled the air.
stepped out onto the screened back porch and rang an old-fashioned dinner bell.
Trixie and Honey exchanged amused looks, but didn't dare whisper Pat Murrow's
name, for fear of setting off another giggling attack.
the girls heard the sound of heavy boots on the porch. The door opened and Regan
stepped inside, followed by Bill Murrow, who guided his guest down the hall to
show him where to wash up. The last person inside was a tall, slender teenager,
too muscular to be called thin. He had high cheekbones and a long, straight
nose. He did, indeed, have large brown eyes and a lock of brown hair that
strayed across his forehead, but the effect was far from horselike.
"Pat, this is
Trixie Belden," Mrs Murrow said.
Trixie said with a warm smile.
was just a nod.
“And this is
Matt Wheeler's daughter, Honey,” Mrs Murrow concluded.
eyes fixed on Pat, stepped forward and held out her hand. Pat stared at
her, but made no immediate attempt to take the hand. After an awkward pause,
Honey dropped her hand—just as Pat offered his. Realizing he was too late, Pat
dropped his hand—just as Honey raised hers. Honey shrugged helplessly and
giggled. Pat turned and headed down the hall to the bathroom.
felt flushed and she knew she was blushing. She looked around quickly to
see if anyone had noticed and saw Trixie staring curiously at her.
The incident was
pushed aside, however, as Mrs Murrow assigned everyone to a place at the table
and began serving heaping platters of food.
hoping to get the chance to talk to Pat
during dinner, but she didn't get a chance as Regan and the Murrows kept up a
running discussion of horses—their selection, breeding, training, and showing.
Honey pretended to listen intently, but she kept sneaking frequent looks at Pat,
unable to keep her eyes off him long. Pat seemed to concentrate only on his
plate, much to Honey's disappointment.
Mr Murrow, Regan and Pat went out onto the porch. Honey caught Pat looking back
at her as he slipped outside and she allowed herself a smile. He had felt
Honey helped Mrs Murrow do the dishes and clean the kitchen. They made an
efficient team and Honey was glad, eager to join the men outside.
still broad daylight!" Trixie exclaimed as they moved out onto the porch. “But
it must be 8 o'clock by now!
Pat shyly. He made no effort to talk to her and seemed to avoid looking at
Bill corrected after looking at his watch. "We get long summer days in this
part of the country because we're so far north. It won't be fully dark until 10
December, it will be dark from 5 P.M. to 7 A.M.," Charlene said.
"At least the
December cold kills the mosquitoes," Bill said, swatting one that had slipped
through the screen. "No deerflies to bite the horses, either. Why, it's a
paradise if you like twenty below!"
excuse me folks, I think it's time I turned in," Pat said eventually in a low
Regan said quickly. "I'll see you all in the morning."
Pat gave the
girls a nod and they watched as he and Regan would silently towards the stable.
Trixie turned towards Honey and yawned.
strange to go to bed while it's still light out, but that's what I'll have to
"You've had a
long, exciting day,' Mrs. Murrow said sympathetically. "You'll have two weeks of
long evenings to enjoy.”
agreed and went to their room. A few minutes
later, Trixie was pulling on her nightgown. “We didn't even get to see the
horses," she said with a yawn
time for that tomorrow,” Honey told her as she crawled into bed. Her
thoughts were filled with Pat and that confused her.
haven't felt like this since I first met Brian! Honey thought to
herself, remembering as a twelve year old running down to Crabapple Ranch and
seeing Brian for the first time.
Honey thought in dismay. Why am I even looking at another guy when I
have a boyfriend? A boyfriend that's thousands of miles away and didn't
want to come home and spend the summer with you.
restlessly in her bed. Surely, there's no harm at looking at another
guy, she told herself. I mean, can I help it if he looks back at me
and that just the feel of his eyes on me makes me blush?
inwardly and tried to imagine Brian's smile, the feeling of being in his arms
and his kisses on her mouth. But for some reason, Brian's face kept
turning into Pat's and Honey found herself growing very warm.
look," Trixie said softly, interrupting her thoughts.
Honey got up,
and shuffled over to the window. "Look at what?" she asked as she
stared out, hoping Trixie wouldn't notice her flushed face.
Trixie said, pointing out the window, but there was no one in sight.
“What am I
supposed to be looking at?” Honey asked.
a horseman,” Trixie said, still pointing out the window. “Where could he have
home to bed.” Honey headed back to her own bed.
Trixie demanded. “One minute he was there, and the next minute he wasn’t. And
he looked so sad and lonely – and mysterious.”
"Mysterious?" Honey repeated. She had so much on her mind, she didn't think she
could cope with a mystery right now. "Oh, Trixie, I'm sorry, but I'm just
too beat to think about mysteries tonight. Maybe in the morning we can try to
find the ghost's footprints. I mean hoofprints. I mean the ghost's horse's
footprints. Oh, you know what I mean. Good night."
over and pulled the blanket close around her, as if to ward off further
conversation. Trixie stared at her for a moment, curious about her strange
behavior Wearily, she got into bed but not before she glanced one
more time out of the window.
Charlene couldn't help
noticing her son's appearance when he came in for breakfast the next morning.
His riding boots were polished, his shirt tucked neatly into his jeans, his hair
brushed carefully and his fingernails scrubbed until they were clean. She
hid a smile and refrained from commenting on his appearance.
Finally, he's found something
other than a horse to hold his attention.
"Take a seat son," she
murmured as he looked up towards the stairs. "The girls' will be down in a
moment. Did you sleep well Regan?"
"I slept fine thank you
Ma'am," Regan replied.
"Come now Regan," she scolded
him. "Please call me Charlene."
Regan reddened and nodded,
sitting down at the table next to Pat. He looked up in relief as the girls
came down the stairs and joined them at the table.
Pat stared at Honey for a
moment. Her damp hair hung loosely over her shoulders and caught the
morning sunlight. She looks like an angel! He thought in
amazement. Honey's eyes met his and he looked quickly away, unnerved by
the way his body responded to her casual glance.
"Will we be
going out to the stable?" Honey asked. "I really want to see your horses, and
see how you work with them." Her glance went from Bill to Pat as she spoke, and
she ended her question looking the young man squarely in the eye.
"You can if
you want," Pat Murrow said. Then he lowered his head and concentrate on his
blueberry pancakes as if they might jump off his plate if not watched closely.
cheeks took on a delicate pink color. Quickly sizing up the exchange, Bill
Murrow winked at Honey and said, "Long-winded rascal, isn't he? Of course, you
can come out to the stable."
let you stay away if you wanted to," Regan added. "Observing the Murrows'
training techniques is what we're here for— remember?" He drawled the last word
teasingly, and Honey's blush deepened. Were
others already aware of how he made me feel?
breakfast, everyone but Mrs. Murrow trooped out to the stable. The building was
old and weather-beaten, but it was kept carefully painted
and immaculately clean. Bill led Trixie and Honey down the line of stalls,
introducing the girls to each of the horses. All were Arabians, with the
delicate, intelligent faces that are a sign of that breed. Some of
the horses stretched out their necks to be patted.
Others backed far away in their stalls, raising their heads out of reach and
rolling their eyes until the whites showed.
all got minds of their own," Bill observed. "That's what I love about 'em.
That's the challenge of training 'em."
"Can we see
how you do it?" Honey asked.
response, Bill nodded toward the first stall. Pat Murrow was leading out a
fiery, fine-boned black stallion. "That's Al-Adeen," Bill said, a note of pride
in his voice. "He's the horse I've been waiting for my whole life—I hope."
Without further explanation, he went outside as Pat and Regan led the horse into
the corral. The girls followed them.
halter with a long rope attached to it, Pat lunged the horse, guiding him as he
galloped in wide, smooth circles around the corral. The technique would get the
horse accustomed to human control, Honey knew, for she’d watched Regan work
with the Wheelers' horses. Pat obviously had lots of patience. His eyes never
left the horse, and he kept up a constant stream of calm, quiet reassurance. He
used a flexible rod called a "lunging whip" to correct the horse's pattern,
always with a smooth, gentle touch.
watched Pat work, spellbound. She almost envied the attention the horse
received and wondered what it would feel like to be the center of his attention,
to have him concentrate on her the way he concentrated on Al-Adeen.
finished, Gus, the hired hand, took the reins and led the stallion away for
grooming, while Pat began working with a trim little filly. The girls watched in silence as Pat worked with the filly,
riding her around the corral, taking her from a walk to a high-stepping trot to
an easy canter. As with Al-Adeen, Pat's gentleness and patience were apparent.
with total concentration, undistracted by the fact that everyone was staring at
him. Even Regan, the dedicated horseman, seemed content to be a spectator. He
leaned against the rail of the corral, a small, appreciative smile on his face.
beautiful to watch, isn't it?" Charlene Murrow had strolled over to the corral
and standing right behind the girls.
was even more impressive, if that’s possible,” Trixie said.
possible alright,” Mrs Murrow replied. “Bill and Pat have worked a lot of
miracles with mediocre horses. But this time, the horse is the miracle. We
saved for years to buy him. If we can show him well enough to attract some
attention, and breed him to some good mares, we may finally start getting ahead
in this business. You know,” she said, lowering her voice to keep from being
overheard, “sometimes I actually have nightmares about something happening to
will happen,” Honey said firmly. “You’ve worked long and hard, and now you’re
entitled to some good luck.”
Murrow’s worried look only deepened. Without saying another word, she turned
and walked quickly back into the house.
Trixie looked towards Honey and saw the real cause of Mrs Murrow’s abrupt
departure: a shiny red pickup truck with oversized tires and fancy wheel covers
had just pulled into the driveway.
followed Trixie’s gaze, and both girls watched as the truck’s door opened and
the driver stepped out. The man was wearing an outfit that went perfectly with
his truck - cowboy boots, stiff-looking jeans, a red shirt with pearl buttons,
bolo tie, and a black felt cowboy hat with a feathered hatband. He stood for a
moment as if waiting for everyone to admire him, then began walking toward the
dismounted from the filly and led her off into the barn without saying a word.
His departure seemed a little less abrupt than his mother's, but Trixie had a
feeling it was just as pointed. Bill Murrow stayed behind, leaning casually
against the rail of the corral.
Bill," the man called cheerfully, proving that he was not a stranger, after all.
It was an unusually brief answer for the usually talkative man.
reached the corral and put one shiny boot on the bottom rail while leaning his
forearms on the top one. Bill remained with his back to the corral, so that the
two men were standing side by side but facing opposite directions.
given any more thought to talk?" Burke asked.
you know I don't think much" Bill said. "It makes my head tired, and I ha a
feeling it probably causes baldness."
words were his usual teasing nonsense but from the tone of his voice and the
look on his face, Trixie had no desire to laugh.
a young man with a smooth face looked flustered. "Well, I think it's worth
thinking about," he said.
doubt, no doubt," Bill replied. "But if I start thinkin' about one thing it'll
lead to another, and before you know it I'll be thinkin' all the time. Probably
be bald as an onion and running for Congress, eventually. So you see, it just
doesn't do to get started."
mean your answer is no?" Burke asked.
say I'm waitin' for a better class of question," Bill said. He tipped his hat
and walked into the barn.
Trixie and Honey a contemptuous look, then turned and stalked back to his truck.
He started it with a roar and drove out of the driveway in a cloud of dust.
in for lunch everybody," Bill told them in an absent tone and headed for the
disappeared into the stables and Honey looked as if she wished she could follow.
we should call Brian and Jim tonight," Trixie suggested slyly.
Honey asked in alarm.
grabbed her by the shoulders and whirled her to face her. "Did something
happen between you and Brian? Is there something you're not telling me?"
there isn't," Honey replied crossly, her face flushed.
can't you take your eyes off Pat?" Trixie demanded.
know," Honey mumbled miserably. "I was really hurt that Brian didn't want
to spend the summer with me. Pat looks at me as if I'm a woman, not just a
friend he's known most of his life."
and Brian are more than just friends," Trixie protested. "If Jim was my
boyfriend, I wouldn't be looking at another man."
"But if Jim
was your boyfriend, wouldn't you be upset that he'd chosen not to spend a summer
with you?" Honey cried. "You were upset when you found out he wasn't
her lip and lowered her eyes.
nothing wrong between Brian and I and there's nothing going on between Pat and
I," Honey told her firmly. "It's too expensive to make a call from here to
the boys and it would be rude to ask the Murrows. Let's just write to them
of the lunch bell eliminated further discussion and the two girls headed inside.
"How long have you worked for
Matt Wheeler?" Pat asked Regan that night after dinner when they had retired to
his room over the stables.
"Quite a few years now," Regan
replied. "I came to work for him when I wasn't much older than you."
"So you've known Honey and
Trixie for a long time then?"
"Not quite as long," Regan
smiled, wondering where this was heading. "Both girls were about twelve
when I moved out to Sleepyside to manage the stable at the Wheeler's new
property. I hadn't really known Honey before that, but I taught Trixie how
Pat nodded silently and looked
out the window.
"It must be nice having that
much money," he said finally.
"Trixie's family is no richer
than you are," Regan told him quickly. "And Honey's adopted brother lived
in poverty with a cruel step-father until the Wheelers adopted him. The
two of them, Trixie, her brothers and my nephew, Dan are all part of a club that
help raise money for the needy. They respect money and all of them work to
contribute, even Honey."
Pat looked surprised and Regan
laughed. "She's a great girl, no airs and graces with her, that's for
Pat did not reply and Regan
paused, wondering if he should mention Honey's relationship with Brian Belden.
Hell, it's not my place, he told himself. I've probably
said too much already, but who knows if those two are even still together.
Honey hasn't even mentioned his name since they left home.
"Let's call it a night, shall
we?" Regan asked finally.
Pat nodded and they switched
off the radio. Regan switched off the lights and they went to bed; Pat's
head full, for the second night in a row, of images of Honey.
"In bed by
10 o'clock and you can't wake up by 7!" Bill Murrow chided the girls when they
sat down at the breakfast table the next morning, they were blurry-eyed and
and Honey blushed and Pat watched them from the corner
of his eye.
be bored with Minnesota life already." At the girls' protests, he merely raised
a hand. "Don't try to argue. I know the symptoms, and you've both got 'em.
Fortunately, I also know the cure. About four hours bouncing around in the
saddle and you'll be as good as new."
ride!" Trixie exclaimed, suddenly wide-awake. "I'd love it!"
Honey agreed. "But you'd have to draw us a map. We don't know the trails around
do better than that. I’ll send a guide along." He stared across the table at his
son, who was busily eating.
There was a
long silence before Pat sensed that all eyes were upon him and looked up. "Who,
me?" he asked.
pushed back his chair and rose from the table. "Thanks for volunteering, son,"
he said, and strode out the door.
Pat broke off as he realized that his father couldn't hear his protests. "I
guess the horses need exercise, anyway," he said. "I can get them ready."
"Oh, let us
help, please," Honey said. Pat looked at the slender girl doubtfully.
back home is, 'No work, no ride '" Regan told Pat. "If you start spoiling them,
I’ll have a heck of a time when we get back."
request seemed to turn the tide "All right," Pat said. He pushed back his chair
walked to the door, and held it open for Trixie and Honey.
stable, Pat assigned the girls to two mares, Mur-Elda and Mur-Hadj. From the
prefixes, Honey knew that the horses had been raised on the Murrows' ranch. That
would account for the horses' sweet dispositions, although both had an Arabian
quite trust the girls' abilities with the horses. He bridled the two mares
himself, led them into the corral, and handed the girls brushes and currycombs.
When he came back with the blankets and saddles, he ran his hand along both
horses' backs, checking for signs of loose hair or dirt before he let the girls
proceed with saddling up.
As if we
didn't know that dirt under the blanket causes
saddle sores! Trixie thought resentfully as she settled the blanket on the
that he cares so much about the horses," Honey said, reading her friend's
thoughts. "He doesn't know how strict Regan has been with us."
so," Trixie said, feeling unconvinced.
reappeared from the stable leading a saddled and bridled Al-Adeen. He tied the
stallion to a fence post and came over to double-check the cinches. Finding no
fault with the girls' work, he let out a grunt that could have been either
surprise or approval, walked back to his own horse, and swung easily into the
surprised he didn't offer us a leg up," Trixie muttered as she mounted Mur-Hadj.
Honey gave her friend a pleading look.
all right," Trixie replied. "I won't make any trouble."
minute!" Mrs. Murrow called. She hurried toward them, holding a large paper bag
in one hand and a Thermos in the other She handed them up to Pat, saying, "I put
some cookies and a few apples and mixed up some lemonade."
be gone forever," Pat said, knowing his mom's mothering instincts all too well.
"Be sure to
stop and rest somewhere along the way," Mrs. Murrow told him. "The girls
probably aren't used to spending all day on a horse, the way you are."
very nice of you," Honey said.
stop him if he pushes too hard," was Mrs. Murrow's indirect reply.
them down the gravel drive and out along the shoulder of the blacktop road. He
set the pace at a sedate walk. At that leisurely pace, they were able to
relax and enjoy the view. The countryside was one of low, rolling hills.
Everything—trees, grass, crops—was the tender green of early summer. The sky was
cloudless and the sun was warm and gentle.
Burke Landing ran a gravel road. Pat led the girls along it, and soon they came
to a lake edged by a dirt path. They circled the lake, alternately trotting and
never turned around to look at the girls, but sometimes he turned his head to
the side, as if to check their progress by the sound of the horses' hooves.
straight, level stretch of ground he kicked his horse into a full gallop. Honey,
riding right behind him, hesitated for a second before following his lead. As
the path headed downhill, Pat reined Al-Adeen into a more manageable canter,
then down to a trot, and finally into a walk. After another few yards, he pulled
his horse off the path altogether and stopped at a picnic area.
the bag and the Thermos out of his saddlebag, walked to a picnic table, and
began to set out the food. Honey helped him pour the lemonade
into the paper cups his mother had provided, then sat
down across from him and gave him her most winning
smile. "This is a beautiful place. Do you come here often?" she asked.
while drinking his lemonade.
surprised that we didn't ride along the river," Honey said.
to go," Pat told her. "There's a forest on one side that's full of deerflies
this time of year. They'd drive the horses crazy. The other side of our ranch
is—is private land." He picked up an apple and began polishing it against his
like a construction site," said Honey. "What's being built there?"
nuisance," Pat Murrow said curtly.
minute!" Trixie exclaimed. "Wasn't Burke the man your father talked to
fixed her with such an angry look that Trixie felt her pulse quicken. "Sorry,"
she said, "just asking."
softened his gaze. "It wasn't your question," he admitted. "It's just that Burke
and his little project aren't big favorites of mine."
project must be Burke Landing" Honey guessed. "What is it?"
grimaced. "It's what they call a time-share resort complex," he said. "City
folks pay big money for the chance to spend two weeks every year out here with
Mother Nature. Only they do it in an apartment with all the modern conveniences.
The apartments are all stacked up in a bunch of big, ugly buildings."
at her and, for the first time, showed a glimmer of a smile. "I couldn't have
put it better myself," he said.
understand why you wouldn't want something like that right next door," Honey
said. "Isn't there anything you can do?"
told her. "Burke himself has given us the perfect solution. We just sell out to
him and go someplace where it's peaceful."
what he wanted your father to think about," Trixie surmised, remembering the
men's conversation at the corral. "But it doesn't sound like your father is
taking the offer very seriously."
not. It's our land," Pat retorted, as though those three words explained
everything. "My father was born here. His father brought an Arabian horse to the
ranch from he East before folks around here had even heard of such an animal.
Grandpa got thrown off that horse and broke his neck and died. My dad could have
shot it, but that wouldn't have proved anything. He trained it, instead. That
was his memorial to his father. So is the ranch." Pat's brown eyes flared with
girls' admiring looks, Pat suddenly turned cold again. "Besides, moving the
operation would set the horses back six months because they're so sensitive. It
would be crazy to do that when we're finally on the verge of making it big."
force you to sell, can he?" Honey asked.
snorted. "He would if he could. But he hasn't, so I guess he can't." For a
moment, his bantering tone made him sound just like his father. He gave Honey a
big smile that showed even, white teeth and made a dimple appear in his right
caught her breath as their eyes met, but Pat suddenly turned away.
we'd better head back," Pat said curtly. "I have some work to do with the other
horses this afternoon." He gathered up the food wrappers and empty cups, and
stuffed them into the saddlebag on Al-Adeen,
mounted their horses and finished their ride around the lake before heading back
towards the ranch. The sounds of construction
shattered the calm once again as they neared Burke Landing on their way home.
three young people came cantering into the ranch yard, they saw Regan and Bill
Murrow working with the young filly, while Gus watched. Pat dismounted and
handed the reins of his horse to the old man. "Would you show the girls where
the tack goes?" he asked as he went to join the two trainers.
"How do you
like that?" Trixie muttered. "Not even a goodbye."
not respond, but Trixie could see the hurt expression on her face and
immediately felt ashamed.
none of my business, she told herself. Honey's my best friend.
I know she wouldn't hurt Brian for the world.
looked back to where Pat was standing with Regan and Bill. She could see that he
was watching Honey out of the corner of his eye and realized that Brian had
never had competition like this before.
Returning from a late night
visit to Wilhelmina, the supernatural sleuth, the girls concentrated on finding
their way in the dark, talking little. The tension was their exchange the
day before had evaporated but neither of them were willing to broach the subject
again. Honey was just as confused about her own feelings as Trixie was by
her behavior and they seemed to have reached an unspoken agreement not to
discuss it any further.
approached the stable, they began overhearing a conversation. Two angry male
voices were coming from inside.
in a match and burn the whole place down, if you're so determined to destroy
it," one voice said.
do that and you know it," the other voice said.
looked questioningly at Honey, who only
shook her head. She wasn't sure whom , the voices belonged to, either. There
aren't too many choices, Trixie realized. Regan was unlikely to get into an
argument with any of his hosts. Gus's accent would surely be recognizable. It
must be Pat and Bill, she concluded.
Fairhaven Ranch would destroy it," the first voice said.
just a bunch of buildings standing on a plot of land. Wood and dirt, that's all.
We can find those somewhere else," the second voice retorted.
wouldn't be the same."
would be better. You're still young and romantic. You think nothing bad has ever
happened here, and nothing bad ever will. But that isn't so. There'll always be
problems here, just like anyplace."
both born here!"
mean we both have to die here?"
There was a
long pause as the other speaker retrained from answering the unanswerable
question. Finally, the questioner continued in a softer, less angry voice.
"Look, I'm not talking about drawing up final papers tomorrow.
want to see how much money Burke has to offer. If it
isn't plenty, I'll turn him down "
him, then. It's your place. Nobodv can stop you." There was a sound of boots
stomping up stairs and a door slammed. Pat Murrow had obviously concluded the
conversation with his father.
suddenly realized that they'd been eavesdropping. And now, they were in danger
of having Bill Murrow catch them at it. With one accord, they roused themselves,
rounded the corner of the stable—and almost collided with Gus, who was rounding
the same corner from the opposite direction.
The old man
looked sad, his cheeks sunken and his mouth turned down. Without a word to the
girls, he hurried off.
have overheard the fight, too," Trixie said.
Honey said. "Bill and Pat must be almost like a son and grandson to him."
"It must be
painful for him to hear Bill talk about selling," Trixie said. "He's been
working on this ranch for over fifty years."
who's upset. Yet Bill's been here a lot longer than Pat," Honey pointed out.
Bill doesn't have to worry about being left behind if
the ranch gets moved," Trixie said.
exclaimed, suddenly seeing her friend's point, "Poor Gus!"
better hurry up and get inside before anybody catches us out here, or it will be
poor us," Trixie said grimly. The two girls walked quickly to the house.
Much to Honey's
disappointment, Pat wasn't at breakfast the next morning having gone riding with
Regan. Bill set them to work after breakfast and a string of weird
occurrences involving missing equipment from the stable and a picture falling
off the wall, broke the tension between father and son.
The arrival of Jon Burke did
not worsen the situation, and Honey and Trixie watched in interest as the
Murrows spoke amicably with the property developer. They
noticed, however, that when Burke held out his hand to say goodbye, all of the
Morrows pretended not to see it.
at supper, Bill said, "Well Miss Wheeler, by the time you leave, I may have good
news for you to take to your father "
that?" Honey asked.
me if I could board and train some horses for him. I said no, because I didn't
have room. But it may be that we'll be moving to larger quarters."
couldn't help but look at Pat. His face was expressionless. He's doing his best
to go along with this, Honey thought.
for sure yet," Bill added. "It all depends on what kind of offer we get from our
neighbor to the south. We aren't about to be run off our land, but we aren't
going to turn down a good opportunity, either."
would be delighted if you could work with some of his horses," Honey said
dad have Arabians?" Pat asked.
mostly Thoroughbreds," Honey replied.
Thoroughbreds have a lot of Arabian blood in them. The temperaments are similar
enough that we should be able to work with," Pat said confidently.
“Oh, I know
you could," Honey said eagerly. "Of course, after
what I've seen the past few days. I might just try to talk him into buying some
Arabians." She smiled at Pat and, astonishingly, he smiled back.
dinner, Pat did not disappear as he normally did, but sat out on the porch in
the twilight with Trixie and Honey, readily engaging in conversation.
Trixie watched the exchange between Honey and Pat cautiously. The shyness
and blushing had disappeared and they now seemed comfortable with each other.
Trixie was relieved to see that Honey had returned to her normal behavior.
instead of falling asleep as soon as they went to bed,
they sat up talking in their room.
what I think?” Honey said, out of the blue.
that?" Trixie asked.
this whole incident made Pat realize that he was just too wrapped up in the
ranch. The mere thought that a sale might come between him and his father made
him wake up. I think he knows he has to start paying some attention to the
people in his life " Honey's voice was soft and dreamy.
want to be one of those people? Trixie almost asked, but she left the
question unasked not wanting to upset her friend again.
dawn, Trixie fell into her deepest sleep of the night—one from which she was
awakened by shouting. She sat up, blinked in the early morning light, and tried
to make sense of what she'd heard. In the other bed, Honey seemed to be doing
Most of the
shouting was coming from Pat Murrow. Trixie could hear only the loudest words in
each sentence: ". . - he was gone ... of course, it was locked... - kicked it
right down. . . . one powerful stallion.”
Trixie exclaimed, jumping out of bed and pulling open the dresser drawer with
one motion. "Al-Adeen must have broken loose!"
dressed as fast as they could. Charging into the hallway, they almost collided
with Bill Murrow, who was rolling up his shirt sleeves as he came out of the
bedroom. Out in the kitchen, the bacon was just beginning to sizzle in the pan.
Charlene stood frozen, still in her robe, holding the spatula. Pat and Regan,
fully dressed right down to hats and gloves, were standing in the doorway. They
had either been out looking for the stallion, or they were ready to go.
past them and threw open the door. "Everybody takes a horse," he called over his
shoulder. "We'll split into teams and search this whole plague-ridden county, if
we have to."
Regan, Trixie and Honey hurried after Bill. In the stable, they quickly bridled
and saddled their horses. Before they were finished, Charlene had joined them,
dressed in jeans and riding boots. From the way she slung the blanket and
saddle on the horse, Honey realized
that her role around the horses wasn't just as a
quickly divided into teams—Bill and Charlene, Pat and Honey, Trixie and Regan.
Pat waited impatiently for Honey to mount her horse and then he took off,
leaving Honey to follow him. Honey's horse had no problems keeping up with
Pat, and her eyes scoured their surroundings for any sign of the stallion.
after what seemed like hours, Pat pulled his horse to a stop and Honey came up
use," he panted, offering Honey his water bottle. "He's gone. He
couldn't have gotten this far."
accepted the bottle gratefully and took a quick mouthful. "Let's not give
up yet. What if we take one of those trails through the woods and see if
he's lost in there?"
grimly and Honey shot him a sympathetic smile. This horse was his life and
she knew that it was all he could think about at the moment. She passed
the water bottle back to him.
ready," she told him. "Let's go."
smiled, grateful for her perseverance, and with a quick click of his heels,
prompted his horse into a trot and Honey followed suit.
let us find him, she pleaded silently. I can't bear to see him like
was serving breakfast Honey and Pat finally came in. They both looked pale,
exhausted, and depressed Charlene immediately began clucking over them like a
mother hen, giving each a cup of steaming coffee laced with milk and putting
that morning's third batch of bacon on to fry.
The way Bill asked, it was more of a statement than a question.
his head. "I would have given up a long time ago, but Honey wanted to keep
going." There was a note of admiration in his voice.
wanted to make sure we'd covered everything," Honey said.
all you could," Pat told her, his voice full of emotion.
smiled at Pat, pleased with his praise.
breakfast, we'll drive around and alert the neighbors," Bill said to Pat. ' the
horse will turn up in a nearby when he gets tired of foraging for himself.
That's about all we can do."
insured?" Trixie asked timidly.
shrugged. "He's insured for what he cost, but not for what he's worth. There's
only Pat's and my word for that, anyway. Insurance companies are pretty wary of
inflated claims from down-and-out horse ranchers."
down and out!" Pat protested.
down," Bill said firmly. "We're not quite out — not if Al-Adeen shows up in the
next couple of days. After that — Well, Fair-haven is going to be a ghost ranch,
one way or the other."
As usual, it took inspiration,
hard work and good luck for Trixie and Honey to find Al-Adeen, who had been
stolen by Jon Burke in an attempt to ruin the Murrow's ranch. They were
spotted by Burke when they attempted to free Al-Adeen from the trailer, and ran
to get help, knowing they were no match for Burke. Both girls had fallen
in the river in the process and were lucky to escape with their lives.
They had sent Wilhelmina for help and returned to the trailer to try and save
got back to the trailer, there no sign of Burke. Nor were there any sound from
inside the trailer. Trixie saw the fear begin to grow on Honey's face.
Burke might have taken the stallion out of the trailer already. The horse's
body, throat cut or shot in the head, might be floating down the river.
attention was captured by a low noise in the woods. The noise grew louder, and
finally its source came into view: Burke's pickup truck was slowly heading their
way. Trixie and Honey watched it with growing hope. If Burke had gone for his
truck after they'd fallen in the river, he probably hadn't had time to harm Al-Adeen.
backed the truck up to the trailer, got out, and began hitching the two vehicles
tried frantically to think of a plan. The best she could come up with was
following the trailer, but she doubted it would do much good.
have to think any further. Hearing the rumble of hoofbeats behind her, she
turned and saw Pat, Began, Bill, and Charlene galloping toward her.
them, too. He looked frantically from the trailer to his truck, as if trying to
decide whether to escape with one or both. He finally chose to make a run for
But it was
too late. Pat Murrow had already swung down off his horse and gone after Burke.
He caught the man easily and forced him to the ground.
Honey shouted, "Make him give you the key to the trailer!"
over to help. The two men forced Burke to hand over the key, then they pulled
him to his feet. Regan held Burke, one arm twisted behind his back, while Pat
ran back to the trailer.
the door and went inside. Trixie, Honey, Charlene, and Bill waited, hearts
stretched on for so long that Honey had begun to suspect the worst. Then she
heard the sound of hooves, and Pat led Al-Adeen out into the open. Pat was
wiping the sleeve of his shirt across his eyes, and Honey realized that it was
his own emotions, not Al-Adeen's condition, that had caused the long wait.
and Bill ran to Al-Adeen and began stroking the stallion's neck.
"Is he all
right?" Regan called, still maintaining a firm hold on Burke.
fine," Charlene said.
the horse with his parents and strode over to Honey, who was shivering. He took
off his jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders. "Are you all right?" he
murmured, his arm not leaving her shoulders.
smiled up at him. "I'm just fine," she said and shivered, not from the cold but
from the warmth of his touch.
series of noises broke the stillness of the woods. Trixie turned and saw
Wilhelmina James hurrying toward her. Left behind by the riders, Wilhelmina had
followed on foot. Her glasses had fallen off, and she was squinting as she tried
to make out the scene in front of her. Since Trixie was the closest to the edge
of the woods, Wilhelmina approached her first. She thrust her face up to
Trixie's and asked, "Are you all right?"
tried not to laugh. She knew that she owed her safety—and Al-Adeen's—to
Wilhelmina. But she couldn't help it. "I'm just fine," was all she could manage
to say before the giggles overtook her.
Regan bundled Burke into his pickup, wedging the developer between them on the
taking him to the sheriff?" Trixie asked. "I want to go along. I can explain
certainly will explain everything," Charlene Murrow said in an unusually sharp
tone. "First thing tomorrow morning. Right now, you're going home to bed." She
took Trixie by the arm and led her to the horse that Regan had been riding.
his horse and pulled Honey up to sit behind him. Her head rested sleepily
on his back as they rode gently back to the ranch.
"How can I
ever thank you for what you two did tonight?" Pat asked her.
solved the mystery," Honey told him. "As usual, I was just along for the
could have been drowned in that river," Pat cried and his voice dropped to a
murmur. "To think that I might have lost both of you..."
couldn't remember replying, she barely remembered Charlene helping her down from
the horse and upstairs to her room. She and Trixie undressed sleepily and
fell into bed, soon slipping into an exhausted sleep.
morning, Trixie still felt a little dazed. She kept drifting in and out of
sleep, sensing that there were reasons to be up and questions to be answered,
but too cozy and content to move. At last, with bright sunlight coming through
the window, she forced herself to sit up in bed and stretch.
"Is it time
to get up?" Honey mumbled. She rolled over and watched in amazement as her
friend suddenly leaped out of bed.
I'd forgotten all about Al-Adeen and Pat and—and everything," Trixie said. "Come
on—we've got to find out what happened."
rubbed the last traces of sleeping from her eyes and jumped out of bed.
In minutes, the girls were dressed and heading down the hall.
expected to find the kitchen deserted at that late-morning hour, but there was a
full crowd around the table: Regan, Pat, Bill, Charlene—and Wilhelmina James!
Conversation ceased as the two girls entered the room. Pat jumped to his feet
and hurriedly pulled out the vacant chair between him and Wilhelmina. There was
no mistaking whom the invitation was for.
happily took her place next to Pat. Then she asked Wilhelmina, "Have you been
here all night?"
Wilhelmina said. "That is, I was out in the woods for most of the night. Then,
early this morning, I went back to my room in town for a brief nap. I must admit
I couldn't sleep, however. The Murrows had told me that I might check in on you
girls in the morning. So here I am."
bounced on her tiptoes, too excited to sit down. "What happened to Burke? Is he
in jail? Did he confess? Is Al-Adeen back? Is he okav?"
raised his hands, pretending to snatch the imaginary questions out of the air as
they sailed past his head.
giggled at the pantomime. She plunked herself down in a chair and said, "All
right, all right. Just tell me what happened last night."
, . . last night," Bill said musingly, as though he couldn't think of anything
interesting to tell. Seeing that both girls were about to burst from curiosity,
he relented. "Well, we took Burke off to jail, where he stayed till first thing
this morning. Then he got out on bail."
bail!" Trixie protested.
nodded, making a disgusted face. "Apparently, horse-thieving isn't the crime it
the horse is back home, safe and sound," Charlene said.
okay?" Honey asked Pat.
said, looking serious. Then he broke into a wide grin. "He's absolutely
terrific—just the way he always was!"
the bail fool you," Regan added-
stole an extremely valuable piece of property, and the law will see that he's
punished for it."
for Burke Landing," Pat said happily.
the work just stop?" Trixie asked, remembering the huge shell of the first
building and the foundations that had been dug for the others.
unless someone wants to buy the land from Burke and pick up where he left off,"
that happens, we may be able to buy that land ourselves," Bill said. "We could
tear down Burke's Tinkertoys and let the prairie take the land back."
something to shoot for!" Pat exclaimed.
nodded. "It's not so unbelievable, either, now that your girlfriends got our
horse back for us."
screwed her nose up in response to Bill's remark, while both Honey and Pat
blushed and looked down at their plates.
teasing them Bill," Charlene scolded him. "Let's just be grateful that
we've got Al-Adeen back, the girls are safe and we can look forward to a bright
here," Regan cried and raised his coffee in a toast. The others joined in.
and Trixie!" Pat cried.
everyone!" Bill shouted.
On their final night at
Fairhaven Ranch, the Murrows held a special dinner for Trixie, Honey and Regan
and Charlene even set the formal dining table for them to eat at.
Trixie and Honey dressed in
the only nice dresses they had bought with them and even Regan managed to dress
a little more formally in pants and an open neck shirt.
"I wonder if Regan even owns a
tie," Trixie giggled under her breath to Honey as they sat down at dinner.
Pat entered shortly afterwards
with his father, and Honey swallowed nervously as she looked at Pat. He
wore a white shirt and olive pants and she could even smell a hint of cologne as
he moved past her and sat down opposite her.
"Are you sure we can't help
you Mrs Murrow?" Trixie called to Charlene.
"Stay right there," Charlene
told her in a firm tone. "You're our guests and everything is almost
Everything was almost done.
Charlene brought in steaming platters of meat and vegetables and sat down with
them to enjoy the meal.
It was a happy occasion.
The Murrows had been able to buy Burke's land and were planning on extending
their ranch. Bill had already made arrangements with Regan to stable and
train some horses for Mr Wheeler, and the had received inquiries from several
studs interested in engaging Al-Adeen's services. The future certainly
looked bright for the Murrows and Fairhaven Ranch.
dinner, Pat invited Honey out to the stables to farewell Al-Adeen. Honey
accepted shyly and they slipped out into the twilight, walking slowly side by
great having you here," Pat said softly. "I guess you must be looking
forward to going home and seeing your friends and family."
really," Honey admitted slowly. "My family and my friends are all away at
the moment. It's pretty much the reason why Trixie and I came here with
you did," Pat smiled at her. "You certainly made life around here much
Trixie for you," Honey laughed. "Wherever, she goes, trouble follows."
reached Al-Adeen's stable and Honey reached over to rub his nose.
to miss you, big guy," Honey murmured, conscious of Pat's body very close to
to miss you too," Pat told her. "And he's not the only one."
turned to face Pat.
"You know, I've never been able to talk
to anyone the way I can talk to you," Pat murmured earnestly, his eyes locking
on to hers.
"I like listening to you," Honey
admitted shyly. She could feel her body growing warm, her heart racing.
No one but Brian had ever made her feel this way.
"You're one of the few people who does,"
Pat told me. "You don't have to talk all the time. You're happy to
listen to what others have to say. I've never met anyone like you Honey."
"I... uh..." She stammered.
Almost in slow motion, Pat's hand moved
to slowly brush her face and Honey closed her eyes in response. She knew,
she could feel his face moving towards her and suddenly his lips were on hers
and he was kissing her so gently and so softly, and the warmth spilled through
couldn't help but murmur and her lips parted and their tongues met slowly,
gently teasing each other. He drew her into his arms and she was powerless
to stop herself from responding to him. All thoughts of Brian and her
confusion over his decision not to return home over the summer, were driven from
"Honey, you're so sweet, so
beautiful," Pat murmured, kissing her face. "You've opened my eyes to so
"Oh, Pat," Honey moaned,
luxuriating in the feeling of being held, being kissed, being wanted.
They kissed again, long and
lingering, tongues dancing slowly. Honey felt her knees weaken. All
she wanted to do was lie down with him, to be held in his arms, to be loved.
Regan stood in the doorway of
the stables, uncertain of whether to make his presence known. The kiss
continued and he became convinced it was no accident. Finally, he coughed
loud enough to let them know he was there.
Honey and Pat froze for a
second and then turned to find Regan staring at his boots.
"Regan, I - " Honey began in
alarm, pulling away from Pat.
"I think it's time we called
it a night, don't you?" Regan muttered. "We have to leave early in the
With that, he turned and went
up the stairs to his room above the stables.
"Honey..." Pat began, but
Honey hurried out of the stable and into fading light of the night.
Pat stood helplessly, watching
her disappear into the house. The moment was gone, but he would fight to
hang on to it.
"Have a safe trip," Charlene
cried, hugging both girls. "Thank you for everything."
Bill shook hands heartily with
both the girls and Regan, as Pat stood silently by, his eyes fixed on Honey.
"Goodbye Pat," Regan said
gruffly. "Thanks for letting me bunk with you."
Pat grunted a reply and the
two men shook hands. It was Trixie's turn to say goodbye and she offered
her hand, which he accepted and shook quickly.
"Thanks for finding Al-Adeen,"
"No problem," Trixie blushed
and climbed into the car.
"Goodbye Honey," Pat said
softly, extending his hand.
Honey took it reluctantly and
he grasped her hand, waiting for her eyes to meet his. Eventually, they
"Honey, I -" he began in a low
"Goodbye Pat," Honey murmured
and slowly, but firmly pulled her hand away from his.
She climbed into the car, a
smile plastered on her face and waved to the Murrows as the car pulled away from
the house. She willed herself not to look back, and for the tears not to
The girls and Regan wearily
wandered through the gates and into the airport. Tom would be waiting for
them, to drive them back to Sleepyside. But what they didn't expect was to
be greeted by a tall red-head and a smiling dark-haired man.
"Brian?" Honey said in
"Jim!" Trixie cried excitedly.
The next thing Honey knew, she
was in Brian's arms, being whirled around and around.
"Oh, Honey-girl," he murmured.
"I missed you so much."
Honey was overwhelmed by
feelings of guilt, confusion and happiness.
"Oh, Brian..." she murmured.
Regan watched the scene with
interest. Trixie and Jim had hugged happily, not knowing when to let go,
not wanting to and now stood awkwardly, laughing and looking at each other.
Brian held Honey in his arms
and they stood looking into each other's eyes.
"I love you Honey-girl," he
Honey hesitated for a second,
searching his eyes for the answer.
"I love you too, Brian."