Kristy, Bart, and their combined Krashers softball team are on the way home from a game when a big storm hits. Charlie's driving them, and visibility isn't exactly ideal. He misses the turn to head back to Stoneybrook, and the crew finds themselves trapped on an unfamiliar road, between two washed-out bridges. There's a large, spooky, old house nearby, and Kristy and Charlie knock on the door to the caretaker's cottage to ask to use the phone. The old man that answers the door gives Kristy the creeps, and informs them that he doesn't have a telephone, and that the power's out. He agrees, though, to let them stay up at the house overnight, and gives them blankets, flashlights, and a little food.
The house turns out to be pretty cool. There's a lot of old-fashioned furniture, pictures, and even bells on the wall that were used to signal servants in the olden days. Kristy, Charlie, Bart, and the younger kids have a great time exploring the house, but they're a little creeped out by one thing: in spite of the fact that the house hasn't been lived in for a long time, there's no dust or mustiness anywhere. Everything is well kept up, as if people had been living there all along. Jackie Rodowsky, who heard a story about that particular house from Shea, is convinced tht it's haunted.
When Kristy takes Karen and Patty (a Basher) up to one of the bedrooms that had caught their attention earlier, they find a diary. It belonged to Dorothy Sawyer, who lived in the house until she was 18. The diary ends the day before she had planned to run away and marry a man that her father didn't approve of. Later, they find some newspaper articles that indicate that Dorothy never met up with her fiancee as she was supposed to, and was presumed drowned in a storm that blew up that same day. They also find pictures of Will Blackburn, the guy she was supposed to marry, and the kids think he looks awfully familiar....
The next day is clear and sunny. As the kids are preparing to go home, Buddy Barrett figures out who Will Blackburn reminds him of: the caretaker. Kristy approaches him and calls him Mr. Blackburn....yep, they're one and the same. He never really got over Dorothy's death, and it's comforting to him to keep the house (which he now owns) the way it was when she lived there. Kristy decides that he's not creepy after all; just kind of sad and lonely.
To celebrate Kristy's safe return, the BSC holds a slumber party at the Brewer mansion. Karen wanders in late that evening, and tells them she can't stop thinking about Dorothy. She'd nicked a picture of her from one of the photo albums they looked at, and Karen is convinced that Dorothy reminds her of someone she knows. The girls pass the picture around, and Mary Anne recognizes her as the woman that owns the sewing shop that she frequents. The next day, the BSC members (and Karen) go to the store to confirm her identity. She is indeed Dorothy Sawyer, and she faked her own death. As much as she loved Will, she knew she'd have the same overprotected life as his wife that she'd had as her father's daughter. Instead, she spent her life traveling and doing all the things she wanted to do, but she'd been lonely. Dorothy decides to pay Will a visit.
Thoughts and Things
- If I were Will and I got a visit from a woman who faked her own death to avoid marrying me, I'd shut the door in her face. That's just not nice.
- Will calls telephones "contraptions," as if they're some new-fangled device that he couldn't possibly be expected to understand. The thing is, he would have been born in the mid 1910's, and phones were getting more and more common around that time. It's weird that he wouldn't have had one growing up, or that the Sawyers wouldn't have, since they seemed to be well-off.
- This book was kind of light on plot, but I did enjoy reading about the house. Gotta love cool old houses!
- I can't believe that Kristy just let the kids wander around the house, looking at things and poking their nose into someone else's stuff with hardly a mention as to whether or not it was okay.
- I think I might have made my first mistake in terms of chronology. This book and #65 were published in the same month, but everyone is still in school in this one, and in #65, the school year is just about over. Ooops....