Jeepers! Gosh! Yippee! Buck up!
I cannot describe to you in any Earth language how relieved I am to have finished today’s awesomeness – reading the Trixie Belden adventure “Mystery on Cobbett’s Island” and the even more thrilling “Gay Dolphin Adventure”. My original squeamishness (and jealousy that I wasn’t born into an era where this. . . stuff. . . was considered to be at a publishable standard) soon turned to horrified laughter. Then just horror. Then helpless laughter. And horror again. *repeat for hours*
Here’s a quick taste of what I’ve been through (Trixie is first):
Observe the rising tension:
“Gleeps,” said Trixie worriedly, “we’d better get going before it hits the island!”
“I’m wondering if we ought to turn back,” added Miss Trask apprehensively.
Observe the incredibly natural voice of this minor character (because minor characters talk like this – seriously. All of them. Villains are similar, but with scowling):
“One of the purtiest spots on the island – that is, on a clear day. Don’t look like we’ll get a clearin’ for some time to come, what with this east wind blowin’ and all.”
And the equivalent from “The Gay Dolphin Adventure”:
“You’ll have been worried maybe,” he went on, “and I’m right sorry I be late, but start she wouldn’t, and I’m not much of a hand at they engines. But we be all right now.”
And back to our heroic Trixie (who, incidentally, is described as being easily mistaken for her brother) as she tends to the caretaker after he breaks his leg. Observe the edginess:
“It’s my leg. . . I’m afraid it’s broken, because every time I try to get up or move, it hurts like the very dev—I mean, like the very blazes!”
Observe the subtle nuances of character:
Dr Holmes was a big man with graying bushy hair and shaggy brows. As he worked, he made gruff noises and said, “Hmmm, hmmm.”
. . . . . . His eyes twinkled merrily. Trixie, who had at first been apprehensive, now realized that Dr Holmes’ gruff manner covered a kindly, good-humored personality.
Observe the totally necessary use of adjectives:
“I’m sorry,” said Peter penitently.
Observe the power of a wide-ranging vocabulary:
“I can taste those ephemeral doughnuts now.”
“Ephemeral?” Jim repeated quizzically.
“Yes, it means anything that’s short-lived or lasts only a day, and when I’m around, jelly doughnuts are sure ephemeral,” Mart chuckled.
Everyone groaned loudly at Mart’s attempted wit. [I know I did.]
And finally, the clever and original use of simile:
“My legs are shaking like leaves,” Trixie confessed.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. . . who or what is “The Gay Dolphin”?
I’m sad to say it’s not an actual dolphin (happy or otherwise), but a ramshackle smuggler’s hotel brimming with secret passageways and hidey-holes. On the up side, the hotel has a sign with a dolphin on it, about which the main character comments:
“Look at the look in his eye, Jon. No wonder they call him gay.”
Both books feature mystery-solving kids who have secret clubs. Both books involve a search for hidden treasure. Both feature terrifying storms, and a lot of rainy days during which the kids sit around and discuss the plot.
In “The Gay Dolphin Adventure” we are introduced to two of the three baddies almost immediately. The first is Clearly Suspicious By Golly because (a) she is unmarried despite being over thirty, (b) she is overweight, (c) she has short hair, and (d) she wears a particularly unattractive orange scarf. Zounds!
It’s worth noting that after telling off the baddies (and thus causing them to leave the county, apparently – because stubborn kids are so heck darn terrifying to master criminals), the heroic pack of kids stumbles across the treasure by accident. The end. (Really.) Oh! And the vital clue (which turned out to be completely irrelevant, despite being the cause of every single conflict in the book) was from the Bible – giving the kids an advantage, since they knew the Bible and the baddies didn’t. That’s right kids – if YOU pay attention in Sunday school, you too may soon stumble across some illegally aquired diamonds and get to keep them for yourself! Hurrah!
The other baddie description is so priceless I had to reproduce it here:
“He wore a most sinister hat – the sort of hat that nobody who isn’t sinister wears. He had very black sloping eyebrows, if you know what I mean, and a very small sloping moustache thing on his lip. . . I tell you what I think he is, Jon. . . I think he’s in a band somewhere and I don’t think he’s English either. . .”
This whole experience was, technically, against the Geneva Convention, but Steff Metal turned out to be right in the end (she recommended reading old, awful books to cheer oneself up). It was very VERY funny.
Tomorrow: Go to a wedding.