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Harriet M. Welsch has just received the best news of her 11th year—Ole Golly is coming back! Harriet can still remember how sad she was when her beloved nanny married George Waldenstein and moved away. But the circumstances of Ole Golly’s return remain unclear. Where is George Waldenstein?With Mr. and Mrs. Welsch living in France for three months, Sport confiding that he has a crush on a girl at school, and the arrival of a mysterious new neighbor who’s going to require a whole lot of spying, Harriet already has ...
Harriet M. Welsch has just received the best news of her 11th year—Ole Golly is coming back! Harriet can still remember how sad she was when her beloved nanny married George Waldenstein and moved away. But the circumstances of Ole Golly’s return remain unclear. Where is George Waldenstein?With Mr. and Mrs. Welsch living in France for three months, Sport confiding that he has a crush on a girl at school, and the arrival of a mysterious new neighbor who’s going to require a whole lot of spying, Harriet already has her hands full. Then she overhears Ole Golly saying she’s innocent—but innocent of what? Harriet the Spy is on the case and ready to help Ole Golly in any way she can.
"I won't go," Harriet told her parents. She glared at them.
Her parents had called her down from her room while she was busy on a project. Ordinarily the cook served Harriet her dinner at six in the kitchen while her parents had martinis in the living room. Harriet looked at her watch. It was exactly six. So not only had they interrupted her project, but now they were making her late for her dinner, which was very likely getting cold.
She had been making a time line of her life. By taping sheets of paper carefully together, she had created a strip so long it reached from the door of her bedroom to the bottom of the old toy box that held all her notebooks. It had taken her twelve pieces of paper. Since Harriet would be twelve on her next birthday, she had designated one sheet for each year of her life. Then she had begun to fill in the important events. But she had barely finished half of the first page when her mother interrupted her.
SIX MONTHS. SPEAKS FIRST WORD, Harriet had just written halfway across the first-year page. She thought for a moment about what her first word might have been. She pictured herself at six months old, with her nursemaid poised over the bassinet looking down at her, probably holding a warm milk-filled bottle. What might she have said?
FIRST WORD she wrote as a subcategory. She thought about it for a while, trying to decide what a first word might be, at least a first word from the lips of a highly intelligent New York infant named Harriet M. Welsch. Carefully she printed PROCEED.
Then she went on to SEVEN MONTHS. SPEAKS FIRST SENTENCE. FIRST SENTENCE: PROCEED WITH THE FEEDING, PLEASE.
"Harriet, dear?" her mother had called up the stairs to Harriet's cozy bedroom at the top of the tall, narrow house. "Would you come down, please?"
Reluctantly Harriet had rolled up her time line and headed down the two long flights of stairs to the double living room on the first floor. "I hope we didn't interrupt anything important, dear," Mrs. Welsch said after Harriet entered the living room and sat down on a dark red velvet chair. Harriet shrugged. They would not understand the time line. It would make them feel nervous and uncertain, she thought. Her parents frequently felt nervous and uncertain about her projects.
So she said only, "I was just thinking about my infancy. Do you happen to remember my first word?"
"Of course I do! Parents never forget such things," Mrs. Welsch said. She turned to her husband. "Harry, tell Harriet what her first word was!"
Harriet's father stared blankly at her.
Mrs. Welsch gave a thin laugh. "It was cookie, dear. You were about fourteen months old, and one day you quite clearly said cookie."
"And my first sentence?" Harriet asked, glumly realizing that she would have to start her time line over with the correct information. Cross-outs were unacceptable and Harriet only used pens. Just last Christmas her parents had given her a wonderful green Waterman pen, which she treasured and used as often as possible. "What was my first sentence?"
"Well, you combined a verb and a noun, dear. You said, 'Gimme cookie.' "
"Oh," Harriet said. Well, she thought, I won't bother to erase after all. It's essentially the same thing as "Proceed with the feeding."
"Why did you want me to come down?" she asked her parents.
"We have some news to share with you. Would you like a peanut, by the way?" Mrs. Welsch put her martini down and passed a small silver dish of peanuts to Harriet.
Harriet shook her head. Ordinarily she liked peanuts, but for some reason she could feel her appetite disappearing. It made her...