Read an Excerpt
Chapter Two: Mike's Promise
Mr. Daly heard the kids laughing. He found the sign on his back and pulled it off. He balled the sign up and tossed it in the wastebasket.
Mike burst into loud laughter. So did his best friend, Jason Hutchings.Mr. Daly's face was red. "The jokes will end," he said quietly. "Or I will cancel Friday's trip to the zoo."
Mike and Jason stopped laughing.
Nancy frowned at Bess. Mr. Daly couldn't call off the zoo trip. They'd been looking forward to it practically forever.
I have to make sure the joker doesn't cause any more trouble, Nancy decided.
That means I have to figure out who put the sign on Mr. Daly's back.
Nancy quickly came up with a plan. She waited until the class was busy doing a set of math problems. Then she raised her hand.
"Yes, Miss Drew?" Mr. Daly asked.
"May I sharpen my pencil?" Nancy asked.
"Certainly," Mr. Daly said.
Nancy walked to the front of the classroom. She sharpened her pencil. Then -- when Mr. Daly wasn't looking -- she pulled the sign out of the wastebasket. She slipped the sign into her pocket and hurried back to her desk.
The morning dragged on. The kids finished their math problems. Then they measured the bean plants they were growing for science. Mr. Daly read them a story about a pioneer family.
Finally, the lunch bell rang. Nancy and her friends hurried out of the classroom. They walked toward the lunchroom together. "I saw you get the sign out of the garbage," George said. "What are you going to do with it?"
"Find out who wrote it," Nancy said. She led the way to one of the lunchroom bulletin boards. Work from Mrs. Reynolds's class was hanging there. Nancy held the sign u to you?" she asked Julia.
"I got soaked walking to school," Julia explained. "The school nurse gave me this towel."
"Why didn't you get a ride?" Bess asked.
"Dad was at work," Julia said. "And Mom had a doctor's appointment this morning."
"You should have taken the school bus," Bess said. "That's what I did."
George shrugged. "Getting a little wet is no big deal," she said. "Right, Julia?"
"Um -- right," Julia agreed.
Nancy had other things on her mind. "Did you bring your permission slip in today?" she asked Julia.
Julia got a funny look on her face. "Sorry," she said. "I forgot again."
Nancy frowned at Julia. She didn't understand why her buddy kept forgetting her permission slip. Bringing it in was important.
"Try to remember tomorrow," Nancy told Julia.
"I will," Julia said. "Promise."
"Okay," Nancy said with a smile.
The bell rang and the kids sat down. Mr. Daly walked to the teacher's desk and opened a drawer. Nancy saw his eyes get big.
"What is the meaning of this?" Mr. Daly demanded. He pulled a piece of balled-up newspaper out of his desk drawer. Then another. And another.
Some of the kids started to giggle. Someone had pulled another joke on the substitute!
Mr. Daly opened another desk drawer.
That one was full of balled-up newspaper, too. So was the drawer under that one.
I bet Mike did this, Nancy thought. And he promised not to play any more jokes.
Nancy looked over at Mike's desk. But it was empty. Mike wasn't at school that day. Now Nancy was confused. If Mike didn't play the joke, who did?
"Everyone to the front of the room," Mr. Daly ordered. "Make one line facing me."
Nancy got in line between George and Bess.
Mr. Daly stood in front o f the class. "Newspaper is dirty," he said. "That means the joker will be easy to catch. He or she will be the child with the dirtiest hands. Hold out your hands, please."
Nancy held out her hands. They looked clean. So did Bess's. But George's hands were dirty.
"Have you been digging in the mud?" Nancy whispered to George.
George nodded. "I found a worm on our driveway," she whispered. "I had to put it back in the ground."
Nancy held her breath as Mr. Daly walked down the row of students. He passed Nancy and Bess. But he studied George's hands for a long time. Then he walked quickly to the end of the line.
Mr. Daly turned to the kids. "The joker is Miss Georgia Fayne!" he announced.
Copyright © 1999 by Simon & Schuster Inc.