Read an Excerpt
Once Upon a Guess
“Can’t we run errands later, Nancy?” Bess Marvin asked, pointing to her daisy-shaped watch. “We’ll miss the opening of Prissy’s Princess Parlor!”
“Prissy is a good name for that place,” George Fayne scoffed. “Who else but prissy girly-girls would go there?”
Eight-year-old Nancy Drew smiled at her two best friends as they walked side by side down River Street. “Prissy is short for Priscilla, George,” she explained. “She and her sister, Wendy, own the Princess Parlor!”
“Where else can girls like us can get our hair styled and topped off with a princess-pretty tiara?” Bess asked. “It’s a dream come true!”
“You mean a nightmare,” George groaned. “I’ll bet even the computers in that place are pink.”
“Is that all you can think about?” Bess asked. “Computers?”
“When I’m not thinking about printers, scanners, and speakers!” George answered with a grin.
Bess rolled her eyes. “Are you sure you’re my cousin?” She sighed.
“Come on, you guys,” Nancy said, picking up her pace. “Errands first, fun later.”
River Street was the busiest street in River Heights. Besides the usual stores Nancy saw tiny green buds on the trees that lined the street. Not only was it spring break, it was the first week of spring—and spring was Nancy’s favorite season!
“First stop,” Nancy said as they turned toward a store in the middle of the block, The Mean Bean Health Store.
Nancy, Bess, and George filed through the door of the Mean Bean. There to greet them was Kevin Garcia. Kevin was in the girls’ third grade class at River Heights Elementary School. Kevin’s parents owned the Mean Bean, but he acted like he owned it himself.
“Welcome to the Mean Bean, Clue Crew!” Kevin declared.
Nancy smiled at the mention of their detective club, the Clue Crew. Everyone at school knew that she, Bess, and George loved solving mysteries. And were good at it too!
“What do you need?” Kevin asked, rubbing his hands together. “If it’s all-natural, we’ve got it.”
“Hannah needs something stinky that will keep deer from nibbling her flower garden,” Nancy explained.
“How about George’s sneakers?” Bess joked.
“Ha, ha,” George said, not really laughing.
Hannah Gruen had been the Drews’ housekeeper since Nancy was three years old. Not only was Hannah as sweet as her cupcakes—she was the next best thing to a mom!
“Do you have the deer repellent?” Nancy asked.
“I told you, we have everything!” Kevin boomed. “Um ? everything except natural stinky deer repellent.”
Nancy frowned. She didn’t want to disappoint Hannah, but the Mean Bean was the only natural store in town.
“It’s okay, Nancy, we’ll find something else,” Bess said. “Now we can go to Prissy’s Princess Parlor!”
Kevin raced to the door as the girls left the store. “Did you say parlor?” he shouted after them. “We sell all-natural shampoo here! Organic nail polish! Even lipstick made out of pulverized soybeans!”
Kevin’s voice trailed off as the girls headed down River Street.
“Hannah will be so disappointed.” Nancy sighed.
“But the deer—cartwheels!” George said, as they walked along.
Prissy’s Princess Parlor wasn’t hard to find. It was the only store with a door decorated with purple and gold balloons. It was also the only store surrounded by reporters, photographers, and cheering girls.
“Now,” Mayor Strong said, holding a pair of scissors. “Prissy’s Princess Parlor shall live happily ever after!”
Prissy and Wendy Darling held opposite ends of a ribbon stretched in front of the door. Nancy noticed that the door was painted like a castle gate.
“It’s just like a fairy tale,” Nancy breathed as the mayor ceremoniously snipped the ribbon in half.
“If this is a fairy tale,” George said, “there’s the ogre!”
“Ogre?” Nancy asked. She looked up to see where George was pointing. Standing at the window above the store was an angry-looking man. His mouth was a grim line as he scowled down at the cheering crowd.
“That’s Marvin Dretzel the Human Pretzel,”
“How do you know?” George asked.
Bess explained. “He owns the Yay for Yoga studio upstairs.”
“My mom takes a class there,” Bess said. “She says yoga helps her to relax.”
Nancy watched as Marvin slammed down the window with a bang. He didn’t look very relaxed to her!
“Okay, princesses,” Prissy shouted to the crowd. “Are you in it to win it?”
More cheers, as both sisters undraped a thick white mattress on the sidewalk.
“The princess who guesses how many peas are under this mattress wins a free salon treatment tomorrow for her and two of her BFFs!” Wendy shouted. “And their picture in the paper.”
Nancy was superexcited now. The contest was just like her favorite fairy tale, “The Princess and the Pea.”
“Let’s all try to guess,” Bess said.
“No way!” George cried. “Even if I won, I wouldn’t go in that princess parlor. Besides, I can’t go tomorrow.”
“Why not?” Bess asked.
“Trina Vanderhoof asked me to join her girls’ basketball team, the Blue Jets,” George answered. She pretended to dribble a make-believe ball. “The first game is tomorrow.”
“But you could be a princess!” Bess exclaimed.
“Princess, schmincess.” George rolled her eyes. “Who needs a royal court when you can be on a basketball court?”
“Okay, okay,” Nancy said, tugging George’s arm. “But stand in line with us for good luck.”
Nancy, Bess, and George hurried to the back of the line. A girl wearing a pink tiara was about to climb on the mattress when two bigger girls pushed in front of her.
One began measuring the mattress with a measuring tape. The other listened to it with a doctor’s stethoscope!
“Don’t those two go to our school?” Bess asked.
Nancy nodded and said, “It’s Suki Sussman and Ella Knox. They belong to the Rad Scientists Club.”
“That explains it,” George said. “They’re probably trying to figure out scientifically how many peas are under the mattress.”
Suki and Ella worked until Mayor Strong stepped in. “Girls, even princesses have to wait their turn,” he said.
“Yeah!” The tiara girl sneered. “Take a royal hike!”
Suki and Ella grumbled as they trudged to the back of the line. But the moment they saw Nancy, Bess, and George their jaws dropped.
“We were standing where you are!” Suki complained. “You took our place!”
“We didn’t see you when we got here,” Nancy said.
Nancy could hear Suki and Ella grumbling as they slipped behind her and her friends. She tried to ignore the Rad Scientists as she turned back to the contest. Every girl so far had guessed the wrong number of peas.
Finally it was Bess’s turn. She hopped on the mattress and lay on her back.
“Thirty peas,” Bess guessed out loud. “That’s my lucky number times ten.”
“A good guess, but wrong,” Mayor Strong said.
“Phooey,” Bess said, hopping off the mattress. “Time to get a new lucky number.”
Next was Nancy’s turn. She climbed on the mattress, laid back, and stared at sky as she took a guess.
“Is it one pea?” Nancy asked. “That’s how many peas were under the mattress in ‘The Princess and the Pea.’”
“But not under this mattress,” Mayor Strong replied.
Nancy’s heart sank as she scooted off the mattress to join her friends. She and Bess had no chance of winning the princess makeover now. Unless ?
“Take a guess, George,” Nancy said. “If you win you can pick us to go with you.”
“I told you, Nancy,” George said, shaking her head. “You can’t pay me to enter that prissy princess contest!”
“Looks like someone already did,” Bess said. She pointed to a bill crumpled on the middle of the mattress.
“That’s the ten dollar bill Hannah gave me for the deer repellent,” Nancy gasped. “It must have fallen out of my pocket while I was guessing.”
“Got it,” George said. She crawled across the mattress. She was about to grab the bill when Mayor Strong shouted out: “Next princess—take a guess!”
“Huh?” George gulped. “No, I just wanted to—”
“Guess, guess!” the crowd chanted.
George rolled her eyes and flopped on her back.
“Okay. I guess fifty-five,” George said. “That’s how many are in a frozen bag of peas. I helped my mom count some for one of her catering jobs. Can I get off now?”
Mayor Strong blasted the trumpet so loud it made George bounce. Photographers snapped George’s picture as she sat up, stunned.
“Girls—we have a winner!” Mayor Strong shouted. “Long live Princess Georgia!”
© 2010 Macky Pamintuan