Who will win as the curtain closes on the war between the girls and the boys? Summer vacation is almost over and after one year in Buckman it looks like the Malloy girls will be going home to Ohio. The Hatford boys are relieved to finally be rid of Eddie, Beth and Caroline, also known as the Womper, the Weirdo and the Crazy.
As the clock ticks away at their final days, Jake and Eddie keep up the competing, tricking and scheming until Eddie puts Jake up to the biggest dare of the year. She wants to prove once and for all that the girls are in charge. Jake can't back away and let the girls declare victory. The wacky war that began the day the girls arrived isn't over yet!
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written over a hundred books, many taking place in West Virginia. The author lives in Bethesda, MD.
Read an Excerpt
It was official: they were going back.
After Mrs. Malloy put down the phone, Caroline sneaked a look at her two older sisters. Was either of them going to cry?
It certainly wouldn’t be Eddie, the oldest. Beth? Possible, but not likely. No, if anyone was going to get emotional about leaving Buckman, it would be Caroline herself. She swallowed.
“Well,” said their mother. “I guess that’s that.”
“Goodbye, West Virginia! Hello, Ohio!” said Eddie.
When Mr. Malloy had taken a job at the college in Buckman on a teacher-exchange program, they’d all known that it would only be for a year. He had been offered other jobs too in Buckman, however, and the girls—and even their mother—had wondered if he might decide to stay.
But now he was back in Ohio, he’d signed the contract, and the Malloys would be moving on August 24. The Bensons, whose house the Malloys had been renting, would be back on August 31.
There was silence around the dinner table. The shrimp salad sat half eaten on their plates, the lemon slices undisturbed in the iced tea.
“Well, at least I get to finish out summer baseball,” Eddie said at last. She’d be entering middle school when they got back home.
“I think I’m going to be sad,” said Beth, who was a year younger. “I’ll miss the library—being able to walk to it, I mean.”
“I’ll miss the river and the swinging footbridge,” said Caroline, age nine. She had a dark ponytail, while her two older sisters were blond.
Then Eddie started to grin. “What I won’t miss . . . ,” she began, glancing at the others, and the three girls chimed together, “the Hatfords!” They laughed, but Caroline knew it wasn’t true. They would miss the boys.
“Do you remember the day we moved in here?” Eddie asked her sisters.
“How could we forget?” said Beth. “We caught them up on the roof of their house, watching us from across the river.”
“And they dumped dead birds and squirrels on our side to make us think the river was polluted, just so we’d go back to Ohio,” said Caroline.
“Why, you never told me that!” said her mother.
“Ha!” said Eddie. “We never told you half the stuff those stupid guys did!”
Caroline knew, of course, that the Hatford brothers—Jake and Josh and Wally and Peter—weren’t stupid in the least. Annoying, disgusting, and conniving, yes, but they had outwitted the girls on several occasions and entertained them on others, and though Eddie might not admit it, the girls had never had so much fun in their lives.
Later that evening, when Mrs. Malloy was packing up books in the living room and the girls were doing the dishes, Eddie said, “You know, if we’ve got only three more weeks here, we’d better make them count.”
“Doing what?” asked Beth.
“Showing the Hatford boys once and for all who’s in charge, what else?”
“In charge of what?” asked Caroline. “We’re moving back to Ohio. How can we be in charge of anything?”
“In charge of us! In charge of them! What I mean is, we have to show them we won.”
“I didn’t know we were at war,” said Beth.
“Of course you did,” said Eddie. “War broke out the first day we got here! I just don’t want those guys telling the Benson boys that they led us around by the nose all year. That they tricked us so many times we didn’t know up from down. We’ve got to pull a couple more tricks ourselves.”
“Maybe we could just do something fun with them,” said Beth. “We don’t have to fight.”
“Did I say fight?” asked Eddie. “I simply want them to remember that the Malloys are not to be messed with. We’ll have fun, all right. Trust me.”
Caroline sighed and took the pan Beth handed her, wiped it off, and put it back in the cupboard. Everything was a competition with Eddie—a race, a contest. There had to be winners and losers, first place and second. The champions and the defeated.
All that Caroline, actress-to-be, wanted to do before they left was sneak into the old elementary school auditorium a few more times and act out little scenes up on a real stage. Her elementary school back in Ohio didn’t have an auditorium with plush seats for the audience. It didn’t have a stage with lights and scenery and a velvet curtain to pull when a perfor- mance was over. The only place to put on a production in the school back home was the gym, which also served as a lunchroom and usually smelled of bananas and pizza.
“So,” said Beth to Eddie. “What are we going to do?”
Eddie’s eyes narrowed. In fact, they almost seemed to glow, Caroline thought. Like a wolf’s eyes. Glowing eyes on Eddie were bad news. They meant she was up to something, and whatever it was, Beth and Caroline would get blamed for it too.
“Well, you know how Jake brags about all the wild things they used to do when the Bensons lived here?” Eddie said. “I’ll bet they didn’t do half the stuff he says they did. Knob Hill, the old Indian burial ground where the spirits roam at night? Ha! ‘Okay, Jake, take us there,’ I’m going to tell him. The old coal mine? ‘Hey, let’s go!’ Smuggler’s Cove? ‘I’m up for it!’ ”
Caroline didn’t especially like the sound of roam- ing spirits or an old coal mine. And the one time they had been to Smuggler’s Cove with the boys, she had almost got thrown into the water. But the possibility of Eddie and Beth doing anything without her was unthinkable. So she said what she had to say: “Sure.”
“We’ll tell Jake to put up or shut up,” said Eddie.
“But be nice to Josh,” said Beth. “He’s not so bad. And Peter’s cute. Wally? Wally is just . . .”
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