by Ryl

The air practically shimmered as the rays of the early August sun beat down on the lake. No breeze stirred the calm surface. The lone song of a bird was the only sound, but it soon faded away, leaving only the almost audible hum of the oppressive heat.

"Oh, Honey!" Trixie Belden wailed. "We'll never get back to shore if the wind doesn't pick up!"

Honey Wheeler stopped trailing her hand in the pleasantly cool water and settled herself more comfortably in the Water Witch. "The others will miss us soon," she assured her friend.

Both girls scanned the shore, hoping to see one of their friends. Instead, the distant land remained deserted, much as it had for the past two hours.

"I can't believe they haven't missed us yet!" Trixie groaned, leaning forward to see better.

"They're probably looking for us somewhere in the preserve. It's too bad we didn't tell anybody where we were going," Honey replied reasonably.

Trixie threw herself back down in the row boat and scowled darkly. "I'm never going to hear the end of this from Mart."

Honey hid a smile. "Explain to me again why you threw the oar into the water?"

"I didn't throw it into the water! I saw something mysterious..." Trixie's voice trailed off sheepishly, and she couldn't help grinning. "You know I'm right, though, Honey. You saw the carriage, too, didn't you?"

Honey sighed. "Yes, I saw it. But, Trixie, it was a rock. Daddy and I saw it last summer. When the light hits it just right, it looks like a carriage."

"Are you sure? Absolutely sure?" Trixie pressed, still reluctant to give up her mystery.

Honey smiled sympathetically. "I wanted it to be a carriage, too. I was really disappointed when Daddy went down and discovered that it was just a plain old rock."

Trixie sighed. "I knew it was too good to be true." She smiled at her best friend. "I'm really sorry I lost the oar, Hon. I was trying to see if it could reach the carriage, and..."

"And it slipped. It happens, Trixie. Don't worry about it." Honey's sunny disposition was intact, despite the heat of the day. "I'm sure the others will find us soon."

The sandy-haired blonde chewed her lower lip. "Are you sure we can't just swim for it?" she asked, dreading the thought of explaining to her brothers why they were stranded in the middle of the far end of the Wheeler's lake.

"It's too far and too deep, Trixie. It just isn't safe."

Trixie sighed. "There has to be a way for us to get back to shore." She squeezed her eyes shut in an attempt to formulate a plan. Seconds later, they snapped back open. "Honey! Empty your pockets," she demanded.

Honey complied, reaching into the zippered pocket of her swim shorts and coming up with a hair elastic, a quarter, and a diamond ring.

Trixie stared at the diamond ring. "Why on earth do you have a ring in your pocket? Don't tell me Brian proposed. You're not even out of high school!"

Honey blushed. "Of course not!"

"Well, are you trying to impress someone? Like when I had to pretend to like Ben?" Trixie shuddered as she remembered the embarrassing episode from her past.

Honey giggled. "No. I found the ring in my closet when I was looking for a clean bathing suit. I meant to put it back in the jewellery box, but I guess I forgot."

Trixie sighed. "Well, I don't see how anything in your pockets is going to help us get out of here."

Honey snorted. "I doubt you have anything better in your pockets."

Trixie paused thoughtfully. "Let's see." She picked up the shorts she had abandoned over an hour earlier and quickly checked the pockets.

"A ball?" Honey asked incredulously. "You had a ball in your pocket?"

"Bobby gave it to me just as I was leaving to meet you," Trixie remembered. "I told him I'd play with him when I got home. I bet he's driving Moms crazy asking when I'll get back," she finished wistfully.

"Well, MacGyver, how are you going to use a ball, a diamond ring, a quarter, and a hair elastic to get us out of this mess?" Honey teased.

"Don't forget the umbrella!" Trixie grabbed the frilly pink item from the bottom of the row boat.

"That's a parasol," Honey corrected her.

"There's a difference? Never mind." Trixie tossed the umbrella/parasol back to the bottom of the boat. She picked up the first aid kit that was always kept in the row boat. "How about a bandage? Antiseptic?" She rummaged through the kit. "Hey! You have a magnifying glass in here!"

Honey giggled. "Ever since Di had that splinter that no one could see, Brian insisted on putting a magnifying glass in each of our first aid kits." She paused thoughtfully. "Do you think we could use it to signal someone on shore?" she wondered.

Trixie looked excited for a moment, then laughed. "Honey, we're in plain sight. If anyone is close enough to see light reflected from the magnifying glass, they're close enough to see us. No, we'll just have to wait for someone to spot us."

"Kind of like Jim!" Trixie exclaimed.

"Or Brian, or Mart, or Di, or Dan, or--"

"No! I mean, I see Jim! Halloo!" she called, standing up in the boat and causing it to rock. "We're over here, Jim!" She waved eagerly.

"Trix! Sit down! He's seen us!" Honey pulled her best friend back into the Water Witch, where she settled with a thud.

They both watched as the supple red-head jogged around the lake to a location nearer to them.

"We lost an oar, Jim," Trixie yelled. "Can you bring one out to us?"

Honey and Trixie cheered in relief when Jim reappeared a few minutes later, holding an extra oar. Already dressed in swim trunks, he stripped off his tee shirt and waded into the water, pulling the oar behind him. The water deepened quickly, and Jim was soon swimming powerfully with one arm. Upon reaching the boat, he heaved the oar in, then climbed in himself.

"You're the best brother in the whole wide world!" Honey exclaimed, throwing her arms around the soaking-wet youth.

Jim laughed and quickly changed the topic. "So what happened to you girls? How did you lose an oar?"

Trixie and Honey exchanged glances.

"It was an accident," Honey said hastily, trying to save her friend from embarrassment.

"Well, that's good. I'd hate to think you threw away a perfectly good oar on purpose," Jim joked. "Seriously, what happened?"

Face flaming from more than just the heat of the sun, Trixie admitted, "I thought I saw a carriage in the water. I was trying to touch it with the oar, and it just kind of slipped out of my hand..."

Jim raised an eyebrow. "You know, you don't have to tell me, if you don't want to," he said, clearly incredulous. "Are you two working on another mystery or something?"

"Jim! I'm telling you, I saw what looked like a carriage under water!" Trixie protested.

Jim relented. "Okay, Miss Nonsense of America. If you say you saw a carriage at the bottom of the lake, I'll believe you." He chucked her gently on the chin before picking up the oar and positioning it.

Trixie blushed again, this time from the frank affection in Jim's expression. She sighed happily as they headed back to shore. "Say," she said slowly, thinking of the odd items she and Honey had come across that day, "Anybody up for a scavenger hunt?"



Author's Notes:

This is a submission for Wendy and Dana's Virtual Trixie Camp CWC, and is hosted by the lovely Dana! Thanks, Dana. {{hugs}}

Thank you to Dianafan for a speed-of-light edit. You're amazing!

This is unauthorized, not-for-profit fan fiction.

Trixie BeldenŽ is a registered trademark of Random House Books. These pages are not affiliated with Random House Books in any way. These pages are not for profit.