The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues

BOOK: The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues
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The trespasser

 

Fumbling through her shoulder bag, the trespasser found the notice she had removed from the school bulletin board that morning.

 

WANTED

Art student to assist well-known portrait painter,

3-6 Mon-Fri, all day Sat. Good pay.

Must be native New Yorker, neat, well-organized.

QUIET! OBSERVANT!

Apply: Garson. 12 Cobble Lane.

 

Dickory wanted that job. But what if Garson asked to see her portfolio? It was one thing to get accepted into art school with street scenes done with Magic Markers, but ... Dickory bit off the ragged edge of her fingernail. How would she introduce herself if Garson, himself, answered the door? She would say nothing, just hand him the notice. She would be quiet.

Quiet and observant.

NOVELS BY ELLEN RASKIN

 

The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I mean Noel)
Figgs & Phantoms
The Tattooed Potato and other clues
The Westing Game

Table of Contents

 

Title Page

Copyright Page

 

? - The Mystery in Number 12 Cobble Lane

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

 

? ? - The Case of the Horrible Hairdresser

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

 

? ? ? - The Case of the Face on the Five-Dollar Bill

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

 

? ? ? ? - The Case of the Full-Sized Midget

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

 

? ? ? ? ? - The Case of the Disguised Disguise

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

 

? ? ? ? ? ? - The Case of the Confusing Corpus

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

 

PUFFIN BOOKS
Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England

 

First published in the United States of America by E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., 1975

Published by Puffin Books, 1989.

This edition published simultaneously by Puffin Books and Dutton Children’s Books, divisions of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2011

 

 

Copyright © Ellen Raskin, 1975 All rights reserved

 

THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS HAS CATALOGED THE DUTTON EDITION AS FOLLOWS: Raskin, Ellen The tattooed potato and other clues

Summary: Answering an advertisement for an artist’s assistant involves seventeen-year-old Dickory Dock in several mysteries and their ultimate solutions.

eISBN: 9781101486689

 

[1. Mystery and detective stories.] I. Title.
PZ7.R1817Tat [Fic] 74-23764

 

 

 

 

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

http://us.penguingroup.com

?

 

The Mystery in Number 12 Cobble Lane

 

1

 

A lonely figure stood in Cobble Lane, studying the red-brick house numbered 12. Nervously she clicked a broken fingernail.

No signs of life could be seen behind the muntined (was that the right word?) windows framed by quaint, blue-green shutters. No people, no cars troubled this shy Greenwich Village street.

Only Dickory.

Dickory had never been in Cobble Lane before, although she had lived all of her seventeen years just one mile away—one mile away in a decaying tenement that rumbled with passing trucks and shuddered above the subway’s roar. Here, hidden by the lane’s narrow bend, these small, historic houses stood huddled in silence, untouched by the frantic city that had grown up around them.

Fumbling through her shoulder bag, the trespasser found the notice she had removed from the school bulletin board that morning.

WANTED
Art student to assist well-known portrait painter.
3-6 Mon-Fri, all day Sat. Good pay.
Must be native New Yorker, neat, well-organized.
QUIET! OBSERVANT!
Apply: Garson. 12 Cobble Lane.

 

Dickory wanted that job. But what if Garson asked to see her portfolio? It was one thing to get accepted into art school with street scenes done with Magic Markers, but.... Dickory bit off the ragged edge of her fingernail. How would she introduce herself if Garson, himself, answered the door? She would say nothing, just hand him the notice. She would be quiet.

Quiet and observant.

Observant Dickory counted the windows: ten in all, three on the second floor, two on the first floor, two in the—someone was watching her from a basement window. No, no one was there. It seemed as if the house itself was watching her as she clutched the cast-iron newel, climbed the one-two-three steps of the brownstone stoop, rang the bell, and waited before the eight-paneled door, painted the same blue-green as the shutters.

At last a bolt lock turned. A man in blue jeans opened the door and took the notice from her outstretched hand.

“Come in. I’m Garson.”

Silent Dickory stepped into the old house to become paint-sorter, brush-cleaner, treasure-keeper, spy, detective, and once again companion to murder.

Double murder.

 

Dickory followed the artist down the dimly lit hall, through a door at the foot of steep and straight stairs. Unlike the narrow entranceway, the double-storied, oak-paneled room that lay before her was massive. Standing at a carved balustrade, she gaped at the tall, arched windows, the huge, stone fireplace, the antique furniture and Oriental rugs.

“Not that way,” Garson said as she started down the short, curved steps to the magnificent room. “Oh, well, I guess you should have a tour, in case of fire. Or some other emergency.” His tour consisted of a few bored waves of his hand. “Over there, at the far end of the living room, is the garden door. The kitchen is down here under this balcony. Through the kitchen is the furnace room, storeroom, and guest room. A door under the front stoop opens to the street.”

Dickory tried to remember: kitchen under balcony, furnace room, storeroom, guest room, outside door.

“Two men will be taking over these rooms tomorrow; I’m moving to the top two floors. Come, there’s packing to do.” Garson turned and led her into the front bedroom, whose windows looked upon Cobble Lane.

Dickory wondered why Garson had to move upstairs; but she asked nothing.

“Good, you are quiet,” he said. “Quiet people don’t ask questions.”

Dickory had passed her first test.

 

Trying to be “neat and well-organized,” Dickory began packing the contents of the closets and drawers into large cartons. A baggy clown suit. A bullfighter’s beaded jacket. A sequined ball gown, very daring.

“Are you a native New Yorker?” Garson asked. He was leaning against the wall, hands halfway into the pockets of his custom-fitted jeans.

“Yes.” Dickory placed a ballerina’s tutu into a carton.

Garson nodded. “Then you won’t be afraid of opening the front door to strangers. That would be one of your duties, answering the door. And the telephone. And cleaning paintbrushes and palettes, etcetera.”

Silently, Dickory folded a black opera cape on top of a sailor’s middy. What did he mean by “etcetera”? And what kind of strangers came to his front door? She reached to the top shelf of the closet for wigs and toupees of all colors and textures, hats and caps of all types and times.

Garson straightened and turned to leave. “By the way, what’s your name?”

“Dickory,” she replied, staring into a drawer stuffed with monocles and medals, eye patches and false teeth.

“Is that your first name or last?”

Dickory sighed. That was not a fair question from a man who called himself Garson, just Garson. “My last name is Dock,” she replied combatively, waiting for the usual guffaw.

Garson didn’t even smile.

 

Closets and drawers emptied, four large cartons packed, Dickory stood at the foot of the steep hall stairs. Garson had told her to “Give a yell” when she was done, but what should she yell? What do you call someone who has only one name? “Garson” seemed too familiar; “Hey, mister” too crass; “Yoo-hoo” too cute. “Boss”? She didn’t even have the job, yet.

Dickory returned to the bedroom and dragged, shoved, bumped a heavy carton along the floor, over the sill, and through the door. She paused to arch her aching back, waiting for Garson to appear. Surely he must have heard the noise she had made.

Suddenly Dickory became aware of footsteps in the apartment she had just left. Thudding feet clumped up the curved staircase from the living room, coming closer, closer toward the darkening door.

Cringing against the hallway wall, Dickory stared up at a huge, disfigured monster of a man. A jagged scar cut across his smashed face, twisting his mouth into a horrible grin, blinding one eye white and unblinking.

Dickory screamed. The giant lumbered toward her, arms outstretched, fingers jerking wildly. She screamed again.

“I didn’t expect you to take me so literally when I said ‘Give a yell,’ ” Garson said flatly from the top of the stairs. “Oh, I see Isaac is helping out.”

The awful Isaac bent down, flipped the carton onto a massive shoulder, and carried it up to the studio floor. Trembling, Dickory sank down on the bottom step.

“Sorry, I should have told you about Isaac Bickerstaffe,” Garson said, nonchalantly tripping down the stairs. “He lives in the guest room under the front stoop. Isaac is quite harmless and . . . are you all right?”

“I’m fine, just fine,” Dickory replied, pulling herself up by the banister. “After all, I am a native New Yorker.”

“Exactly.”

Dickory followed the portrait painter into the bare bedroom. His tailored jeans were now smeared with paint. He had changed his expensive loafers for dirty sneakers, his starched shirt for a metallic-blue turtleneck jersey. Cold blue, like his eyes.

BOOK: The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues
6.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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