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Greenhouse Ghost






 

Nancy, how would you like to own a little house in the country with a beautiful garden, a swimming pond, a greenhouse? Mr. Drew asked his attractive eighteen-year-old daughter, rumpling her reddish blond hair.

Sounds great, Dad, she replied, but whats the occasion? Its not my birthday, or Christmas, or

The tall, athletic-looking lawyer smiled. Does there have to be an occasion for me to give you a gift? he countered.

But this is no ordinary one, Nancy said. Knowing her astute fathers knack for teasing, she added, Whats up?

Okay, he admitted. There is such a property for sale, but no one will buy it unless you solve the mystery of the greenhouse ghost.

Tell me about it, she said eagerly.

Mr. Drew explained that the owner, now deceased, had prided himself on producing the finest orchids in the country. Nancy, you must have heard of La Forge orchids.

Oh yes, I have. Brides love them for their wedding bouquets.

Exactly, the lawyer continued. Mr. La Forge built up a very prosperous business with his wife. Then suddenly trouble began. A vandalor vandalssmashed glass, stole or ruined flowers ready to be shipped out, and caused terrible havoc at the estate. Poor Mrs. La Forge died of a sudden heart attack, and her husband passed away soon afterward. Im co-executor of the estate with the bank. Their children want to sell the property but a rumor that the greenhouse has a ghost keeps people from looking at the place.

Thats a shame, Nancy remarked. It all sounds very mysterious, but Im not afraid to go out to the place with you. Lets drive out and meet this ghost!

Before they could start, Nancys little dog Togo ran up to her, whimpering and giving staccato barks.

So you want to go along too, she said, and opened the door of her fathers car. At once Togo jumped up and settled himself on the front seat. Nancy climbed in on the passengers side as Mr. Drew sat down behind the wheel.

On the way, Nancy and her father discussed the raising of orchids. Mr. Drew said that while they grew in several countries with tropical climates, they were first discovered in Malaysia. Thats where Mr. La Forge went to pick out various varieties to bring back here and propagate for commercial use.

Our florist told me, said Nancy, that Mr. La Forge was secretly trying to produce a deep blue orchid and guarded his secret well. Hed almost finished working out the formula, when he suddenly died.

Interesting, Mr. Drew replied. I heard that too. His children cant find it, though. Oh, look, here we are. He slowed down to enter a shady driveway with stone entrance pillars. On one had been carved the word Orchidiana. Thats what the La Forges called this place, the lawyer told Nancy.



The girl detective was charmed by the picturesque gardens of cultivated and wild flowers. When she saw the house, Nancy gasped.

Dad, you said it was small! she exclaimed. Why, it would take a week just to clean the windows!

Her father explained that the family had used only the center section to live in. One wing was for displaying the orchids. The gardener occupied the other, smaller wing.

As if he had heard his name called, a man came from the left wing. The short, rotund, dark-haired man introduced himself as Joe Hendricks.

Im Nancy Drew and this is my father, she said. What a beautiful place this is. I cant wait to see it all!

Im on my way to the large greenhouse, the gardener said. Would you like to see that first, or the house?

Nancy glanced at her father, who nodded.

Id like to go to the greenhouse, she said. Maybe you can tell me something about the ghost.

Hendricks eyed her intently, and his shoulders twitched. He did not reply for several seconds. Regaining his composure, he replied, Oh, youve heard the story? Dont pay any attention to it. Rumor, thats all. Theres no ghost in the greenhouse.

Nancy said no more. She and her father followed the man and presently came to an enormous greenhouse. It was dome-shaped and made entirely of glass. Nancy assumed that the panes shattered by vandals had been replaced.

The visitors followed Hendricks inside. At once, a young man came forward and was introduced by Hendricks as Kiki. Hes my assistant, the gardener explained.

Nancy, who had been in Hawaii some time before, asked Kiki, Your name sounds Polynesian. Are your ancestors from that area?

Yes.

Tell me, Nancy said, as she and her father followed him down a long aisle between arbors of exquisite dendrobium orchids, what smells so sweet? Not the orchids?

No. We also grow roses and several varieties of lilies, Kiki answered. Theyre sold mostly to the local florists.

At the end of the aisle was a door to an enclosed room. On the door hung a sign:

 



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