Trixie Belden and the Hat of the Monkey Monkey
#87 in a series, by
Trixie and Honey were on another vacation all by themselves. Brian and Jim were off at college, Dan was chopping wood somewhere assuming there were still any trees left standing in the preserve, Di was stuck visiting relatives somewhere else though how she suddenly has so many relatives is another mystery for Trixie to solve considering her mother and uncle are orphans just like half the population of Sleepyside but I guess they could be from her dad's side of the family, and Mart just didn't want to deal with two girls for an entire vacation and have no other male bob-white to hang with and the girls were happy to leave dictionary-mouth at home to take care of all the chores including exercising all 5 horses even though they aren't his or his families to begin with.
So 15 year old Trixie Belden and 15 year old Honey Wheeler along with Miss Trask and still 6 year old Bobby Belden (yes, he finally got to go on a vacation with his older sister) were in the Wheeler's private jet flying over the Atlantic Ocean to go to Grangemouth, Scotland. Miss Trask bravely agreed to Bobby-sit so the girls could go out and find a mystery and get into all sorts of trouble. But not until they landed. Meanwhile she was practicing a fake Scottish accent incase she met up with Gruffie or Duffie or whatever that fraud called himself. And meanwhile, Bobby was pestering Bob, the pilot because he wanted to fly the plane like Trixie did once.
The plane landed in Edinburgh and they found the rental car the Wheelers had arranged for them, it wasn't a tan van or a maroon saloon, but a taupe coupe. "But that doesn't really rhyme," complained Honey. Miss Trask whisked the three children into the car and stated that Grangemouth was halfway between Edinburgh and Stirling. "We'll take the M9 route for about 25 miles and then get to our castle located on the Bay of Monkeys."
"The Bay of Monkeys?" Trixie asked.
"I love monkeys. Hey - what has three keys and can't open any doors?" Bobby piped up.
"Oh brother, did we have to bring him?" Trixie complained.
"But your little brother is adorable!" Honey exclaimed. Then, even though she'd heard the joke a zillion times and even though Bobby practically gave the answer away before saying the joke, she said obligingly, "I don't know Bobby? What is the answer?"
"A zoo! It has all sorts of anim'ls," Bobby explained.
"Actually," said Miss Trask from the driver's seat, "It's on the Firth of Forth, but there's a rumor that wild monkeys haunt the castle we will be staying at."
"We're staying in a haunted castle?" Honey asked dubiously.
"We're staying in a haunted castle!" Trixie exclaimed excitedly.
"I loved the haunted house at school last year," Bobby stated. "Hey! Why is it called the first of the fourth?"
"It's just a silly rumor. So my distant fifth cousin four times removed nicknamed it Bay of Monkeys," explained Miss Trask to the two girls. Then she tried to explain to Bobby that a firth is a narrow estuary. Which led to, 'what is an estuary?' So she explained it is a narrow body of water that comes in from the sea.
"So why don't they call it a stairy fourth? And fourth of what? Are there lots of stairs? Or only four stairs?"
"Forth is the name of the river that runs into the firth," Miss Trask tried to remain patient.
"Why? Are there four rivers? And this is the fourth one?"
"No, forth means a passage or ford."
"Ford like a car? We're passengers in a car."
"Yes, Bobby, just like that." Miss Trask had given up.
"Hey! We're going to stay by the first four rivers and stairs!" Bobby exclaimed to no one in particular.
They passed through Linlithgow and Miss Trask said they would have to go back sometime during their stay because Mary Queen of Scots and King James V were both born at Linlithgow Palace so it would be an interesting visit. In Grangemouth, besides the haunted monkey castle, the only thing to really see would be the Jupiter Project, Scotland's largest wildlife garden. If Mart or Jim had come along, they could learn all sorts of stuff about wildlife gardens, but since they weren't here, Trixie and Honey could enjoy the visit without wordy lectures. That is, if Bobby didn't destroy the place first.
Honey and Trixie threw their bags in a room in the castle and then went to explore. Bobby wanted to 'splore too, but since Miss Trask agreed to Bobby-sit, he and Miss Trask went in a different direction. This allowed Honey and Trixie to stumble into trouble unchaperoned. Which they did, but they didn't realize it yet. They walked down a hall of some sort that had lots of arching passageways built into it. When they turned one corner, they found a large sombrero blocking the path.
"How strange," Honey commented. "Why would somebody leave a sombrero here?"
"It is pretty mysterious," Trixie's eyes lit up.
"I suppose so. Do you think there are other people staying here? Or maybe it belonged to the last guests," Honey came up with some very reasonable possibilities much to Trixie's disgust.
"Or maybe the wild ghost monkeys ate the last guest and all that's left is his hat. Let's see if there's any initials in the hat band." Trixie liked her outlandish idea better.
"Gross! Now I won't be able to eat dinner." But she meekly followed Trixie and peeked at the inside of the hat for any clues. There were none.
"Well, I guess I can give the sombrero to Bobby," Trixie commented.
The next day they all went to Linlithgow Canal Centre where Bobby asked why 'center' was spelled wrong. "Wow, Bobby, I didn't know you knew how to read and spell! That means I've been reading Peter Rabbit to you for nothing all these years?" Trixie was both impressed and furious.
"But Trixie, I love when you read to me. Read to me now!" He pulled a very dog-eared Peter Rabbit book out of his back pack.
"Where's Miss Trask?" Trixie pleaded.
"Why, Trixie, she left him with us, like you always do to her when you're supposed to Bobby-sit," Honey explained. Then to Bobby she added, "I'll read to you, Bobby."
"Oh, I guess I do do that a lot," Trixie admitted shame-faced. "No, it's okay Honey, I'll read to Bobby. It is part of why I get paid the $5.00 a week I contribute to the club's treasury."
Trixie and Bobby sat down and Trixie read Peter Rabbit three times. Finally Miss Trask came back and said she had four tickets for the next canal ride that would leave soon. They enjoyed the ride, but Trixie noticed a short bald man that kept glaring at them the whole time. She pointed him out to Honey, but Honey thought he was just another tourist who was maybe having a bad day.
Back at the Canal Centre, they went to the Tea Room for some tea and biscuits. The short bald man was nowhere to be seen, though Trixie kept looking for him. Miss Trask enjoyed the tea immensely. They also visited the museum at the Centre. Still, Trixie could not find the short bald man. "I'm telling you, Trixie, there was nothing mysterious about the short bald man." Trixie was miffed that Honey was being so unsupportive. Maybe this is a pod Honey and the real Honey is still back at the castle, she thought, and shrugged her shoulders.
When they got back to the castle the two girls went for a walk around the grounds. They found themselves in a similar passageway where they had first picked up the sombrero. This time, in the middle of the floor, was a felt fedora, the sun shining brightly on it from the high window.
"We'd better move this out of the sun before it gets faded," Honey commented.
"Wait! Isn't it mysterious that there's another hat left on the grounds?"
"I think it's more mysterious that we are getting sunshine in Scotland. It should be foggy you know."
"Oh, I hadn't even thought of that."
"But you're right, I think it is more than coincidence that we found two hats in the hallways. Maybe the castle is really haunted by hats, not monkeys," Honey conceded.
"Honey! You're back. I thought I'd be stuck with Pod Honey the rest of the vacation," Trixie hugged her best friend.
Honey was very confused but hugged her back. "So, how do we find out where the hats are coming from?" she asked Trixie.
"Let's try to stay up tonight and keep watch in the hallway."
"But there's so many hallways. It's too bad the other bob-whites aren't here so they could help us."
"Well, honestly, do you think Jim or Brian would agree to staying up all night to watch for hats? They'd probably give us some boring rational explanation, like you tried to earlier."
"Well, for one hat I could see that, but not for two hats. You're right, though. They wouldn't help us at all, would they? Though Mart and Dan probably would and you know Di would."
"Yes. It would've been perfectly-perfect if the five of them could've come."
"So which hallway do we watch?" Honey asked, getting back on topic.
"Well, last time we found the hat in the west hallway. This one is in the south hallway. So we should go check out the north and the east sides of the castle. If there aren't any hats there now, then we'll flip a coin to choose one of them."
"That makes about as much sense as this whole story," Honey agreed. Now Trixie was confused, but she ignored the strange story remark as she raced ahead to get to the east hallway.
Honey followed her. There were no hats there, but Trixie did notice some strange prints in the dirt of a large urn that looked like it was supposed to be filled with flowers of some sort. "Darn," she said, "Jim would know exactly what kind of animal made those prints."
"Shall we go check the north side?" Honey asked.
Trixie nodded and they walked around till they got to the north passageway. No hats were lying around there either. They flipped a coin and decided to stake out the east hallway that night.
Both girls pretended to go to bed early, and they actually did. Honey set the alarm for 11pm though, so they could wake up and keep watch in the east passageway. Trixie found two flashlights and they quietly snuck out of their room. Unfortunately, Bobby woke up and heard them. "Hey! Where you going?" he shouted loud enough for anyone in the entire castle to hear them.
"Sssh," whispered Trixie with her finger to her mouth.
"We're just going to use the bathroom. I was scared to go by myself," Honey lied to him. She crossed her fingers though, so it was okay.
"Oh, okay," he accepted the explanation and let them go on.
"Phew, that was close," Trixie sighed. "I was afraid he would want to tag along."
The two girls continued to creep towards the east end of the castle. They made their way to the east passage and found a comfortable spot where they could watch for any unusual activity. By two am they fell asleep on the cold floors, never having noticed anything. A short bald man grinned mischievously at the pair.
Bobby shouted "I founded them! I founded them! They must've gotten losted when they wented to the bathroom!"
Miss Trask followed his shouts and found the two girls rubbing their eyes as they woke up from the noise Bobby made. "Trixie? Honey? Are you okay?"
"Hmmm," answered Honey groggily. "Yes, we're fine. We must have fallen asleep when we were looking for "
"For the bathroom," Trixie finished for her just in case she was about to let slip that they were looking for a hat.
Then Bobby shouted, "Look what else I founded! It's a baseball cap! And it's the Cubs! Can I keep it? Can I? Huh?"
"Yes, Bobby, you may keep it for now," Miss Trask answered him, "but if the owner shows up to claim it you will have to give it back."
Later in their room Trixie and Honey chastised themselves over falling asleep and missing who left the mysterious hat. While they were deciding whether or not to visit the wildlife garden, Trixie heard some strange noises. Honey listened too, but couldn't figure out what it was or where it was coming from exactly. The castle walls echoed a lot. They decided to try and follow the sounds anyway. They kept climbing up and down stairs, going in and out of rooms, but only once in awhile did they hear the noise. Finally they found themselves back at the north passageway.
They turned a corner and Honey gasped while Trixie shushed her. There in the corner was a small monkey in a fez. They approached it carefully but it screeched and jumped away. As the two girls gave chase, they heard a nasal voice shout "Oh no you don't," just before they each got hit on the head and passed out.
They woke up in a small room with lots of empty cages. Their hands were tied but not very tightly, so Trixie managed to undo her knots and then got up to help Honey.
"What the h*** happened!?" asked Honey.
"Honey!" Trixie was shocked. She'd never heard her friend swear before. Oh gosh, I hope this isn't another pod Honey!
"Sorry, I was just so startled."
"So where is this room?"
"And what's with all the cages?"
They examined their surroundings. Then they heard the nasal voice saying, "I
gotcha this time you little Houdini monkey you. Now where are your
They hid behind some large chairs as the short bald man entered the room with the protesting monkey. He stuffed the monkey in a cage and closed the door. He stalked back out of the room before noticing that the girls were no longer tied up.
The two girls waited a few minutes before leaving their hiding place. Honey went over to the caged monkey, "Oh you poor thing. Let me get you out of there." She unlatched the door and the monkey jumped onto Trixie's shoulder.
"What a cutie," Trixie smiled.
They continued to look through the room. Honey found a large box full of all different kinds of hats.
"Do you think this is where the hats are coming from?" she asked.
"Must be. Now the question is what do the monkey and the hats and the short bald man have to do with anything? It's very mysterious."
"It certainly is. Let's go bring the hats to Bobby and then go to the kitchen to feed the monkey." They started walking towards the kitchen. The monkey sometimes jumped away but he always came back to Trixie. "I think the little fella likes you," Honey chuckled.
"He is pretty cute."
"Cuter than Jim?"
Trixie blushed but didn't reply. Once in the kitchen, they gave the monkey some apples and grapes to eat. They left the box of hats on the kitchen table. Once in awhile the monkey would go and grab a hat, pull his fez off and put the new hat on. Then he'd hop around as if trying it out, and exchange it for a different hat again. Honey found a tray of sandwiches in the icebox and Trixie got some grape juice from the cellar. The three had a nice little lunch. The monkey settled on a small sombrero with a plastic chili pepper on it.
"You!" they heard from the doorway.
The two girls turned to stare. The short bald man was carrying two monkeys and one bit him. Trixie laughed.
"What are you two girls doing in my castle?"
Miss Trask appeared behind him then. "George? Is that you?"
"Margy?" the man turned and then cast a weary eye at the squirming six year old with Miss Trask.
"Girls, Bobby, this is George, my very distant cousin." The monkeys escaped the bald man and jumped on the table to eat sandwiches and try on hats with their other monkey friend. Bobby squealed in delight and jumped on the table with the monkeys and the hats.
"Where is the monkey's hat, you little monkey?" demanded the bald man of Bobby.
"So," Trixie explained to Jim over the phone, "there really wasn't any mystery at all. George likes to keep pet monkeys. I think it's because he has no social skills so he gets lonely in that boring old castle."
"But why did that jerk tie you two up?" Jim asked.
"He honestly thought we were intruders trying to steal his precious monkeys."
"That's not good enough. I hate the thought that that weirdo could've hurt you guys. What were you thinking investigating mysterious hats in a supposedly monkey-haunted castle anyway?"
"Oh, Jim, put a sock in it!"