The Circus Detective

Jordan stuck his head into the tent just in time to hear one of the circus hands saying, “How does she escape?”

“She isn’t trying to run away,” a tall man said thoughtfully. “She stays on the circus grounds.”

“I  know!” agreed a chubby man. “She’s so quiet. It’s a mystery.”

Jordan tapped the worker on the arm. “What mystery?” he asked. Jordan loved mysteries. He was trying to solve one right now. Grandma’s watch was missing.

“Never mind, Jordan,” the tall worker said. “This one’s too big for you.”

Jordan clinched his teeth and walked away. He pulled his Sherlock Holmes hat down snuggly on his head, ready to investigate. I can find anything, he thought. Jordan reached home with one solved mystery. “Grandma, I found your watch,” he called. Grandma came to the front door from the kitchen. “Where was it?”

“Under the bench behind the house.”

“Thank you! You’re a good ‘finder,’ ” said Grandma. “Lion tamer Clyde Beatty was once in a cage with 40 lions and tigers and didn’t get hurt.” Grandma was always telling Jordan circus facts. She used to be a trick rider on a beautiful horse. Now she made costumes for the circus performers.

“I know, Grandma,” Jordan groaned. “Mmm, I smell peanut butter cookies.”

It was almost spring, and the circus hadn’t traveled during the winter. The children went to school and practiced their acts instead. Jordan had lived with the circus all his life. He knew all the circus animals and workers well.

That night, Jordan lay in bed having cookies and milk. I’m going to solve that circus mystery—when I figure out what the mystery is, he thought. He put the last three cookies on the night table and got up to brush his teeth. Then he climbed back into bed and turned out the light. The open window let in cool air, and Jordan could see the stars.

When morning came, Jordan’s cookies were gone! He looked for them on the floor and under his bed. “Grandma, did you take my cookies?” he asked.

“No,” she answered.

He searched the bedroom floor with his magnifying glass. No tracks. Jordan had his own mystery to solve. Jordan asked his friend Ralph to spend the night so they could catch the thief. They put more cookies on the night table, and Jordan sprinkled flour on the floor and table.

“Why the flour?” Ralph asked.

“You’ll see,” said Jordan.

The next morning, the first place Jordan looked was the night table. “The cookies!” he shouted. “They’re gone!” The boys leapt out of bed. Jordan grabbed his magnifying glass to look at the flour. Not one single mark!

“You ate the cookies so you wouldn’t have to share,” Ralph said accusingly. “You tricked me!” He pulled on his clothes and left.

As Jordan walked into the kitchen, Grandma said, “Miguel Vasquez was the first trapeze artist to do four somersaults in midair.”

“You told me,” Jordan grumbled.

Grandma raised her eyebrows. “What’s going on?”

Jordan told her about the disappearing cookies. “Ralph thinks I played a trick on him, and he’ll probably tell the other kids. I’m going to look stupid.”

“Maybe you’re thinking too small,” Grandma said, winking. “Look for a bigger thief.”

As Jordan walked around the circus grounds with his detective hat on and magnifying glass in his pocket, peopled smiled. “Jordan’s on the case,” they said. “It’s just a trick he’s playing on Ralph,” others whispered.

Jordan studied all the circus animals to see if any of them were small enough to steal cookies. A horse’s neck was too short to reach the night table. A giraffe’s head was too big to fit in the window. No lions or tigers had escaped. The rhino? He’d just knock down the wall. Jordan put his hands in his pockets. Grandma must be wrong. Little cookies would have a little thief.

Jordan put out cookies again that night, spread the flour, and turned out the light. He wore his detective hat to bed to remind himself to stay awake to solve the case. He watched the cookies. Grandma had said, “Think big …” The circus worker had said, “How does she escape?” Another had said, “She’s so quiet.” Jordan sat up and snapped his fingers. “I know who the thief is!” he declared. And he waited. Wind whistled around the corner of the house and trees made ghostly rustling sounds. Suddenly he saw something slither over the windowsill like a big snake. The shadow became larger … a monster!

“Wait a minute! Millie! I knew it was you!” cried Jordan. “You got out of your pen and stole the cookies! I caught you red-handed—or red-trunked I guess.” Millie the elephant picked up the cookies with the fingers on the end of her trunk and put them in her mouth.

Jordan rushed outside. Millie was gentle and knew Jordan well. “Back to your pen,” he said. “Your keeper is looking for you. How did you unlock your pen? With your trunk-fingers?”

In the morning, Grandma said, “An elephant has fingers on the end of its trunk.”

“Yes, Grandma,” smiled Jordan. “I learned that last night.”

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