Judy Bolton Days

Judy Bolton Days
First annual in 1991!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


nancy drew nancy drew nancy drew

Complete text of this full-length Dana Girls mystery online now
at this alternate site:

Dana Girls: The Secret of the Ice Castle

A 1930s Dana Girls fan fiction mystery:
An eerie twin-towered castle of white stone on an ice-bound island on a frozen winter lake, a nearby English manor house haunted by a ghostly flute-playing figure who roams the halls at night accompanied by a wolf, and a mysterious kidnapped girl from the past all come together in one of the most thrilling Dana Girls cases ever!

"It was just like reading one of the original novels by McFarlane or Benson."
............. Frank Quillen, series book aficionado

"This 'new' original-style Dana has all the literary plot development of the first, the strong setting, the familiar leading characters, the pranks, the coincidences (I love those coincidences!), and an unusual mystery - all ring very true to the series books series, Dana Girls."
............ SUSABELLA PASSENGERS, series books fanzine

"THE SECRET OF THE ICE CASTLE is marked by a high sense of adventure. It is a gripping mystery that compelled my attention throughout the reading. I was more than pleasantly surprised to read it, and gladly give it a 9+."
............ David M. Baumann, Starman series author



The old crone's face bore a hostile expression as she stopped in front of the tower and planted her feet firmly in the snow. She made a movement with the rifle indicating that the girls should move on.

"Just skate yourselves right away from here, young ladies. We shall have no visitors here at Spirit Island!"

Louise stared at the woman agape for a moment, then her cheeks began to burn red with indignation. "We skated close to shore to get a look at the castle," she told the woman. "We are not committing any crime."

"Furthermore," added Jean, a scowl on her face and her hands on her hips, "we happen to know that this property belongs to Rutherford Symington, for whom our uncle captains a luxury liner. I'm sure he'd not mind the nieces of a loyal and important employee taking a close look at his property."

The old woman's expression altered slightly, but her beady eyes narrowed as she lowered the rifle so it was no longer aimed directly at the girls. "Then be off with you! You have come as close as the law allows. This island is private property and no trespassing is allowed."

Evelyn, too, had an insulted expression on her face. "We are students at Starhurst School for Girls," she said. "My parents used to socialize with the Symingtons. It is an outrage to be threatened with a firearm when we have done no wrong."

Louise gave Evelyn an encouraging smile, then turned back to the fur-clad crone. "How do we know you have a right to be here? As far as anyone knows, the castle is no longer inhabited. What are you doing here?"

The woman's eyes were like black stones, and they flashed angrily at Louise. She raised the rifle and screeched, "I will not be questioned by nosy trespassers!"

The rifle cracked and a loud report split the peaceful wintry calm as a bullet whizzed over the girls' heads. All three of them cringed as they ducked down, knowing that the shot had been much too close for comfort.

"Go away and don't come back!" the hostile woman shouted.

Evelyn had turned and began to quickly skate away. Needing no further urging, Louise and Jean were soon at her side and the trio sped for shore.

"Goodness! Who is that woman and what is she doing there?" asked Jean breathlessly, tossing a quick look back over her shoulder. "And what is she hiding?" Louise wanted to know. "I doubt that Mr. Symington has an armed guard protecting his Ice Castle from trespassers."

"Especially an old witch like that," Evelyn agreed. "Just imagine! Being fired upon while ice skating!"

"It's outrageous," put in Jean. "We shall go to the authorities immediately."

"I have a better idea," Louise said. "We'll have Uncle Ned ask Mr. Symington if his Ice Castle is being guarded. I strongly suspect that he doesn't know anything about that woman."

Jean nodded in agreement, her eyes alight. "It appears we have stumbled upon a mystery, girls. Something very strange is going on at Spirit Island!"

Mysteries were nothing new to the Dana girls. They had a knack of running into them wherever they went, and they had in the past proved themselves of being capable to follow them out to satisfying conclusions. Upon beginning their studies at Starhurst School for Girls, Jean and Louise solved their first mystery when they found the missing Starr jewels by the light of a study lamp. Many other strange and sinister cases followed and the girls gained a name for themselves as amateur detectives in and around Penfield. Recently, while on a holiday trip to New York City, the sisters had come to the aid of a homeless woman and solved the mystery of The Specter in the Snow. Now, it appeared they were on the verge of another startling riddle, this one concerning the Ice Castle of Spirit Island.

The three girls had rounded the point on the island's end when Jean suddenly exclaimed, "Look! In the woods! I just saw a flash of red."

She was pointing to the back shore of the island that they were quickly approaching. Louise and Evelyn followed her gaze, but there was nothing to be seen in the thickly wooded area leading up from the shore.

"Maybe it was a bird," Evelyn suggested. "A cardinal, perhaps."

Jean pointed. "No, there it is again!"

Louise pushed on forward. "I see it too. It looks like someone moving through the trees. Somebody in a red coat!"

"Yes, now I see," Evelyn agreed. "Who can it be? Don't tell me there is a second person inhabiting this island."

"We shall soon find out," Jean said, skating on and pulling the other two girls along with her. "Something strange is going on here and I feel it is our obligation to investigate."

"My feelings exactly," Louise replied quickly, with a nod of her head. "Uncle Ned is an employee of Mr. Symington's, and our family's good fortune depends on the stability of the shipping company. Something might be going on here that possibly could undermine it."

With that noble purpose in mind, the three Starhurst girls skated closer to the shore scrutinizing the woods for the red-coated stranger.

"There," Evelyn whispered as they reached the thick trees at the edge of the woods. "Someone is leaning against a tree."

In the gathering gloom about twenty yards from shore a figure wearing a red hooded jacket could be seen leaning against the trunk of a thick old tree.

"He or she must be resting," Louise said in low tones. She pointed at the ground on shore. "Look, there are footprints here in the snow."

Jean nodded. "That hooded figure must have walked across the ice from the shore and is now headed to the Ice Castle."

"Shall we follow?" Evelyn asked apprehensively, still wary of being near the island. "What if this person is armed too?"

Jean and Louise were not eager to approach the stranger after the recent experience with the angry woman with the rifle, but their curiosity demanded that they do something.  Deciding on a different tact, Louise cupped her hands around her mouth and called out:

"Hello! Hello there!"

Startled, the mysterious figure whirled away from the tree and spun around, showing a pale wide-eyed face framed by the red hood.

"Why, it's just a girl," Jean exclaimed. "She can't be any older than us."

Immediately, the pale-faced figure spun back around and began thrashing through the trees and underbrush in the direction of the Ice Castle on the other side of the island.

"Oh, don't go," Louise cried out. "Stop!"

Instinctively, all three girls had stepped onto the shore and started to run after the retreating figure. However, even though the snow was deep and offered some support, running along the ground on ice skates proved to be difficult.

"We'll never catch up to her," Jean groaned as they watched the girl disappear into the gloomy forest.

Evelyn grunted in agreement. "I should think we'd break an ankle first."

"I wonder who she is," Louise mused as they slowed their pace. She momentarily grabbed onto a tree for support. "Just watch your step. Perhaps we can follow her tracks for a while."

Cautiously, the girls plodded on as they followed the footprints of the hooded stranger. But soon their ankles began to ache from the effort, and a light snow had begun to fall.

"We had better turn back," Evelyn suggested. "It is getting dark and it's snowing too. We must return to the lodge and get our boots, then hurry back to Starhurst. And I don't think it wise to get too close to the Ice Castle again."

Jean and Louise agreed, although if it were earlier and they were wearing boots they both would go on further. The direction in which they were headed would eventually lead them to the back of the Ice Castle, and their natural curiosity to get to the bottom of a mystery would spurn them on regardless of the woman's warning, although they certainly would proceed with great caution.

"We'll come back another day," Louise declared, as they turned to go back. "And we'll carry our boots out to the island so we can investigate."

"Wait a minute," Jean called out, tapping upon a tree at her side. "This is the tree that the girl was leaning on when you called to her, Louise. Look! a piece of cloth from her coat is snagged on this little knob."

The knob was a small spike from a broken branch. Louise picked off the small piece of red wool that was stuck onto it and turned it over in her glove.

"It must have torn off when she whirled around," Evelyn surmised.

"Most likely," Louise agreed. "It's not much to go on, but at least it's a clue."


The other two girls heard Jean gasp and watched as she dropped to her knees and thrust her hand into a tangled thicket next to the tree. A moment later she withdrew a small leather case.

"The girl must have dropped this when we startled her," she said excitedly, getting back on her feet and brushing the snow off the zippered case. "This could be something important. Shall we look at the contents?"

Louise looked up at the falling snow and shook her head in dismay. "We really must hurry home. It's dark now and snowing, and we have quite a hike ahead of us. Let's save it for later and look at the contents after dinner. And," she added with a smile, "it gives us a definite reason to come back here. We'll have to return the case to its owner."

Although they were intensely curious about the contents of the mysterious case, the girls were in complete agreement that they must hurry back to Starhurst. Jean pocketed the case along with the piece of cloth, and they made their way back through the woods in the descending gloom and quickening snowfall.

Once back on the ice the going was easier and the girls discussed their recent experience as they skated across the open reaches. Jean wondered if the woman with the rifle could be an Indian woman, for there once had been tribes living along the lake.

"It is possible," Evelyn responded. "That would explain the furs and long thick hair. There is a reservation across the lake and some Indians still live there, although many have moved away as they integrate into society."

"We know one thing for sure," Louise commented. "The island is not haunted by ghosts and apparitions. That woman and the girl were as real as you and me. And the light in the tower window and the rifle were real too."

They all three cringed at the memory of the bullet whizzing over their heads and quickened their pace. Within minutes they stepped ashore in front of Forest Lodge and hurried onto the long verandah that spanned the front of the old log building to change into their boots. They had left them on a shelf in a storage area for skis, snowshoes, and other sporting gear across from the front windows. No guests were outdoors at the moment and the place seemed almost deserted. But the girls knew that the dinner hour was near and they could see a few people milling around in the cozy interior.

"Wouldn't it be fun to stay here tonight?" Jean suggested after they had changed from their skates.

"We could get a room with a fireplace, have a delicious meal, then get up at dawn and skate out to explore Spirit Island."

Evelyn chuckled grimly as they stepped off the verandah. "We'd be in a real stew with Professor and Mrs. Crandall if we stayed, although it certainly would be a lot of fun. Let's hope we get back to Starhurst in time for the dinner bell, lest we get in trouble for being late."

Jean and Louise knew exactly what Evelyn was hinting at. Lettie Briggs, a fellow student who was very jealous of the Dana girls and their friends, was always looking for a reason to get them in trouble. Even if they could sneak into the dining room after the bell had rung, Lettie would surely call it to everyone's attention.

The falling snow, however, remained on the lighter side and did not hamper the girls' progress. They hurried along the winding road which skirted Indian Lake and soon arrived at the highway which led into Penfield. They were highly invigorated from the afternoon spent outdoors in the cold weather and made quick time back to the grounds of the highly regarded school for girls.

"What an adventure we had at Indian Lake today!" Evelyn exclaimed as they entered the dormitory through a back service door, stomping the snow from their boots. "We'll have to meet later to inspect the contents of the leather case we found."

"Come to our study after dinner," Louise invited as they hurried up the stairs. "We'll open the case and, hopefully, whatever is in it will shed some light on this new mystery."

Neither the Dana girls nor Evelyn saw the other girl who was standing just within a utility closet on the landing. The girl pressed herself to the wall as she heard the happy voices and her eyes widened at the word mystery. She waited until the other girls had gone upstairs, then hurriedly ran up to her own suite.

The girl was Ina Mason, the one and only friend of the troublesome Lettie Briggs, with whom she roomed in the dormitory. She burst into their suite calling:
"Lettie! Lettie!"
"Why, what is it, Ina?" Lettie Briggs responded, standing before a mirror and admiring a new fur hat she had purchased that afternoon.

"It's the Dana girls," Ina said breathlessly. "They hurried into the back door downstairs while I was emptying our waste basket. Evelyn Starr was with them. They'd been ice skating at Indian Lake and had an adventure! They found a new mystery and also a leather case someone obviously lost. They are meeting in the Dana's study after dinner to open it."

Lettie slowly removed her new hat, eyeing her chum speculatively in the mirror. Her pinched and rather unpleasant-looking face wore a sly smile.

"Good work, Ina! I'm dying to know all about it, of course."

She handed the new hat to her friend. "Please put this away for me. I'll go eavesdrop by their door in hopes of learning more. I'll meet you in the dining room for dinner."

The girl quickly made her way to the hall outside the Dana suite, in which Jean and Louise were changing into clothes suitable for the dining room. The leather case and piece of red wool had been placed on a table next to the sofa in their study and Jean, now dressed in a skirt and sweater, retrieved them to place in a desk drawer.

"Oh look," she called to Louise. "Someone brought in our mail earlier."

She put the case and piece of cloth safely into the top drawer and picked up the envelopes that had been placed on the desk. She was flipping through them as Louise came into the study from the bedroom.

"One is from Uncle Ned!" Jean cried, retaining it in her hand as she placed the others back on the desk top.

"Do open it," Louise urged, checking her wrist watch. "We have a couple minutes to spare before we have to be in the dining room."

Jean quickly slit the envelope with a letter opener and pulled out the missive from their beloved uncle. As she scanned the sheet an astonished expression came over her face.

"What is it?" Louise asked. "You look quite amazed."

"I certainly am!" Jean exclaimed. "We have been invited along with Uncle Ned and Aunt Harriet to spend the weekend at Bleak Acres, the Symington estate outside Penfield. There have been strange goings-on at the old mansion, terrifying Mr. Symington and his wife. And Uncle Ned seems to think that you and I can solve the mystery!"
Read the complete novel on the website listed above!


nancy drew nancy drew nancy drew

Complete text of this full-length Dana Girls mystery online now
at this alternate site:

Dana Girls: The Secret of the Ice Castle

A 1930s Dana Girls fan fiction mystery:
An eerie twin-towered castle of white stone on an ice-bound island on a frozen winter lake, a nearby English manor house haunted by a ghostly flute-playing figure who roams the halls at night accompanied by a wolf, and a mysterious kidnapped girl from the past all come together in one of the most thrilling Dana Girls cases ever!

"It was just like reading one of the original novels by McFarlane or Benson."
............. Frank Quillen, series book aficionado

"This 'new' original-style Dana has all the literary plot development of the first, the strong setting, the familiar leading characters, the pranks, the coincidences (I love those coincidences!), and an unusual mystery - all ring very true to the series books series, Dana Girls."
............ SUSABELLA PASSENGERS, series books fanzine

"THE SECRET OF THE ICE CASTLE is marked by a high sense of adventure. It is a gripping mystery that compelled my attention throughout the reading. I was more than pleasantly surprised to read it, and gladly give it a 9+."
............ David M. Baumann, Starman series author


"I feel as if I can skate right into the sunset. Don't you?" asked impetuous fair-haired Jean Dana as she did a spin on the ice, the skirt of her stylish skating suit twirling out about her.

Her older sister Louise, whose dark hair and sedate expression gave indication of a more serious personality, was skating right behind her. "It's several miles to the hills across the lake," she said, a slight smile quirking her lips. "To catch that sunset you'll surely have to put some speed on!"

"Six miles, to be exact," agreed the Dana girls' friend Evelyn Starr, who was ice skating with them on frozen Indian Lake. "The sun will have set and gone by the time we shall get there."

The three girls were on a winter outing in early January, enjoying an afternoon away from their studies at Starhurst School for Girls, located near Penfield. The beautiful lake, situated in the hills just north of the school, was a popular resort area in the summer months, but it seemed isolated and remote now in the chill of winter. They had changed into their skates and left their boots on the verandah of Forest Lodge, where there had been evidence of a few guests in residence, but no one else was in sight now as they executed their spins and turns on the smoothly frozen bay.

"I don't think we shall actually go clear to the far shore," Jean laughed gaily, stopping her spin with the toe of a skate. "But what say we skate out to that island?"

She pointed to a wooded island perhaps a half mile ahead where the bay opened up into the lake. Already it was beginning to look like a black silhouette against the red and purple sky.

Evelyn look startled. "That's Spirit Island! Goodness, no one dares to go there."

Louise sent her a curious glance. "Why ever not? What could possibly keep people away from such a lovely island?"

"It's said to be haunted," Evelyn said plainly. "You have never heard the legends?"

Jean shook her head. "No, we haven't. Remember that Louise and I have only been in the region since we've been attending Starhurst. We did not grow up here as you have."

Evelyn nodded. It was true that she had lived near Penfield all her life. Starhurst School for Girls had been her family home. Through a series of misfortunes her parents had been forced to sell the old mansion and its sprawling grounds. Professor and Mrs. Crandall, the school's headmistress, had purchased the property and turned it into the exclusive academy. Evelyn had been able to stay on at Starhurst as a student thanks to the Dana girls' effort in finding a cache of missing family jewels, which had restored good fortune to the girl and her brother after their parents' deaths.

"Haunted?" Louise said with a laugh, grabbing her companions' hands and pulling them along with her. "Come, let's skate a little closer and you can tell us all about it."

Evelyn went along reluctantly. "Well, not too close, okay? There is an old Indian burial ground on the island and the ghosts of the dead Indians are said to haunt it."

"That's a delightful legend," Jean grinned, her eyes sparkling. "I'm surprised you allow it to frighten you, Evelyn."

The girl shook her head. "You don't understand. There is far more to the story." She pointed ahead. "Look. You'll be able to see as soon as we round this point."

Gliding swiftly on the smooth ice, they had neared the wooded island and were approaching a narrow point that jutted out from its main body. Louise was just about to ask what it was that they'd soon see, when the words she was about to emit were suddenly stilled on her lips.

"My goodness!" was all she could say instead, as they glided around the end of the point.

"Oh .... it's so ... beautiful!" Jean fairly gushed, as the trio came to a halt in front of the main part of Spirit Island that faced the open reaches of the lake.

"It's beautiful, all right," Evelyn agreed, her voice slightly aquiver. "But terrifying too. You see, like the island, it's haunted, and few people dare to venture even this close."

Set into a clearing about a hundred feet from the island's shore was a castle-like structure of white stone, now glittering like a smoldering fire as it reflected the setting sun it faced. Its many leaded windows gleamed like jewels, and two towers with crenellated battlements, one on each side, loomed above the rest of the gabled roof line.

"This gorgeous house is haunted?" Louise gasped in awe. "It looks like a castle of ice, created by a wizard for a magical winter carnival."

"Exactly," Evelyn agreed. "It is known as 'The Ice Castle' and was built by aging shipping magnate Rutherford Symington as a winter retreat years ago when he was a young man."

"Why, his company owns the Balaska, Uncle Ned's ship," Jean said excitedly.

The Dana girls' uncle, Ned Dana, was the captain of a large steamship which traveled to all ports world-wide. His home was in nearby Oak Falls and he shared it with his maiden sister Harriet, the girls' aunt, and the girls themselves when they were not in attendance at Starhurst. Orphaned at an early age, they had grown up under the loving care of their aunt and uncle. Cora Appel, a somewhat dimwitted but loyal servant whom the girls nicknamed 'Applecore', was also part of the household.

"But why is the castle reputed to be haunted?" Louise wanted to know. "What haunts it? The ghosts of the Indians?"

As they skated a little closer to the glittering white castle nestled in its wintry setting amongst tall bare trees and towering fir and pine, Evelyn told them the story of the unusual habitation.

"Rutherford Symington grew up at Bleak Acres, the family estate not far from Penfield. He vacationed here at Indian Lake in his youth. He stayed at Forest Lodge and would often row out to this island, even though the legends made it taboo to hike about the old burial grounds."

Louise nodded sagely. "A young man, especially one from a wealthy and prominent family, would surely pay no mind to ancient taboos of a primitive people."

"He habitually vacationed here in the winter," Evelyn continued, "for he was an avid cold weather and winter sports enthusiast. As the years went by and he took over the management of the family's shipping interests, he had more and more of a need for a nearby place to which to retreat. So he purchased the island from the government with the provision that he must leave the burial ground areas untouched. They are on the other end of the island. On this end he built his winter castle with rare special white limestone imported from far off Nova Scotia.

"Many happy times were had at the Ice Castle, despite the scary legends of the island. That never stopped the Symingtons and their friends from coming here. Until ....."

Evelyn shuddered and looked wide-eyed at the ornate house with its beautiful twin towers.

"Until what?" Jean begged, enrapt by the story.

"Rutherford had married in his early twenties," Evelyn went on. "Within a year his wife gave birth to Baby Lorraine. She was a golden vision, this beautiful child, like her lovely mother. My parents knew the Symingtons and often socialized with them. Little Lorraine was a wonderful child and everyone loved her dearly."

Louise's brow knit in a furrow and she frowned. "Something happened to her, didn't it? Something dreadful?"

"You are right," the Starr girl nodded. "She was kidnapped at the age of ten while the family was vacationing here on the island. It was a sensational case that made headlines across the nation. We, of course, were too young to remember it. The Symingtons despaired at the loss of their golden Lorraine. You see, to this day she has never been seen again."

A gloved hand flew to Jean's heart. "The poor child! I wonder what happened to her?"

"No one knows," Evelyn said with a sad sigh. "Many leads were tracked down throughout the years, but not a trace of the girl was found."

"Were there no demands for ransom?" Jean queried.

Evelyn shook her head. "That was one of the many unusual aspects of the case. Even though there had been signs of a struggle and abduction, there were never any demands for ransom.  It was as if the child disappeared off the face of the earth. Afterward, the Ice Castle was closed up, never to be used again by the family because of the memories here.

"But," the girl went on, "rumors abound, and there are those who swear that strange apparitions have been sighted on the castle grounds, especially at these times in the dead of winter."

The three girls gazed at the massive fortress which was now less than two hundred feet away, so close to the island's shore they had glided. It was still reflecting a fiery glow from the sunset. Then, suddenly, as the sun swiftly sank below the far hills, the red glow vanished in an instant to be replaced by the brilliant white of the ice-like stone.

Then; "My gosh! Look!" Jean cried, pointing at the tower on the castle's north side.

Louise and Evelyn's eyes flew to the window atop the tower beneath the battlements of the roof. A flickering light could be seen within the leaded window, like a sputtering candle caught in a draft.

"It's a light," Louise gasped. "Someone is in the tower!"

Evelyn glided slowly backward on the ice, fear in her eyes. "It might be the ghost," she cried. "Oh, let's get away from here!"

"Nonsense," Louise said. "There are no such things as ghosts. Someone is in the tower and they have lighted a lamp or a candle. Let's go knock on the front door. Surely whoever is in there will answer our call."

"But it's too late," Evelyn argued, wanting to get far away as quickly as possible. "The sun has set and we must return to Starhurst in time for dinner."

"I agree with Louise." Jean overruled. "Perhaps the Symingtons rent out the castle these days. A winter vacationist might be here. Or" she mused in a lower tone, "maybe something sinister is going on."

Evelyn gave her a wry glance. "I doubt very much if the family would permit anyone to use the castle, and the legends would surely scare off almost everyone from desiring it. That light is bound to be connected to something very mysterious, and you Dana girls just cannot resist a mystery!"

"Then we shall knock on the door," Louise declared, "and if someone answers we shall act like we are just passing by on our way back to Starhurst and making a neighborly call. Come, let's go."

She and Jean began to skate closer to the island, but the Starr girl held back.

"You two go. I'll wait here."

Jean was just about to urge Evelyn to join them when a sudden harsh voice shattered the wintry stillness of Indian Lake.

"Halt! Do not come any closer or I shall shoot!"

Startled, the three Starhurst girls gaped ahead. Around the side of the north tower of the Ice Castle came a ghastly-looking figure, an aged crone with streaming black hair. She was dressed in a coat of dark fur pelts that reached down to her heavily booted feet, and her beady black eyes glared angrily at the girls.

In her arms she held a rifle and its steel muzzle was aimed directly at them!

Read the entire story at the website listed above!