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"Those poor turkeys!" eight-year-old Nancy Drew said. She was watching a story on the small television set in her room. "Someone needs to help them."
"What are you talking about?" asked Bess Marvin.
Nancy explained that some wild turkeys had been spotted in the parking lot of River Heights Elementary School late yesterday afternoon. When one of the school janitors tried to catch them, though, they ran away. No one was exactly sure where they had come from.
"I wonder why they were at our school," George Fayne said.
"The news showed them trying to drink some of the dirty water coming from a broken pipe," Nancy said. "I guess they were thirsty."
"Oh, poor things," Mary White Cloud said. "They need clean water to drink."
Nancy nodded. "It stinks that that broken pipe flooded some of the school offices, but I'm glad they canceled school today."
"Yeah! A three-day weekend!" exclaimed Bess. "We need the time to get ready for the pageant."
"Speaking of the pageant," George said, "we're all going to be turkeys if we don't pay more attention to what we're doing here."
Bess twirled around in front of Nancy's mirror and looked at the beaded leather dress she was wearing. "I love being a Native American princess," she said. "This is so cool."
Mary White Cloud looked at Bess. "You look great!" she said.
Mary was a new girl in their class at school. She was Native American. The girls' teacher, Mrs. Ramirez, had asked Mary to cast three more girls in the class to play Native American princesses in the pageant part of the River Heights Thanksgiving Celebration. Mary had chosen Nancy and Nancy's two best friends, Bess and George. Most of the time, everyone in River Heights knew the three of them as the Clue Crew. They solved mysteries in town that baffled everyone else. George and Bess were also cousins, although they weren't at all alike.
"The three of you are just right for the part. I hope this pageant is the best one ever at our school."
"We do too, Mary," Bess said. "Thanks for choosing us."
Nancy was always excited about the River Heights Thanksgiving Celebration. It was held at their school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It gave the whole town a chance to celebrate the holiday together with a pageant, a feast, and a food fair.
"Now for the headbands," said Mary. She opened a box on Nancy's bed and took out four beaded strips of leather. "These were worn by real Native American princesses in a tribal ceremony in Oklahoma last year," she told the other girls. "My uncle in Lawton sent them to me."
"Cool!" Nancy said. "Maybe they'll magically turn us into real princesses."
The four of them put on the headbands.
"Mine's a little tight," said Bess.
"That's because you have a big head," George joked.
"No, I don't," Bess retorted. "It's normal."
"Mine's a little loose," Nancy said. "Let's switch."
Finally everyone had headbands that fit perfectly.
"Where are the feathers?" asked Nancy. "Don't we have to have feathers?"
Mary nodded. "That's the most important part, but it's also the most difficult."
"What's so hard about finding feathers?" said George. "My pillow is full of them."
"It can't be that kind of feather," Mary said. "It has to be a special feather."
"What makes a feather special?" asked Nancy.
"It has to come from a living bird," Mary explained.
"You mean we're going to have to pull a feather from a real, live bird?" Bess exclaimed. "How are we going to do that? I don't think we should go around chasing birds, trying to steal their feathers."
"That wouldn't work, either," said Mary, "even if you could catch one. No, it has to be one that the bird left behind, just so it can be used in a ceremony."
"Birds do that?" Nancy said.
"That's what one of our legends says," Mary told them. "A bird will drop a feather somewhere, making a connection with the earth, and then we'll pick it up and put it in our headbands and use it when we're celebrating something important."
"Oh, I love that story," said Nancy.
"So do we," Bess and George chimed in.
"No one else in the pageant will be doing anything like this," Bess said. "All the Pilgrims are making their hats and bonnets out of black construction paper! How boring!"
All of a sudden, the girls heard a loud gasp coming from the kitchen.
"What was that?" Mary asked.
Nancy looked at Bess and George. "It was Hannah! Let's go see what's happening. Come on!"
Hannah Gruen was the Drews' housekeeper. She had been with the family ever since Nancy's mother had died five years before. Nancy was positive that Hannah was the best cook in River Heights. She was also sure that Hannah gave the best hugs.
When the girls got to the kitchen, Hannah was just getting off the phone.
"Are you all right?" Nancy asked.
Hannah turned and looked at them. "I just got off the phone with Mr. Madison," she said sadly. "It looks like Thanksgiving won't be the same this year!"
Text copyright © 2008 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.