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You re kidding!" Bess said to Nancy. "You didn't get anything from your Secret Santa?"
Nancy stared at her desk and shook her head. But she didn't say anything. She didn't want Bess to hear that she was almost ready to cry.
"That's terrible," Bess said.
Nancy nodded and swallowed hard.
Then she thought, Maybe the card fell off my desk.
She looked on the floor. She looked on her chair. She looked inside her desk. She even looked on the desk behind hers.
But she saw nothing except a few tiny sparkles of red glitter on the floor.
"Tell Ms. Spencer," Bess said. "Maybe she forgot to put your card on your desk."
Nancy nodded, but she didn't say anything. She still had a gigantic lump in her throat.
She walked up to Ms. Spencer and stood beside the teacher's desk. She swallowed hard again.
"Yes, Nancy?" Ms. Spencer said, smiling. "What is it?"
"I didn't get a card," Nancy said.
"Really?" Ms. Spencer said. The big smile faded from her face. "Are you sure?"
Without waiting for an answer, Ms. Spencer got up. She walked to Nancy's desk and looked around.
"That can't be right," Ms. Spencer said. "I had a paper bag for each student. Twenty-five bags. I'm sure I put a card on your desk at lunch time."
"Well, it's gone now," Bess said, joining in.
"Yes, Bess, I see that," Ms. Spencer said. "Nancy, are you sure you didn't find anything on your desk?"
Nancy shook her head.
"All right," the teacher said. "Let me think." She walked back to the front of the room.
While Ms. Spencer was thinking, George came running over.
"Where's your card?" she asked Nancy.
"I didn't get one," Nancy said.
George looked surprised. "That's terrible!" she said. "I can't believe it!"
"Me, either," Nancy said.
Nancy looked around the room. Almost everyone else was talking and laughing. Everyone except Brenda Carlton. She was whispering to another girl. They both had mean smiles on their faces.
"All right. Quiet, everyone," Ms. Spencer said. "George, please go back to your seat. Class, we have a mystery to solve."
A mystery? Nancy thought. Hmmm. Maybe this was a mystery! Suddenly she felt a little better. Nancy loved to solve mysteries -- and she was good at it, too. But this was the first time she had to solve one for herself.
"I want your attention," Ms. Spencer said. It took a while for the class to quiet down. Finally everyone was listening.
"Nancy Drew didn't get a Secret Santa card today," Ms. Spencer began. "But I'm sure I put one on her desk. So I think someone must have taken it by mistake. Does anyone know anything about it?"
The class was silent.
"Well," Ms. Spencer said, "I'm very unhappy about this. If anyone in this class took Nancy's card, I expect that person to give it back right away. Put it in her cubby before the end of the day, and we won't say any more about it. Is that clear?"
No one answered.
"And if Nancy's Secret Santa forgot to bring a card for her, I hope you'll find a way to apologize. Any questions?" Ms. Spencer said.
Jason Hutchings raised his hand. "I have a question," he said.
"Do you think her card could have been stolen by aliens from outer space?" he asked.
Everyone laughed. Jason was good at making people laugh.
"No, Jason," Ms. Spencer said. "I don't."
Then Ms. Spencer walked down the aisle to Nancy's desk. "I'm sorry about this, Nancy," she said softly.
"That's okay," Nancy said. But she didn't really mean it.
"I'm proud of you for being such a good sport," Ms. Spencer said. "Some people would be very upset if they didn't get a card today."
That was true, Nancy thought. She looked over at Emily Reeves. Emily had been so excited about the gift exchange. But now Emily wasn't excited at all. She was just sitting at her desk, staring out the window at the snow.
Nancy could see Emily's card lying on her desk. It wasn't very pretty Nancy thought. It was just a plain folded piece of white paper. Emily's Secret Santa had written "To Emily" on the front in pencil.
Then Nancy sneaked a look at Jason. She wanted to see if he liked the card she had made for him. But he had folded it into a paper airplane and was zooming it around in the air.
That's okay, Nancy thought. The card was made out of silver paper. Perfect for paper airplanes!
Nancy had taped a set of wax teeth inside the card. She saw that Jason was wearing the wax teeth and growling at all his friends.
"Nancy," Ms. Spencer called. "Would you run to the office for me? I need to send this note."
Nancy jumped up. It was fun to go on errands! She was glad the teacher had picked her. It made her feel better.
Nancy walked down the hall to the office with the note in her hand. Then she walked slowly back to class. By the time she reached the room, everyone was doing silent reading.
Nancy picked out a book from the bookshelf. It was a story about a girl who forgot her best friend's birthday.
That's probably what happened to me, Nancy thought as she walked back to her seat. My Secret Santa probably forgot to bring me a card.
Then Nancy saw the note lying on her chair. It was folded into a very small square.
She opened the note. Inside she read:
I didn't forget about Secret Santa. I made you a beautiful card. It had candy taped to the front. And it had red glitter decorations, too! Someone must have stolen it! Sorry!!
Your Secret Santa
Copyright© 1994 by Simon & Schuster Inc.