"Wow!" eight-year-old Nancy Drew exclaimed. She was looking out her bedroom window. A thick layer of snow covered the grass, the trees, and the houses. The rose bushes in the yard were completely buried. The snow had fallen during the night, while Nancy was sleeping.
Nancy dressed for school as quickly as possible. She ran downstairs.
Her father was sitting at the kitchen table. Hannah Gruen, the Drews' housekeeper, was working at the counter. She had taken care of Nancy ever since her mother died, five years earlier.
"Good morning, Daddy," Nancy said. "Hi, Hannah. Isn't the snow great?"
"Good morning, Pudding Pie," Mr. Drew replied. "We got ten inches last night."
"Cool," Nancy said. She slipped into her chair at the table.
"Your school may be closed," Hannah told Nancy. She turned up the radio. "Let's listen to the news report."
Nancy began eating her toast and scrambled eggs. She listened as the radio announcer read a long list of schools that were closed because of the snow.
"Carl Sandburg Elementary School," the announcer said.
"Yippee!" Nancy yelled. "No school! May I please go sledding in the park?"
"Why not?" Mr. Drew said with a smile. "I'll get your sled out of the basement."
"Great," Nancy said.
After breakfast she called her friends George Fayne and Bess Marvin. They agreed to meet at Nancy's house as soon as possible.
Half an hour later, the girls were pulling their sleds through the deep snow. Each step took a lot of energy. It took the girls almost ten minutes to get to the end of Nancy's street.
"Pulling a sled in the snow is hard," Bess said. She had the same kind of sled as Nancy -- a wooden one with runners.
"I think it's fun," George said. She had a blue saucer sled.
Nancy smiled. Sometimes it was difficult to believe her best friends were cousins. They were so different.
Bess's blond hair was neatly pulled back with a hair band. She was careful not to fall down. Bess didn't like her clothes to get dirty. George was taller with dark, curly hair. She liked sports more than Bess did. Even though the girls were different, they had tons of fun together.
Nancy was happy when the girls finally reached the park. Near the entrance, a woman was selling hot chocolate from a van.
"Hilda's Hot Chocolate," Nancy read off the van's side. "We'll have to come back here later. Daddy gave me some money."
"We can drink hot chocolate to warm up," George said. "But we have to get cold first!"
The girls walked into the park. They stood at the top of a long hill and looked down. Dozens of kids were sledding. Nancy spotted some boys from her class: Mike Minelli, Jason Hutchings, and David Berger.
"Here comes Molly," Bess said.
Molly Angelo was marching up the hill. She was dragging her sled behind her. Molly was in the same class as Nancy, Bess, and George. She was a small, bouncy girl with long, curly dark hair.
"Wait for me!" Molly called to the others. "We can go down the hill together!"
"Okay," Nancy called. She positioned her sled on the top of the hill and sat down on it. She kept her feet on the ground so she wouldn't start sliding.
"I'm ready!" Molly announced. Her sled had hand brakes, a plastic seat, and wide runners.
"Me, too!" George said.
"Just a second," Bess said. She was still fussing with her gloves and scarf.
Nancy gave Bess another minute to get ready. Then she pushed off.
"Catch me if you can!" Nancy yelled. She laughed as she bumped over the snow. Her sled went faster and faster. The wind was blowing in her eyes.
Near the bottom, Molly zoomed past Nancy. Her sled went farther than Nancy's, too.
George and Bess stopped behind Nancy.
"That was fun!" George said as she climbed off her sled.
"Yeah!" Molly said.
"I got snow on my clothes," Bess said. But she was smiling.
"Let's go again," Nancy said. She led the way up the hill.
"Your sled is fast," George told Molly.
"I know," Molly said. "I just got it for my birthday. You guys can try it, if you like."
"Okay," Nancy agreed.
On the next run, Nancy and Molly switched sleds. Then George took a turn on Molly's sled. They were coming up the hill for the fourth time when Rebecca Ramirez called their names.
Rebecca lived near Nancy. They walked to school together. Rebecca wanted to be an actress when she grew up. She made a big drama out of everything.
"Hi, Rebecca!" Nancy called. "Where's your sled?"
"My dumb brother has it," Rebecca said with a heavy sigh. Rebecca's brother, Todd, was twelve years old.
"How come?" George asked.
"It's so unfair," Rebecca said. "Todd didn't take good care of his sled last winter. The runners rusted. Now Mom is making me share with him. Only, Todd disappeared. I haven't seen him or my sled for half an hour."
"Maybe he went to the Gulch," Nancy said. The Gulch was a steeper hill about half a mile away. Older kids liked to sled there.
"Probably," Rebecca said. "I bet I'll never see my sled again!"
"You can have a turn on mine," Bess offered.
"Thanks," Rebecca said.
For the next hour, the five girls shared four sleds. Nancy thought Molly's was the most fun because it went fastest.
Nancy was waiting for her friends at the top of the hill when some older kids arrived. She recognized Sam McCorry.
Sam was wearing a jacket that said River Heights High School Football. Nancy knew Sam because she played with his younger sister sometimes.
"This hill is tiny," Sam told his friends.
"Let's do a few runs and then go to the Gulch," one of Sam's friends said.
"Sounds good," Sam said. "Beat you to the bottom!" He pushed off hard and started down the hill. His sled was exactly the same as Molly's.
Sam's going too fast, Nancy thought. And he's headed directly for Bess!
Bess was just climbing off her sled at the bottom of the hill.
"Watch out, Bess!" Nancy shouted.
Copyright © 1999 by Simon & Schuster
Thrill on the Hill
Hurray! The ground is covered with thick snow and that means no school. As soon as Nancy gets the news, she, George, and Bess head straight for the park to go sledding. Everybody is there, including Molly Angelo with her brand-new sled.
Molly's sled is really fast, and everyone wants to borrow it. But after the girls take a hot-chocolate break, they return to find it's gone! So who took it? Just like snowflakes, no two mysteries are alike -- and Nancy better figure this one out before the snow melts!