Finding Peder Larson
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It was a lovely Spring day in town square, and Nancy Merriman was out for a morning stroll, weaving her way back and forth across the streets and humming to herself.  She actually wasn't supposed to be on a leisurely walk, since she had been told by her mother to be back home in five minutes with a bag of groceries, but the smell of the sun in the leaves and the lively sounds of everyone working away in town square had made her forget about that part of it completely.

As she entered the main part of town square, she happened across one of her very best buddies, Clara Montoya.  Clara was standing outside her sweet shop, stirring a bowl full of batter and humming a Spanish lullaby to herself.  The two of them started talking.

"Doesn't a fine day like this make you wish you didn't have to work anymore and that you could go on some kind of adventure instead?"  Asked Clara thoughtfully, testing out some of her batter with a furry paw.

"Yup," answered Nancy, nodding in agreement.  "But adventures are not hard to find.  I bet if we just stand here for a while, an adventure will be so excited to see us that it'll run straight into us and then fall back down on the ground, rubbing it's little noggin."


Clara put down her bowl of batter and walked with Nancy into town square to see what was going on with everyone.  As they got closer to the food stand, Kirsten Larson rode by on her horse, Blossom, followed by all the other horses tied together for their daily walk through the mountain trails nearby.

"Hey guys!"  She called, waving from her mount.

"Why hello hello Kirsten!  And what is the news at the Larson's happy household?"  Asked Nancy, waving back at her.

"Well, everyone's fine except well.... everyone's NOT fine, only Britta is.  See, Peder's gone missing and we can't find him!  My mom is really worried that he went and crawled off the bridge into the river or got eaten by a mountain troll or something!"  Kirsten answered, frowning.

Nancy turned to Clara, grinning.  "What did I tell you?"  She said, her grin getting wider as she bounced up and down.  "We just found an adventure!  They ask to find Peder Larson.  And in so asking, they are asking for the return of the world's finest detective team!  Clara and Nancy!  The world's bestest dectectives!  We shall discover where this bitsy baby has gone.  With no sleep or food - well, maybe some chocolate - we will rescue the wee bairn and set his mother's mind at ease!  Never fear, Kirsten!  Nafy and Clara are here!"


And with that, the two of them left a giggling Kirsten to her horses and sped up the grassy slope to the Larson's cabin in the hills to speak to a distraught Mrs. Larson.

"Now, when was the baby last seen?"  Questioned Nancy, pacing the room back and forth, seemingly lost in very complicated thought.

Clara watched her for a little while, very impressed by her thoughtfulness, and then joined her in pacing the room.

"Well, Kirsten and I went to the sewing circle on Friday that was held at the Parkington's house.  I left Anna in charge of watching Peder while we were gone, since Anders had to run the food stand and Britta was...not available.  Then when I came back, I couldn't find Peder anywhere and Anna said she hadn't seen him in days!"  Said Mrs. Larson, her voice shaking a little bit.

"Well, I think that that gives us quite a few suspects, as your emotion-filled voice betrays to me that you haven't given this any thought.  However, never fear, you are not required to do anything now that we are here.  I just thought maybe you should have realized by now that I know exactly who did it."  Nancy said, her ears wiggling.


"Well, you see, of course she is too distraught to realize that Peder might not actually be missing after all!  Mrs. Larson hasn't talked to her husband since she got back.  What if Peder crawled down to the food stand and has been with Anders this whole time?  She would never know, because the food stand is so far away!"  Nancy said, leading Clara out of the house.

"Aha!  That is brilliant!"  Echoed Clara, as they trudged down the hill once again. 
Before they got to the food stand, Nancy pushed Clara behind a tree and the two of them slowly peered out from around it to make sure no one was watching them.
However, when they got to the food stand, there was no on there at all.  No Anders, and absolutely no Peder.  Just a lot of wilting lettuce and blackberries.


Clara crossed her arms and sat down to think.  "Hmmm... now where would a Mr. Larson go if he is not at home, and is not at the food stand?"  She muttered to herself, occasionally tapping her head to help out the thinking process.

"I know!"  Said Nancy, throwing her hands in the air.  "Remember how it flooded town square last week and Mr. Larson had to build a dam to keep all the water away from the stores?  I bet he is still working on his little project in every spare minute he has!"  And she dashed off.

"He should still be working the food stand in every spare minute he has,"  said Clara, huffing after Nancy's cloak, "my Mama is always complaining about how Mr. Larson is never at the food stand when she needs more beef for Carne Adovada."

But Nancy couldn't hear her because she had already reached the bend in the river where Mr. Larson was, indeed still standing.  However she was disappointed to note that he was alone, sipping a cup full of what appeared to be yellow flower petals.

"Mr. Larson, have you seen your son lately?  Where were you on the night that he went missing?"  Said Nancy in small gasps as she got her breath back.

"I haven't seen Peder since I left the house to work at the food stand- the same day that Lara and Kirsten went to the sewing circle.  Anna was supposed to be looking after him, and Britta says she hasn't seen him either."  Anders answered, looking sad and worried until he took another sip of his flower petals and a broad grin spread his face. 
"Mmmm this is good, Clara, make sure to tell your Mama and Papa thanks for my Christmas present.  I haven't gotten around to tasting it until now.  Tastes great!"


The two kitties left Anders to enjoy his flower petals, and wandered off towards the waterfall.

"WAIT!"  Clara said, her eyes bugging out.  "I bet it was Britta.  Her and my sister Rebecca are always
writing to each other and complaining about how annoying Peder is and how they wish he wasn't around so Britta could still get attention!  What if she kidnapped Peder so she could be the baby of the family again!  Who knows what she could've done to him!!"

Clara and Nafy looked at each other, worried, and dashed up the mountain path by the waterfall, which was setting off little rainbow mists between the leaves of the trees, over the bridge at the top of the river, through the trees by the tomato patch, and right to the edge of a little clearing in the trees.  From here, Clara could see into the sun-drenched meadow where little Britta Larson was playing with her fairy dolls in the new grass where the snow had melted away.

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After looking at each other several times, trying to read each others' minds, the two of them burst out into the clearing and stood in front of Britta Larson, their hands on their hips and their noses turned up in a frown.

"Where are you keeping Peder Larson?"  Questioned Nancy, stepping forward towards Britta, who was looking very confused.

"What do you mean, where is Peder?  He's back at the house of course, probably drooling and crying."  Britta said, turning back to her little fairy dolls and propping one up outside what looked like a miniature tipi made out of sticks and leaves.

"Your little brother has gone missing, and we think that you are behind it," added Clara, beginning to circle the place where Britta was sitting, still glaring at her.  "We know that you would be happier if Peder was gone.  Don't try to hide the truth from us!  We are professional detectives!" 

Britta giggled.  "Yeah right, whatever.  I don't have Peder, even though I wish that I had thought of stealing him.  But if I HAD stolen him, he'd be here right now messing up my fairies and that would be really annoying.  Whatever, maybe Peder got kidnapped by indians or something." 
 And with that, she turned her back on the kitties and started humming "the sound of music" to herself.


"Hmmm... kidnapped by Indians, huh?"  Nancy said, scratching her ears as they walked away from the clearing, back into the cold, snowy forest.

"Well I suppose we could go check Kaya's cave!"  Said Clara.

All of a sudden, Clara tripped over something sitting on the path near the tomato patch. 
It was a miniature tipi, made out of real leather skins, and inside was.....

"Isn't that Peder's stuffed piggy toy?"  Nancy asked, pointing at the little pink face sticking out of the tipi entrance.  "Maybe we're on the right path!  Keep going!  We still have to search the entire farm and call his name as we go!  This is not a lost case yet- Nafy and Clara ALWAYS solve the mystery!"

They chugged back down the hill towards the Larson's cabin and burst in the back door. 

"We're going to search your house from top to bottom," Nan said to a startled Mrs. Larson.  "Have you done that yet?" 

"Well no, I just called his name and..."

"Of course you didn't, you are in an advanced state of distraught-ness."  Said Nancy, in a very official doctor-ish voice.

Clara and Nancy got on hands and knees and searched every inch of the house, under beds, tables and chairs, inside the clock, behind the fireplace, inside the fireplace, in the wood pile, under the weaving loom.

Finally, Nancy wrenched open the yarn cupboard by the loom, and found Peder Larson, huddled up between brightly colored balls of yarn, clearly sleeping peacefully.


"There he is!"  Nancy shouted, and everyone else came running to look over her shoulder.

"He must've just crawled in and fallen asleep and then someone closed the door on him!"  Clara said, giggling.

Mrs. Larson reached in and carefully picked up Peder, who was snoring peacefully, just like a little pig.  Clara stood on her tippy toes to hand Mrs. Larson Peder's stuffed piggy, who he clutched happily in his little fists while he slept.

"Well, my my, I never would've looked in there for a child of mine!"  Said Mrs. Larson, finally laughing a little bit.  "Thank you girls so much for helping me to find him.  I was very worried."

"Never fear, for Nancy and Clara are here!  We can solve every mystery, be it large or smaller or teensy tiny miniature, like baby-sized!  Once again, we have solved the case.  Come on Clara, I really have to get those groceries or else I might have to sew lace on all Mommy's napkins." 
Nan shuddered, and the two of them put on their cloaks and trudged back down to town square, their work and adventure done for the day.


When Kirsten arrived home from riding all the horses, she found a happy Peder crawling around the floor. 

"Wow Peder, you're back!  You must be a born navigator.  Come on, let's try out that bowl and see if it's a good floating boat."

Kirsten and Peder spent the rest of the afternoon "boating" around the lake formed by the dam in the river. 
They even had a race against some of Mother Nature's elves, who had stolen Kaya's wyakin's boot boat. 

But that's another story.

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