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CHAPTER 3: THE FIRST MEETING

During first recess on Wednesday, I inform the crowd of


eager kids that M&M, Inc., will be closed indefinitely while
we focus on a case so important that it could shape the future
of Tiddlywhump and beyond.
While our would-be clients wander off sadly, Emily,
Milton, and I discuss my disguise.
gh t th e pe rf ec t he adband, a shade of
Emily has brou
tly m at ch es th e W onder Scout sash.
blue that exac

I tell them my p
lan to wear the b
girl dress I wore right pink flower
for my aunt Don
na’s wedding.
Of course, I loathe dresses and probably
would have gotten rid of it ages ago, but Mom told
me not to in case Aunt Donna gets married more than once.
And then we turn to establishing my character.
I start with the basics.
When Annabelle goes undercover,
she always uses an accent.
What kind of accent do Wonder Scouts use?
asks Milton.
I have no idea,
I admit.
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“Do I need to get Henrietta?” asks Emily.
“Who?”
Emily points to a girl I swear
I’ve never seen before in my life.
“We talked to her yesterday!”
says Emily, who usually doesn’t
get so exasperated.

Suddenly, I remember.
No! Henrietta talks
like a sleepy robot,
I say, doing my best
sleepy-robot impression.

now t hat.
But Emily and Milton don’t k
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British,
Spanish,
Upper Barmonian,

Lower Barmonian,
feisty french Housekeeper,

Irritated Peruvian Pirate,


Sleepy German Baroness
with Lingering Heartburn . . .
I could go on.

I’m guessing Wonder Scouts have a


private way of speaking that they don’t reveal
until they’re sure no one else is listening. I’ll just
have to wait and see what it sounds like and
then do my best to talk that way.
“Makes sense,” says Emily.
“Sounds difficult,” says Milton.
“Difficult is my middle name,” I say. Of course, this is
not true. But, gosh, I wish it were.
The rest of the school day goes by, and I can’t learn a
thing. My brain is already full, like a chef at the end of a
That night, Dad drives me to my first Wonder Scouts
meeting, in the basement of the Tiddlywhump Community
Center.
“What’s with the party dress?” he asks, failing to hide
his surprise.
“This is an extremely fancy club.”
“And the glasses?”

To complete my encrusted
disguise, I have added spectacles from the
a pair of rhinestone- costume box.

And a pair of fancy white gloves.

“You’re always telling Milton


and me to express our originality.
Would you agree that I look
extremely original?”
“Without a doubt. So, what’s
this club?”
“The Wonder Scouts. It’s for
young women of sterling character.”
I smile with all my teeth, letting
Dad see just how sterling I am.

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I thought you didn’t like clubs.
I have often told Dad that I am
far too original to join a club.

That may be true, but you and Mom


always tell me to keep an open mind.
That’s very wise,
says Dad, laughing a little.

There ’s nothing dads like more than hearing you say their
wise words back to them.

Just like you. And it’s the truest thing I’ve said all day.
I’ve never met a smarter, kinder, wiser person than Dad.

om.
Unless it ’s M

But at the moment, Mom is in a tiny


purple submarine, bravely scouring a deep-
sea trench off the northeast coast of New Zealand
in search of supergiant amphipods, which are sometimes
called the insects of the sea. This is very exciting for
Mom, but pretty hard for all of us, since cell
phones don’t work underwater.
When we pull up to the curb, Tammy
and Tracy are already lurking by the front
door. I get out of the car, and they give me a

If Tammy is happy to see me, she’s doing her best to


keep it to herself.

I go inside. There in the


meeting room is my classmate
Megan Lacey, who always
wears lime-green nail polish.
Megan is only slightly
more lovable than the
Dublingers. The
thought of talking to
her makes me

But I have a case to solve. And so I take a deep breath and


harness my inner Annabelle.

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