A Happy Finale
"OF COURSE you may take the matter into court if you like," Mr. Drew responded to Mrs. Topham's threat. "But I warn you it will be a waste of your time and money. If you don't wish to accept my judgment, ask your own lawyer."
"Mr. Drew is right," the other lawyer said, after arising and looking carefully at the legal document which Mr. Drew took from his pocket.
"Oh, he is, is he?" Mrs. Topham retorted. "If that's all you know about law, you're discharged! We'll get another lawyer and we'll fight to the last ditch!"
With that she arose and stalked from the room. Isabel and Ada followed, after bestowing a withering glance upon Nancy. Mr. Topham brought up the rear. As soon as the door had closed behind them, their lawyer arose and picked up his brief case.
"Well, I can't say I'm sorry to be taken off the case," he remarked as he, too, took his leave. "But I advise you to be on your guard. That woman is certainly belligerent."
At once the atmosphere in the Drew living room became less strained, though each person was fearful Mrs. Topham would make trouble. Everyone began to talk at once.
"Oh, Nancy, I can hardly believe it yet!" Allison declared happily. "The money means so much to Grace and me! And we owe it all to you, Nancy Drew! You haven't told us how you came to find the will, but I know you were responsible."
When the Hoover girls and Mr. Crowley's relatives begged her for the details, Nancy told of her adventure with the thieves at Moon Lake. After she had finished the story, they praised her highly for what she had done.
"We'll never be able to thank you enough," Grace said quietly. "But after the estate has been settled, we'll try to show our appreciation."
It was on the tip of Nancy's tongue to say that she did not want a reward, when Mr. Drew turned the conversation into a different channel.
"Mrs. Topham will not give up the money without a fight," he warned. "My advice would be to go along as you have until the court has decided to accept this will as the final one. However, if Mrs. Topham and her daughters bring the matter into court, I'll give them a battle they'll never forget!"
After thanking Mr. Drew and Nancy for everything they had done, the relatives and friends departed. Allison and Grace were the last to leave. On the porch, Allison paused to hug Nancy and say, "Please let us know what develops. I'm so eager to start taking voice lessons."
Nancy wanted to set off at once to see Abby Rowen and tell her the good news. But upon second thought she decided to wait. Suppose the Tophams succeeded in upsetting the whole easel
For a week Nancy waited impatiently to hear the result of the battle over the will. As she and her father had anticipated, Mrs. Topham was fighting bitterly for the Crowley estate. She had put forth the claim that the will Nancy had unearthed was a forged document.
"This suspense is just awful," Nancy told her father one morning. "When are we going to get final word?"
"I can't answer that, Nancy. But apparently Mr. Topham thinks it's a losing battle. I suppose you've heard about the family."
"Why, no, what about them?"
"They're practically bankrupt. Richard Topham has been losing steadily on the stock market of late. After his failure to recover the Crowley fortune, the banks reduced his credit. He's been forced to give up his beautiful home."
"No, really? How that must hurt Mrs. Topham and the two girls!"
"Yes, it's undoubtedly a bitter pill to swallow. They are moving into a small house this week, and from now on they'll have to give up their extravagant way of living. Both girls are working. Personally, I think it will be good for them."
Word came that the three furniture thieves had finally confessed to many robberies and their unsold loot was recovered. Among the pieces were all the heirlooms they had stolen from the Turners.
One evening Mr. Drew came home wearing a broad smile. Facing Nancy and laying both hands on her shoulders, he said:
"We've won, my dear. The will you located has been accepted as the last one Mr. Crowley wrote."
"Oh, Dad, how wonderful!" she cried, whirling her father about in a little dance. "First thing tomorrow morning, may I go and tell Allison and Grace and the others?"
"I think that would be a fine idea. Of course the bank and I will formally notify them later."
The following morning Nancy was the first one downstairs and started breakfast before Hannah Gruen appeared.
"My goodness, you're an early bird, Nancy," the housekeeper said with a smile. "Big day, eh?"
"Very big," Nancy replied.
As soon as the family had eaten, Hannah said, "Never mind helping me today. You run along and make those people happy as soon as possible."
"Oh, thank you, Hannah. I'll leave right away."
Nancy, dressed in a simple green linen sports dress with a matching sweater, kissed her little family good-by and drove off. Her first stop was at the Mathews brothers. They greeted her affably, then waited for Nancy to speak.
"I have good news," she said, her eyes dancing. "Mrs. Topham lost her case. The will Dad and I found has been accepted for probate. You will receive the inheritance Mr. Crowley left you!"
"Praise be!" Fred cried. "And we never would have received it if it hadn't been for you." His brother nodded in agreement.
To cover her embarrassment at their praise, Nancy reached into a pocket and pulled out a handful of travel folders and airline schedules. "I thought you might like to look at these. Now I must hurry off and tell the other heirs."
As she drove away, the two men smiled, waved, then immediately began to look at the folders. "I hope they have a grand trip," Nancy thought.
Half an hour later she pulled into the driveway of the Turner home. Before the car stopped, Judy came racing from the front door. As Nancy stepped out, the little girl threw herself into the young sleuth's arms. "Nancy, guess what! My aunties found an old, old doll that belonged to my mommy and they gave it to me. Come and see her. She's pretty as can be."
Judy pulled Nancy by the hand up the steps and into the house. "There she is," the child said proudly, pointing to a blond, curly-