The Dana Girls have been invited on an outing by their favorite English teacher, Miss Tisdale. She is shown in her element, engaging her students by reading from 'David Copperfield' and otherwise being an excellent teacher.The girls are excited to meet Miss Tisdale's parents.
As Miss Tisdale's car leaves the gates a man tries to flag her down, but is dimissed, and the girls put him out of their minds. When the girl's meet Miss Tisdale's parents, they are charmed by her mother, but her father is ill-tempered and prone to monologues about his poor health. Apparently any great shock could kill him. Soon after this visit, their teacher receives a note in the middle of class, leaves the school and fails to return.
Naturally, Mrs. Crandall the headmistress summons Jean and Louise to her office to tell them that Mrs. Tisdale wants to engage them as detectives. Informing the police would mean her husband would find out and that would surely kill him. Mrs. Tisdale had heard all about how the Dana girls had solved the perplexing mystery of the study lamp, after all, so a missing persons case should be no trouble. Mrs. Crandall reluctantly gives permission for this assignment and agrees to help the girls several times even as the case gets more dangerous. This will keep Starhurst School out of the papers.
The girls find her car forced off the road in a remote area. Investigating, the girls find a lost toddler and return her to safety. The toddler's babysitter is an unpleasant woman at first, but proves to be a good person. This is a little lesson that crops up in these books often. Unpleasant women are often worth getting to know, unpleasant men almost never, and Lettie Briggs and Ina Mason should never be given a chance.
As the plot unspools we have an estranged twin sister, fierce guard dogs, rough sailor types and out-of-season boat rides that get nasty. The Dana's Uncle Ned, captain of the 'Balaska', comes in handy more often than you would think.
'The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage' is the second book of the Dana Girls series, but the first three were published simultaneously in 1934 and were written at the same time by the reluctant Leslie McFarlane. Still, it's another overstuffed, fun mystery story.
Next: 'In the Shadow of the Tower'
Previous: 'By the Light of the Study Lamp'