Illustrated by: Judy Glasser
Published by: Harper & Row, 1985
Copyright © Marilyn Singer 1985

A Clue in Code

Chapter One

The curve ball came at him in slow motion.  His bat, tugging at his arms, was poised, ready.  He swung, and the swing was clean and smooth.  Crack! Bat and ball connected.  The white sphere soared over the pitcher’s head, arced high above the outfield and landed smack in the hands of some lucky fan in the stands.  As he crossed home plate, he heard the crowd call his name, “Sam Bean! Sam Bean!”

“…did you, Sam Bean?”

Sam’s eyes focused slowly.  The fans, the stands, the field dissolved.  The cheers of the crowd turned to giggles.  it took him a moment to realize where he was and who was talking to him.  When he did, he turned red.  “Uh, I’m sorry, Ms. Corfein,” Sam said to his teacher.  “Could you repeat the question?”

The class giggled again.

“Asleep on the job, eh, Sam?” Ms. Corfein said.

“Way to go, Bean,” Willie Landers, sitting next to Sam, snickered.  Willie was a tough kid who always made snide remarks–especially to Sam and Dave, Sam’s identical twin brother.  Willie–and practically everybody else in the school–knew their reputation as private eyes, only unlike most other people, Willie disliked them for it.

“Sorry,” Sam mumbled again.  it wasn’t like him to daydream in school, but the November day was so gloomy, he’d got to thinking about April and baseball and the next thing he knew he’d dozed off.  He glanced over at his brother.  Dave wasn’t looking at him.  He was taking some money out of his picket, and he looked alert as always.

“I asked if you brought in your money for the class trip.  You and Roger Blitzman were the only ones who didn’t raise your hands,” said Ms. Corfein.

This time, Sam glanced at Roger.  He was a small, shy boy whom nobody knew very well.  He kept pretty much to himself.  Ms. Corfein was always calling on him to do jobs for her.  He might have been called “teacher’s pet,” except he didn’t act like one.

“Oh.  Oh yeah.  I brought it,” said Sam.

“Good.  Roger, would you please collect the money, put it in this envelope and put the envelope in my locker.  Here’s the key.”

Roger stumbled to his feet and began to walk around the room, collecting the money.  Sam turned to look at him just as he was putting the envelope in.  Then Roger locked the door and returned the key to Ms. Corfein.

“All right, class.  Turn to page forty-one of your workbook,” Ms. Corfein said.

The class groaned softly.

“Rita, tell us the answer to problem one.”  Ms. Corfein shivered slightly, went over to the long row of windows and began to fiddle with one of them.

Sam watched her for a moment, then opened his book.  The numbers began to swim in front of his eyes.  He had just hit his third homer when the lunch bell rang.  Three more hours to go.  I can tell nothing is going to happen today. Nothing at all, Sam thought.

In less than an hour, he’d find out just how wrong he was.