I remember seeing this book in our school library as a child, and I might have read it before, but it did not seem at all familiar this time. I know I would have been attracted to the beautiful pen and ink drawings like the one on the cover. The book was inspired by the author’s real life visit to historic Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts, a living museum town.
The story focuses on two families in Sturbridge, the Martindales, an important doctor’s family in town, and the Perrelys, who live outside town in The Hollow, and who have a bad reputation. Mr. Perrely is a traveling salesman, his wife is a native American, and their children are not in school. Young Gib Martindale becomes interested in the Perrelys when he meets their daughter Djulih, and soon uncovers mysterious connections between the two families. Gib’s grandmother has conniptions even hearing the name Perrely, but Gib finds old family records in his attic that talk of a quarrel between two sons leading to the estrangement of these two branches of the same family. Djulih’s brother Philander is older than Gib, and is solitary and hard to know, but the two boys do have some interests in common, like wildlife. When Philander is accused of setting a barn on fire and stealing some gold coins, Gib knows it can’t be true, and the ensuing trial of Philander brings both boys into a great deal of turmoil and trouble. Can the old quarrel between the families be bridged to save them?
This is the kind of mystery I like best, not a murder mystery but one with plenty of puzzles to solve and hidden secrets to uncover. Recommended.