Charlottesville, Virginia. 1956. VA Senator, Harry Bird, initiates a policy of MASSIVE RESISTANCE to enforced desegregation. Charlottesville, Virginia. 1956. Nancy Drew et al. come to town to solve some mysteries and help Nancy’s cousin get ready for GARDEN WEEK. Nancy, Bess and George meet many happy black servants of such long-standing that their parents parents were serving the same families, albeit in that slave kind of way. Bess dreamily views the huge fireplaces and copper kettles in the falling down slave quarters and murmurs something about quaintness, ultimately sighing herself out of some god-forsaken wish fulfillment that she too could once have enjoyed the many benefits of forced labour.
So, there’s that going on.
What else is going on is what has been going on for thirty-three stories so far. Our eyes have been opened, and once again it is ART that leads the charge towards TRUTH and BEAUTY:
So, this is Nancy and her friends enjoying, and we quote, “the crystal chandelier highlighting the handsome mahogany furniture as well as the exquisite silver candelabra and crystal tumblers on the table in the Colonial Dining Room at the Seven Oaks Manor.” (Run-on jiminy sentence, or what?) The thing at the window is the bad guy wearing a creepy mask, hoping to frighten Nancy and her friends out of their wits.
Just look at the image.
We see a masterpiece of desire: desire to be let in from the dark, desire to be embraced by the light reflecting off the many luminous surfaces, desire to be a part. The mask on the face of the man outside is significant and heart-rending. Upon its waxen blankness can be inscribed the features of almost anyone anywhere, and for good reason. The real frisson of fear, when beholding such an empty countenance, comes not from the real fact that the person wearing the mask is almost certainly poor, but that this could become you.
The poor are everywhere and they want what you have.
As it turns out, this is the basic tension of all Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. If you are poor there are but two choices:
1. Get all genteel about it (although you seem to need watery blue eyes to actuate this choice) or;
2. Turn to a life of crime (brown eyed people tend towards this).
We feel like we can actually stop doing our research now, but in the interests of overcoming our completion anxiety, we will continue. Besides, The Haunted Showboat, if we remember correctly, is one of the better mysteries in the whole series.