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The Secret of the Musical Tree (Judy Bolton Mysteries, #19)
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#19: Secret of the Musical Tree > Chapter 7: The Secret of the Musical Tree - Summary

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William Land (williamland) | 1253 comments Mod
Chapter 7: The Woman in the Mink Coat

Peter, Judy, and Roberta go to a nearby restaurant to eat before starting home. Margaret treats us to some more Christmas atmosphere as the three sit by a window and watch the snow descend on the city. Their quiet dinner is interrupted by an argument at the cash register. The woman who had her purse stolen she can't pay her bill without her purse and is being denied credit or the chance to write a check using blank forms. (I wonder why she assumed it would all be fine. Maybe she is so wealthy it doesn't enter her mind to worry about it when she ordered.) Peter shows his credentials and pays for the woman’s dinner. She comes and sits with them, telling her story. Her snatched purse contained a three-carat yellow diamond and the tall, dark thief had a scar. Judy now has a chance to tell Peter more about her adventure with Hugh Spencer. After dinner, they start the drive back to Roulsville in the snow. The snow makes for a slow drive and the chapter ends with the car stuck in a snowdrift.

Now, I can really relate to this part of the story. My parents made many a Christmas trip over snow covered, two-lane mountainous roads when I was a child. And I remember the wonder of driving through the snow at night and also the fear that we might slide off the road. My father loved to brag about one trip when he was the only car on the road and was pushing snow with his bumper. (Sounds like a little hyperbole to me.) My mother missed her parents very much and my father traveled through ANYTHING to take her to her parents at Christmas time. I realized that my father was aging when he stopped making those trips on icy or snowy roads saying he wasn’t up to it.

Signs of the times are the tire chains and the fact that Peter’s car doesn’t have a heater or least a very good one since a car blanket is kept handy. I remember my father stopping on the side of the road to put chains on our tires when snow started. Once he had some chains that he had to keep adjusting, and he finally took them off and threw them over the mountain.


message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter Clark | 89 comments Bill, that's hysterical about your Dad and the chains over the mountain!! Made my day!


message 3: by Rachelle (new) - added it

Rachelle | 74 comments Mod
It is wise to keep a blanket in the car. My friend and I got caught during a snowstorm and pulled off the road. We had to wait for a plow to come and followed the plow back to my house. He then drove home. I think I had an extra sweater in the car. A blanket would have been helpful.


message 4: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sweet | 187 comments Living in Buffalo, I have had snowy drives too numerous to recall. Many fraught with danger and one scary accident


William Land (williamland) | 1253 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "Bill, that's hysterical about your Dad and the chains over the mountain!! Made my day!"

That is a very funny story, Peter, but it isn't mine. Beverly wrote the summary for this book and this chapter.

It's great to see that you've returned to us! I've missed you! :-)


Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 631 comments If the woman already ate, I don't see how the cashier expected to get the money for the meal if he wouldn't accept the counter check. How does that work with restaurants? They've already consumed the goods. What if their credit card doesn't go through? what is the next step?

I also didn't understand why the woman seemed hostile to Judy's attempt to follow the thief. I would have been very grateful and appreciative for her effort.


William Land (williamland) | 1253 comments Mod
Rebekah wrote: "If the woman already ate, I don't see how the cashier expected to get the money for the meal if he wouldn't accept the counter check. How does that work with restaurants? They've already consumed t..."

This is a good question, Becky. I don't have the answer.

Perhaps the woman was simply in a bad mood? She had been robbed earlier and now her honesty was being questioned about her ability to pay for her meal. Likely, she wasn't used to being placed in that position and reacted poorly.


message 8: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 162 comments I once read that if a restaurant customer has no or insufficient funds to pay or if the credit card is declined, the restaurant just writes it off. The old tale about having to wash dishes is simply untrue.


message 9: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sweet | 187 comments I worked in a restaurant and if the person was not well known, they had to leave their license while they went to get money or another card.


William Land (williamland) | 1253 comments Mod
Kathleen wrote: "I once read that if a restaurant customer has no or insufficient funds to pay or if the credit card is declined, the restaurant just writes it off. The old tale about having to wash dishes is simpl..."

For a restaurant to simply write off a customer's bill makes more sense to me than having them in the kitchen to wash dishes. I always thought that to be untrue as I never heard of anyone or know of anyone who knew someone who had to wash dishes to pay a restaurant bill.


message 11: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 162 comments Does anyone renember an episode of I Love Lucy, where Lucy & Ethel had to wash dishes in a restaurant because their respective husbands asked for separate checks and only paid tbeir own bills? They arranged it with the manager to teach their wives a lesson about equal rights for women. However, Lucy and Ethel turn the tables on their husbands by having them taken to jail on an alleged charge of attempted robbery.


Rebekah (rebroxanna) | 631 comments Leaving their license makes sense. I'd also make the customer sign a document stating he owed the money so I could take them to small claims court if I had to. I would never just write it off. I just don't think I could let anyone off the hook like that!


message 13: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 162 comments wWiting it off is a custom In restaurants in my neck of the woods. The cost of taking the matter to small clains far exceeds the amount of the unpaid bill in terms of money, ti me and energy. The restaurants just write it off as the cost if doing business. Smart move.


message 14: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 1057 comments Peter wrote: "Bill, that's hysterical about your Dad and the chains over the mountain!! Made my day!"

Actually, that was my father, Peter, My siblings and I still talk about it.


message 15: by Faye (new)

Faye Kisker | 408 comments I love the story of the chains going over the mountain too. I first heard of chains in Nancy Drew. I have seen a sign in PA saying no chains. I did see an old movie or TV show where someone was putting on chains.

I think when the woman ate that she fully expected to be able to sign a counter check. I couldn't understand either why she was cool to Judy after Judy tried to help her.

It never says that the lady got her diamond ring back, I hope she did. Al least I never saw it in the book.


message 16: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 162 comments Well, they used to allow studded tires. You would never spin on the ice with studded tires. However, rhe powers that be said that they caused too much road damage. Bah! The road damage was caused by using inferior materials for construction and repair--i e., lining some contractor's pocket for political purposes.


William Land (williamland) | 1253 comments Mod
Kathleen wrote: << ... You would never spin on the ice with studded tires. However, rhe powers that be said that they caused too much road damage. ...>>

I remember riding with my dad one time. He had trouble keeping the car on the icy highway because it hadn't been properly salted. He drove very carefully due to the weather conditions and wished he had studded tires like he had in his youth. When I asked why they were discontinued, he said, as Kathleen has mentioned, that they caused too much road damage.


message 18: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sweet | 187 comments I remember that studded tires were outlawed in Canada before the US. I still get snow tires, not studded of course, but with all the snow here, they help. A lot of people think because of all season radials, snow tires are not needed, but in Buffalo, they are!


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