“Oh, Nancy!” A middle-aged woman waved her arm and scurried up to Nancy and her friends as fast as she could in her tall heels. Nancy, Bess, George and Ned were gazing at the old Town Hall one last time before the construction crew began to demolish it in preparation for the work on the new museum.
The dark, curly-haired lady in a frilly blouse and skirt was hurrying up to the group. “Hello, Mrs. Wilkins!” called Nancy as she and her friends turned to face the clerk who was out-of-breathe and appeared anxious. “Oh Nancy, I’m glad I found you! I need your help”, she stopped to catch her breath as Nancy glanced at her friends with piqued interest. “How can I help you?” she asked. Mrs. Wilkins reached into her purse and pulled out a piece of scrap paper from her large bag slung over her left arm and handed it to the detective. “I found this in my bag yesterday. I think I might be in danger!” Mrs. Wilkins exclaimed.Bess, George and Ned crowd around Nancy as the titian-haired girl looked down at the note. On the torn paper was scrawled the words “If you lose the key, you are permanently done for!” Below the menacing words was written “Redeem yourself by using the key alphabet: 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.4.16.14”. Mrs. Wilkins gripped her bag with tense hands as she heard the words read aloud. “What makes you think someone is after you?” questioned George. Mrs. Wilkins hesitated. “I have lost an important key to a file cabinet where I work. It’s really embarrassing to admit this, and I didn’t think I’d be in too much trouble, but now I believe it’s a matter of life and death. Will you take this case for me?”