"Okay, Nancy, don't panic," Nancy said to herself. "You've deciphered clues left in a crazy person's journal before. You can do it again."
There were about six things in Rita Hallowell's journal which could be clues for puzzles. Then again, they could also be the incoherent ramblings of a madwoman. After all, writing about the kind of music her cat liked? How could that be a clue to a puzzle?
Nancy sighed. At least now she knew what she was doing: collecting golden starburst tokens for...well, for something, at any rate. And Step #1 was getting the starburst token that the squirrel had stolen earlier.
Nancy went outside to the big oak tree. The squirrel was up in the branches, playing around.
"SQUIRREL!" Nancy yelled. "GIVE ME BACK MY GOLDEN TOKEN!"
Someone tapped Nancy on the back. "Becca Sawyer, if you keep yelling at animals, I will give you demerits."
It was Paige Griffen, the building monitor.
"But it took something from me!" Nancy said. "I need to get it back!"
"Yes, I know," Paige sighed. "Casper stole one of my term papers once. I couldn't get it back, so I ended up flunking the class and falling out of the valedictorian race and it's all that squirrel's fault! That's when I decided to take out my rage on all the valedictorian candidates by giving them as many demerits as possible!"
So that's why Paige is always so mean, Nancy realized.
"Unfortunately, the school says we can't touch Casper because he's a rare albino squirrel," Paige said. "And we can't climb the tree, because it's over a hundred years old, or something like that. So that beast gets to do whatever it wants, and it's not fair!"
"YOU HEAR THAT, CASPER?" Paige yelled. "I GIVE YOU TEN DEMERITS FOR BEING UNFAIR!"
"Hey, calm down," Nancy said, putting a comforting arm on Paige's shoulder. "Like my friend George Fayne always says, if you think hard enough, you can come up with a solution to any problem."
"You know George Fayne?" Paige asked.
"Yeah, we've been best friends since we were kids," Nancy said. "How do you know her?"
"We're distant relatives," Paige said. "But...you've known her ever since you were a kid? How is that possible? The file I received about you said that you've been in France for the past ten years."
Nancy was happy to finally learn why Paige looked so much like George, but Nancy was unhappy that, once again, someone was close to figuring out that she was secretly a detective. It was time to avert suspicion with another one of Becca Sawyer's sassy comebacks!
"France? More like dance," Nancy said. "Because...we met at a dance academy?"
"...Right," Paige said.
"It was...ballet?" Nancy said, her ego deflating. "Because...ballet is a French dance? Ballet, more like okay, because dancing ballet is just fine and not suspicious at all?"
"You're acting oddly," Paige said.
"Well, that's not because I'm secretly an undercover detective who has only been to France once in her life!" Nancy said. "Because I'm totally a French exchange student! But in any case, I gotta go now! Bonjour!"
Nancy waved at Paige, then ran back inside the school.