The Toast and Jam Mystery


Carolyn sat down on the stairs, pressed her face against the banister, and peered through the posts. She was waiting for breakfast to be ready.

“Toast with Grandma’s strawberry jam!” called Mother from the kitchen.

Carolyn hopped down the stairs, singing:

“Daddy likes dinner.
Mommy likes lunch.
But breakfast is the meal
That I like to munch.”

As Carolyn skipped into the kitchen, she saw her dog, Inky, disappearing through the swinging door into the pantry. Mother was making orange juice in the blender. Peter was eating crunchy cereal and reading the back of the cereal box.

Carolyn sat down at her place at the table. Her plate was empty, so she waited for her toast.

Carolyn waited and waited. But when Mommy finished giving them each a glass of juice, she sat down and started to read the paper.

At last Carolyn said, “Mommy, I’m ready for my toast and jam now.”

Mommy put down the newspaper. “I already gave you your toast and jam, Carolyn. What did you do with it?”

Peter chuckled. “She probably ate it and then forgot about it.”

“No I didn’t. Someone else must have eaten it.” Carolyn looked suspiciously at her brother, who was always hungry.

“Don’t look at me,” Peter said, picking up his books. “I’d rather have cereal.”

While she waited for another piece of toast, Carolyn sang:

“I think jam and toast are fun.
I guess I’m not the only one!
Someone else likes toast just fine.
But I wish he would not take mine!”

The next morning when Mommy called, Carolyn hurried to the kitchen and sat down at her place. Her plate was empty.

Carolyn reached down to pet Inky, who was lying beside her chair. “I hope,” she whispered to her, “that no one has eaten my toast again.”

Mother was already reading the paper. Peter was studying his spelling words.

“Mommy,” Carolyn said, “I’m ready for my toast now.”

Mother looked up. “Not again! I put your toast on your plate before I called you, Carolyn.”

“But, Mommy, it’s not there now.” Carolyn looked hard at Peter, but he just kept studying his words.

Mother got up and put another piece of bread into the toaster.

After breakfast Carolyn and Inky sat on the stairway landing together while Carolyn thought about how to catch the toast thief. Finally, she had a plan.

The next morning she and Mommy waited outside the kitchen doorway until they heard the toast pop up. Mommy went into the kitchen, spread the toast thickly with butter and jam, put the toast on Carolyn’s plate, pretended to call to Carolyn, and then went back into the hall.

Peeking into the kitchen, Mommy and Carolyn saw the thief! They saw Inky put her front paws on Carolyn’s chair, reach up, and carefully grab the toast with her teeth!

“Inky, you naughty dog!” Carolyn scolded.

“From now on, Carolyn,” said Mommy, “I’ll wait till you’re here before I put your breakfast on the table.”

“And I’ll give Inky a dog biscuit so that she won’t want my toast,” Carolyn said.

Carolyn sat down and waited for more toast. While she waited, she sang:

“I am not the only one
Who thinks that jam and toast are fun.
Inky stole my toast away,
But I still love her anyway.”

[illustration] Illustrated by Elise Niven Black