To Sophie Lincoln, twelve, her cousin Malinda Roche, thirteen, is a terrifying marvel of elegance, culture and self-confidence; to Malinda, Sophie is ""puddingly""--shy, responsible, unimaginative. Happenstance brings the two together for a fortnight at Careycote, the old family home presently occupied by Great-aunt Rose. Both are wary, but untangling the family history becomes a common interest, especially the mystery of Great-great-uncle Wayland--how did he, a boy of thirteen with no family funds, get 500 pounds to buy the Keep, the near-by historical ruin? and why did he insist that no one examine the old papers in the attic? ""I wish I knew,"" says Malinda--and the scene shifts to 1874, to the efforts of Wayland and simpatico sister Emily to raise the purchase price. From then on it's two chapters now, one chapter then, as sleuths and subjects approach the conclusion. Sophie's stolid sister Anna, a late though not unexpected arrival, has the final revelation, and she's right--Wayland sold Emily's cherished family book of heraldry to gain the Keep, and in her anguish she ran out into the rain, took sick, and already weak, died a few days later. The three girls fade out in cozy compatibility--we thought we knew them better--and Anna doesn't deserve all the glory, but the back-and-forth story works well and the incidental insights into character add flavor, the incidental information about antiquities adds interest. Most important, like The Friend with a Secret (1966. p. 1183 J-401), this is the kind of book that girls will plunge into and put down at last with regret, for poor Emily and for themselves.