In case you couldn’t tell from his name, Chauncey van Throckmorton was the local fancy pants. He seems way fancier than Percy Arbuthnot. What happened to that kid, anyway?
Chauncey was easy to spot because he was normally dressed in suits. He was easy to hear as well, because the silver dollars in his pocket always jingled together. When he appeared at the Brown Detective Agency, he was dressed only wearing a towel, as a result of sass-mouthing Lindylou Duckworth.
NUMISMATIST’S NOTE: By this time (1974), silver dollars hadn’t been minted in a while. Since the price of silver skyrocketed, silver dollars were collectibles. There’s no way Chauncey just walked around jingling these rare coins in his pockets in a town where property crime was so high. If the story was referring to the silver-colored nickel and copper Eisenhower dollars that were minted throughout the 1970s, then I’ll allow it.
Lindylou was a seventh-grader who started a football team for girls. That’s a nice progression for the town of Idaville, where a girl was kicked off the baseball team based on her gender just a few years earlier.
Chauncey had gotten all dressed up to watch the girls practice when Lindylou asked Chauncey if he could practice with them because they were one player short. Chauncey told Lindylou that he didn’t want to get his clothes dirty. He also threw in a few insults about how women couldn’t play football.
Lindylou then punched Chauncey, and forced him into the wooded area near the football field where she forced him to remove his clothing. Chauncey was down to his socks, shoes and underwear when he ran away. I wish I was making this up. I have no idea what Lindylou had planned, but it was gearing up to look like a underaged-girl-on-underaged-boy rape scene. You don’t see too many of those in light-hearted children’s mysteries.
He ran to the Brown Detective Agency, picking up a towel along the way, which is where we picked up the story. Encyclopedia, Sally and Chauncey walked to the park where the girls were practicing to confront Lindylou.
Lindylou claimed that Chauncey was annoying everyone by jingling the silver dollars in his pocket. When asked how she knew that Chauncey had silver dollars in his pocket, she explained that everyone in town knew that he always had silver dollars in his pocket.
She then explained that she asked Chauncey to leave, but he told her that he was going to go for a run. At that point, he removed his clothes because he didn’t want them to get sweaty, and he disappeared. Lindylou then said that she folded the clothes and left them at the side of the field.
Chauncey checked the pockets. There was one silver dollar in the pocket, a handkerchief and an empty billfold. Chauncey said that a five-dollar bill was missing along with eighty cents and that Lindylou had stolen it. Lindylou denied it. Someone was lying, but who?
Encyclopedia reasoned that it was Lindylou; and the logic he used to come to the conclusion has some serious flaws.
Lindylou claimed that Chauncey was driving everyone nuts by jingling the silver dollars in his pocket. But he only had one silver dollar. One coin can’t jingle on its own.
Except that silver dollar wasn’t the only coin he was carrying. He also had eighty cents, which means he had at least five coins (a silver dollar, three quarters and a nickel) in his pocket. It wasn’t as if Lindylou specified that she recognized the sound of multiple silver coins hitting each other and that that was what she heard. She heard change jingling, and she assumed it was silver dollars because Chauncey always carried silver dollars around.
If anything, her claimed proved that she didn’t go through Chauncey’s pockets. If he normally carried silver dollars around, it would be safe for people to assume that the jingling coins were silver dollars. However, even after she went through his pockets and saw only one silver dollar, she still claimed that she thought she heard him jingle silver dollars together. This either meant that she didn’t go through his pockets, or that she was good at lying – a trait NO ONE in Idaville seems to have.
Based on Lindylou’s story, I can’t really say she has proven her guilt. That’s actually pretty scary, because based on how she forced another child into the woods to undress, I’d have to say that she is one of the most dangerous children in Idaville.