Written in 2006 by Sarah Masters Buckley, illustrated by Jean-Paul Tibbles
Samantha and Nellie are joining Grandmary and Admiral Beemis on a cruise to England and France. Also accompanying them is a French tutor, Mademoiselle Etienne. On board the ship, they meet a haughty girl their age named Charlotta, and the nephew of a famous archeologist, Harry, who is an intriguing young man. His uncle is returning from South America, with treasures for a museum, including the famous Blue Star sapphire, which is said to be cursed.
Predictably, the sapphire disappears one night at dinner. It seems everyone is a suspect. I am happy that the pet monkey someone had was searched right away. No one else does either, though. For a bit, it seems the only reasonable suspects are Nellie, Samantha, Charlotta, and Mademoiselle Etienne. Nellie and Samantha know each other didn't do it, and while they dislike Charlotta they can't prove she stole anything. Her parents were interested in buying it so she might have been helping them, but when Mademoiselle Etienne becomes the prime suspect, Charlotta's mother tries to buy the sapphire from her, so it's unlikely any of Charlotta's family took it. Nellie doesn't believe that Mademoiselle Etienne took it either, and Samantha agrees. Remembering how Nellie was falsely accused of stealing Mrs. Van Sicklen's black pearl necklace, the girls return to the scene of the crime to investigate. They uncover evidence that widens the pool of suspects to anyone present at the dinner. After some more digging, they conclude that Harry is the most likely suspect. But even after convincing the adults to search Harry's things, the sapphire remains missing.
The next morning, Samantha has a flash of insight: they're docking to drop off mail. She suggests searching the mail bag for packages that could contain sapphire. Sure enough, they find one addressed to Harry, containing a hollowed-out book with the sapphire inside. To reward their diligence, Admiral Beemis--who the girls now start calling Grand-pere--adjusts their itinerary a bit to include disembarking the ship in Ireland.
By the 1870s, steamboats were making passage across the oceans much faster and safer than in years past. In Samantha's time, a wealthy passenger could enjoy extravagant accommodations on a pleasure cruise, while poorer passengers were crammed into steerage. Many wealthy people traveled to exotic lands in search of treasures or historical artifacts. One such treasure is the Star of India sapphire, which resides in the American Museum of National History, and inspired the jewel in the story.
This book is dedicated Alexandra.
The events of this book take place a little more than two years after Meet Samantha.
Samantha brings Clara, her nutcracker doll, on the cruise, and Nellie brings Lydia. (I wonder how she was able to hang on to Lydia with her uncle selling everything for booze and through her stay at Coldrock House...)
While writing this, I impressed myself with spelling "mademoiselle" right on the first try. That quarter of French in seventh grade really paid off.
Nellie talks about returning to Ireland, so it seems that she was born there, and possibly her sisters as well.