The Secret in the Old Attic–Another Nancy Drew Case of the Changing Editions

Hello and welcome to another chapter-by-chapter analysis of the dueling editions. In the past, I have done this with The Bungalow Mystery and The Clue of the Leaning Chimney.

Today we are examining the differences between the original 1944 edition of Nancy Drew: The Secret in the Old Attic and the 1970 rewrite. Excitingly, there are big differences between the two! Many differences occur because of the passage in time. In 1970, it’s a bit of stretch for an elderly, but still active, gentleman to be so old that he fought in WWI. Not so in 1944. Also, a soldier who recently died in 1944 probably died in WWII. You also see things like rayon getting switched to poly and more phones in the 1970 edition.

Another thing that changed is race. In 1944, the house with the old attic has “old slave quarters” and Bess utters a horrible line idealizing happy slaves. All this is cut in the new edition. Additionally, the maid, Effie, speaks in a poor, lower class dialect in 1944. In 1970, she speaks “normally.” Effie’s race is never mentioned though.

Overall, 1970 is just much tighter. 1944 tends to have a lot of cliff-hanger scary chapter endings that are explained away as really being nothing in the first few sentences of the next chapter. The 1970 version cuts most of this out. Thankfully.

The biggest change is that 1944 contains a mini-mystery of a romantic subplot with Nancy and Ned. (Ned didn’t ask her to the dance! And some icky guy is really putting the pressure on Nancy to go to the dance with him instead.) This entire subplot is cut from the current edition, which is sad. It was my favorite part of the story and it was rather refreshing to see Nancy have some doubts, even though you knew it would all work out in the end. For a deeper comparison, check out the chapter-by-chapter play-by-play below the jump!

Chapter 1: A Challenge (1944) pages 1-8

Nancy and her father are searching through some old love letters for a clue about some lost music, but that’s all they know. Later that evening, Mr. March, who gave Mr. Drew the letters, explains that his son had written several pop songs that were never published. He died in the war, and his wife passed soon after, leaving a child. Mr. March can’t afford to keep Susan unless the songs are found and published. Mr. March is undernourished and Nancy decides to keep him at their house. THEN! A telegram boy comes with an important message for Nancy, but someone darts from across the street, signs for the telegram and pretends to go inside the house. Once the boy who delivered it is out of sight, the telegram-thief opens Nancy’s very important telegram and decides to answer it herself.

Chapter 1: A Challenge (1970) pages 1-11

In 1944, Nancy and her father grew close after Mrs. Drew’s death several years before, in 1970 it was since Mrs. Drew’s death when Nancy was 3.

In both books, Mr. March’s son died 4 years ago. Due to the timing, in 1944 it was “in a foreign land” which makes sense during WWII. In 1970 though, it was just “on a routine training mission.”

In 1944 Mr. March says is close to extreme poverty and will lose Susan and the house. In 1970, he says to bring her up properly, he needs to hire a housekeeper and can’t afford it, and is in danger of losing the house.

In 1944, Mr. March passes out due to fatigue and malnourishment. In 1970, someone throws a rock that hits him in the head and knocks him out! But, he is still malnourished.

Nancy brings him food. George and Bess come over to see if Nancy wants to go dress shopping (she doesn’t–she has a new case!) Then Mr. March hears one of his son’s melodies on the radio–it’s been stolen!

The bit with the telegram never happens.

Chapter 2: The Old House (1944) pages 9-21

The first part is a bit like the end of 1970’s first chapter. However, when Mr. March describes his house, he says that the family used to own slaves and the old slave quarters are still there–something left out of the 1970 edition. Also, in 1970, Mr March had been a soldier like his son, but, in 1944 he was a soldier in the First World War. Bess and George come over and there is a much longer scene, as Nancy has NOT been invited to the dance that the girls are dress shopping for. She’s pretty bummed that Ned didn’t ask her. The name of George’s guy changes and in 1944 if George cuts off any more hair “people will think she’s a boy.”

After hearing the stolen melody, Nancy hunts much more thoroughly through the radio and music listings to see if she can find the name of the song they heard. After Mr. March asks her to find the plagerist, there’s also a paragraph detailing Nancy’s previous cases and which books we can read all about them in.

Bess and George accompany Mr. March and Nancy out to Mr. March’s house. They start in stable and slave quarters. Bess can just imagine “Old Mammies crooning and young pickaninnies dancing.” EW.

The girls inspect the house and see that most of the valuable furniture and china has been sold off. In the attic, they find several old hatboxes that Nancy is sure can fetch a good price at auction. While she doens’t find the music, she is sure that Mr. March can sell a lot of the stuff in the attic to raise funds.

Then there’s a pounding on the door and Mr. March cries for help.

Chapter 2: Spooky Mansion (1970) pages 12-20

Similar to 1944 chapter–Nancy searches for the music and slightly differently after hearing it on the radio. At the house, all references to slaves have been cut. Also, when going to the attic, in 1944 they forget to bring a candle, but the light from the window is enough. In 1970, they bring a candle (instead of a flashlight?!)

Chapter 3: A Lost Child (1944) pages 22-33

Mrs. French is at the door (she’s been caring for Susan) and says the child disappeared from the yard the day before and was hoping she had returned to Mr. March’s house. Nancy organizes a search party, they search all day with no luck. Eventually she thinks to look in the barn, which is locked. She finds Susan in the hay, very ill. She says she followed some gypsies that came by Mrs. French’s house and then couldn’t find her way back, so she went to her grandfather’s, but he wasn’t home and then a bad man came by and so Susan hid in the barn and the door banged shut and she couldn’t get it open again.

It’s apparent she has the Measles and so Nancy has Mr. March hire her old maid, Effie. (Who’s rather “dizzy”) Nancy tells him not to worry about money because he can sell the old hatboxes in the attic.

Horace keeps asking Nancy to the dance and says if she doesn’t attend she’ll always regret it because there will be a big announcement. Nancy only wants to go with Ned, and so turns Horace down. Bess and George can tell her the announcment.

Then Effie calls and says the house is too scary and she doesn’t want to stay there anymore.

Chapter 3: Bad News (1970) pages 21-28

They cut the whole section of Susan going missing. Mrs. French just shows up with Susan having measles. Nancy has Mr. March hire Effie with the hat box money. But the girls stay for the night to help care for Susan.

In 1944, Mr. March says it was Providence that led him to the Drew’s door. In 1970, it’s fate.

Nancy brings Effie over and then goes to the antique story to sell Mr. March’s things. There has been no news on the stone thrower.

The next morning, Effie calls all freaked out. She tells Nancy she saw someone sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night, but they can’t find sign of an intruder. Nancy does, however, see several footprints confirming Effie’s story. Nancy thinks he might (a) have a skeleton key (b) be the music thief.

Chapter 4: A Shadowy Figure (1944) pages 34-40

Ok, so it starts out with Effie seeing the shadowy figure. It should be noted that in 1944, Effie drops her g’s and in general has some non-descript lower class accent. In 1970, while she says the same things, she isn’t written in any sort of dialect or accent.

Nancy decides to bring her portable radio to the Marches the next day, thinking music might make Susan feel better and will help to see if Mr. March recognizes any of his son’s songs. She then goes and searches the attic for more clues.

There’s a cradle with a doll in it that starts rocking and then stops suddenly, which is spooky. Nancy then finds several old paintings by Courier and Ives that will be worth lots of money for Mr. March. She then finds several odd dishes with music painted on them. She decides to take them downstairs to show Mr. March. Then there’s a thunderstorm and a loud, splintering crash!

Chapter 4: A Startling Figure (1970) pages 29-37

Nancy goes and investigates Effie’s freak-out. Nancy goes up to investigate further in the attic. She doesn’t see the spooky baby cradle and while she finds the artwork, she doesn’t find the dishes.

Then there’s the thunderstorm and a big crash. It turns out a large pine tree has fallen on the house, although the house is so well-built, there’s no real damage. Nancy goes to get some of her friends who work at a garage who will remove it for cheap. She then stops by the antique store and her father’s office before returning. She goes back up to the attic, with a candle that keeps flickering. She struggles with the door of an old wardrobe, and when she finally gets it open, a long bony arm is reaching for her throat!

Chapter 5: Bony Fingers (1944) pages 41-49

The loud crash causes Nancy to drop the painted fruit bowl, shattering it. Once again, a tree has fallen on the house. Nancy tells Mr. March was she found in the attic. In this edition he declares he meant to burn the old paintings! He also doesn’t recognize the music painted on the dishes, but Nancy thinks they should keep them just in case. She brings the doll down for Susan. It was a favorite of Mr. March’s late wife, who loved it because it had been her mother’s before that.

Nancy runs the same errands that she does in the 1970 edition, but when she returns she brings some toys and groceries and is followed by a mysterious dark coupe. A girl gets out and says she hopes Nancy never finds out what she does and is happy to notice there’s no telephone wire to Mr. March’s house. (I’m thinking this is the girl who intercepted the telegram? Which was probably Ned inviting Nancy to the dance?) Nancy, of course, notices none of this, even though she ALWAYS notices when she’s being followed.

Nancy comes back and gives Mr. March the radio. She helps Effie with dinner and tells Susan several stories (all of this is cut in 1970) and then goes to investigate the attic again. Once again, the chapter ends with the long bony arm reaching for her throat.

Chapter 5: A Suspected Thief (1970) pages 38-47

Of course, it’s not an attacker, but a skeleton hanging in the wardrobe. Mr. March says his son used it as a Halloween decoration and must have hung it up there. Nancy thinks it might be a booby trap to scare away potential thieves, but can’t find any thing else in the wardrobe.

The next morning she returns home where her father has a new case for her. Booker Manufacturing is accusing the Lucius Dight corp. of stealing it’s secret method of processing silk, using an employee named Bushy Trott (I swear I’m not making that up) as a corporate spy.

Nancy knows Lucius Dight’s daughter, Diana and doesn’t like her. Mr. Drew wants Nancy to see if she can apply to Diane for a tour of the factory and see if Bushy Trott is there. George comes by and says that Diane was at the dressmakers yesterday and pitched a fit. Nancy goes with George and finds the dressmaker (with a very bad and non-descript European accent) in a tizzy because Diane is due back that afternoon. Nancy offers to pick her up at the train station and pass along the (real) message that her father needs to speak with her.

Chapter 6: A Suspected Thief (1944) pages 50-60

Similar to the 1970 chapter we’ve already read. The scene with the skeleton is expanded upon. Nancy also learns more about the March family and “concluded that they all had been fine, talented people with a high sense of patriotism.”

In 1970, before stealing the silk secrets, the Dight corp only made polyester, in 1944, they only dealt in rayon.

The rest of the chapter is the same.

Chapter 6: Nancy’s Ruse (1970) pages 48-59

1970’s edition has pictures.

Nancy goes to the train station and drives a wary Diane to the factory. Diane tells her not to wait, but Nancy says she has nothing else to do and accompanies her inside. While Diane is meeting with her father, Nancy chats with his secretary, who offers her a tour. She sees a room labele d KEEP OUT and is trying to figure out how to see in there when the secretary is called back. The door opens and Nancy sees a Bushy Trott inside! However, when the door closes, it locks again. Nancy screams and pretends to faint, so Bushy brings her in and runs to get water. However, before she can do any real sleuthing, he returns. Lucius Dight then comes in and is totally pissed off to see Nancy there and walks her out of the building. Nancy drives Diane home and returns to the Marches.

Mr. March hears another one of his son’s songs on the radio. Nancy knows the song and rushes to the music store to buy the sheet music. Ben Banks is listed as the composer. Then there’s a blood curdling scream from upstairs!

Chapter 7: No Admittance (1944) pages 61-66

Nancy picks up Diane and talks her way into a tour from the secretary. The only real difference is that Miss Jones explains the process for Rayon instead of Poly, which is different. The chapter then ends with Nancy trying to figure out how to get through the locked door.

Ok, I’m sticking with 1944, so 1970 doesn’t get too far ahead, plot wise

Chapter 8: Song of the Wind (1944) pages 67-73

Much the same, but Diane has already left, so Nancy doesn’t have to drive her home.

Also, in 1970 it’s Mr. March, in 1944 it’s Grandfather March. The rest of the chapter is much the same, but before Grandfather March hears his son’s song, there’s some military music, so at Susan’s urging, he tells Nancy stories from WWI and shows her his medals. Then his son’s song comes on and the chapter is the same. Except, after the blood-curdling scream, there is a gunshot a few lines of discussion as to who could have made it.

Chapter 9: Black Widow (1944) pages 74-83

Nancy finds it’s Effie screaming, she thinks the skeleton bit her or shot her. There’s a rifle that had fallen to the ground that must have made the shot when it fell. When they get downstairs, Nancy looks at Effie’s hand and can tell it’s been bitten by a poisonous spider. The doctor says it was a black widow, which is odd because they don’t live in whatever part of the country old skool Nancy took place in. Nancy brings Mrs. Gruen over to help hunt the spider. She then decides to stay with the Marches to help out because Effie can’t work until her hand heals. George and Bess can’t believe Ned hasn’t invited Nancy to the dance yet and think something very fishy is going on. Grandfather March says that his mother also wrote music and that his son used some of her melodies in his music. Nancy goes and investigates further in the attic, finding a stack of music written by Granfather March’s mother. She also finds some old, bejeweled silver shoe buckles that Mr. March can sell. Then her flashlight goes out and something lands on her hand and she hears faint music.

Chapter 7: The Black Widow (1970) pages 60-68

There was no random gunshot, so no found rifle. The doctor in 1970 gives Effie a shot of anitdote (I’m guessing it didn’t exist in 1944?). Also, when Nancy and Mrs. Gruen hunt down the spiders, they have inseciticide AND brooms, isntead of just brooms. Some of Susan’s dialogue changes slightly and I’m not sure why. Nancy’s reponses are the same.

Nancy makes a point of buying new batteries and putting them in her flashlight. The rest is the same, except that instead of flashlight dying, it rolls away and clicks off.

Chapter 10: The Strange Scent (1940) pages 84-92

Nancy hears tapping and footsteps. Mr. March comes up with a lantern, but there’s no one there. What had fallen was a bear of Susan’s that must have fallen from the rafters, but no one knows how it got there.

Nancy returns home for the day. There have been no new clues in the Booker/Dight mystery and although there are men outside Dight’s plant, no one has seen Bushy Trott enter or exit the building. Mr. Drew is his way to the Booker factory to see their special process. OMG, the Booker factory uses SPIDER silk for their silk. WTF?! The chemicals they use have a particular odor that Nancy is sure she’s recognize if she smelled it again. Nancy has a secret plan for getting back into the Dight factory and goes to Diane’s house where she finds Diane reading a letter. She quickly hides the letter, but before she can scoop up the envelope, Nancy sees the return address and is very surprised! (It doesn’t say what the return address is, but it HAS to be Ned, right? Because we all know that’s who the stolen telegram was from! Why else would he not ask Nancy to the dance?)

Chapter 7: The Strange Scent (1970) pages 69-77

Ok, so pretty much the same, but Nancy figures the batteries are defective. Also, the chapter ends with Nancy pulling into Diane’s driveway. I’m guessing the whole letter thing will be cut because the whole stolen telegram/Ned doesn’t invite Nancy to the dance plot has been erased and well know they’re connected!

Chapter 11: A Blue Bottle (1940) 93-102

Nancy doesn’t mention the letter. Instead, she asks after Diane’s little sister, Jean and if she had any dresses she had outgrown that Nancy could give to another little girl. Diane goes to ask her mom. Nancy’s plan, it turns out, is to see what kind of art the Dight’s like, so if she finds something that matches tastes in Mr. March’s attic, she can go to Mr. Dight’s office and try to sell it to him. Mrs. Dight, it turns out, collects old bottles. Mr. March has old bottles in his attic! (Really, don’t you think they should have forshadowed the bottles? Nancy’s found so much crap up there already, it would have killed whomever was writing this to mention the bottles?!)

Nancy goes back to the Marches to get the bottles and when she has them gathered, her foot crashes through a rotton floorboard! Luckily, she only breaks 2 of the smaller bottles.

She washes them and takes them to Dight’s factory just as the day is ending. He is interested in the bottles and asks Nancy to name her price, but she sees Bushy out the window! She tells him to keep them and think about what he would like to pay for them and leaves, following Bushy to a secret building. The smell is the same as Mr. Booker’s chemicals! Then Bushy leaves and the door locks behind him. Nancy’s eyes start to water and she knows some sort of poisonous gas is leaking. She can’t escape before she passes out!

Chapter 9: A Blue Bottle (1970) pages 78-86

Almost the same. The age of Diane’s sister changes from 10 to 7. In 1944, when Nancy comes to the Marches, Mr. March is mowing the lawn and Nancy tells him to wait and she’ll help him later. That’s cut, as well is Nancy putting her foot through the door.

Interestingly, what’s also cut is the whole poison gas thing! Nancy gets into the secret room and sees that yes, it’s Booker’s process, but no poison gas.

Chapter 12: A Night Prowler (1944) pages 103-109

Mr. Dight goes home and Diane tells him that Nancy’s father is Carson Drew and that “Nancy thinkgs she’s a detective.” (love that snark!) Dight then calls the factory to have the night watchman look to see if she’s still hanging around, but he doesn’t find her. Dight then calls the Drew home to see if Nancy’s there. Hannah Gruen is freaking out because Nancy’s not there yet and Dight’s phone call doesn’t help matters. Mr. Drew’s out of town until midnight and Hannah can’t get ahold of him, either. Then Horace calls and demands Hannah tell him what Nancy’s so busy with that she can’t go to the dance with him. Hannah responds with a rather awesome “You’ll have to discuss your problem with her. I’m busy and worried. I haven’t a minute.” (Also, OMG, is Horace a jerk face or what?!)

Meanwhile, Effie’s worried because Nancy was supposed to spend the night and hasn’t shown up yet. She finally gives up and goes to bed and sees someone creeping around outside! She then hears steps in the hall and is relieved to see it’s only Mr. March. What he doesn’t tell her is that he’s only up because he heard someone prowling around, too!

Then, Bushy Trott smells a chemical smell, goes into the room, opens a window and shuts off a valve and then leaves, all without noticing Nancy . The fresh air wakes up Nancy, but then Bushy hears something in the room and goes to investigate!

Chapter 10: Dangerous Adventure (1970) pages 87-94

Nancy decides to take a sample from the chemical vats, but when she looks for a bottle, she sees a black widow spider! She then finds a secret door and finds a room that shows the Dight factory is also using spider silk, but from black widow spiders. She realizes its getting late and she needs to get back to the Marches. She remembers she still has 2 bottles from the March collection in her pocket and fills them with chemicals. She hears someone coming, so she finds another random exit and follows a tunnel until she ends up outside, standing by the outer factory wall. She sneaks away from Bushy Trott, who is also lurking around outside, and goes home. She gives her father the bottles and eats dinner. She then asks him to drive her over to the Marches.

Effie, meanwhile, is getting worried. She finally gives up that Nancy is coming and gets ready for bed, when she sees someone creeping around outside!

Chapter 13: Locked in the Factory (1944) pages 110-116

Bushy doesn’t see Nancy and she eventually comes fully to and remembers where she is. She finds the black widow when looking for a light switch and finds the secret room in much the same way. Differences are the fact that the nightwatchman sees the light and phones Dight. Dight hurries over the factory. Diane tells him that if it is Nancy, to be careful and not let the press know, because they two girls are close friends and Diane wants to spare Nancy’s feelings. (WTF?!) The rest of the chapter is the same as to how Nancy escaped before. BUT! The car she hears makes more sense, because in this version there are three people looking for her, not just one who isn’t actually looking for her.

Chapter 11: The Mysterious Letter (1970) pages 95-103

The whole Effie and Mr. March hear noises is the same. Mr. March investigates the attic and finds nothing. Then Nancy comes. The next day, the woman who had been looking after Susan comes to say goodbye. Nancy returns home and agrees to go out to lunch with Bess and George. But, there’s a letter from the company who published “Song of the Wind” saying they couldn’t give any information about the composer. Nancy called the company for an appointment, but the head refuses to book appointments by phone, so Nancy writes him a quick note. After lunch she goes to the music store and finds that Banks has written only three songs and they all came out rather quickly. She buys the sheet music so she can play them for Mr. March. George and Bess go to spend the night with Nancy at the Marches so Effie can have the night off. Mr. March says the other Banks songs are by his son. Nancy starts to tell Susan a bedtime story but sees the prowler and leaves to go find him!

Chapter 14: An Underground Escape (1944) pages 117-126

Nancy much like earlier, but drifts off to sleep after Hannah tells her Horace called. She then has odd dreams with Ned as the hero and Horace or Bushy as the villain. Bess and George wake her up in the morning. Horace had called George to ask her to get Nancy to go to the dance with him. George dressed him down a bit, but says that Horace is absolutely crazy about Nancy, and in the end, she agreed to help him! Hannah brings up breakfast, which has the note from the music company. Nancy writes for an interview, instead of first phoning. The rest of the chapter is the same as 1970, but the music shop doesn’t also offer Nancy the record of the songs. Also, the girls don’t go out to lunch, because Hannah just fed them. It also ends with Nancy leaving to catch the prowler.

Chapter 15: Smoke (1944) pages 127-133

Nancy goes outside, but can’t find anyone. She returns and has Bess and George play lookout while she and Mr. March investigate the attic. Nancy can hear someone up there, as well as that weird music she heard before. When the they get up, no one’s there, but it smells like smoke–not like the place is on fire, but like someone had very recently been up there, smoking. Then there’s a shout–the man was outside. Nancy sees he’s carrying a piece of rolled up paper. Bess and George and Nancy all chase him, but he gets into a car and drives away.

Bess turns on the radio to calm down and Mr. March hears another son written by his son! This time, it’s by Harry Hall. Sadly, only Mr. March knows about the songs–all of he son’s friends are scattered around the world and he wouldn’t know where to even start looking for them. Nancy’s pretty sure another piece of music had been that rolled up paper she saw, but how was she going to prove this?

Chapter 12: A Surprising Discovery (1970) pages 104-113

The chapter is much the same, except in 1944, Nancy tells Susan a story and thinks about spiders.

The morning after the excitment with the prowler, Effie returns and the girls set off to explore the attic yet again. George finds a lot of old lace that would get a good price. Bess gets tangled up with the skeleton and Nancy tries again in the wardrobe. This time, she finds a secret door, but it’s stuck. Before George can try to open it, Effie says someone has come to see Nancy. It’s Mr. Jenner, the publisher of Ben Banks’s music!

Chapter 16: A Secret Drawer (1944) pages 134-139

Much the same as the ending of the last chapter from 1970. There’s a lot more discussion about lace, and Nancy frets about the letter Diane was reading. Bess is more freaked out by the attic. It also ends with Mr. Jenner’s arrival.

Once again, I’m skipping ahead to keep 1944 in the lead:

Chapter 17: An Unpleasant Caller (1944) pages 140-147

Mr. Jenner has never met Banks or Hall and deals wtih them through correspondance. Nancy won’t come out and say that she thinks someone else wrote the music although Mr. Jenner knows this is what she’s implying. But, she won’t say who she thinks did write the music or why she thinks this. Mr. Jenner is angry and thinks she’s just an irresponsbile schoolgirl who’s wasted his time. Nancy’s rather upset he didn’t take her seriously (although, seriously, can you blame him? Nancy won’t tell him anything! I would have been surprised if Jenner had acted differently!) But, it turns out Jenner is now headed to the hotel where Ben Banks is living!

Nancy returns to the attic and finds a bunch of letters. Some of Nurse Ada, including ones that sketch out bits of melody from his childhood. There is also one piece of original music. Nancy says her father knows a reputable publisher and takes the music with her to send it off. Nancy goes home and Mr. Drew agrees to send it off to his friend. Nancy reveals her plan to sit outside with George and Bess to see how the intruder is getting into the March house. Mr. Drew says that Booker’s chemists are looking at the chemicals Nancy stole for them. Nancy then realizes she left her fingerprints all over Dight’s factory, but she has to go back about the bottles she left there, otherwise Dight would be even more suspicious. When she goes back, his secretary (who was usually very friendly) is rather cold and says that Mr. Dight very much wants to talk to her.

Chapter 13: An Unpleasant Caller (1970) pages 114-120

Much the same, although Jenner doesn’t call Nancy an “irresponsible school girl” and the who letter from Nurse Ada thing is cut. The rest is the same.

Chapter 18: Watching (1944) pages 148-156

Nancy tells the secretary and Mr. Dight that she thought she saw someone she knew in the courtyard and then ran into someone else and they totally bought it. Dight than totally lowballs her on the bottles, and so she tells him she’s selling them to someone else. She takes them to the antique dealer who gives her more than twice what Dight offered. He then asks about Ned and Nancy brushes off the question. She goes home and there’s a letter from Jenner telling her that the music isn’t plagiarized and she faces a libel suit if she pursues the matter. Horace tells her that there will be an important announcement about a mutual friend that will rock the professional world, but Nancy stays firm. Then Helen comes over and Horace gets her on his side, after she finds out Ned hasn’t asked. Nancy tells him to find someone else, and if he can’t, she’ll see what she can do.

She then goes to the Marches with Bess and George and Mr. March shows them a book that stopped a bullet from killing him during the war. The girls then get into dark clothing to stake out the house. After three hours of waiting, Nancy sees two figures approaching the house!

Chapter 14: Warning (1970) pages 121-128

Pretty much the same, but at the antique store, the dealer doesn’t inquire after Ned, nor does he go on and on about Nancy’s previous cases like he does in 1944. Also, the entire scene with Horace and Helen is cut.

Chapter 19: Under the Wallpaper (1944) pages 157-166

One of the figures is Mr. March, and when he speaks, he scares off the other. The next morning, Mr. March hears another song of his son’s. Nancy realizes some of the lyrics are lifted from the love letters she initially read. She wants to go home and get the letters, but Susan wants to play dress-up so she stays. The small girl trips in her high heels and her parasol tears down a section of wallpaper. Amazingly, there is music written all over the wall under the paper. Mr. March tears down the rest of the wallpaper. The melody is one written by March’s mother, the his son used as the base for his own music. Now they have proof, Nancy goes to see Jenner to see if he’ll settle so they don’t have to take it to court. Jenner’s building is run down. As they’re walking up the stairs, Nancy hears someone playing one of the stolen songs very badly. Jenner refuses to see her. As they leave, they overhear a conversation between Jenner and Banks. Jenner thinks they should cancel the Emerson college performance, because Nancy’s on to them!

The girls stake out the building and follow Banks when he leaves. He’s too thin to be the prowler at the Marches. They follow him back to a hotel and the clerk calls him Mr. Lally! (Lally is annoying Horace’s last name!)

Chapter 15: Wallpaper Clue (1970) pages 129-137

Much the same, although the description of Jenner’s secretary is slightly different–in 1970 she’s chewing gum!

Also, when they get to the hotel, as the whole Horace/Ned/Dane subplot has been cut, Banks gets called Mr. Dight!

Chapter 20: A Mean Mix-up (1944) pages 167-173

They ask the clerk, who says that Ben Banks’s real name is Lally and he can’t see them because he has a visitor in his room. The girls go home and Horace calls, asking Nancy what she’s wearing on Saturday. Nancy reminds him that she hasn’t said she’d go. She then asks him about Ben Banks and he says his uncle, Ben Lally, is a composer and that Horace also writes and that’s what the annoncement at the dance will be about. Bess than calls with news–Ned’s taking Diane Dight to the dance!!!

Mr. Drew comes home and says the chemical analysis is done and that yes, Dight stole the chemicals and Mr. Drew will prosecute as soon as he can pull the case together. Nancy wants to keep Ned out of the fallout so Mr. Drew promises to not hold proceedings until after the dance. She tells him that Horace’s uncle is Ben Banks. Mr. Drew says she shouldn’t go to the dance with him, because it would be dangerous, so Nancy decides to go hide out at the Marches for a few days. Mr. Drew also tells her to find more music, because he sold the piece they found and the publisher wants more!

There’s then a touching scene where Nancy almost starts crying when she see’s Ned’s photograph on her dresser while packing. She then goes to the Marches and finds the clue she was looking for in the old letters!

Chapter 16: Poetic Hint (1970) pages 138-145

So, because the Horace/Ned/Dance plot’s been cut, it turns out Banks’s real name is Horace Dight and left message he didn’t want to be disturbed. Nancy goes home and tells her father what she found. Mr. Drew says that chemicals matched and he’s going to prosecute. (Interestingly, in 1944 Dight’s first name was Lucius and in 1970 it’s Malfoy! ha, no, it’s Lawrence.)

Mr. Drew calls his office and finds that Horace Dight is a loafer and second-cousin to silk-stealing Dight. Nancy decides to hide out at the Marches because both Dights are suspicious about her. The rest of the chapter is largely the same, without the sad moment when Nancy see’s Ned’s picture.

It however, continues when Nancy finds the clue in the letter–what seems like a love poem Nancy thinks holds clues. Back to the attic they go! Nancy takes down the skeleton in the wardrobe and there’s a small hole in the back of the wardrobe. Nancy puts a curtain rod through the hole, and it goes through, which is odd, because they thought it was an outside wall, so if there was a hole, there should be daylight. And there’s not. They found a secret room! Sure enough, a run outside shows there should be a bit more of the attic there!

Chapter 21: Clues in Verse (1944) pages 174-180

The poem and discovering the secret room is the same. Nancy gets Effie to help her and Mr. March move the wardrobe. There’s a spider that comes out and Effie freaks, even though it’s a harmless one. They move the wardrobe and find a door, but it’s locked. How was the intruder getting in there? Nancy and Mr. March push on it to bust it down and then fall through the door and keep falling! There’s no floor!

Chapter 17: The Hidden Room (1970) pages 146-153

Starts the same, but with no spiders. Then, the chapter continues after Nancy and Mr. March fall. Turns out they just missed some steps leading down into the room. They find a skylight covered by a black cloth–that’s who the intruder must be getting in and out! There’s also a table and piano-desk that Mr. March says used to be in the attic. The piano-desk sounds just like the freaky music Nancy’s been hearing at night! But where’s the music? She figures that the music and tapping noises release a secret drawer. She messes around and then out shoots a drawer!

Chapter 22: The Covered Skylight (1944) pages 181-187

Much the same, except there’s also a guitar. The drawer opens and there’s nothing in it but a note from Lally to someone named Riggin saying “Can’t you find another good song?” Mr. March covers up the skylight so people can’t break in again. The figure the thief will be back tonight after they scared him away last night. Then they eat dinner. Mr. March says he’ll catch the thief alone, but he’ll hoot like an owl if he sees him.

Chapter 23: Trapped (1970) pages 154-161

Much the same, but the card if from Dight, not Lally. While waiting for Mr. March to hoot like an owl, Nancy realizes there must be another secret drawer in the piano-desk. She goes back up the attic and finds another drawer with lots and lots of music! All with the March name on it! But, as she looks at the papers, she doesn’t notice the piano-desk moving behind her and Bushy Trott coming out of a hole in the ground! He catches her. His real name is Riggin. He threw the storm at Mr. March to scare Nancy away. He then ties her up, gags her, takes all the music, and lets loose a black widow spider!

Chapter 23: Sounds in the Night (1944) pages 188-193

Nancy decides there has to be another secret drawer. As she makes her way to the attic, she hears sounds outside. Eventually a car pulls in and it’s Mr. Drew! He’s off on some business and wanted to stop in an d given Nancy a telegram from Horace, saying the big announcement had been postponed.

Nancy thinks Horace might be Harry Hall, the other plagiarist! She then heads up the attic to find the other drawer. Meanwhile, the prowler is coming and sees Mr. March outside. Guessing Mr. March is on lookout, the prowler knocks him out!

Chapter 19: Deadly Darkness (1970) pages 162-169

Bushy Trott fixes the door Nancy and Mr. March had bust down earlier that day. Then he tells her that Mr. March is asleep in the garden and won’t wake up for a “long, long time.” Then he puts the spider back in the jar and shakes the jar to rile the spider before letting the spider go again. Then he leaves again through the floor, taking the candle with him. (Bushy Trott really isn’t a very nice person.)

Nancy’s gagged so she can’t scream and tied up, but she can thump her feet on the floor. So she does. Eventually, she hears a male and female calling her name, so she keeps stamping her feet. It’s Ned! With George, Bess, and Effie. (Ned wanted to see Nancy and Hannah told him where she was, so he rounded up her friends to go visit.) They find Mr. March in the garden, gravely injured. They leave him with Effie and then go to River Heights to get Bushy’s address from Mr. Dight. On the way, they run into Mr. Drew. He tells Ned not to go home because “I believe we’ll need an extra man before the night’s over! One with good strong muscles!” Puke.

Chapter 24: The Trap (1944) pages 194-200

Nancy struggles more with the drawer in 1944 than she does in 1970. Much the same, except Bushy sets a tarantula on her instead of a black widow. But, she might not die, she might just suffer from tarantism. (Which can’t happen, according to this Wikipedia article.) In the scuffle, Nancy loses the note she had found with Bushy/Riggins’s name on it. He takes it. Then rest of the chapter is pretty much the same, ending with Bushy leaving Nancy all alone.

I’m going to stay in 1944 and just end the book

Chapter 25: The Plotter Nabbed (1944) pages 201-216

Nancy stomps and Ned comes and finds her and is very caring, which Nancy finds quite rich, given that she hasn’t heard from him in ages and he’s taking Diane to the dance! There’s some touching gushy stuff between Ned and Nancy. They find Mr. March and are off to River Heights, again running into Mr. Drew.

When they get in the car, Bess and George make a point of sitting up front, leaving Nancy and Ned alone in the back. (Oh la la, even though her dad’s driving. Even though Ned is “delighted” by this.) Ned had come to River Heights to square matters with Nancy. He, Bess, and George figured out that Diane STOLE the telegram from Ned inviting Nancy to the dance. Because Ned got a response from “Nancy” saying that she’d be out of town and couldn’t go. Diane found out about the dance from her cousin Horace. Ned only invited Diane because she arranged that they should casually meet on campus and that she practically invited herself! But Ned says he’s going to take Nancy instead. Nancy tells him she was all sad about the letter he wrote her, but he says she just wanted to know what to wear. And Diane was so proud to be going with Ned that she bragged to her cousin Horace, so that’s why he’s been bugging her. George and Bess go home, but Ned says he’s staying so he can find out if Diane is really the telegram thief. Mr. Drew’s response is so much better in 1944 than it was in 1970! “Glad to have you anyway… We may need a strong man before the night’s over.” Still puke-worthy, but not nearly as bad.

The go to Dight’s and demand Bushy’s address. Dight’s all indignant until Nancy mentions the tarantula. He says that he didn’t know the silk-processing formula was stolen or that Bushy was “trying to make trouble” for Nancy.

Diane comes down and whines to her dad to not punish her for the telegram before realizing everyone’s there for something else entirely. Mr. Dight yells at his daughter for the telegram and suspends her allowance for a long time. Diane says he’s mean.

Mr. Dight says that he purchased the silk process from Bushy at great cost and thought Nancy was trying to steal the method from him! He’s horrified to find out that Bushy stole it from Booker and calls the cops himself. Bushy turns out to be an ex-con and a gifted chemist. He also served as a servant for Ben Lally! Trott knew about the music and where it was hidden because he was planning on stealing it before the war!

Luckily, Horace had no part in it. The “big announcement” was that, as the orchestra leader, he had worked out a really good arrangement of one of his uncle’s songs. And the Dights were going on vacation and taking Horace with them, so they wouldn’t be at the dance. Nancy was going to wear a beautiful dress she saw at Booker’s plant, a gift from the owner to say “thank you.” And, of course, there’s a mention of the next adventure for Nancy!

Chapter 20: Plotter Nabbed (1970) pages170-177

Much the same, but tighter and without all the Ned/Nancy/Diane subplot.

Also, how Bushy knew about the music changes slightly. Bushy and Mr. March’s son were in the army together and he had played a lot of his original songs. Bushy broke into the house one day and found the secret room. And, of course, there’s a plug for Nancy’s next case!

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2 Responses to The Secret in the Old Attic–Another Nancy Drew Case of the Changing Editions

  1. Penny says:

    This is great! I loved ND books when I was a girl and so did my mother. We were just talking about this particular book, so I Googled it and stumbled across your blog. I read your intro & the first and last chapter comparisons to my mother. We both enjoyed your take and appreciate the work you put into this. Thanks so much!

  2. Hi! Your post is a helpful refresher for the review I’m doing. I couldn’t recall the detail about Susan’s Mom, or character names, so this is perfect. Perhaps your circle and readers would enjoy my blog: I need subscribers! 🙂
    http://cmriedel.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/favourite-genre-gothic-mystery/

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