Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
1930 Chs 14-17 vs 1960 Ch 13-14
We finally get to the eponymous bungalow of these two books as Nancy continues her snooping, makes a big discovery, and gets caught by the bad guy. These chapters are pretty similar, but Nancy’s updated (more boring) personality saps much of the fun melodrama from it.
Once Stumpy goes to bed, 1930 Nancy can finally creep out of hiding and check out the decrepit bungalow with her now-dying flashlight. It’s disappointingly empty until she opens the basement door and sees Jacob Aborn, which sends her into a full panic stumbling around in the dark until she finally gets out of the cottage and then finally starts to think. Panic over, she realizes that the person in the basement couldn’t possibly be Jacob and goes back to check it out. Nancy finds a man who looks like Jacob chained to the wall and unconscious down in the cellar. Turns out he actually is Jacob and the man who’s been posing is Jacob is actually a man called Stumpy Dowd, a notorious criminal. Instead of getting the man out of there right away they sit down in the cellar chained up while he tells the story of what happened.
While they’re hanging around talking and waiting to get caught, they… get caught. Stumpy knocks Nancy unconscious with the butt of his gun. While she’s weak and still semi-conscious he ties her up with the rope. But she remembers being told by a detective visiting her father that it was possible to hold your hand while being bound so as to slip the bonds later. With Nancy’s natural curiosity she got a demo. So she tries to replicate this while Stumpy is tying her up. They have the usual scene where the criminal boasts of his getaway plans and the victims promised retribution and say things like “you fiend” and “you beast”. Jacob leaves them tied up in the cellar to starve to death or whatever and goes off to go re-kidnap Laura Pendleton to get the rest of her jewels.
Considerations - Violence and melodrama:
The 1960 revision tones down both the violence and Nancy’s excitable nature. When 1960 Nancy first sees Jacob in the basement, she is startled but soon composes herself rather than panicking. Stumpy knocks Nancy out with a cane instead of pistol-whipping her. Instead of raging at him and telling him he’s a fiend, she clenches her jaw and just quietly says, "The police will catch up with you in the end".
The Cult of Domesticity – The matchbook:
There’s a whole plot device with Nancy’s dying flashlight and a kerosene lantern she finds. It’s unimportant except for the curious difference in how she happens to have matches in her pocket. 1930 Nancy had a waterproof matchbox left over from her camping trip. Traditionally feminine 1960 Nancy, having been to a summer camp party rather than actually camping, happens to have a souvenir matchbook from the (dinner & dancing & almost romance) hotel, for her matchbook collection. I was going to put this under “dated plot points” because I remember matchbook collecting being a big thing when I was a kid and everybody (except Nancy Drew!) smoked, but I can’t even remember the last time I saw souvenir matchbooks at every hotel, restaurant, and retail store. But apparently, it’s still a thing, even if they’re no longer a common marketing tool. Who knew?
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