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Wealthy, elderly Mary Eldredge plans to donate a large sum of money to her alma mater, the Brinwood School for Girls, at which teenager Nancy Drew is a student. She arranges to deliver the check to lawyer Carson Drew, Nancy's father, at his office the following day, but she does not appear. Hollister, Miss Eldredge's business manager, explains that she left town suddenly. Nancy, who does not believe that Miss Eldredge would act that way, determines to discover what happened. Driving home, she sees Dr. Spires kidnapped by a suspicious car. That evening, Dr. Spires calls Carson and Nancy to tell them that he was kidnapped and taken to the country to treat an injured elderly woman. Nancy is convinced that this is Miss Eldredge and that she is being held against her will. The doctor mentions that he heard his captors use a password, "bluebells." Nancy finds an injured racing pigeon bearing a message that mentions bluebells and is positive that it came from Miss Eldredge's captors. She and her friend, Ted Nickerson, release the pigeon and follow it to a house in the country where they find Hollister, but not Miss Eldredge. Nancy and Ted then realize they should look in the direction the pigeon came from rather than the direction it went toward, deciding that the pigeon must have traveled from Sylvan Lake. When Carson receives a telegram from St. Louis signed by Miss Eldredge, he leaves at once, agreeing that Nancy could go to the Lake with Ted's family. Nancy and Ted hire an airplane to look for a house that matches Dr. Spires description, then, back on the ground, they drive to Larkspur Lane, the location they found from the air, and Nancy notes that Larkspur is another name for bluebells. They return that evening and gain entry to the house by using disguises. Nancy finds Miss Eldredge, who explains that the men, led by Hollister, are trying to drive her insane and steal her money. During their escape, Ted and Nancy are kidnapped, but Ted uses an old shortwave radio to send a signal for help. Carson gets the message and together with the police, rounds up the gang.