"I hope we didn't sleep through breakfast," I said to my sister Ashley as we hurried down an elegant carpeted staircase.
"I hope we can find the dining room, Mary-Kate," Ashley said. "This place is huge!"
Ashley and I were spending Christmas in Washington D.C. at the home of the British Ambassador. Our Great-grandma Olive was a friend of Ambassador Jordan and he invited the three of us for the weekend.
Ambassador Jordan lived in a big three-story red brick house. The inside of the house looked like a museum. Portraits of kings and queens in gilded frames lined the walls. Chandeliers hung from the ceilings and the floors were so polished they were shiny.
Ashley stopped in front of the enormous windows in the entrance hallway. 'Check out the Christmas tree," she said.
"Awesome," I said. The gigantic tree was beautifully decorated. Strands of snowy white popcorn circled the tree. Tiny gift-wrapped packages dangled from the branches, along with gold and silver pine cones. A bright white star glowed from the top of the tree.
"That puts me in the Christmas spirit!" Ashley said.
"My growling stomach puts me in the mood for breakfast," I joked. "Come on."
We entered the dining room. Ambassador Jordan sat at the head of the long table. His grandchildren, Ian and Sarah, sat on either side of him.
Ian was about twelve, with pale skin, red hair and freckles. His sister Sarah was ten -- the same age as Ashley and me. She had her brother's pale skin, but her hair was long, dark, and curly.
"Good morning, girls," Ambassador Jordan greeted us. "Sleep well?" He was a tall, thin man with short blond hair that was graying at the temples. I figured he was older than our parents, but younger than Great-grandma Olive.
"Yes, thank you," Ashley replied. "I love our canopy beds."
Ambassador Jordan had also invited his friends from Wales, Mr. and Mrs. Phelps, and their children, Polly and Marcus, for the weekend. They sat at the other end of the table.
"Sorry we're late," I said, sliding into a chair opposite Polly. Ashley sat down next to me.
Polly was about our age too, with short blonde hair and green eyes. Her little brother Marcus sat beside her.
"Help yourselves to breakfast," said Margaret, Ambassador Jordan's housekeeper and cook. She wore a red and green cardigan sweater with gold bells for buttons over her black and white uniform. She was in the holiday spirit too!
The food at the table looked a lot different from the breakfast I usually ate at home. Where was the cereal? And instead of bagels or waffles I saw plates of fried tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, fried eggs, and some strange skinny sausage. There was a basket of triangular biscuit things, and there were plates of whole fish, complete from head to tail.
I snuck a peek at Ashley. She looked confused by the menu too!
"Why don't you try the kippers?" Mrs. Phelps suggested.
I stared at the table. Okay, what's a kipper? I wondered.

Luckily, Ian picked up the plate of fish and handed it to me.
I took a small bite. "That's . . . unusual," I said.
Everyone laughed. "Here, try a scone," Sarah said. She handed me the basket of biscuit-like thingies.
"Scones are like your muffins," Ian explained. "But we don't usually eat them for breakfast."
He had a British accent, but he sounded different from Mrs. Phelps. His accent was more clipped - and kind of snooty.
"I asked Margaret if we could have them for breakfast just this once," Sarah added. "Margaret makes them herself. She even made my favorite kind of scones." She held up her plate. "See? It has chocolate chips in it."
"That's because you're my special princess," Margaret said, giving Sarah's shoulders a quick squeeze.
Polly rolled her eyes.
I loaded my scone with strawberry jam and took a bite. "Mmmm . . . I could get used to this," I said.
"Look what I did," Marcus said.
I glanced at his plate. He had made a smiling face out of his breakfast.
"See Polly?" He reached to poke her arm to get her attention.
Polly shrank back in her chair. "Don't touch me! You'll get jam all over my dress."
"Marcus, stop bothering your sister," Mr. Phelps said.
Marcus slumped in his chair. He stuck his finger in the jam on his plate and licked it.
"Where's Great-grandma Olive?" I asked, noticing the empty chair.
"Maybe she slept late too," Ashley said.
"Not a chance." Great-grandma Olive strode into the room. She wore her long silver hair in a braid, and had on a thick blue sweater with a pair of slim black jeans. She was carrying a briefcase.
"Do you have work with you, Olive?" Mr. Phelps asked.
"Oh, I worked hard on this, but it was fun." Great-grandma Olive laid the briefcase on the table and patted it.

Ambassador Jordan's blue eyes crinkled into a smile. "Does that mean we are ready to begin?"
"Begin what?" Ashley asked. I was wondering the same thing.
All the kids at the table looked excited.
"I know!" Marcus shouted. "The Riddle Game."
"The what?" I asked.
Ambassador Jordan grinned broadly. "Our annual Holiday Riddle Hunt," he declared. "This year, your great-grandmother agreed to write the riddles."
"I hid all but the first set of riddles around the house early this morning," she announced. "The first cards are here in this briefcase. I was on my way up to my room to drop it off, but then I worried I'd miss breakfast."
"I'd be happy to bring the briefcase up to your room," Margaret said, pouring Great-grandma Olive a cup of tea.
"Would you?" Great-grandma Olive asked. "Thank you so much."
As Margaret left the room with great-grandmother's briefcase, Mr. And Mrs. Phelps excused themselves.
"We have a day of sight-seeing planned," Mr. Phelps said.
"I'll walk you out," Ambassador Jordan offered. They all left the dining room.
Margaret returned. "There's a phone call for you," she told Great-grandma Olive.
Great-grandma Olive took a quick sip of tea and then left with Margaret.
"I hope the riddles are harder this year," Ian said. "I need to be challenged."
"Great-grandma Olive is a famous detective," I told the others. "She probably came up with some great riddles."
"I want to win," Marcus whined. He turned to Polly. "You have to help me."
Polly rolled her eyes. "I have better things to do than play some babyish game."
"It's not babyish," Sarah said. "It's fun!"
Ian nodded. "Very mentally stimulating," he said.

I forced myself not to laugh. Ian looked like a normal sixth-grader, but he sounded like an old professor.
"So how does this game work?" Ashley asked.
"It's cool," Sarah said. "Riddles are hidden all over the house. When you solve one riddle, the answer tells you where to find the next one."
"Each time you solve a riddle," Ian added, "you'll find an object. It can be anything-a shoe, a hat, whatever."
"What do you do with the objects?" I asked. "Is it like a scavenger hunt?"
"Sort of," Ian said. "The objects are clues. They tell you where the grand prize is hidden."
"Last year Ian and Sarah won free movie passes for a month," Polly grumbled.
"We're going to win again," Sarah said. "Ian's brain is perfect for riddles!"
Ian smiled. He looked like he was trying to be modest, but I could tell he was glad Sarah was bragging about him.
"Well, we're going to give you some competition this year," Ashley said.
Ian's smile turned into a sneer. "Is that so?"
"That's right," I said. "My sister and I are detectives. We run the Olsen and Olsen Detective Agency at home."
"People call us the Trenchcoat Twins," Ashley added with a grin.
"Riddles are our specialty," I declared. I didn't like how Ian acted as if he was the only one smart enough to win the game.
"That may be," Ian said, taking off his glasses and wiping them with his napkin. "But you're no match for a student of Sherlock Holmes, the most famous British detective. In fact, I have my own Holmes detective kit."
"If you're detectives, and Ian always wins, I don't have a chance!" Marcus complained. "It's not fair!" He threw down his napkin and rushed out of the room.
Polly sighed. "I better go check on him." She pushed her chair away from the table and went in search of her brother.
Sarah stood up. "I'm done. I'm going to ask Margaret to make fish and chips for lunch." She left the room.
"Just when I was hoping to have Margaret's beef stew." Ian sighed. "But Sarah will get her way. Margaret does favor her."
"How can you be thinking about lunch already?" I asked, taking a bite of the sausage. It was spicy but good.

Ian shrugged. "And now," he said, standing up. "I'm going to finish reading my latest Sherlock Holmes story. It's great preparation for the Holiday Riddle Hunt."
He spun around and left the dining room.
I shook my head. "He's a little too sure of himself for me. I don't think he even believes we're detectives."
"He'll find out when the Riddle Hunt starts!" Ashley put down her fork and wiped her mouth on her napkin. "Are you done?"
I nodded. "That breakfast was strange, but good."
We headed up to our room. As we strolled along the carpeted hallway we came to Great-grandma Olive's room. Her door was open.
I looked inside. My mouth dropped open.
Great-grandma Olive was crawling on the floor on her hands and knees!
I grabbed Ashley's arm and dragged her into the room. "Great-grandma Olive, is something wrong?" I asked.
Great-grandma Olive sat back on her heels and looked at us. Her face was flushed and strands of hair had loosened from her braid. She pushed stray hairs out of her face.
"Yes," she said grimly. "Something is very wrong. The riddles for the hunt are gone. Someone took them!"