Read Boxcar Children 56 - Firehouse Mystery Online

Authors: Gertrude Chandler Warner,Charles Tang

Boxcar Children 56 - Firehouse Mystery (4 page)

BOOK: Boxcar Children 56 - Firehouse Mystery
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Henry Alden

Jessie Alden

Violet Alden

Benny Alden

Next the children took their petition inside, and Mike, Steve, Christine, and all the other firefighters on duty signed their names.

“Look at all the names we have already,” Benny said, holding up the page.

“Just wait until this afternoon,” Violet pointed out. “We’ll have even more.”

When the Aldens arrived in downtown Greenfield, they parked their bicycles in front of the hardware store and went in to buy some more paint. The paint department was at the back of the store. On one wall was a rack holding small paper cards with different-colored stripes on them.

“What are these?” Benny wanted to know, pointing at the rack.

“Those are samples of different paint colors,” Jessie explained. “For instance, if you want to paint something red, you take one of the red cards, and that shows all the different shades of red paint you can buy.” She pulled out a card and pointed to one of the stripes. “See, there’s a pinkish red called ‘dusty rose.’ ” She pointed to another stripe. “And this really dark red is ‘brick red.’ ”

“I bet I know what that bright red is called,” Henry said, pointing to the center stripe. “Fire engine red!”

“You’re right,” Jessie said.

“Do they have all those colors here?”

Benny asked, looking at the cans of paint on the shelves.

“Not exactly,” Henry explained. “When you bring the card up to the counter, they look in a big book — sort of like a cookbook — that gives the ‘recipe’ for that color. Then they mix certain basic colors together and give you your paint.”

“Neat!” said Benny. “But what if you just need white?”

“They even have different shades of white paint,” Violet pointed out, taking a card with stripes of white on it. “See, this yellowish white is called ‘fresh cream,’ and this pinkish white is called ‘palest rose.’ ”

“But the kind of paint we were using was just plain white,” Jessie said, “and there are cans of it right here.” She picked up a can from the bottom shelf.

“Aw, they’re not going to mix it for us?” asked Benny with disappointment.

“No, I’m afraid not,” said Henry, taking another can from the shelf.

The Aldens decided that with the paint that was left over, they would only need a couple of more cans.

Next they went to the art shop, which was just down the street,

“Hello, Mr. Sanders,” said Violet to the man behind the counter. She liked to draw and paint, and came to the art store often to buy watercolor paints, drawing pencils, and large sketch pads.

“Hello, Violet. What can I do for you today?” the store owner asked.

“We need a large roll of brown paper to make a banner,” she said. “We’d also like to get some smaller sheets of heavy paper to make posters.”

“And paints — in lots of colors,” added Benny.

“Yes, and some brushes,” Jessie put in.

“The large rolls of paper are in the back,” said Mr. Sanders. “Poster paper and paints and brushes are over there,” he went on, pointing to some shelves behind the children.

“Thanks, Mr. Sanders,” said Violet, as Jessie and Benny began to select some jars of brightly colored poster paints and some soft brushes. Violet pulled out several large sheets of paper, and Henry went to the back to get the large roll of paper for the banner.

When they were finished, the Aldens brought their selections up to the counter. Mr. Sanders rang up their purchases on the cash register, and Jessie gave him the money.

Their last stop was the nursery, which was a few blocks away.

As soon as they walked in, they saw what they were looking for. A large display had piles of evergreen boughs in different shapes and sizes.

“Look,” said Henry, pointing to a sign. “They’re half price, since the holidays are over.”

“Great!” said Jessie.

The children selected two large boughs for each window box and took them up to the counter to pay for them.

“These will look nice with the red brick of the firehouse,” Violet said.

By the time they’d gotten everything done, it was lunchtime.

“I’m hungry,” said Henry.

“Wait a minute!” said Benny. “That’s what I was going to say!”

Everyone laughed, because they all knew that Benny was always hungry.

“How about pizza?” said Violet, motioning to the pizza parlor that was across from the nursery. From where they stood, they could smell the delicious aroma of pizza baking.

“Let’s go!” said Henry.

The pizza parlor was crowded, but Jessie found a table in the back and they all sat down.

“I want pepperoni,” said Benny.

“Me, too,” said Henry.

“Yuck,” said Jessie. “I don’t like pepperoni. I want mushrooms.”

“Mushrooms!” said Henry. “That sounds awful.”

“I know what we can do,” said Violet, who hated to see anyone argue. “We’ll get half pepperoni and half mushroom. And since I like my pizza plain, I’ll just pick off the pieces of pepperoni and mushroom.”

At last the steaming hot pizza pie arrived. The cheese was bubbling and gooey, and the sauce smelled spicy and delicious. The Aldens each picked up a slice of the kind they liked and started eating. Violet gave her extra mushrooms to Jessie and her extra pepperoni slices to Henry and Benny. In no time there was nothing left but a couple of crusts.

“That was great!” said Henry as he and Violet headed back to the firehouse to arrange the evergreens and start painting the banner and posters.

Meanwhile, Jessie and Benny went out to the corner to start getting signatures on their petition. It was a little bit chilly out, but they were wearing warm coats and hats.

“Save the firehouse!” Jessie called out.

“Come sign your name!” added Benny.

“What’s that about the firehouse?” asked a man walking by. Jessie told him that the old building might be torn down.

“That’s terrible,” the man said. “I’d be happy to sign.” He took the clipboard and pen from Benny and read the petition. Then he signed and handed everything back to Benny.

“What’s your petition for?” asked a woman behind him. When Jessie and Benny told her, she, too, signed eagerly.

The next person who came by did not want to sign their petition. It was Janet Lerner, from the town council.

“Still trying to save that old building? It’s an outdated wreck,” she said.

“We don’t think so,” said Jessie.

“And a lot of people agree with us,” added Benny, holding up the petition.

Ms. Lerner looked angry. “I’ve worked long and hard to get a better firehouse, and I’m not going to stop now. You might as well just give up!”

With that she turned on her heel and walked down the block and into a small building. Jessie noticed that the sign on the door said REBECCA WRIGHT, ARCHITECT.

“That must be Rebecca’s studio right there,” said Jessie.

“Ms. Lerner seemed really angry,” said Benny.

“Yes, she did,” said Jessie. “I can’t believe she told us to give up!”

“Do you think she knocked over the paint cans, hoping we would quit?” asked Benny.

“Maybe,” Jessie said thoughtfully.

Almost everyone else who stopped to talk to the children happily signed the petition. Soon the page was almost full. “Look at all these names!” said Benny. He turned over the page, his eye running down the two long columns, each name in different handwriting.

“Let’s go back to the firehouse and help Henry and Violet with the posters,” said Jessie. “We can get more signatures tomorrow.”

A few minutes later, Jessie and Benny were riding their bikes up the road toward the firehouse. The sight of dark green branches on the side of the building caught their eyes. “Look, Henry and Violet have fixed up the window boxes!” cried Benny.

They found Henry and Violet in the garage, surrounded by several colorfully painted posters. COME TO A RALLY! said one. HELP US SAVE THE FIREHOUSE! said another. Each poster gave the date of the rally and told people to assemble at noon in front of the firehouse.

“The window boxes look great,” said Jessie. “And so do the posters.”

“Look at all the signatures we’ve gotten,” Benny said, holding up the page to show them.

“Good job!” said Henry.

“We were about to start on the banner,” said Violet as she rolled out the long roll of paper in front of them. In pencil she wrote SAVE THE FIREHOUSE in large letters. Then all the children helped to paint the letters in bright colors.

It was nearly dinnertime when they were finally finished. They left the banner out to dry overnight. The posters were already dry, so they piled them in the baskets of their bicycles. On their way home, the children would hang them on trees and telephone poles throughout the neighborhood.

As the Aldens were just starting off, a familiar figure came walking up. “Mr. Frederick?” Jessie called out. “I mean, Ralph?”

“Hello, Jessie,” he said.

“Mike told us he never saw you yesterday. What happened?” Henry asked.

“Oh, I decided not to bother him. He’s such a busy man. But when I got home, I changed my mind. That’s why I came back,” Ralph explained. “After all, I have to get my book finished.”

“Are you going to include the Old Town Hall in your book?” Violet asked.

“Uh — the town hall?” Ralph repeated.

“Yes, it’s so beautiful with all the columns in front,” Violet said.

“I never noticed,” Ralph said.

“And the building next to it is at least a hundred years old,” Henry added.

“Oh, really? I’ll have to go take a look,” Ralph said. “But I’m afraid I must be going now.” And clutching his little blue notebook, he hurried into the firehouse.

“Hmmm . . .” Jessie said as they began riding home. “You know, I’m beginning to agree with you, Henry. Something about Ralph Frederick does seem odd. For someone who’s writing a book about historic buildings in Greenfield, he doesn’t know much about them.”

“Didn’t he seem in a big hurry to get away?” Violet added.

“Do you think he has something to do with the spilled paint or the false alarms?” Benny asked.

“Maybe,” Henry said.

The children woke up bright and early the next morning. They were going to paint the living room of the firehouse that day and knew they had a lot of work ahead of them. Jessie tucked the petition carefully in her knapsack, so they would be able to get more signatures.

But as they rode up to the front of the firehouse an awful surprise awaited them.

“What happened to the window boxes?” cried Violet, who was the first to notice.

The beautiful evergreens had been knocked to the ground, where they lay bent and trampled, covered with dirt.

“A Whole Lot of Money!”

ot again!” said Jessie. “Yesterday the paint was all a mess, and today it’s the window boxes!”

“What do you think happened?” asked Violet.

The children knelt down and examined the trampled evergreens. “Look at the ground under the windows. It’s all scuffed up with footprints,” said Henry.

“Everything we do to improve the firehouse backfires,” said Violet with a sigh.

“Maybe that’s the person’s plan,” said Henry.

“Well, we’re not going to give up,” said Jessie. “That’s just what someone wants us to do.”

“That’s what Janet Lerner said yesterday!” Benny exclaimed. “She said, ‘You might as well just give up!’ ”

“I wonder what she was doing downtown,” said Violet.

“She was going to Rebecca Wright’s studio. You know, the architect. It’s near where we were standing,” said Jessie.

“You know, we have to go downtown again today to buy the ingredients for the chili we promised Steve. Maybe while we’re there we should talk to Rebecca,” suggested Henry. “She might be able to change Ms. Lerner’s mind.”

“I doubt it,” said Jessie. “Ms. Lerner seemed pretty angry yesterday.”

“It’s worth a try,” said Violet. “We can also pick up some more evergreens. It’s a good thing they were half-price!”

They rode their bikes downtown, and Jessie showed the others where Rebecca’s studio was. The Aldens entered the building and found themselves in a large, airy room, with a slanted drafting table in the center and some other tables along the walls. Large drawings of buildings were spread out on the tables or rolled up in stacks. At the back they could see a smaller office.

“Rebecca must be back there,” said Jessie. “It sounds like she’s talking on the telephone.”

As the children waited for her to finish her phone call, they couldn’t help hearing what she was saying.

“I know, isn’t it great?” she said, excitement in her voice. “We’ll finally have some money. A whole lot of money, if everything goes as planned.”

Benny was looking at a can of colored pencils, and just then he knocked them over.

“It sounds as if someone’s come in,” they heard Rebecca say. “I’ll call you later.” In a moment she came out from a door at the back.

“Hello,” she said. “You’re the kids from the firehouse, aren’t you? The Aldens?”

“Yes. We want to talk to you about the firehouse,” said Henry.

BOOK: Boxcar Children 56 - Firehouse Mystery
2.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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