Read Boxcar Children 64 - Black Pearl Mystery Online

Authors: Gertrude Chandler Warner

Boxcar Children 64 - Black Pearl Mystery (5 page)

Young Kahuna offered the pearl to a mainlander who had come to Hawaii to seek his fortune. But alas, the black pearl brought the new owner bad luck as well. So the man hid the black pearl in an underwater cave where it would curse him no more. In five hundred moons, when the bad luck turned to good, the man planned to dig up the pearl again.

Here, Joseph Kahuna stopped talking and simply played his ukulele. But his grandchildren asked for more.

Where is the black pearl now, Grandfather?” the Aldens heard a little boy ask.

It is said that the pearl remains hidden in an underwater cave. All these many moons, no one has searched for the pearl for fear of its dangerous powers.” Then Joseph began to sing a Hawaiian song that the Aldens did not understand.

What a story!” Jessie whispered before she and the other children turned away.

They walked along the ridge until they reached the rocky point again. As the children climbed up, they heard rocks tumbling down the other side.

What’s that?” Benny asked. “Is somebody else out here, too?”

Slow down,” Jessie reminded everyone. “These rocks are tricky, especially at night.”

The five Aldens climbed carefully to the top of the point. They stared down at the Pineapple Bay beach ahead of them.

Is that a person running over there?” Benny said, pointing ahead.

Yes,” said Jessie. “But it’s too dark to tell who it is.”

At that moment, a large cloud passed over the moon. By the time the moon was clear again, the beach looked empty in the moonlight.

The sky grew cloudy. The children felt tired. Jessie and Henry held out their hands to help the younger children climb down the rocks. By the time they reached the Pineapple Bay beach, only the sand crabs were out and about.

Cousin Mary was sitting on the porch, listening to the radio when the Aldens came in.

Benny and Soo Lee ran over to her rocking chair.

It was so pretty outside,” Soo Lee said.

There were lots of sand crabs,” Benny told Cousin Mary. “And shiny jellyfish, too. But we didn’t step on any.”

Even in the dim light, the children noticed how worried Cousin Mary looked.

We just came to say good night. Thank you for telling us to take a walk. It was a beautiful night out,” Violet said.

Cousin Mary didn’t seem to hear Violet at first. Finally she looked up at the children. “Did you . . . did you happen to see Norma Kane at all when you were out? She came by looking for Joseph, of all people. I told her to check the old beach shack where he sometimes spends his nights off. I’m terribly worried Norma is trying to hire him away from Pineapple Place.”

The Aldens looked at one another. They didn’t know quite what to say.

No, we didn’t see Mrs. Kane,” Jessie said honestly. “We hardly saw anyone out tonight.”

CHAPTER 6
Shark Warning!

T
hat night, Jessie had trouble sleeping. She awoke several times. Finally she decided to get some fresh air. She stepped onto the back porch of the guest cottage. The moon was high in the sky, casting its silvery light over Pineapple Bay.

Jessie walked over to the telescope Cousin Mary had left on the porch for the children. She turned the telescope this way and that, trying to find stars, but the moonlight made most of them too faint to see.

A shooting star!” Jessie said when she spotted a light moving across Pineapple Bay. “Oh, it’s just a boat,” she whispered to herself. “It’s stopping.”

Jessie couldn’t see much else. She was tired again, so she went back inside and climbed into her warm, cozy bed.

Slip-slap. Slip-slap.

What’s that sound?” Jessie called out as she packed a duffel bag with snorkels, masks, and fins the next morning. When she turned around, she started to laugh. “Oh, it’s you, Benny, in your snorkeling fins! You sounded funny coming into the room.”

Benny stood in the doorway of Jessie’s bedroom. A snorkeling mask covered his eyes, nose, and mouth. On his feet were big yellow swimming fins.

I’m ready,” he said after he took off his snorkel and mask.

I’m ready, too,” Jessie said. “Henry asked us to meet him in Cousin Mary’s office. We’re going to pick up those underwater maps she told us about. Are Soo Lee and Violet ready?”

They were ready. The Aldens had learned all about snorkeling on a trip to Florida with Grandfather Alden. They knew how to breathe through a snorkel. They knew how to keep their masks from getting fogged. Best of all, they knew how much fun snorkeling could be. They couldn’t wait!

I’m glad I ran into you. Just go right in my office for those maps,” Cousin Mary said. “I’m heading into town on errands this morning. I had Joseph set out bag lunches for you and the Pierces on the porch. I told the Pierces I’d be out all morning and that all of you should just help yourselves.”

Something was still bothering Henry about the night before. “Did Joseph say anything about last night? I mean about seeing Norma Kane or anything?”

A shadow seemed to pass over Cousin Mary’s face. “He told me he didn’t see her. I’m still concerned that she’ll hire him away from Pineapple Place. I gave him the next few days off when he asked me. Maybe he needs some time to think. Oh, dear. Here I am gabbing on and on about my troubles. Now off you go to my office for those maps. I left them right on top of my desk for you yesterday afternoon.”

The children headed for Cousin Mary’s office. First they checked her desk, but the maps were nowhere to be seen.

Let’s check underneath the desk and behind the furniture in case the maps slipped off,” Henry suggested.

The Aldens got on their hands and knees behind the desk. That’s when they heard the office door squeak open. They all popped up at the same time.

Richard Pierce stepped back from the doorway, startled by the sight of the five Aldens. “What are you kids doing here?”

Cousin Mary told us we could pick up something she left for us that we need for snorkeling,” Jessie said simply.

Emma Pierce, standing behind her husband, quickly stuffed something into her tote bag. “Let’s . . . uh . . . go, Richard. Obviously Mrs. Cook isn’t here. We just . . . mmm . . . wanted to ask her about some farms for sale down the road. See you later.”

Richard Pierce had one last thing to say to the Aldens. “If you’re going snorkeling, I’d stay away from Reef Bay. There are reports of shark sightings.”

After the Pierces left, Henry seemed puzzled. “It’s pretty strange. Cousin Mary said she told the Pierces she would be going to town this morning. Why did they come to her office when they knew she was gone?”

Jessie shook her head. “There’s something about those two I can’t figure out. As for the maps, I guess we’ll just have to ask Cousin Mary about them when she gets back. And we’d better forget about snorkeling out at Reef Bay. We don’t want to meet up with any sharks.”

On their way to Pineapple Bay, the children passed the Pierces’ rented car. Jessie noticed their trunk was open. “Should we shut it for them, Henry?”

Know what?” Henry said. “I’ll run to their cottage and ask them. Maybe they were just unloading their — hey, look what’s in there. Scuba-diving equipment, tanks, hoses, and all kinds of deep-diving gear. I didn’t know the Pierces were —”

Now what are you kids snooping around here for?” Richard Pierce demanded. “You didn’t touch anything, did you?” He slammed the trunk shut.

Jessie swallowed hard. “Henry was just about to look for you to tell you the trunk was open. We would never bother other people’s things.”

Richard Pierce looked upset with himself for yelling at the Aldens. “Sorry. The equipment belongs to someone else. I didn’t want anything to happen to it, that’s all.”

Henry felt better. “I know how to scuba dive, too. When my grandfather comes back, he’s meeting a marine biologist friend who dives around here. She’s going to lend me some scuba equipment so we can explore some of the local reefs and caves. Would you like to come along when we go?”

This equipment belongs to someone else,” Richard Pierce repeated before he turned around and walked away.

Why doesn’t he want to go scuba diving, Henry?” Benny asked after Mr. Pierce left. “If I knew how, I would go diving with you and Grandfather’s friend.”

Mr. Pierce didn’t really answer that question, Benny,” Henry answered. “Hey, with all the excitement, we forgot something.”

Our lunch!” Benny cried. “My stomach didn’t forget that.”

The Aldens returned to the main house. Joseph was arranging the lunch bags Cousin Mary had left behind for the guests.

Hi, Joseph,” Violet said in a quiet voice. “We came to pick up our lunches before we go snorkeling.”

Joseph nodded. “Here they are. Mrs. Cook had me fill one thermos with coffee for the Pierces. The other one is juice for you children. I put a juice cup in each bag with the sandwiches. Good day.”

We hope it’s a good day,” Jessie said. “But we just heard there might be sharks in Reef Bay.”

Joseph Kahuna wasn’t so quiet with the children now. “Who said such a thing? Sharks don’t swim in our bays. Why, a shark is a creature that needs the whole ocean for its home, not a small bay. In all my many years of living on the bay, I haven’t seen or heard of a shark in Reef Bay or any other bay nearby, not even an injured shark. Someone is making up a story.”

We like stories but not that one,” Benny told Joseph. “Before we go back to Greenfield, can you tell us the black pearl story like you told your —” Benny stopped when he felt Henry tap his hand. “Sorry, never mind.”

You are like my grandchildren, always wanting another story. I have many stories. As for the black pearl, there is nothing much to tell. It was a rare jewel that brought bad luck to everyone. Its last owner . . .” Joseph stopped talking for a minute. “Yes, the last owner of the pearl threw it into the sea, and that’s where the story ends. Now I must be going. I’ll be away for a few days on another part of the island. Good-bye.”

The children packed their lunches into their beach bags. They headed for the steps that led down to the beach. They were nearly there when Henry spoke up.

You realize, don’t you, that Joseph told us a different story than the one he told his grandchildren?” Henry asked the other children.

Jessie took off her sandals and walked along the water’s edge. “Yes, he just said the last owner of the black pearl threw it into the sea, but he told his grandchildren the pearl was hidden in a cave. And he didn’t mention anything about the five hundred moons passing. That’s about forty-two years ago. I wonder if Joseph was the young man in his story. He seems about sixty now, so he could have been eighteen then.”

Maybe Joseph
is
searching for the black pearl,” Henry said.

I wonder if other people are searching for it, too,” Jessie said.

CHAPTER 7
Underwater Mystery

W
ith Jessie leading the way, the children hiked along the Pineapple Bay beach.

This is a good snorkeling spot,” Jessie said. “Pineapple Bay is peaceful, and there are no sharks! My guidebook says there are some lava formations near the shore. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get our equipment on.”

Henry and Jessie helped the younger children slip into their life jackets. They helped one another adjust their goggles so the water wouldn’t leak in. Finally they all walked backward into the water wearing their fins, just like experienced snorkelers.

The Aldens snorkeled along the shore in shallow water. This made it easy for the younger children to stand up if they grew tired. The children waved at one another underwater and pointed to a school of parrot fish that swam right by. Jessie took Soo Lee by the hand, and Henry took Benny’s hand. They pointed down to underwater sea fans swaying in the gentle current. Several tiny angelfish fed on other plants.

The Aldens floated along, enjoying the underwater world of colorful fish and rocks.

After a while, the children stood up.

I saw lots of minnows!” Soo Lee said. “I tried to touch them, but they swam away.”

Let’s take a little break right now,” Jessie suggested. “When you’re snorkeling, it’s easy to forget the time. We don’t want to tire ourselves out or lose track of where we are.”

Violet pushed her mask up on her forehead. “I’ll stay on the beach with Soo Lee and Benny if you and Henry want to snorkel some more.”

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