Read Boxcar Children 64 - Black Pearl Mystery Online

Authors: Gertrude Chandler Warner

Boxcar Children 64 - Black Pearl Mystery (6 page)

Jessie smiled. “Thank you, Violet. Henry and I took that special snorkeling class in Florida. I’d like to go farther on, out by the reefs near the rocky point. I just wish we had those special maps Cousin Mary told us about. We’ll be back in about twenty minutes, okay?”

The younger children settled on the deserted beach and began to build a sand castle. Jessie and Henry snorkeled farther out to the coral reefs. After a while, Henry waved Jessie over. He pointed to something up ahead. Jessie caught up with Henry. She and her brother were in deep water now. They were strong swimmers and good snorkelers. They knew how to stay afloat without getting too tired.

I think I just spotted some kind of underwater cave down there, Jessie,” Henry said while treading water. “At least that’s what I think it is. The tide is coming in, and the water’s getting rough, so it’s hard to see what’s down there. Want to take a look?”

Jessie bit down on the mouthpiece of her snorkel and swam by Henry’s side. An underwater cave! That would be something to see.

Henry swam above the cave, which looked to be five or six feet below the surface. “I’m going to dive down, Jessie. Here, hold my snorkel.”

Like an arrow, Henry dived down toward the cave entrance. But the current kept him from getting too close, no matter how hard he swam. He thought he saw a metal object inside, but he ran out of breath and came to the surface.

I saw something shiny, like metal, inside that cave, but I couldn’t check it out no matter how hard I tried,” he told Jessie. “I’m afraid we’re caught in a strong current.”

I thought so,” Jessie replied. “I guess that’s why the snorkeling seemed so easy at first. The current carried us all the way out here to Reef Bay. We’d better get out of it right now before we tire ourselves out and get in trouble.”

Henry and Jessie swam across the current as they had been taught. Their plan worked. After a few minutes, they were close to the shore again. They were so glad when they felt solid ground beneath their feet.

Whew,” Henry said. “Too bad I couldn’t get down to that cave. I’d like to find out what that silvery object was. I guess I’ll have to scuba dive down there if I get a chance.”

Jessie took several deep breaths in a row. “I’d like to find out what that was, too. Hey,” Jessie said, waving to a figure up on the nearby hillside. “Somebody’s watching us. Can you tell who it is?”

Henry squinted, but the person stepped away. “Whoever it was is gone. Well, never mind. Let’s head back to Pineapple Bay.”

Jessie and Henry walked along the shore for nearly fifteen minutes until they reached the rocky point that separated Reef Bay and Pineapple Bay.

I guess it would be safer to climb the rocks the way we did last night,” Henry said.

Oh, I think I see Benny up ahead,” Jessie said when she and Henry stood at the top of the rocky point. “At least, I see a speck moving around the beach.”

Sure enough, the speck on the beach turned out to be Benny. He was running up and down the beach and skimming flat stones over the water. Nearby, Violet and Soo Lee were putting the finishing touches on their sand castle.

There you are!” Benny cried when Henry and Jessie joined him. “Did you see any sharks?”

Henry chased Benny and lifted him into the air. “No. Did you?”

Benny laughed. “Not on the beach, silly!”

Jessie put away the snorkeling gear in her duffel bag and pulled out a pair of binoculars. “Let’s go back up to those rocks. I want to take another look over Reef Bay to see if we can figure out where the cave is. Let’s leave our snorkeling gear here in this bag. There’s not a soul on the beach to worry about.”

The children walked a bit until they reached the rocky point. It was much easier climbing to the top during the day than it had been the night before.

Here.” Henry handed the binoculars to Benny when the children reached the top of the ledge.

There’s a boat out there where you’re pointing, Henry,” Benny said.

Henry bent down to help Benny focus the binoculars.

Benny held the binoculars steady. “Now I see the boat better. It’s a little red sailboat, only the sails are down. Someone is swimming near the boat, but I can’t tell who it is.”

Jessie checked her watch. “We should be getting back. Grandfather’s going to call us this afternoon from Honolulu. I don’t want to miss his call.”

The Aldens climbed down from the rocks. They walked along the shore until they spotted the sand castle the younger three children had built.

Where’s our snorkel bag?” Violet asked. “You put it down right by our sand castle, didn’t you, Jessie? I hope the ocean didn’t wash it away.”

Jessie shook her head. “The water is calm here. Besides, the sand castle would have been washed away, too, and it’s not even wet.”

The children walked back to the palm trees behind the beach. There was no snorkel bag to be seen.

Jessie was upset. “I should’ve been more careful. I thought it was fine to leave our bag here since no one was around.”

Soo Lee, being the littlest Alden, noticed something the other children had missed. She pointed down at the sand. “Someone was on the beach. Look at the footprints. We don’t have such big feet.”

Sure enough, a set of footprints led away from the sand castle into the rain forest behind the beach. Whoever made them had worn shoes or sandals with V-shaped markings — someone with much bigger feet than any of the Aldens.

CHAPTER 8
Sleeping Volcano

T
hat afternoon, Cousin Mary returned to Pineapple Place just as the Aldens returned from snorkeling. “Such long faces! Is anything the matter?” she asked when she noticed how quiet the children were. “Was the water too cloudy for snorkeling? Sometimes that happens if it’s windy.”

At first the children didn’t answer.

Finally Jessie spoke up. “Our snorkeling equipment disappeared from the beach after we went snorkeling. We don’t know what happened to it.”

Benny could hardly stand still. “Somebody with big feet came to the beach. We saw footprints and everything!”

This surprised Cousin Mary. “Goodness! We never lock a thing around here. This part of the island is so safe. Perhaps the tide carried it off. Why, I once lost a picnic basket that way.”

But the waves didn’t wash our sand castle away,” Soo Lee told Cousin Mary. “And know what? There were feet marks. They were bigger than Henry’s feet, even!”

I see,” Cousin Mary said. “Well, I’ll have to look into this. But not to worry, you can go snorkeling again. I always keep snorkeling equipment available for my guests, even my young guests. Now tell me, before your snorkels disappeared, did you find any of those coral reefs my husband marked on his maps?”

That’s another thing,” Jessie answered. “We checked your office for the maps you told us about, but we couldn’t find them.”

Cousin Mary looked puzzled. “How strange. I left the maps right on top of my desk for you. I hope no one else borrowed them. They’re the only ones I have. Oh, dear.”

Jessie and Henry looked at each other.

Actually, the Pierces came to your office, but they didn’t seem to know about the maps when we told them what we were doing there.”

Know what? They said we couldn’t snorkel in Reef Bay. Know why? ’Cause of sharks!” Benny suddenly remembered.

Sharks in Reef Bay?” Cousin Mary cried. “Nonsense. Reef Bay is far too small for sharks to swim in. They don’t know much about the ocean, that’s for sure. They probably thought you should snorkel in a shallow area. Well, I’ll just have to search for those maps myself. But first let me tell you about a wonderful outing I’ve planned.”

The Aldens couldn’t wait to hear.

How would you like to visit a volcano early tomorrow morning?” Cousin Mary asked.

Benny immediately forgot the missing snorkels and fins. “Will the volcano be hot and bubbly?” he asked.

Cousin Mary grinned. “Not this one. Haleakala Crater is a sleeping volcano. It hasn’t been active for over a hundred years, but the crater it left behind is quite a sight.”

Soo Lee looked up at Cousin Mary with a serious face. “The volcano won’t wake up when we go there, will it?”

Cousin Mary put her arm around the little girl. “No, it won’t, Soo Lee. Scientists can tell ahead of time if a volcano is going to act up. But Haleakala is still taking a nice long nap.”

Shucks,” Benny said. “I’ll run away fast if it starts boiling up!”

That won’t happen,” Cousin Mary told Benny. “You’ll get to see something very special instead — the sun rising up over the crater. It was formed after the volcano blew up a long time ago. Haleakala is the largest crater in the whole world.”

Watching the sunrise wasn’t nearly as exciting to Benny as watching a volcano blow up, but he didn’t say so. Going to the top of the biggest crater would be fun, too.

We need to arrive at the crater rim by sunrise. That means leaving here about three o’clock in the morning,” Cousin Mary explained. “You’ll have to go to bed very early.”

Soo Lee rubbed her eyes. “That’s okay. The beach made me tired.”

The thought of going to bed made the other children yawn and rub their eyes, too. They’d had a long day.

Jessie and I had to fight a current to get back to shore,” Henry said. “We won’t have much trouble falling asleep early tonight. Don’t worry, though. We’ll be up in time for the sunrise.”

Very early the next morning, Mary Cook’s van arrived at the top of the Haleakala Crater. The children had slept for most of the two-hour trip up the long, winding road. They awakened when Cousin Mary turned off the engine. There was a stiff breeze when everyone got out of the van at the visitors’ center.

Good thing you brought your fleecy jackets to Hawaii,” Cousin Mary told the Aldens. “The temperature at the crater rim is much colder than down below. We’re ten thousand feet above sea level.”

The children stretched out and yawned. At five o’clock in the morning, the sky was still dark. They walked to the rim of the crater but couldn’t see much in the darkness.

Benny took a quarter from his pocket. “When it gets light, can I look through those telescope things and see if I can find our cottage?”

Cousin Mary laughed. “These telescopes aren’t sharp enough to see that far, Benny. Still, you can see for miles from up here. The crater is nearly seven miles long.”

Jessie rubbed her eyes. “That reminds me of something. The other night I couldn’t sleep very well, so I got up and looked through the telescope on our porch. I thought I saw a boat heading for Reef Bay. It looked as if it left from the Pineapple Place dock. Then it stopped moving.”

Are you certain of that, Jessie?” Cousin Mary asked. “I can’t imagine anyone going out that late. Joseph has his sailboat at his beach shack in Reef Bay. As for my boat, it’s available for my staff and for guests, but no one has asked me about taking it out.”

Jessie yawned. “Now I’m not sure what I saw. I was just so tired from waking up over and over. Maybe I dreamed it!”

Cousin Mary waved the children over to the lookout. “Well, you’re not dreaming this. See that tiny ray of light way across the crater? That’s the sun’s first light. One Hawaiian legend says that a magician named Maui caught the sun with a rope to slow it down over the crater so his mother’s laundry would dry. That’s why the sun seems to take so long rising over Haleakala.”

Henry looked around at the other small groups of shivering tourists. Many of them aimed their cameras at the other side of the crater where the sun was rising. The Aldens didn’t take out their camera right away. They wanted to watch the amazing sunrise with their very own eyes.

Wow!” Benny said, along with other visitors when a huge orange ball lit up the sky. Ever so slowly, it rose over the biggest hole Benny had ever seen in his life. The sun looked almost as big as the earth itself, climbing in slow motion over the crater.

You can see why
Haleakala
means ‘House of the Sun,’ ” Cousin Mary told the Aldens.

For the next hour, Cousin Mary and the Aldens sat on the crater rim and enjoyed the bright morning sunshine. The cold air had made them hungry. They enjoyed the delicious eggsandwiches and hot cocoa Cousin Mary had brought along.

After breakfast they stopped by the gift shop in the visitors’ center. The children wanted to send postcards to Alice and Joe Alden and to Mrs. McGregor.

Can I write something to Watch?” Benny asked Violet.

Sure, Benny,” Violet said. “Go ahead.”

Benny drew a smiley face for Watch, then printed his name.

You children can sleep all the way back to Pineapple Place,” Cousin Mary said when they climbed into the van to go home.

I’m not sleepy,” Soo Lee said.

Me neither,” said Benny. But within minutes after the van had started, the five Aldens fell fast asleep. They didn’t wake up again until Cousin Mary stopped for gas not far from Norma Kane’s cannery.

Henry climbed down from the van to pump the gas for Cousin Mary. The other children stretched and yawned, happy to be awake after their long naps.

Look, a pineapple truck from the Kane plantation is in front of us,” Henry told Cousin Mary after she drove away from the gas station.

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