Read Boxcar Children 64 - Black Pearl Mystery Online

Authors: Gertrude Chandler Warner

Boxcar Children 64 - Black Pearl Mystery (7 page)

BOOK: Boxcar Children 64 - Black Pearl Mystery

Cousin Mary noticed the truck, too.

Violet could see Cousin Mary’s puzzled face in the rearview mirror. “I thought they didn’t need any more pineapples at the cannery.”

Cousin Mary slowed down the van. “I’m going to pull to the side of the road here and run into the cannery. It can’t hurt to ask Norma whether she can use more pineapples after all. Ours are still good for juice.”

The pineapple truck from the Kane plantation pulled off the road in front of the cannery, too. Before Cousin Mary even turned off the engine, the truck driver got out.

Goodness! It’s Joseph!” Cousin Mary cried. “Why is he driving Norma Kane’s truck? He told me he needed a few days off. He never mentioned anything about working for Norma.” She took a deep breath and leaned her head against the steering wheel.

This is so awful,” Violet whispered from the backseat. “Why would Joseph do that?”

Cousin Mary restarted the van. “I don’t know. I just don’t know.”

Wiki Wiki

hen Cousin Mary and the Aldens returned to Pineapple Place late that afternoon, they had a surprise.

Grandfather!” Jessie said when she spotted Mr. Alden strolling by Cousin Mary’s house. “You’re back early. We’ve been pineapple picking and snorkeling and visiting an old volcano and all kinds of things.”

Cousin Mary looked especially pleased to see her cousin James Alden. She needed to put Joseph Kahuna out of her mind for a little while. “I’m so glad you returned early, James. What a nice surprise.”

Now I’m the one to be surprised,” Mr. Alden said. “Didn’t you get the message that I would be arriving today?”

Cousin Mary looked confused. “What message?”

Why, last night I left a message with a woman who answered the phone,” Mr. Alden said. “I told her I would be returning this morning, and that I’d be meeting Dr. Charlotte Lilo here. You remember I mentioned Charlotte? She’s a marine biologist at the university. You didn’t get the message?”

Cousin Mary shook her head. “No, I’m afraid I didn’t. I wish I knew who took it, because maybe I missed other phone messages as well.”

Mr. Alden looked upset. “This is a shame, it truly is. You see, Charlotte is just stopping over on Maui until tomorrow morning. She was looking forward to going snorkeling with the children this afternoon. And she even planned to bring Henry scuba diving. Now it’s so late in the day, I’m not sure —”

At that moment, a tanned, middle-aged woman strolled up to the group. “Hello, Aldens! I’m Dr. Charlotte Lilo.”

Are you a fish doctor?” Soo Lee asked.

Dr. Lilo laughed. “In a way. I’m studying the fish and reefs around the Hawaiian Islands to find out how to keep them strong and healthy.”

Mr. Alden introduced Charlotte to the children and to Cousin Mary. “Sorry they came back too late to go out on the water with you, Charlotte. No one received the message about my return.”

Dr. Lilo didn’t seem to be a bit bothered by this. “No problem, James. We’ll just go snorkeling and diving at night. In many ways, you can see a lot more underwater at night than during the day. We’ll go out as soon as the sun goes down.”

Night snorkeling — neat,” Benny said.

Even Cousin Mary looked pleased at the new plans. “You’ll take my boat. One of my workers, Luke, knows many good snorkeling spots around here. Luke!” Cousin Mary called out when she saw him approaching. “We were just talking about you.”

I found the snorkels you keep for guests, Mrs. Cook,” Luke said. “They’re clean and ready for the Aldens.”

Luke, I’d like you to meet Dr. Charlotte Lilo. She’s going to go night snorkeling and scuba diving with the children. I was wondering if you would mind bringing everyone out to the reefs in my boat tonight.”

Luke put out his hand. “Glad to meet you, Dr. Lilo. I’ve heard all about your work in saving our coral reefs. I’d be glad to take you and the Aldens out diving and snorkeling. How about meeting me at the dock at eight o’clock tonight?” he asked everyone.

See you then!” Dr. Lilo answered.

Just before eight o’clock that night, the Aldens decided to stop by Cousin Mary’s office to let her know they were leaving. Jessie knocked on the office door, which was half open. “Cousin Mary! Are you in there?”

Oh, come in, children,” Cousin Mary answered. “I found my husband’s maps. I was just checking some snorkeling spots he had marked. Show them to Luke and Dr. Lilo before you go out in the boat.”

Henry and Jessie came around the desk. They looked over Mary Cook’s shoulder and read the hand-drawn maps.

These are the maps?” Jessie asked. “Where were they?”

Cousin Mary put down the maps. “Why, right here, on top of the desk where I left them,” she told the children. “Are you sure you didn’t put them with your things by mistake? They’re wet from salt water.”

The children gathered around. Sure enough, the maps were still damp.

These maps weren’t on the desk at all when we were here yesterday,” Jessie said. “We looked all over. Maybe someone else borrowed them to go snorkeling.” Jessie remembered the Pierces, but she didn’t say anything. After all, anyone on the plantation might have borrowed the maps as well.

Cousin Mary put on her reading glasses again. “No harm done, in any case. Now take a look at this spot over here that’s marked with an X. The maps are so out of date, these caves are completely underwater now. In the old days, they were in fairly shallow water at low tide. But hurricanes and currents have changed the beach since then. Now the only way to reach the caves is to swim out to them as you did yesterday or go out by boat.
Wiki wiki

“Wiki wiki?”
Soo Lee asked.

Wiki wiki
means ‘Hurry, hurry’!” Cousin Mary said, shooing the children toward the door.

Cousin Mary’s motorboat was already running when the Aldens met Dr. Lilo and Luke at the dock.

Luke set down a large metal can. “We’re all set. I checked the gas tank for leaks, and there’s no problem. It’s funny. I filled the tank the other day, but I had to refill it just now. I wonder if one of the other workers or guests took the boat out. Anyway, we’re fine now. I have life jackets for everyone. Dr. Lilo stowed the scuba and snorkeling gear in the hatch. So step in.”

Dr. Lilo and the Aldens found seats in the boat. Then they set out toward Reef Bay, where the best snorkeling spots were.

A few minutes later, everyone spotted a larger boat stopped in the water up ahead.

That’s one of the cargo boats,” Luke said, slowing down. “Some of the plantations ship their fruit across Reef Bay by boat. I wonder why it’s out at night and why it’s anchored here. Usually cargo boats head straight to the cannery or warehouse docks to unload their fruit.”

It’s marked Kane Plantation,” Henry said, looking through the binoculars.

Luke slowed down. “Can you take over the controls, Dr. Lilo? I’d like to check out that boat. Why would it anchor all the way over here? Maybe it’s in trouble.”

As Dr. Lilo steered the motorboat closer, the cargo boat pulled away quickly.

Luke tracked the boat with the binoculars, but it was too dark to see much. “It’s the Kane boat, all right. I could’ve sworn they just pulled up a scuba diver. Pretty strange for a cargo boat to be used for scuba diving,” Luke said.

Luke slowed the boat, then cut the motor. “Here’s where we drop anchor. The underwater caves are close by.”

Dr. Lilo and the Aldens double-checked their snorkeling and scuba equipment and life jackets. They were ready.

You can jump in, dive in, or just step down from the boat,” Luke said.

Luke and the younger children stayed in the boat. After Dr. Lilo did a last-minute check of Henry’s scuba tanks, she, Henry, and Jessie slipped into the water.

Dr. Lilo, Henry, and Jessie each had underwater spotlights. They were amazed at the underwater world, which was so alive with fish even at night.

Jessie pulled out her disposable underwater camera. She took a picture of Henry entering a cave. She had just clicked a picture when she heard a loud horn on the surface. She lifted her head. A large boat was moving in their direction.

Sharks around here,” someone on the boat shouted to Luke and the children. “You should get everyone out of the water real quick.”

Jessie didn’t waste a second. She dived down to warn Henry and Dr. Lilo.

A few minutes later, Henry, Jessie, and Dr. Lilo surfaced, then swam back to the boat and climbed in.

What a shame we had to cut our dive short,” Dr. Lilo said. “I’ve never heard of sharks swimming in the bay. That would be very unusual behavior for a shark. I’ll have to check into this.”

Henry was even more disappointed. “I’d really like to return here another time. I’m pretty sure that was the cave I saw when you and I went snorkeling, Jessie. This time I got inside.”

Did you see the silvery object you spotted yesterday?” Jessie asked.

Henry shook his head. “I didn’t see anything. It looked just like the same cave, but whatever I saw inside yesterday has disappeared.”

Aloha Means “Good-bye”

hen the Aldens arrived at breakfast the next morning, Cousin Mary and Grandfather Alden were discussing future plans for Pineapple Place.

Well, Mary, I’m sorry I couldn’t arrange that bank loan on this trip. I know how disappointing that is,” Mr. Alden said. “But I found out that the senator will get going on those road repair funds that have been tied up for the last couple of years.”

Cousin Mary stared into her coffee cup. “Yes, thank you, James. Having good roads out this way will be a big help in a couple of years. Of course, I’d hoped for the bank loan for a few things. Now that Norma Kane won’t buy our crop, some of the small owners are renting space on a charter plane to ship our pineapples to Korea in two days. The loan would have made that possible. It would also have given me some money to fix up two or three more cottages so I could rent them out to tourists.”

Grandfather Alden patted Cousin Mary’s hand. “I know we’re leaving tomorrow, Mary, but I’ve made some excellent contacts in Honolulu. I’ll follow up with phone calls to the banks, don’t you worry.”

Cousin Mary tried to smile. “All of you have been so helpful. I wish you’d come at a better time when everything wasn’t upside down.”

Like pineapple upside-down cake?” Soo Lee asked. “I ate that for dessert last night.”

Now Cousin Mary smiled a real smile. “Yes, like pineapple upside-down cake, Soo Lee.”

Now tell me about the visitors who rented the other guest cottage,” Mr. Alden said. “How are they enjoying their stay? Maybe they’ll spread the good word to their friends about a Pineapple Place vacation.”

Cousin Mary didn’t speak right away. Instead she reached into one of the folders in front of her. She handed Mr. Alden a piece of paper. “Read this, James.”

Mr. Alden read the note aloud:

Dear Mrs. Cook,

Thanks for renting us the guest cottage. Sorry we didn’t stay the whole two weeks. Here’s a check for five nights.

Richard and Emma Pierce

I’d been hoping the Pierces would stay the whole time,” Cousin Mary began, “since money has been so tight. I think I upset them last evening when I asked if they had borrowed my husband’s old maps. The next thing I knew, they left. Very odd people.”

How so?” Mr. Alden wanted to know.

Before Cousin Mary could answer, Benny spoke up. “They wouldn’t go scuba diving with Henry even though they had tanks and fins and everything. And they didn’t know anything about sharks. And then they tried to snoop in the office, but we scared them away!”

Mr. Alden couldn’t help laughing. “Did you, now? Well, I guess it’s time to go back to Greenfield if you’re scaring away Cousin Mary’s paying guests.”

Nonsense,” Cousin Mary said, laughing along with Mr. Alden. “Your grandchildren are the best advertisement for Pineapple Place. In fact, I made copies of a flier Violet drew to tell tourists about the plantation. I only have the two guest cottages fixed up right now, but it’s a start. We’re going to hand the fliers out at our farmers’ market booth this morning.”

And that’s just what the Aldens did later that morning. Not a tourist went by the Pineapple Place booth without one of the Aldens handing out a flier. Several people spoke to Cousin Mary about renting a guest cottage on future trips to Hawaii. Things were looking up.

Of course, no one went by the booth without Benny and Soo Lee handing out free pineapple juice. Their farmers’ market business was a success.

You children have put in enough time here,” Cousin Mary told the Aldens at lunchtime. “Your grandfather and I can cover the booth ourselves. It’s your last day. I want you to take a lunch break and do some sightseeing.”

Goody,” Benny said. “I’m going to have barbecued sweet potato chips and papaya juice. And that’s just to start.”

So the Aldens went off in search of lunch at the many nearby food stands. They strolled along the rows of tables offering everything from fresh oysters to grilled shark. Mostly, though, the Aldens tried things that looked a little like food they ate at home.

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