Read Boxcar Children 64 - Black Pearl Mystery Online

Authors: Gertrude Chandler Warner

Boxcar Children 64 - Black Pearl Mystery (8 page)

Sweet potato chips are like Mrs. McGregor’s homemade potato chips when we have hamburgers,” Benny announced. “Except they’re sweet!”

When the children finished eating, they decided to go window-shopping one last time.

Let’s see if anybody bought the black pearl necklace,” Violet suggested.

The Aldens rounded the corner where the jewelry shop was. They saw someone they knew rushing down the street.

Joseph!” Henry called. “Wait up!”

The children ran ahead, trying to catch up with Joseph Kahuna. But Joseph didn’t hear the Aldens. He dodged in between people as if he were being followed.

He
was
being followed.

Just a few feet behind him, Norma Kane made her way through crowds of people, never getting closer to Joseph.

Joseph!” Henry called again.

This time Joseph stopped and stared at the Aldens. He looked upset.

What’s the matter with Joseph?” Soo Lee asked. “He’s running away.”

Indeed he was. He crossed the busy street, not looking back.

Joseph just dropped something in the middle of the road!” Benny cried. “Some kind of box, I think.”

Joseph turned around and stepped off the curb into the street again to pick up the box. A truck was coming, though, so he had to wait.

Finally the
WALK
light flashed on, and the Aldens were able to cross the street. Henry quickly scooped up the metal box. He led the children safely to the other side, where Joseph was standing.

Henry handed Joseph the box. “Here, this is yours.”

Thank you. You saved something very, very important. Look.” Joseph pried off the box lid and opened a smaller container. Inside was a glowing black pearl — perfectly round and larger than any pearl the Aldens had ever seen. Joseph let the younger children hold the pearl.

Oooh,” Soo Lee and Benny said, their eyes wide with amazement as they each held the pearl in turn.

At that moment the traffic stopped, and Norma Kane suddenly appeared in front of them.

That’s mine!” she said to Benny. “Hand it over. It came from waters near property I own.”

Benny’s fist tightened around the pearl. He looked up at his brother. “What should I do, Henry?”

Hand it over!” Norma Kane repeated.

Henry took a deep breath. “Let’s go find Cousin Mary and Grandfather. They’ll know what to do.”

When the Aldens and Joseph arrived at the booth, Richard and Emma Pierce were talking with Cousin Mary.

Joseph!” Cousin Mary cried. “What are you doing here?” Then she noticed Norma Kane. “Oh, dear, I suppose you’re going to quit and work for Norma. I knew that was coming when I saw you driving her truck the other day.”

Joseph looked upset. “I wouldn’t leave Pineapple Place, Mrs. Cook. I only worked a couple of days for Mrs. Kane after she told me she might buy your pineapples if I helped out with her harvest. When I drove her home from the airport, she gave me a note to meet her the night of the luau to make the arrangements. That’s all.”

Hmmph!” Norma Kane said. “There is no way I would hire someone who stole something that belongs to my company. Open your hand, little boy,” Norma Kane ordered Benny.

Benny unclenched his fingers one by one. The black pearl rested in the middle of his hand, which he clenched up again.

Oh, the black pearl!” Cousin Mary whispered. “Where did you find it? And
how
did you find it?”

Joseph sat down to tell his story.

The Aldens really found it, Mrs. Cook,” Joseph began. “One afternoon, I was walking along the bluff over Reef Bay to get to my shack. I saw Henry and Jessie snorkeling out past the rocky point. A while after that, I heard them talking about something silvery Henry saw in a cave. You know, Mrs. Cook, when the wind is right, even whispered words can travel clearly over the water. After Henry and Jessie left the beach, I took my sailboat to the spot and dived down until I found the cave and this box inside the cave. I was just taking it to a jewelry store to find out its value.”

Norma Kane stood there, steaming mad. “The Kane Plantation borders the waters where those caves are, so they’re part of my property as well.”

This was too much for Mr. Alden. “I’m afraid the law wouldn’t agree with you. Property rights do not extend into the ocean, Mrs. Kane, In any case, may I ask how you learned about the location of the cave?”

Mrs. Kane didn’t answer, but Jessie did.

You overheard Joseph tell the legend of the black pearl the night the moon was full, didn’t you?” Jessie asked. “Cousin Mary said you were going to look for Joseph that night. We overheard the story, too.”

And we heard rocks falling down and, know what? We saw someone on the beach, but we couldn’t tell who it was,” Benny said.

Mrs. Kane looked away. “It’s no use. You might as well know. I was on the beach. I hired a scuba diver twice to go out in my cargo boat to look for the black pearl. I told the pilot to chase anyone away by saying there were sharks.”

Now the Aldens looked confused.

Sharks? The Pierces said that, too,” Henry remembered. He turned to the Pierces. “Did you know about the cave and the black pearl, too?”

Richard Pierce shook his head. In a quiet voice he answered Henry’s question. “We took Mr. Cook’s old maps to go look for the cave. We’re treasure hunters, but it looks as if Joseph got there first.”

Are you scuba people, too?” Benny wanted to know.

We’re scuba people, too,” Richard Pierce confessed. “We borrowed the Pineapple Place boat a couple of times, once at night, and tried to find the caves, but the bay has changed since your husband drew those maps.”

Cousin Mary looked upset now. “So you took my husband’s old maps without asking?”

Emma Pierce nodded. “I’m so sorry. I was about to return them, but the children were in your office when we tried to put them back. I returned there later on. That’s when Mr. Alden called to say he was coming back early, but I forgot to give you the message.”

Cousin Mary reached into her pocket and handed Emma Pierce a piece of paper. “Please take back your check. I don’t want any dealings with you and your husband.”

Richard Pierce walked over to his car. When he returned, he handed Jessie her duffel bag. “I took more than the maps, young lady. I’m really sorry. Here’s your snorkeling bag. Emma and I got carried away with the idea of this black pearl. We didn’t want some kids upsetting our plans to find it.”

Look, we’re really sorry,” Emma Pierce said to the Aldens and Cousin Mary. “I see now that the black pearl brought us bad luck. It made us do things — bad things — that we wouldn’t normally do.”

Jessie took the duffel bag without a word.

Soo Lee looked down at the ground. “You do have big feet,” she said to Richard Pierce. “Bigger than Henry’s, even.”

This made nearly everyone smile a little before the Pierces got in their car and drove away.

Benny was still clutching the black pearl in his hand.

May I?” Cousin Mary asked Benny. Though her hands were shaking, she held up the pearl. “So this is the pearl that brought my husband so much bad luck? If only Hiram had thrown it into the ocean as the old fisherman told Joseph to do. Instead, Hiram wanted to keep it and hide it away. Everything went wrong after that,” she whispered.

Mr. Alden put his arm around Cousin Mary. “There, there,” he said. “It’s only a story. Hiram wasn’t the only one in Hawaii who ran into bad luck. Hawaii is beautiful, but starting a new life here isn’t always easy, Mary.”

Cousin Mary handed the pearl to Joseph. “Here, Joseph. Now that the five hundred moons have passed, maybe it will bring you good luck. You found the pearl. It’s rightfully yours.”

I suppose you won’t be needing that job, then, will you?” Norma Kane asked Joseph. “It’s too bad, because after I reached my goal of buying up the rest of the small plantations, I would have made you the manager of all of them.”

Joseph Kahuna took the pearl in his hand. “No, rich or poor, I was never going to take your job. You see, I grew up on a small plantation, then I worked for Mr. and Mrs. Cook’s plantation. Working hard is what changed my bad luck to good luck, not the moon or this pearl. Anyway, the pearl is rightfully yours, Mrs. Cook. I gave it to your husband. Please take it back. You can fix up Pineapple Place like a palace now. You can even send our harvest off on that plane in two days. This pearl is worth a great deal of money.”

Cousin Mary looked happier than the Aldens had ever seen her. “Friends like you, Joseph, and a family like Cousin James and these dear children — they’re worth more than money.”

Everybody was smiling and hugging, except for Norma Kane, of course. And Benny.

Is this worth more than money?” Benny asked when he dug something out of his pocket.

What’s that?” Joseph asked when Benny held up a tiny gray pebble.

It’s a black pearl, I think. I found it on the beach. Is it worth anything?”

It’s worth our whole trip to Hawaii!” Grandfather Alden said, laughing.

About the Author

G
ERTRUDE
C
HANDLER
W
ARNER
discovered when she was teaching that many readers who like an exciting story could find no books that were both easy and fun to read. She decided to try to meet this need, and her first book,
The Boxcar Children,
quickly proved she had succeeded.

Miss Warner drew on her own experiences to write the mystery. As a child she spent hours watching trains go by on the tracks opposite her family home. She often dreamed about what it would be like to set up housekeeping in a caboose or freight car — the situation the Alden children find themselves in.

When Miss Warner received requests for more adventures involving Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden, she began additional stories. In each, she chose a special setting and introduced unusual or eccentric characters who liked the unpredictable.

While the mystery element is central to each of Miss Warner’s books, she never thought of them as strictly juvenile mysteries. She liked to stress the Aldens’ independence and resourcefulness and their solid New England devotion to using up and making do. The Aldens go about most of their adventures with as little adult supervision as possible — something else that delights young readers.

Miss Warner lived in Putnam, Connecticut, until her death in 1979. During her lifetime, she received hundreds of letters from girls and boys telling her how much they liked her books.

The Boxcar Children Mysteries

T
HE
B
OXCAR
C
HILDREN

S
URPRISE
I
SLAND

T
HE
Y
ELLOW
H
OUSE
M
YSTERY

M
YSTERY
R
ANCH

M
IKE’S
M
YSTERY

B
LUE
B
AY
M
YSTERY

T
HE
W
OODSHED
M
YSTERY

T
HE
L
IGHTHOUSE
M
YSTERY

M
OUNTAIN
T
OP
M
YSTERY

S
CHOOLHOUSE
M
YSTERY

C
ABOOSE
M
YSTERY

H
OUSEBOAT
M
YSTERY

S
NOWBOUND
M
YSTERY

T
REE
H
OUSE
M
YSTERY

B
ICYCLE
M
YSTERY

M
YSTERY IN THE
S
AND

M
YSTERY
B
EHIND
THE
W
ALL

B
US
S
TATION
M
YSTERY

B
ENNY
U
NCOVERS
A
M
YSTERY

T
HE
H
AUNTED
C
ABIN
M
YSTERY

T
HE
D
ESERTED
L
IBRARY
M
YSTERY

T
HE
A
NIMAL
S
HELTER
M
YSTERY

T
HE
O
LD
M
OTEL
M
YSTERY

T
HE
M
YSTERY OF THE
H
IDDEN
P
AINTING

T
HE
A
MUSEMENT
P
ARK
M
YSTERY

T
HE
M
YSTERY OF THE
M
IXED
-U
P
Z
OO

T
HE
C
AMP
-O
UT
M
YSTERY

T
HE
M
YSTERY
G
IRL

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