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Authors: Charles Tang,Charles Tang

Mystery of the Pirate's Map

BOOK: Mystery of the Pirate's Map
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The Mystery of the Pirate's Map
Illustrated by Charles Tang
ALBERT WHITMAN & Company, Chicago


1 Benny's Discovery

2 The Legend of John Finney's Treasure

3 Benny Becomes Famous

4 Lots of Stairs and Millionaires

5 An Unwelcome Visitor

6 Danger, Danger, Everywhere

7 The Helpful Mr. Ford

8 The Final Offer

9 What You See Is What You Get

10 Good News All Around

About the Author

Benny's Discovery

t seemed like an ideal afternoon for a walk on the beach. The sky was blue, the breeze was warm, and the ocean was calm and peaceful. The only thing that kept it from being perfect was the mess the storm had left behind.

“Yuck, more seaweed!” six-year-old Benny Alden said as he stepped over another ragged green pile of it. Watch, the Aldens' dog, tagged along behind Benny.

“And more of these little black shells, broken open,” ten-year-old Violet added.

She picked one up between her thumb and forefinger. “What are they, anyway?”

“I think they're called mussels,” Jessie said. She was twelve years old and had long brown hair. “I'll bet the seagulls are happy they're here. Now they've got plenty to eat.”

Benny smiled. “There's nothing wrong with that!” he said. The others laughed. Benny had a very healthy appetite.

“Tom would know what they are,” Jessie continued. “He knows a lot about this area.”

Tom was Tom Harrison, a retired elementary school teacher and an old friend of the children's grandfather. He owned and ran a bed-and-breakfast a few blocks inland, and he had invited the Aldens to visit for a week. Grandfather hadn't seen him in years, and the children were thrilled at the idea of spending some time along the shore. So Grandfather cheerfully accepted his old friend's invitation. The two men were back at the house now, catching up on old times.

“The storm must've been pretty bad,” Henry commented, walking behind everyone else. He was tall and thin, and at fourteen he was the oldest child. His full name was Henry James Alden. He was named after his grandfather, James Henry Alden. “I guess that's why there are hardly any sunbathers here today. There's no place to lie down.”

There were all sorts of things from the sea scattered on the beach: thousands of broken shells, small stones, seaweed clumps, and chunks of rotting driftwood. Tom had mentioned that storms were common along the shore. This one had hit the night before the Aldens arrived.

“Oooh! Here's a pretty one!” Violet said excitedly. She crouched down and picked up a perfectly formed shell. Then she put it in the plastic bag she had brought along.

“Do you think you have enough yet?” Jessie asked.

“Hmm . . . almost,” Violet replied. She had offered to make seashell necklaces for everyone, and now the children were searching for all the perfect shells they could find. Violet was always doing artistic things. She liked to draw and usually brought a pad and coloring pencils with her whenever the Aldens traveled. Her favorite color was, of course, violet.

The Alden children lived with their grandfather in a large and beautiful house back in Greenfield, Connecticut. But there was a time when an abandoned boxcar was their home. After their parents died, they had no place to live. Then they discovered the old train car in the woods. While they were living in it, their grandfather came looking for them. They hid from him, thinking that he was mean. But they soon found out that he wasn't mean at all.

He took them back to Greenfield and brought the boxcar, too. He put it in the backyard so the children could visit it anytime they wished.

Although there weren't many sunbathers on the beach, there were other people walking around. A few were wearing headphones and carrying metal detectors. Benny had been watching them for a while. As one man knelt down and dug into the sand, Benny asked, “What is that man doing?”

A stranger's voice answered, “He's looking for buried treasure!”

Benny said, “Buried treasure? You mean like gold or something?”

The man shrugged. “Gold, silver, whatever.”

“And what are those things you both have?” Benny asked.

“Metal detectors,” Henry answered, “I think. . . .”

“That's right,” the man answered, and gave Benny a smile. “It's called a metal detector because . . . well, because it detects metal.”

“That means it finds metal, right?” Jessie asked.

“Yep. You wave it back and forth just above the ground, and if there's anything made of metal under the sand”—he tapped his headphones—“you hear a beeping sound in here.”

Benny looked around the beach at the other people who had metal detectors.

“Have you found anything today?” he asked.

The man reached into his pocket and produced two silver coins.

“Do you think they've been here for a long time?” Henry asked.

The man nodded. “Probably.”

“Then how come no one else with a metal detector found them before today?”

“The storm,” the man answered. “Whenever there's a big storm, new things always show up, things that may have been buried too deep for the metal detectors to pick up before. It happens all the time. That's why all the metal-detector people are out today. This is the best kind of day to find stuff.”

Benny's eyes twinkled. “Boy, I sure hope I find some old coins!”

The man laughed. “You might; you never know. You just have to keep your eyes open and pay attention as you walk.”

He took another drink from his water bottle. “Well, I've got to get back to work. Who knows what other little treasures are lying underground, just waiting for someone like me to find them? Good luck.”

“You, too,” the children said, and the man walked off.

“Oh, boy, old coins!” Benny squealed as they all went back to their seashell search. Suddenly the sand was ten times more interesting to him.

Violet and Jessie both found a few more shells. Henry didn't have quite as much luck. And Benny, off by himself a few yards from the others, kept a close watch for anything that looked like it was made of metal. Shells were suddenly the last thing on his mind.

As he walked around the side of one particularly large rock, something round and shiny caught his attention. He reached down and grabbed it. Then his shoulders slumped with disappointment—it was nothing more than an old bottle cap. He stuffed it into the pocket of his shorts so he could throw it into a garbage can when he got back to the boardwalk.

He was just about to turn away when something else caught his eye. It wasn't round and shiny like an old coin, but it still looked interesting. It barely stuck out of the sand and was hiding in the dark space between two huge rocks.

He dropped to his knees and began digging.

“Benny, what are you up to?” Henry asked curiously.

“I'm digging.”

“Digging what?”

“I don't know. It feels like it's made of . . . of glass.”

“Glass?” Jessie said, slightly alarmed. She was always watching out for her brothers and sister. Although she was only twelve years old, sometimes she acted and sounded much older. “Be careful, Benny. It might be broken. You could cut yourself.”

“Maybe you shouldn't—” Henry started to say, then Benny suddenly rolled backward. His prize was in his hand.

It was a bottle.

“Oh, my goodness!” Violet gasped.

“Wow,” Henry said softly.

“Look how old it is!” Jessie exclaimed.

What Jessie said was definitely true—the bottle was very, very old. It didn't have a nice, neat shape like the bottles the children were used to seeing. And it was sealed shut, but not by a cap. Instead there was a rotting cork stopper in the hole.

“Let me see,” Henry said, kneeling down next to his brother. Benny handed it to him without taking his eyes off it.

“Hmmm,” he said thoughtfully, wiping away the sand. “Looks pretty old. I'll bet this thing is—”

Then Henry stopped talking, and the others stopped moving. They all saw it at the same time. . . .

There was a piece of paper inside.

“Wow,” Henry said again. “Look at that!”

Benny got up and brushed himself off. He took the bottle back and looked closely at the piece of paper inside. It had turned brown and was cracked around the edges.

“What do you think it is?” he asked.

“I don't know, but we'll have to take out whatever's in the neck to get it,” Henry said.

“Can we go back to the house now?” Benny asked excitedly.

“Sure,” Henry answered, “let's go.”

The Aldens began walking back, with Benny in the lead. He was skipping along happily with the bottle in hand.

Just before they reached the boardwalk, a woman holding a camera came up to them. She was dressed in long pants and a dark overcoat. This seemed strange to the children because it was such a hot day, but no one said anything.

“What have you found there, young man?” she said to Benny. Her voice was very loud. “I noticed you digging over by the rocks!”

“Ummm . . . I found a bottle,” Benny told her, holding it up.

“Wow, that looks like an old one!” the woman said. “Can I take a picture of it?”

Before anyone had a chance to answer, the woman pulled the camera to her face and clicked off two shots.

“I like to take pictures around the beach,” she told them. “I don't sell many, but I'd like to. There are lots of pretty things to photograph around here!”

Then she turned and hurried away.

The Aldens looked at one another. Jessie said, “She seemed a little strange.”

“You're right,” Henry agreed. “Well, let's get back and see what's inside the bottle.”

The Legend of John Finney's Treasure

om's bed-and-breakfast, which also happened to be the house in which he lived, was very large and very old. It sat on a sunny, tree-lined street a few blocks from the beach. A painted sign near the sidewalk said, THE SEA BREEZE MANOR, ESTABLISHED 1919. ALL ARE WELCOME.

The children went up the walk with Benny still in the lead. Then they went into the lobby and shut the door quietly behind them. Henry tapped the little silver bell on the counter. A moment later a man appeared from behind a curtain. He was small and roundish, and he had a full head of white hair. The children's grandfather was right behind him.

“Hello, kids!” Tom said. He had a wonderful smile, and it matched his sweet and jolly personality. He was everybody's friend, and he loved people. He told the children that this was the main reason he had bought the bed-and-breakfast. He got to meet new and interesting people all the time.

“Did you all have a good time at the beach?” he asked.

“We sure did,” Henry replied.

“Did you find enough shells for your necklaces, Violet?” Grandfather asked.

Violet held up the bag. “I might be a few short, but I can always go back.”

“Shells weren't the only thing we found,” Henry added.

“Oh?” said Grandfather.

“Benny found something, too. Show them, Benny.”

“Look at this!” he said proudly, holding up the bottle.

The two men leaned over the counter to have a look. Tom pushed his glasses up. “Wow, that's a really old one!” he said.

“Where did you find it, Benny?” Grandfather asked.

“It was between two big rocks. Only the top of it was sticking out. And look at this!” Benny said. He turned the bottle so Tom and Grandfather could see the little piece of paper curled up inside.

“What's that?” Tom asked.

“It's a small piece of paper,” Jessie answered, “but we have to get the bottle open to see what's written on it.”

BOOK: Mystery of the Pirate's Map
9.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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