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Authors: Gertrude Warner

Mike's Mystery

BOOK: Mike's Mystery
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Mike’s Mystery

Illustrated by Dirk Gringhuis

ALBERT WHITMAN & Company, Chicago, Illinois



1   Yellow Sands

2   An Old Friend

3   Fire!

4   At the Big Table

5   The Empty Room

6   Mike’s Mother’s Place

7   The Blue Hat

8   Secrets

9   Quick Work

10   Mike’s Idea

11   Pie Day

12   An Empty Can

13   The Party

14   Ben or Mike?

About the Author


Yellow Sands

he four Alden children could hardly wait to get back to Mystery Ranch. Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny had planned for weeks what they would do.

“We’ll go on that dear old train!” said Violet. “Remember Mr. Carter who helped us carry our bags, Jessie?”

“I’ll carry the bags!” shouted Benny. “Mr. Carter won’t be on the train this time.”

“Maybe I’ll carry some of the bags, old boy,” said Henry. “But you know we won’t get off at Centerville.”

Jessie nodded at her older brother. “Yes, we will get off at Yellow Sands now. I think that is a beautiful name. Our uranium fields looked just like yellow sand.”

Grandfather said, “Sam will meet you. Maybe Sam will carry the bags.”

The children laughed. “Fighting over old bags,” said Benny.

“Too bad Watch has to ride in the baggage car,” said Henry. “But they don’t allow dogs anywhere else on the train.”

“I’ll ride in the baggage car, too,” said Benny. “Then he won’t mind.”

Mr. Alden laughed. He said, “I’m afraid you can’t do that. But you can go and see him once in a while. Then he will know you are near by.”

At last the day came when they were off to Mystery Ranch where Aunt Jane lived.

Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny loved Aunt Jane and they were to visit her for the summer vacation.

Once she had been a very cross old woman. But now she was a very pleasant lady.

When they got off the train at Yellow Sands, they all looked for the old black horse. But instead they saw Sam and Maggie with a station wagon. Sam took care of the ranch, and Maggie took care of Aunt Jane.

“Hello, Sam!” cried Benny. “Where’s Snowball?”

“Snowball’s all right,” said Sam smiling. “I always thought that was a funny name for a black horse.”

“I named him,” said Benny. “I thought it was a funny name, too. Where is he?”

“He is taking it easy these days,” said Maggie. “He stays out in the field all the time eating grass. This car goes faster.”

“You mean you can drive it, Maggie?” asked Jessie.

“Yes,” said Maggie smiling. “Sam says I drive all right.”

“Let’s go,” said Sam. “Now that Watch is out of the baggage car, we are ready.”

Everyone carried a bag. In no time they were going through the new gate to Aunt Jane’s house. At the top of the gate were big letters saying,
Mystery Ranch.

How glad Aunt Jane was to see them! Watch did not care much for Aunt Jane’s new dog, Lady. But when lunch was ready, Watch lay down at Jessie’s foot, and Lady lay down at Aunt Jane’s foot. So all was well.

“Oh, this place has changed in just this one year,” Aunt Jane said. “You would never know it. There is one long street down the middle of my old hay field.”

“Is it a real street?” asked Benny.

“Oh, my, yes! There are lots of stores and a church, and a school and a High School.”

“I can’t imagine it,” said Henry. “We shall have to go and see it soon.”

“Go any time you like,” said Aunt Jane. “I know you are just dying to see that street.”

“We want to see you, too, Aunt Jane,” said Violet.

“Well, you’ve seen me now,” said Aunt Jane. “Lunch is over. So you go along and enjoy yourselves.”

“Be back for supper,” said Maggie. “We are going to have a fine supper.”

“Oh, we will get back long before supper,” said Jessie. “We just want to see what the old ranch looks like.”

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he children slept soundly. They all woke up once to hear a loud, strange bell ringing. But they thought it was midnight, so they all went to sleep again. When they came down in the morning, Sam and Maggie were talking about a fire.

“What fire?” asked Henry.

“Didn’t you hear the firebells ringing and ringing in the night?” asked Sam. “Here comes the paper boy. The news will be in the paper.”

Sam took the paper. It was full of pictures. Benny looked over his shoulder. “It’s Mike’s house!” yelled Benny at the top of his voice.

“The paper says that it was the Wood’s house that had burned to the ground.”

“Let me see the paper, Benny,” Jessie cried. “I can read faster.”

“I can read fast enough,” said Benny excitedly. “See that picture? It’s Mike all right.”

“I’m afraid it is,” said Jessie, trying to read. “That lovely new, pink house, and the washing machine and electric stove!”

“No lives were lost,” read Benny. “Not even the dog. Their big dog, Spotty, who slept in the cellar barked and gave the alarm. The fire had started in the cellar, and by the time the fire engine came, the whole house was burning. The fire seemed to start on all four sides of the house.

“Nothing was saved except clothing and bedding. When Mrs. Wood saw that the house could not be saved, she put some sheets on the floor, threw all the clothes from bureau drawers and closets on the sheets, tied them up, and threw them out of the window.”

“Well, wasn’t that smart?” said Jessie. “That costs the most of anything, doesn’t it, Aunt Jane? The family clothes and bedding?”

“Yes, my dear,” replied her aunt. “I wonder what the Wood family will do now.”

“I have to go right down there,” said Benny. “I have to see Mike.”

“Wait a minute, Benny,” said Aunt Jane. “You must eat your breakfast, first. When you get down there, you won’t come back for a long time. I know you!”

Benny knew that this was true, so he sat down and tried to eat. They all tried to eat, but everyone was thinking about the fire.

“Mike could come here for a few days,” said Aunt Jane, “if he has no other place to go.”

“Oh, Aunt Jane, thank you!” said Jessie. “You are very kind. But I don’t think you want Mike. He would upset everything.”

“I don’t mind being upset,” said Aunt Jane. “Benny and Mike would be something amusing to watch.”

“You can say that again!” said Henry, laughing.

“I ate an egg,” said Benny. “Can I go now?”

“Yes, go along. I know you can hardly wait to get down to the fire,” said Aunt Jane.

The children ran all the way. They soon saw a big crowd of people who had come to see the fire. The little pink house was gone. Smoke was still rising from the burned wood, and it was still very hot.

“Hi, Ben!” called a voice. It was Mike. He came running over to Benny. He cried, “That was our house that burned, Ben. We all got out, and it was Spotty saved us.”

“What are you going to do, Mike?” asked Henry. “Where is your mother?”

“She’s right over there,” said Mike pointing. “She and my brother Pat can sleep next door in the blue house, but I am going to stay with Mr. Carter.”

cried Jessie. “What Mr. Carter? Do you mean Mr. John Carter?”

“I guess so,” said Mike. “That’s his name anyway. Do you know him? He’s nice and very friendly.”

“He works for Grandfather,” said Jessie. “We met him last summer, but we didn’t know he was still here. Where does he live?”

“In the green house right near the mine. He has lots of rooms he don’t use.”

said Benny.

“Now don’t you go teaching me, Ben!” said Mike.

“Where is Mr. Carter, now?” asked Violet just in time to stop a fight.

“Right over beside my mother,” said Mike. “Come on, they are looking at us.”

“Well, well, Mr. Carter!” cried Henry. “We are so glad to see you again. You always seem to pop up when there is trouble.”

“I try to,” said John Carter with a twinkle in his eye. “Hello, Jessie! And Violet. Benny is still his same old self.”

“What will happen to Mike’s family?” asked Henry.

“All these houses belong to the Uranium Company. So when the place cools off, the pink house will be built again,” replied the man.

“How about the things inside? The washing machine?” asked Jessie.

“I don’t know, but insurance will take care of some things later.”

“Aunt Jane said Mike could come up to our house,” said Violet.

“Oh, did she indeed!” said Mr. Carter, laughing. “You’ll have a lively time! Don’t you want me, too?”

“You would be a big help,” said Jessie, smiling.

“You can have a whole room, Mike, if you come to Aunt Jane’s,” said Benny. “You’d better ask your mother if you can come.”

“Yes, I’m willing, and thankful, too,” said Mrs. Wood. “But tell Miss Alden to send Mike back if he gets too much for her.”

Then Benny asked suddenly, “Mike! Have you had anything to eat?”

“No!” shouted Mike. “It all burned up. I didn’t have any milk, or any oatmeal, or any eggs—”

“Come on, Mike!” shouted Benny. “I could eat another egg myself. Let’s all go to the restaurant!”

Mr. Carter looked at Jessie and laughed. He said, “I wonder what’s the matter with me? I never even thought of breakfast! And Mrs. Wood, you must be starved. We’ll all go to the restaurant and have breakfast.”

“We follow Benny as usual,” said Mrs. Wood smiling. “He has the ideas.”


At the Big Table

et’s all sit at the big table,” said Henry. “Then we can talk.”

“I don’t want to talk. I want to eat!” shouted Mike.

“Then you can keep still all you want,” said Benny. “We’ll do the talking.”

“But I’ll say something if I want to,” argued Mike.

“Well, make up your mind,” returned Benny. “You’re the one that said you didn’t want to talk.”

“I only said I was hungry,” said Mike.

“Oh, stop it, Mike,” said his mother. “All this talk about nothing. Don’t you know you have no home?”

“That sounds awful,” said Jessie. “Tell me, how did you know the house was on fire?”

“The dog,” said Mrs. Wood. “Spotty was down in the cellar. He sleeps down there. He barked and barked. I knew something was wrong, so I went down to see. There was fire on all four sides. I let the dog out and woke up Mike and Pat.”

“You didn’t wake me,” said Mike. “I was awake.”

“Yes, you were, son,” agreed his mother. “I will say you were going down to get the dog yourself.”

“Spotty was the most important one,” said Mike, “because he can’t open doors.”

“By the way, where is the dog?” asked Mr. Carter.

“He’s tied up at the blue house,” said Pat. “He was in the way, barking at everyone.”

“Yes, we had to leave Watch and Lady at the ranch, too,” said Jessie. “A fire is no place for dogs.”

BOOK: Mike's Mystery
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