The Mystery of the Fallen Treasure (The Boxcar Children Series #132)by Gertrude Chandler Warner, Tim Jessell
While training their dog, Watch, to be a search and rescue dog in the Oregon woods, the Aldens find a mysterious backpack that fell from a plane.
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The Mystery of the Fallen Treasure
A Boxcar Children Mystery
By GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER
ALBERT WHITMAN & CompanyCopyright © 2013 Albert Whitman & Company
All rights reserved.
A New Adventure
"Look, that plane is flying awfully low!" Six-year old Benny Alden pointed out the window of the minivan. A small plane glided down past the mountains and disappeared in the distance.
"It's landing at the little Sunriver Airport," said Grandfather. "Lots of people have small planes there."
"I bet that plane is too small to hold all of us and our suitcases," Benny's ten-year-old sister, Violet, said. "Especially since we also have Watch with us!" She petted the wire-haired dog that sat next to her.
The Aldens had landed at the airport just before noon and rented the minivan. Grandfather's friend Victor Gonzales had invited the family to spend a week in beautiful Sunriver in central Oregon. They had traveled across the country from Greenfield, Connecticut.
"Dogs are welcome in Sunriver," said Henry, Benny and Violet's older brother. He was reading from a brochure that he had downloaded from the Internet. Henry was fourteen and liked to look things up on the computer. "It says that dogs just have to be on a leash or be very well behaved."
Twelve-year-old Jessie reached past Violet to pet Watch. He turned to nuzzle her hand. "Watch is very well behaved, aren't you, Watch?"
Watch was really Jessie's dog, but Jessie was happy to share him with her sister and brothers. Jessie had found Watch in the woods. When their parents died, Jessie, Violet, Henry, and Benny had run away. They were supposed to live with their grandfather whom they had never met. They had heard that he was mean so they decided to hide from him. They discovered an abandoned boxcar in the woods and made it their home, which they shared with Watch. Their grandfather found them and they learned that he was not mean at all, but kind and loving. The Aldens became a family and Grandfather moved them all to his home in Greenfield. The boxcar was set up in the yard so the children could play there anytime they liked.
"The brochure also says that we can see the foothills of the Cascades from here," said Henry. "We are surrounded by wooded hills, mountains, and lakes."
Henry and the other children looked out the window at the scenery that surrounded them.
"What's a foothill?" asked Benny.
"It's a low hill at the base of a mountain or a mountain range," said Henry.
"They don't look like feet to me," said Benny.
Violet and Jessie laughed. "I bet they're called foothills because they are fun to walk on!" suggested Violet.
"That could be, Violet," said Henry. "Foothills are easier to hike up than mountains!"
"I hope we'll go hiking!" said Benny.
"I'm sure we will," said Jessie. "Watch will make sure that we do!"
"Grandfather, you'll want to turn right at the next street," Henry said. "Mr. Gonzales's house is just a few blocks away."
"Did you Google it on your cell phone?" Grandfather asked.
"Yes, I did," said Henry. The other children giggled. They knew that Henry loved high-tech devices.
They passed a small village with shops and restaurants and turned right.
"Are we there yet?" asked Benny. "I'm hungry—it must be past lunchtime!"
"We'll eat soon," promised Jessie. "We need to get our things put away first."
Grandfather steered the minivan into a circular driveway and pulled up next to a large log cabin. A woman waved at them from the front door and walked to the van as everyone got out. She had dark, curly hair and a friendly face.
"Greetings, Aldens!" she said as she helped grab suitcases.
"Oh my goodness, Marianella, you have grown up," said Grandfather. "Children, this is Victor's daughter, Marianella." Mr. Alden introduced Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny.
"We're pleased to meet you, Marianella," said Henry. The children all shook her hand.
"We're pleased to have you stay with us," said Marianella.
Watch sniffed at Marianella's hand and wagged his tail. "And this is Watch!" said Benny. "He smells something good on your hand."
"That's what he does when he thinks we have a treat for him," said Violet.
"That's funny and very smart of Watch," said Marianella. "Actually my father and I were just preparing lunch for everyone. Watch probably smells beef stew and cornbread!"
"Oooh! I love beef stew!" cried Benny. "And cornbread too."
"You love all food," laughed Jessie.
"I'll say hello to Victor," said Grandfather. He headed into the house.
Just then a huge brown-and-black dog charged up and sniffed excitedly at the Aldens.
"Goyo, how did you get loose?" asked Marianella. The dog ran to her side. "Don't worry, he is very friendly."
"We're very glad to meet you, Goyo," said Jessie. "Watch is also very friendly!"
Watch and Goyo sniffed noses and wagged their tails.
"I think lunch is ready," said Marianella. "Let's head inside and eat."
Benny was the first through the door. The rest of the family and Marianella carried in the baggage. After lunch the children helped wash and put away the dishes. Then Marianella showed them their room.
The large guest room had four bunk beds and plenty of space. The children put down the blankets they had brought from home for Watch. The dog settled on the blankets and Goyo joined him.
"This is almost like our boxcar," said Violet.
"Only this has real bunk beds instead of pine needle beds," said Benny.
Violet was looking at the photos on the wall. "Who is this?" she asked.
"Those are pictures of my sister, Adelita," said Marianella. "She's an airplane pilot."
"Wow, that's exciting," said Henry. "I would love to learn how to fly an airplane."
"Yes, Adelita has always been the adventurous one," said Marianella. She studied the photos and sighed. "Father and I never know what she will do next. She has been acting strange lately."
Just then Goyo hopped up and came over to lick Marianella's hand. "Oh, you smart boy," she said, ruffling his head. "It's almost time to go, isn't it?"
"Where are you and Goyo going?" Benny asked.
"Oh, Benny, you're so nosy!" said Violet.
"It's okay," said Marianella. "We have a search-and-rescue training session in the foothills this afternoon."
"Goyo is a search-and-rescue dog?" Henry asked. "I've read about how dogs help find victims of disasters like earthquakes and avalanches. It sounds like dangerous work."
"It can be dangerous work, Henry," said Marianella. "And most SAR teams—as we're called—don't do it for money or glory."
"Wow," said Violet. "Have you and Goyo ever saved someone?"
"Goyo and I mostly look for lost hikers," said Marianella. "Sadly a lot of people get lost in this area. Some people don't tell anyone where they're going, and often they aren't prepared for an emergency. We have to act fast."
"If Goyo already knows how to search, how come you still practice?" Benny asked. He was eye level with the big dog. Goyo slipped over and licked Benny's face.
"We never stop practicing and training," said Marianella. "SAR requires handlers and their dogs to be in tip-top shape." Watch sniffed at Marianella and she bent down to pet him. "Say, let's see what kind of search dog Watch might be. If he can sniff out beef stew and cornbread, I bet he can sniff out a lost hiker!"
Marianella and the children headed to the huge, fenced-in backyard. "Okay, here's what we'll do," said Marianella. "Jessie and Violet can hold Watch and cover his eyes while Henry and I hide Benny."
Jessie and Violet carefully covered Watch's eyes with Violet's scarf as Marianella, Henry, and Benny raced to the end of the yard and disappeared around the corner of a shed. Henry and Marianella returned without Benny.
"Okay, Benny is ready," said Marianella. "Watch already knows his scent, so just tell him to find Benny."
"Watch, find Benny!" said Jessie. She followed Watch as he ran around the yard. He sniffed the ground and sometimes stopped to sniff the air. He looked back at Jessie after a few minutes. "I think Watch is confused," said Jessie.
"Just encourage him," said Marianella. "Tell him to find Benny. Dogs often need encouragement to keep searching."
"Find Benny!" said Jessie. "You can do it! I know you can!" Watch circled back around the yard then stopped and sniffed again. He suddenly yipped and ran around the shed with Jessie following. He stopped at a truck that was parked there. Watch jumped up on the tailgate and barked.
"You found me!" yelled Benny as he stood up. The other children and Marianella joined them and helped Benny out of the truck bed.
"Watch did great, didn't he?" Benny said as he hugged the dog close. The other children also petted and praised Watch.
"Yes, Watch did very well," said Marianella. "Hey, would you all like to come with me?" Marianella looked at the children crowded around their dog.
"To a real search-and-rescue training session?" Henry asked.
"Yes, you will be my special guests," said Marianella. "You can work with Watch on some object-searching skills. Plus we can always use new bodies to hide. Benny is a champ at playing the part of a lost hiker."
"As long as you don't forget where you hide me," said Benny.
"Who can forget you?" laughed Jessie. "You always make your presence known."
"Then it's settled. Let's go," said Marianella.
"This will be fun," said Violet. "I'll bring my camera. Maybe Watch will find something exciting!"
Marianella and the Alden children drove out of Sunriver and into the Cascade foothills close by. Marianella parked her jeep in a gravel parking lot surrounded by woods.
Benny noticed a bumper sticker on the back window of the jeep. "SAR means search and rescue!" he read aloud. Benny was just learning to read. He liked to try to read signs everywhere he went.
"That's right, Benny," said Marianella. She led the children to a trail into the woods. "Hey, we're here and I brought some help!" she called.
"Over here," said a voice. They all walked over to a campsite where a man and a dog were standing. Marianella introduced the Alden children to Jason and his dog, Bounce.
"This is our dog, Watch," said Jessie. "He is just learning about search and rescue."
"And I know how to get lost!" added Benny.
Everyone laughed. Watch was off his leash and running around in the woods. Suddenly he started barking.
"What's the matter with Watch?" Benny asked.
"We need to go see!" said Jessie.
The children ran to catch up with their dog. Watch was standing in a small clearing and wagging his tail. A bright yellow backpack lay in front of him. It was muddy and partly open.
"It looks like a backpack, but what's inside?" asked Violet. Something in the backpack was glinting in the sun that streamed through the trees.
The children praised Watch and approached the bright yellow backpack carefully. Henry picked up a stick and poked at it then peered inside. Violet was right behind him. Her brown eyes opened wide when she saw the contents.
"It's filled with jewelry!" she cried. "Beautiful jewelry!"CHAPTER 2
Violet loved art objects, especially things that were purple or blue. Jessie and Benny joined Violet and Henry to inspect the glinting gold and gemstone jewelry.
Violet carefully tipped the backpack so that they could see more of the contents. Inside were boxes of different sizes. Many of the boxes had come open. A tangle of gold necklaces, bracelets, and earrings lay in a jumbled mess.
"It looks like someone dropped this backpack and kept going," said Henry.
"Oh my! Maybe it was stolen," said Jessie. "Violet, maybe you could take photos. Then we'll have a record to show the owner."
"Good idea," said Henry. "We can show what the backpack looked like when we found it."
"And it's so pretty!" Violet said. She snapped a few photos with her digital camera. Henry and Jessie looked inside the backpack for clues to its owner.
"Here's a piece of paper," said Jessie.
"What does it say?" asked Henry.
"Twila's Handcrafted Jewelry Creations in Sunriver Village is in fancy writing across the top," said Jessie. Benny stretched to look at the paper while Jessie continued to read. "Dear Mr. Anderson, thank you for your payment of five thousand dollars. Here is the jewelry that you chose for your store in Portland. Each piece is one of a kind. I hope that your customers are pleased with your choices. "
"Wow, that's a lot of money!" Henry exclaimed. He zipped the backpack closed and strapped it to his back. "We should take this to Twila's Handcrafted Jewelry Creations right away!"
Just then Watch barked and ran toward the woods that surrounded the clearing. He stopped at the trees and wagged his tail.
"Look, someone's there," said Jessie. A figure appeared between the trees and then disappeared deeper into the woods.
"Maybe it was Jason or Marianella looking for us," Henry said. "We need to tell them about Watch's find."
* * *
"Here you are!" said Marianella when the children returned to the campsite.
"We thought we were going to have to search for you guys!" said Jason.
He noticed the yellow backpack that Henry had strapped to his back. "Where did that come from?"
Henry removed the backpack and showed Marianella and Jason what was inside. "Watch found this in the woods. It looks like it was dropped."
Jason and Marianella admired the tangle of jewelry.
"I wonder how this backpack wound up in the woods," said Jason.
"Maybe it fell from the sky!" Benny said.
"Oh, Benny, jewelry doesn't fall from the sky," said Violet. "Jessie and Henry think that somebody stole it then dropped it for some reason."
"We found a letter inside the backpack," said Jessie. "It's from Twila's Handcrafted Jewelry Creations in Sunriver Village."
"I know the store and Twila very well," said Jason. "She's a jewelry maker. Twila and I studied silver jewelry making at the same school."
Jason leaned over Benny and looked closely at the jewelry in the backpack.
Violet observed the jewelry that Jason was wearing—a watch with a gold, coral, and turquoise band, and multiple gold rings. She noticed he had a pierced ear but was not wearing an earring.
"Do you sell handmade jewelry too?" Violet asked Jason.
"Oh, some," said Jason. "But I could never afford to have my own jewelry store like Twila." He frowned.
"We also saw someone running in the woods," said Henry. "We thought it might be one of you."
"I was here with Goyo, working on our training schedule," said Marianella.
"I had Bounce down by the river," said Jason. "I wonder who it might have been."
"Maybe it was the thief!" said Jessie. "We need to take the backpack to Twila."
"Yes," said Marianella. "If it was stolen, I'm sure that she will want to contact the police."
"All right," said Jason. "I'll see you tomorrow, Marianella."
"See you later, Jason," said Marianella. "Come on, Aldens, let's head back to Sunriver. We need to return this backpack to Twila right away."CHAPTER 3
Twila's Handcrafted Jewelry Creations
Goyo and Watch collapsed in the back of the jeep and slept during the drive back to Sunriver. Jessie reached back and petted both dogs.
"They must be tired from all that searching," she said.
"You bet," said Marianella, "and hungry too. I'll give them food and water when we get to Twila's store."
Marianella guided the jeep through the little community and pulled up to Twila's store. Henry grabbed the yellow backpack and got out of the jeep with Jessie, Violet, and Benny.
The store was across the street from a large park. Henry noticed that it had a nice view of the foothills from the front window. The Aldens entered the store, and a bell on the door jingled. Jessie noticed a pair of binoculars sitting on a table by the big front window.
Inside, a woman wearing a visor on a head of frizzy blond hair was bent over a worktable behind a long display counter. The children waited quietly while the woman worked. She opened the dome lid of a small, boxy machine and pulled out a bowl. They watched her carefully pour a mixture from the bowl into a little metal container. She put the container into the machine, shut the lid, and flipped a switch. Then she noticed the four children watching her.
"Oh my! You startled me," she said, standing and wiping her hands on her apron. "May I help you?"
Excerpted from The Mystery of the Fallen Treasure by GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER. Copyright © 2013 Albert Whitman & Company. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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