Read an Excerpt
The Mystery of the Purple Pool
By GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Charles Tang
ALBERT WHITMAN & CompanyCopyright © 1994 Albert Whitman & Company
All rights reserved.
A Big Surprise
The Alden children were all in the living room of their grandfather's big, comfortable house in Greenfield.
Benny sat on a window seat, gazing out. Rain splattered against the cold glass. Benny sighed. "Isn't it ever going to stop? It's been raining for four days, and I'm bored."
Henry looked up from the book he was reading and said to his six-year-old brother, "Come on, Benny, we'll play some checkers."
Benny shook his head. "Thanks, Henry, but I've played a million games of checkers in the last few days."
Henry laughed. "Well, not quite a million games. How about if we do that new jigsaw puzzle you have?"
Benny thought for a minute. "I think that puzzle is too easy for a boy who is fourteen like you."
Jessie walked over to them. "Is it too easy for a twelve-year-old girl?"
"I think so," Benny said.
Violet joined them. "How about a ten-year-old girl?"
Benny shrugged. "I think you're all just trying to be nice to me."
"I know!" Jessie said enthusiastically. "Let's ask Mrs. McGregor if we can bake cookies."
"That I like," Benny said. "But what will we do after that?"
Grandfather Alden was sitting in a big easy chair in a corner of the room, with Watch dozing at his feet. He folded the newspaper he had been reading and put it in his lap. "You know," he said, "I have to go to New York City tomorrow on business. I'll be there a few days. How would you children like to come with me?"
"To New York?" Jessie cried out, hardly believing what her grandfather had said.
"I've never been there," Benny said.
"None of us has," Violet added.
"Wow!" Henry said. "Would we like to come with you to New York? You bet we would."
Violet ran over to Mr. Alden and threw her arms around him. "Oh, Grandfather, that would be wonderful!"
Mr. Alden rose from his chair. "I'll call the Plymouth Hotel and get rooms for all of you."
He walked into the den and the four children followed him eagerly. He dialed the hotel number and waited for an answer. Then he said, "Reservations, please."
"That's us," Benny whispered to Violet. "We're reser ... reser ..."
"Reservations," Jessie filled in.
"That's what I said," Benny answered proudly.
"Sssh," Violet said, as Grandfather continued his conversation.
"This is Mr. James Alden. I have a reservation for a room from tomorrow until Thursday. But now I'm bringing my grandchildren with me. Do you have a suite with three bedrooms and a sitting room?" He looked at the children and smiled. "And perhaps a kitchenette?"
"A kitchenette!" Henry and Violet said together.
"You do?" Mr. Alden said. "Good. I'll take that and we'll check in tomorrow afternoon. Thank you." He hung up the phone and went back to the living room with the four children at his heels.
When he had settled in his chair again, he said, "There are some guidebooks to New York City on the second shelf in the bookcase in the den. Why don't you all look through them and decide what you want to do. I'll be working part of the time, so Henry and Jessie, you'll be in charge."
The children found the guidebooks and Violet said, "Let's take them to the boxcar and look at them there."
"It's raining so hard," Benny said.
"We can run down," Jessie said. "A little rain won't hurt you."
"Maybe Mrs. McGregor can give us a snack to take with us," Benny said hopefully.
Jessie laughed. "That sounds familiar, Benny. But it's a good idea."
In the kitchen, Mrs. McGregor was baking an apple pie. "Do you have any cookies and fruit, Mrs. McGregor?" Benny asked.
Mrs. McGregor wiped her floury hands on her apron and opened a big cookie jar on the counter. She took out several chocolate cookies and put them on a plate.
"We're going down to the boxcar. I'll wrap them so they don't get wet," Violet said. She took some paper napkins and put them around the plate. Then she put the plate with the cookies into a big paper bag.
Henry took some pears out of the refrigerator and packed them in the bag with the cookies. "We're ready now, Benny," he said. "Let's go."
The children ran down to the boxcar, which was in the garden. Jessie remembered how they had lived in the boxcar after their parents had died. They had run away because they were supposed to go and live with their grandfather. They had heard he was a mean man. When Mr. Alden found them, they had all realized how wonderful he was. They had happily gone to live with him. Mr. Alden had even brought along the boxcar for the children to play in.
The Aldens climbed into the boxcar and sat on the cushions on the floor. Henry went to the shelf that held the dishes they had found and used when they had lived in the boxcar. He took a plate and put the pears on it.
Benny took a cookie and bit into it. "Very good," he said.
"When didn't you think a chocolate cookie was good?" Henry asked.
"I guess never," Benny replied.
Jessie was already going through a guidebook. Violet and Henry each looked through one, too. "We have to go to the Empire State Building," Jessie said.
Benny leaned over her shoulder and looked at the picture. "I know that building." He stooped to look at the caption underneath. "Does that say it's one hundred and two stories high?"
"Yes, Benny! You read that by yourself!" Jessie said.
Benny beamed proudly. He was just learning to read.
Violet was reading about the Statue of Liberty. "We have to take a ferry to get to it. I'll like that," she said.
"There's a whole room just of armor at the Metropolitan Museum," Henry said excitedly.
"There's so much to do!" Violet said.
"And don't forget—we have to eat, too," Benny added.
Jessie laughed. "I'm sure there are plenty of restaurants in New York."
The Aldens stayed in the boxcar for a long time, eating their snack and going through the books. Every few minutes one of them would cry out the name of another thing they wanted to see or do.
At dinner that night, as the Aldens were finishing the delicious chicken Mrs. McGregor had made, Mr. Alden said, "I have some work to do in my office tomorrow morning. If we leave Greenfield in the afternoon, we'll get to New York in time to settle in our rooms and have dinner."
"How long will it take to drive there?" Jessie asked.
"About four hours," Grandfather said. "Now the weather is very cool, so pack warm things. We'll probably go to the theater one night, so you'll want something dressier than jeans for that."
"I'm going to start packing right now," Jessie said.
"Me, too," Violet agreed.
By the time Grandfather was ready to go the next day, the children had been packed and waiting for hours. They started off, waving to Mrs. McGregor, who stood in the driveway with Watch.
"Take care of him," Benny cried out.
"Don't you worry," Mrs. McGregor replied. "We'll do fine."
As Grandfather drove, the Aldens played a variety of games to pass the time. They counted how many blue cars they saw, then red ones. They watched for out-of-state license plates. They played word games.
Finally Mr. Alden said, "We're on the Henry Hudson Parkway, and that's the Hudson River on our right. New Jersey's on the other side of the river."
"Is that the river Henry Hudson sailed on?" Jessie asked.
"Same one," Grandfather said. "Soon you'll see the George Washington Bridge."
After a little while, Benny shouted, "Is that it?" He pointed to a long bridge.
"That's it," Mr. Alden said.
"It's so beautiful," Violet said.
"So graceful," Jessie added.
They rode down the highway, admiring the tall apartment buildings to their right, on the banks of New Jersey, and the lovely park to their left, which Grandfather said was called Riverside Park. Beyond the park were even more skyscrapers. Then they got off the highway and drove to their hotel. All the way the Alden children looked at the big buildings and cars and trucks and crowds of people.
Finally they reached the hotel. Grandfather drove into the garage where a young man in a uniform ran to the car. He opened the trunk with the keys Mr. Alden gave him and piled all the luggage onto a cart.
A garage attendant gave Mr. Alden a ticket. "I'll take care of your car, and the bellboy will take you to the check-in desk."
The family got into an elevator, and soon they were in the hotel lobby.CHAPTER 2
Here We Come!
"Wow!" Benny said as the Aldens entered the lobby. It was decorated with thick carpeting, large comfortable chairs, and flowered wallpaper. And it was bustling with activity. There were people rushing out the door or into one of the elevators. Guests were checking in and out. Bellhops pushed large carts of luggage across the floor.
The children followed Grandfather to the reservations desk. "Hello, I'm James Alden," Grandfather said to the young woman behind the counter. "I've reserved a suite of rooms for the next few days."
"Welcome to the Plymouth," the woman said, smiling. She pushed some buttons on the computer in front of her and looked at the screen. "Hmmm ..." she said after a moment. "I see your name here, but someone's cancelled your reservation."
"That's odd," Grandfather said. "I certainly didn't cancel it."
"I wonder how this happened," the woman said. "Well, Mr. Alden, I'll see what we have available."
"What seems to be the problem?" asked a man behind the counter. He had a friendly face and a mop of red hair.
"Mr. Parker, it seems that Mr. Alden's reservation was cancelled by mistake," the woman said.
"I'll handle this," said Mr. Parker with a sigh. Then, turning to Grandfather, he said, "I'm the assistant manager, Don Parker. I'm very sorry about this mix-up. I'm sure I can find rooms for you." He looked at the computer. "Ah, here's a lovely suite on the fifth floor," he said. "With a view of the park."
"That sounds perfect," Grandfather said.
Just then an attractive woman with light brown hair came out of an office on the left. "James Henry Alden!" she exclaimed, walking over to greet Grandfather. "It's been a long time since your last visit!"
"It certainly has, Ms. Ames," Grandfather said with a hearty smile. "It's good to see you again. I didn't know if you were still working here."
"Sure am! And I've been promoted to manager," Joan Ames explained. "I see you've met my assistant manager, Don Parker."
"Yes, he was just helping us out of a little mix-up," Grandfather said.
"Really?" Ms. Ames asked. "What?"
"Oh, it's nothing to worry about," Don Parker said with a pleasant smile. "I've taken care of it."
"Let me introduce my grandchildren. This is Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny." Mr. Alden motioned to each of them in turn. "Ms. Ames takes good care of me whenever I'm in town," he explained to the children.
"Your grandfather is one of our favorite guests," Joan Ames told them. "I'm so glad that he brought all of you with him this time."
"We've never been to New York City before," Jessie said.
"Well, then, you've got a lot of things to see here," Ms. Ames replied.
"Do you think we'll find a mystery?" asked Benny. "We're good at solving mysteries."
"I'm afraid there are no mysteries here!" Don Parker said with a chuckle.
"Well, I've got to run, but if you need anything at all during your stay, please let me or Mr. Parker know," Ms. Ames said.
"Thank you," Grandfather said, as the manager turned and headed back to her office.
Grandfather filled out the check-in forms while the children looked around the bustling lobby, their eyes wide.
"Look at that man over there!" Violet whispered suddenly.
A man had just gotten off the elevator. He had silvery hair and a long pointed nose. He was wearing dark sunglasses, a hat pushed low over his face, and a tightly belted raincoat. He kept his head down and walked quickly across the lobby and out the front door as if he didn't want to be seen.
"He certainly looked mysterious," Henry said.
"I knew it," Benny said happily. "A mystery to solve!"
The Alden children laughed.
When Grandfather had finished checking in, he turned to his grandchildren. "We can go up to our room now. A bellhop will bring up our luggage for us."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Alden," Don Parker said, his face flushed. "I can't seem to locate the bellhops. They may be taking breaks. But if you'd like to leave your luggage, I'll make sure someone brings it up to your room immediately."
"That's okay. We can carry our things," Henry offered.
The children picked up their small suitcases, and Grandfather took his suitcase and garment bag. As they started toward the elevator, they could hear Mr. Parker muttering under his breath, "I wish Joan would have a word with those bellhops ..."
Grandfather led the way to the elevator. After all the Aldens and their luggage were inside, he pushed a button marked "5." "We're in room 502," he said.
"Look," Benny said to Violet, pointing to the ceiling. "There's a mirror up there!"
Violet looked up and waved at Benny in the mirror. Benny grinned and made a funny face back at her.
When the elevator reached the fifth floor, the doors opened to reveal a long, red-carpeted hallway.
"Rooms 500 to 510 are this way," Benny said, reading the sign on the wall and pointing to the left.
"You read that very well," Jessie told Benny.
The first door had number 510 on it. "It looks like we're all the way at the end," Grandfather said.
Midway down the hall, a man in a gray suit was talking to a hotel maid. Next to her was a large cart filled with cleaning supplies and fluffy towels. As they approached, the Aldens couldn't help overhearing the couple's conversation. "Why wasn't my room made up?" the man was asking angrily.
"But it was made up," the maid answered. "I did it this afternoon, just as I always do."
"No, you didn't," the man replied. "Look — it's a mess."
As the man pushed the door to his room wide open, the children caught a glimpse inside. Sure enough, it was a mess. The two double beds were both unmade, the sheets and blankets lying in heaps on the floor. The wastebasket was overflowing. There were crumpled towels on the dresser.
"It's even messier than when I left this morning," the man said angrily.
"That's odd," the maid said. She had a strange look on her face. "I'll fix it up right away," she assured the man, hurrying inside. "I'm very sorry!"
Down the hall, a door was open, and a dark-haired woman was poking her head out. She was obviously paying close attention to what was going on.
"Who's she, I wonder," Jessie whispered.
"She looks like a spy!" Violet whispered back.
The woman heard the children whispering, and saw that they were looking at her. Giving them an angry glare, she quickly pulled her door shut, slamming it behind her.
"Well," Henry said. "What was that all about?"
Before anyone could answer, Benny ran to the end of the hall, and found the door to their suite. "502!" he called out.
The suite was just as beautiful as they'd hoped. It was bright and sunny, with large windows facing Central Park, the large, beautiful park in the center of the city. There was a small sitting area with a couch and two chairs grouped around a low table. To one side was a small kitchenette with a tiny refrigerator, stove, and sink. Off the sitting room were three bedrooms: a large one with a king-sized bed for Grandfather, and two smaller rooms, each with a pair of double beds for the children.
The Aldens stood at the windows, looking out at the view. The hotel was on a busy street, with cars rushing by and people hurrying down the sidewalks. Central Park spread out before them, filled with trees, whose branches were bare. Tall buildings surrounded the park. Along the side of the park was a line of old-fashioned horse-drawn carriages.
"Look! Horses!" cried Violet, who loved animals of all kinds.
"Would you like to go for a carriage ride later?" Grandfather asked.
"Yes!" the children shouted together.
"Let's unpack, and I'll make some reservations," Grandfather suggested. "Afterwards we'll take our ride through the park."
The children eagerly went to unpack their bags. Henry and Benny took one bedroom, and Jessie and Violet took the other. "Wow!" Benny said, bouncing up and down on his large bed, "this bed is much bigger than my bed back home!"
Meanwhile, Violet was putting her toothbrush and toothpaste on the counter in the bathroom.
"Oh, how wonderful!" she said, carrying a little basket of toiletries out of the bathroom. "Look at all these goodies." Jessie and Violet poked through the basket, taking out each tiny bottle of shampoo and lotion and bar of soap. Each one was wrapped in pretty yellow paper with a label that said THE PLYMOUTH HOTEL.
"Look what I found!" Benny cried, walking into the girls' room with a chocolate bar in his hand. "There's a little refrigerator in the kitchen, and it's filled with chocolates, and nuts, and juice, and soda —"
"You're not going to eat that before dinner, are you?" asked Grandfather, who had poked his head into the room. "I've made a reservation at one of my favorite restaurants."
"Then let's go!" said Benny, putting the chocolate bar down.
Excerpted from The Mystery of the Purple Pool by GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Charles Tang. Copyright © 1994 Albert Whitman & Company. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
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