The Rescue Begins in Delaware
By Cheri Pray Earl
Familius Copyright © 2013 Cheri Pray Earl
All right reserved. ISBN: 9781938301742
Chapter One(George) A Creepy Message
“Are you sure I can’t help?” I said.
Grandpa let out a grunt. “No George. I already told you.”
“Ding dang it,” I said.
Grandpa sat hunched over his workbench. He glued the cracked seat of an old wooden chair. He can fix anything. That’s his job.
I got too close and bumped Grandpa’s hand.
“Oops,” I said. “Sorry.”
Grandpa sighed and wiped glue off his pants. “Will you please let me alone to work, George?” he said. “Why don’t you go bother your sister?”
The clock rang twelve times. Midnight. I poked Gracie on the shoulder.
“Hey,” I said. “We’re up late. Way past our bedtime.”
“Duh,” Gracie said. “You think so?”
She didn’t look at me. She just kept tapping away on an old telegraph machine.
Gracie is nine. So am I. But I’m older than she is by 5.75 minutes. She’s taller than me by one and a half inches. But I’m smarter by about 2 feet.
“I’m bored,” I said. “Bore-da. Boooored. I want to go home.”
She acted like she couldn’t hear. So I made faces at her and hopped around like a monkey.
“Stop it,” Gracie said. “You’re bugging me.”
I hopped around even more.
“Sorry kids,” Grandpa said. He stretched. “I have to get this done before the museum opens in the morning. Just a little longer, okay?”
“I guess so,” I said. I stopped hopping. “Tomorrow’s Saturday anyway.”
Gracie typed away. Tap, tap, tap-tap, tap, tap
went the machine.
Our grandpa is the fix-it man at the Stockton Museum of Just About Everything in American History. That’s our family’s museum.
Gracie and I have lived with Grandpa for the last two years. Sometimes we come to his shop in the back of the museum after school. And sometimes he lets us help him.
I yawned and peeked over Gracie’s shoulder.
“Quit breathing down my neck,” she said.
“It would be nice if you could type something real,” I said. I’m learning about Morse Code in Cub Scouts. So I could tell that Gracie was just typing gobbledy-goop.
She kept her eyes on the telegraph machine.
“For your information,” she said, “this is how people used to talk to each other. Before there were telephones and cell phones.”
“I know that,” I said.
“And this is my own secret code,” Gracie said. Tap, tap, tap-tap, tap, tap
I rolled my eyes. “Who are you sending the message to? There’s no one at the other end.” I held up a broken wire. “It’s not even connected.”
Gracie didn’t answer. Tap, tap, tap-tap, tap, tap
Grandpa looked over. “You two be careful with that machine,” he said. “It’s no toy.”
“All right,” Gracie said.
She typed some more. This time it sounded like real Morse Code.
“Hey,” I said. “Good job, Gracie. That was ‘S.O.S.’ You just typed the code for help. You know. Three short taps. Three long taps. Then three more short taps.”
Gracie pulled her hand back like something bit her. She looked at me. Then she stared at the machine.
“I’m not doing it,” Gracie said. She shook her head. taptaptap Tap—Tap—Tap taptaptap
“But it can’t do that by itself,” I said. “Can it?”
“What’s going on?” Grandpa said. He walked over.
“I don’t know,” Gracie said. “The machine started working on its own.”
The three of us were quiet.
But the machine went on talking. taptaptap Tap—Tap—Tap taptaptap
, it said, which means “SOS—HELP.”
Gracie touched her silver locket. It used to be Mom’s. Gracie always touches that locket when she’s nervous.
I pushed my glasses up. I was creeped out.
“You kids move away,” Grandpa said. We stepped back and he sat down in front of the telegraph machine.
“The wires are cut,” I said, and shivered.
“They’ve been cut for more than a hundred years,” Grandpa said. He rubbed at his chin.
“Your parents got this old thing in Georgia, I think.”
“Maybe we should leave,” Gracie said. “You know. Go home.”
“Good idea,” I said. I headed for the door.
“Shhh,” Grandpa said, holding up his hand. He narrowed his eyes and listened. taptaptap Tap—Tap—Tap taptaptap
Then the tapping changed. A new message was coming. But I couldn’t understand it.
Grandpa pointed to his desk. I saw his hand shake. “Grab a pencil and some paper, George. Quick.”
“What’s happening?” Gracie said. Her eyes bugged out.
I ran to Grandpa’s desk. His notepad and pencil were lying there.
“Here.” I gave them to him. My heart thumped.
Grandpa wrote the words down. “Delaware . . . .1776. . . . Trapped . . .Please . . .help . . . .” he said out loud.
Then he dropped the pencil.
“What’s wrong?” I said.
Gracie pulled at his sleeve. “Grandpa?” she said in a small voice.
“Matthew and Laura,” Grandpa said.
“What?” Gracie said. “You mean Mom and Dad?”
My stomach got all Jell-o-y. Mom and Dad?
But it couldn’t be them. They disappeared from right here in the museum two years ago.
And they never came back. Continues...
Excerpted from The Rescue Begins in Delaware by Cheri Pray Earl Copyright © 2013 by Cheri Pray Earl. Excerpted by permission.
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