The Vampire Mystery (The Boxcar Children Series #120)by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny meet Mr. Hudson, a local author who is best known for his novel about a vampire. But rumors of a real vampire are going around town—a vampire who haunts the graveyard behind Mr. Hudson’s house! Since vampires don’t exist, the children soon realize that someone must be trying to scare people away! Who/i>… See more details below
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Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny meet Mr. Hudson, a local author who is best known for his novel about a vampire. But rumors of a real vampire are going around town—a vampire who haunts the graveyard behind Mr. Hudson’s house! Since vampires don’t exist, the children soon realize that someone must be trying to scare people away! Who brought the old legend back to life—and why?
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The Vampire Mystery
By GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Robert Papp
ALBERT WHITMAN & CompanyCopyright © 2001 Albert Whitman & Company
All rights reserved.
The Greenfield Vampire
"Just this one book please," six-year-old Benny said. He gave The Legend of the Vampire to the librarian. On the cover was a picture of a scary man in a dark cape. He had two sharp teeth and blood red lips.
"Oh, Benny, are you sure that is a good book for you?" asked twelve-year-old Jessie. She was twelve and kept an eye on her younger brother. "I could help you pick out another."
"No, I want this one, Jessie," Benny said. "Henry found it in the local author's section."
"It was written by Mr. Charles Hudson," explained Henry. At fourteen, he was the oldest.
"Oh!" exclaimed ten-year-old Violet. "Is that the author Grandfather told us about this morning?"
"I think it is," Henry said.
Mrs. Skylar, the librarian, smiled at the four Alden children. "Mr. Hudson is a local author who has written many exciting books. The Legend of the Vampire is one of his best selling stories. It's set right here in Greenfield."
Violet shivered. "A vampire in Greenfield?" she asked.
"Vampires aren't real, Violet," Jessie said. She put her arm around her sister's shoulders.
"Are you sure?" asked Benny.
"We're sure," Henry said. "Vampires are not real. They're just part of scary stories that people like to read for fun."
"Not real—like ghosts and monsters under your bed?" asked Benny.
"Yes, exactly like that," Jessie said.
"I like scary stories," Benny said. "They always have mysteries in them!" He opened the book to the first page. "'The cem ... cem ...'" Benny was just learning how to read.
"Cemetery," Henry helped.
"'The cemetery on ...'" Benny scratched his forehead.
Violet looked over his shoulder at the page. "Whittaker Street," she told her little brother.
'"Was ... dark ... and ...'" Benny sounded out the words. He sighed. "It's too hard for me. Can you read it to me, Henry?"
"Sure, Benny," Henry said. "But it's getting late now. We promised to meet Grandfather at eleven o'clock."
Jessie looked at her watch. "You're right, Henry." She handed her library card to Mrs. Skylar and checked out her novel. "Grandfather said that he wanted us to meet an old friend of his."
"Do you have the address where Grandfather wants to meet us?" Violet asked.
Henry patted his pocket. "Yes, I have it," he said. "I don't think it's very far. It's on the east end of town."
"Will we be passing any places to eat on the way?" Benny asked hopefully.
"Oh, Benny!" Jessie laughed. Benny had a big appetite. "How can you possibly be hungry after all those pancakes Mrs. McGregor made for you this morning?"
Mrs. McGregor was the Alden's housekeeper. She was a wonderful cook as well.
Benny patted his growling stomach. "I don't know, Jessie," he said. "I guess that's one mystery I'll never be able to solve!"
The Alden children laughed and hopped on their bikes. In ten minutes they found 52 Whittaker Street. It was an old, quaint house with a small lawn and a blooming flower garden. Grandfather's car was parked out front. He stood on the pale lavender porch talking to a tall man with white hair and a white mustache.
"What a beautiful house!" Violet exclaimed. She was wearing a pale purple top that matched the color of the porch almost exactly. It was her favorite color.
"Why, thank you," the man said, smiling at Violet.
Grandfather rested his hand on Benny's shoulder. "Mr. Hudson, I would like to introduce you to my family. This is Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny."
After their parents died, the Alden children ran away. They lived in an abandoned boxcar in the woods until their grandfather found them. He brought them to live with him in his big, white house in Greenfield.
"We're very pleased to meet you," Jessie said.
"Mr. Hudson?" Violet's face flushed red. "The famous author?"
Mr. Hudson laughed. "I'm not all that famous, you know," he said.
"You are famous!" Benny cried. He pulled The Legend of the Vampire from his backpack. "Your book was in the library!"
Just then a big, blue car screeched to a halt in front of the house. A young man in a business suit jumped out. He hurried up the sidewalk.
"This is the last time!" he said. He hammered a "For Sale" sign into the lawn. His face was red.
Grandfather looked puzzled.
"Don't mind Josh," Mr. Hudson said. "He is my realtor and someone keeps stealing his sign from my front lawn. He's been quite upset by it."
Benny looked at Josh banging away on the metal sign. "What's a realtor?" he asked.
"A realtor is a person who tries to help you sell your home," Jessie explained.
"Let me give Josh a hand." Grandfather went over and held the sign steady while Josh hammered.
"Are you moving away from Greenfield, Mr. Hudson?" Henry asked.
"No. I love Greenfield," Mr. Hudson said. "I don't really even want to sell my home." He sighed and looked up at the pretty house. "I've lived here all my life, but it is too big of a place for one old man to take care of on his own. When the house is sold, I'll move to an apartment on the other side of town."
"You mean if the house is ever sold," Josh said, wiping his forehead.
"Now, Josh," Mr. Hudson scolded. "Just because the sign keeps disappearing doesn't mean we can't sell the house."
"No, but the broken flowerpots and the old cemetery out back don't help either."
"Old cemetery?" asked Violet.
"Yes," Mr. Hudson replied. "It's quite historic. Some of Greenfield's first citizens are buried back there. You kids are welcome to go take a look. It's actually very beautiful and peaceful."
"Except when the vampire is prowling," Josh added.
The Aldens were too surprised to speak. Violet's face turned white.
"Don't pay attention to Josh," Mr. Hudson hurriedly said. "He gets overly excited sometimes. The vampire is just an old legend."
"But, you said you saw ..." Josh tried to argue.
"Now is not the time or place to discuss this, Josh," Mr. Hudson said, glancing over at the Aldens.
"Let's take a walk out back," Jessie said to her sister and brothers. Benny held tightly to Jessie's hand, and Violet stayed close to Henry's side as the Aldens walked back to see the old cemetery. The grass was neatly cut between the rows of the weatherworn headstones.
"What's a legend, anyway?" asked Benny as the children walked.
"It's an old story that has become famous," Jessie said.
"Like Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox," Henry said. "That story is a legend."
Just then the Aldens heard a loud sound in the quiet cemetery. They stopped walking and stared at each other.
Benny groaned. "I'm sorry. I can't help it," he said. "I'm so hungry my stomach keeps growling."
Henry laughed. "I think your appetite is becoming a legend, Benny."
"I know," Benny said. "Right now I think I could eat more than both Paul Bunyan and his ox!"
Violet bent over to look at an old headstone with a pretty flower carved on its front. "This one is hundreds of years old," she said. "The person buried here died in 1742." As she stood up, something caught her eye at the edge of the cemetery.
"Look!" Violet gripped Henry's arm. "There's someone staring at us over there!"
Henry, Jessie, and Benny turned just in time to see the man. He wore a long, dark coat. When he saw that the children had spotted him, he ducked behind a tree and disappeared into the woods.
Violet shivered. "That was odd," she said.
"Not really, Violet," said Henry. "Maybe he was just taking a walk, the same as we were."
"I'm sure Henry's right," Jessie said. "But let's get back to Grandfather now."CHAPTER 2
An Offer to Help
"What do you think of our little cemetery?" Mr. Hudson asked as the children stepped back onto the porch.
"It is quiet and peaceful," Jessie said. "Just like you said it would be."
Josh was rocking back and forth on a squeaky wooden rocking chair in the corner. He glanced at Jessie then quickly looked away and bit down on his lower lip.
"I sure hope you will all stay for some lunch," said Mr. Hudson.
"Lunch? You bet!" cried Benny. "What are we having?"
"Oh, Benny, that's not polite," Jessie said.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Hudson. I didn't mean to be rude." Benny sniffed the air. "But I can smell something really good."
Mr. Hudson laughed. "It tastes as good as it smells, Benny. That's my famous red clam chowder cooking on the stove. I made a big pot of it and I have a plate of sandwiches as well."
"Clam chowder!" Benny said. "That's my favorite!"
Jessie and Benny set the table, and Henry and Violet poured tall glasses of lemonade for everyone. The kitchen had wide oak floors and pretty flowered curtains on the windows.
"Your home is so beautiful, Mr. Hudson," Violet said.
"Thank you, Violet." Mr. Hudson filled her bowl with hot soup. "I do hate to sell it. It is filled with so many memories. My parents moved here years ago before I was even born. They hoped that the house would always stay in our family."
"Did you write all your books here, Mr. Hudson?" asked Henry. He took a turkey sandwich and passed the tray to Grandfather.
"Yes, Henry, I did. There's a small room upstairs that looks out over the cemetery and the woods. I started writing stories up there when I was a little boy. I get some of my best ideas when I am looking out that window."
Josh dropped his spoon. "Is that where you were when you saw the vampire?" he said.
Mr. Hudson shook his head. "Now, Josh, I thought we agreed not to talk about such things."
"You agreed. I did not." Josh pushed his chair back from the table. "Until we solve this vampire problem, I don't see how I will be able to sell this house. Mrs. Fairfax says she found blood on her back porch yesterday! Some of the other neighbors have heard strange sounds coming from the cemetery at night. Word is getting around town that the vampire in your book has come to life."
The Alden children looked at each other across the table. Benny sat very still, the soup spoon frozen at his lips.
"Josh, please stop that vampire talk. You know it is just a story," Mr. Hudson said.
Josh shrugged. "I'm only trying to do my job."
Mr. Hudson shook his head. "I don't think this kind of talk is helping."
Josh stood abruptly. "I'm sorry, but I have to get back to the office, now. Thanks for the lunch, Charles. Call me before you leave," he added. The screen door slammed behind him.
Mr. Hudson sighed. "Josh is so excitable," he said. "I should have hired a nice, calm realtor to sell my house."
"Is there really a vampire around here?" Benny asked.
"Of course not," Grandfather answered. "Vampires are not real."
"Your grandfather is right," Mr. Hudson said. "When I was growing up in this house, there was an old legend about a vampire around here. People said prowled the town at night and brought his victims to the cemetery. During the daytime, he hid in his coffin and slept. I always loved scary stories. As a matter of fact, I used to frighten my little brother by telling him all about the vampire. Sometimes, he was so afraid that he would have to sleep in my bed with me. I thought that the vampire story was so much fun that when I grew up I turned it into a book."
"The Legend of the Vampire!" Benny cried. "We checked it out of the library this morning. It's outside in my backpack."
"Yes, Benny. That's the one. It became a popular book. It has been so popular that I am hoping to convince a producer to turn my book into a movie."
"How exciting," said Jessie. "Would it be filmed here in Greenfield?"
Mr. Hudson refilled Benny's bowl with chowder. "I had hoped so," Mr. Hudson said. "I was supposed to go out of town to meet with some people to discuss the project. But with the house for sale, I'm not sure that I can leave just now. There's no one to look after the place while I'm away."
"We would be happy to do it," Henry offered.
"Yes," Jessie added. "We could check on it every day if you like."
"Are you sure?" Mr. Hudson asked. "You really wouldn't mind? I would be happy to pay you."
"We're sure," Violet said. "And you don't have to pay us anything. We can ride our bikes over. I'll water the flowers out front in the garden."
"And I can cut the lawn," Henry said.
"Benny and I will sweep the porch and dust the furniture for you," Jessie said.
Grandfather smiled. "My grandchildren are very helpful."
"I can see that," Mr. Hudson said. "And I'm very grateful. Now I can go away without worrying that I might lose a sale because the house is not in good shape."
After Grandfather left to attend a business meeting, Mr. Hudson walked with the Aldens to the back of the house. He opened the door to the shed. "The lawn mower is a little old," he said to Henry. "Sometimes it acts up."
"Don't worry, Mr. Hudson," Jessie said. "Henry is very good with motors and with fixing things."
The shed was large, but dark. Mr. Hudson called the children over to the corner. He lifted a clay flowerpot from a wooden shelf. "This is where I keep a spare key to the house," he said. "It will be right here under this pot whenever you need to get inside."
"Wow, this is a cool bike," Violet said, running her hand over the shiny front fender of an old-fashioned blue bicycle.
Violet admiring old bicycle.
"Yes," said Mr. Hudson. "It is very old, but I like to keep it in good shape. It belongs to my brother. It's odd, though. I thought that I had stored the bicycle in the back of the shed. I wonder how it got up here?"
"Does your brother live nearby?" asked Benny.
Mr. Hudson dropped his hands into his pockets. He looked at the ground for a few moments before answering. "No. I'm sorry to say that my brother and I had a fight a long time ago when we were younger. My brother left town and I never heard from him again. It was a silly fight. I don't even remember what it was about anymore. It happened over forty years ago."
Suddenly, everyone heard loud shouts coming from the front of the house. They ran from the shed. An older woman was pointing at the Aldens' bicycles and calling out for Mr. Hudson.
"Look at this!" she cried. "Bicycles are blocking the sidewalk! How am I supposed to get my shopping cart past? I think I hurt my ankle on this one." Mrs. Fairfax pointed at Benny's small bike.
"Hold on, Martha," Mr. Hudson said. "We'll get them out of your way."
Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny quickly moved their bicycles onto the lawn. Mrs. Fairfax glared at them.
"We're so sorry," Jessie said. "It was careless of us to leave our bikes there. We hope your ankle doesn't hurt too badly."
"Children are always careless!" Mrs. Fairfax said. "These children aren't moving in here, are they, Charles?" she asked.
"These are the Aldens," Mr. Hudson said. "They are the grandchildren of James Alden, an old friend of mine. They will be looking after my house while I am away on business."
Mrs. Fairfax pushed her glasses up on her nose and stared at each of the Aldens. "Well, you better make sure they don't leave their things lying around in my way."
"We won't do that, Mrs. Fairfax," Henry promised.
Mrs. Fairfax marched up the sidewalk and into her home.
Mr. Hudson sighed. "I'm sorry about that, children," he said. "Mrs. Fairfax is not a bad lady. She was a good friend of my brother's and has lived next door to me for fifty years. But she is worried that I might sell my home to a noisy family with lots of children and barking dogs. She likes her peace and quiet."
"We'll park our bikes behind the house from now on," Henry said. "We should never have left them on the sidewalk."
The four Aldens said goodbye to Mr. Hudson. As they pedaled toward home, they saw Mrs. Fairfax staring at them from the front window of her house.CHAPTER 3
A Missing Book
After dinner, the Aldens each took a slice of Mrs. McGregor's apple pie and headed outside to the front porch. Watch, their wire-haired terrier, raced outdoors with them.
"How did the smallest Alden end up with the biggest piece of pie?" asked Henry.
Benny, his cheeks stuffed with the delicious dessert, shrugged his shoulders.
"Henry," asked Violet, "what do you really think about the vampire story? It seems like Mr. Hudson did see something in the cemetery that scared him."
"I'm sure the vampire's not real, Violet. But something odd does seem to be going on at Mr. Hudson's house."
"Yes," said Jessie. "Why would someone steal the 'For Sale' sign on his front lawn?"
"I'm not sure," said Henry. "Maybe it was just a joke."
Violet shook her head. "Josh certainly wasn't laughing."
"No," Jessie replied. "And Josh seemed really upset by the vampire story. I wish we knew a little more about that legend. It might help us to solve the mystery of what is going on at Mr. Hudson's house."
Benny jumped from his chair and dashed into the house. He returned with his backpack. Watch barked excitedly.
"Benny, what are you doing?" asked Jessie.
"It's a clue!" Benny replied. "The book I got at the library yesterday that Mr. Hudson wrote. I put it in my backpack."
"That's right, Benny!" Henry said. "I had forgotten about The Legend of the Vampire."
"And didn't Mr. Hudson say that he based his book on the old vampire legend?" asked Violet.
"Yes, he did," said Jessie. "Good work, Benny."
Benny reached into his backpack. A funny look came over his face.
"What's wrong?" asked Jessie.
"I know I put the book in my backpack," he said. "But now it's not here."
"Maybe you took it out when you got home," suggested Violet.
"No, I'm sure I didn't," Benny said.
"Could it have fallen out?" asked Jessie.
Excerpted from The Vampire Mystery by GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Robert Papp. Copyright © 2001 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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