Book two in a four-book series for boys filled with adventure, mystery, and intrigue as three friends, Dan, Peter, and Shelby, seek to discover the hidden mystery of Eckert House.
About the Author
Chris Auer of Savannah, GA, is a seasoned screenwriter and adapted The Legend of the Candy Cane for video. He has numerous scriptwriting credits, including More True Stories from Touched by an Angel with CBS. He was the creator-executive producer for the half-hour series Big Brother Jake from 1990 to 1994 and also worked for NBC's The Cosby Show.
Read an Excerpt
www.zonderkidz.com A Stranger, A Thief and a Pack of Lies Copyright 2004 by Chris Auer Requests for information should be addressed to:
Zonderkidz, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Auer, Chris, 1955-
A stranger, a thief and a pack of lies / by Chris Auer.
p. cm.(2:52 mysteries of Eckert House ; bk. 2)
Summary: Relying on God's strength, Dan helps solve another mystery at the Eckert House museum when a man claiming to be Theodore Eckert appears to pick up his inheritancea very valuable tapestry that has been missing for years.
ISBN 0-310-70871-0 (softcover)
[1. MuseumsFiction. 2. Robbers and outlawsFiction. 3. Impersonation
Fiction. 4. Christian lifeFiction. 5. Mystery and detective stories.] I. Title.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION . Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984
by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All Rights Reserved.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any meanselectronic, mechanical,
photocopy, recording, or any otherexcept for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Zonderkidz is a trademark of Zondervan Editor: Amy De Vries Cover design: Jay SmithJuicebox Designs Interior design: Susan Ambs Art direction: Michelle Lenger and Merit Alderink Printed in the United States of America
05 06 07 /?DCI/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
An Unexpected Visitor
'I don't like being famous.'
This was an odd statement, coming from Dan Pruitt.
'Really,' he insisted. His two sisters looked at him in disbelief.
Maureen and Eileen were seven and eight, but everyone who saw them thought they were twins. That was partly because they were always together, partly because they looked very much alike,
and partly because, when they spoke, they often finished one another's sentences.
'Step back,' Maureen ordered.
'Further than usual,' Eileen agreed.
Both girls took a giant step away from their brother.
'Cute,' said Dan.
In the Pruitt family, when someone made an outrageous statement the others stepped away, pretending that lightning bolts were on their way from heaven.
'Better yet,' said Maureen.
'Right,' said Eileen.
They turned and ran into the house. The three of them were supposed to be weeding the tomato patch, but his sisters had been doing more teasing than working.
'Mom!' Dan called out. 'The Eenies aren't working!'
He knew his mother wasn't yet back from taking his grandfather to the doctor's, but he hoped they didn't know.
Dan never called his sisters anything but 'The Eenies.' Maureen. Eileen. The Eenies just seemed easier. Besides, why address them separately when they were never apart? Whenever he called one, he always got both of them.
The Eenies reappeared at the open kitchen window.
'I don't know about you,' one of them said in a fake snooty voice, 'I hate being famous.'
'I gave my autograph out two thousand times this morning.'
'That is so tragic.'
'You want to know what's gonna be tragic?' Dan asked. 'When you two wake up tomorrow morning with your braids tied together.'
'Not if we don't go to sleep!' one of them yelled as they giggled. A minute later Dan heard the front door slam.
Dan had to laugh. He couldn't help it. He thought his sisters were funny. He returned to the rows of tomato plants and started weeding again.
The truth was, Dan really didn't like being famous.
He had tried to go to the mall the day before and was surrounded by a crowd wanting his autograph.
Because of that, Dan's mother had asked him to stay close to home for a few days. Close to home meant,
among other less-than-exciting things, weeding the garden.
There were a couple of reasons why Dan was famous. His first brush with fame was in the middle of the summer when he uncovered a human skeleton on the property of Eckert House. Dan did odd jobs around Eckert House, the former mansion of the wealthiest family in town, which had been turned into a museum. The discovery of the skeleton got him interviewed by local television and newspaper reporters.
Then, a short time later, he was famous all over again when he helped stop an art thief from stealing a valuable statue from the museum. That time,
however, it was national reporters who came to Dan's small town of Freemont, Pennsylvania.
Even though Dan was the focus of most of the attention, there was plenty of fame to go around.
Dan's cousin Pete and their best friend, Shelby, were a big part of the story, too. The television reports made it all sound like an amusing adventure, but at the time, it was anything but fun.
'You wonder where tomorrow's heroes are?' the reporter had concluded. 'Well, they're right here.' And with that she had put her arm around Dan's shoulder.
Dan did not feel like a hero. It was his recklessness that had set everything into motion in the first place.
It all ended well, but the story could have had a very different conclusion.
Dan had written and explained everything to his father, a Navy flier who was stationed overseas. He expected a strong letter back, but his father was surprisingly gentle. After expressing his relief that no one was seriously hurt (just a few stitches and some bumps and bruises), he reminded Dan to help his mother as much as possibleespecially with the Eenies and his little brother, Jack, who was only four.
Remember, Dan, he concluded, it's what a man does when no one's looking that really tells him who he is.
The problem was, people were always looking at Dan. He was recognized everywhere he went.
From the front of the house, the Eenies started teasing Dan again.
'Is this where he lives?'
'He is soooo cute.'
The sound of their voices indicated that they were standing on the front walk. That gave Dan an idea.
He bent down and picked up five very squishy tomatoes that were rotting on the ground. He did some fast calculations, stepped back, and hurled one tomato after another over the roof of the house.
One, two, three, four, fivequick as a flash. If luck and skill were with him, there was a good chance that at least one of the tomatoes would hit at least one of the Eenies.
Luck and skill were with him. Seconds later, his sisters' shrieks and squeals told him he had scored a direct hit. Maybe two.
He quickly gathered three more tomatoes. With all of his might he threw them so that they would reach the driveway. Dan figured that was the next logical place for the Eenies to run, and they would consider it out of his range. They were wrong. He had a good arm, and he could reach them where they stoodor rather where they should have been standing.
The second and third tomatoes had found a target.
Unfortunately the target was not the Eenies.
It was Miss Alma Louise Stockton LeMay. Miss Alma, the curator at the museum, was only five feet tall, and she was over seventy years old. Even so,
she was the most feared person in all of Freemont.
She had a sharp mind and an even sharper tongue.
There was a softer side to Miss Alma, and Dan occasionally got to see it, but he knew that was not going to happen today.
Miss Alma came around the side of the house. She was covered with bits of rotten tomato. She was not happy.
'Miss Alma,' Dan cried out with surprise. 'I . . . I . . .
didn't expect you to be out there!'
'No? For whom was this charming surprise intended?' she asked with unusual calm as she dabbed her face with her handkerchief.
'My sisters,' Dan answered honestly.
Table of Contents
Contents 1. An Unexpected Visitor 7 2. An Unexpected Discovery 22 3. An Unexpected Story 34 4. An Unexpected Treasure 48 5. An Unexpected Arrest 60 6. An Unexpected Clue 72 7. An Unexpected Adventure 81 8. An Unexpected Climb 92 9. An Unexpected Escape 104 10. An Unexpected Friend 120