Renting a lighthouse is unusual, but even more so is an unfriendly boy's peculiar behavior.
About the Author
Gertrude Chandler Warner was born in 1890 in Putnam, Connecticut, where she taught school and wrote The Boxcar Children because she had often imagined how delightful it would be to live in a caboose or freight car. Encouraged by the book's success, she went on to write eighteen more stories about the Alden children.
Read an Excerpt
Lighthouse for Sale
The visit to Aunt Jane came to an end. Now, after so many years, Aunt Jane was married to Andy Bean. Nobody called her Mrs. Bean. This pleased her very much. Everyone called her Mrs. Andy, and that pleased Andy.
Grandfather Alden called his four grandchildren to him and said, "I think we should go home now. Aunt Jane and Andy want to go away on a wedding trip."
"I wonder where?" said Benny. "I bet they are going around the world. Andy told Aunt Jane that she would never have a dull moment."
Henry laughed. "I can believe that," he said. "Andy is never still."
Violet said, "Aunt Jane looks so young and well, doesn't she, Jessie?"
"Yes," agreed Jessie. "Ever since Uncle Andy came home she has been very happy. I agree with you, Grandfather. I think we ought to go. We don't want to stay on the farm without Aunt Jane."
So they packed their bags to go home. Aunt Jane helped Jessie make a picnic lunch.
All the good-bys were said and Henry started the car. "Here we go!" Benny cried.
And so they started for home — at least that was what they planned.
Henry said, "Let's have a change and go home by the beach road."
Henry drove the station wagon down the beach road. They could see the ocean most of the way. After about an hour Benny said, "I'm hungry."
"You are always hungry," said his grandfather. "Wait till we come to the lighthouse in Conley. There is a little store there. We could buy some milk. We have enough sandwiches to last two meals — ham and chicken. Aunt Jane makes delicious sandwiches."
"Let's go out and see the lighthouse," said Benny. "Maybe the lighthouse keeper would show us the little porch on the top floor."
"Maybe he would, old fellow," said Henry, laughing. "That is called a lookout, not a porch. But it is a long climb to the top of a lighthouse."
Soon they saw the lighthouse in the distance. It was white. There was a little white house near the foot of the lighthouse with a little path between. The two buildings stood on a rocky point of land, almost in the water.
"Look!" cried Violet. "There's a sign on it. What does it say?"
"I can't see yet," said Mr. Alden.
"I can," said Henry. "It says FOR SALE."
"A lighthouse for sale!" said Jessie. "I didn't know anyone ever sold lighthouses. I thought they belonged to the government."
"To the Coast Guard," said Mr. Alden. "But I have heard that many lighthouses are being sold. Radar is used to keep ships safe now."
"Oh, what a wonderful house that would be to live in, Grandfather!" said Benny. "See, there is a window on each floor. You could sleep on the first floor, and then you wouldn't have to do any climbing. The girls could have the next floor, and Henry the next, and I could have the top floor with that little porch — I mean lookout. That would be neat!"
Mr. Alden laughed. He said, "Are you saying you want to buy the lighthouse?"
"Oh, absolutely!" said Benny.
"Really," said Jessie, "we could have a lovely time in a lighthouse, Grandfather. We could go swimming any time right in our own yard."
"And we could pick up shells and study the water birds," said Violet quietly.
"We could certainly go fishing," added Henry.
They had come to the lighthouse by this time. Henry stopped the car, and they all looked at the place. Nobody said a word. They were all waiting for Grandfather to make up his mind.
At last he said, "Come on, children, we'll go into the little store and ask some questions. Maybe we could use a lighthouse."
"Hurray!" shouted Benny.
Everyone else was as pleased as Benny. They smiled and looked at each other.
"Drive right up to the door," said Mr. Alden. "A store man always knows everything."
It was true. When Mr. Alden said, "What do you know about that lighthouse?" the man laughed and said, "I know everything about that lighthouse. It's not used any more."
"I see it's for sale," said Mr. Alden.
"Well, it isn't for sale now," said the man, "because I bought it myself. I haven't had time to take down the sign. I'd like to rent it, though."
"Would you?" asked Mr. Alden. "My grandchildren think they would like to spend a few weeks there."
"Well, I'd be glad to rent it to you. It's all fixed up for light housekeeping."
Benny laughed. "Light housekeeping in a lighthouse," he said. "That's a good joke."
"Does the little white house go with it?" asked Henry.
"Well, no," said the storekeeper. "It ought to. But I wasn't quick enough to buy the house. A man named Cook bought that. He buys houses and sells them. He is going to fix it up to rent someday. But now the windows are broken, as maybe vou saw, and they are all boarded up. He never thought anyone would rent the lighthouse."
"Won't we need the little house?" asked Jessie.
"No. That was the summer kitchen. The winter kitchen in the lighthouse is all right. It really has a better gas stove and refrigerator. There's a good cot bed on every floor. You could get all your food right here in my store. My name is Hall."
"I thought so, Mr. Hall, when I saw the sign HALL'S GROCERY," said Mr. Alden.
Henry asked, "Could we ever build a fire on the beach for a cook-out?" "Yes, you could. There's nothing on that point but sand and water and rocks. No bushes. You will be careful, I know."
Benny said, "Yes, we bury our fires with sand."
"Good! Make yourselves at home. Do anything you want. Here's the key if you want to go in and look around."
"Well, I do," said Benny. "I want to see the top floor with the porch railing."
"Fine," said Grandfather. "You get in the car. I'll settle the rent with Mr. Hall."
Henry took the key and drove down to the lighthouse. They could not drive to the door because the road was too sandy.
When Henry unlocked the door, the girls went into the kitchen at once.
"Good!" said Jessie, "this is a fine little gas stove."
Violet said, "The dishes are all different, but we like them different."
Benny climbed the winding stairs. Round and round he went.
He called, "These rooms are very small. Nothing but a cot bed in each one." He stopped to look out of each window. He called out, "First floor. This is Grandfather's room."
He climbed higher. "Second floor, Jessie and Violet. Third floor, Henry. And here's mine!" They could hardly hear him.
Then they heard no more at all from Benny. He was out on his top floor looking out to sea.
Grandfather said, "It's lucky there's a window on every floor. It will be hot in here."
"Maybe not too hot," said Violet. "We are right by the sea breezes."
By the time the beds were made, everyone was tired.
"Let's go to bed," said Mr. Alden.
"Go to bed at eight o'clock?" cried Benny. "But I guess my bed will feel rather nice after all."
Everyone was soon asleep. No one heard the town clock strike. But it did strike — nine, ten, eleven. As it struck twelve, Watch sat up and began to bark.
Watch always slept at the foot of Jessie's bed.
"Keep still, Watch!" said Jessie. "You'll wake everybody up!"
But Watch didn't stop. He barked all the more. His hair stood up straight around his neck.
Benny came down the stairs. Henry came. Mr. Alden called, "What's the matter with Watch, Jessie?"
"I don't know, Grandfather," called Jessie. "He must hear something he doesn't like."
Benny began to pat the dog. "What's the matter with you, Watch? Why do you have to bark at twelve o'clock midnight? Why couldn't you bark at four o'clock in the afternoon? Then we could do something about it."
Watch barked on and on. He stopped just long enough to growl.
Suddenly Benny said, "I smell steak and mashed potatoes."
"Benny, mashed potatoes don't smell," said Violet.
"I can smell them," said Benny.
"Are you sure it is not baked potatoes you smell?" asked Henry. "I don't smell anything."
"No. Baked potatoes smell even better. Maybe it's the milk and butter and pepper and salt that I smell."
"Well, maybe pepper, Benny. Certainly not salt," said Jessie.
Henry was frowning. "Maybe someone is hiding and eating in that little house at the foot of our lighthouse. But I thought it was empty," he said.
Just then Watch stopped barking. He lay down and put his head on his paws and shut his eyes. Everyone was surprised.
"Just look at Watch now," said Jessie. "He doesn't care any more. I guess the danger is over, whatever it was."
"That's a funny thing," said Benny. He started upstairs.
"It's more than funny, Ben," said Henry. "The dog must have heard something."
"We'll find out tomorrow," said Mr. Alden. "I'll ask the police."
Then everyone went back to bed. Violet thought she could not go back to sleep, but she did.
They slept till morning. After a rather poor breakfast, Jessie said, "Well, the first thing is to go to the store and buy food."
"Right," said her grandfather. He missed his morning coffee and toast.
No one spoke of the midnight noise. With the sun shining, it seemed as if nothing had happened.
As they walked up the street to the grocery store they saw a middle-aged man coming. He had sharp, black eyes. He did not even look at the Aldens. He passed Jessie, almost bumping her.
"Well!" said Benny, when the man had gone by. "He's a queer character."
"He did look at us sideways," said Violet. "I saw him when he was far down the street."
"But why should he almost bump into Jessie?" Henry asked. "He might have knocked her down if she hadn't moved quickly. A queer character is right, Ben."
"I think we notice everybody now," said Violet. "We think they are a part of our mystery."
Suddenly everyone was thinking about the noise in the night. It had been real!
"Right!" said Henry. He took Violet's arm as they went into the store. "You are always right."
There was only one person in the store. It was a boy of about Henry's age. Under his arm he had a college book. Henry knew it at once.
The girls started to buy groceries, but Henry gave the boy a friendly smile and said, "I noticed your book. Do you go to college?" "I certainly don't," said the boy loudly. Then he went out of the store and banged the door.
"Hey, what's the matter with him?" asked Henry. He stared after the boy.
"He's looking for trouble, that feller!" said Benny. His voice sounded just like his grandfather's.
Mr. Hall said, "He doesn't have to look for trouble. He's got trouble."
"What trouble?" asked Henry. "He looks so cross at everybody."
"Well, his father won't let him go to school," said Mr. Hall.
"School?" cried Benny. "He wants to go to school, and his father won't let him?"
"That's right," said Mr. Hall.
Benny said, "Didn't that boy go to high school?"
"Oh, yes, he had to go to high school. It's the law. He's very smart, especially in science. He got through high school at sixteen."
"Well," said Henry, "he is smart, then. But he's looking for trouble. It wouldn't hurt him to be polite to a stranger."
"He isn't polite to anybody," said Mr. Hall. "I try to be nice to him, but you see how he acts. He doesn't want friends."
"Now that is too bad," said Benny. "Everyone ought to have friends."
"I guess it isn't hard for you to make friends," said Mr. Hall. He laughed.
"No, it isn't," said Benny. "I'm lucky. We're all lucky."
Henry was quiet. At last he said, "I wish we could do something with that father. A boy like that ought to go to college if he wants to."
"He wants to all right. That's all he thinks about — college — college — and I guess whatever lives in the sea. He's always picking up shells or bits of seaweed. Now I say if any boy wants to learn, let him learn."
"Right," said Benny. "There are lots of boys I know that don't want to learn."
"I don't think you can do anything with his father," Mr. Hall said. "You're not the first people who have tried."
Then the four Aldens thought of the same name — Grandfather. But they did not say it. Grandfather knew how to get things done.
"That boy is another queer character," said Benny. "Two cross people in ten minutes." Benny did not see many cross people.
Then Mr. Alden said, "By the way, Mr. Hall, our dog barked in the night. We feel that someone was prowling about. I thought I'd see the police today."
Mr. Hall shook his head. "No police in this town," he said. "Never had any trouble here."
"No police!" said Mr. Alden. "I never heard of such a thing. Who looks up a mystery?"
"Nobody, I guess. Never had a mystery either."
As the Aldens drove home, they were all thinking.
Grandfather said, "I suppose I could send for John Carter."
"Oh, please don't," cried Benny. "We want to find out for ourselves. No police, no Mr. Carter, no help at all!"
"Very well," said Grandfather with a smile.
"We'll have to solve the mystery, Ben," said Henry.
"Maybe we can do it better than Mr. Carter can," said Benny.
"Oh," said Jessie. "Somebody thinks he's pretty smart, Mr. Benny! But we all know that Mr. Carter is right there. He would come to help us in a minute."
When they reached the lighthouse with the groceries, Jessie said, "I wonder just the same about that black-eyed man and the cross boy. Could one of them have anything to do with our mystery?"
"I don't see how," said Benny. "But you never know. Maybe they are cooking up something or other."
Benny didn't know then how near he was to the truth.
Cement for a Project
Jessie boiled a dozen eggs and a dozen potatoes. She put them in the refrigerator. By noon she had made an enormous potato salad. She had bought rolls and butter and a cherry pie.
"Let's eat lunch out on the rocks," she said. "It's too hot in the lighthouse. You carry the salad, Henry. And, Benny, you carry the cherry pie and the knife."
They found a fine seat for Grandfather that just fitted him. "Really, this is an easy chair," he said, "made out of rocks."
The other seats were not so easy. The rocks were sharp. The table was not very flat either.
"I have an idea," shouted Benny suddenly. "Let's find stones and make five easy chairs. Then build up the table with a flat stone. And then get some cement and fill in the cracks."
"A wonderful idea, Ben," said Henry. "A small bag of cement would be enough. We've got plenty of sand."
"I saw a place where they had cement," said Violet. "Some men were building a driveway."
"Where?" asked Benny.
"Well, don't you remember when we came from Aunt Jane's there was a big new gas station where some men were building a driveway?"
"I remember it," said Mr. Alden. "It was right beside a little fish market."
"Let's go the minute lunch is over," said Benny.
"Lunch is over for me right now," said Mr. Alden. He ate the last of his cherry pie. "The ocean will wash away the crumbs."
Jessie and Henry picked up all the dishes and washed them in the sea. Then Henry backed the car out and they all went down to the little fish market. Sure enough, the men were at work on the driveway. Bags of cement were lying around.
"Where can we buy some cement?" asked Henry, stopping the car. He put his head out of the window.
"How much do you want?" asked the man who was the foreman.
"Well, we want to make some seats and a table down on the rocks by the lighthouse. How much would you think we'd need?"
"Take this small bag," said the foreman. "Bring back what you don't want."
Henry said, "Is it three parts of sand to one part of cement?"
"Right," said the foreman. "You can borrow this hoe if you want."
"That's neat!" cried Benny. "I'll hoe!"
"Wish I could come and help you," said the man, smiling. He looked at the laughing family. They all laughed again. Henry lifted the bag into the car, and Benny took the hoe.
"I'll put the cement on Violet's feet," said Henry. But he was joking.
Then the Aldens noticed that one of the men was staring at them with big, black eyes. It was the same man who had almost bumped into Jessie.
When he saw that they knew him, the man turned his back and began to work again.
After they had driven away, Jessie could not help saying, "That was odd seeing that man again." Everyone agreed.
"Stop at the store, Henry, and buy a trowel," said Grandfather. "You'll have to smooth the cement and carry it to the rocks."
When the Aldens got back to the lighthouse they went to the rocks at once. The only seat which was comfortable already was Mr. Alden's. They walked around trying to find big rocks of the right shape. Benny sat down on every seat he could find to try it. Then the boys began to carry big stones and the girls took the little stones to fill the cracks. At last they had five seats around a fine table.
Henry began to mix the cement. "Not with salt water," he said. "We must have fresh water."
He found a big rock that was shaped like a tub. He mixed the cement in that.
"Now let me hoe it, Henry," begged Benny. "I know just how to do it. I watched the men."
"Don't mix up too much at first," said Jessie. "It will get hard before we finish all the seats."
"Isn't this fun?" cried Benny, hoeing away. "Just like making mud pies. Let's do Violet's seat first. She has such a comfortable looking chair already." So they carried the cement in a newspaper and Benny plastered the seat and smoothed it with the trowel.
"Isn't that wonderful!" said Violet. "I'd love to try it."
"Better not," said Henry. "Let it dry overnight."
Then Jessie and Henry took turns with the trowel, and at last they all helped Benny with his own seat and the table.
Excerpted from "The Boxcar Children The Lighthouse Mystery"
Copyright © 1963 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.
Table of Contents
1 Lighthouse for Sale,
2 Unfriendly Characters,
3 Cement for a Project,
4 A Midnight Visitor,
5 Little House with a Secret,
6 Well Done for Benny,
7 Baked Beans and Chowder,
8 From the South Seas,
9 Who Needs a Friend?,
10 Hints and Plans,
11 A Wild Storm,
12 The Secret Is Out,
13 A Final Surprise,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny used to live alone in a boxcar. Now, they have a home with their grandfather, and are spending the summer renting a lighthouse. While they are there, they meet Mr. Hall, the owner of a grocery store, the Cook family, and Mr. Snow, a boat captain. Every night when the clock strikes midnight their dog Watch barks, they see a strange woman walking across the beach carrying something. The Aldens gather clues-- Larry Cook¿s, an unfriendly 17 year old boy's, peculiar behavior--going out in a boat at late at night, strange cooking in an old cottage, an uncle that collects plankton bags for him, a stubborn Dad who won¿t let Larry go to college. They soon discover that Larry is a genius trying to solve world hunger by making plankton and seaweed into palatable food. His dream is to go to college and achieve this.The Alden¿s solve the mystery, then get him enrolled at Adams¿ College with Henry.
Best best best best
Edge of your seat experience. I loved it!
Read it please! :)
To go to be ture
Kevin THE LIGHTHOUSE MYSTERY BY: GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER MYSTERY GRADE LEVEL - GRADE 4 This is a great page turning mystery! The main characters are the members of the Alden family. There is Grandfather Alden who takes care of all his grandchildren. There is Henry who is about eighteen years old and is the oldest of the grandchildren. There is also Benny who is about nine and the youngest of the Alden¿s. There is also Violet and Jessie who are both about twelve years old. This family has many strange encounters with odd characters. The Alden family was on their way home from their Aunt Jane¿s house when they saw a lighthouse for sale in the city of Conley. This lighthouse is the main setting for the story. Grandfather and the children wanted to buy it. They stopped at a nearby grocery store to ask about the sale at which time they passed a strange man. This man they come across several times in the story. Come to find out, the owner of the grocery store had already bought the lighthouse but he said he would rent it to them for the summer. One night while staying there, Watch, their dog, woke them up in the middle of the night. The Aldens saw a dark shadow walking away from the building next to the lighthouse. This happened at the same time every night for about a week. The Aldens investigated the building to find clues of who the person was and what he or she was doing. They looked inside and saw cooking materials, sacks of seaweed, and a table with little cakes on it but no one was there. One day they went to a nearby clothing store to get swimsuits and asked the lady at the store about the strange man they had seen several times. She told them that he was a rich fisherman but you would never know it. He also had a son that wanted to go to college but he wouldn¿t let him. This is a great book for you if you are looking for a good mystery book. I enjoyed this book and I am sure you will too.