Mystery in the Sand (The Boxcar Children Series #16)

Mystery in the Sand (The Boxcar Children Series #16)


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Living in a seaside mobile home, the Aldens unravel the secret of two secluded women.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807553725
Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date: 01/01/1990
Series: Boxcar Children Series , #16
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 119,779
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile: 520L (what's this?)
Age Range: 7 - 10 Years

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


Sea and Sand

Jessie Alden stood at the door. "Oh, what a beautiful morning!" she said on that hot July day.

"You can say that again, Jessie," added Benny Alden. He looked out at the blue ocean and white sand. There was not a cloud in the sky.

Violet and Henry came to the door and looked out, too. The sea gulls were sailing around a fishing boat, making a great noise.

"This is the funniest thing," said Benny. "Here we are at Aunt Jane and Uncle Andy's new trailer at the beach. A day or so ago we were at home without the least idea of going anywhere at all."

Benny called it a trailer, but it really was a mobile home. The outside was painted Aunt Jane's favorite color, blue, with white trim. Inside there was one bedroom for the two girls. Benny and his brother Henry had a double couch in the living room.

Best of all, the trailer was right on the beach. Behind it was a great space of beach grass. But in front, the Aldens could step down two steps right into the sand.

"Let's eat breakfast on the sand, Jessie," suggested Violet. "It won't be much work if we all carry our own dishes."

"I'm more than willing to carry mine," Benny said. "I'll carry them all if we can eat right away."

Henry laughed. Benny was always hungry — at home, on a trip, in the mountains, at the beach. Benny didn't change.

"Come on, Ben," Henry said. "You and I will fold up this bed into a couch."

"OK," said Benny. "Then our bedroom will look like a living room. Magic!"

In the tiny kitchen, the two girls worked fast, for they were hungry, too.

"Aunt Jane left the things we like best," said Jessie. "I'll cook the bacon and eggs, Violet, and you make the toast."

There were four trays. One was red, one was blue, one was green, and the last was violet. There was no doubt about the tray each of the Aldens would take. Jessie took the blue one, Benny took the red.

"The food is the same on every tray," Violet said. "It makes no difference what color tray."

"Oh, yes, it does, Violet," Benny objected. "I have to have red. And Henry doesn't care."

Henry laughed. He really didn't care. All he wanted was breakfast. Of course he knew that Violet should have the one that was her color.

The four Aldens sat down on the sand and began to eat their first meal at the seashore.

"I don't understand people," Violet said suddenly. She took a bite of bacon. "Everyone on this beach is sleeping. It's the best part of the day. And nobody is awake to enjoy it except us and the fishermen."

It was true. Not a person was on the beach for nearly a mile.

Benny sat cross-legged, drinking milk. He said, "I think we are the luckiest people in the world. Something is always happening to us. Right?"

"Yes," agreed Jessie. "Things seem to happen all of a sudden, so that makes it more exciting. Of course Grandfather Alden thinks up a lot of things for us to do."

"Not this time," replied Benny. "We owe this to Uncle Andy. What a man! He is so restless and always going somewhere. Then he doesn't stay very long. It's lucky Aunt Jane can keep up with him and go whenever he wants to go."

Henry said slowly, "I believe Aunt Jane thought Uncle Andy would be happy to stay here all summer. He loves to go fishing and clamming and sailing. She didn't buy this beautiful mobile home for just two weeks."

"Well, that's Uncle Andy for you," Violet said peacefully. "Just the minute he heard about that special African trip he had to get tickets and go. But it was lucky for us. We can stay here or not, just as we like."

"Just turn the key and go home when we feel like it," Benny agreed. "It's lucky Henry has a car of his own now."

Henry laughed. "Yes, and isn't it good I picked out a car big enough for all of us?"

"That was a fine breakfast," Benny said. "It won't take long to clean up." But nobody moved.

"Look down the beach," said Henry.

Far in the distance, the Aldens saw an old man and a dog. The man was walking very slowly up the beach, with the dog at his side.

"A trained dog, I guess," said Jessie. "He stays right beside his master. I think the old man has a cane." The others thought so, too.

The Aldens might have picked up their trays and gone inside. But they didn't. They sat quietly, watching the old man and the dog. Once the man stopped in front of a large cottage. He seemed to rest on his cane, then to drag it along. The dog sat down near his master and waited.

"I wonder what in the world that man is doing," said Benny. "He's coming along again."

"Just taking a walk, I guess," said Jessie. "Everybody stops to pick up shells and pebbles. That's what the man is probably doing."

As the stranger came closer, the Aldens could see a ring on the end of the cane he carried. A box was fastened to the cane near the top.

Benny began to wonder if the old man was really just out for an early morning walk. Maybe other people were curious about him, too. That might be why he came out like this, early in the morning. How would the man feel about having the Aldens watch him? Benny thought about that.

At last the old man reached the Aldens. "Good day to you!" he said pleasantly. The minute he spoke, the Aldens knew he was an Englishman.

"Good morning," the four Aldens replied together.

"Is your dog friendly?" asked Benny.

"Oh, yes, don't be afraid of him. He's just big, that's all," the man answered.

Henry and Benny both got to their feet.

"Hi, feller!" said Benny, holding out a finger. The dog licked Benny's finger and then sniffed at his tray.

"Too bad," Benny said. "The bacon's all gone, boy."

Jessie looked at the stranger very carefully. She liked him at once. He had kind eyes. His wrinkles were made by smiling. He was very brown from the sun. Jessie felt as if she had always known him.

The man looked back at Jessie and said, "I came by this trailer yesterday, and I thought a man and woman lived here. Now it seems to be four young people."

Benny couldn't help thinking to himself that this man knew everything that happened on the beach.

"You are right," Jessie told him. "That was Aunt Jane and Uncle Andy Bean. This is their new mobile home. But they have gone on a trip, and we can stay here until they come back. It was a surprise to us, but that's the way we like it."

"Well, you will find this to be a beautiful beach," said the old gentleman. "My name is Daniel Lee. I walk up the beach every morning before anyone is awake. That makes a two-mile hike. It is the best part of the day."

"That's exactly what we just said," Benny exclaimed. "We said people were funny. They sleep through the best part of the day. You see, we are the only people awake on the beach, except for you and your dog."

Henry said, "I'm Henry Alden. And the one who is talking is Benny. And these are our sisters, Jessie and Violet Alden."

"Alden? Alden?" murmured their visitor. "Haven't I heard that name? It sounds familiar. A fine manufacturer of plastics?"

"That's our grandfather," Jessie said.

"Good," nodded Mr. Lee. "I hope that you will have a pleasant time in your trailer. And good day to you!"

He went off at once, with the big dog at his side.

Benny thought, "No one could do that man any harm as long as his dog is with him."

The Aldens watched Mr. Lee as he seemed to rest on his cane and then drag it over the sand.

"I never saw a cane like that, did you, Henry?" Benny asked.

"Mr. Lee doesn't really use it to help him as he walks," Violet said. "What can it be?"

"I don't know," replied Henry. "There's your mystery for our first morning, Ben."

"All right," Benny said with a laugh. "I'll find out what it is. You just wait!"

Jessie asked, "How will you do that?"

"I'll ask him," Benny replied simply. "That's the way to find out what you want to know. Go to headquarters. That's what Grandfather does."

Henry laughed. He said, "You are more like Grandfather Alden every day, Ben. I only hope Mr. Lee will answer your question, because we all want to know."


Benny Hunts for Treasure

At last Jessie said, "Let's do the dishes and go for a swim."

Violet stood up on the sand and took her tray. She said, "You know, I can't seem to forget Mr. Lee. He seems so interesting. And he comes past here every day with his dog, he says. We'll see a lot of him. Henry, what do you think he had in his hand? I saw a dial with a pointer. It was part of the box fastened near the top of the handle."

Benny had an idea. "Is it some sort of Geiger counter?" he asked.

"No," said Henry decidedly. "Don't you remember the man at the uranium mine out at Aunt Jane's ranch? He was looking for uranium with a Geiger counter. There isn't any uranium on the beach, that's sure. This was something quite different."

Benny said, "I'll just have to ask Mr. Lee."

The Aldens all went in with their trays.

"Don't we have to go grocery shopping, Jessie?" Violet asked as she dried the spoons.

"Yes, we do," agreed Jessie. "I have looked through the refrigerator and shelves. There are one or two things we need. Milk for one thing. Ours is almost gone."

"We can't go swimming too soon after eating, anyway," Benny said. "We can do our shopping in town and then swim when we get back. It's only a quarter of a mile to town."

"It's early for an adventure in town," Henry said. But he was ready to go, too.

The Aldens put on sandals and locked the door. There stood Henry's blue car. They all climbed in, and off they went.

They did not really need the car. Beachwood was very small, and there was just one long street. Henry drove slowly along Main Street. First came the stores, then houses began to appear on both sides. There was one big brick house with three stories and a few new houses, each with only one story.

Nothing seemed unusual until Benny said, "Oh, look at that house. It is almost a castle."

"Isn't it huge!" said Jessie. "It looks empty to me. There are no curtains in the windows at the front, even in the towers."

Henry slowed down. He said, "I wonder who built a house like that in this small town? It must have looked old-fashioned even when it was new."

Benny said, "It must have been somebody with a lot of money. Look at those towers! One, two, three, four, five towers. Nobody would buy a house like that nowadays."

"It has a sad look," Violet said. "All the new little houses look so different — like any village houses."

Henry drove very slowly down the whole of Main Street and back again. The Tower House, as all the Aldens called it, was the only house of its kind in town. There was the library, the schoolhouse, the drugstore, the fire station, and the town hall. But even the town hall was smaller than the house with the towers.

"I wonder if there are stories about that house?" Benny said as he looked back at it. "I should think the people of Beachwood would make up stories about it. I could myself. Couldn't you, Violet?"

"Yes, I could," agreed Violet, smiling. "It would be about a fairy princess held prisoner in one of the towers until she grew to be an old woman."

"We'd better keep our ears open, anyway," Benny said. "I'm sure there is something mysterious about that place."

"Let's do our shopping," Jessie suggested.

"I'm ready for a swim," Henry added.

At the supermarket, the girls bought bread, milk, bacon, hamburger, frankfurters, and a big box of dry mashed potatoes. When Henry started to pay for the groceries, he was surprised to find a small box of tea and a jar of dry coffee.

Jessie explained, "I thought we might have company sometime who might like tea or coffee. It's good to have some for times like that."

Violet, Benny, and Henry knew Jessie was thinking of the old gentleman, Mr. Lee. But they didn't say so to Jessie.

Henry drove back to the beach. The groceries were soon put away.

By the time the Aldens stepped down onto the sand, the beach was full of people. They could see different colors of swimsuits far up and down the beach. Some people were in the water and some were lying on the beach to get a tan. Children were screaming just for the fun of it.

The Aldens joined the swimmers and spent the rest of the morning in the cool salt water.

That evening, Benny thought about walking over toward Beachwood. Would there be any lights in the old house with the five towers? Maybe he was trying too hard to find a mystery.

The next morning, early, Benny found someone had set up a chair on the beach. He smiled when he found a tray all set with a teacup, a few strips of bread and butter on a small plate, and a fat black teapot. Already, it seemed, Mr. Lee was part of the beach family.

The Aldens waited. They were not disappointed. As they finished breakfast on the sand, they saw Mr. Lee and his dog coming up the beach. Jessie ran into the kitchen to set the water boiling on the stove. She waited, however, to see whether Mr. Lee wanted tea or coffee.

As the old gentleman reached the Aldens, he saw the chair and smiled. "I wonder if this is for me?" he asked, sitting down and looking at the family.

"Yes, it is," said Benny. "I suppose you have had breakfast?"

"Yes, I eat very early," Mr. Lee replied. "I don't sleep too well."

Jessie called from the door, "Could you drink another cup of tea or coffee?"

"Yes, indeed. Tea, please. An Englishman can always drink a cup of hot tea."

Jessie noticed the word "hot" so she made sure that the little teapot was hot before she poured in the boiling water. She carried the tray to the beach.

She said, "I read somewhere that the English like milk instead of cream in their tea."

"That is correct, young lady," said Mr. Lee. He drank the hot tea and ate all the bread and butter.

Benny watched him as he poured a second cup of tea. Benny wanted to ask Mr. Lee about the cane he carried. And Mr. Lee might know something about the Tower House, too. It was hard to know what to ask about first, and Benny wanted to be polite, too.

He said, "I can't understand why anyone likes tea. It tastes so awful. And will you tell us — is your cane some kind of Geiger counter?"

Mr. Lee didn't seem surprised at the question. "No," he replied. "It is a metal-finder, which is quite different. Some people call it a treasure-finder, and that may be true. And now I will tell you a secret, although no one else knows it. But first I must tell you that hundreds of people come here in the summer. Some are rich and some are not, and I'm sorry to say a good many are not very careful."

"About water safety?" asked Violet.

Mr. Lee smiled. "No, they are careful about that. But someone has a watch or piece of jewelry. Before swimming, he takes it off and leaves it on the beach."

"I begin to see," said Jessie, nodding.

"I'm sure you do. But just the same, it is surprising how many things are lost on the beach. The metal-finder gives you a buzz when it locates any metal object. When I hear that, I know there is something made of metal buried in the sand. My dog begins to dig. He does the hard work for me, and he knows when to stop. When the signal becomes loud enough, I dig with my fingers or a small tool."

"Do you find many things?" asked Violet.

"Oh, yes. Last year I made quite a tidy sum of money. Of course I always ask people if they have lost anything. If it is something of value, I ask them to tell what it looks like. See that big cottage down the beach? I found a diamond ring once in front of that house. I was able to give it back to a pretty young woman who'd lost it."

"I should think people would be grateful to you," Jessie said.

"Yes, they are. Some want to give me a reward, but I never take one. If I cannot find the owner, I keep the find."

Benny asked, "Do you do this for a living?"

"Ben!" interrupted Henry. "Don't ask that. That is none of our business."

Mr. Lee laughed. "I don't mind telling Benny. I think I could make a living this way, but I don't. This just gives me something to do. I am too old to go on with my regular work."

No one asked Mr. Lee what his regular work had been. He drank the last of the tea and said, "I brought down a bracelet to show you. I found it just last week. I have cleaned off the sand." He took it out of his pocket and handed it to Jessie.

She said, "I don't know much about jewelry, but this looks like a good bracelet to me."

"It's beautiful," Violet said.

"It is," Mr. Lee agreed. "I should say it is worth quite a bit. So far I can't find the owner. You see, people come to this beach from faraway places. They stay for a few days or a week, or sometimes just for a day. It is very hard to trace them."

Benny suddenly remembered something he had heard Uncle Andy say. He winked at Mr. Lee and said, "You do your best. And that's all an old horse can do. Uncle Andy says his grandfather said that."

Mr. Lee laughed. "Thank you, Benny," he said. "Now would you like to try the metal-finder?"

"Would I?" exclaimed Benny. "I might find a watch."

"So you might," agreed Mr. Lee. "And you might find nothing. Just drag the circle on the end of the rod over the sand. Slowly, slowly!"

Benny took the handle. Here was an adventure coming right to him.

Mr. Lee stepped out of the way.

"Don't get too excited, Ben," said Henry.

"I'm not excited at all," said Benny. "See how cool I am?"

There was a small green box on the handle of the rod. It had a clock face with a needle that trembled. It also made a buzzing sound.

The big dog stood up. He didn't understand why a strange boy was using his master's rod.

"It's all right, Richard," Mr. Lee said to the dog. "Lie down again. This boy will do your digging."

"Richard?" repeated Henry, laughing. "The dog's name is Richard?"


Excerpted from "Mystery in the Sand"
by .
Copyright © 1971 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 Sea and Sand,
2 Benny Hunts for Treasure,
3 Midnight Mystery,
4 Are Finders Keepers?,
5 A Hundred Cats!,
6 Benny to the Rescue,
7 Violet's Adventure,
8 An Invitation,
9 Answers at Last,
10 New Trick for an Old Dog,

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Mystery in the Sand (The Boxcar Children Series #16) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I havent read all the book yet all i have is the sample so far it is really intresting makes me want to read more
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This does not deserve 1 star but it does not deserve 5 stars,either.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is very funny
Guest More than 1 year ago