There's a new addition to the island of Crampton Rock. His name is MacDowell (yup, just one name) and he claims to have had some amazing pirate adventures with Admiral Swift, the great uncle of Stanley Buggles.Stanley is eager to know more about this MacDowell. Could this man help him uncover the secret of the Smuggler's map? Can he be trusted? Or once a pirate always a pirate?
About the Author
Chris Mould went to art school at the age of sixteen. During this time, he did various jobs, from delivering papers to washing up and cooking in a kitchen. He has won the Nottingham Children's Book Award and been commended for the Sheffield. He loves his work and likes to write and draw the kind of books that he would have liked to have on his shelf as a boy. He is married with two children and lives in Yorkshire.
Winner of the Nottingham Children’s Book Award, CHRIS MOULD began studying art at the age of sixteen. He currently has over twenty books in print between the U.S. and the U.K., where he lives. His books include The Wooden Mile and The Icy Hand.
Read an Excerpt
An Old Flame
Night was drawing in on the island of Crampton Rock. The fishermen had finished work for the day and the harbor was emptying slowly. But some stranger's boat was approaching in the lost light. An oil lamp hung off the bow and the small yellow glow spread itself across the rippling water ahead.
A frail, hunched man in ragged clothes readied himself as the boat careened up to the harbor. He threw a length of wizened rope onto the nearest post and pulled himself in.
Turning to his passenger, he gestured at Candlestick Hall with a long, bony finger. "That's it, sir. That's the old place. I heard it's a young lad that lives there now. Stanley Buggles. Inherited it from his great-uncle."
"That don't sound right," the passenger said gruffly. "I ain't looking for no young lad. Still, it's late. Better take a look."
"Are yer sure, sir? Strange place, this island. Ain't nowhere that's safe to be out and about in the dark, that's for sure."
"Ahh, not to worry. It'll take more than a black night to frighten old MacDowell."
The passenger gathered his things and made his way toward the Hall. Darkness had blotted out Crampton Rock and now only the street lamps showed the village.
A large pair of feet arrived on the steps of Candlestick Hall and a skinny hand reached out for the door knocker. BANG, BANG, BANG.
Stanley's heart picked up its pace and fluttered anxiously when he heard the knock at the front door. He did not like night-time visitors. They reminded him of sinister arrivals in the past. Pirates were the scourge of the Rock, and Stanley had had his fill of them. And then there were the Darklings, the strange family from the village who had recently tried to lay claim to his house, insisting that it was rightfully theirs. Edmund Darkling had plotted to be rid of young Stanley, and he was now awaiting trial for attempted murder.
His trusty housekeeper, Mrs. Carelli, clomped across the floorboards, and her husband Victor poked an inquisitive head around the door and peered into the hallway. Both were fiercely loyal to Stanley and would not allow anyone or anything to put him at risk.
"Who on earth could that be at this hour?" Victor said and raised an eyebrow.
Stanley crept up behind Mrs. Carelli and prepared himself. His best punch was curled up neatly behind his back, and he was ready to leap in front of her.
The familiar creak of the door announced its opening.
"Aah, good evening there madam, young sir. My name is MacDowell and I be lookin' for a good friend o' mine. Goes by the name o' Bartholomew Swift. I had a feelin' I was in the right place but something tells me I've taken a wrong turn."
The newcomer was ragged and thin, and wore a tattered patch over his left eye. A broad hat sat on trails of greasy unkempt hair, and a spiky chin of gray tufts showed that he hadn't shaved for a while. A large gold earring hung from one lobe. He carried a modest bag of belongings over his shoulder and wore a droopy-eyed expression.
A shocked silence fell upon Stanley and Mrs. Carelli, and Victor meandered slowly across the hallway to stand beside them. They all knew that any old friend of Stanley's great-uncle, Admiral Swift, would be either a naval man or a buccaneer. And by the look of him it was more than likely that he had a skull and crossbones tattooed somewhere on his loose-limbed body.
Stanley peered down. Stripy leggings were wrapped around a pair of bony legs, and a pair of huge, buckled shoes stuck out awkwardly at the ends.
"Ah, not to worry. I 'ad a feelin' I was in the wrong place. Doesn't matter. I apologize for disturbin' yer evening."
The man began to wander down the path. The three looked at one another and hesitated. They knew nothing of this odd-looking stranger. What if he was a genuine good friend of Stanley's Great-Uncle Bart, the man who had died and left Stanley his every possession?
Could they really turn him away?
"Stop!" cried Stanley.
"Stanley, no. Yer can't. We don't know him," urged Mrs. Carelli in a whisper that was so loud it could have woken the dead admiral.
MacDowell stopped and turned.
"Wait," called Stanley. "You haven't given us a chance to explain. Bring your things and come inside. If nothing else, you need an explanation and a room for the night."
"'Are yer sure now? An old stranger like me? I could be anyone!"
"Come on," urged Stanley again.
"Don't make me regret this, Stanley," continued Mrs. Carelli in his ear.
"Come and sit by the fire," Victor said. "We have much to tell you."
The stranger shuffled into the house and they sat, all four of them, around the burning logs. They explained the dreadful circumstances of Admiral Swift's death at the curse of the werewolf, and how it had led to Stanley inheriting the old place, with Mr. and Mrs. Carelli continuing their work there.
MacDowell held his face in his hands. "Me old mate Swifty. We drank a thousand bottles together. We dug and buried a hundred chests on as many islands and sailed the seven seas in search of many more. All for nothin'. Killed by a werewolf! I seen a lot o' things in me time but I ain't never 'eard o' nothin' so sinister as that. This place must be cursed." A single tear ran from the corner of one lonely eye.
"It's cursed all right," said Stanley, handing him a handkerchief.
"Well, blisterin' coconuts, if ever a piece o' news knocked the wind out o' me sails it's this."
"What is your name?" asked Mrs. Carelli.
"MacDowell, ma'am. I already told yer!"
"No, I mean your first name."
"So what is your last name?"
"So your full name is MacDowell MacDowell?"
"No ma'am, just MacDowell, though some folks call me Dead-Eye MacDowell. Yer know, due to the patch. Lost me left goggle in a fight, I did. Very painful."
"That must have been some mean old buccaneer you fought that took out an eye," said Mrs. Carelli.
"Weren't no buccaneer, ma'am. T'was a bear!"
"A bear?" they cried out all at once.
"Aye, lad," said MacDowell, turning to Stanley and looking close with one eye. "Seven feet tall and hairy as a mammoth. Didn't like me diggin' a hole near his patch in the woods and clawed me badly. It was yer Great-Uncle Bart that saved me that time. Blasted it to the other side o' the woods with his old musket."
Stanley sat with his mouth open and wide eyes staring. And as they listened to all the old tales of MacDowell and Swift, it grew late into the night and the fire was on its last legs.
Mr. and Mrs. Carelli sat snoozing in their chairs, but old MacDowell was still going strong, a bottle of whiskey clutched in his hand and a tall tale reeling away. Stanley listened in fascination and wonder, but he felt his eyelids dropping.
"Perhaps I should show you to your room now, sir," he murmured.
"Aye, lad. That'd be just fine. I'm in need of a good night's sleep. Thank yer very much."
Stanley led him upstairs and MacDowell closed the door on his host, bidding him goodnight. When he had sat a moment on the bed and taken a good look at his room, he looked into the mirror. He scratched at his whiskery chin and fell on to the bed in a fit of whiskey-fueled snoring.
Retrieving the Map
An ancient silver casket sat in damp darkness. No chink of daylight shone upon its delicately crafted surface or picked out the colors that came upon it in the sun.
Stanley Buggles's grubby hands reached in and held the silver casket around its belly, retrieving it for one short moment. A moment that was long enough for him to take out the ancient map that lay inside.
This was the very map that he and Daisy had discovered was a plan of Crampton Rock, the island they were on.
Daisy Grouse was Stanley's closest friend. The niece of the lighthouse keeper, she lived a stone's throw from Stanley when she was visiting her uncle, which seemed to be most of the time. Together they had seen the worst of pirate life, and right now they had business to attend to.
The old map that lay in their possession had an "X marks the spot" that was aching to be discovered. They had found the whereabouts of the cross on the map. But frustratingly, its center lay in the Darkling house, down in the village.
They had checked and double-checked, but each time they came back to the very same spot: the spooky, ramshackle old hut that Edmund Darkling had made his family home.
"Daisy, I've made a decision," announced Stanley.
Daisy looked at him expectantly.
"Well then ...!" she prompted. "'What is it? Are you going to cut your hair?" She laughed.
He ignored her sense of humor. "We have to get into the cellar of the old Darkling place. We can go during the day because the Darklings sleep for most of it, we know that. As long as we aren't seen by the villagers, we can have a snoop around."
"Stanley, we've been in enough trouble lately," Daisy pointed out.
"I know, but this whole treasure-seeking thing will grind to a halt unless we can get inside there. It must be under the floor," he persisted.
Daisy had to concede the point. Unless they found their way into the house, they would never get any further!
"Don't think of it as breaking into the house, Daisy. Think of it as taking a shortcut to where we're going," Stanley chirped, a big smile on his face.
"Oh, yes. Very good, Stanley. I'll tell that to the court!" Daisy quipped.
They set off to the village, map in hand, arguing as they went.
Stanley reflected briefly on his previous actions. He had been forced to break into the Darkling home to retrieve vital evidence, something that had landed him in serious trouble. He knew that his good intentions caused him to go astray at times, and that he must be careful not to get too carried away.
And as they walked, a curtain twitched in a nearby window and an eye appeared through the netting. It watched them as they went, observing until they were out of sight.
Seeking an Ally
Daisy looked around, making sure no one was watching them. Stanley's feet disappeared through the coalbin entrance as he slid headlong into the basement of the Darkling home. Daisy followed, pulling the door closed on its loose hinges.
Fortunately, the entrance to the cellar through the coalbin was at the back of the house, and it was not visible to the people steadily flowing in the village.
Inside, the warmth of the sun disappeared and was replaced by a musty, damp cold. Only shafts of light pointed the way. The floor was empty and the walls were covered with poorly mounted shelving, home to bits of this and that.
"Nothing in here, Stanley," whispered Daisy.
"It's below ground that matters, Daisy. That map is old, very old. Older than this building, for sure. What's here, if anything, is below us!" answered Stanley, forgetting where he was and raising his voice in excitement.
"Shhh!" urged Daisy. "They'll hear us!"
They felt the floor. It was wet and hard, with huge stone slabs laid from wall to wall. Too heavy to lift, thought Stanley, for either him or Daisy, or for that matter, both of them together.
A click, click, clicking sound came from above. And then a sniff, sniff, sniff. Then more clicking. Movement of some kind. They both froze, then Daisy realized what it was.
"It's the dog," she breathed, wringing her hands. "It's Steadman, the Darkling dog."
And no sooner had she said it than Steadman began to bark. Louder and louder and furiously leaping about in the room above, until the whole house was awake.
Luckily his noise disguised Stanley and Daisy's scrambling as they wheedled their way back outside into daylight, scurrying away like little beetles from under a stone.
They headed into the village and tried to mingle with the crowd.
But they had been seen. Young Berkeley, one of the Darkling twins, had observed that they were up to no good.
As far as the treasure seekers knew, they had not been spotted. They headed back to the Hall to discuss further plans.
"We can't move those slabs, Daisy. But I have an idea. We can break them up."
"Oh great, Stanley. Another good idea. You're not going to stop at breaking and entering. You're going to smash the place up now. And I guess you'll be doing that without making any noise, will you?" she asked, with her arms held aloft. "We need help," she insisted. "But who in their right mind would join us in a treasure hunt through someone else's basement? We need someone trustworthy but with a hint of mischief about them, and a glint of piracy in their eye. Ah, if only Admiral Swift was still here!" she sighed.
Stanley's expression changed, from a glum, forlorn sulk into a wide-eyed, villainous grin.
"Daisy, you're a genius. Well done!" he laughed. He kissed her on the cheek and began dancing along the cobblestones until he was so dizzy he fell flat on his face.
"What's the matter with you?" Daisy asked, wiping the wet from her face.
"You need to come and meet someone," insisted Stanley, nursing a bashed elbow. He grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her along at a fast pace.
When they reached the Hall, MacDowell was lying out in the sun with a huge hat pulled over his face. Daisy stared at the long loose shape in front of her. She had never seen such a gnarled old man in all her time on the Rock. His hat was wider than his shoulders and his holey tights were wrapped around the most ridiculous pair of legs she had ever seen. His huge buckled shoes pointed up to the sun and revealed a hole in each sole.
"Meet MacDowell," said Stanley. "A dear old friend of Admiral Swift's."
"Oh ... er, pleased to meet you, sir," said Daisy, performing a limp handshake with MacDowell's craggy, dried-up palm. As his hand closed around hers, Daisy realized that his frail figure belied his real strength.
"Well, tickle me timbers," MacDowell started. "If ever I saw I a pretty little face well there it is, right in front o' me. Pleased to meet yer, Miss Daisy."
Daisy rolled her eyes at Stanley. She hated nothing more than someone telling her she was pretty.
Stanley was eager to know more about MacDowell and his adventures with Admiral Swift, before he and Daisy unfolded their plan.
MacDowell had no idea, but he was about to be interviewed for the best job on Crampton Rock.
"Tell me more about how you met my great-uncle," said Stanley.
"Well, Stanley," MacDowell began, "I am an inventor by trade. A poor one, yes, I admit. But that doesn't stop me from makin' the effort. At one time I traveled the seas in an old fishing boat, selling my wares at every port I could find and scratchin' a meager living. I came across your great-uncle when he was down on his luck as well, fresh out o' the navy, injured and without a penny to his name. We were in the same destitute position. It wouldn't have started if we 'adn't been desperate."
"What wouldn't have started?" asked Stanley.
"Oh ... the pirate thing. It were unintentional. We watched a boat leaving shore and we'd noticed a few well-to-do types climbing aboard. Yer know, Stanley, fancy folk wi' money in their pockets and gold about their necks.
"I had agreed to give yer Great-Uncle Bart a lift on me boat and we got caught in a storm. In the thick of it, another boat came into view."
"The rich people's boat," predicted Daisy.
"Aye, lass, the very same," MacDowell replied with a sigh. "We helped their boat through the worst of it, but we claimed everything they had in return. It was a dreadful business, Stanley. It should not have happened, but it did. And it carried on."
"You're not a man to be trusted then?" suggested Stanley.
"I wasn't then," he admitted, giving another, deeper, sigh. "And neither was yer old great-uncle. But those days are behind me now. I only wish me old mate was 'ere to enjoy the quiet life with." He finished speaking, closed his eyes, and soaked up the sun.
Stanley stepped aside to whisper to Daisy. He had decided he liked MacDowell. There was something brutally honest about him: he wasn't trying to hide his past and there wasn't an ounce of threat to him.
"He's just a whiskey-guzzling old buccaneer who's grown tired of the sea and his pirate ways, much as Great-Uncle Bart did." Stanley explained to Daisy.
"Mmmm, I'm not sure. I don't see why we should trust him. He looks like a villain, and he's as sly as an old fox."
Stanley was not always such a great listener. If he listened to anyone, it was Daisy, but he had an awful habit of ignoring what he didn't want to hear.
He decided that Daisy had made a decision based on how MacDowell looked, and that annoyed him. But he'd keep the peace for now.
The following afternoon, Stanley found out that he and old MacDowell had something in common: they both had the ability to sleep for most of the day. They bumped into each other at breakfast, which, as Mrs. Carelli rightly pointed out, was not normally at three o'clock in the afternoon.
They sat together at the kitchen table, locked in conversation and getting along famously. MacDowell was intrigued by Crampton Rock, and full of questions for Stanley.
"Tell me one thing, lad. Somethin' is troubling me," began MacDowell.
"Fire away," said Stanley.
Excerpted from "The Smugglers' Mine"
Copyright © 2008 Chris Mould.
Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
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 - An Old Flame,
2 - Retrieving the Map,
3 - Seeking an Ally,
4 - Just Desserts,
5 - The Greatest Secret,
6 - Desperate Measures,
7 - Complications,
8 - The Littlest Pirate,
9 - Desperation,
10 - The Lupine Link,
11 - Extending the Alliance,
12 - The Turn-coat,