The Khipu and the Final Key

The Khipu and the Final Key

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807506820
Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date: 10/01/2017
Series: Boxcar Children Great Adventure Series , #5
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 249,868
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
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

CHAPTER 1

The City of Fair Winds

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny sat in their hotel room and stared at a small glass jar. The label on the jar read dulce de leche, and the syrupy substance inside had the thickness and color of caramel. The hotel clock read almost midnight where they were in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was very late for the four of them, especially six-year-old Benny, who let out a big yawn. Normally they would all be in bed, but a recent discovery kept them all awake.

"I can't believe Mr. Ganert is a spy," said Violet, who was eight years old. "Just think. Our pilot! He's traveled to every stop with us and has been telling the Argents our every move. No wonder Anna Argent was able to find us."

"At least it was Mr. Ganert and not Emilio," said Benny, thinking of the second of their two pilots. "I like Emilio's jokes. If he was the spy, we wouldn't get to hear any more of them."

Henry, who was fourteen years old and the oldest, agreed.

"We should call Trudy," he said. "Jessie, will you get your laptop and see if you can reach her on Skype? Do you think she's awake?"

Jessie nodded and unzipped her backpack. She was twelve years old, and she was the best among her siblings at using the laptop. Her skills had come in handy many times during their recent worldwide travels.

"Hmm, let's see," Jessie said. "If it's midnight here, it'll be six o'clock in the morning in Connecticut. We might wake her up, but I think this is important."

Jessie opened Skype and clicked on Trudy Silverton's name. She crossed her fingers and clicked the green button to start the call.

"Let's just hope Trudy has some good advice," Jessie said. "We only have one artifact left, and we're not going to let Mr. Ganert get in the way of returning it."

Violet glanced at the hotel dresser. Sitting on top was a small, plastic box. It was safely locked, just like the other five had been. If the previous boxes were any clue, the last box would hold a precious artifact that had been lost. The Aldens had been sent by Trudy Silverton to return the boxes. She worked for a secret organization called the Reddimus Society — which made sense, because reddimus was Latin for "we return." So far, the Aldens had successfully returned six other artifacts. They had only one left, and the Aldens were determined to finish their task, even if one of their pilots was a spy.

"Hello, Jessie! Hello, Henry, Violet, and Benny!" Trudy's cheerful voice was a welcome sound. The Aldens gathered around Jessie's laptop so they could all see her and wave hello. It was very early in the morning where Trudy was, and her purple hair was a little disheveled. She was still in her pajamas.

"Good morning!" Jessie said. "We're so glad you're awake. We have something important to tell you."

Even though Trudy looked tired, she seemed to be lively and alert.

"Do you?" she asked. "Very interesting. I wonder if it's related to the important thing I have to tell all of you. Why don't you go first."

Henry lowered his voice even though Mr. Ganert wasn't anywhere nearby.

"You remember back in Thailand when we found out one of our pilots was telling the Argents about our travels?" Henry asked.

"Yes, you were all very clever!" replied Trudy.

"We were clever again," Jessie said. "We found out which one of the pilots is the spy. Henry came up with a great plan while we were flying back to New Zealand from Antarctica. We —"

"It's Mr. Ganert!" Benny blurted. "Mr. Ganert's the spy!"

"I guess the explanation will have to be a story for another day." Henry chuckled.

"That's great!" Trudy said. Then she tilted her head. "Well, it's not great that he's a spy, but it's great that you figured it out. Now we know he can't be trusted."

"And it helps Tricia too, right?" Jessie asked. The children had recently learned that there was an investigation going on into thefts around the world. Because Tricia had been seen in the areas of thefts in Kenya, Italy, and Japan, the investigators thought she might be secretly working with the Argents. But now the Aldens could prove otherwise.

"Yes, I will let Agent Carter know," Trudy said. "We now have evidence showing it's Mr. Ganert who is working for the Argents, not Tricia. Tricia will be so relieved to hear the news, if I can ever get ahold of her."

"What are we going to do about Mr. Ganert?" Jessie asked. "Can you send another pilot to take his place? If he stays as our pilot, he could make trouble for us when we try to return the last box."

Trudy shook her head.

"I'm sorry. I can't. That brings me to the thing I have to tell all of you. I received a message last night about the final artifact. According to the message, it's important that the seventh artifact is delivered quickly and to the right place. Even if he is a spy, Mr. Ganert is the best pilot Reddimus has. That's why we sent him with you ... So unfortunately, we don't have time to find another pilot as skilled as he is."

"Can we fly with one pilot?" Jessie asked.

"I'm afraid you'll need two pilots to make a trip of any real distance."

Henry sighed in frustration. "In order to return the box, we have to fly with a pilot who's trying to steal it! This won't be easy."

"No, it won't," Trudy agreed. "But you have outsmarted Mr. Ganert and Anna Argent up until now, and you didn't even know there was a spy traveling with you. I know you will be able to outsmart him one last time."

"He might be extra grumpy because this will be his last chance to steal a Reddimus artifact," Henry said. "What if he tries something desperate?" "Desperate people make more mistakes than patient ones," Trudy said. "Remember that and focus on yourselves. Take your time making good decisions. If you do, I'm sure you will have the last artifact returned in no time, and then we will deal with Mr. Ganert."

They said their good-byes, and Jessie closed the laptop with a big yawn.

"We had better get some rest," she said.

"Yes," said Henry. "Tomorrow will be another big day."

"I hope we find out our next destination soon," Violet added. Jessie's sleepiness was contagious, and Violet yawned too.

Benny would have agreed, but he had already fallen asleep.

The next morning, the Aldens got ready for a day of travel. They had been traveling for so long that it had become habit to expect a plane ride on the Reddimus jet.

Benny was ready first, and he inspected the jar of dulce de leche while he waited for his brother and sisters. The liquid in the jar was thick like honey. It reminded Benny of the topping on Mrs. McGregor's caramel apple pie. His stomach growled.

"Jessie, can I please try some of the dulce de leche?" he asked. "The jar wasn't in the Reddimus box, so it's not the artifact we have to return. It should be okay to taste just a little bit, right?" Jessie laughed. "You're right. The jar is probably a treat for us to try. But I don't want you to eat too much. It will spoil your appetite."

The lid was on tight, so Jessie helped Benny open it. They didn't have any spoons in the hotel room, so Benny just used his finger. The topping inside was thick enough to spread, but drippy enough that Benny had to put his finger in his mouth quickly to keep from making a mess. The dulce de leche was sweet and sticky, with a flavor like caramel and butterscotch.

"You know, this jar is probably our next clue," Jessie remarked. Henry and Violet were ready to go now too, and all four of them took turns tasting the delicious topping. "Aside from the tag that says 'Fair Winds,' we don't know anything else about it."

"Since it's a food, maybe we should ask a chef," Violet suggested. "Someone who knows a lot about food might be able to tell us something that will help us."

Henry thumbed his chin and nodded. "The hotel restaurant was pretty nice. I'll bet the chefs there know about this sort of thing. Let's start there. We could use some breakfast anyway!" The Aldens left their room and went down to the hotel restaurant. The night before, the restaurant was where they had figured out which of their pilots was the spy. Now the restaurant had a more relaxed feel, with bright windows and quiet hotel visitors having their morning coffee. The Aldens got a table and ordered the New Zealander's breakfast that was pictured on the menu.

"Cereal and toast with juice!" Benny said. "Just like breakfast back home. We should let Mrs. McGregor and Grandfather know we've been eating like people from New Zealand this whole time!" After breakfast, Henry asked the waiter if they could speak with a chef, and soon someone came out of the kitchen. He was a lean man with dark hair and a well-groomed mustache.

"Good morning! Is there a problem?" The man spoke with a Spanish accent.

"Oh no, not at all. The food is very good," Henry assured him. "We were just wondering if we could ask you some questions. We're trying to solve a riddle. Can you tell us anything about dulce de leche?"

Benny, who had been holding the jar, showed it to the chef. The chef looked over the jar with a twinkle in his eye.

"There is a lot to tell about dulce de leche," he said. "I'm not sure where to start. It's a dessert topping first used in my home country, Argentina. The name means 'candy of milk.' It's very popular! In fact, I'm using it for a dessert on our menu right now."

"Argentina?" asked Jessie.

"Dessert?" added Benny.

"Oh yes! My family is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I came here to study cooking. Ah, this dulce de leche is a brand I remember from back home. It makes me miss being there."

"Argentina. That's in South America," said Violet.

"It's also the last continent we haven't visited," said Henry. "It makes sense that it would be our last destination."

"You need to figure out your destination using this treat as a clue?" asked the chef. Now that he understood, he looked at the jar more closely.

"Yes, this was our only clue," said Henry. "Argentina is a great start. But still, it's a big country. We don't know where in Argentina we need to go."

"Ah, what's this?" asked the chef. He had noticed the little tag on the jar. "'Fair winds.' Oh, my heart. It really does remind me of home!"

"You know what that means?" asked Benny.

The chef smiled widely.

"Of course! In Spanish, Buenos Aires means 'fair winds.' Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina. If I could send you one place in the country, that is the place I would send you. It's a lively, beautiful place."

The news was the best way to start the day. The Aldens exchanged glances of excitement and relief.

"You know what this means?" Henry asked.

"Buenos Aires!" Benny exclaimed. "We're going to Buenos Aires!"

CHAPTER 2

An Unexpected Arrival

The Aldens finished breakfast and took a shuttle to the airport, where they met Emilio and Mr. Ganert. The Reddimus jet was sleek and shiny, parked on a private runway. It gleamed in the morning sun.

"The jet must have gotten a bath while we were in Antarctica! It's so shimmery!" Violet said.

Both of the pilots were waiting on board. They stood at attention and listened eagerly as the Aldens revealed that their next destination was Buenos Aires.

"Great news!" said Emilio. "We were worried when the clue turned up and we didn't hear from you about the next stop."

Mr. Ganert was more grumpy than usual. Normally he said one or two things when they announced their next journey, but today he didn't say a single word. Once he knew where they were going, he disappeared into the cockpit.

"He's been in a foul mood all morning," Emilio said when Mr. Ganert was gone. "I don't know what's gotten into him."

The jet rumbled to life as Mr. Ganert started up the engines. Henry glanced toward the cockpit door, which Mr. Ganert had closed behind him. Between the sound of the engines and the closed door, he was sure Mr. Ganert wouldn't be able to hear them. He motioned for Emilio to come closer. The four Aldens and Emilio huddled in the cabin of the jet and whispered.

"We found out last night that Mr. Ganert is an Argent spy," Henry told Emilio.

Emilio raised his eyebrows and started to smile, as if he thought it might be a joke, but when he saw the serious faces of the Alden children, his smile went away and he nodded.

"Those messages last night — you sent them, didn't you? It was part of a test, to see which of us is a spy. You children are very clever! I have to say, I was wondering why you seemed to be holding out on me for the past few days. I'm sorry that I gave you any cause for suspicion, but I'm glad you've figured out it was Mr. Ganert. That would explain why he's been acting so strangely ... and why he's so grumpy now! You've found him out, and he knows it."

"We called Trudy and told her, but she said that it's urgent that we return the last Reddimus artifact right away," explained Jessie. "She said there's no time to find another pilot. So in the meantime, please help us do whatever we can to return the last artifact."

Emilio nodded.

"You can count on me," he assured them. "Now, I ought to go be a proper copilot. I'll make sure we fly to Buenos Aires at double-time, and I'll keep an eye on Mr. Ganert."

The Aldens took their seats as the jet taxied to the runway. In a few minutes, they were in the air, watching Christchurch grow smaller and smaller behind them.

"My tummy doesn't feel so good," Benny said.

"It's from all the dulce de leche you've been sneaking from the jar all morning!" Violet laughed.

"Oooof!" groaned Benny.

"Benny, why don't you try to take a nap," suggested Jessie. "We were up late last night. It would be good for us all to get some rest."

Henry stretched out on one chair he had converted into a small bed. Most airplane cabins were not large enough for the chairs to turn into beds, but the Reddimus Society had made sure the Aldens traveled comfortably. After all, they had seen six of the world's seven continents since they had left their home in Greenfield, Connecticut.

"When we reach Buenos Aires, we will have a lot to take care of," Henry said. "Even if Emilio can keep Mr. Ganert out of our hair, we're still going to need to figure out how to open the last Reddimus box and find out where we're taking whatever's inside."

"And return it!" said Benny.

"I'm surprised we haven't received the clue about how to open the next box yet," said Violet. "I hope we get it soon."

The flight from New Zealand to Buenos Aires was a long one — almost fifteen hours cutting straight across the Southern Ocean. There wasn't much to look at out the windows except for endless ocean, so the Aldens napped and took turns reading about Argentina on Jessie's laptop.

Jessie had started studying Spanish in school, so she spent her turn on the Internet refreshing her memory. She looked up important phrases, like how to ask for directions and say "please" and "thank you." Buenos Aires was a big, busy city, and they would need to find their way safely on their own. Especially if they would be exploring without one of the pilots, the more Spanish Jessie remembered, the better.

Like New Zealand, Argentina was a country in the Southern Hemisphere. That meant while it was spring in back in Connecticut, it was fall in Argentina. Still, the day was warm and bright when the Aldens arrived. As the children got ready to leave the plane, they were surprised to see Mr. Ganert come out from the cockpit.

"I will accompany you this time," he said. "I've never come out on your trips, and I've wanted to see Buenos Aires for some time."

The Aldens were quiet. They stood halfway down the steps that led from the jet to the tarmac. Even Henry didn't know what to say. He didn't want Mr. Ganert to come with them, but how could he say so without sounding rude?

Emilio hurried out, just in time.

"Oh, Mr. Ganert!" he exclaimed. "There's a light flashing in the cockpit that I don't understand. Could you come inside and help me figure it out?" "A flashing light?" Mr. Ganert asked, arching a brow. "Just a moment, children. I'll be right back."

As Mr. Ganert went back into the jet, Emilio winked and waved at them. The Aldens nodded and hurried off. By the time Mr. Ganert came back to the stairway, they would be too far for him to catch up.

Whenever the Aldens had arrived somewhere on their journey, someone had always been waiting to meet them and help them check in with their passports. This time no one was waiting, so they would have to do it themselves. Henry took the lead. He had watched closely all the times before. He walked up to the airport security agent, making sure he had all their passports ready.

"Hello, welcome to Buenos Aires," said the attendant in English when he saw that the Aldens had US passports. "What is the intent of your visit, and how long will you be staying?"

"We're here on vacation and hoping to return an item that was left with us," explained Henry. "We're not planning to stay longer than a couple days."

The attendant nodded and looked through their passports and their tickets.

"Oh, I see you're flying with the Reddimus Society," he said. "Very good. Please enjoy your stay in Argentina!"

The attendant stamped their passports and waved them through. Henry returned everyone's passports and followed the signs to exit the bustling airport.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Khipu and the Final Key"
by .
Copyright © 2017 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. The City of Fair Winds,
2. An Unexpected Arrival,
3. The Great Salt Plain,
4. A Clue and a Coordinate,
5. The Orange Orchid,
6. A Knotty Puzzle,
7. Into the Andes,
8. At Aguas Calientes,
9. The Other Silverton,
10. We Return,

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