The Aldens head up north for the Calgary Stampedea cowboy celebration of Canada's frontier spirit! But when a valuable piece of jewelry from the festival's history vanishes, the children are on the case. Can the Boxcar Children find the thief before the big show?
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 its success, she went on to write eighteen more stories about the Alden Children.
Read an Excerpt
The Mystery at the Calgary Stampede
By GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Anthony VanArsdale
ALBERT WHITMAN & CompanyCopyright © 2015 Albert Whitman & Company
All rights reserved.
In the airplane seat ahead of Benny and Henry, a man put on a white cowboy hat.
In the airplane seat ahead of Benny and Henry, a man put on a white cowboy hat.
"Does that mean we're about to land?" six-year-old Benny asked his big brother.
"We still don't know where we're going!" said Jessie, age twelve.
She sat across the aisle from her brothers, and next to her was her younger sister, Violet.
"It's a mystery," said Violet. She couldn't believe they were about to land and their grandfather still hadn't told them where they were going.
The plane began to descend and Violet reached for her grandfather's hand. "I'm not afraid," she whispered.
"I know," Grandfather said. He gave her hand a soft squeeze.
Violet felt good with Grandfather beside her. She could remember a time when she and her brothers and sister found an abandoned boxcar in the woods and made a home for themselves there. That was before they'd met Grandfather. But now Grandfather took care of them, and they cared for him too — Henry in his fourteen-year-old, big brother way, and Benny, always quick to make everyone laugh. Now the boxcar had a home in their backyard.
Violet squeezed Grandfather's hand right back, and he smiled at her.
"Ready for adventure?" he asked.
"Always," she said.
"So," said Henry as the plane taxied toward the airport, "where are we?"
Grandfather chuckled. "I'm going to let you guess." He led the way through the airport and onto a bus.
Half an hour later, Benny was kneeling on his seat, looking out the window. "All the windows of shops and restaurants and offices in this city are painted with cows and horses and cowboy hats and boots." He pointed to a revolving door in a tall building. "Look at that! It's painted like old-time Western saloon doors!"
Grandfather pulled on the cord to let the driver know they were getting off the bus.
Violet pointed to another painted window. "Look — it says, 'Welcome to Cow Town.' Is there really a city with that name?"
Henry shook his head. "I think we're in the city of Calgary. Grandfather, you told us about it when you were telling us about your friend Judy. It's also called Cow Town, you said. And my guess is that it's Stampede time. Right?"
Grandfather smiled wide. "You're right, Henry! Cow Town Calgary, it is."
Benny was frowning. "What's a stampede?" he asked. "Isn't that when everybody rushes around and somebody gets knocked over?"
"Like this?" asked Jessie. She jogged in circles around Benny. Henry and Violet danced around too. Benny squealed, and Jessie lifted him up and gave him a squiggly, tickling hug.
"I think stampede has more to do with horses," said Henry. "You know, broncos bucking and roping calves and riding bulls like cowboys."
"That's called a rodeo," added Jessie.
"Right!" said Henry.
Grandfather spoke up. "The rodeo is one part of the Stampede. The Stampede includes all sorts of events, from art exhibits to dog shows. We're going to have a great time!"
They'd come to a building with a sign that read Glenbow Museum. A woman was standing in front. She had a huge smile on her face and bright red hair that sat in a pile atop her head.
"Our Calgary Stampede is called the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth," she said in a deep, rich voice. She must have overheard them. She put out her hand. "I'm your grandfather's friend, Judy Simon!"
She shook each of the Aldens' hands and chuckled. "I thought it was about time your grandfather brought you to our province of Alberta."
"In Canada a province is like a state," Jessie explained to her siblings.
"I'm so excited you're all finally here," Judy said. "Especially for Stampede time! Every July we open our city to the world for ten days. It's a giant party! We have cowboys from all over North America. We have chuckwagon races and young people exhibiting animals they've raised. We have a marvelous midway fair with rides and food —"
She noticed Benny's eyes widen. "Did I mention food?" Judy laughed. "You'll find some very strange foods at the Stampede."
Benny opened his mouth to ask her about the strange food, but she was already leading them into the museum.
"I want to show you something on the second floor," Judy said, heading to a wide staircase. "And I want you to meet my niece, Daisy, who is joining us. I have a surprise for her!"
On the second floor were two large signs with arrows pointing in opposite directions. One read Picturing the Northwest, and the other read Our Historic Stampede.
"Let's go that way," said Benny, pointing to the second sign, and the others followed him.
Judy chuckled. "I like how you leap right in."
Jessie stopped in front of a wall lined with posters. "The Stampede's been around a long time. Look, there's a poster for every year."
"This poster is for the Stampede in 1912!" pointed out Violet.
"Look at this poster!" said Jessie. "It's from 2012 and says it's the hundredth anniversary of the Stampede!"
Grandfather stopped in front of a huge painting.
"Well, well," he said to Judy. "It's so lifelike that if you weren't standing in front of us, I'd guess that was really you." The painting was a portrait of Judy standing in front of a concert marquee that read: Judy Simon: Live at the Grand Ole Opry.
Jessie remembered Grandfather telling them about how Judy traveled all over the world. She realized his friend must be a famous country music singer.
Judy laughed. "It is very odd to see myself like that!"
Benny was staring hard at the portrait. "What is that pin you're wearing in the painting?"
"You have sharp eyes," said Judy. "That's my Young Canadian pin. That was given to me for being part of the singing and dancing troupe that performs every evening at the Stampede Grandstand Show. I was a Young Canadian for five years so they gave me a special pin with my name engraved on it!"
"Five years! That must have been a lot of work," said Jessie.
"It was," Judy said. "And it was how I got my start as a singer." She lowered her voice to a stage whisper. "The pin is the surprise I told you about. I'm going to give it to my niece Daisy. She's meeting us here to see my portrait for the first time. She had to miss the unveiling of the portrait because she was at rehearsal. But she doesn't know that I want to celebrate her too!
"Daisy is now a Young Canadian," she explained. "I have a feeling that this is the beginning of her own singing career. I'm so proud of her. Her first time performing on the Calgary stage is tomorrow night!"
Violet gave a squeak of excitement, and she turned to Grandfather. "Do we get to see the show?" she asked.
Before Grandfather could answer, Judy said, "Of course you do."
Just then a girl about Henry's age with bright red hair and a wide smile that matched Judy's ran up to give Judy a hug. "Auntie Judy!" she exclaimed.
Jessie knew this had to be Daisy.
Daisy saw the portrait of her aunt. "Oh my," she said. "It's beautiful!" She stepped back. "Look at that! The artist even put your pin on it."
"The pin you've wanted since you were a little girl," said Judy. "Now here you are, a Young Canadian yourself and ready for your first opening show!"
Suddenly Daisy looked anxious, but her aunt put an arm around her. "You'll be just fine. Look," Judy said, pointing to the Aldens. "My good friend is visiting with his grandchildren. They'll be staying with me."
She introduced Daisy to the children, one by one. The Aldens learned that Daisy lived just down the street from her aunt.
"I hope you like Calgary," Daisy told them.
Benny beamed. "We will!" he said. "We can't wait to see your show!"
"Oh, it's not my show," said Daisy, her voice uneasy.
"You know," said her aunt, "I was going to wait until after dinner tonight but I think I'll give you my pin right here and now!"
Daisy was surprised. "Really?"
"I want you to have it," Judy told her. "You can wear it tomorrow night. I love the thought of my pin on the Stampede stage once again." She pulled a small velvet box from her pocket, took out the pin, and pinned it onto her niece's collar.
The Aldens clapped and Benny cheered.
Daisy ran her fingers across the shiny pin. "I've been so nervous about being onstage. But with this, I know I'm ready to perform. My feet will fly in all the right places when I dance, and I'll hit all the right notes when I sing."
"You'd do all that even without my pin," said Judy. "I didn't mean for you to think that you need the pin."
Daisy threw her arms around her aunt and gave her another hug.
Everyone started talking at once with excitement. Daisy was like a bright light in the middle of them, and Benny couldn't stop staring at her. She looked as if she was going to spring into dance or burst into song.
As they were all talking, something caught Henry's eye. An older man was standing by Judy's portrait. Henry thought that the man had been there for a while and that maybe he'd seen Judy give the pin to Daisy. The man looked about Grandfather's age, with a heavy, graying beard. He was shorter than Grandfather, with a wiry build. Henry couldn't see his eyes because the man was wearing a very large cowboy hat.
The man stepped up to speak to Henry. "That's a special pin," he said in a low voice. "That piece would be a nice addition to the museum!" He explained, "I'm an amateur collector of Stampede memorabilia myself."
All the conversations stopped just then as Daisy noticed the man.
The man smiled and motioned to the painting. "Congratulations, ma'am," he said to Judy, "on your many accomplishments. And you, young girl" — he turned to Daisy — "are very lucky."
Daisy didn't seem to know what to say. Judy reached out to shake the man's hand, but he'd already turned away. "It's a beautiful pin," he said gazing at the portrait. "Not too many of them around. Hope you don't mind ..." he said and took an old-fashioned camera from the big leather bag hanging from his shoulder and snapped a picture of the portrait.
Before anyone else could say anything, he walked away.
Benny whispered, "That cowboy hat is so big it makes him look like a cartoon." He stopped. "I didn't mean to sound rude," he added, "but it did."
Jessie smiled. "I know you didn't mean to sound rude, Benny. It is a huge hat." "I thought he was rather rude," said Judy.
"It was odd how he looked at the painting," said Henry. "He was so curious about the pin and even took a picture, but he didn't introduce himself or shake your hand."
Judy shrugged and waved her hand dismissively. "We have something very important to do now," she said. "We need to celebrate! I have a special Welcome-to-Calgary dinner planned for all of us."
Benny was pleased with this plan. "Dinner is very important," he said. "Let's go!"CHAPTER 2
The next morning, Judy — who had told the Aldens to call her "Aunt Judy" — got up early to pack food and blankets. She was ready to take the children to the parade while Grandfather went to a business meeting.
Benny peeked in one of the food containers and was excited to see chicken wings left over from the celebration dinner the night before.
"I have a collection of cowboy hats," Aunt Judy told the Aldens. "You can each choose one to wear." She looked at Violet. "I have a purple one for you. It's my favorite, but I'll share it while you're here."
When the Aldens had picked out their cowboy hats, they all headed out in Aunt Judy's minivan, picking up Daisy along the way. Aunt Judy and Daisy lived in the city, and downtown was only fifteen minutes away.
"Let's find a spot on the corner of Fifth Street and Ninth Avenue," Aunt Judy said once she found a parking space. "I want to show you something."
The streets were closed to traffic there, and every corner of the intersection was filled with people waiting for the parade. Aunt Judy and Daisy chose a place to set out their blankets on the edge of the curb.
"What's all that?" asked Jessie, pointing to a spot in the middle of the intersection where the pavement was marked in large numbered squares.
Daisy laughed. "That is horse poop bingo."
"What?" Benny's mouth gaped open. The pavement did look like a giant bingo card, but without the B-IN-G-O letters. They walked over to the squares for a better look.
"I don't see any horse poop," Benny said.
"Not yet," said Aunt Judy. "That will come. Soon."
The Aldens spotted a man with a bucket. On the bucket was a sign: Horse Poop Bingo. Coins rattled in the bucket.
"Over here!" Aunt Judy called out to him.
She rummaged in her bag, and pulled out five big coins. "These are nicknamed 'toonies,'" she told the Aldens. "Canadian two-nie dollar coins! Each one is worth two dollars. Get it? I'll give one to each of you and Daisy. You choose a number in a square where you think some horse poop might end up ... and if a horse poops in that square, you can win some money. The rest of the money goes to a charity."
The man with the coin bucket gave Jessie a piece of chalk to share and write their names in the squares of their choice.
"I'm twelve, so I'll pick the square with that number," said Jessie. Henry, Violet, and Daisy each chose a square too.
Benny chose the square he was standing on. Then the Aldens went back to their blankets to wait for the parade to begin.
Benny stood on the curb and peered down the street.
"I see bagpipes," Benny called out. After another few moments, he added, "And a band!"
Soon they could all see the Calgary Stampede Show Band marching down the street toward them.
Violet shivered in excitement. Behind the band came a mint-green convertible with the parade marshal sitting in back. Now the parade had truly begun! The crowd cheered and waved.
Henry looked up and noticed people standing in the windows of all the downtown office buildings; they were even on the rooftops. The entire city and all its visitors seemed to be celebrating together.
Next came a group riding beautiful, chestnut-colored horses. "Maybe one will poop in my square," said Benny. He looked for his square, but couldn't see it with all the people on the street.
Another marching band led by baton twirlers went by, followed by Ukrainian dancers, Greek dancers, and Hawaiian dancers. A little girl doing an Irish dance moved her feet faster than anything Benny had ever seen. He almost forgot all about the horse poop until a horse went by and did just that, though not on one of the Aldens' squares. The crowd cheered as the horse went past. Benny noticed that they didn't seem to care whose square was lucky. Everyone was just happy the poop was on a square.
A line of covered wagons went by. Daisy recognized someone in one of the wagons. "Look," she said to the Aldens, "there's another Young Canadian." She waved, and a boy with black curly hair waved back. "His name is Clay."
Beside Clay was a little girl with black braids. She wore a long, checkered pioneer skirt and a bonnet. She waved too.
"Is that his little sister?" asked Violet.
"She is. She's like his little shadow," said Daisy. The girl waved too.
The parade continued with more people riding by on horseback. Even the mayor rode a horse! He was followed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in fancy red jackets clip-clopping past on their horses.
Violet watched the Calgary police officers as they strolled up and down along the curbs. They wore black cowboy hats with red bands on them. She'd never seen a police cowboy hat and thought they looked quite adventurous. She also noticed all the different colored cowboy hats in the crowd. She was hoping to see purple cowboy boots but didn't spot any.
One of the parade floats had a sign that read Cow Town Amateur Archives in fancy old-fashioned-looking letters. On the float were a bookcase full of old books and boxes. The boxes were labeled in big letters: Old Photos and Maps read one. Others said Letters and Postcards, and Memorabilia. A man in a very big cowboy hat was kneeling over one of the open boxes, looking as if he was busy sorting through papers.
Daisy pointed to the back of the float, which was decorated with dark green fabric that looked like waves, and a low wall made up of sandbags "That part of the float represents the flood," she told the Aldens. "Calgary had a terrible flood a few years ago. So many places were under water, and a lot of historical items were ruined. Some things were rescued before the flood reached them, and some were damaged and needed to be restored. I think that's what this group does — finds and preserves and stores old stuff so that we can study it later."
"What are archives?" asked Violet.
"Archives are very old things — historical records like diaries and letters or even the old Stampede posters you saw at the museum," said Aunt Judy.
Henry nudged Jessie and nodded toward the float and the man with the large hat. "I think that's the man we saw at the museum yesterday!"
Jessie squinted. "He does have a beard ... and that big hat sure looks familiar!"
The man looked up from the boxes to wave to the parade spectators, and Henry was sure he was the man from the museum!
When the last float had gone by, the Aldens, Aunt Judy, and Daisy joined the river of parade-goers heading toward the fair. The streets were packed and hot, but the crowd seemed friendly as if everyone knew one another.
Excerpted from The Mystery at the Calgary Stampede by GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Anthony VanArsdale. Copyright © 2015 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
Contents1. Cow Town,
2. Parade Day,
3. A Pin for Good Luck,
4. A Cow in My Soup,
5. Tractor Pull,
6. By the River,
7. A Mystery Guest,
8. A Good Catch,
10. The Other Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,
Preview: The Sleepy Hollow Mystery,
About the Author,