A double puzzle involves an old friend of Aunt Jane's, romance, and a chase.
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
A Farm for Sale
The telephone gave a long, loud ring. Supper was over. Benny Alden was going through the hall. He answered it.
"Telephone, Grandfather!" shouted Benny. "It's for you. Long distance."
Mr. Alden came to the telephone and said, "Hello. Oh, yes."
Then he said nothing for a long, long time. Benny and his sister Violet couldn't help listening.
At last Grandfather said, "That's just fine, Jane!"
"It's Aunt Jane!" Violet whispered to Benny.
Benny nodded, and a smile spread over his face.
"Just wonderful, Jane," said Grandfather again. "Yes, I do. Yes, I think it is a fine idea. Yes, Jane. I'll think it over and call you very soon. No, Jane, I won't be long, maybe a day or two. Yes, I know you like to do things fast. You are like Benny." Grandfather winked at Benny.
At last Grandfather said, "Good-by, Jane. See you soon."
"See you soon?" said Benny. "Are we going out West to see Aunt Jane again?"
"No, she is coming here," said Mr. Alden.
"Oh, my, my!" said Benny.
"Yes, that's what I say too," said Grandfather. "Oh, my, my, my! Now you four children get together and we'll talk this over. Benny, you find Henry."
"And I'll get Jessie," said Violet. "She is up in her room."
The four Aldens — two girls and two boys — lived with their grandfather in a big house. Henry was in college. Jessie was a senior in high school, and Violet was just ready for high school, too. Benny still went to grade school. In a few minutes the four young Aldens were sitting with Mr. Alden in his den.
Grandfather looked around and smiled. "This is the big news," he said, laughing. "Aunt Jane wants to come East to live in New England again. She wants me to buy a farm for her, right away quick."
"Quick like a fox," said Benny.
"Right," said Grandfather. He laughed again.
"Why does she want to move?" asked Jessie. "She has such an exciting place to live on Mystery Ranch."
"Well, you see Jane and I were born in New England on a farm," said Mr. Alden. "We all moved to the West. I should say Jane was about eighteen when we went. I was younger than Jane. After awhile I wanted to come back and go into business. But Jane wouldn't. She said she would stay and run the ranch alone."
"Stubborn," said Benny.
"I remember," said Jessie. "That is what made the trouble between you and Aunt Jane."
"Yes, she was too proud to give in. She found she couldn't run the ranch alone. So she almost starved to death."
"Wasn't it lucky we went out there when she was sick?" said Violet. "We found such a lovely aunt."
"Well, yes — she is lovely now," said her grandfather, smiling. "Now I am going to surprise Jane. Maybe I can buy the very farm where we used to live! She would like that."
"Oh, wouldn't that be wonderful!" cried Jessie. "We could go up to the farm and get everything ready. Do you suppose we'll have to get chairs and tables and beds? We could get in food and make the beds. We'd love to do that."
"What fun that would be!" said Violet. Her eyes were very bright.
"When are you going to try, Grandfather?" asked Benny.
"Well, my boy, I am going to surprise you, too. I'm going to start this very minute. It's only just after supper."
Benny hugged Watch, the dog, and jumped up and down with him. Watch did not like this very well. But he loved Benny, so he did not make any fuss.
"Now just hand me that telephone, Henry," said Mr. Alden.
"Whose number are you going to call?" asked Benny. "How do you know what to call?"
"I don't," said Mr. Alden. But he made a call just the same. He called the village store.
"Nobody will be in the store as late as this," said Henry.
"Don't be too sure," said Mr. Alden. "In the old days the storekeeper lived in the store. Maybe he still does."
Sure enough, a loud voice answered. The children could hear every word.
"Hello," said Grandfather. "Are you the manager of the store?"
"Well, I guess so," came the answer. "It's my store."
"Do you know anything about the old Alden farm up on the hill?"
"Do I? Of course I know the Alden farm up on the hill! I live right here in this town."
"Yes, I know. Do you know if the farm is for sale?"
"Yes, 'tis. I must say 'tis. That farm is running down. Get it cheap. Furniture, too."
"Who is selling it?" asked Grandfather.
"Well, I guess I am. It hasn't brought me any luck. Who wants to buy it?"
"I do. I used to live there with my sister Jane when I was a boy. I am James Alden."
"Don't tell me!" said the man. "I remember Jane Alden well. And you too, I guess. Long time ago. And you want to buy that farm back?"
"Yes, I do."
"Well, I'll make you a fair price. All the land and the house and the barn and the hen-coops and the woodshed. Some furniture, too. Glad to get rid of it."
"I'll buy it," said Grandfather.
"What?" cried the man.
"We can settle on the price when I see you," said Grandfather again. "By the way, tell me your full name."
"Well, my name is Elisha Morse. But I'm so surprised I don't know my own name for sure. You coming here to live?"
"No, but my sister Jane is."
"Well, well, well! This telephone call is costing you a lot of money. Better hang up."
"All right," said Grandfather. "We'll be driving up soon to see my new farm."
"It ain't new. It's old," said the man.
"It's new to me. I just bought it," said Grandfather. "Good-by and thank you."
Grandfather leaned back and laughed. He hung up the telephone. "Quick like a fox, Benny?" he said. "Is that what you wanted?"
"Grandfather, you are simply wonderful," said Benny.
"Well, I had a bit of luck, I should say," said Mr. Alden.
Everyone agreed. But it was Jessie, not Grandfather, who began to make plans right away.
"What day is this?" said Jessie. "Friday. Couldn't we go tomorrow and see the place, Grandfather?"
"That is just what I was thinking," said Mr. Alden. "We could stay all day Sunday and get back for the last week of school. Of course Henry is home for the summer already."
Violet said, "I think you are the very kindest man in the world!" She took his hand in both of hers. "You spend all your time trying to make us happy."
"Well, well. Thank you, my dear. But you children spend all your time making me happy, too."
"Oh, let's talk about the farm, Grandfather," said Benny. "Do they have animals?"
"What do you think, Benny?" asked Jessie. "Nobody lives there. I don't think Aunt Jane wants any animals. She just wants to come East."
Henry nodded at his sister. "I think Aunt Jane wants to be near you, Grandfather. I think she feels safer."
"Maybe you are right, Henry," said Mr. Alden. He laughed again. "Maggie is coming with Jane. Remember Maggie who has stayed with her for so long? Then Sam and his wife will come and stay this summer anyway. And I am sure Jane will bring her dog Lady."
"That's good," said Jessie. "Maggie knows what Aunt Jane needs. They will all take care of Aunt Jane. She ought to have a man in the house."
"Yes, and Sam is a very good man," said Mr. Alden. "I don't think Jane will run the farm. But she wants to live there. I'd like to start early tomorrow morning. Do you think you could be ready, Benny?"
"Me?" cried Benny. He went over to his grandfather and put his hand on his knee. "I'll get up any time you say. Three o'clock in the morning. Or two, or four, or even midnight! Any old time."
"How about five?" said Mr. Alden looking at Benny.
"Fine," said Benny. "Don't we have to take a bag if we stay overnight?"
"Yes, each of you must take a bag. We won't stay at the farmhouse. But we can find a motel, maybe."
"A motel!" said Benny. "That's neat."
"Let's go and pack, Jessie," said Violet. "I can hardly wait to see Aunt Jane."
"Aunt Jane won't be there," said Mr. Alden.
"No, I know that," said Violet. "But I'd like to hurry and get ready for her. "
"We all seem to be in a great hurry," said Benny. "Will Aunt Jane fly?"
"Yes, I think John Carter can go out for her. Then she will not worry about a thing."
"Oh, you mean our nice Mr. Carter!" cried Jessie. "He can do anything. Aunt Jane will be safe with him."
Jessie was right. John Carter was trusted with many things by Grandfather. He even flew Mr. Alden's private plane.
"Now I think I'll go and pack my own bag," said Grandfather, getting out of his chair. "Good-night, everybody."
"Good-night?" shouted Benny. "It's only half past seven. Are we going to bed?"
Everybody laughed at Benny's surprised look.
"I am," said Grandfather, "and you'd better. Just pack your things first. Remember we start at five. And that means breakfast before five."
"Can we take Watch?" asked Benny.
"Yes, take Watch. It won't be a long trip."
The Aldens had the same suitcases they had taken to Blue Bay. They all knew how to pack very well. It did not take long to decide to take plain clothes. They knew they would need them on a farm.
"We won't dress up at all," said Jessie. "Just take shorts and slacks and flat shoes."
"We always take flat shoes," said Henry. "Everywhere we go we take flat shoes."
"Oh, Henry, don't tease," laughed Jessie. "I know boys do."
When four o'clock in the morning came, Benny was fast asleep. He did not hear the alarm clock. Violet went into his room and shook him gently.
"No," said Benny. "No! It isn't morning yet. It's too dark."
"You said you'd get up at midnight or four o'clock. Any old time," said Violet.
"It's different now," said Benny.
Violet laughed. She put on all the lights and Benny got out of bed.
The family ate a big breakfast of bacon and eggs, cereal and toast and orange juice. Then they all piled into the big station wagon. Henry drove. It was a beautiful spring day. The woods were just beginning to look green. The fields were covered with dandelions. Birds sang in the trees as the sun came up. The family went along the smooth turnpike on the way north.
"We should get there by nine o'clock," said Grandfather. "I'll tell you where to turn, Henry."
A little later he shouted, "Here we are, Henry! Turn here! See the white church over there? And that other building is the town hall. And there is the old store! How small it looks! It used to look big."
They were delighted to find the store so easily. Everyone got out of the car and went into the store.
"My gracious me!" said the man behind the counter. "I bet you're James Alden. I'm Elisha Morse."
"I remember your name, Elisha," said Grandfather. He shook hands.
For several minutes the two men talked about the sale of the farm. Then Mr. Alden wrote out a check and gave it to Mr. Morse.
"I don't think you're going to like your farm," Mr. Morse said as he put the check away. "The roof leaks."
"Can't it be fixed?" asked Mr. Alden.
"Sure. Only it will cost money. I'd do it for you if I had the money."
"Would you fix it yourself?"
"No. My son is the handy one. He could put on new shingles."
"You get him if you can," said Grandfather. "We'll go right up to the house. Ask your son tocome up and see me. We must certainly have the roof fixed."
"Good," said Mr. Morse. "Here's the key to the back door. My son will come in soon to see who was in the store."
Mr. Morse came out and watched the Aldens get back into the station wagon. He said nothing. The car began to move. Still Mr. Morse said nothing. But when the car had rolled down the drive, he called, "There's a lot of other things the matter with that farm! You won't like it!"
But the Aldens were on their way to the farm on the hill and Henry did not turn back.
Grandfather Takes Over
"Now why in the world did Mr. Morse call to us after I got started?" asked Henry.
"Well, that's the way people are up here," said Grandfather. "I remember now. You have to get used to it. They have all the time there is. Never in a hurry."
"I suppose I should have gone back." said Henry.
"No," said Grandfather. "We'll wait now and see the house. Then we will find out what's wrong. These people are the best people in the world. They will do anything for you. You just wait and see. They can even hurry if you tell them why."
Violet looked at Jessie and smiled. They loved to see their grandfather so happy. He was looking all around him at the little village.
"See!" he said. "There's the old Bean farm!"
"Bean farm?" said Benny. "Do they raise beans?"
"Oh, no. Mr. and Mrs. Bean used to live there. They had two sons," said Mr. Alden. "I remember the Bean boy who was just about my age. In mischief all the time. Good looking boy, but always in trouble." Mr. Alden threw his head back and laughed. "I remember Jane liked him pretty well. Very well, I mean. She always stood up for him."
"What became of him?" asked Benny. "Did he grow up bad?"
"I don't know, Benny. That's a long story. You see he got into trouble with an old gun up here. The next day he was gone. Nobody ever found him. Jane felt pretty bad. I think Jane might have married him."
"He ran away?" asked Henry.
"Yes, I suppose he did. Later on, we heard he ran away to sea. He got a job on a ship and went around the world. Anyway, nobody knows where he is now. He may be dead. Probably is dead."
"Aunt Jane would be sorry," said Violet.
Mr. Alden looked at his gentle granddaughter. "Yes, Jane would be sorry. Nobody ever knew where he got that gun."
"Did he shoot anybody with it?" asked Benny.
"No. He shot at the big trees to scare people. Queer thing happened. He started a forest fire. Oh, what a fire that was! The house almost caught on fire. But the neighbors put it out. In the morning he was gone."
"What was his first name?" asked Jessie.
"Now what was his name?" said Grandfather. "I have forgotten. It was a long time ago. I was a boy myself."
"It's a nice house," said Henry.
"Yes, but not as nice as our farmhouse. Ours was built in 1750. There are four big chimneys. You can see the date on the front chimney, I think. It used to be there. There! Look over there! That's the old house!"
Mr. Alden was so excited that the children were excited too. They looked toward the top of the hill. There stood an enormous white farmhouse. Two large elm trees stood beside the house. Behind the house was a great red barn, and behind the barn was a field and then woods.
"I don't see anything bad about the house," said Jessie. "It needs paint, maybe. But it looks all right to me."
"The roof leaks," said Benny.
"Wait and see," said Henry. "I think that if Mr. Morse said we wouldn't like it, something must be wrong with it."
"There's the 1750 on the chimney," cried Benny. "Painted white."
Henry turned the station wagon again and there they were, right by the back door of the house. They all got out of the car. They stood and looked at the house. Then Henry put the big key in the back door and turned it.
"The door key works anyway," he said. He pushed the door open.
"I'll go in first," said Mr. Alden. "Then you children follow. Nobody has been here for a long time." The house looked cool and dim inside.
First they found themselves in a back pantry. Next came the old kitchen.
"Oh, look!" cried Jessie. "What an enormous fireplace!"
"I could lie down in that fireplace!" shouted Benny.
"Don't," said Jessie. "And look at the old brick ovens on both sides." She opened the doors.
"Say!" exclaimed Benny. "That must be where they baked bread."
The kitchen was a big room. Next everyone went into the sitting room. The carpet was dusty, but not too worn. The chairs and tables were covered with dust.
The Aldens turned to the left and came to the long hall. The front door was at one end of the hall. On the other side of the hall was a parlor and a bedroom. The Aldens walked quickly through these rooms. There would be time to explore them later.
"I suppose there are four bedrooms upstairs," said Jessie.
"Oh, let's go upstairs," said Benny. "Maybe there is something wrong up there."
"I can't see anything wrong downstairs," said Henry. "It's only dirty and dusty. A fireplace in every room. Think of that!"
"Upstairs, too," said Grandfather. "That's how we kept warm. There were no heaters in those days."
Upstairs they went. There were the four bedrooms. No bathroom.
"We simply can't stay here, Grandfather," said Jessie, the good housekeeper. "It is too dirty."
"Oh, no! We will stay at a motel as I said. Maybe we can get somebody to clean this place up."
"We could do it," said Benny.
"No, it will take a strong woman to do this. And maybe a man would be still better," said Mr. Alden. He looked around thoughtfully.
"There's a man at the back door," said Benny. "I can see his car."
They all went down to find a tall young man getting out of a car.
"Are you Mr. Morse's son who can fix the roof?" asked Benny.
"That's right, son," said the man. "Call me Sim. I'm Simeon Morse."
"Oh, that'll be neat!" shouted Benny. "When Sam comes we'll have Sim and Sam!"
"And who is Sam?" asked Sim.
"He is coming with my sister," said Mr. Alden. "You'll get along fine with Sam. He and his wife are going to handle the farm work for my sister. Now I want you to tell me the truth, young man. What is the matter with this house?"
Sim stood on one foot and then the other. He was very nervous.
"Well, I'll tell you the truth. I don't know."
"You don't know? Then what makes you think there is any trouble here?" "I don't know that, either," said Sim.
Excerpted from "The Boxcar Children The Woodshed Mystery"
Copyright © 1990 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 A Farm for Sale,
2 Making Plans,
3 Grandfather Takes Over,
4 The Potato Pit,
5 An Old Flintlock Gun,
6 Exploring the Woodshed,
7 Clues from an Old Book,
8 A Light in the Dark,
9 What Was in the Box,
10 Back to the Woodshed,
11 A New Discovery,
12 Too Much Excitement,
13 Just in Time!,
14 A Treasure Bag,
15 Letter from Long Ago,
16 Aunt Jane's Surprise,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love the Boxcar Children series.This is a great book and anyone would enjoy it.Also this book contains an incredibly excellent mystery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It is not sexist it is a fact! Ok
This book sounds like a good one.
I love the boxcar children series this ones a real treat!!!!!!!!
Best book ever read in boxcar children series. Buy it and you'll see.
It is one of the lamer Boxcar Children books. :l
My oldest son loves these books, so I read them at night. They have interesting mysteries and adventures, and because of the date they were written they learn a great deal about how people lived in the mid 20th century, before they were born. The problem for me is that, given the date they were written, I find them incredibly sexist, where the female children "love" to clean and cook and decorate. I always make sure to point this out to my boys as it's so limited.
This book isnt my favorite, but I definitley would recommend his book to all of my friends. I love this book mainly because the children are expert at solving mysterys!!! When they saw the woodshed that was far out in the woods, they just quikly new there was something in that woodshed that no one new of, including themselves. Then of course they found a mystery that needs to be solved!! Once they went in the woodshed they found a gun... But I'll leave it to you to read the rest of the book. Have fun!!!!!!!!!
i really liked this book because of the way the author describedthe characters. this book was really good.!!
I think that you will want to read The Woodshed Mystery because the way Ms. Warner writes it. She makes it so interesting.You may or may not like the book. For one thing, I loved the book and always wanted to read it. Every night I would always want to read about 5 chapters but I was never allowed. I always had to go to bed. During the day I had time to finish the book in 2 days. Benny is my favorite character because he always makes me laugh. Throughout the book you'd think that Henry, Jessie, or Violet might figure out the mysteries, but it's always Benny who figures them out. Benny is 7 years old, Henry is 17, Jessie is 16, and Violet is 10. I find that this book is a fun book for kids who love mysteries. I also think that's why Ms. Warner wrote The Boxcar Children books. The Woodshed Mystery is about a man who hides in a woodshed and stays there during the war. His name is Mr. Bean. The woodshed is a place where they kept armor. I dont want to tell you the whole book so that's all I'm going to tell you except that Aunt Jane wants to move back to where she grew up and that she wants to marry Mr. Bean!! Read the book to know what happens in the end. You'll love it!!!