Boxcar Children 62 - Mystery of the Lake Monster

BOOK: Boxcar Children 62 - Mystery of the Lake Monster
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The Mystery of Lake Monster
GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER
Illustrated by Charles Tang
ALBERT WHITMAN & Company, Chicago
Contents

CHAPTER

1 Into the Wilderness

2 The Wild Man of the Woods

3 Here Be Monsters?

4 A Sound in the Dark

5 A Monster Hunt

6 Enormous Footprints

7 A Monster Bite

8 Suspects and Clues

9 A Monster-Maker

10 Who Loves Lucy?

About the Author

CHAPTER 1
Into the Wilderness

B
enny Alden leaned forward to stare out the window. “Wow,” he said. “Look how tall all those mountains are!”

His brother, Henry, laughed. “Mountains are supposed to be tall, Benny. That’s why they’re called mountains.”

“How tall
are
these mountains?” Benny asked.

Violet Alden looked up from the book she was reading. “It says here that the tallest mountain in the Adirondacks is Mt. Marcy. It’s over five thousand feet tall.”

“How tall am I?” asked Benny. He was six years old.

“Not over four feet tall,” said Jessie Alden.

“I guess that these mountains are a
lot
taller than I am,” said Benny.

Everybody in the car laughed.

The Aldens were on their way to spend a week at Lucille Lodge on Lake Lucille, high in the Adirondack Mountains in New York State.

“Are we almost there, Grandfather?” asked Jessie.

“Almost,” he answered. Grandfather Alden slowed down and turned the car off the paved road onto a dirt road. The car bounced and bumped over the deep ruts. Tree branches clawed the windows.

The road twisted and turned, higher and higher. Benny could no longer see the tops of the mountains through the trees. At last Grandfather stopped in front of a huge wooden gate. On the gate, a carved sign said LUCILLE LODGE.

“I’ll open the gate,” said Jessie.

“I’ll help,” said Henry.

They jumped out of the car and opened the gate. After Grandfather Alden had driven through, they closed it again and hurried to get back into the car.

They followed the rough track through the trees, but still they didn’t see Lake Lucille or Lucille Lodge.

“We’re not lost, are we?” asked Violet.

“No,” said Grandfather. “Look.” He turned one more corner and the four Alden children gasped.

They were in a broad clearing. Ahead of them was a small, clear, beautiful lake, as blue as the sky it reflected. Steep walls of rock and wooded mountainside rose above it on every side. At the far end of the clearing right on the edge of the lake was an enormous two-story building made of wood. Wide porches with birch-branch railings ran around the building on the lower floor.

Grandfather drove forward and parked to one side of the building. As the Aldens got out of the car, a small, wiry woman with short dark hair and friendly green eyes came out of the building and walked toward them. “Welcome to Lucille Lodge,” she said. “I’m Nora Parker. Everyone calls me Nora.”

“James Alden,” said Grandfather Alden. “And these are my grandchildren: Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny.”

“And Watch,” said Benny, patting his dog on the head.

“Hi,” said Nora. She looked at Benny. “How old are you, Benny?”

“I’m six. Henry is fourteen, Jessie is twelve, Violet is ten.” He paused and added, “I don’t know how old Grandfather is.”

“That’s okay,” said Nora, her smile widening.

“Or Watch, either,” said Benny. “We found him when we were living in the boxcar.”

Seeing Nora’s surprised look, the Alden children quickly explained how, when they had become orphans, they had gone to live in an old boxcar in the woods. They didn’t know their grandfather was looking for them. But he was, and when he found them, he brought them all to live with him in his big old house in Greenfield. To surprise them, and to make them feel more at home, he’d brought the boxcar home and put it behind the house so they could visit it whenever they wanted.

“That’s some story,” said Nora when they had finished. “But I’m glad to know you’ve lived in a boxcar. You might not find our cabins so very different!”

A man came out onto the porch and stood on the top step. He wasn’t much taller than Nora. He had short brown hair and blue eyes. He was holding a large rolling pin in one hand. He raised the rolling pin. “That’s the truth! You’ll see,” he said in a grim voice.

“Oh!” exclaimed Violet, her eyes widening when she saw the rolling pin.

The man looked at the raised rolling pin. He grimaced. “Sorry,” he said.

Nora said, “This is Drew, my husband. He’s the chef at the lodge.”

The Aldens said hello. Drew nodded curtly. “Welcome to mountain life,” he said. “Mountain life about a hundred years ago, that is.” With that he turned and walked back into the lodge.

Nora looked momentarily embarrassed. She cleared her throat and said, “Drew isn’t used to living up here yet. But when he does get used to it, I know he’ll love it as much as I do. Now let me take you to your cabin.”

The Aldens got their suitcases and backpacks and followed Nora across the clearing to a trail on the other side of the lodge. The trail led up into the woods, but the Aldens saw that there was a small sandy beach nearby. After they had walked for a few minutes, Nora turned down a smaller trail, walked a few steps, and said, “There’s your cabin. You’re in Cabin Number Three, also known as Black Bear Cabin. There are seven cabins in all and four guest rooms in the lodge.”

“Bears?” said Jessie.

“I read about the bears in my book about the Adirondacks,” said Violet. “The book said that the bears won’t hurt people. They’re just as afraid of people as the people are of them.”

“That’s true, Violet,” said Nora. “If you don’t bother the bears, they won’t bother you. In fact, that’s true of all of this wilderness. The motto of the Adirondack Park is ‘Forever Wild.’ That means that these mountains are the homes for the animals and that the people are the guests. As guests you should be just as thoughtful and well behaved as you would be when you visit anybody’s home.”

Benny giggled. “If I see a bear, I’ll say, ‘Please, go away.’ ”

“I wonder what the bear will say?” Nora smiled at Benny. “Here we are.” She pushed open the door of the cabin.

The Aldens stepped inside. The cabin was small, with windows at the front that looked out onto a screened porch above the lake.

Henry and Benny put their belongings in one of the smaller bedrooms and Violet and Jessie put theirs in the other. Grandfather took his suitcases to a larger bedroom. When they came back out into the living room, Nora was standing by the sink. “None of the cabins has plumbing — no running water,” she explained. “This is the pump. You move the handle up and down and it pumps up water from the well for you to use. There’s also an outside shower that uses water that runs down a pipe from the stream. But be careful! The stream water is
cold.

“That’s much nicer than our boxcar,” said Violet. “We didn’t even have a pump.”

“The cabins don’t have electricity, either,” Nora said. “We use special lamps with candles for light. There is a woodstove and a fireplace, of course.”

“We used to cook over a fire when we lived in the boxcar,” Henry said.

“We’ll cook on the stove,” said Grandfather, “but we’ll also eat many of our meals at the lodge.”

“I like this place,” said Violet.

“I’m glad,” said Nora. “Some people think it is not modern enough and too far from other people, but I like it. I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl. I inherited it recently from my cousin.”

“It’s great,” Henry said.

Nora smiled. “I think so, too. And there
is
electricity and plumbing at the lodge. Plus a small library and all kinds of games and puzzles. Lots of people like to spend the evenings by the fire at the lodge, doing puzzles or drinking hot chocolate.” She smiled. “We usually build a fire in the fireplaces at night, even in the summer. Evenings in the mountains can get cool.”

Grandfather looked at his watch. “After we get unpacked, we should be able to take a short hike before dinner.”

“Why don’t you take the Lakeside Trail,” suggested Nora. “It branches off from the cabin trail just past your cabin. It’s well marked and it will take you all the way around the lake.”

“I’d like that,” said Jessie.

“I’d like dinner,” said Benny. He was always hungry.

Nora said, “Don’t worry, Benny. You’ll be back in plenty of time for dinner. And if you see the Wild Man of the Woods, tell him hello for me.”

“The Wild Man of the Woods!” exclaimed Violet. She looked alarmed. “Who is he?”

But Nora only smiled mysteriously. “You’ll see,” she promised.

CHAPTER 2
The Wild Man of the Woods

“W
hat’s that?” gasped Violet. She moved closer to her older sister.

“Don’t worry, Violet. It’s just a chipmunk. See?” said Jessie. She pointed.

“Oh,” said Violet in a relieved voice.

“Hold on tightly to Watch’s leash,” Grandfather reminded Benny. “We don’t want him to chase any of the animals.”

“Especially the bears,” agreed Benny.

“Woof,” Watch barked, wagging his tail and looking at the chipmunk.

“No, Watch,” said Benny. “Come on.”

Watch gave the chipmunk one last, longing look and then trotted just ahead of Benny as they hiked around Lake Lucille. At first they passed several trails leading down to the lake and the other cabins. But soon they didn’t see any trails at all except the one they were on. It went over rocks and around huge trees. It crossed a narrow stream that tumbled down the mountain into the lake. Through the trees and underbrush they could see glimpses of the lake down below.

“Look,” said Henry. “If we stand on this big flat rock we can look out over the whole lake.”

“Be careful,” Grandfather warned.

Cautiously the Aldens stepped out onto the flat rock. Lake Lucille was spread out before them.

Benny pointed. “Look,” he said. “There’s Lucille Lodge across the lake.”

“We’re halfway around, then,” said Jessie.

Suddenly Benny pointed again. “Look at that!” he exclaimed. “Is that a big fish down there?”

“Where?” asked Henry. He looked in the direction Benny was pointing. But he didn’t see anything except a few ripples on the mirror-smooth surface of the lake.

“It could be a fish. Or it could be an underground stream bubbling up into the lake,” said Grandfather Alden.

“Or it could be a monster,” said a gravelly voice behind them.

The Aldens all turned around quickly in surprise. Watch barked loudly and pulled at his leash.

Standing behind them on the trail was a man in faded clothes of brown and green that seemed to match the woods. A wide-brimmed hat was pulled low over his short grizzled gray hair. He had a deeply tanned and lined face. In one hand he held a walking stick made of a whittled branch. A deep basket woven of strips of bark was slung over his shoulders. Next to him stood an enormous dog with short brown and silvery white fur and one blue eye and one brown eye.

“Who are you?” demanded Jessie.

“It’s the Wild Man of the Woods!” cried Violet, shrinking back against her grandfather.

“Wild Man of the Woods? So you’ve heard about the Wild Man, eh?” said the man. His voice sounded like a growl.

Beside the man, the dog slowly wagged his tail and looked up at him.

“Nora told us about you,” said Benny. “Shhh, Watch! Stop barking.”

“Are you the Wild Man?” asked Henry.

The man shook his head. “My name’s Carl Nielson.” His teeth showed briefly in what might have been a smile. “I live up on the mountain, but I’m not the Wild Man.”

“Who is, then?” asked Jessie.

Carl reached down and patted his dog’s head. “He is. That’s his name. Wildman.”

Everyone stared for a moment. Then Benny started to laugh. “Oh, that’s a joke,” he said.

“Nora had us all fooled,” said Grandfather Alden. “We’re glad to meet you and Wildman, Mr. Nielson.” He stepped forward to shake hands.

Mr. Nielson looked down at Grandfather’s outstretched hand. Slowly, reluctantly, he shifted his walking stick to the other hand and shook hands with Mr. Alden. “You can call me Carl,” he said. “Everybody calls me that.”

BOOK: Boxcar Children 62 - Mystery of the Lake Monster
4.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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