Read Great Shark Mystery Online

Authors: Gertrude Chandler Warner

Great Shark Mystery (4 page)

BOOK: Great Shark Mystery
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“That was so great!” Henry said.

“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” Emily said, her face glowing almost as much as the Aldens’. “Now you can see why I love my job so much.”

“Thank you for letting us play with the dolphins,” said Violet.

“No problem,” Emily said.

As the Aldens toweled off, Jessie suddenly remembered something. “Emily?” she said. “Have you ever been to Wilson’s?”

A look of recognition flickered across Emily’s face for a moment, but then it was gone.

“Wilson’s?” she repeated.

“It’s a jewelry store in town,” Jessie explained.

Emily looked at her watch and said, “I’ve got to run and grab something to eat before my next show. See you!” And with that she was off.

Jessie and Violet looked at each other. “That seemed sudden,” Violet said.

“Yes, it did,” Jessie agreed.

“And there was something about the look on her face,” said Violet. “As if she was avoiding the truth,”

“All I asked was if she’d ever been to Wilson’s,” said Jessie. “Why wouldn’t she answer?”

“We didn’t even get to ask her about the key,” said Henry. “Let’s stop by the office on the way back to our cabin and see if anyone’s claimed it.”

The office was empty when the Aldens entered. Ms. Carver’s door was open a bit, and the children could hear her talking with someone inside, although they couldn’t see who it was.

“Maybe if we wait a few minutes she’ll be done,” Violet suggested. As they stood at the counter, they couldn’t help but overhear what Ms. Carver was saying.

Suddenly, she said something that made the children look at one another in horror.

“The only answer,” Ms. Carver said, “is to kill the great white shark.”

Kill the Shark!

The Aldens couldn’t believe what they had just heard. Had Ms. Carver really said she wanted to kill the shark?

The other person in the room with her murmured a response, speaking too softly for the children to hear.

“I know, I know,” Ms. Carver went on. “I’m not happy about it, either. But it’s simply too expensive.”

Then, suddenly, Ms. Carver’s door opened. The Aldens looked at one another, unsure what to do. Before they could say or do anything, Ms. Carver stepped out.

When she saw the Aldens, she looked surprised. And angry.

Then the person she was speaking with appeared in the doorway. The Aldens were surprised to see someone they recognized. It was Mr. Wilson. The children recognized him from that morning, when he’d been talking to the police outside his store.

“How long have you been standing here?” Ms. Carver asked.

“Just a couple minutes,” Henry said.

“Were you listening to our conversation?” she demanded.

“No!” Jessie said.

“I certainly hope not,” Ms. Carver said fiercely. She gave Mr. Wilson a look before turning back to the children. “What are you doing here, anyway?”

Jessie spoke up in a nervous voice. “We just, um, we just came to see if anyone had claimed the card key.”

“No,” said Ms. Carver. “No one has. Which is strange, because I can’t imagine how someone could do their job without their key.”

“That is odd,” Jessie agreed, eager to escape. “Well, see you later!”

The Aldens hurried out of the office. When they were down the path a bit, Jessie turned to the others. “Can you believe what she said?”

“How could she kill the shark?” Violet asked in horror.

“And why was she talking about it with Mr. Wilson?” Henry added.

“We need to tell Emily right away,” Jessie said. “I hope she’s back in the arena.”

The Aldens ran back to the Dolphin Arena, their sandals pounding the pavement. Emily was refilling her fish pouch when they ran in, breathless. She looked concerned when she saw their serious faces. “What is it?” she asked.

“We just overheard Ms. Carver saying something awful!” Jessie said.

“What?” Emily asked.

“She said she was going to kill the shark!” Henry said.

“She said
asked Emily.

“She said it was too expensive, and she’d have to kill it,” Jessie said.

“She was in her office,” Henry explained. “And when she came out, she asked if we’d heard what she was saying. We said no, because we didn’t want her to get mad.”

Emily thought for a minute. “I have a show coming up in a few minutes, but you guys need to tell Mac. He’ll know what to do.”

The Aldens ran to Mac’s office, which was next to the great white shark’s tank. They found Mac standing beside the tank, talking to some of the visitors who were crowded around watching the shark swim. Benny watched, too. The shark didn’t scare him as much as it had the day before.

The Aldens waited, trying to be patient. At last Mac finished talking and came right over. “Is something wrong?” he asked.

The Aldens repeated what they’d told Emily. Mac shook his head. “Who was she speaking to?” he asked.

“It was Mr. Wilson, from the jewelry store downtown,” Jessie said.

Mac frowned sharply.

“Do you know him?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Mac. Then he added quickly, “I mean, I know the store.”

“You’ve been there?” Henry asked, remembering the card key.

“A while ago,” Mac said vaguely. Then he steered the conversation back to the shark. “I need to know exactly what you heard Ms. Carver say.”

“She said, ‘The only answer is to kill the great white shark,’” Henry repeated.

“You must have misunderstood,” Mac insisted.

“Those were her exact words,” said Henry. “She said she wasn’t happy about it, but it was too expensive.”

“That’s terrible,” said Mac. “I never thought that would happen here. …” His voice trailed off. “I’ll go speak to Ms. Carver right away.”

When Mac had left, the Aldens hung around the great white shark’s tank, watching the huge animal glide slowly by. Its sheer size took their breath away each time it passed. The shark’s glassy eyes stared off in an eerie way, never seeming to focus on the children the way other animals did, like the friendly dolphins. But the shark was alive—and someone wanted it dead.

The Aldens wandered over to the other shark tank and looked at the collection of smaller sharks swimming around the algae-covered rocks piled on the sandy bottom. The sharks were a range of sizes, colors, and shapes. Some had flat whiskered snouts and hovered close to the bottom of the tank. Others had more pointed mouths and swam near the top.

A few minutes later, Mac returned. “Ms. Carver wasn’t in her office, but I left her a note,” he said. “I’m sure there’s an explanation.”

Mac stood with the Aldens for a moment, watching the sharks.

“Sharks are cool,” Henry said.

“Yes, they are,” Mac agreed. “They’ve been around for millions of years—since before the dinosaurs.”

“Are these all sharks in this tank?” Violet asked.

“Yes,” said Mac.

“But they look so different from one another,” said Violet.

“There are hundreds of kinds of sharks, and they are very different,” Mac said. “The ones in this tank aren’t dangerous to people. See that bottom-feeder down there?” Mac asked, pointing.

The Aldens looked down toward one of the only piles of rocks that wasn’t covered with algae. A shark hovered next to it. “That’s a nurse shark. It’s named that because it sucks on sand the way a baby sucks on a bottle, searching for clams or crabs to eat. When I first started working with sharks, I lost my balance and accidentally sat down on one of those.”

“You did?” said Benny. “What happened?”

“Nothing,” said Mac. “I was afraid it might be mad, but it just moved away. De-spite what people think, sharks aren’t out to get you.” Mac pointed to one of the sharks higher up. “That’s a sand tiger shark, and the one with the white patch on its fin is a white-tip reef shark.” Mac checked his watch. “It’s their feeding time now, if you’d like to help me.”

“Sure,” said Henry.

“Um … okay,” said Benny quietly.

Mac gave each of the children a bucket of fish. They followed him up to a raised platform next to the tank and he showed them how to drop the fish in.

The Aldens watched the sharks grab the fish as they fell through the water, tearing at them with their sharp teeth.

“They still look pretty fierce,” said Benny as he climbed down from the feeding platform.

“Sharks have a bad reputation as blood-thirsty killers,” Mac said, “but actually, most species aren’t dangerous to people at all.”

“Hear that, Benny?” Jessie said. “He’s been afraid of sharks ever since he saw the movie
Danger in the Deep.”

“That shark is dangerous, though,” Benny said, running toward the larger tank, where the great white was swimming by itself.

“It’s very rare for sharks to attack people,” Mac said. “Each year only about fifty people
in the whole world
report being attacked by a shark. Sharks don’t hunt people—it’s just that sometimes they mistake a person for a seal, which is what they usually eat.”

“In your book you said you’d been in the water with a great white shark,” said Henry. “What’s it like?”

A faraway look came over Mac’s face. “It’s an amazing experience,” he said. “They’re such beautiful, powerful animals. Once one bit me—but when it realized I wasn’t its usual dinner, it swam away. I went right back in the water as soon as the wound healed.”

“Weren’t you scared?” asked Benny.

“I make sure to be careful,” Mac said. “But I wouldn’t let fear keep me from my exciting work. I did all kinds of research out in the open sea, swimming with all kinds of sea creatures.”

“Do you go in the tanks with them here?” Jessie asked.

“We sure do,” Mac said. “Not just me, but the other divers also. We have to clean the windows, do repairs, help injured animals, things like that. When we first brought the great white in, we had to walk it around the tank.”

“You were in there with that shark?” Benny asked him, amazed. “Weren’t you scared?”

“It’s frightening, yes,” Mac said. “But we had to keep the shark alive. Unlike other kinds of fish, sharks need to move, to have water go down their throats, in order to breathe. The shark was sluggish, so we took turns swimming it around, until it was swimming on its own.”

Mac was silent for a moment. When he spoke again, his voice sounded weary and sad. “We worked so hard to keep this shark alive, and now someone wants to kill it.”

As the others watched the great white shark, Violet went back to take another look at the other shark tank. She’d noticed something—something that was different from the way that tank had looked the day before. But she couldn’t figure out what it was.

On their way back to their cabin, the Aldens stopped by the Dolphin Arena. Emily was in her small office next to the stands, looking through some papers on her desk.

“What did Mac say?” Emily asked as soon as she spotted the children.

“He went to speak to Ms. Carver but she was out,” Henry said.

“She’d better have a pretty good explanation,” Emily said.

“Are you all done here?” Jessie asked.

“Just about,” Emily said. “That was my last show for the day. If you’ll wait a minute, I’ll walk back to the cabin with you. We can go as soon as I find my card key. It’s been missing all day.”

“It has?” Jessie said.

“Yes,” Emily said, looking puzzled. “It’s very strange. I never lose things.”

“We found one in town,” Violet said. “We didn’t know who it belonged to, so we turned it in to Ms. Carver.”

“Really?” Emily said quickly. “Where did you find it?”

“In front of Wilson’s,” said Jessie.

“Wilson’s?” Emily repeated. A strange look flickered across her face.

“Have you been there lately?” Violet asked.

“Have I?” Emily said. “No, um—”

“It was robbed!” Benny interrupted.

“Oh, my goodness,” Emily said. “Do the police know who did it?”

“No,” said Benny, “but they said it looked like an outside job.”

The other children laughed. “An inside job,” Jessie corrected him.

“Oh, yeah,” Benny said, his face turning red.

“What was stolen?” Emily asked.

“Some diamond jewelry,” said Jessie.

Emily asked.

“Yes,” said Jessie. “Is something wrong?”

“No,” Emily said. “It’s just … I’m just surprised, that’s all.”

“So anyway we found a card key there,” Jessie said, pulling the key out of her pocket and showing it to Emily. “Ms. Carver said we could use it.”

Emily took the key and turned it over. “No, this isn’t mine.”

“How can you tell?” Henry asked. “Don’t they all look the same?”

“I put my initials on the back,” Emily said.

“Why don’t you just go get another card from Ms. Carver?” Violet suggested.

“Oh, well …” Emily paused. “I’m so busy. …”

“We could go ask her for you,” Jessie offered.

“No!” Emily said quickly. Then she smiled. “I mean, that’s okay. I’m sure mine will turn up. So—what are you guys doing for dinner tonight? I can give you the name of a great pizza place in town. I’d join you, but I’ve got some, um … things to do.”

Jessie wondered why Emily was suddenly so eager to change the subject. But as usual, Benny was hungry. “Pizza sounds great!”

BOOK: Great Shark Mystery
13.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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