The Invisible Island

BOOK: The Invisible Island
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is for Illusion…

Stacks of green bills were piled one on top of another. Everywhere Dink looked, he saw wads and wads of money.

Ruth Rose peeked inside a box. “More money”, she said.

“There must be millions of dollars in here!” Josh said. He closed his eyes. “I think I’m gonna throw up.”

Suddenly Dink looked back over his shoulder. “Shhh! I think I heard something!”

A muffled squeaking sound came through the fog. Then there was silence, then another squeak.

Dink gulped, frozen to the spot. “It’s coming closer!”

The
series!

The Absent Author
The Bald Bandit
The Canary Caper
The Deadly Dungeon
The Empty Envelope
The Falcon’s Feathers
The Goose’s Gold
The Haunted Hotel
The Invisible Island

This one is for Tyler Benedict.
—R.R.

To Josh and Jordan.
—J.S.G.

Donald David Duncan, known as Dink to his friends, answered the telephone.

“Duncan residence, Dink speaking.”

“Get over here!” Josh Pinto yelled.

Dink jerked the phone away from his ear. “Why?” he asked.

“My mom says we can have a picnic on Squaw Island,” Josh said. “She made us lunch!”

It was a steaming hot July day.
Splashing around in the Indian River would feel great, thought Dink.

“Okay, let me tell my mom and pick up Ruth Rose. We’ll be right over.”

Dink ran up the stairs to his parents’ room. His mother was sitting at her sewing machine, mending a pair of Dink’s jeans.

“Hey, Mom? Me and Josh and Ruth Rose are going to the river for a picnic, okay?” Dink asked.

“Okay but you kids stay together,” she said.

“Thanks, Mom!” Dink pulled on old shorts and his grubbiest sneakers. Before he left, he fed Loretta, his guinea pig. Dink heard her squeak happily as he ran back down the stairs.

Dink hurried over to Ruth Rose’s house. Ruth Rose’s cat, Tiger, was nursing her kittens on the front step. Dink carefully stepped around them, then rang the bell.

The door opened. Ruth Rose’s little brother, Nate, stood in the doorway. He had a cookie in each hand and another in his mouth.

“Hi, Natie,” Dink said. “Is your sister here?”

“Shu goofen muppy,” Nate said through his cookie.

Dink blinked at Nate. “Huh?”

Ruth Rose appeared next to Nate. “Hi, Dink, what’s going on?” she said.

Ruth Rose Hathaway liked to dress all in one color. Today she wore blue shorts, a blue T-shirt, and blue sneakers. Her springy black curls were held in place by a blue headband.

“Josh wants to go to Squaw Island for a picnic,” Dink said.

Ruth Rose grinned. “Great!” She leaned back into the house. “SEE YOU LATER, MOM! I’M GOING ON A PICNIC WITH THE GUYS!”

Then she bent down and wiped
cookie crumbs from her brother’s lips. “Natie, go stay with Mommy okay? I’ll bring you back a magic stone!”

Nate grinned and ran back into the house.

Ruth Rose pulled the door shut. Then she and Dink cut through her backyard and crossed Eagle Lane. A few minutes later, they were at Josh’s house.

Josh was in his front yard, holding a garden hose. His little twin brothers, Brian and Bradley were screaming and racing through the water.

“Hi,” Josh said when he saw Dink and Ruth Rose. He shut off the water.

“Gotta go,” he told Brian and Bradley. “Be good boys and don’t leave the yard!”

Josh grabbed his backpack off the porch. “Hope you guys’re hungry,” he said. “Mom packed a lot of food.”

“That should last you about three minutes!” Dink said, grinning.

The kids hiked through the field behind Josh’s house. Then they crossed River Road and walked to the bank of the Indian River.

The river flowed slowly, rippling over a few large rocks. In most places, the water was shallow enough to wade across. Trees and shrubbery grew along the banks. Birds and squirrels chattered in the greenery.

The kids walked along the river, slapping at mosquitoes. They stopped when they saw Squaw Island.

The small island sat in the middle of the river. It was mostly sand, shrubs, and rocks. No trees grew there, and no animals made the island their home. But the kids loved the sandy beach and clean, shallow water.

They waded in, wearing their
sneakers. Soon they were up to their knees.

“Boy, this feels good!” Dink said as the cool water climbed his sweaty legs. He kicked water at Josh and Ruth Rose. They splashed him back, and pretty soon all three were soaked.

A few minutes later, they flopped down on the island’s small beach. Dink took off his sneakers and wiggled his toes in the warm sand.

“Let’s eat!” Josh said. He opened his backpack and brought out plastic bags holding sandwiches, slices of watermelon, and cookies.

“I wonder what it would be like to be stranded on an island,” he said.

Dink chewed his sandwich. “Josh, we couldn’t get stranded out here. All we’d have to do is wade back to shore.”

Josh had a faraway look in his eyes. “Yeah, but what if pirates buried treasure here?” he said. He dug a hole in
the sand with his heel. “We could be sitting over a chest filled with gold!”

“I don’t think there were any pirates in Connecticut,” Ruth Rose pointed out.

“Why not?” Josh asked. He gestured toward the vine-covered boulders in the center of the island. “This would be a perfect place for a pirate hideout!”

“Ahoy mate!” Dink said.

Ruth Rose stood up. “I want to explore,” she said. She walked toward the water. “I promised Nate I’d bring him a magic stone.”

“What’s a magic stone?” Dink asked. He followed her to the water’s edge.

“This is!” Ruth Rose held up a smooth, pure white pebble.

“What makes it magic?”

“Nate has a bunch of these in his room,” Ruth Rose said. “My parents told him if he kept his room neat, the stones would turn into nickels.”

Josh joined Dink and Ruth Rose. He
handed each of them a cookie. “And Nate believed them?”

Ruth Rose grinned. “When Nate cleans his room, Mom sneaks in and takes one of the stones! She leaves a nickel in its place.”

The kids started walking along the shore. The sun felt hot on Dink’s back, so he took off his shirt.

“Hey, guys, look!” Josh yelled. He was standing over a footprint. “Somebody else has been here!”

He grinned at Dink and Ruth Rose. “Maybe it was Blackbeard!”

Dink stepped into the footprint. It was twice as big as his foot!

“I don’t know about Blackbeard,” he said, “but whoever this was has
really
big feet!”

“Look, here’s another one!” Ruth Rose said. “And another!”

The kids followed the footprints
away from the water. They led toward the boulders at the center of the island.

The footprints stopped suddenly in front of a squat, vine-covered boulder.

“That’s funny,” Dink said. “What’d the guy do, jump over these rocks?”

“Maybe he walked around them,” Josh said.

Dink and Josh began to circle the boulders slowly, looking for more footprints.

Ruth Rose started walking in the other direction. Suddenly, Dink heard her yell, “HEY, GUYS! COME OVER HERE QUICK!”

Dink and Josh ran back the way they’d come.

“Look!” Ruth Rose said, pointing down between her feet. Something green was poking out of the sand.

“What is it?” Josh asked.

“MONEY!” Ruth Rose yelled.

“A ten-dollar bill!” Josh said, grabbing the bill and holding it up.

“Wrong,” Dink said, plucking it out of Josh’s fingers. “Count the zeroes!”

Josh’s mouth fell open.

Ruth Rose’s blue eyes got huge.

Dink was holding a hundred-dollar bill!

“A hundred bucks!” Josh squeaked.
He reached for the bill, but Dink quickly handed the money to Ruth Rose.

“She found it,” he said.

“But who lost it?” Ruth Rose asked, shoving the bill into a pocket.

Dink pointed to the footprints in the sand. “Maybe he did.”

The kids stared at the footprints.

“Maybe he lost more,” Josh said. “Let’s search!”

The kids separated. With their eyes on the ground, they climbed over boulders and peeked under bushes. They found plenty of poison ivy, but no more hundred-dollar bills.

“Hey, guys, look at this,” Dink called from near the water’s edge.

Josh and Ruth Rose ran to where he was standing.

Dink pointed to a long patch of sand that was perfectly smooth. It looked as if someone had scraped a board over
the sand, flattening all the little bumps.

“I’ll bet somebody came out here with a rowboat,” Ruth Rose said. “This must be where they dragged it up on the beach.”

“I wonder if the same person who brought the boat made those footprints,” Dink said, pulling his T-shirt back on.

“And dropped that hundred-dollar bill,” said Josh.

Ruth Rose patted her pocket. “I don’t know, but we have to try to find him.”

“Why?” Josh said, grinning. “Think of what we could buy with that money. Split three ways, of course!”

“Forget it, Josh,” Ruth Rose said. “The money isn’t ours. We have to return it.”

“To who?”

“To whoever lost it,” Dink said.

“And how are we supposed to find the guy?” Josh asked.

The kids sat in the sand and thought.

“I know,” Ruth Rose said. “We can go to Ron’s Bait Shop. Maybe Mr. P knows who was out here.”

“Good idea,” Dink said.

“Boy,” said Josh, getting to his feet. “You guys sure wanna get rid of that money fast.”

“How would
you
feel if you lost a hundred-dollar bill?” Ruth Rose asked Josh.

He grinned. “Trust me, if I ever got one, I’d
never
lose it! Anyway let’s eat the watermelon my mom packed. Those cookies made my mouth dry.”

They walked back to Josh’s pack and slurped on sweet, juicy chunks of watermelon. They spit the seeds at each other as they packed up.

Josh shrugged into his backpack. “Well, if we have to return the money, maybe we’ll get our names in the paper,” he said. He scratched his ankles. “Maybe we’ll get a reward!”

Ruth Rose giggled. “Josh, the only thing you’re going to get is poison ivy!”

BOOK: The Invisible Island
6.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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