Jonathan discovers a trapdoor under the vines.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Jonathan Kippernickker Finds a Box
The Secret Message
The Mystery of the Red Pants
The Trapdoor is Opened
The King of the Desert
The Camel and the Kingâ€™s Nose
The Sultan of the Sun
Matthew Saves the Day
Jonathan Kippernickker Finds a Box
Once upon a time there was a boy called Jonathan Kippernickker. He was seven and a half years old. He had an older brother, Nicolas, who was eight and a half, a younger sister Sarah who was five, and two younger brothers. One was Matthew, just turned four, who was always having accidents, and the other was Timothy, who was not quite one year old and who slept most of the time. They lived with their parents, Mummy and Daddy Kippernickker, in a big house in California where it seemed the sky was always blue and the sun always shone. 7
One day Jonathan Kippernickker was sitting on the grass in the back garden, poking a hole in the ground with a stick. Nicolas, sitting under a tree nearby, looked up and put down the book he was reading. He said, “Jonathan, stop making such a noise with that stick. I’m trying to read a book and it’s distracting.” Nicolas had looked up ‘distracting’ in the dictionary. It meant Jonathan’s poking was getting on his nerves and putting him off his book. “But I’m bored,” said Jonathan Kippernickker, who was always bored at half past two in the afternoon, and went on poking. The Kippernickker children had a large garden to play in; almost four different gardens in one. There were trees and grass in one part, and a patio in another, and bushes with places to hide, in another, and things to climb, in another. But this afternoon Jonathan Kippernickker simply sat on the grass and poked with a stick. Suddenly, his poking made a different sound. His stick had poked something 8
metal. So he kept on poking. The sound was an annoying sound, a scraping sound, a metallic sort of sound. “Jonathan!” shouted Nicolas. “What are you poking now?” ”It’s something metal,” said Jonathan Kippernickker. He was looking into the hole. “It might be a water pipe.” Jonathan had read a book about water pipes, and knew they were buried in the ground to bring water to the houses from the main water pipe in the street. “It might be a gas pipe,” he said, after thinking about it, “or a sewer pipe.” The book he’d read had had a whole chapter on pipes. “Or a hose pipe,” said Sarah Kippernickker, who had come from the house to have a look, and never liked to miss anything. “Is it a pipe?” said Matthew, running across the grass to examine Jonathan’s discovery and looking into the hole that Jonathan had poked with his stick. “It isn’t a pipe,” said Jonathan, “it’s 9
flat, and pipes aren’t flat.” “It could be a square pipe,” said Nicolas, who was further on in school than any of them. “You can have square pipes.” “I don’t think it’s a pipe at all,” said Jonathan. “Look . . .” Jonathan began poking again and some flat metal could be clearly seen. “You need a spade,” said Nicolas, who by this time had given up reading and had come to the hole and was watching. “I’ll go and get one.” So he went to the garden shed to look for the garden spade. He found it hanging on a rusty nail. Lifting the spade down, he ran back to the hole where both Sarah and Jonathan were now busily digging with sticks. Matthew was digging with a spoon he had found. “Make way for the spade,” said Nicolas Kippernickker, and they stood back while he jabbed it into the hole with a loud clang, as the metal of the spade struck the metal in the ground. Then he began dig10
ging around the metal object and removing the soil. “I think,” said Jonathan Kippernickker, who was always thinking, “I think it might be a box.” “It could be treasure,” said Sarah, who had almost as many books as Nicolas and knew many of them by heart. “Full of jewels,” she added. Nicolas began working the spade from side to side and widening the hole. “Yes, it looks like a box,” Nicolas said. “Matthew! Get your spoon out of the way.” Then Jonathan shouted, “It is a box, Nicolas!” “Right,” said Nicolas. “Dig it up!” shouted Sarah Kippernickker. “I am digging it up,” said Nicolas. “Ow!” shouted Matthew, whose fingers were suddenly jammed by the spade. “Ow! Ow! Ow!” “Is it a treasure chest?” said Sarah. “It’s just an old box,” said Jonathan Kippernickker. 11
Itâ€™s just an old box,â€? said Jonathan Kippernickker.
“You’re just a pessimist,” panted Nicolas, now getting tired of digging. “What’s that?” asked Jonathan. “What’s what?” said Nicolas, removing more soil and stones. “What you just said. The ‘mist’ thing,” said Jonathan. “Pessimist. It’s when you don’t believe for the best,” said Nicolas, but just then the box began to move under his spade. “You’ve got it!” shouted Sarah Kippernickker, as Nicolas leaned right back on the spade, and with a crunching sound, levered the box out of the ground. Jonathan Kippernickker grasped it in both hands, pulled it out of the hole, and laid it on the grass. They all stood round and looked at the box. Matthew banged it with his spoon. It was just an old box as Jonathan had said, and had metal on it, although it seemed to be made of hard wood with the metal only at the corners and on the lid.
On one side of the lid it had two rusty hinges. At the ends it had little handles and at the front there was a metal latch, which was a greenish color. “Look at the green,” said Sarah, who liked colors. She thought she might like hair that color one day. “That’s the latch,” said Nicolas. Matthew touched the latch and some of the green came off on his fingers. “Matthew!” said Sarah Kippernickker. “You’re all green on your fingers and your nose.” He’d just rubbed his nose and it had a green smudge on the end. Sarah rubbed the smudge off. “The latch must be copper,” said Nicolas, who seemed to know about these things. “Copper turns green.” They all looked at the box. “Shall I open it?” said Nicolas, who didn’t know if he really wanted to. “Yes,” said the other Kippernickkers. So he did, and was surprised at what he found inside. 14
Sample Chapter 1