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The Mystery at

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First Edition ©2016 Carole Marsh/Gallopade International/Peachtree City, GA Current Edition ©2016 Ebook edition ©2016 All rights reserved. Manufactured in Peachtree City, GA Carole Marsh Mysteries™ and its skull colophon are the property of Carole Marsh and Gallopade International. Published by Gallopade International/Carole Marsh Books. Printed in the United States of America. Managing Editor: Janice Baker Assistant Editor: Susan Walworth Cover Design: John Hanson Content Design: Randolyn Friedlander Gallopade International is introducing SAT words that kids need to know in each new book that we publish. The SAT words are bold in the story. Look for this special logo beside each word in the glossary. Happy Learning! Gallopade is proud to be a member and supporter of these educational organizations and associations: American Booksellers Association American Library Association International Reading Association National Association for Gifted Children The National School Supply and Equipment Association The National Council for the Social Studies Museum Store Association Association of Partners for Public Lands Association of Booksellers for Children Association for the Study of African American Life and History National Alliance of Black School Educators This book is a complete work of fiction. All events are fictionalized, and although the names of real people are used, their characterization in this book is fiction. All attractions, product names, or other works mentioned in this book are trademarks of their respective owners and the names and images used in this book are strictly for editorial purposes; no commercial claims to their use is claimed by the author or publisher. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrightable materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

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1 Puzzled in Plymouth DING! Christina sighed, slipped her bookmark between the pages of her book, and picked up her cell phone. It was a text: WELL B THER SUN. “Mimi, why are you texting me from the front seat?” Christina asked. “Wouldn’t it be easier to just turn around and talk?” Mimi peered over the rims of her red sparkly glasses. “You’re so old fashioned to be a kid,” she said. “Don’t you know this is how modern grandmothers communicate with their grandkids? Besides, I need to practice.” “Yes, you do,” Christina agreed. “For a famous mystery writer, your spelling is terrible! And don’t type in all caps. It looks 11


like you’re yelling. And what does this even mean? Whose ‘sun’ are we going to be?” Christina’s little brother Grant giggled from the other side of the backseat. “I thought I was the son,” he remarked. He reached over and rubbed his sister’s cheek. “Maybe you need a shave!” Christina flicked her long brown hair behind her shoulders, raised one eyebrow and glared at Grant. “Maybe you need to stop rolling your hair,” she said, tousling his blonde curls. Grant crossed his arms with a loud “Humph!” He shook his head. “You know these are natural!” he exclaimed. Mimi squinted at her phone. “That’s enough, you two!” she said. “I meant to text, ‘We’ll be there soon.’ I’m still figuring out this phone, and the letters are soooo tiny! But at least our matching cases are super cute, Christina!” Christina eyed her new cell phone case and thought, Carrying this thing around is like wearing a tacky dress. It’s not that she 12


wasn’t grateful that Mimi had given her a case. It’s just that she wanted one that was more her style, maybe seafoam green or a nice paisley, and less Mimi’s favorite style— red and bedazzled. She couldn’t imagine what her friends would say when she went back to school. “If you technological wizards are finished yapping with your machines,” Papa boomed in his deep cowboy voice, “you might be interested to know we’re only ten minutes from Plymouth!” “It’s about time!” Grant said. “I’m ready to tear into some turkey and stuffing!” “Thanksgiving is still a few days away, Grant,” Mimi warned. “We’ve got lots to see and do before then.” Taking trips with Mimi and Papa was always a fun adventure. But when they invited Christina and Grant on a trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts, to experience the Thanksgiving holiday Pilgrim style, Christina had mixed feelings. Thanksgiving was a time to be with family and friends—at home. Besides, 13


who else could cook a feast as good as Mimi’s turkey, cornbread dressing, and pumpkin pie? This would be a weird Thanksgiving for sure. Grant had been even more concerned. “But didn’t the Pilgrims almost starve?” he asked. “And didn’t they eat wild berries and acorns on turkey day? I’ll bet they didn’t even have whipped cream for their pumpkin pie!” Christina felt Papa’s SUV slow down and begin a wide turn through the swirling fog. “Just like our forefathers almost 400 years ago,” Papa began, “we have landed at Plymouth!” “Don’t forget your jackets,” Mimi cautioned. “It’s a blustery New England afternoon.” Grant sniffed the air. “Wait a minute,” he said. “Something’s fishy here!” “You mean because Mimi said New England and you thought we were in Massachusetts,” Christina said, knowing how her brother’s mind worked. “Massachusetts is in the part of the East Coast known as New England.”

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“I know this is NEW England and the Pilgrims left the OLD England!” Grant shot back. “I mean it really smells FISHY!” Papa slicked back his gray hair and positioned his black cowboy hat on his head. “This is Plymouth Harbor, Grant. It’s where the Pilgrims parked the Mayflower after crossing the Atlantic Ocean. There are lots of fish in that water.” “And the boats to catch them,” Mimi added, pointing to the colorful boats bobbing like bathtub toys in the choppy water. But Grant, stopped dead in his tracks, wasn’t interested in the fishing boats. Something far down the shoreline had hooked his attention. He peered through the creeping fog, his expression quickly changing from puzzled to terrified. Seeming to appear and then disappear was the bony outline of a wooden ship. Grant’s voice trembled. “Is th-th-that a g-g-ghost ship?” he asked.

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2 Jailhouse Rock When Christina spotted the eerie ship, she had the same reaction as Grant. “That is so weird,” she remarked, before snapping a few pictures of it with her camera. “Don’t worry,” Mimi said. “If I’m not mistaken, that’s the Mayflower II, a re-creation of the real Mayflower. We’ll tour it while we’re visiting Plymouth.” “But one minute it looks like it’s there and the next minute it’s disappeared,” Grant said. “How can you tour something like that?” “The foggy afternoon light will play tricks on you,” said a raspy voice behind them. All four of them whirled around, half expecting to see a ghost sailor. Instead, an old 17


man was shuffling by. With gray hair and a gray sweater, he was well camouflaged in the fog. “If you want to see ghosts, they’re up there,” the old man offered, throwing his thumb over his shoulder. “That’s Burial Hill. Some of the Pilgrims are resting up there.” He winked at Christina and Grant. “Of course, they come out for a stroll every now and then. “Now, if you’re looking for something rock solid,” he continued, “I’d recommend you head down there to the water’s edge.” Papa tipped his hat at the man. “Thank you, sir,” he said. “I don’t know about anyone else,” Grant said, after the man had passed by, “but I’m all for something solid. I’m too hungry to tangle with any musty old ghosts!” At the water’s edge, a structure with large, white columns glowed like a skeleton through the gloom. “Is that a Pilgrim house?” Grant asked innocently. “Sure, Grant,” Christina said, rolling her eyes. “Mansions were waiting for the Pilgrims when they arrived.” 18


Grant was embarrassed and annoyed. “You know I haven’t learned as much history as you!” he exclaimed. “That’s why we’re here!” Mimi chirped. “I’m sure there’s plenty for all of us to learn.” She shot Christina a ‘be nice to your brother’ look and added, “Even Christina.” Grant’s ‘mansion’ was actually a pavilion. Underneath, scattered groups of people leaned over a square of black metal railing, staring and pointing at something. “Let’s go see what the ballyhoo is about,” Papa said. Grant scampered to the railing with anticipation, but his excitement was short lived. “Is that all it is?” he exclaimed. His comment echoed around the pavilion and joined with the grumblings of others. “See, that young man agrees with me,” one man said. “I told you this wasn’t worth the drive.” “Yeah,” another woman agreed. “I could’ve seen that in my own back yard!” 19


Christina peered over the railing. Several feet below them lay a boulder on a bed of sand. It was as gray as the weather, and the only thing that distinguished it from any other rock were the numbers 1620 engraved on it. It seemed to stare longingly at the harbor through an arched opening covered with metal bars. Christina sighed. She usually loved visiting historical sights, but she had to agree with Grant on this one. Seeing the famous Plymouth Rock, no matter how historically significant, wasn’t particularly exciting. She pulled out her phone, carefully shielding its gaudy case with her jacket, and checked for messages from her friends enjoying the Thanksgiving break back home. Mimi noticed her grandchildren’s disappointment. “That’s not just any rock, you know,” she chastised. “Legend has it that the Pilgrims’ first step on the new continent was on that rock. That would almost be like us stepping out of a spaceship onto an alien planet.” 20


“What do you mean by ‘legend has it’?” Grant said. “No one knows for sure?” Before Mimi could answer, the old man who had spoken to them earlier trudged by, carrying a bucket and a stick for spearing trash. He paused to answer Grant’s question. “The Pilgrims never mentioned the rock in their writings,” he explained. “But a man named Thomas Faunce, who had personally known the Pilgrims, identified this rock as the one where the Pilgrims stepped onto this continent.” He winked at Grant and added, “There’s more to this old rock than meets the eye.” “It must have gotten into a lot of trouble,” Grant quipped, struggling to stifle a chuckle. The old man looked puzzled. “That rock is in jail!” Grant said between giggles. “You could call it ‘the jailhouse rock’!” The old man managed a weak smile and continued to spear bits of trash. “The rock is not in jail, Grant,” Mimi explained. “Those bars allow the water to 21


come in and wash over the rock during high tide and go back out during low tide.” As Mimi and Papa walked down the sidewalk to the water’s edge, Grant slid around the rail to study the rock from a different angle. “Look at that,” he remarked, leaning over so far that Christina worried he might topple onto the sand below. “One of those Pilgrims must’ve had a weight problem.” Christina scooted to join her brother in case he started to fall. “You said earlier that you thought they were starving,” she reminded him. “And now you think they were overweight. Make up your mind!” “How else can you explain this big crack in the rock?” Grant asked. “I think a chunky Pilgrim stepped on it and broke it!” “I doubt that’s what happened,” Christina replied. “But at least somebody patched it up with some cement.” Christina pulled her camera to her eye to snap a few pictures. “Why don’t you just take pictures with your phone?” Grant asked. “Nobody carries around a camera anymore.” 22


“Sleuths who want to capture every little detail still do,” Christina replied. “This zoom lens lets me see things that my phone doesn’t.” As she focused, she noticed the neat rows left by a rake as well as coins tossed on and around the Plymouth Rock for good luck. But then she saw something so strange that she let the camera dangle on its strap and rubbed her eyes vigorously. “No way!” she exclaimed.

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3 Footprints and Flame “What?!” Grant asked. “What is it? Another crack? I figured if there was one fat Pilgrim, there were probably two. Poor old rock!” “It’s not a crack,” Christina said. “What then?” Grant begged. “I’m not sure,” Christina said. “Probably my eyes playing tricks on me, or lizard tracks or something.” She pulled her camera back to her eyes and scanned the sand bed again. But there was no mistaking what she saw. They were footprints—but not just any footprints. These footprints didn’t look like any feet she’d ever seen. They were about the size of a newborn baby’s feet, skinny at the heel and wide at the three toes. The footprints marched in a straight line from the edge of 25


the rock’s enclosure and disappeared at the rock itself. “Let me see!” Grant said, snatching his sister’s camera for a better look. “Do you mean those weird tracks?” he asked. “Any chance they’re baby Pilgrim tracks?” Christina rolled her eyes. “And how many baby Pilgrims do you see walking around here?” she asked. “Plus, there are only three toes. Another weird thing is that there are tracks to the rock, but none moving away from it. It’s like whoever or whatever made those tracks walked to the rock and then disappeared into thin—” P O P ! P O P ! P I F ! A bright orange flame flashed above the rock before Christina could finish her sentence. Grant, with the camera still to his eye, saw it too. “Yipes!” he yelled. Stunned, Christina and Grant stared at each other in disbelief. “You d-d-did s-s-see that d-d-didn’t you?” Grant stuttered. “Uh-huh,” Christina said, with a slow, trembling nod. 26


Christina and Grant had traveled the world and visited many fascinating and mysterious places. Although Mimi was the one who solved mysteries in the pages of her books, Christina and Grant always managed to get tangled up in mysteries of their own. Despite Papa’s warnings to leave the mystery-solving to their grandmother, they had a pretty good success rate of solving them. But who could have imagined they would find mystery at a plain, old rock on a gray day in New England? Christina was beyond baffled. She thought, Will this be the first mystery we can’t solve?

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The Mystery at Plymouth Rock  

The Mystery at Plymouth Rock - Christina, Grant, and two new friends visit historic Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, and get mixed up in a my...

The Mystery at Plymouth Rock  

The Mystery at Plymouth Rock - Christina, Grant, and two new friends visit historic Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, and get mixed up in a my...

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