The Secret of the Missing Grave
“This well-structured tale never loses momentum. Bean and Ab are likable characters who move through the story, unearthing clues that take them closer to solving a mystery that has existed for more than 100 years. Their youthful enthusiasm, investigative prowess, and endearing friendship make for interesting characterization. The carefully orchestrated chapters and the fast pace will hold children’s attention throughout.”
School Library Journal
“Impossible-to-put-down Maine mystery. Suspense builds neatly from chapter to chapter, and the ending is richly satisfying.”
Bangor Daily News, Sunday
“Crossman’s Secret of the Missing Grave is a gripping and well-imagined adventure mystery.” The Horn Book
“Be warned…you’ll find this suspenseful volume as fascinating as your youngster will.” Portland Press Herald
For as long as she could remember, Ab and her family had spent summers on Penobscot Island, off the coast of Maine – and far away from the sun-baked streets of their home in New York City. And every year, she spent time with Bean Carver who was her best friend, even if he didn’t seem to notice she was a girl. This year, Bean tells Ab that the Moses Webster House where she is staying with her parents is haunted, and the two friends become immersed in the history of the house and solving a mystery involving missing treasure, stolen paintings, a wailing apparition, and a tragic shipwreck. The discovery of certain ancient devices hidden in the walls and floors of the old house lead them deeper and deeper through a web of secrets and peril, closer and closer to the chilling truth of the missing grave.
The Secret of the Missing Grave
by David A. Crossman
Chapter One – Ghosts in the Walls
oooo“The Moses Webster House is haunted,” said Ab. She skipped a stone in the direction of a little squadron of ducks that paddled along undisturbed in the cove. They seemed to sense they had nothing to fear. Abby wasn’t very good at skipping stones, though she practiced every summer under Bean’s expert tutelage.
oooo“Everybody knows that,” said Bean matter-of-factly. “You gotta get lower down, like this,” he added, folding himself at right angles to the earth, “then heave, like this.”
ooooAb pretended not to watch as the tiny, round-bottomed stone danced across the glassy surface as though it were winged and weightless. The ducks still didn’t fly—she knew they wouldn’t leave their little ones—but they sure scattered in a hurry. The first skips seemed miles apart. The rest got closer as the stone lost its momentum, then finally trickled into a little chatter of numberless splashes. She lost count at twenty-two.
oooo“More wrist, less arm,” Bean instructed. “Like I told you.”
oooo“Who cares?” said Ab. She flipped a wisp of red hair from her face.
oooo“You look weird when you do that,” said Bean.
ooooAb sank to her knees on the damp vegetation at the water’s edge. She picked up a stick and poked at an empty urchin shell that had probably been a gull’s dinner not long before. “Do what?” she said.
ooooBean kicked at a nearby chunk of granite and focused his impassive eyes on nothing in particular. “I don’t know,” he said enigmatically.
ooooAb was a girl this summer; that was the problem. Of course, she’d always been a girl, but he’d always been able to overlook it before. This summer, though, well . . . there wasn’t any way around it. When she left last year, she was just Ab. Now she was thirteen and a girl all over the place. He’d noticed as soon as she got off the boat. When she did things like flipping her hair and tilting her head in that curious way, it just made it worse. That’s what he was thinking, but he couldn’t find the words to make sense of it, and he wouldn’t have said them if he could.
ooooAb looked at him slyly and flipped her hair intentionally. She knew. She wasn’t sure what exactly, but somewhere inside she knew.
ooooBean figured it was going to be a long, difficult summer. Already he was halfway wishing it was Labor Day and Ab and her folks were heading back to New York. He feigned an uninterested glance in her general direction.
oooo“You know about a ghost in that house?”
oooo“Sure,” said Bean. He sat down on a piece of sun-bleached driftwood. “I had a friend who lived up there before the Proverbs turned it into a B and B.”
oooo“You mean Dave Johnson?” said Ab. Her memory of the island and its inhabitants went back just as far as Bean’s.
oooo“Yeah,” Bean replied, a little miffed at having lost the exclusive option on that piece of information. Fact was, most of the things worth remembering in his life involved Ab in one way or another. He knew that when she left in the fall, he’d get that feeling like a punctured balloon, same as always. Then the leaves would fall, and snow would cover the island like frosting on a frozen cake. He’d go to school, go skating and sliding, play basketball and baseball, work and have fun like everyone else, but he’d be only half there. The rest would be tucked up inside somewhere, warming its toes beside that little crust of summer in his heart, waiting for Ab to return.
oooo“Well?” said Ab, a little impatiently.
oooo“Well, what?” said Bean, quickly looking up and away.
oooo“What did he say, Davey Johnson? Did he see the ghost?”
oooo“Nope,” Bean replied flatly. He let the word just hang there. He knew that would get her all worked up, and he didn’t much mind if it did. After all, she was getting him worked up, whether she knew it or not.
oooo“But . . . ,” Ab said at last. “Come on, out with it.”
oooo“He used to say he heard things.”
oooo“What kind of things?”
ooooBean picked a piece of grass and stuck it between his teeth. “I’m not sure I should say.”
oooo“Why not?” Ab demanded indignantly.
oooo“Well,” said Bean, “you’re stayin’ there, ain’t you? All summer long. I’d hate to scare you off.”
oooo“Don’t you worry about me, Beanbag,” said Ab, using his full nickname. “I’m not scared of anything.”
oooo“Didn’t say you was, did I?” said Bean calmly. He drew the grass between his thumb and forefinger and let the seeds fall on the breeze. “You’re the one who brought it up.”
oooo“So, what did he hear?” asked Ab, a little less belligerently. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know any more about it, but she wasn’t going “Well,” said Ab, sinking once more to her knees and drawing Bean with her. She bent close to him. “At first I thought it was just somebody bumping around in the room upstairs,” she said in a conspiratorial whisper.
oooo“So? Maybe it was,” Bean reasoned.
ooooAb shook her head dramatically. “Then I remembered there is no room upstairs, only attic.”
ooooThis time when she flicked the hair from her face, Bean didn’t even notice. “Really?” he said breathlessly.
oooo“What’d you do?”
oooo“Very, very slowly,” said Ab, slipping easily into her storytelling mode, “I got out of bed and tiptoed to the door.”
oooo“Did you turn on a light?”
oooo“No,” Ab replied a little sharply. She hated to be interrupted just as she was getting started.
ooooBean was incredulous. He’d have turned on the light. Especially in that big, drafty old house. “I bet you did.”
oooo“Did not,” Ab protested.
ooooBean let it pass. “Then what?”
oooo“I opened the door, real quietly,” Ab mimed the action in the air, “and went down the hall.”
oooo“Why down the hall?” said Bean impatiently.
oooo“That’s where the door to the attic is. Do you mind if I finish my story?”
oooo“I wish you would,” Bean retorted. “Just quit leavin’ out stuff.”
ooooAb rolled her eyes. “Anyway,” she resumed with a touch of long-suffering, “I got to the door and pressed my ear against it. Thump! Bump! Bump!” She issued the sound effects suddenly and sharply so that Bean jumped in his skin.
oooo“That’s not footsteps!” he said, dressing his discomfiture in indignation.
oooo“The footsteps came next,” Ab continued, pleased with the effect her narrative was producing. If she had to live with ghosts, Bean was sure by golly going to know what it felt like. She stamped on the ground. “But they weren’t coming from the attic.”
oooo“I couldn’t make that out,” said Ab, lowering her voice further still. “One second they seemed to be coming from the walls, then the ceiling. Every time I thought I’d figured it out, they’d come from somewhere else.”
oooo“Wow,” said Bean unwittingly. He hadn’t meant to sound impressed.
oooo“It was as if I was surrounded by ghosts in heavy shoes.”
ooooBean was bug eyed. He didn’t talk for a minute. He was too busy digesting what he’d just heard. “How long did the sounds last?” he said finally.
ooooAb shrugged. “I don’t know. A minute, maybe. I was just going to go call my dad when they stopped.”
ooooFor a while Bean pondered in silence. There had to be a rational explanation. That’s what his mother would say. “I bet somebody was just putting luggage away or something,” he declared.
oooo“Who?” said Ab. “There are only six other people in the house, including the Proverbs, and they were all down in the kitchen playing cards. I heard them.”
oooo“Mice? I don’t think so. Elephants maybe.”
oooo“What did they sound like?”
oooo“What do you mean?” said Ab. “They sounded like footsteps.”
oooo“No. I mean, were they walking back and forth, around in circles, jumping up and down . . . ?”
oooo“Oh, I see what you mean. Let me think.” She forced her memory. “I think . . . yes, there was a kind of pattern. Up and down.”
oooo“Up and down?”
oooo“Yeah. From the bottom of the wall to the top of the wall.”
oooo“Dash away, dash away, dash away all,” said Bean automatically.
oooo“Earth to Bean,” said Ab, tapping him on the head.
ooooHe ignored her. “Did it sound like more than one person?”
oooo“Or whatever,” said Ab.
ooooBean allowed for that. “Or whatever. Was there more than one, do you think?”
ooooAb pondered again. “No,” she said seriously. “I don’t think so. Come to think of it, they weren’t like footsteps at all, really.”
oooo“No,” said Ab. “I mean, now that I think about it, they were more like . . . they weren’t as regular as footsteps.”
oooo“More random, you mean?” Bean asked.
oooo“Yeah, random,” said Ab, a little surprised. “That’s what I was going to say, but I didn’t think you’d know what it meant.” Actually, she hadn’t thought of it at all, but it’s the word she would have used, if she had thought of it.
oooo“Thanks a lot.”
oooo“And something else,” Ab recalled suddenly. “There was a kind of metal sound to them.”
oooo“Yeah. It wasn’t just thud, thud, like this,” she said, stamping her foot on the ground. “It was more as if someone was dragging around one of those big, old cast-iron frying pans Mrs. Proverb has down in the kitchen. They weigh a ton.”
ooooBean smiled slyly. “Strong mice.”
oooo“Elephants,” said Ab, and they laughed.
oooo“Then I heard the breathing.”
ooooBean nearly swallowed his tongue. “You did?”
ooooAbby looked at her watch. “Ice cream time.”
ooooThey got cones from the little take-out on Main Street. Then they went to the wharf, where they made seats of some wire mesh lobster traps that someone had hauled out for repair. Bean had chocolate ice cream, as always. Ab had cookies ’n’ cream, as always.
oooo“That doesn’t sound like any ghost I ever heard of,” said Bean. He wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his T-shirt.
ooooAb was inclined to agree. “Well, whatever it is,” she said, “it’s real. I wasn’t dreaming, and don’t tell me it was my imagination.”
oooo“I won’t,” said Bean. “You don’t have any imagination.”
oooo“Yes, I do!”
ooooBean shook his head. “Remember that day last summer when we spent an hour out on Lane’s Island playing Creatures in the Clouds?”
ooooAb tossed the soggy end of her cone to the gulls and wiped her fingers furiously on the remains of her napkin. That was one of the many things that bugged her about Bean: When he looked at clouds, he saw dungeons and battles, fiery chariots, and swirling sultans on flying carpets. All she saw, if she tried really hard, were puppies and kittens. What made it doubly bothersome was that he couldn’t seem to concoct a decent ghost from all the ammunition she’d given him.
oooo“I do have an imagination,” she said in self-defense. “It’s just a normal imagination, not a demented one like yours.” She stuffed her dirty napkin down his neck and, with a squeal of laughter, dodged out of his reach as he took a swipe at her.
ooooBy the time Bean extracted the damp, sticky wad from beneath his shirt, Ab was halfway up the sidewalk leading to the Moses Webster House. Bean followed, but at the fountain he splashed water on his back and washed his hands. “I’ll get you for that,” he bellowed.
ooooAb had stopped in the front yard at the wood bench by the big forsythia and was staring at the house. The tower window seemed on fire with the golden rays of the setting sun.
oooo“That was mean,” said Bean, trotting up beside her. “Just wait. One of these days when you least expect it . . .”
ooooAb was only partly listening. She seemed miles away, lost in thought. “There’s probably a good explanation,” she said, more to herself than to him.
oooo“Sure there is,” Bean agreed quietly, so as not to intrude too sharply on her thoughts.
ooooAt that instant both of them caught a subtle motion in the tower window of the Winthrop House next door. A curtain had moved and a face appeared, watching. Neither of them could make it out, but they knew who it was. Abby shuddered visibly. “She gives me the creeps.”
oooo“That’s strange,” said Bean. “I’ve never seen her in the daylight before. I guess she’s not a vampire after all.”
Chapter Two – Fool’s Gold
ooooThat night Ab read awhile in bed, then lay in the dark listening so hard she could almost feel her ears pulsing. Nothing. A squirrel scurried across the floor above—they often found their way into old houses—and she heard the soft, comforting conversation of her parents as they got ready for bed. She heard the heavy drops of dew that the night collected from the fog as they fell from leaf to leaf in the trees, and she heard the distant foghorn on Puffin Ledge moan its weary warning to the dark. But of ghosts or eerie footsteps or things that go bump in the night, she heard not a whisper—until she was just beginning to drop into sleep.
ooooSo clear it made her sit bolt upright in bed, she heard it. Breathing. Deep, sonorous, and sad. And near. She could feel a chill, damp breath on the back of her neck. Behaving as any sensible girl would, she screamed at the top her lungs and dove under the covers.
ooooReinforcements were not long in coming. Scarcely had the echo of her cry died in the remotest corners of the house when a veritable herd of adults thundered down the narrow hall to her room.
ooooHer father was first through the door. “Ab, what is it? What on earth happened?”
oooo“Abby, are you all right?” said her mother, tossing herself on the bed and cradling Abby’s head on her breast. “My poor baby. Did you have a nightmare?”
ooooSuddenly Ab wasn’t afraid anymore. Instead she felt embarrassed and a little silly.
oooo“What was it, Tom? Is she okay?” said Mr. Proverb, who was now silhouetted in the doorway, tying his robe around himself.
Mrs. Proverb was right behind him. “If that scream didn’t wake the dead, they’ll sleep ’til Judgment.”
oooo“Oh, great,” said Abby under her breath as the parade of adults continued to pour into her room.
ooooMeanwhile, her mother felt her forehead to see if she had a fever, the same way she had when she was a child. Ab didn’t really object. There was something comforting about it. Of course, she’d never say so.
Ab cast a sheepish glance at Mr. and Mrs. Proverb, who, seeing that she was all right, departed with a sleepy “good-night.”
oooo“What is it, Punkin’?” asked her dad softly.
ooooGood question, thought Ab. “I thought I heard a noise,” she said.
oooo“What kind of noise?”
ooooAb squirmed a little. She knew that if she told them, they’d say, Oh, that’s only the wind, or probably just the house settling. Still, they’d asked—and she had gotten them out of bed—so she told them.
“Breathing?” said her mother when she’d finished.
oooo“Breathing?” her father echoed. “You mean like this?” He panted rapidly in and out, like an overheated Saint Bernard. Ab giggled.
oooo“No,” she said. “Not like that.”
oooo“It was probably just the wind,” said her mother, patting her on the shoulder. Ab peeked out the window. The willow tree, which swayed in the slightest breeze, was perfectly motionless against the glow of the streetlight.
oooo“Or the house settling,” said her father reassuringly. Even she knew hundred and fifty year-old houses didn’t “settle.” It was as if they’d rehearsed their parts. He lowered her head to the pillow and tucked the covers up under her chin.
oooo“The only thing you’ve got to be afraid of is what’s up here.” He tapped her on the forehead. “You’ve got too much imagination.”
Not to hear Bean tell it, she thought.
ooooThey left the room quietly and closed the door.
ooooAbby was beginning to wonder if they were right. Maybe she had been imagining things. She’d nearly convinced herself of that and was just drifting off to sleep when the slow, metallic thumping began again. It was coming from her closet.
ooooShe modified her response this time. She didn’t scream, but she did hide under the covers. It didn’t help; the bumping sound continued. Surely her folks would hear it and come running to her rescue. They didn’t.
ooooThen, as quickly as it started, it stopped. Ab peeked out from under the covers and stared holes into the deep shadows in the corner of the room where the closet door stood partially open. For a long time she waited, the blood throbbing in her ears as she held her breath.
ooooBut someone else was breathing. Once again a long, low inward breath, carrying with it a sorrowful sigh, drew a faint rush of air by her ears. Then all was quiet.
oooo“It’s the house,” said Ab as she and Bean ambled down the narrow path to the quarry. The sweet grass slapped at their ankles. Now and then, they spied a wild strawberry and stopped to pick it.
oooo“Well,” Bean replied, “you said it was haunted.”
oooo“No,” Ab replied thoughtfully. “Well, yes—but I don’t feel that it’s something in the house. I mean, it’s the house itself. As if it’s alive.”
ooooBean, holding an alder branch aside so Ab could pass, made eerie sound effects.
oooo“What if it is alive?” Ab retorted emphatically. “Haven’t you ever felt that a house has a soul, or something?” Bean rolled his eyes. “No, think about it. Sometimes, when you’re sitting in a house, don’t you feel as if you’re being watched, even when there’s nobody’s home?”
oooo“Nobody’s home,” echoed Bean. “You got that right.” He tapped his temple.
ooooAb pressed on. “Haven’t you ever had that feeling?” She stopped short and put her hands on her hips, as if challenging him to deny it. She knew her Bean.
oooo“I suppose,” Bean admitted grudgingly. “In an old house.”
oooo“Well, you sure would have that feeling at the Moses Webster House.”
ooooTrue, thought Bean. He would. The Moses Webster House was the biggest on the island. It had a tower in which a solitary window seemed to cast a stern eye over the town that Moses Webster had created. For a number of years, the house had stood empty, slowly falling into disrepair and inviting squirrels, bats, and homeless ghosts through its broken windows. Ever since the Johnsons had moved in and fixed up the place, Bean never looked at the house or thought of it without imagining it as it had been during those lonely, vacant years. The long fingers of the big dead elm tree in the corner of the front yard seemed to point at the tower on moonlit nights as if to say, best ye take the long way home than pass ye too close by.
ooooPassersby automatically crossed to the far side of the road, and even the most hardened skeptic couldn’t help but entertain the notion that, if ghosts did exist, the Moses Webster House would be the perfect place for them.
oooo“I think it’s sad,” said Ab, who had been talking all the while, but Bean hadn’t heard her because he’d been wrapped up in his own thoughts.
oooo“What’s sad?” he said.
oooo“The house,” Ab replied as they arrived at the quarry. “Haven’t you been listening to me?”
oooo“Sure I have,” he asserted in self-defense. Then his conscience caught up with him. “Well,” he added, “I was thinking.” He took off his T-shirt, blue jeans, and shoes, revealing baggy blue and yellow swim trunks from which he seemed to sprout like an undernourished scarecrow. His legs were blindingly white.
oooo“Wow, we’ll have to call you Frosty,” she said, shielding her eyes mockingly.
ooooShe undressed to her new pink bathing suit. “What were you thinking about that was so important you couldn’t listen to me?”
ooooCasting a kind of sideways glance at Ab, Bean suddenly felt even more uncomfortable. “About whatever it was you said,” he answered. “Last one in’s a rotten egg.” So saying, he hurled himself off the granite cliff at the cold green water below.
ooooA year ago Ab would have been right behind him. Now, though, she merely sauntered casually to the edge and sat down, dangling her legs and waiting for Bean’s copper-spangled head to bob out of the water. She knew it would eventually, out near the middle of the quarry. On the surface Bean thrashed around as if he were about to drown, but underwater he was like a fish. He could swim much farther than anyone else, even the older teenagers, who were now sunning themselves on the rough-cut granite slag heap that towered over the other side of the quarry. Even they were impressed, and they threw pebbles to mark the spot where they thought Bean would surface.
ooooThis time, though, Bean came straight through his own cloud of bubbles and looked up the smooth-sided cliff at Ab, silhouetted thirty-five feet above against the bright blue sky. “You’re a rotten egg,” he proclaimed loudly, his voice echoing off the cliffs.
ooooAb pretended to brush something from her knee as she studied him down the length of her nose. “Don’t be so childish,” she said, sighing. Of course, things would have been different had she been able to beat him into the water. Nevertheless, Abby’s aloof attitude confused Bean more than ever, and somehow her words hurt him.
oooo“Oh, yeah?” he said, buying time for something clever to come to mind. “Well, what about putting that napkin down my back?” He was paddling awkwardly to keep his skinny body afloat. Ab laughed lightly and tossed her head.
oooo“That was entirely different,” she announced, as if it were. Which it wasn’t.
oooo“What about a house that’s alive?” Bean retorted in his most annoying voice. Flailing away, he swam toward the ledges. Then he pulled himself out and began the long climb—by soggy little handholds and narrow, pebbly ledges—up the familiar cliffs. He was too angry to even notice how cold it was in those pockets of shadow.
oooo‘Now why did I say that?’ thought Abby. It was as if something had suddenly come over her. She didn’t think Bean was childish. She thought he was great. He’d been her best friend since the first summer she came to the island when she was four, and they’d shared a hundred wonderful adventures together.
ooooThe summer she was laid up with a broken leg, it was Bean who spent time with her, playing board games and reading books, when she knew he’d rather be out in his boat poking around the shallows. She remembered the times they tramped over Armburst Hill, with its craggy caves and spruce-covered granite ledges that rose high over the village. And the Trolly Pond cliff and its heart-stopping view of all Penobscot Bay.
ooooAnd to the south, Matinicus and Criehaven, those strange islands that some days seemed to float high above the horizon and other days—even perfectly clear days—couldn’t be seen at all. To the west were the White Islands—spiked nests of evergreen against the backdrop of the rolling blue Camden Hills. Up the bay were North Haven, Islesboro, and Eagle Island and, to the north, Blue Hill and Mount Desert. Ab took a deep breath. She might live in New York City, but her home was Penobscot Island. It always would be.
oooo“Good ol’ Bean,” she said aloud, just above a whisper. What had come over her anyway? “I was just teasing,” she apologized as Bean’s red head poked above the ledge. “You’re right. I’m a rotten egg.”
ooooBean had been seething as he climbed. He’d been rehearsing what Ab would say, then imagining what he would reply. In fact, he had the whole conversation mapped out in his head, and it wasn’t a very pleasant conversation, at that.
ooooNow this. There was only one thing for him to say. “I didn’t mean that about the house being alive, either.”
ooooAb smiled. “Well, I admit that it sounds pretty silly in the daylight. But at night . . .”
oooo“I know. Things are different in the dark.”
ooooFor a while they forgot about the strange noises. Instead they climbed down to the water and played and splashed and swam and dived in the little corner of the quarry they’d staked out for themselves.
ooooWhen Bean went to chase a small trout into the emerald depths, Ab sat on a ledge with her legs in the water up to her knees. New York seemed a million miles away. There, all her friends were wearing makeup. Some had started to smoke. Some were dating. Some . . . well, as her dad said, they were thirteen going on thirty, and he didn’t mean it as a compliment.
ooooWhat would they think if they saw her here, hanging around with Bean? She could almost hear the mocking laughter. What would they think of Bean? They’d be hysterical.
ooooJust then Bean’s head broke the surface in a shower of spray made golden by the sunshine. He gasped and sputtered and made one of his silly faces. She smiled, but there was a trace of sadness to the smile. Those girls would never understand.
ooooToo bad for them.
ooooThe sky was an unbelievable blue filled with puffy white clouds. They seemed to drift aimlessly around the heavens as they watched the deep magic of a Maine summer cast its spell on those fortunate enough to share it.
ooooThere were a lot of people in the quarry. Little ones in the slippery shallows just off the path shouted, “Look, ma. Watch. Ma!” while their mothers tried to carry on conversations with friends whose own children chirped the same timeless refrain. Boisterous teenagers stretched out on the granite slabs overhanging the Deeps, the cold black canyon that went straight down more than 150 feet. They talked too loudly and played their radios too loudly, and they defied gravity and physics with feats of daring and foolhardiness. They were saying, in their own way, “Hey, look at me! Watch! Hey!”
ooooOn the way home Ab and Bean took their time, poking at tar bubbles in the hot pavement and tossing stones at the windows of the abandoned schoolhouse down by the ball field, which had given way to tall grass and cat-o’-nine-tails.
oooo“They say there’s a tunnel between the Moses Webster House and the Winthrop House,” said Bean offhandedly. He plucked a piece of grass and stuck it between his teeth.
ooooAb stopped in her tracks. “Who says?”
ooooBean shrugged. “Everybody knows.”
oooo“Where is it?”
oooo“Nobody’s ever found it.”
oooo“Then how do you know it’s there?”
ooooBean didn’t know. “Let’s ask my mom. She’s the one who told me.”
oooo“Well,” said Mrs. Carver after a little thought, “I’m not sure where I heard that. It’s just one of those legends you learn growing up on the island.”
oooo“Tell us about it, Mrs. Carver,” Ab pleaded excitedly.
ooooBean’s mom finished drying the dishes and hung the dishcloth to dry on the metal rack over the oil stove. “I’d love to, but I have to make a blueberry pie for supper tonight.”
oooo“We’ll help,” Ab volunteered.
ooooBean was less enthusiastic. “We will?”
ooooAb regarded him with a furrowed brow. “We will.” She smiled up at Mrs. Carver. “And she can tell us while we work.”
ooooMrs. Carver nodded and held out her hand to Abby. “Deal,” she said. “You guys get the berries out of the pantry. They need to be washed and have the stems taken off. Pick out the white ones and put them aside with the stems.”
ooooOnce everything was ready, Mrs. Carver began her story.
oooo“Moses Webster and Isaiah Winthrop were business partners. They owned one of the granite quarries back in the mid-1800s.”
oooo“Which one?” asked Ab.
oooo“I’m not sure,” said Mrs. Carver. “I bet you could find out up at the historical society—Bean, just put in one cup of sugar, okay? I know the recipe says two and a half, but that’s for cultivated berries. These little wild ones are a lot sweeter.
oooo“Anyway, after some hard times, they finally got rich and decided to build the biggest houses on the island, side by side. So they made a friendly wager over who could build the biggest house. They agreed to keep their plans to themselves, and they agreed that a tunnel would connect the houses, so they could get back and forth easily. Especially in winter.
oooo“Well, they hired crews and set to. Construction started on the cellars on the same day, and the tunnel was the first thing finished—Ab, would you get the pie pan for me? Anyway, as I understand it, Moses and Isaiah went off to Boston for the fall and winter. They had houses there, too—apparently there wasn’t enough social life for them on the island in the winter—and when they came back in the spring, the houses were nearly finished.
oooo“That’s when everything started to go wrong. Apparently Moses’s house was bigger in square footage and Isaiah’s was bigger in height, so neither of them would concede that he’d lost the bet. Instead, Moses closed off his end of the tunnel and had another wing added to the back of his house.”
oooo“That’s where my bedroom is,” Ab chimed in.
oooo“Right,” Mrs. Carver agreed. “Isaiah closed off his end of the tunnel, too, and added another six feet to his tower.”
oooo“Did they stay in business together?” asked Bean.
oooo“As a matter of fact, they didn’t. Winthrop sold his shares to Moses Webster and went off and started his own granite company, right here on the island, to compete against his former partner.
oooo“Neither of them ever spoke to the other again, although they lived in those houses, side by side, for the rest of their lives. I seem to remember that their houses in Boston were across the street from each other, too.” Mrs. Carver sighed. “So sad.”
ooooShe opened the heavy oven door, tested the temperature, then slid in the pie. “Now, why did you want to know all this? I suppose you want to start looking for the treasure.”
oooo“Treasure?” Ab and Bean replied in concert.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I hope you’ve enjoyed these sample chapters of The Secret of the Missing Grave and are sufficiently intrigued to download the rest of Bean and Ab’s first adventure to your Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone or other reading device for only $2.99. To do so, simply click here, or click the book cover at the top of this page which will take you to Amazon where you can place your order safely and securely. And if you enjoy The Secret of the Missing Grave be sure to download the sequel, click here for the paperback, or click here to download, and The Legend of Burial Island. Meanwhile, PLEASE Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail everyone you know, tell them how much you love Bean, Ab, and Spooky, and send them to http://www.davidcrossman.com!
Thank you. Bean, Ab, and adventure await!
David A. Crossman