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儿童英语读物 The Tattletale Mystery CHAPTER 5 A Warning

时间:2017-10-25 08:42来源:互联网 提供网友:qing   字体: [ ]

Solving mysteries is hard work,” Benny said as they wheeled their bikes back onto the road. “But it’s fun, too,” he quickly added.

“That’s for sure!” Jessie said. And the others agreed. The Aldens were never happier than when they were figuring out clues.

Henry looked at his wristwatch. “It’s almost lunchtime. Why don’t we get something to eat at Cooke’s Drugstore.”

Benny was grinning from ear to ear. “That’s a great idea!”

It wasn’t long before they were sitting at the long lunch counter of the drugstore, studying the menus.

“Aaah, my favorite customers!” Mrs. Turner greeted the children with a big smile. Her gray hair was pinned back from her round face. “What’ll it be today?”

Henry ordered a ham sandwich, coleslaw, and a cola. Jessie had a bacon and tomato sandwich and milk, and Violet ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and a strawberry milk shake. Benny decided on a hamburger, french fries, a chocolate sundae with extra sprinkles, and milk.

“Benny, you eat like a bird,” Mrs. Turner teased good-naturedly. “And I don’t mean that kind of bird!”

The children looked at Mrs. Turner, then in the direction she was pointing. Through the big plate-glass window, they could see a small pigeon on the top of the minuteman statue. They couldn’t help laughing at Josiah Wade. The Revolutionary War hero was standing in the middle of Town Square with his musket at his side — and a pigeon on his head!

“No, you don’t eat like a pigeon, Benny,” Mrs. Turner went on. “I was thinking more of those big prehistoric birds.”

Benny grinned. “I wonder if they liked extra sprinkles, too,” he said, making them all laugh.

While they waited for their food, the Aldens turned their attention to the mystery. “I wish we knew more about the Tattletale,” said Jessie. “I can’t stop wondering who it is.”

“At least we have another clue,” put in Henry.

The others looked surprised to hear this. “We do?”

“Sure.” Henry nodded. “The Tattletale must be somebody who knows a lot about art history.”

Nodding, Violet said, “That’s true. How else would he — or she — know that Leonardo da Vinci wrote his notes in codes and mirror writing?”

Benny took a spin on his red-leather stool. “Leonardo really did have the key to a rhyme! I can’t wait to tell Mrs. Spencer all about it.”

“We’ll do that right after lunch, Henry said. “And then we can try to figure out what the message means.”

As soon as they finished eating, the Aldens hiked over to Mrs. Spencer’s. Just as they were turning into the driveway Jessie looked up and saw the elderly woman waving to them from an upstairs window. She was motioning for the children to come in.

After parking their bikes, the Aldens hurried up the front walk. Benny raced ahead of the others. When he stepped inside, his eyebrows shot up in surprise. A woman with short sandy-colored hair was sitting in the living room, flipping through a photograph album.

When the screen door clicked shut, the woman suddenly jumped. She closed the photograph album with a sudden bang, then tossed it quickly onto the coffee table. It was almost as though she’d been caught doing something she shouldn’t.

Just as the other Aldens came inside, the woman spotted Benny standing in the doorway. Leaping to her feet, she snapped, “How dare you come in without knocking!”

Benny’s face turned bright red. “I’m sorry,” he said in a small voice, taking a step back.

Henry was quickly at his brother’s side. “We thought Mrs. Spencer wanted us to —” he began.

The woman cut in, “Whatever you’re selling, my mother isn’t interested.”

“You must be Rachel,” said Jessie, smiling a little. “We’re the Aldens. I’m Jessie. And this is my sister, Violet, and my brothers, Henry and Benny.”

“And we’re not here to sell anything,” Henry assured her.

Violet put in, “Mrs. Spencer’s a good friend of ours.”

“Well, isn’t it just wonderful to meet the Aldens!” Rachel responded, though it was clear from her voice that she didn’t think it was wonderful at all. “My mother told me what’s been going on, you know,” she said, coming out into the hallway. “And I don’t like it. Not one little bit!” She gave the children a hard look.

Henry and Jessie turned to each other in disbelief. Why was Rachel so angry?

“You’d better stop this little game of yours. I’m warning you, you’ll be sorry if you don’t!” And with that, Mrs. Spencer’s daughter hurried out the door.

When she was gone, Henry shook his head in astonishment. “What was that all about?”

“I thought we were supposed to come right in.” Benny took a deep breath.

Jessie put an arm around her little brother. “Don’t worry, Benny,” she said, trying to comfort him. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Did I just hear Rachel leave?” Mrs. Spencer asked as she came down the stairs. When the children nodded, she said, “Oh, dear. I was hoping we could all have a nice visit together.”

“I don’t think Rachel likes us very much.” Benny still felt upset.

“I’m sure she likes you just fine, Benny,” Mrs. Spencer assured him. “Rachel has a good heart, but sometimes she gets a bit grumpy. You mustn’t let it bother you. She’s been a bit worried about money lately. She’s a real estate agent, and things are slow for her at work right now. I keep telling her to go into nursing. Rachel always wanted to become a nurse, you know. But she says she can’t afford to go back to school. The truth is, she could afford it if she’d move back home with me for a while. But she insists she doesn’t want to get in the way. And she thinks she’s too old to go back to school.”

“That’s a shame,” said Jessie, softening a little toward Rachel.

Mrs. Spencer suddenly changed the subject. “I’m glad you stopped by,” she said. “I have something to show you.” Then she led the way into the living room.

“You mentioned you wanted to see one of Milly’s paintings, Violet.” Mrs. Spencer made herself comfortable on the sofa. “I remembered a picture I’d taken in Milly’s backyard.” She reached for the photograph album. Everyone gathered around as she turned the pages one by one.

“Here it is.” Mrs. Spencer put her finger under a snapshot of an elderly woman sitting at an easel, her hair hanging down her back in one long silver braid. There was a young woman standing nearby. “You can see what Milly’s painting. It’s the self-portrait I was telling you about.”

Violet looked closely at the photograph. “Oh, she really was awonderful artist!” she said, admiringly.

Benny pointed to the young woman in the photograph. “Who’s that?” he asked.

The other Aldens had been wondering about her, too. The young woman was wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, and her blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail.

“Oh, that’s Peg,” Mrs. Spencer answered. “She was a promising young artist Milly’d taken under her wing. Milly was always encouraging her to develop a style of her own. But Peg was too eager to make a name for herself in the art world. She liked to imitate the latest up-and-coming artists. Milly, on the other hand, was one of a kind.” Mrs. Spencer suddenly sighed. “Oh, I do miss her!”

None of the Aldens liked to hear the sadness in Mrs. Spencer’s voice. Violet was trying to find something cheery to say when Jessie spoke up.

“You won’t believe this, but we figured out the coded message!”

Mrs. Spencer looked surprised — and pleased.

After telling Mrs. Spencer about their visit to the library, Jessie read the rhyme they’d decoded out loud.

“It doesn’t make any sense to us,” finished Violet.

Mrs. Spencer threw up her hands. “I’m afraid it doesn’t make any sense to me, either.”

The Aldens looked at one another. They were each thinking the same thing: How were they going to solve such a strange mystery?

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