Mystery Behind the Wall (The Boxcar Children Series #17)

Mystery Behind the Wall (The Boxcar Children Series #17)


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The Aldens find a mystery when a visitor comes. Who put the coins in a hiding place behind the wall?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807553671
Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date: 01/01/1991
Series: Boxcar Children Series , #17
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 134,593
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.34(d)
Lexile: 480L (what's this?)
Age Range: 7 - 10 Years

About the Author

Gertrude Chandler Warner was born in 1890 in Putnam, Connecticut, where she taught school and wrote The Boxcar Children because she had often imagined how delightful it would be to live in a caboose or freight car. Encouraged by the book's success, she went on to write eighteen more stories about the Alden children.

Read an Excerpt


Benny's Problem

I don't know what to do with myself," exclaimed Benny one day.

"That's the first time I've ever heard you say that, Benny Alden!" said his older brother, Henry. "What's the matter with you?"

"I tell you I don't know," repeated Benny. "I've got a whole summer vacation and I don't know what to do with it. I've used up one week already. I don't like just to sit around."

He slid down in his chair.

Jessie, Benny's sister, nodded. She said, "You are right, Benny. You worked hard at school all year. And you don't know what to do with a vacation because your friends have gone away. You're lonesome."

"Well, maybe," Benny said doubtfully.

Grandfather Alden said nothing. He liked to let his four grandchildren settle their own problems. He was always there if they needed help. But even Mr. Alden was surprised to hear Mrs. McGregor, the family's housekeeper, put in a word.

Mrs. McGregor had worked for Grandfather Alden for many years. She was there long before the four Alden children came to live with their grandfather. She was a short little woman with grayish-brown hair done in a knot on the back of her head. She never paid any attention to style. She just did the cooking and looked out for the four children and their grandfather.

Now she said to Grandfather Alden, "I know what is the matter. Benny is lonesome, even with a brother and two sisters and a grandfather and a dog and a cat. What he wants is something new and exciting. And I have thought of something."

Grandfather Alden smiled and said, "Let's hear it, Mrs. McGregor. Anything you have to say will interest me, whatever it is."

"Well, as you know, I have a sister living in Canada. She is always writing to me about a neighbor boy who is lonesome, too. He is ten years old now, and an only child. Very few people come out to his place. He seems to be lively, always thinking up something new to do. He works hard, too, to help his father. If he came here for a visit, he'd think this house was wonderful. You wouldn't have to take him anywhere outside these four walls. He'd find plenty to do all by himself."

Benny gave a little jump on one foot. He had a big smile.

"Look at that!" Jessie Alden said. "Benny isn't lonesome anymore." She smiled at Benny. "You have saved the day, Mrs. McGregor."

"What's the boy's name?" asked Violet.

"His name is Roderick, but no one uses it. Everybody calls him Rory," Mrs. McGregor answered. "If you called out 'Roderick,' he wouldn't even turn his head. His last name is Beaton."

"That's a good name — Rory," said Benny. "I like Rory better than Roderick myself."

The Alden family acted as if Rory Beaton was coming that very day. And he hadn't even been invited!

Jessie said thoughtfully, "Where would you put him, Mrs. McGregor? That empty room next to Benny's is not really a boy's room. The wallpaper has roses, and the pictures are old-fashioned."

"I'll take care of that," replied Mrs. McGregor. "There's a red bedspread I can put in there. Maybe he won't even look at the pictures. He's a busy boy who is forever moving around, doing something. He may tire Benny out."

"A ten-year-old boy tire me out?" demanded Benny. "I'd like to see him do that!"

Then Grandfather put in a word. "You have to fix up his room, Mrs. McGregor, but Benny and the others can help you."

"Let's go," Benny said.

"We'd love to do it," Violet said. "It's fun to fix up a room for company. Let's go now. It will make the time go faster."

Mr. Alden said, "Wait. Might as well finish this business at once. Maybe Rory's parents won't let him come."

"I think his mother will be glad to let him come. She knows I'll be right at hand to take care of him," replied Mrs. McGregor.

The four Aldens smiled to see their grandfather go at once to the telephone. He always did things at once, or not at all.

Mrs. McGregor gave Grandfather the telephone number. Soon he said, "How do you do. Is this Mrs. Beaton?"

Benny could not hear Mrs. Beaton's reply, but he knew his grandfather was pleased. That must mean Rory could come.

Mr. Alden said, "Just as soon as you receive his airplane fare, send Rory along. We will meet him at the airport. Yes, Mrs. McGregor is fine. In fact, she was the one who thought of this plan."

When Mr. Alden put the phone down, he said, "You must remember that the boy comes from Canada and he will not talk exactly the way we do. You will have to be careful about that."

"Oh, we will be," said Violet, "no matter how he talks."

"How soon do you think he'll get here?" Benny asked.

"Three or four days, perhaps," his grandfather answered. "The Beatons will let us know when to expect him."

"Let's get things ready right now," Benny said.

So everyone, even Henry, ran upstairs to fix a room for their Canadian visitor.

"If Rory has the room next to mine," Benny said, "we can rap on the wall for signals." He was making big plans already for his guest.

They opened the door and looked in. "Not much of a room for a boy," said Jessie.

"Not much of a guest room, either," added Violet. "Look at the old-fashioned wallpaper with roses all over it." She pulled up the shades at the windows and the sun shone in.

"That wallpaper has been here for ages," Jessie said. "It was here when we came to live with Grandfather, and it was old then."

Henry said, "I haven't looked around in here for a long time. I think that this was a once girl's room."

Violet nodded. "I have a funny feeling about this room. It seems so sad to me. I don't know why. I guess perhaps it's because it is usually shut up."

Benny was looking at a picture hanging on the wall near the bed. He said, "Look at this old photograph! It's a girl and her family on the front walk of a house."

"Let me look," Henry said. "Why, Benny! It's this house — look, you can see the front door and the steps."

"Yes, but —" Benny said. "Our house is much bigger and it has another part over at the side. And the trees and bushes are bigger."

"That picture was taken years ago," Henry said.

Jessie said, "Let's ask Grandfather about it. Maybe the house was changed after this picture was taken."

Violet looked at the picture and the girl. Then she stared at one of the windows in the picture. She saw something no one else had noticed. There was a poster in the window.

"Look!" she said. "There's a poster that says 'Coolidge for President.' Now when was that?"

Henry said, "Well, President Coolidge was elected, let me think, before 1929."

"So that little girl must be pretty old now," Benny said. "I wonder what became of her."

Just then Mrs. McGregor came in with the red bedspread and everyone forgot about the photograph.

Mrs. McGregor said, "Here. Rory will like this, I think."

Jessie said, "That's right. It will make this look more like a boy's room. But Mrs. McGregor, do you remember when Grandfather bought this house?"

"Well, he had it for a short time before I came to work here. I was just a girl myself. I can hardly believe it, but it must have been forty years ago."

Mrs. McGregor shook her head and added, "Time goes by fast when you're busy."

"And slowly when you're waiting for someone," Benny said.

Everyone laughed. Benny and Grandfather were alike — neither of them liked to wait.


A Hole in the Wall

The four Aldens went to the airport to meet Rory. Their grandfather and Mrs. McGregor went along, too. Everyone was excited, wondering what Rory would be like.

"There he is!" exclaimed Benny, waving. "He sees us!"

"My, he's bigger than I thought he would be," Mrs. McGregor said.

Rory proved to be sturdy boy of about ten and also a great talker.

Henry drove, and Rory sat beside him. Rory said, "You're a good driver, Henry. I'm too young to drive a car, but I drive the tractor on our farm."

Benny leaned over the front seat. He said, "How can you drive if you are only ten?"

"It's only at home I drive. Just in the fields. I can't drive a car. I can drive and pull the power-disc harrow and the seeder. But I can't drive a plain car."

Benny laughed. He said, "I should think a plain car would be easy for you."

"Likely it would," agreed Rory. "But I could not run it on the highway. I don't know how to drive in traffic."

The Aldens did not ask about Rory's Canadian speech. It was the other way around. Almost the first thing Rory said was, "Benny, you talk funny. You say 'about the house,' and I say 'aboot the hoose.'"

The Aldens laughed. It was true they and Rory said some words differently. But that just made it more interesting to have a Canadian friend.

"What else do you do on the farm?" asked Benny.

"I help Dad when he has to cut down a tree. After the tree has fallen, I chop off small branches. Then I work with Dad to get the stump out."

"Why?" Benny asked.

"Well, we cut the tree down to make our garden bigger. The stump is in the way. We have a flower garden and a grand vegetable garden, too."

Henry said, "That sounds like hard work."

"Aye, it is," replied Rory. "I mean yes," he added. "My dad is Scottish, you know."

"Like Mrs. McGregor," said Jessie. "She used to call Violet a wee bit of a girl."

"Here we are!" Benny said. "This is where we live, Rory. Everybody out!"

Grandfather said, "Have a good time, Rory. I'll see you at dinner."

Henry and Benny carried Rory's things upstairs.

Benny said, "Want me to help you hang up your clothes?"

"Aye, that I do," replied Rory. He sat down in a big rocking chair and began to rock. He looked around his new room.

"Nice wallpaper," he said. "I like roses. And I like that red bedspread. That is a jolly big closet for one boy. And what's the picture of the house and that pretty little girl?"

Benny laughed. "Rory, you're interested in everything, aren't you? Probably Grandfather can tell you the answers. I don't know."

"Really, I am interested in almost everything," Rory said thoughtfully. He didn't mind having Benny laugh. "I like to know about things," he added.

"Yes, that's what Mrs. McGregor said," Benny replied. Benny took one of Rory's jackets and hung it in the closet. He took a coat and put it in the closet, too.

"That closet looks funny to me," Rory said. "I don't understand it."

"What's wrong with it?" asked Henry, who was going down the hall.

"Well," Rory said, "I thought that closet would be long and go way back. But it doesn't. It's almost square inside."

Benny knocked on the back wall of the closet. It was a wooden wall, not a plastered one.

"I can tell you about that myself," Benny said. "You see my room is next door. My closet backs up to yours. This wooden wall divides the space. Here, I'll draw you a little map."

"I see," said Rory. "The R is for my room and the B is for your room."

Benny said, "Come in my room and I'll show you."

The two boys ran into Benny's room. Benny opened the closet door and pushed his clothes out of the way.

"See? It's the same wall," Benny said. He knocked on it.

Rory said, "Let me run back to my room. I'll knock on my side."

"OK," Benny said. Soon he heard Rory knocking. But it wasn't as loud as he had thought it would be. He knocked, and in a minute Rory was back.

"Benny, did you hear me?" he asked. "I could hear you knock, but it wasn't very loud."

"Too bad," Benny said. "I was thinking we could signal to each other in the morning."

Rory looked thoughtful. Then he asked, "Do you think we could make a telegraph between our rooms?"

"A telegraph?" Benny asked, and began to see that having Rory around was going to be fun. "You mean run heavy cord from one room to the other?"

"Well, the back walls of the closets are just wood. Maybe there's a crack or a hole we could run a cord through," Rory said.

"And we could hang something heavy that would knock against the wall," Benny said. "Or even a bell."

"That's it," Rory said. "If I pull the rope on my side, it would make a noise on your side."

Benny got his flashlight and the two boys looked at the wooden wall from top to bottom. There was no hole or crack on Benny's side.

The boys ran back to Rory's closet. They found a small crack and a loose board, but no room to run any rope through.

"Do you suppose we could make a hole?" Rory asked. "Would Granda Alden mind?"

Benny laughed and said, "No, he won't mind. But why do you say Granda Alden?"

"Well," answered Rory, "we say Granda in the part of Canada I come from. It's natural for me to say Granda, just as you say Grandfather."

The two boys raced down to the cellar and raced back with a saw, a hammer, and other tools. They made so much noise that Henry came up to see what was going on.

"We're going to rig a telegraph," Benny explained. "But we will have to cut out a piece of the closet to get the rope through."

"How will you work this, Ben?" Henry asked.

Benny said, "Well, this is how we think it will work. We will hang something like a piece of iron on each end of the rope. If I pull the rope on my side, there will be a knock on Rory's side."

Rory added, "It will be a telegraph because we will have signals. One knock means, 'Are you awake?' Then the answer can be two knocks for yes."

"We don't need a signal for no," Benny said. "If there's no answer, Rory is asleep."

Henry laughed. He said, "I'll ask Grandfather if he is willing to have you cut that hole. If I don't come right back and let you know, you can go ahead."

No one came to stop them. The boys succeeded in cutting a very rough round hole through the double wood. It was a bigger hole than they needed, big enough to poke a finger or almost a hand through.

Next, the boys hunted for a rope to run through the hole. They found two old iron hooks in the tool chest. Rory tied one to the end of a rope in his room. Benny did the same thing with the other in his room.

Before the boys knew it, several hours had passed.

"There!" said Rory. "There is a fine telegraph to use tomorrow morning."

The boys called Mrs. McGregor to come up to see their new invention. She had heard the noise and was worried that Rory was doing some damage to the house.

She said, "Rory, I thought you were pounding this house down. You must remember this is not your house." Then she admired the new telegraph with its loud bangs. But soon she said, "Benny, Rory has not seen the rest of the house yet, or the yard."

So Benny and Rory walked all around the house and tried out the bicycles. Rory knew how to ride because at home he had to ride a bike to school.

Jeffrey and Sammy Beach, who lived next door to the Aldens, were gone for the summer. But Benny and Rory went up the ladder to see the tree house the Aldens had built with some help from their neighbors.

At dinner, Rory said, "Granda Alden, there seems to be a picture of this house in my room. It looks like a photograph."

"That is just what it is, Rory," replied Mr. Alden. "It is a photograph."

"And there's a family coming down the front walk," continued Rory. "It looks like a father and mother and their little girl."

"Just right again, my boy," said Mr. Alden, smiling. "You seem to want to know everything."

"That I do!" agreed Rory. "Do you know who the people are?"

"Yes, I do," answered Mr. Alden. "That is the family who lived here before I bought the house. You see I lived on this same street, not far away. I didn't know the people in this house very well. Their name was Shaw, and the child's name was Stephanie. Mr. Shaw sold me this house, and they all went to France to live. I have never heard from them since. Maybe someone else has, but I haven't. I paid them for the house, and that's all there was to it."

"Then the picture of the pretty little girl is Stephanie Shaw?" insisted Rory.

"That's right," said Mr. Alden again.

"But our house looks so funny," Benny objected. "The front door and the porch are the same, though."

Grandfather nodded. "That is because I had rooms added to the house to make it bigger. The work took a long time. It was nearly a year before the house was ready and I could move in."

"Was there any trouble?" asked Rory. "I mean between you and the Shaw family?"

Grandfather thought a minute. Then he said, "No, not exactly trouble. I did think the Shaws could have written to me from France."

"That is a little sad," Jessie said.

"It was almost as if the Shaws had never lived here at all," Mr. Alden said. "After a time everyone forgot that this had been the Shaw house once. It seemed as if it was always the Alden house."

Mrs. McGregor brought the dessert in. "That's right," she said. "It's been the Alden house for years now."

"And yet," Violet said, "little Stephanie called it home. I do wonder what happened to her."

"I suppose it will always be a mystery," Rory said.

"Maybe," Benny added. "With us you never know."


Excerpted from "Mystery Behind the Wall"
by .
Copyright © 1973 Albert Whitman & Company.
Excerpted by permission of Albert Whitman & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1 Benny's Problem,
2 A Hole in the Wall,
3 Surprise from the Past,
4 Is That All?,
5 A New Clue,
6 Jenny Wren,
7 A Real Puzzle,
8 So Near, So Far,
9 Don't Break the Glass!,
10 What It All Meant,

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Mystery Behind the Wall (The Boxcar Children Series #17) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the bomb because it is so cool. I recommend this book to readers of all ages! :-)
Robert Wallen More than 1 year ago
its the best ever
Guest More than 1 year ago
When Benny, Jessie, Violet, and Henry discovers something, they know they have a new mystery to solve!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best ever
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