Mystery of the Secret Message

Read Mystery of the Secret Message for Free Online

Book: Read Mystery of the Secret Message for Free Online
Authors: Charles Tang
cake.
    “It’s butter pecan,” she said before Benny could ask. She cut thick slices for each of the children. “You can think better after you’ve eaten cake warm from the oven.”
    “Delicious!” Jessie praised, licking brown-sugar frosting from her fork.
    Henry ate slowly. He was thinking about Violet’s missing camera bag. So many strange things had happened in the town square lately. Was one person causing all the trouble?
    Just then Grandfather came back. “That was certainly a strange call,” he said quietly.
    “What was it about?” asked Henry. He sensed his grandfather’s concern.
    “The person on the other end said, ‘Tell the town council to put the statue in the museum, or else!’ ”
    “That is strange,” Benny agreed. “Who was it?”
    Grandfather shrugged. “It was a man. His voice was muffled, but . . . well, it sounded a little like Rick Bass.”
    A chill rippled down Jessie’s spine. Rick was supposed to help decorate that afternoon and he never showed up. Was he planning to make a threatening phone call instead?
    When the phone rang again, everyone jumped.
    “Don’t answer it,” Violet begged.
    “I have to find out who it is,” Grandfather said, leaving the table once more.
    The Aldens were tense until their grandfather returned.
    “Was it that man again?” Benny asked.
    “No.” James Alden heaved a big sigh. “It was Ron Shiplett, the manager of the construction crew I hired to build the festival booths.”
    Jessie opened her notebook, her pencil posed over the page. “What did he want? I’ll write it down.”
    “He’s canceling!” Grandfather answered. “I have no idea where I’ll get another construction crew on such short notice. So much has gone wrong. The festival is only two days away and I need a new clown and anew construction crew!”
    For the first time, Grandfather really sounded worried.
    The next morning, Grandfather dropped the children in town.
    “I’ll be back soon,” he told them. “I’ll pick you up by the town hall.” Then he drove off to an appointment.
    The Aldens were supposed to find someone to play the clown. They planned to ask around the shops.
    But when they stepped into the square, a shocking sight met them.
    The town square was a mess.
    Their decorations had been torn down. Scraps of boughs and battered wreaths lay scattered around the square. Trampled holly had been stuffed in the trash cans.

    “Oh, no!” Violet exclaimed.
    “The phantom strikes again.” Henry picked up a twisted wreath. “Grandfather will have to go back to the nursery and buy more greenery.”
    “Maybe we can save some of this,” Benny suggested.
    He walked over to the trash can near the town hall and lifted out a pile of holly.
    Then he gave a cry. The others ran over.
    “Look what I found!” Benny reached in and pulled out a familiar gray bag.
    “My camera!” Violet unzipped the bag. Her camera was still there. Even her rolls of film were still stored in special pockets along the padded sides.
    Jessie set her tote bag behind the bench.
    “Why would someone take Violet’s case and then put it in the trash?” she asked.
    Henry was puzzled, too. “If the thief didn’t want the camera, then what did he want?”
    Violet drew in a breath. “The message photograph! I put it in the pocket with my film.” She hastily checked the bag. “And it’s missing!”
    Henry snapped his fingers. “That explains why our things were gone through yesterday. Someone wanted that photograph bad enough to steal it!”
    “Was it the person who sent the photograph?” Jessie mused. “Or the person who was supposed to receive it?”
    “How come no one ever sees anything?” Henry wanted to know. “The statue was painted, the door numbers switched, and our decorations were ruined — all by an invisible person!”
    “It’s the phantom of Greenfield Square,” Benny said.
    Jessie shook her head. “It’s no ghost. The person is too smart to get caught, that’s

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