The Castle Tower's Secret

story & illustration © 2003 Bruce Van Patter

the dark of the narrow tower stairway, all Mary could do was touch the cold stone wall and climb.
She was afraid of the dark. She was afraid of heights. But she had to go on. She had to find out who had a light on in the top of the tower.

Nobody was supposed to be here. This was her family's castle, but it was in ruins. She had never seen it until today. She and her parents had come to stay on the island for the summer. They rented the little house down by the gate. Mary had been exploring when she saw the light in the tower.

The stairway ahead was no longer black, but a faint gray. She must almost be there. Mary climbed ten more steps and came to a large wooden door. She eased it open.

Nobody was there. In the room, a lantern hung from a wooden beam. A sea breeze blew in through the window holes. There were many old things in the room -- a chest, a table and chair, a globe, and a big black hat with a feather in it. On the table was a large piece of paper that also looked very old. It had many folds in it. Laying across the paper was a shining sword and a half-eaten loaf of bread.

Curious, Mary tiptoed up to the table. The paper was a map. She bent over it. On it she saw a drawing of the castle on the island. On the castle was a big, black X and the words, "My treasure." Treasure? Mary wondered. There's treasure in our castle? Who wrote this?

Just then, a strange, high voice called, "MAN OVERBOARD!" Mary jerked up and spun around. Behind the door, a parrot stood on a perch. It tilted its head and stared at her with shining eyes. Mary sighed with relief. It's only a parrot, she thought. Don't be so jumpy!

Then she heard heavy footsteps coming up the winding stairway.

What a start!- Ahoy, matey! Throw your scuppers to the wind and help me!

Can you write what happens next? Does all this stuff belong to a pirate? What will he do when he finds Mary? Can she hide? Maybe they'll work together to find the treasure! Write an exciting ending with lots of dangerous doings! And...

Have fun -- finish the story -- and be creative! If you want to, email me your ending!