Chapter 15

Ari struggled to stay as far as he could from Finbar Fenker for the rest of the day, and when Arden spotted Finbar rap-dancing by the main entrance after the dismissal bell rang they made a quick detour through the kindergarten room and headed out a side door.

The quickest route to the library from school took them south, along the harbor, by Town Dock Park, which was looking unusually lively for a Monday afternoon.

“They must be setting up for Founders’ Day,” suggested Arden.

“Right,” said Ari. “I forgot. No school on Friday.”

“Hey kids!” called a lady wearing a sandwich-board sign with a big grinning image of Dudge Hunker on it. “Have a free sample of Hunka-vites vitamins?”

“No thanks,” said Ari, “not interested.”

“But they’re fruit flavored,” insisted the lady, “and shaped like tiny bar-bells.”

“Ari!” said Arden steering him away from the vitamin lady. “Look over there!”

A platform had been assembled in the middle of the park’s green lawn, and several workers were threading ropes through posts at the corners.

“It’s the boxing ring,” said Ari. “They’re not going to use it though. The fight’s not going to happen.”

“How sure of that are you?” asked Arden. “Your uncle seems pretty determined to go through with it, and we don’t even know what we’re looking for…or whether it’s even worth finding.”

“I know what we’re looking for,” said Ari. “A compass. Dewey’s compass.”

“Dewey’s compass?” asked Arden. “That fancy, sparkly one he was looking at in the church? He hid that before he died?”

Ari nodded. “Wilton Daylatch knows we’re looking for it. And he wants it,” replied Ari.

“So it must be valuable,” said Arden thoughtfully.

“Valuable enough to pay off the loan, I bet,” replied Ari.

“Ari, I think we’d better watch out if we think we’re anywhere close then. I don’t trust that guy. At all.”

A rough, smirking voice broke through the murmur of a crowd which had gathered around a table at the edge of the lawn. “You tellin’ me there’s someone in this town who can take on Dudge Hunker?”

“Of course,” said the oily voice of Wilton Daylatch from the center of the crowd. “A lopsided fight is no sport at all! Hunker’s opponent is an alumnus of my school. I know his skills well.”

Ari turned away from the crowd in disgust. “Let’s get out of here,” he said. “Wilton’s a criminal. If he thought it was a fair fight, he wouldn’t have bothered to set it up.”

“Don’t think about it,” said Arden. “Let’s just get to the library.”


This time Arden knew to ask for Miss Samms the first time, and soon the ancient librarian tottered out with her cane and smiled her wrinkled, dried-apple smile at them.

“We know what book we need,” said Ari. “It’s called Blackeye’s Guide to Orienteering.”

It seemed impossible, but Miss Samm’s wrinkled nose wrinkled even more. “That must be a very old book honey,” she said. “I can’t recall anyone ever asking for it before.”

Ari looked at Arden, wondering if they could be wrong about the title.

“But I think we have it,” continued Miss Samms. “I think we do.” Her few wisps of hair bounced as she turned and tottered creakily back into the glass-enclosed archive room.

“Could we finally be getting somewhere?” wondered Arden aloud as Miss Samms tottered back out, clutching a very slim book with a brown leather cover.

“I’m sorry to say,” said Miss Samms as she placed the book carefully on the counter in front of Ari and Arden. “That this old book spent far too many years in someone’s musty basement.”

Although the gold letters on the cover had worn to a dull sheen, they clearly spelled out Blackeye’s Guide to Orienteering. Under the title was a picture of a tree, it’s branches spreading across the brown leather cover. Miss Samms carefully opened the book, revealing nothing but the flaky stubs of a few disintegrated pages.

“There aren’t any pages?” asked Ari gaping at the tattered page stubs. “I can’t believe there aren’t any pages!”

“Not a one,” replied Miss Samms. “I’m sorry to say that they‘ve all fallen out. All we have left here is a cover.”

“This was supposed to be our next clue,” said Ari with a sigh.

“Well,” said Arden as she examined the stained drawings on the inside of the book’s cover, “maybe it still is. Look at this stuff.”
On the left side of the otherwise empty open bookcover were the compass markings N, E, S, and W, with an arrow pointing north at the top. Exactly the sort of diagram you’d find at the bottom of a map to tell you which way was which. And on the right side, a roughly sketched map, showing several streets and a handful of labeled buildings.

“Can we borrow this book?” Arden asked Miss Samms.

“More accurately,” added Ari, “can we borrow this book cover?”

Miss Samms’ face crinkled into a wrinkly grin. “I’m sorry to say,” she began, “that there may not be much left of it, but it’s still for reference only.”

“Surely we have a copy online,” butted in Mrs. Simms from the reference desk.

“Surely we do,” added the lanky chief librarian. She quickly punched some instructions into a keyboard. “Aha,” she said. “No pages, but I’ll print a copy of the cover art.” She gave her keyboard one more decisive click, and after a whirr and a buzz she handed Ari a reproduction close enough to the original that it even showed the mildew stains.

“Thanks,” said Ari. “I hope this is what we need.”

“Wait honey,” said Miss Samms. She rummaged through a desk drawer behind the counter and pulled out a small business card. “Take my card. You can call me if you have any more questions.”

“Thanks,” said Ari even though he couldn’t imagine why he’d need it. He tucked the card in his pocket, then put the photocopy of the book cover on a table in front of Arden. “What do you think we’re supposed to do with this?” he asked.

“It’s a map,” she replied. “So it’s got to be a map to something.” She pointed to a sketch at the top. “Like Daylatch Academy, right here.”

“And here’s St. Zita’s,” added Ari. “But we already know where those places are. This doesn’t help. There has to be something here we don’t already know.”

“Here’s something in the middle of town called ‘Jolene’s Four Corners,’” said Arden. “I wonder what that is.”

Ari looked up. Had Miss Samms just giggled? It seemed unlikely.

“Ari,” said Arden suddenly. “I found Blackeye!”

“You found Blackeye?” asked Ari. He grabbed the paper to study it more closely. “There’s a pirate on the map?”

“No, not a pirate,” replied Arden. She pulled the paper back and pointed decisively to the sketch at the left edge. “Here’s our school…and here’s Blackeye.”

Ari squinted at the line drawing which clearly represented the old building which housed DiRosa Elementary, with a tree–the same tree as appeared on the book’s front cover–sitting squarely in front of it.

“That’s Blackeye,” said Arden confidently.

“That’s a tree,” said Ari skeptically.

“Yes, Blackeye,” she said nodding. “Blackeye the black walnut tree. And it’s still there, in front of the school.”

“How does that make any sense at all?” asked Ari.

“A hunch?” she replied. Then she frowned. “Maybe it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t know. Why would Blackeye be a tree?”

Ari sighed, then picked up the paper and stared at it. He looked at the map on the left, then the compass on the right. He looked at the right, then back at the left. “Wait a minute,” he said. “I think you’re right. I think Blackeye is the tree!”

“Why?” asked Arden cautiously.

Ari pointed from the compass to the map, then back again. “North,” he said. “North. Daylatch Academy. East, east…St. Zita’s Church. South, south…right here, the library…”

Arden pulled the paper closer to her. “And West, west…” she said, pointing first at the compass, then at the school and tree on the map. “We’re going in a circle. A clockwise circle. We’re covering all the points on the compass!”

“Dewey’s a compass nut,” agreed Ari. “It makes sense that he would hide clues at the four major compass points.”

“So we go back to the tree,” said Arden.

“Yep,” agreed Ari. He folded up the map, and stuck it in his pocket with Miss Samms’ card. “We go to Blackeye. Tomorrow. After school. We’ll wait until everyone’s gone.”

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