Chapter 24

Granny Frappler’s cackling was making Ari nervous. She sat rocking in her chair, ever so calmly, turning the compass over and over in her bony hands. Every so often she emitted a sound like “hee hee,” or “hoo hoo.” Ari didn’t know what that could mean, but he imagined that she might make that noise when she examined any worthless piece of junk. Maybe the compass was fake, and some kid had gotten it out of a cereal box and stashed it in the basement ceiling twenty years ago.

Finally, Granny Frappler let out a long whistle which started high and got very low. “Spanish Armada,” she said quite decisively.

“What?” said Ari.

“What do you mean, Spanish Armada,” said Arden nervously.

“It’s a Spanish piece,” said Granny Frappler. “Most like, one of them Daylatch ancestors was there when the Armada was whupped in 1588. And got it. Spoils of war. That type o’thing.”

“You mean,” said Ari, “that this compass is like, five-hundred years old?” He had no idea what this would even mean, but it seemed impossible.

“Thereabouts,” said Granny Frappler with a nod. “Worth…oh heck, I cain’t even guess. Tens of thousands. Too much for most normal folk.”

“But if it was Dewey’s,” said Arden thoughtfully, “wouldn’t it rightfully belong to his heirs…even if it was on the Soffits’ property?”

“His heirs,” said Ari. “Meaning Wilton Daylatch.”

“Heck no,” said Granny Frappler. She spat derisively onto the sidewalk. Arden jumped back a step. “Dewey didn’t leave nothin’ to no heirs except jobs. All his money, all his stuff…he left that to the town.”

“So what do we do with it?” asked Arden.

“I guess,” said Ari, “we give it back to the town.”


Miss Samms, her few bits of wispy hair sticking out from under a sailor’s cap with the words “S.S. Glacier Queen” stitched in blue across the upturned brim, stood facing a small crowd in the DiRosa Public Library.

“…and thanks to the sleuthing skills of our own young people Ari Soffit and Arden Feeney,” she said, “Dewey Daylatch’s compass, an important artifact in DiRosa history, can now be on display for the whole town to enjoy.” Then she winked at Ari and Arden who each grabbed a corner of a cloth draped over the display case they were standing next to and pulled, revealing Dewey’s compass, polished to a sparkling gleam, resting proudly in the middle of a display called “A Brief History of Daylatch Academy in DiRosa.”

This time Ari and Arden said yes to buttercream cake before hurrying off to enjoy Ari’s day off from the deli at Town Dock Park. As they passed DiRosa Savings and Loan, they could see chubby Ed Cooley sitting happily at the manager’s desk. Last week the sign in the window had said “Under New Management.” Now the word “new” was crossed out, and “old,” with an exclamation mark, was written in above it.

In front of Soffit’s Deli a pair of boxing gloves were hanging from a nail by the window. “Free to good home,” read a hastily written note taped to them.

Next door, in her rocker, Granny Frappler issued a sharp “hmmmph” as she peered fiercely at an unsheathed hunting knife, while the hopeful seller–a ruddy man with a pencil moustache–hovered nearby. “This was made fifty years ago by scammers,” she said. “Good for hunting suckers.”

At the end of Spoke Street, across from the school, Morton’s Drugs had placed two crates of Hunka-Vites on a sidewalk table with the word “DISCONTINUED” scrawled on the box fronts.

Ari and Arden cut across the school playground and headed into the park where Flossie Beemis and two of her friends were gazing, moon-eyed, in the direction of the dock.

“Oh Flossie!” sighed Eliza Dickens. “You’re right! They’re so handsome!”

To his amazement and delight, Flossie didn’t even look at Ari. She was too busy staring dreamily at the Daylatch Academy boys, in neat blue sailor uniforms and caps, who were chatting and laughing happily as they lined up to go rowing in a fleet of sparkling white rowboats, tethered to the dock.

“Can you believe it?” said Finbar Fenker, who had suddenly appeared behind Ari and Arden. “They took down the big old ugly gate in front of the Academy and everything! Hit me quick Soffit! Maybe you can get us both sent there!”

Ari looked across the field at the rowboats bobbing along the edge of the dock. He had to admit–it didn’t look bad. Not bad at all.

The boys in blue were being drilled on proper oar technique, and so far, all the boats were still empty. Except for…the one nearest the shore. Ari blinked and looked again. “In the boat,” he said to Arden. “Look!”

“Special secret with Feeney-Beeney?” said Finbar, who apparently saw nothing unusual in the boat at all, but Arden and Ari did.

It was Dewey Daylatch. First he wrestled his sailor cap out of Kipper’s mouth and placed it back on top of his mop of unruly curls. Then he popped open his compass, took a glance, and gazed out to sea before looking back at Ari and Arden and giving them an enthusiastic thumbs-up.


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