Dunc and the Haunted Castle

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YEARLING BOOKS/YOUNG YEARLINGS/YEARLING CLASSICS
are designed especially to entertain and enlighten young people. Patricia Reilly Giff, consultant to this series, received her bachelor’s degree from Marymount College and a master’s degree in history from St. John’s University. She holds a Professional Diploma in Reading and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University. She was a teacher and reading consultant for many years and is the author of numerous books for young readers.

For a complete listing of all Yearling titles,
write to Dell Readers Service,
P.O. Box 1045, South Holland, IL 60473.

Published by
Dell Publishing
a division of
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
1540 Broadway
New York, New York 10036

Copyright © 1993 by Gary Paulsen

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.

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The trademark Dell
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is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

eISBN: 978-0-307-80393-1

v3.1

Contents

Amos Binder was in his room reading a letter from his cousin, T.J. Tyler.

… so my dad rented this really old castle for the summer. He has some research to do here in Scotland and he brought me with him. That’s where you guys come in. He doesn’t have much time to spend with me so he says he’d be glad to fly you over to keep me company. What do you say?

Sincerely, T.J.

P.S. Weird things are going on around here.
I could use some help.

“What do you make of that?” Amos handed the letter to Duncan—Dunc—Culpepper, his best friend for life.

Dunc studied the letter. “That last part’s kind of mysterious. Sounds like he needs us.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought too. I guess I’d be willing to give up my date with Melissa to go to Scotland.”

“Amos, you don’t have a date with Melissa.”

Melissa Hansen was the light of Amos’s life. As far as Amos was concerned, no other girl compared to her. Melissa gave Amos about as much thought as she gave an ant crawling on the sidewalk. Actually, she’d probably give more thought to the ant.

“Not officially,” Amos said. “But she tried to call last night to ask me to the youth club dance.”

“What do you mean, she
tried
to call?”

“The phone rang while I was in my room composing a letter to Dear Abby about the incredible injustice of a person being grounded for the rest of his life just because of a small accident involving their dad’s power saw and the garage door.”

“Wait a minute,” Dunc said. “You never told me you were grounded!”

Amos shrugged. “It didn’t last long because after the phone call I’m no longer grounded. Now I’m up for adoption.”

“What did you destroy this time?”

“Nothing. For once, I didn’t ruin anything.”

“Your parents want to farm you out, and you didn’t mess anything up? Are you sure?”

Amos nodded. “It was like this. When the phone rang, I knew it was Melissa. Her ring has that rare three beats to a pulse.”

Amos claimed he could tell Melissa’s ring from anybody else’s. Dunc knew it was impossible, not only because his research indicated that Amos’s phone rang the same way every time but because Melissa Hansen wouldn’t call someone who didn’t rate any higher than an ant.

“Anyway,” Amos continued, “I had to get it on that all-important first ring. So I headed for the nearest phone.”

“Which was in?”

“My sister’s room. She just got one installed for her birthday.”

“So far it doesn’t sound so awful.”

Amos slapped his knee. “That’s what I said. Too bad my sister and the other cheerleaders didn’t see it that way.”

“Cheerleaders?”

“Yeah. How was I supposed to know they were all in there trying on new uniforms?”

Dunc raised one eyebrow.

“I really didn’t see a thing. Honest. You know how I am when it comes to the telephone. Pure concentration.”

“Right. Did you get to the phone?”

“Yes and no. Things sort of went crazy in there. Girls were running everywhere. Amy was yelling names at me that I can’t repeat. And the rest of them started throwing things. Have you ever been hit full in the face with an electric hair dryer?”

Dunc shook his head and tried not to smile. “No, I can’t say I have.”

“I was knocked out cold. When I came to, I had the telephone wrapped around my head and two pom-poms stuck up my nose. One in each nostril. I barely escaped with my life. And of course Amy made it sound to my parents like I was the original peeping Tom or something. Needless to say, my folks think my going to Scotland is a wonderful idea.”

Dunc turned his attention back to the letter. “Does T.J. still quote his Ethiopian grandmother?”

Amos nodded. “In his last letter he wrote ‘The moon is only small if you sit on a duck.’ I’m still trying to figure that one out.”

Dunc smiled. “T.J.’s a character. Has he invented anything new since we saw him last?”

“The last I heard, he was working on flying shoes. He built some kind of device into his shoes that lifts him off the ground when he walks. It still has a few bugs, though. When his feet come up, his face comes down. Usually into the pavement.”

“Sounds like our buddy T.J.,” Dunc said.

“Look for a tall African-American man and a kid wearing a trench coat,” Amos said.

“I’m looking.” Dunc carefully observed each person in the steady stream of people walking back and forth in the crowded Scottish airport. “I don’t see them.”

“They should be here. T.J. said he and his dad would pick us up.”

“They probably had a flat tire or something.” Dunc stopped. “You did send the telegram telling them which plane we were on and what time it landed, didn’t you?”

Amos looked offended. “Give me a little credit here.”

“Okay. It’s just that sometimes, in the
past, you have been known to screw things up.”

“Well, not this time. I distinctly remember putting the message in my pocket and riding my bike downtown, and—” Amos hesitated.

“What?”

“I just thought of something. On my way to send the message I ran into Dennis Therman. You remember Dennis? The kids at school used to call him Lizard Lips.”

“I remember him. What does he have to do with the telegram?”

“Dennis said he was only going to be in town for a few days. So we decided to go to the arcade for a while.”

“You didn’t send it.”

“Well, actually, I—”

“You didn’t send it.”

Amos shook his head.

Dunc sat on his suitcase. “Here we are in the largest airport in Scotland. It’s nearly dark. We don’t know a soul, and we’re not being met by anyone. Tell me you at least have T.J.’s phone number.”

Amos chewed on a fingernail and looked at the ceiling.

Dunc closed his eyes. “Never mind. You don’t have to tell me.”

“They’re over here, Dad!” T.J. ran up to them out of breath. “We were afraid we missed you guys.”

“T.J.” Amos grinned. “Am I glad to see you.”

Dunc knew better than to try to shake T.J.’s hand. The last time he tried it, an alarm in T.J.’s trench coat had gone off and red lights started flashing. “That goes double for me, T.J. But how did you know we were here?”

“There’s this creepy old lady who keeps house for us. She reads the future in tea leaves, and she told us we’d be having visitors today.”

T.J.’s dad walked up. “But that’s not how we knew you’d be here. Amos’s mother found a message in his shirt pocket. She thought she’d better double-check and make sure we knew when you were coming. She called us last night.”

“But there really is this witch”—T.J.’s dad threw him a look—“I mean, this lady, who reads tea leaves and does all kinds of spooky things. Wait till you meet her.”

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