Author Archives: Scott

Mr Mint (The Final Chapter)

Chapter 10

Tommy, his father and the policeman ran through the waiting room and out onto platform 4. But the station was busy: the train to Tayworth was about to leave and two other trains were opening their doors, letting out hundreds of people.

‘The train to Tayworth will leave from platform 4,’ said the loud voice – that same one that Tommy heard a short time ago.

‘How are we going to find him in these crowds?’ asked Mr Winterburn. ‘There are so many people and he can change into someone else at any time!’

The three of them ran through the crowds, looking in train windows and staring hard at anyone who was wearing green.


Mr Winterburn turned around quickly. Tommy was pointing to the end of the train on platform 4, the very last carriage. ‘I just saw him go in the last door.’

‘I don’t think he has seen us,’ said Tommy. ‘What shall we do?’

Before anyone could answer, a loud voice filled their ears. ‘The train to Tayworth is now leaving from platform 4.’

‘Quick,’ said the policeman. ‘GET IN!’ and together all three of them jumped on the train. A moment later, the doors closed and the train moved out of the station.




Mr Mint watched Dilling station with all its people go past the carriage window, then some of Dilling’s houses and then Dilling beach, busy with people swimming in the sea and lying in the sun. Soon, green fields were passing, one after the other, and Mr Mint knew that Dilling was far behind him. He put his feet up on the chair opposite. No need to worry now: that kid and his father were in Dilling, still trying to find him. Good luck! He smiled. ‘What a day!’ he said loudly and quickly checked the seats around him. It was fine: he was the only person in the carriage.

He smiled again. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the thousand pounds in cash. ‘Well, not much pay for a difficult job, but it’s better than nothing,’ he said, pulling out twenty pounds and putting the rest back in his pocket. ‘That will pay for my ticket to…wherever this train is going.’

He sat back in his seat, picked up a newspaper that was lying next to him and opened it up; but he didn’t really want to read: he was still thinking about that kid – Tommy – and the five thousand pounds that he didn’t get. ‘It nearly worked. But that kid was clever – too clever.’

The door between carriages opened and closed again and a ticket collector came in. ‘Tickets please!’ the man said.

Giving the man a twenty pound note, Mr Mint said, ‘to the next interesting town, please!’

The ticket collector smiled. ‘You mean that one over there?’ he asked.

Mr Mint looked out of the carriage window.

But the ticket collector didn’t take Mr Mint’s money: instead, there was a loud ‘CLICK’; and when Mr Mint turned around, there were handcuffs on him.

‘HEY!’ cried Mr Mint. He tried to pull his arm away, but the ticket man was strong and before he could move, Mr Mint’s hands were locked together.

‘What are you doing?’ shouted Mr Mint. ‘Who are you?’ He tried to pull the handcuffs off, but they didn’t move.

‘Got you now,’ the ticket collector said. ‘Did you think you were going to escape?’ Just then the door to the carriage opened and closed again. Mr Mint turned around to see who it was.

‘Oh no!’ he said, ‘Not you again!’

At the door to the carriage stood Tommy and his father.

Mr Mint looked again at the ticket collector’s face. Of course! It was the policeman. He was dressed as a ticket collector.

‘We didn’t want you to jump off the train,’ said the policeman, ‘so…’

‘So you changed clothes with the real ticket collector!’ said Mr Mint. Suddenly, a smile spread across Mr Mint’s face.

‘I’m glad you think it’s funny…’ said the policeman.

But Mr Mint began to laugh. ‘Haaa haa haa haa,’ he laughed. ‘YOUR change of clothes caught ME! Hahahahaha.’

Tommy, his father and the policeman looked at one another and then at the man in the green jacket with the bright eyes – one green, one brown. They shook their heads.

What a strange, strange man this Mr Mint was!


Glossary words

A carriage (n) – a part of a train

A ticket collector (n) – a person who checks tickets on a train

Handcuffs (n) – police use these on criminals

Mr Mint (Ch9)

‘WALLOOoooopp Cruuunshhh TSSSshhhh!’ Mint hit the dustbin outside Shout! clothes shop at full speed sending it, and him, crashing to the ground. At the same time, the painting that he was holding flew out of his hands, and, like a strange red bird, rose slowly up into the air – high above his head and the heads of all the tourists and shoppers on the busy street.

Outside the gallery, not knowing which way to go, Tommy, his father and the policeman searched the crowds with their eyes, hungry to see a piece of Mint.

‘Where did he go?’ asked the policeman. ‘It’s so busy. I can’t see him anywhere.’

‘Perhaps he went towards the hotel,’ Mr Winterburn said. ‘He could catch a taxi there and…’

‘LOOK!’ shouted Tommy, watching the painting fall back down to the ground and pointing along the street towards the beach and the railway station. ‘He’s up there,’ and before his father or the policeman could say anything, he was already running.

When he arrived outside Shout!, Tommy saw the dustbin lying on the street, and the painting too, but there was no sign of Mint.

‘Tommy, Tommy,’ called his father, who was running towards him with the policeman, ‘wait for us.’

Just then, the door to Shout! opened and a man in a green jacket and cap left the shop. He was in a hurry and nearly knocked over an old lady. ‘Sorry,’ said the man when she told him to be careful. The man walked quickly up the street, looking back twice while he hurried away.

`There is something strange about him,’ thought Tommy. Just then, his father and the policeman arrived.

‘We’ve lost him,’ said the policeman, looking all around.

‘Where did he go?’ asked Tommy’s father.

‘WAIT!’ shouted Tommy, pointing to the man in the green jacket who was about to turn the corner at the top of the street. ‘It’s him – he’s changed clothes again: the price tag is still on the cap! LOOK!’

‘Hey, you!’ called the policeman. ‘Stop!’ But as soon as the words were out of his mouth, the man in the green jacket threw off his cap and ran as fast as he could around the corner.

‘Hey! Come back,’ called the policeman again and all three of them began chasing Mint; but a second later, when they turned the corner into the small, quiet street behind the busy shops and restaurants, Mint was not there.

‘I don’t believe this!’ Mr Winterburn said. ‘Where has he gone?’

The policeman was talking on his radio, calling for more policemen to come and help and Mr Winterburn was shaking his head.

‘I think he’s hiding somewhere around here,’ said the policeman. ‘Perhaps he has gone into one of these shops through the back door.’

Then Tommy heard it: the loud voice from not so far away. It told him exactly where Mint was.

‘Come on,’ Tommy said. ‘Follow me!’


Glossary words

A price tag (n) – it tells you how much something is

Mr Mint (Ch8)

‘Hmmmmm,’ said Mr Winterburn, looking at the painting that lay on the table in front of him, ‘five thousand pounds…’

The young man with the long nose and sunglasses suddenly stopped smiling. Mr Winterburn looked into the man’s face but could not see his eyes. ‘And you say that it was your uncle’s painting and that before he died he gave it to you?’

‘That’s right, yes. I don’t really want to sell it – but I need a car to get to work…’

‘Five thousand pound,’ said Mr Winterburn again. ‘I don’t know…it’s a lot of money.’

‘Look,’ said the young man sharply. `Five thousand pounds is cheap for a painting by Barnett Newman, and I’m sure you’ll have no trouble selling it,’

‘Hmmmmm,’ said Mr Winterburn again. He thought about the old man from earlier in the day who wanted a painting by Smalling ‘How much will he pay me for this painting?’ Mr Winterburn asked himself. ‘But what if the he doesn’t like it? The painting is very simple: not one of Smalling’s best.’

‘Is that the best you can do?’ asked Mr Winterburn. ‘I really don’t want to pay five thousand pounds for it.’

Now the young man looked angry. He stood in silence for a moment, looking hard at Mr Winterburn. ‘Okay,’ he said slowly, ‘how about four?’

Now it was Mr Winterburn who took a little time to answer. Saying nothing, he moved to the other side of his desk, pulled open a drawer and took out some money. He counted it: only a thousand pounds. ‘I don’t have four thousand pounds cash,’ Mr Winterburn said, ‘but if you want to wait, I’ll go to the bank and get three thousand more. How about coming back here after lunch? By then, I’ll have all of the money.’

The young man smiled. ‘Sure,’ he said. ‘Why not?’

‘Good,’ said Mr Winterburn, smiling. ‘I’m glad we agree.’

They were about to shake hands when Mr Winterburn’s mobile phone, which was sitting on the desk, rang. ‘Excuse me just a second,’ said Mr Winterburn, picking it up. It was at that second that he saw the face of his son on the street outside the shop. He was looking…strange. Very strange.

‘DAD!’ shouted the voice in his ear.

‘Tommy?’ said Mr Winterburn. ‘What are you doing? Why are you calling me?’

‘Listen carefully dad,’ replied Tommy. ‘There is something I need to tell you about the man who is selling that painting.’

At first, Mr Winterburn was surprised – very surprised in fact – but knew his son well, so he listened. And the more he listened, the more the young man who was trying to sell the painting by Smalling began to look more and more like the old man who came to buy a painting by Smalling! When Tommy was finished, Mr Winterburn spoke slowly and carefully to him.

‘Turn around and look behind you,’ he said to Tommy. ‘There is someone there that you need to speak to…do you understand?’ Through the gallery window, Mr Winterburn watched Tommy turn around. Now Tommy could also see the policeman who walking down the street towards him.

‘Go and tell him…’ But before the words were out of Mr Winterburn’s mouth, the young man reached over the desk, pushed Mr Winterburn to the floor and took the thousand pounds cash from his hand. Then he was out of the shop and running along the street, with the painting under his arm, faster than a cat with a dog on its tail!

A minute later, the door crashed open and Tommy ran into the shop with the policeman just behind him.


Glossary words

Cash (n) – money (as coins and notes)

Mr Mint (Ch7)

Chapter 7

Tommy was interested in the job, but he was even more interested in Mr Mint! The wet paint on the picture in Mint’s room and the date of Smalling’s death meant only one thing: Smalling didn’t paint the painting, Mint did. He thought about the visit of Mint to his father’s gallery earlier that day. Why did Mint go there? Tommy asked himself. And why did Mint dress up as an old lady then an old man? Tommy had no idea, but he decided to call his father later and tell him all about Mint. For now, perhaps a job at the hotel was the best way to keep an eye on this strange person. ‘And anyway,’ he thought, ‘I could use the money.’

‘A job sounds great,’ said Tommy, ‘but my summer holidays don’t start until next week.’

‘Don’t worry,’ said Mrs Paulson, ‘we need to teach you about the job first. Let’s go to my office and have a talk about it.’ She put her hand on Tommy’s shoulder, said goodbye to Sarah and led him to the stairs. They went up the half circle staircase to the second floor and soon Tommy was in Mrs Paulson’s office, talking about the new job. When Mrs Paulson began to explain about it, he wanted to laugh.

‘Most of the time,’ said Mrs Paulson, sitting in a chair in front of a big window that looked down on the town’s busiest street, ‘your job will be to carry suitcases from all the taxis and cars that come to the hotel and bring them inside…’

‘Suitcases!’ thought Tommy. ‘More suitcases!’

‘…You’ll also need to help Sarah and the other maids sometimes. The pay is five pounds an hour and you can work Monday to Friday in the afternoon. What do you think?’

‘Great!’ Tommy said.

The phone on Mrs Paulson’s desk rang and Tommy waited while she spoke.

‘Well,’ said Mrs Paulson when the call ended, ‘I need to go downstairs because someone has lost their bags– See! We need you!’ she said, laughing.

Tommy laughed too and together they walked out of her office and down the staircase towards the ground floor.

‘Come here tomorrow after school’ said Mrs Paulson, ‘and we can teach you more about the job. Is that okay?’

Tommy was about to answer Mr Paulson when he saw the door to room 46 open and a young man with sunglasses, a dark green suit and a shirt with a black tie come out.

‘Tommy?’ said Mrs Paulson. ‘Is that okay?’

‘Yes…’ said Tommy, but he didn’t take his eyes off the young man from room 46 who was carrying something big and square in his arms. The young man turned to come to the stairs and Tommy saw that it was a painting that he was carrying: the same red and yellow painting that he saw in Mint’s room earlier. Tommy looked carefully at the young man’s face, his green clothes…‘Of course!’ he thought. ‘It’s Mint again!’

Just as he thought it, Mint looked up. Tommy turned away and tried to hide behind Mrs Paulson. Did it work? Did Mint see him? He didn’t know. The next time Tommy looked, Mint was on the ground floor, walking quickly out of the hotel. Tommy began running down the stairs.

‘I’ll be here after school,’ he called to Mrs Paulson, ‘Thanks for the job!’

Mr Mint (Ch 6)

The maid closed the door to Mr Mint’s room. ‘Do you mind putting a few more sheets in the rooms for me?’ she asked. ‘It won’t take long.’

‘Anything to stay in the hotel and find out more,’ he thought. ‘Sure, I don’t mind,’ he replied.

The maid gave him another sheet. ‘Next room,’ she said, ‘and by the way – my name’s Sarah. Ready?’

Tommy smiled. ‘Yes.’

Sarah began talking about her job, but Tommy wasn’t listening. Instead, he was deep in thought: why was there a painting in Mr Mint’s room? Why was the painting the same as the picture beside it? And what was in the suitcase? Painting…suitcase…painting…suitcase…

And then it hit Tommy. It wasn’t blood in the suitcase – it was paint, red paint! ‘He used the red paint for his painting!’ ‘Why didn’t I think of that before!’ he said.

‘Think of what?’ asked Sarah. She was in front of him now, opening another room door.


‘Can you put this sheet on the bed?’ she aske, handing Tommy another sheet.

‘Sure,’ said Tommy. He was thinking about the name that he saw, Smalling. Quickly, he put the sheet on the bed and pulled out his Blackberry. Sarah closed the door behind them and went on to the next room. Walking behind her, Tommy put ‘Smalling’ and ‘painting’ into Google. A second later, he found the information that he was looking for on the Internet. Victor Smalling was a famous British painter. A few months ago, one of his paintings sold for nearly 26,000 pounds. Tommy looked at pictures of some of Smalling’s paintings. Most of them had simple shapes and colours in them. ‘They look like children’s paintings!’ he thought. Then Tommy saw something that made his eyes open wide: Newman was born in 1894…AND DIED IN 1972. ‘He died more than 40 years ago,’ thought Tommy. ‘But the painting by Smalling that I saw in Mr Mint’s room was new because it had wet paint…That means…’

‘Hello, Sarah. Who do we have here?’

Tommy looked up from his smart phone. A tall, important-looking woman in a dark blue jacket and skirt was standing in front of them. Tommy saw that her badge had the name of the hotel on it.

‘Good afternoon,’ said Sarah. ‘This kind lad was just helping me with these sheets.’ She turned to Tommy. ‘Tommy, this is the hotel manager, Mrs Paulson.’

Tommy said hello.

Mrs Paulson looked carefully at Tommy. ‘You know,’ she said, ‘this is the busiest time of the year and we are looking for people to work in the hotel just for the summer. Are you interested in a job?’


Glossary words

The manager (n) – the person who decides what people must do

A jacket (n) – a piece of clothing that is worn on top of a shirt or blouse

Mr Mint (Chapter 5)

Tommy watched the old man in the green suit come out the gallery and walk down the street away from the hotel.

‘I bet he’s going to the beach,’ thought Tommy. Without waiting to see, he turned around and began walking quickly to the hotel. He wanted to find out about the suitcase: ‘why did no one call the police? Didn’t they see the blood coming from it? If I can find out more, I won’t have to worry about the police chasing me!’ he thought. ‘And I can tell my dad what happened!’

Soon, Tommy reached the hotel and pushed through its heavy doors. Inside, guests were talking, or having coffee, and there were lots of hotel workers who looked busy. One of them, a maid, walked quickly past Tommy. She was carrying lots of bed sheets in her arms. Tommy thought the sheets looked like big, white pieces of bread. She was nearly past him when one of them fell off and hit the ground.

‘Be kind to others,’ Tommy’s mother always said. He reached down and picked up the bed sheet. ‘Would you like some help?’ he asked.

‘That’s very kind of you,’ the maid replied. `I have so many rooms to clean. But first I need to go to room 46…’

Tommy’s eyes went wide: room 46 – that was Mr Mint’s room.

‘…to change the sheets on the bed,’ the maid went on. ‘Do you mind carrying that sheet for me?’

Tommy smiled. ‘Not a problem,’ he said and followed behind the maid.

‘What’s your name?’ asked the maid.


`Well, Tommy follow me,’ she said and together they went up a long staircase that turned in a half circle and ended on the first floor of the hotel.

Outside room 46, the maid knocked on the door.

‘He’s not…’ began Tommy.

‘Hmmm?’ asked the maid. ‘What did you say?’

‘Eh, nothing,’ he replied quickly.

With the maid holding the door open, Tommy went inside.

The first thing he saw was the suitcase on the floor beside the door. It was closed. ‘I need to see inside it!’ he thought. He went on walking. In front of him, on a desk next to the window, sat a large painting, and next to it, a small picture. The small picture and the large painting were the same: both were red with a little yellow in the middle. Tommy saw that the paint was still wet on the painting and that in the corner of it, there was a name in blue letters.

`Just put the sheet on the bed, Tommy,’ the maid told him.

Tommy dropped the sheet onto the bed, but all the time his eyes were on the name that was on the painting. It was difficult to read…‘S.M.A…’

`Thank you! You are a kind boy…’


Tommy was walking out the room, eyes still on the painting…‘I.N.G – the words spelled ‘Smalling’.’

The name at the bottom of the painting meant nothing at all to Tommy – but ‘Smalling’ was an easy name to remember.


Glossary words

A maid (n) – someone who cleans rooms in a hotel

Bed sheets (n) – we sleep on these

Mr Mint (Ch4)

Chapter 4

‘TiiiiiiiiNG!’ rang the bell above the door to Winterburn’s gallery.

Mr Winterburn looked up. An old man stepped in through the door and immediately stopped in front of the biggest and most expensive picture in the gallery. ‘At last,’ thought Mr Winterburn, ‘a customer!’ Quickly, but quietly, he closed his computer and went to stand beside the old man. They stood without saying anything for a few minutes while the old man looked at the painting. From the corner of his eye, Mr Winterburn saw the man’s long, silver hair, unusual clothes and thin, gold watch.

‘Can I help you with anything?’ asked Mr Winterburn.

`Very good’ replied the old man in a deep voice, describing the picture. ‘A very good painting indeed.’ He turned. ‘But not one of my favourite artists.’

Mr Winterburn smiled. ‘I see. Can I…’ Just then, behind the old man, Tommy put his face to the gallery’s glass door and looked in; but when he saw the old man, he pulled his head away quickly. ‘Can I ask who your favourite artists are, Mr…

‘Mint. My name is Mint.’

Mr Winterburn smiled again. ‘Nice to meet you, Mr Mint. My name’s…’

‘To tell you the truth, there is only one artist that I really love: Victor Smalling. What a painter!’

Mr Winterburn tried not to look unhappy. He had lots of paintings in the gallery, but none by Victor Smalling. ‘Yes, he’s a great painter. But have you ever thought about…?’

Again, Tommy to put his head to the glass door and looked in. This time Mr Winterton made an angry face at him.

‘Is there something wrong?’ asked the old man and turned around, but there was nothing to see.

Mr Winterburn laughed. ‘No, no! Nothing at all. Everything’s fine. Now, have you ever thought about Robert Ray? Or Eva Picard? They’re great painters and their work is like Smalling’s. Or Alfred Caplan? I have a Caplan just over…’

But the old man was shaking his head.

‘You don’t understand, Mr Winterburn. You see, I only buy Smalling’s work – nothing else.’



Mr Winterburn was really feeling sad: this gentleman was rich and ready to buy something, but he didn’t have a single painting by Victor Smalling. Not one. ‘I’m afraid I don’t have any by him.’

‘That’s too bad,’ replied the old man. ‘But I’m staying at the Kings Hotel for a little while. If you do find a painting by him, I’ll be very interested.’

‘Yes, of course: if I find one, I’ll let you know.’ They shook hands. Behind the old man, Mr Winterburn watched his son hide behind a large man with a burger in one hand and camera in the other. ‘What IS that boy doing? Just wait until I speak to him tonight,’ he thought. ‘Thank you for coming in and I hope I can find something for you,’ he said.

The old man smiled and began to leave. ‘I hope you do,’ he said, opening the door. ‘And don’t forget: the name’s Mint – room 46 at the Royal,’ he called out before leaving.


Glossary words

A painting (n) – a picture that an artist makes using paint

A customer (n) – a person who comes into a shop to look around or to buy something

Mr Mint (Chapter 3)


Tommy jumped out of the way – just in time: the taxi missed him by a metre.

‘Hey, you stupid kid!’ shouted the driver, his red face sticking out of its window. ‘I nearly hit you!’

‘Sorry,’ said Tommy. ‘I was…’

‘If you aren’t careful, you’ll wake up in hospital!’

‘I didn’t see you,’ Tommy said.

‘You didn’t look!’ said the taxi driver. ‘What’s the matter with you anyway?’

Tommy said nothing. There were lots of things were worrying him – running away from a crime and the police chasing him were just two! He stood there silently.

The taxi driver shook his head. ‘Next time, just be careful. Okay?’

‘Okay,’ said Tommy and the taxi began to move away. ‘Kids! What do their parents teach them, eh?’ he heard the driver say to someone. The taxi went past and Tommy’s mouth fell open: the passenger in the back seat of the taxi was the old lady!

‘Hey!’ called Tommy, ‘Come back.’ But it was too late. The lights were at green and the taxi was already half way up the street.

What’s going on? Why was she in the taxi? Why wasn’t she in the police station? Tommy kept his eyes on the taxi, following it as it went through the traffic. A few minutes later, it stopped at the King’s Hotel – the best and most expensive in town.

Immediately, Tommy began running. He was in the town’s busiest street and there were crowds of people enjoying their shopping in the summer sun. As fast as he could, he went through the people and past the shops, but then began to slow down. The third last shop on the other side of the road was his father’s gallery. As he came nearer, he looked across at its large windows and the name ‘WINTERBURN’S’ in gold letters above them. Perhaps his father was watching! Tommy hid behind a group of tourists. Following them all the way to the hotel, he stopped when he was outside it and looked in.

Inside the hotel, a man at a desk was smiling and giving the old lady a key. Tommy couldn’t see the suitcase. Where were the police? Why did no one call them? He didn’t understand. ‘Now what do I do?’ he asked himself. ‘Wait and see’ was his only answer.

Next to the hotel, on the same side of the road as his father’s gallery, there was a coffee shop. Tommy was hungry and he needed somewhere to wait. Soon, he was sitting outside in the sun with a sandwich in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other and his iPod in his ears, waiting and watching.

Over an hour went past. Taxis arrived and left every minute from the hotel and twice Tommy thought he saw the old lady, but twice it was someone different. ‘How long is this going to take?’ he thought. He looked at the money he had: not enough for another coffee. He was about to stand up when an old man came out of the hotel and began walking along the street. He wore a dark green suit, and a green shirt and tie. Tommy sat down, but he didn’t take his eyes off the man. There was something strange about him. Something…Just then, the old man stopped and looked hard at Tommy before walking quickly away.

Tommy jumped to his feet. The old man’s eyes – one green eye, one brown – and that green suit! Was it true? There was no other way to explain it: the old woman was now an old man –and that old man was now opening the door to WINTERBURN’S Gallery.


Glossary words

A gallery (n) – a shop that sells paintings

Tourists (n) – people on holiday

Mr Mint (Ch2)

The old lady found her other bag and looked out the train window. What was happening? Why was there a big crowd? Where was that tall boy with the brown hair? Quickly, she got off the train.

As soon as she put her foot on the platform, a policeman moved towards her.

‘Excuse me. Did you leave a suitcase on the platform?’ he asked.

She looked for her suitcase and saw it behind some people’s legs.

‘Yes, I left it with…’

‘Is that it over there?’ asked the policeman.

‘Yes,’ answered the old lady, ‘It is. But I don’t understand. Why…?’

‘I’m sorry, but I must ask you to open it.’

The old lady looked at the faces of the people who were looking at her. Some of them looked excited, some of them afraid.

‘But what is all this about?’

‘Would you please open your suitcase. Now!’ said the policeman. He looked angry.

‘Yes, of course,’ said the old lady. The people in the crowd moved to the side and made a road for her through them. That was when she saw it: red all over the platform. And the it was coming from her suitcase.

‘Oh!’ she said in a small voice.

‘Who was the boy that was watching your suitcase?’ asked the policeman, standing close to her. She could hear the words ‘train station’ and ‘blood’ coming out of his radio.

‘…Sorry, what?’ she asked.

‘The boy that ran away,’ said the policeman. ‘Who was he?’

‘His name was Tommy. I asked him to look after my suitcase while I got my other bag. You see, I left my small bag on the train.’ She held up a small, brown bag. ‘I didn’t want to carry my heavy suitcase into the train again, and I didn’t want to leave it on the platform.’

‘This boy – Tommy – ran away when he saw me coming,’ said the policeman.

‘He helped me with my suitcase – that’s all I know about him. Perhaps he ran away because he was afraid of you.’

‘Hmm’ said the policeman. ‘Open your suitcase.’

The old lady brought out a key from her small bag and put it into the suitcase’s lock.

She turned the key and the suitcase fell open. Inside, there were lots and lots of paints – and paper too.

‘You see,’ said the old lady, ‘I’m an artist and I use all of these colours to make pictures. But look at the red. It’s everywhere! Oh dear!’

Suddenly, someone in the crowd began to laugh, then another person and another. Soon everyone was laughing, the policeman too. In fact, he was laughing the loudest.

‘What’s happening?’ asked the old lady. ‘Why is everyone laughing?’

‘I’m so sorry,’ said the policeman, ‘this is all just a big mistake. We thought that the red paint was blood!’

‘Blood? My goodness! Did you all think I was a murderer?

‘I’m very sorry,’ said the policeman.

The old lady smiled, but then she remembered Tommy. ‘But what about Tommy? He must think the police want him!’

The policeman turned to the crowd. ‘Has anyone seen that boy? The one who ran away.’

But no one was interested. People turned away and began leaving the platform or getting on trains. There was nothing exciting to see: there was no blood; there was no murder; there was no dead body. The old lady was just an old lady with a suitcase full of red paint.

‘Sorry,’ said the policeman to the old lady. ‘But don’t worry – he’ll be fine.’

The old lady looked sad.

‘Let me carry your suitcase’ said the policeman, picking it up. ‘Do you live here?’

‘Thank you,’ said the old lady. ‘And no, I don’t live here. I’m just visiting. I am staying at the Kings Hotel in the centre of town.’

‘Well,’ said the policeman, ‘let’s find you a taxi.’


Glossary words

Paint (n) – We use this to make pictures. You can buy it in many colours.

An artist (n) – Someone who makes pictures/paintings.

Mr Mint (Chapter 1)

‘Oh, this suitcase is heavy!’

Tommy stopped walking and turned around. An old woman was still on the Tayworth to Dilling train, trying to push a suitcase out of the train’s door. She was wearing a green hat, a green dress and heavy green shoes. All around her, train doors were closing and people were walking along the platform, busy on their phones or talking to their friends, not looking at her.

But Tommy’s mother always told him to be kind to others. He walked back.

‘Excuse me. Can I help you?’ he asked the woman.

The old lady looked him through her thick glasses. Tommy saw that she had one green eye and one brown.

‘That is so kind of you…’ the old lady said.

‘I’ll pull and you push,’ said Tommy, climbing onto the train. He took hold of the suitcase and together they pushed and pulled it. ‘It’s heavy,’ thought Tommy. ‘What has she got in here?’ But soon they got it onto the platform.

‘Thank you so much. Er…What’s your name?’ asked the old lady.

‘Thomas, but just call me Tommy.’

‘Oh no!’ said the old lady, putting a hand to her mouth. ‘I think I left my other bag on the train. Can you watch my suitcase, Tommy?’

Tommy wasn’t in a hurry. ‘Sure,’ he said. ‘No problem.’

‘Oh, thank you so much,’ the old lady said. ‘I don’t want someone to steal it – there are so many thieves around these days!’

Tommy smiled. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘I’ll take care of it.’

Tommy watched her go inside the train again. He stuck his hands in his pockets. It was a sunny Saturday morning and he was just back from staying overnight at his uncle’s house in Tayworth.

‘THE NEXT TRAIN TO TAYWORTH WILL LEAVE FROM PLATFORM 4,’ said a oud voice and a crowd of people began pushing their way past Tommy. It was always the same: adults were always walking into him or telling him to watch out or get out of the way. He was fourteen years old – nearly an adult. He took out his iPod and chose one of his favourite songs. ‘I need some music while I…’


Tommy jumped in surprise, nearly dropping his iPod. A woman with a white face was looking at him. Others were too. ‘What’s the matter? What’s happening?’ he asked.

‘BLOOD!’ screamed the woman. ‘There’s blood coming from that suitcase!’

Tommy looked down: big red fingers of blood were moving slowly across the ground next to him.

‘It’s coming from his suitcase. It’s blood. It’s blood,’ the woman was shouting.

‘But…’ began Tommy.

‘OUT OF THE WAY!’ A policeman with a radio to his mouth shouted, pushing his way through the crowd that was now around Tommy.

‘But…’ continued Tommy.

‘CATCH HIM!’ called the policeman and two tall men tried to catch Tommy – but he was too fast.

Under their arms, then through some legs and down the platform Tommy went, running as fast as he could. No one could catch him and he didn’t look back.


Glossary words

A platform (n) = A place in a rail way station. Trains stop next to it.

An uncle (n) – your mother’s (or father’s) brother.

All about ‘Mr Mint’, our new story

We are starting a new story. It is called ‘Mr Mint’. Mr Mint is about a confidence trickster, or con artist. A con artist is someone who tricks others people in order to steal from them. The story has ten chapters and is for low-intermediate learners. We hope you enjoy it.

Fight with a Ghost (Ch10)

‘Whatever it is, it is up there,’ I said. ‘The question is, who is going up?’

George put his candle on the floor and stepped onto the ladder. It cracked beneath his weight. He stopped.

‘Come down,’ I said, ‘it will not hold you. I shall have to go.’

I had never been so frightened. I slowly climbed the ladder and pushed open the trap door. No sooner than I had opened the trap door than something fell – literally fell – on me from the darkness above. It kicked and spat and tore at me as I stood clinging onto the ladder. It lasted only a moment, but in that moment I lived a lifetime of terror. The ladder cracked and swayed below me and I fell with the thing gripping my throat like a vice. In the next instant, George had stunned it with a blow from the poker and dragged it off me. It lay upon its back on the floor – a ragged, hideous shape. And the mystery was solved.’

‘But you haven’t really told us what it was,’ said one of the listeners.

The doctor smiled.

‘It was the owner of the house,’ he replied. ‘He had not gone abroad. He had gone to a private lunatic asylum. A fortnight after this, he had escaped. After making his way to his former home, he had hid himself in the loft. It is only surprising that he did not kill someone before he was caught.’

Our adaptation of A Fight with a Ghost (Chapter 9)

I took George by the arm and led him out of the room.

‘George,’ I said to him. ‘We must find out the reason for this at once. I am certain that I felt someone go past me on the stairs. Do those stairs lead to another place, apart from our rooms?’

George thought for a moment.

‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘There is a door at the end of the passageway. It leads up to another room.’

‘Then we must explore it,’ I said. ‘I can’t go back to sleep until I get to the bottom of this. Get the butler to bring a light.’

Soon the butler arrived with a lantern. He looked as nervous as I felt. We began, the three of us. First, we searched the rooms above, where George and I slept. We found nothing unusual. Then we went down to the door at the end of the corridor. I pushed it open. A crazy looking staircase led up into the darkness. Slowly, we climbed the stairs. I went first, with the candle; then George, and last of all, the butler with the lantern. At the top of the stairs, we stepped into a large, low room. Our lights threw strange shadows but there was nothing to find: just a few large boxes, a roll of carpet, and some broken chairs. But in the far corner of the room, we saw an old ladder that led up to a trap door. Just then, I heard the half-groan, half-sigh again. We stood and looked at each other. We all heard the sound.

Our adaptation of A Fight with a Ghost (Ch 8)

I tore the curtains apart and rushed into the next room. It was empty. The lamp was on and the door was open, just as George had left it. In the corridor outside, all was quiet. I came back into the study and found George was running his fingers through his hair with anxiety.

‘There is one person too many in the house. I think we should search the house and find out who it is,’ I said.

‘Alright,’ said George picking up the poker from the fireplace. ‘If it is anything made from flesh and blood then we will need this…’

Suddenly, an awful scream filled the house. I had never heard anything like it before and never want to hear anything like it again. For a moment, we stood staring at each other. Then George Carson ran out the room and down the corridor to the stairs. I followed him.

In the darkness, we ran down the stairs. But before I reached the landing below, where Miss Stonor’s room was, something brushed past me, just like the night before. I turned and made a grab for it as I ran. But my hand only gripped empty air. I was about to turn back and follow it when a cry from George stopped me. I looked down and saw him standing over the body of Miss Stonor. She was lying on the floor. I could see from the moonlight from her room window that she lay in her nightdress. The whole house was woken by her scream. We picked her up and got her into her bed. All the while, she was whispering the same words, over and over: ‘Oh, the face, the face!’

Our adaptation of A Fight with a Ghost (Ch 7)

I turned the handle gently and opened my bedroom door. There was nothing to see in the corridor. But across the corridor, a door was open and I could see George’s head peeping out from behind it.

‘Hello,’ he said.

‘Hello,’ I replied.

‘Were you walking in the corridor just now?’ he asked.

‘No,’ I answered. ‘I thought it was you.’

‘Then who was it?’ he said. ‘I am sure I heard someone.’

We were silent for a moment; then he spoke again. ‘Come over here for a minute, I want to speak to you.’ I walked across the corridor and into the little study that joined his bedroom.

Inside George’s study, George poked the fire. ‘Do you think something strange is happening here in this house?’ he asked.

I said nothing.

George continued. ‘Every night, I hear footsteps out on the stairs…You have heard them, haven’t you?’

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I have.’

George’s voice shook when he spoke. ‘A couple of nights ago, I saw a horrible face staring at me from between those curtains behind you. It was gone in a second, but I definitely saw it.’

‘Did you look in your bedroom or in the corridor?’

`Yes – right away,’ he replied. ‘There was nothing there, but twice later I heard footsteps…’ He suddenly stopped talking and sat up straight in his chair, staring straight over my shoulder. His face was bloodless.

‘What is it?’ I asked. ‘What’s the matter?’ I turned around in my chair to look at the curtains just as they dropped back into place.

‘I saw it again – the same face – staring at me from between the curtains!’ George stammered.





Our adaptation of A Fight with a Ghost (Ch6)

I gave Mrs Carson the same prescription as Mrs Stonor. However, I decided not to tell George about the matter. I did not want to go back on my word to Mrs Carson or Miss Stonor. And my own experience on the stairs the night before had made me wary. But I was determined and I promised myself that the next day – which was Sunday – that I would not go to church. With the rest of them away, I would stay at home and explore the house. There was obviously a mystery and I wanted to try and clear it up.

We all sat up late that night. Everyone was reluctant to go to bed. But at last Mrs Carson got up and said ‘Goodnight’. She gave me a nod. Miss Stonor got out of her chair and both the ladies went upstairs. George and I parted company in the corridor above. Our rooms were opposite each other.

I did not get ready for bed at once but sat down and tried to come up with a theory about what was happening. But the more I thought about it the more confused I became. I was sure that I had put my hand on something very alive and extremely unpleasant the night before. The thought of it made me shudder. What living thing could possibly be creeping around the house at night? It was a man’s hand. Because of its size, I was sure of that. It wasn’t George Carson’s hand. That was out of the question because he was in his room all the time. Nor was old Mr Carson sneaking about his own house and refusing to answer. I did not feel comfortable at all and looked in all the cupboards and even under my own bed before I started to undress for bed. Then I went to my door to lock it. Just as I put my hand on the key I heard a soft step in the corridor outside. It was then followed by a sigh and a groan.


Our adaptation of A Fight With A Ghost (Ch5)

I put down my billiard cue and went over to Miss Stonor.

`Look, Miss Stonor,’ I said taking her hand, which was hot and feverish. `I am a doctor and a friend of George. Now tell me all about it, and I will do my best to sort it out.’

She was crying as she spoke. But she managed to tell me that every night since arriving at Woodcote she had been awakened in some mysterious way. She had seen a horrible face looking at her. As soon as she moved, the face would disappear. She believed the apparition only existed in her imagination, and this frightened her even more: she feared she was going mad.

I told her that she had a nervous disorder, and I promised that I would get her a prescription from the village. She told me not to tell anyone, especially George and she went away relieved. But I was not certain that I had made the correct diagnosis of her. You see I had been rather upset myself just hours before. George was away longer than I thought and I was going to go away and find him when I met Mrs Carson.

`Can you spare me a moment?’ she asked. `I want to speak to you, alone.’

`With pleasure, Mrs Carson,’ I replied. `Let’s speak an hour from now.’

`It is good to have a doctor in the house,’ she said with a nervous laugh. `Now I want you to prescribe me a sleeping pill. My nerves are out of order and I am not sleeping well.’

‘Do you see faces…and such things when you wake?’ I asked.

“How do you know?’ she asked quickly.

`We doctors notice and observe these things.’ I said.

‘I know you might think that I am mad but it is making me quite ill. It seems rather real to me. I didn’t want to mention it to Mr Carson or George in case they thought I was mad too.’


A Fight with a Ghost (Ch4)

I must admit, I was in a bit of a panic. It must have shown in my face.

‘What’s the matter?’ George asked, as I almost fell into his study.

‘Oh, nothing,’ I answered. ‘I dropped my candle and lost my way.’

‘But who were you talking to? ’

‘I was only cursing out loud because I dropped my candle, ‘ I lied.

‘Oh, I thought perhaps you had seen…somebody,’ replied George.

For some reason, I didn’t want to tell him the truth. I did not want him to laugh me. But I was determined to stay and have a complete rest.

That night, I woke up several times with the feeling of that cold hand under my own – a clammy hand which writhed its fingers under my own as my fingers closed upon it.

The next morning after breakfast, I was in the billiard room again practicing some shots and George Carson was over at the stables. The door opened and Miss Stonor looked in.

‘Come in,’ I said. ‘George will be back from the stables in a few minutes.’

‘I wanted to speak to you, ‘ she said.

She was looking very tired and ill and began to think I should not have had this holiday at all.

‘Do you believe in ghosts?’ she asked, closing the door and coming towards the billiard table. She stood leaning with both her hands upon it.

‘No,’ I replied, missing an easy shot as I remembered my experience on the stairs last night.

‘And, supposing that a person did believe in them and saw them, ‘ Miss Stonor paused, ‘Is there any cure?’

‘What do you mean, Miss Stonor?’ I asked, looking at her with some surprise. `Do you mean that you… ‘ I stopped because Miss Stonor turned away, sat down in one of the chairs, and burst into tears.

‘Oh, please help me,’ she cried. `I believe I am going mad!’

Our adaptation of ‘A Fight with a Ghost’ Chapter 3

The second night after my arrival – I remember, the rest of the family had all gone to bed – George and I retired to the study for a drink and a chat before bed. The study was upstairs and next to his bedroom. We sat down and I remembered that I had left my pipe in the billiard room. The house was now in darkness, so I lit a candle and made my way down through the house. The house looked weird in the flickering light of the candle and the stairs creaked in an awful way as I made my way down them. It sounded like someone was following me down them. I found my pipe where I had left it in the billiard room. I returned upstairs in more of a hurry than was needed and I stumbled on the stairs and dropped my candle. It went out. After a few moments, I found it, but I had no matches and I had to make my way along by feeling the cold wooden banister of the stair. It was so dark that I could not see my own hand. As I made my way slowly up the stairs, with my hand sliding along the cold smooth wood, it suddenly slid over something cold and clammy. I stopped dead and closed my fingers around it. It was another hand, a thin, bony hand that pulled itself slowly away from the grip of my own. And although I could see and hear nothing, I could feel something going past me on the stairs.

‘What’s that? Who are you?’ I called.

There was no answer.

Our adaptation of A Fight with a Ghost (Ch2)

“The house was called ‘Woodcote’ and it was a nice place to look at. It was out in the country but not too far from the train station. It was quiet but not remote. The Carsons had been lucky. It was a very good house, bought at a good price. George had told me that the owner had taken unwell and he had moved abroad because of his poor health.

Over the years, the house had been repaired and other rooms had been added. A billiard room had been built out at the back of the house. This was very handy when the weather was bad and you could not go out. Attending that New Year at the house was George, his mum and dad, young Ms Carson and Miss Stonor, who now, of course, is Mrs Carson, and lastly, myself.

Now Miss Stonor should have been happy. George Carson was, apart from being a very nice fellow, wealthy and ambitious. But, it appeared to me that there was something on her mind because she looked nervous and restless. I saw that George had noticed this. He looked puzzled, and a couple of times I caught him watching Miss Stonor anxiously. But, there was no doctor there and I was not a doctor, so it was no business of mine. But I was to discover the reason for Miss Stonor’s anxiety before I left Woodcote. “