Category Archives: Mr Mint

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.