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Mystery May
Mystery of the Missing Gold, Part Two



Mystery of the Missing Gold, Part Two
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.93

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    lottery, milky, nagging, old-timers, prospectors, wood-burned, supposedly, anticipation, sagebrush, rugged, characteristic, scruffy, immediately, arid, eerily, meaning
     content words:    Jon Beckel


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Mystery of the Missing Gold, Part Two
By Colleen Messina
  

1     After a refreshing night's sleep, Stan had retrieved the key to the wooden box from his grandfather's safety deposit box. The day before, Mr. Beckel, his grandfather's attorney, had explained the terms of his grandfather's will to Stan. Stan had inherited some money and this tiny box. Stan now held the key to the box in his hand as he sat in his blue Tundra truck.
 
2     The box, with its wood-burned pine tree on the cover, was made of light-colored wood and was hand carved. Stan gently inserted the tiny key into the lock and turned it. A click meant the box was open, and Stan lifted the lid. He did not know what to expect!
 
3     All he found inside was a small section of lined notebook paper, folded in half. Stan opened the note and read the word "Bannack." That was it? That was the great secret of the box? He felt hugely let down, as though he had just discovered that he hadn't won the lottery after all.
 
4     Stan's cheerful cell phone tone rang out a tune, distracting him from the waves of disappointment that were washing over him.
 
5     "Hello, Stan. Jon Beckel here," said a deep voice. "I was wondering if you had a chance to open that little box yet. I know I shouldn't be asking, but I was just curious."
 
6     "I found a piece of paper. All it said was Bannack. What does that mean? Do you know?" asked Stan. Normally, he would question why the attorney was even asking him about the box. Mr. Beckel's inquisitiveness did not seem quite professional.
 
7     "I have no idea," said the attorney, and then he said goodbye quickly, as if hanging up would make Stan forget Mr. Beckel had ever called.
 
8     Stan had a nagging feeling that there was a deeper meaning to the obscure message. What did the word mean? It was capitalized, so did that mean it was a name? He started up his truck and drove slowly down the road. He passed a barber shop and then a large stone building. The sign in front said it was the local library. Maybe someone there would know something about the word. Stan quickly parked and bounded up the steps with a sense of anticipation. Maybe he could learn something in there.

Paragraphs 9 to 19:
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