The Secret of Mermaid Island

by Judith Wade


Chapter One

    "Mermaid Island is a stupid name," said Bonnie Campbell sourly, kicking her sandaled foot at a pebble that had rolled across the deck of the ferry. "Why would anyone name an island that?"

    She looked out glumly across the tossing, white-crested waves at the distant shore, its line of trees growing steadily closer as the boat chugged across the open water. Her mother laid her hand on Bonnie’s shoulder and squeezed it gently.

    "Mermaid Island is a beautiful place," she said. "I loved it as a child, and now that I’m coming back to do my research…it’s like a dream come true for me!"

    Bonnie looked guiltily at her mother’s glowing face, then turned her eyes sadly back to the water. Her mother had never been happier, but Bonnie’s summer was stretching out ahead of her like a long, lonely tunnel. No trips to the shopping mall; no movies; no school dances with her friends. Why couldn’t she spend the summer like her friends were?

    Amelia’s family was going to Boston, and Laura and her two sisters were heading for SummerDaze amusement park next week. Laura had invited Bonnie to go to SummerDaze with them, but the Campbells’ travel plans had interfered.

    "I’d rather be anywhere than Mermaid Island," thought Bonnie, feeling more and more depressed.

    What would she do while her mother tramped around the woods looking for endangered plants and writing notes for her research paper? Bonnie sighed, but she tried not to do it too loudly. Her mother had folded her slender body into one of the deck chairs and was looking joyfully at the island as the dock drew near, the wind whipping her short blonde hair around her face. If only Bonnie could feel some of that same excitement!

    The ferry bumped to a stop and the crew began driving cars down from the deck while the passengers stepped onto shore. Caro Campbell, Bonnie’s mother, lugged her laptop computer, a brief case, and her camera down the ramp, while Bonnie tagged along behind, toting her backpack and eyeing the people waiting along the dock. Most of them appeared to be retired couples who probably had summer cottages on Mermaid Island. There were no teenagers, and no one paid any attention to Bonnie as she and her mother loaded their things into their station wagon.

    Caro Campbell slid behind the wheel of the car and Bonnie climbed in next to her, settling her backpack on the seat. She touched the pearl hanging on its gold chain around her neck. It had belonged to Bonnie’s grandmother, and Bonnie thought back to the old woman’s words as she gave the necklace to Bonnie.

    "This necklace is very special, Bonnie," her grandmother had whispered in her sweet, soft voice. "The pearl came from an oyster with a shell of flawless silver, who lived in the bluest part of the ocean. You can still see the ocean in the pearl, if you look closely. And feel how warm it is? A perfect pearl always feels warm to the touch."

    She closed Bonnie’s fingers around the necklace and held her hand gently. "Now the pearl is yours, my darling. It’s been in our family for many generations. May it bring you all the joy a special young woman like you deserves."

    Bonnie’s eyes misted over for a moment, and she turned her face toward the car window. Her grandmother had passed away last year, and Bonnie still missed her terribly.

    The car rolled down a short city street, and Bonnie caught sight of a sign for the local library. Her spirits rose slightly, and she blinked her tears away. A library! That’s the first place she would go. An island with a library couldn’t be all bad, Bonnie decided. She turned and smiled at her mother, and when her mother smiled back Bonnie felt a little bit better.

    "Honestly, Bonnie Campbell," she told herself sternly. "Try to make an effort for your mother’s sake. This research project is the most important thing in the world for her. Don’t ruin her summer just because you’re feeling sorry for yourself!"

    With that thought, Bonnie turned back to the car window, just in time to see a red-haired girl about her age skip around the corner of the library building and out of sight. Bonnie craned her neck to see where she had gone, but she had disappeared.

    At least the island had one other person her age, Bonnie thought.

    She leaned back in her seat as her mother drove out of town and then turned the car into the driveway of the little cottage that was to be their summer home.

    The next couple of hours were spent unloading boxes and suitcases and organizing their belongings. Bonnie immediately fell in love with her little upstairs bedroom. It had a dormer with a window seat that faced the street, and she had a clear view of a pretty garden by the house next door. Bonnie went out to the station wagon and brought in another load.

    "Where do you want the computer, mom?" she called.

    She rounded a corner and nearly crashed into her mother, who was standing on a stool peering into the linen closet. She steadied herself by holding onto a shelf and glanced down at her daughter.

    "Put it in the little corner room, the one with the windows that face south and west. I like to watch the waves in the evening. Did you see the pretty colors they have? I’ve never seen such waves as there are on Mermaid Island."

    Bonnie shrugged. She’d been wrapped up in her own troubles and really hadn’t paid any attention to the water. In fact, she didn’t intend to have anything do with the water or the beach, no matter how beautiful they were. Shopping was more her style. Tomorrow she would go look for interesting little gift shops–after the library, of course.

    As Bonnie turned to put the computer away, her mother continued speaking to herself in a dreamy sort of voice.

    "The waves look as if they’ve been touched with watercolors. Pinks and greens and yellows. Sort of like an abalone shell. When I was a child, I used to sit down on Yeoman’s Beach to watch them. But that was many years ago. Now, where are the pillowcases? Seems like I just saw them here. I want a pretty one for Bonnie’s bed….."

    Bonnie tiptoed away and set the computer on the desk in the corner room. Out the window, she glimpsed the waves rolling endlessly onto the beach and she frowned. They looked just like regular waves to her–turquoise and silver with foaming white tops.

    Then she leaned closer to the window. Perhaps she did see a touch of pink. Yes, there was definitely something there. How very unusual, and very striking!

    Bonnie looked down at the pearl around her neck, the translucent white swirled with touches of rose and azure. Like her pearl. The water had colors just like her pearl! With a last thoughtful glance out the window, Bonnie touched the gem with her fingertip, then returned to her room to finish her unpacking.


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The Secret of Mermaid Island copyright 2003 Loraine Hudson