Amazing Kids! Magazine

Uninvited Guests: The Hidden Door

By Aidan Baird, age 11, California

 

“Sir! Someone has been stealing more Union arms and supplies!” Major Laurens said to Lieutenant Jefferson. They were in the officer’s quarters outside of the Vicksburg battlefield.

“How many supplies were stolen?” Lieutenant Jefferson asked fearfully.

“Five canons, seven boxes of food, and nine boxes of ammunition,” came the reply of Major Laurens. Lieutenant Jefferson thoughtfully stroked his chin.

“Any clothing?” he inquired.

“No, sir. We got lucky in that regard,” said Major Laurens. Lieutenant Jefferson thought a moment before saying,

“Thank you for informing me, Major. I’ll get back to you on this pressing matter.” The Major gave a crisp salute and left.

The Lieutenant sat down at his desk for a moment, then headed downstairs to the basement. He always went there when he had to do his deepest thinking. It wasn’t often, but with all the thefts, he came down almost every day. Once there, he pondered how he could stop the thefts. Just then, he could have sworn he saw the doorknob turn–the doorknob that led to the secret place!

When the architect built the officer’s quarters, he installed a secret room. He locked it and said it was a mistake. The lieutenant believed him. Now, though, he wasn’t so sure. Maybe his mind was playing tricks on him. Being a lieutenant in the Civil War was important. It could cause him to hallucinate! Still, though, he wasn’t so sure he had seen the doorknob turn, so he just attributed to being overtired.

Back upstairs, Major Laurens came rushing up to Lieutenant Jefferson, “Lieutenant! More supplies have been stolen!” The lieutenant responded,

“How many supplies were stolen this time?”.

“Three cannons, five boxes of food, seven boxes of ammunition, and one box of clothing.”

“Thank you for informing me again. I’ll get back to you.” the lieutenant replied. The major saluted and left. Lieutenant Jefferson decided to turn in for the night. After all, it was 9:30pm. He went to his room and crawled into his bed, exhausted from the day’s excursions.

When the lieutenant woke up, he was fully refreshed. He went downstairs and sat down at his desk. Almost as soon as he did, Major Laurens came bursting through the door.

“Sir, mo-”

“Please, Major, I really don’t want to know,” said Lieutenant Jefferson. He stood up as he said,

“I’ll be in the basement.”

“Y-uh, yes sir,” said the major as he walked out of the room, stunned. Lieutenant Jefferson was usually more polite, and almost never interrupted. Why the sudden change of heart, the major had no idea.

Lieutenant Jefferson sat in his favorite spot in the basement. He had half of his mind on the stolen supplies, half on the locked door.

“Egad!” he said out loud. His heart was pounding. He was sure he had seen the doorknob turn. He slowly got up and started walking to the door, as if in a trance. He took deep breaths. He thought about kicking the door open. Here goes nothing, he thought to himself. He took the risk and forced his right foot into the door with all his might. BAM! Wood splintered everywhere as the door broke. Well, that’s a bonus. Nobody came jumping out at me, he thought. His curiosity got the best of him and he wandered further in. Suddenly he was jumped by two men, who were hiding in the shadows. The lieutenant gave a good fight, but the two men tied his hands and feet to a chair. They dragged him inside.

The lieutenant awoke to bickering. His captors were arguing about what supplies they should steal next! Suddenly, the last puzzle pieces to the mystery fit into place for the lieutenant. His captors would hide in the secret room until… wait, what? The secret room was locked, the lieutenant thought. He tried to get a better look at his captors. He couldn’t believe his mind. It was the architect! The guy who built the house was one of the thieves! Anyway, they would stay there until nightfall. Then they’d come out and steal the supplies from the nearby trench. They would then come back to the secret door and hide there for the rest of the day. It was almost foolproof, the lieutenant thought. He decided to strike up a conversation with his captors.

“So, you guys are stealing our supplies, eh? Well, you won’t get away with it!”

“Oh, yeah? What makes you think that?” said the architect.

The lieutenant gave nothing away by keeping his ideas to himself.

“Ha! You really shut him up. Nice job.” said the other guy (who, by the looks of his uniform, was a confederate major.) The lieutenant still said nothing, though inside his brain was thinking of possible escapes for tonight. Finally, he thought of one. (This was hard to do because his mind was trying to also think of how to get out of the rope that held his hands together. The Lieutenant wasn’t very coordinated).

When the architect and major went out that night, they accidentally left the door open because it was already destroyed. The lieutenant struggled to free himself and managed to get himself up to the sleeping quarters. He went straight to Major Lauren’s room and opened the door.

“Major, wake up!” the lieutenant whispered hurriedly. The major groggily got up, then looked surprised.

“Lieutenant? What are-”

“Shh! Listen to me. Get me ten men and meet me downstairs.”

“But-”

“Go!” Without another word, Lieutenant Jefferson ran out of the room and went downstairs.

Two minutes later, Major Laurens came down with ten men. The lieutenant beckoned them. When they got down, the lieutenant said,

“The thieves will come back soon. When they come, get ready to arrest them.”

Right when the men started to doubt the lieutenant’s information, they heard a creaking sound. Soon, a doorway appeared and the thieves came. They were very surprised to see Lieutenant Jefferson with 11 men behind him. They turned and ran…right into General Ulysses S. Grant! He was with a battalion!

“Going somewhere, boys? How ‘bout jail?” said General Grant.

“Sir, your timing couldn’t have been better!” exclaimed Major Laurens.

“Well, why arrive early when you can arrive in the nick of time is what I always say!” Everybody laughed, relieved that the thefts were all over.