Ten-year-old Dylan is excited when his father inherits an old lighthouse and cottage in Maine. Dylan and his family get to live there all summer! He goes sailing on the bay, explores the small town down the road, and searches for a legendary pirate treasure that was said to be buried nearby.
After mysterious things start happening at the cottage, Dylan meets Matthias, a gruff lighthouse keeper who had died in a storm one hundred years before. A ghost! Dylan is startled to find Matthias living in his bedroom, but he is glad when they become friends. It’s the best summer ever!
Things change when they learn that the lighthouse is threatened by a greedy treasure hunter who also knows about the pirate legend. He will do whatever it takes to find the treasure…even kidnapping! As Dylan and Matthias team up to protect their home, they begin an adventure that changes Dylan’s life forever.
CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Matthias MacMurray: The ghost of the last lighthouse keeper at Salvation Point, who usually appears as a solid, living person. Died in a fall from the lighthouse top in 1913. Mid-40's, tall, skinny, brown hair. Curious (but disapproving) of modern life. He's a bit grumpy, but becomes Dylan's friend and feels protective of him.
Dylan Flint: Age 10, narrator of the story. Small for his age, and hates it, because it gets him bullied a lot in school. Quiet but curious, a loner who'd rather read books or go sailing with his father than play with kids his age. He's usually the only person who can see Matthias, whom he considers his best friend. He loves sailboats and all things nautical, and is excited to spend the summer at the lighthouse.
Alondra Flint: Age 15. Dylan's sister, a real girly-girl who likes boys, shopping, and not much else. Hates Salvation Point and the lighthouse, and wants to go back home.
Mom (aka Rorianne Flint): Dylan and Alondra's mother, a famous artist who grew up in Manhattan and can't wait to go back. Very bossy and no-nonsense, she scoffs at the stories her husband tells about the cottage being haunted. She disapproves of Dylan's belief in Matthias.
Dad (aka Roger Flint): Dylan and Alondra's father, who works as an architect back home in Manhattan. Grew up in Salvation Point, where he was a sailing instructor and boat builder, and passed his love of the sea on to Dylan. Quiet and soft-spoken, but protective of his family and loyal to his hometown.
Mrs. Cooper: The Historian at the town museum, who was also Roger's high school history teacher. She befriends Dylan and tells him the story of Matthias.
Mel Sleeter: A greedy treasure hunter who is obsessed with finding a legendary pirate treasure that he believes is buried near the lighthouse. Short and chubby, with a shaved head, earrings, and goatee. Rude and arrogant, he tries to talk Roger into selling him the light station. When he doesn't get his way, he decides to take drastic measures...
Quint: Sleeter's cousin and bumbling accomplice. Not very intelligent, tall and skinny, with a greasy ponytail and stubbly beard. He's a creep, but not as dangerous as Sleeter.
Salvation Point, Maine
As the wind whistled past the lantern room windows, Matthias knew that he had never seen such a blizzard in the twenty-five years that he had worked at the lighthouse. The waves, far below, devoured the cliffs and threw their spray as high as the tower itself, while the freezing rain soon changed to snow. The thick flakes fell so heavy that Matthias couldn’t even see the railing outside. He was thankful for the safety of the lighthouse, and glad that he wasn’t at sea.
But it wasn’t always that way.
He stared out at the falling snow and remembered another storm, the summer thunderstorm that had changed his life and family forever. Though the years had passed, it felt like it had all happened yesterday. He was a young man then…
The deck bucked and heaved under his boots as he fought to keep the fishing schooner on course. He could see the lighthouse beam as it cut through the driving sea spray, when…CRACK! The foremast snapped like a twig and crashed to the deck, drowning out his father’s cries for help, as he lay tangled in the fallen rigging. Matthias leftthe wheel and stumbled across the deck as the waves threw the helpless boat onto the rocks. She’s sinking fast, he thought. I don’t have much time. He reached out for his father, only to see him disappear beneath the waves…
Four months later, the old horse’s hooves clopped down the dirt road, pulling the wagon that carried him off to the place where he’d spend the rest of his life. His mother sat beside him as birds chirped in the deep spruce forest and gentle waves lapped the rocks beside the bay. He should’ve been happy with this chance to make a new start, but he just stared straight ahead as his mother chattered on with her last-minute advice.
“…You know that I’m going to worry about you, living out here all by yourself. You’re twenty years old, Matthias, and you’re not getting any younger. It’s time that you find a nice girl, and settle down. Plenty of other light keepers have a wife and children to help with the chores. And perhaps it might help you move on from…you know.”
“Oh, Mama!” Matthias stopped the wagon and gestured at the red-roofed cottage and white lighthouse at the end of the road. “You have to understand. I won’t have time for that sort of thing. This is going to be my life, now. The boat is destroyed, and my father is dead. I can’t allow those cliffs to claim any more lives.”
His mother reached over and patted his big rough hand, tears glistening in her eyes. “That accident on that boat was not your fault, son. Nobody blames you for what happened…”
The memory faded as he pulled his coat tighter around his thin body, and looked at his pocket watch. It was almost time to trim the wicks. In another hour, he’d have to wind the clockwork mechanism so the huge Fresnel lens would continue to rotate. It was a familiar routine, the same chores that he had done every night since he became the only keeper of the Salvation Point lighthouse.
The job didn’t pay much, but he didn’t ask for much, either. Back in the cottage he had books to read, his calico cat for company, and even his old upright piano in the parlor. His mother had taught him to play it as a young boy, and he was glad that there was music to fill the lonely cottage. He had all that he needed…
Matthias spun around as glass exploded into the room and something whizzed past his head, just missing the fragile glass lens. He examined the lens for damage – thankfully, none – and looked across the room at a piece of heavy driftwood lying on the floor. It must’ve come from the forest across the bay, thrown high by a wave, but that didn’t matter. One of the windowpanes was broken, and had to be repaired at once! He knew that it was dangerous to go out in the storm, but he couldn’t allow the lamp to burn out on a night like this! The sailors depended on him and his light to make it home safe.
The snow stung his face as he stepped out onto the gallery, the balcony outside the lantern room where he was going to inspect the broken window. He bent low into the wind, clamping his hat down on his head with one hand and gripping the icy railing with the other. Thick ice coated the whole lighthouse top, some hidden under the drifting snow.
Matthias gasped as a gust of wind knocked him off his feet.He didn’t have a chance against the wind and ice as he slipped underneath the railing, flailing for a grip on something – anything – to keep him from falling fifty feet to the rocks below. His hands closed around an iron railing post, so heavy with ice that he knew he couldn’t hang on for long. He looked down, even though he couldn’t see the rocks through the swirling snow, the jagged granite that could take his life.
With all his strength, Matthias swung his leg back up and onto the ledge, but it was too icy to get a foothold on the slippery stone. He could feel the ice melting under his numb hands as he hung from the lighthouse top, fighting the wind that tried to tear him away. He remembered other times when he had nearly fallen, but had always been able to climb back to safety.
This time it was different.
Nobody heard his scream as the cold iron slipped from his hands.
CHAPTER 1. SALVATION POINT
Welcome to Salvation Point, Maine, population 550.
“We’re finally here!” I cried as we passed the sign heading into town. We were a long way from our apartment in New York City, but I was glad that we made it here at last.
Back in May – just before my birthday - my dad found out that he had inherited a house from his Uncle Zack. But it wasn’t just any house. Uncle Zack was a hermit who had lived in an old lighthouse keeper’s house, right next to the ocean. He had owned a real lighthouse…and we were going to live there all summer!
As we drove into town, I thought about the day when my sister and I got home from school, and Dad told us that we had a new place to live…
“I remember visiting Uncle Zack at the cottage when I was growing up,” Dad had told us. “The cottage is small, and very old, but it has three bedrooms. Two of them are upstairs in the attic.”
“Dad?” I asked. “Maybe you and Mom can quit your jobs and become lighthouse keepers, and we could move there for good!”
“We don’t have to take care of the lighthouse,” Dad said. “Even though it’s on our property, it’s maintained by the Coast Guard. And it’s all been automated. That means that it has modern equipment, and the light will come on by itself. A person from the Coast Guard just has to come and check it sometimes, to make sure that it’s working right.”
“Thank goodness for that,” my sister, Alondra, grumbled. “Now, tell me: how long are we going to be stuck there?”
Alondra was fifteen, and she was the most boring person I knew. All she liked to do was hang out in stores with her friends, and try on shoes and clothes. We had nothing in common. And we didn’t get along very well, either.
Alondra hated the whole idea of moving. Mom was nervous about leaving the city. But me – I couldn’t wait to see the little town where Dad had grown up. He gave me a tourist guidebook so I could learn about Maine, but Dad wasn’t a tourist. He had lived in Salvation Point his whole life, and worked at a shop where they repaired and built wooden boats. In the summer, he had been a sailing instructor at a camp for kids. Dad loved boats and the ocean, but when he married Mom, she had refused to leave the big city. Dad moved there and became an architect, but he always talked about moving back to Salvation Point someday.
Dad bought a car the week before we left. “There are no taxis or subways where we’re going,” he had said, smiling.
The day after fourth grade let out for the summer, we packed up the car and piled in for our long trip north to Maine. Alondra listened to her music and ignored Dad, who had spent the whole trip telling stories about his life growing up here.
After we passed the Salvation Point sign, I leaned forward and tapped Mom’s shoulder. “Hey, Mom. Now that we’re moving here, can we get a dog? I want a Newfoundland.”
Mom frowned. “Dylan, we’ve already been through this. We’ll only be here for the summer, and you know that we can’t have pets at our apartment. Now, sit down and put your seatbelt back on. And be careful of my canvasses.”
I sighed. I knew she’d say that. I stared out the window and moved my feet away from the pile of Mom’s painting canvasses. She had stacked them behind Dad’s seat before we left that morning.
My mom was an artist. I guess she was sort of famous. Her paintings were for sale at the fanciest art galleries all over the city, and only rich people could afford to buy them. But they did, and Mom became more famous every year.
“I must admit that this is a pretty town, Roger,” Mom was telling Dad as we passed some big old houses. Most had flower gardens in the front yard, and shady porches with American flags that snapped in the breeze. Some kids my age rode their bikes down the sidewalk, goofing off and calling to each other.
Mom smiled at them. “I hope that you’ll make an effort to make some friends this summer, Dylan,” she said. “You’re so quiet and introverted, like your father. It’s not healthy.”
Dad frowned at her. “Leave the boy alone, Rorianne. He’s fine the way he is.”
“Don’t you get stern with me, Roger,” Mom snapped. “You know that I’m only trying to help him.”
I put my head down and smiled as Mom sulked. She was always telling Dad that she worried about me, or that I was “exasperating” her. She seemed to like that word: “exasperating.” I guess I made her feel that way a lot. But I could always depend on Dad to keep Mom from nagging me too much. Dad was usually on my side.
At the edge of town, we went by a pizza parlor across the road from an old graveyard. Alondra shivered. “A cemetery? That’s not what I want to look at while I’m eating pizza.”
“That pizza place is called Pies on the Point. I can’t believe that it’s still here!” Dad said. He sounded as excited as a kid. “I hope the same family runs it. They made the best pizza that you’ll ever eat.”
“Then can we get some? I’m hungry!” I whined.
“Some other time; we’ll be at the cottage in five minutes. Now, look over there, Dylan; that’s the harbor. You and I are going to spend a lot of time there this summer.”
Dad slowed down so I could get a good look at the harbor. All kinds of boats lined both sides of a long wooden dock, where two seagulls were fighting over a dead fish. Colorful buoys hung from some old gray buildings by the dock, and big powerboats floated at their moorings further out in the water. They weren’t like the fancy yachts at the marina back home. These were long and low, with skinny smokestacks and covered wheelhouses with windows on three sides. They looked like they were made for work.
“What kind of boats are those?” I asked, pointing out the window.
“Those are lobster boats,” Dad said. “I used to work on one when I was in high school…”
“Not another story!” Alondra groaned, as Dad started talking about his time working on the boat.
I looked behind us at Thunder, the little sailboat that Dad was towing. Thunder was mine. Dad had to hire a truck to haul his sailboat here, since it’s bigger. His was docked at the harbor already.
After we passed the harbor, Dad turned onto a dirt road that ran along the edge of the bay. The breeze rustled the bushes alongside the road. They were covered with big pink flowers that Dad said were wild roses.
The other side of the road was all woods - nothing but dark green woods without any more houses in sight. The sun was starting to set behind the trees, casting dark shadows across the road and leaving a pale light glowing over the water.
“Look at all those trees!” I said, pointing at the woods. “They look like Christmas trees. Is that a big park?”
“Close. That’s a nature preserve. And those aren’t Christmas trees; they’re spruces and firs. There are hiking trails all through those woods,” Dad said.
“And I bet there’s bears, too,” Alondra muttered.
Dad shook his head. “Maybe not bears, but I’m sure there are coyotes…and a lot of deer and raccoons. Maybe even some moose. That side of the point is just woods, until you reach the lighthouse.”
We passed a bald-headed man in a long, flapping coat, who prowled at the edge of the trees as if he didn’t want anybody to catch him. He carried a big fancy-looking metal detector, and a long rolled-up paper under his arm. He looked up and stared as we went by, scratching the little beard on his chin. Dad waved, but the man just spit on the ground and watched as we continued down the road.
“Well, he doesn’t look very nice, does he?” Mom said. “I don’t like the way that he’s just watching us.” She shuddered and looked back at the town across the bay, hidden in the dark trees. “Roger, this place is so remote.”
“Well, that’s the really great thing!” Dad said with a smile. “Even though we have no close neighbors, we’re only a mile from town. And tourists always stop here to take pictures of the lighthouse. We’ll get plenty of company.”
“Our nearest neighbor is a mile away? Roger, you never told me that!”
Dad just looked at her as he turned off the air conditioning and rolled down the windows. The wind smelled nice, like mud and wet rocks and warm, salty air.
I took a deep breath. “Smell that?” Dad said, smiling again. “That’s the smell of low tide. We’re home.”
Up ahead, I spotted a house with a red roof. It looked like nobody had painted the house in a long time, but I didn’t care about that. I was more interested in the lighthouse in the backyard. A person was walking around by the railing at the top. I couldn’t wait to climb up there, too!
We left the woods behind us as Dad drove into a wide-open field surrounded by the ocean. “Well, here it is,” he said, parking in front of the shabby-looking old house. “The Salvation Point Light Station.”