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Two girls, a spooky attic, a strange island

Celia Thaxter was only nine years old when her parents summered in the Haley Cottage on Smuttynose Island in the summer. Here a New England nine-year old named Sarah, writes of her night in the Haley house and her first adventures on the Isles if Shoals.

I was so excited! The fifth Harry Potter book was finally coming out. My dad, and friends and I were going to camp out in my car until midnight when Borderís opened. It was big news. I woke up the day we were planning to go. My mom is waiting by the bed.

"Do you want to go to Smuttynose?" she asked.

Well, I had heard about Smuttynose before. It was an island off the coast of Maine. For one week over the summer my Aunt Maryellen takes care of the house on that island. It is owned by a museum and has no electricity. Every year my aunt and uncle bring some of my cousins. I never expected to go when I was nine because most of my cousins went at 11 or 12. I was really happy! Then I remembered tonight we were going to the Harry Potter party. A trip to Smuttynose would last a lot longer though. I decided, Iím going to Smuttynose! My little brother wasnít going so I couldnít tell him, unfortunately. The other thing I couldnít tell him was there was a murder on Smuttynose. My mom said Uncle Dennis could tell me more about it.

I packed quickly because I really only needed some clothes because I was only staying there for two days. My cousin Molly was coming to Smuttynose also. Her dad, brother, and mom were coming too. My dad was coming, also, of course. It was 8 pm by the time we left home. Molly came in my car. We drank soda, ate pretzels, and talked for three hours. When we arrived at my grandmaís house in MA (where we were spending the night) it was 11 pm

In the morning, we drove to Aunt Maryellen and Uncle Dennisís house. We found out that our cousins Thomas and Michael were coming with their dad (my Uncle Tom) too. The neighbors there had a yard sale and I got Andrew a fish toy there. Then Molly and I followed the cat around the yard. One time it sprang up the wall and into the house through a window. (it was open only a crack!) It was creepy. Our aunt said it would take awhile for her to pack so we stayed a bit. Molly, Keegan, and I got ice cream off an ice cream truck. They happened to be giving out free gum that day too. Yay! Then we played monkey-in-the-middle with a tennis ball in the street. It wasnít dangerous because the street was extremely empty. After awhile my Aunt said to go right to the dock because "awhile" was a lot longer than we thought.

Smuttynose Island

When we arrived at the dock we saw the boat. "Wow, its cool!" I thought when I saw the boat. It had a carpeted dining room. I leaned over on the dock to see the water. Wow! It was packed with minnows. The water was full of silver! We finally boarded the boat. It had three levels! I got lost many times. The boat trip was really fun. I soon found out the boat was going to Star Island which is a lot bigger island with a hotel. We waited on Star Island for my aunt and uncle. Finally, when they arrived we took a rowboat over to Smuttynose.

When we got there, there was a sign that said "Please do not disturb the flora and fauna." I asked Molly who Flora and Fauna were and she said they were the two ladies that were murdered. I felt embarrassed for some reason. When my dad came over I asked him the same question and he said that flora and fauna meant the plants and animals. Then I felt silly! It was hard work getting all the stuff up to the house, but we did it. When we entered the house we were welcomed by the smell of, what I thought, was a smell of cinnamon and apples. "Mmmm!"

The first thing we had to do was find a place to sleep. Molly and I wanted the loft in the barn, but Keegan, Michael, and Thomas got the loft. Molly put up a good fight though. We got the attic with my dad, Uncle Brian (Mollyís father) and Uncle Tom. My Uncle Dennis and Aunt Maryellen got the only bedroom.

Smuttynose gull

The next thing to do was explore. Smuttynose had only one house so the rest is plants and animals (flora and fauna). There are so many seagulls that to keep them from attacking your head, you have to hold a stick over your head ó because if they attack, which is rare, they will attack the highest point. So after we found our sticks we went for a walk across the small Smuttynose. It was scary at first because the seagulls fly in a circle above you and then fly up behind you. Then we saw baby seagulls. They were gray with black speckles, small, fuzzy, and cute! The parents squawked very loud every time we came across a baby. My dad said he felt like he was with a bunch of lawyers.

Uncle Dennis said that they red spot on their beaks and that makes the parents vomit and the babies eat it. Yuck! Soon after, we found a nest with no parents squawking at us. There was a baby there, but there was another baby hatching. I was worried. The baby hatching wasnít making much progress. We walked on. Finally we got to a large stone pile (bigger than me). It had a lot of bird poop on it. There was even babies hiding in the rocks. Beyond that the ocean crashed against the rocky shore. I could no longer see the house. That was the end of the walk. We headed back. I came across the nest again. The hatching baby was still just wiggling around in its shell with only a little opening in the egg. My dad said it might be sick. I wonder what happened to the baby. Oh well.

We came back and Molly and I went for a swim. Smuttynose has a little cove to play in. The water was really cold. I was the first one to go all the way underwater and I hate seaweed. Man, there was a lot of seaweed. After a quick swim, we collected seaglass. There was a whole lot of seaglass too. I even found blue and purple seaglass. After that, (we did a lot of stuff) we begged Uncle Brian to take us in the row boat and he agreed. There is a breakwater so you canít go all the way around Smuttynose, but he took us for a ride in the rowboat for a good amount of time. The water is so clear! When we got back I was tired so Molly and I went up to the loft and talked. (There are no animals in the barn in case you were wondering.)

Smuttynose Sunset

for dessert. It turned out that we were there too early. After what seemed like forever, the snack bar was finally opened. I got a sorbet drink (I forgot what it was called) and the others got hot chocolate. We rowed back to Smuttynose because it was really late.

Haley House attic

We climbed up to the attic (but didnít go to sleep yet) since there was no electricity we used an oil lamp. Uncle Dennis came up to the attic and told us about the murder on Smuttynose . A long time ago before electricity was invented, there was another house on Smuttynose (and a hotel). There was two ladies that lived in the other house. One day a man was planning to rob the house. He thought the ladies left, but the ladies were still in the house. When the man found the ladies sleeping, he was so surprised that he made the ladies wake up. The man shot one of the ladies and the other was so scared that she jumped out the window and died. After the murder, the hotel workers chipped off pieces of wood that had blood on them and sold it as souvenirs! Many years later the house burned down and all thatís left is a foundation covered in poison ivy. Well, I thought that creepy! I fell asleep thinking about it.

The next day it was cloudy. Molly and I played with the Frisbee until Aunt Maryellen asked us if we wanted to "turn poop". I first didnít know what she was talking about. She led us to the back of the outhouse. There was a big plastic rectangle sticking out from under the outhouse. I had a feeling I knew what was in it. Aunt Maryellen said that you turn this handle and what is in the rectangle decomposes. That was when I noticed there was a handle on the rectangle. She asked Molly if she wanted to do it and Molly said "yes". Aunt Maryellen asked me and I said "no thanks" because I really didnít want to turn poop.

After that, I noticed Keegan was climbing on a chunk of land almost like a mini island. I knew we were about to go so I though if Molly and I climbed up there too, it would cause a lot of delay. Yay! It was high tide so what used to be a rocky path to the island was now only a few boulders. On one of the boulders there was a dead seagull. Yuck! When we got up to the mini island it was covered in bird poop and was so dense we just went back down.

All too soon it was time to leave. I got into the rowboat and Smuttynose slowly became smaller. Looking down I saw the water looked like purple Kool Aid and I remembered my adventure wasnít over yet. Then it got scary. The bolts that fastened the oars to the boat because loose! Luckily, we made it to Star Island okay. It was a while before our ferry was supposed to come, so we went to an old church to see what it looked like. Then we went on a walk to see a monument. It said stuff about Captain John Smith . There is so much to do on Star Island! We also went to a marine biology lab. There was bottled octopus, baby birds, and other weird stuff. They even had a big container called a "touch tank" where I was able to give a high five to a star fish that wouldnít let go! There was also big hermit crabs that needed feeding so someone that worked there asked us if we wanted to feed them. Oh boy! That sounded like fun! She gave oysters that we had to stomp on outside to break them. After that we brought the oysters in and gave the pieces to the hermit crabs. That place was really neat. Outside Molly and I played on the swing set and then went to the gift shop. I got a magnet with magnetic stars and moons. Since my brother didnít get to go I bought him a yellow squishy tube to play with.

Once again, all too soon, the ferry came. We headed back to New Hampshire. Then we drove home and didnít stop at my grandmaís house (like before). It was 9:30 by the time we came home. My mom was so happy to see me. I still miss Smuttynose. I hope I will go back next year!

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