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Under Padlock and Seal   By: (1867-1943)

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First Page:

[Illustration: The children leant forward and peered down into this wonderful box. Page 113. ]



Thomas Nelson and Sons London, Edinburgh, Dublin and New York


I. Downstairs in the Dark , 9 II. The Lost Carving Knife , 19 III. Uncle Roger's Box , 30 IV. The Box Opened , 41 V. A Naval Disaster , 51 VI. More Mystery , 61 VII. Sad News , 71 VIII. Elsie has a Fright , 82 IX. A Fresh Discovery , 93 X. Elsie's Confession , 103 XI. Uncle Roger's Legacy , 112 XII. The Riddle Solved , 122





Elsie pushed away the bed clothes which were covering her ear, and listened; then she sat up in bed, and listened again.


There was no doubt that it was an actual sound, and not mere imagination. How long it had been going on, or when it first began to mingle in a confused manner with her dreams, she could not say; but now she heard it plainly enough, and recognized what it was the peculiar, grating hiss of a grindstone, punctuated every now and then with a subdued little squeak made by the treadle.

Who on earth should want to be grinding anything at that time of night?

The Pines was a rambling old house; the girls always slept with their window open; and just below was an outbuilding, part of which was used as a tool house, in which stood the grindstone; and thus the sound had reached Elsie at a moment when perhaps her slumber was not as deep as usual. The noise continued, with pauses at regular intervals, when whatever was being sharpened was removed from the stone. Taking care not to disturb her elder sister, Ida, whose heavy breathing showed that she was sound asleep, the little girl slipped out of bed, and crept softly over to the window. By straining her neck, and pressing her cheek close against the pane, she could just get a glimpse of the tool house window, which she noticed was faintly illuminated, as it might have been by the feeble rays of a night light.

A sudden thought occurred to Elsie that it must be her cousin, Brian Seaton, who lived at the Pines, and went to school with her brother Guy. Brian was always boat building; sometimes he sat up later than he ought to have done, and continued to work long after every one else was in bed. No doubt the rascal was doing so now, and had stolen down to put a fresh edge on his chisel. Elsie was a spirited young monkey, and she and Brian were great chums.

"I'll just creep down and show him I've found him out," she said to herself. "What fun to take him by surprise!"

To put on dressing gown and slippers was but the work of a few moments. Softly opening the bedroom door, she passed out on to the landing, and groping in the darkness until she found the rail of the banisters, she proceeded down the stairs.

How still and quiet the house seemed! Nothing broke the silence but the solemn "tick tack" of the big clock in the hall, which had been ticking in the same sedate manner since the days when Elsie's grandmother had been a little girl. Feeling her way down the length of the hall, not without an occasional bump against chairs and other such obstacles, Elsie came to a little lobby or cloak room, having at the farther end a half glass door, which opened on the yard, and from which the tool house was distant not more than a dozen paces. She quite expected to find this door open, and was surprised to discover that it was not only shut, but locked on the inside.

"What a beggar Brian is!" thought the girl. "He must have climbed out of his window, and come down the water pipe, as he did one day last summer."

She laid her hand on the key, when a low growling noise gave her quite a little fright, until she remembered that it was the old clock in the hall preparing to strike "clearing his throat," as Ida called the operation... Continue reading book >>

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