The Spanish Chest
Edna A. Brown
Part 4 out of 4
From the lighthouse on the point came the tolling of a bell, but
its warning tones were so scattered and disguised by the fog, that
its sound was of no use as a guide.
For several moments Roger stood where he was. The distance to
shore was not great if he was only certain of going straight
ahead. To swerve from that direction meant wandering out to meet
the cruel Jersey tide, presently coming in like a hunter on its
prey. To remain where he was meant anxious hours for his mother
and for Win, about whom Roger was already so much concerned.
Having weighed the alternatives, he took five steps forward and
stood absolutely surrounded by the whirling mist. A sort of horror
came over him, a keen realization of his helplessness before one
of the great elemental forces of nature. The risk was too great!
There was a chance that he might keep in the right direction with
nothing to guide him, but it was only a chance. Worried as his
mother would doubtless be, better that she endure a few hours of
anxiety than lasting grief.
Turning squarely about, Roger retraced his footsteps, already
faint, to the castle, where he perched forlornly on a high rock. A
little later, he heard for he could not see, the low hiss and
gurgle of the coming tide. Roger was a big, strong, brave boy, but
at the sound, he could not suppress a few tears, and they were not
wholly for his own plight.
Mrs. Thayne returned from her fruitless expedition to the beach,
looking still more distressed.
"I can't imagine where Roger is," she said anxiously to Frances.
"Of course, there may be some good excuse for this performance,
but I don't see what it can be. He knows that he is not to go into
town without permission and it seems as though he would have come
home for luncheon unless he was in St. Helier's. If he really has
been disobedient and played truant again into the bargain, I shall
ask Mr. Fisher to punish him."
"Oh, Mother," said Frances, "Roger wouldn't deliberately frighten
us, especially when he's been so upset over Win."
"But where _is_ he?" said Mrs. Thayne again. "Thank goodness!
Here's Mr. Fisher."
She hurried down to intercept the tutor at the door. Lingering at
the head of the stair, Frances heard her name called from Win's
"Is Mother dreadfully troubled?" he asked as she entered. "I think
Roger went back to the cave and has been shut in."
"Oh, I hope not," said Frances. "Mother's annoyed but it seems to
me he must be all right. When he gets ready he will turn up with
some wonderful tale of adventure."
"I suspect he's in some scrape," said Win. "Might not be such a
bad idea to appeal to the police after all. I only wish I wasn't
such a helpless stick," he added rather bitterly.
"Mr. Fisher has gone down to the beach," reported Frances from the
window. "I'm glad he's come, for Mother will feel better to have
him to consult."
Both were silent for a moment, thinking of Roger, blunt, loyal,
impulsive Roger, hoping that nothing serious had befallen him.
Presently Mrs. Thayne came, her face expressing a calm she did not
feel. "Mr. Fisher thinks there is no cause for us to worry," she
remarked placidly. "He is going to take what he calls a 'turn
about the town.' Frances, suppose you go on reading to Win while I
sew a little."
Frances took the book Win held out to her, and Mrs. Thayne's
fingers twitched the needle through her embroidery, both ears
alert for sound of returning steps. The clock struck three and
then four. Nothing happened. Roger did not come and Mr. Fisher did
Over on St. Aubin's tiny island, Roger watched the water creep
steadily up the rocks, up and up until it broke almost at the
foundations of the castle. Cruel, cold, and gray it looked and
hungry and chilly was the boy who watched. Once a gull flew so
close that he could almost touch it as it vanished like a ghost
into the fog.
At intervals Roger inspected his watch, counting the moments till
the tide should cease to make. At last the water stopped climbing
the rocks, remained stationary, fell an inch. The next wave broke
still farther below.
But unless the fog should lift, ebb tide would only duplicate
Roger's predicament of the morning. Toward four he saw that the
mist was gradually growing lighter; saw water visible fifty feet
from the island. Presently a breeze sprang into being, the most
welcome wind Roger had ever known. Before it the fog thinned, grew
filmy, dispersed in shreds of trailing vapor. Noirmont Point and
St. Aubin's village came gradually into distinct view, and with
them a man walking along the sand.
Water ten feet deep and many wide still barred Roger from the
shore and he could not make himself heard above the slow heave of
the rollers lazily breaking on the beach. Was there no way to
attract the saunterer's attention?
Finding a long branch, relic of some storm-wrecked tree, Roger
tied his handkerchief to it and waved vigorously. After a time,
the man on the beach noticed the flag and stood looking toward it.
A bright idea struck Roger. At home he had belonged to a troop of
boy scouts and knew the signals. He would experiment on this
Just by chance, Mr. Fisher at one time had been a scout-master and
instantly realized that Roger, marooned on St. Aubin's island, was
trying to send a message. Hastily improvising a flag, he
Twenty minutes later, Mrs. Thayne, still nervously sewing, heard
Mr. Fisher run up the steps and Estelle hurry to the door. A few
brief seconds sufficed to give the explanation Roger had so
"I didn't stop to rescue him, Mrs. Thayne," explained Mr. Fisher,
"because his one thought was for you and Win, not to let you worry
a moment longer."
"Can't you get a boat and row out for him?" asked Estelle, seeing
that Mrs. Thayne was unable to speak. "Poor dear boy, he must be
cold and famished."
"I'm off to Noirmont Point," replied Mr. Fisher briefly. "It
shouldn't take long to pull over and back, provided that I pick up
a boat quickly."
In spite of the tutor's best efforts, darkness had fallen before
the marooned prisoner was returned to his anxious family, who sat
around to see him eat everything pressed upon him. Roger was pale
and very subdued. Strangest of all, he had come up Noirmont
Terrace pressed close to the side of the obnoxious Bill Fish and
not in the least resenting the hand that rested on his shoulder.
Having consumed all the food in sight, he yielded without protest
to his mother's desire that he should go to bed in order to ward
off possible chill. When Mr. Fisher, heartily thanked, had taken
his departure, Mrs. Thayne started for Roger's room. On its
threshold she stopped for the boys were talking.
"I hated it like time out there," said Roger, now reposing
luxuriously in bed. "But I hated worse to have you and Mother
worried. I didn't purposely go over to the island, Win."
"I know you didn't," said his brother. "I was sure that something
you couldn't help had happened."
"It did," sighed Roger. "I guess I'll never again do anything that
worries Mother, now I know how it feels to worry over somebody
myself. And I say, Win, Bill Fish is all right! To think of his
knowing the scout signals! And he pulled out for me himself in a
heavy old dory that weighed a ton. Why, Bill Fish isn't so bad!"
"And have you just found that out?" asked Win laughing. "I've
known it all the time."
Not until Friday did Win receive the longed-for letter from Paris.
He tore it open eagerly.
"DEAR WIN," it ran, "I've just arrived in town and am wishing I
was back in Jersey. As the steamer sailed, I looked over at St
Aubin's and thought of you. You couldn't see me of course, both
for fog and because I was in the wheel-house with the pilot, Jim
Trott, a fellow from Gorey village.
"Probably you thought that we didn't get into the cave on Monday
on account of the weather. It was beastly, but I decided to try,
and when Connie knew my plan, she insisted on going with me.
Pierre came too, with a lantern and we went down without much
"Pierre and I tackled your stone pile at once and we pitched
quantities aside, but couldn't finish because Connie, who was
watching the tide, called a halt too soon. But we cleared enough
rocks away to feel rather sure there is an opening of some kind
beyond; just possibly the passage you are so keen on, more
probably connecting with another cave. The Jersey cliffs are
honey-combed with them. How's that for exciting news?
"Connie haled us out before there was really any need and of
course the tide did not serve for us to go again. When I come at
Easter, I'll finish the job if necessary. After playing ball with
several tons of stone, we then explored the vaults, armed with a
hammer and a long line.
"Well, old fellow, I pounded that north wall inch by inch and I
can't conscientiously say I struck anything that sounded at all
hollow. But still, it's not like tapping on plaster or wood; one
couldn't reasonably expect the same result for the stone is
probably some feet thick. And if the whole wall is the side of the
tunnel, naturally it would all sound alike, so that test doesn't
really prove or disprove anything.
"The discovery Connie and I did make, and to my mind it is rather
important, is that you are right in thinking that there is a
discrepancy between the walls of the oldest vault and the adjacent
cellar. Outside the house, the foundation wall runs flush the
length of the library and the wing beyond; inside, that same
foundation wall doesn't jibe. According to our measurements, there
is a difference of over a metre, almost four feet, in the length
of the partition at right angles to the north wall as reckoned on
either side. This certainly bears out your theory of a passage
running along that wall.
"We looked very carefully but could not detect that there had ever
been any opening, but all the masonry is so rough that perhaps we
couldn't expect to find it.
"Uncle Dick is interested but sceptical, says the difference in
measurement may be accounted for by walls built at different
times. When he thinks it over a little, he will see that no Lisle
in his senses,--and the Lisles possess sense,--would have put four
extra feet of solidity into a wall which had no earthly reason to
need such treatment. But he said that when I came at Easter, we
may have a mason and knock a hole wherever we choose. Messing
about in the cellar is a harmless amusement that may keep us out
of mischief and provide employment for some deserving workman.
Before that date, I trust you will succeed in getting Uncle Dick
into a less doubting frame of mind. Easter is but a month away and
if all goes well, I'll surely be back and we will hunt that
Spanish chest to its lair.
"Had no adventures coming here. Jean seemed relieved when I told
him to drive. When I reached my rooms, I found a note directing me
to report for duty to-morrow prepared to show some important
American from the western States the sights of Paris. That means a
gay and giddy day. I only hope I sha'n't have to interpret while
he buys hats for Madam and the young ladies at home. Once I was
let in for that and it was pretty sickening. I've often wondered
what the ladies thought of those hats. I also hope he won't be
keen on climbing the Eiffel tower, for that's one of the things
that's not done in Paris.
"I must go to bed for it is after two and my day to-morrow, or
rather to-day, may include an evening as well.
"Till Easter then adieu, and all best wishes,
"M. R. HAMILTON."
This letter naturally afforded Win a great deal of satisfaction
and his interest and pleasure were shared by the others. To wait a
whole month to solve the mystery of the Spanish chest when so
distinct a clue appeared already in his hand, was a trial of
patience. Naturally Colonel Lisle would not be likely to go ahead
in the matter until Max returned to inspire action by his youthful
enthusiasm, and it was only fair that Max should be in at the
finish. Win wondered whether Connie shared the Colonel's
scepticism. This proved not the case, only that Connie and her
father were going to London for a week or two and the little lady
of the Manor had other ideas to occupy her pretty head.
"We may even run over to Paris," she announced during a farewell
call at Rose Villa. "Max has been begging us ever since he was
sent there, so it's possible we may cross for a few days and plan
so that we come back together at Easter."
"Wouldn't it be jolly to go around Paris with Mr. Max," said Win
almost enviously. "I haven't forgotten how dandy he was to me in
Washington. Dad took me along when he was calling on some official
and then found he was in for a morning's conference. The Secretary
sent for a young man, who proved to be Mr. Max and told him to
look after me. I was only fifteen, but Mr. Max took as much pains
to give me a good time as though I'd been somebody really
"That's like Max," said Connie briefly, her eyes showing pleasure
at Win's tribute. "I think he's detailed for service such as that
more often than the other young men of the Embassy because he gets
on so well with all sorts of people. It's a real gift and a very
valuable one for a prospective diplomat. But you are celebrating
one of your great national days this week, aren't you?"
"Yes, Washington's birthday," said Frances. "Luckily it comes on
Wednesday, so we have a holiday. We were going to have a picnic at
Corbiére and invite you, Miss Connie."
"Indeed, I wish I could be there," said Constance with genuine
regret in her voice, "but I'll be in London. We'll keep up our
spirits by remembering that it's only a brief time to Easter and
then we are to start again on the trail of the Spanish chest."
Estelle consented to join the holiday celebration, and when the
twenty-second dawned bright and sunny, Rose Villa was the scene of
an animated flurry. In the dining-room, Edith, Frances and Estelle
were putting up the lunch, while Win collected painting traps for
the picture he hoped to sketch, and Roger departed to bring the
pony and cart engaged for the day.
Corbiére Point was distant about four miles and all except Win and
his mother proposed to walk, since the little carriage could take
lunch baskets and wraps.
Roger appeared with a plump stubborn Welsh pony, attached to a
funny little cart which he gayly informed them was a "gingle."
Neither Edith nor Estelle, who were familiar with the term as used
in Cornwall, thought it odd but Roger considered it most absurd.
Even the short legs of a tiny pony could cover the ground more
rapidly than the walking party, and when the pedestrians reached
their destination, no sign of Win, his mother, pony or gingle was
"Oh, what a wonderful view!" exclaimed Estelle stopping short.
Before them lay Corbiére lighthouse, built on a bold rock, at
flood tide an island, but at this hour approachable from the
mainland by a causeway. In the foreground stretched an expanse of
jagged red reefs and shining pools with a single martello tower
rising in dignified grandeur. At the right lay a hill, its summit
crowned by one stone cottage with a thatched roof, and down the
hill a narrow road wandered to disappear in a cleft between two
gigantic red granite boulders sprinkled with glittering quartz and
partly covered with gray and bright orange lichens. Green grass
and turquoise blue sea with a single white sail dipping to the
horizon completed the color scheme. Near at hand hovered several
of the sea-crows, _corbiéres_, which have given the point its
Estelle's soft eyes grew wide and a pretty pink flush came into
her usually pale cheeks as she gazed into the distance. Roger and
the girls were looking for the rest of the party.
The thatched cottage seemed utterly without life, windows blank
and no sign of any domestic proceedings.
"It must be deserted," said Edith as they strolled on.
"Here's a shed with something black in it," said Roger. "I can
just see its head. It's a goat."
"It's a black stocking hung to dry," declared Edith.
"Stocking, nothing," replied Roger. "I know it's a goat."
The two hung over the gate and deliberately stared into the little
shed. "No goat ever stopped still for so long," persisted Edith,
when three full minutes had passed without motion in the shed.
"I'll go in and see," began Roger, about to climb the gate. A
sudden exclamation from Frances deterred him.
"Goodness, here's a black cat! Where did it come from?"
Upon the doorstep now sat a perfectly motionless black cat.
"Look at the black hens!" added Edith, bursting into laughter.
At either corner of the stone cottage two coal black hens were
visible, also like statues, and possessing bright yellow eyes.
"_And_ a black dog in a barrel!" Frances fairly shrieked.
"Well, a dog has some sense!" said Roger, whistling and calling.
Strange to say, the dog neither stirred nor lifted its head. Nose
on its paws it remained absolutely still.
"This is a bum lot of animals," observed Roger. "I never saw a dog
before that wouldn't at least bark at strangers."
"It's probably dumb as well as deaf," commented Frances.
"But it might at least _move_," expostulated Roger. "Perhaps it's
"Perhaps this cottage and everything about it is enchanted,"
suggested Edith. "Miss Connie said something, don't you remember,
about a place where the Jersey witches hold their meetings?"
"That is 'way the other end of the island," retorted Roger, "down
at St. Clement's."
There was something uncanny about that collection of dusky,
motionless animals and the three were conscious of real relief
when the two hens at last walked off in quite a hen-like, not to
say human manner. But cat, dog and goat remained as though
"Mother's calling," said Frances. "Come along, Roger. Lunch!"
Roger postponed his intention of stirring up the dog to see
whether it was stuffed or paralyzed, and they turned in the
direction of the call.
Luncheon was already spread on the grass in shelter of a big rock,
the Stars and Stripes forming the table decoration. At sight of
the flag, Roger and Fran stopped and saluted gravely as their
father had taught them.
"Mother!" exclaimed Roger, his eyes widening. "Is that a chocolate
layer-cake? Where did it come from?"
"I made it," said Mrs. Thayne. "Miss Estelle said I might and
Annette was quite pleased to watch me, and see how an American
cake was constructed."
No doubt that the young people were frankly happy, though spending
this holiday in so unusual a fashion. After luncheon, Win prepared
to sketch the lighthouse and the other three proposed to visit it.
As they ran down the hill toward the causeway and the heap of
picturesque red rocks bared by the water, Mrs. Thayne settled
herself with her embroidery and Estelle produced her netting.
After a few moments spent consulting with Win as to the exact
angle desirable for his sketch, Mrs. Thayne felt for her watch,
remembered that she did not bring it and looked at Estelle.
"Will you tell me the time?" she asked. "Win's hands are full with
his palette and block."
"Certainly," said Estelle. "It's just two."
As she replaced her watch, a sudden look of interest crossed Mrs.
"What a curious chain you have, Estelle," she remarked. "Is it an
old one? May I take it a moment?"
"It belonged to my grandmother, my mother's mother," replied
Estelle, unfastening the chain and holding it out to Mrs. Thayne.
"I think it is very old for I never saw another like it."
Mrs. Thayne examined the trinket carefully. It was hand-made, of
pale yellow gold, and the links, instead of being round, were
rectangular, yet so fastened in a series of three as to produce
the effect of a round cable.
"It is an awkward thing to use," said Estelle, "because sometimes
those links get turned and it is very difficult to work them into
Mrs. Thayne looked up, a curiously intent expression on her face.
"Estelle," she said abruptly, "have you any relatives in America?"
"Not that I know of," Estelle replied, surprised by the sudden
question, "though I suppose it is quite possible. Grandmother's
sister married a young man who went out to the colonies, somewhere
near Toronto, I think. We have known nothing of them since
Grandmother died and that was before I was born. I think Mother
completely lost touch with Great-aunt Emma. It is easy, you know,
when one belongs to a different generation and has never seen
"Then you don't know whether your Great-aunt Emma had children?"
asked Mrs. Thayne, twisting the odd chain reflectively between her
"Oh, yes," said Estelle. "I do happen to know that. There were
two, a girl and a boy. Now I think of it, I recall that the girl
married and went to the States. I do not know how one speaks of
your counties, but it was not the city of New York,--perhaps New
"New York State," put in Win so abruptly that his mother jumped.
To all appearances he had been completely absorbed in his
"But you don't know the name of the man she married?" Mrs. Thayne
"I do not," replied Estelle. "But I could find out, for it will be
among Father's papers. I think he had a hazy idea of writing some
time to Canada to get in touch if possible with Mother's
relatives. But it was never done, and I should hesitate to do it,
"Lest they might think you were seeking aid," Mrs. Thayne thought,
with a tender appreciation of Estelle's proud independence, but
she kept her inference to herself.
"Do you know whether your grandmother's sister who went to Canada
also possessed a chain like this?" she asked.
"Why, yes," said Estelle, laying down her work and looking out to
sea. "I know she did. Great-grandfather Avery once bought two just
alike in Paris and gave one to each of his daughters. This came to
me through Mother."
Mrs. Thayne started to speak but caught Win's eyes fixed upon her
inquiringly. Something in their expression checked the words she
was about to utter.
"After all, better be sure," she thought. "It is a very curious
old trinket, Estelle," she said, returning the chain. "Some time
when you think of it, I wish you would look in your father's
papers and find the married name of that cousin who went to New
"Mother," said Win solemnly, "I shook in my shoes this afternoon.
Didn't you notice the lurid mixture of colors I was daubing on my
block? And all because I knew you were having psychic thoughts and
I was so afraid you would say what I thought you were thinking and
startle Estelle. I wanted so much to know myself just what you
were driving at with your watch-chains that I almost chewed my
tongue off trying not to speak."
"I know it," said Mrs. Thayne. "I felt you quaking, Win, and
decided to keep still. After all, the only sensible way was to
find out definitely that name. Estelle is so proud and so
reluctant to accept help that one must move carefully in trying to
smooth her pathway."
The two were alone in Mrs. Thayne's room after the happy picnic at
Corbiére. Through the open window floated the occasional sound of
voices from the end of the terrace where Roger, Edith, and Frances
stood watching the steamer for Southampton round Noirmont Point.
"And now that I do know the name, I am still uncertain what is
best to do," reflected Mrs. Thayne. "But you asked about the
chain, Win. The moment I saw that one of Estelle's I knew that I
had seen a similar one in the United States. For a time I could
not place it, and really it is a thing of unusual workmanship and
not likely to be largely duplicated. Then it came to me in a flash
that Carrie Aldrich often wears a chain like that and once told me
that it had belonged to her mother."
"But I never knew that Mrs. Aldrich was English," said Win
wonderingly. "I thought she'd always lived in Boston."
"I knew that she was a Canadian," replied his mother, "but she was
educated in the United States and married an American. To trace
her ancestry never occurred to me. She is so thoroughly and
completely American that one would never think of her forefathers
as being anything else.
"I can hardly keep silent," she went on. "When I think of Carrie
alone in that huge house in Boston, with her big income and her
still bigger heart and only her charities to fill it and to occupy
her time, and then think of Estelle, so proudly trying to support
herself and Edith in a land where self-support for women is not
easy,--why, Win, it seems as though I must tell her on the spot.
And yet, if I do, I am quite sure Estelle will just shut herself
up in the armor of her pride and refuse to make herself known.
Taking both the testimony of the chains and the very pronounced
family resemblance, there can be no reasonable doubt of the
"I think Estelle would refuse," said Win slowly. "She's foolishly
proud. She thinks, Mother, that you pay more than the house is
worth and so she does her level best to make it up to us in other
"I believe I will write to Carrie," mused Mrs. Thayne. "She'd be
interested and anxious to see the girls. I'm sure she doesn't
realize that she has any cousins in England."
"Mother," said Win with deliberation, "why don't you ask Mrs.
Aldrich to come over and visit us for a little? You'd like to have
her and so would we. Probably she has nothing especial to keep her
at home and might be glad to be let out of a month or two of
"That's a bright idea, Win!" exclaimed his mother. "Only I suppose
she has several pet charities that she will feel she can't leave
at short notice."
"In that case," replied Win, "probably you'd better write her
about the girls, only do tell her to come and see for herself. It
strikes me that nothing but knowing each other would ever really
bring them together."
"Win, you are so like your father," said Mrs. Thayne
affectionately. "Your minds work alike. I find I'm growing to
depend more and more upon your judgment."
In the dusk Mrs. Thayne could not see the flush that spread over
her son's thin face. To be likened in any way to Captain Thayne
was praise indeed for Win.
"I only wish I could take more off your shoulders, Mother," he
said briefly, "instead of being a great lazy lump that the whole
family has to take thought for."
"Here's Annette with letters," said Mrs. Thayne. "Why, I did not
expect mail until tomorrow."
Some moments passed until Win was aroused from his own
correspondence by a sudden surprised exclamation from his mother.
"Never say you don't believe in special providences. This seems
almost incredible, but here is a note from Mrs. Aldrich, written
from London! She's come over to attend some charity congress and
wants me to run up for a few days."
"Then it is meant that you should, Mother," said Win, smiling.
"That coincidence hasn't happened for nothing. You can tell her
about the girls much more convincingly than it could be written,
and bring her back with you to see them. It will all be natural
and Estelle will never suspect."
"I'll do it," said Mrs. Thayne, but the next second a shadow crossed
her face. Her sharp-eyed son instantly saw and interpreted.
"I'll not overdo, Mother," he said immediately. "Trust me to rival
the sloth in idleness. I promise you that I won't stir one step
out of my usual routine."
"But there's Roger," mused his mother.
"Oh, Roger is walking the straight and narrow path of virtue. Ever
since ex-scoutmaster Bill Fish rescued him from a desert island,
he's been meekness itself. Makes me smile to see his star-eyed
devotion. This plan is too evidently designed, for you to give it
the cold shoulder."
"It does seem so," agreed his mother. "Well, I'll go by Saturday's
boat. Win, don't you think it would be best not to say anything to
Fran and Roger? We will tell them after I have seen Carrie."
"I certainly do," Win declared. "Fran couldn't keep that secret
one half day. It wouldn't interest the kid."
The absence of the family did not prevent Win's enjoyment of the
Manor library and during his mother's stay in London, he paid it
several visits. Evidently the servants had been instructed to
expect and make him welcome, should he appear, for a smiling face
answered his ring and the fire in the library was invariably
lighted on his arrival. But Win's conscience would not allow him
to neglect Roger even for these delightful hours of solitude, so
this pleasure was only occasional.
With the pony and gingle they explored many of the lovely Jersey
lanes and headlands, for driving seldom tired Win. Half a morning
passed in this fascinating occupation left Roger ready to spend
the time before luncheon in preparing his lessons. When they were
over in the afternoon, Mr. Fisher usually suggested kicking
football on the beach or led Roger a walk sufficiently strenuous
to leave him disposed for a quiet evening. Estelle and Nurse both
thought Roger "good as gold," and did not realize how much of his
virtue was due to the forethought of brother and tutor.
One morning Estelle had errands in town and invited Roger to go
with her. Hearing his joyful acceptance, Win as gladly betook
himself to the Manor.
Spring was far advanced now, potatoes were being planted and other
early vegetables already showing in green rows. Under the trees on
the Manor grounds wild snow-drops starred the grass. Win wandered
into the formal garden enclosed by a hedge of box so clipped as to
form a solid wall with square pillars topped by round balls of
living green. In the background posed two peacocks, also clipped
from box. What patience, time and care had been required to bring
that hedge to such perfection! Early roses were now plentiful and
as Win sauntered through their fragrant mazes, he realized how
much loving thought had been expended through the centuries on
this old garden. Sad indeed that the present owner of Laurel Manor
was the last Richard Lisle.
Win's reverie was broken by the passing of Pierre, with a pleasant
"_Bon jour, M'sieur_," and a touch of his cap. Pierre carried a
rope and crowbar, unusual implements for a gardener's assistant.
Win watched him idly down the laurel-bordered drive and then went
into the library, followed by Tylo, who seemed depressed in the
absence of his mistress.
About eleven, Win was visited by Yvonne, bringing a glass of milk
and a plate of biscuit, which she placed beside him with a
politely murmured "M'sieur labors so diligently!"
"Thank you, Yvonne," said Win. "It's good of you to bring that. Do
you know when the Colonel and Miss Connie are expected?"
"No word since they arrived at Paris," replied Yvonne in her
daintily accented English.
"It is Pierre who hears from M'sieur Max, a letter, brief indeed,
but explicit, that certain matters may arrange themselves in
readiness for the coming of M'sieur Max."
Win looked puzzled. For a second Yvonne stood regarding him, her
head slightly on one side.
"Word will perhaps arrive on the morrow," she volunteered. "Is the
milk to M'sieur's liking?"
"Very much. Thank you, Yvonne."
The trim little maid replenished the fire, replaced a daffodil
fallen from a vase, patted Tylo, gave him a biscuit and vanished
as noiselessly as she came.
Left alone, Win began to walk slowly up and down the library,
wondering about the matters which were "to arrange themselves."
The tools Pierre carried, the direction in which he was walking,
to Win's alert mind suggested the Manor cave. Had Max told Pierre
to complete clearing away that heap of stones and if so, why?
Never in his life had Win been so tempted to break his word. In
spite of the voluntary promise to his mother to do nothing in the
least unusual, it seemed as though he _must_ go and see what was
taking place in the cave.
"Pierre would help me up," he told himself.
"Yes," came the instant answer, "but Roger gave you all the help
he could and yet you were in bed two days and felt ill for a
Win thought of questioning Pierre, but abandoned the idea as not
quite on the level. A note from Max had come on yesterday's
steamer presumably in company with the directions to Pierre. There
was not a word in it about the cave and if the writer had wanted
Win to know what was going on, he would have told him. No, Win's
code of honor would not permit him to find out by asking Pierre.
And yet two weeks until Easter!
Win gave a long whistle, looked wistfully down to the sea and
again took up his book.
When he returned for luncheon at Rose Villa, he found Roger
convulsing Frances by his account of the morning spent in town
"It's lucky I don't have to do the marketing for this family," he
announced. "If you wanted cream now, where would you get it?"
"A dairy, of course, or a market," replied Frances.
"Wrong. Much cream you'd get! Try a fish-monger's."
At Roger's disgusted tone, Fran giggled, "Oh, I've learned a lot,"
he went on. "Where would you ask for one of those paper patterns
to cut out a dress?"
"A dry-goods store," answered his sister.
"Do say a draper's if that is what you mean," continued Roger.
"You would only waste time. Go to a book-shop."
"I will," said Fran. "Thanks for the tip."
"I wanted to get weighed," said Roger, "because I know I am
becoming a shadow studying so hard. I asked Miss Estelle where to
go and told her I didn't think the nickel-in-the-slot machines
were very accurate--Well, what's wrong with that?"
Roger stopped for both Win and Frances were laughing at him.
"Here you are knocking English customs," said Win at last. "As
though Miss Estelle knew what a nickel was, let alone a slot
machine, although I have seen some of them."
"I don't see anything so funny," said Roger huffily. "Perhaps she
didn't know, but she was polite enough not to laugh and said the
place to get weighed was the hair-dresser's--"
"Oh, come off," said Win. "That's too much, even for us."
"Well, it is where we went and where the scales were," retorted
Roger, "but there weren't any pounds to it, only what they call
stones. I weigh exactly seven stone and I won't tell you how many
pounds that is."
"Ninety-eight," said Win so promptly that Roger looked
"How did you know?" he demanded.
"From a book," replied his brother. "A little article that you
don't yet value as highly as you might. What next?"
"Oh, that was about all," said Roger, "except that Miss Estelle
told me I might choose some crackers, I mean biscuit, and to buy
half a kilo. I forgot and asked for half a litre and the clerk
grinned very disagreeably."
"Liquid measure instead of dry," commented Win in amusement.
"After luncheon, Roger, permit me to introduce you to some parts
of your arithmetic that you have evidently never examined. But go
"Then I stopped to look in a window and hurried to catch Miss
Estelle and ran into a big fat man who was wearing stiff leather
gaiters and a tam o' shanter. We came together rather hard,"
admitted Roger. "I didn't hurt myself much because he was quite
soft, but his tam fell off and he said, 'Bless my soul, by
"Roger, I can't stand any more," implored Frances.
"I don't follow the logic of that hair-dresser and the scales,"
mused Win, when he had stopped laughing. "Is it before and after a
hair-cut or to see how much flesh the barber gouges out in a
"Give it up," said Fran. "There's the gong for luncheon and Edith
bringing the mail. I hope there's a letter from mother."
"There is," said Edith.
"Please excuse me, Miss Estelle, if I read it now," begged
Frances, settling into her seat at the table.
"Of course, dear," was the reply as Estelle took Mrs. Thayne's
usual place, for she and Edith were having their meals with the
"Now, Roger, pause," exclaimed Win, suddenly. "What are you going
to do with that?" he added, as the attention of all was
concentrated on the surprised Roger who sat with arrested hand
suspending above his plate a spoon heaped with sugar.
"Whatever is he doing?" protested Estelle gently. "Such a mixture!
How can he eat sugar on his eggs?"
"Thought it was pancakes," explained Roger, indicating the omelet
before him, but relinquishing the sugar.
"Mother's coming on Wednesday," Frances announced happily. "And
she's met a friend in London, Mrs. Aldrich, who's coming with her
for a few days. Isn't that splendid, boys? You'll like her, Miss
Estelle. She's sweet."
"I shall be glad to see any friend of your mother's," said Estelle
cordially. Looking to see whether Roger was sufficiently supplied
with butter, she did not notice the smile with which Win glanced
THE TWO CHAINS
"Estelle, will you do me a favor?" asked Mrs. Thayne, following
her young landlady into the hall. The travelers from London had
just arrived and in the drawing-room, Mrs. Aldrich was expatiating
to the boys upon the roughness of the trip.
"Why, of course I will! You don't need to ask," replied Estelle
"You and Edith have been taking your meals with the children
during my absence. Please keep on doing it. Let us all be one
family for the rest of our stay."
"It is lovely of you to want us, Mrs. Thayne," said Estelle, her
face flushing. "We stopped with the children because I thought it
would be better and then I could personally see that they had all
they wanted. But now that you have a guest--"
"I want you and Mrs. Aldrich to know each other," said Mrs. Thayne
quickly. "And this will be one of the easiest ways to get
"I think Mrs. Aldrich is charming," remarked Estelle. "Isn't it
odd, how sometimes a likeness in a total stranger strikes one? For
a second, just as you introduced us, she reminded me so much of my
dear mother that I could hardly pull myself together to speak. She
must have thought me quite awkward."
"I know she didn't," said Mrs. Thayne, with difficulty keeping her
face under control. She had seen Estelle start and noticed her
amazed expression when Mrs. Aldrich greeted her. So Estelle had
not been conscious of Mrs. Aldrich's constrained manner! "Then you
will have luncheon with us?" she added.
"I will since you wish it," replied Estelle, vanishing to give
directions to Nurse.
"Now, what is there to do this morning?" Mrs. Aldrich was asking
the boys. "I propose to stay in this island exactly one week. Your
mother was seasick so she ought to lie down and rest but I feel as
fit as a fiddle. Frances is at school, you tell me. No, I don't
want to drive this morning. Suppose you take me for a short walk,
Roger and Win, and show me what is to be seen on the beach."
"We might take you to Noirmont Point," suggested Roger as they
stopped at the end of the terrace to look at the view which was
never twice the same. "What are those big vessels over beyond
"They are English warships," replied Mrs. Aldrich. "Coming into
the harbor we passed close to them. The captain said it was a part
of the Channel squadron, whatever that is."
"Oh, did you see their names?" demanded Roger eagerly, as he
counted the great gray ships in the offing. "Fourteen, no,
"Only a few. One was the _Princess Royal_ and I saw the
_Thunderer_, the _Revenge_, the _Black Prince_ and the
Roger's eyes opened at this list of awe-inspiring names. "I wish
we could get over to Elizabeth," he remarked. "We could see them
"Tide's not right," said Win, casting a critical glance at the
"What, to walk over to that island?" asked Mrs. Aldrich. "Is it
"We've been over," said Roger. "When the tide is 'way out, there
is a raised causeway, quite smooth and easy."
"What is the place anyway?" asked Mrs. Aldrich, looking curiously
across to the castle.
"Once it was an old abbey," Win explained, "dedicated to St.
Elericus, the patron saint of Jersey. I suppose the town was named
"How did the island itself get its name?" inquired Mrs. Aldrich.
"The derivation of these charming old English names is a
"It was the old Roman Caesarea," said Win. "Jersey is a corruption
of that. The ruined hermitage of St. Elericus is still over near
Elizabeth, at least they call it that, though it's a kind of
combination of a watch-tower and a cave. But the castle, as it
stands, was built when Edward VI was king of England. There's a
story to the effect that all the bells in the island except one
for each of the twelve churches were seized by royal authority and
ordered sold to help pay for building the castle. They were
shipped to St. Malo and expected to bring a high price, but the
vessel went down on the way and all the good church people thought
it was because of sacrilege in taking those bells."
"What is the castle used for now?" inquired Mrs. Aldrich.
"Barracks," replied Roger. "The place is full of soldiers. It's no
good now as a fortification, because Fort Regent up above St.
Helier's--over there on the cliffs--could knock Castle Elizabeth
and all those warships into fits in no time. Nothing can enter the
bay if the Fort Regent guns don't approve. And that heap of rocks
where Elizabeth stands is 'most a mile around,--it is, honest.
Fran and Edith and I walked it."
"They say," said Win, "that the space between the castle and the
town was once a meadow. For that matter, they also say that the
whole channel between here and France was once so narrow that the
Bishop of Coutances used to cross to Jersey on a plank."
"Tell that to the marines," protested Roger. "You do find the
weirdest yarns in those books you're always grubbing in."
"Oh, I can tell a bigger one than that," said Win laughing, "but
perhaps you'll swallow it because your friend Bill told it to me.
He said that some time in the sixteenth century there was an
abnormally low tide, lower than any one had ever known. Some
fishermen who happened to be out between Orgueil and the coast of
France came in and reported that they had distinctly seen down in
the channel the towers and streets and houses of an old town,
forty feet or more under water."
"There are stories like that in Brittany," said Mrs. Aldrich. "The
fishermen declare that they can hear the tolling of the submerged
church bells. Now, when legends like that exist on both sides of a
channel, it stands to reason that there is likely some foundation
"Then why don't they send divers down to find out?" demanded Roger
bluntly. "Any enterprising country would."
"We'll import a few Americans to do the investigating," laughed
Mrs. Aldrich. "Is this Frances coming? Who is with her?"
"Edith," replied Win. "Miss Estelle's sister."
"Bless me!" murmured Mrs. Aldrich. "The other was startling enough
but this resemblance is even stronger."
Win smiled. It was great fun to look on, knowing what he did of
his mother's innocent little conspiracy, all the more fun because
the other young people were unsuspecting.
At luncheon, where Estelle appeared with a pretty dignity, Win was
supplied with still more secret amusement. Mrs. Aldrich talked a
good deal, rather inconsequently at times, but continually looked
from one sister to the other in a way that would have aroused
suspicion had either the slightest idea that any plot was on foot.
As it was, Win saw Estelle occasionally glancing at their guest in
a puzzled manner as though trying to account for something she
found unexpected. After the meal he waylaid his mother.
"What is Mrs. Aldrich going to do?" he asked laughingly. "I had
hard work not to give myself away during luncheon. You looked so
unnatural, Mother, that if you hadn't been seasick, Fran and Roger
would have caught on. As it was, they thought you weren't quite
"I don't know what she is going to do," replied his mother, "but
it is working as we hoped. She is strongly attracted to the girls,
and Estelle confided to me that our guest in some unaccountable
way, reminded her of her mother. We have done our part in bringing
Carrie here; it is for her to take the next step. I rather imagine
that she won't be able to hold in very much longer, though I think
she is enjoying the situation."
It was not until dinner of her third day in St. Aubin's, that Mrs.
Aldrich made herself known. To please Win, who had ascertained
that she chanced to have the old chain with her, she wore it when
she entered the dining-room.
Win watched Estelle intently, disappointed that she did not
immediately notice the ornament. Indeed, they were finishing
dessert before anything happened. Perhaps purposely, Mrs. Aldrich
looked at her watch and Fran in all innocence touched the match
that fired the explosion.
"Why, how odd!" she exclaimed. "Miss Estelle has a chain just like
that one, Mrs. Aldrich."
Win and his mother exchanged a glance; the others naturally looked
at the chain.
"It's precisely like it, Sister," said Edith, who sat near Mrs.
Aldrich. "Isn't that queer?"
"It's an old keepsake," said Mrs. Aldrich with deliberation. "It
belonged to my mother. See, here are her initials on the slide, E.
A. for Emma Avery."
Edith looked with interest but Estelle turned pale. Thoughtful Win
pushed a glass of water within reach.
"Star's has initials too," Edith remarked innocently. "A. A., I
think they are. Anyway, it was Grandmother's chain."
Mrs. Aldrich turned to Estelle, who perfectly colorless, was
staring at her. "Child," she said rather peremptorily, "come up to
my room and let us compare these old trinkets."
Still speechless, Estelle mechanically arose. Amid dead silence
the two left the dining-room. Fran turned to her mother, amazed at
the look of excited pleasure on her face. "What _does_ it all
mean?" she demanded. "Is it a secret?"
"Just a mild little conspiracy," replied Mrs. Thayne. "What it
means, is that Mrs. Aldrich was your mother's first cousin, Edith,
so she is your and Estelle's second cousin. Just by chance I
guessed from Estelle's unusual chain that the one Carrie Aldrich
wears came from the same source. When Estelle told me that her
great-grandfather gave one to each of his two daughters, the whole
thing flashed on me."
"But that," said Edith, with her sweet childish faith, "is a
"Perhaps," smiled Mrs. Thayne. "I only know that we shall leave
St. Aubin's happier because you and Mrs. Aldrich have found each
A shower of eager questions fell from Frances and Roger but a long
time passed before anything was seen of Estelle and Mrs. Aldrich.
When they reappeared to the group awaiting them in the drawing-
room, Estelle had plainly been crying and Mrs. Aldrich's eyes
looked suspiciously red.
"Come and kiss me, Edith," she said. "I want to be Cousin Carrie
from now on. Yes, Estelle, she does look more like the Averys than
you, though I saw the resemblance in your face also."
"Isn't the whole thing just like a story?" Frances confided to her
mother at bed-time. "What do you think will happen now?"
"I don't know," admitted Mrs. Thayne. "Estelle is so very proud
that it will be hard for her to accept help from any one, but
Carrie will arrange things if it can be done. I know that Estelle
has been dreadfully worried because some of the little money her
father left her has been lost through an imprudent investment and
that she has not felt sure she could manage to keep the house
through another season. And yet she must find some way of
supporting herself and Edith. Things will work themselves out, for
Carrie is perfectly capable of inventing some very necessary work
for Estelle to do, which will preserve her self-respect and let
Carrie have her way. I think Carrie usually has some young person
acting as secretary and Estelle could do that easily. I am not at
all worried about the future since Estelle fortunately saw the
resemblance to her own mother in Mrs. Aldrich. I imagine that will
make it easier for her to consider whatever plan is proposed."
"Wasn't it lucky that we came here!" sighed Frances. "And doesn't
it seem odd that we did come, just because Roger and I wanted to
take that little train the first day and chanced to find Rose
Villa? If it hadn't been for that, we might not have looked for
lodgings in St. Aubin's at all, nor known Miss Estelle and Edith.
Why, Mother!" she went on, with intenser surprise in her voice.
"It's just like the House that Jack built. If we hadn't come here,
we wouldn't have met the beach dog, nor known Miss Connie, nor
visited the Manor, nor be hunting for the Spanish chest!"
Fran stopped, looking so comically aghast that Mrs. Thayne laughed
as she kissed her.
"So much depended upon a passing wish to take that little train!
It is remarkable on looking back, to realize how often life turns
upon some apparently trivial incident, some insignificant choice."
"It's time though, that we went home, Mother," said Frances
merrily. "While you were in London, Miss Estelle wanted change for
half a crown, so I tipped the money out of my purse. One piece
rolled on the floor and Roger picked it up, and said: 'Why, this
isn't a shilling! What is it?' So I took it, and, Mother, both of
us looked at it hard for several seconds before we realized that
it was a United States quarter-dollar! Don't you think it is time
that we went home?"
THE CHEST ITSELF
Mrs. Aldrich's stay did not exceed her limit of a week, but she
left for London with Estelle's willing promise to come to her when
the Thaynes returned to Boston and leaving behind her two girls
with gladdened hearts. After her departure Win's interest was
again concentrated on the coming of the Manor family and the
search for the Spanish chest.
Twice as he came or went from his visits to the library, he saw
Pierre in the distance, once actually disappearing over the cliff
edge, but Easter was close at hand when Yvonne, bringing the usual
lunch, volunteered the information that the Colonel, Miss Connie
and Mr. Max were expected on Saturday's steamer.
Win reported this news with joy and when the day arrived the young
people began to watch for the Granville boat hours before she
could possibly arrive, hoping to distinguish familiar figures on
the deck. To their disappointment, when the steamer was finally
detected in the distance, dusk was at hand.
"I shall do it!" said Roger firmly. "There are three packages and
we may not be in England on the Fourth of July. Besides I forgot
it on Washington's birthday."
Fran and Win looked after him in amazement as he suddenly tore
back to the house and rushed upstairs, spreading noise on his way
and devastation in his room, where he jerked the very vitals out
of his steamer trunk, scattering its contents to the four corners.
Nor was Edith enlightened when Roger reappeared with a pasteboard
tube in one hand, and a box of matches in the other, but Win
laughed and Frances gave a shriek of delight.
"Bed fire!" she exclaimed. "Oh, Roger, I never knew you had it. Do
wait until the boat is a little nearer."
"It will be darker, too," Win advised. "Make more of a show if you
"I only hope they will know it is for them," said Roger anxiously.
"They'll see where it comes from and perhaps they'll understand,"
said Win. "But don't expect the steamer to salute as one at home
At the proper second, a flare of red illuminated the end of
Noirmont Terrace, greatly amazing not only St. Aubin's staid
population but such inhabitants of St. Helier's as chanced to be
on the water front, and affording Roger two full moments of
complete and exquisite satisfaction.
"Real United States!" he said. "I suppose an English boat doesn't
know enough to whistle--"
Roger stopped with his mouth open. From the _Alouette_ came two
distinct blasts of the steam siren.
"Oh, that's Mr. Max," burst out Win in delight. "He's been in
America and understands the etiquette of red fire. And you
remember he said he knew personally all the captains on the
Channel boats. Probably he went up to the bridge and got somebody
to acknowledge our salute! Isn't that simply corking of him?"
"That was surely meant for us," agreed the pleased Frances. "Oh,
how long shall we have to wait before we see them?"
That very evening Pierre brought a note from Constance, expressing
appreciative thanks for their fiery welcome, the source of which
Max had guessed and which he had easily induced Captain Lefevre to
acknowledge. The note ended with an invitation to tea on Monday
and promised a solution of some kind to Win's theories concerning
the Spanish chest.
"How nice of Miss Connie to set the very first possible day," said
Frances. "I suppose we shall not see them before then."
"Not unless we go to the little old church tomorrow," replied her
brother. "If you want to, and it's a still day, we might get up
But the travelers had returned on an evening of clouds and
threatening winds. Easter Sunday dawned with Jersey in the grip of
a terrific southeast storm. All day the rain beat on the panes of
Rose Villa, all day the wind howled and snatched at the shutters,
the house at times fairly quivering with its force. As dusk came,
the gale increased to the proportions of a hurricane. Roger, going
out to the pillar post-box, came struggling back with difficulty.
"I met one of the Noirmont fishermen," he reported. "He said it is
the worst gale in thirty years and when the weather clears the
surf will be worth seeing."
"Fisher told me that a southeast storm kicked up a fine sea,"
replied Win. "I only hope it won't stop our going to the Manor to-
All night the wind raged though the rain finally ceased. It seemed
as though the reputed witches of Jersey were holding high carnival
with the unloosed elements of air and water. Day broke, still
without rain, but the violence of the wind was not lessened. Roger
ran out to the end of the terrace and came hurrying back.
"Come out, everybody, and look," he shouted above the uproar. "The
waves are coming over the breakwater. There isn't one inch of
beach to be seen."
Roger's report was literally true. Though the sea wall protecting
the town of St. Helier's rose twenty-five feet above the sands,
the rollers were breaking beyond the wall on the esplanade itself,
the white foam even running up some of the side streets. Only an
inky howling mass of white-capped water stretched between the town
and Elizabeth Castle.
Win, who had managed to make slow progress to a point of vantage,
stood fascinated by the wild whirl of wind and water. The tide was
at the flood and the spectacle at its finest. Just a few moments
sufficed to lessen its grandeur as the waves, yielding to the law
of their being, were dragged away from the land. Presently,
instead of dashing over the wall, they broke against it, and then
came a scene of different interest. The water, forcibly striking
the masonry, was flung back on the next incoming roller, with a
collision that sent spray forty feet into the air from the
violence of the shock. This phenomenon was repeated as the rollers
crashed down the curve of the wall, continuing for its full
length, the flying spray looking like consecutive puffs of steam
from a locomotive.
"Look, there comes the train from St. Helier's!" exclaimed Roger,
dancing excitedly about. "Doesn't it look as though the ocean was
trying to catch it?"
The little train had prudently delayed its starting until after
the turn of the tide. As it crept slowly around the curve of the
breakwater, great white tongues of foam constantly shot over the
wall like fingers frantically trying to seize and draw it into the
sea. But always the hands fell back baffled, to the accompaniment
of a roar that sounded almost like human disappointment. The train
reached St. Aubin's dripping with salt water.
"Five stones are torn out of the coping in the wall," reported
Roger, coming back from his inspection of the adventurous little
engine. "The guard says they are sweeping pebbles and stones by
the ton out of the streets beyond the esplanade. And coming down
here, he twice had a barrel of water slapped right at him. He is
as wet as a drowned rat."
"The surf must be wonderful at Corbiére," said Estelle. "They say
there is an undertow off that point which produces something this
effect of the water flung back by the wall."
"Why, here's Miss Connie!" exclaimed Frances in excitement. Max
and Constance on horseback were coming down the terrace.
"We've been half round the island," Connie announced after her
first greetings. Well prepared for wind as they were, both looked
disheveled. Connie's hair was braided in a thick club down her
back, evidently the only way she could keep it under control;
Max's was plastered back by wind and spray, for he had lost his
hat, and their horses were blown and spattered with salt brine.
"Oh, but it is grand!" Constance went on. "Corbiére light is
smothered in spray to the very top of the tower. We haven't had a
storm like this since I was a tiny kiddie."
To talk above the uproar of the surf was difficult. Asking them to
be at the Manor promptly by three, the two rode away.
"Why three?" asked Frances as they regained the shelter of the
"I think we are going down into the cave," said Win happily. "Mr.
Max told me just now that we were to begin exploring there and
that things would be arranged so that it would not be hard for me.
I suppose he and Pierre have some plan."
"But you aren't going into the cave on a day like this?" exclaimed
Mrs. Thayne, quite horrified at this announcement.
"Why, yes, Mother," said Win. "The tide will be as low as usual
when it does ebb."
"Of course," assented his mother. "I forgot. But how about this
wind? You must have the pony, Win."
"I will if it keeps up, but I imagine the gale will blow itself
out by noon."
Win's prophecy proved correct. When the four started to keep their
engagement, the wind was greatly abated and the only trace of the
tempest was the ruined vines and gardens that marked their road.
At the Manor gates, Colonel Lisle, Constance and Max met them.
"It is to be the cave," Connie said gayly. "Max has things all
mapped out for us."
Arrived at the cliff, the party stopped. Marks of the storm were
visible in one or two landslides and in a great amount of debris
strewing the uncovered beach and rocks. Even large stones seemed
to have been displaced.
Max looked rather serious as he saw so much change in conditions
usually stable. "I think you'd better let me go down and report
whether matters are as I expect," he said. "There seems to have
been considerable doing in this vicinity last evening."
"Let us wait, Win," said Constance quickly. "No use in going down
until we see how he finds things."
Colonel Lisle also elected to await the report, but Roger and the
girls accompanied Max. They were gone almost half an hour and the
watchers on the cliff were beginning to wonder what had happened.
When they did appear, they called to the others not to come.
"'The best laid plans of mice and men!'" sighed Max as he reached
the top of the cliff. "Uncle, the storm has picked up all the
stones I had Pierre clear out of the tunnel and wedged them in
tight again like a cork in a bottle."
"There was a passage and we can't get into it?" demanded Win
eagerly, his face reflecting the disappointment visible on the
faces of the other young people.
"There was," replied Max, looking at him sympathetically, "not
merely into another cave but striking inland. Pierre cleared its
mouth and reported it passable for fifty feet. Beyond that he did
not go. Now, it is stopped as tight as ever. This shows, Uncle,
how it came to be lost to the recollection of everybody about the
"Yes," said Colonel Lisle. "Very likely it was stopped by a
similar storm a century or more ago. So far as I know there has
never been a legend of any tunnel. But, Max," he added, "there is
yet the cellar where you and Win have decided that the passage
enters the house."
"May we knock a hole there?" Max asked quickly. Win had said
nothing more but his disappointment was evident.
"Certainly, if you like," assented the Colonel, smiling. "Only be
prepared for another disillusion when you get the wall down. The
existence of the tunnel doesn't ensure that of the chest."
Max whistled, evidently a signal, for Pierre promptly appeared
with a rope over his shoulder.
"We sha'n't need that now," said Max. He proceeded to add some
rapid directions in French. Pierre nodded, grinned cheerfully and
set off at a fast pace.
"I've told him to get another man and come to knock in the vault
wall," Max explained as they started toward the Manor. "We may not
get it down this afternoon, but that's all that's left to try. I'm
beastly annoyed about that tiresome hole. Why should a ripsnorter
of a storm come on the one day when it could spoil our plans?"
"It's provoking." agreed Win. "Do you suppose there is really
anything in the passage?"
"Blessed if I know!" replied Max. "The one thing sure is that
there is a passage. There must be since we located one end of it
in the cave. If it hadn't been for that, we might not be permitted
to tear down the wall, but even Uncle is convinced now that the
"Come and have tea," said Connie as they reached the Manor. "It's
a bit early, but we may as well begin, for nobody knows how long
it will take to pierce the vault."
Max went down to show the men where to work and reported that the
stone seemed soft and inclined to break easily. "This isn't going
to be much of a job," he reported. "I told Pierre to send word as
soon as he struck through."
"What do you suppose the chest will look like?" asked Frances.
"Will it be silver?"
"No such luck," Max replied. "Possibly metal, probably wood,
always provided that we find it."
"You mustn't throw cold water, Max," reproved Connie from behind
the tea-table. "Since we have found the passage, why not the
chest? Let's have it a gorgeous one while we are about it, gold
studded with uncut rubies and the Spanish crown in diamonds."
Frances and Edith shrieked at thought of such sumptuousness and
one by one each expressed an opinion as to what the box would
resemble and its probable contents. Roger decided that the chest
was of solid iron, fastened by seven locks of which they would
have to find the seven keys and that inside would be discovered a
complete suit of royal armor.
"I fear that Prince Charles would not have made good his escape
from England clad in a clanking suit of mail," said the amused
Just then Yvonne entered with her usual pretty air of importance.
"It is Pierre who desires M'sieur to attend in the cellar," she
said, addressing herself to Max.
The entire party rose, hastily placing tea-cups on any convenient
article of furniture. Roger found the floor most accessible for
his, but with prudent foresight took with him such easily conveyed
articles as the jam sandwiches and plum cake upon his plate.
Down in the cellar, Pierre and McNeil, the Scotch gardener, stood
facing the northern wall just where the newer wing joined the
oldest Manor vault. Before them yawned a hole already two feet in
With a grin on his face, Pierre thrust his crowbar through and
showed that a space not quite a yard wide intervened before the
tool brought up against what was in reality the outer wall of the
cellar. The partition itself was only a foot thick, but because it
was of equal thickness throughout its length, Max had not been
able to detect any difference in resonance.
"_Bien, Pierre!_" exclaimed Max eagerly. "_En avant!_"
Pierre and McNeil attacked the wall again, Pierre all smiles and
gay glances over this remarkable whim of M'sieur Max, whose whims
as a rule he found enjoyable; McNeil looking perhaps not grimmer
than usual, but as though the whole affair was quite below his
dignity. To knock a hole in a perfectly good stone partition which
would require a mason to fill and put in proper shape again at an
expense of solid Jersey shillings, struck his thrifty Scotch soul
as folly. Still, if Colonel Lisle wished to indulge Mr. Max in
this youthful eccentricity, it was not McNeil's place to protest.
After fifteen minutes a cavity yawned in the cellar wall,
disclosing a passage leading to the left.
"That will do, McNeil," said the Colonel. "That's enough for the
purpose. Go ahead, boys. It was through your efforts that the
tunnel was located, so it is for you to see this out."
"Win shall be first," said Max. "Step in, old fellow."
Pale with excitement, Win took the offered lantern and approached
the hole. Once inside the opening he found that he could stand
erect for the passage ran straight along the cellar wall about
three feet wide and over five feet high. It seemed dry and the air
was not musty. Rough stones formed its floor and roof but the
crude workmanship had been strong and only a few scattered stones
had fallen during the centuries.
Max followed with another lantern, and Roger made the third
explorer. The excited heads of the girls were thrust into the
passage but only Frances actually stepped within.
Win went slowly down the gently sloping tunnel, and presently the
eager watchers who could catch only glimpses of shadowy roof and
walls in the fitful light of the lanterns, saw the three stop. In
her excitement, Fran forgot her fear of the distance stretching
before her and ran to them. The next second came a wild warwhoop
"It's here!" Max called more quietly.
At this wonderful news the rest entered the passage, the Colonel
as eager as the others. Fifty feet from the opening at one side of
the tunnel was a rough niche or alcove and in it stood a box about
two feet square. Upon its cover lay the dust of ages, and it was
scarcely to be distinguished in color from the stones about it.
"We'll bring it out, Uncle," said Max. "No place to open it here.
You hold the lanterns, Win. Lend a hand, Roger. Go easy; we don't
know how much knocking it will stand."
His eyes almost starting from his head, Roger took one of the
handles, the girls stepped back and in two minutes the party stood
in the open cellar, looking at what was undoubtedly the Spanish
[Illustration: WHAT WAS UNDOUBTEDLY THE SPANISH CHEST]
"Is it heavy?" asked Fran breathlessly, while Pierre went for a
brush to remove the silted dust.
"Rather," said Max, looking boyishly excited. "Ah, now we know the
style of the chest. No gold box nor uncut rubies, Connie!"
Relieved of its heavy coating of dust, the box proved of dark
wood, carefully finished and ornamented by plates and corners of
steel. Upon its cover was inlaid a scroll engraved with the Manor
arms and the name of Richard Lisle.
"Gracious, what great-grandfather bought that bit of bric-a-brac!"
exclaimed Connie, seeing her father's eyes light with interested
pleasure. "It must have been the original Richard himself. Is it
Max tried the lid. "No," he said, straightening up and looking at
the Colonel. "It is your play, Uncle Dick. Only a Lisle of Laurel
Manor should open Richard's chest."
The Colonel smiled, stepped forward and with his single hand
lifted the lid. The excited group about him bent forward eagerly.
At first glance a roll of dark cloth was all that appeared. When
Colonel Lisle lifted this, it unfolded into a long-skirted coat
ornamented with many buttons. The fabric was stained and rotten,
in places moth-eaten. Below the coat lay a pair of leather gloves
with long wrists, stiff as boards, and two blackened bits of metal
that proved to be spurs.
For a moment no one spoke. The young people were silent, impressed
with the fact that long years ago these things had been the
property of a prince of England.
With a smile the Colonel looked first at Max and then at Win. "Are
you satisfied?" he asked. "Though the contents of the Spanish
chest have no value in money, they certainly are rich in
"Oh, it was the fun of finding it that I cared about," said Win
quickly. "That was the point for me. And I am so glad there is
something in it."
"Let's take it up-stairs," suggested Connie. "We can see so much
The boys and Max delayed to inspect the empty secret passage,
following to the spot where it was blocked by its stopper of
stone. Then they joined the group in the study. In bright
daylight, the fine workmanship on the Toledo steel trimmings of
the chest stood out in full beauty.
"The design on these buttons is very significant," remarked
Colonel Lisle, who was inspecting the wreck of the once handsome
coat. "And I suspect that they are of silver."
Examination showed on the tarnished metal the three ostrich
feathers that have marked the badge of the Prince of Wales since
the far-off days of Edward the Black Prince. Below was the motto,
"Ich dien," and the single letter C.
"On my next new suit I guess I'll have buttons marked R," said
The others laughed. A feeling of real awe had been creeping over
them to think that garment had once been worn by Prince Charles.
"Here's a loose button," said Max, picking it out of the box. "The
whole coat is falling in pieces."
"The buttons will last indefinitely," said Colonel Lisle,
regarding thoughtfully the one Max had just rescued. "Thanks to
Win's clever brain, the Manor has acquired an unsuspected secret
passage and a valuable antique; of especial value to me because of
the name it bears. I want you to keep this button, Win, for I
think you, almost more than any one I know, will appreciate it and
what it stands for."
Win turned pale. To possess a silver button once the property of
bonnie Prince Charlie rendered him speechless.
"Oh, Colonel Lisle," he said after a minute, "I oughtn't to take a
thing of such value. It belongs here."
"I want you to have it, my boy," replied the Colonel kindly. "I
really am indebted to you, for we have positive proof now that the
Manor walls once sheltered the Prince."
"I should value that button above all things," said Win simply,
"if you really wish me to have it. Only it seems as though Mr. Max
had done much more toward solving the mystery."
"I merely followed the lead you gave me," said Max, who was
looking at him with a very friendly expression. "You played a
pretty fine game yourself, Win."
"As for that," said the Colonel smiling, "Maxfield may have a
button too, if he cares for it."
"Thank you, Uncle Dick," Max replied promptly. "I do value it, but
perhaps for the present, it would better stop with the others."
As Max spoke, he looked not at the Colonel but at Constance,
leaning against the table beside him. Something in their attitude
struck Win's always acute perception. For the first time he
doubted whether the young people of the Manor had been as
genuinely absorbed in that search as he supposed. About Max, half-
sitting on the corner of the study table, about Connie, with her
hands loosely clasped before her, there was a certain air of quiet
detachment, as of those who politely look on at some interesting
comedy, but who, as soon as courtesy permits, will return to
affairs of more importance.
"You need not have the least scruple about accepting it, Win," the
Colonel went on. "We hope this will not be your last visit to the
island, but in any case, whenever you look at that old relic, you
will have to give us a thought as well."
Win turned the tarnished button on his palm. Yes, the sight of it
would always bring back memories of the green lanes, the red
cliffs, the turquoise sea of Jersey, not least the hours in the
library, the Spanish chest and the Lisles of Laurel Manor.
* * * * *
After the story was finished and the characters were going away,
Max and Connie turned back.
"We have kept our promise?" they asked. "We have played quite
nicely and haven't been silly?"
"You have really been very good," admitted the author. "If Max
hadn't appeared just when he did to rescue Edith and Frances from
the tide, probably the story must have stopped there. And Connie
has been most helpful about lending the Manor house and the beach
"May we play again?" Max asked.
"I think not," decided the author. "This is five months later. You
really must be grown-up now and stay so."
"We have been all the time," said Connie. "We've pretended just to
please you. But since you let us come into the story when we
weren't expected nor invited, it is only polite to tell you what
we are going to do now."
They looked at each other and smiled.
"Every girl who reads this story will want to know," Connie went
on. "It would indeed be very diverting to be Princess Santo-Ponte,
but somehow I think the chances of 'living happily ever after' are
greater with Max. There's nothing at all romantic about marrying
Max, but you might just mention that I'm going to do it."
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