酷兔英语



[Illustration: The children leant forward and peered down into this

wonderful box. _Page 113._]

UNDER PADLOCK AND SEAL

BY HAROLD AVERY

Thomas Nelson and Sons

London, Edinburgh, Dublin

and New York

_CONTENTS._

_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

UNDER PADLOCK AND SEAL.

[Illustration]

CHAPTER I.

DOWNSTAIRS IN THE DARK.

Elsie pushed away the bed-clothes which were covering her ear, and

listened; then she sat up in bed, and listened again.

[Illustration]

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. The next moment the bell struck--

"Ting! ting!"

Elsie listened with a gasp of astonishment; the old clock ignored the

halves and quarters, so the time must be two o'clock in the morning!

She never remembered having been up so early or so late before, and the

thought that she was wandering about the house at that unearthly hour

made her feel quite queer.

"What can Brian be about?" she murmured. "He can't have been sitting up

working till this time."

She turned the handle of the door, and stepped across the threshold. The

cold night air made her shiver, the whir of the grindstone came clear

and distinct from the tool-house, and the window still gleamed with

the same subdued, ghostly light. Elsie had intended to rush across the

flagstones, fling open the door, shout "Brian, go to bed!" and then

herself beat a hasty retreat; but, just when she was on the point of

doing so, she hesitated.

What if it shouldn't be Brian after all? And if it were not her cousin,

who or what could be there in the tool-house turning the grindstone at

two o'clock in the morning?

It is when we pause to think that fear often takes hold of us. Elsie was

a brave child; but, somehow, just then her courage seemed to desert her.

She remained for an instant listening to the whispering of the night

wind, and the mysterious sound which had first roused her from her

slumbers; then she drew back in sudden panic, locked the door as if in

the fear of some lion, and went quickly back the way she had come.

"Tick-tack! tick-tack!" muttered the old clock. He never felt afraid at

having to stand alone all night in the darkness. Elsie hurried past him,

and after one or two stumbles on the stairs, regained her bedroom.

"Ida! Wake up!"

"Every one of my sums is right," murmured Ida drowsily. "You can always

get them right with a blue pencil."

"Wake up, Ida! I want to tell you something."

"Oh, bother!" grumbled the elder girl. "What's the matter, Elsie? What

d'you want to keep shaking me for when I'm sound asleep?"

"Why, I want to tell you there's some one turning our grindstone."

"Well, what if they are? I suppose it's meant to be turned."

"But not now. It's two o'clock in the morning. No one ought to be about

there at this time."

Ida sat up, rubbed her eyes, and yawned.

"What d'you mean?" she exclaimed.

"Listen!" was the answer. "You'll hear the noise. Some one was working

the grindstone. Why, I heard the little squeak of the treadle as plainly

as anything."

"You have been dreaming, you little silly!"

"No, I _haven't_! What I say is quite true."

There was something in the speaker's tone which showed that she was very

much in earnest.

"And you mean to say that you've been all the way downstairs?"

"Yes; I went to the yard door. I meant to have gone across to the

tool-house, but I was frightened."

"Well, if any one was there, it must have been Guy or Brian--probably

Brian, for he's the only one who can sharpen tools. I'll go across and

ask."

Throwing the dressing-gown over her shoulders, Ida left the room. She

still did not believe that either of the boys had been up at that

unearthly hour using the grindstone, but she wished to prove to Elsie

that it was all imagination. As she passed the head of the stairs she

suddenly stopped. Somewhere, down below, she distinctly heard a soft

noise like the patter of slippered feet. Ida leant over the banisters.

"Brian!" she cried in a whisper. "What are you doing?"

There was a scuffling noise, and a moment later, to the girl's

astonishment, a black dog came jumping up the stairs as fast as it could

go.

[Illustration]

"Why, Bob, you rascal, whatever brings you in here?"

The dog capered about with a whining noise, which showed his delight.

"Hush! don't bark!" commanded the girl; "you ought to be in your kennel.

Go downstairs, and lie on the mat."

The dog obeyed, and pattered off down the stairs, while Ida went on and

tapped at the door of the room in which the two boys slept. The knocking

had to be repeated several times before there was any answer. At last

there came a sleepy, "All ri'. What 'er want?"

"Have you been down turning the grindstone in the tool-house, Guy?"

"No, of course not."

"Has Brian?"

"No; he's here asleep."

"Have either of you been down there?"

"No, you stupid!"

"Well, some one's let Bob into the house."

"Oh, bother Bob! I say, Ida, you are a fool to go waking a fellow up

like this. What's the joke?"

"It's no joke," she said. "Good-night; go to sleep."

"You are a little noodle, Elsie!" Ida exclaimed as she jumped back into

bed, her teeth chattering with the cold. "The boys are both in bed, and

haven't been near the tool-house. And d'you know what you've done?

You've let in Bob."

"I'm sure I didn't."

"But you _did_. He's just run upstairs. He must have slipped in when you

opened the yard door. His collar's broken, and he gets loose sometimes."

"I'm sure he didn't come into the house when I opened the door,"

persisted Elsie. "I only stood there half a minute. The servants must

have let him in when they were locking up."

"Well, if it was a robberworking the grindstone," answered Ida

jokingly, "he can't get into the house without Bob barking and waking

everybody up. Now, good-night; don't wake me up again."

Ida's breathing soon showed that she was once more in the land of

dreams, but try as Elsie would she could not get off to sleep. As

often as she closed her eyes she seemed to see the dark outline of the

tool-house, the single window illuminated with a ghostly glimmer, and

again she heard the hiss and whir of the grindstone as she had heard it

before.

Who could have been at work there, if Guy and Brian were both in bed? If

she had run across and opened the door of the little den, what would

she have seen? She was still lying awake thinking, when the old clock

downstairs struck three. Gradually her excitement gave place to a

sensation of drowsiness, and at length she fell asleep. Even now her

puzzled brain was not quite content to let her rest. In her dreams she

once more went downstairs, and this time the door of the tool-house

opened, and out came the grindstone of its own accord, staggering along

on its wooden stand, and whizzing round all the time with a buzzing

sound like a big angry bee. It chased her along endless passages, and up

and down countless flights of stairs. Then Brian appeared on the scene;

she rushed forward to beg his help, and in doing so awoke to find that

she was in bed.

[Illustration: THE 'GRINDSTONE']

CHAPTER II.

THE LOST CARVING-KNIFE.

There was a great deal of chattering going on at the breakfast table

next morning, seldom less than two people talking at once.

"Look here, Ida," cried Guy; "next time you come waking me up in the

middle of the night, I'll have a sponge of cold water ready for you;

see if I don't!"

"I tell you it was Elsie's fault," was the answer. "She declared she

heard some one turning the grindstone."

"Well, so I did," persisted Elsie, who did not like her word being

doubted. "I heard it quite plainly; and there was a light in the

tool-house."

"Are you sure you were not dreaming?" asked Mrs. Ormond.

"Yes, quite sure, mother."

"Did you grind any of your tools last night, Brian?"

"Oh no, aunt. I haven't touched the grindstone for a week at least.

Besides, I'm too fond of bed to get up and sharpen chisels at two

o'clock in the morning."

The speaker was a sturdy, good-natured boy, two years older than Guy,

and greatly distinguished this term by having received the cap of the

Rexbury Grammar School football team.

"You two girls are a couple of noodles," went on Guy. "I suppose you

thought it was a ghost working at the stone?"

"Well, look here," cried Ida, anxious to turn the conversation; "who let

Bob in last night? Elsie says she didn't, but he was in the house when I

came over to your room."

"He was fastened up when I crossed the yard about eight o'clock last

night," said Brian.

"Where did you find him this morning, Jane?" asked Ida, turning to the

parlour-maid.

"He was outside, chained up to his kennel, miss," was the answer.

"Outside! But when he was once in the house he couldn't possibly get out

again. He came running up the stairs, and I couldn't think what it was

for a minute."

"He was in his kennel when we came down this morning, miss," said Jane.

Guy burst out into a roar of laughter.

"Well, I'm blest!" he cried. "You are a pair! First there's Elsie's yarn

about that grindstone, and now you try to stuff some silly story into us

of Bob's running about the house when he was outside all the time."

"But he _was_ in the house," cried Ida, flushing. "He came upstairs to

me, and I sent him down again."

"Then if he was in the house, will you tell me how he could have got out

again before the servants came down to open the door? You girls must

have eaten something for supper last night that didn't agree with you,

and both had nightmare. Next time you get it, don't come across to our

door."

"Now, now!" interrupted Mrs. Ormond, who saw that Ida was about to make

an angry retort, and judged that the discussion had gone far enough.

"Come, you boys will be late if you don't make haste with your breakfast.

Are you going to play football this afternoon, Brian?"

"Yes, aunt; it's a match."

"Shall you want to take your things with you?"

"No, thank you. The game's on our ground, so I shall come home to

change."

Mr. Ormond, who had not been paying much attention to the conversation,

now laid aside the newspaper he had been reading, at the same time

remarking,--

"I see that the _Arcadia_ left the docks in London yesterday bound for

Australia, so I suppose by this time Mr. William Cole has begun his

first experience of being 'rocked in the cradle of the deep.'"


生词表:
  • downstairs [,daun´steəz] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.在楼下 a.楼下的   (初中英语单词)
  • actual [´æktʃuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.现实的;实际的   (初中英语单词)
  • plainly [´pleinli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.平坦地;简单地   (初中英语单词)
  • slumber [´slʌmbə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.睡眠;沉睡状态   (初中英语单词)
  • disturb [di´stə:b] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.扰乱;使不安;打乱   (初中英语单词)
  • glimpse [glimps] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.瞥见   (初中英语单词)
  • stolen [´stəulən] 移动到这儿单词发声  steal 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • monkey [´mʌŋki] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猴子 v.乱弄;胡闹   (初中英语单词)
  • opening [´əupəniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.开放;开端 a.开始的   (初中英语单词)
  • grandmother [´græn,mʌðə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(外)祖母   (初中英语单词)
  • occasional [ə´keiʒənəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.偶然的;临时的   (初中英语单词)
  • beggar [´begə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.乞丐   (初中英语单词)
  • fright [frait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.惊吓;恐怖;怪人   (初中英语单词)
  • astonishment [ə´stɔniʃmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.吃惊;惊异   (初中英语单词)
  • shiver [´ʃivə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.(使)颤抖;碎片   (初中英语单词)
  • distinct [di´stiŋkt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.清楚的;独特的   (初中英语单词)
  • retreat [ri´tri:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&n.退却;撤退;放弃   (初中英语单词)
  • instant [´instənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.立即的 n.紧迫;瞬间   (初中英语单词)
  • mysterious [mi´stiəriəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.神秘的;难以理解的   (初中英语单词)
  • imagination [i,mædʒi´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.想象(力)   (初中英语单词)
  • distinctly [di´stiŋktli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.清楚地,明晰地   (初中英语单词)
  • whisper [´wispə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.耳语 n.低语;沙沙声   (初中英语单词)
  • whatever [wɔt´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.&a.无论什么   (初中英语单词)
  • bother [´bɔðə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.打扰 n.麻烦(事)   (初中英语单词)
  • robber [´rɔbə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.强盗;盗贼   (初中英语单词)
  • working [´wə:kiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.工人的;劳动的   (初中英语单词)
  • outline [´autlain] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.外形 vt.画出…轮廓   (初中英语单词)
  • excitement [ik´saitmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.兴奋;骚动;煽动   (初中英语单词)
  • accord [ə´kɔ:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.符合 vt.给与   (初中英语单词)
  • wooden [´wudn] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.木制的;呆板的   (初中英语单词)
  • speaker [´spi:kə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.演讲人;代言人   (初中英语单词)
  • anxious [´æŋkʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.担忧的;渴望的   (初中英语单词)
  • running [´rʌniŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.奔跑的;流动的   (初中英语单词)
  • discussion [di´skʌʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.讨论;辩论   (初中英语单词)
  • reading [´ri:diŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(阅)读;朗读;读物   (初中英语单词)
  • yesterday [´jestədi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&ad.昨天;前不久   (初中英语单词)
  • cradle [´kreidl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.摇篮;发源地   (初中英语单词)
  • riddle [´ridl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.谜(语) v.解(谜等)   (高中英语单词)
  • squeak [skwi:k] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.(发)尖叫(声)   (高中英语单词)
  • faintly [´feintli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.微弱地,软弱无力的   (高中英语单词)
  • rascal [´rɑ:skəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.流氓   (高中英语单词)
  • threshold [´θreʃhəuld] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.门槛;入门;开端   (高中英语单词)
  • hurried [´hʌrid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.仓促的,慌忙的   (高中英语单词)
  • sharpen [´ʃɑ:pən] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.削尖,(使)锐利   (高中英语单词)
  • repeated [ri´pi:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.反复的;重复的   (高中英语单词)
  • sleepy [´sli:pi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.困的,想睡的   (高中英语单词)
  • countless [´kauntlis] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无数的   (高中英语单词)
  • sponge [spʌndʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.海绵(状物)   (高中英语单词)
  • sturdy [´stə:di] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.坚强的;坚定的   (高中英语单词)
  • distinguished [di´stiŋgwiʃt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.卓越的,著名的   (高中英语单词)
  • retort [ri´tɔ:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.报复;反击;反驳   (高中英语单词)
  • edinburgh [´edinbərə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.爱丁堡   (英语四级单词)
  • chisel [´tʃizəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.凿子 v.凿;欺骗;干涉   (英语四级单词)
  • patter [´pætə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.行话 v.喋喋不休   (英语四级单词)
  • upstairs [,ʌp´steəz] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.在楼上 a.楼上的   (英语四级单词)
  • glimmer [´glimə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vi.闪光   (英语四级单词)
  • good-natured [´gud-´neitʃəd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.脾气好的,温厚的   (英语四级单词)
  • nightmare [´naitmeə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.梦魇;恶梦   (英语四级单词)
  • taking [´teikiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.迷人的 n.捕获物   (英语六级单词)
  • landing [´lændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.登陆;降落;楼梯平台   (英语六级单词)
  • ghostly [´gəustli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.鬼的;朦胧的   (英语六级单词)
  • kennel [´kenl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.狗窝;养狗场   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:58:14
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