The House Of Arden A Story for Children
HOUSE OF ARDEN
A STORY FOR CHILDREN
AUTHOR OF “THE STORY OF THE AMULET,”
“THE TREASURE SEEKERS,” ETC.
ILLUSTRATED BY H. R. MILLAR
T. FISHER UNWIN
(All rights reserved.)
- CHAPTER I
- ARDEN’S LORD 13
- CHAPTER II
- THE MOULDIWARP 45
- CHAPTER III
- IN BONEY’S TIMES 76
- CHAPTER IV
- THE LANDING OF THE FRENCH 97
- CHAPTER V
- THE HIGHWAYMAN AND THE —— 112
- CHAPTER VI
- THE SECRET PANEL 136
- CHAPTER VII
- THE KEY OF THE PARLOUR 162
- CHAPTER VIII
- GUY FAWKES 184
- CHAPTER IX
- THE PRISONERS IN THE TOWER 214
- CHAPTER X
- WHITE WINGS AND A BROWNIE 238
- CHAPTER XI
- DEVELOPMENTS 262
- CHAPTER XII
- FILMS AND CLOUDS 291
- CHAPTER XIII
- MAY-BLOSSOM AND PEARLS 308
- CHAPTER XIV
- THE FINDING OF THE TREASURE 327
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
- “HE TOOK OFF HIS HAT AT THE LAST WORDS AND SWEPT IT, WITH A FLOURISH, NEARLY TO THE GROUND”Frontispiece
- “THEY WENT SLOWLY UP THE RED-BRICK-PAVED SIDEWALK”25
- “‘AYE,’ HE SAID, ‘YOU’RE AN ARDEN, FOR SURE’”35
- “THEY WERE TURNING ITS PAGES WITH QUICK, ANXIOUS HANDS”41
- “THE CHILDREN WENT IN THE CARRIER’S CART”55
- “‘HOITY-TOITY,’ SAID THE OLD LADY, VERY SEVERELY; ‘WE FORGET OUR MANNERS, I THINK’”73
- “‘I’VE BROUGHT YOU SOME TEA AND SUGAR,’ SHE SAID”89
- “THE MOULDIWARP MADE A LITTLE RUN AND A LITTLE JUMP, AND ELFRIDA CAUGHT IT”95
- “‘DO YOU THINK THE FRENCH WILL LAND TOMORROW IN LYMCHURCH BAY?’ EDRED ASKED”103
- “THEY SAT DOWN ON THE CLOSE WHITE LINE OF DAISIES”117
- “‘COME, SEE HOW THE NEW SCARF BECOMES THY BET. IS IT NOT VASTLY MODISH?’”121
- “‘IF YOU AIM AT ME YOU SHOOT THE CHILD’”131
- “BETTY HANDED HIM THE CANDLE”137
- “‘NOW,’ SAID A DOZEN VOICES, ‘THE TRUTH, LITTLE MISS’”143
- “ELFRIDA WAS OBLIGED TO SHAKE HIM”153
- “EDRED AND THE BIG CHAIR FELL TO THE FLOOR”159
- “SHE SAW THAT THE NAME WAS ‘E. TALBOT’”167
- “THE ROOM SEEMED FULL OF CIRCLING WINGS”171
- “A LADY IN CRIMSON AND ERMINE WITH A GOLD CROWN”181
- “THE WALLS SEEMED TO TREMBLE AND SHAKE AND GO CROOKED”193
- “‘THOU’RT A FINE PAGE, INDEED, MY DEAR SON,’ SAID THE LADY. ‘STAND ASIDE AND TAKE MY TRAIN’”199
- “OLD PARROT-NOSE HAD ELFRIDA BY THE WRIST”207
- “THEY FOUND THEIR HOUSE OCCUPIED BY AN ARMED GUARD”211
- “‘I WILL CONVEY HIM TO OUR COACH, GOOD MASTERS,’ SHE SAID TO THE GUARD”231
- “‘YOU’VE NO MANNERS,’ IT SAID TO THE NURSE”235
- “THE STREAM CAME OUT UNDER A ROUGH, LOW ARCH OF STONE”253
- “‘SOLDIERS!’ SHE CRIED, ‘AND THEY’RE AFTER US’”257
- “MRS. HONEYSETT WAS SITTING IN A LITTLE LOW CHAIR AT THE BACK DOOR PLUCKING A WHITE CHICKEN”263
- “‘AH,’ SAID OLD NEALE ADMIRINGLY, ‘YOU’LL BE A-BUSTING WITH BOOK-LARNIN’ AFORE YOU COME TO YOUR TWENTY-ONE, I LAY’”279
- “IT HELD CLOTHES FAR RICHER THAN ANY THEY HAD SEEN YET”287
- “‘NOW RUN!’ SHE SAID, AND HERSELF LED THE WAY”315
- “EDRED AND ELFRIDA AND RICHARD SAT DOWN ON THE MINUTE HAND”325
- “THE HOUSES WERE MADE OF GREAT BLOCKS OF STONE”337
The House of Arden
It had been a great house once, with farmsand fields, money and jewels—with tenantsand squires and men-at-arms. The head ofthe house had ridden out three days’ journeyto meet King Henry at the boundary of hisestate, and the King had ridden back withhim to lie in the tall State bed in the castleguest-chamber. The heir of the house hadled his following against Cromwell; youngersons of the house had fought in foreign lands,to the honour of England and the gilding andregilding with the perishable gold of glory ofthe old Arden name. There had been Ardensin Saxon times, and there were Ardens still—butfew and impoverished. The lands weregone, and the squires and men-at-arms; thecastle itself was roofless, and its unglazedwindows stared blankly across the fields ofstrangers, that stretched right up to the footof its grey, weather-worn walls. And of themale Ardens there were now known two only—anold man and a child.
The old man was Lord Arden, the head of thehouse, and he lived lonely in a little house builtof the fallen stones that Time and Cromwell’sround-shot had cast from the castle walls. Thechild was Edred Arden, and he lived in a housein a clean, wind-swept town on a cliff.
It was a bright-faced house with bow-windowsand a green balcony that looked out over thesparkling sea. It had three neat white stepsand a brass knocker, pale and smooth withconstant rubbing. It was a pretty house, andit would have been a pleasant house but forone thing—the lodgers. For I cannot concealfrom you any longer that Edred Arden livedwith his aunt, and that his aunt let lodgings.Letting lodgings is one of the most unpleasantof all possible ways of earning your living, andI advise you to try every other honest way ofearning your living before you take to that.
Because people who go to the seaside andtake lodgings seem, somehow, much harder toplease than the people who go to hotels. Theywant ever so much more waiting on; they wantso many meals, and at such odd times. Theyring the bell almost all day long. They bringin sand from the shore in every fold of theirclothes, and it shakes out of them on to thecarpets and the sofa cushions, and everythingin the house. They hang long streamers of wetseaweed against the pretty roses of the newwall-papers, and their washhand basins arealways full of sea anemones and shells. Also,they are noisy; their boots seem to be alwayson the stairs, no matter how bad a headacheyou may have; and when you give them theirbill they always think it is too much, no matterhow little it may be. So do not let lodgings ifyou can help it.
Miss Arden could not help it. It happenedlike this.
Edred and his sister were at school. (Did Itell you that he had a sister? Well, he had, andher name was Elfrida.) Miss Arden lived nearthe school, so that she could see the childrenoften. She was getting her clothes ready forher wedding, and the gentleman who was goingto marry her was coming home from SouthAmerica, where he had made a fortune. Thechildren’s father was coming home from SouthAmerica, too, with the fortune that he hadmade, for he and Miss Arden’s sweetheart werepartners. The children and their aunt talkedwhenever they met of the glorious time thatwas coming, and how, when father and UncleJim—they called him Uncle Jim already—camehome, they were all going to live in the countryand be happy ever after.
And then the news came that father andUncle Jim had been captured by brigands, andall the money was lost, too, and there wasnothing left but the house on the cliff. So MissArden took the children from the expensiveschool in London, and they all went to live inthe cliff house, and as there was no money tolive on, and no other way of making money tolive on except letting lodgings, Miss Arden letthem, like the brave lady she was, and did itwell. And then came the news that father andUncle Jim were dead, and for a time the light oflife went out in Cliff House.
This was two years ago; but the children hadnever got used to the lodgers. They hated them.At first they had tried to be friendly with thelodgers’ children, but they soon found that thelodgers’ children considered Edred and Elfridavery much beneath them, and looked down onthem accordingly. And very often the lodgers’children were the sort of children on whomanybody might have looked down, if it wereright and kind to look down on any one. Andwhen Master Reginald Potts, of Peckham, putshis tongue out at you on the parade and says,right before everybody, “Lodgings! Yah!” itis hard to feel quite the same to him as you didbefore.
When there were lodgers—and there nearlyalways were, for the house was comfortable,and people who had been once came again—thechildren and their aunt had to live in thevery top and the very bottom of the house—inthe attics and the basement, in fact.
When there were no lodgers they used all therooms in turn, to keep them aired. But thechildren liked the big basement parlour roombest, because there all the furniture had belongedto dead-and-gone Ardens, and all the pictures onthe walls were of Ardens dead and gone. Therooms that the lodgers had were furnished witha new sort of furniture that had no storiesbelonging to it such as belonged to the oldpolished oak tables and bureaux that were inthe basement parlour.
Edred and Elfrida went to school every dayand learned reading, writing, arithmetic, geography,history, spelling, and useful knowledge,all of which they hated quite impartially, whichmeans they hated the whole lot—one thing asmuch as another.
The only part of lessons they liked was thehome-work, when, if Aunt Edith had time tohelp them, geography became like adventures,history like story-books, and even arithmeticsuddenly seemed to mean something.
“I wish you could teach us always,” saidEdred, very inky, and interested for the firsttime in the exports of China; “it does seem sosilly trying to learn things that are only wordsin books.”
“I wish I could,” said Aunt Edith, “but I can’tdo twenty-nine thousand and seventeen thingsall at once, and——” A bell jangled. “That’sthe seventh time since tea.” She got up andwent into the kitchen. “There’s the bell again,my poor Eliza. Never mind; answer the bell,but don’t answer them, whatever they say. Itdoesn’t do a bit of good, and it sometimes preventstheir giving you half-crowns when theyleave.”
“I do love it when they go,” said Elfrida.
“Yes,” said her aunt. “A cab top-heavy withluggage, the horse’s nose turned stationward, it’sa heavenly sight—when the bill is paid and—— But,then, I’m just as glad to see the luggagecoming. Chickens! when my ship comes homewe’ll go and live on a desert island where therearen’t any cabs, and we won’t have any lodgersin our cave.”
“When I grow up,” said Edred, “I shall goacross the sea and look for your ship and bringit home. I shall take a steam-tug and steer itmyself.”
“Then I shall be captain,” said Elfrida.
“No, I shall be captain.”
“You can’t if you steer.”
“Yes, I can!”
“No, you can’t!”
“Yes, I can!”
“Well, do, then!” said Elfrida; “and whileyou’re doing it—I know you can’t—I shall digin the garden and find a gold-mine, and AuntEdith will be rolling in money when you comeback, and she won’t want your silly old ship.”
“Spelling next,” said Aunt Edith. “How doyou spell ‘disagreeable’?”
“Which of us?” asked Edred acutely.
“Both,” said Aunt Edith, trying to look verysevere.
When you are a child you always dream ofyour ship coming home—of having a hundredpounds, or a thousand, or a million poundsto spend as you like. My favourite dream, Iremember, was a thousand pounds and anexpress understanding that I was not to spendit on anything useful. And when you havedreamed of your million pounds, or yourthousand, or your hundred, you spend happyhour on hour in deciding what presents you willbuy for each of the people you are fond of, andin picturing their surprise and delight at yourbeautiful presents and your wonderful generosity.I think very few of us spend our dreamfortunes entirely on ourselves. Of course, webuy ourselves a motor-bicycle straight away,and footballs and bats—and dolls with real hair,and real china tea-sets, and large boxes of mixedchocolates, and “Treasure Island,” and all thebooks that Mrs. Ewing ever wrote, but when wehave done that we begin to buy things for otherpeople. It is a beautiful dream, but too often,by the time it comes true—up to a hundredpounds or a thousand—we forget what we usedto mean to do with our money, and spend it allin stocks and shares, and eligible building sites,and fat cigars and fur coats. If I were youngagain I would sit down and write a list of allthe kind things I meant to do when my shipcame home, and if my ship ever did comehome I would read that list, and—— But