The Lost Middy - Being the Secret of the Smugglers
176 Pages
English
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The Lost Middy - Being the Secret of the Smugglers' Gap

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176 Pages
English

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Published 08 December 2010
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Language English

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Lost Middy, by George Manville Fenn This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Lost Middy Being the Secret of the Smugglers' Gap Author: George Manville Fenn Illustrator: Stanley L. Wood Release Date: May 4, 2007 [EBook #21318] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE LOST MIDDY *** Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England George Manville Fenn "The Lost Middy" Chapter One. There was a loud rattling noise, as if money was being shaken up in a box. A loud crashing bang, as if someone had banged the box down on a table. A rap, as if a knife had been dropped. Then somebody, in a petulant voice full of vexation and irritability, roared out: “Bother!” And that’s exactly how it was, leaving Aleck Donne, who looked about sixteen or seventeen, scratching vigorously at his crisp hair as he sat back, with his elbows resting upon those of the big wooden arm-chair, staring at the money-box before him. “I call it foolishness,” he said, aloud, talking, of course, to himself, for there was no one else in the comfortable room, the window of which opened out upon the most quaint garden ever seen. “It’s all right to save up your money in a box and keep on dropping it through a slit; but how about getting it out? Here, I’ll go and smash the stupid old thing up directly on the block in the wood-shed.” But instead of carrying out his threat, he leaned forward, picked up the curved round-ended table-knife he had dashed down, seized the money-box again, shook it with jingling effect, held it upside down above his eyes, and began to operate with the knife-blade through the narrow slit in the centre of the lid. For a good quarter of an hour by the big old eight-day clock in the corner did the boy work away, shaking the box till some coin or another was over the slit, and then operating with the knife-blade, trying and trying to get the piece of money up on edge so that it would drop through; and again and again, as the reward of his indefatigable perseverance, nearly succeeding, but never quite. For so sure as he pushed it up or tilted it down, the coin made a dash and glided away, making the drops of perspiration start out on the boy’s forehead, and forcing him into a struggle with his temper which resulted in his gaining the victory again, till that thin old half-crown was coaxed well into sight and forced flat against the knife-blade. The boy then began to manipulate the knife with extreme caution as he kept on making a soft purring noise, ah–h–h–h–ha! full of triumphant satisfaction, while a big curled-up tabby tom-cat, which had taken possession of the fellow chair to that occupied by Aleck, twitched one ear, opened one eye, and then seeing that the purring sound was only a feeble imitation, went off to sleep again. “Got you at last!” muttered the lad. “Half a crown; just buy all I want, and—bother!” he yelled, and, raising the box on high with both hands, he dashed it down upon the slate hearth with all his might. Temper had won this time. Aleck had suffered a disastrous defeat, and he sat there with his forehead puckered up, staring at the cat, which at the crash and its accompanying yell made one bound that carried it on to the sideboard, where with glowing eyes, flattened ears, arched back, and bottle-brush tail, it stood staring at the disturber of its rest. “Well, I am a pretty fool,” muttered Aleck, starting out of his chair and listening for a few moments before stealing across the room to open the door cautiously and thrust out his head. There was no sound to be heard, and the boy re-closed the door and went back to the hearth. “I wonder uncle didn’t hear,” he muttered, stooping down. “I’ve done it now, and no mistake.” As he spoke he picked the remains of the broken box from inside the fender. “Smashed!” he continued. “Good job too. Shan’t have any more of that bother. How much is there? Let’s see!” There was a small fire burning in the old-fashioned grate, and with a grim look the boy finished the destruction of the money-box by tearing it apart at the dovetailings and placing the pieces on the fire, where they caught at once, blazing up, while the lad hunted out and picked up the coins which lay scattered here and there. “Three—four—five—and sixpence,” muttered the boy. “I thought there was more than that. Hullo! Where’s that thin old half-crown? Haven’t thrown it on the fire, have I? Oh, there you are!” he cried, ferreting it out of the fleeces of the thick dark-dyed sheepskin hearth-rug at his feet. “Eight shillings,” he continued, transferring his store to his pocket. “Well, I’m not obliged to spend it all. Money-box! Bother! I’m not a child now. Just as if I couldn’t take care of my money in my pocket.” He gave the place a slap, turned to the window, looked out at the soft fleecy clouds gliding overhead, and once more made for the door, crossed the little hall paved with large black slates, and then bounded up the oak stairs two at a time, to pause on the landing and give a sharp knuckle rap on the door before him; then, without waiting for a “Come in,” he entered, to stand, door in hand, gazing at the top of a big shaggy grey head, whose owner held it close to the sheets of foolscap paper which he was covering with writing in a bold, clear hand. “Want me, uncle?” The head was raised, and a pair of fierce-looking eyes glared at the interrupter of the studies from beneath enormously-produced, thick, white eyebrows, and through a great pair of round tortoise-shell spectacles. “Want you, boy?” was the reply, as the speaker held up a large white swan-quill pen on a level with his sun-browned and reddened nose. “No, Lick. Be off!” “I’m going to run over to Rockabie, uncle. Back to dinner. Want anything brought back?” “No, boy; I’ve plenty of ink. No.—Yes. Bring me some more of this paper.” The voice sounded very gruff and ill-humoured, and the speaker glared angrily,