THE SPANISH CHEST
THE SPANISH CHEST
EDNA A. BROWN
Once upon a time a clever Japanese artist drew a sketch of a man
who sat industriously painting when to his great amazement all
the little figures on his canvas came to life and began to walk
out of the picture.
Something like that happened to this book. Books grow you know
because somebody thinks so hard about the different characters
that gradually they turn into lifelike people who often insist on
doing things that weren't expected. When this especial book began
to grow two persons who hadn't been invited came and wanted to
be in the story.
The author politely remarked that they were grown-up and couldn't
expect to be in a book for young people.
They said that they were not so very grown-up only twenty-three
and a half and that they still knew how to play.
Connie said that her home was in the Island of Jersey where the
story was going to be and if she came in she could make things
much more pleasant for the other characters.
Max said that the story would go to smash without him because he
should be needed at an important moment.
So because they looked most wistful and promised very earnestly
to behave as though they were nice children and not be silly the
author said they might have a share in the story.
Connie at once offered to lend her collie. So that is how the
beach dog happens to be in the book.
I. AT ROSE VILLA
II. FRAN ENGAGES LODGINGS
III. ST. HELIER'S
IV. THE BEACH DOG
V. MONT ORGUEIL
VI. A RACE WITH THE TIDE
VII. MR. MAX
VIII. RICHARD LISLE'S LETTER
IX. CHRISTMAS IN JERSEY
X. THE BUN WORRY
XI. THE MANOR CAVE
XII. WIN VISITS THE LIBRARY
XIII. ABOUT THE SPANISH CHEST
XIV. IN THE VAULTS
XV. THE HAUNTED ROOM
XVI. THE MANOR GHOST
XVII. THE DOTTED LINE
XVIII. ROGER THE MAROONED
XIX. AT CORBIERE
XX. WIN WONDERS
XXI. THE TWO CHAINS
XXII. THE CHEST ITSELF
"What is this tiny dotted line across the grounds?" Win inquired
The Village of St. Aubin's
"For a long time people supposed they were called Martello towers
from the man who built them"
Above and behind towered the ruined castle of Orgueil
"Look there is a Jersey cow among the cabbages"
"He'll come for us! He means us to climb this rock and wait"
A most interesting little Church almost on the water's edge
The old Norman gateway leading to Vinchelez Manor
They came upon the loveliest of little beaches
Plemont is the spot where the cable comes in from England
Win's plan of the Manor cellars
What was undoubtedly the Spanish Chest
THE SPANISH CHEST
AT ROSE VILLA
The silence in the little drawing-room had lasted for some moments
before being broken by the man seated in the big wicker chair. His
dress indicated a clergyman of the Church of England his face
betrayed lines of kindliness and forbearance but its present
expression showed a perplexity not unmixed with disapproval.
"I suppose Miss Pearce" he said at length "there is no use in
trying further to dissuade you from your plan and of course it
may work out for the best. But--you will excuse me my dear for I
have daughters of my own--you seem too young to undertake a
lodging-house. Now a position as governess in a nice family--"
Estelle Pearce interrupted him quickly.
"There is Edith you know. Should I try teaching it would mean
separation from her. And I _must_ keep Edith with me. We have only
each other now. No Mr. Angus I thank you from the bottom of my
heart for your interest in us but I am sure it is best to try my
plan. You see I have the house on my hands. When we came to
Jersey Father leased it for the winter and I can't afford to
forfeit thirty pounds. And there is Nurse as well as Annette.
Surely Nurse lends dignity to any family. But I am older than you
think" she ended with a smile and a pretty blush. "I am twenty-
four Mr. Angus."
A kindly look came into the eyes bent on her slender black-robed
figure. "You do not look it my dear" her visitor said after a
pause. "Well with two good servants the plan may be successful.
Much depends on what class of lodgers comes your way. I am told
that Americans are rather desirable inmates that they pay well
and are not exacting. If you could let your rooms to some refined
American ladies things might adjust themselves very satisfactorily.
To be sure few Americans visit the Channel Islands; they are
given to wandering farther afield. But I will speak of your plans to
the postmaster and one or two others. It might be advisable to
put a card in the circulating library at St. Helier's. Rest assured
that both Mrs. Angus and I will do all we can for your father's girls.
Lionel and I were good friends at Oxford though we saw so little of
each other afterwards. I did not think when he wrote me scarcely
six weeks ago that it was to be Hail and Farewell.
"I must go" he added quickly seeing that Estelle's eyes were
brimming. "Where is Edith? I hoped to see her also."
"She has gone to the sands" replied Estelle. "It is dull for her
moping here so I sent her for an errand and told her to run down
and see whether the tide had turned. She begins school on Monday."
Mr. Angus took his leave and still looking doubtful went down
the steps of Rose Villa a quaint little house covered with
tinted plaster as is the pretty custom of the Channel Islands
and appearing even to a masculine ignorance of details much more
neat and attractive than its neighbors.
So Mr. Angus thought as he turned from his puzzled survey of its
exterior to walk slowly down the short street at the end of which
glittered the waters of the English Channel.
The tide was on the turn but the expanse of sandy beach lay yet
broad. Far toward St. Helier's the curve of the port showed the
high sea-wall for this same innocent-looking tide that ebbs and
leaves behind miles of sandy stretches and rocks can return with
force sufficient to dash over even the lofty breakwater and
surprise the placid Jerseymen at times by scattering large stones
in the esplanade.
But here at St. Aubin's the curve of Noirmont Point sheltered the
little town from the full force of the waves. Dr. Angus looked
from the end of Noirmont Terrace straight down to the sands and
saw in the distance the sunset air filled with wheeling gulls a
group of boys playing football on the wide level and somewhat
nearer a slender girl of fourteen dressed in black with long
fair hair floating over her shoulders.
She was walking slowly and the kind clergyman attributed her
leisurely pace to dejection but as a matter of fact Edith was
feeling quite happy and much interested in the tiny bright yellow
snail shells the beach was providing for entertainment. She had
been spared all that was possible of the depression and sorrow of
the past weeks. Daddy had been poorly for years and Edith could
not remember him as ever well and strong. His loss affected her
more because it grieved Estelle the only mother she had known.
There had been a few sad confused days when nothing seemed real
and strangers had been kind in a way that Estelle accepted with a
sort of resentful patience plain even to Edith. But since then
life had been rather cheerful with a great deal of attention from
Nurse and Estelle's time almost wholly given to her. It was
gratifying to share Sister's confidence and to help arrange the
rooms attractively for the possible delightful people who ought to
come to lodge with them.
That they might not be delightful Sister would not admit for a
moment so of course they would be. St. Aubin's itself was far
more desirable as a place of residence than the noisy Exeter
street where Edith had spent much of her life. Far back in the
past she could just remember a charming Surrey village with a
pretty vine-covered church where Daddy used to preach. She could
recall exactly how her fat legs dangled helplessly from the high
pew seat. Directly behind sat a stout farmer with four sons. The
boys made faces at Edith on the sly; their mother sometimes gave
Edith's thoughts had wandered rather far afield though still
alert for any gleam of the yellow shells when she arrived
opposite Noirmont Terrace and reluctantly left the sands. A light
shone from the drawing-room and she knew that Annette would be
bringing in supper and Sister would be found poring over a little
account book with a "don't speak just now" look in her eyes.
But Estelle proved to be waiting at the open door and as Edith
began to run on catching sight of her she thought that Sister
somehow looked happier.
"Did you meet Mr. Angus?" Estelle inquired. "He went toward the
"I saw him in the distance" replied Edith. "Why Star you look
like--like a star" she ended laughing. "Was Mr. Angus agreeable?
Did he say you oughtn't to take people?"
"I think he doesn't wholly disapprove now" answered Estelle
gently. "And he is going to do what he can toward sending pleasant
lodgers. Wouldn't it be nice if some dear old ladies should come
and want to stay with us all winter?"
"Just ladies?" queried Edith. "Do they have to be old?"
"I shouldn't take gentlemen" said Estelle. "Nurse wouldn't
approve and ladies would be pleasanter. Perhaps there might be a
young mother and some ducky little children. How would you like
"Much better" responded Edith. "I don't want any fussy old freaks
with false fronts and shawls. They'd expect to be read aloud to
and waited on within an inch of their lives. I'd like some babies
to take down to dig and paddle. Do say you'll have children
"Well as a matter of fact I think we'll have to take the people
who want to come" replied Estelle sensibly. "Let's just hope that
somebody very nice will think we'd be nice to stay with. Come in
now Edith. Annette has shrimps for supper and after we are
finished we will put a card in the window and see what happens
But the little white card that most modestly announced "Lodgings"
remained in the drawing-room casement for a week and every day as
Edith came from school she looked anxiously to see whether it was
gone. Its absence would mean that some one had looked at the rooms
One afternoon as she came up the Terrace the sight of an unknown
face at an upper window sent a thrill down her back. The card was
yet in evidence but the presence of strangers indicated that some
one had felt attracted by Rose Villa. Yes there was a cab at the
As Edith entered quietly a voice struck her ear struck it
unpleasantly an English voice high-pitched and rather
"I should require to see your kitchen Miss Pearce and your
servants. I am most particular. In fact I must be free at any
time to inspect the scullery. There must be a definite arrangement
about Marmaduke's meals. He likes a light breakfast with plenty of
cream and for dinner a chop or a bit of chicken. His dinner must
be served with my luncheon. Then for tea--"
"I am afraid my servants would be unwilling to cook especially for
a dog" interposed Estelle's voice courteous but with a chilling
tone Edith had never suspected it possessed. "It is useless for
you to consider the lodgings."
"Oh your rooms are very passable" said the voice. "Small of
course and underfurnished but some pictures and antimacassars
would take off that bare look. And Marmaduke is adorable. Your
cook would soon be devotion itself. Why at my last lodgings--"
"I really cannot undertake the care of a pet animal" said Estelle
firmly. "I hope to have other lodgers and his presence might be
objectionable to them. You will excuse me now as I have an
engagement. I will ring for Nurse to show you out."
"Well really Miss Pearce" began the voice but Nurse appeared
on the scene so promptly that one might have suspected her of
being all the time within hearing distance. Edith scuttled into
the drawing-room just avoiding a very large over-dressed person
who came ponderously down the stairs a moppy white dog festooned
over one arm. Her face was red and perspiring and she seemed to be
indignantly struggling with feelings too strong for words. Edith
could not suppress a stifled laugh as she was ushered from the
house in Nurse's grandest manner.
Emerging from her refuge Edith saw Estelle on the landing her
face pale except for a tiny red spot on either cheek her eyes
"My word Star!" said Edith giggling "didn't you get rid of her
finely? What a fearful person!"
"She was impossible" said Estelle. "Oh Nurse" she exclaimed
impetuously seeing the old family servant still lingering in the
hall "do you suppose only people like that will want lodgings?"
"No indeed my lamb" replied Nurse casting a glance of
satisfaction after the cab disappearing from the terrace. "Don't
you fret Miss Star and don't you take the first people who come.
Just bide your time and there'll be some quality who will be what
you ought to have."
"Mr. Angus thought Americans might be rather desirable" said
Estelle hesitatingly. To prepare Nurse for such a possibility
might be wise.
Nurse pursed her lips significantly. "Well it's not for me to
disagree with the reverend gentleman" she remarked. "And I
haven't been in contact with Americans. No doubt they're well
enough in their country but I hope Miss Star it'll be some of
our people that want to come. Now an elderly couple or some
middle-aged ladies would be quite suitable and proper but
Americans--Well I don't know."
Nurse shook her head dubiously as she left the room. Edith came to
put her arms about Estelle.
"What a fearful woman that was!" she repeated drawing her sister
toward the window. "Poor Star I'm sorry you had to talk to her.
Rooms underfurnished indeed! And you tried so hard not to have
them crowded and messed with frightful crocheted wool things.
She'd want a tidy on every chair and extra ones for Sunday. And
you've made things so pretty Star!"
"We think so don't we!" replied Estelle kissing her little
comforter. "Somebody may yet come who will agree with us. We won't
give up hope."
Estelle was silent for a moment. She did not want Edith to suspect
how very necessary it was that those rooms should prove attractive
"Is that the Southampton boat just rounding the point?" she added.
"She's extremely late."
"They must have had a rough passage" agreed Edith looking at the
steamer ploughing into the smooth water of St. Aubin's bay. "Let's
put a wish on her Star. Let's wish _hard_ that she has on board
the nicest people that ever were and that they're coming straight
out here and say they'd like to spend the winter with us!"
FRAN ENGAGES LODGINGS
"I positively refuse" said Mrs. Thayne "to go out again to-day.
And I wish you wouldn't go either Wingate" she added to her older
son. "That steamer trip was frightful. What a night we did have!
As for you two" she went on to Frances and Roger "I suppose you
won't be happy until you are off for an exploring expedition but
I don't see how you can feel like it."
"Why Mother I wasn't seasick" said Roger a handsome
mischievous-looking boy about twelve. "I slept like a log till I
heard Win being--hmm--unhappy. That woke me but I turned over and
didn't know anything more till daylight."
"I shouldn't have been sick if you hadn't begun it Mother"
observed Frances turning from the window overlooking the
esplanade. "I feel all right now. Mayn't Roger and I go down on
the beach or take a car ride?" she asked eagerly.
"I don't imagine there are any electric cars on the island" said
"But out here is a funny little steam tram marked St. Aubin's"
interposed Frances. "It's going somewhere. Look at the dinky cars
with a kind of balcony and that speck of an engine."
"That's a pony engine for sure" drawled Win joining his sister
at the window. Except that he was thin and fragile no one could
have known from Win's clever merry dark face how greatly he was
handicapped by a serious heart trouble. But the contrast between
his tall loosely-knit figure and Fran's compact little person
brought a wistful expression into Mrs. Thayne's observant eyes.
Win was seventeen and had never been able to play as other boys
did. Probably all his life would be different yet he was so
plucky and brave over his limitations.
"There's the _Lydia_ down in the harbor" exclaimed Frances. "My
didn't she wiggle around last night!"
"Lydia Lydia why dost thou tremble?
Answer me true.
Traveler traveler I'll not dissemble
'Tis but the screw.
Lydia Lydia why this commotion?
Answer me quick.
Traveler traveler 'tis but a notion.
You must be sick!"