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«Mystery #03 — The Mystery of the Secret Room», Enid Blyton

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Mystery03 — The Mystery of the Secret Room—Blyton, Enid.


Home from School


Pip set out his painting things, poked the playroom fire, and sat down to finish his Christmas cards.

“You do them nicely, Pip,” said Bets, looking over his shoulder. “I wish I could keep inside the lines like you do.”

“You’re only little yet,” said Pip, beginning to paint red berries on his card.

“Well, I’ve had another birthday, and I’m nine now,” said Bets. “I’m getting bigger. You’re still twelve, Pip, so I’m only three years behind you now.”

“When are the others coming?” asked Pip, looking at the clock. “I told them to come early. It’s fun to do our Christmas presents together.”

Bets went to the window of their big playroom. “Here come Larry and Daisy,” she said. “Oh, Pip, isn’t it fun to be altogether again?”

Bets didn’t go to boarding-school as the others did, and she often felt lonely in term-time, when her brother Pip was away, and their three friends, Larry and Daisy Daykin, and Fatty Trotteville.

But now it was Christmas holidays and they were all home. Bets felt very happy. She had her brother again, and Christmas was coming - and darling Buster, Fatty’s dog, would come to see her every single day.

Larry and Daisy came up the stairs to the playroom. “Hallo!” said Larry. “Finished your cards yet? I’ve still got three to do, and Daisy’s got a present to finish. We brought them along.”

“Good,” said Pip, putting his paintbrush into his mouth to give it a nice point. “There’s plenty of room at the table. Fatty’s not here yet.”

A loud barking outside sent Bets to the window again. “It’s Buster - and Fatty,” she said. “Oh, good! Fatty looks plumper than ever!”

In half a minute Fatty and Buster were in the playroom, Fatty looking very sleek and pleased with himself, and Buster bursting with excitement. He flew at everyone and licked them thoroughly.

“Hallo, Buster dear!” said Bets. “Oh, Fatty, Buster’s got thin and you’ve got fat.”

“Well, Fatty won’t be any thinner after Christmas,” said Larry, settling down at the table. “Brought some cards to finish, Fatty? I’ve just about worked down my list.”

Larry and Daisy were brother and sister. Fatty was an only child, always rather pleased with himself, and Buster was his faithful companion. The five and Buster were firm friends.

Fatty put down a fat book on the table, and a very fine Christmas card, which he had done himself. Bets pounced on it at once.

“Fatty! What a beauty! Surely you didn’t do this yourself? Gracious, it’s as good as any you can find in a shop.”

“Oh, well,” said Fatty, looking pleased, “I’m not bad at art, you know. I was top again this term, and the art master said -”

“Shut up,” said Pip, Larry and Daisy together. Fatty did so love to boast about his cleverness. They wouldn’t let him if they could help it.

“All right, all right,” said Fatty, looking injured. “Always biting my head off! I’ve a good mind not to tell you who the card is for?”

“For your flattering art master, I suppose,” said Pip, painting a holly leaf carefully.

Fatty kept silence. Bets looked at him. “Tell me who it’s for,” she said. “I want to know. I think it’s lovely.”

“Well, as a matter of fact, I meant this card and this book to go to a friend of ours from all of us!” said Fatty. “But seeing that only Bets admires the card, I’ll just send it from myself.”

The others looked up. “Who’s it for then?” asked Daisy. She picked it up. “It’s jolly good. Are these five children meant to be us? And is this Buster?”

“Yes,” said Fatty. “Can’t you guess who the card is for? It’s for Inspector Jenks.”

“Oh! What a good idea!” said Bets. “Is the book for him, too? What is it?”

She picked it up and opened it. It was a book about fishing.

“That’s a fine idea, Fatty,” said Larry. “The Inspector is mad on fishing. He’ll be thrilled with the book and the card. Do send them from all of us. They’re fine.”

“I meant to,” said Fatty. “We can share the price of the book between us, and we can each write our name on the card. See what I’ve put inside it.”

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