Roy Glashan's Library
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THOMAS CHARLES BRIDGES
(WRITING AS T.C. BRIDGES)

PETER'S PAUL

Cover Image

RGL e-Book Cover
Based on a Victorian painting

Ex Libris

First published in The Children's Newspaper, 13 April 1940

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2022
Version Date: 2022-09-20

Produced by Keith Emmett and Roy Glashan

All content added by RGL is proprietary and protected by copyright.

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PETER CARNE finished his breakfast. He had saved some pieces of bread and some of his porridge and milk, and these he mixed in his porridge plate. "Here you are, Paul," he said, as he laid the plate on the floor.

Paul was a rough-haired terrier. He had very bright, intelligent eyes, a thick coat, white with tan markings, and a tail that had never been docked and which curled cockily as a terrier's tail should curl.

The door opened and a young man came in. He had a hard, square face, thin lips, and eyes that were like pale blue marbles. He was Andrew Meekin, Peter's cousin.

He looked at Peter and he looked at Paul. Two deep lines showed on his forehead.

"I have to feed you, Peter," he said in a harsh voice, "but I am not compelled to feed your dog."

Peter stood up stiffly.

"It doesn't cost you anything, Andrew. Paul is eating bits I saved from my own breakfast."

"He is eating food which I bought and paid for. I am not going to have it."

Peter's face went white but his eyes were steady. Years spent in the same house with Andrew had taught him to control his temper. He did not reply. His silence made Andrew still more angry.

"You'll get rid of that dog," he ordered. Still Peter did not speak.

Andrew lost his temper. "I mean it," he said viciously. "I'm going to the office now. If that dog is in the house when I come back I shall have it destroyed."

Peter's lip curled. The contempt in his face infuriated Andrew.

"I'll teach you to cheek me," he said, and swung his open hand, at Peter's face.

Two things happened at once. Peter dropped flat on the floor, and the hand, missing him, swept the teapot from the table and sent it crashing across the room. Paul came with a rush and fixed his teeth in Andrew's calf.

Andrew howled with pain and rage, but before he could recover himself Peter had snatched up Paul and run out of the house.

Andrew, boiling with rage, had to wash the small wound that Paul had made in his leg and put iodine on. That stung badly, and Andrew vowed vengeance on both dog and master.

Peter's Decision

PETER and Paul had taken refuge at a neighbouring house where Mr Blakeney, a widower, lived with his son Bill, a slim chap with very bright blue eyes. Bill was Peter's great pal. He met him at the door.

"What's up?" he demanded. "I suppose it's Andrew again."

"He's going to kill Paul if he's in the house when he gets back from the office this evening. Paul and I are clearing out," Peter said calmly.

"Where to?"

"Haven't a notion, but I'm fed up."

"Don't be an ass," Bill said vigorously. "You'd starve."

"What else can I do?" Peter asked. "Andrew owns the place and everything."

"But he has to keep you. That was in your uncle Jocelyn's will."

"He hasn't got to keep Paul. And I've no money to pay for his grub."

Bill's face darkened.

"It's a shame. I can't think how your uncle came to make such a silly will. Everyone knows he liked you better than he did Andrew."

"But Andrew got some sort of hold over him and made him make that will. It's no good, Bill. I must go. I'll get a job as van boy."

Bill frowned. He was thinking hard.

"We can do better than that," he said presently. "Leave Paul here. Dad and I will take care of him and you can see him every day. Then you stick at home and make Andrew keep you. See he does it properly. Tell him you'll go to a lawyer if he doesn't. Dad's a solicitor, remember!"

Peter looked serious.

"You're a good pal, Bill, and Paul would be happy with you, but I don't know if I can stick Andrew much longer."

"Try, old chap. And you can always come over here when you're fed up with Denstone."

"You're jolly comforting, Bill," said Peter gratefully. "All right. I'll stick it a bit longer."

When Andrew came home that evening there was Peter, silent as ever, but no sign of Paul. Andrew wondered what had become of the dog, and at last curiosity got the better of him.

"Where's the dog?" he demanded.

"You told me to send him away. I have," Peter answered. That was all the satisfaction Andrew got.

Paul Disappears

PETER missed Paul desperately, yet it was some consolation to think that Paul was being well fed and looked after and that next morning, when Andrew had left, he and Bill and Paul could go off for a long walk. He got down to breakfast early next morning, and had almost finished before Andrew, who was always late, appeared. Andrew greeted the boy with a scowl.

"I'm sending you to Croppins at the end of these holidays," he told him.

"Uncle said I was to go to Clifton," Peter stated.

"I don't care what he said. It wasn't in his will."

Peter was boiling. Croppins was a cheap and nasty little private school which had a bad reputation. Peter knew that this was spite on Andrew's part.

"I'll go to the Council School," he said, and walked out of the room. He went straight to the Blakeneys' house. At the gate he met Bill, and Bill was looking scared.

"Paul's gone," he said. "I've been looking for him ever so long. He bolted when I let him out before breakfast. Did he come to you?" Peter went rather white.

"I haven't seen him," he said.

"I'm sure he's over at your place," Bill said quickly. "Has Andrew left?"

"Must have by this time. Come on."

"I can't, Peter. I have that scholarship exam—the holiday one."

"I'd forgotten. But it's all right. I'm certain Paul is somewhere in the garden. He'd run back of course the minute he was loose, then, when he couldn't get in, would go hunting rabbits in the shrubbery."

Peter spoke confidently, but when he got back to Denstone and found that Paul was not in the garden he was not happy. He plunged into the shrubbery, calling for the dog, but getting no answer.

Denstone was an old house, and was built on the site of one even older. The grounds covered four acres. There were lawns and flower beds in front, now looking very neglected. The vegetable garden was on a slope to the South and was protected from North winds by what was called the shrubbery, but which was actually a wood.

This wood came up to the back of the house and had been Peter's playground ever since the time when, as a very small boy, he had lost both his parents in a railway accident and gone to live with his Uncle Jocelyn. His uncle had always been kind to Peter, and Peter had been happy enough until the arrival of Andrew Meekin. Andrew was the son of Mr Carne's sister, and his uncle had taken him on as junior partner in his London office.

Minute after minute passed without any sight or sound of his dearly loved Paul, and when a quarter of an hour, had passed and there was still no sign of him Peter was in a real panic.

At last, having searched every bit of the wood, he came up quite close behind the house. Here was a tall ivy-clad wall and a belt of laurels. Peter plunged into the laurels. They were so thick and matted he could hardly force his way through, and presently he was stuck altogether. It was at this moment that he heard a faint whine.

"Paul!" he called, excitedly.

The whine came again. It seemed to come from right under his feet. He plunged about, breaking off small branches so as to get a view.

At last he saw it—a hole in the ground quite close under the wall of the house. It was so small it seemed impossible that Paul could have got down it, yet, when Peter lay flat on his stomach and looked down, there were Paul's eyes glowing in the gloom.

"All right, old lad! I'll have you out," he cried, and rushed to the tool-shed. He was back in two minutes with spade and pick, and set furiously to work.

The spade rang on something hard, and Peter found that the hole ran in under the side of a big flat stone. The ground was full of roots, but Peter was strong and eager.

It was not long before he had uncovered the stone. He rammed the pickaxe under it and levered with all his might. The stone came crunching up, and Peter was looking down into a pit about six feet deep with bricked sides. He swung down and snatched up Paul, who licked his face furiously and wagged his tail with equal vigour.

"You silly old idiot!" said Peter, hugging the dog; and then there was a crunch, and Peter felt himself falling.

The next minute he was lying on a heap of broken masonry. A cloud of dust nearly blinded him, and all he knew was that Paul was still in his arms. The dust cloud cleared, Peter got back his breath and scrambled to his feet. He was bruised all over but not badly hurt.

He found himself in a passage which seemed to lead straight in under the house. Light leaked down from the opening above and Peter saw brick steps. It seemed to him that this had been a way in from outside and that someone had blocked it with a thin layer of brickwork. It was this that had given way and let him through.

Peter had matches. He struck one and moved slowly along the passage. It was damp and dirty, but the roof was sound and the air seemed all right. A few steps brought him into a cellar.

There were cellars all under the house, but Peter did not remember seeing this one. It looked very old. The walls were of great blocks of stone, and the floor too was stone. He decided it must be part of the old house. Paul sniffed about cautiously.

Peter's match went out; he struck another, and the small flame showed him a stone bench against the opposite wall, and on it a small metal box japanned in black. This was not ancient anyhow, and he hurried across and picked it up.

There was a door to the right, but this was locked, so, carrying the box, and followed by Paul, Peter went back along the passage and scrambled up the broken steps. He lifted Paul out, then pitched up the box, and climbed up the shaft.

Now there was light enough to examine the box. It was an ordinary deed-box and almost new. Peter examined it with the keenest interest, and saw that it had initials painted on it.

P.C. They were his own initials!

He tried to open it but it was locked. He did not hesitate, but, tucking the box under his arms, went straight off to the Blakeneys' house.

Moving Day

MR BLAKENEY was at home. He listened quietly to Peter's story.

"Your initials," he said. "Then I think we are safe in opening it. Let's see if we can find a key."

No key was needed. He found a spring which, when pressed, shot the lid up. The box was stuffed with papers, and on top was a letter addressed to "Peter Carne."

"You'd better read it, Peter," said Mr Blakeney. This is what Peter read:

"My dear Peter. I am dying and have no time left to alter my will, which I now realise was unfair to you. So in this box I am placing Bearer Bonds to the value of some 7000 which Burly will hand to you after my death. You had better give the box to Mr Blakeney, who will look after the Bonds for you. The interest will be more than enough to keep you at Clifton or any good school he may suggest. Burly will put the box in safe keeping for the present, for I do not wish Andrew to know anything of this. Ever your affectionate uncle, Jocelyn Carne."

"And Burly was killed," Peter gasped, as he handed the letter to Mr Blakeney. He read it and looked gravely at Peter.

"Your poor uncle! The fact was that he was afraid of Andrew. That is why he left you your share in this curious way. Burly, too, feared Andrew, and so hid the box in that forgotten cellar, and the very day after your uncle died he was run down by a lorry and killed." He paused and drew a long breath.

"Peter, you have to thank Paul for finding your fortune."


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.