Mystery #04 — The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters, стр. 1

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Mystery #04 — The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters

Mystery04 — The Mystery of the Spiteful Letters—Blyton, Enid.

THE EXTRAORDINARY TELEGRAM

Bets and Pip were waiting impatiently for Larry, Daisy and Fatty to come. Bets was on the window-seat of the play-room looking anxiously out of the window.

‘I wish they’d buck up,’ she said. ‘After all, they came home from boarding-school yesterday, and they’ve had plenty of time to come along. I do want to know if Fatty’s got any more disguises and things.’

‘I suppose you think there’ll be another first-class mystery for us to solve these hols,’ said Pip. ‘Golly, that was a wizard one we had in the Christmas hols, wasn’t it?’

‘Yes,’ said Bets. ‘A bit too wizard. I wouldn’t really mind not having a mystery these hols.’

‘Bets! And I thought you were such a keen detective!’ said Pip. ‘Don’t you want to be a Find-Outer any more?’

‘Of course I do. Don’t be silly!’ said Bets.

‘I know you don’t think I’m much use, because I’m the youngest and only nine, and you’re all in your teens now - but I did help an awful lot last time, when we solved the mystery of the secret room.’

Pip was just about to say something squashing to his little sister when she gave a yell. ‘Here they are! At least - here are Larry and Daisy. Let’s go down and meet them.’

They tore downstairs and out into the drive. Bets flung herself on the boy and girl in delight, and Pip stood by and grinned.

‘Hallo, Larry! Hallo, Daisy! Seen Fatty at all?’

‘No,’ said Larry. ‘Isn’t he here? Blow! Let’s go to the gate and watch for him. Won’t it be fun to see old Buster again too, wagging his tail and trotting along on his short Scottie legs!’

The four children went to the front gate and looked out. There was no sign of Fatty and Buster. The baker’s cart drove by. Then came a woman on a bicycle. Then up the lane plodded a most familiar figure.

It was Mr. Goon the policeman, or old Clear-Orf as the children called him. He was going round on his beat, and was not at all pleased to see the four children at Pip’s gate, watching him. Mr. Goon did not like the children, and they certainly did not like him. There had been three mysteries to solve in their village of Peterswood in the last year, and each time the children had solved them before Mr. Goon.

‘Good morning,’ said Larry politely, as Mr. Goon came by, panting a little for he was plump. His frog-eyes glared at them.

‘So you’re back again, like bad pennies,’ he said. ‘Ho! Poking your noses into things again, I suppose!’

‘I expect so,’ said Pip cheerfully. Mr. Goon was just about to make another crushing remark when there came a wild ringing of bicycle bells and a boy came round the corner at top speed on a bicycle.

‘Telegraph-boy,’ said Pip. ‘Look out, Mr. Goon, look out!’

The telegraph-boy had swerved right over to the policeman, and it looked as if he was going straight into him. Mr. Goon gave a yelp and skipped like a lamb out of the way.

‘Now then, what you riding like that for? A public danger, that’s what you boys are!’ exploded Mr. Goon.

‘Sorry, sir, my bicycle sort of swerved over,’ said the boy. ‘Did I hurt you, sir? I’m downright sorry!’

Mr. Goon’s temper cooled down at the boy’s politeness. ‘What house are you wanting?’ he asked.

‘I’ve got a telegram for Master Philip Hilton,’ said the telegraph-boy, looking at the name and address on the orange envelope in his hand.

‘Oh! Here’s Pip!’ said Bets. ‘Oooh, Pip - a telegram for you!’

The boy propped his bicycle by the side of the pavement, its pedal catching the kerb. But he didn’t balance it very firmly and it fell over with a clatter, the handle-bar catching Mr. Goon on the shin.

He let out such a yell that all the children jumped. He hopped round, trying to hold his ankle and keep his balance too. Bets gave a sudden giggle.

‘Oh, sir, I’m sorry!’ cried the boy. ‘That dratted bike! It’s always falling over. Don’t you be angry with me, sir. Don’t you report me, will you? I’m that sorry!’

Mr. Goon’s red face was redder than ever. He glared at the telegraph-boy, and rubbed his ankle again. ‘You deliver your telegram and clear-orf,’ he said. ‘Wasting the time of the post-office, that’s what you’re doing!’

‘Yes, sir,’ said the boy meekly, and gave Pip the orange envelope. Pip tore it open, full of curiosity. He had never had a telegram sent to him before.

He read it out loud. It was from Fatty.

‘SORRY NOT TO SEE YOU THESE HOLS. HAVE GOT A MYSTERY TO SOLVE IN TIPPYLOOLOO, AND AM LEAVING BY AEROPLANE TODAY. ALL THE BEST! FATTY.’

The children crowded round to see the telegram. They couldn’t believe their ears. What an extraordinary telegram! Mr. Goon could hardly believe his ears either.

‘You let me see that,’ he said, and took it out of Pip’s hand. He read it out loud to himself.

‘This is from that boy Frederick Trotteville, isn’t it?’ he said. ‘Fatty, you call him, don’t you? What does it mean? Leaving by aeroplane for Tippy - Tippy - whatever it is. Never heard of the place in my life!’

‘It’s in South China,’ said the telegraph-boy unexpectedly. ‘I got an uncle out there, that’s how I know.’

‘But - but - why should Fatty go - why should he solve a mystery out there - why, why...’ began the four children, absolutely taken aback.

‘We shan’t see him these hols,’ suddenly wailed Bets, who was extremely fond of Fatty, and had looked forward very much to seeing him.

‘And a good thing too,’ said Mr. Goon, giving the telegram back to Pip. ‘That’s what I say. A jolly good thing too. He’s a tiresome nuisance that boy is, pretending to play at being a detective - and using disguises to deceive the Law - and poking his nose in where it’s not wanted. Perhaps we’ll have a little peace these holidays if that interfering boy has gone to Tippy - Tippy - whatever it is.’

‘Tippylooloo,’ said the telegraph-boy, who seemed as much interested as any one else. ‘I say, sir - is that telegram from that clever chap, Mr. Trotteville? I’ve heard about him.’

‘Mr. Trotteville!’ echoed Mr. Goon, indignantly. ‘Why, he’s no more than a kid. Mr. Trotteville! Mr. Interfering Fatty, that’s what I call him!’

Bets gave a sudden giggle again. Mr. Goon had gone purple. He always did when he was annoyed.

‘Sorry, sir. Didn’t mean to make you all hot and bothered, sir,’ said the telegraph-boy, who seemed very good indeed at apologizing for everything. ‘But of course we’ve all heard of that boy, sir. Very very clever chap, he seems to be. Didn’t he get on to some big plot last hols, sir, before the police did?’

Mr. Goon was not at all pleased to hear that Fatty’s fame was apparently spread abroad like this. He did one of his snorts.

‘You got better things to do at the post-office than listen to fairy-tales like that!’ he said to the eager telegraph-boy. ‘That boy Fatty’s just an interfering little nuisance and always was, and he leads these kids here into trouble too. I reckon their parents’ll be pretty glad that boy’s gone to Tippy - Tippy - er...’

‘Tippylooloo,’ said the telegraph-boy obligingly. ‘Fancy him being asked out there to solve a mystery, sir. Coo, he must be clever!’

The four children were delighted to hear all this. They knew how the policeman must hate it.

‘You get along now,’ said Mr. Goon, feeling that the telegraph-boy was a real nuisance. ‘Clear-orf! You’ve wasted enough time.’

‘Yes, sir; certainly, sir,’ said the polite boy. ‘Fancy that fellow going off to Tippylooloo - by aeroplane too. Coo! I must write to my uncle out there and get him to tell me what Mr. Trotteville’s doing. Coo!’

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