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   Chapter 24 THE END

The Slowcoach By E. V. Lucas Characters: 4639

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:06

They had a very solemn tea. Everyone was depressed and mortified.

"We couldn't help it, could we, mother?" Janet said several times.

"Of course not," said Mrs. Avory. "It's no one's fault except the foolish man who brought the caravan here. What has Kink said about it?" But as no one had asked him, he was called to the cedar-tree, beneath which tea was laid on fine days.

"Here's a go, mum," he said.

"What did the man say who brought the caravan?" Mrs. Avory said.

"As near as I can remember he showed me the letter, and said, 'Is that all right?' I looked at it, and read, 'To be given to Mrs. Avory' on it, so I said, 'Yes,' Then he said, 'I've got a caravan for your lot, cockie,' and backed it into the yard."

"How splendid!" said Robert. "Then it was you who did it, Kinky?"

"Did what, Master Robert?"

"Got us the Slowcoach; because the address wasn't Mrs. Avory at all; it was Mrs. Amory."

"Oh, I don't take much count about m's or v's," said Kink. "It began with a big 'A,' and it ended in 'ory,' and that was good enough for me."

"Kink," said Janet, "you're a dear. You've given us the most beautiful holiday."

Hester suddenly turned pale. "Mother!" she exclaimed, "what about the twenty-five sovereigns?"

"Yes," said Robert, "that's awful!"

"It is rather bad," said Mrs. Avory, "because, of course, it will have to be given back, and at once too, and I'm not at all rich just now. I'm not even sure that we have any right to go to Sea View, and the twenty-five pounds will just spoil everything."

"Why should we give it back?" said Gregory.

"Because it's not ours," said Mrs. Avory. "There's no question at all."

"I think Kinky ought to pay it," said Gregory. "He's got heaps of money in the Post-Office, and it's his fault, too."

"The best thing to do," said Mrs. Avory, "is to telephone to Uncle Christopher and tell him all about it, and ask him to come over to-night and give us his advice. He always knows best."

"And Mr. Scott and Mr. Lenox, too," said Robert.

"Very well," said Mrs. Avory. "They were all here at the beginning, and they had better be here at the end."

Mr. Lenox, who came first, was immensely tickled. "Who stole the caravan?" he asked at intervals through the evening.

Mr. Scott took it more practically. "We must have a

nother," he said, "and have it built to our own design. Let the Slowcoach provide the ground-plan, so to speak, and then improve on it by the light of your experience. You must by this time each know of certain little defects in the Slowcoach that could easily be done away with."

"Of course," said Robert. "Blisters."

"Don't rot," said Gregory. "I know of something, Mr. Scott. The roof. It ought to have a felt covering, so as to soften the rain."

"Exactly," said Mr. Scott. "And you, Janet?"

"I used to wonder," said Janet, "if there could not be some poles, such as those that you raise carriage-wheels with when you wash them, to lift the caravan above its springs at night. As it is, every movement makes it shake or rock. They could be carried underneath quite easily."

"Very good," said Mr. Scott. "And you,

"I heard about a caravan yesterday," said Mary, "that had two little swings at the back for small children when they were tired."

"That's a good idea," said Mr. Lenox. "For Gregory, for instance."

"I'm not a small child," said Gregory, "and I don't get tired."

"Oh," said Janet, "what about those times when you said you couldn't walk at all?"

"Shut up," said Gregory.

"Very well, then," said Mr. Scott; "if you really are still keen on caravaning, I'll give you a new one, with proper title-deeds, in case any new Mr. Amory turns up, and we will all superintend its building."

"Hurrah!" cried the children.

"And we'll call it Slowcoach the Second." It was at this point that Uncle Christopher came in.

"This is very sad," he said. "To think of my nephews and nieces running off with another person's caravan!"

"But what shall we do?" Mrs. Avory asked.

"There's nothing to do," said Uncle Christopher, "but to have it cleaned up and put in order as soon as possible, and sent round to its real owner."

"The dreadful thing," said Janet, "is the twenty-five pounds."

"Yes, I know," said Uncle Christopher; "but I believe there's a way out of even that difficulty. I told your aunt all about it when I got back from the office, and she wished me to tell you that she would like to refund the twenty-five pounds herself."

There was a long pause.

"O dear," said Janet at last, as she hid her face in her mother's arms, "everybody is much too kind."

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