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- The Spanish Chest - 39/39 -

"Thank you, Uncle Dick," Max replied promptly. "I do value it, but perhaps for the present, it would better stop with the others."

As Max spoke, he looked not at the Colonel but at Constance, leaning against the table beside him. Something in their attitude struck Win's always acute perception. For the first time he doubted whether the young people of the Manor had been as genuinely absorbed in that search as he supposed. About Max, half- sitting on the corner of the study table, about Connie, with her hands loosely clasped before her, there was a certain air of quiet detachment, as of those who politely look on at some interesting comedy, but who, as soon as courtesy permits, will return to affairs of more importance.

"You need not have the least scruple about accepting it, Win," the Colonel went on. "We hope this will not be your last visit to the island, but in any case, whenever you look at that old relic, you will have to give us a thought as well."

Win turned the tarnished button on his palm. Yes, the sight of it would always bring back memories of the green lanes, the red cliffs, the turquoise sea of Jersey, not least the hours in the library, the Spanish chest and the Lisles of Laurel Manor.

* * * * *


After the story was finished and the characters were going away, Max and Connie turned back.

"We have kept our promise?" they asked. "We have played quite nicely and haven't been silly?"

"You have really been very good," admitted the author. "If Max hadn't appeared just when he did to rescue Edith and Frances from the tide, probably the story must have stopped there. And Connie has been most helpful about lending the Manor house and the beach dog."

"May we play again?" Max asked.

"I think not," decided the author. "This is five months later. You really must be grown-up now and stay so."

"We have been all the time," said Connie. "We've pretended just to please you. But since you let us come into the story when we weren't expected nor invited, it is only polite to tell you what we are going to do now."

They looked at each other and smiled.

"Every girl who reads this story will want to know," Connie went on. "It would indeed be very diverting to be Princess Santo-Ponte, but somehow I think the chances of 'living happily ever after' are greater with Max. There's nothing at all romantic about marrying Max, but you might just mention that I'm going to do it."


The Spanish Chest - 39/39

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