[] 'HURRY, Anne, do hurry!' shouted Dick, who was just behind.

[] Poor Anne was finding it very difficult to get along quickly. Pulled by Julian and pushed by Dick, she almost fell two or three times. Her breath came in loud pants, and she felt as if she would burst.

[] 'Let me have a rest!' she panted. But there was no time for that, with the two men hurrying after them! They came to the piece that was widened out, where the rocky bench was, and Anne looked longingly at it. But the boys hurried her on.

[] Suddenly the little girl caught her foot on a stone and fell heavily, almost dragging Julian down with her. She tried to get up, and began to cry.

[] 'I've hurt my foot! I've twisted it! Oh, Julian, it hurts me to walk.'

[] 'Well, you've just got to come along, darling,' said Julian, sorry for his little sister, but knowing that they would all be caught if he was not firm. 'Hurry as much as you can.'

[] But now it was impossible for Anne to go fast. She cried with pain as her foot hurt her, and hobbled along so slowly that Dick almost fell over her. Dick cast a look behind him and saw the light of the men's torches coming nearer and nearer. Whatever were they to do?

[] 'I'll stay here with Tim and keep them off,' said George, suddenly. 'Here, take these papers, Dick! I believe they're the ones we want, but I'm not sure till we get a good light to see them. I found them in a pocket of one of the coats in the cupboard.'

[] 'Golly!' said Dick, surprised. He took the sheaf of papers and stuffed them up his jersey, just as George had stuffed them up hers. They were too big to go into his trousers pockets. 'I'll stay with you, George, and let the other two go on ahead.'

[] 'No. I want the papers taken to safety, in case they are my father's,' said George. 'Go on, Dick! I'll be all right here with Tim. I shall stay here just where the passage curves round this rocky bit. I'll make Tim bark like mad.'

[] 'Suppose the men have got revolvers?' said Dick, doubtfully. 'They might shoot him.'

[] 'I bet they haven't,' said George. 'Do go, Dick! The men are almost here. There's the light of their torch.'

[] Dick sped after the stumbling Anne. He told Julian what George had suggested. 'Good for George!' said Julian. 'She really is marvellous - not afraid of anything ! She will keep the men off till I get poor old Anne back.'

[] George was crouching behind the rocky bit, her hand on Tim's collar, waiting. 'Now, Tim!' she whispered. 'Bark your loudest. Now!'

[] Timothy had been growling up till now, but at George's command he opened his big mouth and barked. How he barked! He had a simply enormous voice, and the barks went echoing all down the dark and narrow passage. The hurrying men, who were near the rocky piece of the passage, stopped.

[] 'If you come round this bend, I'll set my dog on you!' cried George.

[] 'It's a child shouting,' said one man to another. 'Only a child! Come on!'

[] Timothy barked again, and pulled at his collar, He was longing to get at the men. The light of their torch shone round the bend. George let Tim go, and the big dog sprang joyfully round the curve to meet his enemies.

[] They suddenly saw him by the light of their torch, and he was a very terrifying sight! To begin with, he was a big dog, and now that he was angry all the hairs on the back of his neck had risen up, making him look even more enormous. His teeth were bared and glinted in the torch-light.

[] The men did not like the look of him at all. 'If you move one step nearer I'll tell my dog to fly at you!' shouted George. 'Wait, Tim, wait! Stand there till I give the word.'

[] The dog stood in the light of the torch, growling deeply. He looked an extremely fierce animal. The men looked at him doubtfully. One man took a step forward and George heard him. At once she shouted to Tim.

[] 'Go for him, Tim, go for him!'

[] Tim leapt at the man's throat. He took him completely by surprise and the man fell to the ground with a thud, trying to beat off the dog. The other man helped.

[] 'Call off your dog or we'll hurt him!’ cried the second man.

[] 'It's much more likely he'll hurt you I' said George, coming out from behind the rock and enjoying the fun. 'Tim, come off.'

[] Tim came away from the man he was worrying, looking up at his mistress as if to say 'I was having such a good time! Why did you spoil it?'

[] 'Who are you?' said the man on the ground.

[] I'm not answering any of your questions,' said George. 'Go back to Kirrin Farm-house, that's my advice to you. If you dare to come along this passage I'll set my dog on to you again - and next time he'll do a little more damage.'

[] The men turned and went back the way they had come. They neither of them wanted to face Tim again. George waited until she could no longer see the light of their torch, then she bent down and patted Timothy.

[] 'Brave, good dog!' she said. 'I love you, darling Tim, and you don't know how proud I am of you! Come along - we'll hurry after the others now. I expect those two men will explore this passage some time tonight, and won't they get a shock when they find out where it leads to, and see who is waiting for them!'

[] George hurried along the rest of the long passage, with Tim running beside her. She had Dick's torch, and it did not take her long to catch the others up. She panted out to them what had happened, and even poor Anne chuckled in delight when she heard how Tim had flung Mr. Wilton to the ground.

[] 'Here we are,' said Julian, as the passage came to a stop below the hole in the study floor, 'Hallo - what's this?'

[] A bright light was shining down the hole, and the rug and carpet, so carefully pulled over the hole by Julian, were now pulled back again. The children gazed up in surprise.

Uncle Quentin was there, and Aunt Fanny, and when they saw the children's faces looking up at them from the hole, they were so astonished that they very nearly fell down the hole too!

[] 'Julian! Anne! What in the wide world are you doing down there?' cried Uncle Quentin. He gave them each a hand up, and the four children and Timothy were at last safe in the warm study. How good it was to feel warm again! They got as near the fire as they could.

[] 'Children - what is the meaning of this?' asked Aunt Fanny. She looked white and worried. 'I came into the study to do some dusting, and when I stood on that bit of the rug, it seemed to give way beneath me. When I pulled it up and turned back the carpet, I saw that hole -and the hole in the panelling too! And then I found that all of you had disappeared, and went to fetch your uncle. What has been happening - and where does that hole lead to?'

[] Dick took the sheaf of papers from under his jersey and gave them to George. She took them and handed them to her father. 'Are these the missing pages?' she asked.

[] Her father fell on them as if they had been worth more than a hundred times their weight in gold. 'Yes! Yes! They're the pages - all three of them! Thank goodness they're back. They took me three years to bring to perfection, and contained the heart of my secret formula. George, where did you get them?'

[] 'It's a very long story,' said George. 'You tell it all, Julian, I feel tired.'

[] Julian began to tell the tale. He left out nothing. He told how George had found Mr. Roland snooping about the study - how she had felt sure that the tutor had not wanted Timmy in the house because the dog gave warning of his movements at night - how George had seen him talking to the two artists, although he had said he did not know them. As the tale went on, Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny looked more and more amazed. They simply could not believe it all.

[] But after all, there were the missing papers, safely back. That was marvellous. Uncle Quentin hugged the papers as if they were a precious baby. He would not put them down for a moment.

[] George told the bit about Timmy keeping the men off the escaping children. 'So you see, although you made poor Tim live out in the cold, away from me, he really saved us all, and your papers too,' she said to her father, fixing her brilliant blue eyes on him.

[] Her father looked most uncomfortable. He felt very guilty for having punished George and Timothy. They had been right about Mr. Roland and he had been wrong.

[] 'Poor George,' he said, 'and poor Timmy. I'm sorry about all that.'

[] George did not bear malice once anyone had owned themselves to be in the wrong. She smiled at her father.

[] 'It's all right,' she said. 'But don't you think that as I was punished unfairly, Mr. Roland might be punished well and truly? He deserves it!'

[] 'Oh, he shall be, certainly he shall be,' promised her father. 'He's up in bed with a cold, as you know. I hope he doesn't hear any of this, or he may try to escape.'

[] 'He can't,' said George. 'We're snowed up. You could ring up the police, and arrange for them to come here as soon as ever they can manage it, when the snow has cleared. And I rather think those other two men will try to explore the secret way as soon as possible, to get the papers back. Could we catch them when they arrive, do you think?'

[] 'Rather!' said Uncle Quentin, though Aunt Fanny looked as if she didn't want any more exciting things to happen! 'Now look here, you seem really frozen all of you, and you must be hungry too, because it's almost dinner-time. Go into the dining-room and sit by the fire, and Joanna shall bring us all a hot lunch. Then we'll talk about what to do.'

[] Nobody said a word to Mr. Roland, of course. He lay in bed, coughing now and then. George had slipped up and locked his door. She wasn't going to have him wandering out and overhearing anything!

[] They all enjoyed their hot dinner, and became warm and cosy. It was nice to sit there together, talking over their adventure, and planning what to do.

[] 'I will telephone to the police, of course,' said Uncle Quentin. 'And tonight we will put Timmy into the study to give the two artists a good welcome if they arrive!'

[] Mr. Roland was most annoyed to find his door locked that afternoon when he took it into his head to dress and go downstairs. He banged on it indignantly. George grinned and went upstairs. She had told the other children how she had locked the door.

[] 'What's the matter, Mr. Roland?' she asked, in a polite voice.

[] 'Oh, it's you, George, is it?' said the tutor. 'Well, see what's the matter with my door, will you? I can't open it.'

[] George had pocketed the key when she had locked the door. She answered Mr. Roland in a cheerful voice.

[] 'Oh Mr. Roland, there's no key in your door, so I can't unlock it. I'll see if I can find it!'

[] Mr. Roland was angry and puzzled. He couldn't understand why his door was locked and the key gone. He did not guess that everyone knew about him now. Uncle Quentin laughed when George went down and told him about the locked door.

[] 'He may as well be kept a prisoner,' he said. 'He can't escape now.'

[] That night, everyone went to bed early, and Timmy was left in the study, guarding the hole. Mr. Roland had become more and more angry and puzzled when his door was not unlocked. He had shouted for Uncle Quentin, but only George had come. He could not understand it. George, of course, was enjoying herself. She made Timothy bark outside Mr. Roland's door, and this puzzled him too, for he knew that George was not supposed to see Timmy for three days. Wild thoughts raced through his head. Had that fierce, impossible child locked up her father and mother and Joanna, as well as himself? He could not imagine what had happened.

[] In the middle of the night Timmy awoke everyone by barking madly. Uncle Quentin and the children hurried downstairs, followed by Aunt Fanny, and the amazed Joanna. A fine sight met their eyes!

[] Mr. Wilton and Mr. Thomas were in the study crouching behind the sofa, terrified of Timothy, who was barking for all he was worth! Timmy was standing by the hole in the stone floor, so that the two men could not escape down there. Artful Timmy! He had waited in silence until the men had crept up the hole into the study, and were exploring it, wondering where they were - and then the dog had leapt to the hole to guard it, preventing the men from escaping.

[] 'Good evening, Mr. Wilton, good evening, Mr. Thomas', said George, in a polite voice. 'Have you come to see our tutor Mr. Roland?'

[] 'So this is where he lives!' said Mr. Wilton. 'Was it you in the passage today?'

[] 'Yes - and my cousins,' said George. 'Have you come to look for the papers you stole from my father?'

[] The two men were silent. They knew they were caught. Mr. Wilton spoke after a moment.

[] 'Where's Roland?'

[] 'Shall we take these men to Mr. Roland, Uncle?' asked Julian, winking at George. 'Although it's in the middle of the night I'm sure he would love to see them.'

[] 'Yes,' said his uncle, jumping at once to what the boy meant to do. 'Take them up. Timmy, you go too.'

[] The men followed Julian upstairs, Timmy close at their heels. George followed too, grinning. She handed Julian the key. He unlocked the door and the men went in, just as Julian switched on the light. Mr. Roland was wide awake and gave an exclamation of complete amazement when he saw his friends.

[] Before they had time to say a word Julian locked the door again and threw the key to George.

[] 'A nice little bag of prisoners,' he said. 'We will leave old Tim outside the door to guard them. It's impossible to get out of that window, and anyway, we're snowed up if they could escape that way.'

[] Everyone went to bed again, but the children found it difficult to sleep after such an exciting time. Anne and George whispered together and so did Julian and Dick. There was such a lot to talk about.

[] Next day there was a surprise for everyone. The police did arrive after all! The snow did not stop them, for somewhere or other they had got skis and had come skimming along valiantly to see the prisoners! It was a great excitement for everyone.

[] 'We won't take the men away, sir, till the snow has gone,' said the Inspector. 'We'll just put the handcuffs on them, so that they don't try any funny tricks. You keep the door locked too, and that dog outside. They'll be safe there for a day or two. We've taken them enough food till we come back again. If they go a bit short, it will serve them right!'

[] The snow melted two days later, and the police took away Mr. Roland and the others. The children watched them go.

[] 'No more lessons these holls!' said Anne gleefully.

[] 'No more shutting Timothy out of the house,' said George.

[] 'You were right and we were wrong, George,' said Julian. 'You were fierce, weren't you -,but it's a jolly good thing you were!'

[] 'She is fierce, isn't she?' said Dick, giving the girl a sudden hug. 'But I rather like her when she's fierce, don't you, Julian? Oh George, we do have marvellous adventures with you! I wonder if we'll have any more?'

They will - there isn't a doubt of that!

THE END