[] THERE were no lessons the next day. George looked rather pale, and was very quiet. Tim was already out in the yard-kennel, and the children could hear him whining unhappily. They were all upset to hear him.

[] 'Oh, George, I'm awfully sorry about it all,' said Dick. 'I wish you wouldn't get so fierce about things. You only get yourself into trouble - and poor old Tim.'

[] George was full of mixed feelings. She disliked Mr. Roland so much now that she could hardly bear to look at him - and yet she did not dare to be openly rude and rebellious because she was afraid that if she was, the tutor would give her a bad report, and perhaps she would not be allowed even to see Timothy. It was very hard for a defiant nature like hers to force herself to behave properly.

[] Mr. Roland took no notice of her at all. The other children tried to bring George into their talks and plans, but she remained quiet and uninterested.

[] 'George! We're going over to Kirrin Farm-house today,' said Dick. 'Coming? We're going to try and find the entrance to the Secret Way. It must start somewhere there.'

[] The children had told George what Mr. Roland had said about the piece of marked linen. They had all been thrilled about this, though the excitements of Christmas Day had made them forget about it for a while.

[] 'Yes - of course I'll come,' said George, looking more cheerful. 'Timothy can come too. He wants a walk.'

[] But when the little girl found that Mr. Roland was also going, she changed her mind at once. Not for anything would she go with the tutor! No - she would go for a walk alone with Timothy.

[] 'But, George - think of the excitement we'll have trying to find the Secret Way,' said Julian, taking hold of her arm. George wrenched it away.

[] ‘I’m not going if Mr. Roland is,' she said, obstinately, and the others knew that it was no good trying to coax her.

[] 'I shall go alone with Tim,' said George. 'You go off together with your dear Mr. Roland!'

[] She set out with Timothy, a lonely little figure going down the garden path. The others stared after her. This was horrid. George was being more and more left out, but what could they do about it?

[] 'Well, children, are you ready?' asked Mr. Roland. 'You start off by yourselves, will you? I'll meet you at the farm-house later. I want to run down to the village first to get something.'

[] So the three children set off by themselves, wishing that George was with them. She was nowhere to be seen.

[] Old Mr. and Mrs. Sanders were pleased to see the three children, and sat them down in the big kitchen to eat ginger buns and drink hot milk.

[] 'Well, have you come to find a few more secret things?' asked Mrs. Sanders, with a smile.

[] 'May we try?' asked Julian. 'We're looking for a room facing east, with a stone floor, and panelling!'

[] 'All the rooms downstairs have stone floors,' said Mrs. Sanders. 'You hunt all you like, my dears. You won't do any damage, I know. But don't go into the room upstairs with the cupboard that has a false back, will you, or the one next to it! Those are the rooms the two artists have.'

[] 'All right,' said Julian, rather sorry that they were unable to fiddle about with the exciting cupboard again. 'Are the artists here, Mrs. Sanders? I'd like to talk to them about pictures. I hope one day I'll be an artist too.'

[] 'Dear me, is that so?' said Mrs Sanders. 'Well, well -it's always a marvel to me how people make any money at painting pictures.'

[] 'It isn't making money that artists like, so much as the painting of the pictures,' said Julian, looking rather wise. That seemed to puzzle Mrs. Sanders even more. She shook her head and laughed.

[] 'They're queer folk!' she said. 'Ah well - you go along and have a hunt for whatever it is you want to find. You can't talk to the two artists today though, Master Julian -they're out.'

[] The children finished their buns and milk and then stood up, wondering where to begin their search. They must look for a room or rooms facing east. That would be the first thing to do.

[] 'Which side of the house faces east, Mrs. Sanders?' asked Julian. 'Do you know?'

[] 'The kitchen faces due north,' said Mrs. Sanders. 'So east will be over there.' she pointed to the right.

[] 'Thanks,' said Julian. 'Come on, everyone!' The three children went out of the kitchen, and turned to the right. There were three rooms there - a kind of scullery, not much used now, a tiny room used as a den by old Mr. f Sanders, and a room that had once been a drawing-room, but which was now cold and unused.

[] 'They've all got stone floors,' said Julian.

[] 'So we'll have to hunt through all of the three rooms,' said Anne.

[] 'No, we won't,' said Julian. 'We shan't have to look in this scullery, for one thing!'

[] 'Why not?' asked Anne.

[] 'Because the walls are of stone, silly, and we want panelling,' said Julian. 'Use your brains, Anne!'

[] 'Well, that's one room we needn't bother with, then,' said Dick. 'Look - both this little room and the drawing-room have panelling, Julian. We must search in both.'

[] 'There must be some reason for putting eight squares of panelling in the directions,' said Julian, looking at the roll of linen again. 'It would be a good idea to see whether there's a place with eight squares only - you know, over a window, or something.'

[] It was tremendously exciting to look round the two rooms! The children began with the smaller room. It was panelled all the way round in dark oak, but there was no place where only eight panels showed. So the children went into the next room.

[] The panelling there was different. It did not look so old, and was not so dark. The squares were rather a different size, too. The children tried each panel, tapping and pressing as they went, expecting at any moment to see one slide back as the one in the hall had done.

[] But they were disappointed. Nothing happened at all. They were still in the middle of trying when they heard footsteps in the hall, and voices. Somebody looked into the drawing-room. It was a man, thin and tall, wearing glasses on his long nose.

[] 'Hallo!' he said. 'Mrs. Sanders told me you were treasure-hunting, or something. How are you getting on?'

[] 'Not very well,' said Julian, politely. He looked at the man, and saw behind him another one, younger, with rather screwed-up eyes and a big mouth. 'I suppose you are the two artists?' he asked.

[] 'We are!' said the first man, coming into the room. 'Now, just exactly what are you looking for?'

[] Julian did not really want to tell him, but it was difficult not to. 'Well - we're just seeing if there's a sliding panel here,' he said at last. 'There's one in the hall, you know. It's exciting to hunt round.'

[] 'Shall we help?' said the first artist, coming into the room. 'What are your names? Mine's Thomas, and my friend's name is Wilton.'

[] The children talked politely for a minute or two, not at all wanting the two men to help. If there was anything to be found, they wanted to find it. It would spoil everything if grown-ups solved the puzzle!

[] Soon everyone was tap-tap-tapping round the wooden panels. They were in the middle of this when a voice hailed them.

[] 'Hallo! My word, we are all busy!'

[] The children turned, and saw their tutor standing in the doorway, smiling at them. The two artists looked at him.

[] 'Is this a friend of yours?' asked Mr. Thomas.

[] 'Yes - he's our tutor, and he's very nice!' said Anne, running to Mr. Roland and putting her hand in his.

[] 'Perhaps you will introduce me, Anne,' said Mr. Roland, smiling at the little girl.

[] Anne knew how to introduce people. She had often seen her mother doing it. 'This is Mr. Roland,' she said to the two artists. Then she turned to Mr. Roland. 'This is Mr. Thomas,' she said, waving her hand towards him, 'and the other one is Mr. Wilton.'

[] The men half-bowed to one another and nodded. 'Are you staying here?' asked Mr. Roland. 'A very nice old farm-house, isn't it?'

[] 'It isn't time to go yet, is it?' asked Julian, hearing a clock strike.

[] 'Yes, I'm afraid it is,' said Mr. Roland. Tin later meeting you than I expected. We must go in about five minutes - no later. I'll just give you a hand in trying to find this mysterious secret way!'

[] But no matter how anyone of them pressed and tapped around the panels in either of the two rooms, they could not find anything exciting. It really was most disappointing.

[] 'Well, we really must go now,' said Mr. Roland. 'Come and say good-bye to Mrs. Sanders.'

[] They all went into the warm kitchen, where Mrs. Sanders was cooking something that smelt most delicious.

[] 'Something for our lunch, Mrs. Sanders?' said Mr. Wilton. 'My word, you really are a wonderful cook!'

[] Mrs. Sanders smiled. She turned to the children. 'Well, dearies, did you find what you wanted?' she asked.

[] 'No,' said Mr. Roland, answering for them. 'We haven't been able to find the secret way, after all!'

[] 'The secret way?' said Mrs. Sanders, in surprise. 'What do you know about that now? I thought it had all been forgotten - in fact, I haven't believed in that secret way for many a year!'

[] 'Oh, Mrs, Sanders - do you know about it?' cried Julian. 'Where is it?'

[] 'I don't know, dear - the secret of it has been lost for many a day,' said the old lady. 'I remember my old grandmother telling me something about it when I was smaller than any of you. But I wasn't interested in things like that when I was little. I was all for cows and hens and sheep.'

[] 'Oh, Mrs. Sanders - do, do try and remember something!' begged Dick. 'What was the secret way?'

[] 'Well, it was supposed to be a hidden way from Kirrin " Farm-house to somewhere else,' said Mrs. Sanders. 'I don't know where, I'm sure. It was used in the olden days when people wanted to hide from enemies.'

[] It was disappointing that Mrs. Sanders knew so little. The children said good-bye and went off with their tutor, feeling that their morning had been wasted., George was indoors when they got to Kirrin Cottage.

[] Her cheeks were not so pale, now, and she greeted the children eagerly.

[] 'Did you discover anything? Tell me all about it!' she said.

[] 'There's nothing to tell,' said Dick, rather gloomily. 'We found three rooms facing east, with stone floors, but only two of them had wooden panelling, so we hunted round those, tapping and punching - but there wasn't anything to be discovered at all.'

[] 'We saw the two artists,' said Anne. 'One was tall and thin, and had a long nose with glasses on. He was called Mr. Thomas. The other was younger, with little piggy eyes and an enormous mouth.'

[] 'I met them out this morning,' said George. 'It must have been them. Mr. Roland was with them, and they were all talking together. They didn't see me.'

[] 'Oh, it couldn't have been the artists you saw,' said Anne, at once. 'Mr. Roland didn't know them. I had to introduce them.'

[] 'Well, I'm sure I heard Mr. Roland call one of them Wilton,' said George, puzzled. 'lie must have known them.'

[] 'It couldn't have been the artists,' said Anne, again. 'They really didn't know Mr. Roland. Mr. Thomas asked if he was a friend of ours.'

[] 'I'm sure I'm not mistaken,' said George, looking obstinate. 'If Mr. Roland said he didn't know the two artists, he was telling lies.'

[] 'Oh, you're always making out that he is doing something horrid!' cried Anne, indignantly. 'You just make up things about him!'

[] 'Sh!' said Julian. 'Here he is.'

[] The door opened and the tutor came in. 'Well,' he said, 'it was disappointing that we couldn't find the secret way, wasn't it! Anyway, we were rather foolish to hunt about that drawing-room as we did - the panelling there wasn't really old - it must have been put in years after the other.'

[] 'Oh - well, it's no good looking there again,' said Julian, disappointed. 'And I'm pretty sure there's nothing to be found in that other little room. We went all over it so thoroughly. Isn't it disappointing?'

[] 'It Js,' said Mr. Roland. 'Well, Julian, how did you like the two artists? I was pleased to meet them - they seemed nice fellows, and I shall like to know them.'

[] George looked at the tutor. Could he possibly be telling untruths in such a truthful voice? The little girl was very puzzled. She felt sure it was the artists she had seen him with. But why should he pretend he didn't know them? She must be mistaken. But all the same, she felt uncomfortable about it, and made up her mind to find out the truth, if she could.