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The Story of the Treasure Seekers

by E. Nesbit

Being the adventures of the Bastable children in search of a

Without whom this book could never have been written

The Treasure Seekers is dedicated in memory of childhoods
identical but for the accidents of time and space


1. The Council of Ways and Means
2. Digging for Treasure
3. Being Detectives
4. Good Hunting
5. The Poet and the Editor
6. Noel's Princess
7. Being Bandits
8. Being Editors
9. The G. B.
10. Lord Tottenham
11. Castilian Amoroso
12. The Nobleness of Oswald
13. The Robber and the Burglar
14. The Divining-rod
15. 'Lo, the Poor Indian!16. The End of the Treasure-seeking


This is the story of the different ways we looked for treasure,
and I think when you have read it you will see that we were not
lazy about the looking.

There are some things I must tell before I begin to tell about
the treasure-seeking, because I have read books myself, and I
know how beastly it is when a story begins, "'Alas!" said
Hildegarde with a deep sigh, "we must look our last on this
ancestral home"''--and then some one else says something--and you
know for pages and pages where the home is, or who
Hildegarde is, or anything about it. Our ancestral home is in
the Lewisham Road. It is semi-detached and has a garden, not a
large one. We are the Bastables. There are six of us besides
Father. Our Mother is dead, and if you think we care
because I tell you much about her you only show that you do
not understand people at all. Dora is the eldest. Then
Oswald--and then Dicky. Oswald won the Latin prize at his
preparatory school--and Dicky is good at sums. Alice and Noel
are twins: they are ten, and Horace Octavius is my youngest
brother. It is one of us that tells this story--but I shall not
tell you which: only at the very end perhaps I will. While the
story is going on you may be trying to guess, only I bet you
It was Oswald who first thought of looking for treasure.
Oswald often thinks of very interesting things. And directly he
thought of it he did not keep it to himself, as some boys would
have done, but he told the others, and said'I'll tell you what, we must go and seek for treasure: it is
always what you do to restore the fallen fortunes of your House.Dora said it was all very well. She often says that. She was
trying to mend a large hole in one of Noel's stockings. He tore
it on a nail when we were playing shipwrecked mariners on top of
the chicken-house the day H. O. fell off and cut his chin: he
has the scar still. Dora is the only one of us who ever tries to
mend anything. Alice tries to make things sometimes. Once she
knitted a red scarf for Noel because his chest is delicate, but
it was much wider at one end than the other, and he wouldn't wear
it. So we used it as a pennon, and it did very well, because
most of our things are black or grey since Mother died; and
scarlet was a nice change. Father does not like you to ask for
new things. That was one way we had of knowing that the fortunes
of the ancient House of Bastable were really fallen. Another way
was that there was no more pocket-money--except a penny now and
then to the little ones, and people did not come to dinner any
more, like they used to, with pretty dresses, driving up in
cabs--and the carpets got holes in them--and when the legs came
off things they were not sent to be mended, and we gave UP having
the gardener except for the front garden, and not that very
often. And the silver in the big oak plate-chest that is lined
with green baize all went away to the shop to have the dents and
scratches taken out of it, and it never came back. We think
Father hadn't enough money to pay the silver man for taking out
the dents and scratches. The new spoons and forks were
yellowy-white, and not so heavy as the old ones, and they never
shone after the first day or two.

Father was very ill after Mother died; and while he was ill his
business-partner went to Spain--and there was never much money
afterwards. I know why. Then the servants left and there
was only one, a General. A great deal of your comfort and
happiness depends on having a good General. The last but one was
nice: she used to make jolly good currant puddings for us, and
let us have the dish on the floor and pretend it was a wild boar
we were killing with our forks. But the General we have now
nearly always makes sago puddings, and they are the watery kind,
and you cannot pretend anything with them, not even islands, like
you do with porridge.

Then we left off going to school, and Father said we should go to
a good school as soon as he could manage it. He said a holiday
would do us all good. We thought he was right, but we wished he
had told us he couldn't afford it. For of course we knew.

Then a great many people used to come to the door with envelopes
with no stamps on them, and sometimes they got very angry, and
said they were calling for the last time before putting it in
other hands. I asked Eliza what that meant, and she kindly
explained to me, and I was so sorry for Father.

And once a long, blue paper came; a policeman brought it, and we
were so frightened. But Father said it was all right, only when
he went up to kiss the girls after they were in bed they said he
had been crying, though sure that's not true. Because only
cowards and snivellers cry, and my Father is the bravest man in
the world.

So you see it was time we looked for treasure and Oswald said so,
and Dora said it was all very well. But the others agreed with
Oswald. So we held a council. Dora was in the chair--the big
dining-room chair, that we let the fireworks off from, the Fifth
of November when we had the measles and couldn't do it in the
garden. The hole has never been mended, so now we have that
chair in the nursery, and I think it was cheap at the blowing-up
we boys got when the hole was burnt.

'We must do something,said Alice, 'because the exchequer is
empty.She rattled the money-box as she spoke, and it really
did rattle because we always keep the bad sixpence in it for

but what shall we do?said Dicky. 'It's so jolly easy to
say let's do SOMETHING.Dicky always wants everything settled
exactly. Father calls him the Definite Article.

'Let's read all the books again. We shall get lots of ideas out
of them.It was Noel who suggested this, but we made him shut
up, because we knew well enough he only wanted to get back to his
old books. Noel is a poet. He sold some of his poetry once--and
it was printed, but that does not come in this part of the story.

Then Dicky said, 'Look here. We'll be quite quiet for ten
minutes by the clock--and each think of some way to find
treasure. And when thought we'll try all the ways one
after the other, beginning with the eldest.shan't be able to think in ten minutes, make it half an hour,said H. O. His real name is Horace Octavius, but we call him H.
O. because of the advertisement, and not so very long ago he
was afraid to pass the hoarding where it says 'Eat H. O.'' in big
letters. He says it was when he was a little boy, but I remember
last Christmas but one, he woke in the middle of the night crying
and howling, and they said it was the pudding. But he told me
afterwards he had been dreaming that they really HAD come to eat
H. O., and it couldn't have been the pudding, when you come to
think of it, because it was so very plain.

Well, we made it half an hour--and we all sat quiet, and thought
and thought. And I made up my mind before two minutes were over,
and I saw the others had, all but Dora, who is always ...