'Daddy, tell us another story about Arthur.' The little girl pleaded her father. She was tucked into her bed in the nursery, the fireplace banked for the evening. Her older brother on the bed next to her was equally as adamant in his pleading. They both loved the stories about Arthur.
A sigh of resignation and the father sat on the rocking chair between the beds, the children's faces lit up as they realised they were going to hear another adventure.
'Alright,' the father sighed, 'as long as once I've finished you promise to go to sleep.'
'We promise daddy!' they both cried.
'Okay then, last night we had one about the men who turned into animals. So tonight will be what happened to Arthur next.' he took a deep breath before starting his story.
'When Arthur got back from his Litermanian adventure with Charlotte and John he realised he had to go back to school. One day his father asked him along on a submarine ride, but when they were under the sea the submarine stopped working! Luckily, Arthur knew what to do and got the submarine to work again, saving their lives as well as all the crew. Otherwise they would all have been stuck at the bottom of the ocean.'
'But daddy,' the boy interrupted, 'surely living at the bottom of the sea would be fun?'
'I'm sure it would be for a little while Lionel, but what happens when you've eaten all the food, or when you want to go out an enjoy the sun? there's no sunlight at the bottom of the ocean.'
'Could you play hide and seek underwater daddy?' the girl interjected.
'Sweetheart, you know when we go swimming, how you have to come up for air?' she nodded 'Well, it's the same in the deep dark ocean. You can't breathe down their either.' she nodded again thoughtfully.
'So being stuck at the bottom of the ocean in a submarine is a bad thing?' she asked
'A very bad thing." he told her seriously 'But luckily, Arthur managed to get the submarine working and they could all come back to the surface!'
The father paused as if deliberating how to continue.
'Daddy was that the whole story?' the girl complained 'It wasn't very long!'
The father laughed, 'I haven't finished yet Maria, I'm just deciding how to continue.'
A voice from the doorway piped up 'Maybe you should go on about the evil man Mr Maud who was in Aberon at the time, disguised as an opera singer.' the children's mother came over and sat on the girl's bed, wrapping her into a warm hug.
'Ah, yes, the evil Mr Maud, I was just getting to him. See Arthur didn't know at the time, but the evil Mr Maud was back!' both children took in sharp breaths of shock. He was the evil man who had previously kidnapped Arthur's father, and had tried to turn all of Litermania into a zoo!
'when Arthur got off the submarine, he and John and Charlotte began investigating over how the submarine stopped working. It took them a long time, but they finally came across the answer. Mr Maud was stealing money from the Aberon bank and hiding it boats and submarines and trains and ornithopters so that he could get away with it all secretly and take it to his castle in Horribleland so he could make his furniture by squeezing the coins together to make his chairs and tables and his gigantic bed!'
'What about the notes daddy?' the little boy asked.
'He was going to use all the paper notes to fuel his fires, to keep him warm at night.'
Both children shivered at the prospect.
'So they discovered that all of Aberon's money was going to be used Mr. Maud, and they had to catch him! They discovered that Mr Maud had someone helping him, his name was Mr Taylor-Rock and he wanted to use the money to fuel his own fires and build his own furniture as well. First they had to find out how Mr Maud and Taylor-Rock were getting all the money, so they went to the bank to find out the money got stolen. When they got there, they found that Mr Maud had been using a magical machine to drill a large tunnel, and it went right past the bank! When they discovered the entrance to the tunnel, they found that they could walk through it, it was huge! They walked into through the tunnel and found Mr Maud's magical machine, but they couldn't get it to work. They then looked around to see that the big rock that the bank was built on had a large hole in it, obviously made by the machine. They walked through the hole in the rock to find that they were in the big vault of the Aberon bank! Easily able to access all the money that was there.'
'But daddy, didn't someone notice the hole? Since it was so big it would be easy to see.' said the little girl. The father stopped, and contemplated how to answer, but the mother beat him to it.
'Well, you see,' she began 'when the bank people were putting the gold and money into the back, it got rather full, so they stacked all the money on top of each other and the piles got so high that it blocked the bank people's view of the back wall, so the hall was hidden.' the father shot his wife a grateful look and continued.
'So Catherine, John and Arthur were in the full vault and they heard someone coming behind them, so they hid between a couple of piles and waited to see who it was. It was Mr Maud's helper, Mr Taylor-Rock who came in and picked up as much coins as he could and put it onto a trolley. Then Mr Taylor-Rock wheeled the trolley out into the tunnel. Since the trolley had a loud, squeaky wheel they three of them decided to quietly follow Mr Taylor-Rock to see where he was taking all that money! They followed him further into the tunnel and found that it came out into Mr Maud's holiday house, where he was making Mr Taylor-Rock keep his warm fire going and press the coins together to make his furniture. John, Catherine and Arthur jumped out from the tunnel and scared Mr Maud and Taylor-Rock. Mr Maud explained that he didn't care that the money wasn't his- he wanted it anyways! John and Catherine told him that he was caught this time and he would be going to jail! But Mr Maud just laughed, and said he would be escaping again!
He then told Mr Taylor- Rock that he would be leaving and that all the coins and notes were his, as long as he stayed in the room. Mr Taylor-Rock agreed and sat down on a chair. Mr Maud laughed and asked him to put lots of notes on the fire, so the room would heat up quickly, so Mr Taylor-Rock did. The fire grew and grew until the room was very hot and it hurt to stay there. Even the walls were getting hot and burning! But Mr Taylor-Rock wanted that money, so he stayed in the room, even when John, Catherine and Arthur began chasing Mr Maud to stop him. Catherine nearly caught him, but even though he was injured Mr Maud managed to escape, even though he left all the money and furniture behind.'
'What happened to Mr Taylor-Rock?' asked Lionel 'Did he stay in that room?'
'They didn't know. Catherine, John and Arthur chased Mr Maud, and when they came back the room was empty.'
'What happened next daddy?' asked Maria 'did they catch Mr Maud? Did they save the money?'
As if unsure how to end the story, the father mulled it over for a few moments. 'well, they eventually found Mr Taylor-Rock trying to steal the money that was on the boats and submarines to make his own furniture and he was arrested by the good Aberon police, and the bank made enough money to replace what had been turned into furniture or used in the fire, but what happens with Mr Maud next is a story for tomorrow night.'
The father finished with a flourish and stood up, ignoring the groans from his children.
'Daddy!' they whined 'Tell us another!'
'Uh uh, none of that. You promised you'd go to sleep after I told you an Arthur story.'
'your father's right sweethearts, it's sleepy time for you two.' said their mother. Both parents hugged and kissed their children goodnight before blowing out the bedside candles and leaving the nursery.
'Coin furniture? Really?' asked a bemused Caroline as they walked down the stairs,
'It was the first thing that popped into my head.' defended Aubrey, he could feel his pride wither as his wife scolded him.
'you couldn't have made "Mr Maud" an avid coin collector could you?'
'Of course not! Why would he need a million copies of the same coin?'
'Hmm, I suppose not. Your story was a much more condensed version of the one George wrote just after that incident.'
'George's story is several hundred pages long! I wasn't going to stay up all night reading that version to them, despite how they would have reacted to the army of giant sloths and the use of a hot air balloon in the tunnel.'
Caroline laughed, 'You'll have to read it to them when they're older then.'