"Two-oh-oh-seven Palmwood Drive. This is it, we're here, kids."
Mum stuck her head out of the car window and stared up at the house we had
stopped at. Jack and I stared too. It was huge, at least three stories with
an attic window at the top. It was in an old-fashioned style, with loose
shutters on the windows that were sure to bang about on windy nights. It
looked impressive and I heard Jack whistle softly to himself and I knew
that he was taken in as well by its majestic appeal.
Jack's my brother. He's fifteen, only two years younger than me, but
already acting like he's twice my age. He's interested in girls, cars and
computer games whereas I'm interested in music, literature and my dog
Peetree. We named him Peetree because when we first brought him home he
peed on everything, including all the trees in our yard. Dad got mad when
he saw his best armchair and from then on, Peetree lives in the kennel out
the back. He's not allowed in the house but sometimes, late at night, I
sneak him in so he can sleep on my bed. Dad would have a fit if he knew.
Mum swung around and fixed us with a glare. "No messing about," she said.
"Mr Milton is an old man and it's very kind of him to sell me his wardrobe.
Only thirteen of them ever made!"
Mum breathed in deeply with excitement and I rolled my eyes. Mum's an
antique nut. She buys them from shops, old people and even sometimes she
sneaks out to the dump to find things thrown away. Then she fixes them up
and sells them in her shop. It's called "Annie's Antiques" and I had to
work there during the school holidays. Jack didn't because Mum says he
can't behave. I know he just messes about because he'd rather play computer
games than work. I don't mind it though. The people are interesting and
some of the antiques are quite pretty although I wouldn't tell Mum that.
She'd pounce on me in a second and tell me the whole history of antiques
and the different ways or restoring them. As I said, she's a nut.
She saw me roll my eyes and flushed. "It's a proper ancient Victorian
Crest," she said, as if that made it ok to be nuts. "This is a real
antique, not just like the ones I get from - er, other people."
I knew she was going to say the dump but she didn't want us to know about
that. I glanced at Jack and grinned. He grinned back and Mum looked at us
suspiciously. Finally she sighed and grabbed her bag from the passenger's
"Ok, out you get and remember, don't touch anything. Especially my
Mr Milton was nothing like his house. He was wearing a bright blue jacket,
red shirt and jeans that looked like they were three sizes too big for him.
He looked good for a sixty year old. He took us upstairs and into his
bedroom to show us the wardrobe. When we got inside Mum let out a little
gasp and ran over to it, stroking it and murmuring to herself. Jack looked
at me and I raised my eyebrows.
"This is amazing," Mum said to Mr Milton when he had joined her. "It's in
such good condition. How do you look after it?"
Mr Milton smiled at her. "I haven't done anything," he answered. "Just talk
to it once in a while. In fact, I believe that it is finally going to a
Mum nodded, still feeling around the edges and sniffing in the woodwork.
"Mr Milton," I ventured, looking at Mum, who had now dropped to all fours
and was looking underneath it, her bottom sticking out into the air. "When
you say you talk to it, what do you mean?"
Mr Milton hesitated for a moment, then sat down at his desk, motioning for
Jack and I to join him. "You see," he began. "This isn't just an ordinary
wardrobe. It's been in my family for centuries and it is time that I pass
it on to someone younger. I am too old to be - adventuring."
I didn't understand. "What do you mean? What's so adventuring about having
a wardrobe? I mean, it is pretty, but -"
"You will see, child." Mr Milton stood up and went over to Mum. "Mrs
Clarketon, I want you to have this wardrobe."
"That is why I have come, Mr Milton. I absolutely love the wardrobe."
She went to shake his hand, but Mr Milton remained still. "No, you do not
understand," he said gruffly. "I want you to have this wardrobe. As a
Mum spluttered and turned bright red. "A gift? But I couldn't - I wouldn't
- no, I can't. I'm sorry, Mr Milton, but this is worth a fortune. It would
be wrong of me to accept that."
Mr Milton shook his head slowly. "Then I'm afraid we have no deal. You may
accept the gift, or leave here with no wardrobe."
Mum looked confused. "But surely you want payment? I am prepared to pay. I
have my cheque book." She started to dig into her shoulder bag but Mr
Milton cleared his throat and said, "I'm sorry, Mrs Clarketon but that is
my final offer. A gift. From me, to you."
He glanced at Jack and I as he said this and I felt the hairs on the back
of my neck quiver. His eyes were so blue, so piercing for such an old man.
He turned back to Mum, who was staring at him in disbelief. She shook her
head as if clearing it and sighed.
"Thankyou very much then," she said. "That's wonderful. I can send some men
around to pick it up tomorrow, if that's ok with you."
Mr Milton smiled and nodded. "That will be fine. I'm sure I will be hearing
from you again."
Mum shook his extended hand and hurried us out of the house. As our car
pulled out and drove away, I twisted around and stared out of the back
window, up at the house. In the window Mr Milton was standing, staring out
at us. As I watched, he winked - very slightly, but definitely a wink. My
heart leapt and I turned back around. I had a feeling that something
strange was going on, but I didn't know what.
The wardrobe arrived at five thirty the next day. Dad and a few other men
brought it in and Mum told them to put it in my bedroom. When I complained,
Mum said that there was nowhere else and she'd be taking it into the shop
in a couple of weeks anyway. I relented and when the men had left, I sat on
my bed staring at it.
It was very beautiful. There were carvings in the dark wood of flowers and
leaves and I carefully traced my finger along the deep grooves. On the
outside of the wardrobe there were two mirrors - one on each door. I
thought that was strange. Usually the mirror was on the inside. I didn't
like mirrors uncovered at night, so I took a spare bedsheet and tossed it
over the wardrobe. It covered the mirror up and most of the wardrobe.
I heard a knock on my door and Jack came in, holding a baseball bat in one
hand and a ball in the other. "Do you want to play?" he asked me, throwing
the ball up and catching it one-handed. I shook my head.
"No, I've got too much work to do." It was a lie but I didn't like playing
with Jack anymore. He threw hard and fast and last time he'd broken my
little finger. From time to time, it still hurt and I didn't trust him,
even though he'd promised to be nicer.
I saw him look at the wardrobe and he grinned. "Still worried about evil
spirits getting in through the mirrors?"
I glared at him but said nothing. It was true. I had read somewhere that if
you left a mirror uncovered, evil spirits could come into your room at
night time. The only mirror I had was in my wardrobe and now I had another,
with two big mirrors to frighten me. Worse still, it was right at the foot
of my bed so that when I was asleep, spirits could crawl up my legs. I
Jack opened the wardrobe and looked inside. The sheet slid off and I sighed
and picked it back up. "Go away," I said angrily. "You're just messing it
Jack shrugged and left, shutting the door behind him. I glanced at the
wardrobe again and sighed. Mum had better get rid of it soon, I thought, or
I'm going to go insane worrying about evil spirits and such.
I heard Mum call me for dinner so I threw the sheet back over the wardrobe,
making sure both mirrors were covered, and went down to eat.