The Enid Blyton Society
The Secret Seven Short Story Collection
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Book Details...

First edition: 1997
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Illustrator: Max Schindler
Category: Secret Seven
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Short Story Books

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Reprint Covers
List of Contents
Review by Julie Heginbotham

Reprints
  1. The Secret of Old Mill {Secret Seven}
    Story: From 'Secret of the Old Mill'
  2. The Humbug Adventure {Secret Seven}
    Story: Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.1
  3. Adventure on the Way Home {Secret Seven}
    Story: Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.2
  4. An Afternoon with the Secret Seven
    Story: Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.3
  5. Where Are the Secret Seven
    Story: From strip book of the same title
  6. Hurry, Secret Seven, Hurry!
    Story: Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual No.4
{ } indicates popular characters where not mentioned in the title
The Secret of the Old Mill

This short story is the first time the Secret Seven formed their Secret Society.

Peter had the idea after reading a book about a secret society and his sister, Janet, agreed it would be a good idea to form a society of their very own.

They contacted five friends by letter, which read:-

Please come to the Old Mill at five o'clock on Saturday evening. Say nothing to anyone. VERY SECRET.

The Old Mill is on the farm where the children live, their farm being called Old Mill Farm.

But who were their friends to whom they sent these letters? They were Colin, Pam, Jack, George and Barbara; because they were children they liked and trusted.

So all the children met that Saturday evening at the Old Mill and the Seven Society was formed. They decided that the Old Mill would be their headquarters, and they used a small room at the top of the old stairs just behind the vanes. The girls said they would make badges from buttons, and so they used red cloth to cover the buttons and sewed each button with the initials S.S. using bright green silk thread. Although Peter and Janet had a dog called Scamper, they didn't include him in their society, not like the Famous Five, who included Timmy as part of the Five.

The password they all decided upon was Tiddly-Winks, and each member had to use this word to identify themselves before ascending the stairs to their meeting room.

But what is the use of a society if they don't plan something, and so they decided to do little jobs to raise money which they could give to Luke, a boy in the village, who had to go abroad for an operation, and between them, the children raised 70.

Now my copy of this book is 1997, so I expect that the original short story of The Secret of Old Mill, published in 1948, would show this amount differently.

The children soon discover after finding some stolen goods, that the mill is being used by some thieves. I don't want to give too much away, and spoil this story for anyone who hasn't yet read it, or has forgotten this story, but all of course ends well, with a reward.

It's difficult on such a short story, not to give anything away, but it is just that, a short enjoyable little story introducing the Secret Seven. I'm happy to say that the whole series of the Secret Seven books have a bit more quality to them, if that's the right word to use. The stories are stronger and better. This plot is rather tame and weak, but again, in its defence, it is only a short story and I'm reviewing it as an adult as I didn't read this book as a child.

Of course Janet and Peter first appeared in a short story called At Seaside Cottage and the review can be read on this site too.

Certain parts of this story had me smiling, such as when Peter and Janet's mother was quite happy for the children not to tell her about their 'secret'. I'm sure mothers of today would want to know exactly what their children were planning!

And a slight spoiler warning here:- When one thief is happy to go along amicably with the policeman, as he was more concerned about Scamper biting his legs and heels!

So all in all, for me, a nice easy read, rather a weak plot, but it is only a short story, introducing the Secret Seven books.


The Humbug Adventure (Spoiler Warning)

I first read this story in Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual number one, (1954). It's a nice little story, and is more in the style of the Secret Seven books. By this time, of course, Enid had been writing the Secret Seven books since 1949, and so this short story five years later, reads much better and is in keeping with the Secret Seven books, than The Secret of Old Mill.

So to the story! Professor Wills invites the Seven to his home, 'Night Skies' to take a look through his telescope at the planet Jupiter. Rather reluctantly they all go along, only to find the professor has gone out, as he didn't think they would call on such a cloudy night.

Mrs Wills, however, says they can look through the telescope and sets it up for them. Left alone, they each take turns, but as the clouds are obscuring the night sky they take a look at their village and the fields. When it's Jack's turn, he has quite a shock, as he can see someone setting fire to one of the haystacks over at Wingfield's Farm.

Peter takes a look and seeing that the barn is close to the fire, tells Colin to ring the farmer and warn him and also to ring the police. When I read this, my first thought was why didn't Peter tell Colin to ring the fire brigade, and then the farmer, much more sensible! But again, I am reading this as an adult, but I'm sure a child would have the very same thought!

Soon Peter can see through the telescope that the police have arrived, and so have the brigade and the farmer is also trying to put out the fire with buckets of water. Then Peter sees that the person who set fire to the haystack is running away. He notices he has a beard and a limp. Again, I thought, wow, that must be a pretty powerful telescope to be able to see a beard on a man!

Soon the children themselves race over to the farm, not wanting to be left out of the excitement. Peter explains about the man he saw setting fire to the haystack, and the farmer's wife says it must have been Jamey, because he was fired only last week for stealing. So the police sergeant sends one of his men over to Jamey's cottage to arrest him.

I did enjoy this story; short, but a good easy enjoyable read.

So why is this story called The Humbug Adventure you may be thinking? That is because when they arrived at Professor Wills house, Mrs Wills gave all the children a rather large humbug each, and at the end of this story, it reads:-

"It was a jolly good adventure but very sudden and a short one," said Colin.

"Yes," said Peter. "It only lasted as long as my humbug. An adventure couldn't be any shorter than that!"

"Short and sweet like the humbug," said Janet, with a giggle. "Let's call it the Humbug Adventure!"


Adventure On The Way Home

This is a lovely little story. It is also in my book Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual number 2. (1955), which I also reviewed.

It has quite a lot of atmosphere about it, I think, probably because the story is early evening, but it is dark being winter and torches are needed to help light the way home from Colin's house, where the Seven had been having tea.

They take a short cut on their journey home by the canal, and walk by a group of terraced tall houses, now used for offices and small factories. Scamper begins to bark, and they look towards one of the windows, which is the only one lit up on that dark early winter's evening. A ragged blind is pulled down over the window and a shadow of a man with a raised hand passes across the blind, just as they hear a woman's scream.

Wondering what to do, Jack races back to Colin's house, as they want Colin to be in on this adventure, and also to collect a rope, which Jack has the idea of throwing over an iron sign which protrudes from the wall just by this lighted window. Peter, in the meantime, races off to get the police.

When Jack and Colin return, Colin throws the rope over the iron sign, and makes sure it is secure, so that Jack can climb up and take a look at what is going on inside the lighted room.

When he climbs back down, he says to the others that there are about nine people in the room, with awful faces, all shouting and arguing, and brandishing knives!!

Just then, Peter returns with two burly policemen, who are then ready to enter the building with the Secret Seven.

I won't give away the plot of this exciting little story, you'll have to find a copy and read it for yourself. But I will say this, I did guess right at the beginning how this little story would end, but again that's because I'm reading it now as an adult. I sometimes wish I had discovered the Secret Seven and all these stories as a child, as they are quite exciting, and reading them as an adult, I can't fully appreciate how a child would enjoy them.


An Afternoon With The Secret Seven (Spoiler Warning)

This simple little story starts off with the Seven having a meeting in the Society shed. It's a hot day, and Peter and Janet's mother brings in some homemade lemonade with ice. She asks them if they'd all like to help with the garden party that afternoon, being held at the vicarage. The Seven are delighted to help, and arrive at the vicarage for 2.30pm.

Mrs James is pleased to see them, and asks for four of them to manage the hoopla-stall and three the coconut-shy. She also tells them to look after the money they take as she doesn't want any of it stolen. So Peter keeps it all safely in his cap.

At tea-time, Peter volunteers to look after both stalls, whilst the others go and have tea in the tea-tent. Whilst the others are having tea, Fred Hilton who was giving pony rides to the children, asked if Peter wanted to have a ride on the pony, whilst it was quiet and everyone was inside the tea-tent.

Peter told Scamper to sit and guard the money inside his cap, whilst he had a few rides on Mr Hilton's pony. Of course when he and the others got back, there was no sign of Scamper, or Peter's cap containing the money.

Of course when reading this, you automatically think How stupid of you, Peter, to leave the money, and you the head of the Secret Seven too!

Peter is upset of course, and angry with himself, even blaming Scamper for disappearing! He goes home to empty his money box of his savings so he can repay what had been stolen.

At home he finds Scamper in his basket, and happily Peter sees that the dog is sitting on the cap full of money keeping it safe.

As I mentioned, a simple little story, not really exciting, but again, easy to read.


Where Are The Secret Seven? (Spoiler Warning)

In this story, the Seven, leave Scamper behind, as they go for a cycle ride over to Hallows Hill, taking a picnic with them. As they approach Hallows Hill, they see an old house perched on top, now empty, and mostly in ruins.

One of the towers had jackdaws flying around it, which reminded me a little of Kirrin Castle, where the jackdaws are also known to fly around. The Secret Seven explore inside, wandering from room to room. The old house is empty of furniture, but there are still old stoves in the kitchen and an old pump, that still worked when Colin and Jack tried the handle. Janet was amazed on opening a door to see a very large larder, saying it was even bigger than their sitting room at home.

They explored the large ballroom with mirrors all around the walls, and imagined the people of years gone by dancing in their beautiful clothes.

Enid is very good with description, and you can visualize exactly what she is describing. But Colin discovers cigarette ends on the ballroom floor, and litter left here and there, indicating that someone else had been in the old house.

Of course you immediately then know that some gang is going to be using the house for their own means, maybe hiding stolen goods, which is what the story is about. Janet is the one who finds the hidden boxes, and whilst the others are all looking at the hiding place a tall man suddenly arrives on the scene, and locks them all in the larder, for discovering his hiding place.

After searching around there is no escape from the locked larder and just as the Seven are wondering how on earth they could escape, along comes the cavalry, in the form of Scamper. The dog can't get through the locked door, of course, but the gap at the bottom of the door is described as being larger than usual, and Peter managers to get hold of Scampers collar, as the dog is pawing at the gap below the door. Peter attaches a written note to the dog's collar, and tells him to run home to find their father.

It's not long before their father arrives to rescue them, and they learn that the boxes are full of stolen things form the museum, which now found will be returned.

Again, an easy to read story, a little far-fetched in places, such as tying the note to the dog's collar. I just can't imagine how Peter could have got his hands high enough onto the collar of the dog, even with the dog's head lowered to the ground! I'll have to see if it works using my own dog sometime!!

Doing a little hunting around in the Cave of Books, I see this short story appeared in the Australian Weeties Strip book of 1956, and also the Secret Seven McDonald's Happy Reading book of 2014. I have neither of those booklets, so am pleased that I have it here in this Short Story Collection.


Hurry, Secret Seven, Hurry!

I have this short story in my book Enid Blyton's Magazine Annual number 4, 1957, and it's a great little story. When reading it, you find yourself on the edge of your seat, thinking to yourself; hurry up, before the train arrives!! So from that point of view the title is spot on.

It's a race against time well a race before a train goes over a level crossing, as the level crossing gates are closed against the track.

Just to explain, the gate crossing keeper is knocked off his bike, because he is going so fast, needing to get back to his cottage beside the level crossing, as he knows a train is due. But of course he doesn't make it, and so the Seven recognising the level crossing keeper, and understanding his words of 'gate' whilst he's injured on the ground, race like mad with Scamper at their heels, to the level crossing. They struggle trying to open the two large gates to enable the train to pass, and fortunately no traffic is around to cross the line whilst they're struggling with these large gates. Just in time the gates are opened as the train thunders past at speed.

This story is a great read, especially as Enid builds the tension with the Seven trying to open these gates for the train to pass. The Seven are rewarded by large ice-creams, by a railway official who had been called once the police had realized who the injured man was, and he arrived with the police, just as the Seven had opened the gates, and saved them being damaged by a train approaching at speed.

So I think if I had to choose which of these short stories I preferred, I think it would be the last one, as no matter how many times I read this story, the tension of the children trying to open the gates still keeps me on the edge of my seat, and that is a sign of a really great read and a brilliant writer.