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Roberta, Peter, and Phyllis were very happy living in a comfortable house surrounded by a cook and servants and two loving parents, until one evening when there was a knock at the door and their father was mysteriously taken away by two men. Suddenly alone, their mother moves the family to a small cottage in the countryside. There, the children begin a series of exciting adventures, from saving a train filled with passengers from a landslide, to rescuing a baby from a fire, to aiding a penniless Russian exile, to eventually unraveling the mystery of their father’s disappearance.
They were not railway children to begin with. I don’t suppose they had ever thought about railways except as a means of getting to Maskelyne and Cook’s, the Pantomime, Zoological Gardens, and Madame Tussaud’s. They were just ordinary suburban children, and they lived with their Father and Mother in an ordinary red–brick–fronted villa, with coloured glass in the front door, a tiled passage that was called a hall, a bath–room with hot and cold water, electric bells, French windows, and a good deal of white paint, and “every modern convenience”, as the house–agents say.
There were three of them. Roberta was the eldest. Of course, Mothers never have favourites, but if their Mother HAD had a favourite, it might have been Roberta. Next came Peter, who wished to be an Engineer when he grew up; and the youngest was Phyllis, who meant extremely well.
Mother did not spend all her time in paying dull calls to dull ladies, and sitting dully at home waiting for dull ladies to pay calls to her. She was almost always there, ready to play with the children, and read to them, and help them to do their home–lessons. Besides this she used to write stories for them while they were at school, and read them aloud after tea, and she always made up funny pieces of poetry for their birthdays and for other great occasions, such as the christening of the new kittens, or the refurnishing of the doll’s house, or the time when they were getting over the mumps.