Finished reading September 13, 2009
Originally known as The Chimneys of Green Knowe, this is the sequel to The Children of Green Knowe. Tolly returns to Green Knowe on his Easter holiday. He continues to explore the house and gardens, learning things about its past inhabitants. Grandmother Oldknowe is mending a patchwork quilt and each bit of fabric inspires her to tell a story from the end of the 18th century when Captain Oldknowe, his wife Maria and children Sefton and Susan lived in the manor.
This book is much better than the first. The activities of Tolly and Grandmother Oldknowe are simply a frame that holds the wonderful story of blind Susan who has been stifled by her indifferent mother and her well meaning, but woefully misguided Nanny Softly. Captain Oldknowe is devoted to his daughter and is the only one who doesn't seem to treat her as an imbecile or a helpless, fragile doll. Unfortunately, he is most often away at sea on his ship the Woodpecker. While in Barbados the Captain meets a young black boy named Jacob who asks him, "Captain, buy me?" Captain Oldknow despises slavery and refuses to buy the boy. But he finally relents in order to give Jacob a free life. He brings Jacob home to live at Green Knowe and to be Susan's helper and guide. Jacob opens the world to Susan. Through him, she begins to explore the house and gardens.
L. M. Boston has a lot to say about justice, fairness and human decency. Her depiction of the family's treatment of blind Susan and black Jacob is heartbreaking.
The treasure referred to in the title is a collection of jewels belonging to Maria, Susan's mother. Tolly spends his vacation searching for the missing jewels so that his Grandmother won't have to sell the painting of Toby, Linnett and Alexander (from the last book). Tolly is less annoying in this book than the last. He still seems to take the presence of spirits in stride, although the spirits don't appear as often in this book. There is almost a time travel element to this book rather than a haunting.
This book was so good that I plan to read the rest of the series.